Saturday, May 30, 2009

DreamNight at the Zoo

This past Friday evening, we had the opportunity to go to the Cleveland Zoo for an evening that was just for children with chronic illnesses, disabilities and their families.  It was a great night and they made it so special for these kids.  As we walked in, it was hard for me to hold back the tears as I was amazed at the work that went into preparing this night especially for families like ours who normally have to steer clear of the zoo and places like these due to the big crowds.  The whole night was free and the people were so friendly and accommodating.  They had all the ice cream carts and cotton candy spots open and the kids (and us) could get whatever we wanted for free.  The Dinosaur exhibit, bird feeding, camel rides and train rides were also free.  There were many volunteers around the park doing face painting, crafts, balloon creations, and up close animal encounters.  There were even costumed characters walking around and getting pictures with the kids.    Abbey loved seeing Cinderella and even got her picture taken with her.  She usually likes to keep a pretty safe distance from costumed things, but she was o.k. with the princesses.  Jacob couldn't stop talking about the dinosaurs the whole night and we all enjoyed feeding the birds.  It has been really awesome to see the special things that these kids can be a part of in the midst of what they have to go through.  

And along these same lines, Make a Wish called us the other day to set up a time to come to our home and talk to Abbey about her wish.  More details to come on that, but let's just say she will be able to get her picture taken with all the princesses :)  We also got a call today about an opportunity that Abbey will have to play Kick Ball this summer with the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field to promote an awesome fundraiser for childhood cancers.  More to come on that too :)

Abbey continues to feel great.  Tonight we went to church again and she even went into her class.  There were only a few other kids in there and she really wanted to go in. She was beaming when we picked her up and I think she is loving feeling like a normal kid again.  

Not only is she feeling great, but she looks so healthy.  Her little eyebrows and eyelashes have completely come back in.  It's amazing how fast that has happened and her eyes look more beautiful to me than ever. The hair on her head too is starting to really come in.  Although it has a long way to go, not a day goes by that we don't talk about being able to put it in a pony tail again soon :)

And a quick baby update.... this Monday is our ultrasound so we are very excited to get a peek at this little one and hopefully be able to find out if we will have 3 boys or if Abbey will have a baby sister.  Any guesses??  And if you don't mind, could you please pray that this baby would look healthy and perfect?... Thanks :)  

And one more thing... please keep friends of ours, the Gablers in your prayers as their little boy who is almost two will be undergoing some testing this Monday.  Thanks so much!  

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Oh Happy Day

We have much to be happy about!  Listen to our new song that we just added to hear about the happiest day ever.  And also we have had many happy days here lately that we will share. Saturday was especially special for our family, but I will get you up to date on things before I explain...

Last Friday was our clinic day to see if Abbey was ready to start maintenance.  Her ANC needed to be at 750 to begin and it was over 2,000!  We were so happy to see that her body had recovered from Delayed Intensification, that her immune system was stronger and that she was ready to continue on.

The day went as good as it possibly could.  Her sedation time was scheduled for 1:00p.m. so we thought it was going to be a very long morning since she couldn't eat. Buddy and Bev who is a puppet and his owner came in our room for about an hour and did crafts and games with Abbey.  She loved it and it helped make the time go faster as she got her chemo and we waited for her sedation time slot.  She never asked to eat even one time so it was a huge relief that it wasn't a rough, long morning for her.  She was sedated early and her procedure was done even before one o'clock.  They're usually running late, so it was so nice to be done early.  

While we were in clinic, after seeing her numbers, the doctors told us that the time has come for us to start getting our lives back to normal as much as possible.  For us to start taking her out some since her immune system was stronger now.  Although she will still be getting oral chemo, and chemo monthly at the clinic, she will not be getting hit so hard and her body should overall be stronger and less susceptible to illness.  We were overjoyed to hear those words and to know that we could start venturing out some and doing more normal things as a family.  

You probably know this from past posts, but our church is a very important part of our lives and we had not been to church as a family in 8 months.  Jim and I would go as much as possible with Jacob (we would keep Micah home too because we didn't want him bringing any sicknesses home), but we hadn't walked through the doors of our church as a complete family in so long and it was always so hard to go, having to leave our Abbey and Micah at home.  Well Saturday evening (for the Saturday service... a new thing at our church) for the first time since before Abbey got sick, we ALL  went to church together.

