Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mountain Getaway

We had a wonderful weekend in the San Bernadino Mountains in Running Springs near Lake Arrowhead. Thanks again Marilyn for letting us use your cabin. We had such a nice time together and it was nice to have such a great place to stay. There was a little bit of snow left when we got there, so Shannon and Kelly made a little hill with it so they could ride their sleds on it. There was a treehouse in front of the cabin, which the girls are in below.

We did go for a drive and found a good place to go sledding. Kelly really enjoyed being able to play in the snow, like a normal kid. Shannon had fun with her too.

We visited a garden near Running Springs where thousands of daffodils have been planted and cared for by one family. It was beautiful and we're glad we went there. Thanks for telling us about that, Marilyn. We would never have known about it.
Kelly at Daffodil Garden

Megan and Shannon in the garden
As Kelly mentioned in her last post, she really wanted to go skiing. She got her wish and she and Kevin spent one morning skiing. It was pretty warm, so the conditions weren't great, but she had a lot of fun. They were happy that there were hardly any other people there, as you can see. That made me feel better, since my biggest fear of her skiing was other people running into her. After the year she has had, she just loves to get out and do things that she used to like to do and just feel like she is normal. It is so nice when she can forget about cancer, hospitals, doctors and treatments.
We also went to Lake Arrowhead a couple times for lunch, browsing through stores and enjoying the beautiful views. We went on a boat ride around the lake that was really nice. It was fun to see the shoreline from the water, and it was narrated so it was interesting learning about the lake and the famous people that lived there.
We are back home and school starts again tomorrow. Kelly also has a long day at the clinic. We usually have her labs done the day before chemo, but since we weren't here on Friday, we are going up to the clinic early to have her labs checked, then when the results come back and her counts are high enough, (which they should be) and she is checked by her oncologist, she will start her chemo. So we'll be there longer than we usually are. But it was worth it to get away together!
We have a special prayer request. There is a family we keep in touch with in Washington and their ten year old boy, Kasey, has the same tumor Kelly does. His MRI was supposed to be the same day as Kelly's, but it was moved up since he was having awful headaches. His tumor that was just resected in January is recurring again. Kasey and his family could really use the extra prayers as they face decisions in this next phase of their journey.
One other family that is facing a very difficult time is eleven year old Katherine Barnard and her family. She has been fighting a brain tumor also and they have just found a mass in her liver since she hasn't been able to eat or drink. This is most likely unrelated to her brain tumor, and they get biopsy results tomorrow.
Thanks, we know all your prayers have helped Kelly so much!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring Break!

Easter was very nice here - we had summer weather, so we had lunch in Laguna Beach then just spent the afternoon walking around. Kelly took the photo above, so that is why she isn't in it. We are heading up to the mountains any minute now. We're just waiting for Kevin to finish up a call for work. I have a feeling he'll be working on vacation also. We are really looking forward to just getting away together though. We should have some photos to post next week. Kelly has her next chemo treatment on Monday, March 31st when we get back.

Thanks for everyone who has shared their kids with me so far for Relay for Life. If you still would like to send me a photo, my email is
Our team website is

Kelly is going to add some of her own writing below! She is really feeling good and has been very happy lately.

Over Easter, we got to puppy sit an adorable boxer named Hana. ( hon-a ) after the place in Hawaii. She is this skinny little girl who just about kills you with kisses, in a good way. She was a big cuddler, and was soon acting like a limp noodle. Although, she always slept by Megan or Shannon. This because she groans, snores, and moves around(alot) when she sleeps. So me, I being the still type when I sleep, handed her to Shannon, who practically DANCES in her sleep. Perfect match. So, Megan and Shannon got her at night, and I got her all day while they were at school. I got the better end of the deal I think. We had her from Thursday to Tuesday, today. Trina, one of my many wonderful nurses, picked her up this morning. We were all very sad to see her leave.
Well, we are off to Big Bear soon, so I have got to go. Earlier, I had to convince most of my doctors that it was okay for me to ski. They thought that I would run into trees, falls over, get hit by snowborders, and stuff. It is almost offending, for I am a most fabulous skiier. Dr. Muhonen even emailed my back from London to say it was fine. Well, I have to go finish getting ready.
Until later,

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bouncing Back

After a rough day on Tuesday, Kelly has bounced back to her cheerful self rather quickly this week. She has felt good and you would never know it was a chemo week.

We are really moving along with our Relay for Life. We are doing well moving toward our fundraising goals. Thanks to O'Neill Elementary School, where Shannon goes to school and Megan and Kelly attended their first seven years of school, for the coin drive. (and many thanks to Pam for getting that together!!) Shannon is touched to see how many of her classmates care about Kelly and want to donate to the American Cancer Society to help cancer patients like her sister.

