Friday, September 29, 2006

Glue and goo

Now, there's no need to call out the troops. I am not dead; I've simply decided to become a glue factory. At least that is what it feels like. I don't get sick (other than having an angry tummy that is way too sensitive) so when I get a lung bug, I collapse in a heap.

I stayed home from work today, lolling about, eating homemade chicken soup and drinking blackberry sage tea. I even tried to buck myself up by saying that my birthday twin in Houston would handle this with far more sass.

But truth is, it feels better to moan and groan. Has anyone seen my lip balm?

Hi, everyone,

Another quiet day...Sahara went to radiation, but we opted out of occupational and physical therapy this morning. She wanted to get her required hours in class, so she went to school today. She's felt much better, and not so tired, which has been nice. :)

After school, we caught the van to a little shopping center near here.
Sahara and I enjoyed a bit of retail therapy there, and found her a cute new outfit and shoes. Nothing feels better than a successful clothing purchase!!!

Today is our 22nd anniversary - first time we've ever been apart on this day. 732 miles, to be exact. Hard to believe it's been that many years. Happy Anniversary, Shannon! We love you!!!

Gotta run, the line is growing to use the computer. Since the kids can't play outside due to the thunderstorm we're having at the moment, the computer becomes the most popular spot in the house!

Have a great weekend, everyone! And send Pamela some good vibes, because she's the hardest working woman in the writing business, and she feels like crap this week.


Hi, everyone!

Not much to report these last couple of days. Sahara's doing fine, just very tired and sleepy, so she's been taking a lot of naps. She's still eating well, and doing great in therapy each day. By the time she's finished with physical therapy, though, she is so worn out that she just needs to nap for a while. Hopefully this weekend she'll perk up again.

There are some cool things going on this weekend that are not too far from the RMDH, so I hope that we are able to venture out for a while. The Houston Zoo is just a few blocks away (a mere 5 minutes by bus, which stops right in front of the house), and there's music at a pavilion close to the zoo as well.

To everyone who is planning on attending the benefits, thank you!!! You will be amazed at some of the things that Shannon's told me about that will be included in the silent auction!!! I hope we can get a list posted soon, because it's just blowing my mind. I know of some really cool a Joe Montana autographed football, a Michael Jordan autographed basketball...some signed basketballs from the University of Kentucky; I think this auction will have something for every type of sports fan!!! And so many other things I can't think of them all!!! We'll be working on that list, I'm sure, so stay tuned!

Today while Sahara was sleeping, I watched as three of my favorite boys were playing outside. They were running, laughing, and playing as hard as any grade school boys on any playground. The difference is the fact that two of them have had liver transplants and one has leukemia. You'd never guess it by looking at them, though! Miracles are happening around here every day. On Monday, a little boy received the double lung transplant he and his family had been desperately waiting for...out of such sadness for one family came pure joy and hope for another. Around here, you really learn about "the circle of life."

Keep praying, please, for our family, and for all of the other families who are struggling with childhood diseases.

Take care, and we can't wait to see all of you soon!

With love,

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Plague edition, 2006

Amy and Sahara are being awfully quiet, which makes me think they're either out powershopping for the homecoming, or Sahara has stomped all Amy's typing fingers on the basketball court.

Yesterday I got slammed with a respiratory flu that hit so hard and fast, it actually scared me. I had a doctor's appointment anyway, so I made it a double. My chest is wheezing in chords. It sounds like beavers singing. But I can't quite place the tune.

Anyway, go wash your hands with soap and hot water. No sense in catching the flu blog.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The runaround

We had a good day again today, although Sahara was WORN OUT after occupational and physical therapy!!! They ran her ragged. LOL. Her strength is amazing (all of the therapists say so), she just has to get her coordination back. Each time she goes to therapy, she does better than the last.

She had intended on going to school for a while today, but was too tired. Hopefully tomorrow she'll be up to it again. By the way, teachers, she's making A's and B's, which I think is so cool!

Tonight the women's basketball team from Rice University is visiting the RMDH. I'm sure Sahara will enjoy seeing them. Although, I know she'd rather see the Lady Redhawks walking through the door!!!!! Come on, basketball season!

Hope everybody has a great evening. Take care!


