7/19 Dave’s Testimony: Cancer, Covid, Camp, and a New Puppy… That’s how we roll!

The last two to three weeks have been so crazy: packing for 4-H camp, going all the way to North Carolina to pick up a new puppy, picking up my daughter from camp and finding out she has Covid; and then caring for both Dave (who had chemo again) and Abby (quarantined in her room) along with two dogs; one being a brand new puppy. How much crazier can it all get?

Week before last:

Mon: I’ve started packing my daughter for camp. It’s a good thing, because I realize there are some things she still needs.

Dave tells me he’s found a puppy on the Cavalier site where we got our other dog. The name they gave him, Boston, is what has caught his eye. He comes with a discount for the sheer fact he’s so tiny at 4lbs., the runt of the litter. He’s adorable!

Photo courtesy: Cavaliers by Crumley

I say, “Oh my gosh! He’s so cute! But that’s crazy with everything we’re going through! We need to pray about it.”

Dave says the fastest prayer I’ve ever heard him say in my life: “DearGod,ifit’syourwill,letthispuppybeavailable,andifheisit’sasignthatit’smeanttibe. InJesus’name,Amen!”

I start laughing. He says, “Can you call?”

I say, “You call!”

So he says, “Ok, I’m gonna!” He sends a message, and lights up with excitement! “He’s available!”

I say, “This is crazy!” We just celebrated our other dog’s three year birthday. He’s still such a puppy, himself. But he does love other dogs…

Dave gives me his own hazel brown puppy dog eyes, and says, “Yeah, but look at him! My little therapy puppy for when I have chemo!” Then he pretends he’s holding a tiny puppy and mimics kissing his nose. Oh. My. Gosh. What’s happening here?

“I’ve got my credit card out,” says Dave. “I’m gonna do it, ok?” He’s looking at me, as I’m exiting the room to pack for camp. I put my hands up in surrender, and just look at him. Who am I to deny a cancer patient his wish for a therapy puppy?

He’s pumped. “I’m doing it!” He’s on his computer, and fervently starts typing in the payment information. We both know this cute little guy will not be available for long. “I did it!” Dave’s face is glowing like he won a trophy in a championship. He looks so thrilled. I’m in! I’m excited too!

This is insane. We got our first ruby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in Helen, Georgia. It took eight hours to get there. I had mono, and our whole family went anyway. I had a huge ovarian cyst rupture when we were down there, and our car blew a tire on the four lane highway on the way back. I still don’t know how Dave managed to so carefully and calmly drive across four lanes so we could pull over. We waited for an hour in 100 degree heat, leaving the car on for air conditioning, with our tank less than 1/4 full. But we made it. The puppy helped me through eight months of bed rest with mono, and then two years of Covid long-haul, and three surgeries.

Finn, our first puppy, three years ago.

I lie down across the bed, and say, “We are crazy…”

We both look at each other and at the same time say, “…But this is how we roll!” And suddenly it’s all so funny! And bittersweet, and exciting, and stressful at the same time.

Tues: We run around shopping for items Abby still needs for camp. She hates shopping, but we have fun going to lunch, and I treasure it, because I’ll miss her as she goes away to 4H camp for the first time. I secretly buy a tiny travel crate for the puppy, and though she’s observant, she doesn’t notice. We also have fun at the party store, picking out a few items for the theme days at camp. We get home at 5 p.m. it seems to be the time I always get home after errands, too exhausted to do anything else.

We’re planning for the puppy. The same breeder from Helen, Georgia has a nanny service; and can meet us in North Carolina. The fee is worth it, because it means a five hour trip, instead of eight. Our son, Jake is going to go with me to get the tiny tri-color Cavalier King Charles Spaniel we already love. There’s still shopping and packing to do for camp. We tell our sons about the puppy, but decide to surprise our daughter when she returns from camp, because it might be hard knowing a new puppy will be here before she comes back. The thought of the surprise makes it even more fun.

