Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Beginning of the Battle...

My heart is bursting with so many emotions. I am choosing to focus on the most positive one right now, and that is the unmistakeable presence of God. We are overwhelmed by the outpour of love and prayers and phone calls. I know that it is your prayers that is helping my heart stay aloft through this. This blog will be my way of communicating with all of you: friends, family, and even strangers who want to be a part of Gideon's battle with Leukemia. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being willing to walk with us through it all. I'm in the camp that believes there can NEVER be too much support and love. You will never bother me with questions, and YES, I will ask for help!

A little about Gideon...
Gideon James Schripsema turned three on March 27. Since the day he was born, light has poured from him. He has an uncanny sense of empathy that makes everyone (even the hardest of souls) smile. Gideon wants to please, please, please and brings peace to any situation. Blessings are pointed out by him on a consistent basis ("Look, mom! That flower is opening. You love flowers!"). You will witness firsthand the sweet musings of this unique little mind. Gideon LOVES the Airzoo and has told me he will be a pilot someday. He loves to sing, and as he was getting his blood drawn yesterday he was sure to explain his love for airplanes, outer-space, and race cars ("with numbers on the sides"). He is in awe by every little thing. His enthusiasm over his hospital bed makes me just want to inhale him...

How this came to be...
On Wednesday night, I could hear Gideon calling for me from his room. When I got there, he was in tears. "Mommy, my leg hurts!" was what he said. I assumed he was having growing pains, so I gave him some Tylenol and I rubbed his leg until he was asleep again. The next morning, he was still favoring his other leg.

This happened again on Thursday night, and this time I slept with him so that every time he winced, I rubbed his leg or just applied pressure. This seemed to help him. In all other respects, he was the same cheerful boy.

By Friday, my last teaching day, he had a low-grade fever along with the pain. I called his Pediatrician and was told to call in the morning to make a Saturday walk-in appointment. Again, I slept with Gideon and rubbed him whenever he began to whimper. I was sure it was a crazy virus that I read about online...

Saturday: The most difficult day of my life...
We got in to see the doctor by 9:30 a.m. Dr. Sommers said she believed it was a virus. His knee (where most of the pain was located) was not swollen, inflamed, or hot to the touch. She did say that she wanted me to get to the hospital to do some blood work to rule out all other possibilities. This did not alarm me as I believed in my heart of hearts that it was protocol to be extra safe. I am a fan of being extra safe (especially with my baby boys).

Gideon and I went to the hospital. I explained to him that he was going to get a shot to make sure he was healthy. I was holding the lab sheet and him in my arms, so the lab sheet got all crumbled up. Gideon handed it to the receptionist and said, "Sorry it's messy. Mommy had her arms full of ME." (followed by his trademark toothy grin while pointing at himself with two huge enthusiastic thumbs). The receptionist smiled, of course, and Gideon told her he was okay with getting a shot. He will talk to everyone and anyone, that boy...

When we were called to the back, we walked in and Gideon said, "Hi! I'm Gideon. Please give me a shot and make my leg better, okay?" Melt. Everything that boy says makes me melt. I was sure that I would have to pin him down to get the blood drawn. Not at all. Gideon talked and talked and talked through the whole thing. He said, "My brother Brody doesn't cry when he gets shots. I won't, either. I'm brave like him." When he was told to get a prize for being so wonderful, he asked, "Can I have one for Brody, too?" I have never seen that boy so excited as when he was strapped into his carseat and ready to give Brody his silver airplane he picked out. "Brody will LOVE this, won't he mommy?" He kept asking. He didn't stop smiling and zooming his planes in circles the entire ride.

An hour and a half after the blood was drawn, we got a call from our Pediatrician. Since all of our cell phones ring when our home phone rings, Tom was the one who answered (he was at a birthday party with Brody). Tom called me and said, "Pack a bag and head to Bronson Children's Hospital. There are abnormalities in Gideon's blood, but it could still just be a virus." If a heart can't travel through the body and shatter to the ground, I'm pretty sure my soul did at that moment. Tears were instantaneous, and Gideon immediately started asking me what was wrong and kissing my face ("There. You're better, mommy."). I realized I had to pull it together for him, so I started "sneezing" and making jokes about the "DUST in this house" (which is true, if I'm being honest). I told him we were going on an adventure together. That we were going to take a trip to the hospital where there are beautiful paintings on the wall, a bed that moves, a TV HE can work, and a room full of toys. He made his shocked/ecstatic face, jumped up and down and yelled, "WOOOOOOOOOW! YAY!"

