Never looking back

Hi my friends. I’ve missed you. It’s been a whirlwind of a week to say the least. We did our duty as parents to get all the opinions possible as far as Ronan goes. We have met with the best doctors, visited the best hospitals, talked to everyone we could get our hands on, strategized, analyzed, over analyzed, asked hundreds of questions only to come up with the one answer that I knew was there all along. I said this in my blog in December. I’ve known it in my heart for months now. New York is going to be the place to heal my baby. New York is where we were meant to be. I was very impressed with Dr. Mosse at Chop. That woman is amazing and I believe in what she is doing. She basically recommend MIBG therapy for Ronan to get us back on track for his Stem Cell Transplant, Radiation, and Antibodies. It is a good plan and the data is there to back it up; but the one thing we couldn’t get past was what if the MIBG therapy to get Ronan to minimal disease didn’t work. Then what? We are not going to send him into Transplant and we would have ended up at Sloan anyway, but with fewer options. Chop follows the standard COG protocol for treatment and through all of this, I have learned that Ronan is so unique, that he is not meant to follow the “standard route” of treatment. Dr. Kushner can offer us everything Chop has offered us and more. More options, more choices, more freedom. This man is not looking at my child as data. This man is looking at my child as an individual and will do whatever it takes to cure him of this awful disease. Ronan is not a number and Dr. Kushner truly will do whatever it takes to save his life. His hands are not tied by anyone. He can do whatever he wants and will. I’ll admit, this makes me a little nervous as I feel like he’s a bit of a wildcard. But that is a good thing. This disease is so aggressive that we have to give it all we can. I’ve nicknamed Dr. Kushner  my maverick Cowboy. Not to mention he defines brilliance. He is so unbelievably smart and is so dedicated to what he is doing. He believes he has revolutionized the treatment for this disease in a less toxic way. I am all about that. The less toxicities Ronan has to suffer, the better. The bottom line is, Woody and I both trust this man completely. He is the BEST. He is our best shot at getting rid of Neuroblastoma for the rest of Ronan’s life. He has no hidden agenda, he’s not worried about bringing in money, this is not a business to him. It is his passion, his life, and he is going to save our son. We are going this route and never looking back. New York is our future, New York is going to bring our baby back to us. There is no other option. So, the plan is in place and this gives me much peace of mind. Ronan has a long way to go as far as treatment goes but we will make this work. I will go in to detail later about what exactly we are doing but now, I am much too tired. We got home last night at 11:00 and I have been up since 7 this morning and am emotionally beat.

I texted my Mr. Sparkly Eyes tonight and told him that I will never understand why bad things happen to good people and that nothing in my life makes sense anymore. He called me back but I didn’t get to talk to him due to walking into a movie with my girlfriends. He is the best at calming me down with his words of wisdom. He brings me back to my center which I so need in my life right now. Today was a shitty day. Beyond awful but out of respect for others, I’m not going to go into details. I will just say that nothing in life makes sense and it is fucking beyond cruel. If one more bad thing happens this year, I may seriously strangle someone. Is it too much to ask for someone to throw a little happiness my way?? I cannot take having my heart broken all over again. It’s going to be hard enough having to uproot my life when someone whom I love so very much, needs me more than ever. And guess what? I can’t be here because some asshole named cancer has taken over my life, the life of my son and everyone around me. Good things better start happening and happening fast. Life should not be this hard, this painful, this sad. Tonight, my heart is broken and it’s nothing I can fix. My heart breaks for the most beautiful soul on this planet and all I want to do is take her away from all of this bullshit called life. Is anything in this life even true anymore? Because it all seems like a sick joke to me. I’m watching things happening left and right to people I know and they are not good things. We are all good people and it just does not make any sense. I guess the saying “You can’t make sense out of nonsense,” is really true. Well, I’ve had it with this nonsense and I am ready for a break from Phoenix. It’s time to get the show on the road and get Ronan better. Phoenix is not going to be the place to make this happen. We are ready for our new journey in New York to start and are welcoming it with open arms. So Ro baby, hold on tight…. you are about to turn that city upside down!

