The journey continues…

Dealing with life’s daily interruptions are grueling when you have a sick child. Especially when “daily interruptions” can mean trips to the ER. Anyone who has been through the journey of caring for a child with cancer can attest to the fact that a family experiences many levels of loss along the way. The process of loss does not begin with the death of a child. In fact, personal losses for parents and siblings begin to pile up early, from the beginning of therapy to the final outcome of treatment. From the first day of treatment, daily life is irrevocably changed by the demands of caring for the sick child, and everyone in the house feels the pain. Siblings experience a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety, based primarily on the absence of their sick sibling and one, or possibly both parents, due to long hospital stays, or late night departures to the emergency room when chemo’s side-effects kick in, demanding treatment. Parents lose individual time with the healthy siblings, family dinners get skipped, school and special occasions get missed. It’s all part and parcel of the great amount of time that has to be devoted to the sick child, and the sacrifices that come with this reality. Siblings are acutely aware of the absence of their parents. What we wanted most to avoid was becoming isolated from our healthy children. Making sure they were involved in the care of their sister was an important way to stem the feeling of loss and isolation, and keep everyone together. How much that helped Abbigail’s two brothers I can’t be sure, but at least we are trying to keep our family normal, in an otherwise abnormal situation. While it’s important to focus on the healthy kids and how they are feeling, keeping a close eye on your spouse and their feelings is of equal or possibly greater importance. Given the difficulties and time constraints caring for a sick child can put on a relationship, it’s easy to grow apart. Most of the time, mom is one place, dad is another. I know this is a reality in our experience, the loss of personal time together in just about every aspect. The challenge is to try and restore some of the intimacy and private moments, while still dealing with the constant pressure of caring for your family. Ultimately, depending on the progression of the disease, there will be lesser, or greater losses the family will experience. Communicating with Matthew and the boys on how everyone is feeling, trying to keep us close, both emotionally and physically, is the goal, hopefully mitigating some of the loss that caring for a Abbigail has brought to our family over the last three and a half years. 

Today Abbigail and I are cuddling beneath a bright pink Barbie blanket, enjoying each other’s company, but it isn’t in the comfort of home and it isn’t surrounded by our loving family. We are in hospital. The boys are back home with Daddy trying to carry on with the daily chores and coping with the daily losses implicated when Abbigail is in hospital, and Mama by her side. 

Our family has been blessed this past month with the gift of time. We were given use of a home in Orlando, which offered our family the opportunity to drive down to Florida and have unplanned, uncharted time together, without treatment interruptions, or medical appointments. Abbigail was well the time we were away, with the exception of a few days of cough and cold, and she was able to have her NG tube removed, as she now eats well enough and is able to take her medications orally. She turned five years old during our trip and had the time of her life; splashing her toes in the water, enjoying breakfast with Sophia the First (child princess from Disney) and spending each day with her brothers and both parents without exceptions. There were no hospital visits and no additional medications or blood to be drawn. After countless beautiful sunny days with Mickey and his pals and so much pool side fun, we hit the highways for two days to get back home. We chose to detour 12 hrs though, which gave  us the chance to visit with close friends in Memphis. They have been relocated there for almost a year now, seeking life saving treatment for their daughter, Abbigail’s best friend, Phoebe. This entire trip, as busy as it was, truly was a huge break for our family, an opportunity to be together without planned interruption, a blessing beyond comparison.  There continued to be small daily losses as Abbigail still suffered from the sometimes debilitating OMS symptoms, which made the day to day struggling at best, but in the end it was magical.  Once all of the roads were behind us and we finally saw our fields, local farms and neighbours, we were relieved to be home and back to our comfort zone. As amazing as the ignorance has been this past month, we knew that this serene feeling of freedom from the diseases that have festered our lives for years, was likely over. 

Abbigail was due for her follow-up MRI on her liver lesions only two days after returning home. Wednesday, May 27th, she underwent sedation for the umpteenth time and had images taken of her abdomen and pelvis, with the focus being on her liver. After two days of waiting for results, we arrived to hospital again Friday the 29th of May to hear that her tumours have now doubled to an astronomical number of 60+ spots confined to her liver. This is not only puzzling to her team, but also very concerning and worrisome. Abbigail is continuing to pave her own way and write her own story about Neuroblastoma, relapsed disease and living with OMS from infancy through childhood and we will keep following and supporting her with all of the hope and faith that we can muster. 

