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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy November 1st!


I can't believe that it was a year ago today that Jon was admitted to the hospital and told that he had cancer. It has been one crazy year and I am just amazed at all that has transpired in one years time. Here are a few pictures of what we have been up to lately. Caramel apples were quite the hit. A sticky, messy hit, but a hit nonetheless!

The halloween cowboys. They love to dress up as cowboys whether it is Halloween or not. I was worried that since they have dressed up as cowboys all year that it wouldn't be as fun on Halloween. I shouldn't have worried. Their favorite things were their spurs that sounded just like the real thing when they walked. Cale loves his cowboy boots because he can put them on really fast all by himself. The only problem is that he almost never wears socks with them. They are the stinkiest shoes, but he loves them!! They LOVED trick or treating. By the end their pumpkin-sacks were overflowing and Tate said "Now we can go home and pick out a treat." I don't know how I got so lucky, but they think they should only get one! :) I wished I thought I should only have one!
So we were cowboys and indians this year. I looked for quite awhile online for an indian costume for me, but just didn't get it together in time so I made a quick run to JoAnn's Fabrics. I figured I could whip up something easy as pie. The skirt was a cinch, and I was planning on just making a poncho for the top: cut a perfect square and cut a hole in the top. Jon explained how I could easily make it much better and make a shirt. Needless to say, unsupervised and unattended (by Jon) I am a disaster with the sewing machine! Even when he told me how to fix my diasaster I didn't quite get it right. So, Jon had to do a major refix job after my fruitless hours spent on one very mediocre indian squaw top!! Fringe does wonders and added to the image of this interracial marriage!

Tate's jack-o-lantern is titled "I let my mustache do the talkin." I am amazed at how big he is getting. He loves school and has lots of friends. Cale can't wait for the minute he comes home and goes running for the bus stop, and then play resumes from wherever they left off the evening before.

Tess was certainly the cutest pumpkin in the patch. She continues to be such a happy bright spot in our lives. She has learned to crawl and I have forgotten just how quickly they can get into things. Life has changed a bit with this milestone. Just today she pulled-up for the first time.

Cale went right away and found his pumpkin. It was instantly his favorite and he carried it (and dropped it) all around. Tate had to look at every pumpkin before he found his perfect one. And yes, Cale is a new boy with his haircut. I think it makes him at least a year older. He thinks so too. When people ask him how old he is he says 4.

Cale is such a sweet big brother to Tess and kisses her all the time. I sometimes wonder how much they get about what is going on with Jon. Just today I heard Cale tease Tess and say "You're a parasite." I am impressed with his lingo. He may not have the slightest clue about what a parasite is, but it sounds like something good to call his sister!

I saved the best for last. Aren't these pictures worth a thousand words. All the miracles that came to pass so we could have just such a picture. Jon looks so good, and he is doing really well. Since he's been off his parasite medicine and has upped his thyroid medicine, he has been feeling so very much better. So I just wanted to wish you all a happy November 1st. This one was great and totally "normal," especially compared to last 1st of November. Kids went to school and preschool, Jon went to work, I cleaned house and got to have a few minutes all to myself, took the kids to get a flu shot and then stopped by the park on the way home. I'm so grateful for just a normal day. I don't think I've ever been more grateful for just plain old normal! Sending lots and lots of love--Quinn and posse

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Silcox Update (July 9, 2007)

Hello family and friends,

We realize that we are long overdue in sending out an update, but we are thrilled to report that we are doing much better than anyone ever expected. Out of the recent events, the actual stay in the hospital was by far the most difficult part… twenty-one days surrounded by the same four walls and performing the same routine everyday became a little repetitive and monotonous. Now, 100 days post-transplant, life is by no means monotonous, as summer is now in full swing. We find ourselves chasing boys, riding bikes, practicing T-ball, discovering the joys of a baby girl, and avoiding the North Carolina heat at the swimming pool. Oh yah, and I also work! I work in the orthodontic department at UNC as a part-time faculty in the graduate and undergraduate clinics and assist in teaching courses. I am also able to work as a clinical associate in two private orthodontic practices and have been busy publishing my research. With all of this going on, I still have energy! Perhaps too much energy— Quinn and I are currently training for a half-marathon to take place in August, I mountain bike at least once a week, help coach two T-ball teams, and now I think I will take on the task of remodeling our kitchen! I am definitely enjoying my new blood (thanks again to my sister, Jadi!) and it has not been the typical recovery, but Quinn reminds me that most things I do are not typical! Tess continues to be the sweetest baby ever, complete with constant smiles. I think she knew she had to be on her best behavior to come to us at this time and she has been nothing but an angel.

For the 100 days following my transplant, I made my appearance in the bone marrow clinic 2 times a week to get my blood drawn, cell counts checked, and most importantly, to chat with my doctors and the nursing staff about whatever was good for a laugh that day. My doctors have been wonderful and we feel so grateful to have been here to receive such good care. I have been dubbed the “all-star of the transplant clinic” by my doctors because I have felt so well and my counts have been so strong following the transplant. I guess everyone has to be an all-star in something, and thankfully I am a pro at transplants! I will now see my doctors much less frequently and life will continue to move on.

