Sunday, December 30, 2012


Gabriella finished her 12th Chemotherapy treatment this week.  She went in on the 27th.  It is getting a little like groundhog day.  She knows what is going to happen and how bad she is going to feel when it is over.  It happens the same every time. Yet she never complains, never gripes, never questions what is going on.  I'm not sure how she does it or what she thinks, but she continues to soldier on.  I have asked her many times what she thinks but she just blows me off like I'm sure she will do in the years to come, for other reasons.
Christmas went off without a hitch.  Lot's of family and fun.  The piss poor weather gave us good reason to stay indoors and prepare for the next treatment.  My parents were in town for the holidays and were a great deal of help, especially during G's chemo.  One of the blessings of this whole thing is the amount of family time we've had.  I was talking to my Dad about what the new year will bring.  We were talking about how next year will be better.  It kind of struck me when it was said, because I have really not thought of this year as a bad year, a difficult one, but not bad.  We have seen some amazing things from our community that we might not have known without G's illness.  Friends, family and strangers have been there for us when we needed them.  G has been on the front page of two different newspapers multiple times and on the news once.  We have gotten letters and checks and gifts from people just to tell us they care.  Our community has raised thousands of dollars for some very deserving charities.  And most of all, we changed, I have changed, I am different than I was before.  That can't be a bad thing.

Team G


Monday, December 17, 2012

Just Incredible....Despite the Tragedy

"It's so senseless...we know so many, too many, families fighting to save their child's life and then this senseless act of pure evil happens.  It just sucks the life out of you....but onward we will go, as you and so many did today...Thank you.  So much.  I'm sure you, Michelle, as one of the early supporters, must be marveling with everything that has been happening as we are."

A post from Gretchen, Cookies for Kids' Cancer founder to Michelle Riddle, amazing mom of three and pediatric cancer advocate.

Wow, yesterday was just incredible.  But tragic as well for many families back east.  My heart is breaking for the families and the young ones who lost their lives in the unjust and utterly mindless acts that were committed against them.  We work so hard to save these precious children from tragedy yet, in one senseless moment, so many of them are taken away from us.  It's just ridiculous and my heart aches.  I just can't think of one more child having to deal with something so horrible...caught in a moment of sheer terror and I'm finding my emotional capacity is already maxed.  I haven't been able to watch the news on the tragedy or read the articles.  If I stop and think about what really happened, I will just fall apart.  I have to hold myself together for my little girl and her fight but our hearts go out to the families that suffered an unimaginable loss that day.

A post from a friend of a friend that I needed to share..."While we cannot protect our kids from terrible things, we CAN introduce them to loving and helping others.  Go Team G".  In the wake of a tragic moment, we still were able to come together as a supportive community and share in the joys of our little ones.  How truly amazing when people come together for a cause. There are so many individuals and groups that I would like to thank but letters will be going out in case I don't remember them all.

With the idea blossoming and coming together in only two and a half weeks, it was a true miracle of Christmas.  It all started out as a glimmer in my daughters eyes that lead to caring individuals working incredibly hard and making it happen.  Deb and Glenna from Seagate coordinated forces with Marjorie and Susan from Jacob's Heart and Kellie from Surf City Coffee.  One incredible thing after another happened for this event to come together.  I think the Santa Cruz Sentinel explained it best.  Pretty soon local businesses were getting involved and graciously donating.  A special family actually brought a bike for Gabriella!!!  Since she already has one we agreed that it should be donated for the raffle.  Whoever you are, thank you so much for your kindness!   There was also a special visit from Bumblebee, the polar bear from The Train to Christmas Town and his elf, which the girls were delighted about.  We got to meet up with a few of the children who are in active treatment, many now dear friends we met at Camp and meet childhood cancer survivors.  Wow...I just love meeting survivors and hearing their stories.  They are like angels sent to remind us that everything is going to be ok.