That Friday also turned out to be one of those unimaginable moments in a parent’s life, when they hold their child tightly, fearing the worst, but knowing that life is a gift…that this child is a gift that can be taken from us at any given moment. That moment of surreal fear brought nauseating feelings to our clinic room Friday morning as Abbigail threw herself to the floor in agonizing pain only mere minutes after showing off her talented dance moves. 

Abbigail appeared to be in septic shock as her body temperature rose well above 40 degrees Celsius and her heart rate jump to 175, forcing her bloodpressure to plummet down hard and fast. This brought on severe headaches, uncontrollable shakes and shivers and confusion. Abbigail was suffering from sepsis, what was once called blood poisoning. It was quickly determined that Abbigail’s entire system had been “showered” in bacteria when her lines were flushed post blood draw. It turns out Abbigail likely had her central venous lines too close to the pool in Florida, where bacteria came into contact with foreign and vulnerable object in her body. She was immediately started on antibiotics, cultures were sent off to the labs for analysis and we were transferred from the day unit care to inpatient, where we would be for the coming weeks. 

So again, here we are cuddling, well actually she’s snoring now, and although it has only been a few days, it feels like a lifetime.  We have so much uncertainty to face and far too many unanswered questions for both infectious disease and our oncology team, that taking it day by day even sounds and feels insurmountable. 

She continues to laugh and spread her joy!

In Abbigail’s mind, there is always laughter to be had and smiles to be shared.

Today she beamed down the halls of the hospital, waving to the many staff she has come to know and cherish; the cafeteria cook and cashier, the pharmacy assistant, the coffee shop ladies who keep mama awake and the ultrasound techs who took care of her baby cousin. She was such a proud big girl today, showing off her baby cousin and ensuring he knows his way around CHEO. While he was meeting his new doctors and having his first CHEO experience, she was doing routine central line maintenance, having her lines “unclogged” and blood work drawn for her weekly virology tests.

She doesn’t understand the details behind her diagnosis, she doesn’t know anything different than the multiple weekly visits to CHEO, treatments, surgeries, “sleepy time” (anaesthetic) and clinics. Abbigail is blessed with the naivety of a baby, not understanding why strangers are intruding in their personal space, but knowing their parents will keep them safe. Abbigail is still very much like her 4 month old baby cousin today, even at the beautiful age of almost five. She doesn’t know that she has a rare and incurable disease for which she has battled for three years and continues to. She doesn’t realize that the “medicine” that saved her life twice already, received through her central lines, aka “tubies,” is in fact chemotherapy and that it could cause future, secondary cancers, and life long, sometimes detrimental side effects. Abbigail is graced with a certain ignorance despite having her innocence robbed from her three years ago.

Tomorrow she will walk back into CHEO to have her liver scanned. It shouldn’t be long before we have more information and before we have a plan forward…something to cling onto and pray for.

Please keep her in your prayers tomorrow morning and envision a “healthier” liver for our princess. She deserves to register for kindergarten and not have to withdraw again this year.

Thank you everyone for all of the support!

How long can we be ignorant for?

Sigh…as you may have gathered, this journey has been nothing short of complicated and the uncertainty of every aspect of Abbigail’s health is wearing our family thin. One step forward has always been followed by two steps backwards and her rare presentations of complicated tumours, symptoms and even her resistant OMS have puzzled Abbigail’s medical teams all over the continent.

“How’s Abbigail doing,” you ask?

Abbigail’s OMS symptoms are once again working against her. Her legs have been aching and her pain centre doesn’t seem to signal pain intensity to her until it’s unbearable so she often overworks herself and causing further pain. Her coordination and motor planning is frustrating to her when it comes to small and simple tasks for the average 4-5 year old, at best she is at the same level as her 2 year old brother. When it comes time to communicate, she has her own system that works well with family, most days…she is learning so much from her little brother but the frustration this huge gap has created causes so many difficulties for her and our entire family dynamic. The other aspect of her OMS which causes her the most difficulty is her temperament, irritability, self control and behaviour. She screams. She cries. She hits and smashes. When her immune system is the least bit activated, either due to fatigue, infection or stress, it is obvious to all. It is alarming to us as her parents to witness, it is unfair to her siblings and it is so difficult on Abbigail to be constantly at battle with herself. We saw a huge leap in improvement of these symptoms a few weeks back, then recently we found ourselves a few steps back this last week with increased symptoms. Perhaps this is indication she is fighting something but that the stem cell transplant is still trying fight off the OMS within her body. We will continue to hold her tight and help her through the difficult days in hopes of a better tomorrow for her.