Hand jive

Hello all!

Nothing but good news happenin' here in Houston today! Sahara sailed through chemo today without batting an eye. No nausea whatsover (that makes two full weeks now!). She had a sub sandwich afterward and then pizza again for dinner tonight. The best news, though, is that she stunned Dr. Wolff this morning - she has regained all of the strength in her right hand! He looked at me and grinned, then said, "there is no difference!" I was so happy I couldn't hardly stand it! Now we must work on coordination, which happens tomorrow at physical and occupational therapy. She has also regained 100% of her smile, AND, her eyes are definitely showing movement from side to side. From all accounts, the chemo and radiation appear to be WORKING!!!!!

I can't wait until we get home so everyone can see the miracle that is at work in Sahara. She's starting to count down the days...and the end is in sight. We just have to get the final okay once the last big round of chemo is completed in October.

Keep praying, everyone, because it's working, and God is alive and well in Houston!

With love,

Monday, September 25, 2006

Promises, promises

I know. I promised. And since I didn't have to eat my hand (I had fish, which is much tastier than hand or chicken souvlaki), I can easily click the button to show you Sahara's young man. This is Aaron. I TOLD you he was adorable.

If you have something you REALLY want to send to Sahara, please try to hold it until she gets home. If it's something that absolutely can't wait (like oh, a cheesecake!) then go ahead and send it--just remember Amy and Sahara have a mere four arms between them.

We wish to welcome you to Munchkinland

The big switch has been made again...Shannon's back home in Cape and I'm in Houston, despite Mother Nature's efforts to keep me at the Paducah airport overnight on Friday. My flight to Memphis was canceled because of terrible storms. Ended up renting a car (the very last one available, too), driving two hours to Nashville, racing to get on a standby flight, waiting 30 minutes to get through security, being selected (they said I was the lucky winner) of getting additional screening, where I was subjected to the search of everything except body cavities, running across the moving walkway to the laaaaaast gate, and was next-to-last on the plane. Whew. Makes me tired just thinking about it. But I made it, and after Shannon and Sahara picked me up, we went out for a great steak dinner. :)

Sahara has lost almost all of her hair now, but is handling it like the trooper that we all know and love. She has a great selection of hats and beanies and is enjoying trying them out. She gained a couple of pounds this week (hooray!) and looks so good. We have now gone a week and a half without her getting sick.

We spent yesterday cleaning, doing laundry, and organizing things...because soon we will be getting ready to come home! Not sure of the exact date yet, but one thing is for sure...we will be ready. Sahara just cannot wait to get back, and we are getting closer every day. What a homecoming this will be!

Shannon and Sahara scored some luxury suite tickets to the Texans/Redskins game today - all food, etc included! What a great time we had...and she ATE like a horse! We rode the bus and light rail to get to the game, which was kinda fun. Some of our good friends from the RMDH went as well, so we hung on their coattails to get to the game. Now we know the system, and might explore further as she feels like it. We left at the beginning of the 4th quarter, as the Texans were getting smoked, but we had so much fun. I'll have photos later. :)

Tomorrow will be busy, with dr's visits, chemo and physical/occupational therapy. I'm praying that she continues to feel well and handle everything as well as she has so far.

Continued thanks to EVERYONE who has prayed for us, offered encouragement, sent cards and has helped us every single day knowing that we have so much support. We couldn't do this without you all. May God richly bless each and every one of you.

So long for now...have a great week!


Save a mailman

Two quickies, and then I'm headed out for some chicken souvlaki before I eat my right hand.

First, please stop the presses and close down the gift factory. Your gifts and cards have been wonderful and overwhelming, but there's now so much "stuff" to bring back to Cape that Amy and Sahara may have to tie themselves to the plane's wings because the entire aircraft will be filled up with cards, letters, treats, blankets, toys, games, and more.

Second, for those of you who have asked, I'm updating the benefit list once a week, usually on Sundays. It was updated yesterday, so feel free to look for new options. There are some other events in the works, and as we get more details, we'll put those online.

More later--I've got an Amy update to post and a photo of Sahara and her BOYFRIEND. And he, my friends, is adorable.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hair peace

Nothing exciting to report today, but sometimes that's a good thing. It's officially fall, woo hoo, but it's sunny and warm here and I am not complaining.

