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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
If this letter gets written it is because I was very efficient at my one 45 minute work session at the computer!! This year has been a very eventful one for us, much more than we planned!

Cale is now 2 ½ and is such a delight and joy and a bit of a pill at times too!! He is such a creative little boy and has all kinds of ideas…some good and some not so good. Some of his good ideas are playing forever with his dump truck, reading books, playing trains, and giving hugs. Some of his not so good ideas are riding his tricycle (with no pants on) as fast as he can down the hill, running into the curb and flying over the handlebars on the grass (all on purpose), or pretending our dinner plates are snowshoes, or taking the powdered sugar outside and having a powdered sugar war with his brother (I should probably just be grateful it was outside and not inside!). Cale certainly keeps us on our toes and makes us laugh way more than we probably should—we at least try to turn our heads so he doesn’t see that we are laughing!!

Tate is 4 ½ and is such a sweet boy. I could sum up his year by a quote he made last January when he was trying to find his stuffed animals… “Mom, where are my babies…I mean my big boys…my people.” So his year has gone. He is growing up so fast. He started preschool and is just in heaven. He delights in everything and it is amazing to see his mind grow and expand. I thought he might outgrow the “why” stage, but instead of asking just plain old “why” to everything, I now hear, “I wonder why such and such happens.” He is very curious, is Mr. Holiday cheer himself, and is the best big brother.
My big news is that we are expecting another baby in February. I got really nervous at our ultrasound because we decided we didn’t want to know the sex of the baby and I was very concerned that they would slip and tell us. We are on schedule for a surprise in the middle of February.

Jon started the year doing all of his normal stuff and being concerned about the typical things you would expect from someone who would be graduating soon. His birthday was in October and he kept telling me that 31 was a rotten age because he felt like he was more out of shape than he had ever been and he just plain wasn’t feeling like his normal self. On November 1st we found out why he was feeling so out of shape. Jon was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome which is a type of blood cancer. We have really had a whirl-wind experience so far. Right after his diagnosis we learned that the cure for his disease is a bone marrow transplant. All his sisters, AKA “team donor,” were tested and to our absolute joy we found out that Jon’s oldest sister Jadi is a perfect match. She will come out Christmas day and begin a procedure to collect her stem cells for Jon. Jon then starts chemotherapy January 9th and his transplant is the 16th. We anticipate a successful transplant and hope that Jon will be able to come home sometime around February 5-9th. Please keep Jon in your prayers as this process is a very difficult and long one. The baby is due February 17th and I’ve been early in the past, so life will definitely be an adventure.

So to sum it all up, this year has for sure had its trials, but we have experienced many more miracles than trials. I’ll just list a few…Jadi being a match, some of the best medical care, the UNC orthodontic department that has been so kind and good to Jon, wonderful friends, the best families anyone could dream of, 2 sweet boys and a baby on the way, Jon’s mom staying with us for the “long haul,” the faith and prayers of so many that have given us comfort and peace, and a greater strength and faith in the Savior Jesus Christ that can only come from life’s most difficult challenges. The list goes on and on. We have felt so blessed at this time.
We hope you all have a wonderful, healthy, and happy New Year! We plan on doing the same!

Lots of love—Jon, Quinn, Tate the Great, Captain Cale and the Mighty Surprise Silcox!!

P.S. If we don’t have your email address, please send it to us as we send out periodic updates… or Jon will have his computer with him while he’s in the hospital and would love to hear from you. Also, if you are interested in becoming a bone marrow donor, please visit . It only requires a few cheek cells to be added to the registry!

