Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Blessings of Life's Transitions

Kidney Walk 2014
On a beautiful Fall morning this past weekend we participated in our 4th Kidney Walk in Audubon Park.  It is amazing to think back on this journey we began so long ago.  Looking at the pictures throughout the last four years brought back so many memories - some good and some not so good.  There were many medical setbacks that Ken endured but there were always prayers, support and love from those around us.  God has blessed us with an amazing family and awesome friends who continue to support us.  We don't ever walk this journey of life alone - we walk with all of you and we thank all of you.
Kidney Walk 2013
So much has happened since the last blog.  In June, Ken's job at the bank was eliminated.  It was a tough time for him.  He had worked hard all his life and figured he would work for three or four more years.  God had other plans.  I know I say it many times but I will say it again - "When God closes one door He opens another."  Around the same time, my friend and business partner, Joanne,  decided she needed to go back into teaching.  I needed to figure out how I was going to carry on the business by myself.  Could I do it alone?  Would it work without Joanne?  God had the solution.  Ken would be the perfect "Ralph the Roach."  That might seem easier than it really was, as Ken's job now required him to learn to be different characters in our books.  You see, we don't read our stories at schools.  We perform them.  I guess being married for 42 years came in handy though as it has been a successful pairing thus far.  We truly are the married couple - Ralph and Roxanne Roach. 

Kidney Walk 2012
All of this made me think about transitions in our lives.  We all face them as we enter into different stages of life.  It happens to all of us whether we want it or not.  How we approach these changes in our lives can make all the difference in the world.  My mom was such a huge role model in my life.  I remember her telling me that life is filled with changes.  You have two ways to face them because they will happen.  You can get angry and fight it or you can open your arms and welcome your "new life." With lots of prayers and encouragement from our children we are enjoying this "new life."  We see our transitions as blessings!

Kidney Walk 2011

Sure, Ken still has blood work done every other Tuesday.  And yes, we still await the results anxiously. But now there is a certain peace there that no matter the results we will get through it.  We continue to ask for your prayers.  We are thankful for each day God gives us and we treasure our time together with family and friends. We pray for all of you daily!

Until the next time may the Lord carry us on our journey,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday to Ken's Kidney

September 10, 2012 our son-in-law, Alex gave Ken the gift of life - one of his kidneys.  That selfless act gave Ken his life back.  This journey has been a remarkable one.  We have seen first hand the work of God and we are thankful for each and every day.  Yes there were many bumps along the way but Ken is doing well.  We want to thank all of you for your support and prayers and ask you to continue praying.  With the love and support of our family - Stefanie, Greg, Kelly and their spouses Danny, Camille, Alex and our granddaughters Addie, Sophie, Jillie and our grandson Gus we live each day to the fullest and enjoy all our blessings.  We love you all!

Happy 2nd Birthday Ken's Kidney!  

Until the next time may the Lord carry us on our journey,

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

There Are Signs Everywhere!

Kidney Walk in Greenville, SC
Do you ever get caught up in the daily routines of life and before you know it months have gone by?  I certainly do.  Since my last blog a few months back, so much has happened.  Many times I sat down at my computer  to write the blog and became distracted with other things, often the things that matter the least but seem to take up the most of our time. For this I apologize. I know how invested all of you are in knowing how Ken is doing and being part of our journey and message . It actually took a simple sign for me to remember that and re-commit myself to this blog. They say there are signs everywhere, we just need to look for them. I saw mine in Greenville, SC. 

