Saturday, July 30, 2011

UP...UP and AWAY!

The 'UP' house has landed... in UTAH!  
Bangerter Homes has built a full-scale replica of the house from the movie "UP" and inside is a room dedicated to none other than our CAMI!  

Make-A-Wish called us a few months ago and told us that Cami had been chosen to have a room decorated around her wish to go to Disney World.  Cami was floored!  A few weeks later, we had a meeting with the builders and designers, where they met Cami, browsed through lots of pictures, and heard non-stop stories about our trip from little Cam.  They asked her what she'd like to see in her honorary room and she helped them think up some great ideas.  Then we waited and waited...and waited.  Finally the day came that we got to tour the house and see Cami's room.  

This house is AMAZING!  It is like stepping directly into the movie.  

This house is EXACT down to every detail.  
Here is a picture of the movie mailbox-

and the real life mailbox-

Here's a picture of Carl and Elle in their living room-

Caden and Cami in Carl and Elle's living room
(complete with Carl's tennis ball cane and custom-built chairs). 

 Here is the mantel, which has the painting from the movie and all the same little trinkets.

We even found Elle's adventure book!

The kitchen (which is not seen in the movie) has a modern 50's style.  I LOVE the colors!

They had an artist come in and paint the mural in the nursery.

Carl and Elle's room-

We found some of Carl's ties-

Cami loved this awesome bathtub!

After touring the house, it was time for Cami to see her room.  
The news was there for the big reveal...
Cami was pretty nervous, which is unlike her.  There were so many people and equipment there, she just wasn't used to it, but she did great!

They did such a beautiful job on this room.  It is a pink room fit for a princess.

Here's Cami with the Bangerter brothers, the CEO's of Bangerter homes.  
They are the creative minds behind this amazing home.

Inside the room is a beautiful mural of Cami dressed as Cinderella in her carriage. 

Here is Cami with the amazing artist who painted all the murals in the home.

One of our Make-A-Wish friends got a room themed after his wish too!  
Jack's room is a replica of Andy's room from the movie 'Toy Story'.

Before we left, The Bangerters awarded Cami and Caden with the 'Elle badge'.  

 "for assisting the elderly and for performing above and beyond the call of duty, 
I would like to award you the highest honor I can bestow: the Elle badge." 
-Carl Fredrickson, Disney/Pixar 'UP'

A HUGE thank you to Bangerter Homes 
for helping Make-A-Wish give us yet another magical experience.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bear Lake Fun!

We have been so fortunate to meet some of the most generous people on earth as we have gone through this cancer journey.  One of those people is Chris Harris and his family.  We met Chris last year at a Make-A-Wish fund raiser where Cami was the spotlight wish child.   You see, Chris owns this AMAZING cabin in Bear Lake and even though he didn't know us, he offered it to our family for a weekend.  

Cami was beyond excited because Bear Lake is one of her favorite places in the world.  In fact, one of her ideas for her wishes was to go to Bear Lake.  Looks like that one came true too!  Unfortunately we had to postpone it last year because Cami was so sick.  Cami did not forget about it and the moment school was out and summer was official, she asked us every day if it was time to go to Bear Lake.  Check out this amazing cabin we got to stay in-

I could have sat out on the balcony for hours.  Look at that view!

They had something for everyone at this cabin.  Cami's favorite was the carved animals they had all over, she named them all.  She named each one and more often than not, I found her talking to them, pretending to feed them, or Doctoring them up.  

Here's another cute, little creature we discovered.

Caden's favorite was the horse tire swing.  He couldn't get enough.

They even had toys for my big boy.  
He had a garage full of these to choose from.
There were 4 or 5 rhino's,  4-wheelers, and tons of snow mobiles.  

Baylee was content chasing the birds and an occasional squirrel, then she would be all tuckered out.  

Nothing beats good food and great people all together in a cabin!

We roasted way too many delicious s'mores.

We spent a lot of time at the beach.
It is my kids happy place.
(Thank you Eyre's for letting us crash your beach!)

Cami loved the feeling of the sand.  She stayed like this for about a half hour just enjoying the cool sand around her.  

Wet doggie kisses... yuck!

Uncle Clark brought the family boat up, so we got to go for some "speedy rides" as Caden would say.
(Thank you Clark and Linds)

Pat the crazy driver...


Yep.  Bear Lake is pretty much heaven on earth!

We just cant thank the Harris family enough for allowing our family to spend time together and make up for precious time that was lost last year while were stuck in the hospital or at home most the time.
We had a wonderful weekend.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Harris Family!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One Year

I have had this post written up for days now, but every time I go to publish it I stop myself.  I just don't feel like I have done Cami and this last year justice.  I have made multiple collages, typed up stories, and rearranged pictures, but still it just doesn't seem right.  

