You belong among the wildflowers

I was telling my bestie today that I remember when I was a child and my parents used to watch the show “30 Something.” As  a little girl, I always thought the people on the show were so old and the show was really strange. I then told her how I wished I would have paid attention because then maybe, I would have picked up on the warning signs that being in your 30’s is hard. Or maybe it’s really not, and it’s only because of our situation, but is seems as if everyone around my age is going through something right now. Please tell me it gets easier…. because right now this is so not how life should be. WTF?? I also told her that I feel like someone just came along, took a look at me and thought, “Oh, hello. You’re life is too perfect so we’re going to give your kid cancer.” Just out of nowhere, BAM! This comes along. Really? Thanks a freaking lot. Couldn’t I have been hit with something a little less drastic? This is so not necessary. Trish and I both decided that if we were told that the world were ending tomorrow, we would believe it. It is the only explanation for all of this bullshit. I am laughing out loud thinking about something that happened after she and I hiked tonight. We were walking back from Camelback Mountain and we were almost to my house when some car comes flying out of their driveway and almost hit us. Tricia seriously had to grab me and pull me back from being hit by the car. We both then started dying laughing saying how we should have just jumped in front of the car so it could have hit us. O.K…. maybe not such a funny story as I sit and re tell it, but we were dying laughing. Totally kidding of course but I swear the only way I am going to get through any of this is laughing at as much stuff as possible. No matter how morbid it may be. Oh, bestie. How I love you so. I will tell you everyday of my life that you are my saving grace. I am so lucky to have you. Together we will get through all of this. I promise you this.

So, this weekend, as horrific as it was due to some terrible bullshit that has gone down; was absolutely lovely. Pain and sadness cannot be denied, but through all of the tears I see a soul being cleansed and renewed. It is amazing what can come of things when you are surrounded by the people who love you the most and who refuse to let you fall without picking you back up. This weekend was spent doing things that we used to do as a family before all of this. Hanging out, going to baseball practice, playing outside, movie night, eating out for breakfast. Such normal family things. It felt so nice because it has been so long since we have been able to really spend time together like this. Ronan is acting as if he is the healthiest boy in the world. He is full of nothing but giggles and smiles, love and light. He is so happy to be at home with his toys and his brothers. He happiness is infectious and keeps us strong.

I spent a lot of time outdoors this weekend doing what I used to do before all of this. I went on a 2 hour hike with Trish and Sarah yesterday. It was so therapeutic. I love nature, love being outdoors and the time with the two of them is always healing for me.  Then this evening I hiked Camelback with my Tricia Boo. Hiking Camelback is something we used to do all the time together. It’s our church and our special place. We got to the top, sat down for a bit, and I prayed my little heart out. It was so peaceful and gorgeous. I miss doing things like this so much. I’ve already made Trish promise that we will get back to how things used to be, as much as possible. I’ve got to have a little normalcy in my life and time spent with her, running or hiking is so good for both of our souls.

Ronan and I go to PCH to the clinic tomorrow. They will do the standard checking his blood levels to see how he is doing. I’m not sure when, but sometime this week we are flying out to NYC so they can check my blood and do his scans. You ready to hear step one of what we will be doing at Sloan for Ronan?? Here goes……

Full Title :
PHASE I STUDY OF ANTI-GD2 3F8 ANTIBODY AND ALLOGENEIC NATURAL KILLER CELLS FOR HIGH-RISK NEUROBLASTOMA
Purpose :
The goal of this study is to see if it is safe and feasible to give chemotherapy (topotecan, cyclophosphamide, and vincristine), natural killer (NK) cells, and an antibody called 3F8 to patients with high-risk recurrent or persistent neuroblastoma. 

The NK cells, a type of white blood cell, must come from a patient’s relative who shares half of his or her HLA proteins, which are immune proteins important in transplantation. Studies have shown that NK cells from a donor can be given safely and can be helpful in treating some diseases. These NK cells are collected from the donor and purified.

NK cells can recognize and kill abnormal cells in the body and can work together with antibodies to kill target cells. The antibody 3F8 specifically recognizes a protein present on neuroblastoma cells. Researchers have already shown that the 3F8 antibody can be administered safely to neuroblastoma patients. They want to determine the effects of the combination of chemotherapy, NK cells, and 3F8 antibody on patients’ cancers and bone marrow function, and how to maximize its benefits in treating cancer.

Eligibility :
To be eligible for this study, patients must meet several criteria, including but not limited to the following: 

  • Patients must have a confirmed diagnosis of high-risk neuroblastoma that has persisted or progressed despite standard therapy.
  • Patients must have a matched blood relative who can donate NK cells.

This is where we are starting. We will start this on March 21st and will be in New York for 5 weeks straight. We will then be able to come home for a 3 week break. To explain all of the treatments combined right now is too overwhelming for me. But I wanted to let you all know where we are starting off. Dr. Kushner has seen great results in the lab as far as this study goes and it’s been successful in kids as well. We are putting all of our trust into him. This has to be effective. We don’t need anymore bumps in the road, please. This is going to be tough on Ro. I know the 3F-8 stuff is painful. But he is so strong. If anyone can do this, it’s Ronan.

I hope you all are well tonight and had a beautiful weekend. We are so thankful for all the love and support through all of this. We are very thankful every second of our lives. Sweetest dreams to you all.

xoxo

The path is not clear, as the road is long

I feel like I’ve run a marathon today because of everything I got accomplished with a lot of help from my friends. This morning started off busy and I woke up overwhelmed by everything. We still had not heard back from Dr. Kusher from Sloan Kettering to see if he was o.k. with Ronan starting 2 more rounds of chemo here and then having him rescanned. We were waiting to get the green light from him. I called Fernanda and she said she would be over after she dropped her little one’s off at school to help me tackle my “to do” list. As soon as she got over here we started to go over the things we needed to get done. Soon after, we got a phone call from Woody and I put him on speaker. His exact words were, “I need you and Fernanda to take Ronan to PCH now and demand that they start him on his chemo or else we’re taking him to New York tonight. We left the house as soon as possible and it looked like a bomb went off in it. Auntie Karen was sweet enough to come over and tidy things up for me because I was afraid we were going to have to stay the night at PCH tonight and did not want Woody to come home to a messy house. Thank you to the best fairy godmother in the world. Woody would have had my head if he had seen that mess!! Fernanda and I busted into PCH to explained our situation as best we could. I knew getting them to start the chemo today was probably not going to happen, but we insisted that they put the order in and start it tomorrow at the latest. I don’t think they were too happy with us but we don’t have a choice and waiting even a day to get things going is not o.k.  We finally got everyone on the same page and tomorrow Ronan will start his 7th cycle of chemo; one he has never had before. He will be starting Temozolomide and Adriamycin which are supposed to be tolerated fairly easily. We will do these two rounds of chemo and then take Ronan out to Sloan Kettering for his scans. We are basically buying ourselves more time to make a decision and exploring every possibility for our son. If these two rounds of chemo work, and Ronan has less disease, we are keeping the transplant door open. We are also going to squeeze in a consult in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New York. We have no choice but to explore everything that is out there.

