Reincarnated As A Mother

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Results Are In...

Today was our big follow up testing at the cancer clinic.
I'm such a chicken.  I really didn't want to go by myself
in case the results were discouraging.
So at the last minute, my friend Colleen Riggs went with me.
She has always been especially cute with Kean.
 In fact, I think he has a little bit of a crush on her.
Anyway, here's the news-- my mama's intuition was right on!
Kean's white blood cell counts were back within normal range.
Of course, I've shaved off a few years of my life worrying
and the doctor isn't sure why- but we will gladly take it.
(And run.  No more testing!).
Every time Kean gets his blood drawn at clinic, he gets
a duck.  We got a good laugh over this one today.
Colleen christened him "Fabio".
Fabio Duck is just one of 80 some ducks in Kean's collection.
 Sunday night we had a grand time with this gang.
We met Brennyn (plaid shirt) four years ago
at the BSU Dance Marathon.
The football team usually shows up to build morale and give the students
dancing all night for St. Luke's Children's Hospital a shot in the arm to keep going.
Brennyn and Reese tore up the dance floor-- he mostly flipping her around.
It was so cute.
So he automatically became her favorite dance partner for the next few years.
Rob (in the black shirt) became our other dance buddy a few years ago.
And Kendra is the one Kean latched onto the other night
and didn't want to leave.
They all came over for dinner, dessert and a little cut-throat competition-
playing our new favorite game:  Cover Your Assets.
Rob smoked everyone!
Ah, life is good to us.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dancing With the Stars

Friday night we went to one of our all time favorite events.
One we have been blessed to be a part of due to Kean's cancer.
(Another one of those few but incredible perks).
Get this, they had 950 students sign up to dance from Friday
afternoon straight through to Saturday morning-- all to raise
money for St. Luke's Children's Hospital and the Children's Miracle Network.
(This is Friday afternoon when everyone is first arriving).
All the dancers are assigned to dance for a certain honored child--
that's Kean's picture first on the left.
When we first arrived, Kean was given his Pink team "Champion" t-shirt.
 I wasn't sure how he would handle himself- especially with
all the loud base-driven music thumping all night.
But let me tell you, the kid was in his element.
Of course, who wouldn't be when constantly given attention.
He loved the bounce houses...
and was totally in love with the music.  Well, to be honest,
was likely in love with the fact that he danced much of the night
away with several pretty co-eds.
He particularly fell hard for this lovely girl, Kendra.
In fact, she ended up joining our family on stage a couple of times
because he didn't want to let go.
So, welcome Kendra to the family!
Here's a picture of Kean up on stage at the beginning of the evening--
as they introduced all of the "champion" kids.
It was so cute.  They introduced them like they would a world famous boxer.
They said things like:  "weighing in at 42 pounds... "
 I don't think I saw much of Reese the entire night.
She was off jumping, dancing and eating the entire campus
out of cotton candy and all the other yummies they had around.
 All too soon (according to my girls) it was time to leave
and say goodbye.
 The best part though, came right before we all headed home
leaving the kids to keep dancing.
They lined up-- at least 700 of them and formed the longest
human tunnel I've ever seen.
All the champions and their families ran through the tunnel
getting high fives and lots of love and encouragement.
Kendra carried Kean the entire way with me behind.
It went on and on-- first I can't believe Kendra's arms didn't fall off
and second, it was so very touching.
You go to something like this and your faith in the future
of our country is completely restored.
(Clearly, I need to stop watching election coverage).
These students are not only sharp, driven, organized and
real go-getters.  But wow, do they have heart!
Their goal for the evening was to raise 80 grand.
They shattered that goal (I'm not surprised at all) and raised
a whopping 114 thousand dollars-- all to help kids like Kean.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Decision Day

How can this be?
How can so much time have passed since my last post.
I'm a slacker for sure.
Actually, things have been crazy busy.
I just got back from meeting with our Baldapalooza Executive Director
and some of the key staff at Camp Rainbow Gold.
We are not doing a big Baldapalooza event this year
but we are producing some of a huge Camp event this fall
that is gonna be "epic".  Trust me.
 I snapped this picture of Kean and Reese waiting for the bus this morning.
I think I left a lot of you hanging with our last blood work nearly a month ago.
One of Kean's white blood cell counts is sky high.
We've spent the past few weeks consulting with doctors,
running some tests and finally last week, I threw down the towel
and said we would stop all the testing until February 29th (next Monday)
when Kean goes back in for his regular screens and testing.
I feel like we need to see if it was a fluke (hopefully) or if we are 
heading in a higher or lower direction.  That way we can be more
educated and strategic in our testing.
So tune in next week for decision day.  
Geez, that sounded like a plug for the elections.  Yuk.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Paging Doctor Freud

