Sunday, December 12, 2010

merry christmas from the oates family

So grateful...

+ Isaiah completed 1155 days of chemotherapy on July 30.  We celebrated with 150 friends and family at the city pool!  More at

+ Sienna and Nathan celebrated her 10th birthday by traveling with others from our community to Nicaragua.

+ Matthias brings much life and disaster to our home.  At 15 months he’s determined, sometimes-sweet, and into everything!

+ Carmen and Nathan celebrate 15 years of marriage on December 16th and occasionally speak whole sentences to one another before being interrupted.

+ We continue to love sharing life and discovering Jesus with our church community.  Emmaus turned 5 this year.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

hello november

Halloween, 2010: a cowboy, a puppy, and a waitress! 

Sienna and Isaiah and I got to camp at a friend's ranch this weekend!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

catching up!


Thanks for visiting.  I fear I've lost your faithful companionship via this blog in this recent five weeks of silence.  It's by far the longest I've gone without posting since May, 2007.

The truth is I've felt a surprising need to put this discipline down for a while.  The constant pressure of Isaiah's health served as a strong motivator to blog.  We were so aware of our need for support and wanted to keep those of you who pray for Isaiah posted and up-to-date.

Now that this long season of treatment is done, we've all appreciated simply moving on - thinking, writing, and doing new things.  Last week, Isaiah had his first doctor appointment in 6 weeks!  Six!

We're planning to publish this 3.5 year blog as a book for ourselves and, perhaps, some interested family members.  I'm considering starting a new Oates family blog as a way to share some of the wonderful experiences we're having in this season.  Maybe we'll just join Facebook.  But probably NOT!

We'll keep you posted and, for at least the near future, will keep this site online and active.

Some recent fun:

Sienna and Isaiah spent a few days with their grandparents at Disneyland (but they were, apparently, too busy to take any pictures!)

We just rearranged the kids' room which included building a hanging bed for Isaiah.  He's loving it.

The project included a trip to IKEA:

 Much peace!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

parties and doctors

We had a great weekend which included three parties.  I felt like I hardly saw Isaiah.  He was mostly off running/riding/swimming around with his friends.  He crashed hard at 9, but seems to have had a wonderful weekend.  

While standing in front of the family calendar in the hall tonight Carmen reported, "We have a doctor's appointment every day this week!"  It's true.  Time to take a number and get used to waiting rooms.  Isaiah's at Sutter for a blood check Wednesday.  Carmen and I are at UC Davis Friday to meet with the psychologists about the results of Isaiah's "CIA testing."  

Here's a video Isaiah shot of Matthias.  It's cute, but it may give you motion sickness!

Enjoy the week!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

port in hand

The port's last night.  

pre-op consult

before: Isaiah felt good.  after: "I just can't focus! Did they take it out?  Focus!"

After walking Isaiah to the operating room and saying goodbye, I squeezed in a quick research appointment while he was in surgery.  On my way back to the hospital, I received this text from Carmen:

The surgeon just handed me Isaiah's port!  Matthy is using it as a rattle.  Praise God all went well!  One incision.  No complications.  I get to see Isaiah in ten minutes.  I just can't wait to see how he feels "port free."  
We shot this video while we were waiting...and waiting...and waiting...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


This Friday is session #2 for Isaiah's CIA testing.  We're wondering how hard they'll push him this week!

And on Monday, Isaiah will be deported!  Since chemo is done, the little bump on the chest is no-longer needed.  We're excited for this step.  Though Isaiah has been able to live well with his "port," it will be good in so many ways to have this constant reminder out of his body.  

[the progression of the port]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Isaiah gets tested for the CIA

On the next two Fridays, we'll drive to Sacramento for neuro-psychological testing.  Since Isaiah's treatment included chemotherapy that affected his spinal fluid and brain, we're going to see how he's processing information, check his I.Q., etc.

The testing includes a family interview, lots of problem solving, and runs a total of six hours.

Since we're picturing lots of white coats, ink blots, bizarre word problems, and apparently unrelated questions about our past, and because Isaiah is seriously considering a career in espionage, we're calling it "CIA testing." Isaiah is totally excited.  He asked me recently if I thought they'd have him try to climb up walls.  (I told him the physical training comes later.)

Of course, the doctors won't let-on that they know Isaiah is being tested for the CIA in order not to compromise his security.  wink.

