Saturday, October 29, 2005


48 Days to Go

Just a brief update to let you know that Blaine made it home safe and sound (and relatively quickly; it's a miracle!) yesterday and is now relaxing quietly and comfortably on the sofa. Ha, yeah right. He wasn’t home ten minutes and the kids were all over him, but at least he knows he was missed. In between him and his Percocet, and my mom and her Lortab, we’re running a veritable Narcotics Hospital in the kitchen, but at least everyone feels pretty good.

Also wanted to share with you this years version of The Lazy Man’s Guide To Carving Pumpkins:

Kendrie, Brayden, and Kellen show off their Halloween 2005 Masterpieces.

Those of you who live in the Atlanta area are familiar with CURE: “CURE Childhood Cancer was founded in 1975 as a non-profit organization dedicated to conquering childhood cancer through research, education and support of patients and their families. Until there is a cure for every child diagnosed with cancer - CURE will be there.”

The rest of you might not know that CURE is a wonderful organization that helps families affected by childhood cancer in a variety of ways, in addition to working towards finding a cure for pediatric cancer. Each year, they send out a fundraising letter, asking the parent of a local child to contribute to the letter. I was really flattered to be asked this year and thought I would share the text of the letter with all of you. For more information, or to make a donation, please visit CURE's website.

"Fall 2005

Dear Friends,

There are certain moments in life when you have no choice but to laugh: like when you come out of the ladies restroom and realize your skirt is tucked into your pantyhose. There are other moments in life when you really *shouldn’t* laugh, but can’t help yourself: like when your sister comes out with her skirt tucked into her pantyhose. And, then, there are certain moments when a person wonders if they’ll ever laugh again: when their child’s doctor places his or her hand on their shoulder and says gently, “I’m so sorry, it’s cancer.”

That moment came for our family in October of 2003 when our daughter Kendrie, who had just turned four, was diagnosed with leukemia. Devastated, disbelieving, distraught, despairing -- there aren’t enough “D” words to express how we felt at that moment. When the security of your boring, normal life spins away from you in the blink of an eye, what exactly do you DO? Well, you worry, lose sleep, experience fear like you’ve never known, cry, bargain with God, obsessively surf the web, and in MY case, stress-eat a boatload of chocolate. Then you wake up and realize “Thank goodness we don’t have to go it alone.”

Researchers have made amazing strides in the treatments for childhood cancer. Although still the #1 disease killer in children, statistics have improved greatly. In 1975, a child diagnosed with leukemia had only a 20 percent chance of survival. Today, that chance is closer to 80 percent. Sounds good, huh? But when it’s YOUR child, anything less than 100 percent isn’t acceptable. Consider this: If one in five kids died on the soccer field, would you sign your child up to play? And we’re the “lucky” ones with leukemia; other forms of childhood cancer have odds nowhere near as high as 80 percent.

CURE Childhood Cancer is dedicated to conquering childhood cancer through research, education, and the support of patients and their families. Our first day in the hospital after Kendrie was diagnosed, we received a Welcome Bag from CURE and an invitation to their weekly Open Arms gathering at Scottish Rite. On this, their 30th anniversary, CURE continues to help fund research so a cure can be found in our lifetime. In the meantime, they are providing valuable support and services for families. So much progress has been made in 30 years -- won’t it be wonderful to reach the day when NO child dies of cancer?

You can help make that day possible by donating to CURE. Feel confident that you are helping CURE fulfill its mission of helping families both in the short-term, and towards the long-term goal of eradicating childhood cancer.

As for us, Kendrie is enjoying kindergarten, doing well and is slated to finish treatment this December, after 26 months of chemotherapy. It’s been a long two years, and at times, a struggle to remain cheerful and to remember that laughter is the best medicine. (Well, laughter, steroids, vincristine, 6mp, methotrexate … the list goes on and on!) For our family, though, there is light at the end of the tunnel. And unlike those dark days at the beginning, we no longer think that light is a train headed our way. Other families, however, are in the thick of the fight, or just beginning. Please donate to CURE and help those families to realize, like we did, “Thank goodness we don’t have to go it alone.”

