Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A New Beginning

I know it's been a while since the last post. There just wasn't enough time in September and for the last couple of weeks, I just haven't had much motivation.  I've finally had some downtime to reflect on our past year and start dealing with the emotions of it all.  I was told this would happen and I thought I could stay ahead of being busy.  But that can only happen for so long.  The feelings are surging inside and they are starting to surface. For so long, I had to be strong and put up a barrier. I had to be courageous for my daughters and for my family. But only for so long can one keep up this exterior of strength when the real feelings are buried inside. I knew this would happen. I knew that once I had time, I would feel all the grief and sadness that I wanted to feel during Gabriella's treatment and would start to realize I couldn't hold it in any longer.  

I was at work this past month and it started to creep up on me.  When you work in an ICU, you see people die...often. You help them to be comfortable, peaceful and hopefully die with dignity. You form a wall...a burier between the emotional pain of it all and the professionalism you need to continue doing the job. What you try not to do is relate personal experiences with the hardship that is happening before you. As much as I tried, I couldn't separate it. I couldn't take my personal emotions away form this experience and I thought to myself, there are parents out there who have to do this with their child. There are parents hat have to see their own child take their last breath and watch as their heart beat weaken to the point where it finally stops.  End of life.  It crushed me. To think about those parents who go through this...watching their babies take the first breath of life....then watching them take their last.  I finally got a chance to share this and when I did, I cried my eyes out.  I cried because there are children still loosing the battle. I cried because this monster tried to take my child.  This demon called cancer, I know too well has affected our child, our family and many of you who surrounded us.  We now know this world all too well and there's really no escaping it.  There's no turning away from it to pretend it doesn't exist or that it didn't happen.  I cried because it's a long, long journey and its the toughest thing I've ever done.  

It started after our return from an amazing vacation. A celebration with family and friends for Gabriella finishing treatments and a celebration for Adam and my relationship....and the tragedies and triumphs we overcame, together. It was wonderful.  We got to escape this world...if only for a was an escape.  Adam and I got to talk about our "new life" together, how that's going to be, what it's going to look like.  We realized that we were both still adjusting and realized its going to take some time.  It's a process.  We still struggle with the torture of what we had to put G through in order to save her life. The thoughts that the cancer can return (although it won't) and the future scans that she needs, what damage it will do, what damage has already been done.  We struggle with how the year of treatment affected Bridget and that all of our friends and family have been exposed (or tainted) to this life that we know...this life of pediatric cancer.  Sure, it affects many people and most of you already knew about it but I feel that we brought it up close and personal.  I feel very responsible for that and not always in a good way.  Now, I truly believe it is my responsibility to make most everyone aware who comes my way.  I say "most" because there are times where I just don't feel like bringing it up.  

We had an incredible experience (one of many in Hawaii) lighting up a piece of the sky with a couple of floating lanterns.  It was releasing the evil...letting it float away, burn and dissipate into the universe.   One was for Gabriella and one for Bridget.  In the beginning of this journey, as some of you remember, we often watched Tangled; after surgeries and after chemo.  It was part of hour hospital world.  Watching that movie still stirs up emotion and hearing the song brings a tear to my eye... "make the clock reverse...bring back what once was mine....".  I remember lying with Gabriella wishing for this to happen.  Wishing we could have our healthy girl back.  G was always in awe of all the floating lanterns and I told her that once this was over, we were going to send up lanterns into the sky.  My vision was to have at least 10 of them (ok, I really wanted 100 or more)...but having a firefighter as a husband...let's just say I had to change my plans.  On our last night in Hawaii, we all watched the sunset and met up on a lava field.  I was honored to have both sets of parents and four very close friends there, for they all traveled the journey with us.  It was our time to start letting go. 

The last couple of days has been full of excitement.  Team G Foundation finally got the 501(c)3 status that we had been waiting for.  I can feel that magic is about to happen.  All this heartache will not go in vain and we will continue to fight on!

In strength, hope and courage,


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Post SCAN...CLEAR results!!!

So, I thought Gabriella would bounce back enough to attend a birthday party the day after she went under general anesthesia, had basically an adult size dose of Versed, a CT, an MRI, an exam and a trip back and forth from Packard.  And then I had the nerve to get upset with her when she stood behind me and didn't want to play with the other kids.  We both ended up in frustrated with each other and in tears walking out of the party early. Boy, do I feel like I deserve the "idiot parent of the year".  I'm so sorry Gabriella.  Mommy doesn't always make the best decisions for you.  But I will always try my very best.
I want so badly for her life to get back to "normal" again....whatever that means.  In my mind, I think "Ok, scans are just going to be one day for her and she can pop right back where she left she didn't miss a beat".  Obviously, she needs some recovery time; a part where I lack.   Looking back, I realize that I get frustrated and upset with cancer....and that my G had to deal with it.  