“What about those liver spots found Christmas Eve,” you secretly wonder but are afraid to mention?

Just before tearing open the gifts under the tree, we were burdened with news that her MRI showed a significant number of small nodules within several segments of her liver. This is news we were not prepared to hear. Our hearts sank AGAIN. She just finished going through one of the most gruelling treatments known to a Cancer patient; lethal doses of multiple chemotherapies over the course of only a few days, essentially putting her at a high risk for mortality due to complications. How could this be happening now? We cling to the possibility that this was a complication of her post transplant infection, that these spots would slowly disappear as she healed and her infection cleared. In early January we put her through a long ultrasound to further investigate these spots and it revealed that they were still there and perhaps even slightly more prominent than three weeks prior on MR imaging. There were discussions with surgeons, radiologists, oncologists, GI specialists, the infectious disease team and her bone marrow doctor in Toronto. The consensus was that we needed a piece of tissue to definitively know what these spots are. They have press rated themselves in such a way that they do not fit any diagnosis with even partial certainty. The tumour board then reviewed her case and decided to wait yet an other week, now a full 5 weeks after finding these on MRI, to rescan her liver to see if they had changed and if a biopsy was granted, because this procedure poses a certain risk and merits considerable discussion before proceeding.

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Yesterday Abbigail had a beautiful day with her good friend Molly Penny, CHEO’s therapeutic clown. They were photographed for an Art project being published by medical students. Their ever growing relationship has had a huge impact on Abbigail and this will be beautiful to see in print. These two “clowns” also played play doh and acted silly together, Molly always following Abbigail’s lead and never letter her lose sigh of the laughter. Molly kept Abbigail from remembering how hungry she was (she had to fast all day) and she didn’t allow her to worry about why she was even there yesterday. It was such a wonderful day watching them interact and laugh together, like we weren’t even in a hospital, that I too had a few moments of sheer bliss and ignorance, not thinking of the fear I had. This beautiful day was just that for Abbigail! She got through her ultrasound with Molly and her CHEO buddy Erika by her side and she was none the wiser…memories of laughter, simple play and good friends are what filled her day!

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She lay still, talking about the silliest of things, farting on us all and laughing without a care in the world, as I watched the technician’s screen full with bright spots as she scanned my daughter’s liver. What was a near blip it seemed two weeks ago has magnified and multiplied significantly. The radiologist walks into the room as Abbigail prepares to take her friends outta there and confirms what my untrained eye witnessed. Abbigail’s liver nodules aren’t going away, in fact they have grown and it appears as though they are multiplying once again. The blood rushed down my body as I tried to gather my thoughts to ask the proper questions, while I had the radiologist there to answer them.

Abbigail will be undergoing a biopsy, potentially within the week, to extract samples of the tissue that is consuming her liver…and our fears. There are a few possibilities for these nodules, none of which are favourable at this point. A liver consumed with infection is our best case scenario. A rare post transplant complication could also explain this. The alternative is unfathomable to her team and even more so to us. The idea of it makes me sick and angry and heartbroken.

“How is Abbigail?” you often wonder…she is happy today…oblivious…small and mighty force that outshines her illnesses.

Praying she has more laughter and beautiful days in her future and that the dark clouds that have loomed since that phone call on Christmas Eve, will quickly pass.