Here we are walking in together and it felt so good to have Abbey there!  She is a living testimony of God's goodness and faithfulness to us and to see how far she has come is an amazing thing.  God has used this little girl in many, many ways and to be able to show our church her smile and bright eyes after all she's been through was a wonderful thing!  God has been so real as we've seen His hand so intimately involved in our lives and we truly can say that our love for Him is stronger as we've gone through this.  This picture just makes me smile.  As we walk hand in hand with smiles on our faces, we know that He is carrying our family in His hands and for that reason alone, we can smile and find joy through this trial.  

The service was amazing and at the beginning Pastor Jason talked about how far we've come and how special it is to have her back in church.  We then all prayed for her together and it was very moving.  We are forever thankful to our Pastor and church family for their love and support as we've gone through this.  And the amazing thing is that it didn't just happen for a couple weeks or a month, but they have walked with us since day 1 and continue to be right by our side each step of the way.  

She is doing wonderfully with all her oral medications at home and she has been feeling great and just enjoying being three.  This morning she was calling me from her bedroom with an urgency in her voice and when I got in her room she was sitting at her vanity, looking at herself in the mirror and she said "Mommy!  My hair is starting to come back!"  She's a special little peanut and we are so thankful to be her parents.  

So far as a family we've gotten to go to a couple of Jacob's t-ball games, out to dinner, to a parade, to our friends house for a cookout and to church.  Abbey is loving getting out and you'd never know she's been cooped up in our house for 8 months.  I was concerned to see how she'd handle going from just seeing our family and doctors and nurses to getting back into being with other kids and being around more people.  She didn't skip a beat and seems to be handling yet another "change" with ease.  She's still our shy girl who likes to bury her head in my shoulder when she feels overwhelmed, but overall I feel like she's the same little girl that she was 8 months ago and we look forward to a fun summer as a family as we get to have some normalcy back to our lives.

And a huge thank you to Keri for taking pictures on Saturday :)  They will be cherished forever as we will be able to look at these special memories for years to come!  I will put a link to all the pictures that she took that evening soon.....

Thanks once again for continuing to follow our journey :)  Blessings to you! 

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Relay For Life

What is Relay for Life?

Relay for Life brings together many people around the world to celebrate the lives of those who are currently battling cancer or have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and empower individuals and communities to fight back against this disease. Relay brings people together to raise much-needed funds and awareness. No matter who you are, there's a place for you at Relay.

We will be participating in the Twinsburg/Macedonia Events which will be held from June 5th - 6th at Twinsburg High School (Twinsburg Tiger Stadium). Events will begin at 6:00 p.m. on June 5th and go through June 6th, ending at 1:00 p.m. We are on a team from our church that is called "Walk by Grace". Below is a link where you can find out more information about our team...

Please Come and...
* Celebrate the lives of people who are battling (our sweet Abbey) or have battled cancer.
* Remember loved ones lost to the disease.
* Fight back. Most of us have been touched by cancer in some way and Relay is a way that we can come together and raise money to work to find a cure for this awful disease.

At 6:00 there will be a survivor lap where all people who are battling cancer or have beat this disease will take a lap around the track. We would love for as many of you to be there as possible as we take this emotional lap with our Abbey. We are in the fight of our lives as we have walked this journey together as a family and we have been loved and supported in so many ways. We would love to see many faces that we know as we do this lap with our precious survivor.

On Friday evening (9:00p.m.), when the sun goes down, hundreds, sometimes thousands of luminaria light the way under the stars and a moment of silence falls during a moving ceremony. Luminaria are glowing bags that appear to be simply paper sacks filled with sand and candles, but every bag represents a life that has or is battling cancer. The luminaria ceremony is one of the most emotional moments at Relay. It is a time to remember those lost to cancer, support those fighting cancer, and rejoice with those who have fought and won. If you would like to buy a luminaria there placed in memory of someone, in honor of someone still fighting or in special recognition of someone who has beaten the disease, you will be able to that the evening of the event (or you can do it below...). Although it is late, we are going to be there with Jacob and Abbey to experience this time together as a family (minus Micah :). I know that if we plan on staying without Abbey, we will be longing to hold her through the ceremony.

