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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Smashing Success

One week ago today a benefit was held in Jacob's honor. It was the cooks at my husband's workplace that thought up the idea and everyone at his workplace pitched in to help. I can't even imagine the manpower that goes into setting something like this up and we were beyond amazed at how pulled together it was and what a successful turnout there was. It brought in about three times more than my husband and I even imaged and we are eternally grateful to everyone who organized, donated, and attended this benefit.
Tables were already filled with people when we arrived at the event. People were also milling about the tables that held silent auction items, such as these baskets:
There had to have been about a 100 items donated for the silent auction and our thanks go out to those businesses and individuals who donated.
We are not a well known name in this town so it amazed my husband and I to see not only people we knew but also hoards of people that we don't know attend to show us support. The stream of people coming and going was steady all evening. It was a heartwarming and touching event for us.
Jacob was tired and overwhelmed himself but wanted to stay the whole night and therefore did. He knew that this party was for him and I think even a 5 year old boy can wrap his head around that somewhat.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


There is nothing like being home, but having some creature comforts in the hospital is the next best thing.
Here are the kids enjoying some time with the therapy dog yesterday at the hospital.

Tuesday's Topic

For years there has been talk in our state that funding for Headstart and Pre-School will be dropped or drastically cut. Some view these as a "must" for a good start to education and socialization and others view Headstart and Pre-School as "cheaper than daycare option". Do you think that these programs are essential for children or no? Your thoughts?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sigh Of Relief

I dreaded Jacob's first CT scan post surgery. I wanted to know if his little body was responding to treatments, but I didn't want to know if it wasn't. I felt like our journey with cancer was just getting harder and harder. First, we were told that Jacob had Wilm's Tumor. That I could handle. Wilm's Tumor, after all, is one of the success stories of cancer advancement. It has a very high cure rate.

The next day we learned that it had spread and was now stage 4. We later learned that it was anaplasia Wilm's, which is unfavorable histology - meaning that it is harder to treat and drastically lowers the survival rate. Only 5% of Wilm's cases are unfavorable histology. To put it into perspective, only 400 children a year are diagnosed with Wilm's Tumor, and only 5% of those children have the unfavorable histology. Jacob's, being this histology, along with stage 4, puts him in a "high risk tumor" category...of which only 40 children a year are diagnosed. Yes, it is that rare. We had a better chance to win the lottery than to have a child with this condition.

So you can imagine why I was guarding myself against more bad news, knowing that the bad news seemed to keep piling on. I just couldn't handle more bad news.

I can now say that I've finally heard some good news. The CT scan revealed that the lesions (tumors) in the lung have all but disappeared. His body is responding to the treatments. The cancer is not gone...there is surely cancer cells floating around in his body...but things are happening. For today, I can breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, some good news.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Busy Bees

Today looks to be a busy day. Jacob will be getting his blood counts checked this morning to see where they are at. Earlier this week they were on the rise from an all-time low last week. No blood transfusions were needed and we were able to stop the G-CSF shots several days ago so no nightly shot again until next week.

Blood checks don't sound too time consuming, do they? Once he gets into the lab it is less than a minute. He takes the needle in the arm like a champ now, as long as he can sit on my lap while I cover his eyes, that is. The time consuming part is getting all three kids ready to go. There are medicines that need to be taken, clothes on, hair brushed, teeth brushed, socks, shoes, coats, hats, and mittens on. Three children loaded into the van, unloaded at the hospital, registration at the lab (yes, each and every time), and lots of waiting until we are called back. ALL of that for a one minute procedure...it's exhausting!

Then we will arrive back home and I'll need to get our bags packed for another hospital stay. Jacob and I will leave early tomorrow morning for another four day hospital stay. He has his first scans tomorrow...which I am dreading. I want to know if the treatments have been working...but I also don't know want to know. Please keep this especially in your prayers. He will be receiving chemo each of the four days, getting a one month check-up with the radiologist on Monday, and then we should be able to leave for home sometime Monday afternoon.

Tonight is the benefit for Jacob that Ben's workplace is having. Jacob's face has been on posters around town, in the newspaper, and on the radio. He has felt famous with all this attention and it was nice to see him smile the other day when he heard his name come on the radio during the announcement section of the lunch hour. Of course a 5 year old boy doesn't truly understand that this is all for HIM, but we, his parents, do and could not be more thankful. It is amazing and heartwarming to see our family, friends, and even complete strangers rally around us.

