February, 2005


First thing this morning, worked with Hayden on the phone on her homeschool assignment sheet for Baker and her this week.  Palmer had a good night's sleep.  Her tummy is still hurting some.  Dr. Kriner, our internist and pediatric resident, came to check on her first thing.  We had breakfast; Palmer ate most of her food, which is great.  She has not been eating well.  I later went to the Gilliams and got on the treadmill and walked and ran.  It felt good to get moving.  Had visitors and lots of emails from all over.  Thank you.

We are being served from everywhere.  Phone calls every day.  One of the staff came in this morning and gave words of encouragement, preaching Jesus and telling Palmer how strong she is because she is a child of Christ and that no weapon borne against her shall prosper from Isaiah 54:17.  Jesus was with her through this trial:  treatment, chemo, feeling bad, everything.

I'm praying for my family every day that everything will be smooth while Scott and I are away.  Palmer's resting -- about 6 p.m. -- not eating yet; tummy hurting still.  Dr. Stein came to visit her around 10:30 this morning and informed us that one week from the last day of chemo is when her immune system will be at its lowest.  At that point, she will have to build her own immunity back up.

We are so blessed and thank everyone who is watching over Palmer.  God is so good and He is so faithful and we trust in Him and his son, Jesus.

Lori Ann


Today was really quiet.  I missed being at worship with my family this morning.  It just isn't the same without Hayden, Baker, and Sutton around.  Palmer has been doing OK.  Her tummy hurt most of the day.  I painted Palmer's nails and lotioned her feet to help her feel a little better.  Today she only had one chemo treatment and we're glad to be on the 7th day and looking forward to the 10th.  I've continued to pray that God will spare her from all of the side effects and she will complete her treatment smoothly.  We are so blessed and the Lord is so faithful.  He continues to give me peace to make it through this journey. 

Palmer continues to receive emails from all over; people everywhere praying for her.  It's amazing how many people have her in their prayers.  The Lord has shown his love for her and our family everywhere. 

Scott came back to Little Rock this afternoon and we ate dinner together and visited.  I caught him up on what had happened while he was gone.  I called everyone who would be taking care of Sutton, Hayden, and Baker this coming week.  Palmer took her shower and Scott and I watched a movie with her.  She received her chemo around 9:50.  Scott and I slept in her room. 7th day down.

Lori Ann


Palmer had a good night and while her stomach has been very upset, she hasn't been sick.  God has spared her.  Today she took her first dose of Gentusamed (sp?), which is part of her chemo protocol in this study.  We know the chemo has some very strong side effects, but we have to turn that over to God each day.  Some days seem to go slow and others move by quickly.  Time in the hospital is often a surreal feeling and I still have to pinch myself to believe that Palmer is lying in this bed 24-7 and very strong drugs are surging through her sweet body.  Eating breakfast by myself was very difficult and I feel like crying when I'm away from the room.  I guess it's the stress and emotion of watching Palmer go through this every day.  She takes chemo at 9:45 AM and 9:45 PM daily.  The Lord has shown his tender love and support through many visitors and has given us peace to walk each day.  Scott was in Ft. Smith to spend time with Hayden and the boys while I stayed with Palmer and did the laundry.  She is so brave and trusting in God for his recovery.  Palmer slept for a couple of hours -- straight through lunch -- and we had some visitors in the afternoon. 

Lori Ann


We began today with a visitor who we had not met who flew in from Texas. Their family had been through a similiar challenge years ago. This visit brought us a great deal of encouragement and physical support. The questioned was asked of Palmer, "Palmer, your room looks good.  What else do you need? How about an iPod?"  Palmer was hesitant but agreed after a small -- and I repeat small -- amount of persuausion. "Palmer how about a cell phone? What color do you want? I'll get it before the day is out. I'll make sure it's on my bill so your Dad can't turn it off." By 2:00, Palmer had the only pink motorola phone in Arkansas. Palmer was pumped! It blessed my socks off as a Daddy!

Thanks to this very special visitor -- you know who you are and the Lord does too. We continue to be amazed at the love and support of so many people. We very humbly say thank you. We have quickly shed any independence and false pride. We have never known so personally how we need the support of the body of Christ. Praise God and Thank You!

We have people calling, driving & flying into visit and love on us. People offering places to stay, their motorhomes, their fianancial support, people bringing meals, taking our other children to their activities and serving them. Thank you and thank you!

Palmer is doing well. Every day she is full of joy and is an encouragement to everyone who meets her or learns of her battle (which belongs to the Lord --think of the song as you read this)

We are overwhelmed with the goodness of God. Praise Him.



