Sunday, July 25, 2004


Week #8 of DI #2

We are leaving in the morning for our stay at the Light House Retreat in Florida. Although I’m concerned we won’t have enough suitcases to pack all the snacks we are taking, we are all excited and looking forward to this time together as a family.

The timing worked out perfectly. Kendrie’s blood counts on Thursday showed her hemoglobin to be at 7.4 and the clinic cut off for transfusion is 8.0, so on Friday I drove her up to Atlanta for a transfusion. Many thanks to my friend Kelly E. who watched Brayden and Kellen all day so they didn’t have to tag along.

Transfusions are a time-consuming thing. First Kendrie gets her vitals taken, then her port is accessed and a blood sample taken, then it’s an hour and a half for them to cross-type and match the blood and get it ready, then she gets pre-medicated with Benadryl and Tylenol, then the blood takes three hours to go in. Add to this a two hour drive TO the clinic, an hour wait in the waiting room before we even got called back, and a three and a half hour drive HOME from the clinic (damn the Atlanta 5pm traffic!) and it made for one freakin’ long day. 8 am until 9 pm, to be exact. I was prepared, though. You should have seen me, loaded down like a paid-Sherpa on Mount Everest. Blanket and pillow for her, sweater for me, bag of snacks, bag of drinks, backpack of games, books and puzzles, and the DVD player. And how much did Kendrie appreciate my forethought and planning???? Well, thanks to the Benadryl, she slept through the entire transfusion and only needed the blanket and the pillow. Oh, well.

So part two of the “Will her blood be ready for a trip to Florida?” question is her ANC level. The technical definition of ANC is Absolute Neutrophil Count. Or, in laymen’s terms, “blah blah blah something about infection fighting ability”. Hers right now is 50, which is a very low number. During the school year, if it falls below 500 then I will keep her home to avoid general germs and bugs and the like. "Normal" ANC for kids on chemo is between 1000-1500. So obviously 50 is a little low for a vacation. But, at the recommendation of her oncologist (and just because we really want to go!) we’re taking a gamble and going to the beach anyway. Think of it like this: If Kendrie were a car, then on Friday, she was running on empty and needed a blood transfusion to fill up her tank. She’s rarin’ to go, now. An ANC of 50 is a little like driving on the spare donut-tire. There’s a chance you’ll hit a bump in a road and it’ll pop, but there’s also a chance it will get you there ok. As her immune system recovers, that ANC number will start to rise. (And more practically, there are oncologists and nurses at the retreat, and a Children’s Hospital nearby, so it’s not like we’re taking her on an African safari with no medical care for a 500 mile radius, right? And seriously, no kidding aside, if her oncologist didn’t give his blessing, in fact, his encouragement, we wouldn’t go at all.)

So anyway, we’re excited and crossing our fingers she stays healthy the whole week.

***Funny note*** Kraft Foods Inc. announced Monday that its second-quarter earnings fell 26 percent, its fourth straight quarter decline. OK, we are SO not taking the bullet on this one!!! Imagine if Kendrie hadn’t eaten enough Kraft Mac & Cheese the past few months to keep the entire South Eastern Production Plant in over-time, how much MORE their earnings would have fallen!!! Perhaps Kraft employees everywhere should thank her for keeping their business afloat in this carb-avoiding world!

***To the gentleman driving the yellow Xterra on Ga. Hwy 400 North on Friday morning, tailgating me the entire way: The speed limit was 55 and I was driving 70, you moron. Unless you want people to think the “Be Bold” sign painted on the front windshield of your car is synonymous with “Be an Asshole”, I suggest you learn what the brake is for.

***Sitting in Kendrie’s treatment room on Friday, decimating the bag of snacks while she slept, I was again struck by the complete kindness of whatever total stranger donated the blood she was receiving. To the person that gave up an hour of their day to sit in a chair and donate …………………. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. (And the bottom of an empty snack bag!)

***While we are gone next week on vacation, I won’t be able to update this journal. After you’re done drying your eyes from the disappointment of that news (ha!) take the next few days and visit some other sites, since there’s no need to come back here again until next weekend. Overall, Kendrie has had an easy time of her treatment. Almost embarrassingly easy, compared to some others. (Not that it keeps me from whining and complaining about it, but still, you know what I mean.) Some of these kids are struggling with illness, treatments and side effects, and it would be great if you could stop by their sites and drop them a note of encouragement, just like you do for us.

Ali's Page Ali is a teenager who has ALL, like Kendrie. Ali suffers from back spasms due to the levels of Vincristine in her treatment plan, and her insurance company (Pacificare) has denied her the botox injections she needs to treat the back spasms, so she is forced (by Pacificare) to lie around in pain for weeks on end. (Did I mention that Pacificare denies her doctor's request for her pain management?)

Colin's Page Colin also has ALL, like Ali and Kendrie, but he is now following a relapse protocol. Colin is doing well, but hit a bump in the road and was admitted a few days ago for fever and infection. I'm sure a note of encouragement would mean a lot to him.

Julianna Banana's Page Unless you live under a rock, you already know Julianna and her crazy dad, Terry. What you might not realize is that Julianna will begin her radiation treatments for her leukemia relapse in a few weeks. I know this is a scary time, even for a brave banana, so stop by and wish them well.

