On June 1, 2010 our two year old, "Little Air Bear," was diagnosed with Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Type M7. After enduring 146 days at Primary Children's Hospital, Erin is now in remission and living a full life at home with our family. Her strong will and constant happy smile is an inspiration to us all. Through our difficult circumstances we found great strength and peace in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for checking in on us.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Our CureSearch Walk Success

We want to thank EVERYONE who donated to Team Little Air Bear.  I am so happy to announce that through many generous donations our team was able to raise
Thank you so much for your donation!

The Salt Lake City CureSearch walk group fundraising goal was $50,000...BUT we ended up raising a grand total of $72,497.00!
It's amazing what many people can accomplish.

Our family at the walk.

Team Little Air Bear
Salt Lake City CureSearch Walk 2011


The walk started out with opening ceremonies and each cancer survivor was able to stand up in front and say their name.  Then the cancer kids headed up the walk around Liberty Park carrying the "These Are The Reasons We Walk" banner. It was such an awesome feeling walking with so many people, there were over 1,400 people walking.  Our Salt Lake City walk was the largest walk that CureSearch has seen this year!  Way to go UTAH!

We had some fun during our walk.
Cris ran the kids around piggy-back style.

John's sister Diana and our niece Rachel also came along.
(Hey UofU fans...keep your eyes open at the women's basketball games for Rachel Morris, seriously one of the best basketball players EVER and my most tallest niece.)

We ran into some of our nurses at Primary Children's.
Aunt Diana on the left holding Erin, then Nurse Amber and Nurse Kathryn.
I will never forget Nurse Kathryn.  The day Erin was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia Kathryn was the nurse next door to us, she saw me leave my room that night, she stopped me and she gave me the biggest hug.  I needed that hug so much and I have admired Kathryn's compassion ever since.

Princess Erin rode in her chariot most of the time.

The girls and their Little Air Bear shirts.

Erin leading the group.

 After the walk we met up for an awards ceremony where all the cancer survivors got a medal and hat.

Rachel Steele and Erin giving "five" with their medals.

Erin in her "Cancer Fighting Cutie" hat.

During the time that Erin was at Primary Children's we met 7 other families that also had children with AML.  Two of the seven of our friends have passed on, Tanner and Kim.  It was our pleasure to visit with Tanner's mom at the walk and watch her release a white balloon in honor of our dear friend Tanner.

We met up with Mikhael and his mom Rachel.  He is such a cute little guy.

Brielle (who made Erin the cutest christmas stocking last year). Brielle was wearing a t-shirt she made that said something like, "yes, I am a girl."  Ha ha!  I love her sense of humor on how all our kids' hair is growing back.

Autumn holding little Aubree who is still recovering from her bone marrow transplant.  She is one sweet little girl.

And, Rachel Steele.  The day we met the Steele's was such a blessing for us because we hadn't met any AML families yet, we felt so lost and alone until the Steele's became our friends. We were sad that Lizzie and Stew and their little Andrew's couldn't make it, hopefully next time.

I just cannot thank everyone enough for their generosity in giving to CureSearch in honor of Erin.  Our cancer walk was such a success and I am so thankful for all of the kind hearts out there who have helped in this fight to find a cure.  

If you're still looking for a way to help you can buy OtterPops...they donate to childhood cancer research...look for the gold ribbon symbolizing childhood cancer awareness on the box.  Gold - the new pink.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Make a Wish Day FIVE

Day 5

We decided to take a little break and relax in the Give Kids The World Village for the morning.

I loved that there were these rocking chairs everywhere.  We hung out at the Amberville Train Station and played in the Arcade and drove the remote control boats.  Caleb was enamored with the miniature train set that filled up an entire room.

The kids played with toys in the Castle of Miracles.

We were treated like royalty.

Erin visited the Star Fairy again.

And we rode around the merry-go-round countless times.

Then we headed to
Sea World!

We went straight to the Manta Rays and the kids got to feed them shrimp.  The kids thought it was really funny that the manta rays ate the same kind of shrimp that we do. 

