The countdown is on!

10…9…8…   I didn’t get to witness the Orion spacecraft countdown, but I’m sure it was exciting because they pretty much all are.  At the end, you know something big is going to happen.  7….6….  Six, that is where Delaney is at right now on her own countdown.  We just got the word last week, God willing and if all goes well, she is down to only six more months of treatment!  Her official last day of treatment will be May 5th, 2015 talk about a good reason for a fiesta!

As for her part, Delaney has been doing great.  We had a fantastic Thanksgiving and she was as spunky as ever.  We put the bird in the oven and then went out and played some family 3 on 3 football.  Even her non-tomboy sisters got out there and played.  When they tired of that, we switched to soccer and played that until the bird was gobbling for us to eat it.  We went inside, gave thanks, stuffed ourselves, played games, watched football, took a nap, stuffed ourselves again, and then played more games.  It was the perfect day!


The fun continued all weekend.  A very nice parent at Delaney’s school who owns 3 Ring Photography offered to shoot some family photos for us.  We happened to all get the case of the giggles so it turned out to be a very silly fun-filled hour.  We also managed to sneak in a movie and an art exhibit at the Denver Botanical Gardens before having to send Delaney’s oldest sister back to college on Sunday morning.

That afternoon, a fellow leukemia survivor invited Delaney and our family to come take a tour of the Denver Fire Department’s station 27.  Russell and his wife Katie were at the Leukemia & Lymphoma’s Light the Night Walk and heard that Delaney wanted to be a firefighter.  It turned out, Russell is an older, male version of Delaney.


Not only does he have his own battle with leukemia, but he is a firefighter who loves legos!  Russell, and all of the firefighters on duty that day, made Delaney an honorary firefighter.  Along with her sisters, Delaney got to go up


(and I mean wayyyyyy up) in the bucket on top of the firetruck.


We got to hang out in the firehouse and eat lunch with the entire firehouse.  Delaney got to try out all the cool gadgets, put on the uniform, and even fire the hose.   She was in heaven!


After the weekend highs, Monday came along and brought her chemo treatment and steroids with it.  It was another rough week.  She was home sick all week and still wasn’t really feeling well as of last night.  She did rally on Friday for the Make A Wish event at Children’s Hospital where the kids get to pick out gifts for their loved ones from Santa’s workshop.  It basically took it all out of her by the end so she didn’t get to meet the Denver Bronco cheerleaders were there, but a couple of them were nice enough to send her a personalized message.

While we excitedly start the countdown, that is pretty much our routine right now.  We hope to have three good weeks of non-steroid happy and healthy Delaney (even though she is still taking her oral chemo daily), and then one week when she gets more chemo injected into her port and has to take steroids for the week.  She goes from a feisty energetic kid for three weeks to getting her little bummie kicked for a week.  But… the week is almost over, and she only has six more months to go!!!

Childhood Cancer: A year in review

One year ago today. There are parts of that day that I can remember like it was yesterday. More than anything, I remember feeling helpless as a father and as a husband. My wife had just received the call that we had been waiting for that would let us know our daughter Delaney’s lab results. A little swelling below the ear couldn’t be serious, right? I watched anxiously as she moved from the kitchen to the study to take the call away from the kids. I held my breath as my wife tried to keep her composure while listening to our primary doctor. With one last “okay, thank you” she hung up and then told me that we needed to immediately get Delaney to the emergency room where they had a room waiting for us. As our doctor said, “Now is the time to call on any support you might have as we think your daughter has a type of blood cancer called leukemia.” The world briefly stopped while my wife and I collapsed into each other. We just held each other and cried. I was quickly a scared man who was powerless to protect his own family.

~~~Here is a pic that was taken just a few months before her diagnosis:

In the beginning, the not knowing was the worst. Will she be okay during the surgery to put a port into her chest? What about during her first chemotherapy treatment? What type of leukemia does she have? Are you sure she is even sick? What is the survival rate? What are the chances of our daughter… not surviving? When will we be able to leave the hospital? When, if ever, will our lives get back to “normal”? Are we going to be able to care for her at home? When will her hair start falling out? Will she be able to finish up kindergarten with her friends at school? How will we be able to continue working?

~~~Smiling during her very first dose of chemo

It was tough. Eventually we got answers to most of our questions. It was still the uncertainty that ate at me. I remember putting on a brave face when having to face people for the first time because I knew that I was going to have to talk about it. When I returned to work, I purposely wore a hooded jacket. There were times when all I could do was sit at my desk and weep like a baby. I tried unsuccessfully to distract myself with my work. When it got too bad, I would put on my hood to block my face so others wouldn’t know. I know one of my co-workers knew but his father had his own battle with cancer so he could at least kind of empathize with me.

~~~It may have been tough, but this little stud is tougher!

There were a couple of things that helped us overcome the tough times. The first was Delaney herself. When we sat there in shock listening to a doctor describe the different effects of the medicine they were going to give her or what procedures they were going to perform on her, her only question was, “When you are done can I wake up with a mustache?”

~~~Ahhh… the silly mustache. Who knew that it would inspire the “Cancer can kiss my stache!” movement?

