A Very Merry Christmas

December 28, 2009

Thank you for all the prayers and good wishes for our Christmas travel. We did make it to my parents’ house in Atlanta on Christmas Eve and had a great time. My brother’s girls are 9 and 5, so Tanner was in heaven – two playmates for three straight days. Jake developed quite an attachment to my neice, Mary Mike, the 9-year-old… he was constantly asking, “Where’s that girl?”

Tanner finds a willing shoulder in her cousin, Erin, after a fun, but tiring day.

The best part of the whole weekend was that, for Tanner, I think it seemed as normal as possible. There really wasn’t anything that her cousins could do that she couldn’t. They played hard… really hard. At the end of every day, Tanner was exhausted and would come to me and ask to go to bed by 6 pm. But, she was having fun and it was a little “vacation” from the limitations of cancer. Thank you Mary Mike and Erin for giving Jake and Tanner so much love and attention!

Tanner and her new doll beds

Santa was good to the kids. In addition to an American Girl doll for Tanner and a Shake and Go Racetrack for Jake, he surprised them with a big bouncy house that Santa put up in the basement of my parents’ house. I think Mary Mike summed up their reaction best when they rounded the basement stairs and saw the 9 x 9 inflated castle… “Holy Cow!” she said!!! Needless to say, they jumped all weekend long. Great exercise for Tanner’s legs. The bouncy castle came home with us and is in the basement of our new house waiting for us to move in.

We even got to experience a little church on Christmas Eve. We found a little glass prayer chapel at the back of the church that overlooked the sanctuary and watched some of the service from there. Tanner got to wear her pretty Christmas dress and get dressed up, just like her cousins.

On our way to church

We were still all somewhat sick for the week. We were coughing and sniffing and, ironically, probably gave something to my family members who had worked so valiantly to stay healthy so we could come. My Mom is sick already.

I thought Tanner was getting better today, but this afternoon started feeling bad and we found she had a fever by bedtime. She and John are at the ER as I write this, waiting for counts to determine whether they are high enough for her to be able to get IV antibiotics and come home or whether she will have to stay. We are all unbelievably weary of this routine and, although I am trying to be grateful for the break in illness that allowed us to travel for Christmas, I just really wish we could catch a break for a while.

So, pray for her that her immune system isn’t shot from being so tired over the holidays and that she fights off whatever this is. Pray that we will have the stamina to endure more of the stress of this disease. Pray that Tanner will continue to have the will to fight.

Today, Tanner said to me, “Mom, I have a job.”

“Really?” I replied. “What is your job?” expecting to hear that she was a hairdresser or a nurse.

“I’m fighting leukemia,” she said.

Keep it up big girl… keep it up.


House Calls

December 15, 2009

Well, Jake’s school stint lasted two days. He has a cold and I had to keep him home today. He missed his Christmas party, bless his heart. And, I was supposed to take Tanner to see Princess and the Frog while he was at school, so that was also a no go. We’re hoping Tanner doesn’t catch the cold and end up spending Christmas at the hospital.

BUT, the day was saved by a special visitor… Tanner’s favorite ER nurse, Blaire, came to play. Seriously, how amazing is that? Blaire was Tanner’s nurse back in March when Tanner was lifeflighted to Vanderbilt for a Bactrim reaction. All that long night, while John and I sat in chairs and hung on to hope that Tanner would make it through the night, and that someone would figure out what was wrong with her and be able to fix it, Blair was there. She was quiet and competent and sweet to my child and to John and I.

The next time we were in the Vanderbilt ER was on May 30; the pediatrician had sent us in after having spent most of the night at Williamson Medical Center’s ER with excruciating back pain. We were sent home having been told that Tanner was constipated. The next morning, after not sleeping for most of the night due to the pain, Tanner developed a fever and we went to the pediatrician’s office. They sent us to Vanderbilt where she had numerous tests and were told that she most likely had leukemia. Again, Blaire was there, this time with Megan (who Tanner also loves). I think going through that kind of trauma bonds you in a strange, but powerful, way. Blaire and Megan came to visit Tanner while she was in the hospital that first week, even bringing gifts for her. They said they rarely get to see what happens to their patients after they leave the ER. We thought they were amazing.

