Monday, April 26, 2004

Hair, Hair, Everywhere. Um, no, never mind.

I’m sorry this journal entry is so short, but we have been out of town the past three weekends and in between packing, unpacking and all the laundry in between, my computer time has been cut brutally short (something I am kicking and screaming about, let me tell you! When did I become so dependent on technology??? It’s a sad state of affairs, I tell you--- but I digress.)

I am currently packing to leave yet again tomorrow for four or five days, so I wanted to pop this journal entry up quickly and ask all of you so inclined to please say a prayer for my husband Blaine as he prepares for surgery on Wednesday. He and I will be traveling to Augusta (about three hours from here, where his doctors are located at Ft. Gordon Military Hospital …. I really should quit bitching about my four-hour drive with Kendrie, since he drives six-hours round trip almost every week!) In case you are not familiar with our story, here is the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version:

***Kendrie's leukemia diagnosis in October of 2003 was actually Part 2 of the "Our Crappy Year" festival. Part 1 took place in March when it was discovered Blaine had a malignant tumor filling up one of his sinus cavities. I won't go into great (ie, boring) detail except to say the surgery to remove the tumor was very invasive and he also had to have quite a bit of facial-structure removed at the same time the surgeons removed the tumor --- cheekbone, gums, teeth, etc. So, one year later, still cancer-free, Blaine prepared for his first reconstructive surgery, to rebuild his cheekbone with bone from his skull.

Knowing full well they would have to shave his head to get to the skull, we made a huge production out of Daddy going "Bald" like Kendrie. Scheduled the appointment with my hairdresser, talked it up with the kids, eagerly awaited the appointment (Kendrie especially was very excited) only to have the surgeon say to Blaine, "What? Shave your head?? We don't do that anymore."


But a promise is a promise and being the excellent father that he is, Blaine went ahead with the new 'do. The kids had a blast, especially the part where they got to take helm of the clippers and do a little damage themselves. Personally, I like the new look. The Mohawk I wasn't so crazy about, but overall it's pretty cool. Now let's wait and see if he keeps it, or grows it back out after the surgery!***

So that’s it in a nutshell. Drop us a line in the guestbook and let us know what you think: keep it short, or grow it back out to the long, flowing length that Uncle Sam lets him keep? (ha!)

Many public thanks to Grandma McClung for (once again!) dropping everything and flying out here to stay with the kids.

I hope you all have a great week and I’ll update when we get back later this weekend.

Much love, Kristie

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: My grandma brought me a new copy of "Cheaper By The Dozen" and I got to watch it in the car on my way to my clinic appointment today --- twice!!!

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: I had to share my new dvd with my stinkin' brother and sister when we got home tonight. Boo!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

“Makin’ Lemonade!”

Week #3 of IM #2

OK, let me be the first to say cancer pretty much stinks and no one wants to be here voluntarily. But you know what they say about when life hands you lemons ….. well, to be sure, Country Time ain’t got nothing on us! We are making lemonade, baby!

After our fun (albeit cold, and no thanks to my Canadian friends for mocking my pain) trip to DC for Easter, we had two more fun, cancer-related events happen this past weekend. Who knew that a diagnosis of leukemia would be such a boost for our sagging social life?!?

First, on Friday, we attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the brand spankin’ new AFLAC Cancer and Blood Disorders Service Outpatient Clinic at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. (Whew, what a mouthful!) While the staff has been fabulous since Day One of Kendrie’s diagnosis, they were falling all over each other in the old, cramped, crowded clinic. Now, with 23,000 square feet of space, funded in part by a $2.5 million gift from AFLAC, well, I don’t know that we’ll actually *look forward* to chemo, but let’s just say we’ll be riding in the Rolls Royce of Cancer Centers from this point on. It was nice to be a part of the opening day ceremony and see the excitement of the staff who definitely deserve such an amazing facility.