Spencer Rocket Spencer is doing great after his transplant for leukemia relapse. But, he and his family are still stuck in North Carolina where he had the transplant, far away from home in California. We are talking MONTHS of living in a strange place, in a constant state of wait-and-see. Drop by Spencer's site and say hi!

Carter Martin We met Carter and his family at Camp Sunshine last April. Carter has Ewing's Sarcoma and relapsed in February. Recent scans show the cancer is spreading and pain management is a real concern for them right now, not to mention the on-going prayers for a miracle for Carter. Please stop by his site and wish his family well.

Zach Bunnell Zach is a friend of a friend ... one of those Caringbridge connections that I don't know personally, but am praying for. Just one month after Zach finished therapy and began his Cancer-Free life, his cancer returned. Please stop by his site and let his family know you'll say a prayer for him.

Haley's Page And just in case we forget that cancer isn't the only battle a young person can be facing, visit Haley's site, also. She is preparing for a liver transplant and having problems with cough and fever, so stop by and cheer her up!

I hope everyone enjoys their week. I'll update with lots of pictures when we return!



WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Mom and Dad wouldn't take me to Sunday School because I can't be around a bunch of runny-nosed hooligans (er, Mom is shrieking "Pleasant children -- call them pleasant children!" at me)

The general air of excitement around our house today in preparation for our trip tomorrow ..... or maybe the chaos is normal and I just haven't noticed it before?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

"Things You Never Want to Hear"

Week #7 of DI #2
What is the absolute worst sound in the world a parent can hear?

a) The sound of a bike being crushed as you back up the van in the driveway.

b) The sound of the principal’s voice on the other end of the phone line.

c) “Mom, have you seen my pet tarantula?”

d) Awakening to tears and cries of “My leg hurts! My leg hurts!”

No parent’s first waking thought should have to be, “Dear God, let her have slept on it wrong so it just went numb!” What a crummy way to start the day. Of course, it was a crummy night, too, as they have been since we recently started having Kendrie sleep in our bed with us so we could obsessively check her forehead for fever all during the night. I could never be one of those attachment-parenting people, because three to a bed, even if one of them is a little-person, simply does not work for me. I find myself perched precariously on the edge all night long, with her size 9’s right in the small of my back, or worse, getting an elbow across the face if I dare to roll over in an attempt to reclaim the other half of my pillow.

It all stops, though, in two weeks when school begins. Kendrie should (assuming counts are ok) enter her Long-Term Maintenance Therapy on August 5, and school starts on Aug 6. So there are several sweeping changes that will be taking place here in the Escoe household; I figure it’s a good time to start some new policies, under the guise of “but big girls that go to school don’t do it that way”. First, NO MORE cutting the crust off her bread! I am sick, SICK, SICK of doing that for her, especially considering we never did it before leukemia. Once I asked her, “Since when do you not like the crust on the bread?” and she replied, “Since I got leukemia”. Girlfriend knows how to work the system, don’t you think??? Rule #2, No more sippy cups of milk at night (good thing, since the nightly oral chemo she will begin on the 5th can’t be taken with dairy two hours before or after.) And lastly but most importantly, NO MORE SLEEPING WITH MOM AND DAD!

I personally think it is a great service to your child to teach them the independence and self-control that comes from staying in their own bed all night. I know lots of people disagree ……… but please keep your “someday you’ll wish they were little enough to want to snuggle all night long again” comments to yourself. I’m simply too sleep deprived to appreciate the lecture right now.

Daily fear of relapse aside (following the leg pain first thing in the morning) things with us are much improved. Thank all of you who continued to check in during our fever watch this past weekend. After being told “one more fever and she’ll be admitted”, I dutifully packed bags for the hospital, only for her to *not* run any more fevers. Obviously the key is in packing the bags unnecessarily. You know, along the lines of washing the car if you want it to rain, running to the grocery store **just this ONE time** in your house-slippers and sweats and bumping into your old high school boyfriend, things like that. I’ll remember the suitcase trick for next time, too.

She is pasty. She is tired. She is whiny. She is crabby. Most of these comments refer to Kendrie. Monday night was the home visit from her Pre-Kindergarten teacher and I can’t tell you how excited Kendrie was. After asking me ALL DAY How much longer till she gets here? Is she here yet? Is it time yet? How much longer?” it was very disappointing to see Kendrie poop out during the actual event. She simply got up during the interview, walked into her bedroom, laid down and fell asleep.

Just now, she got up after completing lunch and put herself to bed again. It’s odd to think that a year or two ago I’d have given my right arm to get my kids to take a nap. Now, it’s just not normal for a 4-yr old to put herself down for a nap. We are having her blood counts checked tomorrow to see if she needs a transfusion, or if her counts already hit bottom last weekend and are on the way up. If she does need a transfusion, then that gives us Friday to get it done before we (hopefully) leave on vacation next week.

So overall, things with us are good even if we are suffering from the cumulative effects of DI #2. Maybe what I’m primarily suffering is the boredom of my children as I keep them home for the past five days in an attempt to avoid the germ-infested world out there. Please, please, please let her counts be up enough to start school in two weeks!!! That’s my only wish for now. Or main wish, anyway.