We went to visit Kelly, Alex and Baby Gus for four days in April.  The time was spent playing golf, shopping, eating out, and enjoying family time.  On Sunday we all participated in the Kidney Walk in Greenville, SC.  It was held on the beautiful campus of Furman University.  They were many participants wearing shirts with their family names, business names, or stating they were donors or kidney transplant recipients but one sign in particular caught our attention.  It was simple - written on a plain white piece of paper with a marker and pinned on the back of a young girl.  It said 'I NEED A KIDNEY, PLEASE!" and it was followed by a phone number.  This young girl was about 12 years old.  This was the sign I needed to see.  It brings me back to why I started this blog so long ago.  Yes at the time we wanted to get Ken's story out there and maybe someone would donate a kidney.  But God had already planned Ken's life by bringing Alex into Kelly's life and into our lives.  Now I need to continue this journey to spread the word.  Organ donation can save so many lives.  Ken says each day he would not change one thing of his life.  He has not been connected to a machine and has been able to live his life.  We all have challenges - some are different than others but we all struggle.  How many of us ever have the opportunity to totally change someone's life - to save someone's life?  Think about that young girl and so many others out there that need an Alex to step up and say I will help.  Pass the word on about being a living donor and one day we won't have a waiting list of thousands.  Remember that little girl and pray for all those like her.

Ken and Gus
First Communion
Addie's Piano Recital
Now let me update you on Ken since his last hospital stay in January. His journey continues to be a roller coaster ride.  Ken still has blood work scheduled every two weeks.  We still wait and see and pray for good results every Tuesday afternoon.  Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are not. We try to focus on living in the moment, but let's face it those test results make or break our days. Even when we receive good news, with all the medications and infusions Ken receives, he is always battling side effects.  Lately, his challenge has been with low white blood cell counts which prevents him from being with our granddaughters as much as he wants to. Their colds and stomach viruses can be very serious for Ken.  And then there is the the BK virus which rears its ugly head in his body when his immune system is suppressed. But when his immune system isn't suppressed, he is at risk for rejections and requires infusions. So you see it is up and then it is down.  It is like a balancing act - one medicine helps and then another medicine hurts.  How do the doctors figure out the right balance?  I think it is a work in progress.  But let me be clear: Ken's worst day with his new kidney is still so much better than any day on dialysis. And through everything, faith, family and friends are always there to strengthen and console us.  Life goes on and Ken is one strong man! So much so that I have included just a few pictures of the great family events Ken and I have enjoyed over the past few months.

Until the next time may the Lord carry us on our journey,

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy Birthday??

January 24th was Ken's birthday.  Since we were doing some remodeling at our house, our daughter Stefanie invited us over to celebrate at her home.  Our granddaughters were so excited and started making decorations and cards for the celebration.  Tuesday, the 21st Ken had his fifth kidney biopsy after results from his latest bimonthly blood work indicated problems.  Ken was told the results would be back late Thursday or early Friday morning.  Thursday, the 23th I bought the devil food cake mix, vanilla icing and blue Bell ice cream for the party.  Around noon I got a call from Ken and I knew from his voice something was wrong.  The doctors wanted him to go to the hospital immediately.  They found a mild rejection of the kidney and fibrosis.  He was admitted quickly and as we walked through the doors of the kidney transplant unit the nurses, CNA's, social workers, pharmacists, food service  and cleaning ladies all welcomed Ken and me.  I know I have used this analogy in the past but remember the television show Cheers.  When Ken and I stepped through those doors we knew we were back.......

"Where everybody knows your name
  And they're always glad you came
  You wanna be where you can see
  Our troubles are all the same
  You wanna be where
  Everybody knows your name."

As hard as it is to go back to the hospital this floor truly is our home. And we were back. Ken was given three large doses of steroids for the mild rejection. His original disease was back and was given a chemo drug to put it in remission. Obviously all these medicines have side effects but we again put this all into God's Hands. We pray for good results and for no side effects. We trust in God and know this is His plan.

Best birthday party ever!

So the birthday party came to the transplant floor Friday night.  Addie, Sophie and Stefanie brought TCBY sugar free yogurt and sang Happy Birthday. They made BEAUTIFUL cards for their Pa. We played charades, visited the salt water Aquarium and did some shopping at the vending machine. They counted the bags Pa had hanging from his IV pole and met some of the wonderful nurses. It was a GREAT birthday!  We realized it is not where the party takes place but it is who comes to the party. As my mom used to say, "It's not the food but it's the company!"