Did I mention that amid the new, immaculate, spotless facilities, with new carpet, new treatment rooms, conference rooms, offices, etc (emphasis on the word NEW) they served a BBQ lunch and one of my family members (not me!) had the dubious distinction of being the first one to spill a plate of BBQ on the brand new carpet? It’s always nice to be remembered for *something* but that wasn’t quite what I had in mind. And for the record, it’s much harder to yell at your kids when there are lots of other adults present.

Then, we left from the ceremony and took part in a Family Camp Weekend at Twin Lakes Camp, sponsored by Camp Sunshine. “Camp Sunshine provides programs throughout the year to give children with cancer the opportunity to enjoy normal activities like swimming, horseback riding, arts and crafts, and making friends!” Now if that sounds like a commercial, it’s because I took it directly off their website. Go there and check out this wonderful organization and all they do for kids with cancer, and the parents and siblings of kids with cancer.

Before those of you who know me fall over backwards in your chairs at the fact my name and “camping” were mentioned in the same sentence, let me be quick to reassure you that this is MY kind of camping --- private cabins that have heat, a/c, full baths and electricity. The camp is run by volunteers who cook, clean, and facilitate activities for the families that include fishing, boating, archery, panning for gold (my kids’ favorite!) tennis, putt putt, arts & crafts, sports … the list goes on and on. After our weekend in DC (have I mentioned to you guys that it was cold there?) the weather Gods threw us a HUGE bone and it was perfect at Camp Sunshine! Sunny, high 70’s, perfect weather for being outside. In fact, hiking down to the lake I got something suspiciously close to perspiration on my upper lip so I’d say it was almost too warm.

All of the families who attended (around twenty families) have a child either on treatment, or finished with treatment, for a variety of cancers. Talk about a peer group made in Heaven for us! And although the prevalent mood of the camp is FUN, not cancer, it was still a great chance for us to visit with other parents facing the same challenges, fears and frustrations as we are. A special memory for me this weekend was meeting Dustin, one of the counselors at the camp who used to attend as a camper himself. Diagnosed at age 7 with ALL, Dustin is now a college junior who was kind enough to visit with our family, take a special interest in Kendrie, and provide me with a glimpse of what “can be” in our future. Thank you, Dustin, for holding out that special hope for us this weekend … that kids can and are cured of this disease and go on to become kind, caring adults. The kind who now spend their spare time helping other kids with cancer attend camp. Many MANY kudos to the wonderful people who make Camp Sunshine a success.

So, I guess that’s it for us the past few days. I feel a little odd talking about how much fun we are having with all these cancer-related activities. Trust me when I say I’d much rather be sitting at home, watching a boring movie from Blockbuster, complaining that there just isn’t anything to do. You know, the way my life used to be, about six months ago. Oh well (sigh) pass me the lemons … I’ve got some squeezing to do!

Love, Kristie


Blaine: Having a massage by a man does not automatically make you gay.

Kristie: Wearing new tennis shoes to camp is a really stupid way to start the weekend.

Brayden: Never go to bed with gum in your mouth. Enough said.

Kellen: Being the kid who actually catches a fish in front of everyone else is a cool thing!

Kendrie: Conga lines are much more fun when your Mom is carrying you! Hey Mom, why are you breathing so hard???

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Easter Trip to DC

Week #2 of IM #2

OK, see if you can guess the correct answer to my statement:

“The coldest I have ever been in my life was when I……….”

A) Climbed Mount Everest with Sir Edmond Hillary

B) Raced the Iditarod

C) Had my initiation swim with the Polar Bear Club

D) Attended the 2004 Easter Egg Roll at the White House.

OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating. A little. But not a lot! Granted, I’ve never actually done letters A, B and C, but I’m still trying to warm up from letter D! I mean, we lived in North Dakota for four years, so I know cold ---- and it was COLD and wet and rainy in D.C. this weekend!!

