Monday, September 21, 2009

Jessica [and Elvis]


I've mentioned before that the 'virtual' connection between cancer families is pretty strong. It's through their caringbridge sites or carepages that they can share information with families and with each other, even after some of them lose their children to cancer. Heide--Jessica Randall's mom--shared the story of another Jessica who's 10 now. --A younger Jessica who has fought cancer for three years now. Clearly she has the same--dare I say--SPUNK? as the older one.--

Jessica was 7 when she found a bump on her right leg in early 2006, and thus began the roller coaster of a journey. That bump turned out to be alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue cancer. Over the next few months, she underwent chemotherapy and had her leg amputated. She named her prosthesis 'Elvis' if that tells you anything about her spirit :)

-On Valentines Day of 2007, she was told that her cancer was in remission, but relapsed a year later, this time in one of her lungs and multiple sites in her neck and back. In April of 2008, she started chemotherapy and radiation again, knowing that a relapse of her cancer has an extremely poor prognosis.
-In December, she was told that she had achieved a SECOND remission, but they knew that a second remission is often followed by a second relapse.

--One month ago, they discovered the cancer was back, this time in both lungs, her lymph nodes, spine and around her aorta. She came home on 9/9/09 on hospice and has been in severe pain every day.

She has asked her mother to burn her diaries so no one will read them, slept with her phone under her pillow waiting for a phone call from 'The Hag' (Merle Haggard), and told her mother that when she gets to heaven, she will plant a money tree in the backyard. She has written her own will and made special requests for her memorial service--her celebration of life.

And her mother says that she does stuff like this...



Then, at bedtime, she whispered something to Dan. I had my pallet ready for bed on the floor next to Jessica's hospital bed. Then Dan came over, gave me a kiss, a huge hug, and said I love you. I said what are you doing? We've been married 4 years, that ritual stopped a long time ago (LOL). He said jessica asked him to do it. I think Jessica is trying to be sure we are strong TOGETHER, that we can move ahead with her gone. She is doing a lot of these little things, trying to bring everybody closer and making sure we will be okay.

We have told her bunches that we will let her go, when it is time to let her go, not to be afraid of what cmes after, but to take care of her; that we love her, and she needs to do whatever it is that she needs to do. She is so strong...she is not supposed to be taking care of us, yet in her hospital bed she seems to be the one in charge, the one who is the wiser and stronger, and the one taking care of everybody who enters our home.


Jessica is so beautiful.

Jessica is a reminder, especially here during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, of how devastating this disease is. And how amazing the children fighting it are.
video
[A video created from photos by her friend Michell Ruff, just a few days ago. I don't think I'll ever forget the photo of her hands--a different color polish on each nail.]

[Another video of Jessica with her beloved Leeroy. Recorded two days before her family took her to the ER and discovered the cancer was back.]


Update: My cousin went to "The Hag's" website and found that they've asked for prayer requests for Jessica on the front page. Very touching.


Also, Jessica's mother has put together a cookbook including Jess' story, special moments and pictues of many children who are fighting cancer. Each recipe is in honor of a special cancer warrior! Print the following order form and send it along with $24 (including shipping).

MAKING MEMORIES WITH JESSICA
Cooking with Hope
314 Teal Trail
Shirley, AR 72153
-----------------------------
Please send me ____ copies of Making Memories with Jessica at $20.00 per copy and $4.00 for shipping and handling per book. Enclosed is my check or money order for $__________. Write checks to MMWJ.
Mail books to: _______________________________
Address ____________________________________
City _______________ State _____ Zip __________
Additional sum/donation in the amount of $_______ (check box below)
_____for CureSearch in Jessica’s name/honor
_____for Jessica’s toy closet drive for ACH Heme/Onc Unit----------------------

-------------------------------------
They are also collecting soda can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. Please help them by collecting tabs and sending them to the above address.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September

SEPTEMBER 10! Wow, 2 months since I 'went bald'. And in that time, our fundraising level has risen to OVER $6000!!! It's just incredible. Far beyond what I had hoped.

My hair has grown back really fast and I joke that it's 'starting to look like a real haircut' now. You know, a real haircut, instead of 'the chia-head that grows after you completely shave your head.' I've had it trimmed up once, more so that I could show Jonathan how much it's grown. He's got some fun ideas for styles as it grows out, so stay tuned :)

Here's the progress so far. Set to music by the amazing Annie Lennox. 'Cause she's amazing, and because as many comparisons as I've gotten--Sinead O'Connor, Agatha the PreCog in Minority Report, Edie Falco--Annie Lennox is my favorite ;)




[Most pictures were taken about a week apart, but I won't swear to that. I wasn't good about taking a picture every day.]


September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

This Saturday, on the second annual Childhood Cancer Awareness Day, I hope you'll wear a gold ribbon in honor of one of the many, many children fighting cancer. Or in memory of the many, many who have died from it.

And on September 28, join me at Chili's--a tremendous supporter of St. Jude--when they will donate 100% of profits ALL day to St. Jude. Any Chili's. Any time that day. www.createapepper.com/

It'll be like a date! :)