Thanks for checking in and for signing the guestbook. We read every single entry and are much encouraged by those of you who sign often. And in regards to the quiz at the top of the entry, I have never heard A (although I did run over a mitt the other night …. Figured if Kellen left it laying in the garage he deserved to have it squashed flat as a pancake.) I have never heard B or C (Pet tarantula? Are you kidding? I freak out if I see a Daddy Long Legs in the house) and the reason D is so frightening is because leg pain is the one complaint Kendrie had weeks before diagnosis, that I continually brushed off as “growing pains”. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, I’m now worried that every pain under the sun is a concern. There should be some sort of Anal Paranoids Anonymous Club for cancer parents to join.

Love, Kristie

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: I just feel grumpy! And I miss going to the pool .... heck, I just miss leaving the house! My mom keeps walking around muttering to herself (what's new?) something about "things could be worse, things could be worse." Grown ups are so weird.

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: In an attempt to keep me and my brother and sister from fighting so much (I DO have enough energy for that!) my mom dragged out all the puzzles and cards and games from when I first got sick blood. I had forgotten how much fun all that stuff is!

Thursday, July 15, 2004


(or) “Not all the wild animals at the zoo are in cages!”

Do you realize that summer is almost over? At least if you live in our neck of the woods, where school starts in exactly three weeks, it’s almost over. So, in an attempt to incorporate some **FUN** into our summer (since taking my ungrateful children swimming every day does not, according to them, constitute enough **FUN** in their lives) I decided to make Kendrie’s clinic visit this week into something a little more adventurous.

Her appointment was early this morning, which means we drove up last night and stayed in a hotel. I had all three kids with me and decided to go up early and locate **FUN**. First choice was the zoo, but the Atlanta zoo apparently closes at 4:30 each day. I discovered this at noon, online at home, which is a two hour drive away, so realistically didn’t have enough time. **FUN** choice #2 was a place called Dunwoody Nature Preserve (animals are animals, right?) Unfortunately, our only brush with animals there was the screaming case of chigger bites I got on my legs after traipsing through the nature trails with my hot, sweaty, tired children. Have I mentioned they are also ungrateful?

I worried Kendrie might get tired and thought the stroller would be a good thing to have; Lord knows I wouldn’t want to have to carry her through the preserve …………. I now have a serious philanthropic desire to purchase signs for the Nature Preserve that let all the other moms know the trails are NOT stroller-friendly. So there I am, carrying the stroller over tree roots and inclines and boulders, itching from the chigger bites, sweating like a coal worker in Hades (did I mention that the heat index in Georgia yesterday was 115?) and my kids are going on and on and on about how bored they are and didn’t I bring anything good to drink besides water????

So we went back to the hotel with promises of swimming, the boring activity which got me in this mess in the first place, but which my children suddenly couldn’t WAIT to do. You can pretty much guess that five minutes before reaching the hotel, storm clouds floated over and the temperature dropped by about twenty degrees. Or maybe it just felt that much cooler since I wasn’t dragging a stroller and three un-drunk water bottles with me. That’s ok, it killed a half an hour, leaving me only four hours left in the hotel room with them before bedtime, refereeing their arguments over who got to sleep in which bed and whose room service meal was whose.


Kendrie’s appointment this morning went very well, after she got done being sick in the bathroom. Nothing like starting the day with a little barfing in a public restroom to remind you that your kid is on chemotherapy (just in case the bald head wasn’t enough of a reminder.) More on the medical front later -----

So, determined not to repeat my mistake from yesterday, after the appointment I took the kids to the REAL zoo, where I spent $112.00 (no lie) on admission, lunch, snacks, and ride tickets; walked my tired, sweaty body around the exhibits for three hours looking at sleeping animals; only to have the day end with all three kids saying, “Is that all?” as I tried to herd them out the gates at the end.

Does anyone have that speech about walking ten miles uphill to school both ways in the snow on a VHS tape that I can borrow???

Actually, we had a pretty fun time at the zoo. The kids were just mad that I wouldn’t buy them yet another snow-cone on the way out. (Ungrateful hooligans.) The Atlanta Zoo isn’t huge, but they have a pretty respectable gorilla/monkey exhibit and most of all, a Rock Climb that Kendrie attempted.

Atlanta Zoo, July 2004

You can’t tell by looking at this photo, but Kendrie made it up about 20 feet (approx 18 feet farther than I thought she would.) There was a lady standing by us watching her son go up next to Kendrie, and she made a nice comment about “Look how high she’s going …. How old did you say she was?” and in my moment of maternal pride, I couldn’t help but burst out “I know, and can you believe she had chemo this morning?!?”

Anyway, walking around looking at all these animals in their cages (natural habitats, if you want to be p.c.) I was thinking, yep, this sure isn’t the life these poor guys had planned. Imagine, you’ve got visions of a comfortable, cozy watering hole in Africa where you and your monkey buddies can lay around playing poker or telling jokes all day long until you get the urge to wander off and sniff some backsides or eat bugs off one another. And then somehow you find yourself in the Atlanta Zoo instead, with a bunch of goofy kids tapping on the glass windows of your home (those weren’t my kids) and making faces at you (ok, THOSE were my kids.) Not quite what you had envisioned, but all in all, things could be worse.

And that’s when I realized (oh yeah, you saw the analogy coming a mile away, didn’t you?) that we all have times in our lives when what we expect is not what we get. I can think of several for me personally, but I won’t bore you with the details of all of them. Primarily, of course, is *expecting* my children to be happy and beautiful and perfectly healthy. I thought their biggest medical concern would be inheriting my bad vision or lack of athletic skills. Instead, leukemia dropped a bomb on our family. But I guess two out of three isn’t so bad. Happy and beautiful, right? (although don’t tell Kellen I said he was beautiful like his sisters!)