Ronan has felt great, looks amazing and is ready to take this on. Nothing can stop this kid. He was such a little trooper our entire trip and made every single nurse, doctor, and random stranger who worked in the cheese steak shop in Philly, (HI HELEN!) fall in love with him. I can’t tell you how many times people told me how he was the most beautiful child they had ever seen. He has such a light about him that attracts everyone because they can just tell by looking at him that he is going to do something very special with his life. He already is. I thank god everyday that he is mine. The look of determination in his eyes never goes away. He knows what he is up against and he is not scared. He is so brave, beautiful, and inspiring. Some days, I just sit back and watch how happy he is. He has no idea how awful his cancer is, he is just another happy kid who gets to take a lot of trips and have a lot of fun adventures. Everyday in Ronan’s life is an adventure and he is living everyday to the fullest while teaching us the true meaning of the things we surround ourselves with and how we choose to live our lives. We as a family feel so lucky to learn these things from him. Our little mini master yoga🙂

We have a busy weekend full of the twins’ sports which I am so excited for. We get to go and watch them play baseball and basketball tomorrow. Cannot wait for that. Ronan and I have to fly out to NYC next week for a couple of days to get the ball rolling on some things so I’ve got to get working on that as well. It’s non-stop and most days, I feel like I don’t even have time to breathe. I keep telling myself this is not the time to breathe, this is the time to run this bitch of a marathon and not stop until we are on the other side. I can do this thanks to the amazing support of my hubby, family, and friends. I won’t let you all down and most importantly, I won’t let Ronan down. We will get him through this. That I PROMISE.

Ice-age heat wave, can’t complain.
If the world’s at large, why should I remain?
Walked away to another plan.
Gonna find another place, maybe one I can stand.
I move on to another day,
to a whole new town with a whole new way.
Went to the porch to have a thought.
Got to the door and again, I couldn’t stop.
You don’t know where and you don’t know when.
But you still got your words and you got your friends.
Walk along to another day.
Work a little harder, work another way.

Well uh-uh baby I ain’t got no plan.
We’ll float on maybe would you understand?
Gonna float on maybe would you understand?
Well float on maybe would you understand?

The days get shorter and the nights get cold.
I like the autumn but this place is getting old.
I pack up my belongings and I head for the coast.
It might not be a lot but I feel like I’m making the most.
The days get longer and the nights smell green.
I guess it’s not surprising but it’s spring and I should leave.

I like songs about drifters – books about the same.
They both seem to make me feel a little less insane.
Walked on off to another spot.
I still haven’t gotten anywhere that I want.
Did I want love? Did I need to know?
Why does it always feel like I’m caught in an undertow?

The moths beat themselves to death against the lights.
Adding their breeze to the summer nights.
Outside, water like air was great.
I didn’t know what I had that day.
Walk a little farther to another plan.
You said that you did, but you didn’t understand.

I know that starting over is not what life’s about.
But my thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud

Just FYI… This is what I feel like screaming tonight and I know a bunch of my closest friends would agree with me hands down. I am so lucky to have the circle of friends I do. We are so amazingly close that I consider them sisters and we would do anything for each other. Thank you girls, for rallying when one of us needs it the most and for the fact that we will all come out of this stronger, wiser, and even more beautiful. I love you all so much. You especially my sweet soul sister. You have held my hand from the beginning of all of this and have never let go. We can get through anything together.