A month ago, Tanner needed a blood transfusion and John took her to the ER. Guess who was there?!!! Blaire! I think it’s unusual to keep getting the same nurse like that when there are so many shifts and the Vanderbilt Children’s ER is so big.

Blaire contacted me through the blog the other day. She said she had the week off and would love to come play with Tanner. Of course, we said yes. Today, she and Tanner danced, dressed up Build-a-Bears, played restaurant and doctor, and even played wii. Tanner loved it. She needed it. I don’t have the stamina to play with that kind of intensity anymore… I’m burnt out on pretending.

I think it is amazing for a nurse that sees sick kids all day at work to choose to spend her time off with a sick kid. But, honestly, that’s been our experience at Vanderbilt. John and I say constantly how awesome it is that the people that work there are unfailingly compassionate. For example, when Tanner has a CT scan, you can only imagine that she is the 20th kid the tech has scanned that day, but you would never know it. They are kind to her, and kind to us. They genuinely care.

We are so fortunate to have a hospital like Vanderbilt so close by. I keep up with the CaringBridge site of a little girl named Kinsee that has T-cell ALL and just had a bone marrow transplant. She lives in a small town in West Tennessee and travels to St. Jude for treatment. When she is in intensive phases of treatment or her counts are low, she and her mom have to live at the Ronald McDonald House or the Target House. I can’t imagine how disruptive this is during what is already an unbelievably stressful ordeal.

Today, Blair reminded us of just how lucky we are. Not only do we live 20 minutes from Vanderbilt, they make house calls! I meant to take a picture of Tanner and Blaire for the post, but forgot. Tanner says Blaire took some with her phone. Maybe she’ll send them to me (hint, hint) and I’ll post them if she doesn’t mind.


When Dinner Out Becomes a Celebration

December 7, 2009

It has been more than six months since Tanner has eaten in a restaurant. We have eaten outside on the patio of Jonathan’s twice, but never inside. Today, she wanted to go to Opry Mills mall and eat at the Aquarium restaurant. It has a huge fish tank in the middle and a diver often swims around and feeds the fish.

It was a great idea, because they both needed new shoes and I was so sick of bringing home shoes for them to try on and then having to take them back because they didn’t fit.

Tanner and Jake dancing on the stage at Opry Mills

Tanner and Jake dancing on the stage at Opry Mills

So, although it felt odd to be able to say yes to something involving a public place, I gathered us up and off we went. We had the best time. It felt so amazing to be out in public with both kids… so normal… only now it doesn’t feel normal. It was pretty empty when we first got there and they were able to run around as much as they wanted. They seated us in a booth off by ourselves at the restaurant and the kids had a really good time looking at the fish. Jake especially loved it; he was fascinated, especially when the diver appeared. Poor Tanner got really hungry waiting for the food to come (did I mention it is steroid week?) and was actually crying by the time it got there. Steroid hunger is not to be underestimated. She shoveled the food in like a ravenous wolf despite the fact that it had just come out of the fryer. I asked her if it was burning her mouth and she said, “Yes,” between bites, but never slowed down.

We even had ice cream sundaes for dessert. Why not?
Despite the fact that she wasn’t feeling very good, she still wanted to get shoes and pajamas. It felt so weird to be in a store with other people. I kept having to choke down panic and remind myself to just soak it in. Even Tanner seemed a little anxious a couple of times and said once, “Is it okay that there are people around?” I assured her that we were fine, but that we needed to get out of the mall before it got too crowded.

Shark Boy and Lava Girl?

Shark Boy and Lava Girl?

She fell asleep in the car and napped when we got home then had a lesson with her teacher, Mrs. O’Hara. After dinner, we had planned to decorate the tree together. She was very excited and kept asking when John would be home so we could get started. But, by about 10-15 minutes into decorating, the steroids got the best of her and she begged me to take her to bed. Sad for her to not have enjoyed something she usually loves so much.

Jake, on the other hand, enjoyed himself immensely. He was an ornament hanging fool. True, he usually hung about six ornaments on the same limb, but he was very enthusiastic. He sang Jingle Bells as he went and was so cute.