If you'd like to join our team, make a donation to our team, or buy a luminaria in advance for someone, please go to this link Relay for Life/Twinsburg This will take you directly to our team "Walk by Grace". We look forward to seeing many of you there and thank you in advance for making a difference in the lives of people with cancer. Together, we can make a difference!

If you have ANY questions, please feel free to contact us at All are welcome to come be a part of this evening and whether we know you or not, we would feel honored for you to be there with us. If you are from Western Reserve and would like to join our team or find out more information, there will be a table set up for the next two weeks and we will be there to answer your questions. Judy and Mark Borlin and Bill and Heidi Watson have been doing Relay for years and know all the ins and outs of the weekend so please feel free to contact them for questions as well.

Thank you for your continued love and support!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Last Friday we went for Abbey to start maintenance, but when we got there we learned that her numbers were too low to start.  It is very normal for kids not to be ready since their bodies get hit so hard during Delayed Intensification and sometimes their bodies just need more time to recover.  Her platelets were well above ready and are in normal range, but her ANC which needs to be 750 to start was at 700.  So we go back this Friday to see where her numbers are and are praying that they are super high by then so she can start this first round of maintenance strong.  

She has been feeling great though!  Last Saturday we all went to Jacob's first t-ball game and it was so nice to be able to go as a family.  Jacob was adorable (all the boys were) and seeing him out there made us smile :)  It was raining on and off the whole game and we were so surprised how tough all these 5 & 6 year old boys were to tough it out and play through the cold rain.  Jim and I snuggled up with Abbey and Micah under umbrellas and we just thoroughly enjoyed our time.  I also got out to church Saturday night (Jim was working overtime), which was such a blessing.   Friends of ours watched the kids (thanks Borlins!).  Yesterday I got to hear our baby's heartbeat beating away inside of me.  That's something that never gets old and I could listen to it all day.  I will be having my ultrasound in two week so we are looking forward to that!

Things are seeming more normal as Abbey has been consistently feeling good.  We so look forward to being able to take her to church and out a little more.  A friend of mine from church called today who is also a wonderful photographer and she was asking when we will be bringing Abbey back to church.  She had a great idea of capturing those first moments on film of us being able to walk with her back into our church and it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.  

A couple other things that we will be posting about within the next couple days....  Relay for Life is coming up and Abbey is the "superhero" for our church's team.  We would love for as many of you to be there as possible and are looking forward to celebrating life (and how far we've come with Abbey) that night and remembering those who have lost their battle with cancer.  Jim is going to do that post as he is much better at linking stuff to the post so you will be able to register, or join our team :) right on-line.  The date is June 5th - 6th at Twinsburg High School so please keep those dates open.  It sounds like it's an amazing event and we are very much looking forward to being a part of it.  There is a survivor walk that we will be doing with Abbey. Again, something that brings tears to my eyes and a luminary event at night where some men from our church will be singing.  You won't want to miss this and we would so appreciate your support and love that night for our family and the many others that have been affected by cancer. So be looking for that post as we will have more details coming very soon!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's Next?

Abbey is doing beautifully (doesn't she look great?!!)!  Her cheeks haven't been this rosy in seven months and she looks the healthiest she's looked in a long time.  It's an amazing thing to be able to say that! She has been feeling great and has had tons of energy.  Tonight during Jacob's t-ball practice my mom and I took her over to a nearby playground and I think she went down the big slide 30 times.  Her energy level is completely normal right now and there is nothing better than seeing her like this.  

We had a really nice visit with grandmom and grandpop from Philly and it was so nice to have them here!  They got to see one of Jacob's t-ball practices and his last indoor soccer game while here.  Other than those couple of activities, we spent our time at home and outside just hanging out and being together.  Of course Abbey and grandmom did nail painting and Jim, his dad and Jacob had some projects to work on, one being working on Jacob's jeep (it's had some mechanical problems lately).  Mothers Day was so relaxing. Jim and his dad pampered us from morning till night and they made us a delicious dinner.  When I laid in bed that night I didn't even feel tired because I hardly had to do any work the whole day.  It was nice :)

I want to say a HUGE thank you to the mommies from MnM's (our church's mom's group) from Western Reserve Grace!  Today after their monthly meeting, a dear friend Bethany dropped off this amazing, thoughtful, beautiful basket of goodies for me for Mothers Day.  When I tell you our church has been AMAZING to us, it is not an exaggeration.  They have been there since day 1 and continue to love us and walk with us through this.  I was overwhelmed when I read each card and looked at each gift.  There was so much thought and love put into each note and gift so thank you each one of you who put that together for me.  We have been blessed beyond words by so many and I personally have been encouraged by you all more than you'll ever know so thank you for your thoughtfulness.  This was the most special mothers day for me and today was the topper to a wonderful weekend :)  I love you guys!!

