Thursday, June 25, 2009

Great Summer Days

We are having a good, uneventful week here at the Colbert household.  
Abbey has been feeling really good and we have been enjoying these hot, summer days.  The kids have spent a lot of time in our kiddie pool out back and their slip and slide.  Jim and I have done a lot of work outside, cleaning up the yard, planting flowers and tomato plants and just enjoying our yard, our kids and the beautiful weather.  
Abbey is completely over her cold and cough which has made us all feel better.  She just finished her 5 days of steroids (she has to be on them for 5 days each month while on maintenance) and she handled them beautifully!  Each day she's on them, we wait for her to start feeling really lousy and seeing some of those yucky side effects come out, but the last two times that she's been on them, we can't even tell.  Today is her first day off of them and even though she is handling them so well, it's so nice to be done with them until next month and not have to think about them for a while again.  We will never forget how horrible the steroids were the first month when she was diagnosed so it's hard not to relate them to that every time she is on them.  We are so happy that this is the steroid treatment from here on out though.  We can totally handle this.  

We can tell you guys have been praying for her shots to be easier on her.  She has been handling them better this past week and she is just letting me get it over with quickly.  A week from Monday is her MRI so we may only have 10 days left.  Please keep praying that the clot is completely gone by July 6th.  That will be a very long day because her MRI isn't until 2p.m. and she has to be sedated for the test so she won't be able to eat until after it's over (which will be around 3ish).  Please pray that she would make it through the morning and afternoon without being miserably hungry.   

I added the above pictures of her from these last couple of days.  You can really see her hair coming in and it is so cute!  I actually was able to clip a bow in her hair yesterday for a little bit.  She loved it and tells us often that her hair is getting so long :)  It's amazing how fast and thick it is coming in.  She is beautiful with or without hair, but I have to be honest when I say I love that she is going to have long hair again soon :)  I can't wait to be able to brush it and do pony tails.  

We continue to be so thankful for how well she is doing.  I am often reminded of how very fortunate we are to be in our situation and when I start to get down about what we have to go through, I have to remind myself that there are many children and families in tougher situations right now.  

A friend of mine named Melissa has a son Josh who also is fighting cancer.  He actually just finished his treatment not too long ago and two weeks ago his port was taken out because he was officially done.  They went a few days ago for his routine scan and they found another tumor on his lung.  When she told me this my heart sank and I just can't imagine the rollercoaster ride that they are on.  They just finished and thought that this summer was going to be back to normal for them and in a minute, their lives again were turned upside down.  Josh will need to have surgery to remove the tumor.  He will have to get a new port put back in, radiation which will be more intense and more chemo.  Please visit this family's blog and leave them a note of encouragement as they have a long road ahead of them... again.  Below is a picture of Josh (isn't he so sweet!) and click HERE to go to their blog.

Thank you all for being so wonderful as we go through this yuckiness called childhood cancer.  Watching my child go through this as a mom is the hardest thing I've ever gone through and at times it can be very lonely.  You all will never know how much your support has meant to us and as I see another mom go through this for a second time, I want to ask you to come around their family during this time.  Another blogger who has become my friend as we have been walking this road with our daughters together recently put this poem on her blog.  I thought I'd share it here and ask you all to pray for Josh and his family and leave them some words of encouragement.

A Pair of Shoes
I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.

Each day I wear them, and each
day I wish I had another pair.

Some days my shoes hurt so bad
that I do not think I can take
another step.

Yet, I continue to wear them.

I get funny looks wearing these shoes.

I can tell in others eyes that they
are glad they are my shoes and not

They never talk about my shoes.

To learn how awful my shoes are
might make them uncomfortable.

To truly understand these shoes
you must walk in them.

But, once you put them on, you can
never take them off.

I now realize that I am not the
only one who wears these shoes.

There are many pairs in this world.

Some women ache daily as they try
and walk in them.

Some have learned how to walk in
them so they don't hurt quite as much.

Some have worn the shoes so long that
days will go by before they think about
how much they hurt.

No woman deserves to wear these shoes.

Yet, because of these shoes I am a
stronger woman.

These shoes have given me the strength
to face anything.

They have made me who I am.

I will forever walk in the shoes of a
woman who has a child with cancer.