But lots of fun too, which made the blue lips and chattering teeth worthwhile. I have to commend the White House staff, or whoever it is that is responsible, for the amazing event they put on at Easter. The “Egg Roll” itself takes only about four seconds from start to finish but is just one of many activities that take place on the White House lawn. Roaming characters, photo ops, musicians, clowns, magicians, TV entertainers, face painting, read-alongs, activities, give-aways, etc. Had the weather cooperated it truly would have been an amazing event. As it was, Kendrie refused to get out of her stroller, and Kellen cried because his hands got so cold (No reflection on the Mom of the family who packed completely inappropriate clothing, right? After all, it’s SPRING in Georgia! Who knew we would need warm clothes???) Brayden at least had fun, although she’s got a good cough now after refusing to carry an umbrella or even put the hood of her jacket up.

We wandered around for about half an hour, grabbed our goody bags and left. But it was still worth it and we’d do it again next year, given the opportunity. There are photos from the weekend in the album. On a funny note, the kids glanced up at the White House at one point and saw someone looking out a window. They are positively certain it was George or Laura Bush, admiring the festivities below. I am certain it was a White House landscaper, crying at the damage done by 16,000 guests on a muddy lawn.

The parts of our trip that made the entire weekend worthwhile were twofold. First, getting to enjoy the hospitality of our friends the Hyzys' who not only let us crash (ie., demolish) their guest suite downstairs (I’m telling you, it was bigger than my first apartment!) also let our kids pester their kids all weekend, played host and tour guide through several DC museums, and shared visitation rights from the Easter Bunny (*and* the Tooth Fairy; go Brayden!) but were kind enough to look the other way when Kendrie barfed her way through Union Station. Those incredibly expensive zofran tablets don’t do you any good when your Mom leaves them sitting on the dresser at the house, and you’re riding the Metro. (Gosh, that’s TWO big strikes against me last weekend, isn’t it?) We had such a good time and hope John, Julie, Brenna and Zack, and their home, survived the invasion.

Part two was getting the opportunity to meet so many wonderful families from my online support group, ALL-kids. I joined this list last November, shortly after Kendrie’s diagnosis and quite frankly, don’t know what I would have done without the advice, guidance, wisdom and support of the other parents. To meet some of them, and their funny, happy kids, was a real treat for our family.

l-r, Leah from VA, Kendrie, Julia from MD, Brandon from MD, and Christopher from MD.

We had an informal gathering Sunday night at the hotel while the grownups gabbed and the kids played for several hours, then met up again Monday morning to go to the White House together, as part of the National Childhood Cancer Foundation group. Thank you to this organization for making the tickets available and sponsoring the hotel gathering.

On a more somber note, one of the great kids we met this weekend, Christopher, (see picture above) attended the Egg Roll with us Monday morning, then had a routine spinal tap done on Monday afternoon. Tuesday his parents received word that Christopher has relapsed in his spinal fluid. I think “relapse” might be the worst word on the planet, second only to “cancer” or “leukemia” itself. But to see this kid, looking healthy, happy, no signs or symptoms on Monday morning, and then hear the news that Monday afternoon they found more leukemia cells in his spinal fluid after he’s already undergone 18 months of chemotherapy, is truly depressing. I can only imagine how his family must be feeling as they await word on where to go from here. If you have a minute, please drop Chris a line at his Caringbridge site. Chris from MD I’m sure they would appreciate the support.

Back at the home front, when the mail lady dropped off our mail today after holding it for four days, it was like someone broke off the top of a Christmas tree and shook it upside down over our house! I have several formal thank you notes to send out; Ms. Kelly, for the awesome Spiderman lunchbox, which Kendrie is sleeping with even as I type this; Ms. Brianna, for the fabulous care package that came today and made everyone happy, even Mom (Thanks for the note inside so we easily knew whose was whose! And we’ll deliver Madie’s as well!); Julianna Banana’s Aunt Tammy, who smuggled us a few more Julianna Banana Wish Bracelets so now Brayden and Kendrie can have their own and not try to steal mine all the time.

And the most inspiring piece of all – a notice from the American Red Cross and our good friend, Bruce G. from Connecticut, that he donated blood in Kendrie’s honor. I can’t do justice in words to the feeling of care and compassion I get when I think about people taking time from their day to donate blood, or put together a care package, or any of the many things people have done to let us know they are thinking of us. I hope everyone knows how very sincerely we appreciate it all.