Adam, G and I headed up to Palo Alto the night before because we knew Friday was going to start early.  Luckily my mom came down to be with Bridget for the night.  It's not easy to have a sibling in the hospital as much as we like Bridget to be with us.  They don't let her go into certain areas and Adam and I both want to make sure we focus on G to get her through these procedures.  
I think the girls enjoy the time spent alone with parents and grandparents so it always works out.  We arrived early and did the usual to prep G for the day.  But this time was a bit different because she has no port to access for anesthesia and had a slightly different procedure to get through.   That means we induce with sevoflurane gas for general anesthesia.  Let me tell ya, once you smell this gas, an association begins to build.  It brings back some painful memories from the beginning of this journey.  I despise the smell.  Anyhow, this time we had to do a CT scan with contrast...meaning she needs an IV for the procedure.  Then the decision of whether to give her a pre-med or not comes into play.  Well, we decided on the pre-med.  At some point when I left to use the restroom, the nurse comes in with the versed.  Adam asked how much and she said it was a normal dose.  This is where you would like to  trust that the nurse giving the med know's how much she's giving or the doctor ordering the med knows how much to order.  G ended up getting an adult size dose and was so loopy for the following hour.  She watched as the nurse placed an IV in her arm (to place the contrast and induce her for the MRI) while blood was running all over and both "medically trained" parents were trying to lend a hand to the stumbling nurse while everyone was trying to stay calm and G was looking at the "things crawling on the walls".  The CT went smoothly (as G was off in lala land) until her IV started to drip contrast.  Luckily the scan was already complete.  And the IV was taken out.  Bummer...back to a mask induction of the gas.  

After G completed her scans and exam, the doctor came in to tell us...."Good news"....  It's the best when they come in before even sitting down to tell us there is good news.  "Everything looks great and her body is healing well."  So, I she's healing and the cancer isn't there anymore?  Correct.  The doctor was confident and happy to report her findings.  Ok, perfect....perfect....perfect....perfect!!  This is the best news anyone could ask for.  One result down and a meeting in the afternoon.  We met up with "Squishy" and had a bite to eat in the courtyard as we all tried to make sure that someone was hanging on to G to keep her upright in her still loopy state.  

Again, our doctor Catherine came in....said to us, "The scans look good".  That's pretty much all I needed to hear.  But just to clarify...."the scans were clear....everything looks good....?"  YES!!  Clear scans and a clean bill of health.  The meds would wear out.  This kiddo is doing it....she's kicking cancer's ASS!!!!

Needless to say, we weren't very happy with the dose of Versed...but the fact that her SCANS ARE everything we could have hoped for!  

Friday, September 6, 2013


This past two weeks has been an adjustment to a new schedule. I would say busy but I think back to what we were doing this same time last year...we were in radiation treatment for 6 weeks....every day. And every day it was the same routine. We would drive up to Palo Alto for her early appointment on an empty stomach (NPO in sympathy and comradery for her), take her to the radiation area at Stanford and into the room where all the radiation techs would wait for her, lie her on the hard table and hook her up for sedation.....  And we would watch as they put our baby to sleep....every day....for 6 weeks. Off we went to the waiting area. I still remember the red flashing light that said "beam on" which would flash and buzz every time the beams of radiation would hit her. "Beam on....beam on".  When she was finished, we would wait to hear her heart beat on the monitor as they wheeled her down the hall from Stanford to Packard's recovery area....still in a stupor from the sedation.  We got to know everyone so well in the recovery area that they would know our routine....a cup of hot water so we could warm up her milk and have it ready when she woke. She lost so much weight during radiation to the point where they wanted to put a tube in her nose.  But we quickly found tricks to help her gain weight (olive oil) and vetoed that idea. 

This is why during the craziness of back to school an adjusting to a new routine I remind myself how completely grateful I am for these moments. I remind myself where we were last year and every day I have to wake everyone up for school (including myself), pack lunches and do homework, I remember this. I want to jump up and say "halle...freiking....leula!!!"  We are here. We are well. And we are thriving. I am SO thankful. 