*Author Unknown*

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I was going to add this in the post that I did last night, but I was too weepy to write about it then. There are some people who need prayer who God has put in our lives in different ways so would you please pray for them?  

This first story is a family who is continually on my mind and heart.  As you scroll down our blog, on the right side there is a button that says "Pray for Camryn".  Camryn was diagnosed with leukemia back in 2006 and at the end of her treatment she was considered cured and cancer free. Early this year, Camryn had a relapse.  A couple weeks ago she had a second bone marrow transplant (her little brother was her donor) and her and her family are going through this for a second time.  Their family is amazing and each night as I read their blog, I am encouraged and also saddened to see this sweet family have to walk this difficult road again.  Please pray for them as they struggle to watch their sweet girl have to be so sick again from her treatment.  Pray as their family is living in two places until Camryn can come home. And pray that God would continue to carry them every minute of every day as they travel this for a second time.

I also wanted to mention Quinn.  Quinn is the boy who's mom (Allison Clarke) started Flashes of Hope and organized the Kick Ball game with the Inidans and started "Kick-It".  Quinn too was diagnosed with some form of cancer (I'm not sure exactly what) several years back.  At the end of his treatment, he was deemed cured and done.  Last year, another tumor grew and it is more aggressive and rare.  They are in an experimental treatment for him and this time it is going to be harder to beat.

And lastly, I wanted to mention Divine.  I had mentioned her in posts early on when Abbey was first diagnosed.  Divine was in her early 30's and was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer a few years back.  She lost her courageous battle this past week and is now dancing with Jesus.  Please pray for her family and friends as they now have to live their lives without this amazing girl.   

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Thank you, God, for my eyes and ears.
Help me bravely face all my fears.

"But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward in your work."
2 Chronicles 15:7

Yesterday in our mailbox was a new book for us called "Help Me Pray Today."  There was no note with it so we don't know who dropped it off for us (thank you whoever you are!) and right when I brought it in the house, Abbey asked me to read it to her (she is our book lover so whenever there is a new book, she holds it until someone reads it to her)!  The one page was titled "Courage" and had the words above on it with the bible verse below it.  

We sat and read each page together and each one was a blessing to me, but the one on courage really spoke to me as I sat with Abbey in my arms.  I often find that I learn more from simple kids books about God then other things that I read.  I guess in many ways I am like a kid and simple, easy to understand things work just great for me (maybe why I have always wanted lots of kids).  Well anyways, yesterday, in the midst of the fears that I am struggling with, I was encouraged by God's word and His reminder to me to be strong and not lose courage.   

With all that said, nothing is wrong.  Everything is actually going really well.  Abbey did have a rough week last week with a cold, cough and ear infection, but it was all normal kid stuff and she is completely on the up and up.  As I've said before, it has been so hard for me to separate normal sickness from her leukemia.  Each time she has had anything little come up, I cannot get relapse out of my mind.  My biggest fear became a reality on October 2nd, 2008, but now my biggest fear is relapse and when she is feeling a little off, my mind goes there and at times it's hard for me to come out of it.  

I seem to do good all day and I feel for the most part like she's just a normal, three year old little girl and like our life and our family are normal.  It's at night, after she's in bed, or the few times that I'm not with her that I start to feel overwhelmed with thoughts of what could happen.  You'd think that with three small kids and another on the way, I'd be enjoying my break at night when they're sleeping, but it is just easier for me to be able to see her face and know that she's happy and o.k.  Please pray for me as I work through this.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that God is in control of every second and that nothing will happen that isn't His will.  And I also know the peace that passes understanding that can only come from Him during times like this.  Please just pray that I would rest in those things right now and that my mind would stay focused on what I know to be true.

So back to updating about Miss Abbey.  Friday was our clinic day and her blood looked pretty good.  Her ANC was down a good amount from last visit, but it wasn't anything that the doctors were worried about.  I again sat with tears in my eyes, telling our doctor of my fears of relapse and he assured me that nothing that is going on with her right now (with the cold and ear infection) is even remotely a sign of that.  I also always ask them to look at her blood really good under the microscope (they always do that anyways), but there's something about me asking them to look really good that just makes me feel better I guess.  

