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.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December

It's been awhile, but I'm checking back in here.  We are doing well, we are healthy and happy.  The last 6 months have been crazy for our family with the addition of a new baby, a new job for my husband, a move to a new city, and spending 4 months in limbo as we waited to get into our new home.  We are thankful to all be together in our own home - finally! 

This time of year always brings happy and anxious feelings.  I love Christmastime.  I love being together as a family and enjoying the holidays with all the wonderful music and activities.  This time is also so very dear to us because on Dec. 14th marks the anniversary of Erin finishing her cancer treatment.  Dec. 14, 2012 will be her TWO year anniversary of coming home from treatment for the last time.

Erin's cancer is something that I just will never forget.  It has gotten easier, much much easier, but going through something so stressful and scary still makes my heart ache.  After looking back, I see that I've probably struggled with some depression and post traumatic stress from this experience.  I'm so thankful for my family and friends who have buoyed me up without knowing I was struggling.  And, I am especially thankful to my wonderful husband who has been by my side through it all.

Just after Erin finished treatment 2 years ago I got a journal specifically for writing down all of the wonderful blessings and miracles I saw during Erin's treatment.  I spent several days writing in it.  It was very difficult to write down the tender things, but it was very therapeutic for me and I believe it helped me to cope with what I'd been through.  I have kept the journal in my drawer, but I couldn't bring myself to open it up for the last two years.  I didn't want to re-live any of those emotions.

After moving and sort of re-starting my life I've been able to open up some of the old wounds and 2 nights ago I read through what I had written.  I want to share just a few:

"In the beginning I consciously asked myself what my attitude would be.  How am I going to react to what is coming.  I made the decision to always be positive.  Always."

"I made the decision to be kind to the staff.  Even if they messed up.  I was not going to get angry at anyone.  I wanted to have a thankful, grateful attitude amidst the anguish of a child suffering with cancer."

"My spouse!  My companion!  I was extremely thankful that we were strong together.  I am so grateful we had so many similar reactions.  I am glad he didn't flip out, get angry, depressed, or reclusive.  We both went hand in hand, with positive attitudes.  We pulled each other upwards through the trial."

"Some said that this experience would bring John and I closer together.  I heard some say the opposite.  It doesn't just happen like "wow, we are closer."  We had to work extra hard - harder than before.  That work brought us closer."

Erin has her two year follow-up appointment just a few days before Christmas.  Of course I am antsy, but I don't really have cause to worry.  Until then....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Babies and Walks

Little Air Bear has a new little sister!
(she was wearing a mask because she had a cold)


Part of the miracle of having a new sister is the awesomeness of ViaCord's Sibling Connection program.  Through ViaCord's program we were able to save the stem cells from our new baby girl's cord blood and we banked it, along with some cord tissue, in hopes it could save Erin's life.  If Erin's Acute Myeloid Leukemia were to relapse she would need a bone marrow transplant.  If our new baby is her perfect match (our other two kids were not) then instead of using a bone marrow donor off of the Be The Match registry we would use our new baby's cord blood for the transplant.  
Isn't science amazing?!  

Our family is in love with our newest addition.  We are now a family of six!


It was so much fun having the kids see their new sister for the first time, but funny enough, the kids spent most of the time pretending to be doctors rather than oohing and aching over their sister.  There's something that has to be said about our family who spent 146 days in a hospital room during cancer treatment: The kids LOVE to play with all the medical gadgets.  Our new baby had several "doctors" all trying to take her blood pressure and check her heartbeat.



Besides having a baby, we have been actively raising awareness and raising funds for the upcoming 2nd annual CureSearch Walk in our area!  Up to now, our team has raised $4117.09!  We are getting closer to our goal to raise $5000 by Saturday.  We only have 4 days left! 


So far this year, our walk has raised $104,609!  Our goal was $90,00 and we have exceeded it by nearly $15,000 already!

Thank you so much to all of you who have donated this year and in years past.  We appreciate so much that you have been willing to help us raise money for childhood cancer research.  100% of your donation to our walk will go directly to childhood cancer research.  Just 30 years ago there was no cure for childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  Now the success rate is near 60%.  That's good, but not good enough.  We hope that through raising funds for research we can get that cure rate for AML and all other childhood cancers to 100%!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

We're in 5th Place

Right now, Team Cache Valley Cancer Kids is in 5th place out of 69 teams for fundraising!  I'm feeling competitive and I think we could get 1st place.  Help us reach our goal to raise $5000 for childhood cancer research...right now we're at $3727.09.