Then we fed the dolphins.
It was pretty amazing...well, more like really amazing.

We saw the dolphin show, it is one of my favorite things to do at Sea World.

It is awesome how they can jump and flip all at the same time.  They also had a portion of the show were many divers were dressed in bird costumes, they would do acrobatic dives off of really high platforms.  It was very fascinating.

We braved the Shark Encounter!

We also saw the Shamu show and then we tried to make it to the Wild Arctic but it started to POUR.  We waited it out a bit in an ice cream shop and when it slowed down we whipped out these nifty ponchos I'd bought spur of the moment at WalMart.  Wish I'd bought some for John and I...we were soaked.

It was a pretty relaxing day.  We really enjoyed the quietness of Sea World and the beauty of the many creatures that we share our world with.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

All Seven Verses

I sat in a church meeting today and it was announced that we would sing all seven verses of the closing song.  "Boy," I thought, "I hope the final speaker doesn't go overtime, and I sure hope the organist plays quickly so we're not singing at dirge speed."  While wrestling (or should I say forcing) a child onto my lap I opened the hymnal to Hymn #85, "How Firm a Foundation."  Just two beats into the hymn, a flood of past experiences poured over me.  I could not believe that I had forgotten how important this particular hymn had been in my survival of Erin's cancer.

Looking back, I think that the two hour drive from our home to Primary Children's Medical Center wasn't so much a burden in travel and gasoline, but it had many blessings attached to it.  Our Bishop prayed for us in our home and asked our Father in Heaven to protect our family on the roads during the 7 1/2 months of traveling we did.  During my drives I would think of his prayer often and I knew that we would be safe.

On one particular drive I had the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's "Then Sings My Soul" CD playing.  I drifted off into vacant thought and didn't think much to the words.  Then, one word slammed at me like a ton of bricks.

"In every condition - in sickness, in health..."

Sickness?  During Erin's cancer, sickness was at the front of my every thought.  I wondered if God was trying to tell me something so I started the song over and listened more carefully.  The words felt as though they had been written for me.

continued on...
"...In poverty's vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea-..."

I had just been home where I had such awful feelings from being a split-up family.  It always felt so empty without Erin's spirit in our home.  I was going abroad (well 2 hours from my home and down the freeway).

"As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand..."

Ha ha, they had to say it three times because, oh yes, cancer entered our life and then began demanding a lot!

"...so thy succor shall be."

I realized that God was telling me that He loved me.  He would succor me, which meant that he would give me help, support, relief, aid and sustenance.  He really did all of those things while we were struggling.

The words to this hymn just kept getting more and more real for me, lines stuck out and touched me to the point where I was sobbing my way down Interstate-15.

"Fear not..."

They say that fear and faith cannot live in the same heart.  In the beginning of Erin's cancer I waffled back and forth between a lot of fear and some strong faith.   Cancer is scary, especially when it's in your own little innocent child.

"...I am with thee; 
oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid."

I was a little dismayed to realize that I felt God so strongly while I was driving.

"I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

A rush of relief fell over me to know that I would be strengthened to help Erin through this very difficult time.  Sometimes it was too hard to stand, and I would curl up and cry.

Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand."

Our Heavenly Father really is there for us.  He is the truth and righteousness, the way and the life.

I listened to this hymn for another hour, replaying it over and over until I drove into a parking spot at Primary Children's Medical Center.  It became a frequently played song for many of my long drives after that.

Singing it again in church today I felt so many raw and real emotions from those cancer days, but my eyes were opened greatly when the fourth verse came along.  The Mo-Tab didn't sing this verse on the CD.

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee 'oerflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee they deepest distress."

We were dumped into the deep waters of cancer.  It was awful, but I felt that this was something that I had chosen to experience back when I lived with my Heavenly Father, before this life.  There were turbulent rivers of sorrow along the way of this trial, I felt deeper sorrow than I had ever experienced; Not only our own sorrows, but the sorrows of dear friends around us.  My Heavenly Father was with us, and he has greatly blessed us for our troubles, even those that caused us the deepest distress.