Thank you"

Well, I hope all of you have a wonderful Halloween on Monday --- assuming my kids survive the sugar high, I'll post photos afterwards. :)

Take care and have a nice weekend,

Thursday, October 27, 2005


50 Days to Go

Thanks to all of you who checked in on Blaine this past week --- the notes in the guestbook about me and the boob job especially made me smile. :) I actually left Blaine in the hospital on Tuesday and came home, but the solo parenting thing, even *with* Grandma’s help, has left me no extra time to update this journal until now. (And some help she is --- she was jumping out of bed this morning because she had a cramp in her foot, moved funny, or too quickly, we’re still not sure which, and wrenched her neck, pinching a nerve. We spent all morning at Urgent Care …. and now my mother, the lightweight who practically goes into a coma from taking an aspirin, is knocked out on Lortab and muscle relaxers in Brayden’s bedroom … how funny is that? I just hope she wakes up in time to pick the kids up from school tomorrow!) Anyway, we got word today that Blaine is cleared for release tomorrow, so I’ll be driving back up to Augusta to bring him home. Crossing my fingers, and everything else that I have, that we don’t have a repeat performance of last time, when it took seventy-two hours to check him out of the hospital. I STILL haven’t made up that day-from-Hell to my girlfriend Renee.

I thought I would share something that all of you “parents with kids who never get a free night out” can probably relate to --- since we were getting to Augusta Thursday evening, and mom was home with the kids, we figured we would take advantage of our “free” evening to have a date-night before the surgery. Plans were to arrive in Augusta early enough for dinner, and then go out to a movie. Half-way to Augusta (a three-hour drive) I decided I was hungry so we stopped for fast-food. Then Blaine pulled over to buy gas and bought candy for both of us. So when we finally arrived, neither of us was particularly hungry, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to eat again for quite a while and was determined to have dinner. We received a phone call informing us that we had to be at the hospital by 5am, and quickly agreed there was no way we could stay out late enough to watch a movie. So our BIG DATE wound up being us, watching tv in the hotel room; me laying on the bed and complaining about how miserable I was from all the junk food I ate in the car, and Blaine wolfing down a chicken sandwich from Popeye’s. Now, if that’s not true love and the most romantic evening ever, then I don’t know what is.

Anyway …. Why did you come here? Oh yes, to check on Blaine. Surgery went well Friday and he spent three days in Intensive Care afterwards, more as a precautionary measure than anything. They pulled his feeding tube out yesterday and today, when they realized he was tolerating a liquid diet without problem (Blaine says even jello and chicken broth taste good if you’re hungry enough) and could manage his pain medication orally, they cleared him to come home tomorrow. I know the kids will be glad to see him, especially Kendrie. She seriously doesn’t handle separation well. I fear for the day he’s actually deployed with the military and leaves for months on end. (Something we’ve been able to avoid so far --- hey, I told you there were perks to having cancer!) She will have to stow away in his rucksack or something; she’d never handle being apart for that long.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost three years since he was first diagnosed (Dear Heavens, have I ever told you *that* story?) and the reconstruction process is still ongoing. We are hoping (one more surgery and one more procedure to go) that he is finished by next summer. No more chemo for Kendrie, no more surgeries for Blaine (my mom will hopefully have regained full use of her neck muscles by then!) --- we won’t know what to do with ourselves! I’ll be forced to abandon this journal due to lack of subject matter!

Once I get him home and get him settled I will update again .... after all, we've got the Halloween plans brewing for Monday. :) He’s on convalescent leave for the next four or five weeks …. I have visions of free time during the day, shopping, preparing for Christmas, and getting things done around the house while he is here to help me with the children. Something tells me his visions are nothing like that, and more likely involve the sofa, a pillow, the remote, and a lot of college football.

Again, thank you for checking in on him, and on Kendrie. Our whole family may be falling apart, but it’s good to know we have friends!!

Take care,

PS. I didn’t have a computer while I was gone, and am very behind in checking on all “my” CB kids. I am planning to catch up on everyone this weekend, but truly hope that everyone is doing well in the meantime!

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Grandma managed the chemo while Mom and Dad were gone just fine, but Mom forgot to tell her about the ointment I need on my face due to my methotrexate rash. I look a little like a baby alligator now! Good thing the rest of me is so stinkin' cute, because I'm sure not winning any Gerber baby contests with this complexion!