Now we are working on decorations and a purpose for our campsite. Each team is representing a type of cancer. Our team is representing Childhood Cancer. Since the color for childhood cancer is gold, we are going to use gold stars and have each one represent a child who is fighting, or has fought cancer. I am putting their photo, name and diagnosis on the stars so everyone can see that his is not just an adult disease. So many children are also affecting by cancer. We will also have some facts and statistics on Childhood Cancer. So for anyone in our PBT group, or any family with a child dealing with any type of cancer, (both survivors and angels) can I have your permission to display your child's picture, name, diagnosis on a gold star to hang at our tent? This is such a tough fight and I want to recognize as many kids as we can and make an impact on at least our community of just how many children are impacted by this disease. You can leave a message under comments, or email me at Thank you so much for sharing your children to help bring awareness of Childhood Cancer.

View from Lantern Bay Park, where our Relay for Life will be help April 19 -20

Lantern Bay Park - Pacific Ocean through the trees

Speaking of other children fighting cancer, we had a fun night last night with our friends the Diemers. Chloe has been fighting leukemia since last May and she had her Make A Wish party last night to receive her wish. They are headed to Disney World Monday morning for a week of Florida fun. Have a great time Diemer Family!! We'll see you when you get back and are looking forward to seeing your photos.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nurses make all the difference!

Today has been a long day for Kelly. She did pretty good with her chemo until the last hour or so. That is usually when it hits her. We did use the seeds again, but sometimes no matter what we do, it is impossible to avoid getting sick. But, as Kelly said herself today, " It could be much worse... it's not that bad." She also had a bad reaction to one of her anti-nausea meds. She gets a dose at the end of her treatment right before we go home. It is the one that makes her a little silly and a bit out of it. We use a wheelchair to get her to the car. (Thanks Trina!) Well, she had lots of fun with the wheelchair, especially while she waited for me to make her next appointments. But by the time we got to the car, she seemed more out of it than usual. As we drove out of the parking garage, she started noted all the things she was seeing two of. She had never experienced double vision before, and I was a little worried since that is not a good sign with a brain tumor patient, so I drove around the block and went right back to the clinic. Her nurse looked up the side effects of the last med they had given her, and double vision was one of them (along with all the other symptoms she was having.) She was also getting upset about being so confused. So at least we knew it was the medication. Now we know just to give her less next time so she doesn't have those reactions. She is comfortable in bed right now and hopefully will feel a lot better tomorrow. We sure learn along the way what works and what doesn't work.
I can't say enough about the nurses at the CHOC oncology clinic. They were just wonderful with her today (as usual.) Thanks so much Dana and Trina for making her day so much easier. She loves how these nurses spend time with her and make the day go faster. Welcome to CHOC, Trina, we are so glad you are here. And thanks to Dana, who came out to the car to check on Kelly when I was so worried about her and then called me when we got home to make sure she was OK. And Sarah, we're glad you came in for our weekly movie talk. Sometimes it is hard for Kelly to keep going back for these treatments and appointments, but she looks forward to seeing her nurses and that makes it easier to keep going back. The first photo below is Kelly and Dana. Below that is Kelly with Sarah.

Our girls have Spring Break next week! Since our family hasn't been away together for more than a day or two in a long time, we are going up to the mountains. We have a friend on our Relay for Life team who is letting us use her cabin. Thank you so much Marilyn! We are excited to get up there and have some relaxing time together. We do have to take Kelly to the clinic first next Monday morning. Her doctor wants to check her out, have her labs checked and make sure she is OK before we take her away for the rest of the week.

Relay for Life is April 19-20. There is still time to join us, donate or order a luminaria. Thank you so much to those of you that have joined us or made donations to the American Cancer Society through our Relay for Life Team.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Almost like Normal

It has been a pretty good week for Kelly. After having such a better chemo week last week, she did get sick a couple times this week, but in general, is feeling pretty good. You would never know she is fighting cancer by looking at her. She looks so healthy and normal. We are so grateful she is handling her treatments so well.

She is really trying to get back into some normal activities. In addition to her home tutoring, she has been participating in activities with her Trailmates group, a father daughter program through the YMCA. They went kayaking in LaJolla last weekend. I'll try to post some photos later (they're in Kevin's laptop right now.) Last night she went to a play at Mission Viejo High School, where she would be going to school. It was fun for her to see some friends she hasn't seen in a long time. She also started volunteering for the Pacific Symphony again and helped with one of their family concerts at the Performing Arts Center this morning. This is something she and Kevin did a lot last year, and she finally felt up to doing it again this week. And I am trying to let her get out in crowded places a bit more. This was hard to do at first, since we are always cautious about exposing her to germs with her lower than average blood counts and immune system, but she is at a point where she needs to be with people besides us and participate in some of her "normal" activities. It is so good for her to be with friends her own age now! Please feel free to come visit her as long as you are healthy.

