Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How Sweet A Honey Baked Ham Is!

For our first Ronald McDonald House dinner we were very thankful to have the sponsorship of Swagelok Company.  For our second dinner, however, we needed to find our own resources, which proved harder than we first expected, as many stores have donation policies that they strictly adhere to! 

Given the holiday season, I really wanted to do a ham, so I contact the Honey Baked Ham to see if they would be willing to donate some meat for our dinner.  I was overwhelmed with their generosity!

I was first directed to the regional director, Mr. Bill Walters.  While he was unable to specifically provide meat, he mailed me several generous coupons.  At our local Honey Baked Ham store (in Fairlawn OH), I was assisted by employee Mr. Matt.  He was helpful in assuring me he would combine the coupons, and guided me in which ham would best suit our needs, as I've never gotten a Honey Baked Ham before! When we went to pick up the ham, he was most gracious in providing an ample ham, as well as some extra pieces to make sure we had enough to serve. 

We are so grateful to the Honey Baked Ham, for helping us be able to serve a beautiful and tasty ham to the residents of the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland! Their generosity, care, and spirit of giving brightened our holidays!  Thank you so much!
And a wonderful company! Thank you!!
*Picture Courtesy of Honey Baked Ham

Ronald McDonald House Dinner 2.0

Well we did it again-another dinner at RMH! They recently expanded all their facilities, to an astounding 55 rooms; because of the holidays, however, a number of families had gone home.  Still, there were a number of our old friends there, as well as new friends to be made! Making dinner is such a wonderful way to pay forward the blessing it was to us, and we were so privileged to be able to do it!

Our group included Brian and Brad, from our summer intern group who had done dinner in July, and friends new to RMH -Sharon, Craig and Noelle. 

Dad and Mom made chicken curry and vegetable rice, respectively, and raita (yogurt salad) and naan for the dinner, which was a huge hit! There is a large number of Middle Eastern people staying there, so they really appreciate the tastes that hit a little closer to their home foods.  But a number of Americans also enjoyed sampling the ethnic tastes!

After our dinner, Rachel had organized a craft time, with rubber stamping and New Year's masks for all the children (and adults) to decorate. 

A huge Thank You to all my friends and my family who helped make this dinner and craft time!
Our Entire Group!

L: Brian and Daniel making brownies...they made four pans, and with Ruth, David and John,
decorated them in hot pink frosting.  The brownies were a huge hit!
R: Noelle; probably the only time all night she was simply standing! She solidly helped where needed (peeling 30lbs potatoes, warming the veggies, slicing the meat) and arranged all the food in the proper places for dinner! 
Busy Sharon...Happy Sharon!
Among other things, Sharon carved up three chickens so perfectly, we took pictures of it!


Craig testing if the potatoes are done-he cooked 30lbs of mashed potatoes!
Craig, me, Sharon, Noelle

Aside from making gravy, Brad brought his guitar to provide some live music.  It was a hit with everyone! From the little girls, who taught him new songs like "Twinkle, Twinkle" and "Jesus Loves Me" to this gentleman, who tried his hand at playing some tunes!

One of the best parts of RMH is making new friends!
L: Jen with Maria and Eva Rose, the cutest little girls ever! Their sister, Emily, just had a heart transplant!!
TopR: Brian and Joseph!
Bottom R: Nadine and Rachel! Nadine and her sister Noha are from Cairo, Egypt

Craft  Time!
More Crafts!

Sharon and Craig with their new (masked) identities

Happy Holidays!

Another eventful year has ended! Looking back, there has been so much that has gone on, from finding out about my relapse last Christmas  Eve, to facing the a New Year 2013 full of so much medical uncertainties and a BMT, to starting this blog...but God has been, as always, so faithful and gracious to me and my family.  I'm blessed to have come out 6-months post BMT and doing well!! I still have a cough, and a lot of little things (like fatigue, chemobrain, finger numbness) to deal with daily, but in the big picture I'm so grateful to be alive.
I'm also so grateful for everyone who reads my blog and comments and prays! It is such a blessing to have so many people faithfully supporting me! Thank you!  
I've met so many incredible and supportive people, and made many new friends.  I'm thrilled to officially have finished my freshman year of college!
Looking forward, I don't quite know what to expect, but I'm glad God knows! It seems weird, because I've almost forgotten what it is to not start a new year with any big medical issues, like the last few years. 
We  had a blessed Christmas with our grandparents the Abbots visiting us.  This holiday season has been wonderful, as I've gotten to spend time with college friends, have dinner with our dear neighbors, visit a museum with our friends the Smiths, and generally relax and enjoy my family!
I hope each and everyone of you has a happy, blessed and prosperous new year 2014!

