Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One Year Ago Today...

...Bree was diagnosed with cancer. Forgive me while I go back down memory lane. I want Breezy to know the details of that day one year ago, so she knows how special she is.

I can honestly say, it was the worst day of my life. I can remember it so clearly in my head. Justin, Bree & I had just got home from a cruise to the Caribbean. It was a Monday. I was doing mountains of laundry from our trip. I had missed my boys. It was so good to be back with them. We were playing silly games, reading books and I was just enjoying being with them again.

That morning, I called our pediatrician to get an appointment for him to look at the bruises under Bree’s eyes. They had come and gone for about 3 weeks and I remember wondering why they weren’t going away. Originally, I had thought she got hit in the head by one of her brothers (naturally) and they would eventually disappear. While we were on our cruise, the bruises seemed to fade a little. By the end of the week, they were coming back, only a little darker. Looking back at this, I can say these bruises were a miracle. Had they not shown up, who knows how long it would have taken to diagnose and treat her. Anyway...on to the Dr's visit...

Our appointment was one of the last ones of the day, around 4pm. I remember taking all of my kids to the doctor’s office, thinking we’d be in and out and back home in time for dinner. Justin happened to be working near the doctor’s office and decided to come by to lend a hand with all the kids.

Originally, our Dr said that he felt that one kidney seemed larger than the other and that she should probably have a ultrasound done. So, we headed home with the intent to make an appointment for an ultrasound later in the week. However, on my way home, the Dr called us and told us he had a feeling that didn’t sit right with him so he called a specialist and was told that we should go straight over to the ER and have a catscan of Bree’s tummy, just to rule out anything serious. I was a little annoyed because I really just wanted to be back home as a family again. Looking back, I feel so naive. I thought everything was going to be fine…that they’d say she just had some trauma to her nose from an injury from one of her brothers. I felt bad later that I kind-of blamed the bruising on the boys.

We were seen fairly quickly at the ER. She was given a catscan and we had the results sooner than I thought. I remember the darkness of the room when the ER doctor told us it was cancer. He said ‘neuro…something’. I had no idea what he was talking about. He was rambling on about something about our genetic make-up, wait, did he really just tell me that my daughter has cancer? She has a tumor inside her perfect body? “But, there’s nothing wrong with her”, I said, “she’s not sick. She's perfect. How can this be happening?”

As he left the room, Justin and I just sobbed. We held each other as I held Bree. She was sleeping so sweetly in my arms. I began to feel this incredible weight on my shoulders. I didn’t know what was ahead of me, but I knew right then that I needed to be strong for Bree. This was the time when I needed to carry her through this. And even more, I needed the Lord to carry me.

I remember Dr. Shah (the first oncologist we met) telling us about her type of cancer. Neuroblastoma. It took me a week to pronounce it correctly. I remember his look of concern. A look like he wanted to get her better. He was genuinely concerned for our daughter. That made me feel a little better. He sat with us and answered our millions of questions. I was still so shocked that we were here. The ER, hearing again those words your daughter has cancer. She needs surgery immediately.”

I remember walking through the hall from the ER to the Pediatric Oncology Unit to Bree’s hospital room that night. I remember the clothes I wore, the necklace, my earrings. I had tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t look at the nurses as I walked by. I was in disbelief. I remember asking if I could take her home. Give her one good night at home in her bed. She’d been sleeping in a closet on a cruise ship for the past week for Heaven’s sake.

Both of our parents were there. We all just sat and cried. We all just held one another. I remember our first night nurse, Joy, explaining some different things to us about childhood cancer. It seemed everyone just kept asking her questions. I was quiet. Still in shock.

That night I didn’t sleep. I laid down on the fold out couch and kept thinking this was a nightmare. That I'd wake up and be home with my boys and my biggest worry would be what I was going to make everyone for breakfast. Instead I opened my eyes to the cold hospital room, the steel bed where Bree was sleeping. The sounds of beeping IV poles. The realization hit me that we might be here for a long time.

As the sun came up the next day, suddenly our room was the busiest room on the floor. I couldn’t remember who was who…oncologists, surgeons, nurses, social work, grief counseling, etc. Everyone handed me their card and said their piece, then left again. Bree was scheduled for surgery that very morning. I remember our first day nurse Leslie, writing out the day’s checklist, which included a broviac placement, exploratory surgery and determination of what stage her cancer was. She drew us a picture to help us understand and was really sweet. Later I would come to adore these nurses that tended to Bree so many times.