But more than that, was the overwhelming kindness, love, and support. It came (and still comes) from family, friends, co-workers, churches, entire schools, complete strangers, and just about every place imaginable. Just this past Sunday our doorbell rang. There stood the sweet neighbohood boy with his familiar bag of cookies and the money he made from selling them door to door. It has been a year and this boy still goes door to door to raise money to give to Delaney! Seriously if anyone knows of an award that we can nominate him for or some other way we could publicly recognize him, please let us know. My wife and I probably shed more tears from just being amazed over, and over, and over again at people’s kindness than we have with the actual cancer. Okay, maybe not… but it feels like it.

~~~Elated by the kindness of our friends at the Littleton Fire Department as she gets to ride in the fire truck

As for Delaney, she just took it all in stride like the little trooper she is. Back to the doctor’s office? Okay. I’ve got to get treatment today? Do you think the nurses will sing “Dynamite” to me? My hair will start to fall out? Maybe I can get a cool Bronco’s hat! Sure she got sick of the pokes, the treatments, not being able to participate in so many fun things because her counts were too low or she wasn’t feeling well enough, and all the other junk that goes along with childhood cancer, but there were very, very few times she really let it get to her. I can probably count on one hand how many times she ever felt sorry for herself.

~~~Proving that bald really is beautiful!

Of course, the one time that she really let it get to her broke my heart so much that I probably will never forget it. It was April 26th of last year (okay… I’ll admit that I only remember the date because it was our anniversary). Delaney had the moon face thanks to the steroids she was taking. Her once skinny little 40 lb. frame had gained 10 lbs. in just over a month. It looked like it was all in her cheeks, but by no means was it a cute “chubby cheek” type of thing. She didn’t feel well, and the steroids were running rampant on her emotions, and she just lost it. “Why mommy? Why? I just want to be beautiful and feel like the other little girls,” she cried. Besides trying to reassure her that she IS beautiful, what do you say?

~~~She may have had “moon face,” but she will always be beautiful!

There were other things that may have bugged her, but really bugged my wife and me. The kids at school, not necessarily being mean, but just being kids, asking her why she is trying to use the girl’s bathroom. The little girl at church trying to argue with the teacher when he announced that another girl was joining the class. Of course, it doesn’t help that our daughter is such a little tomboy. I was asked not too long ago if it bugged us, why not dress her up in pink so people would know she is a girl? Most of you are parents, think about it for yourself. Do you want your kids to be themselves or pretend to be something they are not to please others? We want all of our kids to have the courage to be themselves. So we would never force our daughter, who answers the nurses question of “Do you have any allergies?” with “Yes. The color pink” to pretend to be something she is not. Would being decked out in a pink pretty dress with a big bow on her head help people recognize that she is a girl? Probably. And then Delaney is no longer her silly quarky blue loving, bow tie wearing, what little hair I have I am going to put into a mohawk, mustached self and cancer wins… and that will NEVER happen!

~~~Hmmm… maybe if she wore a nice Justin Beaver wig people could tell she is a girl. Doesn’t she look excited by this?

At one point I was hoping to put our whole Non-Adventure into a book, but realistically that will probably never happen (although it would probably be the first book with negative sales). But in the longshot that some other parents might come across this who have their own child with a recent similar diagnosis, I’ll share two very valuable lessons that we have learned this past year. The first is to realize that your child is going to react to whatever you react to and in a very similar fashion. Fortunately, we learned this very quickly. On that early evening a year ago as we headed to the hospital we couldn’t stop our tears. So what did Delaney do? She cried. We were scared and so was she. We quickly realized that the opposite was also true. If we were brave and confident she was going to be okay, so was she. That first week in the hospital we had times that we were so overcomed with emotion and we would just walk out of the room so she wouldn’t see mommy or daddy crying. Realize that your child and their classmates or friends might associate the word “cancer” with death. We literally when into her classroom and told them, “Just because Johnny’s grandpa died of cancer, does not mean Delaney is going to die of cancer.” Along with explaining how there are different types of cancer, we also explained that, “Yes, she is sick. But, NO, you cannot catch it.” We didn’t want her classmates to be afraid to play with her because they were afraid to catch what she had. And thank God, they didn’t. Her class embraced her and continued to love her. They knew that she wouldn’t be able to be in class all the time, but when she was able to make it, she was just another crazy kid who they played with and had fun with. They also knew that when her hair started falling out, it was a sign that “the medicine was working.” The hospital staff shared that one with us and we thought it was good.

~~~Who are you calling crazzzzy????

The second thing I would share with other parents who have a child facing a similar illness is a little more personal, but because of its importance, I’ll share it openly anyway. Cancer is very tough on a marriage. Whatever stress you had in your marriage prior to the diagnosis is still there, but now you have a whole lot more of it. Early on, after continually snapping at each other, my wife and I had a conversation where we said, “We are going to need to be more forgiving with each other than ever.” Is my wife perfect? No. Am I perfect? Yes! I am kidding, of course, but we should have set a daily reminder that forgiveness was now, more than ever,a necessity if we wanted our marriage to survive this. There were times, like most marriages, where we just wanted to throw in the towel. But then there was the realization of, “And how would that help?” Delaney is one of our four daughters. She isn’t the only one affected by cancer and my wife and I definitely are not the only ones. Our entire family has faced Delaney’s cancer together, and as a family we will continue to fight it together.

~~~A family that goofs together, stays together!