Speaking of moving on…the criteria that Quinn and I set as an indicator of when we would be ready to move from North Carolina was when my health was stable and we could start a new chapter in our lives. We feel that time is quickly approaching. Quinn and I recently celebrated our ten-year wedding aniversary. It is great to look back at what we have accomplished and even greater to anticipate the wonderful things the future holds for us. We are anxiously pursuing job options that will bring us closer to our family and allow us to set down some serious roots! Again, we find ourselves in fortunate circumstances and blessed beyond our expectations.

We hope that this letter finds you and your family well and happy. For the past few months, I think people haven’t wanted to “bother” us, but please, we would love to hear from any of you.

Thank you again for your friendship, kindness and prayers!
Jon, Quinn, Tate, Cale & Tess

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day 92 (June 26, 2007)

I'm just a bit emotional and teary as I write. We just went to our last appointment with Bob and got Jon's bone marrow biopsy. They drew his blood and it was the best it has ever been. Hemoglobin of 14.1 and everything is just coming up. Of 19 things it tells on his print out 15 were in normal range and all of the others were close. Whites, reds, and hematocrit are not normal, but really close to normal and the highest they have ever been on his own. This visit felt like every other one until it was time to leave. We found out that this was Jon's last visit with Bob and that we won't have another doctors appointment for 3 weeks till he sees Dr. Shea. That is the longest we have ever gone without a doctors appointment since November. It was really humbling to think about that. What really made me emotional was as we were leaving and checking out and making our appointment with Dr. Shea, there was a young tall handsome man in his early twenties with an over night bag and his mom carrying his pillow. He was waiting to check in--for campath was my guess. I identified so much with the look on his face--one of optimism and hope. He looked so brave, but I also imagined he felt like we did when Jon went in--that we were holding on for a crazy ride and just hoping we could hold on long enough and strong enough. It was such a vivid realization for me of where we were, how far we have come, and where we are now. For a brief moment, I had a very clear visualization of the past, the present and our hopes for the future. In November my day today seemed like it might never come. It was hard to imagine a day where the fears of cancer wouldn?t occupy all my mind's energy. It is still there, and to be honest, I think it will always be there, but it keeps moving further and further back in my mind. And what I didn't know in November was that we can still be so happy as our little family with cancer still in the picture. I've also come to realize that the experiences of the past year will be something I ponder upon for the rest of my life. As I remember certain feelings and think about things in a new way, every time I am amazed at how the Lord was with us and carried us and strengthened us. Jadi had mentioned that her being a match could have been a blessing that the Lord had prepared for Jon before he came to the earth. What a loving gift from our Heavenly Father. I am amazed at his goodness towards us.

There are still patches in my memory. I think I remember telling my mom about Jon, but I don't remember at all telling Micah, and yet there are other things that are so vivid. During the very hardest of times it seemed that heaven was the nearest. For so long our lives seemed to revolve around endless doctors appointments. Now we are going to t-ball games more frequently than we are doctors. Who would have guessed. Today has been a real day for reflection and gratitude and I hope it can be one of gratitude for all of us. We are doing so well and are so happy! We aren't out of the woods by any means, but then again I don't think there will be a moment or a day when we say that we have closed this cancer chapter of our lives. I'm just so grateful that where we are right now is the very best place we could be. Thank you so much for all the roles that you have played in our lives. We love all of you so very much and are so grateful for your faith and strength that you have added to ours.. Thank you for all your sacrifices for us! We love you!!

Quinn and Jon

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I'm Out! (April 10, 2007)

Hello All,

After 21 days in the slammer, I have escaped! And what a crazy 21 days they were. In all reality, my body tolerated the treatment much better than any of us expected. For the first 5 days I was in the hospital, I had a constant chemotherapy IV drip. Although I did have the pleasure of experiencing some of the side-effects of the drugs, each day came as a surprize when I really didn't feel too bad. I kept expecting the terrible side-effects I had been warned of by doctors and nurses, but fortunately, they never really came in full force. I would honestly say that the most difficult part of the hospital stay was the stay itself. For 20 days I wasn't able to even step outside my small hospital room, and some days my family members weren't allowed to see me due to a little cold virus going through our household. Our baby Tess wasn't able to visit at all. I really did keep pretty busy... mostly just to avoid insanity!

On the 26th of March, I was infused (transplanted) with my sister's cells subsequent to the week of chemotherapy. From that Monday until Friday, I basically had no immune system to speak of. But on Good Friday, we finally got some indication that the transplant had worked. Slowly my cell counts started to creep back up (with the help of some specialized growth factors). Although my counts are nearly normal now, I am still severely immunocompromised as my new cells are immature and lack the ability to mount a defense. However, on Easter, the doctors felt I was doing well enough I could leave the hospital nearly a week before originally planned and surprized us all by letting me walk out the next day. (I give a lot of credit to my private inflatable nurse, Doris) I will now visit the bone marrow transplant unit as an outpatient 3 times a week for blood tests, to check for infections and monitor graft versus host disease which now becomes a very big concern. This routine will carry on for around 100 days which is July 4th. This will be a type of independence day for me!