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Ok, this has *so* nothing to do with cancer, but we went to a Mexican restaurant tonight and there was this merry-achii band playing -- you should have seen me doing the chicken dance right there at the table. I got some SKILLS, girlfriend!

Thursday, October 20, 2005


57 Days to Go

Just a quick update from the land of Escoe this week --- Blaine and I are headed out the door for his next round of reconstructive surgery, so if those of you so inclined could hold him in your thoughts tomorrow morning during surgery, I would really appreciate it. He normally holds a relatively admirable “let’s just get this over with and move on” sort of mentality, but after his tango with a staph infection this past spring, following *that* surgery (geez louise, I’ve lost track of how many he’s had!) he’s understandably a little gun shy this time around. I guess my job as chaperone will be to take him out tonight and get him good and drunk so he doesn’t have the mental capacity to worry about tomorrow’s surgery. (Think his doctor would have a problem with that?) If you can only hold one person up in prayer tomorrow, perhaps a better person might be the kids’ Grandma, who flew in to take care of them while we are away. She certainly has more reason to be nervous than Blaine does!!

I did want to share with you, though, a few pictures from their 50’s Night at school this week. Hula hoops, hamburgers and hand jive, a fun time was had by all. But mainly by Brayden, who discovered the carnival games where they were giving out candy before the other kids did. And, be sure to take a good hard look at these photos, since it might very well be the last time in history that Kendrie appears in public in a pink dress. I thought she was adorable … and was especially annoyed at the kids who kept asking out loud, “Why is that boy wearing a dress?” Obviously, I need to conduct some sort of elementary-aged-public-awareness campaign, entitled, “Please teach your child not to be such a rude, ill-spoken brat.” Or maybe I just need annoyance-management classes. If there is one lesson my children learn through all of this, I hope it is to have empathy, compassion, and that if they want to ask questions about other people in public and the way they look, they should whisper in my ear!

Kendrie and her teacher, Ms. Pinky Tuscadaro.

"Aha! I knew that hula-hooping talent that I cultivated at the Lighthouse Retreat last week would come in handy again someday!"

And yes, to answer your question, the tongue DOES make a difference!

Apparently all those spinals have paid off and Kendrie is now limber enough to be a 70's Solid Gold dancer --- too bad this is the wrong decade.

Anyway, I’ll update again when Blaine and I return. Kendrie is doing well in the meantime (and very emphatically wore camo shorts and t-shirt to school today lest anyone get confused and think she actually *enjoyed* wearing a dress!) and we are all still counting down the days. 57 to go, as of today!

Thanks for checking in,

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: It's my dad's cancer today that stinks, since he and Mommy are going away for a few days because of it. Obviously I am not well-adjusted enough to enjoy the separation because I was crying already this morning and they hadn't even left yet! I hope Grandma has lots of tricks up her sleeves for these next few days -- she's going to need 'em!

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Grandma showed up yesterday off the plane with a dozen gingerbread cookies from Mommy's favorite bakery in the whole wide world --- and when Mom wasn't looking, us kids ate 'em all!!! Woohoo!

Monday, October 17, 2005


60 Days to Go

After attending our first-ever Lighthouse Family Retreat last summer in Gulf Trace, Florida, and having what was basically one of our best vacations EVER, we were beyond disappointed when this year’s retreat was cancelled due to the damage caused by Hurricane Dennis. Actually, to be correct, I should explain that only two of the retreats were cancelled …. Lighthouse runs six-ten retreats a year, we just happened to have scheduled ourselves for the retreat following the hurricane (impeccable timing on our part, as always!) We were fortunate that the Lighthouse was able to schedule an additional retreat at the end of the season for many of the families who got hurricane’d out earlier in the summer --- needless to say, we were thrilled for another opportunity to attend.

Just like last year, it was a relaxing, inspiring, fun-filled stay at a beautiful beach -- this time, the location was Watercolor, Florida. Watercolor is a really neat resort-community, with dozens of rental properties, three community pools, a spa (which believe it or not, I actually used) a workout center (didn’t use that, no surprise there) a fabulous restaurant, bike rentals, walking trails, etc., and of course, the beach at your fingertips. If you are considering a Florida panhandle vacation, you would be well-done to consider staying at Watercolor. We loved it! Five stars!!