Special bracelets from their counselor "Dori"

This past Labor Day weekend we spent up at Berry Creek sucking up every enjoyable moment with our girls, marveling at how much they have grown this past year.  Again, I found myself comparing the present moment to the state we were in last year.  We saw many familiar faces and made connections with new families.  It was a completely different experience...and we thought last year was great!  The thought of being tired or exhausted didn't enter our minds during G's treatment, especially during radiation.  We just couldn't go there because we needed to stay focused and stay on task.  It wasn't an option. To this day, I still won't let those words "I'm tired" enter into my mind very often.  It's interesting how many habits we formed during treatment that we find have been difficult to break like having my phone by my side at every moment...just in case I got the "fever" call.  But, I was able to leave my phone in the car for the weekend....and spend a few moments "happily" tired.

We spent the weekend enjoying....just enjoying.  I was most impressed with Gabriella's courage to take on the zip line and the ropes course!  I thought for sure the Bridget would be the one zipping through the forest but to my surprise and Bridgy's pleasant, "No thank you mommy", G was the one who wanted to go.  She was hesitant at first but only for a moment.  I could see the confidence she gained that day after overcoming this challenge and a couple obstacles at the ropes course.  She climbed about 30 feet up a tree and proceeded across a cat walk but fell off graciously and was lowered to the ground.  I could see that she was so proud of herself and we were all in awe, including Bridget.

The girls were so worn out but couldn't resist the big dance party on the last night.  Talk about a new experience.  Watching the camp counselors and their favorite counselor this year, "Dori" taking our girls out onto the dance floor to dance the night away was another highlight.  We had met the fantastic duo last year..."Squishy" and "Dori" but Squishy stole G's heart.  She wasn't able to make it this year so Dori stepped in and had a blast with the girls.  Bridget ended up falling asleep on our shoulders and G danced till the end of the party.  It brought tears to our eyes just watching how far she's come in the last year.  From being a pale, thin, bald and emaciated child the previous year to this beautiful confident, tan, and blonde young girl just struck every emotional cord in us.  I think daddy was more overcome but we were definitely celebrating.

It poured down rain that night...all night and we were out in the tents.  Since neither of us thought to check the tent before we left, we ended up with the 3 man (small) tent.  Adam happily slept outside for the first two nights but we all crammed in the tent on the last night to keep dry...somewhat dry.  But, we really didn't care.  We were all having so much fun that the size of the tent or the wrong tent didn't matter.  It was a moment to truly enjoy.


Just the other day, a friend brought up our upcoming scans. I haven't had a moment to think about it and frankly have been keeping myself so busy that I haven't given it more than a thought. Thinking about it too much makes my stomach turn and makes me nauseated. So, I push on and realize what I have here in this moment. My girls are healthy and thriving. They're amazing. Gabriella has overcome such trying times and she's done it with grace and beauty. I look at her and I am awestruck with inspiration.  Bridget has turned into a caring and incredibly supportive little sister.  She is always so thoughtful and still does whatever she can to "please" G.  I'm thinking some of this is a little sister thing but I know these two have already been through a lifetime together. 

September 20th will be the day of her next scans and exam....all under anesthesia again. I hold my breath until then reminding myself every once in a while that I still need to breathe. Breathe. She'll be ok. I continue to keep myself busy until then and continue to use all this couped up energy and nervous anxiety to do good continue to establish a good and positive name for Team G Foundation....let others know that they are not alone in this grueling fight and continue to honor those stricken by pediatric cancer. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Capturing a moment

I didn't realize what I had caught in the picture above until someone mentioned it on Facebook.   Then I took a closer look. The embrace that daddy is giving his little girl says it all.  The look on his face, the hug for his little girl not not sure he is ok with letting her go but knowing that she was going to be just fine.  And G...right after this hug, she jumped from daddy's arms and was standing in line with all the other kids anxiously awaiting to enter her classroom.  I had a lump in my throat the whole morning while dropping her off but didn't want to cry (I didn't have my sunglasses on J).  When I took a look around, it was a delightful feeling to see all the other parents seeming to feel similar emotions; not because we were all on the verge of tears but because we were all a part of it...together.  I could see the emotion in Adam's eyes and he could hear it in my voice.  Our baby made it to kindergarden.  The thoughts that Gabriella wouldn't be here because she was in treatment or any where else makes it that much more emotional.  This feeling kicked in even more when I went on Facebook and saw a number of children who didn't make their first day of school because they were in the hospital or worse.  Maybe I should stay off Facebook on emotional days?

Today is one of the biggest milestones yet with the girls off to their new year.  I was torn between the feeling of letting my babies grow up and being so excited for them to attend school; just like every other kid.  Getting to see G walk through those kindergarden doors was like a right of passage.  After all we've been through and now to see G with her piers and just can't get any better than that.

