Monday, January 28, 2008

Go Gym Dawgs!

Kate and I had an opportunity to go to the University of Georgia Women's Gymnastic home opener on Saturday evening. As you can see the won, beating out LSU pretty handily. These ladies have won the national championship for the last 3 years in a row and are amazing! The skill level was so high that it was like watching the Olympics up close. Their Mom, Shannan, and I watched every moment and couldn't get over their both their skill and rock hard bodies. Oh, the ship has SOOO sailed!

Kate and her twin friends, Taylor and McKenna had a great time and actually watched all of the meet! Kate commented that she wanted "to do that when I get bigger". Here is a picture of them after the meet. They actually wanted to go on the gym floor but had to settle for close enough for a photo-op because they weren't allowed any closer . The girls really wanted to shout out "good job" but the gymnasts were too busy giving interviews to hear.

Maybe someday Kate will in fact wear a bigger version of this leotard :) We are excited to make it to another meet this season. Go Georgia Gym Dawgs!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Disney Magic

As always Disney World was a magical place where we had days and days of fun! My parents joined us for nearly the entire trip as did some of our dearest friends the Hatches. (They flew from San Antonio to be there for the marathon and spend their vacation at Disney with us!) Jason's sister, Kristine, was also in town for a conference so we were able to see her for a few days too. Here is a list of just a few special moments on this trip.

1) Getting to eat in Cinderella's castle and meet Cinderella herself. We had a great time and felt so special! Thanks Anne!
2) Kate was big enough to ride on The Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and Expedition Everest. Woo-Hoo. She is a thrill seeker my friends - begging to go on the rides again and again!
3) Kate and Jackson were chosen to come up on stage with Belle and act out the Beauty and the Beast story. Kate was chip.
4) Seeing Minnie Mouse and having a little extra time to hug her.
5) The "Bird Show" at Animal Kingdom. She thought this was hilarious and would have gone back again had we had time.
6) Swimming at the pool at our resort. They had an awesome waterslide!
7) Meeting Daisy Duck. You almost NEVER see her.
8) Having Grandma and Papa Anderson with us. They are big Disney kids at heart.
9) Having the Hatch family with us. I think all of the kids cried themselves to sleep when we had to say goodbye.
10) Watching Jackson on stage when he was chosen to become a Jedi trainer. What a cool experience for him!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Disney Marathon and Victory Party

***For those of you that read our family blog too this has quite a bit of repeat information but we have a lot of people that check in on Kate and not our family. I felt compelled to share the victory party story there too. There are new pictures in this blog though.***

Kate was a trooper for the first 2 days at Disney and came out to cheer on the 1/2 marathoners on Saturday and then back on Sunday to cheer me and the other marathon runners. Both days she and the family had to get up at 5 am to be there as supporters too, so it wasn't an easy task.
I can speak for myself (and my friends that ran the 1/2) when I say that it was very motivational seeing her cheering on the sideline. I finished the marathon feeling very tired but super excited that I'd made it. My friends even handed Kate over to me and she ran the last 100 yards of the race with us. It felt like a once in a lifetime experience!

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's -Team in Training had an amazing "ball" (aka victory party) the night of the marathon. All 1,900 runners and family members were present for the celebration. Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Daisy were there for photo ops which was a huge plus in Kate's book! There was yummy food and dancing, dancing, dancing.

Quick story - After the race a guy came up to us to take our picture. He made mention of something about "my son". I quickly told him that she was my daughter, no big deal really but I didn't want Kate to feel bad. When we got to the party the same man came up to me and asked me if I remembered him. I actually didn't but he recounted the story and apologized again. He asked Kate if she'd go up and dance with him and she hopped right up to head to the dance floor. He told her not quite yet but he'd grab her later. Then he heads up to the stage where he begins to DJ the party. Turns out that he is the MC and travels all over the coutry to TNT races and DJ's the parties. He also photographs the race and puts a slide show together of those pics. Turns out that he took the BEST picture of us too. Here is a picture of the slide but we are working on getting the actual shot because it was so good.

Kate was itching to get to the dance floor so we headed out to get the party started. I so wish that I'd had my video camera to show you how that little girl was bouncing her hips and getting her groove on but a picture or two will have to suffice.Here is a picture of the DJ showing off his "Kate button" which TNT made for our team to wear during the race.

The DJ asked Kate if she was ready for a dance and then brought her up onto the stage. It was cracking me up to watch this girl shake it and dance in front of thousands of people without batting an eye. Kids are so funny - sometimes they can be shy in the presence of a single person and other times not mind an audience of a thousand! Here the DJ was teaching Kate the cabbage patch. Hilarious!