The first week of May I will graduate from my orthodontic residency. Although I will have my orthodontic certificate, my department has been kind enough to allow me to maintain student status which will allow them to continue to pay my small stipend and my health insurance. What a blessing that is!

Yesterday, Quinn and my mom assisted me in removing the remaining hair I had on my head. This totally bald look is a big improvement from the one I had in the hospital. We had selectively pulled out chunks of hair which made my head look geographic like the globe (alright, insert the large head jokes here!). It is good to be back with my rambuncious boys and our sweet baby Tess. The bottom line is that it is so good to be home.

My family and I can't thank you enough for your thoughts, prayers, and concern. We have obviously felt much greater power than our own. We have been strengthened physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Thanks to those who came to the hospital, called on the phone, or entertained me with emails. It truly allowed the time to pass easier. We hope you will continue to remember our family as we know we have a long road ahead.

Thank you again,

Many of you know that prior to checking into the hospital, I made a therapeutic squirrel launcher... therapeutic in that it allowed me to have something to design, do, think about, and laugh about. However, you may be interested to know the squirrel launcher video on my site hosted by UNC was blocked of all traffic. It appears that it was using a little too much bandwidth... in the 9 days before it was shutdown it received 85,000 hits and used over a terabyte of bandwidth! Luckily, the server administrator thought it was funny and decided to host it on UNC's streaming media server. The following link should work:
For all of those that love the little tree rats... none of them were hurt and they keep coming back for more!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Transplant plans (March 17, 2007)

Family and Friends,

As many of you know, life has been quite exciting for us lately. We welcomed our little girl, Tess Caroline into the world February 7th and she is one cute, sweet baby. We think it was quite miraculous that I was able to be at her birth and feeling well enough to enjoy her and our family for the last while. Right before her birth my blood counts were as high as they have been since my diagnosis which enabled us to mentally and physically to take a break from cancer. About a week after Tess was born my counts started to go down and we met with my oncologist shortly thereafter. My doctor decided that we had waited long enough and with my counts going down and being transfusion dependent again, it was time to move quickly and go forward with the transplant. So, that is what we are doing. I have already received one dose of chemotherapy and will be admitted to the hospital Monday where I will be treated with 5 consecutive days of intensive chemo. The objective of this is to completely wipe out my bone marrow, along with my immune system. Following this, I will receive my bone marrow stem cell transplant Monday, March 26th. I hope to be able to come home from the hospital sometime in the middle of April. I decided before chemo, my hair should go out in a blaze of glory… hence the “CheMohawk.” Quinn parted my hair and the boys had free reign with the clippers. They had a grand time! Quinn has loved traipsing around with me and my new look!

Thank you for all your prayers, love and support! I will have my computer at the hospital and seeing as me and my immune system have to earn the privilege of walking out of my room to the nurses’ station, emails and calls will be great communication and a means of access to the outside world.

Thank you again,

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Beach not hospital (January 9, 2007)

Hey All,

Welcome to the roller-coaster life of Jon! As some of you may know, the night before I was to begin chemotherapy in the hospital in preparation for the transplant, my doctors decided to temporarily postpone the whole procedure. Both Jadi and I were in the hospital that day. I had a small surgery to place a central line in my chest so the chemo and the tranplant could be delivered into a large vein near the heart, and Jadi spent all day with large needles in her arms and watching her blood cycle out of one arm, into a centrifuge and back into the other arm as her stem cells were collected. As you can imagine, with only about 14 hours before I was scheduled to begin chemo, we were not expecting to have the transplant called off. For the past few weeks my blood counts have improved. There is no logical reason for this improvement so the doctors would like to monitor my levels for a few weeks and ensure that they aren't going to continue to improve before they completely wipe out my ability to produce blood with chemotherapy. We all feel that a transplant is inevitible, but considering the risks involved, I think we are all grateful for the cautious judgement used by my doctors. Also, for those wondering, Jadi's stem cells will be frozen until the time for the transplant without any problem.

We had been mentally and emotionally preparing for the transplant for so long, and I think we truly felt up to the task, that when the news came that it was to be postponed, we really didn't know what to think. We felt like our plan had been disrupted and we felt emotionally and mentally drained. Once again, the anxiety of waiting is worse than the disease itself. Graciously, some of our friends allowed us to enjoy a little time at their beach house where we could just enjoy each other and take a little vacation from the worries of transplant and the stress of waiting for a decision to be made. That little trip was exactly what all of us needed. Fortunately, I have felt absolutely wonderful the past 3-4 weeks, which is also a change. Although I would like to get moving toward getting better, it is nice to just feel well and have time living somewhat of a normal life with my family.

Thanks again for riding the roller coaster with us! We'll keep you updated as we get more details.