Friday, December 8, 2006

Another update (December 8, 2006)

Hello family and friends,

It seems like much has happened since our last email. The weekend of Thanksgiving we made a quick trip to Utah. Both our families knew that I was coming but Quinn and the boys were a complete surprise. I think they liked their surprise! Perhaps the best part of our trip was on our lay-over in Chicago, as we were about to miss our connecting flight, we found out that Jadi, my oldest sister, is a complete bone marrow match!!! Thrilled, happy, elated and grateful don't even begin to describe our feelings! With this good news we will now move quickly toward the transplant. Since the transplant will actually be a bone marrow stem cell transplant, Jadi will come out to North Carolina on Christmas day and the next day begin testing before they can harvest her stem cells. She will undergo about 3 days of treatment to move the stem cells into the peripheral blood, and then it will take 2 days to collect enough stem cells via a centrifuge process for the transplant. So, no extraction of actual bone marrow! I will begin chemotherapy treatment the first week of January as an out patient, and will be admitted to the hospital around the 8th of January for the remaining week of high-dose chemotherapy. After 2 days of rest from the chemotherapy, I will then receive the stem cell transplant. The doctors seem to think that I will be required to be in the hospital for about 30 days following the transplant. As you can imagine, I am not looking forward to being incarcerated for that month, but I have become rather submissive to whatever doctors tell me to do! I am also told that even after being released from the hospital, I will continue to recover at home and possibly not feel too well for some time. I guess that is to be expected when you have cancer, right?

It is possibly a demented thought to be looking forward to something like chemotherapy, but I think we are all anxious to get the whole process started. We will try to keep you posted as we progress through this experience.

Before this, we had never experienced having so many people pray and fast specifically for us. It has been amazing. We really feel that Jadi being a match is a true answer to prayer. Thank you all for your support, love and prayers. We have, in a very real way, felt the sustaining strength beyond our own and it has instilled within us faith, courage, vitality, patience, and energy during this time. We can’t thank you enough for your support.

May you all have a wonderful holiday season. We feel we have much to celebrate and much to reverence.

Thank you again,

Jon and the clan


Many people have generously offered to help even by means of being tested as a bone morrow match. We have been blessed to find a match within my family, but thousands of others aren’t quite so fortunate. If you would like more information on how to join the National Marrow Donor Registry, the website is below. It costs $50 to register, but only involves a swab of the cheek from inside the mouth to get the required information (no blood draw needed). As you can imagine, this is something we feel quite passionate about now!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thanks to all!! (Novermber 12, 2006)

Hello family, friends and otherwise!
In the past week we have come to appreciate things in a whole new light. Tate is grateful that I am out of the hospital, but is also grateful that I have shaved my lamb-chop sideburns to a more reasonable length because it has made me "more handsomer." The rest of my family seems to be grateful for much more than just facial hair that is under control (however, I think Quinn agrees this is a blessing). Overall, there is a recognizably different spirit in our home. We have spent the week enjoying life and enjoying each other. Although life has seemed to have changed so quickly for us, we currently have the opportunity to slow down and just be our little family. With medications and platelet transfusions I have felt well enough go about a fairly normal routine. Of course, now I decide what is normal... if I don't feel like going into work, I assume that I have a good enough excuse not to go!

All three of my sisters (Team Donor) were able to quickly get their blood drawn and sent back to Chapel Hill. Their blood will now undergo 2 weeks of testing to see if one of them is match for the bone morrow transplant. If all goes well, I will be back in the hospital in December for a week of chemotherapy (goodbye lamb-chop sideburns!) prior to receiving the transplant and then a month in the hospital. We continue to pray that one of my sisters is a match so we can get this whole process rolling. We all are learning a little more patience.

I grew up the Big, Strong and Handsome brother, but I think I will have to add Grateful in there somewhere. Thank you all for your fasting, prayers, thoughts, emails, cards, and phone calls. We have felt a love and support that is way beyond what could ever be expected. We realize that we have a tough journey ahead of us, but we feel up to the fight as we know we will be upheld by your support. We are also grateful that this experience is drawing our family to a new closeness. We have been in North Carolina for more than 6 years, but have never felt closer to our families. I don't think we have ever been so united in prayer for one cause.

Yesterday, we took advantage of the good weather and took a few photos. Although our life perspective has changed just a little, we are happy and doing well.

