Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ellie is One Year Cancer Free!

One year ago today we got the call that Ellie was cancer free! Induction was successful and removed all traces of leukemia from her body. The process since then has been overwhelmingly difficult, but we are happy to say that a year later there are still no signs of cancer in her body. We are so thankful to our Heavenly Father for carrying our entire family through this time. So many things have been orchestrated by Him, and for that we are grateful.
Ellie is exactly half way done with her treatment. She was diagnosed on April 2, 2016 and will finish treatment on June 9, 2018. Today is May 6, 2017. If you do the math, today marks the beginning of the second half of treatment. Ellie is still on daily chemo, visits the hospital every four weeks and gets a lumbar puncture every third visit. Her treatment is intense, but we are hopeful that the second half is better than the first.
Thank you for your continued love, support and prayers for Ellie and our family. We are so excited to celebrate this milestone today, but are also acutely aware of the families that we have met along the way that did not have the same outcome. Although we never met Emmi Grace, Zion or Nolan, we grieve the loss of these children. I can assure you that we will never forget them.
This experience has changed our family. Some ways are obvious, others we cannot quite yet verbalize. We are still trying to navigate this world of pediatric cancer and find our place in it. As I have previously stated, we will never un-know pediatric cancer. It is a part of us now. Although I would never wish this upon anyone, I am grateful for the lessons that I continue to learn. My hope is that all of our girls learn how to be empathetic, caring and proactive in an increasingly unfair world. More often than not, I feel like I'm not doing enough to enact change. I suppose awareness is the first step.
So, to wrap up this surprisingly long post...we are hopeful. From this day forward, the treatment that is behind Ellie will greatly outweigh the treatment that still lies before her. She is loving, silly and funny. She annoys her sisters exactly how a three year old should. She thinks she is bigger than she is and wants to do everything Eva and Nora do. She is thriving. She is alive.
We do not take that for granted. Not even for a second.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Pet Therapy with Parker

Pet Therapy at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital of Tampa is something that Ellie loves to experience while receiving chemo at the Infusion Center. We are so grateful to all of the volunteers that make these visits easier. A special thank you to Cindy for bringing Parker for Ellie to play with, and to FOX 13's Linda Hurtado for sharing this story.
Here is a link to the news segment aired this evening.

Give Day Tampa Bay

The past several months have been difficult to explain. A year later, our entire family is still processing Ellie's diagnosis, each in our own way. Our emotions vary daily, sometimes hourly.
There has been wellness but also a lot of sickness. Ellie is well. She has not had to be admitted to the hospital in over six months. The leukemia shows no sign of returning. Ellie is sick. She has had the flu, almost consistently, for over two months now. Due to a spiked fever, last night was spent at the ER. Again. For the third time in 8 weeks.
I haven't written in a long time because I don't know what to say. I still don't know, but I figured it was a good time to check in. In this case, no news is good news. Ellie is fine, but we are all weary.
Perhaps you've seen on your social media feed that today is Give Day Tampa Bay 2017.
If you feel so inclined, please donate to one of the many organizations that are right here in Tampa Bay. There are so many wonderful ones to choose from, and a couple that have even helped our family during this difficult year. But, if I had to narrow it down to one, I would ask you to donate to Beat NB. They are funding trials for neuroblastoma, and although this was not Ellie's diagnosis, this is a form of cancer that does not have a clear cure. They need funding for these trials to help other children that aren't as fortunate as Ellie.
Every little bit helps. Even $5. Seriously. The organization that has the most support of unique donors will receive an extra $10,000 bonus.
It really is a simple way to help. Thank you for supporting our family and for helping other families that are going through something far worse.