And like the monkeys, I just have to sit back for a brief second to realize that although it’s not what I expected, it could certainly be worse. Kendrie is (knocking frantically on my wooden computer desk) doing amazingly well (boring medical stuff in the next paragraph.)

Her protocol, CCG-1991, has four arms of treatment. Kendrie was randomized to arm D which means she gets two Interim Maintenance phases and two Delayed Intensification treatment phases. These DI phases (according to the oncologist today) can almost be considered a “re-induction” because they are so hard-hitting. Many kids have complications and set backs with only one DI, let alone two. By the time kids with two DI’s get to this point in their protocol, their little bodies have been hit with harsh chemo for almost eight months. Their bone marrow is tired and often has trouble recovering by now. It can take weeks of delays and setbacks to even reach this point in the chemotherapy regimen. I had to remind myself of that when I saw her climbing that rock wall so far over my head this afternoon.

The medicine she got through her port today, and which I will be giving her in shot form for the next three nights here at home, like I did last week, is called Ara-C (cytarabine). It commonly causes counts to crash, fevers and nausea. At her appointment today her blood work showed that her counts are indeed starting to drop, which is to be expected. She is following (so far) the same pattern of her first DI, and needed a transfusion last time by the end of DI.

In a stroke of incredibly bad timing (or incredibly lucky timing, depending on your viewpoint) we are scheduled to attend a cancer family retreat at the beach the last week of DI. Although our road has not been too rocky, this retreat is something I really think would benefit my family at this time. Our friends and family, both physical and online, are amazingly supportive. (Yes, this means YOU, if you’re reading the journal!)

But a week at the beach to relax and regroup and reconnect as a family, without CANCER being the focal-point of our life for a few days, would be the perfect way to end the harsh chemo before Kendrie begins the “easier” maintenance phase of treatment.

In a sick and twisted manner, I am almost hoping that Kendrie’s counts go ahead and drop rapidly, so that if she needs a transfusion, she can get it before the retreat. Yes, there are doctors and nurses at the retreat, but I want that week to be about fun and playing and FORGETTING about leukemia for a change. We can’t do that if she is feeling rundown and tired from the chemo. And of course if she’s too run down, we simply won’t go at all. Not the end of the world, but disappointing nonetheless.

It’s odd to me to sit here and think about the last two weeks of DI and how I hope Kendrie’s counts recover enough to enjoy the retreat ………… because that means we are only two weeks away (barring any delays in treatment) from reaching long-term maintenance. I feel like I should end that sentence with a big ole’ exclamation point, but I don’t want to jinx it by celebrating too early.

Well, I’m rambling now. If you have an extra penny in your pocket and happen to be wandering by a fountain, please throw it in and say a wish that Kendrie feels recovered and good enough to attend this retreat. She would enjoy it. Her brother and sister would enjoy it. Blaine and I would enjoy it. Well, except for the sand, but we’ll get over that. And if the fountain you are passing happens to be in the Atlanta Zoo, look overheard and you might just see a 4-yr old rock climber who looks a little bit like a monkey.

Thanks for checking in and especially for signing the guestbook. The notes of encouragement mean a lot to us and we love seeing who has stopped by.

Have a great weekend,

ps. To all my local friends ---- the Macon Red Cross Blood Donation Center (located behind Galleria Mall by Olive Garden) is now taking platelet donations. Many, many leukemia kids need both whole blood and platelet transfusions and you can make a huge difference by helping out with a donation. Donations for platelets are by appointment only and you can call Maureen Johnson, Donor Recruitment Rep for Central Georgia at 478-405-0195 ex 27 for more information. Have an hour to kill but forgot to make an appointment? No problem! Whole blood donations are on a walk in basis .......... so walk in and save a life!!!!



Well, I'd say throwing up at my doctor's office, but really, that was over pretty quickly.

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Going to the zoo after my appointment --- and my mom splurged on a family pass and says we can go back again. I’m going to keep trying until I make it all the way to the top of that rock climb!

Quick Update: Friday morning, 9am

Well, I am man enough to admit when I am wrong. Here I thought we were going to coast through this second DI with no complication ..... not that this is major, but after receiving her ara-c (second week, first dose) yesterday, Kendrie woke up vomiting at 4:30 am with a fever of 101.3. (of course, this is after the one night in a blue moon I was up until almost 3am surfing CB sites and updating hers .... figures ..... Terry, what was that about time management skills??? Ha!)

Because her ANC yesterday was 1100, the on-call doc (really nice guy, gracious even at 4:30 in the morning) said just to watch it for a little while. By 7am it had broken, but I just took it again and it's up to 101.9.

I'm going to call again, but after driving HOME from the clinic yesterday I'm not looking forward to turning around and driving back up there. Naturally I'll do whatever the docs say, but I'm hoping with a decent ANC and the ara-c from yesterday they might let us stay home and give Tylenol. (that's the lazy-I-was-sort-of-hoping-for-a-nap-today part of me talking!)

Anyway, wish us luck. Aren't I a goof to be so insulted by cancer??? :)

Update: Friday evening, 8 pm

The doctor did want to see Kendrie and draw cultures, so back into the van we went. Her fever has been at 100-101 all day. They are 99.9 percent sure its just the ara-c, but to be on the safe side, and to buy us 24 hours in case the cultures turn up positive, they went ahead and gave her iv antibiotics. Now they said we can treat her with tylenol for 24 hours and unless her fever goes high and doesn't break, we should be ok until the cultures come back--- almost assuredly negative.

