Friday, March 26, 2010

Down from the mountains

Meet Julia's friends, Chris and Kelly. They used to be our friends from back home. But now they are hers. I think she likes Kelly best. But don't tell Chris.

We were so excited to have the Stadelmans in our neck of the woods. They came down from their mountain to our flat little part of the planet and it was so good to see them. We are so homesick for our Charleston friends. For a few moments, I could pretend while we were sitting around having drinks that we were back in the window seat at Mulligan's. Except for the 3-year-old running around in a tutu. And that Mulligan's isn't even Mulligan's anymore....

And even more excitement from the Charleston front. Marina is coming in a few weeks. And Todd and Stephanie and Baby Eli after that. They're coming from St. Louis, but technically they're still Charleston peeps.
This all makes us very happy.

Who's next?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another week, another transfusion

Poor Mike. He went to chemo today and ended up getting rejected. His platelets were too low. So guess what he's doing tomorrow? Getting another transfusion. His favorite thing.

Sense the sarcasm here?

So the second dose of the first roun
d of chemo is being delayed a week. But there is some good news in all this crap. He saw Dr. Neel this morning and he looked at the lump in Mike's neck and said "excellent, excellent." He seems to think it's going down with just the one chemo drug. So he's going to start the second round with just the one drug as well. The one he held off on was one that caused a lot of side effects that landed Mike in the hospital in the first place.

And some more good news?
He weighs 158. I think it was the ribs, Marina.

I'll leave you with another photo (taken by Andrew, of course) of Julia. Who could believe that moments after this was taken, this sweet, sweet, innocent-looking girl turned into a little monster, nearly ruining another toddler's birthday party with her drama?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My hero

Mike started back to chemo today. The cancer center has moved to a fancy new building with more space and high-tech stuff like a blanket warmer. So that's nice, I guess. For a cancer center.

But of course, it just sucks in general being in a place like that. And something always goes wrong. Today, it was his blood pressure. It's pretty high, most likely because his blood counts are low and he needs a transfusion. And we learned that as of Jan. 1, our insurance no longer covers transfusions at the cancer center. Instead, Mike has to be at a different facility in Palm Bay at 7:30 tomorrow morning, a good 40-minute drive from our home (and no, my liberal friends, this does not mean I would not trade our private health insurance for government-run nonsense that couldn't/wouldn't afford a single one of his treatments... but that's another story).

The whole cancer thing sucks, really. Mike hates every bit of it. He hates having to get up early for chemo and get ready, have me scramble around to get Julia ready, take her to my mom's, sit in the waiting room forever, waste a whole afternoon sitting in a chair. He hates the smell of the place. He hates having a port in his chest. He hates feeling like crud. Hates it all.

But I was looking at him today, and I snapped this picture, because it reminded me that as much as it sucks and as much as he hates it, he does it. He fights on. He sits in the chair because he wants to be around to take his baby girl to preschool. He sits in the chair because he wants to take her to the Jersey Shore someday to eat at Mack & Manco's pizza. He sits in the chair because he wants to get back to that little place on St. John where we snorkled on our honeymoon. He sits in the chair because he wants to be well enough to float in the pool and drink Yuengling. He sits in the chair because there are more stories he wants to write, because he wants to eat more of my creme brulee French toast, because he wants to see his niece and nephew graduate from high school. He sits in the chair because there's a whole lot worth fighting for.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Back to chemo

We saw Dr. Neel this morning and he thinks Mike is ready to get back on chemo. He's put on a few pounds and is looking healthier. For the first round, which starts next week, he's going to just have one drug, instead of two, to sort of ease him back into things.

So, here we go again. Please keep your fingers crossed that he handles it well, because we really have to get back to the business of fighting this stupid cancer.

And on a really sad note, sweet Layla Grace, who I wrote about last week, died Tuesday. Her mom announced it like this:
Layla went to play with the angels early this morning. Rest in peace precious Layla. 11/26/2007 - 3/9/2010

My heart is breaking as if this little girl I don't even know is part of my family. I will continue to pray for her and her parents and sisters. This stupid disease sucks, really bad.

I'll leave you with a picture of Julia from the Strawberry Festival, where she refused to eat a single strawberry, even though they are her favorite things. She also has learned that they are called strawberries and not strawbabies. This makes me very sad. She's so grown up. We signed her up for preschool this week. She starts in August. Sniff.. sniff..

(photo by Andrew Knapp)

Monday, March 8, 2010


Could it be? It's been the longest, coldest winter we've had since moving here. I'm talking weeks in the 30s. This is Florida, people! The freeze killed a bunch of plants in our yard and with it being too cold to be outside, the landscaping has just gone to crap.

So we're on a mission to spruce things up, so we can get outside and enjoy it. We've been pulling weeds, putting down mulch, and planting stuff. Even Mike, who was just in the hospital last month, fertilized the lawn this weekend. He rocks, doesn't he?

We're having some trees removed this week and I'm totally redoing our atrium, a little courtyard thing in our house that has become such an eyesore. We're ripping everything out and planting new, pretty flowers. I've even invested in a power washer, and I have to admit, I love wielding that thing! I'll post some pics when we get done. One of these days.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Layla Grace

(photo from Praying for Layla Grace Facebook group)

This beautiful baby is Layla Grace. She is 2 years old and she has cancer. I stumbled across her story last week and I haven't been able to let go. She's been fighting neuroblastoma, a horrible childhood cancer, for almost a year. Last month, her family learned her cancer was worse and there was little else doctors could do. They brought her home to die.

Her parents have a blog where they've been writing about Layla's journey and they have 45,000 people on the Facebook group "Praying for Layla Grace" and 35,000 people following their story on Twitter. I am one of them. I can't get this little girl out of my mind. I constantly check for updates to see how she's doing.

This sweet girl, who I don't even know, has really affected me. Her story has brought me closer to God -- I find myself praying for her as hard as I pray for Mike, and I thank God for my own sweet girl and her health. Layla's story has made me stop and just reflect on how blessed I am and to get some perspective on what is really important. There were times this week when Julia was under my feet, making messes everywhere. I was getting so frustrated because I had a million things to do. And then I just stopped and thought about how Layla's mom would give anything to have her daughter under her feet, making messes everywhere. I just stopped and got down on the floor and played with Julia and held her so tight. So I'm posting this to remind me that this is what matters. The dishes can wait.