I will update more from the hospital and hopefully have some good news to share about the scans. Keep those prayers coming, please!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday's Topic

(Disclaimer: Tuesday's Topic is solely a distraction method to get my mind and blog off the topic of cancer. Topics will be random; there is no right or wrong answer. I want to hear your opinions and thoughts. Play nice, debate and have fun.)

MSN reports in 2007 that a CDC study found that the average median number of sexual partners that a person has in their lifetime is 7 for men and 4 for women. What is your immediate reaction to this? Do you think it is high/low? Good/bad? Your thoughts?

Edited to add: Many of the comments questioned the number, thinking it was extremely low. This is the "median number" but the study also found:

  • About 96 percent of U.S. adults have had sex.
  • Sixteen percent of adults first had sex before age 15, while 15 percent abstained from sex until at least age 21.
  • The proportion of adults who first had sex before age 15 was highest for non-Hispanic blacks (28 percent) compared to 14 percent for both Mexican-Americans and non-Hispanic whites.
  • Six percent of blacks abstained from sex until age 21 or older, fewer than Mexican-Americans (17 percent) or non-Hispanic whites (15 percent).
  • Black men and women were more likely to report having 15 or more partners in a lifetime (46 percent and 13 percent, respectively) than other racial or ethnic groups.
  • Seventeen percent of men and 10 percent of women reported having two or more sexual partners in the past year.
  • Twenty-five percent of women and 17 percent of men reporting having no more than one partner of the other sex in their lifetime.
  • Taken from an MSNBC article

Any additional thoughts?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Give a Little Thanks

We are only two months into this journey of cancer (oh my, how much longer it seems!) but there are already several charities that stand out in my mind that have been extremely helpful to us.

I never realized just how much help cancer patients and families need during this time of crisis. Every little thing helps. There are days that want to drag you down into the pit of despair but a cheerful note or phone call, a meal dropped off, or even just a hug can keep you afloat. I realize that now.

I urge all of you, in the words of a St. Jude's commercial "To thank God for your healthy children, and to give to those who are not." Help does not have to be in a monetary form. A letter, a phone call...anything helps. The four charities below are ones that have helped us immensely. I ask you to check out at least one, and to donate or help out in some way if at all possible. I can tell you that there are several things that we plan to do after Jacob's treatments (volunteer to make a meal at the Ronald McDonald House, be a chemo angel to someone else that is going through treatment). I'm sure I'll add more charities to this list in the future but wanted to highlight these four today. It's Valentine's Day - and what better way to show love than to BE love to someone?

*Chemo Angels is a non-profit organization that matches volunteers up with patients that are undergoing chemotherapy. A volunteer must commit to sending a piece of mail (whether it is a card or small gift) once a week to their buddy, for the duration of their treatment (up to 18 months). It isn't a penpal service, as the patients are not required to write back...though they can if they so choose. Jacob was set up with two angels and I can not tell you what a blessing it has been to him. On Saturday and today he received Valentine packages with goodies in, and the angels were kind enough to remember Becca and Joe as well. Receiving these notes and packages in the mail has been such fun for him. It's awesome to see him light up with happiness while going through this trial. If you feel that you can commit to this, you may want to consider signing up as a volunteer to become an angel.

*Ronald McDonald House Charities was a tremendous help to us the week that Jacob was in the hospital after surgery. We were able to stay there the night before Jacob's surgery so that we wouldn't have to drive in the wee hours of the morning to get to the hospital. Ben and the kids were able to stay there several nights and be close to us for Christmas. The house was clean and inviting. The bedrooms were a place to escape and relax. Volunteers cooked meals every single night for all the house guests. I can not tell you how much of a calm during the storm this house afforded us. If you have one near you, consider volunteering to cook a meal, or clean. Donate health and beauty supplies that you may have gotten free with coupons. I can not imagine all the work that goes into running a house such as this but it is a tremendous help to those with an ill loved one.

*Super Sibs is a non-profit organization that helps support the siblings of a child with cancer. There are lots of resources for children with cancer but the siblings often get left behind. Super Sibs calls the siblings "shadow survivors", which is all too true. It is not just the child with cancer that is affected by this illness...it affects the siblings as well. Super Sibs sends small packages to the siblings about 10 times a year. They even earn metals and trophies for being brave and strong. It helps the siblings learn more about what is going on and is a resource for parents, giving us information on how to deal with the other children while having to focus a great deal of time on the ill one. It is a great thing to be able to support siblings that feel lost in the transition and I hope you will consider donating even a couple dollars to help with their expenses.

*Knots of Love is a non-profit organization that knits and sends hats to patients undergoing chemo or other illnesses that may cause hair loss. Jacob received three hats from them (in his favorite color!) and they are so soft and warm for his bald little head. It is truly like slipping on some comfort...especially knowing that these were knitted by volunteers with love. Contact them if you are a knitter, or consider donating a bit of money to help with expenses.