Please donate $10 today in honor of Erin.


Every dollar donated goes to childhood cancer research, nothing is kept for administrative costs.
We only have 24 more days until our CureSearch Walk.....please donate today!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

21 Month Clinic


Our drive down to Primary Children's Medical Center was pretty uneventful.  It's weird how we go there for the same labs we've been doing in our hometown lab, but it's always waaayyyy more emotional for me to go to Primary Children's.  If I was just going to the local lab I'd hardly bat an eye, but driving down to PCMC gets me thinking about how horrific it was to be thrown into childhood cancer with my sweet little air bear.  I got a little teary eyed as I recalled some of those emotions the first time we took her there after learning that abnormal cancer cells were found in her blood.  These are feelings and emotions that will never leave, most of the experience is pretty blocked, but there are some that will remain with me forever - which I think is good - we need to remember the bad with the good to be able to learn and grow from our experiences.

We got to Primary Children's and took a picture by the "Rainbow Horse" that Erin loves to greet.


We got to the lab right on time only to find out that no one was expecting us.  As sometimes happens, you don't get put in the computer.  Hematology/Oncology didn't even have us down on their calendar.  Everyone was really accommodating and after an hour of figuring out registration and getting paperwork faxed to the lab we were finally able to get Erin's blood drawn for her CBC.  

Last time Erin was a star during the poke and blood draw, only shedding a tear and not having to be restrained.  This time she was a real stinker!  It was four against Erin: Me, two nurses, and a child life specialist and she was still screaming and thrashing.  It's amazing they got a good poke and blood draw done!

But, all was better once we got to the Hem/Onc Clinic and got the usual Cheetos, Root Beer, and Chocolate Pudding.


We got a real treat when Dr. Barnette bounded into our room.  We haven't seen him since Dec. 2010 when Erin finished treatment.  He was one of the Oncologists who cared for her during treatment, but he's not our primary Oncologist so that's why we never see him anymore.  He had seen Erin's name on the list for today and was so excited to see her.  Erin doesn't remember Dr. Barnette, she was only 2 when she last saw him and now she's 4, but he will forever remain in our hearts.  He is amazingly fun and energetic at all times.  I bet it is VERY rewarding for a Pediatric Oncologist to visit past patients who have remained in remission from their cancers and see them grow and be healthy.

We got our check-up visit with Dr. Verma (whom we LOVE) and all looks good.  She recommended we bank our upcoming baby's cord blood and I was excited to tell her we already had the kit ready to take to the hospital with us in 3-4 weeks.  Of course, we all hope that we won't need the cord blood for Erin (if she relapses we would use the cord blood stem cells instead of doing a bone marrow transplant), but it is wise to collect it if we are capable of doing so.

Erin's blood work looks great!  Apart from having many colds and coughs and a broken collar bone (pictured below), she has remained relatively healthy these last 3 months!  




Our next clinic visit will be at Primary Children's in December for our 2 YEAR....did you hear me scream that?....TWO YEAR post treatment follow-up! 

As we were leaving the building, Erin asked if she could throw a coin into the pond.  She threw her penny into the pond and made a wish on it.  As we walked to the car she asked me if we could drive to Disneyland instead of going home.  I said, "no, it's too far, but we'll go again someday."  She said, "Darn it, that's what I wished for!"

Labs from 21 Month Clinic
White Blood Count 8.2 (normal 6.0-17.0)
Hematocrit 40.4  (normal 34.0-40.0)
Platelets 273 (normal 150-400)
ANC 2900 (normal 1500-8500)
Previous Labs from 18 Month Clinic
White Blood Count 8.6
Hematocrit 43.6
Platelets 311
ANC 3660

Previous Labs from 15 Month Clinic
White Blood Count 9.2
Hematocrit 43.6
Platelets 317
ANC 4200 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cuteness


A little bit of cuteness.

Little Air Bear has been in remission for nearly 20 months now and I think she looks healthier than ever before.  She will have her follow-up blood test and physical at Primary Children's at the end of August.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Miracle Kid

This was posted by a young lady facebook friend in Colorado named Brittany. 

"I was Diagnosed with AML(Acute Myelogenous Leukemia) at the age of 15 on December 12th, 2000 and was given 3 WeeksTo Live!!!!! Or a 5-15% chance of Survival!!!!! I was told that all Children/teens/Young Adults Diagnosed with AML at that time that only 30% of us would stay in remission for 5 Years or over and that 70% of us would relapse and die within that time period!!!!! 


