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.   


  1. Absolutley BEAUTIFUL! You amazing parents to an amazing child! We think of you and pray for your daily.

  2. wow i just cried reading this. i'm going to bookmark it for whenever i think that my life sucks and slap myself. ha ha. what an inspirational little girl and an amazing family.


  4. i loved this post as well. thanks so much for sharing your story with the blogging world. your family are in my prayers and you push through the last treatment!

  5. that post was perfect. i love are amazing. she is so lucky to have YOU!

  6. I love this! I think it was perfectly done. You have had such a trying year, and sit came out on top! You guys can do anything! And I can't wait to watch you kick cancer butt some more! We love you and miss you!

  7. I have followed your blog since about the time Cami was diagnosed & let me tell you, you sure have come along way. You have been strong, even if you thought you haven't & have blessed & taught so many of us thru your blog about hope, faith, family unity, prayer. Cami is a precious daughter of God & He knows her & loves her & you as her mother. He will give you understanding & strength when you need it & ask Him for it. Cami has such a sweet spirit about her, she is so cute & beautiful. Thank you for sharing her with us.

    Vicky T.

  8. I believe you should get Mom of the Year! I only spent a few hours with Cami on the plane and she totally took my heart. Not a day goes by that I don't think of your family and every time I get new candy in the store I wonder if Cami or Caden would like it. I don't know how to thank you for keeping all of us "posted" on Cami and her progress. You are amazing! Doing all you do with your family and life and still take the time to share that with us. Your amazing story lifts me up EVERY time I need either a boost or kick in the butt for my attitude. I thank God every day for allowing me to be on that plane that day. I love divine intervention! Thank you for allowing us to draw from your strength.

    Sending Hugs
    Gramma Deanie

  9. This was an awesome post! All my best to all of you as you work through this period of your lives.

  10. Beautiful post Chelsea. I showed my mom pictures of Cami this past week. She was in so much awe and love and admiration for you and your sweet family, as are we every time I look at your blog. You are all an inspiration. Congrats on making it through the first year. You are such an amazing woman. I am grateful to call you my friend.

  11. Congratulations on not only surviving but thriving through this incredible year. Amazing!

  12. congrats on making it to one year! a big milestone for sure. i'm always amazed- seeing the before and after pictures of these kiddos- at how incredibly healthy they look now. it is a wonderful thing to see.

    i know what you mean about not being able to sum up the year. that is why i simply put up a before and after picture and wrote about two sentences. there is no way you can write it all at once. but i thought you did a beautiful job in this post! there are so many pictures that i LOVE. your family when cami got her head shaved, cami asking for quesadillas in the middle of the night, cami in disneyworld, cami's most recent snapshot, etc. you've caught some great moments.

    here's to many more years to come!

  13. Amazing! What a girl...what a beautiful girl!


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