Above are some pictures from clinic.  The kids are playing with Buddy (the puppet) and his owner Bev.  Abbey wanted to play doctor so Friday, Buddy got lots of shots and medicine.  He was tough though :) and it was nice for Abbey to get to be in control for a little bit.  Bev is so wonderful with these kids and it is something that they always look forward to when we come to clinic.  

Friday marked the first day of the second month of maintenance.  We now have 19 months to go until she's done.  The first five days of each maintenance month she is on more medications so it seems like I'm constantly making her take something.  Today alone she had to get her two shots (which we may see an end in sight... I'll explain in a minute) and 5 oral medications.  Once we get past these first 5 days, her medication lightens up some for the rest of the month.  Thankfully, she has gotten very used to taking medicines and even does the liquid pushes in her mouth all by herself.  

So back to the two shots she gets daily (they are the lovenox shots for the blood clot in her brain).  She has not gotten used to them and most days, they are the very worst part of our day.  The one that I do when she's sleeping usually goes o.k., but she has had nights where she wakes up a little (she never remembers it in the morning) or moves while I'm giving it to her so they too are very stressful and hard.  The morning ones are the worst though because she is fully aware of what is going on.  And the hard thing is that she has to be completely still when I give it to her so it can take up to 20 minutes for her to give in and just let me do it.  I know this is a strong word, but I really hate giving them to her.  I CANNOT wait to be done with them!  I also hate cancer.  Just thought I'd say that since I already used the ugly H word.

So this past Friday our doctor said that if her blood clot is gone by three months of her being on the shots (yes, I have been giving her 2 shots a day for 2 1/2 months),  then we will be able to stop the shots.  So, on July 6th, she has an MRI to check to see if it's gone.  Please, please, please pray that this thing is long gone and there is no sign of it at all so that we can stop the shots.  It will be a huge relief for all of us (especially poor Abbey) to be done with them!  Our doctor did tell us this past Friday that all of her tests for being prone to getting these came back negative so that was a relief.  That means that they are pretty confident that the one chemo that she got a while back is what caused the clot and that this isn't something that we will need to worry about or watch for once this one is gone.

And onto some fun, happy things.  Last weekend we went to my niece, Gracie's dance recital.  A few weeks before Abbey was diagnosed, Gracie and Abbey were in a dance class together, but of course we had to pull her out.  Well, over the weekend was the recital and although a little hard to see all the little girls up on stage without our Abbey, we thoroughly enjoyed the show and Abbey can't wait to get back into a class soon.  Her and Gracie are going to be taking a class this summer so Abbey is very excited about that.  Below are a couple pictures from before the show (Gracie didn't have her full costume on yet :).  

In the back of the program, my sister Stacey had this page printed.  Isn't it beautiful?!  I couldn't read it while I was at the show because I kept crying.  I had to wait until I got home to really look at it.  My sister (and niece) are the best!

And another very fun thing that we did was the one day we went to Amish Country in Southern Ohio.  We went on an exotic animal wagon ride which was amazing.  It seriously was like out of a movie and we couldn't believe the animals that were just walking right up to our wagon and eating out of the buckets of food that we were given.  I didn't get too many good pictures because I was concerned that one of the animals were going to eat up one of my kids, but we had a blast.  We went with my sister, her two kids and her mother-in-law.  Her mother-in-law goes down there a lot so she was our tour guide for the day :)  It was a great time!  Here's a few pics from the day.  And as you look at the pictures, please don't call child services when you see how huge and scary the animals were.  As I look back I think I was absolutely crazy to have let me kids come within inches from them, but they are all just fine :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Check out this video! (Be sure to pause the music)

Kick-It Campaign kicks off at Progressive Field.  Cleveland Indians Charities and Flashes of Hope partner to kick-off new campaign to beat cancer.
***Abbey is wearing the white floppy hat and skirt :)***

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cleveland Indians

One word about Abbey's experience with the Indians...

Unbelievable!  It was so amazing and undoubtably a memory that we will talk about for years to come.

We were asked a couple weeks back if Abbey would like to participate in a promotional event with the Cleveland Indians to promote a fundraiser called "Kick-It" to raise money for childhood cancers.  Of course we said absolutely, but had no idea what to expect.  We knew she would play kick ball with some of the players, but didn't know much else of what would go on.