Ronan’s chemo will be done at the clinic tomorrow and Friday so we don’t have to stay the night at the hospital. We will check in to PCH for the rest of his chemo Saturday-Monday. I feel very comfortable with the plan as of now. I have a great feeling that these two more rounds of chemo are going to give us the results we want to see and will lead us to the direction we need to go. I am so thankful for the beautiful soul of Doctor Adams yesterday in suggesting this. For the time being, we are back on track with a plan. This gives me peace ❤

After we got home from the clinic, Ronan and I took a little nap together. It was so sweet. There is nothing more precious than having Ronan say to me, “I’m going to cuddle you mom.” And then nuzzle his little head into my arm. I wasn’t really tired but he was so cozy and peaceful that I fell asleep with him anyway. My friend Gay came over and helped play with Ronan so I could get some things done. She also got me a phone call with a woman named Karen Kudro. Her daughter, Hailey, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at age 5. They did a lot of her treatments at CHOP in Philly and Hailey is a healthy and beautiful survivor. I was so grateful that her mom took the time to talk with me today, even though they are in Disneyworld for Hailey’s Make A Wish trip!! She didn’t have to take the time to call Gay back at all, but did and she gave me a lot of insight that was very helpful. People out in this world are so amazing. I am blown away everyday by the kindness of strangers. Having this happen to Ronan has made me realize that I need to work so hard to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be; even though there are many days that I just want to give up, I just can’t and won’t. I find myself doing things I wouldn’t have normally done in my so called busy life before all of this. There is a lot less unnecessary anger in my life and I have such a high tolerance for not letting the little things get to me anymore. It is much easier to find the beauty in each and everyday than it used to be. The most beautiful things are the simplest.

After Gay left, Stacy called to asked if I needed her to come over to help me get ready for tomorrow. Nevermind that she had just worked a full day and had her gorgeous babies and husband waiting at home for her. I couldn’t pass up the chance to utilize her help. My pile of papers, bills, receipts, has been eating away at me and I told her Woody was about to divorce me over it. She showed up and we tore through everything and got a ton of my to do list done. Talk about an amazing feeling!! I could not have done it without her. Seriously Stacy, you may have saved my marriage tonight;) And my sanity. I can go to PCH tomorrow with a clear head knowing that most of what I need to get done, is done. Thank you my dear friend. I am the luckiest girl alive to be surrounded by these amazing women. Thank you all for taking such great care of us and helping in any way you can even if it’s little things like dropping off a coffee (Heidi) or calling to check if I need anything from the grocery store (Melissa:) Ed- (So excited about the Zico Coconut Water that arrived today!)  I have the best group of girlfriends one could ask for and every second of the day I am so thankful.

I am ready for what the world has to throw at me tomorrow and can go into my day with a clear head. One day at a time, baby steps. Today, I sent my Mr. Sparkly Eyes a text and it said… “Ronan is going to get through this, I just know it. He is so strong.” His response was, ” You and Ro are BOTH going to get through this.” He knows it, he feels it, he believes it. I like to call him my very own Master Yoda and the fact that he believes this is true, tells me my feelings are 100% right. Everybody I know feels this way and that says so much. It’s just like Woody said to me today which made me laugh out loud. He said, “Ronan is a superfucker. It would only make sense that his cancer is too.” He means it in the sweetest way possible… that Ronan is so strong, that of course his cancer is as well. It would only make sense that this is the road we have to take; Ronan wouldn’t have it another way.

Goodnight sweet angels out there. Goodnight Moon. Goodnight Ro Baby, Liam, Quinny Q, and Daddy Woo. Goodnight New York Miss Macy. See you in my dreams. Sweetest dreams to all of you.

xoxo

Not following the yellow brick road

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! RO, MAMA, AND NANA WENT FOR PEDICURES!!!!

I wish I could tell you all that I have not updated my blog for a few days because I have been so busy soaking up all of my precious time with my amazing family. That we have had such a fun filled, fantastic weekend full of no worries whatsoever. But, that is not the case. The weekend started out that way. We left PCH on Friday happy as clams, ready for transplant and for a great weekend. We took Ronan on Saturday to the twins’ basketball game and had a wonderful time. Afterwords, I came home with Ro and my mom and we were playing outside in the backyard enjoying the sunshine and warmth of the day. 30 minutes later Woody arrived, came storming outside, demanding that he needed to have a serious conversation with me and needed to have it now. My stomach instantly dropped, my heart fell to the floor and I knew something was wrong. He said he had just gotten off a lengthy phone call with Dr. Eshun and they had done the randomization for one stem cell transplant or two. We were randomized for one. I knew this before Woody even told me. Woody had asked me 3 days prior to this if I thought we were getting one transplant or two. I looked him dead in the eye and said, “One.” He goes, “How do you know?” I told him I just had a feeling. This is not the news we were hoping for. My head started spinning and it was as if we were right back to where we started, at day one of Ronan’s diagnoses. Although Ronan has made great progress, Woody and I have done enough research to know that not enough of his disease is gone for us to go ahead with just one transplant. This cancer is too strong. I spent all of Saturday crying my eyes out, trying to wrap my head around all of this, and Woody went straight into Woody mode and armed himself with as much information as possible as far as other alternatives. He figured out who we needed to call today to get answers from. He has spoken with several doctors from New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta. Time is not on our side and time is not our friend.

The one thing that every doctor that Woody has talked to, cannot figure out is why is Ronan’s Bone scan is negative, his Bone Marrow clean, his VMA (urine test) is negative, yet he has so many spots left on the MIBG scan. Dr. Kusher believes that the Neuroblastoma, is still in Ronan’s bone marrow, not his bones. We are at a crossroads with what to do and are looking at basically two different options. As of now, we are deciding between an MIBG therapy in San Francisco or heading to Sloan Kettering to start 3F8. As soon as we heard that  Ronan had only been randomized for one stem cell transplant, we pulled him off the COG study we have had him on. There is no point in following their rules anymore. Although Ronan’s path is not clear, I have no doubt that we will find our way through this maze. I keep telling myself that Ronan is so unique and such a special little boy, that he was not meant to follow the yellow brick road on this journey. He was meant to make his own road full of yellow, purple, red, green and every other color you can possibly think of. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise because Ronan was not meant to have a transplant at all as it wasn’t the right answer. I have felt uneasy about his whole transplant thing from the beginning. I know what my heart and gut are telling me what the right answer is… but I think it is going to be a day or two until the answer is 100% clear. Woody and I are doing everything possible, with the help of my dear Fernanda who has been a godsend, to find out what all of our options are. We are still meeting with our transplant doctor tomorrow, Dr. Adams, but we will not be starting transplant on Thursday like we had originally planned. Just goes to show you how tricky this disease is and you really can’t ever prepare for anything. Talk about having the rug pulled out from underneath you. I told you Ronan was a rule breaker…. I really believe he was not meant to follow this protocol…. he is going to make his own.

I was a mess this weekend but tried to go on with some normal things we had planned. On Saturday night, Woody and I went over to Tricia and Max’s house with our friends, Danielle and Jay. We had fun, but I told Trish the next day, you know your in a bad place when not even Danielle’s toxic margaritas can mask your pain. We came home from Tricia’s around 1 a.m. and I tossed and turned the entire night. On Sunday, I had a dinner planned with some of my girlfriends and I refused to cancel. I joined Jen, Stacy, Jocelyn, Fernanda, Gay, Heidi, Bethany, Shelby, and Melissa, for a very special dinner that was supposed to be my “sending off” into isolation, but turned out to be, o.k…..here is the new news and what we are facing…now what the fuck are we supposed to do??  I tried my best to enjoy myself and when you are surround by the most beautiful women in the world, it is impossible to not enjoy yourself. I had to let go just a little bit and I have to trust in this new plan that is going to present itself. I texted my Mr. Sparkly eyes today and told him that decisions are begin made for us and we just have to trust. He believes this too, there is something bigger than us guiding us in the direction we need to go. I truly believe this with all of my heart.

