Sunday, September 18, 2011

We got us a rare one!

Julie Andrews once quipped, "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start." So, I shall do just that Miss Andrews.

Last Tuesday morning, Matt and Jennifer went in to see a doctor at Vanderbilt to check on some swollen lymph nodes in her groin, a swollen ankle, and a lesion on her left breast. She also had a pretty bad cold for several weeks which left her unusually fatigued. The doc conducted a series of tests, and Jenny and Matt went on about their day to await the results. Jen headed back to work at Vandy where she is a supervisor in the oncology pharmacy. Matt didn't have to work that day so he made the 20 minute drive back home and decided to spend the afternoon mowing the grass, a surprise for Jenny.

After the yard work was complete, Matt, with a touch of anxiousness, decided to log on to the computer and read her chart, an advantage of being a resident at Vanderbilt. The chart revealed low red blood cell count, low white blood cell count and low platelet count. Immediately, Matt understood the danger in the numbers and made a call to Jen at work telling her to go to the ER where he would meet her. Within minutes of their arrival in the ER, she was admitted to the hospital and given the news.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday brought many tests, biopsies, family members, and visitors- a general barrage of information and emotions. We all joyfully welcomed the news that she was FLT 3 negative on Friday morning and settled in at the hospital to await the leukemia subtype and prognosis to be given that night. Her wonderful doctors told us she has mixed-lineage leukemia which has characteristics of AML and ALL, both types of leukemia, a hybrid of sorts. This type shows up in less than 5% of patients. Thankfully, the rarity of it has no direct correlation to the cure rate. In fact, both docs believe her to be 70 to 80 percent curable, having both pre-existing health and young age on her side.

Friday night, at about 10:00, the first round of chemotherapy began with the intention to 'blast' the bone marrow, ridding it of all cancerous and, unfortunately, healthy cells. The next benchmark is set for two weeks when the doctors can see how well she is responding to the chemotherapy. The week after that will be her 31st birthday. We all pray to be celebrating a lot this October 6th.

For all who know Jenny, you will not be surprised to learn that she is taking this all in stride. The obvious fears are there but she is relying on her faith in our Lord, our Rock, our Hope, our Redeemer, our Friend for healing and grace as we enter into what will certainly be a fiery trial. Nor will you be surprised to find out that when she was informed of a defect in the equipment used to inject her meds, she promptly had it sent back down to the pharmacy, the very place where she has been working for the past 11 months. She has sent many a drug to this floor, the oncology floor, never dreaming one day she would be on the receiving end of these drugs.

To wrap up for the day, know this- our hope is in Christ. We are confident He will sustain her through this journey. May He be made much of, may we learn how to love and serve Him better, and may we be given the grace and wisdom to have our minds set with a heavenly perspective as we live in our earthly bodies in this temporary home. We are heaven-bound and may we be better prepared for it because of Jennifer. In all things, ALL (and, for that matter, AML) things, we will give thanks. God is good. To God be the glory.

Prayerful Ponderings:
Please pray specifically that Jen's biomarkers will come back high for a positive prognosis and low for a negative prognosis. Pray that her cancer will be obliterated by this first round of chemotherapy. Pray for her doctors and nurses and other caregivers, especially her husband Matt. Pray that her body will be strong and resist infection as it poses a seriously dangerous threat to her life. Pray that she will have the peace that surpasses all understanding.

The Vandy Verse:
For you alone are my hope O Lord, my God, my confidence since I was young. Psalm 71:5

A Little Somethin' for the Samples:
If you'd like, Jennifer would love cards and pictures for her room. You can mail them to: Jennifer Sample
1211 Medical Center Drive
Vanderbilt University Hospital
Room #11010
Nashville, TN 37232
No flowers, please. That one's a real bummer but they carry some nasty stuff that could make her sick. Also, Lysol/Clorox wipes and bottled water go like hotcakes around here. If you'd like to send those, just drop them off at the home of Gary and Donna Holdiness. So Jen and Matt can rest, please call Lauren at 601-259-7535. Thank you!