When we got to Progressive Field we met about 10 other families that were there who also had a child with some form of cancer.  The kids ranged in age from age 3 up to teenagers, with different ages all in between.  Our Abbey was the youngest there.  As we stood waiting for the instructions from the people who organized the event, I was looking around at each family who has battled this disease and it was hard to hold back the tears as I know the pain each family has endured.  It also was a time of thankfulness as we were the only people in this huge stadium and to think that these guys were doing this for our kids and the other families who have been affected by this horrible disease.

Each child with cancer got a red shirt and a bag of buttons with their picture on it (see picture of Abbey with her "Kick-It tatoo" and button). When the guys from the team came out, each child was told that they could come on the field to pass out their buttons and meet the guys.  At this point, we had no idea if Abbey would be comfortable with going on the field without us and go pass her buttons out.  There was a lady that worked with the "Kick-It" team and she was so sweet and kind with Abbey, that Abbey immediately took to her.  This lady held Abbey and started taking her around to the players.  Abbey can be very shy around people that she doesn't know and even more shy around men.  Amazingly, Abbey warmed up quickly to the guys and started walking around passing out her buttons.  The guys were all so sweet and caring with these kids.  It was very touching.  They were kneeling down to talk to her and we couldn't believe how great Abbey did.  After the kids all passed their buttons out, the president of the Indians organization, Paul Dolan, and the founder of "Flashes of Hope" and "Kick-It", Allison Clarke spoke in front of some media while the players and kids stood around them.  The one player, Trevor Crowe picked Abbey up and held her during the whole press conference.  And a small side note for you Indians fans...the players that were there were Cliff Lee, Jamey Carroll, Jensen Lewis, Trevor Crowe, Josh Barfield, Matt Herges, manager Eric Wedge and third base coach, Joel Skinner  (it's hard to see their faces really good in the pictures).

After that, they played their kick ball game.  Abbey was the first one up to kick and she did so great.  She ran her little heart out as the guys cheered the kids on and coached them on where to run and when.  The game was so much fun.  Each time Abbey was on third base or in the outfield, Eric Wedge made sure to encourage her and talk to her.  

When the game was over, they had hot dogs, pretzels and ice cream for us all to enjoy.  It was such a neat experience and one that we will never forget.  

As we left that day, I realized how much Abbey has grown up over these last 8 months.  As we have been so focused on getting her well and all that we were going through, it was something that I feel like I missed during this time.  These last couple of weeks, as I watch her interact with people I am realizing that although we were stuck in the house and everything seemed to be a blur, she continued to grow up and continues to turn into this amazing little person that I just love so very much.  

And as a side note... I know I put a lot of pictures on (and they aren't the closest or clearest), but I loved each one so much that I had to share them with you all.  If you click on the picture, it will make it bigger so you can see the players better (and pick Abbey out on the field as she was running the bases :).  There were some professional photographers there on the field during the event and they said that we will all get a disk with them on it so I will share the better pictures with you when we get them.  

Also, I will be doing a post soon about "Kick-It" and a way that you can get involved or play in a fun game with your family while raising money for childhood cancer.  We are playing in a big game mid-July and will be organizing our own later this summer.  

And keep your eyes open while watching Indians games.  They will be airing parts of the kick ball game between the Indians and these special kiddos at the games and on t.v. :)  We also know it has been shown on some local news.  If we get a video of it, we'll be sure to post it on the blog :)  Click Here to see the write up on the Indians website and Here to check out the "Kick-It" website.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We're Still Here....

Is anyone still reading?  So sorry I've been so bad at posting lately... If you're still checking in, thank you...  I have lots to update you on.

Overall Abbey has been feeling great.  Last Friday we had to go to clinic just for a numbers check to see how her body is handling all of her at-home medications.  Her blood looked great!  Her ANC was over 3,000 (which is the infection fighting part of her WBC), her platelets were within normal range and everything else looked just like they would expect it to at this point.  