Sahara's trying on the Shannon hair look for a while, and on hot days, I'm just a little envious. I have a thick mop of hair and it's often hot, in my eyes, and hugely annoying. But three times, I contemplated shaving my head, really.

  1. In college, I went from preppy sorority twit to punker in two days. At one point, I chopped off all my hair, bleached it white, and dyed it bright blue. My head was glowing blue and I thought that would be an extremely cool look. Then I remembered I had to go home to my parents in a few weeks.

  2. I was maid of honor in a wedding, and went out to get my now-sensible brown bob a little body-wave. Well, the beautidiot left it on too long, and my hair turned into a burned black poodle with matted knots that rode around the top of my head and barked. Then my hair started falling out in handfuls. For the wedding, I took what I had left, poured on an entire bottle of French conditioner, and tried to smile. The bride kept asking "is something burning?"

  3. In a fit of cheap stupidity, I went to an 80 year old barber and asked for a boy cut. I'll say no more about that one.
Now, I will say two serious things. Sahara is cool as all get out for embracing her own skull. Brava, young lady! And second, I'm inviting those of you who have the hair and the interest to check out Locks of Love and think about donating a ponytail or two so that other kids with cancer can get the wigs they want and need.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Birds of a feather

Hello, all!

Shannon and Sahara have had a great week! I knew they would. She's been feeling really good, eating well and having fun. Yesterday she attended classes for four hours, a personal best since she's been there. It's tough to manage schoolwork when she's so tired, but she's managing very well.

Unfortunately, but as predicted, she began losing her hair this week. She is very aggravated that she won't be able to get her mohawk, because it started falling out in the middle first! Dang the luck. She seems to be fine with it, and it taking it as just another part of the journey. We prepared for this by buying hats, beanies and bandanas, so she will have a well-decorated head. LOL.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gramma Dooley for the first time yesterday, and I have to tell you all, she is a fireball of love and energy like I've never seen in my life! She's adopting us, apparently, and we are going to let her. LOL. Mrs. Dooley is the mother of one of Sahara's teachers, Jennifer Hecht, another incredible woman. It looks like it definitely runs in the family! They stopped by my office yesterday to deliver bracelets to Sheryl (who is yet another superwoman...I am SURROUNDED by them) to sell over the weekend. We were all chatting and having the best time...and Sahara called! She got to talk to both of them, and I really don't know who was having the best time, she or they! What a great, uplifting visit. Thanks, ladies - we love you so much!

Tonight the father-daughter duo went to see our beloved Cardinals play the Astros. The Birds ended up losing, but she represented her team with pride. They made it through the third inning, but she started getting tired and headachy, so it was time to call it a night. She was really glad to be able to go, though!

The laundry is done, the house is clean and I'm packed for the trip back to Houston. I'd better try to get some sleep. Sahara instructed me not to eat tomorrow, because we are going out for dinner after they pick me up at the airport. Bossy little thing. LOL. (But I know that she's feeling good when she's ordering people around!)

Take care and I'll post again when I can!


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Donuts, pizza... she could be a NYC cop!

Hi, everyone!

Continued good news from Houston...God is really working overtime down there. Sahara is feeling great, eating yet more pizza and donuts, and is breezing through her week with dad. Today she had physical therapy and occupational therapy. The latter tends to frustrate her a bit, but she LOVES the PT. She improved her scores on the timed activities by a second and a half, and walked so quickly that the therapist (who is recovering from knee surgery herself) had to get another therapist to walk with and time her! As a baby, Sahara ran before she walked, so this really made me smile.

She attended class this afternoon, enjoyed a session with a sweet, wonderful lady named Ms. Jean who does what's called "Arts in Medicine" at the RMDH a couple of times a month. It's therapy of sorts, mixed with arts & crafts, storytelling, and so forth. Apparently Shannon was the great entertainer today, as he jumped right in with Sahara. He is so good with kids, it is such a gift. Ms. Jean made his day by telling him how much she appreciated him and his "storytelling" abilities. Those who know him can just imagine the stuff he was making up to get these kids to laugh. :)

The therapy dogs came to visit tonight, which is one of Sahara's most favorite things. Shannon was really impressed; it was his first opportunity to see those very special dogs. They really help take the kids' minds off of whatever they may be dealing with, and allow them to roll around and play in the yard like the rest of the kids in the world for a little while. Such a worthwhile endeavor.