What I am asking from all of you is just your continued prayers and love and your belief that we will make the right decision for our baby boy. Whatever path we choose, or whatever path chooses us, there is no looking back. We refuse to second guess anything we have done or are going to do. To live like that is foolish and we are very aware of that.

Hopefully by tomorrow, we will have a clearer vision of what we are doing as we need to get Ronan started on his next treatment as soon as possible. As far as Ronan goes, he could not be happier. He has been loving being at home with his brothers and playing outside. He looks amazing and his spirits could not be better. I am reminded everyday by looking at him what a gift he is as well as Liam, Quinn, and Woody. I am such a blessed mama and wife.

Please, no tears for us yet. Trust me, I’ve done enough crying the past few days for each and every one of you. This is a blessing in disguise. It HAS to be.

On to the next step…. Transplant here we come!

Wasn’t a lifetime ago that I was sitting in the cafeteria with Auntie Karen, E.J. Tricia, Max and Woody as we went over all the options for Ronan? Wasn’t it a lifetime ago that I had to leave the table because I was hyperventilating and Tricia followed me and I told her there was no way I could do this?? How could it be possible that so much could change in the blink of an eye, and here we sit 5 months later with everything on paper, telling us the results from Ronan’s scans.

Bone Scan- No definite focal abnormality

Bone Marrow– No definite focal abnormality

PET-CTMIBG– Still has a small amount of activity in his knees, pelvic bones, shoulders, and spine but it has greatly diminished.

MRI– No abnormality in the brain.

24 hour urine test- negative for Neuroblastoma

This is good news. This is a huge victory for Ronan. But I still cried. I cried because I am his mother and I just wanted everything to be gone already. The doctors did not expect Ronan’s results to be any better than this, due to how tough this cancer is. That is why we will do the Stem Cell Transplant, Radiation, and Antibodies. Yesterday was a hard day though. I called Fernanda first… because it was her words I needed to hear. She let me cry and then told me all of the reasons why this is happening, how fucked up it is, but how this is Ronan’s journey, and I cannot compare it to anybody else’s because he is so different. She told me how lucky we are that he is responding so well, as unfortunately, some children do not respond at all. He is on his own path and is going to do this his own way. She is so right. I felt better after talking to her and made a couple other phone calls. I was running late to my hair appointment and was a mess by the time I got there. My sweet hair girl, Katrina (the one who shaved Ro’s hair for me) knew something was wrong as soon as she saw me even though I told her I was fine. 10 minutes later I was bawling in her chair as she wrapped her arms around me and held me. I told her about the scan results and what we had coming up. She is the best and is so good at letting me vent. Thanks, K<3 Love you.

Don’t even get me started on the fucking Audiology test yesterday. We had to finish it up and when we were done, the asshole Doctor looked at me and started saying things like, “Definite hearing loss, it’s permanent and will never come back. You may want to consider what kind of quality of life you want for him.” I wanted to reach across the table and strangle the mother fucker. The way he delivered his “news” was harsh, cruel, and just plain rude. I felt like I was sitting back in Dr. Robinson’s office for the first time having Ronan’s eye looked at when I ended up walking out of the appointment. I tried to argue with him, but his results are his results, he said.  WTF ever. I will not be going back to see him again. We know Ronan is going to have high pitched hearing loss, and big deal, we can deal with that. This guy made it sound like Ronan’s life was now going to be completely ruined. This is not the way you present your findings to a mother who’s child has cancer. We’ve got enough on our plate as it is and this is the last thing I’m concerned about right now. I’m made my complaint and will continue to do so against this asshole. If you are going to be so cold and ruthless, you should not be working with children.

Ronan has been in a happy mood since we got home yesterday. This will be his last weekend here for awhile so we are going to soak it up. He has no idea yet what is coming up next. How do you explain to a 3 year old that they will be going into isolation for god knows how long?? You don’t. I will tell him on Wednesday night, as little as possible and try to explain it in the most kid friendly way I can. I have a lot to get done before Thursday and thankfully my therapist squeezed me in on Tuesday. I’ve got to get myself ready as well as Ronan. We will meet with Dr. Adams on Tuesday to go over everything. I am excited. Excited that we are moving forward and that Ronan is doing so well. I am excited to get this Stem Cell Transplant done and give my baby a whole new immune system free of this evil cancer. He is going to have another birthday to celebrate once he gets his immune system. He will be the boy  with the most birthdays ever;)

This weekend we have the twins’ basketball game, my mom and I are having lunch with my dear friend, Lisa, Woody and I are going to Tricia and Max’s tonight, and tomorrow night all of my sweet girlfriends are kidnapping me for a dinner out send off. So excited to see them all!!!! It is going to be a great weekend and I am going to enjoy every second of it.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!! Thanks for checking in and spreading the word about our little Rockstar!

xoxo

GRRRR… New York Miss Macy! Mama Bear is in full effect. LMAO!!!!!! I totally think this will keep me warm in the hospital!! Love you my crazy friend!!

Yoga, Hiking, and Tears

What a busy, yet peaceful day. I started off my day joining my friend, Stacy, for a hot yoga class. An hour and 15 minute class where I was drenched in sweat and tears almost the entire time. I have not done a yoga class in years, but it has been something I have dying to get back into. It was almost too much… intensity wise. I felt broken, vulnerable, sad, yet strong and calm too. Stacy looked over at me at one point while we were standing up doing our poses and saw the tears pouring out of my eyes. She came over and held me for a minute and then asked if I needed water. She then goes, “What about Coconut Water? I have some!?” She made me laugh out loud at that one. Ah yes, Coconut Water makes everything all better. We had some after Yoga and it was the best Coconut Water that I’ve ever had in my life;) Thank you Stacy for the yoga today… I really hope to get a bunch of these classes in before we start isolation. It is a good way for me to let everything go and release all of the things I am feeling.

After yoga, I came home showered and got ready to head over to The Village for Liam and Quinn’s basketball game. I took Ronan with me. He was in heaven and spend a lot of the time helping Woody coach. He even had his own whistle hanging around his neck. It was adorable and he loved being out with his brothers. Liam and Quinn did great as always. They are such good little basketball players. Watching them play basketball is one of my favorite things to do in life. I am so thankful I was able to go today; it meant a lot to all of us.

After basketball we came home and I took a long nap. I think the hot yoga and all the crying I did this morning did me in and I had a bad headache the entire day. I felt better after I woke up and around 5 I headed out to church, a.k.a. hiking. I needed an active day today. It has been way too long since I’ve been in touch with nature and hiking is something that I have been missing so much. I ran up the mountain, watched the sunset, and prayed my ass off. It was one of the most gorgeous evenings tonight and hiking always clears my head. Today was absolutely perfect in every way.

The boys’ have their cousin, Luke, staying the night tonight. He is a fifth grader at their school and all three of my guys idolize him. Woody took them to play basketball at The Village and then to pizza tonight. If my boys’ turn out to be anything like Luke, I will feel like the most blessed mama in the world. He is a parents dream come true. Such a sweet soul, funny, and is so good with all of my boys’ but especially Ronan. We love having him here and spending time with him. I think it is really good for Liam and Quinn; it is good for them to have somebody to look up to who is a little closer to their age. Thanks Heidi for letting us borrow your Lukey. We love him like one of our own:)

Tomorrow we are having another low key day. I’m going to breakfast with a few girlfriends to go over isolation things in the morning and then we are planning on watching the Superbowl over at Uncle Jay’s house. He lives right around the corner so if Ronan gets too tired, I can just walk him home. I may try to sneak in another hike before my insanely busy week starts. My body is already beyond sore and it is a feeling that I miss so much. Before all of this exercise was my stress relief. It’s hard not to have the consistency of that in my life anymore as I don’t have any other outlets. I’ve got to make the most of these couple of weeks before transplant.