G’nite to all of you beautiful people out there. Thank you for all the praying and loving you are doing for us. I thought of all of you while making this big decision. You were a huge factor in us choosing this route and I truly believe it was a decision that was met with such ease because of all of the positive energy you were sending our way. Sweet dreams!!!!!

xoxo

Why hello beautiful boy

Today was actually a wonderful day. Wonderful as in we only had to go to the clinic for the standard blood tests and to have Ronan’s broviac dressing changed. We got to see our favorite nurse, Sharon, which is always a treat. Ronan told me today that she is his favorite person to see at the clinic. So sweet he is. This morning he woke me up at 7 a.m. on the dot demanding scrambled eggs, pronto! I tried my best to put him off as I was so cozy in bed but he wasn’t having it. I got up, made him his eggs, and got Quinn ready for school. Liam is still at Mimi and Papa’s due to not feeling well. After Quinny got off to school, I spent the rest of the morning cooking for Ronan and making him food about every half an hour. He is constantly hungry which is a very good thing, but leaves me exhausted and I don’t get much else done around the house. We headed out to PCH and had a chance to talk to Dr. Eshun about Ronan’s scans. He overall seemed pleased with everything but does not want to give us any concrete statistics until we get the MIBG scan done. This will be the most telling of all of the scans. Thursday cannot get here soon enough. After the clinic visit, Ronan was begging me to take him to Chelsea’s Kitchen for lunch. We met Woody there and watched as Ronan chowed down some of Woody’s French Dip, french fries, and his Grilled Cheese Sandwich. I had my favorite, the Ahi Tuna Tacos. Most amazing things ever. I could never get tired of that place. Ronan was happy to be out with his mom and dad and it was a gorgeous day spent with a gorgeous boy who is feeling wonderful. You have no idea what it does to my heart to see him so happy and carefree. Forget the fact that his life has been overtaken by cancer; today none of that mattered. Quinn came home from school and cousin Luke came over for a couple hours to play. The boys played baseball outside and ran around like crazy. I felt like a normal mom for a minute… making them after school snacks, helping with homework, doing laundry, and getting to hear all about Quinn and Luke’s day at school. It’s days like today that the cancer cloud that hangs over my head disappears for just a short amount of time. It is the most wonderful feeling in the world. I made the boys’ dinner and as soon as Woody got home, I headed out to my gym to get in a quick workout. I’d better try to get in as much exercise as possible before transplant starts because I know once that starts, all of my workouts are going to be gone for awhile. Not looking forward to that but I will just have to suck it up and keep telling myself that this isn’t forever. Soon we will have Ronan back and our lives will return to being somewhat the same; but with much more appreciation for anything and everything that comes our way. After going through something like this, the little things are going to seem so less in our life and we have learned what truly matters. I am grateful in a way for this lesson and I have all the faith in the world that Ronan was put here on this earth to teach us these things and to help us change the world. He has such a special journey planned for all of us and we are going to follow his lead. I have learned to just go with my gut feeling with most everything in my life and it always turns out right. I will follow Ronan to the end of the earth and back and feel so lucky to do so. He is the most amazing little boy. Never in my life have I known someone so strong, brave and beautiful and he is all of this at only the age of 3. Just imagine what he is going to be like as an adult. I cannot wait to see what life has in store for him.

I have learned that my days now are filled with both sadness and beauty. I am o.k. with that because I try so hard to make sure the beauty outweighs the sadness. Maybe Ronan was born such a beautiful boy for this purpose… because this has always been what his journey in life was meant to be and being so beautiful, would help me get through this?? Never has a more beautiful boy existed and I am not just saying this because I am his mother. I am not biased, this is the truth and I now know it was for a very special reason. All I have to do when I am feeling too sad or scared is look into his big blue eyes and my fears melt away. The look in his eyes tells me over and over that he is going to be fine. I truly believe that with every part of my mind, body, and soul. Everyday, I am finding things I am thankful for and it reminds me how precious life on this earth is. Ronan is a gift and I am so happy I get to share him all with you.