But better than all that was the time spent with the other Lighthouse families, family volunteers, and Lighthouse workers. Once again I find myself unable to express proper gratitude for all these people do … not only during the retreats, but year-round. Their mission is to serve children with cancer and their families at a seaside retreat and help them to laugh, restore family relationships, and find hope in God. If you visit the Lighthouse website and browse around, you’ll find several photos of Kendrie, and other Caringbridge kids that you’ll most likely recognize, on their site. And one embarrassing photo of Blaine in a coconut bra, but I promised him I wouldn't mention that.

Lighthouse is a truly deserving organization. I’ll write my formal thank-you this week, and include a donation. But Blaine and I talked about it, and our long-term goal is for our family to return to the Lighthouse in a few years in a volunteer capacity, helping another family to benefit from their time at the ocean just like ours has benefitted these past two trips.

So, thank-you’s and praise for this wonderful organization and the people who run it aside, I thought I would share with you some of the photos and wisdom we gained on this long weekend. You know that Escoe family ---- always learning, they are. Here are a few of the things we learned this time:

1. There is nothing quite as neat as an early morning, just-off-the-shore greeting from a family of dolphins. (No photo, darn it, I wasn’t quick enough with the camera! But trust me, it was really cool!)

2. It doesn’t matter if it IS Florida, unheated pools and the ocean are a little cool in October.

3. It doesn’t matter if it IS October, playing Beach Olympics in the middle of the day is still hot and sticky. But fun. And that’s what matters. That, and hanging your tongue out of your mouth to make you run faster.

4. Did we mention that Watercolor is a really cool resort?

5. We discovered the secret to a successful rock climb is to wear goggles on the top of your head. Something to do with reverse gravity and polarizing the sun. Or something. Maybe just looking cool.

6. It doesn’t matter if you think the fountains are lame. Your mom thinks they look like fun, and you will pose for a picture until she is happy or she will not let you rest.

7. Sometimes, kids honestly are willing to pose for a picture. There is no sweeter moment for a scrapbooking, camera-wielding, photo-obsessed mom.

8. Oh, look, here’s another one. They must have all been on sugar highs to be so cooperative.

9. The whole point of a beach-trip is the beach. Too bad there weren’t any minnows to be found, after Blaine made a last-minute trip to Wal-Mart at midnight to buy nets for the kids this year. That, of course, follows our trip last year, where there were minnows by the thousands, and not enough nets for all the kids. They did use their nets to catch lots of hermit crabs at night, though. No pictures there …. Those things give me the heebie jeebies.

10. When all else fails, and you don’t want to admit that the ocean is too cold, and your steroid personality makes you unspeakably rude to those around you, just pretend you are digging in the sand. You don’t have to talk, and no-one will be the wiser.

I mentioned Hurricane Kendrie in the last journal entry; thankfully, she was down-graded to a Category Annoying this past weekend in Florida. No blatant tantrums or meltdowns, but lots of whining, pouting, and my personal least-favorite, refusing to talk to other people. I mean, here these volunteer families are, spending their own perfectly good time and money to VOLUNTEER to serve in this caring, kind way for our family, and my child won’t look them in the eye. Or answer their questions. Or recognize their presence in any manner. Little brat. You know how, when you ask a two-year old their name, or their age, and they bury their face in their mother’s shoulder, it’s kind of cute? Well, when a six year old does it? Not so much.

Oh, and I forgot the most important thing we learned this weekend, the one lesson above all lessons to which we will stay true, no matter what:

11. The Escoe family will not be traveling more than one hundred miles from our home in any direction. Ever. Again. Ever.

Granted, that’s going to make our life-long dream of visiting Alaska rather difficult. In fact, we won’t be able to leave the state of Georgia, but it’s a small price to pay to avoid the travel-nasties that seem to afflict my children every time we are in the car longer than two hours.

The drive down actually wasn’t so bad. We made it all the way to I-10 in Florida before I whirled around and launched into my “Oh, no it is NOT too late for your father to turn this van around and drive all the way back to Georgia and you can just miss the whole weekend for all I care if you don’t start behaving” diatribe. The threat of going back home without dipping their toes in the ocean seemed to work pretty well, and they kept things under control the rest of the way. And the actual three days we spent at the beach? They were in reality, fairly pleasant, with only a few over-stimulated, under-rested “moments” taking place. (Any family who doesn’t experience at least one or two of those moments on vacation, well, I don’t want to hear from you. You’ll just make me feel lousy. Plus you’ll be lying and we’ll all know it.)