Happy Birthday Sienna!
Sienna turned 10 yesterday!  She spent some time at the park with friends and shared dinner and dessert with her Bita and Papa.  She will be blogging soon [at her blog, "Bubbles"] as part of her creative writing class in a few weeks!   

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

end of chemo party

Thank you!

Thank you, family, for your unrelenting support.  You have stayed with us, shopped for us, cleaned for us, cried with us, driven thousands of miles for us.  You have carried us.

Thank you, Emmaus Church Community, for joining us in this journey.  You have been graceful, supportive in so many practical ways, giving, encouraging.  You have been a safe place to grieve, doubt, hope, and grow.

Thank you, 5th Street Neighbors and friends around the world, for staying with us.  Thanks for taking out our trash, mowing our lawn, reading this blog, wearing "strong and courageous" bracelets, and loving our son.  

Thank you, Jesus, for your strength and peace.  You never let us go.  You were with us in the valleys and on the mountaintops.  You held us in the pain.  We are so grateful.

Bita's (Isaiah's grandma's) perspective: 

[Isaiah's] party was attended by about 140 friends and family.  With his little family in front, Nathan spoke to all of us first with words of gratitude.  Then he spoke specifically to Isaiah about his beating down this "foe" with such courage and lack of complaint.  Then, to Sienna, about her amazing nurture and sacrifice and selflessness over the last three years, spending one Christmas in the hospital instead of at home opening gifts and being with all her cousins, and spending one Thanksgiving  away from her family altogether when Isaiah's blood counts were dangerously low and she had been exposed to chicken pox. [she lived with us for three weeks till the danger had passed].  He spoke to Carmen about her refusing to give in to a broken heart and her wonderful mothering.  Then Isaiah took the mic and thanked his sister for "always being with me through everything".  It was so meaningful.

Friday, August 6, 2010

isaiah is 8!

Isaiah at 4

Isaiah at 8

We are having a hard time getting our heads around the reality of the last 4 years of Isaiah's life.  It might sound surprising, but we're just beginning to feel the freedom to process much of what he's experienced.

Last night, his aunt Gentry and uncle Ryan gave him an amazing "done with chemo" gift.  He's thrilled and has been walking around the house with this massive sword all morning.  For half of his life, he's been fighting.  We're proud of his great attitude.  He seems older, much wiser (which, for me, is tinged with sadness), and very strong.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Today was Isaiah's 1155th and FINAL day of chemotherapy. Our family gathered on the patio of the beach house where we're staying and watched Isaiah swallow his final one-and-a-half pills of "6MP" - his daily oral chemotherapy for the last 36 months. He swiftly downed the pills in view of several video cameras. Everyone cheered. Isaiah seemed uncomfortable with all the attention.

Later I interviewed him on video tape. I hope I can show you some of the excerpts from that conversation some day.

Isaiah spent the rest of the day building a sand castle, boogie boarding, and swimming in the ocean. We just had a great dinner and are getting ready for rootbeer floats: Isaiah's request.

We're so grateful for your friendship, for your comments, tweets, and cheers!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tomorrow is Isaiah's last day of chemotherapy. (let's read that sentence again, and slowly)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Hi friends!
Nathan, the faithful blogger you have all grown to love and count on for updates, has been traveling!

I am sorry is has been so long since our last update.  Isaiah received his last scheduled vincristine infusion one week ago today.  He felt a little dizzy but energetic.  The next day he didn't eat much and felt very tired.  By evening of the next day (Wednesday) he was back to feeling normal again.  I told him it was his last dose of vincristine and he just looked at me in surprise, not saying much.

We have ten days of oral chemotherapy left!  I can hardly believe he is at the end of treatment.  We continue to pray for his little body to heal and grow strong.  Thank you for partnering with us all these years!

We look forward to celebrating with you on August 8th.  If you plan to attend the party, would you please let us know?  We want to be ready to celebrate you!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

counts are back up

The 15 minute procedure took Carm and the kids over 2 hours plus driving time to Sac and back today.  Can't wait till we transition to a local clinic for blood draws!  Thankfully, Isaiah's blood bounced right back.  Next appointment: July 13.  

The kids just before the city fireworks show.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

party planning!

We hope you'll join us for Isaiah's End-of-Chemo Party on 8/8/10!

If you plan to join us for dinner, please let us know by July 25 so we can plan!

Thanks!  Questions?  Leave a comment here or write to!

