Wednesday, September 12, 2018

#SlagleStrong

Evening friends... go ahead and grab a cup of coffee (not my fave, but if it is yours please fill up), pull up a bowl of chips (or celery... seriously, how are we friends), and grab a nice comfy seat on your couch.  Oh yea, and I might need for you to grab a tissue (or five).
Tens.... I would love for you to meet one of my oldest and dearest friends...
Tens.... Lindsey (I know, you cannot see full face, but that hair y'all!  I die for my hair to blow in the wind like that! (Insert eye rollin' emoji, cause it ain't ev-a gonna happen for "big perm")
Okay, here is the genealogy.  We go ways back...so far back that I could ride a bike with no hands, jump rope without peeing, and wear Keds.  As you can tell, none of that is recent.  We have been friends for as long as I can remember:
her running around with our Quail Run kids gang (don't get concerned, it was just a group of kids that played together from sun up to sun down)
crazy days during high school and college
we have worked together
there was even a short stint when she lived with me at la casa Curry
she even sang in my wedding.... 
Point of the story is, I have adored her and our friendship.
Now, you have met my friend, but this story is about so much more.
Years, and years ago, in fact, I can distinctly remember sitting in a gas station parking lot with my friend (we were dealing with some heavy stuff.... that doth not need to be part of this story), but I can remember sitting in a that lot (in Avoca of all places) and we were talking BIG decisions.  Life altering decisions.  After talking stuff out, we sat in silence, and I prayed at that moment for God to please send my friend a good and kind man that would be able to take care of and provide for her.  Someone that would stand by her side when it seemed like others had not been up for the job.  A man that would love her like no other.
It was a few years later, but as I know the Lord's timing and my timing are not always the same.  I like things done speedy quick and he does things at a different pace (sllllllllooooower pace... like, insert turtle emoji here kinda pace)!  His timing is always perfect.
He sent her Nick.
Nick Slagle.
I will be honest... first meeting... I was like.... oh, he's tall, like lanky tall.
(I only thought that to myself and now all 10 of you know my deepest thoughts, sorry Nick, but-ya ain't short!)
Looking back, I knew he was the man that was sent specifically for my friend.
I knew that he would care for her.
He would love her.
He would be a great provider.
He would be her best friend.
He would be an amazing father.
Oh, yeah, I have not even told you about that.....
They have a few children.  Not like Duggar numbers, but still 4!  Four ah-mazing "little women".
The girls are 13 all the way to 18 months (oh, how Lindsey has the energy)?!!?
I guess you can tell they have their hands full (look at that lil nugget Lucy Kate)!!

In June, Nick was suffering from a terrible headache.  So bad that it lasted for over a week.  Lindsey encouraged a quick trip to the er, just to get Nick some much needed relief.  This visit turned into a CT scan, then an MRI, and then a few days later emergency brain surgery to remove a massive brain tumor in his frontal right lobe.....
WHAAAA?
How does that even happen?  Nick is 37.  Nick has a wife.  Nick is a dad.  Nick is healthy.  Nick just had a fa-reeking headache.
#ItsNotATumor
#ButItWasATumor

This is where I will let my friend Lindsey discuss.... imagine her in a really sweet southern teacher type voice....

My husband is 37 and he is dying.
(Okay, this is Caryn, and this line just gets me right in the heart.  I cannot imagine even dealing with this thought of my most precious man-friend.)
Back to Lindsey....

Today is three-month anniversary of The Day the World Changed. 

On June 12, after having a headache for about a week, I took Nick, my always healthy husband, to the ER. I really wanted a CT scan, but I didn’t want the resulting mass it showed. The CT turned into an MRI which turned into an emergency transport to Springfield, MO. The neurosurgeon confirmed a nightmare: Nick had a massive brain tumor in his right frontal lobe, and it had to come out. 

We were sent home to spend a few days with our girls, while the hospital got the necessary equipment to remove the whopper of a tumor from my precious husband’s brain. We have four remarkable girls, ranging in age from 18 months to 13 years old. Nick told them that he had a brain tumor and had to have surgery. He handled it beautifully, as did the girls, but it was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my entire life.  The surgery on June 20 was a success. Most of the tumor was removed, and Nick has healed well from surgery. The tumor was sent to Mayo for a biopsy, and he was diagnosed with Anaplastic Astrocytoma, which is a grade III tumor. (I mentioned heartbreaking conversations- telling our children that their Daddy has terminal brain cancer tops the list for me.) This kind of cancer always recurs. There is no cure or remission. He has been treated as Glioblastoma, grade IV, with extended radiation and chemotherapy treatment plans. He has two days left of radiation and his first chemo cycle.