I know she doesn't feel good because we (naturally) got stuck in Atlanta 5 pm traffic and the ride home took almost three hours. Instead of complaining, she just stared out the window with no expression on her face. She has had nothing to eat or drink all day today, which makes giving the 6TG easier tonight, but the thought of going in there with the sub-q injection of ara-c makes me feel very, very guilty.

I suppose that's what I get for being all cocky about breezing through DI #2!!! Note to self: tape big fat mouth shut! :)

Update: Saturday night

Well, we wound up going back in today for another blood culture and more iv rocephin. Her temp all morning was high and when it got to 102.8 (axillary) I felt like that was a pretty high temp no matter who you are. So, I called and they told us to go back in even though they are still almost positive it's the ara-c. Small blessings, though, this on-call doc suggested we go to the Children's Hospital here in Macon, only twenty minutes away. So it was only a three-hour visit to the ER instead of a seven-hour trip. And, he had called ahead and they were waiting for us and took us right back to a room in the pediatric ER, which was really nice.

Her cbc shows everything is dropping and her white count is almost nil, so the oncologist said if she's still running a fever tomorrow she will be admitted. I'm not going to complain though. We haven't been admitted one time since dx, so if a fever/neutropenia admit at the end of DI #2 is necessary, then at least I have 24 notice to pack a bag. :)

Wish us luck; hope everyone is having a nice weekend,

Saturday, July 10, 2004


Week #5 of DI #2

aka. “Of course, I could probably eat my way out and that would be ok, too.”

Yep, that’s pretty much where we are with Kendrie, which is odd considering she went off steroids ten days ago. Her appetite for Kraft Mac & Cheese is unending. She went from 36 to 40 pounds in one week (all of it in her cheeks and tummy --- she hasn’t been this Pillsbury Dough-Boyish since induction!) I’m almost embarrassed every time I go to Kroger and buy four or five boxes. I know the people in line around me have to be thinking, “Geez lady, could you introduce your family to some VEGETABLES?!?

We had our looooooooooong day at the clinic yesterday. We are half way through this DI phase, wahoo! Unfortunately, the second half is notoriously harder than the first half, so let me remind myself not to break out the party hats just yet.

Started the day with an exam, a spinal tap, then had iv chemo and six hours of hydration. She was such a good sport all day; drawing, coloring, watching tv, reading, all day long, but asking me every twenty minutes if it was time to go yet. Then, ten minutes before she was finished with chemo, she fell asleep in the bed. Great.

So, in thinking about the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” reference to the macaroni, I realized there are probably lots of other catchphrases that can be slightly modified to fit our new, crazy life as a leukemia family. I thought it might be fun to name a few jingles here, then the modification that makes it a better fit for us. You see if you can name the products, which I’ll list at the end. Interactive quizzes are always so much more fun, don't you think?!? So grab a pen and get started! (If sitting through an eight-hour Discovery Channel marathon on the migration habits of the Zwahili tsi-tsi fly sounds like more fun to you, then I won’t take it personally if you skip right to the guestbook and sign in. Just let us know you were here!)

Original Catchphrase #1: Raise your hands if you’re _________.

Our Catchphrase: Raise your hands if the nurse can’t get a good blood return out of your port because sometimes flapping your arms like a chicken helps the blood to flow better.

Original Catchphrase #2: The fabric of our lives.

Our Catchphrase: The fabric of our life had better be some sort of stretchy elastic at the waistband after eating all these boxes of mac & cheese.

Original Catchphrase #3: Taste the rainbow.

Our Catchphrase: Taste the rainbow. And everything else on the bottom shelf of the pantry, if you’re on steroids.

Original Catchphrase #4: Don’t leave home without it.

Our Catchphrase: Zofran. Don’t leave home without it unless you want to be using your own purse or a Spiderman baseball cap as a puke receptacle.

Original Catchphrase #5: A little dab’ll do ya.

Our Catchphrase: A little dab? Hell no, you slather that emla cream on until there is NO skin showing through!

Original Catchphrase #6: Gee, your hair smells terrific.

Our Catchphrase: What hair?

Original Catchphrase #7: Please don’t squeeze the _____________. (Bonus point if you know who said it.)

Our Catchphrase: Please don’t squeeze my cheeks just because I look like a mini-sumo wrestler.

Original Catchphrase #8
: Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.

Our Catchphrase: Chemo melts in your mouth, gags you on the way down, and then spews back out at your parents without any warning.

Original Catchphrase #9: Sometimes you feel like a nut …. Sometimes you don’t.

Our Catchphrase: Trust me, a cancer parent feels like a nut most of the time.

Original Catchphrase #10 : The incredible, edible ___________.

Our Catchphrase: The incredible, edible whatever-the-steroid-craving-of-the-week-is.

Original Catchphrase #11: It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

Our Catchphrase: Luckily, so do Kendrie and all these other great kids!
Answer Key:
1. Sure deodorant
2. Cotton
3. Skittles
4. American Express
5. Brylcream
6. Gee Shampoo by Jergens
7. Charmin/Mr. Whipple
8. M&Ms
9. Almond Joy/Mounds
10. Eggs
11. Timex

Well, I’ll stop there. So, how many did you get correct? I’ve got a dozen more or so, but I don’t want to bore everyone to tears. If anyone out there, especially any of the CK parents, think of more jingles that fit our new lives, please share them in the guestbook. I could put everyone else’s suggestions in the next journal entry. Sort of like when Kelly Rippa used to guest-host for Kathi Lee and everyone liked Kelly better, anyway.

