Monday, April 25, 2011

April update

Have I mentioned how much we LOVE the fact that we only have to go into clinic once a month these days?  Well, we love it!  Our schedule is starting to get back in rhythm with how life used to be.  Cami has even talked about adding a dance class back into things.. this is HUGE!  3 months ago her legs hurt so badly that she was crawling or not moving from the couch at all.  We are so happy to have said goodbye to those dreaded weekly clinic visits.  Once a month is something we can manage.  

Cami was due for a back poke this month.  She had to be put to sleep to have spinal fluid removed and chemo put in its place.  This is never fun for her, but she was a trooper.  It still amazes me how well kids can adapt to things.  This has become Cami's normal, where for most, it would be a nightmare.  I only wish I could adapt to life's trials so well.

Look at her cute pixie hair coming in.  There's not much difference from last month, except its starting to curl in the back.  Im getting a little nervous for it to grow back again though.  I think I've forgotten how to do little girls hair...eeeek!  

Clinic stats 3/10/11:
Height: 109
Weight: 17.9kg (39.4 lbs.)

ANC: 1,200
WBC: 1.9
Hematocrit: 31.4%
Platelets: 365

Cami is doing great.  Her ANC is exactly where we want it to be.  Its not too high, not to low.  Please stay right where you are little cells, this month has been good to our Cam.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 10: The end.

On day 10, poor Cami woke up and what once was a little sun rash had spread into something scary.  The Doctors assured us that it was just because her skin is so sensitive to the sun and heat while on chemo.  It was a rude awakening back to the real world of cancer.  We had been given 9 days of healthy, normal, extra special fun and seeing her little face was a wake-up call.  We were once again reminded how sensitive this little girl is and that life with cancer just wont stay normal for long.  Wish trip or not. 

While Pat took the kids to the pool I packed up and tried my best to CRAM all the gifts our kids got spoiled with into our bags.  Then we checked out and had a nice long lunch while Caden was zonked out on the booth.  We had fun chatting with Cami about all the fun she had and the many memories we made as a family.  She is still to this day saying ET was her favorite ride.  I cant decide if its because its one of the last ones we went on, or if she really just loved it. 

After Caden woke up, we had a little time to kill before our flight, so we took the kids minniature golfing at Pirates Cove.  They got sent off with even more goodies and Caden remained a pirate for our entire flight home.  It was "Argh Matey" over and over... fun stuff!

Goodbye Orlando.

I can never thank all the people who made Cami's wish come true.  I never dreamed a vacation could be so magical.  Make-A-Wish is truly special.  I can barley type about this organization without tears streaming down my face.  We are so grateful that people care enough about us to send us on this amazing trip.  The memories we made are priceless.  

A big huge thank you to Make-A-Wish, Give Kids The World Village, Disney World, Universal, Sea World, and everyone else who helped make this trip possible.  
Because of you, Cami will always believe that her biggest dreams can come true.  

Day 9: One last time...

On our last full day, we went back to Universal.  This time we went to the "older" park (the non-Harry Potter park).  We went on the ET ride first, which ended up being Cami's favorite.  We went on it 6 times!!  Just outside of ET is Fievel's playground.  This kids could have stayed here all day.  They had giant slides, a water slide, a huge ball pit, and it was all made to make you feel as tiny as a mouse. 

This picture cracks me up.  Pat is having the time of his life, Caden is holding on for dear life and he looks absolutely terrified, and the lady running the ride was obviously not happy I took her picture.  

Once again, Universal spoiled us.  This is how we entered all the rides.  I think the longest we waited in line that day was 10 minutes.  It was fabulous!    -thank you Universal!!

This "older" side was fun, because it was much less crowded and there was a HUGE area dedicated to little ones.  It was perfect for our kids!  
The Curious George splash zone was adorable.

 We also discovered Cadens DREAM land.  It was a ball zone.  They had thousands of foam balls with guns to shoot them, hoses that sucked them up, air that blew them, buckets to drop them, and every other contraption you could think of.  It was a blast!

