Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gideon Blood Drives

East-side Michigan family and friends, there are still spots available to donate on May 6! Please click here to schedule your appointment! There's room for more in this miracle.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Life and making the MOST of it...

I can say this now with all absolute certainty: This life on earth is fleeting. This life constantly has reminders of how we are so very mortal and anything can happen at any moment. It can be scary to realize how we are not in control. I have found that it is actually more freeing than anything else once I wrap my soul around that truth. I'm. Not. In. Control. Phew.

Handing it over.

THANK YOU to all of you who emailed about my "funk" last Monday. Thank you for the love you sent my way. I had my own health scare on that day, and was referred for further testing to "Bronson Center for Women." My appointment at the hospital was set for Friday, and while I told myself to wait to worry, to pray and to trust, it was one looooooong week of what-ifs popping in my head. For the handful of you who were in on the situation, THANK YOU for the prayers. They were heard and I am cancer-free. Thank you, God. Now I can jump more fervently into the battle at hand: Gideon's shark slaying endeavors (side-note: Today Gideon wanted me to read about the planets. We got to the page about constellations and he asked about the astronomical signs. I explained, and then he asked what was his "sign". I told him "Pisces" and as he looked at the picture he nodded and said, "Oh. I am GOOD FISHIES! I GET IT!" I love things like that... Ask my high school BFFs... Remember? "That's SO SYMBOLIC!" : a phrase I overused, I admit).

With this recent event comes the inevitable evaluation of life and how it is going, and what can further be done. This scare made me more zealous towards my passion for blood donations and the fight against childhood cancer. While I am still working on my thank you since the words keep escaping me and I am still in awe of the fact that, get this, HUNDREDS of pints of blood have been donated in Gideon's honor in the last two months, I will give you a little teaser on one of the miracles (groups of people who donate blood, remember?). Please click here to see what I'm talking about. Amazing.

In the same amazing vein is the fact that the fight against CHILDHOOD CANCER is at everyone's door right now. As you know, Ryan Harrell and Dawn Marciniak are running a Marathon in Gideon's honor. The money raised will go directly to CureSearch. I was contacted by CureSearch and the Jeff Gordon Foundation has just made it easier for all of you non-Marathoners to get in on the CURE! Gideon will be the "poster child" for the GROUP "24 for a Cure." On May 21, at 8 a.m. at the Celery Flats in Portage, all who register may WALK FOR A CURE to childhood cancer. I have formed a group called "Team Good Fishies." Simply click here, scroll down to the bottom of the screen that says "Gideon's Good Fishies" and click "JOIN TEAM" under action if you would like to WALK that day. To walk, you will pay an entrance fee of 10 dollars. You may then fundraise however you see fit, but people will be able to donate on your behalf via the website CureSearch links up to you. Even if you pay the ten dollars and are not able to find donations, we would LOVE for you to represent Gideon and a cure by being there. If you would rather donate directly since you aren't able to participate in the walk, you can do so by clicking "DONATE" under our group name. If you want your BUSINESS to start a NEW team under "24 for a Cure", please do so! The more, the better! CHILDREN are also allowed to register and raise money. Again, the more people there, the more awareness, the more money to a find the cure for childhood cancer. Please consider this, all of you beautiful supporters out there! Don't let monetary goals intimidate you, just do your best since every dollar counts and your presence will be a GIFT that day.

Speaking of beautiful supporters, the Long/Crago Racing Teams are well on their way to raising money in Gideon's honor to go towards CURESEARCH. They have been making a lot of money by selling bracelets that say, "Racing for Gideon!" If you would like yours, please let me know. Also, look at Jan Long's racing hood:

Yes, I am feeling something amazing ahead! Please join us all in this fight against Childhood Cancer. Join our team, create your own, anything! We would adore to have all of you: friends, and soon-to-be friends.

Much love and thanks!
Amanda (I've never signed-off before, but this kind of ended up feeling like a letter)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Through it all

I am still working on my humongous THANK YOU to all of those who sponsored a blood drive in Gideon's honor and those who donated. I need to have a lot of time to really get the words right and to paint a picture of the TRUE MIRACLE that has occurred again and again last week. I am still baffled. I am still amazed. And the good fishies keep swimming to our Gideon!

And now, a plea to my east-side friends: Missy Wiseheart, a friend from high school, is organizing a blood drive in Gideon's honor, too. The drive will be held on May 6 from 12 noon to 6 at the Red Cross Donor Center at: 31150 Haggerty Road Farmington Hills, MI 48331. Please come to this blood drive to donate some good fishies! Spread the word! Please click here to schedule an appointment. THANK YOU!

