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The battle is on: My Dad vs. Cancer

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Raised by 682 people in 15 months
By Nikita Urs

We are a family of four. My brother, Dharam, now 23, has special needs. He has cerebral palsy, global developmental delay, seizure disorder, traumatic brain injury, Raynaud’s syndrome, requires 24 by 7 care, and has had a stroke. My father, mother, and I have cared for him for the last 23 years by ourselves, without any help.

 My name is Nikita, I am 20, and a student at UCLA,  on scholarships, working to get my B.A. in Psychology by 2019.

My dad, Ram, has had severe back pain for the last few months, (we thought it was regular back pain from carrying my brother), that had gotten progressively worse, with other symptoms manifesting. Due to our family's unique and difficult circumstances, we barely make ends meet each month, with help from family, friends, and our church.

On June 1st, 2017, my father who is only 52, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. His bone marrow is packed with malignant plasma cells, which caused a multitude of lesions and minute fractures in his spine and ribcage. He is presently in a lot of pain and can no longer help care for my brother, who he is very attached to. My father has always been the rock of my family, and without him, it would be hard for any of us to function. He has a very challenging road ahead of him with many months of chemotherapy and radiation.

Because this type of cancer is aggressive, so is the treatment. To stand a fighting chance, my dad also requires high dose Chemotherapy, Radiation, and Auto Transplant in a hospital, and we are overwhelmed by how expensive the treatment can be. My dad is the most God-fearing, selfless, and hilarious man. He is my inspiration and surely a role model and mentor to many. Those that know him have had the good fortune to first handedly experience his kindness, generosity, and self-sacrificing nature. Our family really needs my father around and this diagnosis knocked the wind out of our sails.

The treatment for multiple myeloma has advanced greatly in the past ten years. Doctors are optimistic that at my father’s young age, with this treatment, he has a very good chance at remission. You can help my father access this much-needed treatment and help him battle for his life, by donating and sharing this post with others. It doesn’t matter how small or large, every donation helps. It is with heavy hearts and utmost humility, that our family is reaching out to all of you for your prayers, love, and much needed support.

All donations will go directly to Urs family to assist with uninsured medical expenses, travel and treatment, to allow our family to focus our energy on beating Cancer. Together we can!
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Just as long as I have breath, I must answer, 'Yes' to life; though with pain I made my way, still with hope I meet each day - Alicia S. Carpenter

Life as I know it for the last 25 years has been strewn with challenges unimaginable, yet each day we make it through by God’s grace alone and the prayers and support of His angels here on earth.

For almost 3 months or over, (I have lost track of time), Ram has been struggling with low platelets, ITP, Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura. What we once thought was a short time visitor, seemed to have become a permanent house guest in Ram, bringing along, unending fatigue, bone and muscle pain, neuropathy....and most of all unpredictable days and lives. Hence, he has not been able to resume Chemotherapy as yet. For the next four weeks, once a week, will he will have 6-7-hour infusion that, we are praying, would help increase platelets. Where humans fail to understand and when I am weak and heavy laden, He is more than able and sure to carry me. Of that, I am sure, even though I falter and stumble so many times.

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” –Miyazawa Kenji

Along with this came a boatload of other challenges: a car accident (my daughters car got totaled but miraculously she was unharmed, praise God for that), other family health issues, caregiver issues and awaiting tests, surgery, biopsy and diagnosis on my son. When had breathing become something I had to consciously remember to do?

“I’m wide awake in the middle of the night scared to death, So I prayed God, would You make this stop, Father please hold on to me, you’re all I've got! Carry me now, from my sinking sand to Your solid ground, the only way I'm ever gonna make it out, is if You carry me!” No matter what life brings along our path and how strained our physical, financial and spiritual resources are, God always has our back. For those that are also going through unimaginable challenges, know that with God all things are possible, and He has a plan for our lives.
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A scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived. Our family has a million scars...both on the inside and outside. But no matter how deep the ravines or how high the mountains have been, God’s never-ending Grace has sustained and carried us through. “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”. Khalil Gibran

The last three weeks have been a rollercoaster. As we celebrate another year we are blessed with Rams life, we have had some amazing news and some not so great. A joy untold, a true miracle from God, Rams bone marrow is clear of malignant cells and there is no Monoclonal protein in his blood stream. This means that he is in remission, but he is still ‘High Risk’ and thus we have to get him on chemo soon. He has been off chemo for over two months now as his platelets are low. The platelet increase from past treatments however was not a sustained increase. He will be receiving a new treatment for increasing platelets, a 6-7-hour infusion for four weeks, after which we hope to continue with Chemo therapy.

During these weeks, we were also in and out of hospitals and emergency rooms with health issues for our son and daughter too. I felt my insides flutter with a familiar panic- something between hope and terror. Praying that the season of the wail of mingled grief will pass soon. Our spiritual, financial and physical resources were stretched beyond imagination. “To trust inspite of the look of being forsaken; to keep crying out into the vast , whence comes no returning voice , and where seems no hearing, and YET BELIEVE that God is awake and utterly living; To desire nothing , but what comes meant for us from His Hand; To wait patiently, ready to die of hunger, fearing only lest faith should fail— such is the victory that overcometh the world, such is faith in indeed.” George McDonald. Taking my courage in both hands...I trudge through each day, and each morning His mercies are new, for when I am weak, then He is strong!