We have adjusted to our New Normal. What I cannot adjust to is the prognosis. At Nick’s two-week post-op appointment, we were told that 60% of patients with this type of cancer are still alive at five years, and 40% of that group are still alive at ten years. After that, there is not data. One of out every four AA3 patients mutate into glioblastoma, which has an 18-month prognosis.

Let me put this in perspective for you. This is what weighs on my heart.

In five years, our oldest will be starting her freshman year of college. In five years, our twins will be 15. In five years, our baby, little Lucy Kate, will be starting first grade. In five years, Nick and I will be 42.

I want my children to have years with him. I have seen the incredible father that he is to our older girls, and I want that for Lucy Kate. I see how the outline of his heart has shaped their daily lives- and I want his imprint on Lucy Kate’s future. I want him in Lucy Kate’s present. These precious, darling, intelligent girls of ours need their Daddy. They need him today and tomorrow and next year and in five years and in ten and beyond that. I want years with him. I desperately want to grow old with him. I want to proudly stand next to him as our daughters grow into the wonderful, Spirit-filled, courageous, young women that I know they will be. I want to hold his hand as we watch our girls walk across the stage at their high school and college graduations. I want to watch him walk his daughters down the aisle at their weddings. I want to see him hold his grandbabies the way he held his own. I know that none of us are guaranteed to have any of these days.  I wake up every day and am thankful for the best day of my life. Today is the best day because I wake up to five other people breathing in my home. Everyone is alive. Everyone is here. It won’t always be this way, so I can’t imagine anything better than it is right now.

I have faith in God’s Plan, and I always have. Our girls know that God is in control and that He holds their sweet Daddy in His hands every second, and we are a strong family because of our faith. As I look back on the last three months, He has cleared the trees from our path before I even knew they were there. You’d think that terminal brain cancer would be a forest in the road, but nope. All the trees were removed, and our path was cleared. God has known that this would be our road to travel long before either of us were even in each other’s lives. Hadley and I were talking yesterday (as she was bummed about a personal ten-year-old girl thing), and she said that God always has a plan. She said that maybe the whole reason God brought Mama and Daddy together to fall in love all those years ago was because Mama knew to listen to God when Daddy’s headache didn’t go away. She knew to listen to God when He said “NORTHWEST” in the car when she was headed to Mercy. One of the cleared trees in our path was the ER doctor at Northwest, Dr. Purcell. He listened to my request for a CT, and he also was able to get Nick to an excellent neurosurgeon at Cox, Dr. Spurgeon. She referred us to an excellent medical team at Highland, and we could not be more thankful. My eyes can’t see past the horizon, but God’s plan is perfect, and I am so thankful for a Mighty God that sees everything.

We have an opportunity to possibly keep our family together for longer. To give Nick more years. To allow my children’s father to be here and be present and raise them. To give Nick time to live. We are in the process of getting him qualified for a device called the Optune device. Optune is a device that Nick would wear on his head that will create wave-like electric fields to slow or stop the division of cancer cells. It has even shown to destroy some of them. This means that a tumor recurrence is far less likely for as long as he wears the Optune device. No tumor recurrence means extended quantity of life. This is incredible. There are glioblastoma patients who have lived for five years wearing the Optune device. This is remarkable new technology. The only downside? It rents for $21,000 A MONTH. We are working with insurance to see if they will cover it. We’re learning that generally they only cover GBM (grade IV) patients, but since it has been recommended by the medical team and it goes along with the rest of his treatment, we are praying that insurance will cover it.

When we first told people about Nick’s diagnosis in June, I was asked multiple times per day if we had a GoFundMe. When I said no, I was asked if I wanted one set up on our behalf. I always said that we didn’t need one, but that I was grateful for the concern and I would be sure to let someone know if we ever needed something like that. I have felt so overwhelmed with gratitude for the support and prayers we have received from our friends and our community, and it was really hard to imagine anything more. We honestly didn’t need anything else. I am working hard with our property management company, and Nick is doing everything he can from home. We don’t have outrageous expenses and live a very normal, reasonable life. Regardless of how hard we work, or the sacrifices made, there is no way we could increase our monthly income by an extra $21,000 a month in the next 40 days to cover the cost of this literal life saving device.

