Ro baby takes Philidelphia and New York City

I am so happy to tell you tonight that I haven’t updated things in a few days due to a very busy, but fun weekend. It’s the first time that I can remember since before Ronan was diagnosed with cancer, that things around here felt very normal. We spent the weekend hanging out at home, enjoying family time. Woody and I snuck out for a date on Saturday night while Auntie Karen and Olivia watched the boys.’ We had an amazing dinner at Tarbell’s even though I ended up crying a bit in the middle of a conversation between Woody and myself. I tried my hardest to just be a normal couple on a Saturday night…. but the harder I try, the harder things become. We will never be that normal couple again. It’s just not in the cards for us anymore. Everything has changed; nothing is the same.  Not even a Saturday night date will be like the old days. Maybe it is for the better…. because I am so much more aware of the reality of the world around me. But it still stings. I now sit in restaurants and watch the people around me and wonder if they have the sadness in their lives that I do, but in a different form. Or maybe they are lucky enough to be blissfully happy. I know that the world is full of sadness, but as I sat at dinner with Woody, the feeling of complete aloneness washed over me. I sat and thought things like, I bet their baby doesn’t have cancer, or I bet their Grandbabies are totally healthy….Then the guilt washes over me for having these thoughts…. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I was once blissfully happy but also blinded by ignorance. Now, I truly know the meaning of ignorance is bliss. What a bullshit way to find that out.

On Sunday I met Fernanda at Hava Java for some coffee. I love that when I was on the phone with Tricia right before Fernanda picked me up and I told Trish how I was going for coffee, Trish goes, “What part of the world is Fernanda saving today?” So adorable. I told her she was saving me:) We sat and had our coffee and she helped me write down all of my questions for the doctors at Chop. We talked about my upcoming week, but the thing I enjoyed most was listening to my new friend talk about the things in her world. Her kids, her funny family stories, the things she’s done in her life. One of the biggest gifts of all of this has been getting to know this beautiful woman. Through this crises, comes the gift of her. I will be thankful for the rest of my life for all the beauty that has shown it’s colors during the darkest time. Fernanda is one of the most colorful things that I have ever seen in my life. I so need color now. This black and white stuff is getting a bit dull and scary. Life is not black and white, Ronan is not black and white, and I wish the doctors in this world would start thinking this way too. I’m about to take all the crayons out of Ronan’s Crayola box and scribble up and down all of their stupid papers and statistics. They do not know my Ro baby.

Woody and I also spent the weekend figuring out our plan for the week. Since Ronan’s ANC counts don’t seem to be dropping and he looks great, we decided to take him out to Philadelphia to Chop. Ro and I are flying out tomorrow morning on a Corporate Angels flight. Woody has a court appearance he cannot miss, so he will be flying out tomorrow late afternoon. We are meeting Dr. Mosse on Wednesday to go over our list of questions with her and to just get another opinion and feel for the place. We decided since we were going to be in Philly, that on Wednesday we would take the train to New York and meet with Dr. Kusher at Sloan Kettering on Thursday. We will fly home Thursday night. It’s going to be a whirlwind of a trip, but one that we both feel is necessary. We have to be prepared as much as possible for what we have ahead of us. Arming ourselves with as much knowledge as possible will only help us decide on what path to take for Ronan. I think we both know in our hearts; but we are keeping our minds as open as possible.

Today, Ronan and I headed to the clinic to have his levels checked. Dr. Eshun thought he looked great and saw no need to transfuse him. Ronan was so excited about not having to get blood, he practically skipped out of the clinic office and to our car. We went home and played out in our backyard and got everything ready for our trip. Liam and Quinn came home soon after and their cousins, Luke and Lily came over to play for a couple of hours. It’s always a treat to have them spend time with us. Ronan especially loves it. It was a good way to get him ready for his upcoming travels. He is a little sad about having to leave Liam and Quinn behind once again. He’s not the only one. I wish they could come on these trips with us but I understand how important stability is in their lives right now. I also understand how important it is to be able to just focus on Ronan, the doctors and get the job done. I cannot wait to get back home to them already though. So glad we will have the weekend together. Ronan is set to start his 8th cycle of Chemo March 14th. Hopefully we will stay hospital free until then. It would be so nice to continue to be at home. There is no place he would rather be.