We ran into some characters from Madagascar.  

Then we headed over to watch Shrek 4-D then we ran into Shrek and Donkey after.  
Donkey was hilarious and a little frightening at the same time, OK Shrek was pretty freaky looking too.  

Next we ran into the Hop characters.  This movie hadn't come out yet, so the poor characters had NO line, but they spent tons of time with us.  Caden was unsure about the mean looking chick.  

Cami was doing the bunny hop dance with the bunnies, now after watching the movie, she was a little upset that she danced with the "bad guys".  

We had to snap a picture in California land.  
We felt like we were back in our old stomping grounds..good 'ole San Francisco!

Then we spotted a Mel's drive-in (which was our favorite burger joint when we lived in Cali).  We were so excited to eat a late lunch there, but we were THOROUGHLY disappointed.  They basically had amusement park burgers wrapped in the Mel's logo.  Ick!  
Cami loved the vintage car they had out front though.

After lunch the kids fell asleep so we left the kids with Grandma, promised to bring her back a butter beer, and darted across the entire park into Harry Potter World one last time.  We went on the dueling dragons (our favorite)  and bought our last frozen butter beers.  Are we slightly obsessed?  YEP, and we're proud to admit it!  They were delicious right up until the last frothy sip.
It was the perfect way to end our amusement park adventures.   

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 8: A day with the fishies

I want to start by saying this blog is very dear to me.  I love it for writing and expressing myself.  I love it for documenting my family as we grow.  I love it because it is a fast and easy way to let everyone know how our family is doing.  I really do love all of you who read and support us on this blog, it means the world to me.  I know it has taken me a while to post about this wish trip, but that is only because it is dear to my heart and I try to make each post something that I can print out and keep for our family one day.  I want to apologize for slacking on the blog, but Im also not very sorry at all.  You see, I am happy to disappear from the cyber world for awhile because I am SO very grateful that we have gone back to living our life (for now anyway).  When Cami's levels were low, I had so much time on my hands that I NEEDED an escape through this blog.  I WANTED to be on Facebook and blogs watching others live their normal lives.  It really helped me to write down my feelings and focus on the good.  It's just the way I coped day to day.  One thing I am learning quickly is that a fever can spike in Cami and within an hour our world can change.  A fever can mean instant ER, hospitalization, antibiotics, tests galore, and WEEKS of staying home to recover and let her levels bounce back.  While I dont want to jinx it, I want to acknowledge that we are not taking this precious "normalcy" for granted.  So while we are out enjoying our fever-free time, I appreciate your patience on my long over-due wish posts.  It is NOT a coincidence that I am writing today as it is the dreaded steroid week.  Our home is often filled with a grumpy, hungry little girl during these awful weeks and I guess I needed an escape.

OK... now on to Sea World!
We woke up in our new hotel and headed over to Sea World (which was a block away).  Grandma Di-Di needed an amusement park break, so she stayed home.  Pat and I weren't thrilled about going to Sea World, only because we remembered it being a little boring as kids.  Boy has it changed!  They have HUGE rides, hundreds of animals, and impressive aquariums throughout this beautiful property.  The day started out cold and rainy, but by late morning it had turned into a beautiful sun-filled day.  We all enjoyed soaking up some rays and watching the breathtaking sea life they had to offer.  It was a perfect day to get us out of the funk we were in after leaving Give Kids The World.    

With Cami's pass, Sea World gave us basically our choice of seats.  We were boring and decided to sit in the no-splash zone (Pat was very disappointed in us).  Cami loves animals and she was inthralled through all of the shows.  Her favorite was the dolphins.

Caden and Pat were fine as long as they had some snacks handy.
Caden just quietly clapped his chubby little hands the entire time.  
It was almost more than I could bear, not to eat him up right there and then.

 The kids loved this aquarium.  They had a little area where you could put your head up, it made me VERY claustrophobic and nervous, but the kids loved it and could have stayed there for hours taking all the fish in.  