Growing up with Molly Penny’s Love

Growing up in a hospital isn’t all bad.  For Abbigail, she has friends, fun and Molly.  Since the very first few days, Abbigail has found the joy within those grey walls and she brought her contagious smile no nurse could resist.  So even on those dreaded inpatient days, Abbigail was happy in the playroom, riding her cars down the halls when she couldn’t walk anymore, pulling her IV pole with her and trying to catch up to the older kids.  It is rare to see a young child on 4N with self pity.  Much like Abbigail, most of them do not know any different since their life has always been at the hospital.  Luckily though, on those difficult days where procedures were feared, and chemos were hard, Molly Penny was only a holler away.  In the halls of CHEO walks a retired ER nurse who just couldn’t stay away from our kids.  Her heart beats in the halls, she creates shrieks of joy and laughter in the waiting rooms, and she makes CHEO a home for children away from home for so long.  With the help of the amazing Child Life Specialist, Molly Penny is by far one of the reasons Abbigail has gotten through some of her darkest days and toughest tears…

Abbigail has a lifetime at this hospital behind her already and still more ahead of her.  Having a disease with no cure means just that.  We are so grateful to have Molly by our sides when we are scared, upset or just need a good old fashioned laugh or two.  She doesn’t just help Abbigail and all of the kids, she is always making sure us parents are taken care of too, whether its just a coffee or a huge loving hug.  She is a huge part of CHEO’s heart and we will always keep her in our hearts. We love you Molly!

 

This morning we are off to CHEO again, to hopefully get more answers and a clear path forward for the neuroblastoma so that we can return to focusing on the OMS and giving some quality of life back to our precious girl. Today Abbigail will enter the “big orange door” again to Nuclear Medicine where she will have an other substance injected into her veins to be imaged which is more specific to bones. She has had this scan before and it is much the same as last week’s so let’s keep our fingers crossed that she is just as brave again! Mama is very happy to be by her side today, these moments are milestones for her, just as walking, talking and going to school are for every other child, and I can’t bare to miss anymore. I don’t ever want her or the boys to doubts desire to be there for them through it all, including the darker milestones.

It is with a hopeful heart and a desire for relief for our girl that I ask you to pray and offer your good thoughts today as she faces more scans, tests and procedures.

We may walk in through the orange door with fear and uncertainty but we will walk out with faith that no matter what happens afterwards, we will get through it together.

If you take a moment to stop and listen today, you will hear the unique sound of a young girl, fighting for her life, through joy and laughter with Molly Penny and her love. Just listen…

Humbled Appreciation

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Friday night was the Kisses for Abbigail Fundraiser and it was magical, truly a night to remember. It was beautiful, humbling and absolutely amazing in every sense of the word. I found myself holding my breathe, taking it all in, trying not to miss anyone or anything. The hall screamed Abbigail, from all of the pink, to the photos of her beaming smile, right down her very own candy shop! I fought back tears all day leading up to the moment we walked through those hall doors and when I saw the hall and all of the wonderful ladies who made it all happen, I couldn’t help but tear up…well ok, I won’t lie, I flat out cried. Tears of overwhelming joy wrapped my heart and I was humbled yet again. Seeing the amount of work and dedication that went into that night, even before a single guest arrived, was enough to make any mother cry. This was all for our baby girl, a tiny being whom these people had never met and yet spent countless hours preparing to shower her with warmth, love and support. I’m tearing up now just thinking about that breathtaking moment when our family walked into the hall for the very first time.2013 05 24-2

The evening went perfectly! People began arriving early and the inflow of supporters never stopped. All evening, Matthew and I saw our colleagues, friends, family and met so many strangers who quickly became so much more to us. The kids danced circles around everyone, ran around flashing their smiles and spreading their joy. William says “it was the best dance party ever!” We knew the night had to come to an end, the kids eyes were heavy and although we didn’t want it to be over, we had to get going. I had prepared a few words, well three pages of words, to begin to express what this evening meant to our family. Matthew had to read my words because the tears started flowing, choking me up before I even began. I finally mustered a few words and managed to get a few paragraphs out. Here are those words…

This entire night has left Matthew and I speechless, from the first moment we learned about it months ago.

I suppose no one wants to receive charity, because…well, I think we’re all prideful, and no one wants to be a charity case. So here we are, Abbigail’s parents, in awe and totally humbled tonight.

Let me start by saying that, Debbie you are truly exceptional. A woman whom I have never met, took the time to read our precious Abbigail’s story, and brought it home and decided to shoulder this amazing night. So many wonderful people have come together to make tonight beautiful and memorable for our family. We want to thank you all! Colleagues of mine at AECL who devoted so much time, effort and heart to this event, Thank you Debbie, Annie, Nicole, Sue, Erin, Laura, Terri, Karrie and Amanda.