Do continue to lift each of us in your prayers and we will do the same for each of you and your families. "You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life."
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"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

This is one of the days we were all looking forward to for a while now. So, I want each of you to be part of this joy we are feeling. Rams bone marrow biopsy results and the meeting with the oncologist confirmed that from a Myeloma standpoint, the bone marrow looks very good and there is presently no evidence of Monoclonal plasma cell population. There is a combination of Kappa Lambda chains in the blood stream, but nothing alarming. In other words, Ram is in remission. This was indeed nothing short of a miracle considering the severity of his disease. The Intravenous Immunoglobulin therapy was a success for treating Rams ITP and the platelets have gone up to 91,000, the range being 150000-450000. This too was music to our ears. The important part now is to see if without any further IVIG treatment, will his platelets continue to increase to the desired numbers. Hence his chemotherapy is still on hold for another three weeks to give platelets a chance to increase to normal levels. If they fall, they propose another treatment plan for platelets. And if they continue, we hope to start aggressive maintenance chemotherapy again. Ram unfortunately remains labeled as High Risk. Should the Myeloma cells increase, he would then have to undergo the Allogenic Stem Cell Transplant, but that might be a while... but who is counting. Further out the better... The battle is won, though the war will continue on. The sleeplessness, severe fatigue, chronic bone and muscle pain, neuropathy, GI issues, side effects, innumerable medications, the blood tests, bone strengthening injections, infusions, transfusions, chemotherapy, ITP, hospital visits, will all continue to be part of our new normal, an ever-present member of our family. A sense of a heavy weight and permanence ...a shadow that will be forever present in our life.... but is no match for God’s light. We are filled with joy beyond words can describe, the intensity of Gods hand in our lives. My prayer would be for all to experience this same love and joy.

On this same day our son Dharam had to have an urgent care visit with challenges of his very own and more hospital visits to follow. It was touching to see that the doctor had tears in her eyes. My second such experience. I normally don’t do well with uncertainty or watching my children in pain. It was a day of emotional roller coasters and physically and emotionally draining.

Faith grows amid storms. “It is a pathway of sorrow and joy, of suffering and healing balm, of tears and smiles, of trials and victories, of conflicts and triumphs, of hardships and perils and buffetings of persecutions and misunderstandings, of troubles and distress, through all of which we are made more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” E A Kilbourne, Streams in the Desert.

I thank God for the courage and strength He gives Ram, my daughter and me to get through each day, for Dharam unending smiles and for the friends, family, and strangers He brought along our path, the prayers, the encouragement, the emotional, financial and physical support He provided each day through warriors such as you. We are eternally grateful. And to those that are traversing similar or challenging lives, do know that you are lot stronger that you think and I don’t just mean physical, but emotionally as well. Though the clay gets beaten and handled and put through fire in the potter’s hands, it comes out unparalleled in beauty and creativity, in the end. Have faith and don’t let the bumps of life cause permanent bruises in your heart.
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“There's always going to be bad stuff out there. But here's the amazing thing -- light trumps darkness, every time. You stick a candle into the dark, but you can't stick the dark into the light.” Jodi Picoult

The last few weeks have been very rough. We had amazing news as revealed by the bone marrow biopsy. The bone marrow is presently clear of all Myeloma cells and is functioning well. Praise God. Thank you so much for all your prayers and support.

“Every day has its depleting trouble and every day has its restoring mercies.” It has been however observed that there are cancer cells present in his blood stream. Ram has also been diagnosed with Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) which is a disorder that can lead to excessive bruising and bleeding, resulting from unusually low levels of platelets that help blood clot. The immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys platelets, weather transfused or produced by his own bone marrow. A normal platelet count is between 150,000 and 450,000 and Rams are running as low as below 5000. At low levels, internal bleeding may occur even without any injury. Doctors have a plan and he is being treated for the same, last week with a drug and this week with IV immunoglobulin, a 7 hour infusion, preceded by blood work, bone strengthening injections, hydration etc over a few days. As soon as his platelets count is stabilized, we hope to continue with his maintenance chemotherapy. During trials, we can feel like a river overrun with debris, choking the life out of us. Times like this, if we turn and focus on the hidden acts of grace, we will know God didn’t abandon us but is very present with us.

I have been told by someone, that the fatigue that comes with this kind of chronic illness is a mind chilling, crawl in the hole and die kind of exhaustion that is completely debilitating, . Not the tiredness that healthy people experience after a long day, but the tingling, numbing kind of fatigue that never goes away. Yet Ram has been amazingly present, cheerful and encouraging to others. While I have been dragging my heels, as if I was carrying the whole worlds burden on my shoulders. I have yet to learn a lot, while on this faith wagon, and who better to learn it from, than the most amazing teacher Himself. He promises, all things are not necessarily good, but all things work together for the good of those that believe! God surveys the rugged landscape of pain and suffering and He always stays by our side no matter what.

We’ve had to redefine normal, redefine love, redefine pain and suffering and even redefine faith and family. What a fulfilling journey of faith it has been. Without the test, there can be no testimony! So we continue each moment with all of you by our side, in all aspects of our life.

I do want you’ll to take a moment to be grateful for each of your blessings.....limbs to use, eyes to see, jobs to go to, a good nights sleep, a healthy loved one, family time however little, a vacation or eat out at a restaurant or even time for a shower. Some of us don’t have even those luxuries. Hug your loved ones and make the most of the life we have. “Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” – Emory Austin
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