One (or possibly two) hour(s) into the stay, Dr. Sommers came in and said, "I'm so sorry. It is Leukemia." I am ashamed by how I responded. I honestly believed this would not be the news we would hear. Right in front of my Brody and my Gideon, I fell to the ground in a hysterical heap. I couldn't hear or see anything.... I never felt a total deadening of my senses, but I was told this was shock. I think I'm still in shock. I wish I would have been able to have the silent kind of shock. The silent head nod you see in the movies, but alas-- this Amanda is not so silent when it comes to emotions...
* Gideon's anemic from the Leukemia, but does not need a transfusion at this time.

* His liver and spleen are NOT enlarged

* His lymph nodes are enlarged, but he has NO infections or bleeding

* Gideon shows no signs of it being in the Central Nervous System

* He had a chest xray done (which he "smiled" for like he was getting his picture done professionally... so much GUSTO!) and it is clear of fluid

* He doesn't have any "rare conditions" coupled with the Leukemia

* Gideon is constantly being flushed out with his IV (also didn't cry when that one was put in... In fact, the nurse said to stare at mommy while it was done and the honey said, "Isn't my mommy pretty?" Seriously. I can't ever be down with this endorphin-kicker-of-a-boy).

* We will have his spinal tap done on Monday and his bone marrow extraction. We will know after these tests if Gideon's diagnosis is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) or Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). ALL is more favorable and easier to treat, so we are praying for that one.

* We will be here at Bronson Children's Hospital for at least three weeks.

* We will know the plan of action on Monday, and Gideon will be fixed up with a "Central Line" or a port in his chest for the Chemotherapy soon after.

* I am so thankful I didn't name Gideon "Luke," since that will be what I call this Leukemia guy who was NOT invited into our house, but we will work him OUT. No matter what, this cancer is HIGHLY treatable. It'll be a long battle, and I may not always sound like myself, but we will keep our eyes fixed to the heavens. It was NOT by accident that I changed my mind and gave Gideon his name. He is our mighty warrior with optimism and an unending happy spirit that he will use as his weapons...

Please pray for our boy, Gideon. Also, PLEASE pray for his big brother, Brody. Brody was beside himself when he had to leave last night. He had his first full-on temper tantrum... He screamed at us, "NO! I. WILL. NOT. LEAVE. MY. BROTHER! HE IS MY BEST FRIEND!" and then held on to the bed with a strength I didn't think was possible in a four (soon to be five) year old. He wouldn't stop crying and screaming. Before he was whisked away by daddy, he whispered, "I'm scared." Please help us to make his birthday on TUESDAY (June 15) a special one. This boy was blinking back tears all day yesterday...


  1. Amanda, thank you for sharing this. I am just weaping as I read it, as I cannot imagine going through this. You have amazing boys, and they have amazing parents. I have not been able to stop thinking about your precious little boy, and your family. I will continue to pray. You have so much strength, and ways of dealing with your boys and giving them a perspective that helps them to deal with this in a way that still allows them to be little boys. I cannot say how lucky Gideon is to have you as a mother. I know you have had a lot of offers, but please know that I am among those who are willing to help in anyway. I love you. ~Teresa Phares

  2. Amanda, Thank you for sharing all of this at such a difficult time. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Please let me know what support I can provide. Love, Danika

  3. Thanks for letting us know- prayers are there! I'd also like to offer whatever support I may offer. I'd love to offer my time to keep Brody entertained, cook, clean or whatever. Please let me know and keep us posted!
    Karen Tudor

  4. Amanda, Thanks for sharing. I will follow your journey in kicking this leukemia OUT! I will continue to pray for you and your family!!! I'm here for you!

  5. Oh Amanda, these precious gifts that God gives us. I to am weeping as I read of your news. I am sure Gideon has the strength to fight the fight and win. He sounds wiser than his years and will help you all through this time. Follow his rainbow and you will smile with him when he is healed. Keeping him and you in my prayers. Sending love to all your family, Deb Fournier (Momma Martin)

  6. Maxine and I have been praying for all of you since the first phone call. Thanks for this post-it helps us all. Holy Rosary Parish all prayed for Gideon at Mass Yesterday and he is on the prayer list. We were talking about how well Gideons name fit him Friday morning-who knew?