After we dropped G off on day 1, we took Bridget to school.  She seemed a little lost as she went to her new setting in the blue room.  She had been there a few days but I think it all started to set in this week, with G being at a different school and her being in a new class.  Day 2 was even more upsetting for Bridgy when I dropped her off first.  It really hit for her when she saw G leave with me.  I felt so bad as I watched her cry at the window with teacher Sharon but I knew she would be ok.  Talk about mommy guilt!   I just wanted to go grab her and take her with me!  I've been giving it a lot of thought but now I'm looking at it from their little perspectives.  The world is a big place and when you're so small, it can seem even bigger.

For me, I've been a little lost too but I always know how to fix that with a little cleaning and a lot of organizing.  We just got home from our last day of our RV vacation to see Grandma and Grandpa.  And we are off this coming weekend to Camp Okizu for our family retreat.  It's the same one we went on last year right in the middle of radiation.  I think, and it's just a hunch, that we will have a much better time this year.  Adam and I are both really looking forward to it!  I'm not even unpacking the girls bags...just washing and organizing them for the coming weekend.  The last few nights have been spent sorting paperwork, packing lunches, putting laundry away and....again...organizing for the big month, bake sale, obstacle course, Bill's ride, my dad's 70th birthday, G's scans....ugg....G's scans.  She's gonna be just fine!  I know it!

Last day of summer.....

We enjoyed a fun filled day of Boardwalk, sunshine, little crowds, a great family dinner on the Wharf and watching the sea lions play.  Life is good!

My favorite part of growing up and going to the Santa Cruz Wharf.

Adam's new friend, G thinking "Omg, I don't wanna see"
and Bridget thinking, "What is going on here?"

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bake Sale 2013....We're looking for a few good bakers!!

Calling all good cookies........We're doing it again!!!


 As we did last year, we would love delicious beautiful baked goods to sell at our events.  The baked goods can be anything from: 
cookies (Chocolate chip, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, oatmeal, snickerdoodle, etc
cupcakes, (vanilla, chocolate, etc)
rice crispy treats, 
cake pops, 
breads (pumkin, zucchini, banana)
lemon bars, 
granola bars, 
Paleo treats, 
little pies in a jar,
jam in a jar,
gluten free treats, ...whatever your heart's desire to create!

Our DROP OFF of baked goods will be on Saturday, September 28th at Pacific Cookie Company at the Sash Mill from 12pm to 4pm.

Pre-Cookies and Cupcake orders will be available for pick up on SUNDAY (the day of the bake sale) at the Aptos location from 10am to 3pm and yes...we need bakers to bake Sassy Cakes and Cupcakes favorite recipes: 

Sassy Cakes and Cupcake's Recipe's              Pacific Cookie Company will be       
Will be sent again to those who would              providing these delicious flavors 
like to bake cupcakes!                                    for us once again!  

CUPCAKES $33/dozenCOOKIES $20/dozen
Sea Salted CaramelPeanut Butter
Chocolate Chip Cookie DoughLemon Drop
Oreo CookieChocolate Chip
Variety Pack

Presentation of the items is best done in small baggies tagged with a tag, sticker or distinct way to label your goods.  Please label the items if they contain nuts or any dietary specialties.
Platters are great as well!  Please label your platter with the items and we will keep them together.  
Baskets are also a great way to display goods.  Please label the basket with the items and we will also keep these together!  If you would like baskets and platters back at the end of the event, please write your name and phone # on the bottom.  

Whatever you can make, we can take!  Please indicate the amount you would like to bake in an email to us.

We would love some dedicated volunteers to help us fight pediatric cancer on the day of the event to SELL...SELL...SELL!!!  We have two shifts for Aptos, Capitola, and Scotts Valley: 
9:30am to 12:30pm OR
12:30 to 3:30pm. Let us know the time and place you would like to volunteer and we will put you in contact with your Team Captain!  
Watsonville will have different hours so please contact me if you would like to be a part of this event!  

We would love to have the local girl scouts help us again!  Please contact us if you would like your troop to be involved.  

If 100 people print out 2 bake sale flyers each and posted them at local businesses, think of all the awareness we could spread in September for childhood cancer!  If 100 people shared this email with 5 of their friends and posted on their Facebook page, think of how many more individuals we could reach!  (Please remember to take down the signs at the end of the event). and click on "Bake Sale"

Thank you for your endless support and for continuing the fight for these children!  