Speaking of donating blood, I went last evening with my friend Kelly E and donated here in Georgia. Here’s a photo, so you can see how very UN-traumatic it is. See the big smiles on our faces? Those aren’t fake, or just for the camera. While I can’t speak for Kelly, I was excited to see they had Nutter-Butter cookies waiting, and THAT made me smile!! Thank you, Kelly, for joining me at the blood drive, and for dinner afterwards. If any one else has a few spare minutes this week, please consider donating blood as well.

Well, this is quite a disjointed journal entry, with no real clear beginning or end, but I had so many things I wanted to mention! If you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks! We are headed up to Atlanta for a chemo appointment tomorrow, then big plans this weekend, which I’ll tell you about in next week’s journal entry!

Hope you all had a great Easter,

Love, Kristie

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Hands down, the fact that Mom made me skip Kellen's first t-ball practice since it was so cold here. For pete's sake, Mom, I have cancer, not Snowman-melting disease!!!

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Well geez, did you even *read* the journal entry and hear about all the nice things people did for me and my family today?? How great is all that?!?

Thursday, April 08, 2004

"Little Known Side Effects from Chemotherapy"

1st week of IM #2

First of all, let me say Wow, and Thanks! To all of you who offered support and empathy and encouragement and kindness (and best of all, babysitting!) after my last journal entry. I should have my mini-nervous breakdowns in public more often, ha! Secondly, at the risk of sounding like an obnoxiously proud mom ….. how stinkin’ cute are my kids???? We took these pre-Easter photos tonight at a local park and I’m quite proud of their cute little faces, if I say so myself.

Kendrie’s appointment on Monday went well. She cried during the spinal tap, which is always upsetting, but the “sleepy” medicine has an amnesiac effect and she never remembers crying, which is good. I try hard to think of those procedures as a pro-active, assertive way to deliver a knock-out punch to leukemia, and remain positive about them …. But in the back of my mind is always the terror that later that afternoon we will get that awful phone call that “something showed up in the spinal fluid……………….” So I both anticipate and dread spinal-tap days.

But! No news is good news and Monday’s appointment marked the official beginning of Interim Maintenance #2. Same protocol as IM #1; it’s a 56-day cycle, with IV meds every ten days, escalating in strength, with another spinal tap thrown in half-way through for good measure. Then, the last two weeks off to give Kendrie’s bone marrow a rest, which is when we hope to go home to OKC for vacation if she’s feeling up to it and her counts are still good enough. (Let’s just say we learned our lesson at Christmas and are now firm proponents of purchasing flight insurance.) She’s already started with a few side effects; loss of appetite, and we’re giving Zofran (at the approximate cost of $8,219 per pill; thank heavens for Tri-care) for nausea and vomiting (but not quickly enough, the first day or two. Some lessons are learned the hard way.)

Speaking of lessons, I thought I would share with you a few of the less-commonly known side-effects and ramifications of chemotherapy and how it affects both the patient, and the people who surround her. These are all medically documented facts and I’ll be happy to submit my personal findings to the Surgeon General's office for inclusion in whatever important medical announcement they’ll be typing up next. I’m also pretty sure other cancer-parents will agree with me on most, if not all, and I hope they’ll feel free to add in other effects felt in their own families when they sign our guestbook.

#1. The parents of a child on chemotherapy get very, very stupid, as evidenced by the inane conversations they have with said-child on a daily basis. Case in point; conversation today:

Kendrie: “When will Dad be home? I want a new kite”
Kristie: “After work”
Kendrie: “When is that?”
Kristie: “This afternoon, same time as always, before dinner.”
Kendrie: “But after dinner will take too long”
Kristie: “I’m sorry, I can’t help how long it takes.”
Kendrie: “When will we pick the kids up?”
Kristie: “3:30 pm, same as always”
Kendrie: “But that will take too long!!!!”

This might not sound so bad until you realize we have the same conversation at least a dozen times a day. Kendrie is convinced I have no concept of time and am completely incapable of making things happen on a schedule that is convenient for her. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, “takes too long”.

