Are you smarter than a kindergartner?

We’re already three months along on this little cancer journey, woohoo! For all you math nerds, that means Delaney is hopefully 1/9th of the way through the treatment. For you baseball geeks, this means your kids would have already had a cotton candy, a hot dog that they conveniently used to wipe the ketchup onto their shirt, a snow cone because they remembered that when they said a cotton candy, they really meant a snow cone, gone potty four times, and would have asked about 132 times, “Can we go home now?” (it would only be the end of the first inning after all).

Here are some more stats from the past three months:

8- Number of nights spent in the hospital

4- Number of Emergency Room Visits

12- Number of different chemo treatments Delaney has received

42- What the 12 goes to if you include the month of oral chemo

3- number of boobs Delaney now thinks she has because of the port in her chest

148- number of times my wife has begged me to start wearing deodorant

100%- How much of her hair we thought Delaney would have lost by now

Probably 50-65%- Approximately how much of her hair she has lost. However, because it is long, when you see her with a hat or brushed a certain way, it still looks like she has most of it.

1 Pair- The number of dentures we’ll need to be getting for Delaney if her teeth keep falling out like they have been doing lately

1,037,451- Exact number of acts of kindness and love that we have been the benefactors of

About 1 billion- Number of prayers said all over the world for Delaney.

A ton- How many really nice people and new friends we have met on this little (non) adventure and we are so grateful for all of you!!!

0- How many kindergartners we now have in our house.

That’s right, Delaney is officially done and done with kindergarten. It seems like it was only a few weeks ago that we were standing in the classroom with the other parents hearing about what our kids were going to learn in the upcoming school year. We blinked, and we were with those same parents at the equivalent of the graduation for our kids. Before I get into the graduation, let me back up a few days.
Last Saturday night, we were invited to a BBQ at the family of the boy that is a friend’s (NOT boyfriend) house. The subject of their graduation came up and what kids were going to wear. Delaney immediately went on and on about how she wanted her nails painted pink to match her pink frilly gown (yeah right… But just checking to see if anyone actually reads this). Actually, it was more like, “oooohhh… Maybe I could wear a tuxedo and a top hat!” As she was trying to rope her buddy Jacob R. into joining her, we were all envisioning Dumb and Dumber.
Sunday: the whole making the graduation thing was in doubt when she spiked a fever of 101.5. The doc gave us the option of bringing her in right away or letting her sleep on it and seeing how she was in the morning. We opted for the latter and were pleased to find her fever gone on Monday: game on! Mom scrambled to find her something to wear and even got her a new shirt and pants for the occasion. As much as Delaney liked her new duds, she was very concerned because they couldn’t find a bow tie.
The night before the graduation: Ding Dong. Who could that be? Only Jacob R’s mom to the rescue with an Emergency Bow Tie that Delaney could call her very own. Delaney was elated!
The actual graduation was awesome. All the kids were so cute. They were singing songs, telling the audience what they were going to do for a living, and sharing what they learned in Kindergarten. At one point Delaney’s friend Macayla stood up and said, “we learned about leukemia, made Delaney bracelets, and learned that…” At this point the rest of the class stood up with her and they all shouted, “CANCER CAN KISS MY STACHE!!!” What was really cute was that they all secretly had mustaches drawn on their fingers and put them over their mouths when they shouted it. If that wasn’t sweet enough, they then all broke into a song. We could tell Delaney didn’t know the song by the way she was shrugging her shoulders and lifting her hands as if to say to us, “I didn’t learn this one!” We quickly realized that they were surprising her with a song, “Delaney we love youuu!!!” before presenting her with a teddy bear. My wife just about lost it because she was so moved by how touching it was of all these sweet little kids.
I know that I keep saying it, but we have been blessed beyond belief. We hope everyone has a great Summer and we’ll keep you updated on Delaney and her (non) adventures.
I’ll leave you with a pic of Delaney and her buddy Jacob R. in their matching Emergency Bow Ties (oh yeah… I forgot to mention that Delaney’s teacher even had a top hat that she allowed Delaney to wear for the big day).

Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels have nothing on these two!

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Winner winner, chicken dinner!

And the ANC is… 1400 Pow!  Delaney is good to go for more treatment tomorrow and they will once again increase her dosage.

On another note, when we were walking out we heard the staff singing, “Happy last treatment day to you…” to another little girl.  Only 25 more months and that will be Delaney!

Today’s lucky numbers

To whom it may concern,

Please take this job, and shove it.

Signed,

The Winner of the 600 Gazillion Clam Lottery.