I underwent two extremely intense and aggressive rounds of Chemotherapy Treatment!!!!! My first round was 35 Days from December 12th, 2000-January 17th, 2001 (the day that I was officially declared IN REMISSION AND CANCER-FREE)!!!!! I then was given a 3 week reprieve to go home and rest, recover and recuperate!!!!! I lost all of my hair and had every side effect that you can possibly imagine or that most people can't even fathom!!!!! On February 5th, 2001 (My Parent's 17th Wedding Anniversary) I went back into the hospital for another 45 Days from February 5th, 2001-March 21st, 2001 for the 2nd Round of Chemotherapy!!!!! I was released for the final time on March 21st, 2001!!!!! 


I am now coping with, handling, facing, dealing with and confronting having long term side effects that will last me for the rest of my life!!!!! I am happy to tell you that on Friday, January 13th I celebrated my 27TH BIRTHDAY!!!!! Just 4 Days Later on Tuesday, January 17th, I Happily, Finally and Proudly Celebrated 11 YEARS OF BEING CANCER-FREE!!!!!!!!!! 


In the entire hospital where I was diagnosed and treated (even in the departments where I was never even a patient) I have become known formally as "THE MIRACLE KID!!!!!!!!!!" I have truly beaten and defied the odds and have proved my doctors as well as every single fact and statistic wrong even when they stacked everything against me!!!!! 


I AM A CHILDHOOD CANCER SURVIVOR/WARRIOR/CONQUEROR!!!!!!!!!!! TODAY IS MY 11 1/2 YEAR CANCER-FREE ANNIVERSARY!!!!!!!!!!! I ALWAYS CELEBRATE MY 1/2 WAY MARK BECAUSE IT LETS ME KNOW THAT 6 MONTHS ARE DONE WITH 6 MONTHS LEFT TO GO!!!!!!!!!! IT REMINDS ME THAT 50% IS DONE WITH 50% LEFT TO GO BEFORE MY ANNUAL CANCER-FREE ANNIVERSARY WHICH WILL BE ON JANUARY 17TH, 2013 (12 YEARS OF BEING CANCER-FREE)!!!!!!!!! THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING MORE FUN AND ENJOYABLE FOR ME AND NOTHING THAT MAKES ME HAPPIER THAN PROVING MY DOCTORS WRONG, PROVING THE FACTS AND STATISTICS WRONG AND BEATING AND DEFYING THE ODDS THAT HAVE BEEN STACKED AGAINST ME!!!!!!!!!!! CHILDHOOD CANCER CAN SERIOUSLY KISS MY BUTT!!!!!!!!!!! TAKE THAT CHILDHOOD CANCER!!!!!!!!!!!"

Monday, July 2, 2012

Where Does The Money Go?

Until Erin had cancer I hadn't given much thought as to where the money goes.....

American Cancer Society, Relay-For-Life 2010
1% goes to childhood cancer research


Leukemia and Lymphoma Society 2009
2% goes to childhood cancer research



CureSearch 2010
95% goes to childhood cancer research
BUT if you donate through our CURESEARCH WALK
100% of donations go to childhood cancer research!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Will You Be My Voice?

Each of these kids lives in Utah!
Will you be their voice?

CureSearch Walk Salt Lake City from David H Torres on Vimeo.


Please donate $10 today!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Creating Hope Act!


Wonderful News from Capitol Hill!

Last night, the Senate passed the Creating Hope Act as part of the final FDA Reauthorization Act (S3187), the same piece of legislation that was passed by the House of Representatives last week. The next step is for President Obama to sign the legislation into law!

This is a historic moment for the children's cancer community as this legislation directly impacts the development of new drugs for children with cancer and other life life-threatening diseases.

We express our gratitude to Members of Congress and their staff for their vision and support for this important legislation, and to you - the members of the children's cancer community - whose multi-year advocacy efforts ensured passage of the Creating Hope Act.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

18 Month Clinic


I took Erin to our local lab for this CBC on Tuesday and then on Monday we had her appointment with her Pediatrician.  She was dancing around the lab before the poke singing, "I'm gonna get a prize, I'm gonna get a prize."