It was the drive home that made me consider building a time machine and traveling back in time about ten years to have my tubes tied. I understand you’re tired! I understand you’re feeing cranky! I understand you don’t want to leave the beach! It’s when they launched into “you’re stupid you’re stupider this is a dumb family he’s touching me make them stop I can’t hear the movie get off my side how much longer my butt hurts are we ever going to get there I’m hungry I’m thirsty” rants that I wanted to puncture my own eardrums just so I could stop listening to them. And how is it that the drive home is always twice as long??? Five unsynchronized bladders, Blaine’s never-ending need for coffee, his never-ending quest to find a gas station that makes decent coffee, us fighting over the a/c controls in the front of the van, the kids arguing …. and the ugly battle of wills over whether to watch Little Rascals or Home Alone 3 on the dvd player about pushed me over the edge. I was never so happy to see the sign at the front of our housing addition in my whole life, is all I can say.

But I’m still glad we went. Given the opportunity, we’d jump at the chance to go again next year. Even if it does mean breaking our “no travel more than 100 miles from home” rule. I’ll just invest in a really HUGE pair of ear muffs for the drive. For me. Blaine and the kids are on their own.

Thanks for checking in,

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Hmmm. Today I am feeling pretty good; well-rested and refreshed from hanging out at the beach. Did mom tell you that I took part in a karate exhibition for the Talent Show? I wasn’t really very talented, but it sure was fun! And I was way cooler than Brayden and her lame hula-hooping, that’s for sure. Mom is going to have to buy us Escoe kids some actual talent, if we go back next year!

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Well, if you ask *me*, it’s that we spent the weekend at the beach. But the best part about today specifically is that it’s my first day off steroids and hopefully the “good cop” part of my personality will begin to return!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


65 Days to Go!

Wonderful News!!! (aka; The Cake): You have no idea the joy I felt when the nurse turned to me during Kendrie’s lumbar puncture yesterday and said, “You realize this is her FINAL SPINAL, right?” What magnificent words, indeed! Of course, it’s also a bit scary to know that was the last time they will inject protective chemo into her spine, to prevent leukemia cells from entering her central nervous system. But if I can let go of my safety cord, and my fear and paranoia and panic and alarm and obsession and terror, then it’s a wonderful thing indeed. No more NPO procedures, (until she gets her port out, anyway) listening to her complain about how hungry she is and when will she be able to eat? No more driving to Atlanta the night before and staying in a hotel room; no more sleepy medicine, no more back pokes, no more all-day clinic appointments. Final spinal, baby --- what a milestone!

More Wonderful News (aka: The Icing on the Cake): We had allotted ourselves enough time yesterday for Kendrie to receive her 2-3 hour IVIG transfusion, but her counts were high enough that the doctor didn’t think it was warranted. So once we realized we were sprung from the clinic earlier than planned, we called our friends Jenny and Catie, who are staying at the Atlanta Ronald McDonald house while Catie undergoes radiation treatments for her brain tumor, and promptly invited ourselves for lunch. There is a slight chance that Jenny and Catie were just being polite, having no real choice in the matter since we barged in on them like that, but I think after staying far away from home for weeks on end, there is definitely a remote possibility that they actually enjoyed the company -- I know we sure did! Thanks, Jenny and Catie! We will miss you this weekend at the beach!

Worrisome News: (AP report, Watercolor, FL): Residents of Watercolor, Florida, a beautiful seaside resort located near Destin in the panhandle of Florida, are battening down the hatches yet again in anticipation of the fourth hurricane this season, expected to rip through their sleepy community sometime this weekend. Despite the head-on devastation of Hurricane Dennis in July, and the remnants of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita this fall, residents have feared nothing as much as they fear the havoc that might be wreaked by the latest in the string of fury released by Mother Nature: Hurricane Kendrie.