Have you been involved with any of these organizations?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Snapshots

Let there be pictures! My brother gave me a card reader and it is working...no more picture-less posts for weeks at a time now!

The following photos were all taken just a few days before Jacob was diagnosed with cancer. It's bittersweet looking at them, for it is obvious to me that I will now equate my life and the life of my children with "before and after cancer" tags.

Friday, February 11, 2011

February 17th

I know that most of my readers are not from my area (the majority probably don't even know where I'm from since I've never officially disclosed that information for privacy sake). But for those of you who are in this area, I want to invite you to a benefit that Ben's co-workers are holding for Jacob on February 17th, 4:30-7:30pm at the St. Mary's Parish Hall. Soup Supper (free will donation) and private auction.

It's amazing how much work so many people have put in for this benefit and all the donations it has received for the silent auction from local businesses and area residents. We are overwhelmed by all the help that has been shown to us and completely humbled.

I'll post some photos of the event afterwards. If you have any questions about it, feel free to e-mail at babys_mama1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday's Topic

Do you think the feminist movement helped or hurt us? Your thoughts?

Monday, February 7, 2011

What's This Normal Of Which You Speak?

My mind has been blank recently. Void of all creativity. It seems that with the winter weather that we have been having, I have gone into hibernation mode. Maybe that is what happens during a long, cold, snowy winter. More than likely, it's what happens when one is faced with an ill child. Forgive me my lack of posting as of late; even coming up with a topic other than cancer in which to discuss is impossible at the moment.

It's strange, really, since I have gotten back into the swing of "life". It's a life that revolves around cancer, certainly, but it isn't all hospital stays and tests at the moment. You would think that I would be able to return to a sense of normalcy
The flow of meals being given to us has dropped drastically so I actually managed a shopping trip last week. It was strange to have cancer even intrude on something as simple as grocery shopping: my thought throughout the trip was "Will Jacob eat this? Is it fattening and will it help him gain some weight?" Even grocery shopping stops being simple when cancer is in the picture.

It isn't all doom and gloom. There are moments that are normal. The kids still get into their normal squabbles, when we sit on the couch and watch a movie it feels normal, when we cook or play games it feels normal. Jacob has been doing all these things this week. If you look past his bald little head you would find a feisty, hungry, playful boy this week. For this I am thankful. His counts are good right now, though expected to drop this week or next as that is the timeline for this type of chemo he received last week. He has energy. He tires a bit more easily but he is bouncing off the walls just as much as Becca and Joe. His appetite has increased by leaps and bounds, probably due to the steroid he was put on for that very purpose.

No, life is not normal; but moments in our life are. I'll take that for now.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I Had A Dream...

I've always had vivid, imaginative, and strange dreams. Almost every morning I would awake with memories of a dream I had that previous night. My dreams were usually wild and wacky...so much so that one of my cousins would always ask "What dreams have you had lately?" whenever we saw each other because she loved to hear about them.

Lately my dreaming has died down. I can only remember a handful of dreams that I have had in the past six weeks. Most of them were dreams that I would rather had not remembered. A lot of mornings I wake up and can't remember if I dreamed that night or not, which is highly unusual for me.

Last night I had a vivid dream, and while it didn't really make sense, it left me feeling better when I woke up. My Grandma was in the dream, I've had three dreams so far since her passing in November with her in it. In my dream I knew that she was dead, and yet she was standing before me at her house and we were talking. I remember the conversation she and I had, which was about money and her house. Later in the dream the shed behind her house was a barn and my husband I were leading a black cow into the barn. When I opened the door there was a little orange cat and a black and white puppy, which my husband had gotten and put in the barn as a gift to me. I bent down to pet the kitten and checked it's flea collar to make sure it wasn't too tight. We then tried to find the lights and couldn't figure out how to turn the lights on in the barn, but we finally did. We heard a car start in the driveway and I went out to yell at the person that we were in the back...it was one of my husband's old friends who had come to visit and he drove back up towards the house when he saw us.

And that basically sums it up. It was an odd dream, my children weren't a part of it, I don't know if I was even a parent in my dream. But I was happy in the dream...and it's the first time I've been happy in weeks. I woke up feeling better, with a sense of peace. It's funny, because most of the dream makes no sense to me...and yet it leaves me feeling settled. For now, that's good enough.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday's Topic

At what age do you think it is appropriate for a teenager to start dating? What rules should be enforced for what ages?


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