Sunday, August 12, 2012

High high's and Low low's

Tianna Anairi Valdez
5/26/1997 ~ 8/6/2012
Resident of Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Sentinel Article

Services will be held on Friday and Saturday for Tianna Anairi Valdez who passed away from Rhabdomyosarcoma at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital on Monday, August 6th 2012, she was 15 years old. Tianna was born in Santa Cruz, on May 26 1997, residing in Aptos where she attended Holy Cross Catholic School. Tianna loved to read and write. She enjoyed cooking and baking. One of Tianna's favorite pass times was to get Mani's and Pedi's with her sister, Leilani. She loved Adele. Her passion was Volleyball and was a member of the Main Beach Volleyball club and Holy Cross Church. Tianna liked spending time with her friends and loved having her little cousin's around. One of Tianna's favorite places to go was Petroglyph. She was dedicated and always encouraged friends and family to smile and maintain a positive attitude. 
Tianna is survived by her parents, Diego Valdez and Claudia Cisneros and her sister, Leilani Valdez; her Aunts, Iriana and Bianca; her uncles, Carlos and Adrian. She is also survived by Leo Valdez, her dog and best friend. 
Services will begin on Friday, August 10, 2012 at Benito Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel with a Visitation beginning at 2:00 p.m. followed by a Vigil Prayer service beginning at 7:00 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, August 11, 2012 beginning at 11:00 a.m. at Holy Cross Church. Committal services will be private.
Family request contributions are made to, select under the Giving Angels tab or mail to 360 Poppy Way Aptos, CA 95003.
We will always cherish the moments we all shared with her, she will be greatly missed. 

"When you miss me, just look up into the night sky and remember, I am like a star, sometimes you can't see me, but I am always there."
Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on August 9, 2012

This week proved to be emotionally exhausting and physically challenging.  On Monday, the world lost a sweet little girl to this bastard cancer.  I hate this disease.  It makes me so angry and sick to my stomach that it can prey on little children and steal them away from their families.  I am so angry, sad, outraged and every other emotion you could imagine.  A parent should not ever ever have to experience this pain and sadness.  A parent should never have to watch their child suffer.  A parent should NEVER have to bury their child.  And a child should never have to experience something so cruel.  Someone asked earlier, how do you deal with the sadness.  You turn it into strength, motivation, and determination to do something about it.  These children need our help.  They need us to take a stand because they can't fight this alone.  I'm in this for life.  I can't turn my back on these children.  I'm too involved and I've seen too much to pretend it doesn't happen.

For anyone who has ever asked, "What can we do to help"...well, this is what you can do.  You can help get involved, help make people aware, help put childhood cancer awareness on the map and don't let people keep turning their backs because it's too sad.  It IS's horrifying and no one wants to think about it.  But if it were your child, wouldn't you want to know that there are safer options, less toxic methods, a way to cure childhood cancer and a million people supporting you through it?  It DOES happen and as we've learned, it can happen to ANYONE at ANY TIME.  Cancer doesn't make its choices on socioeconomic class, religion, race or any other common denominator; it's random.  It's a scary and horrifying thought and for the most part, parents luckily won't have to deal with childhood cancer.   But, if you did, wouldn't you want everything possible done for your child?


We completed Gabriella's first week of radiation therapy...treatment #1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of 27.  Gabriella again did awesome on Tuesday but by Wednesday, she was starting to get a little tired of going to the hospital every day and woke up in protest.  She was frustrated that she couldn't have her usual morning milk and toast.  Since she has to have general anesthesia every day for her treatment, she has to be NPO (nothing by mouth) before the treatment.  We've talked about the possibility of her staying awake and lying still for the treatment but since its so precise and everyone worked so hard to move her ovaries out of the way, we all decided that risking it would not be beneficial.  It would be a lot to ask a little girl to lie still in such an awkward position even for a short period of time.  She's so awesome and so compliant with all the crap she has to go through. 
Since Adam had to work a couple days this week and we wanted to spend time with out of town family, we drove up and back every day.  This coming week will be tough because Adam will work Mon, Wed, and Friday.  Thanks to our friends that have generously offered to watch Bridget for us.  Hopefully by the following week, we can take the RV up and stay a couple of nights to cut down on the driving.  

It has been the same routine every day and is becoming oddly routine.  As soon as G sees that we're getting close to the hospital, she's been so awesome about reminding us she needs to put her N95 mask on to protect her from any infection she could get being exposed to the construction.  We pull up to valet at Packard, drop our car off, grab the necessities (food for after, a blanket and a purple and pink unicorn), and take the outdoor short cut to the radiation center at Stanford.  For the most part, they are ready for us and bring us back to the radiation room.  Normally, the nurse and the anesthesiologist are different but the tech's are the same and we've gotten to know them by first name.    They hook G up to the machines, attach her IV and push in the milky white med, propofol, that will help her drift off to a med-induced sleep.  She takes a big yawn before she goes under, we lie her on the table and leave the room.  After about 30 minutes, we hear her little heart beat on the monitor and walk with the anesthesiologist and nurse down the intertwined hallways that lead us back to the Packard post-op area.  Of course, we have to wait for the nurses to settle G into the unit before they can take us back.  So we go visit Pam, one of the assistants in the family waiting area we've come to know all too well and wait a few minutes.  Gabriella has been waking up in the post-op area to her cup of warm coconut milk and whatever else she has requested to eat that day.  Anything from parmesan cheese to fruit to toast has been on the list.  She drinks, eats and after getting her clothes on, we get to leave.  A couple times she has said, "Mommy, I like being dizzy" referring to the anesthesia meds that put her under.  Well, at least she's comfortable and doesn't mind the feeling.  