It is also great to leave her a message her by clicking on "comments" below. There are directions in the right margin if you aren't sure how to post a comment. It is so good for all of us to see encouraging messages and she loves to see people are thinking about her. Thanks to all of you that take a minute to write to her - it means more than you know.

One exciting this happened to her a couple days ago. There is a wonderful volunteer group in our area called Room to Heal. They redo kids' bedrooms that are seriously ill so they have a nice place for rest and relaxation (and of course healing!) Our pediatrician knows one of the ladies in this group and told them about Kelly. So they contacted me and came to see Kelly. They measured her room and talked to her about how she would like it to look. Those of you that know her will not be surpised to hear that she wants a room that looks a cabin in the snowy woods, and of course there needs to be a moose in the woods! They already have some ideas and Kelly is more than excited. They will start painting her walls in 3 or 4 weeks.
Kelly really has been blessed with some wonderful people along her journey and this is sure another good example of that.

Kelly has her next chemo treatment this Tuesday after her blood levels are checked Monday. Her next MRI is April 9th and we are praying it will remain clear like her last one.

Thanks again to everyone who has contributed to Relay for Life. It feels great to give back and do something to help fight this disease.
Team Website:

Friday, March 7, 2008

Arts X-press and RFL Luminaria Ceremony

Kelly has been featured on another blog - Arts X-press. This is a wonderful summer program through the Pacific Symphony at UCI that she was part of two years ago. The staff there has been so wonderful about keeping up with Kelly and supporting her. Some of them have brought us meals also. Check out the post on their blog - there are photos too. You can also click on the yellow link in the post that says "Kelly's Blog" to see their first post about her. Thank you so much Pacific Symphony and Arts-X-press staff. You have been such a blessing for Kelly!

Kelly is having such a better week than normal for a chemo week! There really is something to those seeds on her pressure points. The ones on her wrist came off right away in the shower, but the ones in her ear are still there. She felt nauseous yesterday morning, but when she rubbed the seed on her ear, she felt better. Yay! It is so nice for her to feel better without extra meds. She is just pretty tired. We'll take that over her usual chemo yuckiness.

Relay for Life News ~ I have Luminaria bags that will be used in a special luminaria ceremony the evening of the Relay. Names are put on the bags In Honor of a cancer survivor, or someone currently fighting cancer, or In Memory of someone lost to cancer. This is an easy way to contribute to Relay for Life while honoring a friend or family member. You can order a luminaria online through our team website, or you can order one directly through me. Either way, the name will be on the bag, but I will be decorating our bags also. Luminaria bags are $10 whether you order them online or directly through me. If you want to order one through me, you can just send me a check for $10 per bag, made out to the American Cancer Society and will count toward our Team Kelly total. Let me know what name you would like added and whether it is In Honor of, or In Memory of. I can add a photo if you send on to me.These luminarias will line the track and the candles inside the bags will be lit at a special ceremony at twilight, and then burn all night. Email me if you need our address or have any questions.
TEAM KELLY website:

Also, if there is anyone who is interested in joining TEAM KELLY and hasn't signed up online yet, we will be having a team picnic and meeting Sunday, March 16. Contact me for more details if you are interested.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Chemo Day Improvements

Kelly and Dr. Esparza

Today was a better chemo day for Kelly. We added a couple new tricks that seem to help her. First, we had Dr. Loudon's (one of the neurosurgeons) wife come to the clinic this morning. She practices Chinese Medicine and accupunture. She taped little seeds on Kelly's wrists and left ear on pressure points. Kelly rubs them and they helped with her nausea. Today was the first time in a long time she hasn't gotten sick while receiving her chemo treatment. She got pretty nauseous a couple times, but rubbing on the seeds really seemed to help dissipate it, especially the ones in her ear.

She was also very happy to see Dr. Esparza today. He is the doctor that wrote the letter to her in the last post.

The other thing her nurse (coincidentally named Kelli and also has a twin sister) helped her to discover was that if she flushes her port herself, she can control the speed that it goes into her port. She she is now pushing the saline and heparin through her port herself. She also pushed her anti-nausea meds through her port. (Photo below) Having this control helps her a lot. If anything goes into her port too fast, it makes her sick. She can taste the saline and heparin that flush her port. She has a whole routine to help with the tastes - scented lipgloss, tic tacs... anything that puts a good taste in her mouth.

Thanks to all of the generous donations we are receiving, we are about to raise our goal for Relay for Life again. Thanks to everyone who has contributed. The event is April 19, so for those of you that have asked, it is not too late to donate, and any amount is appreciated. Anything we can do to contribute to finding a cure for cancer is such a giving gift to all those affecting by cancer!
Relay for Life team page -