(here's a fun pic taken just seconds before the end of a rare and wonderful nap)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

counts are down

Isaiah had an appointment today and learned that his counts have dropped.  So it looks like we'll be back to weekly blood tests in this, his last scheduled month of treatment.  It's all part of the journey, I guess! 

Friday, June 18, 2010

no more spinal taps!

Isaiah did great, as usual, at his appointment yesterday.  He fasted all day and was the last to go in for his spinal.  (They call patients beginning with the youngest, ending with the oldest.  When we started this journey, he was always close to the youngest.  Yesterday, at nearly 8, he was the oldest.  So sad to see so many young kids in the hospital.)

He and I established a pattern with the first few spinal taps: I'd carry him in (rather than using a wheel chair), they'd administer the anesthetic while he was in my arms, and I'd lay him down when he conked-out.  Since the beginning, as soon as he'd start to feel the drugs, he'd start yelling "I'm getting sleepy!  I'm getting sleepy!" as loud as he could.  He likes to try to fight the medicine.  It's kind of become his trademark.  After the first few times the doctors and nurses became accustomed to this and we all kind of laughed about it.  I've never coached him to say this, and he doesn't ever remember saying it.  But he always says/shouts it.

Yesterday was different.  

As the Propofal began to take hold, he just started to scream.  Not a fearful scream; more like a battle cry.  Like he was charging into a fight.  Think Braveheart.  It was kind of disturbing.  The doctor looked startled and asked, "What was that?"

As I walked out of the room, I thought, "That's a very strong kid, nearing the end of a very long journey... and he's still fighting."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

last spinal tomorrow!

Tomorrow is our LAST scheduled fast and our LAST scheduled spinal tap!  Isaiah is so excited.  He's feeling such a sense of accomplishment (and, probably, relief).  Every 12 weeks for the last 3 years he's gone through this fasting, waiting, spinal tap, feeling dizzy all day routine.  This will be so good to have behind us.   

We'll be fasting with joy and thanksgiving tomorrow.  

Friday, June 4, 2010



drop by any time between 5:30 - 8:30

To celebrate life and the end of this 38-month journey, and to express our gratitude to all of you who have prayed, supported, and cheered us on, we're throwing a really big party!

Dinner will be served!  

Please RSVP by August 1st to and we'll send you more information including the location!

Celebration is the way in which faith in the God of life is lived out, through both laughter and tears." - Henri Nouwen

Sunday, May 30, 2010

great weekend

The kids' cousins have been here all weekend, so there's been non-stop fun days and very little sleep.  A crew went hiking Saturday and enjoyed a swim.   We spent some good time working in the yard.  The mockingbird eggs hatched!  Here are the two babies...

We're wrapping up the details for a very special announcement which we'll make later this week.  Check back soon!

Monday, May 24, 2010

three years ago this week...

In some ways, it feels like it's flown by.  In other ways, it seems like a very long time.  Here's our first "Strong and Courageous" blog entry from three years ago this week.  Thank you for sharing this long journey with our family.  We're so grateful for your support.  

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Isaiah and the fam participated in his third Relay for Life Survivor lap Saturday.  The team from our church community raised over $3000 for the American Cancer Society.  I was so blessed to stand back and watch Isaiah, alive and well, playing football and frisbee with other boys in the infield.  These are sweet days.  As always, big sister was there to cheer and support.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bandits vs. Sea Dogs

Bandits go down to the Sea Dogs, suffer first loss of the season. Record now 14-1. (Isaiah hits two doubles but is bummed about the loss).

Friday, May 7, 2010

healthy blood

saiah had a good appointment this week.  Everything looks fine.  We're beginning to plan for a big party late in the summer. We'll announce it here!  Thanks for checking-in.  

Matthias, feeling big. 

Sienna and Isaiah found a robin's nest in the rose bushes.  Sienna took this great picture of  these beautiful eggs!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

the weekend part 2

Today (Wednesday), Isaiah  goes in for his regular blood check and chemo.  He hopes to request his "Make a Wish" trip.  (We'll tell you about his plan soon!)   He's been feeling very strong lately.  Thanks for your on-going support!


Matthy is almost crawling (check out his grip on the carpet!).  Our life's about to start moving at a different speed.

Nate ran the Parkway Half Marathon with some friends on Saturday.  

Dr. Jerry Root, from Wheaton College, stayed with us over the weekend and preached at Emmaus.  Here's a shot of Jerry with some of his former students now at Emmaus.