Thursday brought a little scare when G laid down in the bath and got water under her port dressing.  I immediately went into "nurse mode" while Adam got the access supply box and the dressing change kit, took off the wet bandage, donned a mask and sterile gloves, cleaned the area and put a new dressing on.  As most of you might now, this access is a needle into her port, which leads directly into the right atrium of her heart.  It has to stay all week for anesthesia and G is very careful not to get it wet.  If it water gets under the dressing, there is a definite potential for infection.  Luckily, the site looks great and she's been feeling pretty good.  No fevers...knock on wood! 

Adam took G for her Friday treatment so I could spend some time with Bridget and take her to the park. B is such a fun little girl and has such an amazing personality developing.  She's certainly becoming the life of the party.  At the park, we got to meet up with Michelle and her kids and brainstorm all about the upcoming Bake Sale for Cookies for Kids Cancer.  Grandma and Grandpa helped with Bridget for a couple of days and she was able to have some fun with her cousins, aunt and uncle from back east. We were able to take G up to the house they rented in the SC mountains and she was finally able to swim on Friday after getting her port de-accessed.  Because G did so amazing this whole week, Adam took her to REI to pick up a "little something".  Immediately she fell in love with a pink Electra beach cruiser with hybiscus covering the frame, seat and wheels, and it was just her size.  I don't think there was any question whether to buy it or not.  They were on their way home, bike, helmet and all.  SInce they didn't have B's size bike at REI, we took her on Saturday to Toy's R Us to get her a special gift and she picked out a beautiful Strawberry Shortcake bike in pink, of course.

I'm trying to convince her that tennis shoes are better for biking.  

Bridgy is learning how to pedal but is totally happy
with being pushed around on her bike for now.  

Even though it was an incredibly long week, we were still going to wake up Saturday, get dressed, and honor our fellow warrior Tianna and her family in solidarity.  (Thanks Todd and Heidi for watching the girls for us.)  As I posted above, Tianna lost her battle to cancer this past Monday.  She was only 15.  After the article posted in the Sentinel about G battling cancer, Tianna got in contact with us and wanted to help us through our difficult time.  Shortly after, her cancer came back with avengeance and took this precious child's hopes, dreams and her life.  We meet Tianna and her amazing family a few times in the hospital and even got the chance to have Gabriella and Bridget meet her.  You could tell only in a few moments how strong and amazing this little girl was.  She was a precious child and my heart aches for her family.  Attending her funeral and watching her family's pain is nothing short of heartbreaking.  You can just see how much love and support Tianna received from her family, friends and community and what wonderful people they are.  As I've told Claudia, an incredibly amazing cancer mom and a cancer survivor herself, Tianna's passing will NOT go in vain.  We will always keep her alive in our memories and in our hearts.  We will continue to fight for her, Gabriella and all the other families who have children fighting cancer.  Rest in Peace Tianna and know that you will NEVER be forgotten.       

Bake Sale Meeting:

I posted an update on the Bake Sale post but wanted to mention it again.  Wednesday, my mom (Nana) was able to stay with Bridget until G and I got home.  Grandma and Grandpa came down later that evening to watch the girls so I could go to the Jia Tella's for our meeting.  Ronnie, Mel and I arrived and were met by Larisa, Jen, Cheri, Kellie, Jacque, Jesse, and Stacey.  We had an amazing brainstorming session about the upcoming Countywide Bake Sale slated for SEPTEMBER 30th.  With the amount of volunteers who are so graciously willing to help and the importance of the cause, we will be covering at least 3 areas of SC County including Aptos, Capitola, and Scotts Valley.  We are encouraging anyone who would like to be involved to contact us about the event.  It's going to be big and successful and we are all getting very excited about it.  I'm so impressed with all of you who are already asking to help, ordering cupcakes, and making it known that you want to stand up for our children!!  As you are learning and I am learning, there is a great need for our voices to be heard for childhood cancer and you are again, answering the call.  This can't happen without all of us working together!

A side note:

When you meet another mom who's child is suffering from cancer, you immediately have an unbreakable bond and a strong understanding of what the other must be going through.  Even though every cancer and every child is different, you still go through the extremely high high's and devastatingly low low's.  As we walk through the halls of the hospital we are becoming all too familiar with, we are starting to recognize these parents and the children with their beautiful bald heads and little green masks covering their faces.  Looking into their eyes, you know all too well the pain and heartbreak they are feeling and at that moment, you both wish you could take it away.  

1 comment:

  1. This post brought tears to my eyes. I'm so sorry to hear about the passing of such a beautiful young woman. From this day forward, I vouch to become a more active member in the fight against Pediatric Cancer!