With steroid-force winds and gales raging at 100 TPH (tantrums per hour), Hurricane Kendrie is expected to make landfall in Watercolor at approximately noon on Thursday. According to the Farmers Almanac, Thursday *should* be a day of celebration -- Oct 13th -- as Kendrie revels in the two-year anniversary of the day she was diagnosed with leukemia and subsequently began kicking cancer’s butt. However, locals fear the side effects from this month’s steroid-storm system will overshadow any anniversary commemoration plans. Instead of planning merriment for the two years Kendrie has been a survivor, Watercolor residents are stocking up on mac & cheese, bacon, and zofran.

Other Georgia residents, converging on Watercolor in anticipation of joining the Escoe family at the Lighthouse Family Retreat, are warned to take cover and be prepared. Destruction effects could possibly include whining, crying, extreme hunger, disagreement, surliness, unfriendliness and hostility. Lingering effects could include weeping, howling, bickering, and pouting. Be afraid, people of Florida --- be very afraid.


WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Geez, Louise, where should I start? I have an entire laundry list of ways I was tortured and baited and set upon by cruel adults yesterday while I was at the clinic. First, I had to get sleepy medicine, which always makes me cry and moan, but overall, wasn’t too bad. But THEN, those nurses, who are nowhere NEAR as sneaky as they think they are, came up while I was still on the table and stuck a big needle in my arm ---- a Flu Shot! Did they think I wouldn’t notice??? And the only thing I hate worse than needles? Band-aids! Guess what they gave me over my flu shot? Band-aid #1. Then, the nurse-practitioner doing my LP stuck a band-aid on my back -- band aid #2! Then, like that’s not bad enough, like I haven’t suffered enough at the hands of these people, she couldn’t get all the tape off, so I came home with more tape on my back that I had to peel off ---- I WAS NOT VERY HAPPY LAST NIGHT WHEN I GOT IN THE BATHTUB AND KEPT FINDING BANDAIDS AND TAPE ALL OVER MY LITTLE BODY!!!! It’s not steroids that makes me crazy, IT’S ALL YOU STUPID BIG PEOPLE!!!!

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: No doubt, it was getting to see my friend Catie at the Ronald McDonald House for lunch. Her grandma gave me a brownie (and I embarrassed my mom by not eating it all after I asked for it, but I was too full from all those goldfish the nurses gave me after my sleepy medicine) and I got to play in Catie’s room with some of her toys from home. It was a neat place, but I’m sure Catie and her mom are ready to be done with radiation and get back home with Catie’s daddy where they are much more comfortable.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


71 Days to Go

We have attended Camp Sunshine Family Weekend Camp a total of three times now. The first two times we went, there was this awesome singer (how embarrassing that I can’t even remember his name) who played guitar and sang silly songs during mealtimes. The song that is playing now, “Love Is”, is sort of the theme song for Camp Sunshine. Everyone stands up and does the hand motions and sings along …. feeling a little self-conscious and embarrassed, but enjoying themselves nonetheless. I was quite indignant when I found out this weekend that Mr. Guitar Man (John? Joe? What the *heck* is his name???) moved to Texas and isn’t able to come to Family Camp anymore. What’s up with that? Does the guy think he has a LIFE or something? Doesn't he realize we enjoyed that?? As much as I used to roll my eyes while making my “faster than a jet plane” movement, deep down, I was having a good time! I missed him this weekend, darn it!

But absence of silly songs aside, Family Camp was once again, fantastic. Held at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Georgia, it is the perfect compromise for me (Mrs. City Mouse) and my more “rustic” family members. Lots of outdoor activities, but running water, beds complete with mattresses, and electricity in the cabins … now that’s my kind of camping. Although I’m hesitant to return, as I found out on the last morning that the cabin of our friends, Mary Grace’s family had visitors ….. of the cockroach variety. SO not something I would have been happy about! We had our share of grand-daddy long legs …. those, I can stomach …. but roaches? Um, no thank you. To put it mildly. I know there is a camp doctor in attendance each weekend, but I don't think resuscitating me with CPR from the HEART ATTACK I would have if I found a roach in my shoe like Mary Grace's brother did is part of their job description!

I’ve talked before about how great it is at Camp Sunshine to meet other families, and also for the kids to spend time with other kids whose lives have been impacted by cancer. Most of the volunteers are former campers themselves, so they have a great connection to the children. And it goes without saying that it’s inspiring to Blaine and I as parents, to meet these young people (who seem young to me but are actually in their 20’s, out of college, working, living as adults!) who serve as a testimony to not only surviving cancer, but embracing life afterwards.