Time to hit the sack - I thought I'd get to bed earlier since I'm home this week, but that doesn't seem to be happening!

Thanks for continuing to read and post your great messages to the blog...Sahara gets so much happiness from reading what you all have to say.

Take care!


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Behind the mask

When Amy talked about Sahara's radiation mask, I had a picture in my head. Did you? This weekend she sent me pictures and it's safe to say my brain didn't even come close! A friend of mine had radiation a few years ago and instead of a mask, she had to have a tattoo. When she kicked HER tumor's butt, she had the tattoo redone into a pretty butterfly and flowers.

Me, I'd rather just have the mask. I know tattoos are the rage now, but I like me just the way I came in the original package.

Hello everybody! It was so good to go back to work today. I enjoyed seeing the wonderful people I work with, going out to lunch (where I ran into some dear friends, Jo Cummins, and Cindy and Andrea Gray...I love you guys), being busy and having what qualified as an almost-normal day. After work I went straight to Jackson to see my fabulous hairdresser, Shery Varney, who is an angel with scissors...LOL. I feel so much better with my haircut and new fall colors. Shery loves it because I tell her to do whatever she's in the mood for when it comes to my hair - and she is ALWAYS right!!! THANKS, SHERY!!!

Sahara had chemo, radiation and two doctor's appointments today, and Shannon reports that all went very well. She saw her audiologist again for more testing, which showed even more improvement in her left ear, and still no damage at all to her hearing from the chemo. HOORAY! She made it through her chemo treatment without incident as well. After a very busy morning, she took a 3-hour nap this afternoon and got some much needed rest. She felt great this evening, and has made it through the entire day without getting sick. I am so happy I can't hardly stand it. I just hope that the next couple of days following the chemo are good as well! She's also eating more this week, which is a relief to me. She is in a pizza phase right now (hey, I am too...LOL), which has GOT to help her gain a little bit of weight. I know that she is loving having Shannon there...especially since he has a car and can take her wherever she wants to eat. LOL. Whatever works!

Miss S says that she received some VERY cool stuff in the mail today...she was talking so fast that I couldn't even keep up! I miss seeing her face when the mail arrives each day. It's always so exciting for her. Many, many thanks to all of you...

Time for me to go to bed...gotta be at work bright and early in the morning!


Monday, September 18, 2006

Good morning starshine

How can you resist this face? Amy sent a bunch of great photos from home last night; I'll be doling them out like Popsicles on a hot day. This is Sahara with Andie, the wonder nurse, during a recent treatment.

Off to the right (if the blog is behaving) you'll see a link to Help for Hoops, a list of things you can do to help. We'll update that as we get more info on the events or things you can buy. If you are running something, please let me know. Just below that, there's a link to donate airline mile awards so the Aldridge family can go back and forth without the perils of a 12-hour drive, killer bees, and attack birds. (If you wish to give miles, most airlines will let you cash in an award in someone else's name.)

Amy is doing well in Missouri--catching up on work, the house, etc. More later!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I will survive

J and I went to a fancy Sweet Sixteen party last night. The guest of honor looked just like a princess. But the other girls, oh my. I'm going to write a country song and call it "Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be hoochies." If you are a teen or preteen reading this, please realize you can be pretty and attractive without looking like you belong on a corner or a video.

There, I'm done lecturing. It's not that I judge, or that I'm an old frump (am I?); I just can't wrap my head around what New York teens feel is fashion. Oh my gosh. That DOES make me an old fa*t, huh? And to think I got out on the dance floor. They're probably still laughing.

I didn't have a Sweet Sixteen, but I still remember that my mother drove over to the place where I was working that morning with a bouquet of 16 pink roses. She made my fave dinner that night, and my boyfriend Mark took me out to see a movie (back when tickets weren't $11.50) and bought me a necklace. Sweet indeed, but the surprise from my mom has stayed with me for well over 20 years.

Something tells me Sahara will have plenty of memories like that.