  7. Thank you for sharing! Gideon has a heart of gold and parents to match. Your family is in my prayers.

  8. Oh Amanda, thank you for sharing this! Your beautiful boy and his wonderful outlook on life itself, is sure to give you strength as you work to help him in this battle! Please let me know what, if anything, we can do for you! You and your family will be in our prayers!

  9. Amanda I am so sorry to hear your family is going through all of this! Your family will be added to our prayers and I really hope you find positive news soon. My husband and I are both on the bone marrow donor list, we understand the importance of this and hope your son will find successful treatment and remission.

  10. Amanda,
    Thank you for sharing your most challenging journey will all of us. You all are always in our prayers. Gideon has a remarkable spirit which comes from yours and Tom's strong faith, your beautiful and passionate zest for life, and the love that all of you share. Know that if there is anything I can do, please don't hesitate to ask. My thoughts, prayers, and love are with all of you, Julie

  11. Oh Precious heart breaks for you. Thank you so much for sharing this blog with us. I hope it is therapeutic for you as I know it is for many questions answered...thank you! Please know that your Mattawan Early Elementary family is here for you....anything you need...laundry, shopping, cleaning, babysitting...PLEASE do not hesitate to call me! God is the Almighty Healer and your faith is strong. We are praying for you! xoxo Michelle Baird

  12. Amanda,
    You are an amazing mom! Never forget that. Your boys love you SO much. Know that we are all here for you in ANY way that you need us. Thank you for sharing with us and for creating this blog. We will be praying constantly for all of you.
    Lots of Love,

  13. Oh Amanda...
    Your strength is awe-inspiring. I am praying for you all. You are in a community of support around you. I'll be keeping you all in my heart.
    Love to you-

  14. Oh Amanda, you amaze me! You are are SO inspiring. We all now where Gideon must have gotten that awesome spirit from!! Always praying - Annemarie

  15. Thank you for posting all the information that you have so far for Gideon. I am praying and imaging these bubbles of light and protection around you, Tom, Gideon and Brody. Call or email with anything we can do to help from here or down in K-zoo. Our hearts, spirits and energy is with you. We love you all very much.

  16. We are so heart broken for you and your baby that you have to go through this experience, but know that there are so many people who love you and will do anything you need. We can make you meals, take Brody to play with the boys, anything. After reading your blog, it doesn't surprise me that Gideon has the personality he does...he gets it from his mom. I will never forget that you were the first one to make Owen laugh as a baby! You have a light that I'm sure Gideon inherited. That light will be especially important in these next three weeks. We will continue to pray for strength and healing for you and your family and please let us know if there is anything you need!
    Karey and Nate

  17. Amanda-
    My heart sank when I read the news. I know you absolutely ADORE your boys and I can't imagine what you are going through. You are an awesome mom and such an inspiring, positive person. Your family is going to get through this and Gideon is going to overcome this illness. He couldn't have a better mom to help him through this. Jake and I are praying for you. We also just held up Gideon in prayer in Sunday School class. After all you did for me with taking over the choirs when I had my accident, I would be more than happy to help you out. Don't hesitate to ask if you need anything- I'm home and here in town.
    Love- Courtney Kerwin

  18. Amanda I am in tears reading this I am a mother of three young ones. Gideon sounds like an amazing little boy full of life and enthusiasm. He is going to be so strong and positive through all of this, and surely will fight "Luke" away. Todd and I will pray for Gideon always and tell out friends and family to do the same.

    With lots of love and faith,
    Todd and Katrina Tulgestke

  19. Amanda and Tom,

    Thank you for taking the tme to share this blog with us. Our hearts ache for you as we read about Gideon's illness. Gideon and your family will be in our constant thoughts and prayers. We would like to offer our help and support in whatever way will help you best.

    Sending our love and prayers to all of you,
    Cathy and Kevin Brewster

  20. Amanda,
    Thank you for sharing this with everyone. As I read over the events of the last 24 hours I found myself in tears and my heart breaking for you all, but as I re-read the events I found myself smiling because I know that with the help of God and the strength, love and energy you have, Gideon is heading in the right direction. I have always admired you for your energy and love of life and I hear that in your blog as you speak of Gideon and what he has said and done. He is a lucky boy to have a mom like you and with you on his side he will win this battle. You are all in my thoughts and prayers!
    :) Melinda Paige

  21. Amanda, you are such a blessing. THANKS for all the information that will help us while we pray for all of you. My heart, thoughts, and prayers are always with you and yours. Monica put you all on her prayer chain that includes hundreds of people. Also, I like to light candles to keep my prayers alive. I currently have an orange vanilla swirl lit in honor of Gideon and Brody. It is a constant reminder. I LOVE YOU ALL.

