"Our Little Trooper"

"Our Little Trooper"
"Let me live, that I may praise you!" Psalm 119:175

Friday, August 5, 2016

Day 0: New Day...New Life!

Rowan had a visit from the art therapist earlier this week and she ended up asking for our permission to hang one of Rowan's paintings on the art wall that hangs in the corridor leading to the Cancer/Transplant Unit in the hospital.  The painting she chose was one of Rowan's "New Day" paintings. She said it could take a little while before it would go up, so I honestly almost forgot about it. Ironically, Ian saw her hanging it today...on Rowan's monumental "new day"!  

I think it's an amazing symbol, a sign of things to come.  The sun rising on what has been a very long, often scary journey.  A sign of hope.  Rowan reminded us though, it doesn't just mean new day anymore, it means new life now too.

Here is how the "new day" or the start of Rowan's "new life" unfolded today...

Today started out with me going back to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance early this morning, for more labs and another neupogen shot.  But first, I wrote a special note on the glass doors to Rowan's room.

Then, Brian and Ian came and stayed with Rowan at the hospital while I was there.

When I returned to the hospital room, the boys were all asleep.  Rowan in the hospital bed, Brian on the recliner, and Ian on the couch. 

The room was so peaceful.  I just sat there looking at all 3 of them, in the quiet dark room.  I laid on Rowan's bed with him and held his hand.

Rowan always has to have his feet on someone, and today was no different.  His sweet little feet found Brian's legs, in the chair next to his bed...even in his sound sleep.  So sweet.

I only had 30 minutes before I had to go back to SCCA to do another peripheral blood stem cell collection, so I just laid there in the dark with all of them asleep, and prayed for the transplant to go well. I felt such a calm peaceful feeling.

When I got back to the apheresis unit, they let me know how successful yesterday's collection was.  After they processed the 18 liters of product I donated yesterday, they determined that they had over 50 million stem cells, and over 11 million parts per kilograms (of Rowan's weight) of total nucleated cells.  They said this was a very successful collection, and that they felt confident.  Today I only had to donate 12 liters, and tomorrow we will find out the numbers from that collection.

My stem cell collection ran smoothly again today. 

They changed my dressing afterwards.

And I was finished and back to the hospital around 4:00 pm. 

We got word that the cells were still being prepped, so transplant would be delayed until around 7 pm.  To pass the time, we played a fun card game, and Rowan acted like he didn't have a care in the world. 

There were a few things that it was important for Rowan to have with him on his bed during transplant today.

Jalene's Angel Bear...

Julian's Stuffed Giraffe Pedro...

The Jingle Lion that Chrissie's Mom gave him years ago (because Chrissie's charm bracelet always jingled)...

The Big Foot scarf that his new friend Sebastian in Oregon gave him on our trip up here...

His Lil Guardians vest with his road name "Hope" on it, given to him by the Guardians or the Children...

And his "woobie", which was given to him by one of his fellow Texas National Guardsman, SGT Leal, last year when Rowan was inducted into the Army National Guard.  Sgt Leal told Rowan how important a soldier's woobie was.  The para blanket can keep you warm when it's cold or cool when it's hot.  He said that a soldier would give up a shower for 30 days, but would never go without his woobie.  Rowan was honored to bring Sgt Leal's woobie with him into this battle today.  It definitely made him feel stronger and safer.

Shortly after 7:00 pm, the nurses and staff came into Rowan's room, singing "Happy Transplant Day to you!" carrying an awesome Transplant Day Poster.  It even had Chef - Iron Man and Big Foot prints all over it, and it was signed by all of them. So special.

But even more special, was the bag of cells they brought with them. We took a few pictures with the "bag of life"...

Then the nurses started prepping Rowan, and got the transplant underway. 

Starting at 7:09 pm, Pacific Time Zoe, Rowan began receiving the gift of life.  He talked to Jalene's Mommy, Jen on the phone, and then face-timed with his sister Zoe, who is back home in Texas right now.

The infusion ran for about an hour and a half, and Rowan did fantastic! 

We were all so joyful and relieved!

We couldn't be happier with how Rowan did today.  Transplant #2 will be around the same time tomorrow night, and we hope for more of the same.  After re-reading Rowan's devotional for the day, we know we are not going to worry about the path ahead though...we are just going to enjoy each moment, and trust God as he leads us and guides us.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers!  They are seeing us through this.  Please continue to have hope with us, and enjoy each "new day"!


  1. I LOVED this post! SO AWESOME! My son, who is almost 11 and has Down syndrome, and I will be praying for Rowen. Btw, what is the name of the devotional book Rowen is using? I'd like to look for one like that for my son, Justin.