So Delaney is now 365 days into her cancer treatment and has over 500 days remaining. WE have reached the “new normal” that one of the doctors told us about early on. We are slightly more, but still far from totally, comfortable on a daily basis. Delaney has missed 3 of the past 4 weeks of school because thanks to low counts, her body can’t fight a basic cold. She has these weird pains in her foot and there is a real fear that the steroids are causing necrosis, which essentially destroys the bones. At least week’s doctor’s visit due to foot pain, I was expecting to get an update from my wife. When it didn’t come… and still didn’t come… my mind went to, “What if they are saying they need to amputate?” Well, they didn’t need to amputate and as I was writing this my wife sent me a text that read, “They called with her infection test results. Low IGG level and 2 viruses.” I don’t even know what IGG is, but it might be how I feel about leukemia at this point… IGG!!!! Its Gotta Go!!!

~~~Maybe we would be protected if we could just stay in this snow globe!

We know that God is still in control. These fears are of no value. We don’t let them control us by any means, but they are still there. We have been blessed by people all over the world praying for our daughter, and for us. Most of them will never see this, but I still want to thank them. The same with the kindness that has been shown over, and over, and over again. We will never be able to repay this, but we so appreciate every single bit of it. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU from our entire family!

~~~Cancer messed with the wrong family!

Echo (Echo)

So before our (non) adventure began, this is the closest we would come to an echo in our house:

One of my kids (mumbling): abigchubbyhairydaddysayswhat

Me: What???

Kids: He he he.

Not very close to an echo, is it?  I agree.  Which is why I hope you (yes I am talking to the medical professional that I am married to) will forgive me when I made the awful mistake of mixing up an EKG with an Echo Cardiogram.  One is the procedure Delaney had yesterday to make sure her ticker is cool before the next round of treatment, and the other is apparently the secret police in Russia.

So here is how yesterday’s treatment went down back at Children’s Hospital of Colorado:

Woman administering echo (echo): Do you want the gel to be cold or warmed up?

Delaney: Cold.  Am I going to have to take off my bow tie?  Argghhh.

Echo (Echo) woman: I’m going to give it to you warmed up.  Okay, what you are seeing on the screen right now is your heart.  Isn’t that cool that you can see your heart?

Delaney: Actually, it’s kind of BORRRRRRRINNGGGG!!!!

Echo (Echo) woman: Well let me just do my measurements and you’ll be on your way.


It was basically a cross between a pregnant woman’s ultrasound and a Care Bear’s Episode complete with literal rainbows of colors (Mmm… Skittles).  With all the cool colors coming from the screen I briefly wondered if was having a flashback from all the drugs I did in the 60’s.   Then I remembered that I wasn’t even born in the 60’s and haven’t done drugs.  The rainbows were a good thing according to the echo (echo) lady but they’ll give the eventual results to Delaney’s doctor.  I’m not going to wait to give you the results: I saw her ticker moving so I’m going to declare right here and now that she is alive.

Since I am giving you an update anyway, I’ll give you the update of what Delaney has coming up.  Tomorrow she will get her labs done to make sure she is good for Friday’s chemo treatment.  The only thing different that we are really hoping won’t be necessary with this visit is she might have to be sent to an Osteopathic Doctor (I might be messing up this one too).  She has been getting pain in her joints from the medicine and last time we went to our usual doctor they said, “We’ve been putting it off, but if she is complaining about joint pain next time, we’ll need to send her to this other doctor.”  Apparently the medicine they are giving her can damage her bones and they want to have it checked out.  We are optimistic that won’t be the case because she hasn’t really been complaining about it lately, but we’ll see.

The real fun starts in two weeks when she starts what is called the Delayed Intensification phase and I guess the word “intense” is in there for a reason.  The logic is that they try to hit the cancer extremely hard before she goes on to the maintenance phase.  In no certain order, the next two months starting on June 28th include:

-The steroids are coming back.  They’ll be a week on, week off, week on… this time.  So even though she is now finally back to her starting weight, she’ll probably get a little puffy again.

-The treatment will go from once every 10 days to at least twice a week.

-There is at least a 3 day in a row stint where we’ll need to give her the chemo at home.  Only this time it won’t be in the form of a pill, we will need to inject it in her port.  Once again, I’ll praise God for my wife who not only is Mommy-extraordinairre, but also happens to be a chemo-certified nurse.

-The chemo itself is going to change from the yellow one (obviously lay man terms here) that goes in over 10-15 minutes, to a red one (doxorubicin) that gets injected over two hours.

-Whatever hair she still has on her head on June 28th, probably won’t still be there at the completion of this phase.

-It is technically a two month treatment phase, but in the middle of it, it isn’t uncommon for the counts to be too low to continue without a break so there might be a week or so off so she can recover.

Basically, it sounds like it is going to be pretty brutal.  We all know Delaney is a little fighter and will attack it like she has the entire time: with a silly toothless smile only slightly hidden by whatever mustache she decides to sport.   However, I’m going to put out a call to all those prayer warriors and supporters among you.  You have all been AWESOME and I just ask that even though it is Summer and we all like to take a break with many things, please continue to lift up Delaney for the rest of Summer.  We are so appreciative of you all that words really cannot express it. Seriously.  As my feeble mind tries to think of an appropriate way to express our gratitude, the only way I can think of is not appropriate.  But since I’m not appropriate, here it goes anyway: bighairydumbbloggingdadofDelaneysaysthankyousomuchasyouwondertoyourselfifheispossiblymentallychallengedwhat.   What???  He he he.  THANK YOU!!!

It’s NOT a Toomah!!!