We also want to thank our family who have all helped as well! My mother-in-law and cousin Janis who sold countless tickets, collected donations and prizes to make this a memorable night, and who donated their time, and spread the word about tonight! Thank you and we love you.

Thank you all for your dedication and heart, and for coming together to make this surreal night a reality for our family. You are all so very exceptional, to the very core of the word.

All of you here tonight, thank you for coming out and for supporting our family. It means the world to us to share this beautiful night with you all. Your generosity is appreciated and we are so grateful to all of our family, friends and community members here. We can’t express what this night means for our family. It is more than fundraising, it is a symbol of the support we have come to know throughout this journey. Thank you all for your kind hearts.

I’m sure that all of you there were grateful for my inability to stop the tears, which stopped the speech and made way for the music and good times to continue! I’d just like to share with you those thoughts that plastered my other two and a half pages I never shared that night.

I just want to share with you how tonight is going to help our family and Abbigail.

For starters, we’ve really come to realize that life can be hard. In all sort of ways, life can be hard. For us, life raising a firecracker like Abbigail is hard most days. Raising a little girl who has very rare and unique special needs and facing the harsh realities that childhood cancer and OMS carries is really hard.

Maybe some of you have been through similar experiences with a child of your own, or a brother, sister, parent or maybe a close friend going through something difficult, that scream life just isn’t always easy. For many, many people, life is hard.2013 05 24-10

For us, there’s tons of extra attention that needs to be taken from sunrise to sunset. Then there’s the lack of sleep when Abbigail’s symptoms take over at night and she calls out for mama hourly and there’s also the lack of sleep just because we worry. There’s also sadness, anger and frustration; which are all tiring on their own.

I’m sharing this because you are all helping us with this. It’s incredible really. Your generosity will first help us in our search for hope for our sweet Abbigail, and then it will help us to start putting the pieces back together, as much as we can. It will help us start living a more “normal” life with Abbigail and our two amazing boys. Abbigail is the one in the hospital bed, attached to IVs but we fight these battles as a family, sometimes that means travelling for treatment together and extra costs associated with that. Tonight will allow us all to continue to support Abbigail together and stay together no matter what the future of her treatments look like. With your help we will be able to provide Abbigail unique care and developmental learning that we otherwise couldn’t necessarily afford.

You guys really don’t know how amazing this is for us, or maybe you do. We are so grateful. Seriously. And sincerely. Thank you.2013 05 24-26

Aside from everything I’ve already said, I think the most amazing thing about this night is what our little Abbigail has taught us all about life.

I think a little bit of her innocence and love and vulnerability has touched our hearts in similar and different ways.

I’ll share mine.

Something happens to you when you look at a little baby – a little child – and know they won’t live the same ever again. Something even greater happens when you’re that child’s parent. To put it simply, it forces you to confront reality.

When we got the news about Abbigail, that whole first night I asked myself over and over and over, “How are we going to get through this?”

Like how do you do that?

We found out – you just do it!

You just do it because you have to. Because you want to. Because there’s this little angel – just like every baby is a little angel – who looks up at you with the most loving eyes.

This forces you to realize some amazing things about life.

Things like life are hard.

It’s not all easy.

Life’s not perfect, despite how much we want things to be perfect.

And how living through hardship and imperfections makes you stronger. Makes you more human. More real.

Living through childhood cancer and raising a child who you know is going to fight day in and day out makes you realize that what you thought was important actually isn’t. It makes you realize how most people’s world views are like houses of cards. And how most of us will go to great lengths to protect our houses of cards from getting blown down by the winds of reality.

Abbigail blew down our house of cards. She stripped away so many of our false illusions and helped us realize what really matters.2013 05 24-19

So what matters? Well, I guess whatever we think matters, matters, to a certain extent. But I guess what I am saying is that – as morbid as it sounds – our darling Abbigail has reminded us that our time on earth isn’t permanent. There’s nothing permanent or perfect about it. We’re here right now, and we’ll be somewhere else tomorrow, and somewhere else a year from now and definitely not around in 50 or 80 years. Life is limited. Life is what you do in between the start and finish. Some of it will be good. Some bad. Some of it happy. Some of it sad. And that’s okay. All these things are part of being human. I guess Abbigail has taught us that all we have, all that really matters, is how we spend our time. Our time with one another, with each of you tonight.