Woody said to me tonight, “Aren’t these supposed to be the happiest times of our lives?” How do you even respond to that?? I just nodded my head and gave him the best smile I could, which wasn’t much. Fucking cancer. Thanks for robbing all of us of this precious time in life. I HATE YOU.

Hope you all have been well. Wishing you a night full of sweet dreams. Happy Birthday to my Little M today too. I hope you go my message and are having a wonderful time in NYC. I miss you so much and can’t wait to celebrate you when we both get back from our trip and things settle down as much as possible. I love you, Marisa ❤

Safe travels for us tomorrow! It’s going to be a very busy next few days!! G’nite friends!!

xoxo


A warning sign
I missed the good part then I realized
I started looking and the bubble burst
I started looking for excuses

Come on in
I’ve gotta tell you what a state I’m in
I’ve gotta tell you in my loudest tones
I started looking for a warning sign

When the truth is, I miss you
Yeah the truth is, that I miss you, so

A warning sign
You came back to haunt me and I realized
That you were an island and I passed you by
And you were an island to discover

Come on in
I’ve gotta tell you what a state I’m in
I’ve gotta tell you in my loudest tones
That I started looking for a warning sign

When the truth is, I miss you
Yeah the truth is, that I miss you so
And I’m tired I should not have let you go

Ooooooooooooooooo

So I crawl back into your open arms
Yes I crawl back into your open arms
And I crawl back into your open arms
Yes I crawl back into your open arms

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!!

MIBG Day is here!

I wrote the longest post last night, only to have it magically disappear. I am so annoyed and was too tired to write anything over again. I’ll keep it short and sweet this morning as we have a busy day ahead of us. Today is the day of the MIBG scan. The scan where we will be able to pinpoint exactly where Ronan’s cancer is still active. The scan that will light up his little body down to every active cancer cell. We are praying for a miracle and hoping the scan comes back showing a lot less activity. I know it is too much to ask for it to all be gone, but I’m asking anyway. Please keep Ronan in your thoughts and prayers today. I will update you all as soon as we know something. It may be awhile, as the team of doctors want to go over all of the scans combined. I am still going to get the MIBG read for me today. Dr. Eshun is pretty good about getting back to us as soon as he knows anything. So, here we go today…. at least it is Ro’s last anesthesia for a while.

Yesterday the event at Los Palomas turned out beautifully. It was sold out and the room was filled with the most gorgeous women in the valley:) I had Tricia represent me, as I couldn’t be there due to being at PCH all day. She got up in front of everyone and read a little something I had written. I am so proud and honored that she was the one standing up there for me. Thank you, TT. You are the most amazing best friend to me. Thank you to Jaye and her wonderful board members for dedicating your entire day to raise awareness for Ronan. It means so much to our family.

After we returned home from the hospital, we had a great day playing outside and around the house. Ronan is feeling so great and it is days like yesterday that keep me going. Yesterday, I watched my baby play and act just like a normal 3-year-old who doesn’t have cancer. He was acting like his old self and was so happy and sweet. Days like yesterday don’t happen very often anymore but when they do, they mean so much to me.

I’ve got to get my little guy ready for the day. Thank you all for the love and prayers. I hope you all have a beautiful day!!

P.S. New York Miss Macy!!! I will be thinking of you during your travels today for your big move to San Fran! You will always be New York Miss Macy to me though. I can’t wait for your visit and I can’t wait to wear our Spirit Hoods together you crazy girl!!! I love you!!!

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

Bone scans results…. kind of.