Sometimes in the car on my hospital drives, I would sing along with the Mo-Tab and belt out my favorite lines,

"I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"

I felt deeply inside my heart that no matter how hard Erin's cancer was I would never forsake my God.  It sounds so simple, we don't forget Him and in return He blesses us beyond measure.

I am grateful that we got to sing all seven verses today (and for our organist who kept the pace up). I am grateful for the tender mercies our Lord sees fit to bless us with, especially the unexpected ones.

(To watch a video of the Mo-Tab singing "How Firm a Foundation" click HERE)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bake Sale in West Jordan for Daniel Allen

I am privileged to be a part of a group of cancer moms.  Today the count is at 92 moms, but everyday someone new joins our group, it's so helpful for us to have friends who completely understand, but it's also really sad that we even have to be a part of this group.
This week one of my worst nightmares is coming true for one of my friends. Her 7 year old son, Daniel Allen, has been battling a brain tumor, on his routine MRI, the last one before maintenance, they found that his tumor has returned and is terminal. This sweet boy has only two weeks to two months left on this earth. 
Awhile back, his family was given a make-a-wish trip to Disneyworld to meet Lightening McQueen.  This trip was so special for Daniel, and his parents are trying to re-create this dream again in their last few days/months with their son. 
Even though finances are tight, his mom and dad are taking him to Disneyland while he is still feeling well enough to go. If you can please help this family make lasting memories with their amazing little boy before he returns to his Father in Heaven please do.

Friday, July 15th
LDS Church 7000 S. 2700 W.
West Jordan, Utah

If you would like to donate personally to this family you can send donations through paypal to laniallen79@gmail.com

Make a Wish Day FOUR

Day 4

We started our day at Disneyworld's
Animal Kingdom.

We went straight to The Lion King Show which was absolutely spectacular.  They invited Cecily and Erin up to the front to dance around with the Zebra Lady.  After they finished dancing, Timon gave Erin a big high five.  She thought she was pretty special after that.

This next point in our trip was a huge turning point for me.  It was a time of real reflection.  There were a series of lines to visit the characters, one line for Mickey, one for Minnie, Goofy, etc.  Each line had at least a 20 minute wait.  After going to the front of the line for Mickey and then Minnie, John and I started feeling sort of sheepish about not having to wait in line.  I felt selfish for making everyone wait while we got to cut in front of them, especially because it was so hot and humid.  John suggested that maybe we should just wait in line for the next character.

Then, it hit me!  A year ago we would have given anything to wait in a hot sweaty long line, but instead we were resigned to live in a hospital room for 7 1/2 months.  Erin spent nearly a year isolated in a tiny room, she deserved to be at the front of any line. 

So we went on to the front of the Goofy line.  An employee explained to the people whose turn it was next that a wish kid was here and that she wanted to see Goofy and asked if they would be fine if she went before them.  The kids hugged and chatted with Goofy, and then I happened to see the Mom who had let us go in front of her family.  She was turned away crying.  It made my eyes start to fill with tears.  People are so kind, they are so understanding of families like ours.  I greatly appreciated the generosity of all of those strangers that let us go before them, it really made our trip extra special. 

At the hottest part of the day we decided to head back to the village, have an ice cream break and rejuvenate so that we could spend the cooler evening at the Magic Kingdom.

This was our villa in the village. 
The kids called it "our barn, a house barn." 

The kids relaxed a little in the shady candyland playground.

After a little relaxation we jumped into the car and went back to the Magic Kingdom, the picture below just cracks me up because all three kids fell asleep while we were driving.  Having fun is just so exhausting!

But, we all perked up for the tea cups....

...and we got to drive in the cars 2 times without getting out of the car.  The employees were so nice to us!

Refreshing drinks.
I will never forget how hot it was.