      Delaney is back in school!  Hip hip hooray!!!   This is really great news because after I was doing my “This consolidation phase is so great!” dance last week, she took a little turn for the worse.  She did her chemo routine on Friday, but unlike the prior week when she felt so well afterwards, this time she felt really crummy afterwards.  She then came home and slept for three hours.  The doctors advised that was to be expected and the fluke was that she was feeling so well the prior week.  Her ANC count (tells us how well she can fight an infection among other things) dropped significantly (from about 1800 to 800). She was pretty run down all weekend, so today’s return to school became a little dicey.  However, she woke up feeling well (actually very silly), so back to school she went!

        As soon as I am done with this update, I am going to call my boss and tell him that I quit.  I enjoy my job, but I never knew exactly how much fun kindergartner teachers must have all day.  Have you ever seen the movie, “Kindergarten Cop” with Arnold Schwartzenegger?  Well we just lived it!  A couple of women from ChildLife came to Delaney’s school to talk to the class and here is how it went down:


ChildLife: Does anyone know why Delaney was in the hospital?

Student: She had a really bad cold.


ChildLife: Has anyone ever heard of chemotherapy?

Student: When I am in 4th grade, I am moving to Florida and we’ll have two swimming pools?


CL: Does anyone know what the medicine does for Delaney

Student:  Makes her chubby 😦


The ChildLife women also went over an explanation of white cells, red cells, and platelets.  They explained the importance of washing our hands, controlling germs, and staying home when we are sick. Any questions?

Student: My dad had a blood clot.


CL: Oh, I’m sorry.  We know what causes blood clots, but nobody really knows what causes cancer.

Student: God does.



CL: Okay, I think you guys are ready for a test, what do you think?

Student (who shot up his hand super fast): I can pass any swimming lesson test!


CL: Okay, that’s not really a question, are there any other questions?

Student: Why do flowers have roots?


CL: Great question, but are there any more questions about Delaney or her sickness?

Student: My brother threw up in our hot tub yesterday!

        Before any of the kids had a chance to bring up the birds and the bees, they called it a wrap. Anyway, Delaney got to stay for almost two hours today and her teacher said that after all the adults left, everything went right back to normal.  Please pray for her sanity.



Nerd Alert!

This is for all you cancer nerds that crave more of the specifics of Delaney’s medical details. On my last update, I had to make it fast but I wanted to give everyone at least a quick thumbs up. It wasn’t that quick of an appointment, so I’ll try to expand a little here. Here is the good news: her results from the Day 29 testing still have her in the 95% cure rate. To give you any idea how far the medical world has progressed in the fight against leukemia, her approximately 60 year old doctor said when he was Delaney’s age the cure rate was only about 3%. Yayyy for progress!!! They also said that it looked like while Delaney was back in the hospital last week she had stage 2 pancreatitis. Boo for the disease named after delicious pancakes!!! Anyway, it didn’t seem like something they were too concerned about, but they will keep an eye on it.
We then went over the big picture stuff: “Where do we go from here?” Stacey and I are all for helping the medical world further their research (she helps educate the medical world for a living), but we had to draw the line today and opted to pull her out of the study. Basically, here were our options: 1. Go with the proven treatment plan that has the almost 95% success rate or 2. Go with the test treatment plan that might have a success rate as high as 95%. Hmmm… one is proven. The other isn’t, but hopes to possibly have a success rate AS high as (not higher than) the proven one. Let us think about this…hmmm… call us crazy, but I think we’ll take the proven one thanks!
So, with that decided, here is what our cancer future looks like from here: like I said earlier, we are done AND done with the induction phase. Woohoo! Beginning this Thursday, we’ll begin the Consolidation Phase. This will last 4 weeks and the first three weeks will have them injecting a chemo called Intrathecal Methotrexate into her spine. That will be only once a week for those three weeks, but then she will also be taking chemo (6 MP) orally once a day. That will be all of April for us. Then in May, Delaney will start her Interim Maintenance phase which will last eight weeks. The good thing about this phase, is that it means she will only have two years of treatment left from this point (assuming all goes as planned). The bad news, is that it is followed by the Delayed Intensification phase in July and August. They are already warning us that this will be the toughest time of her whole treatment.
During all of this big picture talk, they went into great detail about things like the side effects of Mercaptopurine, VinCristine, Methrotrexate, and Doxorubicin (this one sounds like so much fun that they have to give her an EKG before administering it to her). While I was sitting there trying to take in all the meds/poisons they were going to give our little girl, my head started spinning. I thought it was the magnitude of having to wear gloves to give her something she was going to then put on her unprotected tongue, and about possible side effects that could mess with her heart, but it wouldn’t stop spinning even after they moved on to other things. It got so bad that I started wondering if the brownies that the nice guy from church brought us last night, were of the special “Colorado” variety. It’s not good when you have to worry about the churchies bringing you special brownies.
While I was whining about having the spins and Stacey was digesting the plan for the next two years and two months (since one month is already down), Delaney was having all the nurses and physician assistants fall in love with her cool self. She was just hanging, playing on her mini-iPad that her cousins gave her for just these occasions, and rocking her new glasses with the built in mustache. There she was about to get poked with needles and prodded again and she was just sitting as cool as a cucumber while her old man was just being educated about her treatment plans and could only respond with, “whoaaaa mannn… do you think that brownie could have been trippy???”
Any way, I hope you medical nerds got your fill, because tomorrow I’ve got something so exciting it is going to bust cancer right in the stache… stay tuned!