Overall, despite the steroids, it was a great day. I wish John had been able to be with us at the restaurant so we could all have been out together. The steroids definitely impact her and all of us, but we’re trying to power through and not let them stop us from enjoying this freedom while it lasts. We have no way of knowing whether the 100% dosing of the oral chemos she is taking is the right dose for her until we go back to clinic in a couple of weeks and see how it affects her counts. If they are down, we’ll go back to being secluded until they come back up. The doctor tells us that it usually takes 2-3 months to get the dosages adjusted to keep her counts between 1,000 and 2,000. At that point, we will gain a lot more freedom; she should be able to go back to school and rejoin life.

By tomorrow, I suspect the steroids will take most of the day from her. Jake is going to school for the first time in a month. Tanner and I will probably lay around a watch movies and do our toenails. That’s probably as much as she will feel like doing. Sounds good to me; I’m tired!


Clinic Day #24

December 4, 2009

Holy neutraphils Batman!!! Went to clinic today hoping to be over 1000 and found out Tanner had 2000 neutraphils!!! FREEDOMMMMMMMMMM!

We came home after a dose of IV Vincristine and a lumbar puncture with methotrexate under sedation; I was exhausted, but Tanner was raring to go. She went to her best friend Corinne’s house for her family birthday celebration. They ate tacos and ice cream cake and PLAYED. Tanner was indescribably happy. The playdate drought is over, at least for now.

All of Tanner’s counts were great. She had a normal hemoglobin level and her platelets were actually very high. We haven’t seen numbers that high in a while. She started a five-day steroid pulse and oral chemo tonight, though, so the high counts probably won’t last. We will go back to clinic in two weeks (yes, the first time in more than 6 months we haven’t had to go for a weekly clinic visit) to check her counts and adjust her chemo, if necessary. This begins the game of trying to find just the right amount of 6MP and oral methotrexate to keep her counts steadily between 1,000 and 2,000 for Long Term Maintenance.

It felt weird to let her go to Corinne’s house… like she was naked and unprotected. We’ve gotten used to being so careful. It will be so nice to be able to get out and see a movie or even go to the mall at an off time (is there an off-time at the mall during this season?). We are still going to be cautious, though. The last thing we want is to be in the hospital for Christmas.

After an unsteady start, this week has become a good one with lots of things to celebrate. First, there was Santa. Now good counts and some much needed freedom. And, lastly, we have a contract on a house that we are so excited about.

If you’ve been reading Tanner Time all along, you might remember that we had a contract on a house in Brentwood when Tanner was diagnosed in June. The owners were kind enough to let us out of the contract due to the circumstances. Stability was key… and still is, frankly. But, we have a tiny postage stamp of a yard now and have really felt it on the many days when we couldn’t go out to the nearby cul-de-sac and school fields to play because we were afraid to run into other kids. We have been searching for a house with room to romp and found the perfect house with lots of yard and a basement (Tanner loves this) that is on a cul-de-sac. It will mean a lot in days to come to have so much space when we can’t get out.

The house is not in our school district, but Moore Elementary, where Tanner goes, has been kind enough to let her attend the remainder of this year and next year so Tanner can finish treatment before we switch schools. The new neighborhood is just down the road from where we live now, so we will still be close to our Moore’s Landing friends. All these factors were extremely important to us. I think it will be hard when Tanner returns to school. She is a pretty confident kid, but being bald and pale and having a disease other kids can’t even pronounce will test even the strongest self-esteem. She worries about being “different” and is scared other kids will make fun of her. The kids at Moore know about her and have been so supportive and loving. She feels safe there and we are grateful they have understood our situation enough to allow us to do this without making her switch schools immediately.

Tonight, as Tanner went to sleep, she asked me for something good to think about to keep the bad dreams away. I wasn’t stumped this time. I rattled off a whole bunch of things including playdates, our new house, the new dog we’ll get when we get there, going to see Princess and the Frog next week, decorating our Christmas tree, etc., etc., etc.

It’s good to be back.