Ronan is curled up beside me. Luke has been in my room reading him some books and cuddling up with him. So cute… he loves to love on Ronan. It has been such a nice family night at home tonight.  We have really been needing this time together. I’m finally getting a little sleepy so time to shut things off. Hope you all had a great Saturday; thanks for checking in with us. Sweet dreams!!

xoxo

There’s beauty in the breakdown

Ronan and I headed to PCH this morning for his clinic visit and audiology test. Once we got to the clinic, I could tell Ronan had been put through enough this week, so I ended up calling audiology and rescheduling the rest of his test for next week. Enough is enough. It was a good thing because Ronan ended up needing a platelet transfusion and it took forever today. We were at the clinic all day long. I am so over this week. Next week is going to be just as busy. We are at PCH everyday except Friday. If I think I’ve had enough, imagine how my 3 year old is feeling. He’s such a good little guy though. He has been going with the flow with everything; except the audiology test. We’ll deal with that next week. We are going to spend this weekend letting him be a kid and enjoying being at home.

Our weekend plans are busy but low key. I am going to hot yoga with my friend Stacy in the morning. So looking forward to that. I need to get some of this toxic energy out of my body. Liam and Quinn have 2 basketball games tomorrow and their cousin Luke is going to come over and stay the night. All 3 boys’ are so excited, they beyond idolize their older cousin. We love having him here, and he is especially great with Ronan. I would love to sneak in a hike up Camelback but we shall see. I mainly just want to enjoy being at home with all of my boys. Our time together is so precious.

I just got some exciting news tonight. My dad, whom I have a very “special” relationship with, as it is not a normal daughter/father relationship. It’s complicated, it’s sometimes strained, but always honest to a fault. My dad, after being divorced for 16 years, got remarried. I never thought I’d see the day but I couldn’t be happier for him. I always pictured him growing old alone and the thought of this always made me very sad. He has been with the same woman for about 10 years now and I adore her. They finally tied the knot:) So happy for them both and I told my dad tonight that he’d better not screw it up again and he’d better take good care of her. I hope he listens. I have a feeling he will. She knows him better than anyone and knows just what to expect. My dad rarely reads this, but if you are tonight…. Congrats again to both of you. You have no idea how happy it makes me to know that someone will be by your side to take care of you, and in turn you will have someone to take care of as well. Everything is as it should be for just his minute in time and I am very thankful.

So, are you ready for “The List?” My friend, Fernanda, sent it to me today. It is something that she found while researching isolation for us. It’s a little overwhelming, but I have such a good army of people who are willing to do anything and everything for us, that I know it will be o.k. Thank you so much to all of you who are offering your help; you have no idea what this means to me. I can do this, Ronan can do this, we can do this. It is a glitch in time and I am going to make this positive in every way I possibly can. Nothing but the best for my baby; we are going to take this the crummy situation and make it as fun as possible for him.

I am going to make this list my bitch!!!!!!!! Let’s do this!!!!!!

Home away from home

Probably one of the most difficult emotional aspects of the transplant process is all of the time you will spend away from home if you don’t live near the hospital. Your transplant social worker or other hospital coordinator will help you arrange for housing if you live far away. During the weeks of outpatient transplant recovery most hospitals will require your child to be within a 30 minute drive (with traffic) from the hospital in case of fever or other medical issues. Although it’s comforting to be close to your hospital, chances are you’ll end up staying in a facility provided by your team, such as a Ronald McDonald House, local hotel, or temporary apartment. Some families are lucky enough to have friends or family near their hospital and able to accommodate them. Check with your child’s transplant team before making any arrangements, as individual hospitals have various guidelines and preferences for where a child may stay during the transplant process. Such guidelines relate to disease-control issues and are imposed with your child’s safety in mind.

Wherever you are, it isn’t home of course. That said, there are many ways to make your surroundings feel more comfortable and familiar.

Although lots of little knick-knacks can get dusty and are usually discouraged, bring a few favorite items from your child’s room or your home.

Consider laminating posters of your child’s favorite characters or movies to put up in the transplant room. Laminate family photos (easier with a copy printed from your computer if you have digital photos). Laminated items are easy to clean and make a better choice than framed items (usually not allowed on the walls because of nail holes).

If it is not provided, consider bringing a small lamp with a soft light. This can make any room more comfortable.

Invest in a portable DVD player or CD player if the transplant room will not contain a TV. If you’re staying for a couple of months, consider bringing a small TV if it is allowed (it may not be because of noise control).

Bring your child’s favorite towels, sheets, pillows, and blankets.

Bring washable stuffed toys for your child’s bed.

Consider bringing an area rug or play mat for the floor to soften up the room. Make sure it is easily washable.

If it isn’t provided, bring a shower squeegee. You can get one of these at Target, Wal-Mart, or the like. It will help control mildew in the shower.

Since food for caregivers is usually not allowed in individual rooms (to avoid germs), bring plenty of familiar snacks and foods to keep in the communal kitchen. Check with the medical team about any food since some are prohibited during transplant.

Preparing for isolation

Although your stem cell team will help you prepare, getting your child and yourself ready for inpatient isolation can be stressful and intimidating. Guidelines and rules for isolation stay can vary greatly from hospital to hospital; however, some suggestions and general information are provided below to help you get ready.

Insist that you be allowed to inspect your child’s isolation room before he/she is closed in. Check that every surface has been properly cleaned, sanitized, and repaired. Look in the corners, closets, etc. (Some hospitals go so far as to clean these rooms with toothbrushes and re-paint the walls and re-wax the floors between each patient.) Don’t be afraid to point out any dirty or damaged areas of the room. Check that your child’s bed is comfortable, safe, and clean. You don’t want to have to break isolation to get your child a new bed or have something repaired later.

All your child’s clothing will need to be freshly washed and completely dried in a dryer (no air drying) and placed in plastic sealable bags. This is for germ control. Hefty and Glad make oversized bags that make the transport a little easier. Once you get to your child’s room, these clothes will probably need to be removed from bags before entering the room.

You will also need to be freshly showered and dressed in freshly laundered clothes when you arrive at the hospital. Some hospitals will require you to shower again before entering your child’s room. Some will allow you to shower at home but ask that you not make any stops (gas station, grocery, etc) before arriving. If you do, you may be asked to shower again. Leaving the hospital may mean another shower (even if it is to just get a Starbucks). Remember, it’s all for your child’s safety.

Your child’s toys will probably need to be new or sanitized. Toys that can be completely submersed in water by either washing them in a sink or a washing machine can usually come in the room. Some hospitals will purchase new toys for children undergoing transplant, so check with your transplant coordinator before you run out to buy all new stuff.

Remember to sanitize and wipe down anything you plan to bring into the room. If it can go in the washer, put it in the washer. If it can go in the dishwasher, put it in the dishwasher. If not, seriously consider whether you need it or not. Check with your team about electronics, as anything electronic or with batteries will probably need to be cleaned by the environmental department of your hospital or otherwise may not be allowed. (Think laptops, DVD players, portable game devices, etc.) Notebooks, books, and other paper materials will probably need to be new or cleared by your transplant team.

Your child’s meals will need to be specially prepared, and the hospital will have a special menu for your child. Make sure your child’s meal comes wrapped in plastic. Check to see whether or not you can have a meal delivered for yourself as well, since you probably won’t want to leave your child to get a bite. Also check before you order any takeout. Some foods may be prohibited altogether in your child’s room.