What’s so Good about it anyway?

Day 29. Today is the day that determines our cancer future. It is the big crescendo of the first phase of Delaney’s leukemia treatment, and… it falls on Good Friday. And with that God, I’ve got to admit, you’ve still got it!
Apparently, even cancer doesn’t wait for cancer. Long before now, today was marked on our calendar as the day we would be heading back to Children’s Hospital. Once we were there, Stacey and I would put on our brave faces for Delaney so hopefully she wouldn’t realize how serious the implications of everything she was about to have done to her, really were. Ha! The joke is on you cancer because we didn’t even have to make the commute to Children’s Hospital today, we were already here! Our eyes are already bloodshot from all the fun we have had over the past three nights, so why stop now?!?!
Today they will draw more of Delaney’s blood, purposely make her unconscious, do a lumbar puncture, take bone marrow, and then give her more chemotherapy. Then later, they will also go about analyzing the blood, bone marrow, and cells and start counting how many cancer cells still exist. God willing, they won’t find ANY! But even if the doctors surprise us with the terrible news that Delaney’s condition has gotten much worse, or inform us that we won’t be able to bring her home for another 444 nights, or if the excruciating knee pain returns every night (it came back last night so we already got to go have X-rays done this morning), we know that God is still in control.
People have commented about our faith through this whole (non) adventure. “I don’t think I could do it, how are you guys holding up like you are?” they’ll ask. If you don’t mind, and yes, I know many of you actually will mind, I’ll answer that by sharing a little about my faith. More specifically, why it has not and will not waiver no matter what the results of today’s tests are and no matter what tomorrow brings. Why? You’ve heard of that guy that was blind but can now see… well that dude is me.
I was probably never really an atheist, but for most of my adult life, I just chose to live like one. Technically, I would be classified as an agnostic. I didn’t know for sure that there was no God (as the mountains, the fishies, puppies, and babies -without poopy diapers of course- seemed to necessitate some sort of Creator), but I definitely didn’t believe in God. Truth be told, I thought the Bible was a bunch of crap (to put it nicely). Some fables of the Aesop sort, to pass along to the kiddies to make sure they behave.
Because this is Delaney’s blog and not “Tom’s testimony,” I’ll cut to the chase. Living like there was no God wasn’t exactly good for my marriage. After seeing three different marriage counselors and deciding there wasn’t going to be a fourth, we moved from Northern California to Southern California to make it easier on us when the inevitable divorce took place. However, shortly after the move, my brother invited me to his church (Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA). I went with him, but I was honest with him when he asked what I thought of the service, “it was fine… but I think the whole thing is based on BS!” He gave me a book to read called, “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel (also a former agnostic). By that point I had already checked out religious science, Buddhism, and a bunch of other stuff before settling on being semi-content as an agnostic, but I agreed to read his book. Contrary to other books I had read, this one didn’t try to use the Bible to prove its own validity, it used things outside the Bible (ie. history, archeology, and science). It quickly had me thinking, “if the Bible really is true, what does that mean about how I am living my life?” That was thirteen years ago this July. Needless to say my marriage, and my life, haven’t been the same ever since.
Some of you more observant folks might be thinking, but you are not religious! You’re right. I’m not a huge fan of religion and the way it divides. Do you know that Delaney has Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, homosexuals, heterosexuals, and just about every race praying for her? I am even less of a fan of most “religious” people, who want to go around judging people who sin differently than they do. I am actually in pretty good company there, because guess who else wasn’t a big fan of religious people: Jesus.
Yes, that same Jesus who was crucified on the cross on that original Good Friday over 2000 years ago. By the way, the fact that he was nailed to the cross isn’t in dispute by any of those religions mentioned. What that crucifixion, and then the empty tomb, meant (and still means) is where their views differ. We may interpret differently a verse about the coming Messiah that was written 500 years before Jesus even walked the earth (Isaiah 53:5- He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.) I may just be impartial because of the “healed” part, but I believe that Jesus died for my sins and through his death and resurrection, I’ll be in Heaven someday with him (the way I am eating these days, “someday” will probably be sooner rather than later).
When I was an agnostic, I thought I was going to “I’m a good person” my way into Heaven, if such a place even existed. Sin is a funny thing. Unfortunately, it just isn’t “ha ha” funny. Let me bring this back to Delaney for a minute. When Delaney had the surgery to put the port in her chest, she literally came out of it orange. “Wow, cancer is turning our daughter into a giant carrot!” I thought before they explained they scrubbed her with a disinfectant prior to the surgery. The disinfectant killed most of the germs, but could never permanently remove all of them. Sin is just like those germs, I could try to just live a good life or cover them in other ways, but only Jesus could actually take away those sins. That’s where so many people are mistaken in their belief that they need to be “perfect” or get better before God could love them. In Delaney’s world that would be like saying, “She needs to feel better, before she can get rid of the cancer.” It is actually the other way around, after she gets rid of the cancer, she’ll feel better. Sin is the cancer and that is why it is so encouraging when the Bible says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
So no matter what happens today, it doesn’t change the truly important thing. Cancer can’t compete with my God. Only HE can take something that looks like it is the worst thing ever (for example, Jesus being crucified on a cross, or the sweetest six year old ever having leukemia) and turning it into the best possible thing (like Resurrection Sunday or ???… we’ll have to wait and see what he does for Delaney, but it’ll be great!). Have a great Good Friday. Say a prayer for Delaney, go check out The Case for Christ yourself, call your Mom, paint some eggs, bite the ears off a chocolate bunny, or do a little jig. Need a reason to dance, I’ll leave you with this, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.” It’s Friday… but Sunday is coming!!!!!