In hope, strength, and love,



We are again planning our 2nd annual Team G Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Bake Sale on September 29th, 2013 in Santa Cruz County to raise money for pediatric cancer research and to support Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and Team G Foundation.

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a 501(c)3 nonprofit public charity raising money for pediatric cancer research through local bake sales.   It was founded by a very determined mother to help increase her young son’s odds in his fight against cancer. In late 2007, she had the idea to bake cookies to sell during the holidays. Her small idea became a huge movement with 96,000 cookies baked and sold during a three-week period with the help of more than 250 dedicated volunteers, raising more than $400,000. During that massive bake sale she realized people want to get involved and help, they just need a way to do so. So Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was created.
Team G Childhood Cancer Foundation is a nonprofit organization in the process of obtaining a 501(c)3 dedicated to supporting families battling pediatric cancer and funding new and innovative treatments to ultimately cure childhood cancer. Just a few months ago after a year of battling their 4 year-old daughter’s cancer, Kristin and Adam Cosner (and a dedicated board of advisors) launched Team G Foundation supporting all types of pediatric cancer at leading research institutions. Until we find a cure for childhood cancer, we are dedicated to supporting families fighting this disease with our "Hope Totes", our online resources, and inspiring stories of children fighting cancer.
If you are wondering why there is a need to raise money for pediatric cancer research, it might come as a surprise that pediatric cancer is the number one disease killer in the U.S. of children under the age of 18. In fact, it kills more children than asthma, AIDS, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis combined. Unfortunately, pediatric cancer receives a very small percentage of the National Cancer Institute’s $4.8 billion annual budget and almost no research and development dollars from pharmaceutical companies.
Last year, with the help of the community and individuals with a passion to make a difference, we raised over $20,000.  We have set this mark as our goal to beat this year! We hope you will help us reach our goal. Every dollar counts and every dollar makes a difference. Research funding has made a direct and measurable impact on the survival rates of pediatric cancer.
If children are our most precious resource, why wouldn’t we do everything in our power to keep them safe? It’s our responsibility and obligation to protect them and our future.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. As the mother whose idea it was to create Cookies for Kids’ Cancer says, “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the world to fight pediatric cancer.” We’re in this fight because every child battling cancer deserves a fighting chance. We hope you too will join our efforts and be a good cookie.
Pre-orders will be taken for pick up at Surf City Coffee in Aptos on the day of the event, Sunday, September 13th!  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Meeting the COO/Calling 911

I realized that I've been posting a lot of updates on Facebook but not posting on the blog as much.  It's still really important for me to let you all know what's going on so I'm doing my best to schedule time for updates!  We have been so incredibly busy and trying to find our "balance".  I think we are tipping the scale the other way and making up for lost time.  We do have our rest days but we are having a great time "living it up".  The family time has been precious and I've been working hard to keep my phone tucked away.  I know I got in the habit of keeping my phone in immediate access just in case I got the fever/ED visit call.  It's definitely been a conscious effort to put it away for periods of time especially when the girls aren't with me.  But I'm still keeping it close by when they are at school or at a friends house.  I'm hoping this is just a mom thing and not a cancer mom thing.

G will be starting kindergarden school...16 days in fact (I'm so not ready for this) and we want to suck up every ounce of time before this happens.  Her hair is growing back beautifully and she has these wonderful blond tips.  Lately we've been getting so many compliments about how cute her "hair cut" is and I've been asked if I frost the tips.  Really?  It's actually amusing and if I'm in the mood, I let them know. The tips are actually blonde because of the affects of the chemotherapy.  It's slightly fried on the ends and I can only imagine what it did to her little body.  The healthy hair is growing in strong which is an indicator that she is healing and getting healthy.  Sometimes, I've been to tired to strike up another conversation of childhood cancer (I have plenty of these) but let Gabriella know that she can talk about it if she chooses.  At some point, I'm sure she will get tired of hearing about cancer and I've made sure to tell her it's ok to let me know.

I just can't believe that G will be starting school.  Did I mention that I'm not ready for this just yet?  I'm really not counting down either ;-).   Thinking back of all the time we spent in the hospital and not at school makes me feel like cancer robbed us of this innocent time.  But looking at the positives, we all got to bond and grow in incredible strength as a family and for that I am grateful.  I just wish it wasn't cancer that made us stronger.