The time finally came for us to see the Electrical Parade.  When I was in high school my family lived in Arcadia, California and I had the opportunity to work for Disneyland at a booth in Fantasyland.  Two times every night the Electrical Parade would come near my booth, but in all that time working there, I never once got to see the parade.  I was pretty excited to finally see it.  Erin was too, she was so happy to see all the princesses and characters she loved that I shed a few tears and wrote more memories on my heart.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Make a Wish Day THREE

Day 3

"Happiness can be found,
even in the darkest of times,
if one only remembers to turn on the light."
--Albus Dumbledore

We ventured out in the early morning to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure and landed at
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

John and I decided that we couldn't miss the opportunity to visit Harry Potter World while we were in Florida.  Erin's wish was to meet the princesses, but the whole make-a-wish trip was also for our family.  Erin suffered/endured a huge amount while fighting cancer, but so did Cecily, Caleb, John and I.  Cancer really hits the whole family. 

We are big fans of Harry Potter, we have been reading the books out loud to the kids and the kids have watched the first movie, so they were pretty excited to see "the real thing."  We first stopped at The Three Broomsticks and grabbed some frozen butterbeer.

This stuff is seriously AMAZING.
We could have chugged it all day.

It was so hard to get the kids out of Honeydukes.

We let them each pick out a treat.  Here they are admiring the chocolate frogs, but in the end all three kids picked lollipops.  It didn't surprise me, my kids are serious lollipop addicts.

Then we visited Ollivander's Wand Making Shop.  Erin's make-a-wish button let us bypass the 45 minute wait and we walked right into a most magical experience of watching Ollivander pick out a wand for a guest - complete with a few swish and flicks and a wingardium leviosa and a little bit of magic.

Most of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is shops (those wands are pretty pricey!), but there are also a few pretty cool rides, but most everything is geared towards older kids/adults so we finished this part of our day with Hogwarts Castle.

The castle is pretty amazing, we walked through the entire thing and I loved seeing the pictures move and talk in their frames.  Cecily though, was pretty upset that the staircases did not move.  Here's a really dark picture of John and Erin in Professor Dumbledore's office.

When we got to the top of the castle we got to go on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride (the kids waited in the parent swap and watched the first Potter movie) and soar above the Hogwarts grounds on "broomsticks."  Really though, we were strapped into seats and the ride was part magic motion part amusement park ride.  I got so motion sick in it that I closed my eyes for most of the ride hoping that I wouldn't throw up.  I don't know what has happened to me...I guess I am getting old because I used to love motion rides.  John, however, enjoyed every minute of it, especially when the Dementors sucked his soul out (they take a picture of you and then smear it across the screen).

Still on Univeral's Islands of Adventure we stopped at

"A person's a person, no matter how small."
--Horton Hears a Who

Big surprise!
We hit the Caro-Seuss-El first.

Then One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
This was a Dumbo-like ride where the rider controls the up and down motion of the ride.  But, there is one catch, at certain parts of the ride the fish that surround the ride shoot out water.  Cecily was "driving" our fish and she kept running us through the water and got me soaked.  We had a good laugh about it.  I love making memories with my kids.

We ran into The Cat in the Hat

and The Grinch.

We ate lunch at the Circus McGurkus Cafe and went on the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride that goes through the Cafe.  I think it was one of my favorite Seuss rides with a Star-bellied sneeches theme.  The kids and I really love anything Seuss and I have to say that Suessland was seriously at the top of my make-a-wish trip list.

We took a nice walk to the other side of Universal
Universal Studios Florida.

It was hot.
I think this picture shows that.
ha ha...I can't help but laugh.

We saw "A Day in the Park with BARNEY, BJ and Baby Bop!"
The kids were mesmerized. They asked, "is that really Barney?"  It was so cool for them.  The kids sang right along too, "I love you, you love me..."

Near the end of the day we stopped at the Curious George Playground.
We spent an hour playing at the ball park.

It was getting past dinner time and a thunderstorm starting rolling right in.  We dashed to the stroller and ran across the park to our car.  We made it to the car before the big drops fell and boy they fell hard.  It was like a monsoon. 

We got back to our villa in the GKTW Village, parked ourselves in front of the TV and watched Tangled.  I have to admit, that anytime we ate in our villa it was here, in front of the TV.  We never ate at the table, we were such couch potatoes (no one complained).  I love vacations!