Pennies for your thoughts

     Maybe I should apologize for the double post this week, but the way I see it, if you follow all of her bad (non) adventures like the chemo, bone marrow and all that other crud, you should be okay with an extra dose of Delaney goodness to end the weekend. 

      I got an instant message from a friend on Facebook tonight to inform me that the middle school where she teaches is starting their “Pennies for Patients” fundraiser tomorrow.  If you aren’t familiar with Pennies for Patients, it is a program where students bring in spare pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Anyway, my friend was letting me know that her class is going to be generously participating in honor of Delaney (Excuse me while I give A quick shout out to Mrs. Flores class at Fulton Middle School in Fountain Valley, CA.  You all have a very cute six year old mustached girl in Colorado cheering for you!).

      Anyway, I was sharing this instant message with my wife, and she reminded me of something that I thought was worth sharing with all of you.  Right before her own leukemia diagnosis, Delaney’s class participated in Pennies for Patients.  Delaney came home from school on the very first day that it was announced and emptied her piggy bank (and her old man’s poker jar) to give it all to Pennies for Patients because she desperately wanted to help those sick kids.  That’s just how our little Laney Bug rolls!


Delaney had quite the busy day before she was diagnosed with leukemia almost two weeks ago.  Three different doctor’s visits, too many blood draws, and a bunch of people poking her, were no match for Delaney’s silly self.  She had to go potty at one of our stops, so I took her into one of those family restrooms.  She went potty and then it was my turn (TMI, I know).  While going, I heard a very loud, “Really Dad, green underpants?!?!?”  Of course my immediate reply was, “Shhhhhh” which only made her turn it into loud “Mr. Green Underpants” song between giggles.  We exited the bathroom and she immediately told strangers that were walking by, “He is wearing green underpants!” That teasing continued over the next few days in the hospital and was only added to when I stretched while yawning, “Mr. Green Underpants with sweaty armpits!”  Which is obviously a lot more hysterical to a silly little six year old fighting cancer.

Never mind my perspiration (way to go from TMI, to WAY too much TMI!), as this post is about inspiration.  Apparently, our little silly goose is already inspiring lots of people.  Our family continues to be amazed and overwhelmed with all the love shared so I wanted to share just some of the support and inspiration we’ve felt over the past two weeks.  Please know that already it would be impossible for me to share ALL of it and I would get a million emails that said “Yo Tolstoy, can you make your posts shorter?” if I tried.  So even though just a very small fraction of things will be shared here, please know that they are ALL very much appreciated.  Oh, by the way, remember when this was the Worst. Blog. EVER because I talked about the Delaney song and the Ironman song, and then didn’t even put the songs in the post?  I THINK (really hope) I fixed that here.  So before I get started, here is Delaney Talks to Statues by Jimmy Buffett (you might recall that this was the song that sealed the deal on her name).

—Anyway, there have been so many tidbits, that I don’t know where to start, so I’ll begin with the most recent.  Her least favorite medicine is called Troche (my wife will be so proud if I actually got that correct).  She has to suck on it for 20 minutes while it dissolves in her mouth so after she pops it in her mouth, we’ll start the timer for her.  She then immediately runs over to her pen and paper to write, “Time?” Inevitably, the first one comes about 10 seconds in so we have to reply, “Only 19 minutes and 50 seconds left.” We then repeat that about every 20 seconds unless we can come up with some good distractions.  Well, last night, we had some pretty darn entertaining distractions.  Stacey had a couple of  friends drop by with a bottle of wine to do a quick sanity check on her and they all got into it.  Take every bad dance episode of the Gong Show and we had it going on at our house last night.  Between Delaney’s sister Emily, and our two friends, we had: the robot, the worm, the sprinkler, the lawnmower, and a bunch of other crazy moves that all of a sudden made me feel a lot better about my own skills on the dance floor.  More importantly, these ladies checking their pride and just getting silly, turned Delaney’s dreaded Troche experience, into a but gusting good time.

—Some of the sweetest things that stand out to me come from people that may have never even met Delaney or even ANY of our family.    I think I already shared on here about the boy that baked cookies to raise money for her.   What I think I shared on Facebook but not on here, is that a few days later he came back.  Apparently, just like the first time where he just had the idea and did all the work all by himself,  he did it again.  A few days later, he returned with even more money.

Another example that would fall into this category of people that I don’t think have ever had the pleasure of meeting Delaney but still doing extraordinary things, happened just yesterday.  In our mailbox was a letter from a very nice local hotel.  The General Manager heard about Delaney and wanted to drop us a line.  She too is a parent and even has her very own daughter named Delaney. Unfortunately, she also had her own journey with cancer when her Mom was diagnosed.  She too, felt the love and support of many and wanted to share with us so she sent us six gift certificates that can be used to stay at her hotel.  In her words, she sent six because cancer affects the whole family: One can be used for an out of town guest, there is one that maybe Stacey and I could use for some alone time (va va voom!), another maybe Emily could use when home from college, one for when Delaney is feeling better and wants a sleepover and a swim in their pool, another for when Ashley needs a staycation, and with the last one she simply pointed out that before we know it, Mackenzie will be a teenager… ’nuff said!