Clinic Day #22, the Last Day of DI !!!

November 18, 2009

photoWhat a day! We celebrated extra large thanks to the kindness of so many people. We started by going to clinic in our Bye, Bye DI !!! t-shirts. The nurses and doctors loved it. We busted into the clinic in full celebration mode and it was great to start the celebration among our cancer compatriots. Everyone in clinic congratulated us and it was actually really fun to go today – lots of hugs all around.

Tanner’s counts, as expected, were very low all around. Her neutraphils (big infection fighting white cells) were at 380 (to give you an idea of how low this is, I had some blood work done last week and mine were at 6,000) so her immune system is every bit as compromised as we suspected it might be and we are very glad we’ve kept to ourselves lately. What we were surprised by, however, was her low hemoglobin level at 7.2. This is the lowest that Tanner’s level has been since diagnosis. I told the doctor before we got counts that there was no way she needed a transfusion because her energy level was crazy. With a hemoglobin level of 7.2, she should have gotten a transfusion, but because she hasn’t been showing symptoms, we decided to wait and see if she recovers on her own or if she starts showing fatigue, blueness or shortness of breath.

I didn’t even notice how low her platelet level was until we got home and she had a little place on her head where she scratched herself. It was bleeding just a little and I put some Neosporin on it. Fifteen minutes later, I noticed it was still bleeding and I thought, “Uh oh.” I checked her platelet level and sure enough she had gone from more than 300 last week to only 58 this week. Yikes! A bandaid solved the problem, but it’s a little weird.

It remains to be seen whether her counts have bottomed out or whether they will come down yet some more. We go back in on Wednesday for counts to see if we can celebrate Thanksgiving with John’s family or if we need to stick to ourselves at home.

This afternoon, we had a surprise visit from Tanner’s friend, Lily, and her mom, Larisa. Lily is 8-years-old and, like Tanner, has ALL. They brought a video and a congratulations card; they know what a milestone it is to get to this point.

Tanner and I sat at the kitchen table and read post after post from Friends of Tanner and Tanner Time. She was so happy to hear from you all. In a way, I think it was the first time she began to understand that this day was a big deal.

IMG_1291After some crazy dancing to our new Roger Day CD, we heard Daddy come home. He brought pizza and a cake and we sat around the table eating pizza and laughing about our day. Then, John got a text message that said, “special delivery on the front porch.” OH MY GOSH!!! It was a party in a box! It was a huge box, decorated on the outside with a huge balloon bouquet, a beautiful flower arrangement, cards, party hats and blowers, a party mix CD, and best of all, a piñata!!! It was from two families who have been such rocks for us. These are the girls who just show up when you need them and who are so thoughtful I know I will never be able to repay them.

So, then the party was on! We ate cake and whacked the heck out of the piñata and let them eat candy after just having huge pieces of chocolate cake. It was a day without description. A day that cancer could not take from us. A day we lived without regard to what comes next. The perfect day.

Thank you all so much. You made a little girl and her family very happy today.


Bye, Bye DI !!!

November 18, 2009

IMG_1286It’s here. Tomorrow is the last day of DI… the last day of the most intensive part of leukemia treatment… the last day before we enter LTM (Long Term Maintenance)… a day we have been working towards for six long, grueling months. I can’t believe it’s here.

We’re celebrating. I made t-shirts for Jake, John, Tanner and I and we are going to wear them to clinic tomorrow. I think we are also going to pass out something to the staff – I’m not sure what yet – maybe donuts? — to thank them for making this journey with us and for, literally, being our saviors.

John is picking up a cake on the way home from work tomorrow so we can celebrate with a special dinner. Depending on how her counts turn out tomorrow, we may invite some friends, but it’s not likely; we expect her counts to be low.

So, here’s how our friends and family can celebrate with us. Send a comment to Tanner congratulating her on the last day of DI. I want her to open up Tanner Time and Friends of Tanner and see how many people love her and realize what a big accomplishment this is.