Palmer slept well last night. Had a good day today. She is content sitting in bed most of the day. We have internet access so soon many of you will be able to chat or email her. We have had many phone calls, visitors and emails every day. The outpouring of love, support and prayer is UN-believable.

Followers of the Lord Jesus are all around us and they come. A team of prayer intercessors came and annointed Palmer with oil and placed their hands on Palmer and prayed for her healing and her testimony to the amazing thing God has done and is going to do. I love forward-looking faith and I thank God for all of you who are loving on us in so many different ways. Praise God.



Palmer continues to feel the effects of the chemo.  She is always very hot.  We’re keeping the room very cool, but today she asked me to get her a fan -- which I was glad to do.  Lori Ann drove to Ft. Smith to tie up some loose ends, while I stayed with Palmer.  I also got to spend some quality time with Hayden, Baker and Sutton while they have been staying at the Gilliams here in Little Rock.  We received many phone calls and visits from friends; especially Ft. Smith.  Everyone comes from all over the hospital to see Palmer’s room since it’s been decorated.  The staff continues to be great and we could not be in a more encouraging environment for Palmer’s treatment.




My mom, Andee Richardson, drove in from Huntsville, AL to see Palmer and spend time with our family.  It was good to see her.  Palmer did not like the effects of the chemo.  She has been very nauseated and sleepy all day, but did not get sick.  We were blessed to have friends from Ft. Smith drive over to be with us.




Palmer’s central venous line for her chemo; eye exam, echocardiogram, just to have baselines, were done. We also had blood tests done to look for a bone marrow match with our other three children who are the greatest potential donors. All three willingly desired to do that for Palmer. Monday night her chemo began in earnest and Lori Ann and I were up with her throughout the night. Because she started the chemo today (2/21), we looked at the 21st Psalm and were reminded of God’s great love and grace in our lives. We see it in people’s lives all around us at the hospital: People reaching out to us because of the love of Jesus. One thing I did tell Palmer on Sunday morning is that while we don’t understand all of this, God has asked her right now to be a missionary and even though her blood was not pure, the blood of Jesus was. And her life was going to affect people all over the world and God was going to be glorified. We believe that with all our hearts. He is faithful. And we believe that Palmer belongs to Him and we are but stewards of her precious life. We have great hopes for her, but we most importantly trust Him. He knows the plans He has for her.



We have some great friends, David and Vanessa Gillam and Jeff and Jana Roussell who just opened their lives to us, just began to take care of us; gave us a place to stay; fed us; did everything imaginable. We hadn’t seen them in years, but they’ve been great and a great encouragement, along with so many other people from Ft. Smith, and all over Dallas, Houston, Nashville…we are just so thankful. Lori’s Aunt Linda came in from Nashville and took Palmer shopping on Saturday. Got her all new bedding for her bed. And we got her room all decorated in pink and lime green.

We really then considered whether we were in the right place for this treatment and what it would mean logistically to be somewhere else farther from our home. We were questioning all of those things and really felt like we needed to start the chemo quickly. AML is an aggressive disease, but we had caught it early. We felt like God’s hand had been all over us in getting the diagnosis quickly. Palmer’s in great health. She even got a pass from the hospital on Saturday and Sunday which was great for her. She was really discouraged that she wasn’t going to be able to go home before the treatment began since we’ll be here for a month. So we really felt like God’s favor, the whole circumstance and the encouragement of so many people – we had the support here. We’ve been just flooded and hammered with love and support. Sunday, we went to the Gillams’ house and they fixed a big feast and served our family that was here and it’s just been overwhelming.



They finally called us back about 12:30 a.m. Same questions as the pediatrician had asked about sickness, fever – nothing – any bites, any of those things. They said, "We’re going to get some x-rays and some blood work. We want to see if this is just an infection or some sort of malignancy." That was the first time that word had been mentioned, but our radar screens weren’t even on. I mean, they could have said her leg was broken. That wasn’t even in the realm of thought so it went right on by.

We did take x-rays and I, out of the corner of my eye, looked at the electronic x-ray to see if I saw anything grossly when I saw the films. They started an IV in her hand and began her blood work. It was about 1:30 a.m. We waited about an hour and a half while the testing was done. Then the doctor -- the attending physician -- and the internist, came in and turned on the lights and said, "Guys, we’ve got an accurate – at least as we know this far – diagnosis. We’ve consulted with the hematologist. Others have looked at the slides and looked at the blood work and it’s either lymphoma or leukemia." We both just sat there. Lori then asked the physician, "And you can tell all that from one series of blood work?" They said yes and began to elaborate and explain in more detail what her counts were and why it was so clear.

