Apr 29, 2012

Chemo-HAIR-apy



Years ago, my grandparents were in a local musical group called the Grandmas & Grandpas, and their motto was "we'd rather wear out than rust out".  That phrase came to my mind this past Friday night, when my brother Don threw a head shaving party in preparation for his upcoming cancer treatments.  About 100 family and friends gathered to show love and support. The event, dubbed "Chemo-HAIR-apy" was held at the Emerge Ministries location where Don is Vice President and a practicing Christian psychologist.  He turned it into a fund-raiser to benefit the Children's Center at Emerge.

 Don has been pushing through this cancer battle ever since his Multiple Myeloma diagnosis came last November.  To say he has been an inspiration is way understating the impact his positive attitude and unwavering faith in God has been on a myriad of people around the world.  (Our local newspaper ran a front page article with his story on February 17, 2012 and it has continued to be picked up by papers as far away as China and Australia. He is still receiving personal notes from strangers from all over the place!)

In about a week, Don is scheduled to be admitted to University Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio to undergo the greatest challenge yet in his journey.  The day before his autologous stem cell transplant, a very strong and toxic chemotherapy drug will be administered in hopes of killing off any remaining cancer cells.  Don has an amazing head of thick hair for a 59 year old man, so the head shaving party as an alternative to losing it in clumps from the drug's side effects was an effort to put a positive spin on a dreaded reality.

Don invited folks to do something silly with their hair.  Our brother Bob was quick to oblige:


Hubby and I wore hair bows:


And my mom did THIS:


We all ate some pizza, salad, and cookies and there were pens and papers on the tables for attendees to write personal notes to Don.  For a small price, folks could throw a whipped cream pie at a volunteer from the Emerge staff.



Most people know that Don detests men's pink shirts, but just for fun he was willing to wear one!


Here I am with Don and John Palmer, President of Emerge Ministries




Some of the family right before the shave



Marcie, Don's wife, looks on as the head shaving begins...


Don is saying something like "I think you are cutting a little shorter than usual"


Now that wasn't so bad, was it?


The evening ended with John Palmer leading us in prayer, asking God to do what the doctors aren't able to...


Don being pushed by one of his grandchildren..



and loving on two of mine.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jacquelyn,

I'm very drawn to your blog and feel that you are a person I'd like to really know. A bit of background – we have known Rebecca and Gary since the 70's when we were both involved in the same church denomination. Vicki with whom you know through fb is our former daughter-in-law (and we still claim her – she calls us mom and dad) And now we have something else in common – CANCER. Our son was diagnosed in February with Diffuse large B cell Lymphoma. He has undergone 3 chemo treatments so far out of 6-8. He gets these ever 3 weeks. After the first one he went and had his head shaved too. He couldn't stand all the hair in the shower. He seems to have a good outlook and has kept a good sense of humor. As I pray for our son Curt I'll remember your brother Don as well.

By the way, I'm always thrilled when you have a new blog.
Blessings,
Ann Freer
ajfreer@yahoo.com

Rebecca said...

Wow! That was neat to read Ann's comment! Small world, isn't it?

The chemo-hair-apy evening must have been quite a testimony to the faith Don has in Jesus. I'm sure there was a fair balance of laughter and tears.

Thanks for sharing this journey so unselfishly with us, Jacquelyn. I pray God encourages YOUR heart, too.

Jacquelyn Stager said...

Dear Ann, thank you so much for your comment. I will also pray for your son. There's enough pain to go around, isn't there? I have to remind myself that none of this comes to us without first passing through God's hands, and so we trust Him, whatever the outcome. Thanks so much for your kind words and for reading my blog! May God fill you with His peace as you walk the journey with your Curt! ~ Jacquelyn

Jacquelyn Stager said...

Rebecca, aw yes! I guess I forgot to mention the tears. Tears of surrendering to whatever God has in store, tears of humility, knowing His ways are higher than ours, tears of frustration that I can't fix this whole thing! My consolation is in knowing this wouldn't be so hard if there wasn't so much love. And love conquers all, even our worst fears!

Nellie's Cozy place said...

Hi Jacquelyn,
Wow, you must be so proud of your brother, he and his wife looks so full of joy inspite of these terrible circumstances. So neat how he is being used to touch the hearts of so many, what a wonderful testimony he is. Will sure be praying for his upcoming stem cell transplant and that the chemo will not have as bad
affect as is expected.

Hope you are doing okay, sure this is not easy to watch...........
Blessings hon, Nellie

Bernie said...

I love your family, and Don looks so well in spite of his pain. I remember the day I had to have my hair shaved as it was falling out all over everything.....I cried so hard, one of my hardest days through everything. Your brother is a human angel leading the way for all those who suffer from this horrid disease. May God bless all of you, always in my thoughts and prayers.....:-)Hugs

Dee said...

You have an amazing family...I needed my tissue box by me to read this post. Love you Jacquelyn and I will keep your wonderful brother in my prayers.

Jacquelyn Stager said...

Nellie, Bernie, and Dee,
I love you all too and I can't thank you enough for your kind encouragement. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit to a few meltdowns of my own now and then. The most important thing that Don wants to impress on people is we never know what tomorrow will bring. We all have to face something sooner or later, and we need to have that inner strength and assurance, our Solid Rock, to hold onto in the tough times. All of you already know what he is talking about...and I know your faith is stronger than ever. God bless you, Jacquelyn

Kaye Swain - SandwichINK for the Sandwich Generation said...

Hi Jacquelyn! :) What a wonderful and positive way of dealing with this. And what a lovely encouragement for all of us to read - both the article and the comments. Thank you so much for sharing it. And please know you and your family are in my prayers!

Diana said...

What a wonderful idea and a close knit family you have Jacquelyn. Don looks like a sweet man and I will keep him in my prayers as his journey continues. God's Blessing's to all of you!! Love Di ♥