#2. Unlike parents, who get stupid, children on chemotherapy attain near-brilliant, unshakable, dog-with-a-bone-type qualities regarding certain issues. Case in point, conversation today:

Kendrie: “Can McKenzie come over to play?”
Kristie: “I’m sorry honey, McKenzie moved to Texas for her Daddy’s new Air Force job”
Kendrie: “But I miss her! She’s my best friend!” (bear in mind McKenzie is a casual friend whom Kendrie hasn’t seen, played with, inquired about, or asked for in any shape or manner in at least a month.)
Kristie: “Well, we’ll have to make some new friends”
Kendrie: “But McKenzie is my best friend and I only want her!!!” and then proceeds to cry for half an hour, recounting every fun second she has ever spent in McKenzie’s company. She’s like “Rainman”, for pete’s sake, and can’t let it go.

#3. Promises mean absolutely nothing. Case in point, conversation today:

Kristie: “So you SWEAR, if I get dressed, drive to the bank to get cash, drive you to Stevie B’s (local pizza parlor) and buy you pizza, you will eat it? You PROMISE??”
Kendrie: “Yes, mom, I promise! I really, really, really, really want pizza for lunch; PROMISE!!”

Then she proceeds to eat one single solitary bite of the pizza … which, by the way, is the only single solitary bite of anything she has eaten for three days, if you don’t count the four bites of applesauce that we’ve mixed her Zofran in.

#4. There are actually MORE than seven layers of skin, as evidenced by the rough, tough, completely un-feminine patches of raw flesh around my knuckles caused by swimming in Purell for the past six months. I’m down at least nine or ten layers so far with no end in sight.

#5. The FDA is currently involved in secret meetings to announce the new, official food group for kids on chemo: “NOTHING” As in, “Kendrie, what are you hungry for?” NOTHING. “Kendrie, what would you like to eat?” NOTHING. “Kendrie, what are you going to waste away to if you don’t start eating?????” The only other food group being considered is the "Pokemon Blue Slurpee from Target" group, which we now value as our friend because at least it’s got sugar and calories in it, right?

#6. Children on chemotherapy become quite attached to their barf buckets and will sometimes insist on carrying them around town. Just because you see a child in the dentist’s office with a plastic bowl sitting beside them, do not immediately assume the parent is irresponsible and possibly infecting *your* child with a contagious stomach flu. Consider that your runny-nosed little hooligan might actually pose a much greater threat to barf-kid over here.

#7. The parents of kids on chemotherapy develop x-ray vision which allows them to see germ potential at a thousand yards. If you see a parent wiping down a restaurant booth or a shopping cart with antibacterial wipes, don’t think we’re crazy. Well, on second thought, maybe we are. But short of inventing a plastic bubble suit, it’s the best we can do for our kids.

#8. And lastly, because this one seems to affect me personally the most; The parents of children on chemotherapy, after spending months and months at home alone with these children, sometimes lose their adult social skills and become quite inept at grown-up conversation and humor. Case in point, conversation #1 today:

Dental hygienest: “Well, your teeth are looking very nice”
Kristie: “Thanks, I guess I’m one step closer to that career as a supermodel.”

(OK, for those of you who don’t know me personally, I am closer to 40 than I am 30, and I’m closer to 200 pounds than I am 100 …. So I thought that comment was quite funny. The look of confusion told me that the dental hygienest didn’t quite get the joke.)

Conversation #2 today:

Kristie, to Kendrie, walking up to our van in the parking lot, “Holy crap, look at this terrible parking job I did … I don’t remember doing such an awful job! Good gracious, it's so crooked!!”
Person behind Kristie, “That’s MY van”

So I guess rather than sign up for that computer class to figure out how to make this Caringbridge page actually look the way I want it to look, I’ll be spending my tuition money at the Emily Post School for Cancer Parents. Or maybe I could just buy duct tape for my mouth, I imagine that’s cheaper.