Erin is the bravest 4 year old!  I didn't have to hold her down or restrain her, she just held her arm out for the phelobotomist.  She had a few tears fall from her eyes, but she never once cried out in pain.  I am continually amazed at her strength at all she understands and does.  She is my hero and I'm so proud of her.

Her blood work looks great!  

The funniest thing about this lab draw is that I forgot to do it on Monday.  I did it on Tuesday and then I forgot to get the results from the records office.  Primary Children's never called with the results and by the next morning the thought finally came that I hadn't heard what Erin's CBC results were.  I assumed that since I hadn't heard anything, she was still doing great in remission!  

Two years ago I NEVER thought I'd be this relaxed about cancer!  I am finally feeling like this isn't a part of our lives anymore and it's a great place to be!

I should also update that we are moving from our beloved valley.  My husband got a new job and we'll be moving 2 hours South.  This also might be why I'm not thinking about cancer because I have loads of other things on my mind.


Labs from 18 Month Clinic
White Blood Count 8.6 (normal 6.0-17.0)
Hematocrit 43.6 (normal 34.0-40.0)
Platelets 311 (normal 150-400)
ANC 3660 (normal 1500-8500)

Previous Labs from 15 Month Clinic
White Blood Count 9.2
Hematocrit 43.6
Platelets 317
ANC 4200 

Help Me!

Help me raise $150 for HopeKids!

Click HERE!

HopeKids provides activities to families who have a child with life threatening diseases.  They have given us much hope and provided smiles and enjoyment when times were really tough.  Please consider donating and helping to keep these activities alive!

Monday, June 11, 2012

How's Little Air Bear?

Sweet sisters.


This month marks our 18 months of being cancer free!

Erin has her 18 month follow-up visit at the end of the month with her Pediatrician and our local lab because we got another special extension from our Oncology department at Primary Children's to do the visit here.  We'll do her 21 month follow-up at Primary Children's in September.  

I still get antsy thinking about her cancer coming back, especially because we've lost so many friends with AML.  Our little 5 year old friend Sean passed away 3 days ago and it's just not fair how some make it and some don't.  Erin's been sick, the usual, a cold or cough and she's been complaining of leg aches.  Thankfully we got all the yeast infections (that kept coming back) taken care of 3 weeks ago...that was not fun at all...fingers crossed that they stay away for good!  It all probably boils down to just some growing pains and her beat up immune system that catches everything, but the thoughts of cancer lurk in the back of my mind.  

She's doing really good otherwise!  She's does everything she can to keep up with her big brother and sister.  When we go anywhere she nearly outruns them, she is quite the fast runner on her short chicken legs.  When we go for walks in our neighborhood she always runs the last block to beat us all home.  She is a fighter and she is determined to win everything that she does.  She's been intrigued with reading and has started the reading books her siblings also did before kindergarten and it's been a blessing to see how quick her mind picks things up - I worried so much that the chemo would leave long lasting learning issues.  She is still in love with princesses and wakes up nearly every morning telling me that she dreamed about Disneyworld and visiting the princesses.  Her make-a-wish experience has forever changed her and I am so thankful for how that trip has created the most amazing memories that she'll never forget.  

We are so grateful for every day that we spend with Erin.  Sometimes I look at her and think of the blessings that kept her life going during the hardest times.  She is a little miracle.

On another note:  I wrote up a little blip on our Utah Moms With Cancer Fighting Cuties blog about how many moms in Utah received the news that their child had cancer.  Some of us found out in the most crazy situations...like getting a phone call in the middle of a movie at the theater, getting the call while driving down the street and like me, in the checkout line at Walmart.  It makes you think about what someone is talking about when you see them on their cell phone in a public place....they could be getting the bad news as you wait impatiently behind them.  It makes me think about how we should always be Christ-like in every situation when dealing with someone on a cell phone.

Friday, June 1, 2012

2 Years Ago

June 1st will forever remain in my heart as a very difficult day.  Two years ago today we were told that our 23 month old Erin's blood test showed abnormal cancer cells and that she had Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  

There is a very vivid slow motion movie in my mind of the first few hours of Erin's diagnosis, I almost wish I could show that to you so you could completely understand what it's like.

We took Erin's cancer on with brave faces and bits of humor (when we could find some), but I would never wish anyone to have to go through cancer with their child.  We had hearts full of faith and hope and we relied heavily on the atonement of our Savior to get us through.  It is an experience I would never want to repeat.  We are so grateful to have it behind us, and we rejoice every day that we get further from it.  