I have come to the conclusion, that no matter how badly I want to share with you all how truly difficult this last year was...
I cant.  
No matter how hard I try to write the stories of the miracles that we have witnessed..
I cant.
No matter how badly I want to describe the ache I have felt in my heart watching my daughter suffer countless times...
I cant.
and no matter how badly I want to properly thank all of the countless people who have swooped in and literally taken over where this exhausted cancer mom has left off..
I cant.  

I cant do this last year justice, no matter how hard I try, so Im going to stop trying.  I am so glad we made it past this year.  Cami has been a trooper through it all and no matter how hard I try to tell her how honored I am to be the mother of such a brave, courageous, vivacious, spunky little 5 year old...
I cant.

So here is my simple tribute to Cami and the last year we have spent fighting... and WINNING!  

Here is Cami in November 2009, exactly 8 months before she was diagnosed.  
This was before those cancerous cells entered her body.
This was Cami healthy and normal.

Here is our sick little girl just a few days after being diagnosed.  She just looks so sick.
This picture brings back all the fear I felt those first few weeks.  It makes me sad.  
You can read about Cami's diagnosis here.

One of the child life specialists in the hospital recommended we get Cami's pictures taken before her hair started to fall out so she could look back and remember it.  We liked that idea.
This picture was taken about 10 days after Cami was diagnosed.  
I love these pictures, but you can see the dark circles and paleness starting to kick in.

The first phase of treatment was a full month of intense STEROIDS + chemo.  Those steroids are nasty little drugs.  I think it was the hardest month of my life and I wasn't even the one taking them!  Cami literally only slept for about an hour at a time through the night, but other than that she was completely wired.  She would come in our room begging for food and she would scream at the top of her lungs until she got it.  In fact, if you so much as looked at her the wrong way it was full-blown roid rage.  She was scary and miserable.  She would say "Im sorry, I don't know why Im acting like this, but my mind is forcing me to be evil".  Poor thing.  I look back on that first month and it gives me the shivers.
It was that bad.  

Here's a picture I snapped of Cami coming into our room asking for more quesadillas at 3AM.  
Yes... we woke up multiple times each night and heated up the pan to make quesadillas.  The steroids also made Cami's legs hurt, so those are ice packs wrapped around her ankles.  This picture sums up that first month almost perfectly, except she usually didn't have a grin on her face.
This picture cracks me up, but at the time it was so far from being funny.

Cami TRIPLED her body weight in just one month thanks to those darn steroids.  She couldn't even walk the last week because she got so big.  
Here she is next to my 8 months pregnant sister.   

Next her hair started falling out in huge clumps, landing in her food, itching her all day long and leaving her with a bald spot.  It was time to say goodbye and get it over with in one swift buzz.  
Cami was ready, and as always... I wasn't quite as brave.

The next treatment phase is heavy-duty chemo.  This stuff is so toxic, that you are only allowed to be given it ONCE in a lifetime.  It can cause heart damage and all sorts of other scary side effects. This is where Cami got super skinny (she lost all the weight she had gained and more), she was sick and weak most of the time and she was taking narcotics every day for pain.  

This is how we drove around.  
Barf bucket and Froggy.  Check.

 Here she is getting the 'red devil' chemo.  Nasty stuff.

Cami has had dozens of back pokes and bone marrow aspirates over the last year.   

She had to get multiple blood transfusions and we spent lots of time in the ER with fevers.  

Her home health nurse practically lived at our house, not that she needed to come at all.  
Cami learned how to do it all on her own and took every opportunity we'd let her practice.  

Cami also had to learn how to swallow pills.  It was so hard for her at first, but now she is a little pro.  Here she is taking 13 pills AT ONCE!  (sorry about the crying 2 year old in the back ground).  

Cami also got to do lots of fun things this year!  
She got to be the parade royalty in the Ogden city christmas parade and she got to flip the switch with Santa to turn on the city lights and welcome the season.

The Jazz Bear came to our house to visit.  

We welcomed two new cousins into our family.

She had her wish granted by Make-A-Wish and we all got to spend 10 glorious days in Disney World.

Cami FINALLY got her puppy she has been dreaming of for years.

And she made it to maintenance!  We have found a new normal in our lives, balancing pills and Dr. schedules, learning to be flexible (because you never know when those levels might be low or when a fever might pop up), we have made new friends and lost too many of those friends, we have learned to enjoy the moment and love with every fiber of our soul.  This year has been the most difficult year of our lives, but the lessons and experiences we have gained are something we wouldn't trade for anything.  Cancer has changed us forever.  
In many ways, this year was the first year of the rest of our lives.  

Cami has been saving all of her medical bracelets.  She gets one each time we go to clinic, or the ER, or to the RTU, etc.  She has close to 100!  That is more than any one person should have in a lifetime.  

Cami still has a long road ahead.  As long as everything goes smoothly her last treatment is scheduled for September 2012.  
Im sure there will be bumps along the way, but I KNOW there will be precious, happy, wonderful moments that we will cherish forever.