Wed: It’s so busy, that’s it’s ok we have to wait to pick up our puppy. It gives us time to prepare and plan. I shop for some more things for my daughter, and get home again at 5 p.m. No packing gets done.

Thurs. I get a chance to have lunch with one of my very best friends, Dee. She offers to be there if Dave needs anything when Jake and I pick up the puppy this coming Tues. It will be Dave’s chemo week, and I’m kind of freaked out about being gone even one night, but my son Nick will be here most of the time. Later we find out Nick got managed to get both days off, so he can be home the entire time. Even though I know Dave’s ok for a few hours alone, I feel much better, and so thankful for my son rearranging his schedule, so we can bring Dave’s puppy home!

Fri: Busy, busy, busy. We have a little celebration for our dog, Finn. It’s his 3rd birthday. No packing gets done.

Sat: I pack ALL day. There are clothing items to label which takes longer, theme items to organize, last minute things we forgot, like sheets for the bed. I finish at midnight.

Sun: Off to camp for my daughter, who is pumped! I don’t get home until 5 p.m. (of course!).

Last week:

Monday: Off to North Carolina to pick up puppy. It’s a five hour drive, so I’m grateful to be out on the road spending time with my son Jake, who is one of my best friends. We talk the whole time and agree on music and food. It’s a fun break from all the chaos at home. We go out to eat at Cracker Barrel, because it’s a ghost town at 9:30 and everything else is closed. We go back to the hotel, thinking we will watch a movie, but we’re too tired.

Tues: Hotel breakfast is great! We have one hour to explore, before the puppy van comes. And suddenly he’s here, Roscoe, our four pound, three month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He’s tri-color, absolutely adorable; and we’re immediately in love! We head back home, taking short breaks for Roscoe. We get caught in a huge storm, so we pull over at a rest stop, and manage to take care of our puppy. We get home late, and Dave and Nick are so happy to meet him!

Wed: One day until our daughter comes home to be surprised! Dave and Nick have been working on the Strength through Jesus tee shirt website. It’s a day to get our two dogs used to each other. It’s crazy, but so fun having two doggies!

Now, two, have figured out that treats are in the kitchen!

Thurs: I pick up Abby from camp. She looks absolutely exhausted! She’s lost her voice and has a small cough. She’s thinks it’s from the chanting, yelling, and activity. I’m not convinced. She’s had fun, but only half the time. The other half, she was miserable; having trouble standing up, staying awake, and eating. She’s had lots of people look after her, but it seems like everyone thought she was just tired, hot, and homesick. She tells me she cried from feeling homesick. I’m surprised, and I think it’s because she didn’t feel well.

Abby is shocked when she walks into the house and sees the new puppy. She’s already greeted our other dog with hugs. We’re making sure our ruby Cavalier doesn’t feel jealous. So far, so good! Everyone’s home, and it’s a happy time. Abby doesn’t look well though. I decide to test her for Covid… and it’s positive.

The weekend:

It’s a whirlwind. Abby is quarantined. There’s fear about Dave getting Covid. My immune system is compromised as well, because of my health issues. I have to bring food to everyone to keep family members separate. Our adult sons are working outside jobs, mowing the lawn, and helping with other chores. The puppy wants to be held all the time, especially by me. He’s jumped on our other dog, Finn, and pulled his ear and tail. Finn doesn’t like this, but shows no aggression. Still…

Big Finn running away from Roscoe the runt!

This week:

Jake heads out for a long planned trip across the US. His car overheats in Illinois and has to be towed. It’s a coolant issue, and somehow it gets worked out, so he can continue. Dave’s ileostomy bag malfunctions five times this week, when usually one lasts for a week. He has to keep changing it, which is traumatic. His skin is raw. There are tears from the pain and exhaustion of it all. Appointments have to be changed because of exposure to Covid. Abby is still testing positive. We’re wearing masks in our own house.