As for Bridget, she is such a fun and amazing little person.  I'm just in awe of her extraordinary giving capabilities and her kindness.  Trust me, she definitely has her moments and she won't go unnoticed in this family.  When she wants to be heard, she WILL be heard.  When she's tired, she gets frustrated very easily especially when I can't understand what she's saying.  Mostly side effects of the "me" pacifier and years of talking with this thing in her mouth...but we are working on this.  Bridget just started gymnastics and is pretty excited about it.  When she walks in to her class, she is ready to go.  Not really worried or shy about it.  She just enjoys it.  It's quite a difference from my little shy Gabriella but that has changed dramatically since her journey.  Both girls are in swimming and doing amazing.  Bridgy has had a couple of moments when the teacher was turned the other way and she decided to brave the waters on her own.  I'm hoping to instill a healthy respect for the water.

Gabriella is also taking a Spanish class with her friend Campbell.  She wasn't totally sure about it at first but is so excited to be able to hang out with her buddy.  Both of them light up when they see each other.  It's really sweet.  And they are learning a good amount of Spanish! 

COO Meeting

So a couple of weeks ago we got the pleasure of meeting with the COO of Lucile Packard Anne McCune.  What an outstanding lady.  She had a lot of wonderful information to share with us about her extensive involvement as a facilitator of many programs to better the relationship between patient and hospital.  She willingly and compassionately listened to the trials of our journey through Packard.  It was a great meeting and ended with a vow to continue the support of patients and their families.
We also gave her a Team G Foundation brochure.  She ended up buying 12 "Hope Totes" for us to distribute in our general donation.

Calling 911

The other night shortly after our Team G board meeting, I got a panicked call from Adam telling me that G couldn't breathe.  G had a small cold which Bridget got as well but it didn't seem like anything to worry about.  Apparently she woke up from a dead sleep and was struggling to pass air through her lungs.  When Adam called me,  I could hear weird sounds and G going from a short cry to a gasp for air.  Never have I gotten from Aptos to Scotts Valley so quickly.  5 minutes later, Adam called again asking where I was.  For a moment I thought, what am I going to do when I got there.  I didn't have a magic medicine to make her instantly better.  So I said to Adam, "Call 911 and I'll be there in less than 5".  He said, "Oh yeah, good idea.  I'll call now".  It just goes to show that even after being a medic and working in the field, all bets are off when it comes to your own child.  You never feel so helpless in your life and out of control when your kid is hurting.  I got home before the fire department but they arrived shortly after.  Our friend Dennis along with the SVFD crew came in and started her on a breathing treatment.  She settled down and her airway opened up.  The neighbors even called and stopped by because they saw the fire engine with all the lights on in front of our house.  Always a sight for inquisition.  Ends up our neighbor Toby could hear G wheezing from their bedroom...and our houses aren't that close.  We made sure to keep an eye on her for a few hours as she slept.  She still sounded pretty coarse but her airway was open.  For a moment we were debating on taking her into the ED but after the couple of treatments from the fire department, we felt comfortable watching her and calling if G needed it.  Geez, as if we haven't had enough excitement and panic in our lives.  

The cold lingered on for about another week but it's on the very tale end...and she still has a ton of energy.  

Even though our treatments are over, this journey is far from over.   We're living out each amazing moment as they come and doing our best to plan for an incredible future.  

On we go!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Obstacle Course and Blood Drive September 15th, 2013

This is happening again!  Last year when we were in the trenches of our battle with Gabriella's cancer, our CrossFit family and friends were planning a fundraiser to help us with medical expenses in fighting G's cancer.  The local paper caught sight of our story and published it in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.  We were blown away at the outpour of support from our community and pledged from that moment we were going to continue to fight for other children and families facing this same battle once we got through ours.  Some of those funds raised for us that day were used for medical expenses.  Since we had pretty decent insurance coverage, we used a majority of those funds to start up Team G Foundation.  Little did the participants of that day's events know that they were contributing to the start of something amazing and helping build our foundation!  100% of the proceeds raised from the obstacle course will go directly to the Team G Foundation mission in helping families battling childhood cancer and raising funds for pediatric cancer research.  
If most of you know our story, you know that the article written was a special article that brought Tianna and her family to us.  After reading the paper, Tianna contacted our family to let us know she was fighting the same cancer.  She wanted to make sure we knew she was here to help Gabriella.  Our families are forever bonded to fight childhood cancer.