As noted above, try to surround yourselves with familiar things — photos, posters, pillows, blankets, towels, etc. It may mean a little extra laundry for you, but it will help your child feel more comfortable. Rugs will probably not be allowed.

Make sure you purchase new toiletry items for your child- and COMPLETELY discard the old ones — don’t save them at home for use after transplant, because your child’s immune system will not be normal for a long time. These items include toothpaste, hand soap, toothbrush, nail clippers, lotion, deodorant, etc. Anything that has touched your child’s skin, hair, mouth, nails, etc. should be replaced, unless it can be washed or totally submersed in water (like a comb).

Bring a lot of straws and disposable cutlery for yourself, and don’t share with your child from your plate!!! This is not a time to be environmentally conscious or conservative. Don’t keep leftovers or leave food out for more than an hour. Don’t save a napkin from your takeout bag that wasn’t used. Germs are a totally different thing for your family now.

Consider bringing your own Swiffer and pads. Bring lots of anti-bacterial wipes and go over the computer keyboard, phone, door handles, counter tops, bed trays, buttons, blood pressure cuff, bed frame, and thermometer handle several times a day. Although the room should still be cleaned daily by the custodial staff, you may want to go over it yourself. The room CANNOT be too clean!

As convenient as it may have been during your child’s initial rounds of chemo, DO NOT share bathroom facilities with your child. Use the parent restroom outside your child’s room when possible. If your child does not use the toilet, make sure you wipe the toilet/sink after every use.

Be extremely selective about visitors, especially children. Your hospital will have special visiting policies during transplant, but be extra vigilant yourself. NO ONE (including you) should be in your child’s room if not feeling well. Young children (even siblings) should not be in the room at all (as they are less likely to report not feeling well). The smaller number of people you allow in, the better. Your child can get sick very easily during this time.

Insist that cleaning staff, food service staff, nursing assistants and any visitors entering your child’s room wear gowns and/or masks. Anyone entering your child’s room should ALWAYS wash their hands with soap and dry with a paper towel. If ANYONE coughs, sneezes, or sniffles in your child’s room, insist that they leave immediately. Small germs can cause big problems during transplant.

Some medical issues during transplant

Drugs. Your child will probably be taking several different drugs before, during, and after his/her transplant. These drugs are primarily administered to prevent viral, bacterial, and fungal infections, which can of course be very dangerous to your child during this time. Some of them don’t taste very good, so experiment if possible with your pharmacy’s flavoring system. Choose something that generally tastes good to your child, or whatever is most likely to go in and not come right back out. Get into a routine for administering these drugs — keep a schedule, checklist, calendar, or timer set, as each one is probably going to be administered at different times. Eventually you will be able to wean your child slowly off of each of these drugs as his or her counts begin to recover.

Nausea and fatigue. Not surprisingly, nausea and fatigue will be common for your child during transplant, as his or her body will be severely immune-suppressed. Expect lots of naps, easy fatigue even in low-activity situations, and overall crankiness while your child’s counts are recovering.

Food. Make sure you are fully-informed by your child’s medical team about food restrictions. The avoidance of fresh fruits or vegetables, deli meats, some breads, buffets, fast foods (unless freshly prepared), yogurt and some other dairy products, and tap water will be among the many restrictions for your child. Food also must be prepared in accordance with certain precautions, so make certain you understand all the requirements. Know what is safe and what is not. These restrictions are for your child’s safety, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some teams will refer to the rule “packaged, processed, frozen” as a guideline for foods for your child. As disgusting as it sounds, most of these foods are safe and should be the basis of your child’s transplant diet. If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid an NG tube or TPN before now, you’ll probably become familiar with one during transplant. Since most children don’t eat or drink for several days or even weeks during this time, the provision of nutrition by IV infusion is likely. Both options have their pros and cons, so discuss both with your team so you can make the best decision for your child.

Skin. Shortly before your child’s isolation, he/she will receive the final round of chemo. These high- dose chemos come with some added precautions to protect your child’s skin and internal tissues that you probably have had to experience during induction chemo rounds. Again, discuss the requirements and side effects of these drugs with your team. Some of the protective precautions taken may include: use of a Foley catheter during the duration of the Cytoxan dose; 4-6 hour bathing

intervals (round the clock) during and a couple of days after a Thiotepa dose; frequent mouth care with lidocaine or similar mouthwash to counteract mouth and GI sores that accompany several drugs (ACT or lidocaine-free mouthwash helps for a young child that cannot spit yet, and offering frequent popsicles before onset of mouth sores help to reduce the incidence and pain); protective creams (also for the skin burns that can accompany Thiotepa- ask for the Remedy line if your hospital provides, otherwise ask other parents what they used). One cancer family concocted their own recipe — equal parts Kaopectate, A&D ointment, and Aquaphor cream. Mix it all together in a big bowl, put it in a squeeze bottle (like a shampoo bottle), and rub on diaper area and any skin fold areas where irritation occurs. Keep away from the eyes, of course! Even if your child is out of diapers, his/her diaper area will be very irritated for some time. There are several creams that parents have found to work well during transplant. Dr. Smith’s Diaper Cream, Flander’s Diaper Ointment, or the homemade version mentioned are all standard choices. Be prepared to try lots of things until you find what works for your child.

Pain. Your child will most likely be on morphine or other pain control (either PC or continuous) at some point during the isolation period. This may seem extreme to us, but it really does help control the continuous irritation from mouth and GI sores, as well as the sometimes severe skin irritations. If your child is old enough, he or she may be able to control the dose, and the pump may be put on a continuous flow for some children. The doctors will slowly wean your child from the pump, and most children must clear the pump before leaving the hospital.

Keeping your family together during transplant

It’s hard to keep your family together during this difficult time, especially if you are traveling to a distant cancer center, if there are other children in the home, or if one or both parents still need to work. Having a support system is very important. Many times neighbors, relatives, and friends will take turns with your other children. As much as you would like to help them with their every day activities, it may not be the best solution at the time. Because there are so many disease-control issues with your transplant child, you want to try to minimize the number of people who come into contact with him or her during this time. As much as possible, your child’s only contact other than the medical team should be you and your spouse. Many hospitals will also not allow young visitors when your child is in isolation. Keep this in mind, and be sure to talk with your team before bringing siblings to visit in the hospital.

While your child is staying at a facility, hotel, or friend’s house near the hospital (either before or after isolation) consider bringing siblings to these places to visit and/or stay the night. Most of the time accommodations can be made, although not usually every day, when siblings want to visit.

Also think about trying a web-cam service to keep your child in touch with siblings, other family members, or friends. Someone at the hospital may be able to help you hook up this service, either on your own laptop or on one loaned by the hospital. This way your child can chat live with his or her family and friends. It works out great for Grandma, too!

Older siblings might enjoy keeping a journal or tape-recording themselves for your child to read or hear. If your child is old enough, he/she may want to journal back or tape-record a message back. Hearing familiar voices is also good for little ones, as they are very responsive to familiar voices.

Keeping yourself busy in the hospital

There are many things that you can do to keep your sanity while you’re inpatient with your child. Although not always the case, some children sleep A LOT during transplant and may even be unconscious for periods of time. Although this may be scary for you and your child, it is generally normal and will pass. In the meantime, you’ll have to find something to keep your mind busy. Since you probably won’t want to come and go from the room very often (minimizing contact with germs), you should bring along lots of stuff to keep you occupied. Some suggestions are:

Magazines, books, crossword puzzles

Laptop computer with internet access (sometimes hospitals will loan one to you)

Movies

Sketch pad or journal

Crochet, knitting, or scrapbooking

Hand held game system (may sometimes be loaned by the hospital)

Healthy munchie snacks (nuts, popcorn, etc.)