This is a verse that my family has claimed as God's promise to me, through both these cancers. 
Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Making Christmas cookies...at 11pm :)

Visiting a Lego exhibit with our dear friends the Smiths~ Tim & Jenny, Jake and Sam

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Scan Results

Dear Friends,
All my preliminary scan reports came back clean! Thank you all so much for your prayers!
My lung area on the scans was still hazy...but it has looked the same for a few months now. Tomorrow morning I will be seeing a pulmonologist to hopefully get some answers and treatments for my cough. 

A friend texted me this verse Sunday night, which accurately portrays God's power!

Ephesians 3:20-21- Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Only God can give the healing that He has, more abundantly than I could ever ask or think!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

6-month Scans

Hello Friends!
I just wanted to post and let everyone know that I will be having my six-month follow-up scans on Monday, December 16th.  Please pray that all the scans will come out perfectly clean, without any additional need for scans or tests or biopsies. 
I will have a PET scan at 8am, followed by a CT scan, after which I will see my oncology team.  Please pray that these would go smoothly and quickly and that I would not get sick from the different contrast dyes.  These days can get very long and tiring!
I will post the results as soon as I have them! Thank you so much for all  your prayers!

Answered Prayers

Often I post specific prayer requests on my blog; but I know there are so many of you who consistently pray for me, regardless of special needs.  I wanted to share an incident that happened just last week; because of the suddenness of everything that happened, we didn't get to tell many people about it.  The wonderful thing that happened through this, is that many of my college friends and I were able to pray together and see God answer our prayers! So... to back up and tell the full story!
Two some weeks ago: My family had been passing around a cold, and I finally got it.  I got a pretty severe cough, that was hanging on!
Wednesday, December 4th:
Early Afternoon: My dear nurse Ceci called almost daily, to check up on me.  That day I was feeling quite poorly, and a little short of breath.  My oncology team consulted, and asked me to go to the emergency room.
Late Afternoon: Well, being the stubborn girl I am, I decided not to go to the ER right away.  I wasn't feeling well, so I was pretty sure I would be admitted into the hospital, and made up my mind to make the most of my remaining free time!
My friends had invited me to go make photo snow globes with them, and then join them for dinner. We had an incredible time capturing most of our friend group in our snow globes and I had an amazing dinner (because I thought it would be the last time I would get a decent meal in a good while)!  One special moment I wanted to share...while I was standing in line, I was pretty nervous about what the doctors would find. My friend Heather saw me, and walked over to me.  Putting her arm around me, right in the middle of the cafeteria, she prayed with me, and asked God to allow me to finish the semester and that I would be healthy. 
During dinner, my Dad called; he was away on a business trip, so couldn't come with me.  My Mom was nervous, because the last time I went to the ER with lung trouble, I ended up in the PICU.  Dad said to firmly insist I be put in oncology, or he would fly up right away!
Evening: I went home and picked Mom up to go to the ER. Keeping with my stubborn self, I refused to pack clothes or anything else and we left.  Thankfully, Rachel had packed a bag of snacks and clothes and other such necessities. 
Night: After we got there, they needed to put in an IV.  I'm an extremely hard stick and so was understandably tense about it!  However, God blessed us with an amazingly kind and loving nurse, Shifra.  She assured me she would only try if she like what she saw-and she got an IV on the FIRST TRY!
A chest X-ray came back clean for pneumonia! Another answered prayer! Mom and I were both shocked, because I certainly didn't sound/feel like my lungs were clear!
Next they wanted a chest CT...which meant another, larger IV! It was an EMT that was going to try and I wasn't to sure about it.  She said she would just look, and if she didn't see anything, she would call Shifra.  Well, she got her IV on her first try! It was nothing short of a miracle that two different nurses would both get an IV on their first tries! It was such a reminder that God was watching out for me, and had guided their hands, and cared about even the smallest details!
"Brown Girls"
Shirali, Jahnvi, Mandy and I
Snow Globe Pictures!
Most of our little group!
Thursday, December 5th
3AM: Since they didn't find anything anywhere, I got to go home! And even though it was incredibly early, it was wonderful! I slept until noon! Although I had had a test that morning, Jessica, my wonderful helper at the Office of Accessibility, had spoken with my professor and gotten it moved.  My orchestra director also allowed me to skip rehearsal that afternoon. 
Late Afternoon: I finally went to college; however, I was able to take my sidekick John! We had a blast together as we both did our work, with our friends Sharon and Craig Bernard. The four of us enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies and had a productive afternoon together!
Evening: My final concert! John was able to meet our director, Dr. Bordo.  It was a blessing to join in prayer with other musicians before the concert.  Mom and the kids came, bring Ms. Kathleen, our piano/cello teacher.  It was such a special blessing that she came, as I knew she wasn't feeling well at all, and how hard it is for her to get in and out of our van.  Also, Naokosan came, bringing her four oldest.  It is always a joy to see them, as they are such an encouragement to me.  Also, my nurse Ceci came, bringing her dad! She had promised to come to a concert, but I knew Thursday nights were extremely difficult for her, not to mention she is coming from more than an hour away! I saw her walk in just before the concert began, and it was just the most special thing in my heart to see her there. 

