Monday, July 20, 2009

Meet Layla

On June 7th of this year we had the privilege of attending the Cancer Survivor Day. We got to see friends from the hospital like Bree's nurses and doctors as well as Bree's buddies who are survivors or are 'surviving' cancer.

They do a sweet ceremony where they call each person's name and award them a certificate, survivor bead and t-shirt. Each cancer survivor can make a necklace and add a bead each year they attend this special day. There are activities for the whole family like making a scrapbook page, participating in a drum circle, face painting and so on. And of course, there was cake! (Gunner & Caleb were VERY excited about that!) Here we are with Dr. Panchoosighn & Dr. Williams as Bree is awarded her certificate and bead of courage.

This little girl with Gunner is Tati, short for Tatiana. She is a survivor of Leukemia. She's such a sweet girl. I went to high school with her Dad, Brant. Her Mom, Andrea is so sweet. Tati is a darling little girl. She took a liking to Gunner instantly and they were hand in hand a few times that day. I wish I got that on camera!

It's amazing to think so many children have been through so much at such young ages. These little spirits are truly amazing and it was wonderful to be amongst so many parents and children that have gone through similar trials. Bone marrow transplants, multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, blood transfusions, NG feedings, and the list goes on. Yet, they are so happy and their smiles melt your heart. I'm amazed that Bree experienced so many of those things! I think back and I can't help but be amazed that she went through this.

Last but not least, is Layla.

We met Layla & her mom Nicole when Bree had her last bacterial infection back in April. We had to stay about 6 days in the hospital and I had finally reached the point that I could start talking to other parents out in the hallways. I don’t know what took me so long, it's almost hard to describe why but nonetheless, Layla and her Mom were at the hospital at the same time as us.

Layla happens to have Bree's same cancer, neuroblastoma, which it is pretty rare to come in contact with another person with her cancer because it is found 1 in every 250,000. Layla has been fighting since she was 3. She is now almost 6. At one point her cancer was in remission but her tumor grew back. She has been through several rounds of chemo, a bone marrow transplant, several surgeries and the list goes on and on. So, she has been getting chemo again to shrink down her tumor enough to remove it surgically. She will see a special surgeon in San Francisco that will operate on her tumor. It is a dangerous surgery and is risky.

A few weeks ago, my sweet friend, Summer, raised money (again) for our family…money to be spent on fun things in celebration of Bree being in remission. She has been too good to us. So many readers of her digital scrapbook blog (Summertime Designs) have read about our story and have commented or donated money and gifts as a result of Summer being so thoughtful. So with the money she raised, I wanted to pay it forward, in a sense. I wanted to buy some toys and happy things for Layla. Her birthday is this month. I have been thinking of this family so much lately. I've wanted to do something special for Layla and her Mom because I know, to some degree, what they have been through. I have just felt a special connection with her mom, Nicole. We’ve kept in touch since April and I have a deep appreciation and respect for this family. They have touched my heart. I’m anxious for Layla to have her surgery and so hopeful that this will help her win her fight with cancer.

So...since I know that several of the readers of our blog have donated money through Summer's website, I'm letting you wonderful people know that it will be used for little Layla, her Mom Nicole (a relaxing massage) as well as a toy or two for our Bree & the boys. :) (I have to spoil the girl now you know!) If you would, please keep Layla in your prayers. She is such a sweet girl!


On July 1st we went to see Wicked! I was so excited to have Justin go with me. I saw it a few months before Bree was born with Justin's mom & sisters in law. So, it had been a while since I've seen it. I was espeically excited to go back again because we were in the second row! I think I had a huge smile on my face the whole night. It was so amazing being so close! The music, the atmosphere, the storyline...I love it all!

These were my cute shoes that I loved to look at, but they were so uncomfortable that I wanted to throw them in the dumpster immediately after the show! I think I still have scars from the blisters they gave me! Ugh!

Me & my cute hubby. He had a great time, enjoyed the music and laughed a lot. Mission: accomplished!
Can't wait to see it next time it comes!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Today Bree had a fever of 101.5. In the past 7 months, had she had this high of a fever, we’d immediately be checked into the hospital and most likely be admitted for a bacterial infection or neutropenia (no white blood cells). This time it was due to an ear infection. An ear infection, I’ll take it!

We got to drive back home to our house, give her some medicine and I was able to put her to bed. No hospitals, no scares that she had a bacterial infection. No worry that she was in septic shock. It was a GREAT feeling.

Tonight as I rocked her to sleep, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander back to when she would spike a fever and I’d rush her off to the hospital. I remember my mind would be sick with worry, yet I had faith that she’d be okay, and I had great faith in the doctors and wonderful nurses that cared for her so much. I remember one of the times she spiked a fever of 102 and I had to rush out of the house, grab my emergency hospital bag and get to the hospital as fast as I could. I remember holding my sweet Bree so close to me as she shivered from the chills that the fever was giving her. As her fever rose to nearly 103, the nurses were rushing (although they were always calm) all around her, placing wires to her chest, setting up her IV fluids & starting her meds. I remember my mind wandering to this moment, the present time. I wanted so badly to be home, to let Bree rest in her bed and just to not be sick anymore. I wanted her to be free from wires, free from this sentence of always going back to the hospital and staying for days at a time…and now she is…FREE!

Tonight I feel very grateful. Grateful to a Heavenly Father that truly granted us a tender mercy when He showed us that Bree had black eyes. Without this sign, we would have never known she had cancer. It might have been another year or two before the tumor inside her tummy was found. And with her cancer (neuroblastoma), the older the child is when it’s found, the worse the outcome can be. I’ll always be grateful for those beautiful black eyes.

(A few weeks before she was diagnosed)
(The day after she was diagnosed)
(The day she started chemo)

So, I’m thankful for this moment, this time that we get to spend with Bree and with our entire family being together enjoying one another. I’m sure years from now when she’s a teenager and she’s driving Justin & I crazy, I will look back on these moments in time and feel grateful once again, that we have her, that she beat this cancer and that we can watch her grow into a beautiful young woman. I can’t wait.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

4th of July Weekend!

This year we followed tradition and headed up to the cabin and out of the heat! We had a wonderful time with Justin's family. It has been so long since we've all been together so it was great to be with everyone again (we missed you Krista & Ryan!).

For the actual 4th of July, we headed up to Eager for the annual parade. The kids loved this. They throw candy out after every other float goes by so Gunner was bound and determined to get as much candy as he could. There were a few times when his cousins didn't get any candy so he took some of his own and shared with them. Ah, what a sweet boy we have! He made his Momma proud!

Waiting for the parade to start...

Alisa made these super cute hats for the girls. Isn't she crafty? What cute girls!

Bree kept hers on for about 30 seconds. She's actually signing "all done."

I always get a little choked up when floats like this one goes by. I'm so thankful for the people that have served our country and are currently serving so that we can continue to enjoy our freedom.

The statue of liberty made an appearance too. This float was actually pretty cool.

Miss Breezy was her usual sweet self. She loved the parade. She was content to sit in her stroller with her blankie and watch the floats go by. She clapped her hands & squealed with delight as she'd watch her cousins and brothers run after candy. I'm so lucky to have this girl!

Later that day we had the traditional BBQ with hamburgers, chicken, hot dogs and all the fixins! So yummy!
(And, no, those are not beers, it's IBC root beer! The best ever!)

Isn't this cake cute? This is my neice Kelsey and Momma Cook. Great job ladies!

During the BBQ, Caleb decided he'd go on an adventure of his own in the stream by the cabin. He was covered in mud! It was extra fun cleaning him up! At least he had a good time!

God Bless America! The end!