It only took me four years to complete that heart-felt letter, and I guess I should have waited before giving it to my boss because, unfortunately, I am still a loser. You on the other hand, don’t need to wait because I am giving you today’s lucky pick 3 numbers: 7-5-1. Your welcome.

Okay, maybe those aren’t the lotto numbers, but those are the lucky numbers we are hoping for today. Well, at least 751 anyway. That being on the all important Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC) scale anyway. This morning we are going to get Delaney’s lab work done again. Just a few short times ago, she was as high as 2800. Last time we went, she dropped all the way down to 768. If it drops below 750, they have to decide to either give her a reduced amount of chemo tomorrow, or possibly no chemo if they don’t think she can handle it right now.

Being the positive people that we are, I’m confident it will come in just fine. It’s one of those things that you really have no control over, so its best to just hand it over to the one that does. If we sit there and stress over it, cancer wins. The strange part to me is that there is no mid check point. If it dropped 2000 points, how do we know it isn’t still dropping. Today are we going to find that it went down to 400, or rebounded all the way to 4000? I guess the logic is that treatment-wise, it is the same on the day to day basis. Low numbers just mean she is a lot more susceptible to getting sick. Of course, in the cancer world, they also mean that they either limit or restrict the poisonous chemo they put into her body.
As for Delaney, she has been doing great. She is feeling good, but we can definitely tell the meds are starting to effect her in that she is a lot more run down than she has been up to this point. She was out of school every day last week and when I took her on Monday she asked, “Daddy, can you pick me up earlier than you ever have?” She knows that she is getting a lot more tired than usual. Every day she has been taking a 2+ hour nap, but when she is awake, she is still going a million miles an hour. In fact, yesterday she even took her very first Tae Kwon Do class. Hiiiiii Yaaaaaaaa!!!!!
Right now, she isn’t thinking about today’s labs or tomorrow’s chemo, she is too busy being ecstatic! A child at her school had a birthday party and wanted all the gifts to go to Delaney. So every time she needs to go to the doctor’s office, she can pick out a new toy or game to bring with her. Isn’t that awesome?!?!? In fact, there are so many gifts that she may even donate some to her doctor’s office so other kids with cancer can also enjoy them. On a side note, she just found some candy that was included and said, “Dad, there is even laffy taffy, we’re going to need to hide it from mom!”
I’ll leave you with this pic from yesterday’s Tae Kwon Do class. Be afraid cancer, be very afraid!

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Cancer is so limited…

So this will probably get me nominated for hoarders, but oh well!  As we were going to bed tonight, my wife said, “You really need to clean off your nightstand as it is getting dangerous over there.”  It was almost as if she pulled some invisible string because precisely as she said “getting dangerous,” my pile of books went all Jenga on me.  I tried to stop the slide by grabbing a book before it hit the floor. I happened to open it to maybe read a page, but it caught my attention so I read the first couple of chapters.  The book is titled, “Hope for Families of Children with Cancer” and it was given to us anonymously by “A Redstone Family”  (Redstone Elementary is where two of our daughters attend school).   At the very beginning of the book is a poem that I liked and wanted to share called “Cancer is so limited…” but I am also realizing that although I have been updating the Facebook page, I haven’t really updated this blog so I’ll do it intermittently between the lines of the poem which I will italicize (just because I think I am so darn creative like that).

Cancer is so limited…

It cannot cripple love

It cannot shatter hope

     Delaney had a fantastic weekend.  She was excited to go cheer on her soccer team in their very last game and was feeling well enough that she wanted to participate in the pregame warm-up drills.  She did that and was still feeling well at game time.  Next thing we knew, the game was underway and Delaney was in and actually playing with her teammates.  It was just awesome.  There were a lot of guys there so I made sure that my contact lenses that I don’t really wear didn’t start irritating my eyes under my sunglasses, but it was a close call.  It was Mother’s Day weekend, but nothing could have made this father more proud than to see his little girl getting out there and just giving it her all.

It cannot erode faith

It cannot destroy peace

     Sunday was Mother’s Day and Delaney wanted to make her Mommy waffles for breakfast.  So we made breakfast while Stacey and the other girls slept.  Just as Mommy was one mimosa into Jack and Jill (not sure if you’ve seen this Adam Sandler movie or not, but it really is best with more than just one mimosa), Delaney announced, “It’s time to get ready for church!”  So we woke up her still sleeping sisters, and off we went.