I felt so blessed and so privileged to have so many people  that love and care for me, there to cheer for me.  All I could remember is the incredible love of God, because I do not deserve any of this. 
What I had asked my friends to pray is that God would give me until my last final, on Friday, December 13th, to be out of the hospital.  It was so close to the end of the semester, and I wanted so badly to finish all my work.  I'm so grateful and humbled that God was gracious enough to allow me my heart's desire, and be able to finish my semester!  
The Love of God
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

With Mom at home, with the beautiful flowers Mrs. Ceci brought!


I briefly wrote a post a while ago...but never got a chance to post it!  So I've expanded and updated it, to give you a brief look at all the exciting and happy things that have been going on in our lives! There has been so much I have been thankful for these last few months.  There have been many special occasions and memories made with family and friends, and I'd like to share a small bit with you!

This past Friday, December 13th, I finished my second full semester of college, and officially finished my freshman year of college! I've been blessed to have made many more wonderful friends this semester! Above are some of my friends and I at our end-of-semester Christmas Party!
Daddy and Duino

Iron-man made a surprise appearance at Rachel's 17th birthday! Here he is with David and Uncle John Kodoru

Posing with the Ladies...Viola, Anna, Ruth and Elizabeth

Rachel, Joseph and I, along with our friend Keith, were able to play as a string quartet for the Teddy Bear Ball. It is an annual event hosted by the Phi Delta Epsilon medical honors society; all proceeds from the formal dinner go to support Akron Children's Hospital.  Many of my friends are a part of PhiDE, and it was wonderful to be able to help make their dinner a little more formal by volunteering to provide some pre-dinner music!

Another exciting event was our cousin Sunil's wedding.  We have grown to love Sunil and Annette greatly over the past few years we have known them, and we were so excited to celebrate their marriage!  The wedding was a unique combination of Indian and Hawaiian-Japanese cultural events, blended and adapted into a traditional Christian wedding.   For instance, there was an Indian henna party the night before the wedding. Pictured above are Sunil and Annette at the Henna Party... 

Joseph and John, Daniel and David were not only able to don some traditional Indian clothing for the henna party, but also able to serve the appetizers!  Here is Daniel with his samosa cart.  The boys went around the tables serving samosas to the guest, along with an accompaniment of either a spicy mint/coriander sauce, or a tangy tamarind sauce!

With Sheilka as we enjoy our dinner.  Both of us have henna on one hand, making eating dinner a little bit tricky!

Rachel with our other cousin, Sunil's sister Malini.  We don't get to see her often,
so it is always special to spend time with her!

With our friend Edith Hines.  She is an accomplished violinist, and we were able to play a few piano/violin duets during the evening!

Ruth with her henna!

At the wedding!

Another highlight was when Uncle Suleiman visited us! Dad and Mom met him when they first came to Cleveland.  He actually led Dad to put his trust in Jesus! We are very close friends with him, and were very excited that he was able to join us for lunch when he was in the area on business! 

Daniel with Paws at the Akron Mini Maker Faire!  

Happy Sisters!

Mom and I with our dear neighbor Vaishali, at her Diwali party!

Ruth with little friends at the Diwali party, watching fireworks in the cold!

John and I with his and David's presents

This Thanksgiving, we were blessed with an abundance of friends at our house.  While the above families joined us for lunch, the party didn't stop there! We had other friends dropping by throughout the day, giving us so much more happy times and memories to be thankful for! Above are Vivek & Vaishali our neighbors, and Jun and Naoko Kojima, with their kids.

Dad with the littlest and tiredest Kojima!

All the boys enjoying Calvin and Hobbes comic books!

And everyone else played dress up! There were so many different characters running around the house!

This semester our family had the privilege to start teaching the Junior Church at our church.  There are a number of inner-city kids that get bussed in and are in our class.  Here is Joseph leading the singing!

The guys made a big manger scene cutout to put in the yard.  Here are mom and dad with the rough draft!

Joseph and Daniel participated in a Wreaths Across America event
with their CAP squadron, and put wreaths on veteran's graves. 

Merry Christmas!

Brown's Love

In October, we received tickets to a Cleveland Brown's game, courtesy of the Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland.  They received tickets from then Cleveland Browns player Trent Richardson.  His only stipulation was that the family that received the tickets be touched by cancer; his generosity included food and parking vouchers!   We were so blessed that the Ronald McDonald House offered us the tickets!
We all had a blast at our first football game.  We were able to go with Vijimama, who explained the game to us.  We had fun cheering, eating, and just hanging out together.  Not to mention the BROWNS WON! (not that we stayed to se :))

Thank you so much, for your generosity in giving my family a night we won't forget!!