So, I wanted to let you know what's next in Abbey's treatment.  We are heading back to the clinic this Thursday for a numbers check for her.  Her numbers need to be recovered to 750 ANC and 75 platelets for them to start with her first maintenance cycle.  She will have 20 months of maintenance.  If her numbers meet the criteria for starting, she will get spinal chemo (methotrexate) in her spine and a dose of vincristine in her port on Friday.  She will be on several medications at home over these next 20 months, with some being 1 day a week, some 5 days a month and some being everyday.  Doesn't sound like much of a break, but she then will have a 3 month break from the spinal chemo and will just get one chemo per month in her port.  
Her numbers will soon start to make a comeback and shouldn't be low for the remainder of her treatment, but right now they are still recovering from the last intense phase.  Since her chemo isn't as intense from here on out, her body will consistently be stronger and less vulnerable to infection.  

She is still getting the two shots a day of lovenox for the blood clot in her brain.  I actually have been giving them at 10:30a.m. and 10:30 p.m. so for the nighttime one she is sleeping.  I was so nervous to do it for the first time at night because I didn't want her to wake up tramatized that I was giving her shots in her sleep, but she hasn't woken up yet since I started doing the one at night.  She is such a deep sleeper and she moves a little once I give it, but doesn't fully wake up.  That has been a wonderful finding for us since she only knows of getting one a day.  The daytime one is going o.k.  Each day is different where sometimes she fights it more and other times she gives in quicker.  We are 6 weeks into them and they said it usually takes 3-6 months for the clot to dissolve.  Please pray that it's closer to the three months because we are ready to be done with them.

Does all that make sense?  I was thinking that it may be a good idea to let you all ask any questions that you may have for us about her treatment.  So, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comment section.  It all gets a little confusing and overwhelming at times, but one thing I can say for sure is that we are past the worst and although a long road ahead, we are confident that we will make it through the rest :)   

Love to you all :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

To all my fellow mommies out there....  Happy Mothers Day from one blessed mommy to another!  Hope you had a wonderful day celebrating the mom's in your life, loving on your babies and being pampered by your hubbies!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Life

Things here have been great.  Abbey continues to feel really good.  We've enjoyed seeing the new life all around us and have spent lots of time outside as spring seems to have officially sprung.

So sorry it has taken me forever to get back on here since my last post.  We have been at the clinic a couple times since I last wrote.  The first was for her blood transfusion, which went well and the second just for a numbers check.  They thought she might need platelets at that visit, but her platelets were on their way up by themselves so we were in and out that day.  She will start maintenance next Friday so we have a break until then. As we get closer to her next phase starting, I will update you on what that will look like for the next 20 months.  

This week we are very much enjoying my in-laws being in town from Philly.  The kids are soaking up every second of them being here and we too our loving our visit with them.  Jim and his dad just went out to get us blizzards from Dairy Queen... they always spoil us when we're together :)

As I said in the last post (or two posts ago), we have some blessings to share with you. Of course a huge blessing right now is the fact that Abbey is done with the worst.  She is 7 months into this and our lives will start to get a little more normal here soon.  We have much to look forward to as we continue moving ahead.  We will not be at the hospital weekly, but monthly and Abbey's little body will not be hit as hard as it has been up to this point.  We soon should be able to take her out more as her immune system will start to be stronger.  Her hair should even start to come back soon :)   

And going along with the "new life" title....  We also wanted to share with you that God has made a new life inside of me.  We're having another baby :)!  I am 14 weeks along and we are all excited about this new baby that will soon be joining our family.  We're thankful for how God continues to help us through this time and also are thankful for the blessings that He's given us along the way! 

Off to eat my blizzard....