We started off this morning with Ronan’s Audiology test. It went alright… but we were not able to complete the test due to Ronan’s lack of cooperation. He was able to get through some of it in which the Doctor played high frequency sounds and Ronan would put a dinosaur into a bucket when he heard the sound. He did pretty well, but the Doctor is suspecting Ronan has a bit of high-pitched hearing loss. He is not confirming anything as of now. We are supposed to go back Friday to see if we can finish up the test. I refuse to believe Ronan has hearing loss… I don’t know why because it is very common side effect after going through so much chemo. Actually, I do know why. It’s because Ronan is different and is going to overcome any obstacle that comes his way. So what if he didn’t put the dinosaur in the bucket the second the high-pitched sound came on. He’s tired, mad, and sick of people testing, poking, and prodding at him. I wouldn’t corporate either.

After the Audiology test, we headed over to check in for Ronan’s scans. While waiting, I noticed a little girl who looked familiar to me in the waiting room. I have heard about her since Ronan was diagnosed, but have never met her. I’ve been on her website though so I knew the little girl was Ava. I went up to her mom, Chrisie, and asked if she was Ava’s mom and she said she was. I introduced myself and she knew who I was because I had emailed her awhile back. I thanked her for helping me out with my questions and we were able to update each other on both of our kids. I met Ava’s Grandmother and her Dad as well. They look like the nicest family in the world. What Ava is going through is beyond heartbreaking but she seems like a very strong little girl. All of Ava’s treatments are done at Sloan Kettering, even though they live here. Ava was here for scans today so please keep her in your prayers as well. Here is her website if you would like to visit it: www.caringbridge.org/visit/avaholder. Ava’s Neuroblastoma has relapsed twice, but she is still here and still fighting hard. I will scream and very loud, “FUCK YOU CANCER!!!!!!” for Ava. Makes me so angry. I just wanted to wrap my arms around her entire family while they were waiting for Ava to come out of Anesthesia. I am so happy I had the pleasure of meeting them today. What are the odds really? They are never at PCH and just happened to be on the same day I was there with Ro. It was meant to be. I feel so blessed to have finally met them and sweet little Ava. She is a little spitfire just like Ro 🙂

As we waited for Dr. Maze to come and get us for Ronan’s Anesthesia, he fell asleep in my arms. I sat and watched him sleep so peacefully. I took that time to think about what a long way he has come since first being diagnosed. I found myself in a comfortable state of mind full of peace and quiet. I sat with him in the dark and prayed for his scans to come back with the results we are hoping to see. I felt a wave of warmth in my heart wash over me because I felt, once again, that Ronan is going to be o.k. He is going to beat this and go on to live a normal, happy, long life.

Dr. Maze arrived and we were taken back to the room where they were getting ready to do the bone marrow procedure. He let me hold Ronan as he always does while he gave him the Propofol to go to sleep. I held him and watched him get sleepy and listened to him cry out, “Mama, mama, mama,” for me. He doesn’t like the way the sleepy medicine makes him feel. I told him I loved him and would see him soon and set him down on the bed. I gathered up my things, took one look back at my baby, and Dr. Maze yelled at me to go and eat something. I had to laugh to myself because at the beginning of all of this, Dr. Maze was so proper and reassuring. Now he knows me so well and knows that  I am so used to all of this that he is comfortable barking orders at me to eat something. Gave me just the chuckle I needed to get out of there without even tearing up like I normally do.  Woody met me at the cafeteria and I managed to eat a little salad, but pretty much just sucked down a giant Coke instead. An appetite is something that I am still having a hard time with, especially on scan days.