A new address book to fill out

Remember that your child’s toys can also be therapeutic for you- coloring and crafting have actually been shown to reduce blood pressure and quiet the mind!

Keeping your child busy in the hospital

You will need to bring some things from home to keep your child busy and happy while in the hospital. Many hospitals that offer transplant procedures do a great job of making your child’s room comfortable and homey, and provide toys and other items to help entertain the child. Ask to speak with a child life specialist or social worker BEFORE isolation to see what can be done to help your child’s stay more enjoyable. Remember that he or she will be very tired and may not feel well enough to play or do any activities. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! Each day, encourage your child to get out of bed if possible, read, interact with you, watch favorite videos, bathe and change clothes, eat or drink, and walk. There will be some days that your child will not be able to do any of these things, but daily encouragement and motivation will help your child recover. Here are some suggestions:

Bring new board games or puzzles.

Buy or rent new movies or movies your child has been wanting to see.

Encourage play that gets your child moving and out of bed — bubbles, window markers, floor activities, tents, ball pits, video games like Wii, anything that might encourage your child to move! Most hospitals are supportive about bringing whatever you think might help your child. Just make sure it is either new or properly sanitized first.

Many hospitals will stock your child’s room with age appropriate activities, new toys or games, and other favorites based on information you provide about your child. New things are always a nice distraction!

Talk about the view with your child and encourage him or her to get up and look out the window. Even if you can only see a wall, sunlight and a busy alley can even be exciting.

Keep a calendar of your child’s activities and status each day. Display a large classroom calendar (you can get one at a teacher supply store, make one yourself from a poster board, or even ask the hospital for one) and keep track of your child’s days inpatient. Encourage him/her to decorate it too.

Remember to be happy and upbeat as much as possible around your child. Even on the toughest days, being positive can help your child feel better.

Preparing your home for your child’s return

Preparing your home for transplant is a big job. Once again, check with your child’s team as every hospital’s guidelines are different, but here are some suggestions:

At the very least, have all carpets in your home shampooed, steam-cleaned and sanitized. If you are financially able and your carpets are more than a few years old, you may want to consider replacing them. If you do this, don’t forget to vacuum the floorboards before new carpet is laid. Usually the carpet-layers won’t do that.

Have your duct-work professionally cleaned if possible and change the filter in your furnace. Buy enough filters to change them every month for the next year, and if you’re financially able, buy the really good ones.

Have your home cleaned top to bottom. Whether this is done professionally or by you, family, and friends, be very picky about how your home is cleaned.

Wash all draperies, throw rugs, throw blankets, pillows, sheets, and towels

Wash any stuffed animals

Vacuum or dust behind and under all furniture, including appliances. 4. Clean out your refrigerator and freezer.

If you have a door-front water dispenser, change the filter.

Discard or give away any house plants. Ask your team if you’re really attached. Some plants can just be moved to other rooms of the house.

Put away or discard your portable humidifiers. You probably won’t be able to use them in your home for at least 6 months.

Wash out all cabinets (inside and outside) in the kitchen and bathrooms. Clean all blinds

Scour all bathrooms.

Clean all light fixtures and fans.

Vacuum or dust all ceiling corners and vent covers.

Wash all windows and windowsills

Scrub floors and grout.

Clean your child’s toys with an alcohol/water solution. Add essential oil or lemon juice for a better smell!

Dust, sweep, mop, clean, vacuum and scrub everything in sight! Again, your home CANNOT be too clean

Have your chimney swept.

Don’t forget to insist that everyone who enters your home be healthy. Anyone with a sore throat, cough, sneeze, or sniffle should not be near your child until it is okayed by your stem cell team. This includes grandma, siblings, and even you!

Ask your transplant team about pets. Even the cleanest of pets carry germs, shed hair, and create bacteria in your home. Your team will be able to help you make the decision that is right for your family regarding your pets. At the very least, your pets should be regularly bathed and up to date on all immunizations.

If you haven’t yet established this rule, insist that anyone who enters your home remove their shoes at the door or in the garage. They should also immediately wash their hands with anti- bacterial soap. This includes service professionals, nurses, family members, friends. This should become the new normal for your home. Shoes and hands carry way too many germs.

Do not put hand towels in your bathrooms for about six months. Although it may seem wasteful to use paper towels, this is again an easy way to stop the spread of germs in your home for your child. Bath towels should be washed after every use for at least a few months. Same with bath mats and washcloths.

For at least six months, wash everything your child wears, even if it doesn’t “appear” dirty. Don’t “re-hang” anything your child has worn. Wash or clean favorite toys as often as possible.

Replace your child’s toothbrush every week or two for about six months.

Buy anti-viral tissues (Kleenex makes them)

Wipe down all kitchen and bathroom surfaces daily with anti-bacterial wipes for about three months.

Never leave a snack or cup (especially milk) sitting out for more than an hour. Again, what is normal bacteria for us can harm your child after transplant. Also, don’t save an uneaten portion from your child’s plate or cup. Be wasteful!

Finally, as cruel as it may sound, be careful about how you and others touch, kiss and hug your child for a while. Kisses on the mouth should be limited, and make sure that anyone who touches your child is healthy and has washed their hands. If your child touches someone or something that you’re not sure about, break out the anti-bacterial wipes. Again, it is difficult to think about limiting something as essential as human contact, but unnecessary contact with germs will definitely affect your child’s recovery.

Take a deep breath! This is a lot to digest! Yes, transplant is a challenging process, but it is also an important step in your child’s full recovery and remission. Although you may be feeling overwhelmed by the idea of your child’s transplant in the future, know that you can do it! Become fully informed about the necessary safety precautions, make a plan, and stick to it! Also, don’t try to go it alone – now is the time to rely on your Neuroblastoma community and your family and friends to support you during a trying time.

http://www.nbhope.org

Did you get all that? I am still trying to digest it all. I will be having a little pow wow session on Sunday with a few girlfriends to hash all of this out. I was born a fighter, I can handle this, it was what I was meant to do in life. I will take on the entire world to get Ronan better. Cancer has no idea who they are messing with. Nothing can come between Ro baby and his Mama Bear. We are an unstoppable team.
Cheers to you all tonight. May your weekend be filled with love, light, and laughter. I hope everyday is filled with adventure and smiles. LOVE TO YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!

P.S. Today was World Cancer Day. You know what I have to say to that????????????????? Earmuffs if you must.

A big FUCK YOU, CANCER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is also my oldest and dearest friend, Sandy’s birthday. Happy Birthday my sweet, hobag, of a friend. LMAO!!!!!!!