  2. To Rowan and your beautiful family: I just got home from a day at the hospital (I spend quite a lot of time there myself, so I'm a kindred spirit!:), and I "happened" upon your blog as I was searching the Internet for inspirational reading--well, we all know the truth of it, don't we(?) There's no "happened" about it--God led me right to your site, because what could be more inspirational than Rowan and his story?:). What a little angel he is!--TRULY. :):):)

  3. I'll share a little secret with you: Ever since I was a little girl I've been able to see and hear angels (as clearly as I can see and hear people:), and as I was reading your blog, Rowan's guardian angels began telling me that he is an angel here on earth--an incarnated angel, if you will, who has a great spiritual purpose here on this planet, radiating love and light and healing to all who see, hear, and touch him, as well as those who read his story:):). They wanted him to know that they are so very proud of him, and that they are deeply touched by the grace, strength, dignity, patience, and faith with which he's borne this tremendous challenge; they say that HE is an example to every human being and all the angels in Heaven of what it means to be an Angel of God:):). And they also want to reassure him that his eloquent description of the situation (that God has planned it all, and has already lined up everything in the past, present, and future for your highest good) is absolutely true, and that you're all being cradled in the arms of God now and every moment---and you are all surrounded by countless angels and archangels (in addition to the guardian angels that have been with you since birth, and never leave your side:)...and this number includes your fellow "earth angel" friends who are now angels in Heaven (especially Chrissie, who says that she stays beside Rowan in bed and tells him jokes to distract him from pain, whispers encouraging words in his ear when he's worn out, and gently strokes his hand when he's in need of comfort--amongst other things, for she is oh so bright and giddy and chatty, she has a lot to say:):).

  4. So please, PLEASE know that you are never, EVER alone--there is not one second of one step of this journey that you are not supported by the arms of God, shielded by the wings of a thousand angels, and being healed by the prayers of the many, many people who love you and whose lives you've touched through your powerful example and your sweet spirit. I am one of those folks!; as I mentioned earlier, I have some serious health issues myself, so I can empathize with how immeasurably difficult and indescribably overwhelming your medical challenges must be--and yet you not only handle it all with immense grace and strength (more than most adults could manage, even:), but you have the maturity and selflessness to view your suffering as an opportunity to help others...how incredibly admirable that is, and how deeply inspiring!:). You have made a difference in MY life, Rowan (and my service dog's, too! I have a seizure alert dog that goes everywhere with me, and whenever his Mom is happy, HE'S happy--and reading your blog most certainly made me very, VERY happy:), and I just wanted to honor you and thank you for that precious gift:):). And I also wanted to ask if you had an address that you could receive cards or letters at(?); I would love to support you in whatever way would bring you the most comfort (and I'm an artist like you!--I've illustrated several children's books, and design angel greeting cards too--and I would love to draw some pictures for you, and to see some more of your amazing artwork:):). I'm new to this blog, so I'm not sure what the rules are for posting contact information--I'd be delighted to give you my phone/text number and mailing address if you want it, just let me know at my email address (petspeaker@gmail.com); I'd also be delighted to give you more details about what your angels had to say, and/or ask them any specific questions you might have for them (I only gave you an abridged version here, because if I wrote down everything they had to say in this post, it would be several pages long:):). Meanwhile, know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers, and that you are most assuredly guided and guarded by God and all His angels, always and All Ways:):):). Best wishes and a speedy recovery to you!

  5. P.S. Hang in there, kiddo! You're doing AMAZING, and you should be SO proud of yourself!...you are an inspiration to us all:):). You are in my prayers (and my service dog's!--he's really good at them:):), and we hope and pray that you feel stronger and more energetic and comfortable and strong day by day! You've come SO far, and gone through more than any one person should ever know about, much less experience; you need and deserve perfect health, perfect joy, and perfect peace, and I have perfect confidence that you are well on your way to receiving them fully, powerfully, and permanently:):). You are SO LOVED, little angel:):)!!!!, and you have so much more yet to give and experience and enjoy in this lifetime, which will be full and rich and oh so incredibly happy:):). I know you're traveling an specially challenging leg of the journey right now, and my heart brims with love and compassion for you; if you should ever find yourself overwhelmed by pain or fear, know that the love and support of so many, many people are with you in every moment, as well as boundless faith that you will come through this challenge strong and victorious and whole, as you have in every challenge you've faced before this:):). You have been chosen by God to heal His people through your example--when they see the love, patience, compassion, and gentleness of the Christ in your own, they in turn become inspired to emulate those ideals themselves. You will teach people that might otherwise have been unreachable: They will say, "If this boy--so young, so small, so innocent--can face such tremendous challenges as these with such humility, courage, and good humor, cannot I--who is so much older and larger than he, with much smaller difficulties to face--at least try to be kind and forgiving as well, and emulate the values and behaviors that Christ taught, and that this boy embodies?". This is indeed the work of the angels. And remember, angels have the power to heal anything, to accomplish everything, to manifest health and love and strength and all good things in their fullest and most perfect form:):). That's YOU, Rowan!--YOU have this same holy ancestry, this divine power, this favor of God. Though you may appear young and small on the outside, the truth is that you are incredibly ancient and immeasurably vast on the inside--an old soul, a wise soul, a powerful soul, an enlightened soul, a great and loving soul:):):). So keep up the amazing work, my dear friend!--we need you on this planet, and we eagerly look forward to enjoying your brilliance and radiance and magnificence for many more years to come:):):). Hope you're enjoying peace in your soul and comfort in your body this weekend, and that the Gift of Life you recently received has taken root and sprouted wings within you, so it will soon be able to bear you up upon its strength and power, and carry you home triumphant and healthy, ready to begin the next phase of your inspiring and incredible life:):). Love and light to you and all your family!:):)