If you've been around us much, you'll know Byron and I 
half joke that we don't save for college for our girls.
Instead, we save for their counseling bills!
Today was one of those moments that remind us maybe we shouldn't joke.
Reese's fourth grade class had a "Poet in Residence" work
with them for the past few months.
Today, they presented their book of poems to the parents
and each read the poem they had created.
 Some were great.
Some not so.
Reese's shouldn't have surprised me but it did.
She wrote her poem about Kean and of course, his cancer.
Stupid cancer- as much as we try to not let you rule our lives,
somehow you are always there!
Reese's was very sweet.
It was as if she was taking us through a photo album of Kean.
I'm glad she was the one to read it.
I couldn't have gotten through it.
 While all the other kids seemed to write about
friends, animals, TV shows or video games--
here she is writing about her brother.
 I can't help but wonder how much of an
impact this has had on her little personality,
her outlook on life and her future.
The children were all so little when it started.
Kean was 2, Reese was 5, Greer 8...
 and Holland only 10.
So very much has happened in those years...
 I was thinking about this today.  Cancelling Reese's birthday
party with her friends and having a cake and pizza in the play room
at the hospital.  If anything, I guess it will be memorable.
But I still worry.  These girls have sacrificed, lived like hermits and
been ignored at times.  How much have they  internalized of their
parents' stresses about Kean's health, the never ending bills and
the monster sized fears that accompany cancer?
That still haunt our home..
I comfort myself with the knowledge they've seen first hand
a tremendous amount, no make that, a mind-boggling amount of
love and service shown to our family.
They've made friends in our world of cancer-- with nurses, doctors,
other families, Boise State students who put on dance fundraisers,
and of course, with all those involved with Camp Rainbow Gold.
They've had experiences we never expected (Make A Wish, Share Your Heart Ball, Baldapalooza)
and never could replicate.
They have huge hearts, are all three compassionate little souls
who want to reach out and hug any person they meet who has cancer.
Hopefully, all that will far outweigh the bad.
Hopefully, all that will help them overcome seeing several
family friends lose their children to cancer.
Hopefully, this will make them all better members of the human race.
Hopefully, they will someday be able to remember this time with fondness
(and that their parents were just doing their darn best to survive).
Hopefully, they will remember all the bright spots, the kind hearts, 
the incredible opportunities.
And hopefully, they will block out the darkness that
some days creeped into every corner of our lives.
We did try to protect them from those days.
But dang, these kids are smart and pick up on more than we think.
Maybe I think too much
and they'll be just fine.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Disney Idaho

Lucky boy.
Kean had a play date yesterday with our friend Colleen Riggs
while I had my first board meeting for Baldapalooza.
We are determined to go to the next level.  We've pulled
together an impressive group of men and women to serve
on our board and ratified our legal paperwork to become
a 501c3 non profit.
We also played our new video we will be using to gather support.
It tells the story of Kean and how Balda got its start.
It is on our website at:
As I mentioned, Kean had such fun.
His day started off a bit rough.
He, for the first time, didn't want to go to school
and his aid texted me about 45 minutes into their day
telling me that Kean just wanted to sprawl out on the floor
underneath a table and rest.
I guess he pulled it together because I never heard back
from his aid after she said let's give him a little more time to come around.
You'd  never know he was in a sour mood
by looking at these pictures.
Colleen said he was wonderful.
And who wouldn't be.
An afternoon with her is almost up there with Disneyland.
She took him to McDonald's for lunch (where I'm told
he had a grand time dipping everything in his sauce-- his
McNuggets, his fingers, his straw)!
 Then it was off to the library where he made friends with
the statues out front.
I can't tell you how much I love these pictures.
It is as if he is trying to get the little girl to get that mouth 
in gear and get reading to him!
Then it was back to her house for a four wheeler ride
(I'm sure he's in love) and a visit with the horses.
What a day-
and what a night.
He slept great!!!

Friday, February 5, 2016

This Is Me!

A fellow cancer mom sent me a link to a letter.
This letter had me nodding my head one minute and crying the next.
Whoa, did it drag up the memories.
And bring back all these nightmare moments we somehow survived.

The letter is written by a mom who has a daughter who fought cancer-- a letter written to all the moms out there who have children who are healthy.
In fact, it is as if this mom got inside my head, scooped out my thoughts and put them onto paper-
in a very eloquent and heart felt way.
Here's the link.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Pins and Needles

Kean's following continues to grow.
This kid is a super star.
Today, we recorded a half hour interview with one of our local DJ's
for our St. Luke's Children's Hospital and the Children's Miracle Network Radio-a-thon.
While I answered questions, Kean powered through
a banana, Goldfish crackers, Triscuits and Veggie Sticks.
(I guess the Chicken McNuggets I'd bought him on the way
were just an appetizer).
Kean had his big monthly testing at the hospital today.
Not only did we have a lot of waiting ...
 but our visit fell smack dab in his nap time.
 My friend and neighbor, Cathy McCarthy came along
to help herd the boy.
 And even though he has been "off" for the past week and not feeling good-
he still gave us a run for our money.
 Did I mention it was nap time?
 Did I mention we had to wait a lot today?
 When we finally went back-- his blood draws went perfectly.
Why, oh why was I worried about him losing his port?
Of course, it helped to have his favorite Cars book they
keep at the hospital.
 His vitals are all good.
He now weighs just over 41 pounds (Reese is a whopping 47 and
she's 9 years old)!
We had a lot more waiting in the doctor's office.
And perhaps that was a good thing.... it gave us time to prepare
for the crazy news.
One of Kean's white blood cell counts is "very high"--
the doctor said something weird is going on so we are 
starting some testing.
He said he is not worried about the cancer coming back yet--
but we will try and figure out what in the world this means.
I'll keep you posted (if I'm not in an insane asylum)!
Remember, as I tell everyone, there's no reason to worry
until we have a reason to worry, right?