After Woody left, I sat in the waiting room and waited for Dr. Maze to come and get me. I tore through the piles of bills that I needed to get paid and the next thing I knew, it was time to get Ro. He woke up groggy and grumpy like he always does. Dr. Maze went back and looked at the scans for me and came back telling me as much as he could. Our Doctor, Dr. Eshun, is in New York City and will not be back to read the results for us until next week. Dr. Wood, who has followed Ronan since the beginning is here and I sent Dr. Maze a text asking him to please have Dr. Wood call us to go over the scans because next week is way too long to wait. I got a phone call from “A” tonight instead. It was hard for me to talk to her, as I had Ronan screaming in the background and had to run outside to even hear her talk. She said she could go over the results from the bone marrow and bone scan for me in a very limited way. As she put it, in her medical terms…. she told me that there was “No focal discreet abnormalities in the bones anymore.” Um… what?? She may as well have been speaking another language. I couldn’t think of what questions to ask, as I was distracted by Ronan and my nerves were a wreck. I said to her, “I have no idea what that means, but is that a good thing?” She said indeed it was a very good thing and that is just what they would want to see. She told me Dr. Wood would call us tomorrow or Friday to go over what exactly this means and to discuss things further in detail after they do the MRI, CT, Pet Scan tomorrow. Those scans will tell us in more detail what is going on now. All I know is “A” was not alarmed about anything and that alone will help me to sleep a little bit better tonight. I will let you all know the “formal” results when we get them, but as of now, there is nothing to be alarmed about. The treatment we are doing is working and that in itself is a huge victory in its own right.

We are all exhausted tonight and Ronan has another big day of scans tomorrow so I am going to try to get some sleep. Please continue to send your strength and love his way. His diagnoses has been beyond devastating to us, but the way he continues to beat all of the odds is beyond inspiring. He fills me with such hope and love every second of the day and it is the love that I have for him that will get all of us through this.

G’nite and sweetest dreams to all of you.

xoxo

A Margarita, Sangria, or George Clooney??

I talked to Dr. Wood this morning and Ronan’s ANC counts came up from 0 to 25. This still doesn’t mean we will be getting out of here anytime soon as they have to be up to 200 and rising for Dr. Eshun to discharge us. Dr. Wood said he expected us to be here until next week. Our little monkey is getting restless and tired of being here. How in the world am I going to entertain him until next week? We will just have to make due. My friend, Fernanda, came and sat with Ronan for 4 hours today so I could run home, shower, do some laundry, and run some errands. I got a chance to catch up on the phone with my Susie and Bethany. Both of those phone conversations were long overdue and it was so good to hear both of their voices and catch them up on things. I miss them both so much. Thank you, Fernanda, for taking such great care of Ronan for me. He LOVED having you here and is still talking about the things you two did. I am so lucky and blessed to have the amazing friends I do. I am thankful every second of the day for all of you. <3<3

I am really, really, really, excited for a few things that some amazing people are stepping up and doing for us. Not going to go into too many details but so many people have been coming out of the woodwork and wanting to help change PCH and the way things are done around here. They know who they are and they are just as passionate and excited as I am. All they needed was Ronan and his story to fuel the fire for making the world of Pediatric Cancer, a better place. I am so excited to be involved in this process with the vision and help of great friends. Ronan is changing the world already at the small age of 3… I can't wait to see what amazing things come of this. Thank you, my dear friends who shall remain nameless due to them being the kinds of people that don't want recognition, who just want to do amazing things when nobody is watching. I can't tell you how much I love this. There are not many people in the world who just do things without the whole world needing to know about it. I am going to have to come up with a nickname for this new friend of mine…. you know who you are<3 I will think of something after I get to know you a little bit better:) Maybe Mrs. Margarita due to your email tonight;) Love you, your passion, and your heart. Thank you, sweet girl.

The rest of today was spent playing with Ronan. We had a new nurse today that we haven’t ever had before. Imagine that! I thought we knew everyone on this floor. Her name is Holly and she was a delight. Ronan adores her and she was very sweet to us. We hope to have her again and also love the fact that she too is a former Sundevil:) The ASU baseball team came to visit the kids on the floor and I coaxed Ronan out of his room to go to the playroom to see them. I am so glad he agreed to go because he was able to meet some very special people and also get a couple of baseballs signed. Thanks Margaret for being extra sweet to Ronan. It was so nice to meet you today:) He was a little overwhelmed and a little shy but was very excited about the baseballs when we returned to his room.