The faces all around me they don’t smile they just crack
Waiting for our ship to come but our ships not coming back
We do our time like pennies in a jar
What are we saving for [x2]

There’s a smell of stale fear that’s reeking from our skins.
The drinking never stops because the drinks absolve our sins
We sit and grow our roots into the floor
But what are we waiting for? [x2]

[chorus:]
So give me something to believe
Cause I am living just to breathe
And I need something more
To keep on breathing for
So give me something to believe

Something’s always coming you can hear it in the ground
It swells into the air
With the rising
Rising sound
And never comes but shakes the boards and rattles all the doors
What are we waiting for [x2]

[chorus]

I am hiding from some beast
But the beast was always here
Watching without eyes
Because the beast is just my fear
That I am just nothing
Now its just what I’ve become
What am I waiting for
Its already done

Oh

There’s no place like home

The morning started off early and Stacy offered to bring me coffee; which I really needed. She then ever so sweetly offered to stay with Ro so I could run home and shower. So thankful for her because just being able to go home and shower makes such a difference in my day. Ronan was so great with her and he is now getting used to my friends who are coming in and out to help me. His ANC counts have come up to 56…. slowly they are jumping up. Hoping for better counts tomorrow. He has been a little grumpy today but I finally got him out of his room and into the playroom for about a half an hour. That seemed to help his spirits even though he was insisting that he wanted to go back to his room. I told him that we were getting out of that stinky room for awhile and going to do something fun. We ended up painting and picking out some Mickey Mouse movies to bring back to his room. We have been playing on one of my friends’ iPad as it has a ton of games on it that we’ve never played before. She dropped it off at my house this a.m. and it has been keeping us busy for a couple of hours now. Thanks, darling:) Ronan and I also disinfected his entire side of his room tonight. My skin was crawling thinking about the germs everywhere… we tided up his entire room and wiped down everything from his Star Wars guys to the freaking floor. GROSS. Do not get me started on the cleanliness of hospitals. It freaks me out. I have taken it upon myself to wipe everything down, everyday. Makes me feel better in a way. Weird and silly but it’s a feeling of control that I need right now.

Liam and Quinn’s 1st grade teacher called me yesterday and offered to sit with Ronan tonight so I could run home and see Woody, Liam and Quinn. BEST TEACHER EVER:) Thank you, Cindy<3 She is on her way now and I cannot wait to get home to my big boys for a couple of hours. I may stay the night at home tonight and let Woody stay at the hospital. It would be so nice to spend a little time with Liam and Quinny Q.

Home sweet home now. Got to see Woody and catch up on some things. It was beyond nice to spend an hour with him before he went to PCH to spend the night with Ronan. It feels so good to be home and so good to be with Liam and Quinn. I miss them so much. We spent the night playing “Little Big Planet,” and they both helped me with chores around the house. They are the sweetest boys’ in the world. I can’t believe how tall they have gotten! I swear they have grown a few inches since I’ve seen them last! Quinn has sprouted up and is a couple inches taller than Liam now. Woody said tonight he bets Quinn is going to be 6’8 or 6’9. My 7 year olds are going to be taller than me soon. So scary! The boys’ had 2 basketball games today and sign ups for baseball. We are trying to keep them as active as possible and everything as normal as possible for them still. From what Woody said, they both did amazing at their games today. They were both very excited to tell me about them. I loved hearing the excitement in their voices; my little superstars. Team Thompson rules;) I am so proud of them.

Time to try to get some shut eye now, I’ve got to be back to PCH early so Woody can go into the office for a few hours and get caught up on some work. Hope you all are having a beautiful weekend. Sweet dreams<3

xoxo

An old soul

Ronan had his clinic visit this morning. His levels have dropped just as we were expecting. We are so used to this chemo thing now that we know where his counts will be. What I didn’t expect wash his platelet counts to be so low. They were 10,000 today. WHAT?!?! 10,000 and not a bloody nose in sight? How is that possible? Since we started this chemo journey, anytime Ronan’s platelets drop lower than 20,000-30,000 we are guaranteed that he has the dreaded bloody noses that we cannot control. I told “A” today that maybe it’s due to having the tumor out of Ro. She smiled and I know she doesn’t think there is any correlation between the two, but I am going with what I have been saying all along…. He really is a brand new boy. He was so sweet as we were waiting at the clinic today. He sat and talked to me about all of the nurses who take care of him. As “A” walked by, he goes, “She’s so nice, Mom.” The he told me how much he loved Sharon and Kristin. He is so full of love today and is just so grateful, even though he is feeling so crummy. His ANC is at 60… which means his immune system is almost wiped out. I’m expecting it to hit 0 tomorrow. We will have to keep a close eye on him…knock on wood no fevers or bloody noses. It would be so nice to stay out of the hospital until Transplant time.

I spoke with Erin from Transplant today; she is basically Dr. Adams go to girl as far as scheduling and preparing us goes. She told me to expect to start Transplant on February 15 or 16th. Assuming all of Ronan’s tests come back with the results we are wanting to see. She didn’t see any reason why they wouldn’t, but he has to have everything from his heart, liver, and kidney checked to make sure they are functioning properly before we can get the green light. He has those tests scheduled for February 9th. So far, every time he has had his organs checked, everything has looked great. It is amazing how much the human body can take. After we get the green light for transplant, we will then be randomized to see if Ronan will have two transplants or one. You know we are hoping for two…. even though I am scared shitless at what this is going to do to my little guys body. Woody keeps saying we’ve got to throw the kitchen sink at Ronan’s cancer… and two transplants is definitely throwing the kitchen sink at it. If Ronan’s cancer comes back, it will be because we didn’t kill all of the cancer cells the first time around. Two transplants we feel, will increase the chances of killing all of his cancer.

I am trying to mentally prepare for Transplant/Isolation. I am wracking my brain for everything that I can possibly think of to keep myself and Ronan happy during his stay. I’ve been trying to think of it more like… If I were stranded on a desert island rather than… if I were trapped in a solitary confinement… what would I need?? Something tells me George Clooney may not be realistic. So far, I’ve come up with easy things such as: my computer(duh) my camera, movies, books, my coconut water (have I mentioned that I am OBSESSED with the stuff??) my yoga mat, Ronan’s favorite toys, Art supplies, his favorite bedding, his Wii and PS3. We will have to set up Skype to keep in touch with Liam and Quinn. I am trying my hardest to turn this into something really positive. Not many people get the opportunity in life to just simply “be.” I am hoping something really good will come out of this and it will make Ronan and myself even stronger. It will be a time for great reflection and learning. Tricia and I were laughing the other night because I told her I was going to study Buddhism while in Isolation. She told me she was going to make me a little sign to wear around my neck that says, “Cannot speak,” due to respecting the silence that comes with this religion. The image in my head totally made me laugh. Don’t think I’ll take it that far, but I love her for making me laugh.

I talked to my NYC Miss Macy today. That crazy pants. She texted me to see if the boys’ would like a King Cake from Nola. She is going there on a business trip soon and wanted to ship the boys one. I had no idea what a King Cake even was so I listened as she Googled it and explained it to me. I also told her that I needed her to come stay with me in Isolation. I was half joking and told her I needed her purely for selfish reasons. She told me to say the word and she would be on a flight if that is what I needed to keep me sane. I told her that we would save her visit for when we are finished with this Stem Cell Transplant and that way, we can all enjoy Miss Macy to the fullest. We are going to have such a reason to celebrate! I know Ronan is going to soar through this transplant with flying colors. He is so tough and has done so well with everything else, how could he not.

For now, I am going to soak up being at home with the boy and Woody. These past couple of days have been so sweet. I am thankful every second of the day, for all the blessings we have in our life. Ronan being the biggest one of them all. One of the night nurses that takes care of Ro whenever we are admitted to PCH says the same thing to me every time she comes in to check his vitals. She always tells me that she can tell Ronan is an old soul. This always makes me smile because I have known this since the day he was born. He has always been different; almost like he has been here many times before. He just has that look in his eyes that tells me not to be scared, not to worry, because everything is going to be alright. Looking into his eyes, I know this. This cannot turn out any other way; he has way too many hearts to break and way too much trouble to cause.