Hello, everyone! Shannon made it to Houston Thursday afternoon without incident, and I am now back in Cape for a few days, so the switch has been successfully made. It was very hard to leave Sahara, and we both cried a LOT when the time came to drop me off at the airport.

Tonight I must mention the Stage Choir class at CJHS. You guys are so awesome, I am totally at a loss for words. I wish everyone who reads this could have seen Sahara's face when she opened the box from you all. Cards from everyone in the class, a class photo with an empty seat in the middle that is being saved for Sahara, a cd with the songs from Grease and High School Musical, a binder with all the lyrics to the songs, AND...$250 in Target gift cards! I think you guys enjoy making me cry, because this was REALLY over the top!!! I love each and every one of you. And you helped Sahara to get what she has wanted for so long...a camcorder that records directly to dvd. We picked it up Thursday night. We have some surprises in store for YOU in the near future!!! Mr. Dumey, THANK YOU for being such a great teacher - Sahara can't wait to get back so she can enjoy your class with all of her friends!!!

She and Shannon are having a great time, and she's doing well so far this weekend. No sickness - yay! We did start to notice that she's begun to lose a few more strands of hair over the last few days. Nothing drastic yet, but it looks like it is starting to happen. She still says she doesn't care, and that she will NOT be wearing any stupid wigs. :) I have a feeling that Shannon will get lots of lessons in scrapbooking while I'm away!!! LOLOL!!!

It's nice to be back at home, but it is so strange to be in a quiet house. This house has NEVER been quiet and it's absolutely eerie. When I walked in last night, it felt so empty. I spent the majority of today cleaning, rearranging, putting things away, doing laundry, etc. Just trying to get things back to"normal," whatever that will mean in the coming days.

The next time I come home, I will have Sahara with me!!! What a great day that will be. Time to call it a night. I'll see many of you in church tomorrow. To my wonderful friends and neighbors here in Cape, I'll try to see as many of you as I can while I'm here. I love you all and miss you so much!


Friday, September 15, 2006

Gone fishin'

The changing of the guard has taken place. Shannon is now Mr. Mom and will be chasing Sahara around the basketball court. Amy has gone home to Missouri for a few days of rest and recharging.

I'm working on a page that lists various Sahara benefits and fundraisers. If you are running something and have details, please let me know. I've talked with some of you already, but if there's more going on and you want to share that with the world, pipe up. Easiest way to get me is at scarletcommunications dot com.

It was one of those weeks for me. I realized at 6 pm today that I hadn't yet had breakfast. Sigh. It poured the whole way home, so traffic crawled and I contemplated eating either my left arm (since I drive right-handed), a Milky-way bite size wrapper that had the decency to smell like chocolate, or my entire car. We went to a little Mexican joint and when the cashier offered us free chips I practically grabbed the whole tray and a grande vat of salsa.

I've ordered Amy to rest (as if I have any authority) so the site may be quiet for a bit. Not to worry. All quiet on the Texas front, as they say.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Don't mess with country girls

Lots of questions lately on fundraisers for Sahara--you people amaze me. We're working on building a page that will list what's out there (and semi-officially sanctioned by the Aldridge family). I'll let everyone know when it's ready to go, and once it is, you'll be able to link from this site.

Have you ever had a spa treatment, only to have its calming effects ripped out of you like giblets out of the Thanksgiving bird?

Tonight we had a lovely lady from BeautiControl in the house. She gave us mini-treatments (hands, feet, cold pads on the eyes...relaxing music...blissful). Just prior to that, I had ordered a pizza. Thinking I was in the clear as far as dinner was concerned, and with Sahara chatting away with a really sweet girl named Maranda from Illinois, I was finally able to sit down and relax.

Got finished and was feelin' gooooood, only to discover that the pizza not only hadn't arrived, but that they had LOST our order. Three phone calls to two managers later, two separate lost AND canceled orders, and a very unladylike tirade from me, we finally got pizza at 8:30, two and a half hours late.

They actually thought that giving them to me half-price was customer friendly and that I should be happy with that solution. WRONG answer, idiots. I went OFF, never swearing once, but using big words like BAD PUBLICITYand HUNGRY CANCER PATIENTS to the nitwits on the phone. When it was finally over, I gave the poor, bewildered delivery guy a very nice tip and he gave me two free pizzas. Today's lesson: don't mess with country girls. We don't take any crap.