Hope you are all having a great week so far!

Love, Kristie

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Today, it's tie between throwing up this morning all over the sofa and having my mom give me a shot in my leg tonight. Ick on both of those things. And ick on my mom for giving me the shot. And ick on my dad for holding me down!!!

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: My parents don't even roll their eyes anymore when I ask for more mac & cheese. They have figured out it's easier to just get up and make it then to wonder where on earth I'm putting it all. Although if you take a good look at my belly it's pretty clear where I'm putting it all!

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy Fourth of July, Everybody!

Well, I had high hopes of getting this journal entry on the page before the clock ticked itself over to July 5th, but it doesn’t look like its going to happen. In between the downloading and uploading and resizing of photos to my hard drive, then uploading to my web space, then uploading to this Caring Bridge page, a journal update where I do anything more than type out a “hello” is suddenly more labor-intensive then raising sheep and shearing and dying and spinning the wool to knit my own sweaters. Hell, I don’t even know how to knit and I bet I could get that done faster than some of these updates. Once again, let me remind any of you that might not know my mantra by this point: I hate technology. If I ever *do* make myself a sweater, I'm knitting that phrase right across the chest.

On the non-technical front, however, we wound up having a very nice holiday. Our friends Erin and Joe invited us over to celebrate (guess she read the previous journal entry and felt sorry for us …. Whatever, we’re not too proud to accept a pity invitation!) It was a burger-grillin’, fireworks watchin’, kid playin’, watermelon seed spittin’, frog chasin’ kind of night and great fun for all of us. Thanks, Erin and Joe! Thanks also to Mary from Ohio, for sending the kids the star-bubble-necklaces, which was the icing on the cake. They even agreed as to who got the red, white and blue necklace without killing each other in the process, can you believe it??

I also wanted to say thanks to SuperSibs! for the t-shirts they sent to Kellen and Brayden earlier in the week. I know I have mentioned this group before but they do a fantastic job of letting siblings know that they are special, too. Stop by their website and check them out if you have a spare minute.

I am keeping this very short (I know, I say that a lot but tonight I mean it) because it’s really late and I had a lot to drink tonight. I’m just kidding. It’s not that late. But I’m tired just the same and Blaine and I have three little fishermen, eager to get the show on the road tomorrow and guaranteed to make early risers out of us in the morning. Speaking of Blaine, check out the deck work in the background of our new family picture on the front page ….. I have to admit, I doubted him at the beginning, but he really pulled it off. Finished the railings today and everything looks great. Funniest part of the whole process was at the end, when Kendrie strapped on the electric leaf blower and blew all the pine straw off the new deck. Too bad I didn’t get photos of that!

There are some new 4th of July photos in the album, as well.

Hope all of you enjoyed your holiday today,
love, Kristie ps. I am kidding about the drinking a lot part. Our hosts ran out of liquor waaaaaaay before I did any real damage! pss. kidding, again!

WORST PART OF HAVING CANCER TODAY: I'm bald again, can you believe it?? I was just itchin' to get my hands on some mousse or gel or something, and woops! Too late! Oh well, it'll grow back, right?

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Unlimited mac & cheese. Still.

Friday, July 02, 2004


Week #4 of DI #2

Before the age of e-mail, web-mail, voice-mail, pagers, beepers, text messaging, internet phones, answering machines and palm pilots, do you know how people kept in touch? They wrote letters! That’s right, they put pen to paper, wrote a note, then put an address and a stamp on an envelope and dropped the entire thing in a big blue metal bin called a mailbox. (Those of you born after 1980, try to stay with me here. Use your imaginations if you must.)

Then, in a few days or longer, depending on how far away you lived, a second person would open their mailbox at home and viola! An item that wasn’t generated by a computer, or addressed to “resident”, or demanding money from you. Well, if it WAS demanding money from you, then maybe you were corresponding with the wrong sort of friends!!

Anyway, one of the things that makes me happiest (besides finding a bag of m&ms hidden in the back of the pantry) is opening the mailbox and seeing a personally addressed envelope inside. Unfortunately, thanks to this damn contraption called a computer, 99 percent of my previous letter-writing buddies now send “quickie” e-mails, usually about four sentences in length. Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing from friends both old and new in any fashion and I’ll take e-mail if that’s all the time someone has. But, it’s just not as satisfactory to someone like me who enjoys nothing better than curling up and reading three or four pages from a long-distance friend.

I only have two friends left who haven’t succumbed to the lure of the e-mail curse. One has no choice because he’s in prison, so that technically leaves only one single SOLITARY person who enjoys letter writing as much as me. Her name is Amy and we’ve been friends since our husbands were stationed together in North Dakota fifteen years ago. When Uncle Sam scattered us to the Air Force winds at the end of our assignments (remember, this was back in the days before e-mail) we promised to keep in touch by writing letters and we did. Still do, in fact. Her letters have long been one of the highlights of my month. Sure, maybe our news and gossip is outdated by a few weeks, but it’s worth it for the anticipation of what the next letter might bring. (And there’s always the telephone if it’s an emergency!) It’s one of the few areas in my life where I win the battle with instant gratification and can hold out for the greater reward.

