Saturday, August 22, 2009

Another Day, Another Chemo

I have been neglecting my blog lately, and it's been weighing on me. Imagine that! Feeling guilty about not updating my blog!

A LOT has happened in the past week.

The weekend before her third round of chemotherapy, Kev and I took the girls to Day at the Drags (rain date) to photograph racing vehicles. The girls had a blast, and we were able to raise $660 for a fifty-fifty raffle. So we ended up with $330 for Charlotte. Here is my cousin Tim advertising the raffle:

We checked in for our third round of chemo last Monday, and were told by Dr. Catrine that Charlotte would, in fact, have eight rounds of chemo EVEN if her scans came up clean after the 6th round. Dr. Catrine said it wasn't worth the risk to do less than eight because of the possibility of the cancer recurring. So we had to sign the paper that gave her permission to do so. Also, we were informed that Charlotte had to start GCSF shots to boost her white cells (the infection fighting cells your bone marrow produces) because of the way her chemotherapy has been making her levels tank. This particular thing I was definitely less excited about. Needles give me the heebie jeebies...

We had just signed our papers and settled in when Sandy Bakk came in and asked our permission to have someone come in and photograph Charlie for A Sister's Love. A Sister's Love was a blanket project started by a little girl named Allie who's sister Emma has cancer. Allie is eleven years old and makes blankets to hand out to other children going through cancer. The purpose of photographing Charlotte was to put the pictures of Allie and Charlie up on UW's website telling about what Allie does. Charlotte immediately took a shine to Allie (she seems to LOVE anyone under the age of fifteen, I personally think it's their voices), and interacted with her fabulously for the camera crew. Pretty soon though I started to feel bad for Allie, because the photographer immediately started honing in on our baby's "beautiful eyes", and asking if he could just get a couple of close up shots of her. Poor Allie was left standing in the corner watching. Luckily, she didn't seem to mind.

So here is a picture of Charlie with Allie's blanket:

After that was all done, they finally started her on her chemo around seven o'clock, and that baby was miserable. This chemo was really rough on her. She immediately stopped eating, and didn't start again until we were discharged. They finally dosed her with Benadryl after she was awake two hours past her bedtime, and she slept soundly all night.

While she was sleeping, we were getting schooled on GCSF. I was waaaaaaay too intimidated (see needle phobia), so Kevin took over. First we started injecting oranges, THEN our nurse stepped up and said, "Now try it on me!". I thought she was crazy, but Kevin jumped right in.

Even with all the chemo being pumped into her (and despite the fact that this chemo was rougher on her than her previous ones) we still had our famously happy baby to contend with, and of course everyone that knew her stopped by to see.

When she WAS uncomfortable, however, the nurse would come in and give her a bath in the special pediatric sink in our bathroom. Charlotte LOVED it! She would kick one leg up over the sink and leave it propped there. That always seemed to calm her down.

Even though we seemed to have a hard time with this round of chemo, one thing that really touched me was Dr. Catrine. When she visited Charlotte, good ol' Charlie put on a show for her with her legs. Kicking them all over the place, and propping herself up on her tummy and looking around. Dr. Catrine teared up and couldn't stop saying how wonderful it was to see Charlotte's improvement. Certainly beyond all of our expectations. I really do believe this kid is destined for greatness!

Lastly, right before we left the hospital, Flashes of Hope called us down to take pictures of our family. Lauren and Rod just happened to be at the hospital with Lance, who got a clean bill of health at his MRI (that's RIGHT!! NO MORE CANCER!! GO BOY!!), and since they pretty much feel like family, I invited them to join us in the photos. We got a few of just Charlie and Lance (which was SOOO adorable!). Lauren suggested we prop them up on their tummy's so that they would push up and look at the camera, but as soon as Lance saw Charlotte laying by him, he just tipped over and laid his sweet little head on her and smiled. No amount of re propping helped either- he would glance over and just lay right back on her! SOOOO precious!

I will share those pictures with you as soon as I have them, though I will warn you to expect to wait at least 6 weeks before we get them.

Next round of chemo is the day after labor day.

As always, thanks to EVERYONE who has been with us every step of the way, and to everyone who hears our story and takes the time to pray or email us. It means the world to hear from you all!

God bless.

Kristi Rufener

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