ANYHOO...Sahara had a decent day, but was very tired. After her radiation treatment this morning, and the ensuing side trip to Burger King for some breakfast, she was wiped out. I let her rest today, without going to class. I know she'll make up for it when she feels better.

My sister left this afternoon, which was hard. She hates goodbyes even more than I do, and we were all pretty bummed out. But I'll see her again over the weekend when I get back home.

Later in the afternoon, Sahara bounced the basketball for a while, and enjoyed being outside for a bit. She ran, about 15 feet or so, which was the first time she had run since July 16. She also did some walking backwards, and did very well. It was so cool to watch her trying things that she's been too nervous to attempt until now!

Shannon's coming back tomorrow and we are very glad. Time for him to be Mr. Mom for a while. LOL. I know that they will have a great time together over the next week.

My time's up so I'll close for tonight. Take care, everyone!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Hello, all!
Today was much better than yesterday - that's the way it seems to go most of the time. One good, one not so good. Today's appointments went like clockwork; we even got out of the second one a few minutes early. Sahara hasn't been sick today, which is such a relief! She went to class when we got back this morning, and again this afternoon. This is the most time she's attended in one day since we arrived here. :) Even had all of her homework done before 5 pm!

Tonight was Southwest Airlines night, which is such a treat here at the RMDH! They brought amazing food (chicken enchiladas, beef tamales, chips and queso, and margaritas for those who elected to imbibe!). We even had a band! Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time, and it really helped to take our minds off of hospitals for a little while. Southwest is a huge supporter of RMD Houses nationwide, providing support, meals, furnishings...all kinds of things. We laughed at the fact that we again had the little cups of Coke and peanuts, a la Southwest. I got a photo of Sahara with some of those. Ha!

The Houston RMDH is getting ready to host its big annual gala, I believe at the end of September. So, if you're in this region, be sure to get out and support this amazing place if you are so inclined!

The big cheese himself, Ronald McDonald, showed up tonight and was a big hit with the little ones. Sahara rolled her eyes. LOLOL. Now if Zac Efron were to show up...or maybe Dylan and Cole Sprouse...THAT would impress her!!!

My sister will fly home late tomorrow afternoon, which will be a major drag. It's so nice having her here. Sahara will probably cry, then I'll cry, then Sandy will cry, and it will be a big mess.
I promise to send some cool photos to the blog once I have access to them back home. I took some tonight of some of our favorite folks and I look forward to sharing them with all of you.

Time to get Sahara a bath and to bed. She had a good day but is still pretty darn tired. I will talk to y'all again soon!


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

You had a bad day

Yesterday was sunny, with a blue sky and a clear moon in the morning, and as I drove to work, dozens of cars had large American flags flying out the window. Five years later, the thought of September 11 still leaves a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes. We could smell the smoke, 25 miles away on Long Island, and our blue skies stayed grey for weeks. I wasn't in the city that day; I can't even imagine it. A year later I got a job across the street from Ground Zero and it was still too awful to bear.

But with any crisis comes great strength. People surprise us. And isn't it marvelous to watch ordinary humans become heroes?

Amy, hero that she is, had a BAD day yesterday, but censored most of it. But I'll let one little bit slip: a can of mandarin oranges gave her a big old clunk on the forehead. It was THAT kind of day in Houston.

Hello everyone! This day was less than pleasant...didn't start out very well and got worse before it got better. Let's suffice it to say that it was a rough day at the doctor's office. It wasn't just was everyone, it seemed.

She got sick a couple times today, and was very glad to get finished with the stressful morning and the extremely late round of chemo that she received. We thought we'd never get finished.

As worn out as she was from the morning, when we got back to the RMDH about 1:30, she said she wanted to go to class for the last hour of the day. I couldn't believe it. She's really in "get 'er done" mode right now. She knows that she has to attend so many hours of school each week, and she's trying to get that accomplished. After that, she did some painting with the arts & crafts people, had a late lunch, played with some of the other kids, had dinner, played a game of pool (and beat me), did her homework, and went to bed at 9 pm. Makes me tired just thinking about it. LOL.