We had told Gabriella that there was a special event happening in her honor and as the day got closer, we told her we would be celebrating her birthday with the whole county.  Since her last difficult chemo the previous Friday, we saw our little G once again fight for her health.  By the middle of the week, she was feeling pretty good and we were getting really excited about the big day!  On Wednesday, she asked me, "Mamma, are you going to make me a cake for my party on Friday?".  Oh goodness, how could I possibly say no when I have made her all of her birthday cakes in the past.  I couldn't have just bought one.  It's for my G and she's quite special.  Normally it takes me weeks to plan for a cake; design, ingredients, structure, etc. but on wednesday night I started furiously baking...going as fast as I possibly could because I knew time wasn't on my side.  Thursday we had an appointment for her weekly chemo at Packard, which went really well.  Home, groceries and more baking, decorating in between getting dinner going, bedtime, etc.  Luckily I have such an amazing man (aka. Adam/Daddy/Babe) who is always willing to support me even when my ideas are crazy.
Gabriella and Bridget were both so excited when Friday came.  Gabriella even picked out her favorite red dress that she was going to wear.  Once we drove up, she said, "Oh my gosh...that's amazing" and her eyes were as wide as saucers.  As she looked at the snow being blown, the decorations up, the Christmas trees, the tents and all the helpers who made this happen, I think she was overwhelmed and quietly joyful...true to G's style.  Bridget and G got to play in the beautiful white snow with such delight.  Then Santa came.  G immediately knew that it was Papa (her grandpa) probably by the way he walked and she just loved the idea of Papa dressing up as Santa.

There were over 300 families that participated in Gabriella's Snow Day, Jacob's Heart raised $4,800 for childhood cancer support services, and Cookies for Kids' Cancer raised $1,400 which will be matched by OXO in support of research.  Most importantly, this event brought much needed smiles and hope to families and children.  The whole experience was delightful, incredible, amazing...are there any better words to describe it?  What an unbelievable opportunity that this community has given us in supporting my daughter, raising awareness for childhood cancer and bringing smiles to the faces of so many children and families that day.  After a tragic loss, this couldn't have been more needed and more appreciated by so many.

I'm always looking for signs of hope and I always find them; a rainbow in the storm... a beautiful 
crescent moon after an amazing snow, a perfect cold front for snow in Scotts Valley, a beautiful picture of my little one inspiring and giving hope to others... The other day Gabriella was looking at the clovers in the garden that reminded her of lucky 4 leaf clovers.  She says, "Momma, look at how many clovers there are.  We must be really lucky".

Yes we are G.  We are lucky to be surrounded by strength, love, and hope from so many.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gabriella's SNOW DAY!!!

Angels in the Santa Cruz community have answered Gabriella's wish to play in the snow for her birthday and have a white christmas.  An article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel came out today about these wonderful people that are making this happen.  I just wanted to make sure to include Marjorie Glover and Susan Osorio from Jacob's Heart were included in the acknowledgement for putting this event together.  Adam talked about how this event came about in the last blog post.  With an inquisition on Facebook about a snow machine and a few committed individuals, Deb and Glenna, the ball started rolling.  The employees of Seagate have been working hard to get together contributions for this snow day to happen.  Susan and Marjorie from Jacob's Heart got involved and have been eagerly planning all the details.  I thought I was organized but Marjorie is giving me a run for my!  She has been amazing lining people up, coordinating volunteers, and getting donations.  All the emails have been going back and forth to those who have been involved for putting this event together...and it's come together in about 2 weeks!

Above is the link to the article in the paper.  Gabriella doesn't know this is going to happen yet but she knows that there is going to be a big birthday celebration for her coming up this Friday.  We were contemplating about how much to tell her just in case she became sick and wasn't able to attend.  We don't want her to be more disappointed if she ended up in the hospital knowing there was a snow day happening for her.  It's a fine line.

The families of Jacob's Heart (other children and families dealing with childhood cancer) have been invited, friends and family have been invited.  The event is complimentary but we are asking for donations in any amount for Jacob's Heart.  We will also be offering cookies donated from local businesses including Pacific Cookie Company, hot chocolate from Surf City Coffee, snacks from Erik's Deli, and more treats are still being gathered!

Cookies by the dozen will be sold for Cookies for Kids' Cancer!  We are registered for a "bake sale" at under the OXO Match Program where every dollar we make is doubled by OXO!!!  I'm excited to be able to incorporate all of these events for the holidays and bring my daughters some holiday excitement.

If you are interested in helping, please contact
Marjorie Glover at
Glenna Heller at
Susan Osorio at
Deb Loze at

Here is the flyer for Gabriella's Snow Day! 

Adam and I are incredibly excited about this day to come.  I can't speak for Adam but I've been feeling pretty down since G's last chemo (overnight chemo #11).  She did amazingly well without nausea and vomiting issues.  But in order to keep her from throwing up, we basically have to knock her out with sedating meds and strong anti-nausea medications that leave her stumbling and dizzy.  Again, it is just incredibly painful to see her go through this.  She came home the following day but she was so messed up by the meds.  Every time she got up to use the bathroom, I had to catch her from walking and stumbling into the walls.  It is taking her much longer to recover from these three drug treatments...and we have three more to go.  I see her trying to just be a kid; wanting to play but the fatigue comes quickly and she has to hold herself back.  To see someone who is always full of life be so run down that she has to take breaks every few minutes is rough.  It's just painful and has put me into a slump.  It feels like I'm again running a marathon and the word "tired" is starting to enter my mind.  I know all too well that this isn't the word I want to think.  It's not the feeling that I want to overtake me.  The light at the end of the tunnel is starting to appear...the finish line and we are almost to the end where we can smell sweet success.  

