Friday, October 31, 2008

Pray for Bree

First, we want to thank all of you for your prayers and concerns. This has been a very busy week and we know people have wanted to know what is going on. I think we have shed as many tears hearing about all of those who love our baby Bree as we have from the shocking and devastating news about her diagnosis. We will do our best to give you a recap of what has gone on this week. In our attempt to explain all of this we will probably set medical journals back a few decades :) as we have tried to absorb a lot of info that we really don’t understand yet. This is a long post so if you plan on reading it, get comfortable.

A few weeks ago we noticed little bruises under each of Bree’s eyes. We thought maybe our boys had gotten too rough with her. The bruises went away but then came back so on Monday we decided to take her to our pediatrician. Our pediatrician checked out Bree, made a few calls and sent us to the ER that night (thank you Dr. Carroll!). The ER doctor was very impressed that the pediatrician would be able to pick up on enough symptoms to send us to the ER since she was in perfect health. The ER doctor felt that her Kidney was enlarged and thought it could be a Wilmes Tumor, which means they basically would remove the kidney and thus taking care of the problem. Our hearts sank as the CAT scan results showed that it was neuroblastoma cancer. Neuroblastoma is a cancerous tumor that begins in the nerve tissue and that will then metastasize throughout the body. The CAT scan found the tumor around her kidney, some lymph nodes, bone marrow and her spine. They admitted us to the pediatric oncology department Monday night. Tuesday morning they did a two hour surgery that included a biopsy of the tumor, a bone marrow biopsy and a Broviac IV placement (a permanent IV inserted in her chest for at least the next six months). The surgeon also found that the tumor had grown around her pancreas and some nodes into the liver that had not shown up on the CAT scan. Later that day we were informed that even though we found out early about her diagnosis that she was already at Stage 4 of 4 and that due to the large size and location of the tumor that they would not be able to operate but that it would have to be treated with chemotherapy and radiation.

On Wednesday they did a bone scan and found that the cancer had also spread into the orbital bone around her eyes which is why the bruising occurred under her eyes. On Wednesday they also showed us multiple images of the tumor. It was awful to see how this monster was living and growing inside of her. We couldn’t believe that despite the size of this tumor how happy and healthy Bree has been. If you know Bree she truly is the easiest, happiest, sweetest baby you will ever see. I know all parents feel the same way about their babies but I dare you to prove me wrong :). Even in the hospital she has been such a trooper.

Nationwide about 650 infants a year get this type of cancer. There are many different categories but an easy one for us to remember is if the cancer is in the low, intermediate or high risk category. Low risk wasn’t an option for us since it had already spread to other parts of her body so we hoped for the cancer to be in the intermediate risk range. This would give us an idea of survival rates and how aggressively they would have to apply chemo. We have been hoping and praying that she would be in the intermediate range. We know that many of you specifically prayed and fasted for that very purpose. We were told that we would find out if it was high risk or intermediate risk on Friday.

We were so very touched when we heard that our ward and our previous ward were going to fast for our sweet girl on Thursday. We were reduced to tears upon learning that our stake and so many others would be doing the same. We have heard that people all over the world are praying for our Bree, that people of various faiths and languages have been petitioning the Lord on our behalf. At times we have wept as much out of appreciation for your love and support as we have over this terrible disease. On Thursday we finally received news that raised our spirits. From the bone marrow biopsy the doctors believe that the cancer would fall into the intermediate range and they decided to treat the cancer that way. This was fabulous news since the high risk category was so awful. It was Bree’s first victory in this new journey. Thursday we felt very encouraged and sometimes almost forgot about the reality of her condition. Bree still has cancer. She still has to be on Chemo for at least 8 cycles over the next 6 months, the side effects of chemo are extremely scary and we can only hope and pray that it will work but I suppose that this will be our new way of life…celebrating even the smallest of victories when we can.

We know that it is not a coincidence that we received an answer to our very specific prayer a day earlier than planned which happened to be the very day that so many people were fasting and praying for us. We are so grateful to our Heavenly Father for giving us this blessing and for your help in obtaining it.

There still are more tests that they will be doing to better understand the extent of the cancer and tumors but in a nutshell we now have a plan to start treating this cancer. Bree will be starting chemo today (friday). We would love for your continued prayers that she will be healthy through this process, that she won’t suffer any significant side effects and that the treatment will work.

In this past week we have experienced a range of emotions from anger, fear, shock, sorrow, comfort, hope and peace. Our boys are doing well and have been kept busy by wonderful family and friends. We know that many of you are hurting too as you love Bree and don’t like seeing her have to go through this. We pray for you as you have prayed for us. We know that Bree is in the hands of the Lord and that he is precious to her. We also are aware that other families are going through their own trials and we hope they too are being loved and supported as we have been. Thank you for your concern for our family. We feel fortunate to have so many people behind us as we start this new path. We are sustained at this time with our faith in God and your kindness towards our little family. We will do our best to update our blog on her progress, post some sweet pictures of her and keep everyone updated on any new developments.