Yesterday was a difficult day. I haven't had a hard day like that in awhile. Instead of asking for pity, I will ask for your "WOW" as I was throwing myself a pity party and things turned around in a musical beat. I got in my car and kept praying over and over and over (and half-hearted, if I am being completely honest), "Please get me out of my funk. Please get me out of my funk." And then, on my "CHEMO CD" that is always in my car, Alicia Key's "Through it All" came on. My boys, amazingly, know every word. They started belting in unison. My favorite part was when they sang, "I-eye, I-eye, I-eye, I-eye-haaaaaaaaaaaa! Gonna LOVE ya, gonna hold ya through it all!" My heart instantly melted. I'm thankful that God can even answer half-hearted prayers. Also, I think the angels in heaven sing like our children. I'm convinced of that.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Big Day...

Gideon received his Vincristine at the hospital today, and we are starting another round of steroids this week. I'm sure I'll have stories! He is feeling good, and as you can see below, we are prepared for those cravings:

After the hospital, we visited the Portage Free Methodist blood drive in Gideon's honor. It was beautiful! Fish were everywhere, volunteers were everywhere and I was just blown away by how amazing it all turned out. Thank you (especially Joyce and Gail)! I will upload pictures soon.

Gideon and Brody got to have a close-up look at how this donating process works since I gave blood today and the boys watched. They insisted I hold their hand and Gideon told me to "Be still and just breathe." Spoken like a true pro, right? He was so fascinated by the blood bags at the end of the process since this is the familiar side of the blood he's seen hanging from his IV tree while getting transfusions. Whenever he looks around the room at one of these drives, I say, "All of these people will give their good fishies to someone like YOU, Gideon!" And he smiles, nods, and gets it. Once he said, "And it will make so many people better, too!" As sentimental as it is, I cannot walk into a blood drive without instantly tearing up. I'm taken to that place of absolute awe in a hospital room. I recall wondering desperately who the nameless hero in the bag saving my boy was so many times, and I look around at these drives and see the faces. Faces I can name now, but someone else will only see as a plastic bag of blood, but with that same heart of immense gratitude and wonder.

I have received some emails from other families whose child has cancer, must take pills, and the grinding/mixing/preparing every single night and day is becoming tedious and annoying (being very polite to those pills there... I'd like to be harsher). There is also the worry that some needed particles are still stuck in the grinder, and watching even a few sediments of pill dust into the air around me has made me panic and feel like Gideon wasn't getting his full dosages on many an occasion. Don't worry. I asked the doctors about that in one of my obsessive moments and they say they account for some of that dosage not being swallowed (like what if a chunk is still stuck in the applesauce and in the sink? It's okay. They know it happens.)
One of my favorite emails:
"How in the WORLD did you get Gideon to swallow the pills? How? How? How? If I breathe in anymore chemo pill dust, I will grow another arm. Come to think of it, another arm would be useful for this mom."
So, Here it is! I must share with you other families who feel this panic something a veteran momma warrior (Julie Jenkins) shared with me: Practice pill swallowing! Buy those mini-m&ms, and model for your child how you have the m&m on your tongue, drink some water, and WOOSH! Down the throat it goes! No mashing, no chewing, just GULP! I tried this with Gideon awhile back and he spit it out (the minis aren't as much of a choking hazard). Still another failed attempt is when he pretended to swallow, but quickly began to chew (and who can blame him? By swallowing, the chocolate tastebud explosion is nonexistent). I knew he wasn't ready. We continued to practice until the day he did it! Then we made it a HUGE deal (remember the pill maraca and conga line? Yes...We did it, too) when Gideon swallowed his pill for the first time. I am happy to say, Gideon swallowed SEVEN pills in succession tonight. Try it! Julie Jenkins KNOWS her stuff! Pass on the information to other families, too! We love you, Jenkins family!

Tomorrow is the WMU blood drive from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the WMU Parkview Campus in Room C-126. We hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I love the names for animal groupings...

A "journey" of giraffes, a "crash" of rhinoceroses, a "dazzle" of zebra, a "drift" of warthogs, a "raft" of hippos... It goes on and on and on. I guess I feel like the terminology of each group paints a more detailed description of the animal in a singular sense.

Here's a new one for you: a large group of humans who donate blood is called a "miracle."

I hope you can be a part of this "miracle" by donating blood this week in Gideon's honor.

Thursday, April 7 at Portage Free Methodist Church
Please click here to schedule your appointment.