We’ve really been celebrating all week. We’ve been visiting playgrounds and stopping by church to drop something off and getting to see the whole church staff (aka wonderful friends) and giving them hugs. Tanner got to spend the day with Aunt Beth today at her house (I think it must have magical properties the way our kids plead to go there) while Jake and I played some mean wii Star Wars. We’ve just been finding ways to remember how great it is to feel good and have the energy to have fun.

Yesterday was a great day. In fact, it was a ROGER DAY!!! Roger Day is a children’s recording artist who is big time at our house and he was so nice to stop by and bring Tanner his newest CD, Brain Freeze. It’s AWESOME!!! If you’ve been following our story long enough, you might remember that Roger came to our house back in July to have a small concert for a handful of kids and we had the best time. He is a great entertainer and a great person and he made my kids’ day.

Tanner and I in our new hats

Tanner and I in our new hats

We had another visitor yesterday as well. My friend Pat dropped by with hats and chicken noodle soup… the perfect combo. She had seen this adorable pink fuzzy hat for Tanner and brought it for Tanner and a hat for me, John and Jake, too. What a nice surprise. When she left we noticed a little gift bag on the front porch that contained an envelope full of cards from a 1st grade class at Tanner’s school. There were pictures of each child on the card and Tanner loved reading them and remembering all her school friends. Then, John came home with two new wii games sent by a long-distance friend who has recently relapsed with lymphoma. Mind boggling to think they thought of us when they have so much on their own plates.

It’s a lovely world where hats, chicken noodle soup and Roger Day all show up on the same day. Help us celebrating a life worth living tomorrow.


Skyping, Biking and Clipping, Oh My!

November 2, 2009

No need to worry any more about Tanner’s lack of energy… oh my! It came back today with a vengeance! She is back and spunkier than ever.

We rode bikes yesterday and today. Yesterday, she crashed afterwards and napped for a few hours. Today, she just kept going like the energizer bunny. Watching her bike and play made me realize how much muscle tone she has lost by lying down for those couple of weeks and from the steroids. She is back to limping a lot and having real trouble getting up off the ground. She is also having a lot of pain in her left leg, which is new. Usually it’s her right leg that causes her so much trouble. I’m trying not to worry about the loss of strength at the moment. I think she will be sick enough from the chemo over the next month, that physical therapy will not really be possible. We will get through this month and then try to get her into a therapy program that will help regain what she has lost, or as much as possible considering she will still be taking Vincristine and steroids for the next year-and-a-half.

Tanner was able to videochat with her class this week, which was so awesome! Thank you to Mrs. Franklin for making it possible. It was so cute watching them talk with each other. They use a free program called skype, which is amazing. They talked about their Halloween costumes and how much candy they had gotten. One little girl told Tanner she was sorry Tanner had been in the hospital, to which Tanner replied, “It’s okay, they have lots of videos there and the food is yummy.” We hope to skype often so she can feel like part of the class.

Today, on the way home from dropping Jake off, I jokingly said to Tanner, “Hey! Do you want to go to Sweet & Sassy and get your head shaved?” At first, she responded exactly as I expected her to, “Nooooooooooo!” But, then a moment later, she said, “Yes, I do want to.” After making sure she really wanted to, we went by Sweet & Sassy, but it was too crowded. Tanner really wanted to do it, though, so we went to Snip-its and I went in an explained the situation to the hairdresser, made sure she wasn’t sick and then brought Tanner in.

She was bold and decisive. She wanted this done. She didn’t like the noise the clippers made, so the hairdresser cut it off with scissors. The more she cut off, the more confident Tanner became. It was like those little wisps had just been reminders of her hair and when they were gone she just looked like she was meant to be bald. The short little blond wispies are so fair, you can’t really see them and she has these sweet little freckles on the top of her head from the sunlight reaching through her thinning hair this summer. She didn’t wear her wig at all today. In fact, she took her hat off as soon as she saw her friends and proudly showed them her new smooth head. She told me later that they told her she looked beautiful. Corinne and Olivia – you will forever be on my good list.

There is something so angelic about the vulnerability of a person without hair. You see their eyes, their smile, their soul more clearly. To me, she looks more healthy, not less, than she had before. I found myself crying, not because I was sad, but because she is so beautiful and her spirit is so resilient. When we were done, she rubbed her head, looked in mirror and smiled. It was a moment I had dreaded, but it turned out to be one I will never forget, for completely different reasons than I thought.