Her main focus now is counting down the days until she gets to come home in October. While we're still not sure of the exact day, at least that hope is on the horizon. It truly motivates her each day, to know that she's one day closer to her family, friends and pets!:)

Here's to a bright Tuesday.


Monday, September 11, 2006


Today was a day that made me cry...but in the best of ways.

Sahara woke up feeling really good today (yay!). We had breakfast and hung out for a while, then she announced that she was going outside to play basketball. I nearly fell out of my chair. She hasn't touched a basketball since her diagnosis. Wouldn't even discuss it. Her self-consciousness about her right hand and her balance was just too deep. She marched out to the court, which is right outside the RMDH dining room. By the time I followed her outside, she was dribbling...WITH HER RIGHT HAND.

I stood there and cried. (She laughed at me.) We played for a while, then she backed up, looked at the net, focused, and from 16 feet out - s w o o s h. SHE MADE IT!!!!! I don't know who was more excited!!!!! She hit three more shots before she started to get tired.

It was really hot and humid today. But what a great day it has been! She felt good all day long. Ate well, played games, never napped...she was Sahara through and through.

She, my sister and I had a wonderful time visiting.

Each victory is a gift from GOD, and we bless his name for every single one. Tomorrow we start the day early with radiation, labs, a visit with the great German doc, and a 1-hour round of chemo. By noon we should be back to the RMDH. Hopefully she'll feel like going to class tomorrow afternoon, but we'll just have to see how it goes.

I hope you have a great week!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Warning: cheesy idol worship ahead (and crocs!)

Check out the feet on these kids! They're Sahara's cousins, and they know the power of good Crocs! It's Sunday which means I get to wear my pink ones ALL DAY!

Now, being the child of a cheeselord (my daddy's in the dairy industry) I will just say one thing about the post below: sometimes you've got to fight for the cheese (although in this case, it was probably cheez).

What food would you fight for? Me? It would probably involve potatoes. I'm thinking vichysoisse. Or a nice pan of potatoes dauphinois. With a little extra cheese, of course.

And one more thing? Ace? He may be pretty, but Mandisa rocks my world. She and Chris were robbed!

Hope there are some good weekends being had out there- we are having one ourselves!

Yesterday afternoon after Sahara had finished her radiation treatment, one of the wonderful ladies from the Child Life Department at MD Anderson came running up to us, and she was VERY excited. With good reason - turns out that someone, we'll call her "the angel in Mississippi who couldn't use her American Idol Tour tickets," donated said tickets to MD Anderson.

Guess who the lucky recipient was? Sahara, of course! AMERICAN FREAKIN' IDOL! One of our favorite shows that we never miss! Sahara had a pretty good day today. Still tired, but improving, still icky at times, but again, improving.

She was going to the show no matter what. It was just a few blocks away at Reliant Center, so it wasn't a hassle getting there. (Thank God!!) She got dolled up and looked absolutely great tonight. Did a fine job of representing the Cardinals with her brand new pink ball cap, and wore her beautiful new Sahara "twin necklace" (thank you, thank you, thank you!!!). I wore one of the Sahara buttons, too!!! SO COOL - you guys ROCK!!!

We took a cab over to Reliant (and didn't get lost or dropped off a mile away, I'm pleased to tell you), and saw so many people, it was just crazy. This show, like the rest of the dates for this tour, was sold out. Went inside and saw a logistical miscalculation ofHUGE proportions...they had set up the merchandise booth directly across from the front entrance. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of people smashed like sardines waiting in line to buy souvenirs. Those lines caused the lines of people trying to get in to back up, and for a while it was sheer chaos. We chose to go to our seats and wait a while to shop.