Erin has been in remission for about 18 months, we can truly breathe easily when she hits that 5 year complete remission mark when her chance of getting AML again is pretty much nil.  

Hear what Erin has to say....



You can donate

We have been fundraising for our CureSearch walk comping up at the end of the summer.  Very humbly we'd like to announce that right now our team is leading the entire state in fundraising!  Did you just see me do a jump kick?


We are only about $1900 shy of our $5000 goal.
I challenge you to donate $5 right now!
I double dare you!

Please, donate HERE.

100% of donations go to CureSearch. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sean Needs Your Help

We have a 5 year old friend in Utah: Sean.


Sean is dying from Acute Myeloid Leukemia (the same cancer our Erin had). His body is shutting down right now.  It has been so hard seeing other family's on the other end of the spectrum, whose kids don't get to stay here and they never hear the word "remission." 

Please consider donating to the family's paypal account to help pay for funeral expenses. Mark it "gift" and "personal" in paypal and send donations to saltammar@yahoo.com. 

Sean's mom is a single mom of two boys.  She is about to loose Sean, and  her 8 year old son lives in a wheel chair.  Any donation would help.  Please remember this little family in your prayers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Raffle for a Trampoline, Firehouse Pizza, & Aggie Tickets


Team Cache Valley Cancer Kids is at it again!!!!!

Stop by the entrance to Macey's in Providence 
between 4:00pm-8:00pm FRIDAY 
and buy a $1 raffle ticket, 
you'll be entered to win:

1. A 15 Foot Propel Trampoline donated by Al's Sporting Goods


2. A $25 Gift Card to Firehouse Pizza



3. Tickets to an Aggie Men's Basketball Game 



Raffle tickets are $1 apiece and you can purchase as many as you like to better your raffle chances. All proceeds will go to CureSearch for Children's Cancer Research.

Tickets will also be sold Saturday, May 26th at Al's Sporting Goods. Listen to Q92 that evening and the winner of the trampoline will be announced!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Out of the Mouth of the Cancer Child's Siblings

My kids have a different way at looking at cancer than most kids.  Actually, most kids probably don't know much about cancer and that's really the way it should be.  My kids have been saying things now and then about cancer that I just keep meaning to write down because it's very interesting how they see things now.  I wish I could remember all the odd remarks they have made over the last "almost" 2 years.  These are some of the latest.

My 5 year old son said the other day, "I hope our next baby has cancer.  That way we can play in the big play room at Primary Children's." 

Um, yeah!  My son obviously does not get the picture of what cancer really is.  But, we are so grateful that he has come away from this experience without emotional scars from what we went through.  An extra reason we love Primary Children's is the Forever Young Zone on the 3rd floor.  The staff & volunteers there spent many hours playing with all of our kids either in the playroom or in Erin's room.  They were so kind to our kids and gave them extra special attention, after the months of being there, many of the workers there knew our kids names without us having to tell them."

Yesterday my almost 7 year old daughter said, "I am going to be a nurse when I grow up.  I want to work at Primary Children's Hospital with the cancer kids."  I responded, "You'd make a great nurse, but it would be really hard work because not all kids with cancer live and you'll have a lot of sad moments working there."  She said, "I still want to do it."  

I really think she'd be a remarkable nurse.  I'm not all doom and gloom, but I want her to know the reality that it's not going to be fun and games and that a lot of kids die of cancer.  There were many days there that I'd come out of Erin's room to find my nurse and several other nurses with tears in their eyes.  I always wondered who lost a child that day.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Boy or a Girl?

For the last few weeks Erin has been certain that our upcoming baby is a girl!
I guess we should've listened to her because she was right.

Erin is going to be a big sister.
Our Baby Girl is due in September.


We are getting in touch with Viacord about saving this baby's cord blood.
Why?

First, our two other kids were not bone marrow matches for Erin, so she doesn't have a perfect sibling bone marrow match (yet).  If this baby is a match and Erin relapses then we'll have a perfect match for Erin.  Viacord has a sibling connection program that will save our baby's cord blood in case Erin needs it.  Isn't that awesome?

Did you know that you can donate your newborn's cord blood to a cord blood bank?
It's really easy and as far as I've researched it's FREE to donate the cord blood.  It doesn't hurt the baby or the mom.  Our friend Millie has relapsed ALLeukemia and is undergoing chemo and soon some awful radiation in preparation for a cord blood transplant, it's similar to a bone marrow transplant, just using cord blood instead of bone marrow.  Our friend Brielle, who had relapsed AMLeukemia recently successfully finished her cord blood transplant.  