That is all for tonight. I am going to hot yoga with Stacy at 5:30 a.m. in the morning. Told you I’m taking full advantage of my freedom and what better way to start my morning than drenched in sweat and tears. Love you all my dear friends. Sweet dreams of peace and happiness.

xoxo

Love my name
Love left dry
Frost or flame
Skeleton me
Fall asleep
Spin the sky
Skeleton me
Love, don’t cry
Love, don’t cry
Love, don’t cry
Skeleton me
Skeleton me

Soon comes rain
Dry your eyes
Frost or flame
Skeleton me
Fall asleep
Spin the sky
Skeleton me
Love, don’t cry
Love, don’t cry
Love, don’t cry
Skeleton me
Skeleton me

Skeleton me

I get by with a little help from my friends

There is no better way to start a Sunday morning than meeting up with my girlfriends at Taylor’s for breakfast. Tricia, Bethany, Fernanda, and Stacy all came prepared with everything we needed to talk about as far as getting things in the works for transplant. These women, I swear could rule the world. Smart, compassionate, funny, beautiful, and savvy are just a few things that come to mind when describing them. Fernanda came armed with a lot of printouts about questions we need to have answered about the isolation period and we put together a pretty good game plan. It was a little overwhelming but I know not to worry too much because these girls have it all under control. There is no way that they will not have everything and more covered. We started lists of everything from who will do laundry to the schedule for Liam and Quinn, to who will sneak me in coffee when I need it. There is nothing these girls will miss and I could not have more peace of mind with whom I am leaving things in charge of. Fernanda has read over 60 blogs of other Neuroblastoma moms and knows everything we need to do and ask.

As we were leaving Taylor’s I was getting into Tricia’s car and she looked over at me and called Fernanda a real life Superwoman. She hit the nail on the head with that one. Fernanda is a even better than Superwoman… she is my version of a Spanish Superwoman with sass, spice, brains, compassion, and just the right amount of  a fiery attitude to help me kick ass through this. Then there is Stacy. The most loyal person I have ever met who loves me like I am family. Who knows just how to calm me down by just giving me a look. If there is ever a time that I feel overwhelmed or panicked, all I have to do is look in Stacy’s eyes and I know everything is going to be alright. She is the type of person who will bend over backwards for you, without ever asking a thing in return. She gives with her entire heart, no questions asked, and fills me with the peace and calmness that I so need in my life right now. And Bethany. You look up the definition of Grace and Beauty in the dictionary, and you will find Bethany’s picture. She is somebody that I have known almost my entire life, just not well at all until now. She is guarded but wears her heart on her sleeve. I am honored that she has slowly let me into her life as it takes a lot to earn Bethany’s trust. She is the most amazing mommy, wife, friend and someone who I would trust with my life and the life of my children 110%. Last but not least, there is my Tricia Boo. My best friend for 6 years now and we have the kind of friendship that dreams are made of. It’s been a six year love story and now she has basically given up everything to help me through this. She is the Godmom to Ronan and my saving grace. There is no way I would be able to get through this without her. Sitting at breakfast this morning I felt so fortunate so be surrounded by these women. One of the biggest gifts I have received on this journey is finding out what people are really made of. The people that are in our lives, right now, at this moment, are pure gold. They are my hidden treasures whose hearts keep me filled with courage and strength. I am beyond blessed.

I think I just wrote a love letter to my sweet girlfriends above… I could seriously write a book on each and every one of them. You know how else I know I am beyond blessed?? Because I just took the time to write about those 4 girls above and I have a handful more amazing girlfriends who I could go on and on about as well. You all know who you are and I love you so much. I will never be able to thank you enough for all you are doing for me, for Ro, for our family. I will simply tell you everyday how much I love you and how thankful I am that people like you exist in the world and I treasure you all so much. Thank you for being the truest friends alive in the purest way possible.

After breakfast, Trish came over and we sat down with Woody to go over everything. We started an online calendar to get the ball rolling on what exactly needs to happen and to figure out which days/nights I will be in the hospital and which days/nights I will be at home. Seeing this on a calendar defiantly makes me feel better. Having something to look at helps to calm my nerves. I feel like we are starting to put a very good plan into place. The thing with cancer is everyday is different and you never know what to expect, but at least this gives me a little something to hold on to. I thrive in structure and with a good plan in place I feel like I will be able to fully focus on Ronan if I know who is doing what on this day and at this time.