 Sea World had quite an impressive playground and water park area.  The kids couldn't get enough of these huge slides.

The day got pretty hot, so the kids cooled off in the water.

When Caden fell asleep, we took turns taking Cami on this ride.  
She loved it and begged to go on it again and again.  It was kind of like Splash Mountain without the happy-feeling characters and cute song.  Instead it was a scary, Antlantis themed ride.  I was NOT a fan, but Cami just LOVES those rides with steep drops.  

Here's Pat and Cami going down the drop.  
See them, on the second row?
Cami looks so little.  That girl has no fear!

Besides special seating in the shows and getting to the font of the lines on the rides, Sea World also gives the wish kids a chance to feed the dolphins.  It was amazing to be so close to them.  We got to touch them and feed them.  They are just the happiest, friendliest, bubbliest creatures.  They would pop their little heads up, give us a squeak and squeal, grab a fish, then they seemed to almost wink and smile before heading back under the water.  They were adorable.  Cami fell in love!

Thank you Sea World!!!

...and that my friends, is the end of day 8.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 7: all good things must come to an end.

We had the most fabulous week at Give Kids The World, but as they say, all good things must come to an end.  Cami's wish was officially over on day 7 and so was our stay at the amazing Village.  I cannot say thank you enough to the volunteers, staff, the amazing man who created this place and to those who donate to this fairytale village that made Cami's, as well as many other kids dreams come true.  

I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that Give Kids The World healed a part of Cami that no drug or Doctor ever could.  This place and the people involved in it gave Cami back a piece of her childhood that has been stolen by cancer.  Give Kids The World Village boosted our families strength, courage and hope so that we can continue fighting this ongoing battle.  I know I go on and on about it, but I honestly can't say enough how close it is to our hearts.

Before we left, Cami just HAD to ride Flower-Power one last time.

One last scoop of ice cream.

The boys were both a little grumpy about leaving.

OK, we were all sad that we had to go.

We had a few fellow cancer families (who had already been on their wish trips to Florida) suggest that we extend our trip if at all possible so Cami wouldn't get so exhausted.  We would have been EXTRA depressed to be leaving Give Kids The World if we hadn't taken this awesome advice.  We were lucky enough to have Grandma Di-Di (the travel agent) with us.  She gets special perks and was able to get us an amazing villa in a beautiful resort.  The kids had their own room and bathroom and it came equipped with a little kitchen so that was SUPER nice!  After checking out at Give Kids The World, Pat dropped us off at our new hotel so we could swim.  He headed back to the airport, where he had to return our wish rental and pick up our new car.  We had a fun time swimming, but we all needed a break and we wanted to rest up for our last few days of amusement parks.

We were so lucky to walk into this amazing villa-

Cami's little face broke out in a pretty bad rash after swimming.  Her skin is VERY sensitive while on chemo.  We have to be very careful because she can get serious sunburns.  We aren't sure if it was the sun, chlorine, sunblock or a combination of the three, but the intense rash scared us.  We were assured it is normal and not to worry so wile we were resting we loaded Cami's face with a thick layer of calming creme.  She want very happy about it.

Caden loves his Grandma.

See that rash on her cheeks?  Poor thing! 

After we woke up, Grandma Di-Di took the kids so Pat and I could sneak off on a date to our favorite out of state restaurant... ROYS!  Pat took me on a date there while we were dating and we have been to 7 different locations since.  Its kind of a tradition to go whenever we are near one.
Thanks for watching the kids mom!

 Day 7 was kind of a transition day and it was a little depressing for all of us to leave the amazing Give Kids The World Village, but we still had 3 great days to look forward to.

Stay tuned for day 8...Sea World!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 6: Move it! Shake it! Celebrate it!

We started the day off with horseback riding. 
Cami got to ride both the horses they had.  She loved it!

Then we headed through here one last time...