I wasn’t going to ask to switch to a window room view while we were on the second floor….. because I thought we were going to be out of here by Saturday; but I did. If we are going to be here until next week; I will not survive without one. I feel like the biggest pain in the butt… as Dr. Maze said to me today, “What are we doing, playing musical rooms?” Made me laugh but that’s how it feels. What can I say, I’m a girl who knows how happy the little things make me and I’m not shy about asking for it. One of Ronan’s favorite things to do at night is to look out the window at the pretty neon lights that flash at the top of the new PCH hospital. He loves to say the colors out loud and we count the stars and say Goodnight to the moon.

Ronan is really missing his house and brothers tonight. He must have told me a dozen times how much he misses Liam and Quinn. It KILLS me to hear him say those words to me. I hate that he can’t be with them. He called tonight and talked to the boys’ for a while. I sat and while Quinn was on speaker phone and the boys’ went back and fourth telling each other how much they missed one another. It was heartbreaking and sweet all at the same time. After the phone call, Ronan and I spent the evening playing “lets throw the stuffed monkeys back and fourth to each other but not let them hit the ground due to the hot lava, game.” We played for a solid hour and he was laughing the entire time. We then went on a hut for our favorite nurse, Arica, and found her but she was in a room with a patient. She blew Ro kisses and came to visit us later tonight. Ronan was almost asleep but woke up as Arica was giving him kisses and loves, just so he could give her a smile and a giggle. I love that girl<3

Woody has been so busy this week that he hasn't been able to stop by the hospital to see us. Between his law firm and coaching the twins' two basketball leagues, he hasn't got a free second. Our catch ups have been consisting our our 3 minute phone conversations about 10 times a day. I HATE THIS. I miss my husband, my twins, my house, my old normal everyday life. I am tired of falling asleep listening to the screams and cries of our roommates and their parents. I'm tired of the lack of privacy and this sharing room bullshit. It's bad enough that my child has cancer, but it's even worse the lack of privacy that comes with it. I know, I know… the new hospital will have it's private rooms. That does me no good as of now. I'm burnt out, I'm discouraged by all the sadness that surrounds me everyday. Listening to the screams at night haunts me and is another huge reason to why I never sleep well. I know Transplant is going to be hard, but at least we get our own room. Trying so hard to find the positive in anything and everything I can.

That's all for tonight. I hear some Coconut Water and a movie calling my name. I could really use a Margarita and some freaking chips and salsa. What I wouldn’t give for that. I need to get lost in something tonight, otherwise I’m going to lose my freaking mind. Ahh… spoke too soon. My friend Stacy just texted me to ask if she could bring me anything. My reply was, 1) A margarita, 2) Some Sangria or 3) George Clooney. Can you guess what she is showing up with?!?! Either way, I win!! YAY FOR GOOD FRIENDS!!!! G’nite dear darlings. Sleep well.

xoxo

Kathryn~ Thank you for the Star Wars picture you sent for Ronan that Annie Leibovitz shot and signed for him. He is going to freak out over the picture; I am freaking out over the fact that such an amazing, talented soul, took the time to do such a sweet thing for Ronan! Made my day!! Tell her thank you as well:)

Serenity now

Deep breaths and an amazing friends have gotten me through this past 24 hours. We were admitted into the ER last night around 9:00 due to Ronan’s low grade fever. I didn’t have to wait in the waiting room of the ER; THANK GOD. It was beyond packed even at 9:00 at night. The doctor on call, called ahead to let them know I was bringing Ronan in. As soon as we arrived, I told them our name and we were taken back into a room in the ER. Ronan was really not feeling well and was so tired. He passed out pretty quickly as the nurses checked all his vital signs and drew his labs. My friend, Fernanda, sent me a text to say she was on her way to sit with me because she did not want me sitting alone. She came armed with Starbucks and a big hug. We sat for the next 5 hours, trying to get Ronan into a room on one of the floors. Fernanda was on a war path…. but in the sweetest way so. There was nothing the nurses/doctors could do as they kept telling us all of the rooms were full on the floors 2 and 3, which is where we were supposed to be going. We used every trick in the book and Fernanda even tried to bribe one of the nurses with some Oreos that she bought in the vending machine. Didn’t work, but we got a chuckle out of it anyway. Finally around 3:15 a.m., the nurse said we would just have to spend the night in the tiny, freezing cold ER room. I was not a happy camper, have been saying some not so nice words, but have now relaxed due to Ronan looking and feeling 100 times better than when I brought him in here. Dr. Maze came and helped me out around 8 a.m. by using his very charming/stern words to explain that we needed a room asap. An hour later we were whisked off to the 3rd floor. Thank god for that man.