  1. Nice job on the blog, Lauren. Thanks for unfolding the story so clearly. I know God is answering our prayers and He will be glorified through Jennifer's fiery trial and she and Matt will be blessed.

  2. All our love to the Jennifer , Matt , and the whole Fowler family. Not surprised Jen is staying in charge up there:)
    Scott & Shelia

  3. Thank you for keeping us updated on Jennifer. The Fowler family is in our prayers.

  4. Thank you, Lauren, for keeping us updated. We miss you at the preschool but know you are where you should be. Give our love to Jennifer and Matt.

  5. Sharing a link to John Piper's booklet "Don't Waste Your Cancer."

  6. We are praying for you all. Lauren, SaraBeth misses you at school, but we know you are where you should be and look forward to your return soon. Praying for healing and strength for Jennifer. Love to you all!

  7. Jennifer and your whole family are in our thoughts and prayers daily! Thank you Lauren for keeping us updated! Love y'all!

  8. Lauren, Thank you for keeping me updated and starting the blog, now I can stay in touch with you all much easier. Tell Jennifer and Matt we are thinking and praying for them as well as your whole family. Call if you need me. Love to all.

  9. Our prayers are with all of you and especially with Jennifer's medical staff and other caregivers. If Bob and I can do anything from the Kosy end please do not hesitate to ask.

  10. Hello Jen and Matt,
    Today I was reading my treasured little book,"Jesus Calling" and these sentences spoke to me and my prayer is that they will speak to you as well."When you shut out the world and focus on My Presence, you can enjoy sitting with Me in heavenly realms. This is an incredible privilege reserved for precious ones who belong to Me and seek My Face. As you commmune with Me, My Spirit fills your mind with Life and Peace." WOW!! Hugs

  11. Lauren~you did a great job on this blog explaining everything.
    Jennifer & Matt~Kim & I both want you to know that you are in our prayers. Please call us if there is anything we can do~remember we aren't that far away.
    We love yall!
    Kim & Jeannie

  12. Lauren, Please tell Jennifer and Matt that we love them, and we are praying for them, and you, and both wonderful families. Your writing is as beautiful as it is informative. Love, Jonathan and Connie Carnes

  13. Lauren, I was so glad to find out about the blog. Thank you for providing a way for us to pray for Jennifer and Matt's specific needs.
    With love,
    Deanna Rone Brent

  14. Lauren, I am so happy you started this blog. I heard the news last week. I am praying for all of you and thinking of Jennifer's laugh. I will be sure to get some decorations in the mail. :)

  15. James and i will be praying for Jennifer and the whole family. Thanks for sharing.
    Love, Michelle

  16. Paul and I will be Praying for Jennifer and the rest of you! May God give you peace and comfort.

  17. I am praying for all of you. I pray that God's peace and understanding will continue to touch your heart and bring healing to your body Jennifer. Love you Matt. Aunt Betty Ann

  18. Lauren, GREAT job on the blog! Melinda was telling me about it and I am so glad that I can keep in touch with all that is going on with Jennifer! I am praying daily for you all! I know that God has the ultimate plan for Jenn and she is a fighter! If I can do anything for you all, please let me know! I plan to send some things to Gary and Donna's. Praying you all!

  19. Thank you, Lauren for keeping us up to date on Jennifer's progress. We are praying for Jennifer, Matt and both families. Please continue to update us.
    Matt's Great Aunt Lou Ann

  20. We are thinking of you constantly and hope that you feel much better soon; when you do we're coming up for a visit, and I promise to leave cowboy, ranger, chance and ruby jean at home. The picture of you and matt is great and you look so beautiful, as always.

  21. Janelle Hannah JeffersonSeptember 27, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Jennifer, know that we are in continuous prayer for you and your family during this time. Lauren, please know that this blog has served as a source of encouragement for me as well. We love you all!
    Pastor Haywood Hannah, Flora Hannah, Janelle Jefferson, and Faith Hannah

  22. You are in my prayers today.


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