We love you all!
Love, Justin and Kari
Here are a few pictures of the journey thus far:
This was before her surgery (biopsy).
Before her bone scan
Getting ready for bed with Mommy
Being sweet with Daddy
Happy on Halloween even in the hospital!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Moments to savor

Yesterday was a great day. It was one of those Saturday's where you are busy but have those moments where you wish you could freeze time. It was a pretty typical day, went to Gunner's soccer game, did laundry, ran a few errands.

Then we took some time to go down to the park as a family. We packed some snacks and headed to the neighborhood park and played there in the beautiful weather. My kids were having so much fun running up and down the playground, playing soccer with their Dad and running all over the place. I was loving holding and cuddling with Breezy. We were watching the boys have fun, roll down the grassy hill and biff it every couple of times. Caleb even ate grass a few times, but got up laughing each time. I didnt take the camera but this is what Caleb was like...

I also enjoyed watching Justin and his boys run around and play together. It's so much fun to see how the boys love their Daddy. And Bree has such a huge crush on Justin. Every time he walks in the room, she gets a huge smile on her face and giggles so shyly. So sweet.

Yesterday was just one of those moments in time where I loved being together with my family and truly wanting to freeze time just so that I could look at each of my children's faces and memorize them before they grow up on me. I know life goes so fast and there are some days when I cant wait for the day to be over and to have a moment to myself, but I know this will pass me by in a flash if I dont appreciate the little moments. So, here's to our little family...enjoying the here and now, relishing the sweet times and loving each moment!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall Break

Caleb has been on fall break over the past few weeks and we've enjoyed having him home. Although, there are more fights, tantrums and lazy days but it all comes with the territory! This one day we were reading books together and I just thought it was fun so I took a pic of my three kids reading!(Bree still doesnt care to sit up so I've been trying to trick her into thinking that it can be the Bumbo!)
Then, last week, my poor baby started sporting black eyes! I notice sometimes her brothers can be on the rough side, and I'm usually very cautious but I guess they got her pretty good and now she has 2 nice shiners! Oh well, she lasted 6 months without one at least!
Then last Tuesday my sweet SIL Krista called and said, "I'm heading into town!" She and her family live in Prescott Valley so it was a great surprise! We got to hang out with her and her kiddos for a few hours. So we took everyone to Mother Nature's farm and had lots of fun.

The kids got to do a hayride, decorate pumpkins, feed the goats, pigs and cow and jump in the big bouncer (a favorite of my kids)!

This was Caleb's favorite thing to do...feed the cow. He loved petting him and saying "moo!" In this picture, he is trying to give the cow a kiss!
The price is $7/kid and $3/adult, which is more than I thought it was worth, but at least we all had fun!

Alisa was able to join us so we had a lot of the cousins get together. I just love cousin shots like this! I was trying a bit of editing on my computer. Ah, someday I'll get photoshop and have even more fun!
Thanks girlies, we had a blast and it was wonderful to see you Krista!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'm still young...

So I turned 30 on Sunday...yep, that's right the big 3-0! Cant believe I am officially a 30-year old woman. I still feel like I act like I am in 7th grade sometimes! And for those that are in their twenties and thinks 30 is old...well it's not! I'm still young! And, 30 is the new 20, and dont forget it! :) So, now that I got that out of the way, I can blog about my wonderful birthday weekend!

We started the festivities early by going out on Friday for a nice sit-down-wait-on-me dinner at Texas Roadhouse! That place is really fun. I loved my steak and yummy sweet potatoes. It was heavenly! Then on Saturday we watched Gunner play in his 2nd soccer game. He had lots of fun, scored a few goals, and as usual, probably had more fun just being there with his friends.
After that we went to a birthday party then came home and Justin watched the kids while I went to Women's conference and dinner with Rachael and her sis Karis. We had lots of fun and the time away from the kids was so nice. Thanks girlies! Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but the time I get to be away works wonders on my sanity as a parent.
Then Sunday Justin spoiled me rotten as usual by doing several little surprises, letting me relax and unwind and he also was so cute and had the boys give me my presents. Caleb gave me cute earrings (he picked them out with help from Dad and Gunner) and Gunner gave me pajama pants. How does he know I like jammie pants so much? Then Justin gave me a beautiful picture of the SLC temple. It is gorgeous and I love it. Thanks babe! Here's a picture of it from the website, but it doesn't do it justice!
My cute family minus Bree (she was sleeping when we took this pic)
Here's my sweet sis Kristin. She is such a great example to me and I love her so!
Then here's a movie of Caleb and Gunner blowing out the candles on my bday cake. I love my boys. My family is the best present of all!