Wish us luck this weekend in DC for the Easter Egg Hunt. The forecast is calling for rain and the event will not be rescheduled if that happens. I know we’ll still have a great time visiting old friends, meeting new friends and seeing other sites, but my kids are very excited at the possibility of seeing the current resident of the White House, "George Washington". I have a funny feeling they have just as good a shot of seeing George Washington as they do George Bush, but I don’t want to burst their bubble. At least they're learning *something* about American History!

Happy Easter to all of you, also!

Love, Kristie

WORST PART OF HAVING CANCER TODAY: To be honest, my stomach is feeling a little freaky lately.

BEST PART OF HAVING CANCER TODAY: When else is my mom going to let me have just a blue slurpee for lunch???

Sunday, April 04, 2004


Well, only 24 hours to go, and Kendrie will officially be done with this phase, Delayed Intensification #1. Assuming her counts are ok at the clinic this upcoming Monday (and they were fine on Friday, so we assume they should be) she will begin Interim Maintenance #2 with a lumbar puncture and IV medications on Monday morning. Sending up a big prayer that she handles IM #2 as well as she handled IM #1. She seems to be feeling good; at least good enough to fight with her brother and sister and fuss when she doesn’t get her way. She’s such a funny little kid, and makes me laugh on a regular basis, like on Thursday when she insisted that our English Setter needed his “magic cream” before receiving his shot for kennel cough.

So, enough about her. Let’s talk about another fascinating, riveting subject for awhile. How about me? Kidding, of course ………. Well, no not really. Let’s actually talk about me. Let me preface this by saying I am under no delusion that what Blaine and I are going through as the parents of a child with cancer compares in any way to what she is going through herself. I give Kendrie, and all the other kids with leukemia, complete credit for making it through this suck-fest with such grace and spirit. You know the phrase about the poo-poo hitting the fan? No doubt, cancer is the poo-poo and Kendrie is the unfortunate fan that got whacked with it, but we did get a little residual poo-poo splatter thanks to the centrifugal force, and it stinks, too.

I admit it, I’ve been in a funk. In fact, I haven’t updated the site because I didn’t want to seem pathetic and lame …………….. then realized I *am* pathetic and lame, so who am I kidding? I didn’t used to be pathetic and lame. I am normally a sunny, upbeat, positive person (hey…. Was that a SNORT I just heard coming from Blaine’s direction?) but the past week or so I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed. Most likely because I was so sleep-deprived after the Pre-Kindergarten Camping Outside for 48-Hour Registration Extravaganza, and sleeping in a lawn chair nowadays isn’t near as fun as it was when I was 18 and in line for REO tickets. Hey, I still really like that group. Does anyone know if REO is touring this summer? Sometimes they go around with Styx or Cheap Trick ………. What? What was I saying? Oh yeah, I’ve been distracted and in a funk. And because I’m all about absolving myself of responsibility for anything that stinks, I’m compiling a list of the lousy ways leukemia makes me feel -- besides worried and stressed and frightened -- and have no intention of taking responsibility myself. Here goes:

1. Leukemia makes me feel like a financial ignoramus. Since Kendrie’s diagnosis, there are so many things over which we no longer have control, that I find myself searching for ways to assert my control (even imaginary control, ok) to make myself feel better. I realized we had some extra money in our checking account that we have been saving for a rainy day and decided the wise thing to do (because everyone who knows me knows what a Midas-money-wizard I am… not) would be open up a savings account and earn some interest. So I went to the bank today, stood in line, wrote the check, transferred the money over, opened the account, and as I’m walking out the door think to ask, “so, what is the interest rate anyway?” to which the teller replies “0.0025” OK, at that rate, I should earn approximately $12.94 this year, and after paying $14.99 for the new checks, I figure I’ll be operating at a net loss of $1.96. Now just how silly was that? Damn, guess that means I’ll lose my apprentice opportunity with the Donald. If I hadn’t been so distracted by the leukemia, I would have known well-enough to invest in pork rinds or Martha Stewart stock or something worthwhile.