So, imagine my delight when Amy told me that her daughter Stephanie approached her 2nd grade teacher earlier this year about having the kids in her class send get-well cards to Kendrie. The class mailed again last week, each student writing a letter and drawing a picture. In my opinion, their teacher Mrs. Klinger is doing a great thing. How many 8-yr olds can practice penmanship, empathy, and the long-lost art of letter writing all at the same time?!?

Mrs. Klinger explained that the class would be meeting this summer for a reunion picnic and if Kendrie would like to write back she would be sure to read it to the kids then. So, I took the liberty of “helping” Kendrie compose her masterpiece and thought you might all like to read it as well. I don’t know that Ann Landers needs worry about her job just yet, but I found it entertaining, just as well.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a great 4th of July holiday. We don’t have anything planned (if anyone local is reading this journal and is as pathetic as us, with no plans either, give us a call!) but I hope everyone has a great time with whatever patriotic thing it is you do. Maybe I'll spend mine browsing pen-pal sites. Hug a vet, if nothing else. (No, I don’t mean veterinarian, although that reminds me that the cost of the deck Blaine built last weekend went up by $70 because we had to buy our old, tired dog some arthritis medicine to get up and down the steps!)

Love, Kristie

June 27, 2004

Dear Mrs. Klinger and the 2nd grade class (who is really in the 3rd grade now but you know what I mean):

Thanks so much for the second set of letters you sent me before you got out of school for the summer. I love getting mail! It’s so exciting to see a big envelope in the mail for me and the best part is that it makes my brother and sister jealous! Since several of you asked me questions in your letters, I thought I would take a moment to answer them for you. Be sure to send me more questions if you think of any more!

“Dear Kendrie, Do you like four-wheelers? I have enough money and maybe I can buy one. How much money do you have?” signed, Jacob R.

“Dear Jacob R, I have only ridden a four-wheeler one time …. Actually it was a three- wheeler and I thought my mom was going to have a heart attack so it’s probably just as good that I don’t have enough money to buy one. But if you get one maybe you could give me a ride some time!” signed, Kendrie

“Dear Jacob R, make sure if you buy a four-wheeler that you also buy a helmet and protective gear. Otherwise your mother is going to have a heart attack.” Signed, Kendrie’s mom
“Dear Kendrie, Do you like swimming in the ocean? I don’t like it because it gets sand in your mouth. I have a swimming pool, but I am going to the beach for my birthday this year. When is your birthday?” signed, your friend Kelsie

“Dear Kelsie, I really like the beach. I like playing in the sand and digging, but I get a little nervous when the waves knock me down. My birthday is Sept 2 and I will be five, so I’m still not big enough yet to do much in the water plus like you said, the ocean gets sand in weird places! Also, remember not to get too much sand in the van afterwards or your mother will have a heart attack” signed, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, what is your favorite color? Mine is pink because I like flowers and some flowers are pink. I like swimming but a mouse chewed a hole in our pool so now I can’t go anymore” love, Caitlin

“Dear Caitlin, yes, I agree, pink flowers are really pretty, but my favorite color is blue. I am not sure why, but that is what my Dad likes so I picked it, too. Sorry to hear about the mouse chewing a hole in your swimming pool. That really stinks. Check with Kelsie. She has a pool, maybe you could go swimming at her house.” Love, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, What is your favorite sport? Mine is soccer because I am a great goalie and kicker like David Beckham” sincerely, Dylan S.

“Dear Dylan, I am not sure who David Beckham is, but he sounds like a good player. My sister played soccer this year and she was NOT great. In fact, all she cared about was the snack. I will do much better when it’s my turn!” sincerely, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, My sister has diabetes. She has to prick herself to take blood and she also has to give shots, too” love, Zoe

“Dear Zoe, you know, before I got leukemia, I had no idea what giving blood and getting shots and all this other stuff meant. Now it’s just a part of my day, like it is for your sister. But don’t forget how brave she is, and tell her I am very proud of her!” love, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, You know, I don’t think being a boy is a bad idea so you be what you want to be” love, Alyssa

“Dear Alyssa, I’m glad to know someone supports my goal to be “a Boy” when I grow up, thanks! Every time I mention it to my mom she just gives me a funny look. I guess she figures one boy, like my stinky brother, is enough for our family!” love, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, I have played soccer for 4 years. I won 42 times in my life. Soccer is fun. What sport do you play?” your friend, Colby

“Dear Colby, I don’t officially play any sports yet since I haven’t even gotten through my first year of Pre-Kindergarten. But I can’t wait to play t-ball! My brother has played for two years and I’ve been paying pretty close attention so I think I will be pretty good at it. Maybe even as good as that David Beckham guy” Your friend, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, did you ever play football? I didn’t but I might next year” your friend, Jake

“Dear Jake, when I first got leukemia, I had to have surgery so they could put a “port” in my chest. It’s a little round button that lets the nurse take blood from the veins around my heart. But, I can’t get it bumped too hard, so I know that football is out for a few years. But our family loves football! You should hear my mom yelling when the OU Sooners play! She sounds like a maniac. Football is HER favorite sport, so maybe someday I will get to play, too. Good luck to you!” your friend, Kendrie

