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!


The Driggs said...

Layla is so beautiful! It's so nice to put a face to her name. I hope she has a wonderful birthday! So glad that Bree is doing so well. She is looking so great. That's neat that you got to go to the Cancer Survivor Day. My friend in my ward who's daughter had neuroblastoma as a baby still looks forward to attending the Cancer Survivor Day each year, and her daughter is now 14! That will be a neat tradition to go to each year. I will definitely keep Layla as well as her mom Nicole in my prayers. You are a wonderful friend. Love ya.

agravette said...

You are such a sweetheart to want to do nice things for others. I will pray for Layla and her mom everyday, and will continue to pray for you and your sweet family too!

Andréa Morrow said...

your charity towards Layla & her family will bless you greatly! I am pleased to be in contact w/ your wonderful example. I appreciate your kind words about our sweet Tati :) I hope we can get our kids together again sometime!

Alisa Larson said...

You are a good woman Kari. I love you!

Aunt Bow said...

Dear Kari,

I love reading your blog;you have a gift when it comes to putting your life's experiences into words.

I am so happy that sweet Bree is free to have normal one year old experiences, even if they include ear infections!

May God bless you, Justin, and all your wonderful children.

Aunt Bow

Brooke said...

What a great idea! You are so thoughtful and I am sure it mean the world to Layla ( I love that name!) and her mom and family.

brownymama said...

You are so sweet and thoughtful! Is Layla the girl you were talking about that lives up here? If she's at home and you want to go visit her, we could definitely do that. What a pretty girl she is. I love the picture with her and Bree!

Anonymous said...

that was such a nice thing you did for Layla to bring her all those gifts!! It was so good to see Bree too she looks great!! You made Layla's bday month great for her!!

Jessica said...

This is so great! I missed this post because all of the "stuff" going on in my world, but I'm really glad I came back and found it. It's so good to see a smiling face on a sweet child that is going through so much. And, it's so good to know that there are people like you & Summer out there to help out families in need of some cheer!

Melody B. said...

Wow, two special girls.