Relay for Life was last weekend and it was awesome! As you see we got tons of great pictures thanks to my dear friend Melissa (thanks Melissa... you're the best! :)!!!  It was a weekend filled with laughing, memories and fun, but also a weekend of reflection and tears.  We were so proud of our Abbey the whole weekend and so touched by the many others who are walking or have walked similar roads as ours.  We had three families come up to us and tell us that their child had cancer as a child and is now older, healthy and completely normal.  There were many different stories represented over the weekend, but we all had a connection to each other.  The survivor lap was emotional and awesome (it was my favorite part of the weekend).  Each survivor got 1 balloon for each year that they've survived cancer.  Abbey of course had one and there were people with over 20 balloons!  They had us line up with the newest diagnosed at the front of the track and then people with more balloons (more years being cancer free) lined up behind with the most years surviving in the back.  They had us all turn around and look at the many people that have beat this disease for years and years to encourage those of us who are just starting our journeys.  It was very moving and emotional. Abbey was the youngest survivor there and it got me thinking that someday she will be walking around that track with 70 or more balloons! 

Our church's team was called "Walk by Grace" and overall our team raised over $7,000 toward cancer research!  We also passed out bottled water the whole weekend to anyone and everyone who was there.  Many people from our team stayed all night to be a smiling face and an encouragement to others who are fighting for the same cause.  Abbey was our "super hero" as you can see on the banner.  We also had buttons made for the whole team and our family got the special "Praying for Abbey" t-shirts made (Abbey's shirt said "Praying for Me :)".  The back of all of our shirts (both the teams and our families) had Phil. 4:13 on it... I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  How true it is!     

As I said before, she is feeling great overall, but we learned on Saturday afternoon (when Relay was over) that she is having a major sun sensitivity from her medications.  When we got home that day she had a horrible rash on her arms and face and although she was sunblocked up, her skin was very irritated by the sun.  It wasn't sunburn or red, but bumpy and rashy.  We learned quickly that this new medication that she's on may make it hard for us to enjoy the outdoors as much as we'd like.  I have tried some new sunblocks since learning of this reaction and the last one I used seemed to protect her skin the best so we are praying that this will not be something that we will have to deal with all summer and that we can figure out the best way to protect her delicate skin.  

Also, a few nights ago, Abbey woke up throwing up and feeling really yucky.  Today she is feeling much better, but it seemed that she caught a little bug while out and about.  Thankfully she had no fever to go along with it (or we would have been making a hospital visit), but we were in close contact with her nurses and she seemed to kick the bug by herself.  Although these couple things have been minor, it is so hard to see her sick with a regular "kid thing" on top of her being sick with leukemia.  Our nurse encouraged us to not isolate ourselves after these couple little things (she knows me so well), but to continue to try and live as normally as possible and expect her to get regular kids sicknesses every once in a while.  

So tomorrow we have another exciting thing going on.  Abbey will be playing Kick Ball at Progressive Field in Downtown Cleveland with some of the Cleveland Indians!  It is a promotional event to kick off a Kick Ball fund raiser for childhood cancers.  They will be taping the game and it will either be aired at the field on game days or possibly even on t.v.  We'll know more after tomorrow and I will be sure to share with you the details in case you'd like to get involved or play in a kick ball game with your families to support a super great cause.  We are ready to go in the afternoon with Abbey's Indians Cheerleading outfit and great Indians attire for the boys too :)  I'll be sure to take pictures and share them with you all...

Well, I will stop writing a book and will try to start updating more often.  Thanks for checking in on our brave little warrior.  God Bless.

Monday, June 1, 2009

IT'S A....

So today we had our ultrasound and it was so wonderful to see a glimpse of our newest little peanut.  When the doctor walked in the room, the first thing she asked us was if this was our first baby.  It's always funny when we say "no, it's actually our fourth."  She said we look too young to have 4 kids, so instantly we liked her :)!

She was very thorough while looking at the baby and it was so reassuring to hear her say that everything looked healthy and normal.  Of course she asked us if we wanted to know the sex and of course we said yes.  

But first, the pictures :)

This last picture is of the babies little feet.  I can't even wait to touch them, tickle them and kiss them!

So, will this be another Colbert


Or, another Colbert


O.k.  So that's enough waiting :)

It's a


We are so thankful for this new little guy that will be joining our family this winter.  Now onto choosing a name....  It's a good thing we have 22 weeks to pick one :)