One thing that struck me this weekend, as compared to the previous two weekends, was how "ready" Brayden and Kellen both were to go off with friends and do their own thing. We've always hung out as a family before, but this weekend it was all about playing football for Kellen (not well, I might add) and spending time with "her new best friend Cheyenne, and her new best friend Kacee, and her new best friend, etc" for Brayden. I've never broached the subject of the Camp Sunshine Weekend Sibling Camp held just for the siblings .... but I think next summer we might check into it. I don't know whether to be excited, or a little bit sad. :)

Our family was a “middle” family this year ---- sunk into the cancer world two years ago; not new, but not finished yet either. I loved seeing the kids there who had finished leukemia treatment four and five years ago …. And I hope the parents of the kids diagnosed as recently as July found hope in the other families, as well.

So, kudos and thanks to Camp Sunshine for providing us with another fabulous weekend out of the way, I wanted to share with you some of the lessons learned by the Escoe Family this weekend:

No stretch of monkey bars is too long if you’ve got a strong shoulder helping you along the way. Of course, even the strong shoulder will get sick of it after your three hundredth trip across .... just remember that.

It is important to have a nice smile when you’re fishing ….. makes the fish less suspicious.

It is even more important to be willing to actually **touch** the fish when you catch it … a concept that still doesn’t make sense to Kellen aka “Girly-Girl” Escoe.

While mastering the “touching the wildlife” concept, it is also important to realize when you are entertaining yourself with the wrong end of the food chain. I'm sure these poor worms were relieved when the time came for them to be impaled on the hooks --- probably less painful that the Worm Olympics that Kendrie was putting them through.

Falling down a lot does not automatically make you a football expert. Kellen is the "butt" in the middle, in case you couldn't tell.

Getting in the baby swing and swinging is fun. Getting out is sometimes a problem.

Sometimes slightly blurred photos can be a blessing. Wrinkles and extra pounds are not as noticeable this way.

I mentioned our friend Mary Grace above …. If you’ve never visited Mary Grace’s site, now might be a good time to do so. The day after they returned home from Family Camp, MG went in for a routine scan, after completing her treatment for a germ cell tumor this past February. Doctors found a spot on her lungs …. Chances are it’s nothing more than congestion ….. I imagine if most kids had scans run, you’d see all sorts of funky stuff going on at any given time. But to a child with a history of cancer, this is a scary thing. They will have a repeat scan in a month, and are hopeful it is nothing serious, but I know the family would appreciate some encouragement to get them through this stressful time.

And thank you in the meantime for the support you have offered to the families of Haley and Clare. I’m still struggling to accept these losses and can only imagine how their parents and siblings must be feeling. A few people have asked me about obtaining a copy of Haley’s CD. I’m not sure how, but I’ll try to find out and spread the word. I’m sure it would be comforting to her family to know that we can continue to enjoy her music, and she'll continue to touch others with her talent.

In the meantime, have a great weekend!

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: You want to hear something gross? (even if you don't, I'm going to tell you) I threw up this morning! That hasn’t happened in a while and I think it took my mom by surprise … but then she remembered that last night was my weekly methotrexate night. Anyway, one zofran and breakfast later, I was raring to go, so no harm done, right?

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Well, at least I don’t have to take any more methotrexate for another week!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Tuesday, October 4, 2005 4:46 AM CDT

I still can’t get over the loss of Haley. Although not one of “my” ALL-kids, she nonetheless held a special place in my heart, and in the hearts of many.

In case you’ve never gotten to hear her wonderful singing voice, I’ve put one of her songs up on Kendrie’s site as a tribute (Billy Rubin …. my kids love this song!) and you can hear Haley’s Dirty Rotten Liver Blues over at Julianna Banana’s site. We have one of Haley’s cd’s and the kids listen to it quite often. Kendrie keeps asking me to call Ms. Cheryl, Haley’s mom, and ask “if she can be Haley’s back-row singer?” the next time she performs.

Again, my heart goes out to the Vincents on the loss of this very special little girl. We will hold her dear through our memories of her, and her music.