Hollywood Studios was our first stop.  We went to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show, the Beauty and the Beast show and a Disney Jr. show.  Cami said she liked them all, but that Beauty and the Beast was her favorite (surprise, surprise!).

Caden was bored with it all and decided a nap was in order.  Pat also looked a little pained.

We met lots of Characters...

We were most excited to meet BUZZ in this park.
Buzz Lightyear is basically Caden's idol.  He just loves this guy and couldn't wait to meet him!

I just need to say that Caden is my quiet little guy.  The entire time we were in Florida he was happy to mainly observe.  He hardly ever showed any emotion on the rides until they were over, then he'd say "again, again".  If you look at the pictures of him with the characters, he almost always has his hand in his mouth (because he is nervous) and he wouldn't look any of them in the eye.  He wasn't scared of the characters, he's just shy.  He is just our go-with-the-flow boy, he always has been. This is so opposite of Cami.  She has always been our little performer and she has always loved the spotlight.  With her getting so much attention through all of this I am so grateful that he is naturally happier outside of the spotlight.  He was meant to come to our family at this time.  I love my little bubba and when I look back on how little he was when Cami was diagnosed it makes me sad how fast he has grown and we have missed a lot of it.  He has learned to be thrown off schedule, be tossed around from sitter to sitter, watch his sister in pain, play by himself, and do without us so many times.  He is definitely not perfect (he is teething and sick right now- not fun!), but he has been amazing through our cancer journey and we couldn't have asked for a better kid to be Cami's little brother.  I am so happy that we were able to make a few of his wishes come true too.  He deserved it!  

We put that magic button to good use and skipped the LOOOONG line to meet Buzz.  
Here they are about to let us in to see him, through the "cast and crew only" door.  

Cami was so excited for Caden, it was adorable.
Our little shy boy (who could barely bring himself to look at the other characters) just couldn't take his eyes off Buzz.

Caden was in awe!

but, still REALLY nervous.  
He cracks me up!

After Buss, it was off to one of our favorite rides...

When Caden fell asleep we decided to take Cam on the Tower of Terror.  She wasn't quite sure if she liked it or not.  She told us she was nervous that our family would disappear like the family on the ride.  Once we told her it was pretend, she said
 "OK, I loved it then".  Silly little thing. 

Then Cami wanted to go back to the Magic Kingdom, so off we went!

We were just walking in when a mini parade started.  It was such a fun and unplanned surprise.  We had a great spot and once again Cami got some very special attention.  The street performers were constantly giving her high-fives and then at the end they took her out to dance with Jesse!

I dint take very many pictures the rest of the day because we were busy going on every ride on Cami's list.  Of course Dumbo was on that list.  I think they could have gone on this ride 20 times!

We ended the day with the "Wishes" fireworks. 

At the beginning of the show they have "shooting star" fireworks.  
Cami was making a wish on each one.

 The title of the firework show is "Wishes"... to say that I was an emotional wreck for this show is an understatement.  Every song was about overcoming obstacles, dreaming big, and having wishes come true.  It was magical and I wasn't just tearing up, I was a blubbering mess.  It was embarrassing.  

Cami was so worried about me and she kept wiping my tears away, which only made it worse of course.  

By the end of the night the kids were OUT cold in the stroller.  Caden had his face pushed so hard up against the mesh of the stroller.  It was so late, we thought it was about the funniest thing we ever saw.
What a couple of cuties...

It was a bitter-sweet day as we knew it was our last day at the magical Disney parks.  We were treated so unbelievably well by Disney and we will never forget some of the experiences they gave our family.  Disney truly is a place where dreams come true and it is a place we will always hold dear to our hearts.  Cami is already asking when we can go back.

"Now its time to say goodbye
To all our company
Through the years we'll all be friends
Wherever we may be
Micky Mouse, Micky Mouse
Forever let us hold your banner high
M-I-C -See ya real soon!
K-E-Y -Why? Because we like you!

Keep checking... there's more amazing wish trip days to come!