Today, the boys’ played with their cousin Luke for most of the day. We also had Luke’s sister Lily over to play as well. She was such a little trooper, keeping up with a house full of 4 crazy boys. I took her up the street for some girly time and we got mani and pedicures. Lily is 8 and is just as sweet as her brother. I never get little girl time, so I was in heaven. She is darling and I loved spending time with her today. We both got glitter nail polish on our toes and Lily got pink on her nails with a little flower design. I would steal those kids every weekend if I could:) It is adorable to see this new relationship flourish between cousins.

After Luke and Lily went home, I could tell Liam wasn’t feeling well today. He took a big nap which he never does and woke up with a sight fever. I sat and held him for a bit but we had to call Mimi and Papa to pick him up so he could go and stay at their house for the night. We can’t take any chances around Ronan if Liam does have something. I hate that I can’t take care of my little guy who isn’t feeling well. I mean, that’s supposed to be my job… I’m his mom. We don’t have a choice though, we cannot have Ronan getting sick with anything before transplant. Off he went and Woody, Ro, Quinn and I walked down to Jay’s house to watch the Superbowl. We had a great time and Jay was the master of the BBQ making the best steaks ever. We hung out, watched football, ate, and played catch outside. Ronan got tired around half-time so I brought him home. Quinn and Ro are fast asleep now and Woody is having some boy time with Jay and Mark. He needs that so much. I am so happy that Woody’s best friend now lives right around the corner from us. It has been nothing but great for all of us.

Alright, xanex is kicking in. I must get a good night sleep tonight…. I have so much going on this week and if I am not sleeping, lord knows what I will forget to do or what I will mess up. I’ve got to try to start sleeping more at night…. otherwise my brain turns into mush and I cannot focus or remember a thing. Hope you all had a great weekend. It was one of the best weekends we have had in a very long time. Goodnight to all of you out there… sweetest dreams possible.

xo

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah, they were all yellow.

I came along,
I wrote a song for you,
And all the things you do,
And it was called “Yellow.”

So then I took my turn,
Oh what a thing to’ve done,
And it was all yellow.

Your skin
Oh yeah, your skin and bones,
Turn into something beautiful,
And you know
You know I love you so,
You know I love you so.

I swam across,
I jumped across for you,
Oh what a thing to do.
Cuz you were all yellow,

I drew a line,
I drew a line for you,
Oh what a thing to do,
And it was all yellow.

Your skin,
Oh yeah your skin and bones,
Turn into something beautiful,
And you know,
For you I’d bleed myself dry,
For you I’d bleed myself dry.

It’s true, look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for…
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine…

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And all the things that you do.

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.

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

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.

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.

Magic Medicine… Day 2 Round 6

I so needed to take a little break from the hospital today. Ronan is still refusing to get out of bed so we spent the morning playing; I tried my best to entertain him. Our favorite nurse, Sharon, came to do Ronan’s dressing change. He did pretty well with it but at one point I heard him yell out to her as she was taking the tape off, “I’m not a brave boy, I’m NOT A BRAVE BOY!” Neither of us had said anything about him being brave, but in his little 3-year-old memory, he hears us telling him all the time how brave he is and as he was hurting from the pain, he decided to let us know that he was not brave. We both told him he was, that he was the bravest boy in the world. UGH. I could cry right now just by telling this story. A 3-year-old should not what it is to be brave and to have people tell him he is brave all the time. Cancer is robbing Ronan of his childhood and I am fucking beyond pissed about it. His childhood, his innocence, his toddler years are being ruined. This will never be alright with me and I swear to god, I will do something about it. For all the Ronan’s, Jacks, Mia’s, Phoebe’s, Coleman’s, Victoria’s, Leo’s, Noah’s, Tripp’s, Ashley’s, Layla’s, and everyone else out there that is suffering and dying from this disease. I will not stop until people start paying attention to childhood cancer

Auntie Karen came around noon and I snuck out to go home. I wish I could say I was productive at home but I just tried to catch up on some sleep since I only slept a few hours last night. I tossed and turned during my nap today; even though I was exhausted I can’t escape being restless. I got up, showered and ran off to my hair appointment. It felt so nice to do something normal and to be out of the hospital. Sarah (the baby whisper) came and relieved Auntie Karen and sat with Ronan for about 5 hours. Thank you both today so much; I don’t know what I would do without you.