Friday, April 8 at WMU Parkview Campus Room C-126
Please click here to schedule your appointment.

Gideon will be getting Vincristine chemo this week at the clinic. Depending on how he is feeling, we will try to visit both of the blood drives! THANK YOU for signing up, showing up, and giving life! You are all a part of saving lives, and that is a beautiful group to be a part of. I'd like to see a "miracle" of donors lined up at the doors...

I must add something to this blog. Something EPIC has transpired tonight. Gideon has FINALLY SUCCESSFULLY SWALLOWED HIS CHEMO PILLS WHOLE!!!!!!! For you pediatric cancer families, you know what a monumental thing this truly is. NO MORE GRINDING UP PILLS EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! NO MORE MIXING IN PILL DUST WITH SOMETHING TO MASK THE TASTE! WOOOOOOHOOOOOO! April 3 has now been deemed "PILL SWALLOWING APPRECIATION DAY!" So, when you swallow your nightly meds, shake that pill bottle like a maraca and sashay it around your house in a conga line... It's THAT big of a deal. I promise.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Not so Tangled as it is Unwound.

Yet again, I have completely waited far too long to post. Now there is so much more to say...

I went fish shopping for Gideon's birthday at Petco. One of the sales associates, Kyle, helped me out. I found another amazing human during this shopping excursion. I asked him to help me find a bowl fish that looks most like Nemo for my son. I then told him how special this fish is to my little one, and of course the story of the good fishies fighting the sharks came out. He insisted that I get the real deal: clownfish. He is a fish collector/expert and had an extra tank, protein skimmer, live rock and everything we would need to get started. Ummmm... How could I not do this? The tank is still get balanced and ready in Gideon's room. I do not want to risk harming or shocking sweet Nemo in any way. How amazing is this? I'm realizing how tiny I am in the scheme of things in creating this mini-ocean. It's very difficult. And then I look at the real ocean with its balanced pH, salinity, all of it, and I am just amazed by how huge God really is in creating the amazing world I get to see and experience without trying to "balance" it myself. I'm loving the fact that there are more incredible people in the balance, like Kyle, who I get to run into as well! Thank you, Kyle! (And, baby sister Annie: I know you have a boyfriend, but I really think you should marry Kyle. That's all.)

Gideon had a birthday party with a handful of church-school and neighbor friends. It was a MAGIC SHOW and my boy was in absolute awe of it all. Thank you, Alan Kazam! Gideon loved every moment. Here's a little taste of his joy. I had so much fun watching his animated face and giggle of amazement after every magic trick.
Click here to see one trick (don't mind the adult cackling).

Brody and I were able to see "Tangled" in 3D this past summer. Gideon was not able to go due to his low numbers, but Brody has said over and over and over again ever since that "Gideon would LOVE Tangled!" So, we rented it. Of course, if my boys are game for a princess flick, I'm jumping on that before the words evaporate into the air molecules... I feel princess deprived sometimes.

At the same time, Brody has been very playful with my hair: petting it, flipping it, etc. I didn't connect this with the movie at all... I really think my brain is way slower to pick up connections these days. Really. Anyway, I offered Brody my brush the next time he started batting around hair strands. To my surprise, he accepted. It was five whole minutes of bliss. I didn't think much about that again until later. For those of you who don't know, "Tangled" is the story of Rapunzel. Rapunzel has magical hair that can heal and can also make old people young again simply by wrapping it around the person while singing the magical song (which is also very beautiful).

After dinner this evening, I was sitting with the boys on my lap and we were getting ready to dive into a book. Brody started playing with my hair again. He started wrapping it around Gideon's hand, and Gideon stayed still and watched as he wrapped it around and around and around. I wanted to know what he was doing, since it was kind of tugging at my scalp. Was he trying to snarl it all up? I just wanted to read the book and get on with the nigh-night routine. Thankfully, I hid my C'MON! voice and just asked him what he was up to...
"Sing, mom!"
"What, Brody?"
"Sing the healing song!"
(I paused....) "What healing song?" (I told you I'm slow these days.)
"You know...the Tangled one. 'Flower, Gleam and Glow!'"
That's when it all clicked. He wrapped my "golden hair" around Gideon and wanted me to sing the healing song. I almost didn't want to ask. "Why do you want me to do that, Brody?"
"Because it will get rid of Gideon's cancer and he won't need chemo anymore."
I love him.

I'll just leave the "Healing Song" for you to hear/watch instead of trying to depict how he unwound this heart of mine into a thin, yellow strand.