Generous people donate their newborns' cord blood to a bank like Viacord and then it becomes available to save lives!  It has saved Brielle's life and could save Millie's too!

So, if you're expecting and you aren't planning on saving your baby's cord blood please consider researching more about donating it and saving a life!  Cord blood can be used to treat up to 80 different diseases.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Donations Still Being Accepted


The Benefit Concert for CureSearch last night was a smashing success!  Our performing artists displayed fabulous musical skills and it was a night of great music and good feelings as we were all working towards one goal, funding childhood cancer research and finding a cure!  Stay tuned to this blog to see photos and a short video clip from the concert.

If you missed the concert, we're so sorry!  But, you can still donate!

If you want to email me at cachevalleycancerkids@gmail.com I can give you may mailing address if you want to mail a check or drop off cash.

OR

You can go to our DONATION SITE HERE and donate by credit card to our General Team Donation for our CureSearch Team "Cache Valley Cancer Kids."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cache Valley Cancer Kids

After Erin was diagnosed with cancer we really wanted to find other families in our area who also had kids with cancer.  It took us awhile, but we are now in contact with several families in our valley who have kids that have had cancer.  It has been so therapeutic to have cancer friends close by.  We have started up Cache Valley Cancer Kids, a group of families that are teaming together to find a cure for cancer!

We put together a team for the 2nd annual CureSearch walk!  We did the walk last year and our Team Little Air Bear raised nearly $2000 dollars!  We are so excited to be teaming together with other families and are super excited to enjoy the cancer walk again.  The BEST part: 100% of ALL donations will go directly to childhood cancer research.

Feel free to check out our blog:
www.cachevalleycancerkids.blogspot.com

We have bios on some of the kids in our valley who have cancer as well as information about what we are trying to do.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Benefit Concert!!

I'm finally achieving my goal to put on a Benefit Concert for Childhood Cancer Research.  I am thrilled to share the news that several very talented musicians have agreed to donate a performance!

Mark your calendar and come if you can.  If you can't make it, please consider donating to childhood cancer research in honor of Erin.


Cache Valley audiences will recognize Vanessa Ballam in her recent role as Maria, in the Sound of Music.  She spent three years as a Resident Actor at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria and last year as a visiting professor of Theatre at Utah State University.  Vanessa currently serves as Education Director at UFMOT continuing the tradition of Arts Education in the lives of the youth of our Valley.  A former Miss Utah, Vanessa received the Bert Parks talent award while at the Miss America Pageant.

Pianist Brandon Lee has been thrilling audiences for well over 20 years.  Brandon has won first place in more than 40 state, regional, and national competitions.  He has soloed with the Utah Symphony three times and with orchestras in Colorado and California.  He has had the privilege of working with such artists as Leon Fleisher, Stephen Hough, and Olga Kern.





At the age of 8, Trenton Chang, won 1st place in the UMTA State Piano Concerto Competition.  In 2009 and 2011 Trenton was chosen to perform with the Utah Symphony in Abravanel Hall.  In May 2010 he was invited to perform the entire Mozart Concerto No. 23 in the Beverly Sorenson Young Artists.  This March, Trenton appeared on NPR's From the Top.  Trenton is enjoying 8th grade and loves to hike and travel.




Stefan Espinosa has appeared in theaters across the United States, from the central coast of California tothe Bayou's of Texas. Currently Stefan serves as the Conservatory Director for Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre where he also teaches acting and musical theatre classes.  This Summer Stefan will appear in leading roles in three OLRC shows including Huckleberry Finn from Big River.  








Sophie Spreier is in her second year studying Music Performance at Utah State University. Playing music has brought Sophie to audiences in Mexico, Canada, and multiple states with her favorite experience being a trip to New York City for a lesson with Yo-Yo Ma. Sophie aspires to become a freelance studio musician in the film industry.








Nicole Tolson began violin studies at age four and competed in her first National violin competition and was chosen to play at the Suzuki Association of America conference, five years later.  By age eleven, she was touring Poland, with a special performance in Prague and Poland. Throughout her teen years she performed in Florence, Rome, Siena, and Venice.  Nicole is a scholarship student at Utah State University majoring in violin performance and performed Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto as a soloist with the Utah State University Orchestra in 2011.





