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 well...no 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





Inaugural Team G Family Festival

 The Team G Family Festival was incredible!  We were so excited with the turnout of family, friends, and individuals who came to support the kick off for our foundation and celebrating the lives of our inspirations "Angel Tianna" and "Survivor Gabriella".  I've attached the thank you letter but I'll be back to updating the blog more personally....once I have a free minute ;-)

A quote from Gabriella the other night:
"Do you know what I like about bedtime...you get to wait for the new day to come.  And you get to do new things."

On behalf of Team G Foundation, we want to thank you for your generous contribution to our Inaugural Team G Family Festival. Your contribution helped us raise over $6,000!  One hundred percent of the funds will go toward the Team G mission of supporting families fighting childhood cancer and funding research and development of treatments for pediatric cancers. 

Team G’s Inaugural Family Festival was held on July 7th at the Redwood Estates Pavilion in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  We had about 200 family, friends and individuals from Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties.  The event was a fun family type atmosphere where everyone gathered for a day of celebration with a barbeque from the local Santa Clara County Fire Department, desserts and appetizers from local restaurants & bakeries, live entertainment including a live band, a bounce house, a raffle for some amazing items.  The event was a benefit for Team G Foundation where we officially launched our organization.  We celebrated the lives of our inspirations, our “Angel Tianna” and our “Survivor Gabriella” and honored the children and families affected by childhood cancer. 
We also kicked off our monthly challenge, “Fight for Gold” to inspire individuals around the country to “get active” in the fight against pediatric cancer.  Team G Foundation will continue to motivate individuals to participate in our “Fight for Gold” Challenge; a 7-minute exercise named for a child affected by cancer to be performed the 7th day of every month.  The challenges will change monthly and will be named for a “Survivor”, a “Warrior” or an “Angel”.  We are encouraging individuals to raise funds and awareness necessary to change the face of pediatric cancer and provide more families with the hope they deserve.

Team G Foundation is a nonprofit organization currently in the process of obtaining a 501(c)3 dedicated to supporting families fighting pediatric cancer and funding new and innovative treatments to ultimately cure childhood cancer.  After a year of battling 4 year old survivor Gabriella’s cancer, committed parents Kristin and Adam along side Claudia and Diego, the parents of angel Tianna, a 14 year old from the same town who battled the same cancer, Team G Foundation was launched as a nonprofit corporation supporting all types of pediatric cancer research at leading institutes nationwide.  With a dedicated Team G board of advisors who are passionate about helping children fight cancer, nothing is impossible.  Until we find a cure for childhood cancer, we are dedicated to supporting families fighting this disease with our care packages, our online resources, and inspiring stories of children affected by cancer.

Thank you for your generous contribution to this event and cause. Every day, 36 children are diagnosed with cancer, and every day 7 children die. Pediatric cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the U.S. taking the lives of more children than asthma, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy combined.  A lack of funding into new and improved therapies contributes to this sobering statistic. Children are worth your investment, and we will make sure your investment in them is returned with exposure and recognition for your donation. We thank you for getting involved by donating goods to our event and by sponsoring our organization.  100% of the event proceeds will go directly to Team G Foundation’s Mission. To find out more about Team G Foundation please visit: www.teamgfoundation.org.

Mona from Redwood Estates Pavilion
Postal Annex of Scotts Valley for discounting our shipping of care packages to pediatric cancer centers nationwide. 

Art, Adam, Tony, Joe, Phil, Kendall, Roger, and Brian of Santa Clara County Fire Department who worked the barbecue
Brian, Brian, and Brent of SCCFD Engine 4
Andy of Los Gatos Brewing Company
Jason of Jia Tella's
Rick of Erik's Deli on Soquel Ave
Los Gordos Taqueria
Taqueria Vallarta
Taqueria Agave
Mary and Mark of Maria Rae's
Margie of Whiting's Foods
Cara of Pacific Cookie Company
Kris of Sassy Cakes
Sybil of Santa Cruz Shaved Ice
Courtney of Creative Drinks of Los Gatos
Kellie of Surf City Coffee
Mike Hadley and The Groove
DJ Will B Smooth
Nicole from Glitterfish Face Painting SC
Dawn from Special Memories
Auntie Barb for Balloon Animals