Today, one year later, as I sit at my house, typing away, I watch Bree walk around, happy as can be. I look at her beautiful face, her platinum blond hair, admire her sassy personality. I smile to myself. I had no idea one year ago she would have endured 8 rounds of chemo, 13 hospital stays, 2 abdominal surgeries, 1 broviac central iv line, 3 bacterial infections, 60+ neupogen shots in her legs, countless fevers, 4 months with NG tubes & feedings, 4 blood transfusions, weekly doctor appointments, weekly blood draws, catscans, bonescans, MRIs & bone marrow biopsies. It was months and months and hours and hours of hoping, fasting and praying that she would win her fight with cancer.

Well, she did. She won!!What a year it has been! Our family has been so blessed. We have felt so loved and supported by friends and strangers alike. The thousands of prayers offered for Bree gave us confidence that despite our family’s weaknesses, God would bless Bree. We are so grateful to the Lord for answering our prayers…your prayers. What comfort to know that “…all flesh is in mine hands, be still, and know that I am God.”

To our sweet Bree,

We love you so much, always know that you are a daughter of God and He has healed you and has preserved your life so you can glorify His name. You have important work to do here on earth. Your brothers adore you, your mommy thinks you're perfect and your daddy…well you have him wrapped around your beautiful little fingersJ. There is a sweetness about you that everyone sees. You have a darling smile, the cutest laugh we've ever heard, and an independent mind. You are not even 2, and already you run the house! I am so grateful to have you as my daughter. Even though you won't remember this past year, I will never forget what you went through. You are strong. You are loved by so many. I adore you sweet girl. You are our Easy Breezy!

Love, Mom & Dad

Monday, October 19, 2009


...came and gone! I have not been a good blogger lately, huh? Forgive me? As a result, there are a ton of pictures ahead!

We started the month by heading up to the cabin with all of Justin's family (minus the Larson's - we missed you guys!). The weather was perfect, even a bit chilly at times and we all had a wonderful time being with family & enjoying the great outdoors! I didn't take any pictures until the moment when we were all getting ready to leave. I guess we were having too much fun! But, I managed to catch Bree with her cousin Billy playing outside. (I took this picture with my phone, hence, not the best quality but you get the idea!)

Then, on Sept 12th, we had just returned home from a community fair and Gunner started complaining of a stomach ache. I didn't think too much about it and sent him to bed (afterall, he wasn't throwing up at that moment, so I thought he just needed some rest). Well, midnight hits and he starts screaming and crying and complaining of really severe pain in his tummy. He was having a hard time even sitting still and when I touched his belly, he would just cry out in pain. So, after some thought, we decided that he needed to be seen by a doctor. We went to Urgent Care and they feared that he had appendicitis! So, we headed over to the E.R. of Banner Children's and waited for 3 hours to be seen. Gunner was such a good sport the whole time. He was a very good little patient. He had a chest & tummy x-ray, CT of his torso, and bloodwork and urine tests done on him. He had to have an IV, which was a traumatic experience for him. I told him that his little sister had this done over and over to her and that he needed to be brave like her and this seemed to help him. After over 8 hours of being in the ER we were told that he didn't have appendicitis, he just had really clogged bowels! Thank goodness! He was discharged and sent home with strict orders to have lots of fresh fruit & water to get his insides moving! This is my little man all bandaged up, finally taking a nap.

We had a sweet moment right after his IV was placed, that I wanted to document. This was our conversation:
Gunner: (with disbelief on his face) "Mom, Bree got poked like this a lot?"
Me: "Yes, Gunner, she had lots of pokes."
Gunner: "Wow, that really hurt me, I dont like this place... I'm sorry Bree had to have so many pokes like mine. She's so brave."

In a small way, he got to experience something that Bree did and I think he realized how brave his sister really is. It was hard for Gunner to visualize what Bree went through and so in a weird way, this helped him understand a bit.