Azure Kline is honored to be asked to take part in the support of children's cancer research. She started playing the cello twelve years ago, and over the years her passion for music has grown and developed into a life long desire to bless those who hear her, and to share God's love with them. Apart from playing the cello, she loves spending time with her family, hiking, and learning about the american constitutional system. Azure is a senior at Sky View High School, and currently a student of Anne Francis Bayless.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Introducing Erin's First Pigtails!

First pigtails E-V-E-R!
(15 months in remission for AMLeukemia)


Erin is nearly 4 years old and we had to do a little photo shoot of her darling pigtails.  We never did them before cancer because her hair was so bad back then - she was anemic for over a year before being diagnosed with AML and that caused her hair to be brittle and dry so I rarely put elastics in it.  Now she has a head full of healthy, shinny, silky hair that can be nicely styled in pigtails.

Enjoy the pictures of Erin hamming it up!



I think it was funny that she choose to wear her Make-A-Wish shirt to preschool, it is the first time she's worn it anywhere besides a Make-A-Wish event.  Later in the afternoon the kids and I visited a few local pediatrician offices to get some HopeKids brochures passed around Cache Valley.  We love HopeKids and all that they have done for our family!  We are so proud to announce that HopeKids is coming to Cache Valley and will start holding activities for families here who have a child with cancer or other life threatening illness in this wonderful valley.

*****
Now a few pictures of my other cute kiddies...

Caleb got ready for preschool on Friday and decided to don his exploring outfit. He wore those binoculars around his neck until it was time for bed, occasionally using them to spot things in the house or yard.


And Cecily, all ready for school.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

15 Month Clinic

I took Erin to our local hospital lab this morning for her 15 month follow-up blood test.  We have a little deal with Primary Children's that we take her to our local lab every other visit.  It's just pennies compared to the big bills we get from Primary Children's and we don't have to give up an entire day's time to just get a blood test.

Erin was seriously amazing when they drew her blood, better than she has ever been.  She hardly cried.  She only whimpered a bit when they stuck her.  I held her on my lap, but I didn't have to restrain her from pulling her arm back.  We held hands and she told me she was brave and strong.  She got some sparkly princess stickers for being so good.

She is doing better today, she is still sore from both of her infections and I kept her home from preschool today to give her a rest.  She is having a nap right now and I'm sure the extra sleep is helping her little body heal.  Her blood counts look good, it's always so wonderful to get results that ease our minds about her cancer returning.

Labs from 15 Month Clinic
White Blood Count 9.2 (normal 6.0-17.0)
Hematocrit 43.6 (normal 34.0-40.0)
Platelets 317 (normal 150-400)
ANC 4200 (normal 1500-8500)


Previous Labs from 12 Month Clinic
White Blood Count 8.6
Hematocrit 41.6
Platelets 258
ANC 3600

Monday, March 19, 2012

Double Infections

This blog has really had blogpost-famine.  Until today, when I actually decide to post not just one, but two entries.  I guess I'm just feeling the documentation itch.

The second week of february we had Erin at InstaCare for a serious ear infection which we got all fixed up before our Disneyland trip with some extra-days-on-top-of-the-normal-dosed-days of antibiotics becuase she had finished some antibiotics in January for a sinus infection and we really wanted to just kill all infections in her little body.

After some serious screaming while going pee tonight we had Erin back at InstaCare for what I thought was a bladder infection.  Turns out she's got a yeast infection, ANOTHER ear infection and a fever!  Can't this little girl have a rest? 

And did I mention, today is my birthday.  Happy birthday to me.....when I blew out my candels tonight I totally wished for a trip to InstaCare.  Um, no.  I wished for health for Erin. 

Ok.  I'll be alright.  I'm done with my little vent.  Erin is going to be fine and today is just another day for me to grow older.  I'm going to go relax and do a crossword puzzle.  I have much to be thankful for.  There isn't anything more beautiful than seeing three little kids grinning ear to ear and telling each other not to tell mommy what's in her wrapped presents.

Cooooolds

We've all been a little sick over the last week.  Erin brought home a nasty cold/cough from preschool.  She was the first to get it in our family, and even though it's been through most of us and we're on the mend, she is still in the full swing of runny nose, goopy eyes, nasty cough, etc.  It's not fair that it takes her body soooooooo long to get over things.  She's a good sport through it (most of the time) and she is always telling us that she's sick and that she had to go in the "big O" (CT Scanner) to get pictures taken of the insides of her body. 