Thank you so much for your generosity; thank you so much for coming tonight! Let’s have fun and make this a night to remember!!!

We have so much appreciation to share and we want to make sure we thank each and everyone of you who donated to this wonderful night. So many local businesses, kind people and families and our friends, family and colleagues. Please look for a follow-up article in our local paper in the next week! We hope no one goes unmentioned, but please know that we appreciate every effort, every donation, large or small and that we feel so loved and supported!!! Tears fill our eyes when we think about this magical night held in Abbigail’s honour. Thank yous will never be enough when we think about the amount of work that went into organizing this event. The support that has been given to our entire family is unbelievable and when we walked around the Rankin Community Centre on Friday night, we were overwhelmed by the turnout of family, friends and complete strangers. A special thank you to Debbie Peplinskie for taking the time to organize this event, the John Priebe Band & Friends and to everyone who helped in her quest to make this night a success.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. This night was nothing but magical and something indescribable.

Emotions Running Fast

Whoa! Where did those tears come from? Almost 15 months and I have managed to keep those from rolling in front of others. Today seemed to bring about many thoughts, feelings, fears, and emotions I had been bottling up for so long, fearing they might be seen or heard with judgement or worse, pitty. For the most part, up until now, my tears have fallen on my pillow. The tears of fear for my baby girl’s future, of sadness for the unfairness, the endless pain and suffering she endures, and the tears for our family and the battle all my boys, husband included, must face too. All of these tears, soaked into the pillow for so many months…then today.

Today began with many of the daily frustrations that come with the new territory; family with a “special needs” child. I can’t believe I am saying this “out loud.” My precious girl has always been special, but now she has special needs, needs that I may not always be able to fill, needs that require extraordinary measures at times, and needs that require special attention, specialized care and therapy. Today was the first time I may have swallowed that pill. This new reality that I never really “saw” until now. I have never feared going out with the kids, having fun as a family, taking all of the kids with us to an event, gathering or celebration. I am never worried of how they will act, if they will lose their temper or patience or if I will too, I have always loved bringing my kids along with me anywhere I go and I have even travelled alone with the three kids without fear. Today was different. Today I saw our life through a different lens and today I was hurt. Before it was even 7am, I found myself so worn down and so exhausted that I couldn’t imagine how I would get us out the door, let alone get us through the day, week or next months. I am their mom, how is it that I can’t make it and it is only 7am? My shoulders dropped, head bowed and the tears welled in my eyes. This pain was knotted in my throat it seemed. The lump grew a size bigger this morning as I realized our lives were indeed different and will not be returning to “normal.”

We did eventually get out the door and off we went, van packed with balloons, cheer, our family and smiles of hope, hope for a great day! Today was the CN Cycle for CHEO, Candlelighters and RMH {benefiting childhood cancer research and famillies}. Today we were spending the day with family and friends and fellow warriors with one goal in mind, to kiss cancer goodbye together. Our Team Kisses for Abbigail set out to do that and raised over $4,500 on our own!!! The morning was rushed, the kids were anxious, I was tired and stressed over insignificant things, so when we pulled up to the event, and I got out to see dozens, and I mean dozens of people, wearing white, all there to honour our daughter, I couldn’t help but cry. I couldn’t help but feel so much love and so much support. We have the most amazing support system of family and friends who came out in the heat to proudly wear a piece of cardboard that represented our personal fight with cancer this year. To many, this was an event to raise money for Childhood Cancer Research and it was that, but to me it was a lot more too. Watching so many people walk along side us, travel from far to just be there for support, carry our children, laugh with us and give us some good old fashioned hugs was absolutely heartwarming and amazing. Today was amazing! The event was a success, raising over $725K for Pediatric Cancer in Ottawa, it was also a success at letting me open my heart to the blessings of this “new normal.”

