Red Light. Green Light.

It usually happened on one of those warm summer evenings. The parents would be sitting on the Fathauer’s porch. We kids would be playing in the yard in front of them. Eventually, just before sundown, someone would suggest a game. One would be assigned the position of starter. The rest of us would line up across the yard. The starter would shout “Green light!” We would all begin to run. “Red light!” shouted the starter and we all had to stop what we were doing in the exact position we were in. Arms akimbo. Legs in mid-stride. Fallen on the ground. Getting half way up. It didn’t matter. That is how we stayed until the next green light command. If we moved, we were out. If we didn’t stop immediately, we were out. The last kid standing was the winner.

That’s kind of how we’ve felt over the past nine months. We started going to MD Anderson in April. I developed a fever on the way and wound up in the emergency room then being admitted. Red light. We met the appropriate doctors. Green light. We were expecting to go straight to the stem cell transplant program, but my CLL was too active. Red light. I would be accepted into a clinical drug trial. Green light. The next visit, I was supposed to begin a drug trial. The trial wasn’t open. Red light. We met the trial coordinator. Green light. I guess we were expecting greater miracles than we received. The transplant kept being moved back. Red light.

Last week, after visiting with the trial doctor, I underwent another CT Scan to see how things looked in comparison to the previous CT scan. That was Wednesday. It wasn’t until Friday that we learned the results. Dr. Khouri, the transplant doctor came into the examination room and did a cursory exam. We fully expected him to red light us again until the results of the next bone marrow biopsy in March. “Green light!” Well, he didn’t really say those exact words. What he did say was, “We have a window of opportunity. We should move on with the transplant. Are you ready?” I looked at Melanie. She looked at me. I asked a couple of unanswered questions. He answered. We looked at each other again. “Yes. Let’s do it.”

The stem cell transplant team is working on the logistics. A donor has to be secured. (I have three matches.) The donor must pass a rigorous exam before the donation can take place. I will undergo even more rigorous processing including education for both of us. We must find long term housing in Houston. We have applications in at five ministries who specialize in working with MD Anderson cancer patients. All of them provide housing at greatly reduced cost.

We are happy with the current green light, though we realize there are ample opportunities for further red lights. It is even possible that we may stumble, fall, and be eliminated from the “game”. What we really want is for this game to turn into “Doctor (mother), may I?” or “Doctor (Simon) says.”

All of this could happen in as short a time as six weeks or as long as four months.

How do we feel about this? We share a sense of relief. We anxiously await the firming of the time line. We are tentatively excited about moving forward, though are not excited about the planning and packing on our end. We’ve made one long term stay in Houston. This one will be even longer. We have an idea of what we need to pack, but need to refine the list. We need to drive down so Melanie will have a car, though she will not like driving in Houston traffic. (All of the housing ministries have shuttle service, so that will not be a big problem while I am in hospital. It is more for the two months after my release that we will need it for emergency transportation and shopping runs.)

We certainly appreciate all you have done for us: the prayers, the encouragement, the financial assistance. What we really need at this time is your prayer support. I need to get in better physical shape before the transplant begins. The stronger I am going in, the easier I will recover. Melanie needs a Houston support group. I will be in the hospital for about a month. She will be on her own.

What I know for sure is that God is in control. He knows what He is doing. He knows what is best for us. We trust Him without reservation. He has put you in our lives for this very season. All we ask is that you pray for us when God reminds you and support us however God directs.

Green light! Father, may I?

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