2. Leukemia has made me the most boring guest at the Party of Life. I realize how amazingly self-centered I am, and am trying, and failing miserably, to stop. I scrap-booked today with friends and lost count of the number of times I heard “before Kendrie got sick” or “after Kendrie got sick” or “now that Kendrie is sick” come out of my mouth. My gosh, my OWN eyes glazed over after a while! Kelly, Erin and Renee, thanks for putting up with me today, but next time let’s get a code word established, like LOBOTOMY or COMATOSE, so you can clue me in to how dull I am!!!

3. Leukemia has frustrated me on a technological level that I didn’t even realize was possible. Before leukemia, I had never heard of a Caring Bridge site. Now, I can’t tell you the number of hours I have spent online, browsing techno web sites, downloading programs and help guides involving syllables like ftp, html, mp3, dmc, amp, and all sorts of other acronyms, in an attempt to make the site interesting; music, graphics, photos, etc. Other people can make it work ……….. and probably don’t pull all their hair out in the process. But not me. I am now desperate enough that I have my husband stalking the poor computer guys at his work trying to find someone willing to come to my house and let me pay them for a private tutoring session. How sad is that???

I guess those are the big three and I can stop for now. But you know what has cheered me up immensely this week? See the photo at the top of this page of Brayden, Kellen and Kendrie wearing their new caps from my friend Jadine in Texas ….. well, Jadine was kind enough to send me a computer link to one of the funniest things I have seen online in a long time. I’m going to try to make it into a link on this site so you can see it, too. Simple, really, but it cracked me up and I went to it repeatedly this week for a smile. Thank you, Jadine, smooches to Pflugerville! (but next time, you might want to consider simply sending a straight jacket, size XL). Trombone Man OK, I can't even make it work by cutting and pasting, but if you would like to see it (I promise, it's not dirty or anything, just cute) let me know and I'll e-mail it to you.

OK, here are a couple of great Caringbridge sites to check out: First, go to Bryan Banister and please sign up for the Bone Marrow Registry Challenge, 2004, organized by Bryan and his wife Karen. Worthy, worthy cause. I am already signed up or I would definitely join their challenge and be proud! And, Karen and her friends are taking part in a Relay for Life in Canada and hoping to gather 720 photos of persons affected by cancer, one for every minute of the relay. So please go to the site and consider sending in a photo. Remember to sign their guestbook, too!

Also visit Noah Hurley If you have a minute or two, go back through Noah’s mom’s journal history. She does a really great job, in my opinion, of balancing both the necessary optimism and the unavoidable fears and sadness that seem to go hand in hand with this illness. I always look forward to her updates because she often hits the nail right on the head for me. Be sure to sign their guestbook, too!

And peace be to Maxie, who spent his first birthday in Heaven yesterday. I’m sure the day was especially difficult for his family, and just want them to know I am thinking of all of them.

I guess that it’s for us. Our big news for this week is that we will be leaving on Thursday to spend Easter weekend with our friends the Hyzy’s in Virginia; sightseeing in DC and getting to attend the Easter Egg Roll at the White House on Monday. The National Children’s Cancer Foundation (did I get that right?) offers tickets each year to cancer-families and we are so excited to attend (Blaine said we had to go this year while there is still a guaranteed Republican in the Oval Office!) and also to meet some of the other families I am online with. I think it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and just hope the Hyzy’s don’t bolt their doors shut after we leave!

Thanks again for taking a minute and signing Kendrie’s guestbook. We check it every single day and it’s always so fun to read the new messages.
Love, Kristie


1. Taking steroids again! Total doses of oral medications to date: 324
2. Spinal taps and bone marrows to date: 15
3. Shots to date: 12
4. Having to get a blood transfusion.
5. Being so tired when my counts dropped.
6. Barfing so much, especially in the front yard, gross!


1. My new Spiderman baseball cap.
2. The special smile my mommy and I exchange whenever someone says, "My, what a cute little boy you have" which happens about twenty-eleventeen times a day.
3. With the exception of a few tired days, I felt pretty good over all.
4. My new Daddy Day Care dvd.
5. It's over and I'm still in remission!