As the day culminated and I splashed around with the kids as they bathed before bed, I looked into my Abbigail’s eyes and saw my two year old baby girl, my warrior, my hero…battered and bruised, but never broken. Today was the last time I tucked in my “baby” as she will be three tomorrow! My “baby” girl will be one year older. She will have fought through an other year! We always seem to mourn our children’s birthdays, as the milestones are one year closer to them leaving our home, making a family of their own and just simply growing up, but tonight I felt happy she was going to be celebrating a birthday tomorrow. I am excited to see her blow out yet an other candle, open gifts, tear paper, throw cards and be a three year old. My baby is growing up and we have the privilege to watch and be a part of it. They are our gifts and for that I am grateful for and each year I will meet these milestones with happiness and gratitude for an other year of memories, sorrows felt together, laughter and joys. We are not all so lucky to have one more birthday. Although I am crying as I write this, I will not be sad that she is growing up, I will be happy that she is with me to blow out this third candle tomorrow. The tears will flow tomorrow, but they will be tears of absolute joy and happiness for the loving family that we have created Matthew. ❤

As I tucked our kids into bed tonight, I did not see the frustration from this morning, I did not hear screams or outbursts, I wasn’t worried about the time, the mess or the next day and what it might bring. As I tucked them into bed, I felt like the luckiest woman on earth. Here I am with three beautiful children and my husband at my side, and all of the blessings that come with the support of family and friends. The stresses of the morning, the fears of the future and the tears I wept today were pushed aside by their kisses goodnight. This journey is hard on us all and it is not something I can always express but at the end of the day, we are together and that is half the battle. Matthew, William, Abbigail and Madden, you are my world and nothing means more to me than your smiles, love and happiness. You are worth all of the tears I must weep…

 

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Sponsors Needed! Stand Up with Abbigail {CN Cycle for CHEO}

20130403-131113.jpgKids like Abbigail have the miraculous ability to spread joy, even during the most trying of times. We need prayers, she’s been in the hospital more than any toddler should be this past year but today I am pleading for more than your prayer and support.

In addition to prayers, we need sponsors right now. Abbigail turns three years old in just five weeks and she’s been fighting since she was just a baby and to be brutally honest, the road cancer takes you on is lonely, expensive and scary!

In Ottawa and the area, we are lucky to have CHEO in our “backyards” to run to when our child has had a fever for days or broke a bone winning that soccer game. For some families and children it is more though…for far too many, CHEO becomes a home, a place they find comforting not daunting. For us, that is what CHEO has become and for so many other families we know too. For our kids, this hospital brings smiles to their scared little faces as they receive yet an other round of chemo or are being poked for the fifth time this week. These kids find comfort in the nurses and staff that care for them and love them. The child life specialists here make their 8 hour visit go by quickly with fun, games and often surprises of all kids. Abbigail never fails to make them smile but they do the same for her. Just last week after surgery she I soared on seeing her nurse before leaving so down we went to the clinic and Abbigail quickly smiled when she saw her lovely nurses and she walked out of there hugging a new dolly they have her to cuddle on the way home. CHEO offers comfort to these kids who sadly require weekly visits instead of weekly swim practice or soccer games. CHEO is part of who they are and for some, like Abbigail, CHEO is all they know.20130403-131420.jpg

On our journey this year we found ourselves often lost, afraid and alone. It wasn’t long before we realized the amazing organizations out there to help us. The Ronald McDonald House was our home for the three longest weeks of our life last year. That home took us in free of charge and provided us with a loving caring comforting and most importantly understanding environment where we could stay together as a family in site where Abbigail and I were. William was able to see his sister and be with us. Matthew could stay with Abbigail late at night and walk back to the house rather than drive to hotels or stay with family further away.

Candlelighters Ottawa has eased the financial burden and given our family opportunities to spend extra special time together not worrying about cancer and its woes. They pay for our parking at the hospital; which is a great burden as you may know when you calculate our weekly sometimes bi-weekly all day stays. And try sent our family to see Disney on Ice in a safe environment.

CHEO’s staff saved our daughter’s life and are still working hard to bring her back to us to this day and Ronald McDonald and Candlelighters are lifelines in this journey I couldn’t imagine not having. They know what families like us and children like Abbigail need when we do not even know yet…for that we will forever be grateful ad for this we want to give back!

On May 5th, in honor of our daughter, her fight and continuing battle and her third birthday (May 6) we are cycling/walking in the CN Cycle for CHEO as a family to raise much needed awareness for childhood cancer and funds that will directly affect children like Abbigail and her new friends! Please consider sponsoring our family and making a donation in her honour.

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Click to Sponsor Kisses For Abbigail Team either through Mama or Dada

Let’s show Abbigail we stand with her, and with ALL kids facing cancer.

 

She is my hero...help us be hers!
She is my hero…help us be hers!