Raffle Items:
John and Michonne from Kaemmerling Photo
Susan and David from Consortium Wine Tours
Mike from Scotts Valley Fire Department
Cliff from Adventure Out
Burrell School Vineyard
Hunter Hill Winery
Kelly from Adventure Sports
Cynthia from Far Niente
Janet and Bryan for Concannon Winery 
Michelle for Hand Made Quilts
Allison from Pizza My Heart
Rachael from Drawn 2 Art
Brittany from Britabella Design
Jolie from Stella and Dot
Abby of Faust Salon, Santa Cruz
Janessa from The Ginger People
Christina from My Smart Hands
Merri from Bead Goddess
Delia from Hulahips and her Hula Sisters
Angela from Chaminade
Deluxe Market
Mac Products
Bella Dawna

Behind the Scenes:
Renee Whiting for creating our flyer
Sean Conrad for creating our PSA
All our amazing volunteers!

YOU GUYS ROCK!!!  We ran the "Fight for Gold" Challenge to demonstrate the activity we are motivating people to "get active" for childhood cancer.  Those that competed took part in the Inaugural "Team G" Challenge.

"Advanced" Workout participants:
Whitney Heuser
David Millar

"The Brat Pack”
• Cathy Brock Meekins
• Andrew Borja
• Amanda Borja
• Kevin Cook
• Cece Cook
• Stephanie Klima
• Katherine Lee
• Cory Fosgate

Lembit Kulbin
Brian Cote
Sue Desrosiers
Angela Goble
Robert Asamoto
Erin Asamoto
Cliff Hodges
Morgan Hunt
Electra Stockwell
Steve Alberi
Adam Cosner
Kristin Cosner
Jen Beam McDonnell
Ronnie Boose
Melanie Turowski

For those who didn't hear, I wanted to post my speech.

Thank you all for coming here today to help us kick off our foundation… and celebrate the lives of our "Angel Tianna" who was taken by cancer last August… and our "Warrior" Gabriella, who completed cancer treatments this past February. Today we are launching Team G Foundation, in dedication to these two young girls who have been the inspiration behind our organization.  We are also here to honor all the children who have been and will be affected by childhood cancer. I wanted to start by sharing with you...the story about our journey...It all began in March 2012 when we heard the startling words, "your child has cancer"....which... literally…took our breath away and changed our lives forever . Our oldest daughter, Gabriella was diagnosed at the age of 4... with a malignant and aggressive type of childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma.  Family and friends came together....and....a whole community came together in support of our little girl as we began our battle through pediatric cancer. Through this journey, we met another young warrior....a young girl from the same community fighting the same cancer....Tianna. Diagnosed at only 14 years old and in the midst of her treatments, Tianna reached out to our family after reading about Gabriella in the local paper.....calling her mom and saying, "mom, we have to help these people". We were lucky enough to meet Tianna's loving family....and Tianna....right before she earned her angel wings. Since that day, our families have come together on a united front to fight childhood cancer.    Team G is here for one reason... to fight this insidious disease until no other parent hears the words...."your child has cancer"We will do whatever it takes... to fund clinical trials that further study cancer in children....find research studies for progressions in treatment....and ultimately find a cure. Until then, we will support families fighting their child's cancer with the resources on our website, with stories of children that have inspired us... and with our "care packages" for families newly diagnosed with pediatric cancer. Since 36 children would be diagnosed every day with cancer here in the United States, we new we needed to find a way to reach out to these families....to let them know they were not alone in this fight.  Our packages are delivered to social workers at pediatric cancer centers nationwide....where they will be given to cancer parents in the hope that it will offer some type of solace.  This is the first part of our mission.  The second part...is to fund further research for better treatments for childhood cancer.  Currently, less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute's budget is allocated to all 12 major types of childhood cancer.  Only 2 new drugs have been developed to treat pediatric cancer in the last 20 years.  Most of the drugs available for treatment today are 30 to 40 years old.  Every day, 7 children loose their battle with cancer and earn their angel wings.  Most of the ones that survive pay a significant price.  Our children deserve better......out children deserve cutting edge treatments...... out children deserve a brighter future.  We can't do this alone....so please help us make a difference in the lives of these children by helping fund childhood cancer research.... and help support their parents who begin their journey with pediatric cancer.