  22. Dear Amanda~~~I have not yet had the privelege of meeting your boys, but listening to you talk about them and write about them here, I have suddenly fallen in love with them both! They must have your spirit, which is so positive and so strong. Know that your EES family will do ANYTHING for you that you can possibly imagine NOT hesitate to give us a holler! I am thinking about you and your 3 men and sending healing vibes your way!
    Love you, friend!
    Penny Ellis

  23. Gideon! i am sorry that you are sick. I hope you get better soon. I Love it wen you laf and wen you smile. Gideon you are sow cute i love you Gideon i love you sow much. i like it wen we went to Bounceland it was sow much fun.I like your Brother to Gideon.wev had fun days Gideon I hope you Get better soon.Love Katie.

  24. Amanda, it's been several years since we were delphis together, but I always remember your positivity and smile. When I saw this on beth and kristi's fb, I didn't realize this was you at first. My heart breaks for you that your family is going through this...I understand the trials of a mother when something is wrong with our children. You sound like a wonderful mom and your son sounds amazing. Praying God's strength and comfort for you as you overcome this trial. You will see the goodness of God at work in Gideon's body and brighter days are ahead. Thank you for sharing in your journey - your honesty and courage are inspiring. Leanne Cook Gurley

  25. Amanda - thank you for sharing this ... you are such an incredible spirit. You have an amazing attitude and outlook on things ... and that is going to go so far as you and your family go through this process with Gideon. Please know that you, Tom, Brody and your entire family are in my thoughts and prayers. I am always available for a "dyad" and I will pray for Gideon!! Love, Faith Brian and Max

  26. Amanda, Tom, Brody and Gideon-
    You are in our thoughts and prayers. We love you all so much. Manda - you are an amazing mom and you are exactly what your boys need.

    Lots of love,
    Emily, Mark and Luella

  27. Amanda and Tom, tears are streaming down my face as I read the blog. Life throws us onto a different path at times but I know God has chosen you because you are able to handle the rough patches. I am a strong believer that God will guide all of you in a direction of hope and happiness. He is in God's hands now and he has amazing plans for him (this is just a little detour). Know that you can always count on your middle school friends to cry with, laugh with, and depend on. Please don't hesitate to ask for anything. Kaleb would love to play with Brody. Also I hope you guys don't mind but I added Gideon to our prayer chain at church. I thought a few more prayers your way would help to find comfort and peace.
    In God's Love, Tara and Mitch

  28. sorry to read of this news. My heart goes out to you all, as I can't imagine what you must be going through. Be strong in the Lord! He is with you always! We will be praying for Gideon and all of you as you fight this battle.

    God Bless!
    Lesley, Matt, Grant, Molly and Charley Hassenrik

  29. Your strength is inspiring. As a new mom, to a new mom to my little boy I can't even imagine what you are going through. Please continue to send updates. I have already shared this story with my whole family so that they can join in everyong in prayer!

  30. You will be on the top of my prayer list! All of my prayers and positive energy will be sent in Gideon's name. I pray for Peace and Healing for him, and Grace for your family.


  31. My dear Amanda,
    Thank you so much for opening your heart and sharing
    the news on Gideon. I know that he has an amazing spirit
    just from the small amount that you have shared. Please
    know that all of your EES family is here to support you with
    anything you need. I have always admired your own spirit and
    now I admire your strength. The way that you communicate
    with your boys is wonderful and amazing. Keep your head held
    high and your smile bright. You and your family are in my
    thoughts and prayers. Please know that I am here if you need
    anything, too. Brody can come over and play with my boys,too!! My
    heart is with you and Tom as you venture through this difficult time.
    All my love- Kelly xoxo

  32. Tom and Amanda, just by reading what you experienced and how you felt tells me that you're human! Emotions like you had and will continue to have are the reactions that a parent feels when their "little angels" are sick.