Tomorrow is the big, bad day. John will wake Tanner at 3:45 am to eat cheese and crackers because she can’t eat before her lumbar puncture at 2 pm. We will leave the house early to arrive at clinic at 8 am to get her port accessed and begin IV hydration. They will test her urine as we progress until they determine she is hydrated enough to begin receiving the cyclophosphamine. She also has to be hydrated for four hours afterward. She will also receive and IV dose of ARA-C chemo and begin taking oral chemo, TG-6. Then, she will go to surgery to get a lumbar puncture with an injection of methotrexate. Four types of chemo in one day. She will continue to take the TG-6 daily for the next month and will come home with her port accessed so we can give her an IV dose of ARA-C for the next four days. I’m anticipating a very sick little girl, but who knows? Tanner surprises me all the time.

Please send positive thoughts for tomorrow to go smoothly. It really is the worst day of this whole process and I look forward to moving past it.



Three Little Girls in One Big Arena

Leah, Tanner and Gracie

Leah, Tanner and Gracie

September 13, 2009 I sat in the arena last night with my daughter in my lap, tired as only a six-year-old up 2 hours past her bedtime can be, but still singing along with Taylor Swift and loving every minute of it. I thought how there were thousands, maybe ten thousand, little girls in that arena who were lucky to be at that concert. But, none were so lucky as my little girl, for whom being able to go to a concert was a small miracle in the midst of four long months of limitations. I admit, I teared up, but she never knew it. I wanted only happy moments for her that night. And, we had them.

Some of my favorites…

–The three little girls, squeezed (car seats and all) into the back seat of my van, Taylor Swift blasting on the stereo, while we moms covered our ears as they sang, screamed and laughed their way to Nashville.

–Leah turning to me after Taylor Swift sang her first song and very seriously saying, “Miss Beth, we will stay for one or two more songs, then we will need to go home because it is way past our bedtime.” (Sorry, Leah, we stayed a lot longer than that.)

–The girls up on the front row of the suite dancing and twirling their glow sticks for all they were worth while Kellie Pickler performed.

–Tanner insisting, even after having fallen asleep briefly a few times, on us staying until Taylor sang “Love Story.” Thanks, T, it was worth it!

–Gracie, up on her feet singing all the words to “Love Story,” when only 10 minutes before she had been sound asleep in her Mama’s lap.

–Girl time not only for the little girls, but the big ones. Anna Lynn and Shelley are the kind of friends that show up at the Emergency Room at midnight on a school night because there might be something they could do to help. And, because they know what it‘s like to be a mom and can imagine what it would be like to be terrified that your child won‘t make it. They’re also the kind of friends that quietly organize meals and come by to take care of Jake when I need it. I’m glad I could do some small thing to say thanks.

–Meeting the oncology nurses from Centennial and Leigh Stamps and her friends, who made up the other two “Light the Night” teams that won tickets to the concert. These great ladies raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, not because they have a personal stake in it, as we do, but because they saw a need and are the kind of people who take action when they see an opportunity to help.

We all had a great time, even the Moms. It was a good show and the first concert for all three little girls. They were exhausted when we arrived home at 11 pm, but it was worth it.

And when I got home,
‘fore I said, Amen,
Asking God if He
Could play it again.
(Taylor Swift, Our Song)


Big, Exciting News!!!

One, happy little girl

One, happy little girl

September 12, 2009 Two HUGE things have happened to us in the last few days. One is that Tanner got to have a salad. I know, this doesn’t seem like a huge thing… especially for a six-year-old… but I had promised Tanner that the next time her counts were high, I would thoroughly wash some lettuce and make her a salad. She was in salad and crouton heaven.

The other is that we won 6 tickets to the Taylor Swift concert tonight from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the clinic said Tanner could go!!!! We raised the second highest amount of money for Tanner’s Light the Night team during a one week period and will sit in a suite with the other two winning teams. Tanner is SOOOOOOO excited!