Kate danced nearly the entire 2 hours. Only pausing for a character photo-op and then was back on the dance floor. One of the neatest moments (and one that I'll remember my entire life) was when the entire dance floor formed a huge circle and everyone was taking turns dancing in the center (high school flashbacks anyone). Anyway, Kate hopped out in the middle and strutted her stuff for a second when the DJ said "Group Hug". Everyone closed in tightly and my friends and I were right next to Kate, then the purple and green confetti shower started. This really was like a scene in a movie. I look down at Kate and see that her angelic face, surrounded by bodies in looking upward with a smile pure happiness at the confetti coming down. The DJ was playing the last song of the night, Simply the Best by Tina Turner. We were all singing and hugging with tears streaming down our faces after we saw Kate's reaction to the moment. It was magical. I am sure that I haven't conveyed the moment as I felt it but hope you could catch a glimpse of the magic.

We left the evening on such a high that I think rivaled the marathon. It was very touching to see Kate having so much fun and living in the moment. My teammates were so wonderful with Kate and made her feel so special. We are going to miss them so much. Love you guys!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Maintenance Round 2

Kate had her last appointment on the 17th and we found out that her blood counts finally started trending up. Yea!!! She had an ANC of 850 with hemoglogin at 10.2, so it looks like we won't have to decrease her chemo doses if the counts keep coming up.

She had a lumbar puncture with intrathecal chemo and IV chemo too. She did feel pretty yucky after the visit though which is pretty par for the course on procedure days. My friend Whitney had brought us to our appointment from the hospital and picked us up too. Thank goodness for her and her quick reflexes or else Kate might not have thrown-up oustide of the car. I positively hate to see Kate sick to her stomach because I feel helpless. I imagine that I feel a lot like those passers-by and they stared as us on the side of the road.

This week has brought another round of steroids and with that some stomach pains but she is mostly feeling well now. She'll be happy to stop the steroids and get back to the next 3 weeks of usual meds.

This is her routine for the next 3 weeks:
6 Mercaptopurine every day
Zantac twice a day
Prednisone every day for a week
Bactrim DS twice a day 3 days a week
6 Methotrexate every Thursday
IV Vincristine in 3 weeks

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Piano "Recital"

I have been asked by a few people to put a recent picture of Kate on the blog. It just so happens that I hadn't blogged her piano recital yet, so here you go! This picture is of our 3 little guys in yet another Christmas outfit. Notice Kate's cute little chick fuzz (as we like to call it) growing in. It's so soft! Also notice Ava's plastered "cheese face". We can't get her to stop chanting "cheese" when we take any pictures so all of them pretty much look like this. Too funny.

Since September, Kate has been taking piano lessons, alongside Jackson, and learned a Christmas song for the holiday. Our friend, Jen, teaches them lessons and so we didn't have an official recital planned. I decided that it would be fun for the kids to showcase their hardwork though, and we put together our own family recital. After church they were already dressed in their holiday best and so we had them each present their piece and videotaped their mad skills. :) It was so darn cute!

Here is Jackson focusing hard as he plays the First Noel.

And then came Kate as she dazzled us with O Come All Ye Faithful.

Me and my girls. Love them, love them, love them!!!

Can't Stop Thinking...

At out last clinic visit I had a seemingly benign encounter with our nurse practitioner (who we love). I was trying to see if next week, we could come a day later than our usual clinic day so that we could stay at Disney longer. She told me that it would be hard to arrange this because our upcoming visit included chemo and a procedure (lumbar puncture) and there are only a few procedure spots each day. She went on to say that there are several new patients who have Friday as their clinic day. Say no more - new patients get a LOT of procedures in the beginning of treatment. It wasn't a big deal for our logistics, we just bought some cheapy tickets back from Florida and will make our clinic visit just fine next Thursday.
What I have been thinking about is how sad I suddenly felt when she said that there were several "new patients". I imagined those shell shocked Moms and Dads and their sick kids. I imagined what they might have been doing when Kate was just diagnosed and how like us, they probably could never have imagined the road in front of them. I suddenly wanted to meet them, hug them and tell them that I know how they are feeling right now. I have thought about those families a lot for the last 2 days and have been thinking about how there are still more diagnosis to come. It has made me feel very sad too.
Is this morbid? I don't know - I think it is just a reality check for me. In the ER, I often have patients say, "But, I've always been healthy", when I give them a less than favorable diagnosis. To their statement I usually reply, "Everyone's healthy until they're not". Although I am a PA, this isn't something that I have thought of as it pertains to myself or loved ones but it is equally true there. Nobody knows what lies ahead for themselves, their friends or family. I have such an urge to give everyone I love a hug and call them to say how wonderful they are and how much they mean to me.
From this experience I hope to always remember how fleeting our time is and how we need to treasure those that touch our lives. I know I'll never be able to take good health for granted again!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Blood Counts

Miss Kate is doing great. She is happy, playful and has been enjoying all of her playdates this Christmas vacation. Today brought a clinic visit for more blood counts and we found that her ANC is still low - at 500 even. Her facial rash is back and a never-ending productive cough and cold are present so perhaps that accounts for the persistently low numbers.
Next Thursday we are going to have to fly back early from Disney for a lumbar puncture and chemo as we begin the next 3 month phase of mainenance. Jason and the other two will be braving the drive home. Sorry guys! :)
Send healthy thoughts our way please and pray for a fanastic, fever free, fun time! (How's that for alliteration!)