Our son Greg, the real writer in this family, read a poem he wrote for Ken over the phone Friday night.  It was so funny that we literally cried. He took all the crazy things happening in our lives and made us laugh and realize what really is important. We ended the day face timing with Kelly, Alex and Gus, our grandson in South Carolina.  Life is great with a family like this, even from a hospital room.

Ken and I have been bombarded with prayers, well wishes, support and love from so many family and friends. We hope you realize what an amazing feeling it is for us knowing so many of you are praying for Ken. You all are in our prayers each and every day. We all have crosses to bear in this lifetime. You never know what journey someone may be on. We wish for all of you that your journeys will be safe, your crosses light to bear, your families and friends surround you with love and you enjoy each and every day God gives you with the ones you love.  I want to share 
these beautiful words sent to me from my cousin Emily - "I pray for you two to have comfort and encouragement in this hospital stay, that it be short, filled with peace and healing of miraculous magnitude, and that you remember, at all times, how much you are loved and prayed for by all of us at home." Thank you Emily, we do feel all that love.

Until the next time may The Lord carry us on our journey,


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!!!!

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

As we enter into 2014, Ken and I would like to wish all of you a very Happy New Year!!!  God has been very good to us this year.  Ken has not been back in the hospital since June 2013.  He still has challenges but with the continued prayers and support of you, our friends and family,  we know this year will be a GREAT one too!  We want to thank God for our beautiful family - Stefanie, Greg, Kelly, Danny, Camille, Alex, Addie, Sophie, Jillie, and Gus.  We could not make it through each day without your constant love.  You bring so much joy to our lives and we cherish all the time we spend with you.  We want to thank God for all our extended families - The Roigs and The Vaths.  You always have encouraging words for us and show us what great faith both of these "amazing families" have.  We want to thank God for our friends.  You are always there for us listening when we need to vent and giving us good advice.  Your friendships are our treasured gifts.  We thank God for the good doctors and nurses who have taken care of Ken throughout this journey.  Ken and I both thank Alex each and every day for the gift of life he gave to Ken. It was truly the best gift!  And I thank God for the man I married 41 years ago.  He was my hero then and is still my hero now.  He has been through so much but he keeps going with a smile on his face.

I would like to share with you "An Irish Blessing" which hangs in my house now.  It was in my mom and dad's house.  It means so much to our whole family and I hope it brings you peace and happiness in this new year.

"May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back,  May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His Hand."

Until the next time may the Lord carry us on our

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Kidney Walk 2013

Addie and Sophie
This past Sunday Ken and I participated in our third annual Kidney Walk.  We were joined by our daughter Stefanie with her husband Danny and our three beautiful granddaughters, Addie, Sophie and Jillie. Ken's sister, Sheila, his brother, David, and his wife Tammy and their two children, Gabby and Joel came out again this year to walk with us.  It was a cold windy day but the spirit of the event warmed us all.  Ken and I reflected back on the walk last year - two months post Kidney transplant.  WOW! What a difference a year has made.  It was heartwarming to see the nurses that took care of Ken when he was on dialysis for 15 months, Blanca and Heather with their families.  It was great seeing Erin, one of our angels on the kidney transplant floor at Ochsner who took such great care of Ken during the many hospital visits after his transplant. As we walked through beautiful Audubon Park watching the many families and friends participating in the event we were reminded again of the dire need for organ donors.  We thank God each and every day for the gift that Alex gave to Ken and we hope that others will consider becoming a donor.  Ken and I feel like this is the mission God has given us.