Thank you again for all your support.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

News from the Silcox clan (Novermber 4, 2006)

Hello family and friends,

As many of you know we have had quite the week! We thought we would let you all know what exactly we have found out and where our journey will take us in the next few months. We apologize that it has taken so long to get any information out, but the information didn’t get to us much faster! Wednesday Jon was admitted to the emergency room after a getting some pretty scary blood test results. He has gone through the works since Wednesday, but in all reality he hasn’t been feeling well for a few months. After waiting for what seemed like eternity, Friday we finally got all the test results of Jon’s bone marrow biopsy. Jon has been diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). Before 1970 it was called pre-leukemia. Jon’s bone marrow is producing blood cells, but the cells that are not effective and any good. MDS is considered a type of blood cancer.

The only curative treatment is for Jon to undergo a bone marrow transplant and the critical issue right now is finding a donor. Prior to his transplant, Jon will undergo a week of intense chemotherapy, receive the transplant, and then be in the hospital for at least another month. Thankfully Jon has 3 wonderful sisters who will be tested as donors. It will take almost 3 weeks for them to be tested and their blood to be analyzed. They look for the HLA markers on white blood cells. There are 6 different markers that need to match. Each sister has a 25% chance of being a donor. This is the critical issue we are praying for right now. If one of his sisters is a match Jon will undergo his transplant in December. If they are not matches the doctors will try to find a compatible donor from the national donor registry. A non-family member donor decreases the chances of the transplant being successful a bit, and it also will take much longer. Time is a critical issue because right now Jon’s cells are just useless, but they are not aggressive leukemia cells. If left untreated MDS turns into leukemia which as you can imagine is a pretty significant side effect!! It would take a couple of months to find a compatible donor, and our chances of finding one are about 80%. Also, if any of you are keeping track baby Silcox #3 plans to come the middle of February so the sooner the better for us!

In the short term until a donor and a transplant are set up, Jon will be getting shots to increase his blood cell counts as well as transfusions. He was released from the hospital today which we were just thrilled about! Jon has responded really well to these treatments and his counts are up high enough that he can go back to a lot of his daily activities. He is such an on the go person that I fear staying in the house for a month could drive him crazy. It will be really nice for him to be on a much less busy schedule and treasure him being at home more, but he will have some routine and be able to do many of the things that he loves. With his compromised immune system, Jon just has to avoid sickness as much as possible.

As you can imagine this has been quite an emotional journey, but we are feeling up to the fight that is ahead of us! I know of no one that likes to win more than Jon and I can’t imagine anyone who will give it a better fight than he will. Doctors give him the statistic of a 50-60% chance of living till he’s 85, but knowing Jon it is going to be quite a battle, but I’m sure all will be well and we will grow as individuals and together more than I think we can imagine at this point. We have held each other and cried, but we have laughed more than we have cried. We are both doing really well and Jon looks better than he’s looked in quite awhile. We would like to thank all of you more than we can say for your love, prayers, fasting and concern in our behalf. We have felt strength beyond our own. Our faith is strong and we know that our Heavenly Father is helping us through this difficult chapter of our lives. To those that have watched our children we are so grateful. They are happy and doing well and that couldn’t have been the case without people watching them that loved them. We appreciate all the calls, emails, and offers to help. Right now Jon’s parents are with us and we are being taken care of and spoiled! I think we will have things in control till his transplant at which time family will be coming to help and we will let you know what needs we may have. We have so much gratitude in our hearts for all the support we have felt. It has meant so very much to us!! Emails are always wonderful and it just might take us awhile to return phone calls. Right now we are enjoying all of the simple things of life like being together as a family. Thank you! Thank you! More than we can say!
Love to all!!!!!!
Jon, Quinn, Tate the Great and Captain Cale

P.S. We don’t have everyone’s email, so please feel free to pass this along to anyone we may have missed.

More info about MDS