“Dear Jake, if you play football, make sure you use a helmet and protective gear, otherwise your mother is going to have a heart attack,” your friend, Kendrie’s mom
“Dear Kendrie, do you like going to the beach? I do, it was in New Jersey, it was fun” your friend, Tyler

“Dear Tyler, I have been to the beach in New Jersey with Stephanie and her family, a long time ago! Stephanie might not remember, but I had a great time digging in the mud. I wasn’t even a year old yet, so I got pretty dirty. I thought the New Jersey beach was great” your friend, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, How do you feel? I hope you get better soon so you can visit us some day. What kind of dog do you have?” love Jazean

“Dear Jazean, we have a white dog that is very old and can’t hear very well but I love him a lot anyway. I would love to come visit your school sometime!” love, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, I like reading very, very, very ,very much! Do you?” love, Erin

“Dear Erin, I like reading a lot, too, except I can’t do it by myself yet. My mom enrolled me in a summer reading program at the library so every time she reads to me for fifteen minutes I get to color another line on my library chart and if I get to the end of the chart I will get to pick a book out of the drum at the library! I hope I can finish my chart this summer! My sister loves to read even more than I do. She reads a lot of Junie B. Jones books. Do you like Junie B. Jones?” love, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, Why do you like playing with GI Joes? I like GI Joe, too. That’s good that you like GI Joe. I hope your leukemia goes away and I hope you don’t have it again” love, Daniel

“Dear Daniel, I like GI Joes because I think they are cooler than Barbies. My brother and I like to build forts out of blocks and then have the GI Joes to protect the forts. I am taking all my medicine like my doctors tell me too so that my leukemia goes away and doesn’t ever, ever, ever, ever come back!” love, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, I hope you get better one day because I feel sorry for you. I hope one day your sickness goes away.” Love, Tyreek

“Dear Tyreek, thanks! I hope my sickness goes away, too. It’s no fun to be sick and have to take lots of yucky medicine and get shots and needles and things. But it helps a lot to have nice friends like you and the kids in your class who send me letters and pictures to help cheer me up!” love, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, I like swimming. At Pine Ridge pool you can go on a curly slide, a straight slide, a low dive and a high dive. What will you do this summer for fun?” your friend, Raine

“Dear Raine, wow! That pool sounds great! If I ever come to visit Stony Brook Elementary I will have to be sure and come in the summer so I can swim there, too! I love to swim but I’m not brave enough to go off the diving board yet. My brother goes off the board all the time. He loves to do cannon balls the best.” Your friend, Kendrie

“Dear Raine, if you go off the high dive, make sure you are a good enough swimmer or wear a life preserver otherwise your mother will have a heart attack.” Your friend, Kendrie’s mom
“Dear Kendrie, what is your favorite place to swim or play? What is your favorite thing to do inside?” your friend, Kelston

“Dear Kelston, my favorite place to play is a place here called DJ’s Galaxy Quest. It is like a Chuck E Cheese only much bigger and with moon walks. It’s where I had my 4th birthday party and it is awesome. I can’t go now because of all the germs and because I am not well enough yet. But once I get completely better, I am going to have another birthday party there!” your friend, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, Do you have any best friends? What is your favorite food?” love, Stephanie

“Dear Stephanie, my best friend is my brother Kellen. We like to play together and hang out together. I play with my sister Brayden a lot, too. Mom says I will make lots more best friends when I start to school this fall. Chemotherapy, the medicine that I am taking to get rid of the leukemia, makes my appetite go away a lot so I don’t really have a best food anymore. But sometimes I like macaroni & cheese! Thank you for asking your classmates to write me letters. I really like reading them!” love, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, Do you miss your dad when he is in the Air Force? My dad was in the Army but I did not miss him because I was not even born” your friend, Taylor

“Dear Taylor, that is cool your dad was in the Army! Like you already know, being in the Army or Air Force is a very important job and so I am proud of my dad. I’m sure you’re proud of your dad, too. My dad works at the Air Force Base here in the town where we live so he gets to come home every night. That is good because that way I don’t miss him too much and if I do miss him very much it’s not long until he comes home for dinner.” Your friend, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, do you like to play with your Mother before? I always race with my mom all the time, do you? I like leopards, do you?” love, Chantel

“Dear Chantel, I like to spend lots of time with my mom but we don’t do many races because she is kind of old. Mainly we read books, do puzzles and watch tv together. Sometimes she lets me help her cook. The only time I ever saw a leopard was at the zoo but I thought it was neat!” love, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, How much teeth have you lost? I lost 8 teeth. We’re glad that you send us letters and we’re glad that we send you letters, too. Have a great day and get better before you get sick more” your friend, Brandon

“Dear Brandon, wow, the Tooth Fairy must be going broke around your house! I haven’t lost any teeth yet but I can’t wait because I am ready for the money! I’m glad you guys write me letters, too!” your friend, Kendrie
“Dear Kendrie, I want to be a tom boy just like you. Do you know that boys smell? Some boys, that is. They smell when they don’t wash their armpits. Have a great summer” love, Justus

“Dear Justus, I know what you mean about the boys! I still want to be a boy when I grow up but I will definitely wash my armpits. They all should, don’t you think? You have a great summer, too!” love, Kendrie

Thanks to everyone for the letters. It was so much fun to read them all and see all of the wonderful pictures that everyone drew! I hope when I am finished with the 2nd grade I can draw and write just as good!

You guys have a great summer!

Love, Kendrie