The show must go on

My skinny little chicken leg boy is finally getting his appetite back. Finally. It’s been about 2 weeks since he’s really wanted to eat. Now, I can’t keep him full. He is back to eating every hour on the hour. Oatmeal, eggs, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Fruit, Pizza, Carrots, Hummus, Cottage Cheese, Peas, Cheese Crisps… I can’t keep up! All I’ve done today is cook, clean, cook, dishes, and cook some more. It’s a good thing though… his little legs look like sticks. I need to fatten my chicken up before we go into Stem Cell Transplant. We have a clinic visit tomorrow to check Ronan’s blood levels, platelets, etc…. I’m still waiting for him to crash from this last round of chemo; but so far, he seems to be doing well. His energy is still a little low, but his spirits are great. We have really been enjoying being at home together. Lots of cuddling and down time which we both have needed. Marisa stopped by today with Baby Max. It was so nice to see her and Ronan even let her stay. He shut himself in his room at first but I finally coaxed him out. He sat on my lap and watched Marisa feed and change Max. He was very intrigued and just sat quietly, giving us a little smile here and there. After Marisa left, Ronan told me that he wanted a baby sister. Oy vey! He loves babies has been talking all day about Baby Max’s visit. He told Liam and Quinn all about Max which then led to the discussion of baby names. It was hilarious. Liam said if he had another baby brother, he would name him, Ochocinco- for the football player, Chad Ochocinco. I told him no way, so then he decided on the name Zach, for Zach Miller, the former ASU football player. Quinn was really sweet and said if he had a baby brother, he would name him Finn and if it were a girl, Isabelle. Ronan has decided that he would name the baby, Mickey Mouse. So cute. I was surprised how into the whole baby conversation they were. Just shows me what sensitive and sweet little guys I have. I’m pretty sure the baby shop is closed around here, but it was a fun conversation to have with my 3 little guys.

Tricia came over last night and we went for a quick 4 mile run. It was nice to be out with her. It was no Central Park but it felt good to be out running and it felt good to be with her. We talked the entire time and laughed a lot. I know I say this all of the time; but I don’t know what I would do without her. I could not have picked a better Godmother for Ronan, and I could not have a more amazing best friend. I so owe Woody for the rest of my life for introducing me to Tricia. Thanks Woo:) I never imagined in my life that I would need my best friend as much as I do now.

Ronan didn’t nap today, and I am listening to Woody play guitar and sing him to sleep. There is nothing more peaceful than watching Ronan as he drifts off to sleep. He is so perfect. Have I mentioned how lucky I am to have the husband I have?? He left the house this morning, worked hard all day, came home, took Liam and Quinn to basketball, dinner, came home and helped them with their homework, and now he is singing Ronan to sleep. He doesn’t even get to sleep in our bed anymore due to Ronan taking over and insisting that he sleeps in bed with me and nobody else. Woody grins and bears this…I feel awful but this is just the way things have to be for now. There are not many men out there who would be able to do this on a day to day basis, and still have a good attitude about everything. He does it all, is constantly telling me how beautiful I am while watching me fumble and fall, all while trying to pick me back up over and over again. I would be nothing without him and I’m not ashamed to admit it. He is not the lucky one. I am.

So, for the most part, today was a good day. A good day now consists of things like Ronan having an appetite, a few smiles here and there, and having my family all under the same roof. A good day now is so simple…. how could have it been so complex before all of this? How was I not grateful for everyday that I had with Ronan when he was healthy?? I guess it was because in all of my wildest dreams, I would have never imagined that my worst nightmare would come true and I would be forced to reexamine everything that I thought made me happy. What a hard and awful lesson to learn through the eyes of a 3 year old boy.

That is all for tonight. I am actually in a good mood and don’t want to spoil it with my ever consuming dark thoughts. I’m going to enjoy some quiet time with Woody and finish the movie we started last night, “Harry Brown.” Sweet dreams, my friends. Love you all!!!

P.S.

S.B. I know I am going to dream the sweetest dreams tonight knowing you are dancing and drinking your wine under the moonlight and that everything is alright. xo

Ronan’s favorite song for Woody to sing and play guitar to.

All Her Favorite Fruit by Camper Van Beethoven

I drive alone, home from work
And I always think of her
Late at night I call her
But I never say a word
And I can see her squeeze the phone between her chin and shoulder
And I can almost smell her breath faint with a sweet scent of decay
She serves him mashed potatoes
And she serves him peppered steak, with corn
Pulls her dress up over her head
Lets it fall to the floor
And does she ever whisper in his ear all her favorite fruit
And all the most exotic places they are cultivated
And I’d like to take her there, rather than this train

And if I weren’t a civil servant, I’d have a place in the colonies
We’d play croquet behind white-washed walls and drink our tea at four
Within intervention’s distance of the embassy
The midday air grows thicker with the heat
And drifts towards the line of trees
When negroes blink their eyes, they sink into siesta
And we are rotting like a fruit underneath a rusting roof
We dream our dreams and sing our songs of the fecundity
Of life and love
Of life and love
Of life and love

We need a little luck

In an ironic twist of fate, here we are. Back at PCH, in the very hospital room where this all started. Ronan spiked a fever today, which immediately sends us back to PCH, to the ER, and now we are finally in a room on the second floor. I am trying not to freak out over this; we were supposed to leave Monday for New York but I am pretty sure that won’t be happening now. Dr. Eshin said he would like us to wait until Wednesday, just to make sure Ronan does not have an infection of any kind. Can you guess the word coming up? FUCK. Mr. W had his plane, staff, and everything all ready for us to go on Monday. Woody left him a long voice mail tonight explaining the situation. I really hope things will be resolved; I just feel bad because even though our circumstances are not in our  control; I hate being a pain in the butt. And I hate when a plan goes awry. A consistent plan, which rarely happens these days; is something that I thrive on. That’s out the window now. I know everything will work out; it has to. The most important thing is Ronan. His ANC is at 0. He has no immune system whatsoever so being back at PCH is what is best for him right now so he can get antibiotics and hopefully his counts will start to rise.

So, back to being in “the room.” I can remember it so clearly. It was the room that we were first admitted into, before we knew what was wrong with Ronan. We had an MRI done and our Opthamologist, Dr. Cassiday, came in at midnight to read it for us. I remember sitting in the room with Ronan, while Woody went out to go over the scan. I was panicking, but also very calm. Woody came back in the room with a look on his face that I will never forget. He grabbed me and told me that Ronan had something on his brain; but they didn’t know what. I still remained calm and went out to go over the MRI with Dr. Cassidy. He showed me the spot and I looked at him and said, “Ok. But he’s going to be o.k., right?” He looked at me and said, “Yes.” Little did he know what we were up against, but at that moment, that is exactly what I needed to hear. I remember feeling so strong in this room, and maybe that is why we are back here now; so I can gather my strength for New York. This is also the room where I went into the bathroom, locked the door and called my best friend, Susie, who lives in Colorado to tell her what was going on. In another ironic twist of fate; she just happens to be in town and is coming to see me here tomorrow. I just know this all means something; there are too many coincidences for it not to.

All in all it was a good day. I went to see “The Good Doctor,” this morning. We got everything sorted out as far as medication goes before I leave for New York. We got in a good little chat session too which I always enjoy. He is a smart man, that good doctor of mine;) I feel like I am in very good hands with him. After that, I ran some errands and headed home. I was hoping to go to Liam and Quinn’s basketball game, so Mimi and Papa came over to stay with Ro. Didn’t end up happening as that is when Ronan started to get his fever and did not want me to leave. I am so sad I missed their game; Woody said they did awesome and Quinn scored 8 points and Liam make a couple too. So proud of them. I get so sad about missing their things; breaks my heart. Add that to number 1,435 reasons of why I HATE CANCER. I also missed my annual Holiday Party with my best friends tonight. It’s been a tradition of ours for years now. Little things like that make me sad.

I’ve just realized that I am up way too late. Time to say g’nite to all of you beautiful souls out there. I love you.

xoxo