I'm a little melancholy thinking about Erin getting sick and having long lasting symptoms.  Mostly I keep cancer thoughts pretty far from my mind, but just last week a dear little 3 year old boy in Utah died of AML.  He was diagnosed only 2 months before Erin, and relapsed when he was 14 months off of treatment.  This week, Erin hits 15 months off of treatment.  To have a little cancer friend die so quickly was a shock, he was only 1 day away from his Bone Marrow Transplant too.  It's just so close to home.  I don't mean to be so down, it's just too real for us.  I try my best not to think about it and really I have done a good job, you'd be proud of me for not dwelling on the bad side of cancer.

I have much to be thankful for and I'm thankful for all of the wonderful months we've had a cancer-free Erin around.  She is so much fun, she loves to tell us all what to do, and she's spoiled sooooo much.  This week we'll be taking Erin in for her blood test.  Lots of prayers for Erin to stay cancer free!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pictures, Disneyland, and a Piano Lesson

Erin in March 2012!

Doesn't she just look wonderful?  I couldn't be happier with how healthy she has been.  She still catches just about anything she's exposed to since her immune system was battered to death 5 times, but she is really doing remarkably well.  She has her 15 month follow-up blood test at the end of this month.


*****
This afternoon 5 year old Caleb gave 3 year old Erin a piano lesson.


He got the pencil out and was very serious about her doing it correctly.  All fun and games ended with tears when Erin declared that it was "just too hard."


*****
Last month my family held a family reunion at Disneyland.  All 30 of us got together for some great fun and lots of bonding (and there were only 2 cases of strep, one case of the stomach flu, and lots of shared colds that went around!)  It isn't often my family gets together since we all come from Utah, Oregon, New York, and Missouri to be together.

This is Erin with her cousins at Bear Lake in August 2010.  She was between chemo rounds and is the bald-chemo-masked-beauty on the far left.


This is Erin with her cousins at Disneyland in February 2012.
It makes me laugh that she's totally bawling in this picture, she was throwing the biggest fit and we couldn't get all the grandkids to look at the camera, she was much happier once we got to Fantasyland.  (She is on the far right in the purple coat)


Erin and her cousin loving the tea cups.


The girl cousins all dolled up in Ariel's Grotto.


Belle and the girl cousins.


The kids in Dumbo.


John and Erin on the carousel.


Erin and I waiting in line for the tea cups, again.


Waiting out the rain in the Tiki Room.


Harry Potter and Hagrid (made of legos) at Legoland.


Driving her own lego car.

Erin and Bob the Builder (made of legos)


The family at the L.A. Arboretum.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prayers for Millie

I just read the news about Millie and John happened to come home for lunch at the same time as I was bawling my eyes out.  The cancer world is one where I've found so many new friends, but along with it, has come a lot of heartache for others trials.

On Feb. 2nd Millie went to the hospital for her last treatment!  She endured 2 years of chemotherapy and her family had a big celebration in her honor.  Just this week they received the results from her last bone marrow test.  Her cancer is back!  We are all shocked.  This is so uncommon for ALL Leukemia, especially at the end of treatment.  Millie is amazing! She has been through so much.  And now, she is going to have to go through so much more.

This is Millie in July of 2010. She just melts your heart!!!

This is Millie just recently getting her FIRST haircut since she lost her hair.

Look at all those curls!!! She has worked so hard to grow them back!

Here's Millie and Erin in Sept of 2010 when Millie came for a visit.
Millie is now going to be admitted to the hospital (today) and undergo three very intense months of mostly inpatient chemotherapy. Then more months in the hospital to recover. She will be sick and her beautiful curls that she is so proud of and worked so hard to grow back will all be gone AGAIN! They will kill every single cell in her bone marrow until she is at zero so she can have a bone marrow transplant. This is very risky because without your bone marrow you are at risk for all sorts of sickness. If she gets even one little bug it could be life threatening to her. Millie had just started school this year and was loving it.  
Today they are testing her only sibling (siblings are the first ones tested because they are the most likely to match) for a bone marrow match. Her little brother is only 2 years old. He doesn't understand all that is going on, but he could potentially be his sisters life saver. This is where you come in....PLEASE PLEASE pray for this family today. This is big! Austin (Millie's little brother) has a 1 in 4 chance of being a match. They need him to be a match. They are having a special fast today in hopes that Austin will be Millie's match.

Please pray for Millie!