      It cannot wipe out confidence

It cannot kill friendship

      Later that day, Delaney and two of her friends were playing on the trampoline.  I was doing some yard work and just listening to them be kids.  They were playing a game called, of all things,  “Deadman” (it would be like our Marco Polo) when one of her friends says, “Delaney, you can go first because you have cancer.”  I had to laugh because it was just one of those “Out of the mouth of a child” moments but then caught the other friend also try to remind Delaney that she had cancer only to have Delaney respond with, “Yeah, yeah, yeah… let’s play the game!”

 It cannot suppress memories

      Monday, we got the reminder that… well… that our child has cancer.  We were feeling pretty darn good after the great weekend she just had.  I took her in Monday so they could run her labs and make sure all of her counts were okay.  Prior to Monday her last labs were run ten days prior and everything looked so good that one of the nurses joked, “She is doing so well, she should go pick up an extreme sport this weekend!”  That’s kind of what we were expecting on Monday considering how good she looked and was feeling, but we got almost the exact opposite.  Every important thing they check in her labs (ie. white blood cells, hemoglobin, platelets, etc.) tanked.  This is the part that 10 weeks into it, still catches me off guard.  She can look fantastic on the outside, and just have things way off on the inside.

It cannot silence courage

      I am hoping that I am not way off base here (by now we all know that I usually am), so if that is the case, I’ll ask for your forgiveness in advance.  This line of the poem happens to give me a chance to talk about one of the most courageous people I know: my wife Stacey.  Stacey works full time.  It didn’t matter as was the case a few weeks ago when she got to spend another night in the ER with Delaney, and then almost immediately had to go work.  Yes she is great at her job and enjoys what she does, but she deals with an enormous amount of guilt.  I think most working mothers have to deal with this to a certain degree (Should I really be working or could we make it if I was a stay at home mom) especially when their child is not feeling well.  Here is where I may be off base, but I think she has  to deal with a much, much larger degree than the mother who feels terrible when their kid has a cold.  I’m not even necessarily saying other moms, as we have other kids who get the “normal” kid illnesses.  As a parent, you know that unless your child has a big test that they didn’t study for, with a cold everything will be just fine in a couple of days.  That isn’t necessarily the case when instead of a cold, your child has cancer.  This has been very, very tough on my wife, yet she carries on every day as the courageous loving mother that she is.

It cannot invade the Soul

It cannot steal Eternal Life

It cannot conquer the Spirit

     “Did you drink coffee before you got here?” the nurse asked a giggling Delaney this morning.  The way she was laughing and carrying on as her normal silly self, you would have thought she didn’t know that she was about to receive her chemo treatment… but she knew.  She went from thumb wrestling, to wanting to arm wrestle, to playing some game where you make a virtual cookie.  The entire time she was getting her medicine, she was just laughing at having a great time.  Sorry cancer, but you haven’t even come close to conquering Delaney’s spirit! .

It cannot lessen the power of Resurrection

AMEN!!!

~Anonymous Author

TGI(CF)F

Q. What do me and Albert Einstein have in common?
A. We both chose where we went to college based off its Playboy party school ranking.
He attended the University of Zurich and I attended Harvard (okay “Harvard West” as nobody really called Chico State). My point is that for the large majority of my life, Friday was my sabbath. Which is why it killed me a few weeks back when a very sad Delaney told us that she didn’t like Fridays. Not that I blamed her, because Fridays for her meant she was going to get chemo in anywhere from 1-3 ways. So while 157 Facebook friends were reminding us that it was Friday and time to partay, to Delaney it meant pain, prodding, then followed by not feeling well. Well after ten straight weeks of that, and thanks to this phase’s new every 10 day (vs. every 7 day) schedule, she gets NO CHEMO today!!!! That’s right: TGI(CF)F— Thank God it’s a Chemo Free Friday!!!!!
Unfortunately, as it usually seems with cancer, we can’t get too excited about these small victories. We’ll put on the TGI(CF)F party hats for only a minute because we’ve got to take her into see the doc today anyway. A few days ago she started coughing and basically hasn’t stopped since. Last night when it was accompanied by a fever and vomiting, the doc said not to take any chances and to get her in so they can start her on some antibiotics. So off we go…. Happy TGI(CF)F everyone!!!!

The whole world has gone Mustache!

If I am not mistaken, it was the great theologian Lenny Kravitz who said, “Let love rule.” Well Lenster, you’ll be happy to know that is exactly what happened at Friday night’s Spring Carnival.