On another note, the Adopt a Family has gone amazingly well!  There were so many people who wanted to get involved!  Through Jacob's Heart and a couple of other local sources, we were able to adopt 28 children and their families.  This was mentioned in the paper but it sounds like they were a little confused where the 28 came from.  (Jacob's Heart provides services to many more families.)  Deliveries are still being made and families are still being blessed with your generosity!  More to come...

Today I had the opportunity to speak at the Freedom Rotary meeting about childhood cancer and Cookies for Kids' Cancer.  In the past, my parents have been very active through this organization with my dad being an ongoing member and my mom being past president.  For my first presentation on childhood cancer, I was nervous but felt very welcomed with open arms by this group.  One of my pediatric cancer fighting compadres, Michelle has been an amazing support and joined me for the meeting.  To say I'm thankful for everything Michelle has done for pediatric cancer awareness is an understatement.  When I talked about the lack of funding for childhood cancer research and the fact that the National Cancer Institute only gives 4% of the billions for cancer funding...for ALL 12 major types of childhood cancer, I saw faces drop.  This is something that needs to change.  There has been active movements going on to change this and one in particular that I wanted to mention.  

Please take the time to watch this video and visit the website called The Truth 365.  
It's hard to watch and it takes time but it's THAT IMPORTANT.  I wasn't a cancer parent until my daughter was diagnosed last March.  Be a part of the movement that changes the chances for children fighting cancer.  

Other organizations like Cookies for Kids' Cancer, Alex's Lemonade Stand, St. Baldrick's, and CureSearch all play a very important role in changing these statistics for children.

In Gratitude and Hope,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Good Times

So G and I are hanging around chatting a couple of months ago and she tells me that she wants to move.  What?  Why do you want to move I asked her.  She says that she wants to live in the snow.  I told her it wasn't going to happen.  She said ok but she would like it to snow on her birthday.  I told her I would see what we could do.  I told Kris about our conversation and she put a post on her Facebook page asking if anyone knew of where or how we could make it snow in Scotts Valley.  Well, fast forward a month or so and some local business folks heard about the request and have figured out how to make it happen.  So December 14th we will have Gabriella's Snow Day in Sky Park in Scotts Valley.  Pretty incredible community.

After our hard push home from Disneyland last week, we were all pretty tired of being in the car.  The doctors from Packard gave us the choice of coming into the hospital on the way home or the next day.  Gabriella was looking good and her fever was trending down so we opted to get her home and let her sleep in her own bed.  She slept amazingly well and woke up feeling really good the next day.  When I came in and told her that she needed to go to the doctor that morning, she turned and looked at me and said "If you think I'm getting back in that car, you are crazy!"  Kris and I fell over laughing.  Unfortunately she still had to go.

So tomorrow is chemo #11.  If she continues the trend that we have been seeing, this is going to be a tough one.  The cumulative effects have been getting progressively worse.  I am going with her this time and am really not looking forward to seeing her in such discomfort but we will keep our eye on the prize and remember how close we are getting to the end.  We will get through this.  I was reading a post by the father of Jessie Rees, a young girl who lost her battle with brain tumors last year.  Her motto was and is Never Give Up.  I promise, we won't.

Team G


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

DIsneyland PHOTOS!!

Our first princess and I believe, Disney's first princess.
She was such royalty!

Hmmm....I think I want the tiara, not the crazy rainbow hair
(that mommy picked out).

Bridgy with the wild hair...which she eventually ripped out.
Oops...mommy's bad.  But it was so HER!

Daddy and one of his princesses.

My beautiful amazing girls!!!  I just LOVE them with all of my heart!

Aurora...had to hop in this one.

In front of Small of my favorite rides this trip!

I just love this picture.  It was after the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Such great memories. 

Another beautiful Snow White

Arial's Grotto

Captain Hook...what a character!  Bridgy didn't want to meet

Waiting to see Periwinkle and Tinkerbell

Bridgy admiring her caterpillar. 

Face painting time

G being shy with Rapunzel but absolutely loving the experience!

Had to hop in the Rapunzel and Flynn picture too.
Forgot my purple dress!

The girls at Pluto's kitchen with Minnie.

Chip...his nose is black and his teeth are in the middle.
Oh, and he has "Chip" on his apron!