— One more quick one along the lines of people that have never met Delaney and realistically never will.  This is from my good friend Maria who is in China (Coincidentally, Maria, just grossed out Delaney’s entire kindergarten class before any of this happened.  They were doing a project about how that time of year was spent in other cultures and Maria shared how they eat fun things like fried bats and scorpions over there).  Anyway, here is the unedited email she sent me:

Quick note of love. My Chinese ayi (who makes $450 a month) just brought me an envelope with equivalent to $150 for Delaney. That is a full quarter of her salary! She is so awesome. She said in Chinese, “That little girl in the pictures is worth more money than I could ever give.” She lives paycheck by paycheck and sends half of her salary every month to her father who is in hospice care. I’m sorry, I didn’t take the money from her and said that we can do something special together to send. She said, “If they run out of money than you have to let me help them.” Wow. What an impact Delaney has on this world.

—Many stories of people braving their own pain and troubles with the resounding theme of, “If Delaney can do it, I can do it.”

—The generosity of so many family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, parents from school, the Kiwanis, a sorority at Emily’s college, strangers, friends of friends, friends of ours from grade school, high school, college, friends on Facebook, and future friends that we haven’t even met yet!  We’ve received dinners, cards, gift certificates, prayers (apparently walking into a bar isn’t the only thing a Priest, a Rabbi, and a Pastor have in common, because they have all also led prayer sessions for Delaney), emails, texts, comments, money, blankets, posters, stuffed animals, mustaches, toys, cows, Broncos apparel, more mustaches, hats, movies, gifts,  and even a (free) bundt cake!  I don’t know how we’ll ever be able to express our gratitude for all this love and incredible generosity.

I’m not sure if the Delaney Song is done playing yet, but here is the Iron Man song.  With Delaney having the port in her chest and Iron Man having the electromagnet in his, she gets that comparison a lot.  I quickly tried to refresh my memory on why Iron Man had it in his chest, and here was the part I really liked as it will also apply to Delaney too: “Eventually, he gets the medical condition fixed and the device removed.”  The song gets associated because it inspired me through my first ironman (an endurance event that has nothing to do with the super hero). However, because this will be a much longer endurance event, and this post is titled “inspiration”, I’m sharing it with you here (aren’t you glad I didn’t go with “Perspiration” so you don’t have to watch Richard Simmons sweat to the oldies?)

—Even a lot of the comments on this blog.  The comments about Delaney being the hero to so many of you, the parents of her classmates sharing how they just can’t wait to play with her again, and the fact that the prayers being lifted up for her have literally spanned the globe.  So many of you have shared how she has already affected your own lives in so many positive ways, and that is just awesome that even in terrible things like cancer, there is still so much good.

—This isn’t really inspirational, so much as it is a life lesson that I want to share so you hopefully don’t have to learn it the way I did: There have been people (unfortunately plural), who based off my first impression when meeting them before this (non) adventure, that maybe I didn’t think too highly of.  I am really ashamed to admit that some of those people have been some of the nicest people through this whole ordeal.   Going forward, I am going to attempt to give people the benefit of the doubt as it really is true, you never know what people are going through.

—-Today’s St. Baldrick’s event: Through the generous donations of so many people, “Delaney’s Jedi Knights” raised over $2,000 for this fantastic charity.  At 11 AM today, we will be attending the fun where I know some friends of ours (including new ones), will be shaving their heads in Delaney’s honor and to promote cancer awareness.  I don’t know that any of my family will be doing any shaving yet, as we are leaving that up to Delaney.  However, I am thinking that I am not going to let my nine year old Ashley shave her head, as right now I really want her to keep HER identity (I am mentioning this here so friends that see this hopefully will not ask her if she is shaving her head).

—–Finally, Delaney’s own generosity. With all the gifts that Delaney received, she received one that was maybe a little too girly for her.  So she took the pink princess set, added candy from her overflowing collection, and wanted to give it to that little girl Luca (and her sister Kaia) that she met in the hospital.  We took a large bag filled with toys and candy with us to Delaney’s chemo appointment on Friday, but they were already discharged.  It wasn’t too tough finding another little, suddenly very excited, girl to give it to.  There was Delaney going in to basically get poison injected into her own body, and she was thinking about how she can brighten the day of others.

I’m no Jack Handy, but…

“One thing vampire children have to be taught early on is, don’t run with wooden stakes.”  -Saturday Night Live’s Jack Handy


      With apologies to Jack Handy, I don’t have a lot of “Deep Thoughts,” but I have a lot of random thoughts to share so I thought I would combine them in one post instead of 107 different posts in a day. So without further ado-doo, here they are in no particular order:

-I lied. This one is in order as I don’t want to be a prayer hog, but I am calling out to my prayer warrior peeps.  I just met another very nice person that I would have loved to never of met.  Molly is the mom to her 2 year old daughter Luca, who was just diagnosed yesterday.   Please also Lift them up in prayers. Her husband is trying to fly back from Australia and last night she was told her little angel has leukemia.  If nothing else, I am glad I was able to share what she could expect and I hope she can find hope in how Delaney’s week went.