Ronan is tolerating Round 6 really well so far. I know the effects won’t hit him until late next week but for now, besides the fact that his spirits are down, he is doing well. He hasn’t had any nausea yet which is great. I can’t wait to bust him out of here hopefully on Saturday evening. We then get a few weeks off from the hospital before we start the Stem Cell Transplant. We will have more scans done in the next couple of weeks to give us an exact answer on where exactly Ronan still has cancer left in his little body. I will update you when I know exactly what the date is going to be. Ro is peacefully sleeping now; he looks so beautiful. I swear I could sit and stare at him all night which is really what I end up doing most of the nights that we are here. My eyes will never be able to soak up enough of his beauty.

I received some exciting news tonight via FB! My friend, Jessica, posted on my wall that she saw my comment in US Weekly re: Sloan Kettering and Jake Gyllenhaal’s visit. I called up New York Macy to see if she had the issue. She didn’t and sounded half asleep but still said she would drag her butt out of bed and into the freezing cold at 11:00 at night to buy the issue. I was laughing at the thought of that and told her no way, that I would call up Trish or Sarah. I ended up calling Sarah and she ran out to grab a copy so she could tell me what is said. Thank you, SARAH!! You are such an amazing friend:) Not only did US Weekly put Ronan’s website in the latest issue, but they gave me a whole little side blurb. I am practically jumping up and down on the hospital couch I am SO EXCITED! After hearing this news, I can’t stop smiling and it feels so good. It’s been a couple of days since my smile has come out to visit:) This so raises the bar for us in getting the word out about Ronan and changing the way the world views childhood cancer. A huge thank you to Jennifer at US Weekly for keeping her word and having something so sweet come out of this. Now, if I can just get Jake to become the voice for childhood cancer. We don’t really have a voice and as I said before, I feel like he could really be a good advocate for us. I’m going to try my hardest to make this happen; people have to start listening and paying attention to this issue. There are too many babies, kids, teenagers, suffering from cancer for it not to get more attention.

Woody and I were having a conversation the other day about unconditional love and what it means. We are at a point in our life where we have so many amazing people doing things for us. You know who you are, all of you who are helping us all while asking of nothing in return. Please know that not a day goes by that I don’t think of all of you. Trust me, it kills me to not be able to sit down and thank each and everyone of you individually. You are all amazing, even the people that we do not know and who are starting to call themselves “Ronan’s Fans.” I try my best to keep up on all the comments on here and I hope you all know how much it inspires me, that I am inspiring you. Ronan is so full of beauty that he has flooded our lives with it by touching so many of your hearts. I will forever be eternally thankful for each and every one of you.

Transplant is going to be hard and some of you have asked what you can do as far as sending things for Ro to play with; for us to please make a wish list of things that you can send to the hospital to keep our little guy entertained. Keeping him on lockdown for 20-60 days is going to tough. I’m trying to get creative and think of the best ways to keep him happy. Of course you know his love for Star Wars so I was thinking of putting up a bunch of Star Wars posters in his room and making it very Star Wars themed. I went on Amazon the other night and they have a couple of different Star Wars tents that I am thinking he would love. As far as toys go…. I know everything has to be new or very sanitized to go into his room. It has to be insanely sterile. iTunes gift cards are always great. Ronan has totally taken over my iPad and loves to download movies, books, games, etc… My iPad has been my saving grace over these past few months; it keeps him entertained for hours. He has watched Season 3 of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for about 3 days straight now and loves that he can choose the episode himself. I love to watch him do this; I can tell it gives him a feeling of independence and pride.

I can’t believe this is the last round of Ronan’s Magic Medicine. Look how far our little guy has come! After all he has endured and all the pain he has suffered, his beauty never fades. I can’t wait until this round is done and I can do my “Ronan’s done with chemo happy dance!” The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer!!!