Ken and I want to wish all of you a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!  Each and every day we thank God for all of you. We thank you for your prayers, love and support. I wanted to share with you words from "Jesus Calling" - "As you go through this day, look for tiny treasures strategically placed along the way.  I lovingly go before you and plant little pleasures to brighten your day.  Look carefully for them and pluck them one by one.  When you reach the end of the day, you will have gathered a lovely bouquet. Offer it up to Me with a grateful heart.  Receive My Peace as you lie down to sleep, with thankful thoughts playing a lullaby in your mind."
Our Whole Kidney Walk team 2013

May each and everyone of you hear that lullaby in your mind!

Until the next time may the Lord carry us
on our journey,

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Living The Gift One Day At A Time

Central Park
Since the first anniversary of Ken's kidney transplant on September 10, we have been very busy.  Ken is feeling good and enjoying the "normal" routines of life again.   He still has to get his blood work tested every two weeks.  Waiting for results on those Tuesdays is still difficult but Ken's levels in his kidney seem to be getting better.  As one doctor told us the levels can fluctuate like blood pressure during the course of the day.  His kidney functioning is better but there is still a problem with protein spillage.  Ken and I have adopted the philosophy "to live each day that God blesses us with."

Before Ken's kidney started failing, he and our son Greg would choose an out of town destination to attend a Saints' game.  This year they decided to start the tradition again and picked New York for the Jets game.  Ken had never been to New York and I had been when I was 15 years old.  Greg and his wife Camille were the planners and tour guides.  We saw a Broadway show and a comedy club show, walked in Central Park, rode the subway three times, walked through Little Italy, China Town, and Greenwich Village. We went to the Empire State Building, Wall Street, Times Square and the 9/11 Memorial.  One day Ken and I walked 6.5 miles around the streets of New York.  He was doing things he could never have done last year.  We are living "the gifts that God blesses us with each day."

Addie, Sophie, Jillie
Our grandchildren fill our lives with joy each and every day.  We missed so many important events in their lives last year but this year is totally different.  We have already attended their plays at school and will be going to Grandparents' Day soon.  We can have our "slumber parties" again - even though there is not much slumbering on those nights :)  And the best of all is the time together playing games, singing silly songs, dance parties (now that is a sight to behold), reading stories, making up stories and snuggling close watching movies. You don't realize how much you miss these everyday happenings until they are taken away.  We are enjoying "the gifts that God blesses us with each day."

Pa and Gus
Kelly, Alex and Gus, our grandson, all live out of town.  Ken and I could not travel at all last year.  It was so hard not seeing them more often.  Now Ken is able to travel so we can visit and they can come visit us too.  Ken "Pa" is the "baby whisperer."  When our children were babies, he would sway and bounce simultaneously.  This magical move would calm them down and put them to sleep.  He still has that gift and now has the chance to use it on Gus.  We are enjoying "the gifts that God blesses us with each day."

Linda and Frank
A few weeks ago we got together with our "old" friends.  I met these three "girls" in Kindergarten and we have been friends since and have been through so much together over the years.  We don't get to see each other very often but when it happens it is like we were never apart.  Our husbands have all been through some difficult times with physical ailments.  I think of them as the "four miracles."  I think of Denise, Charlotte, and Linda as the sisters I never had.  We had such a good time and they are "our gifts that God blesses us with each day."                                                     
Rick and Charlotte
Denise and Tom

In two weeks Ken and I will be walking in our 3rd Kidney Walk.  It is on Sunday, November 24th at Audubon Park, Shelter #10.  The walk begins at 9:30 but check in starts at 8:00.  We would love you to come walk with us.  We will be in gray shirts this year with A Kidney For Ken on the front and Living The Gift One Day At A Time on the back. We are walking to encourage others to become  organ donors and to honor organ donors like our son-in-law,  Alex.  You can make a donation or join  our team, Renal Roigs, by clicking on  Choose the state first.  Click on the Walk on November 24 next.  You can join our team and or make a donation by selecting the buttons at the top of the page and following the directions.

We thank all of you for the prayers, love and support you have given us.  We ask you to continue to pray for Ken and other transplant recipients.  Pray that more people will make the choice to become a donor and save a life.

Until next time may the Lord carry us on our journey,