We sat there kind of in shock. Palmer asked some questions: "Is it treatable?" "Yes, it is and we’re going to give you good care and we’re going to try and get a room for you," which finally happened about 5:30 a.m. I had stepped out to call Uncle Mark in Houston about 3:30 because he had called us as we were traveling to find out what was going on. I started calling the rest of the family about 5:45 to 6:00 a.m. to let people know what we knew so far.

Lori Ann was in the emergency room area, a small room, with Palmer and she just shook because she just couldn’t understand what was going on. I came back upstairs to the room about 5:30 and Palmer got in her bed and began to rest. Lori Ann pulled out a chair and rested a little bit. We’d been up all night. I just kind of walked around the hospital until the doctor came – who was now her doctor, Dr. Kimo Stine. He told us that yes, the blood work was conclusive and that we were going to need to do a bone marrow aspirate where they take bone marrow from her iliac crest, her pelvis, and it would be an exact diagnosis. That took place about 10:00 a.m. It went well. She came back to the room and by then, we had Uncle Doug there from Texas, Uncle Mark was already there from Houston, and Ed Miller, Mark’s father-in-law, had driven down from Springfield, Missouri. We all just kind of visited. Palmer was in good spirits.

It was probably 3:00 p.m. before we knew exactly what the diagnosis was and in that interim of time, people were coming and going from many churches in Little Rock, offering encouragement and support. About that time we started receiving a steady flow of phone calls from around the country. About 3:00, we sat down with the doctor in the small consultation room and he explained to us what Palmer had was acute myeloid leukemia, AML for short; that there was a protocol of chemotherapy and another drug that they were using to treat AML. We asked him if Arkansas Children’s was the best place for her to get this care. He explained how they shared information between the various centers dealing with children with AML.

We went back to the room with the doctor and he explained to her what was going on. Palmer had some very direct questions, one of which, "Do people die from this disease?" He very carefully and patiently answered her, "Yes, there are people who die from this disease. But we do believe that we can defeat this disease and that’s why we’re going to undertake this course of action."



Woke up Thursday morning the 17th, complaining of pain when her neck was in a certain position. Lori and I talked on the phone. I was already on my way to work so then we decided we would call the pediatrician. And since I’d been such an insensitive dad earlier, we would call the pediatrician and see if he could work us in. Made an appointment for that afternoon to see him at 4:30.

We went in and waited until about 5:30. His x-ray team was already gone so they weren’t available to take x-rays. But he examined her and felt of her lymph nodes under her arms and around all of her body trying to determine if it might be some sort of infection. He then measured the area on her neck and thought it was about 3 centimeters and said he was going to just step out of the room and make a phone call. As he did, Palmer and I were in the room, just talking back and forth. The door was ajar and we could hear the conversation so I asked Palmer to just step over and close the door; that we wanted to wait to hear from the doctor rather than listening in on his phone conversation.

He came back in the room and then asked the same questions he had asked and then said, "Well, I want you all to go home and grab a bag and head down to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. I just want to check this out. If it’s an infection, we want to begin to treat it and there is expertise that I don’t have and we depend on those folks and have great confidence in them so we’re sending you on down there." Palmer was upset at that. She didn’t want to go to the hospital; didn’t want to interrupt her evening. She said, "Dad, could we not go tomorrow?" And I said, "Sweet girl, I’m going to go ahead and do what the doctor asked us to do and we’re going to proceed on down there." The other thing he told her is that they might have to examine her, might have to take a sample of it or something like that.

She wanted her mother to go and so we left Hayden in charge, our 14-year-old daughter, and called a friend to come and stay over later with the kids because we knew we might be in for a long night just driving to Little Rock and then turning around and coming back maybe in the middle of the night or early the next morning. We left Ft. Smith about 7:30 p.m. and arrived in Little Rock about 9:45 p.m., came into the emergency room at Arkansas Children’s and stood in line and met the triage nurse. We were then just basically put in line behind everyone else in the emergency room watching kids with the flu coming in.

We broke away and told them we hadn’t had anything to eat so we were going to go and try to find something to eat. All we could find open at 10:45 was a Starbucks. So we went in, got a cup of coffee, and then headed back to the hospital around 11:30 p.m.



Wednesday night, 2/16/05, she said her neck was hurting and showed me a spot right above her clavicle that was kind of swollen and wanted me to rub her neck.



We took Palmer to our family practice doctor. She had been complaining of her toe hurting for a couple of weeks. She had stubbed her toe and it was painful when she danced. I had told her it was no problem and just said to suck it up. Got an x-ray and it turned out that her toe was fractured…so I felt bad! (laughs) I’m dad and I’d told her it was no big deal.






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