This year Teen Kitchen Project, lead by my friend and warrior mama Angela Farley, will be on site to sell wonderful healthy Paleo meals to those who are hungry for a delicious lunch!  All proceeds from the sale of Teen Kitchen's food will go to benefit the Teen Kitchen Project.  This is an amazing project founded by Angela which serves two purposes: to get teens involved in the community and to create healthy meals for those families and individuals dealing with a severe illness in their lives.  They help bring comfort and healthy nourishment in a time of turmoil for these families.  Let's show them some support!  
This year's blood drive will be held by Blood Centers of the Pacific from 12pm to 4pm.
  1. You can register to donate blood at:
  2. Click "Donate Blood" in the upper right hand corner.
  3. Enter the sponsor code TeamG (not case sensitive). 
  4. Schedule your time and come join in the fun!  That's it!
We are so thankful to Sam and Cliff of CrossFit West for the support in throwing this event!  These guys have been an incredible proponents in our foundation and have been huge supporters!  As part of our CrossFit Advisory Board, they are a definite asset to the foundation. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A child taken...but always remembered.

Today is the day just one year ago that we lost a precious child from this earth.  A year ago today is the day when Tianna took her last breath.  Her body parted from this world and her pain ended.  But her spirit and memory live on forever.

I remember the day we met Tianna and her family.  I remember it well.  It was just over a year ago when Gabriella was starting her grueling 6 weeks of every day radiation.  We were at Lucile Packard for a long day of radiation planning and Tianna was in the hospital being treated for a recent recurrence.  We had just connected a few weeks before when Tianna reached out wanting to help us when she heard about Gabriella having the same type of cancer.  I remember seeing her mom in the hallway and her little sister Leilani.  True to form, they had huge smiles on their faces but their eyes were filled with tears....tears of pain and tears of uncertainty.  I remember walking in to Tianna's room.  She was sitting up in the chair but was a little groggy from the pain meds she just received.  The first thing I noticed were her hands.  Her fingers were long and her hands were very thin.  I tried to recall seeing hands like these before and I realized they were the hands of someone close to the end of life.  Working in an ICU for the better half of my nursing gets familiar with these things.  And I thought to myself, "No, it couldn't be.  She was a teenager...and teenagers don't die of cancer.  They just don't."  Claudia and I talked about her new chemo regimen since they were treating her now as a recurrence.  I remember feeling so comfortable in that moment with Claudia and I felt like we both just knew....but just didn't want to accept it.  Before we left, I had an awful feeling that I wasn't going to see Tianna again and asked if I could hug her...and I did.

The whole ride home, I just thought to myself how unfair and upside down life was.  How could a child be sitting in a hospital bed waiting for life to end when she should be worrying about what to dress to wear, who she's going to the dance with and the pimple on her forehead that won't go away....not cancer.  Tears fell from my eyes.   Adam reassured me that the doctors were going to do everything they could to get her through this.  She was a child and they'll do whatever they can to save her.  Just a few days later, we found out that she had passed.  My heart ached and I just thought to myself, "No, no, could this be?  This isn't supposed to happen to a child."

If you want to see where Tianna got her courage from, just watch this video.  Her mom, Claudia continues to amaze me.

There will be a "Fight For Gold" Challenge in honor of Tianna located at CrossFit Central at 1:45pm today, August 6th put on by our comrades at Teen Kitchen Project.  The following day, August 7th is the scheduled Fight For Gold Angel Tianna Challenge.  We need to put an end to childhood cancer so children don't have to deal with this suffering and parents don't have to hold their child in their arms as they take their last breath.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

All is WELL

Just a quick update so I can catch up on some much needed sleep.

We saw Dr. Marina today to verify that Gabriella is doing well...amazingly cancer :-)).  What I had thought was a lump I felt was probably scar tissue from the intense radiation.  She was NOT concerned that the cancer could be returning.  This is good news!!  We are clear to continue having fun and living life!!  
Next scans and examination are scheduled for September 20th.

Thanks for all your support once again!  It is very helpful always but especially in stressful times.

A moment of panic

This past Sunday, I had a moment of terror with Gabriella.  I thought I felt a hard bump around her initial tumor site and I just panicked.  It immediately brought me back the initial discovery of G's tumor and the thought that I wasn't persistent enough with the doctor to get G diagnosed the day I found it.  I knew I needed to call right away and get her seen.  As I was paging the on-call oncologist and waiting to tell him the story, all these emotions came over me.  I tried my best to tell him the story but I could hear it in my voice...the frantic, the panic, the anxiety and finally I lost it.  Dr. Currier was so great about hearing me out and understanding my panic about the situation.  He talked to me a lot and just said everything I needed to hear.  I realized I had been in the garage for a little while and the girls were in the living room watching TV.  I didn't want them to see the panic on my face and my red puffy eyes...didn't want them to know the fear I felt at that moment.  Gabriella already knew I was worried and asked "Mommy, is my cancer back?"  Ugg, what a just plain shitty question that she has to ask.  I thought of who I could call, besides Adam, and I thought of Mel and Ronnie.  Within a few minutes, they were on their way over to help with the girls and help me get through this moment.  What a blessing to have such dear friends so close.  The rest of the day was spent taking a break and swimming at Auntie Mel and Uncle Ronnie's house...the laundry, the cleaning and the mess could wait.  It was just what we all needed on a beautiful day.