I got about 3 hours of sleep last night and I’m sure Fernanda didn’t get much more, but guess who was here at 9:30 a.m. to bring me coffee and keep me company? She was. Did I mention that my darling Fernanda has 5 gorgeous children of her own all under the age of 7?? Talk about an amazing woman and friend. Ronan didn’t even mind her being here and that is unheard of with him! I ran home to shower while Fernanda stayed with him. Made my day! He always throws a fit when I leave him, but was completely fine with this friend of mine whom he hardly knows. After I returned back here, Fernanda left and I thanked Ronan for letting me go home to shower. He said to me, “Your welcome, I like your friend.” So sweet!!!! He also was sure to tell me how much he missed and and how he loves me to the moon and back. Ahhhhh, little man!!! That more than made up for the recliner chair I had to sleep in last night and my seriously jacked up back today:) He seems to be feeling much better but just as I suspected, his ANC is at 0 and he needs blood. We will be here for most of the week I suspect. Fernanda…. I’m never going to stop telling you thank you for being such an amazing friend to me. And stop with saying it’s nothing…. because it is, and it means everything to me! I am so blessed to call you my friend. I love you.

Sarah came over this morning to help get the boys ready for school and to take them as well. Thank you so much, Sarah the Saint. Auntie Karen picked the monkeys up from school with her daughter Olivia and took them home to do homework and then to get some dinner until Woody got home from work. Thank you both so much; I am so thankful that Liam and Quinn are in such good hands.

I am running on empty and have downed 2 giant cokes, 2 coffees, and a ton of water. My typical hospital meals. Ronan is sleeping now and they are getting ready to pre medicate him for his blood transfusion. I am trying my best to channel all of the inner peace and strength I have for this weeks hospital stay. I am calmer than normal and it has everything to do with the fact that Ronan seems pretty happy to be here. I found myself thinking selfish things today like, I so need a massage, a pedicure, a spa day, a bath and 12 hours of sleep to feel better. It turns out I needed none of those things because just having Ronan acting somewhat like his normal self and being so loving and sweet to me, made all of the whining and complaining I was doing in my head, disappear. I think he was feeling really crummy at home and now that he is starting to feel better I can see him coming back to me. He is comprehending so much these days for only being 3 1/2. He is confused as to why we are on the 3rd floor and keeps asking for his normal nurses like Sara, Arica, Danny, Kathy, and Amy. I tried to explain to him that it is because he has a little cough that we have to be on the third floor for the time being. With it being RSV season, any little sign of a cough and you are banned from the 2nd floor. Tonight, he was telling me about all the people that take care of him and who love him. He named Dr. Wood, Dr. Maze, Sharon, “A,” and then he goes and Dr. La Quaglia took the big Death Star (he calls his tumor the death star from Star Wars) out of my tummy. He even pronounced his name right which was so dang cute. Ronan is so smart and doesn’t miss a beat. I’ve got to start watching what I say around that kid:) We have had a great night together but are so beyond tired. I’m hoping to get a little sleep as I am exhausted from the happenings of last night and the 3 hours of sleep I am running on.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow will be even better as he starts to get his strength and health back. We’ve got to get him well before transplant and I would like to be able to enjoy our time at home before we go in for the long haul. Thanks for checking in and keeping Ro baby in your prayers and thoughts. We are so lucky to have all of you thinking of him. G’nite sweet friends. G’nite Daddy Woo. Hope you are enjoying our big bed all to yourself:) Miss you.