While I don’t like being in the position of asking for things, keeping my husband alive, if given the opportunity, is far more important than my pride. I will continue to work hard to provide for our family. I will continue to proudly stand beside my husband every step of the way. I will continue to have faith in our Mighty God. I will continue to ask for prayers from all of you. I will continue to be so proud of my husband, because Nick teaches me what being #SlagleStrong truly means. I will ask that if you feel led, you share and/or donate to our GoFundMe, so we can give Nick the best chance to spend more years showing us all how to be #SlagleStrong

Y'all, can you even imagine?
Nick has been so strong during this situation and so transparent about the journey that he is on.
You can follow him on Facebook or their page Slagle Strong

I would also encourage you to pray for Nick.
Pray for an amazing healing from this cancer
Pray that this cancer that is terminal... would in fact not be terminal AT ALL.  That he does go into remission and that doctors will just sit in shock... wondering how did that guy just do that.
Pray for Nick to have physical and mental strength.
Pray that during his dark days he will be reminded that he has so many people supporting him and praying for him.
Pray for his doctors and all of the care givers that he see regularly.  Pray that they know the best treatments and will know how to care for him BEST.
Pray for my sweet Lindsey as she cares for Nick, but also their 4 daughters, their home, their family business, their dinners, their laundry, their everything.  She will need to be covered in your prayers.
Pray for their babies.
Y'all, please pray for them to have the best medicine to keep Nick with them.
Pray that their financial needs will be met during this time, and that there will not be a moment when they open an envelope and think, how can we handle that!

A Go-Fund Me page has been started to help them during this time... and if you could please consider blessing them with $1.00, $5.00, whatever... I know that this would be so helpful for them at this time.


I wish I would have shared their story earlier than today, but friends, I have been praying that this just magically goes away.

Nick's story has reached sooooooo many people.
They have been able to speak with other families that are currently dealing with this same kind of cancer.  Lindsey has been able to speak with spouses and learn how they are coping with their situation.  Social media is an amazing thing.
Who knows.... maybe you know someone that has this same cancer and they are alive and thriving.  You could get in contact with the Slagle's and you could be such an encouragement to their family.
If anything, Nick's story has changed the way I look at things in my day to day.
I am tryin to not sweat the small stuff, and focus on things that really matter.  The other day, while we were at the camp site, and our children were fighting, it was hot, I was annoyed that I did not have a wine bottle opener, and we were talking about bills (I know, a poop storm of conversation... at the campsite)!  Then I just started laughing.
Man-friend for sure thought I was crazy.
I laughed, thinking, what in the world are we even complaining about.
My sweet Lindsey and her Nick would probably die to be in our shoes right now, arguing about these ridic things, and right now, they are sitting in their home, worrying about staying healthy, keeping germs out of the house, Nick's hair falling out (it had just started on that day), and wondering what their tomorrow might hold.
We instantly looked at the dark night sky filled with stars... and turned our focus to things that really matter.
Looking at those stars I prayed for Nick again.
My original prayers were for God to send an amazing man to my friend.
He did.
Now, I am asking Him to heal my friend, so he can enjoy a lifetime of making memories.





3 comments:

GiGi said...

Thanks for sharing Caryn. Are we allowed to share as well? I am moved by the story. I know others may be and I am down in southwest Ga. so who knows, perhaps someone here may be able to help and or donate? I have found the older I get and I am quite a bit older than you and probably your mom (65), I look and lean on
God more and listen for that still quiet voice. *Oh btw, my age doesn't reflect the way I feel inside, at times I don't feel any older than the day I graduated high school HAHAHA and other days I feel my age plus some. (Just had to throw that in there..
I always read whatever you post and enjoy your writing style. I do like keeping up with your family and all the happenings in your household. Don't forget to let me know if I can share...(gigimajors@windstream. net) Until then I will add them to my prayer list for sure! Hugs, Glinda Majors (aka GiGi , Nana, Nanny )

Caryn C. Foresee said...

Gigi! Without a doubt, myself and Lindsey would love for you to share their story. I know that she would very much appreciate prayers too. Thank you for lifting them up during this storm

Robert Barbara said...
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