G’nite, sweet dreams, to all of you angels out there.

xoxo

Prepare to be schooled

Hello world!

Last night, Woody and I fell asleep around 2 East Coast Time. Ronan woke up around 1 a.m. and was wanting to eat some popsicles. He then wanted some books read to him so I read him one of my favorites when I was little, “The Pokey Little Puppy,” and a few Mickey Mouse books. He woke up pretty early this morning and is now back asleep. Wooddawg is still sleeping; of course:) Today, I have a new friend coming by whom I’ve never met named Ed. My friend, Niki, got in touch with him though the Neuroblastoma world. He has been in our shoes before and Niki has met and talked to him a few times and has nothing but amazing things to say about him. I am excited to meet him, I feel like I already know him. Niki calls him a “big teddy bear:).”

Woody flys back to Phoenix today so I will be here for the day/night alone. Not a big deal… we are moving out of the POU (Pedatric Observation Unit) today. Tricia was supposed to come in on Saturday, but changed her flight to come out tomorrow so I don’t have to be alone for two nights in a row. Now that’s a best friend for you:) She is one in a billion and I am so excited to see my boo. I’ve missed her so much. My mom gets in on Sunday and I am very excited for that as well. It will be the first time that she has been to NYC. I hope I get to show her around a bit. I know she will love Central Park. I’m most excited for her to see Ronan though and how well he is doing. He is going to be over the moon that she is here. Lots of good things coming up in the next few days.

So, a few of you have asked what the next step is as far as Ronan’s treatment goes. I’ll try to explain it to you as best as possible. We plan to start his last round, Round 6, of chemo on Monday. That will last 4 days. After that, we will get back to AZ as soon as possible before his levels drop. After we return home, we will let him recover from the chemo… with hopefully no unexpected hospital visits for fevers or anything like that. Sometime in February, not sure of the date yet, we will start the hardest part of his treatment…. so I hear. It’s called the Stem Cell Transplant. I’ll try to explain it as best as I can. It is basically very high doses of chemo, which destroy Ronan’s immune system. When the stem cells come from your own blood or bone marrow, it is called an Autologous Transplant, which is what Ronan is having. This type of transplant, patients act as their own donor. That is, a child who is about to undergo cancer treatment will have his or her own stem cells removed (harvested) and frozen for later use. After the child receives chemotherapy and/or radiation, the stem cells are thawed and put back into the child’s body. This procedure may be done once or many times, depending on the need. Sometimes doctors will use extra-high doses of chemotherapy during treatment (to kill as many cancer cells as possible) if they know a patient will be getting a stem cell transplant soon after. It not so nice words, they are basically going to “kill” Ronan and bring him back to life with his own stem cells that they have harvested. Stem cell transplantation (also referred to as bone marrow transplantation or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation) treats serious diseases through a process that destroys the patient’s damaged immune system and replaces it with healthy stem cells. (Blood stem cells — regenerative cells that become red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets or plasma cells — are an integral component of a person’s immune system.) The new stem cells restore the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow, thus creating a new immune system in the patient’s body. Make sense? It’s very complicated, very scary, but it is going to give us the best chance of giving Ronan a whole new cancer free immune system. We are on “study,” which means we will be randomized to see if Ronan gets one Stem Cell transplant or two. There are some studies that indicate that a double transplant may be better at killing the cancer for good; but it is not complete yet so we have signed up to be Guinea Pigs. A computer will flip a coin for us and then we will find out what we get. We are guaranteed one, but he may be getting a second one later on down the road. I’m nervous about the 2nd stem cell transplant…. it is so hard on the kids and I really hate to put Ronan through all that twice. As of now, I am just leaving that coin flipping in the hands of the Gods above. We will cross that bridge when we come to it I guess.