– Besides the nice people, I am realizing this hospital is the best place that should never have to exist.   I think I called it Children’s Hospital of Aurora in one of my first posts, but it is Children’s Hospital Colorado.  People come here from Wyoming, Montana, Kansas, etc. and it just happens to be in our backyard.  It has been AMAZING!  The staff here have all been fantastic and genuinely care about Delaney and want her to do well.  Every little detail has been thought of and taken care of.  It exists for the kids and getting them better no matter what they are battling (they do a lot more than cancer as each floor seems to be something different— Heart, neuro, etc.).  Friday they celebrated the birthday of Dr. Seuss in the lobby.  They had princesses from every fairy tale, pro athletes, Ms. Colorado, and even Thing 1 and Thing 2 (aka Chocolate Thunder!!!).  Delaney couldn’t go down to the main lobby so someone came up and gave her a Dr. Seuss book and a stuffed Cat in the Hat.  That is just one very small example of the example of just how great they have been here.

—When I was in 7th grade I went to a church camp with a boy named Roger Malloy (RIP).  Everyone was congregating below Roger’s cabin when we heard a loud, “Full Moon!!!”  and looked up to see Roger’s bare butt hanging out his window.  Why in the world am I talking about “mooning”?  Well, besides the chemo, they are giving Delaney steroids (they obviously haven’t seen her muscles!).  The steroids will probably give her that round “moon face” you see on all the leukemia posters. I told you it was going to be random, and It doesn’t get much more random than a Roger Malloy and his bare butt.

—People ask if Stacey and I are doing okay and I guess my answer to that is, considering the circumstances, we are doing okay about 98% of the time.  When we are around Delaney it is hard to not be okay because she’s got that whole infectious smiley groove thing going on.  But there are other times when we are by ourselves, or trying to talk to say the words, “Our daughter was just diagnosed with leukemia,” or even when I take my dog to get groomed before Delaney gets home and the nice lady working there grabs my bill and says, “You’ve got enough going on, I’ll get this for you!” and I get so emotional that I can’t even verbalize “thank you” and only hope that the thumbs up I was able to manage is universal (meanwhile her teen co-worker was probably about to get on the loud speaker with “I’ve got an old dude crying like a baby in aisle two… Awkwarrrrrddd!”

—There has got to be some money in the treatment of cancer.  There is Children’s Hospital and there is another facility closer to our house and either can do the chemo so the doctor from the other facility called us.  It felt like a sales call, “Well, I would really like to earn your business” he may as well have said.  We let him come by so we could meet him.  Picture Ben Stein wearing a tie with Goofy on it and you’ll have the visual.  So he tried to sell us on his facility but had a mini-dilemma.  He wanted to point out any benefits his place offered but couldn’t talk TOO bad about Children’s because he doesn’t know which place we’ll end up at.  Like any good salesman he made his follow up call at about 7:30 this morning (early bird gets the $$$).  We just want whatever will be best for our little Delaney.

—Hair loss will probably be in about 1.5 weeks from now.  For those friends that are close, maybe don’t have your kids(or even you) bring it up with her.  I’m sure she’ll be okay when it happens, but she isn’t thrilled about it now.

—Quick update for this morning: she is doing okay (not great by any means).  She already got physically sick and is just taking it easy now. Her white blood cell count is even lower today (which is expected). As of right now, we are still expecting that doozy chemo at 11 and are still hopeful to leave today.  To be honest, I think Stacey and I are just fine with them keeping her here an extra day if that’s what they think will be best for her.

—Our new friend Luca is actually in surgery right now getting her own port, puncture, and other crap that no kid should have to ever deal with.  Her Dad is stuck on a 20 hour flight trying to get back to them.  Please say a prayer for them.  Thank you all and have a blessed Sunday!

“If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell them is “God is crying.” And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is “Probably because of something you did.”   —-Sorry, but Jack Handy’s Deep Thoughts were too good to just leave you with one.

Meet (some of) the supporting cast

As it turns out, this is going to be a long (non) adventure. I apologize if I already told you, but WHEN (not if) all goes well, Delaney is looking at 2 years and 8 months of chemotherapy. A not so fun fact for you, if she was a boy a whole year would be added to that time. If all the guys are thinking, “Nuts!” They are correct. Apparently it is because the cancer will hide down there requiring boys a full extra year. Anyway, because it is such a long process and because Delaney isn’t an only child, I figured that I would introduce you to the rest of the family.
I am not sure there is anyone that Delaney adores more than her oldest sister. Emily, 18, is a stud volleyball player at her college. She is an Art Major and would like to teach someday (or at least hang out at Starbucks and pretend to be snooty while discussing Picasso or Van Goober or something).
Mackenzie, 12, is our actress and performer. She has a heart of gold (Em’s is probably only gold plated) and also enjoys swimming and helping to lead worship for the kids at our church. She is in 6th grade and currently rocking the straight A’s.
Ashley, 9, hmm… How do I describe Ashley? Well, yesterday we passed the anesthesiologist in the hall so I introduced him to Ashley. He put out his hand and Ashley reached up and rubbed his very bald head! That’s Ashley. If we lived in Boston instead of Denver, I would say she is wicked smaht. She plays soccer and loves all things pig (and when I say all things pig I mean grown pigs, piglets, bacon, ham…).
Mom Stacey wears many hats. Some of you know her as Nurse Stacey because she is a kick butt nurse. Others know her as friend Stacey and she is fun, loyal, and much better than any golden retriever that I am making her sound like here