    I also know by reading that you have God at the center of this. Trust that he is in control and is with you and Gideon. His plans are so much bigger than we can imagine. Beth and I are praying that you will feel his presence and peace and of course, for a full and healthy recovery! Dave Hoppe

  33. Precious Mandy, What can I say? You are an amazing mother of two amazingly adorable little boys. Our hearts were broken for you and Tom when we heard the news yesterday. Thank you so much for this blog, I read it with smiles through tears. We have been and will continue in constant prayer for Gids' complete healing. God knows you are one of His best to trust you with this trial. We love you all, Aunt Betsy

  34. Amanda,

    You and your family are in my prayers. I promise to be a prayer warrior for your little guy. The tears just don't seem to cease as I read your story. Having two girls the same age, and one on the way, I can not begin to image what you are going through. God goes before us, He shields us, His hand upholds us and gives us comfort. Your story an amazing one to be told. Your little boy seems like an amazing little man of God. To know God has him in His hands, holding him, loving his child, He has an awesome and amazing plan for that little boy.
    Jer 29:11, I will be praying constantly for him, you, your husband and your oldest little boy that the peace that passes all understanding will be with you always.
    Stacy Cane Ritter

  35. Sweet dreams Gideon!
    I am glad I got to meet you today. You are an amazing boy with an amazing family! I pray that the bad fishies will stay away.
    See you in the morning.
    Love, Nurse Sue

  36. Amanda, I am a mom too. My child is 18 and he was diagnosed in April with osteosarcoma in his femur. He has been undergoing very agressive chemotherapy and he will have surgery at the end of this month to remove the tumor. He will be on chemotherapy for many more months...We know this is going to be a long battle. You and your son are in my thoughts. We will continue to have hope that our children will get well.
    A Mattawan mother

  37. Happy Birthday Gideon!!!! We love you and we pray for you!!! Zea, David, Felicia and Daniel

  38. Praying for Gideon and your family. Our Sunday school class is praying too. Thanks for sharing, Amanda. Keep your eyes on Jesus, as I know you are...Kristen Scranton

  39. You have two amazing and loving children. Your story touched my heart. I will be praying for Gideon's health, and strength and peace of mind for your family. I hope Brody had a wonderful birthday.

  40. I do not know you but was asked by a friend to pray for you. Just wanted to let you know that you and your family are being prayed for in Salisbury, North Carolina. I too, have two sweet little boys similiar in age to yours.

  41. Amanda - we are strangers, but I too am a mother of a son with a chronic illness. I understand your fear and I want you to know that this Kentwood mom is praying for your son. May our Heavenly Father bless your son with His amazing healing power.

  42. Amanda,

    I dont know you but saw this link posted by a friend on face book. My heart is breaking reading this. I too have a toothy little blonde boy who is too. I cant imagine what you are going through but you seems strong and so does he! All my love and prayers are with you! May he get well soon!

  43. Amanda... I heard about you from Matt Archibald. I couldn't read this tonight without weeping and sharing it with my husband. Your response increases my faith... your Gideon is an amazing little boy. Thank you for sharing so authentically... I am so moved and will be praying for Gideon and for all of you!

  44. Amanda...I know you don't know me, but I've made a few posts already. I went to college with Cathy and Kevin DeVries. I am just crying so hard right now. I want to hold hold Gideon....I feel so helpless. I know I can pray, and have been doing so, but please if there is anything special I can do for Gideon...maybe put a care package together of his favorite things....I would LOVE to do it!! I very much admire your strength during this time. I have two small boys....a 5 yr old and a 1 yr old and I love them so deeply, just as you do your boys. I am clinging to to this one sentence you wrote in this post...that this cancer is HIGHLY treatable. PRAISE GOD!!!!!!! And I will pray that he has the more favorable type, too!! I will spread this news to anyone I know and get even more prayer for him and for your family!! There is so much power in prayer and numbers, I firmly believe that. God is in control!!!! Kiss that baby boy for me! Jenelle

  45. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)... When I pray, I ask God to bring quick healing to Gideon; quiet, loving, calm peace to Brody; faith, strength, comfort to mom and dad; protection for all and that each need is met according to His glorious riches - just to name a few. How much more will God take these requests and do immeasurably more than I could've ever imagined. He's bigger than all of our problems, knows what we need before we ask...Say it so the faith grows and stomps out fear. Pray it until it Him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen

  46. I've been looking for current updates on our little guy...? (You too Amanda)