It was only two weeks ago that we got our hopes up for Delaney to be able to participate in a fun activity after getting her chemo, only to find that she wasn’t up to it. So Friday, we were cautiously optimistic. Because there was no lumbar puncture involved, she didn’t have to be sedated and they let receive her meds in the play area. Lucky for her they even had a magic set so The Great Daddyo was able to amaze and astound her with his magic skills (she’ll say it was “borrrrring” but trust me, she was amazed AND astounded!) The treatment was over before I even had a chance to pull a rabbit out of somewhere, and we were on our way.

Sure enough, by the time that the Spring Carnival was supposed to start, Delaney was feeling great (I’m guessing it was probably the endorphins from seeing the Best. Magic show. Ever). Her school let us set up a “Stache Station” where we had her support bracelets and my daughter Mackenzie and her friends drew mustaches on any kids that wanted them. While they drew staches on the kids, Delaney was able to run from game to game, bounce house to bounce house, and even got to pet the llama! It was while she was excitedly running through the crowd to another game that she looked up and said, “Mommy, isn’t it cool that EVERYONE has a mustache?” From about age 2-70, young babies to old ladies, people were sporting their stache while supporting Delaney. She was right, it was VERY cool!
This might not make sense to a lot of you, but we are finding there is a tremendous BLESSING that comes with cancer. Think about your own life for a second, who are your friends? Usually maybe the people that live by you, parents of your kid’s friends, maybe your co-workers or people from church, I am guessing most of us don’t stray too much from that. Well Stacey and I have been able to meet the most amazing people through this whole (non) adventure. I always hesitate to do this in fear of offending someone I didn’t mention, but let me share some some of the people we met just this past Friday night:
~not one, but two different women who shared that they cut their hair short for Delaney.
~a woman that shared that she is a cancer survivor and who had to have stem cell replacement therapy two years ago but is now doing great.
~a woman who has a child with a birthday party coming up that wants to give his presents to Delaney (not sure that this is necessary but the generosity is very much appreciated).
-The family that came up and when asked if their child wanted a bracelet, explained that he already had one because he got one from his doctor’s office (same doctor as Delaney. Don’t know if you happen to read this, but my wife would love to get your info).
~lots of folks saying that they read this blog. One woman even said she thought I was funny (she must have been drunk! At the kids carnival???Really???)
~people that just wanted us to have their info in case we ever needed help with carpools, babysitting, etc.
~yes even the woman who wacked her son when he tried to grab a bracelet. Even though we gave many out for free or for a dollar, she pointed at the sign that said “Suggested Donation $5” and then said to her son, “Really, you are going to pay $5 for THAT?!?!?” It reminded me of something my own Mom would have done and my only regret was that I was laughing so hard I couldn’t manage to tell the boy he could just take one for free.
~many peeps who said they follow Delaney on her Facebook page. It was so nice to get to finally meet so many of you in person, but I am going to put a personal plea out there: We met a lot of really great people all in one night so please feel free to introduce yourself again next time we see each other (sorry to have to ask this but please understand that I killed a lot of brain cells in college).
~nice folks that expressed interest in doing a fundraiser for us through their business (that is appreciated, but our family really wants to start giving back to others again).
~many, many nice people that just dropped by to let us know that they are praying for Delaney.

On the note of prayer, I know a lot of folks don’t read the Bible because they think it is just some ancient text that has no relevance today. At the risk of being smited with a lightning bolt, I am going to attempt to modernize an important verse here:
“Yo teach, how do I get to Heaven?” Some dude asked Jesus. Jesus replied, “Come on junior, you know this one!” “Hmmm…” The man thought about it for a second before replying, “Is it to love The Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind? And also to love my neighbor as myself?” “Correctamundo!” Jesus replied (I’m pretty sure Jesus loved doing his impression of The Fonz). The guy then asked, “But who is my neighbor?” To which Jesus could have replied, “The little kids that yelled “Hi Delaney” while walking by, the people at your kid’s school that were nice enough to let you take part in their fundraiser, the people that just wanted to give you a hug and to say that your family has really touched them, the at the time complete strangers (now friends) who made bracelets so the kids at Delaney’s school could “think of her over Summer time too,” the elderly blind lady who explains to your daughter that she can’t see with her eyes, but can with her heart and her heart tells her that your daughter is very beautiful, and the person who is humble enough to allow themselves or their child to wear something as silly as a mustache to support your daughter fighting cancer, those are your neighbors.”

Let’s finish with a game. Try to spot the cancer in this picture. Don’t worry, I couldn’t find it either. All I could see was a silly little kindergartner having a great time at her Spring Carnival!

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