I’m watching dogs, making food (even though many people are still blessing us with meals; those beautiful souls!) and doing laundry; because I forgot there were still wet swimsuits in my daughter’s suitcase. Our credit card has been hacked online. We’ve just been slammed with a bill for almost $8,000 for genetic testing to figure out what kind of cancer Dave had, so it could be treated. We’re kinda hating life right now.

Messy suitcase! So much laundry!

Chemo rage makes an appearance. I want Dave to keep a future appt. he thinks he doesn’t need. He’ll be at the cancer center for IV fluids anyway. He thinks I just want my way. I say, “How does this benefit me? I’m thinking of you!” He’s talking over me, and I’m upset, and holding my breath, so I don’t explode. I leave the room like I’ve remembered I’m supposed to do. It’s all so stressful, I feel like I’m going to scream. He comes downstairs, apologizes, and gives me a hug from behind, as I’m washing dishes (again) at the sink. I feel like I’m going to cry, but as usual, I can’t. No time. Too much to do. Depression is threatening us big time. The house is a wreck, everything is caving in, and we have a new puppy who needs our care. But, yeah.. that’s how we roll.

So… we need some more prayers. It feels like everything is crumbling. I’m angry, frustrated, and very down. I confess I’m angry at God too, so I’ve asked Him to forgive me, and show me He’s still here; and I’ve asked Him to help me keep trusting Him. If I feel all this, imagine how Dave feels, battling the cruel cancer. His scan is coming the 26th of July, with the long awaited results on the 29th. Of course, there is a lot of anxiety and stress and fear surrounding the upcoming results. It’s all too much. We’re angry, upset, and extremely stressed out; so much suffering.

If anyone feels led to fast, for a meal or a day, I’ve chosen the 25th, the day before the scan if you’d like to join me. I believe fasting is a private process between us and God. But a group fast is special, and I was extremely touched when Dave first went into the hospital, and friends and family texted to say they were fasting for Dave. It can be one meal, where instead of eating, we pray for Dave. Prayers are requested regardless of what you choose to do. Any, and all support is so much appreciated! Thank you!

We receive results from Dave’s scan on July 29th. We will be sending out a short blog post update with the results, along with the website launch of our tee shirt business, Strength through Jesus. Finally, everyone who has wanted a Strength through Jesus tee shirt will be able to order one like Dave’s. We’ll have a variety of color choices; including hoodies and sweatshirts. Our son, Nick, has worked hard on the website with his Dad. Please pray for the launch to go well. It’s been Dave’s dream for a long time, especially as he’s been battling stage four colon cancer. This business will help us with medical bills; and every purchase will support St. Jude’s Hospital, to help children with cancer, and their families.

A sampling of tees, hoodies, and sweatshirts we will be offering on our Strength through Jesus website when we launch next week.

It’s been hard to see the silver lining. The weather’s been awful both inside and outside of our home. But the silver lining I see today is beautiful friends and family members who have given us so much: meals, texts, phone calls, cards, encouragement, visits, and get togethers… and of course, dogs and puppies! God created animals, and we’re so thankful for the precious joy they bring to us! Thank you to all of you who have loved on us during this tragic time in our lives. We could not have gotten through this without you: You’ve given us strength through Jesus!

Dave enjoying cuddles with his new therapy puppy!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Phil. 4: 4-9 NIV

In Christ,

Angela Royse Pelleman

Related blogs:

Dave’s Testimony from the beginning (This post also contains every blog post written since; located at the bottom of the post): 4/10 Dave’s Testimony: My Husband has Deadly Cancer… Palm Sunday Miracles

Last post: 7/4 Dave’s Testimony: Chemo Rage Fireworks B4 Celebrating 4th of July!

Get saved! How to Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive Eternal Life!

Next post: Dave’s cancer scan results, and website where you can purchase a Strength through Jesus tee shirt, which will benefit children with cancer at St. Jude’s Hospital, along with our family’s medical expenses and needs. God bless you, and us, in Jesus’ name!

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