And this is how we spent it...

From my conversations with the oncologist, my friends, Adam and convincing myself my "medical" assessment of the situation is correct, there was nothing wrong...just old scar tissue that I had felt.  As a mom, I couldn't help to go there...that dark place where I was last year when we heard the unthinkable.  Could this be happening again?  The answer is NO.  The doctor was reassured since her recent June scans were clear.  He was also reassured since there is very little chance that the cancer would grow back in the same area.  Ok, I could breathe a little.  We sent an email to Dr. Marina and Dr. Aftandilian right away to let them know of our concern.  They were also reassuring that this was not a recurrence.  Ok, we'll I'm not going to take any chances of not having her seen to double check.  I think everyone was ok with that.  We're heading up on...well, today (Tuesday) to be seen first thing in the morning.

But I felt assured also going to see our wonderful new pediatrician, Dr. Walker.  G's well child check was scheduled months ago for Monday and it couldn't have come at a better time.  She was also reassuring and let us know how well Gabriella was growing and looking.  She is at 40.6 pounds!  Adam and I talked about her weight during radiation...dropping to 30lbs.  I couldn't remember what the exact weight was but I think some of these things we forget to protect ourselves from traumatic incidents.  Her height, eyesight, hearing....all perfect!

So, off we went to the Boardwalk for another fun day...knowing that G has beaten this monster.

I felt a strange feeling that came over me today; one I haven't felt in a while.  I was thinking about it and describing it to Adam.  I think it was called "relaxation".  I haven't felt this feeling in years....even before G was diagnosed.  The stress of being pregnant, having babies, working and just adjusting to life as a mom was stressful in itself. Who would have imagined?  Then you add cancer on top of that and oh boy...I don't think "relax" is even a part of that dictionary.  Even with the pending oncology visit tomorrow, I just know deep down that everything is going to be ok.  I'll post again tomorrow.  But for now, sleep is calling me.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

DISNEYWORLD!! (Forgot to Post)

I realized this post needed a page to itself.  What an amazing trip!


It started with a limo picking us up bright and early for our trip to Florida.  

On the plane, they made a special announcement congratulating Gabriella on her Make A Wish trip!
Both the girls got to sit in the pilot's seat and check out all the devices they use to fly the plane.  

The girls checking out the cockpit and saying hi to the pilot!

On the fairy across the lagoon to the Magic Kingdom.
 Thunderstorms greeted us later that day but it was warm and wonderful!  

 We went to the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique at the Magic Kingdom for another princess make-over.  I just love seeing the girls in their princess outfits and having fun getting pampered!  Since they didn't have any appointments available, we had to go to the Downtown Disney Boutique later on that day.  Bridget wasn't too happy about this.  She ran back into the store, started taking her shirt off and I finally realized (since I couldn't understand her that well) that she didn't want to wait to wear her Snow White princess dress.  She had it on before we reached the cash register.  
Gabriella got so many stares and compliments on her wild red locks as Merida.  It was fun to see people staring at her for something other than her little bald head.  

While we were at the Boutique and after the girls got their make-over, a few of the "Fairy Godmothers in training" came out with two of the Animation dolls and presented them to the girls.  Someone was so taken by the girls and wanted to give them each one of these dolls, while remaining anonymous.  It was such a special moment.  People are so kind.  

A visit with Arial.

Our first princess to see was Princess Merida.  We didn't realize that our Give Kids The World badge would give us a front row seat to see all of the princesses and characters!  Some of the amazing Disney workers saw our special badge and immediately escorted us to the front of the line.  They waited till all the kids were out of Merida's special area so we could spend some time with her.  WOW...Disney is something special!
This same thing happened when we went to see Belle and hear her fairytale story.  They had us wait till after the show and Belle came back out to have a special visit with us.  I'm not sure if G and Bridgy realize how special these moments were (I'm sure they will when they have to wait in line like everyone else on our next trip!) but we will tell them all about it when they're older.

Adam and Bridget with Belle's Castle in the background.

A late night watching the electric parade.


Another favorite moment: We were ne of my favorite moments: 
We were walking through Epcot, Snow White tapped on my shoulder