When I first got the call about the tickets from Robin Embry, who is coordinating Tanner’s team, I thought, “Oh no, here is another cruel irony. We raise all this money in Tanner’s name and then she can’t go to the concert. There‘s no way we can sit in the midst of all those people, even if we are in a suite.” All afternoon Thursday, I was just sick about it. It just seemed so unfair. That night, I had Bunco at my house and was telling the girls about it. Celia Whitler, who is the host of Tanner Time, said she might have a connection to help us find the most germ-free environment to watch the show from and to call her husband Ron in the morning and see what they could do. Maybe we find the best place to sit. I began to think maybe we could make it happen.

The next morning, I was at it with a vengeance. I decided to chase this thing down until I hit a total dead end. I called the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and talked with them and with my friend Ron. Everyone was trying to find a solution… was there an empty suite somewhere? Could she wear a mask and sit in the corner? Finally, later in the afternoon, I called the clinic at Vanderbilt to see what they would say about it. The nurse looked up Tanner’s chart and said, “Her counts are so high, I don’t see any reason she can’t go, and she doesn’t need a mask; it would just ruin it for her.”

Oh my Gosh!!!! Finally, a break! A providential aligning of the stars that combined high counts and an awesome opportunity to celebrate life! I called everyone that had been working on the problem with us to let them know we had success. I called two girlfriends of Tanner’s and invited them and their Mom’s to join us.

Last night, we pulled up some YouTube video of Taylor Swift in concert and said, “Wow, she puts on a cool concert; wouldn’t it be cool to go to that tomorrow night?” Tanner looked confused. “Wouldn’t it be cool to go to that with Leah and Gracie and their Mom’s tomorrow night?” “Are we?” she said, wide-eyed. “How?” After we explained it, she screamed in the way that only a six-year-old girl can, and we all did a happy dance.

This morning, Melissa from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society came by and delivered the tickets. We are so excited! Tanner has never been to a concert before and she LOVES Taylor Swift and Kelly Pickler, who is opening for Taylor. She’ll have to take a big nap this afternoon, since the concert doesn’t even start until her bedtime and I doubt we’ll make it for the whole thing, but it will still be an awesome experience. After having to miss so many things over the past few months, this is a welcome opportunity to do something special and forget about her limitations for once.

Thanks to all who have donated to Team Tanner; not only have you helped fund research for the cure of blood cancers, but you have helped create a very special night for our little girl. Thanks also to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for the tickets and for being so gung-ho about helping Tanner be able to go. And, thanks to Franklin American Mortgage company, John’s employer, for making a call to the Sommet Center so we can park in the Arena Garage and avoid entering the building with all the crowds of people, which might be dangerous for Tanner.

People are so kind to rally around one little girl to make a special dream come true. And, good things… no wonderful things… can happen in the midst of great adversity.

Thanks, God. I owe you one.


A Little Magic

September 6, 2009

“You would never know.”

That’s what my best friend Kim said tonight while we stood and watched Tanner roll down the hill at our other best friend Beth’s house. They have a huge yard and the kids love to run wildly through it, as only kids can.

There are many times when Tanner looks and seems completely normal that it’s easy to forget. She looked so happy, like any other kid, rolling down that hill. Climbing up it was a little difficult, but she did it.

Beth and Glenn had us all over for a cookout. The kids picked acorns off a tree and then we hid them like easter eggs in the yard for them to find. They planted some seeds in pots to grow carrots (we had to stop Tanner half way through because the dirt was getting all over her and it was probably not the best idea). They climbed on Glenn’s “tractor” and pretended to drive. They took turns singing into Aunt Beth’s real microphone — Tanner sang some Hannah Montana and Jake sang a little “Itsy bitsy spider” and “Old McDonald.”

After a great dinner, we toasted marshmallows over the cinders in the grill and made S’Mores. Then, they chased fireflies in the yard.

On the way home, Jake, who is never awake when it is dark outside, kept looking at the car lights and the sunset and saying, “Look at the colors Mommy.”

We arrived home tired and full and Tanner was asleep before she hit the pillow.

It was a perfect evening. Thanks Beth and Glenn for sharing a little magic with my kids.