Well, the weekend after that, soccer season started! We enrolled both our boys on the same team. They both really enjoy soccer and being with their friends. So far they've had a few games and they are doing great. Gunner scored 2 goals on his last game. Caleb basically just runs where the other kids go, and occasionally tries to kick at the ball, but he's having the best time so that's all that matters! Here's some pics from our soccer stars!

The little cheerleaders on the sidelines. Breezy and Savvy, cute friends!

I love this girl's smile!

As you know Bree is obsessed with shoes and one night after soccer practice, the boys took their cleats and shin guards off, and Bree races as fast as her little legs will take her and puts on their shin guards. This little girl is so much fun!

This same day I had taken some pictures of Breezy with our dog. These are random, but what can I say, it was a fun photo-op and I got some great pics!

These next few pictures are just some randoms from the month! The boys love to be buried in their animals at bedtime. Here's our versions of "Where's Waldo?"

I love that Gunner's body is completely covered in stuffed animals!

One fun thing that we started doing this month was combing Bree's hair! She still doesnt have enough to put into pig tails or a ponytail, but Justin combed it like this one day and we've been doing her hair like it ever since! What do you think?

My 3 cookie littles after bathtime. Don't they just oooze cuteness?!

Another random, I just had to capture the kids in sunglasses. Bree actually kept hers on for a while!

Last of all, this month I turned 29 again. Okay, I really turned 29 + 2 years but I'm still clinging to 29! I had a wonderful birthday. I had a yummy breakfast with some great friends and that night my sweet hubby surprised me by taking me to my favorite resturant, the Melting Pot. We dined for 2 hours! It was great to chew our food slowly while having a nice conversation. Plus, the dessert was magical! Chocolate fondue with strawberries! So yummy! Thanks for all the nice birthday wishes!

All in all, it was a great month. The best part of September was receiving the news that Bree's cancer is still in remission. To read more about her latest MRI results you can click here. As for now, we are looking forward to fall and all the fun the holidays bring!

Friday, October 2, 2009


In the spirit of catching up, I thought I'd dedicate one post to the entire month of August! It was certainly a HOT month! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves as to what we did. (Can you tell, I'm pressed for time?)

This month...

*I tried sushi for the first time. For all you sushi fans out there (my sweet hubby included), I'm sorry, I was not digging it. It was my sister's birthday so I went in feeling open-minded and I'm glad I tried it, but I think I'll stick with food that is cooked from now on. :) I left feeling full, but not satisfied. Plus, it was just too fishy for me. Sorry babe!

*Caleb turned 7! I did a post already with some pictures of him through the years but here were a few from his special day and his party at Chuck E Cheese! I wasn't the best photographer that night so there weren't many pics to choose from. Happy Birthday sweet boy!

7 balloons for my 7 year old! He wasn't in a "posing" type mood but oh well, I had to take that "right when you wake-up, It's your Birthday" picture!

Playing the games:

Blowing out his candles!

*Bree started walking! This picture is awful because my settings were off on my camera and she was coming towards me, but I had to post this picture to remember her first steps. Plus, her dress is super cute. I wish I had one to match!

*Naught-e-ness! Breezy has been so much fun, but she now has a new nickname, "Ms. Naughty!" This picture really doesn't explain anything but I'm posting it to remind me what she does get into! She'll climb in cupboards and take everything out, she's broken 2 of my perfume (expensive) bottles, 2 bracelets & 1 necklace, dumps crackers and any "toddler-height" object (sugar) all over the ground. She's a little stinker, but I still can't manage to get upset at her.

San Diego Trip...finally!

So I've been a total blog-slacker lately and now I'm trying to get caught up....finally getting to the San Diego trip we went on back in July! Yes, it was over 2 months ago! Better late than never. :)

This trip was so great. It was definitely a great memory for our family. In a way, it was our celebration that our little Bree is free from cancer! We went to Sea World for 2 days and then headed up north to Oceanside and stayed in a sweet beach house for 3 days! It was fabulous! The kids had the best time! We also went to the San Diego temple but it happened to be closed the week that we were there. Go figure! Oh well, we tried to take pictures while we were there but couldn't even go beyond the gates.

Here's some of the pictures from the trip. I have a ton more but I've been having issues with uploading my pictures today. Rather than throw my computer out the window or waste time trying to figure it out, I'll post these now and hopefully fix the issues later. Enjoy: