More Chemo? Sign me up!

Well, I was released from the hospital at 8:00 on Thursday night. Those five days were without a doubt the longest four days of my life. (Dramatic, but true.) I have never felt as bad as I did on Monday and Tuesday. After about 234 IV antibiotics, I finally started finding relief for my throat late Tuesday night. I hadn’t eaten or drank anything since Sunday evening…and finally on Tuesday night, I forced myself to eat. My throat felt like I was swallowing glass every time I tried to swallow. It didn’t matter if it was water going down…it hurt like heck. I had Magic Mouthwash, Chloraseptic spray, and stuff that looked like melted butter…and none of it helped worth a darn. I had a sore in my mouth, inside my bottom lip that I wanted to straight up cut out of my mouth. It would have felt better than the stupid store rubbing up against my teeth.

On Wednesday things started looking up…it was about time. The only positive about this visit was that I got to spend some unexpected time with some of my favorite nurses and techs. That, was good for my soul. The rest of it…was not. I had never treasured each and every bite of food the way I did that day. Oh, the things we take for granted.

Because of two injections I got on Monday and Tuesday called Granix, my white blood cells were through the roof when Thursday rolled around. They were so high that the Infectious Disease doctor was wanting to keep me until Friday because she was concerned I had an infection. On Sunday, my white count was .3. On Thursday morning, it was 49. Wowzer!

I couldn’t wait to get home and see my babies…especially since this little spontaneous hospital stay was just that…unplanned. I  hadn’t expected to be in the hospital for four full days when we went in on Monday. I missed my little loves.

Because I was released on Thursday, that meant we were going to be able to meet with the bone marrow doctor on Friday–Praise the Lord! His office actually called Danny to move my appointment back a few hours and then asked about moving it to next week…oh no she didn’t! I have been so anxious about this appointment because I am desperately wanting to know what our plan is going to be moving forward. So, Danny begged…and she let us keep the appointment. Thank you, lady who let us keep the appointment. Me and my anxiety appreciate you.

So if you’ve read the blog from the beginning, you may recall that our first visit with Dr. Matthews wasn’t so fantastic. He came across as incredibly knowledgable, but also very matter-of-fact and straight to the point. He doesn’t sugar coat things and he just wasn’t warm and fuzzy. (I know, I know. As I typed that, I just asked myself how many doctor’s I’ve met who are actually “warm and fuzzy”. That may not be the best wording to use…but you know what I mean. And if you don’t, just let it go and keep reading.) He wasn’t incredibly positive with the news he presented to us. I left the appointment feeling really discouraged and down. It turns out my mom was feeling the same way. Danny thought it was a positive meeting…shocker. He must have been wearing his rose colored glasses that day.

Because of our last meeting, going into our appointment yesterday, I felt pretty anxious. Not horrible, because we had already talked to Dr. Stone regarding the results of the PET scan, so I kind of assumed hoped that he wasn’t going to give us bad news.

IMG_7150

Feeling positive before our appointment.

IMG_7155

I’m not quite a survivor yet…but I will be. 🙂 I couldn’t resist the opportunity for this picture.

So here we go. We got there at 11:00 and I had my blood work done. As I was finishing in the lab, Dr. Matthews comes in and notices me an says, “Oh, I know you! You got out of the hospital!” We chatted for a minute and then he said, “Did you get a PET scan done?” I’m sorry, what? Dude, that’s why we’re here! We’re supposed to be going over the results with you! I told him that I had one last Friday and that I had asked for the results to be sent straight to him…yah, that didn’t happen. Someone dropped the ball. I wanted to throw that ball into that someone’s face.

Apparently he could see the panic in my eyes and said, “Oh, don’t worry! I called yesterday and asked for the results to be sent over here. They said they would get it done today. Don’t worry, don’t worry. I’ll get them.” Did he not know that our appointment was in like 7 minutes? We clearly have very different personalities.

Once I was done, we went back down to the 2nd floor to his office and waited. We weren’t sitting down for 2 minutes before they called us back. The nurse asked me some routine questions, did vitals, etc., and then said Dr. Matthews would be in in a few minutes. With or without the PET scan? Only time would tell…

Not 5 minutes later, he comes marching in with papers rolled up and big smile on his face. (He’s not warm and fuzzy, remember? So this was already going better than last time.) He said he had gotten the report and that the cancer had a complete response to the treatment. (WHAT?! Can I get an Amen?!) He threw out the word ‘remission’ and I almost fell out of my chair…and then he clarified. He said that he misspoke and said that remission is not a good word to use. Instead of remission, he said that there was a complete response to the treatment…which essentially mean that there is currently NO ACTIVE CANCER in my body. NONE. ZERO. ZILCH. NADA. You know what we call that, folks? Answered prayers. I may even go out on a limb and say a miracle.

He said himself that he doesn’t see response like this often. He normally sees the worst or the worst…and this case thus far has been pretty close to ideal. (Knock on wood. Do it. Now.) So before we go any further, I need to praise sweet baby Jesus for answering our prayers.

At this point during the appointment, I’m thinking, “Oh, so since there’s no active cancer, then a 6th round isn’t necessary and we can just move right in to the bone marrow transplant, right?” Wrong. (Insert punch in the gut.) So although the report was all positive…we still need to do a 6th round of chemo–the same regimen I have been doing the previous 4 rounds. Bummer. I’ve been saying lately that because of how awful the past week was that I was really hoping to not have to do another round…but you know what? It is what it is. It’s what my doctor feels is necessary to completely defeat this disease. So, we will do another round.

I’m technically supposed to start Round 6 this coming Monday…but both Dr. Stone and Dr. Matthews said that in my current state, my body simply could not handle the chemo. I would end up back in the hospital shorty after I finished that round. So, Round 6 will start Monday, March 27…the day after my sweet Hud’s 1st birthday. I’ve been so worried that with everything going on that the timing wouldn’t work out for him to get his first birthday party right around his birthday…either I would be getting treatment, or would be feeling too crummy to put it together and pull it all off. The way things are now, I have the next two weeks to get things together for his party. Pretty sure the timing in a God thing. See, He’s always lookin’ out.

Right after my appointment Friday, Dr. Matthews was going to take whatever necessary steps to get insurance approval for organ testing. We’re hoping that I’ll be able to get the testing done this upcoming week. Organ testing has to be done in order to do the bone marrow transplant. Once it’s approved, I’ll go in and have different tests done on my major organs. This will be through blood tests, an echocardiogram, urine tests, pulmonary function tests, and whatever other tests they need to do to make sure my organs are good to move forward. Speaking of urine tests…this may be TMI, but I have to collect all of my urine for 24 hours. Holy smokes. But don’t worry, we were sent home with two large orange jugs for collection. This should be nice.

Once the testing is done, Dr. Matthews will then take the necessary steps to get approval for the bone marrow collection and the transplant. This could take a week or two. Prayers that all of this goes smoothly and that the insurance company doesn’t get greedy.

As I mentioned before, I will have Round 6 March 27-31. I was a little okay with having a Round 6 because that meant I got to see all of my nurses again…and then he burst my bubble. Round 6 (and everything else from here on out) has to be done at Medical City Dallas (MCD). In case you’re not familiar with the Dallas area…Celina (where we live) and Medical City Dallas are not close. Scratch that. They are FAR apart. Traffic is a beating. But, we’ll make it work.

[Putting on my rosy glasses.] This is an incredible hospital with a doctor that I trust completely. Although we will be driving far, often, I will be getting the best care and treatment. Plus, this just means that my favorite nurses have to come and visit me now. 🙂 (4th floor nurses, I’m looking at you. All of you.)

On the last day of chemo, once I’m done, I will have the methotrexate lumbar puncture done one last time. (This is where they send chemo through my spine to my brain to hopefully prevent the cancer coming back in my nervous system.) I will also have a procedure done to put in something called a trifusion line (or triple cumin). Remember when I got the port put in on the left side, just below my collarbone? Well the port got lonely, so we thought we’d give it a friend on the right side. Port, meet Trifusion Line (TL). I’m sure they’ll be BFF soon. The port is barely noticeable. You can tell where it is because the area is a little raised, but it’s not super eye-catching. The TL is a different story. Part of it is under the skin…and then there are three wires that will be sticking out. Sounds pretty, huh? I should be looking good for summer. Maybe a little alien-ish.

Here are some diagrams I saw that help you understand the placement of the Power Port and the Trifusion Line. Both diagrams obviously show the placement on the right side. I have my port on the left side and will have the TL on the right. But, you get the picture.

Port Animated

Power Port Diagram

TL Picture Animated

Trifusion Line Diagram

Thanks to Google, I was even able to find an actual picture of each device once it has been implanted. And no, neither of these pictures are actually of me.

PowerPort

Trifusion Line

So after the chemo and Trifusion Line placement, I’ll go home, and Saturday will be a “rest day”. Then beginning on Sunday, and for the following 9 days, I will go to MCD to get a Neupogen shot to help boost my white cell count. I received these injections three days in a row after an early round of chemo. After just the three injections, I thought I had been run over by a truck. My bones hurt. So I imagine that getting these shots 10 days in a row should be fabulous. I imagine I’ll enjoy myself quite a bit. Heck, maybe I’ll feel so good, I’ll go for a run!

During the 10 days of injections, they will be doing blood tests to track the white cell (can be used interchangeably with stem cell) count. For the first few days, the numbers will fall…but then they start to go back up. They will track the numbers each day so that when the numbers go back up, it will be time for the “collection” part of the process. The white cells typically begin to go back up around day 14.

For the “collection”, I’ll go in around 6:30 that morning. They will use the Trifusion Line to collect the bone marrow. The process typically takes about 4 hours. Dr. Matthews needs approximately 5 million (yes, you read that right…5 MILLION) stem cells. I’ll leave after the four hours and they will take the next several hours to count the stem cells they retrieved. They will call afterward and let me know if they were able to get the 5 million, or of I need to come back the next day and go through the same process until they get enough. He said that most of the time they are able to get all 5 million in one sitting. Let’s hope that’s the case. I’d rather not have this party two days in a row. Once they have what they need, they will harvest it.

Then, about two weeks after the collection (which is about 4 weeks after the start of Round 6 of chemo), we begin the long part of the actual transplant process.

I will be admitted to the hospital and receive 6 days of chemo (yes, again). But this time, it is what’s called a BEAM treatment. I mentioned this in the last post I did about Dr. Matthews. He referred to it as the chemo that is about 10 times as strong as the chemo I’ve been received. Well fabulous! This party just keeps getting better! I’m just giddy with excitement and counting down the days until it starts. (Who’s bringing the margarita machine?)

The BEAM treatment sounds rather terrifying, but maybe I’m just being negative. Essentially, it (the chemo) goes in and eradicates everything, good and bad. It’s not picky. It wipes out good cells, bad cells, and everything in between. After the 6 days of that party treatment, I get two days to rest! Yay me! Then, the following day, they will take the harvested stem cells and put them back in through the Trifusion Line. So by now we’re going on about 9 days of being in the hospital…from the beginning of the BEAM treatment chemo to putting the new stem cells back in. Let’s keep track of how many days this hospital staycation is going to last. (We’re at 9 so far.)

The new cells typically take about 2 weeks to mature. (So that’s 9 days, plus at minimum 2 weeks…I’m no mathematician, but so far we’re at 23 days. 23 days in the hospital. In the same room. Looking at the same walls. Hooray! Sign.me.up.

During the two weeks while the new cells are maturing, I will be receiving blood transfusion pretty consistently throughout.

Then he got to the good stuff…the side effects. The bone marrow transplant can effect your GI tract, abdominal cramping, diarrhea (ew, yuck), mouth ulcers (more on this in a minute), extreme fatigue, and taste. So if you’re not jealous by now, you totally should be.

He talked about the mouth ulcers quite a bit. He said this is usually the worst part. He mentioned that they will probably get so bad that I won’t be able to eat for a bit. (That’s what happened this past week, but the sores were in my throat…so now, let’s just move ’em to my mouth.) He did that say I would have a pain pump to hopefully help control the pain of the sores.

And then guess what? By day 14 (after receiving the new cells), I should start feeling better! I’m sure at the time it will feel like it has been 14 weeks…but, we’ll make it.

We figured out that I’ll be in the hospital for a minimum of 23 days. That’s assuming everything goes perfectly, no set backs. It sounds like it could easily be a little longer. Either way, once I’m released, I’ll go back to Dr. Matthews two days a week for four weeks.

30 days after the transplant, I’ll have a PET scan to give us a baseline for upcoming scans. Then, I’ll have a PET scan every 3 months going forward…for at least a year.

Once all of the treatment and everything is done, there’s a chance that I will be put on a chemo pill as maintenance. Of course, the first thing I thought was, “Oh man, as long as I’m on that pill, my hair will continue to be gone.” He assured me that the pill will not affect my hair. My hair should grow back starting about 3 months after the transplant. Fingers crossed. Although now, I’m really nervous about it growing back and looking crazy. I’m assuming the first few months it’s growing back, it will look a little goofy. Maybe I’ll play with some wigs.

At this point in the appointment, I was feeling pretty good about things because I felt like we were really connecting with him. He gave me hope. He is absolutely one of the most brilliant people I have ever met. And he is so incredibly good at what he does. He just radiate intelligence. We laughed and joked…but we also made a plan. A plan that is pretty overwhelming and also rather scary, in my opinion. But, I’m in good hands. (There were no tears, for the record. Look at me, being a big girl and stuff.)

As we were finishing up, he told us a few more things that caught my attention. He said that if we stopped everything after the chemo regimen that I have been on, my chances of being “cured” are about 15%. (Remember, I have lymphoma…but I also have what’s called a double hit, which makes it much more aggressive and harder to keep away.) By going through with the bone marrow transplant, my chances of being “cured” go up to about 70%. That’s a big jump…and it’s a jump that I’m willing to take. It sounds like a wild ride we’re about to embark on…but I’m praying like crazy it will be worth it.

He also shared that the risk of relapsing is greatest within the first year. And that people who tend to relapse are the same people who did not have a complete response with chemo. (I had a complete response, WOOT WOOT!)

So, here’s a quick summary/timeline of our next steps…
-Approval for Organ Testing (ASAP)
-Organ Testing (Hopefully week of March 13)
-Approval for Collection and Transplant (Hopefully within 2 weeks.)
-Round 6 chemo, 1 rest day  (March 27-April 1)
-10 days of Neupogen injections/blood work (April 2-11)
-Collection (Once White Cell count goes up)
-6 days of BEAM Chemo treatment, 2 rest days (Approximately 2 weeks after collection)
-Transplant (Day after 2 rest days)
-Cell maturation process (At least 2 weeks)
-Meet with Matthews 2 days each week for 4 weeks
-PET scan (30 days post transplant, then every 3 months)

And that, my friends, is the plan. I’m currently at peace with the way things are going. I’m eternally grateful that the cancer has responded the way it has. I believe that happened because I have incredible doctors, but also because people have stormed the heavens with prayers…and I will be forever grateful for each and every prayer.

P.S. I had heard stories about how people who go through bone marrow transplants are completely quarantined, can’t have any visitors, etc. We asked Dr. Matthews about this and he said that whereas he is typically pretty strict with things, all of that depends on the doctor, hospital, type of disease, type of transplant, etc. He said that I will be allowed to have visitors (probably not a lot, because it sounds like I’ll be feeling pretty rotten for more of the time in the hospital). He also said that I could have someone stay with me at night if I wanted to. (To be honest, I wasn’t too excited about spending a month in the hospital completely by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love time by myself…but that’s a whole lot of time alone.)

The best part of everything…he said that my sweet babies could come up once (maybe twice) if I was really missing them. He said that we would just need to let them know when they were coming and the nurses would check them out for any infections, possible illnesses, etc…and if they were okay, they would be able to come in for a bit. It’s not much…but it makes the thought of not seeing them for a month a little more doable. That’s still a whole lot of time without that and that breaks my heart. But I’ll take a month without them is that means I get a lifetime with them once this is all over.

IMG_7156

These are the notes Dr. Matthews wrote on the board to explain the process…so everything I typed, matches what he wrote…can’t you tell?

IMG_7157

A positive appointment means the smiles continue.

IMG_7160

Those big orange jugs…those are for the urine collection. Whoa.

 

 

Thank a Teacher…or Student

Most of you know from previous posts that I recently got reconnected with a very special student from my first year of teaching. He, his mom, and little brother all came up to the hospital for a little reunion. And oh my, what a reunion it was. There were tears from just about everyone in the room. (Okay, mainly from me, but I don’t care. #noshame)

I was so anxious and nervous all day leading up to his visit. I’m not sure why…but I just knew it was going to be special. He walked in…and I just couldn’t contain myself. That boy had grown. A LOT. But his hugs were still just as wonderful. I hugged him and didn’t let go for a while. And then I made him take some pictures. Poor boy.

Hugging that boy for the first time in almost 8 years will forever be one of the most special moments in my life. I am beyond grateful to be reconnected with he and his family. It seems that I wasn’t the only one who was missing someone…apparently they were missing me too. God and stupid cancer brought us back together…and I will be forever grateful for that.

IMG_6952

One of my very favorite pictures. Ever.

IMG_6955

Sweet Brandon. He’s in fourth grade now…the same age Jonothan was when I had him. Such a doll. Some things never change.

IMG_6957

This family will never know how much they have blessed me. That lady on the end, Mary, is one of the most incredible mother’s/women you will ever meet.

IMG_6958

Yes, I made him take a picture of us hugging…poor thing. I think he secretly liked it. 🙂

Because that reconnection was so special to me, I want to say this…if any of you out there have a teacher that was special to you, or vice versa…if any of you are teachers and had a family/student that impacted your life in a profound way…find them. Put the effort into finding them. You may not have any success, but TRY. You will be so glad you did. And if you do reconnect, tell them what they did for you. There aren’t many things greater than that feeling.

With that being said, I have been trying for years to find my 2nd and 4th grade teachers. They were incredible…and are essentially responsible for me becoming a teacher. They cared for me and made me feel loved. Mrs. Laura Zink or Mrs. Angie Mullenmeister, if you’re out there and by the grace of God you happen to read this, PLEASE contact me. I know it’s a long shot…but, crazier things have happened.

Thank a teacher, y’all. I’m not saying that because I am a teacher…I’m saying that because I’ve been blessed with many phenomenal teachers. Some of them I’ve lost touch with, some of who I am still in contact with. But regardless, I will never forget the way they made me feel and the way the changed my life by teaching me how to be a good person. I struggled in school–well, at least until college. I was a horrendous test taker. I just couldn’t handle the anxiety I felt every time I took a test. I couldn’t write an essay to save my life. Reading comprehension and I, we weren’t friends. I struggled hard. Most of my friends were in GT classes, AP classes, etc. But me? Oh no. I was straight regular classes. At times I was a little embarrassed, but you know, that’s what I was capable of at the time. (Fortunately, in case you were wondering, I taught myself how to study in college, and I worked my butt off…so I made it through with a 4.0…something I never would have dreamed of doing in high school. Maybe it was all of those teachers that helped me realize my potential…maybe it’s thanks to them that I was able to succeed at the school of my dreams. [Hook’Em])

I had a big long paragraph listing a lot of the teachers that impacted me…but it kept getting longer…so I went for a bulleted list instead. OCD? No, not me…not at all. (Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery…I’m still working on that first step.)

Mrs. Moore (ironic that we now have the same last name) my senior English teacher. I’ll just go ahead and say that literature and I, well, we didn’t really get along. I could read the words, but couldn’t read between the lines. I couldn’t detect the ‘authors message’, or any of that literature terminology…at least not in high school. I’ll never forget reading Frankenstein my senior year and at one point, just putting the book down and crying. Crying because I didn’t know what the heck I was reading. If I don’t know what I’m reading, how am I going to write a paper (that makes sense), pass a test, or successfully complete a project on it? I went to tutoring (more than once) and Mrs. Moore helped me through it every.single.time. And you know what? She did it with a smile. She didn’t make me feel like a nuisance for coming in. She made me feel loved. She made me feel like I had a purpose…even if it wasn’t in English.

Mr. Moore (I know, two teachers, unrelated, that happened to have my married name…so weird.), my high school Public Speaking teacher. Mr. Moore will forever be one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. He was so intriguing…and straight up honest. If he didn’t like the speech you gave…well, he would tell you. But, he would also tell you how to fix it. And he would make sure you did. He was a professional speaker and actually, still is. At the time, I wasn’t a fan of public speaking, so giving speeches gave me anxiety like whoa! But I knew that while I was giving my speech, I could look back at him and he would be smiling. And without talking, he would bring a sense of comfort to me, just by looking at him. I haven’t seen him since I graduated…but I imagine he is still changing lives, one speaker at a time.

Ms. Causey, my Chemistry teacher. Let’s just be real. It was very obvious at 16 years old that I was not going to be a chemist. Not only was I not going to be a scientist, I needed to be far, far away from science. At the time, I dreaded going to that class because I might as well have been sitting in a foreign language class (more on that later). The concepts were way over my head. I had no idea how to balance a darn chemical equation, and quite frankly, I didn’t see why that was necessary. And I just felt dumb…and honestly, embarrassed. There were sophomores in my class who could pay attention for approximately 15 seconds and then could probably teach the class. Not me. But Ms. Causey…oh I loved her. She was from Louisiana and had the most precious accent. She would get on to kids who were misbehaving but I couldn’t always take her seriously when she was mad because her accent just made me smile. She knew I struggled, but she was always willing to help. She made me feel like she was glad to help me because she could tell I so badly wanted to be successful.

Coach Robinson, my Teen Leadership teacher. Teen Leadership was a class that all freshman were required to take. Essentially, it consisted of giving speeches about provided topics. (Keep in mind I hadn’t had Mr. Moore’s help yet because I didn’t have him until my junior or senior year). I didn’t like speeches, but man, I loved Coach Robinson. I had known him from when I was in 6th grade at West Middle School…he was my PE coach. I was fortunate to have him again in high school. I always looked forward to his smile. He always knew everyone’s names…even from day one. He always took the time to ask how I was and how things were going. He may have done this with everyone…but it sure made me feel special. I never had him as a coach, but I imagine he was an incredible one. In fact, he’s still coach football in Krum. What a blessing he is to those boys. They may not see it right now…but I can promise you, they will.

Mrs. Fryman, my freshman English teacher. Fry Mama was what she went by. Probably because she was like a mom to every student. She was basically a friend…who was our teacher. And boy did she love teaching. She loved everyone and was loved by everyone. She made it fun because her passion couldn’t be hidden. She made it obvious that she cared and that she would do whatever it took for each and every one of her students to be successful. Her hugs were pretty great too. She was the kind of teacher that everyone thought they wanted to be when they grew up (if they wanted to be a teacher). Kids loved being in her room. If you knew her, you’d understand why. You probably knew a teacher like her.

Coach Pease, my 7th grade science teacher. This guy was a riot…and he was Red Raider. He made that known…frequently. Again…science wasn’t my thing…but man did he make it fun. I’ll never forget when he let us pair up and build rockets. A rocket that we would actually be able to launch. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t actually in the curriculum…but somehow he found a way to tie it in because he knew how much we would love it. My rocket’s name was Hola. (Yah, I don’t know. It seemed like a good idea at the time.) Like Coach Robinson (and just about every teacher I’m writing about), he took the time to make each student feel special. At the end of the year, he gave each student a copy of a letter he wrote to us. And on the back were the words to the song “Forever Young”. He played the song and told us that he always wanted us to remember to stay forever young. I didn’t totally get the significance of that at the time…but looking back, that was a really neat thing he did for us. I think I still have that paper, somewhere.

Mrs. Roach, my Algebra I teacher. Guys, I’m telling you. I just wasn’t good at the academic part of high school. I was friends with just about every one, could tell you everyone’s name, but when it came to the academics part…no bueno (there is irony in me speaking Spanish here…you’ll find it further down). But this lady, Mrs. Roach, helped me “get it”. Sure, it took an immense amount of patience on her part, I’m sure…but she did it with a smile. I was good friends with her son at the time, so that may have helped…but seriously, she was a gem. I knew her as a teacher and as a mom. She raised two phenomenal young men–one of them was my dear friend during high school. And during those years, I may have looked up to her as a mom at times. She always made me feel so special. And even if I wasn’t the best at math, she made me feel like I still had a lot going for me. It wasn’t about the math. She didn’t know it at the time, but I really needed that. I needed her constant encouragement…and her hugs.

Mr. Damrau, my senior government teacher. I’m not going to lie. I had heard awful stories about this class–about how dang hard it was. (And if you haven’t caught on yet…I wasn’t the smartest kiddo on the block.) Everyone knew that senior year, you had to take government…and you had to pass to graduate. Fabulous. This should be fun. Looks like I needed to get to know some of the juniors because I may be joining them next year for senior year round 2.

Y’all, this class was HARD. But man, it was incredible. This man was so incredibly passionate about what he was teaching. You couldn’t not get excited about it. Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of essays to write (I’ve already covered what a great writer I was at the time…), and lots of tests to study for (cue the anxiety)…but at the end of the semester, there was a trial. A full on mock trial that we got to orchestrate. We were given the scenario, had to decide on our positions, and then we had to create our side of the story.

Our class was split into two–each group had a different trial. Our trial was about a baby being kidnapped. My friend Brittany and I were the two defense attorneys. Our good friend Corey Kluber (who now happens to be a well-known pitcher for the Cleveland Indians as well as one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet) was the defendant, Javier. I couldn’t even guess how many hours we put into working on our case. We stayed up all hours of the night, multiple nights. We drove all around town gathering “evidence” to submit showing that he wasn’t there at the time of the crime. We made fake boarding passes in Photoshop, took pictures that looked like security footage, and so many other crazy things…just to prove Javier didn’t commit the crime. Once it was time for the trial, we set up a court room and each side presented their evidence with their stories. Mr. Damrau was the judge.

We knew it was fake. We knew we would get a decent grade whether or not we won the trial…but man, we learned SO much during the whole process. And what’s even cooler is that we guided ourselves through that learning…something Mr. Damrau had taught us to do throughout the semester. His passion for government was undeniable…and I will never forget how his passion inspired us to win that trial. (For the record, we won. And it was awesome.)

Mrs. Garnier, my US History teacher. This little lady had short red hair and a glare that could give you chills and possibly make you wet your pants. Fortunately, that glare didn’t make many appearances. She may have been small (and so precious), but man, she was brilliant, too. Learning from her and listening to her talk about our country’s history was a privilege. She came in dressed as different people from history. She made us act out events from the past. And she did it all because she knew some people needed things like that to learn and to truly understand. Some students weren’t successful sitting and listening, then taking a test. (I’m talking about myself. But I’m confident that there were other students in the same boat.)

She made learning interactive and engaging…which is what I think a lot of other teachers were missing. Don’t get me wrong. We took tests and man, they were a doozie. But us strugglin’ folk were able to be successful because of the way she taught us. (Okay, so I don’t actually talk like that but it felt necessary right at that moment.) She’s retired now, which makes me sad, only because I know so many kids are missing out…she was incredible.

Coach Howard, Coach Mashe, and Coach Ganss, my cheerleading coaches from high school. (Okay for those of you who didn’t know I was a cheerleader, go ahead and pick your jaw up off the floor.) Ready for another surprise? I was captain. I don’t often tell people that because it just doesn’t fit my personality…so when people hear that I cheered in high school, they are often surprised. (To be honest, I’m still surprised.) Anywhoo, these ladies…they were a big part of my life in high school.

Coach Howard…oh, Howie. I love this woman. You didn’t want to get on her bad side…because it wasn’t pretty. Fortunately, I was too afraid to do anything bad, so I found myself on her good side most of the time. I never had her in the classroom, but was fortune enough to have her as my cheerleading coach for several years. We went through a lot together. We made her laugh, even when she didn’t want to…we may have made her cry too. She believed in us…not only as a squad, but as individual kids. She made an effort to establish a relationship with each of us…and now, as a teacher, I see how important it was for her to do that. It took work on her part…but it meant so much. There were times where I straight up didn’t like her…like when she would make me do standing back tucks on the gym floor because she knew I was afraid…but she also knew that I could do it. While I was doing them, if my hands touched the ground, the whole squad ran. Nothin’ like a little pressure…and maybe a bloody nose. But my hands didn’t touch the floor! But the rest of the time, I adored her. I adored her because she made me feel loved. I wish at the time, I would have believed in myself the way that she believed in me.

Coach Mashe…well, I never actually had her as a teacher because she only taught the smart classes. 😉 I’m kind of kidding, but not really…she taught advanced science classes…and let’s face it…the only thing that was I was advanced in at the time, was handwriting. I didn’t have her as a teacher, but I did have her as a coach. And I’m so glad that I did. She knew how to joke and have a good time…but she also knew how to make us work [hard]. Her interest in music–I’ve never seen anything like it. I loved her sense of humor. But I also knew when to take her seriously. When she was hard on us, it was for a good reason. She pushed us to do things we weren’t sure we were capable of. Now she’s all famous and stuff, continuously receiving national awards for her work with technology in the classroom. Y’all, she is legit. This lady is brilliant…and so talented. I’m so thankful that I was able to learn from her…if only I had been smart enough to be in her class…maybe I’d be a scientist. 😉

Coach Ganss…I had Coach Ganss as my Multimedia teacher and she essentially helped me find my passion for computer design. (I obviously never pursued anything in design, but to this day, I still use things I learned in her class.) I loved her class. But more importantly, I loved her…and I loved having her as a coach. She was real. She didn’t put up with nonsense. She saw people for who they really were…and a lot of kids needed that at that time in our lives. She held you accountable. And when it came to coaching, she was darn good at it. She was a cheerleader at Baylor, so I guess she had that goin’ for her.

Ms. Andrade, my French teacher. Y’all (clearly I’m fluent in French). I’m not worldly. I’m just not. I can’t tell you much about countries around the world. I’m not meant to speak another language. I speak Texan English. (I had to cross out Texan because I felt judgement coming through the computer right when I typed it. Danny, I’m looking at you.) I took a foreign language in high school because I had to. You know, we live in Texas, close to Mexico, lots of Texans speak Spanish, it’s a great asset to have…so I took French, duh. (I’ll still never quite understand what I was thinking.) Learning a second language didn’t come naturally to me (shocking, I know), but there was this teacher I had…a teacher who worked with me all.the.time until I got it. There were a lot of things to get…so when I say she worked with me a lot, I mean it. I wasn’t so great at it then, but now, I can conjugate the heck out of a verb! And this lady, she always smiled. Her smile could light up a room. She made every child feel welcome. If you weren’t good at French, she didn’t hold it against you…she just helped you…and made you feel like you were good at it. Oui, oui!

Oh, and Coach Springer. How could I forget? (I didn’t. I just wanted to save her for last.) Anyone from Coppell knows this. I didn’t know it was possible for one human being to make such an incredible impact on every.single.student they’ve ever met. But somehow, she does it. She makes every single student believe that they are the most important kid in the world…and she gives them the encouragement and confidence to feel like they can conquer the world…all because she makes it known that she believes in them. This lady, was sent from heaven to do one thing…to make a difference in the lives of children. And I’ve never met anyone who is more fitting for that job. To this day, if you see her, she will hug you and love you and make you feel like you are the most amazing student she has ever worked with. Laura Springer, you are absolutely one of a kind. I don’t know how you do it…but you sure are darn good at it. And I, along with every single child person in and from Coppell, is thankful for you. Everyone needs a Springer in their life. Am I right? (And all God’s people said ‘Amen’!)

After reading through all of those descriptions of teachers that had a profound impact on me as a student, I realized several things:

1) With the way education has changed and the way the expectations have risen, if I were in high school now, I would fail. My heart goes out to kiddos in school now. It’s just not fair.

2) There was a common theme with every teacher I mentioned. Passion. They were all so passionate about what they were doing. They weren’t there for the paycheck (what?!). They were there to make a difference in the lives of children every day. And they did just that. Well done.

3) I was a hot mess when it came to academics. I didn’t fail, but I had to work REAL hard to pull off a B. I did my homework. I studied…and I’m still sure some teachers helped me out without me knowing. 

4) I didn’t know it at the time, but these people are miracle workers. They put up with a lot…yet every one of them showed loved. They made their students feel loved, but they also showed students how to love one another. How to be kind. How to make a difference. And those aren’t things you can find in a textbook or in the state standards.

Now I’m racking my brain because I feel like I’m forgetting some important teachers. This is not a list of all of the good teachers that I had. I had many, many more. If I could go back and thank every single teacher I ever had, I would do it in a heartbeat. 

As I said before, the purpose of all of this is if there is a teacher/student/parent who made a difference in your life, let them know. Tell them how much they are appreciated. You never know…it might be just what they need to hear.

Round 5 – Finished Strong…or Maybe Not

I started this post several days ago…and a lot has happened since then. So I guess I’ll update with the most recent stuff and then go back and continue my post from before about finishing Round 5.

So…Friday I felt okay. I had my PET scan in the morning, felt decent afterwards for most of the day. Danny and Lexi had their first indoor soccer game for the season…at 10:30…at night. Yah, I’m too old for that. Hud stayed with Danny’s mom and Harper came with me. (Don’t judge for me keeping her out so late…she’s never been able to watch Danny play soccer, so I let her go with me.) She went and she loved it. She wore her favorite pajamas, fancy boots, bright pink cape, and mask. Yep. She sure did. I suppose every daddy soccer player needs their own super hero cheering them on.

IMG_7099

IMG_7102

She insisted on helping him put on his shin guards. Check out that get-up she’s rockin’.

Once we got home from the game, I started feeling pretty rotten. My throat was starting to hurt and sores that I had in my mouth (from the chemo) were getting worse. You know those darn canker sores you get and how obnoxious they are? Yah well just imagine one of those…and then multiply it…all over your mouth.

I was in bed all of Saturday. I hurt all over and my throat seemed to be getting worse by the  hour. Saturday night, Harper and I watched a movie in bed while Danny went to hang out with the neighbors. (Cancer, I hate you for not letting me spend as much time with my neighbors recently…not cool. Not cool at all.)

Sunday morning, I woke up feeling hor-ri-ble. I didn’t want to go to Urgent Care, but I wasn’t sure what to do. I ended up calling the on-call oncologist and asking his opinion. My throat was awful at that point so I wasn’t able to eat or drink much…and I was probably already dehydrated at this point…so add that to the mix and you’ve got yourself a hot mess.

Because of the intensity of the chemo I’ve been getting, he highly recommended that we go to either Urgent Care or the emergency room. He wanted me to be tested for Strep and Thrush and have a complete blood count workup. So, off we went.

As expected, I was diagnosed with Thrush…and my blood counts were horrible. So to be honest, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that I felt as bad as I did. My white count was .3. Not 3, not 30…point 3. Folks…that’s low. And it essentially means at this point, I can’t fight off a darn thing. My red count was 2.5, Hemoglobin was 7.7 (was 6.6 last time when I got an infusion), and platelettes were 31. The doctor at the Urgent Care gave me an antibiotic for the Thrush and suggested that I go in first thing in the morning and have my blood checked again and to get in to see my doctor as soon as possible. I already had an appointment for blood work on Monday morning, so I was just going to continue with that appointment.

As the day went on, I started feeling progressively worse. I messaged one of my nurses from the hospital and asked her opinion on if I should tough it out until the morning and continue with my appointment, or if I should go ahead and go to the ER. For me to voluntarily go to the ER, you know I wasn’t feeling well.

She said that either option would be fine…but that if I was in pain, couldn’t eat or drink, or had a fever, then I should go to the ER. I was experiencing 2/3 so I should go to the ER, right? That would make sense…but no. I decided to just tough it out and that I would go in the morning.

Well. We made a mistake. We should have listened to her and went ahead to the Emergency Room that night. Ugh. I woke up Monday morning and felt the absolute worst I’ve ever felt. The past 24 hours was by far the worst time I’ve had so far. I didn’t enjoy it…not one bit. My mom was going to come up and take me to my appointment…but I couldn’t wait that long. I was in tears brushing my teeth because I was in so much pain. So Danny called his mom and she came over to watch the kiddos, and he took me straight to the ER and my mom met us there. I hadn’t been running a fever at all…not since before I was diagnosed, in fact. When we got to the ER, I had a fever. Fabulous. The biggest thing with chemo you always hear is, “If your temperature is over 100.3, go straight to the ER.” Apparently it’s super dangerous to have a fever when you’ve been getting chemo. So why wouldn’t I get a fever? Just wanted to shake things up a bit.

So while I was in the ER, I received 4 liters of fluid for dehydration, medicine for the fever, and some other antibiotic for my throat. And, none of it really seemed to help. My blood pressure went nuts and dropped to 78/32. I had blankets on blankets on blankets and blankets wrapped around my head. I was miserable. I eventually got admitted. The ER doctor said it would most likely be on the 4th floor (throw your hands up and praise the Lord!). I was going to get to see my nurses again. (This is what authors call foreshadowing.)

IMG_7125

I feel like I should put “Rated M for Mature Audiences” on this picture. It’s awful. I know this isn’t the most flattering angle…I’m not sure any angle would have helped.

Let me just tell you. When the room was finally ready, the guy who was transporting me said, “Alrighty, we’re headed to room 326.” I’m sorry, but I think you made a mistake. Unless 326 happens to be on the 4th floor, you sir, are out of your mind.

He wasn’t out of his mind. The 4th floor was full…and my heart was broken. I was here being treated for Thrush and a fever…and now a broken heart. (I know, I know, a little dramatic…but it’s like this. You plan a trip with your friends that you don’t live near and then right before the trip, someone tells you you can’t go.) Okay, that’s a total stretch, but man, I was bummed. Real bummed.

So we get up to the 3rd floor and y’all, I’ll already admit it. It didn’t have a chance. We were put into a nice sized room…but the sink (with no mirror) was the size of sink you’d find in a prison cell. And the toilet…I’m still thankful it didn’t swallow me. I have never seen anything like it. It was gi-gan-tic. And it just wasn’t the same. The nurse I had was nice. But that was about it. The nurses on that floor (I can really only speak for the one I had, but I’m assuming it’s similar for most) just didn’t get the whole chemo/cancer dynamic. There was no sense of urgency for anything…and that was a little alarming.

And then, God chimed in. I was sitting on the bed watching TV and the charge nurse came in a said, “We just got a call from the 4th floor and they are requesting that you be moved up there and a room just became available…are you okay with that?” I should have received an Oscar for my response. “Oh really? Yeah, I guess that’s fine.” (What?! Of course that’s fine! That amazing! I get to see all of my girls again. The girls that understand.) So now we just had to wait for the room to be cleaned. And I’m telling you…with how long it took, I’m pretty sure a massacre had occurred in that room. It took for.ev.er. But I didn’t care. I was over the moon. Maybe that was all the medicine I needed. While we were waiting, after being told by 2 different doctors and a nurse that they were calling in a throat spray, we finally got the spray. By the way they had talked about it, I was expecting it to work miracles. It.did.nothing. Not a thing. So that was fantastic. Not to mention that was probably a $300 bottle of nothing.

In the mean time, my fever went back up. Again. My throat was awful and wasn’t getting any better. At one point, my fever was up to 103.1…and yah, that’s not good. That’s really high. I had recently taken Fiorocet for my headache and then I started freezing…which I assumed meant a fever was coming. And boy was it a big one. 103 fevers are scary even when you haven’t had chemo. My mom went out and asked to have my temperature taken because they hadn’t been in to check in a while. Once they realized it was so high, I assumed that meant I would have Tylenol immediately. The nurse came in, said to give him 5-10 minutes to get the medicine and come back. 30 minutes later, still no medicine. (This is the lack of sense of urgency that I was talking about earlier.) Danny text and asked if I had gotten the medicine yet and I said no. Whoops. He was not a happy camper…and that guy is always happy. I agreed to call the nurse, although I was sure I would wet my pants because I’m a big weenie when it comes to raising heck with anything. I hung up and started to dial the nurses number…and right then, he walked in. Woot woot. Didn’t have to raise a stink. I got the medicine and he also mentioned that at midnight, I would get the “Magic Mouthwash”. That was four hours from now…why the hold up? Shortly after that, the room was ready.

Once we got upstairs, I felt at peace. I still felt TERRIBLE, but I knew I would be taken care of. Right after we got settled in the room, I asked the nurse about the mouthwash and I had it within 10 minutes. I’m telling you, these 4th floor nurses…incredible. I had a nurse that I hadn’t had before, but she was precious…and so very thorough. She was so good at what she does.

The night, however, sucked. It was the worst night I’ve ever had. I thought the past few days were bad…but this one took the cake. I couldn’t get rid of my fever. And the chills. Oh my word. One minute I was freezing cold, shaking…and the next, I had to change my clothes because I was soaking wet. My pillow was drenched. In the middle the night I had a fever of 101 something so they gave me some Fiorocet for my headache and Tylenol for the fever…and the fever continued to go up. The sweet nurse then said she was sorry…and then put ice packs on me. Not cool, nurse, not cool. The fever eventually broke, but I still just felt awful. The Magic Mouthwash didn’t seem to do anything. Fabulous. So I still hadn’t eaten. I can never decide on food that sounds good, but at this point, I would have eaten cooked dirt had it been offered.

I was up every 30 minutes or so getting my vitals checked, changing out medication, etc. and I just couldn’t sleep feeling so awful. Eventually at around 5, my fever finally broke and I haven’t had one since then…going strong for 14 hours or so. I’ve still had a pretty rad headache for a lot of the day, but nothing like it was with the fever.

Here’s a fancy word for why I was feeling so awful–I’m neutropenic. Apparently neutropenia happens when your white blood count gets so low that you can’t fight off anything. This also means all of the hospital staff that comes in the room has to wear a mask, if I leave the room for a few minutes, I have to wear a mask, etc. So let me just tell you. I’m not a fan of neutropenia. In fact, I think it’s stupid.

Dr. Stone came in at about 7:30 and said that my counts had dropped since yesterday so was going to order a blood transfusion. Last time I had a transfusion, it helped my headaches, so I was all in. Bring on the blood!

Yesterday when he came to check on my once I was admitted, he told me that I needed to cancel my appointment with the bone marrow doctor because I wasn’t going to be out of the hospital by then. My heart broke a little because I’ve been so anxious about this appointment. But, I asked Dr. Stone if he would discuss the results with us either over the phone or in person whenever he got them. He said he would absolutely do that as soon as he got them.

With that being said, I called and rescheduled our appointment with Dr. Matthews for Friday morning. Dr. Stone said we should shoot for next week, but I’m hopeful I’ll be better and discharged by Friday…so we’re going with that.

Dr. Stone ended up calling late morning with the results. Get ready, y’all. I don’t know what I was expecting…but I’m not sure I was expecting what he said. Ready?

…wait for it…

…are you getting anxious?…

After two additional rounds of treatment, the tumor has continued to shrink…now from about 6.6 cm to 5.6 cm. In a previous post regarding PET scan results, I have mentioned the term ‘uptake’. Uptake is essentially showing active cancer. If there is a lot of active cancer, a lot of uptake will appear on the scan. If it’s not very active, less uptake will appear. From the second scan, we had learned that the uptake was a lot less than the very first scan, which was great news.

Want even better news? There was little to no uptake on this scan! Did you hear me see what I said? The tumor is still there (we knew that it would be), but the lymphoma is essentially inactive. PRAISE.THE.LORD. There is no other answer than to say that these results are a direct result of the prayers we have received.

Dr. Stone was thrilled with the results. He actually used the word ‘thrilled’. I didn’t think doctors used words like that. He also mentioned that there was no new evidence of cancer anywhere else. Boo-yah! Take that, cancer! Get outta my body! No room for you here.

So basically, we couldn’t have hoped for better results. Now we meet with the bone marrow doctor and he will determine if we need one more round…and hopefully we will get some more details about the bone marrow transplant.

Oh yah, there was one small kink in our day yesterday. After Dr. Stone had called with the results, the Infectious Disease doctor (who had been keeping up with me during this hospital stay) happened to be looking over my chest x-rays from when I came in on Monday. I had talked to her once earlier in the day yesterday regarding my throat, but nothing more than that. Anyway, early afternoon yesterday, she called my room and my mom answered. She asked my mom to ask “the patient” if I had previously had a nodule on my lower right lobe of my lungs because a 2 cm nodule was showing up in the x-rays. Umm…excuse me?! And the answer was no, “the patient” had not previously had a nodule in her lungs. Well heck. This lady didn’t only rain on our parade, she straight up shut it down and then punched me in the gut.

Needless to say, after we hung up, my mom, Danny, and I began to panic a bit. It was just so contradictory. We had JUST heard from my oncologist about the PET scan and he had specifically mentioned that there was NO evidence of anything new. What in the world? Why would the nodule not show up on the PET scan? It’s like we knew in our hearts that it wasn’t cancer because it would have to have shown up in the scan…but in the back of our heads, questions were flowing.

So, we talked with my nurse and told her the situation. She said that she was going to try to call Dr. Stone immediately and get clarification for us. She called…and called…and couldn’t get through to him. But she said that the charge nurse at the time just so happens to work at my oncologist’s office as well…so she told her about the situation. (Let me just note how much I appreciate their urgency. It wasn’t really a big deal, but they could tell that we were scared and that it was alarming considering we had just received really good news. They stopped what they were doing and make sure we were taken care of. Point for the angels.)

Minutes later, Sherrie (charge nurse) came in and said that she talked with Dr. Stone and he said to absolutely not worry about the nodule. If it was cancer, it would have been picked up on the PET scan. She said that he was confident that the nodule in my lung was related to the infection I have been fighting in my throat. What a relief.

Just a bit later, I got a call from Dr. Stone’s nurse, assuring me that he fully believed that the nodule was not related to the lymphoma and that she hopes that this brings some relief. I’m telling you guys…best nurses, best doctor. I’m a lucky blessed girl.

Real quick–I know I’ve posted about sweet Claire that I taught several years ago. Another one who touched my heart. We’ve kept in touch, I adore her family, and so on. Claire has twin sisters who are so.stinkin’.cute. While I was in the hospital, they picked up Harper and had her over for a play date. Harper was over the moon giddy when she knew she was going to get to go play with them. Here are a few pictures from their day. Jill, Claire, Brooke, and Alli…thank you so much for taking time out of your day to make my sweet girl feel special and forget about everything going on. Not only have you been a blessing to me, you’ve been a blessing to her as well.

So now, we wait for our appointment on Friday…while hoping and praying for a plan. Oh, and I have to get healthy enough to get discharged from the hospital…there is that small detail. I have to be fever free for 48 hours…so that puts me leaving on Thursday morning. That’s what I’m hoping for.

P.S. Since this hospital stay wasn’t planned, I didn’t have any room decorations. And let me tell you. Every single nurse and doctor that came in commented on it. “Umm…the decorations? Where are they?” “I’m sorry, I’m confused. I don’t see any decorations. Are you in the wrong room?” It made me laugh because it made me realize that not only did the decorations make me happy, they obviously made a positive impact on everyone else as well. So for anyone who has taken part in making decorations during any of my hospital stays…thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

P.S.S. My sweet nurse, Katy, came up on Tuesday and brought me a chocolate shake. She wasn’t working. She just knew it would make my smile. Another point for the Angels. Sweet Katy, you made my day…and you made me feel loved.

In other news, my eyebrows are almost completely gone. And I officially look like a sick cancer patient. (News Flash: I am a sick cancer patient. This shouldn’t come as shocking to me…but it does, every single time I look in the mirror.) God must have laughed at me every time I prayed to keep my eyebrows and eye lashes. I haven’t quite caught on to His sense of humor yet.


Now back to the post I was working on before getting sick…

It has been over a week since I finished Round 5…but man, I’m still feelin’ it. It has been a LONG week. This round wasn’t nice to me. Not at all.

Eventually, things will turn around and I’ll start to feel better…but for now, I continue hating chemo.

Round 5 ended up going pretty smoothly. I had some wonderful visitors and got some more time with my amazing nurses.

IMG_6892

We all used to teach together but still manage to keep in touch. Love you girls!

IMG_6894

The infamous Fitzgerald’s. They brought cookies for the nurses to buy because they had all seen him on the news.

IMG_6897

Meet Emmy. She is my best friend Lindsey’s precious girl…and she will be my daughter in law years from now. You hear that Hud? Not any time soon.

IMG_6911

My precious grandparents.

IMG_6914

School friends and baby Carter.

IMG_6916

Mimi…she is well known by most of my friends and neighbors. She has quite the fan club.

IMG_6930

Dad & Mom

IMG_6938

Beautiful Claire. A sweet friend from high school…so thankful we recently reconnected!

IMG_6951

Jaclyn…we share love for Monica Potter. 🙂

IMG_6970

My neighbors…you’ve heard about them.

IMG_6989

My cousin Carrie. Chelsea came but we forgot a picture. So thankful to have been able to grow up with these girls.

IMG_7019

My wonderful mother in law who has saved us time and time again with the babies during this whole crazy journey. We are so thankful for you.

I had 3 other special visitors, but I’m working on a separate post for them. I started writing it in this post and then it got really, really long…so in order to keep my readers happy, I cut it into two different posts. (Danny said I may lose some readers if I make it too long.)

Side note: While I was in for Round 5, first grade had their PTA musical performance. All along I had been so excited to go, but it just so happened that it fell during one of my treatments…so this girl didn’t get to see it in person. But check this out.

IMG_6961

Not only can he bake the heck outta some cookies, he can also play the part of a nut quite well. Oh golly, I’m nuts about him! (See what I did there?)

And, most importantly, my babies were loved on all week…and neither of them got sick! (Knock on wood! This is a record!) They sure are cute. Hudson has been becoming obsessed with his sister lately. He LOVES her. He watches her all the time. Wants to be right next to her every second. And she can make him laugh like no one else.

IMG_3730

This guy bumped his head and got his first goose egg. This was the next day…and he wasn’t too concerned about it.

Danny’s birthday was the Friday I got out. He was able to spend most of the day up here with me…lucky him. 🙂 One of my favorite nurses caught wind that it was his birthday and had a cake delivered to our room. Seriously…who does that?! It was so thoughtful and such a kind gesture. Katy, you are one of a kind, my friend. Your kindness does not go unnoticed.

Danny had quite the birthday celebration weekend. The guys in our neighborhood took him out Friday night. Saturday we went to a shower for some dear friends who are expecting their first baby at the end of this month. Sunday morning, over 20 neighbors and their kids joined us for brunch to celebrate Danny. And finally, Sunday afternoon, we celebrated his birthday at his mom and stepdad’s house with his brother, his wife, and our two nephews. It was a wonderful weekend celebrating an incredibly positive, genuine man who we love so much.

IMG_6944

IMG_6946

A birthday card from his little girl.

IMG_6947

IMG_6985

Danny’s mom brought bundt cakes to the hospital…she knows that guy loves cake.

IMG_6986

The cake from nurse Katy.

IMG_7001

A night out with the guys.

IMG_7027

A shower for sweet baby Charlotte! We’re ready to meet you sweet girl!

IMG_7024

On the way to brunch.

IMG_7031

Celebrating Daddy’s birthday at Nana’s means cousin time. Hudson loves watching G pretend to sneeze.

IMG_7034

This boy is going to be trouble some day…

IMG_7036

Pin the tail on the donkey…and a baby who lost his clothes.

IMG_7037

Harper was proud of her tail placement…I might have giggled.

IMG_7038

This girl loved breaking confetti eggs on her daddy’s head.

IMG_7041

Such a handsome guy.

IMG_7043

This chunk tried cake for the first time and he.was.in.heaven.

IMG_7040

I thought Hud would have fun riding on my shoulders…and instead, he bit my head. And it hurt like you wouldn’t believe. But he just smiled.

Here are some pictures from after Round 5.

IMG_6971

Love is all you need.

IMG_7006

This guy likes playing hide-and-seek in the closet…

IMG_7008

…isn’t he so stinkin’ cute?!

IMG_7011

Sweet Claire bought some of Kiptin’s Kookies. Ah! I could just squeeze them!

B08D687C-59A6-4D0D-8595-466877B38F45

Claire’s sisters soccer team enjoying some of Kiptin’s Kookies after their game.

IMG_7048

This girl. She’s going through a rough time with socks. She hates the bumps on them. So she pulls them up to where they stick out the top of her shoes. My only thought…pick your battles.

IMG_7053

My sweet Goose at her first Spring soccer game. She has completely turned the corner from last season. Loved getting to watch her.

IMG_7058

These precious girls made bracelets and sold them to raise money for me. See y’all, kids can make a difference!

IMG_7059

Sweet Isabella is in my class this year. I miss getting to see her precious smile every day.

IMG_7066

My sweet Austyn from last year. She saw me in the office and ran in for a hug. Love this girl.

IMG_7069

And of course, the Fitzgerald boys. I may changed their last name to Moore soon.

IMG_7094

Love time with this lady. Best mom in the world.

IMG_7095

This guy. (Insert Heart Eye emoji face.)

IMG_7096

This dear friend knew I was having dinner at a place near his apartment. We haven’t seen each other in forever. He came all the way to where we were having dinner, just to say hi and get a hug. Dillon, it was good for my heart to see you, friend!

Some recent #TeamAshley pictures…

Chicago

My sweet friends Sabrina and Haley went to Chicago over spring break and even wore their #TeamAshley shirts…representing all the way in Chicago.

One more thing. My school…I have talked a lot about my school and how incredible it has been during this whole ordeal (and before that, but that’s beside the point).

This past week, they held a raffle for 4 FC Dallas season pass tickets and parking. The tickets were donated by FC Dallas with the intention of being raffled off, and the proceeds would go to our family. What a blessing. People we don’t even know making crazy donations to help our family. Y’all, my school didn’t disappoint. The raffle was from Tuesday-Friday and tickets were $1. Not $5 to $10…$1. And you know how much money they raised? Over $1,000. Incredible. Just when I think we couldn’t possibly be blessed anymore by my school, things like this happen.

 

Angels on Earth

Y’all. There really are angels on Earth. Angels sent from Heaven, doing God’s work on Earth. If you don’t believe me and would like to see for yourself, they work on the 4th floor at the Medical Center of Plano (now Medical City Plano).

As I’ve mentioned multiple times before, when my oncologist mentioned that I would need to receive treatment at the Medical Center of Plano, I was crushed. I was hopeful that I would be able to be at Texas Health Plano, where I had both of my babies and had my biopsy and port put in before treatment. I had received such incredible care, I was afraid to go anywhere else. I was sure the care anywhere else wouldn’t come close to matching the care at THP.

Boy, was I wrong. Not only was I wrong…I couldn’t have been more wrong.

From the second I was admitted for the first round in the hospital (second round over all, but first round of the new regimen), it was obvious that the nurses were remarkable. Genuine. Passionate.

I will say, my situation was different than most. Most people have their stay in the hospital, leave when they’re done, and then it’s over. For me, I knew I would be coming back every three weeks…so if I didn’t like my nurses, I was in trouble.

Every day and night, I couldn’t wait to see who my nurse would be. I loved when my current nurse would come in as her shift was ending and would bring in my next nurse. It was like Christmas seeing who would come through the door. The anticipation brought me a lot of joy during that time. And even if I hadn’t had a particular nurse before, I knew I was in good hands…because every one of them was amazing. Absolutely amazing.

I will say, some stood out from the rest. I’ve learned that in life, you meet people who will forever change your life. People who make you a better person for knowing them. People who make an impact so great on your life that you genuinely look forward to spending time with them. People who you just instantly connect with on a deeper level…and you know you’ll be friends for a lifetime.

Let me introduce you to some of those people.

img_6995

Meet Joy…she wears her name well. She is a mother of two sweet girls…and she’s an incredible nurse. I didn’t get to have her often, but when I did, she was amazing. For the short time she was my nurse, I was blessed by her sweet spirit.

img_6993

Meet Terene. Oh, Terene! This girl is a hoot! She is one of the techs. This girl lights up a room the moment she walks in a room. I felt like she was my biggest cheerleader throughout each round. We had some wonderful conversations with just the two of us. I always looked forward to her hugs on my way out each Friday. This woman is filled with Jesus and it shows. Big things are coming for this mama!

img_6991

Meet Sarah. I was blessed to have Sarah as my nurse only one day this past round. I’m so sad I didn’t get to have her more than that, because man, she was incredible. It took her one day of being my nurse to get to my heart. She was genuine. She’s a doll. A mom and two and an outstanding nurse.

img_6912

Meet Danette. This lady is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. She was a tech that I was blessed to have several days each round I was there. I always looked forward to her company. She tells it like it is and I love that.

img_6906

Meet Lauren. This girl is a riot. We laughed…a lot. She’s from McKinney and happens to live in our old neighborhood. She’s a mom of three from Missouri. She brilliant but doesn’t like to share that. It was always a party when she was my nurse…and I like parties, especially when she’s in attendance.

img_6880

Meet Teri. Teri was the first nurse I had at the hospital. She set the bar high…really high. I was fortunate to have her almost every round. She is so very good at what she does.She’s quiet, but she loves her patients. She hates having her picture taken…but I got her to take a few.

img_6869

Meet Michele (with one ‘l’). This girl and I clicked immediately. She’s a lot of things…thorough, real, and honest…just to name a few. She never skipped a step when it came to taking care of me. She always made sure I knew what she was doing, what medicine I was taking, and why I was taking it. I loved having her at night, although it meant that I didn’t get to see her as often since I was off trying to catch some Zzzs.

img_6863

Meet Amanda. This girl is a doll! Kind of like a Barbie doll. She is the cutest thing and has the best little Oklahoma accent. She is so good at what she does. She’s an incredible nurse, but an even better mom. I didn’t get to have her very often, but even when I didn’t, she would come by and say hi and give me a quick hug when she was on shift. She has no idea how much those hugs meant to me.

img_6692

Meet Jan. I only had her once and it was when I received the blood transfusion. Oh.my.word, she is precious! She actually spilled water on my sheets and she felt horrible. I wasn’t sure she was going to recover from it…such a sweet lady. She took such good care of me while I was there…my fingers are crossed for another transfusion, and I’m hoping I’ll get her again too. 🙂

img_6431

Meet Amy. Amy was one of my night nurses. She is a gem! She’s a rule follower and is always so thorough…and she’s not afraid to remind me to wash my hands (don’t worry, I do). I knew that each time she was my nurse, I was getting the best care.

img_6026

Meet Katy. Oh, sweet Katy. There’s a good chance that girl is my soul sister. She is one of a kind. She genuinely cared, and it was obvious. She was the nurse who discharged me several times…so I blame her for all of the tears. 🙂 I always looked forward to seeing her. Each and every time. This lady is a mom, a nurse, and about to be a nurse practitioner. This lady is driven. She is going to do incredible things and touch many lives.

When the time came for me to be discharged, most people would have thrown a party and celebrated…but me? I cried. Every.dang.time. I cried because I cherished my time with my nurses (and techs). I cried because I knew it would be so long 2 weeks before I would get to see them again. Maybe I was just an emotional wreck each time…but either way, my tears showed what an impact they had on me. You know you’re in good hands at the hospital when you dread leaving. Don’t get me wrong, I love knowing that I was going to get to see and hug on my babies…but I knew how much I would miss the companionship I had with the nurses. I had some of the most genuine conversations with each and every one of them during my stays at the hospital. They seemed to be truly interested in me and who I was. Maybe they feel that with all of their patients. Who knows.

So what do you get for people who have impacted your life in such a positive way? Money isn’t exactly in abundance right now, so it wasn’t like I could go out and buy fancy gift cards for 11 nurses/techs. Don’t get me wrong…they deserve that. They each deserve an incredible gift…but it just wasn’t possible financially right now. So, I went the creative route instead. I bought YETI-like cups and personalized them. I’m hoping it was meaningful for them…and I hope they think of me every time they use it.

img_6837-2

img_6889

img_6824

IMG_7018.jpg

Thank you, Jessica Spence, for making these precious Cake Pops for my nurses…they were a big hit. You are so incredibly talented!

img_7016

I truly believe that each of these ladies was put in my life for a reason. Each and every patient that these ladies work with is truly blessed…I hope they realize that. I will never be able to thank them or put into words how grateful I am for their love, support, and care.

The nurses on the 4th floor are Medical City Plano are angels. I don’t suppose this is common…finding a nursing department where every single nurse/tech is absolutely remarkable. I just pray that some day I will be able to pass on the love and care they showed me.

If you’re ever lucky enough to meet any of these ladies…consider yourself blessed. Not everyone gets to meet angels on Earth.

Dear Cancer…Thank You.

Dear Cancer,

I hate you. My mom always told me that hate was a strong word…and I get that. So when I say I hate you, I mean it. I really hate you.

I hate you for making me picture what the future might look like, without me. Harper and Hudson without a mom, and Danny, without a wife. My babies need their mom and I’m not ready to give up. So, unfortunately for you, I’m still kickin’. You can knock me down, but I’ll keep getting right back up…watch me.

I hate you for making me spend so many days in bed, hurting, because I’m desparaetly trying to get rid of you. I’m a big fan of a nap, but I’ve never wanted to get out of bed so badly. I’ve got things to do and lives to change. I don’t have time for you.

I hate you for adding anxiety and stress financially. We work hard for our money…and now, it’s all being spent on you. First you took away my paycheck, but the bills, they keep on coming. All because of you. You’re pretty selfish. Inconsiderate. Evil.

I hate you for making the future so unclear. If you know me, you know that I’m a planner. I like to know how things are going to go. Well, silly me. I thought I knew what my plans were and what I wanted to do…now, things have never been so up in the air. And I hate it.

I hate you for keeping me away from my kids, not allowing me to be the parent I want to be…and I used to be. I hate you for taking my energy and strength, keeping me from playing with and loving my babies…for making my legs so weak that I can’t carry my baby up to his room…for insisting that I have to sit on the floor to play with my kids, and not run around and play hide and seek.

I hate you for making my 4 year old grow up so much faster than a child should. For forcing her to learn about cancer, and to try to understand why mommy doesn’t have hair right now. For forcing her to understand that mommy doesn’t have the energy to play like she used to. For forcing her to realize that mommy isn’t like other mommies, for now.

I hate you for forcing me to wonder and worry about what I’ll do about a job next year. Not because I won’t have a job teaching at Scott, but because health-wise, it’s probably not the best/safest decision. I hate you for pulling me away from my passion, what I was called to do. I hate you for taking me out of my classroom this year. I wasn’t ready to leave those 19 precious babies. I wasn’t done teaching them.

I hate you for making my parents and family worry. No parent should ever have to see their child sick. But hey, thanks for not making your appearance when I was a child…at least you waited until I was an adult. So considerate.

I hate you for forcing my husband to push his limits. For forcing him to live like a single parent. He’s the most positive, encouraging person I’ve ever met…and you can’t change that. I hate you for making him be positive enough for the both of us. Fortunately, he’s up to the challenge. Clearly, you’ve never met him.

I hate you for making me learn so much medical jargon. For forcing me to learn about the side effects of different chemo regimens…some of which I can’t even pronounce. I hate you for filling my counter with medicine…I hate you even more for making all of that medicine necessary. You sure do come with a lot of baggage.

I hate you for making me lose weight. For years, I have wanted to lose weight…but I haven’t quite tried hard enough to make it happen. And now, without trying, it’s falling off. People say, “Oh I’d love to lose that kind of weight!” No, you wouldn’t. Not like this. It’s not as satisfying when you’re not working for it.

I hate you for taking away my handwriting…handwriting that I loved and was proud of. Drawing, doodling, and writing was a sort of stress relief for me for so long. And now, it brings stress due to the neuropathy in my fingers. Holding a pen has never felt so uncomfortable, so unnatural. I hate you for taking that away from me.

But you know what? I’m not completely filled with hate. I have some love and gratitude in me too.

…thank you for my work family. I knew I had it made at Scott…but really, I had no idea just how blessed I was. Since they found out about my diagnosis, their support has been unwavering. The amount of joy that place [and the people inside] brings me is indescribable. No matter how crummy I feel, if I can pull myself together and go hide out in the office at school, I know I’ll leave floating on Cloud 9. My heart is filled with joy every time I visit that place. That’s how you know you’re blessed. The thought of not returning to Scott next year makes me feel like my heart is physically breaking…but for now, I’ll pray for direction and a plan…and I’ll continue to be thankful for my co-workers. Thank you, cancer, for reminding me how important a work family is.

…thank you for Monica Potter [and Parenthood]. For showing me that people who have made it big will still take the time to send a word of encouragement…to a complete stranger. There has never been a movie/series character that I have ever felt more connected to. Like I mentioned here, she did such an incredible job portraying  the role of a sick mama. I would absolutely love for the chance to meet Monica Potter and to thank her. To thank her for giving me hope and showing me that it is possible to be a mama and be sick at the same time…and to come out stronger on the other end. Thank you, cancer, for allowing me to connect with Kristina Braverman on a level I never imagined I would be able to.

…thank you for showing me the value of my husband. I knew he was irreplaceable…but man, this was a good reminder. There are often days where I just watch him in admiration.  The way he takes everything in stride. He always puts us first and will do anything in his power to make us happy. The way he leads our family is unlike any other. I pray that some day Hudson will take after his daddy and will make his family proud…just the way Danny does. Daniel Paul Moore, you are one of a kind. One in a million. I will forever be grateful for you. Thank you, cancer, for reminding me of the value of my husband.

…thank you for those awkward moments out in public. When the 3 year old little girl yells, “Mommy! That lady doesn’t have any hair!” or when the elementary-aged little boy shouts, “Ah! Mommy! She’s scary! What happened to her?” Thank you for those teachable moments. For allowing that mom to use that incredibly uncomfortable moment to teach their littles that life isn’t always fair. Thank you, cancer, for allowing parents to use me as an example in those awkward, uncomfortable situations.

…thank you for strangers. For giving them the courage to reach out with words of encouragement. They have no idea how their words keep me going…and remind me that people are watching. People I don’t know are watching me fight. I hope they’re proud…and maybe even inspired. Thank you, cancer, for reminding me that people are watching.

…thank you for our friends [old and new], neighbors, and family. We have the best of the best. I know that seems cliche, but dang it, it’s true. From ongoing meals, text messages, phone calls, etc., the support is endless…and we will never be able to express our gratitude to each and every one of them. We have been blessed with the most incredible families. Knowing we can call our neighbors at any hour and they will be there at the drop of a hat, brings comfort that is hard to come by. Knowing that we have family that will drop everything and love on our babies at any second brings a peace of mind that is indescribable. Knowing that our friends are there for anything and everything, fills us with undeniable gratitude that will never be forgotten…or taken advantage of. Thank you, cancer, for filling our lives with the most incredible, irreplaceable people.

…thank you for social media. Weird, I know. It seems like today, all social media does is stir up trouble. But, man…social media has allowed us to share our story in a way that never would have been possible before. It has been shared by news stations across the United States, all because of social media. In all the negative media today, our story is still being shared…and we will forever be grateful for that.  And thank you for Facebook–what?! Although it’s filled with political ads and crazy, unbelievable stories…it has also allowed me to reconnect with people from the past. People that I probably never would have talked to again, had I not gotten sick. Thank you, cancer, for allowing us to use social media as a positive outlet to share our message.

…thank you for Adriamycin. Yep, I said it. Thank you for the drug that caused me to lose my hair. (I know you think I’ve lost it..but for now, I’m completely with it.) Ever since I was a child, I would tell my mom that I could never “get cancer” (as if it were a choice) because I couldn’t handle losing my hair. Little did I know…God had a lot in store for me and my bald head. I could never have imagined the feeling of exhilaration I would get as my head was being shaved for the first time. Was I terrified? Absolutely. Shaking, nervous, but also at peace. I never imagined that rocking a bald head would be one of the easier “steps” of having cancer. I still get alarmed seeing myself in the mirror, but in a way, it makes me proud. Proud for people to see that cancer can’t take it all away. It took away my hair, but it can’t take away my will to fight. I pray every day that when people see me and they assume I have cancer, they also see something else…they see my smile. And I pray that it brings them hope. Hope that even when things are bad, smiling can make all the difference. A smile can make a bald head look real good…trust me. Thank you, cancer, for proving to me that bald can be is beautiful.

…thank you for LipSense. You took away my hair, then my eyelashes, and now you’re working on my eyebrows. You really are a greedy son-of-a-gun. But you also brought me something that manages to still make me feel pretty. In my current situation, that kind of confidence is irreplaceable. I pray that my business will continue to grow and it will turn into a financial blessing that I never saw coming. Thank you, cancer, for helping me find the beauty in such a dark situation. 

…thank you for my students…each and every one of them. The support from my school parents has always been remarkable, but it doesn’t even compare to the support I’ve received from them since I’ve been sick. Calls, texts, emails, cards, and gifts for no particular reason…they sure know how to make a teacher feel special. Judging by their support, they must know how much I love their kiddos. There’s something special about a relationship between a parent/teacher/student. The joy that I feel when I hug them cannot be described. It’s like a medicine…one that doesn’t have to be covered by insurance. And it’s something that cancer cannot take away. Thank you cancer, for helping me show my kiddos what it looks like to spread kindness, even in the face of tragedy. 

…thank you for Jonothan Stillwell. He walked into my classroom 8 years ago and I had no idea what an impact he would have on me. I knew he was special from the moment I met him, but I never imagined I would love him the way I do. I have searched for Jonothan for years. I’ve tried getting in touch with both he and his mom, but could never make it happen. It just so happens that he was watching the news that Thursday morning when our story aired. He was brought to tears. A 6’1, (almost) 17 year old boy was brought to tears watching his 4th grade teacher who had been diagnosed with cancer. A teacher he hadn’t seen in almost 8 years. Apparently I impacted him as much as he did me. It was you that brought us back together. Hey, if it weren’t for you, I may have never been able to hug that sweet, skinny boy again.  Thank you, cancer, for reconnecting me with “my” Jonothan Stillwell.

…thank you for Ellen. I’m not giving up on this yet. So many blessings have come from such a horrible experience…I’m not done hoping and praying that we get to meet her. Each and every day she spreads kindness and blesses people in a way that I hope I’ll be able to some day. I can’t imagine the joy it brings her to be able to bless people the way she does. And doggone-it, I need to meet this lady. Her smile is infectious. Her heart is infectious. And you know what? I know a 6 year old little boy who has a lot in common with her. I am hopeful that at some point, we will be able to share Kiptin’s story and spread kindness like wildfire. Thank you, cancer, for inspiring me, like Ellen, to spread kindness.

…thank you for the possibility of being able to consider dreams that I’d never be able to pursue otherwise. Thank you for pushing me to consider my dreams and encouraging me to find a way to make it work. [More details to come, along with prayer requests because a lot has to happen for this dream to become reality.] Thank you, cancer, for forcing me to consider following my dreams.

…thank you for the Medical Center of Plano. I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in that hospital, and man was I wrong. There is no other hospital I’d rather be at. The nurses on the 4th floor…they are angels. Real-life angels. I never imagined that on the days that I would be released from the hospital and able to go home and see my babies, I would cry because the thought of leaving the nurses broke my heart. Call me crazy, pathetic, whatever you wish…you haven’t met these ladies yet. I sure would have missed out not having these ladies in my life. They may be done with me, but I can assure you…I am not done with them. There really are angels on earth, y’all. Just go to the 4th floor to meet them. Thank you, cancer, for introducing me to some of the most incredible women I’ve ever met.

…thank you for cookies. Thank you for inspiring a 6 year old to go out and change the world. Had you never come in and tried to wreck my life, sweet Kiptin never would have had the idea to start his business–Kiptin’s Kookies for Moore’s Miracle (he must know I’m a sucker for alliteration). Thank you for using a 6 year old to remind people that there is still good in the world…and that a tiny little human can make an enormous impact if he’s given the chance. Thank you for inspiring more people to be more like Kiptin and to make a difference in the lives of others. Thank you, cancer, for proving that a 6 year old can change the world. 

…thank you for making me a fighter. Before you, I never knew what I was made of. I considered myself fragile. Too emotional. Way too high strung and anxious. But now, I’m pretty sure I could conquer the world…or at least go out putting up one heck of a fight. Cancer, you will not define me…nor will you win. You have ruined too many lives and broken apart too many families. Not mine. Nope. You are not welcome here. Thank you, cancer, for showing me what I’m made of.

Cancer…maybe you’re not so bad after all. In fact, you just may be one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I’ve been terrified to say that because well, it just sounds crazy. But you know what? It’s true. Looking back at all the blessings that have come since my diagnosis…cancer is, in fact, one of the best things that has ever happened to me…and I have been pretty darn blessed.

Boring…but good.

https://www.gofundme.com/7z-support-the-moore-family

My amazing school family created a GoFundMe account for our family when I received my diagnosis in November. I am so incredibly touched by their generosity, and I love that this has started a snowball of other good deeds. For me and for others. Kindness matters!


First and foremost…our story has been shared SO many times since we were on Good Day. And yes, cookies have continued to be sold. That precious boy isn’t ever going to be able to leave the kitchen…but it has made his heart so happy.

I am so thankful that our story is continuing to be shared. I pray that someone will be blessed by it and the kindness will continue to be spread. It is going to be aired tomorrow morning, at 5:15 central time on ABC 7 in New York. Now we just need to make it to the west coast. 🙂 I’ll post the link as soon as it’s available.

Well. We’re two days into Round 5. So far, so good. There’s not much to report…which in this case, is a good thing. It just doesn’t make for a very exciting blog post.

We got checked in at 6:30 like we usually do and got put into my room pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, the chemo got started quite a bit later than it usually does. We’re not sure where the mix-up happened, but the pharmacy didn’t have the Rituxan until 4, when normally it starts around 1. That finished in about 3 hours…but the next batch of chemo (the one that runs 24 hours), wasn’t ready until almost 10. So, needless to say, it may be Saturday morning until I get to go home. We shall see.

Dr. Stone did mention yesterday morning that there’s a good chance I will need to do another blood transfusion after this round…probably sooner than later once I’m finished. I will say, that transfusion made me feel LOVELY. No.More.Headaches. It was glorious.

The best part of this round so far, I’ve been able to give my nurses/techs their gifts I made them. I plan on doing a post and sharing what I love about each of them, after I get to give all of them their gifts.

I’ve had a few visitors so far and it sure has been good for my heart. My sweet cookie boy brought up some cookies for the nurses to buy. It was neat because a lot of the nurses recognized him from the segment on TV…he’s a little movie star.

We’ve also set another record this round…it’s almost Wednesday and Hudson isn’t sick! (Knocking on wood as I speak type.) He made it through a full day of daycare and I didn’t get a call saying he was sick…it’s a miracle. Praise the Lord for a healthy baby boy!

Here’s the timeline for the next few weeks.
-Monday, February 27: Go in for the lumbar puncture/methotrexate and have my blood drawn to check my counts. Then bedrest for 24 hours.

-Friday, March 3: PET scan at 8:45. No results to the following week…praying for a fast weekend.

-Tuesday, March 7: We will meet with the Bone Marrow doctor, Dr. Matthews, and discuss the results of the PET scan. At that point, he will determine if we need to continue with a 6th round, or if we can stop at 5. I’m kind of torn with this…wait, what?! I know you think I’m crazy…but hear me out. Part of me wants to have one more round because according to the last PET scan, it’s working. If it’s working, then one more round means it will kill it even more. Plus, I’d get to see all of my nurses again. (Pathetic, I know. But y’all they are amazing. You would want to come see them too.) On the other hand, I’m ready for no more chemo because it makes me feel like a whole lot of bad words. Really bad words.

We’re hoping that on the 7th we will be able to get more details about the bone marrow transplant. We know I’m having one, we just don’t know ANY details about it and I’m not liking that. I want to know more. So hopefully we will get some sort of timeline and plan of action. If we don’t, well…we don’t. But it sure would be nice.

-Friday, March 10: We meet with my oncologist, Dr. Stone, to discuss the PET scan as well as whatever Dr. Matthews decides.

In other news, there is a family that I have been trying to get in touch with for several years. I had the little boy my first year teaching…8 years ago. I taught 4th grade and just loved this little boy to pieces. He was a DOLL. (Sorry Jonathan, I know that’s probably not a compliment to be called a doll now that you’re a Junior in high school…but in 4th grade, you were a doll.) Jonathan Stillwell. That boy left a huge mark on my heart. I stayed in touch with he and his mom the next year, but then he went to middle school so I saw him less but still talked to mom through email every few months. His little brother was in Kinder at my school, so I still got to see them from time to time and boy did I love those times. I will never forget when he was in my class and Danny and I went to his football game. His football team was named “Truth”. And you want to know the truth? The truth is, I knew I would never, ever forget this kid.

He struggled in 4th grade. Not socially. He had friends, played sports, etc. But when it came to self-confidence…he had none. He didn’t believe he had what it took to be successful in school. And as a teacher, to know your 4th grade student feels like that, it’s enough to break your heart. There were many tears that year…both from him and from me (some things never change). I prayed and prayed that year that he would see what I saw in him. I didn’t know if it would happen that year, but I prayed it would eventually.

Anyways…over the years, I’ve tried finding Jonathan and his mom. Through email, Facebook, school websites, etc. Now if you ask my friend Taylor Hotchkiss, I’m a rather good detective. I can normally find some good, juicy information. But with this, I kept coming up empty. And I hated it. I didn’t know if I would ever get back in touch with them.

And then God happened. Our story aired on Good Day on Thursday morning. Thursday night, I got an email. Who was it from? Jonothan freaking Stillwell. My heart almost exploded, and then, I started yelling. Yep, yelling. Danny had just gone to bed…and then I start yelling. I was in shock. And then I started read the email out loud. The subject was “Praying for you”. I’m not going to share what he wrote, but I was in tears by the end of it. (I know, I know, y’all give me a break. I blame the chemo.)

I absolutely could not believe that he was emailing me. I know I said I wouldn’t tell what he wrote, but I have to share just a line from beginning. “You probably don’t remember me, but I remember you completely.” Crazy. This boy is down-right crazy. Little did he know, not only did I remember him…I missed him more then he could ever know. I replied…and cried. Jonathan said he saw me on the news that morning. What a blessing it was that he just so happened to be watching Fox 4 at 7:20. A lot of things had to line up for that to happen…I think it was a God thing. There He is again…always lookin’ out.

So since then, we have emailed back and forth a few times and his mom and I have been texting. And guess what…I get to see that precious, skinny, big smiled boy on Thursday. I absolutely cannot contain my excitement. That skinny little boy is now a Junior in high school…and he’s 6’1, playing basketball. He may be grown now, but I will never forget him in fourth grade. I hope that by now he knows what a difference he made in my life.

Here are some pictures from last week, this past weekend and early this week.