xoxo

Open Your Eyes

All this feels strange and untrue
And I won’t waste a minute without you
My bones ache, my skin feels cold
And I’m getting so tired and so old

The anger swells in my guts
And I won’t feel these slices and cuts
I want so much to open your eyes
‘Cause I need you to look into mine

Tell me that you’ll open your eyes [x4]

Get up, get out, get away from these liars
‘Cause they don’t get your soul or your fire
Take my hand, knot your fingers through mine
And we’ll walk from this dark room for the last time

Every minute from this minute now
We can do what we like anywhere
I want so much to open your eyes
‘Cause I need you to look into mine

Tell me that you’ll open your eyes [x8]

All this feels strange and untrue
And I won’t waste a minute without you

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

Let the hiding begin….

Hello. Hope you all are well. I have officially gone into hiding. So much so, that my 3 besties had to bust into my house on Sunday morning to make sure I was o.k. I felt like I was on that show, “Intervention.” I don’t mean to shut everyone out; but it’s what I do best. Being home has been great and I have been loving spending time with Liam and Quinny. I could easily stay in my house and never leave again because when I do go out, the anxiety is still too much. Woody practically kicked me out of the house last night and made me go to a movie. I picked up Linds (my go to last minute girl… thanks mama) and we went to see “Black Swan.” Good movie, but I should have picked something a little less dark. After I dropped off Linds, I was driving home and the tears started up and I couldn’t get them to stop. I had to pull over because I couldn’t even focus on my drive. I’m not going to tell you what thoughts were consuming me…. but I’m sure you can guess. I still don’t think this is real. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that my perfect little boy is so ill. It seems like yesterday that he had a head full of hair, and was running around always looking for trouble. I can’t tell you how much I miss that little boy. The little boy that I could never get mad at because one look at those bright blue eyes and that mischievous smile and I was done. I always ended up laughing at whatever naughty thing he did. Well, most of the time:) Now, I get to watch as he is too weak to walk and wants to me to carry him all of the time. Now I get to lay next to him and know that every breath he takes is a blessing and every kiss he gives me is a dream come true. Every tear that falls down my face is for him and I think about what sadness was like before all of this. Before all of this, sadness should have not existed in my world because I absolutely had nothing to be sad about. Everyday is a struggle for our family; nothing is easy anymore. I am doing what I can do to push through the motions, I am doing what I can do to survive. I am still numb to everything around me, except for pain. I feel that every second of the day.

We got a call from Radiology today and we have all of Ronan’s scans set up. February 2nd, Ronan will go under Anesthesia for his Bone scan. February 3rd, he will go under Anesthesia again for his MIBG, Pet scan, CT scan, and MRI. These two days are going to be very telling for us. After these scans, we will know exactly where the cancer is left in Ronan’s body and from here we will find out when we start the stem cell transplant. We already know that it is clear from his bone marrow; but the MIBG scan will be the most telling of them all. A MIBG (iodine meta-iodobenzylguanidine) scan is a test used to find tumors of a specific origin. This scan will light up Ronan’s whole body to show us where the cancer is still active. Of course we will be praying that it has diminished immensely. Ronan has come too far and worked too hard for it not to.

So, this is my update for today. Tricia was officially concerned because I have gone off the radar; so here you go Tricia Boo. I’m here, or I’m here as much as I can possibly be. I haven’t been talking to anyone so I hope none of you are offended. I miss you all but just need some time to get back in a routine at home. I miss my New York Miss Macy dearly. I will think about the time I had with her and Tricia in New York when I need to smile. The time spent with those two and Ronan meant the world to me. It felt so good just to be and laugh, even though we were in a hospital with my baby who has cancer. True friends that can make you smile and laugh during the hardest times in your life, are the truest of the true. I love you both so much.