This is going to be very hard on Ronan for obvious reasons. We will have to be at Phoenix Children’s Hospital from anywhere to 20-60 days, depending on how fast his immune system comes back. We will be in isolation, which means Ronan will not be able to leave the sterilized room we are in at all, and only a few people can come and go. Everything has to be super germ free and the less people coming in and out, the better. I know getting through this surgery was a big deal, but I think that the Stem Cell Transplant is going to be even harder. I find comfort in the fact that I know Ronan is going to get through this once again with flying colors. He has proven time and time again, that he is no ordinary boy. He is our Rockstar:)

Whew! Do you all feel like you’re back in school?! I feel like I just taught a class;) Hope you understood everything, I explained it as best as I could. Time to try to get my little monkey up and walking around today. Happy Thursday to you all. I hope you are having the best day ever:)

xoxo

The happiest day of my new life

I got a phone call from Dr. Maze today re: Ronan’s scan results. He told me as much as he could, which was so nice of him to do. Waiting is the hardest part and he instantly put me at ease with his news. Woody heard from Dr. Eshun around 5:00. We have some very good news to share tonight. 2 weeks ago we were told to expect the mass in Ronan’s abdomen to shrink around 20-25 percent, but not much more than that. Dr. Eshun told us tonight that the mass has actually shrunk 47%. That is huge news for us! We could not be happier with those results. It is still in his bone marrow, and there are a couple of other areas they are going to watch… but nothing else has progressed or started to grow, so Dr. Eshun is very pleased with what he is seeing. I fell to the floor after hearing this news… and cried like a baby. All I could think about was how I knew Ronan would fight this as hard as he possibly could. He is proving it by the results we are seeing and how well he is handling everything. He is so unbelievably strong. He is fighting so hard for us all of us, because he loves us all so much.Today has been such a happy day for our family, a day full of hope and a big sigh of relief. We still have a long road ahead of us, but today was a victory for us. Tonight, we will sleep a little better and dream a little sweeter. We are so full of hope and joy and are going to continue to love Ronan so deeply and so much that it kills all of his cancer. We are doing everything we can to surround him with positive energy, laughter, and love. We will continue with his treatment plan and pray that we continue to see amazing results.

I had lunch today with 3 lovely ladies. I finally had the chance to meet another mom, Lara, her son was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma and he is now 10 years old. They live here and are very involved in raising money to fund less toxic treatments for this disease and to find a cure. I cannot tell you how much meeting her meant to me. Her son, Noah, is alive, healthy, and is so full of love for life. He beat all of the odds and is living proof that miracles do happen. Lara gave me a lot of great advice and seeing her courage and strength was so very inspiring. I can’t wait to meet Noah someday and introduce Ronan to him.

I  also saw a therapist today. I knew within 15 minutes of our session that she was the one. Intelligent, compassionate, and we meshed well. She gets it. You want to know how I really knew she was the one for me?? She asked me about Ronan’s cancer, she asked me to tell her what his treatment plan entailed. I went through the list of 5 rounds of chemo, surgery, another round of chemo, stem cell transplant (maybe 2), Radiation, and the last blast of antibodies. She looked at me and goes, “Does cussing offend you?” I go, ” No, quite the opposite.” And she goes, “Good. Holy shit.” Ahhhhh, a woman after my own heart! I loved that she was so raw and blunt. I don’t need any sissy pants, sugar-coating, therapist. I need someone who understands that this is one of the worst possible things to happen to a parent and who can look me in the eye and tell me it’s bullshit, but she can figure out how to get me through it, so I don’t have to check myself into a loony bin. This lady is going to be that person for me, I can already tell. I feel better than I have in a very long time. I can see little pieces here and there of our old life coming back. It’s like there are little flickering pieces of glitter floating through the air and every once in a while I’ll catch one. I caught one yesterday when I spent a few hours with Woody. We went furniture shopping and to lunch. I can’t tell you how important those few hours were with him. I allowed myself to forget about Ronan’s cancer for a while and just enjoyed spending some time with my husband. It was a beautiful day spent with a beautiful man.

I just want to tell each and every one of you who are reading this blog, following Ronan’s journey, praying and thinking about us, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will say this over and over again until the day I die… I know he feels your love and I know all of the love, prayers, and positive energy are working. There is only so much medicine can do, so please continue to do whatever you are doing for him:)