I got to spend some time up at school toward the end of the week. I didn’t leave the office with fear of getting sick, but I got to see so many little bitties through the office windows. And y’all, those sweet babies made me feel like a celebrity. Most of them had seen the Fox 4 segment, so they thought it was a big deal when I was in the office. Oh bless their hearts. Like I say every time, being there is good for my soul.

img_6756

It’s blurry, but I got to FaceTime with my precious class because they earned a reward. 🙂 Oh, how I miss these babies!


img_6757

It’s always to pleasure to run into my very own Beyonce. 


img_6759

3/6 of my team…all three are pregnant. Lucky babies!


img_6760

Lauren Pryzbyl, you are amazing! Thank you for continuing to share our story.


img_6761

My sweet Nolan.


img_6763

Pray for this sweet mama. She is an angel and she needs prayers.


img_6766-2

The day after our segment aired, this was out front of our school. Melted my heart!


img_6767

Lauren Pryzbyl, again. I love this lady!


img_6768

Miss Sadie Belle!


img_6772

Girls Night Out…minus most of the girls. 🙂


img_6781

Grandma and her two great grandsons.


img_6785

Coy says, “I will poke your ear.”


img_6795

Love this!


img_6801

My sweet Goose with her Cancer Doll…thank you, Abbie Rich, for thinking of her and helping her cope during this time. She loves that mommy and her doll have matching hair heads.


img_6810

We went to go watch this guy play soccer. I didn’t believe that he did anything other than make cookies. 🙂 


img_6811

This boy, again.


img_6812

Danny’s Mimi looking beautiful in her new LipSense. 


img_6826

Celebrating my sister turning the big 2-3.


img_6818

Me and this girl went to get our nails and toes done on Sunday since I was going back into the hospital on Monday. They always love her there. She is pretty cute…I’ll keep her. 


df260886-5fda-446e-8039-7b62f9c906e3

My sweet Claire. I had her in second grade, several years ago…and she will never know how much I love her! I got to have lunch with her sweet sisters and mom on Sunday.

 

img_6830

On the way to the hospital…Round 5, here we come!


img_6838

Dropping me off at the hospital…don’t worry, I told him it was okay to leave me there. 


img_6897

Hudson’s future wife, Emmy, let me love on her today!


img_6894

The Famous Fitzgerald’s 


img_6892

My sweet Friends – Kara, Sara, and Lindsey


img_6884

I was given this beautiful prayer quilt by our old art teacher, Aimee Henshaw and her mom. It has been keeping me warm in the hospital. 🙂 

img_6883

 

img_6888

My sweet neighbor, Lisa. She’s about to be a mama!


img_6857

The Mendez girls! Loved seeing them. 


img_6858

Precious Meredith, she’s one of my students this year.


img_6859

Aunt T, Uncle T, Preston and Greyson–Love!


img_6865

My sweet Goose–she refused to smile until I announced to everyone that “Daddy pooped in his pants.” Oh to be 4 again…


img_6866

So blessed by this guy…


img_6867

FaceTiming with mommy before bed.


img_6871

2 of my favorite McCrackens. If you don’t know them, you’re missing out. You should meet them!

And my babies, for good measure…


img_6905

For the record, I made his image myself…I’m just here dreaming. 😊

And for the latest #TeamAshley pictures…keep them coming!

And in the mean time, just remember…Kindness matters. Spread some kindness anywhere you can. It will make a difference. Be a Kiptin.

Spreading Kindness on Good Day

https://www.gofundme.com/7z-support-the-moore-family

My amazing school family created a GoFundMe account for our family when I received my diagnosis in November. I am so incredibly touched by their generosity, and I love that this has started a snowball of other good deeds. For me and for others. Kindness matters!


Well, well, well. What a morning to remember.

The morning started early. I left the house at 6:15 in order to be at my sister-in-law’s house by 6:30. She graciously drove us. We picked up my mom and grandma on the way and headed downtown to the station. As usual, the tollway traffic was lame. We weren’t getting anywhere quickly. The GPS said we were set to arrive around 7:50…well that’s not good considering we were supposed to be there at 7:30. We had talked to the producer the day before and she had said that we could get there at 7:30 so that the boys (Kiptin and his brothers) could get a tour of the studio and see where everything was, how it works, etc., in hopes that Kiptin we would feel more comfortable before we were actually on camera.

Oh and get this. The producer mentioned that there would be a make-up artist. Excuse me, what? This is getting fancy. She said to come with light make up on and then the make-up artist would do their thing and get it “HD ready”. Well okay then.

So we’re stuck in traffic…Danny called and was giving me a hard time for not leaving earlier…and well, at this point, there was nothing we could do but hope that we weren’t late. When I was getting ready earlier that morning, I went ahead and did my normal make-up because I was too nervous the thing with the make-up artist would fall through and then I’d be on TV looking like an albino ghost. (Stop and picture that for a second.) So yah, I did my make-up.

By the grace of God, at about 7:25, traffic cleared up and we made it within the next ten minutes. We pulled up at the same time as the Fitzgerald’s. Phew. Those boys (all 4 of them) got out of the car and oh.my.word. were they precious! Their hair was done and they just looked so darn cute. Kiptin, who always wears athletic shorts and t-shirts was in khaki pants, a button up shirt, and bright red converse. This boy. I’m telling you. My heart gets a little closer to exploding every time I see him…and now his hair was even gelled.

Once we walked it, each person had to sign in individually…it kind of felt like we were signing into a prison. We had to be quiet, turn off our phones, wear a badge, and write the time we signed in. Yikes.

The security guard walked us back and showed us around. We got to see different accolades  the station had received, pictures of different anchors (past and present), and a lot of different history about the station. Then he walked us around where we saw some of the offices and desks of some behind the scenes people…and then, I realized that this is where I’m supposed to be working. Y’all. The vending machine was heavenly. It had Hot Tamales, Haribo Gummy Bears, Sour Patch Watermelons…the list goes on. It was like my dream. I think it was fate. (Fox 4–do y’all have any openings? I’m a hard worker and I’m fun to be around…I’m organized too, that’s a plus.)

Lauren Pryzbyl posted this early in the morning…

img_6750

We got to watch Chip Waggoner do the traffic report. Man. I just don’t get the green screen. I would be a hot mess standing in front of a blank screen moving my hands around like pointing to “hot spots” and accidents. He said that after our segment, I could come back and practice…lucky for him, I got distracted and forgot. Chip, I’ll be back…and I’m going to learn how to master the green screen.

Then they took us to the part of the set where Lauren Pryzbyl (more about her in a minute) and Tim were live. Several thoughts here:

  1. Yes, Lauren Pryzbyl is just as gorgeous in person as she looks on TV. But you know what? Not only is she beautiful, she is genuine. She is down to earth and so incredibly personable. And, she teared up when she started talking to us when she was quoting a line from my blog…a crier…a girl after my own heart. I had no idea what to expect before meeting her…but man, even if I had had high expectations, she would have exceeded them without a doubt. She had a way of making each of us feel comfortable…which was nice considering I was feeling pretty confident I might wet my pants before we walked in.
  2. Tim Ryan is just as funny in person as he is on TV. He is real. He is honest. I love it. We didn’t get interact with him much, but when we did, he was fantastic. He and Lauren are fantastic together.
  3. Every single person we met while we were there, especially the people who helped us get situation, mic’d up, etc., was incredible (I know I’ve used that word a lot…I need to pull out the thesaurus.). They were all so personable and so welcoming. They may us feel like they were genuinely glad we were there. More than anything, they made Kiptin feel like he was a little hero…and he is. I’m pretty sure he felt like he was on top of the world walking through that place.

Okay, now that those thoughts are out of the way, let me continue. Once we got back to where Good Day was being filmed, a very nice man got us all situated in out chairs, got us mic’d up, and told us the order of how things would go. HOLD UP.

Colleen and I looked at each other and said, “Wait, where’s the make-up?!” It was a good thing we did our own make-up otherwise we would have been in trouble. I’m not sure what happened…but we totally skipped over the whole make-up artist thing and went straight to preparing for the segment. Let me just say this–Thank you, God, for looking’ out and speaking to me this morning and telling me to go ahead and do my make-up. We would have had a serious problem if I rolled out of bed in hopes of meeting with the make-up artist. Phew. Look at my God, He’s always lookin’ out.

Time seemed to be passing quickly as we were getting ready. We were able to watch Lauren and Tim do several news stories, go to commercial, etc. And before we knew it, they were counting down from 5…and we were live. Holy smokes. This whole time we were worried about if Kiptin was going to actually talk on camera…when I’m not sure I could have told you my name and date of birth when the cameras started.

Like I said, Lauren was amazing. She made us so comfortable and it felt like we were just having a normal conversation…until I had to talk. I’m cool with talking in front of people…but like I said…when I talk about the love I have for that little boy, I.just.can’t.do.it. I was going strong…and then the tears came. Fortunately, they had put a picture on the screen at the time, so you couldn’t see me crying…but you could for sure hear it in my voice. I’ll take it. No ugly crying on TV. Not for this girl.

Let me just say, my favorite moment from the whole entire day was when Lauren asked Kiptin a question and he looked at his mom and whispered, “Can I say it now?” Ah! I just wanted to go squeeze him. He’s the cutest. He did SO good. We were all shocked and so thankful that he was open and responded so well to Lauren.

Several minutes went by and it was done. Phew. Not too traumatic. I wish I could have gotten through it without any tears…but that would have been way too uncharacteristic for me.

During the segment, Kiptin and Colleen mentioned that they are still open for taking orders…and immediately, the orders started coming pouring in. All.Day.Long.

Here are some pictures from the day. Once we were done at the station, we granted Kiptin his “wish” of having lunch together. (I mean, really? He.is.perfect.) He requested McDonalds, but we vetoed and went to Breadwinners because…well, it’s Breadwinners and it’s a-ma-zing.

A lot of classes watched the segment live on projectors in the classroom…how awesome is that? Some classes throughout the district watched, too. My cousins, who are both teachers, watched with their classes. Friends of mine who are teachers, watched it with their kiddos. Kiddos of all ages got to see how a 6 year old is on his way to change the world. How incredible.

After breakfast, I headed up to school for the rest of the afternoon. I’ve said it before…that place is good for my soul. I was able to hug so many people that I love. I got to see/hug some of my old kiddos and man, it was good for my heart.

I hate attention. I don’t like attention being called to myself. I’m okay if no one sees me. Well heck. Today, I felt like a celebrity. It was super uncomfortable, but so neat at the same time. I sat in the front office all day, so when kids walked by, they could see me in the windows…and oh my! You would have a someone famous (say…Ellen or Monica Potter) was in there. 😉 The kids jumped up and down, waved their arms and yelled my name. It was the sweetest thing. For a moment, I forgot I was bald. They looked at me like it was the old me…the me they were used to.

 

 

And then, Lauren tweeted this. I told you, she’s amazing.

IMG_6744.PNG

Here’s the link if you weren’t able to watch it. Good Day Cookie Segment

If you take anything from it, take this: Spread kindness. Do something kind for someone else. A little kindness goes a long way…and Lord knows we need all the kindness we can get in the world today. Be a Kiptin. Be a Kiptin in a world of Negative Nancys (no offense if your name is Nancy). If a 6 year old can shine such a bright light…can’t we all?

Thank you, Fox 4 Good Day, from the bottom of my heart for having us on to share our story. My hope is that someone will be blessed by this story and will be inspired to spread kindness…and that kindness will spread like wildfire. A fire that won’t be able to be put out.

And finally, my favorite picture of the day.

img_6713

I feel like this picture is a perfect representation of our day. One little person, who had an idea. An idea that would touch his teacher’s heart in a way she’ll never be able to fully express.

And then there’s a teacher…a teacher who loved this little boy and believed in him from the moment she met him. A teacher who did everything in her power to get him to believe that HE was enough. And that he had what it takes to change the world with even just a little bit of kindness…and that, that was all before she was even diagnosed with cancer.

Imagine where these two will go now. Spread kindness.

Kiptin Ryan Fitzgerald…you, my sweet boy, are a gem.