I ended up going back out myself, because it was so hot and so crowded. Got her a t-shirt and a tour program and she was sooooo happy. :)

I must tell you about the cheese incident. I thought the whole planet served cheese with soft pretzels. Apparently, I was mistaken. I stepped up to the counter to get one for S, because they are one of her most favorite things. Asked for cheese. Was told, "We can't give you cheese. Don't have containers for cheese. Supervisor won't let me give you cheese." Um, there is a giant vat of cheese right in front of me. I asked politely if she might place a pretzel on one of the plastic plates that were being used for nachos, with a dollop of cheese on the side. "Nope. Can't give you a plate. They count the plates." Okay, at this point I am STEAMING at the sheer stupidity of the situation. The supervisor was glaring at me as if I was asking them to prepare me a four-course meal, or worse yet, mess up her little system, and she refused to speak. I proceeded to describe their utter lack of customer service and that it was one of the most ridiculous things I'd ever seen. Finally, the lady at the register made the sneakiest move ever...she grabbed a sheet of waxed paper (gee, I hope they don't COUNT those) and poured some cheese in it, stuffed it under the pretzel paper and was GONE before the supervisor could see the traitorous act against humanity that she had just performed. Wow, she was fast.
Good grief!!!! Why do these things happen to ME???

Got back inside just in time to see Mandisa open up the show with, "I'm Every Woman." That place was going nuts!!! She got the audience on its feet and rocked the house. She was phenomenal. Next out was Ace, who I really wasn't crazy about during the tv show, but really impressed me tonight. He did a great job with"Father Figure" and a Justin Timberlake cover. Then came Lisa Tucker, Paris Bennett (WOW, was she on fire tonight, singing "Midnight Train to Georgia" and Crazy in Love"), Bucky Covington and Kellie Pickler. They were all outstanding, and are truly stars in their own right.

The cutest thing, though was when Bucky finished singing "Superstition," and you could see Kellie up on one of the risers. The music changed...and the next thing I knew the band was playing, "You're the One that I Want," from GREASE!!!Sahara and I laughed and laughed, and sang along to the whole song. It was SO much fun. They were absolutely adorable together.

After that, there was an intermission. Sahara had pretty much worn herself out singing, and it was obvious that it was time to go. She hated to miss Elliott, Chris, Katharine and most of all Taylor...but she was so glad she got the chance to go at all! The wonderful security guards at Reliant got us a cab and waited with us until it got there. Totally made up for the cheese incident!

She was asleep within 15 minutes of getting back to the house. But she has some great memories of a fantastic show to talk about tomorrow! Another little victory today, too. She tied her shoes. Sounds so trivial...but when your right hand hasn't worked in two months, it's a very big deal! God is at work here - she is regaining strength and ability each day. Keep praying, folks - we truly believe that it's working!!!

Love to you all...and have a great Sunday.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Friday, part two

A quiet day for Sahara - she felt icky and didn't make it to school. She's missed the entire week, which means she'll have some serious catching up to do in the days to come. We went to the hospital for radiation this afternoon, then came back just in time to greet my sister. She flew in this afternoon, and boy are we glad to see her. Looks like it'll be an early night, because all of us are tired!

She received a MOUNTAIN of mail and packages today - thank each and every one of you wonderful folks!!! WOW!!!!! The coolest stuff I've ever seen. I want to reach out and hug each and every one of you, so here goes: <<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>> Thank you, thank you, thank you, for giving Sahara neat activities to do, fun things to read, AWESOME photos of Rick and yourselves, and for the love that is in the packages. it's so much fun opening each and every one of them.

Thanks to those who continue to take care of Shannon while we're down here - gotta keep that boy fed. He's getting absolutely skinny!

I hope everyone has a great weekend. We're gonna rest and relax.

Love to all,


Good morning. I've got a couple of long posts from Amy--all is well in Houston, and I'll be loading her Friday night update later this morning. But this message is special. It needs to stand alone. Why? Because with all the good things happening for Sahara, sometimes the thanks get lost.

The thanks are all very heartfelt, indeed. But how do you thank a whole group of experts who lead you to your only hope for a miracle?

The Angels at St. Francis

Today our family would like to acknowledge the outstanding people at St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau. Without their assistance and support, we might not have been able to get Sahara into the amazing place known as MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Center. About a year ago, St. Francis became a part of the MD Anderson Network, allowing cancer patients in our area to reap the benefits of being associated with this premier medical community. We never could have known how much that affiliation would affect the future of our family.

We wish to personally thank the administration and staff at St. Francis, including CEO and President Steve Bjelich, Dennis Van Asche at the St. Francis Cancer Institute, Marilyn Curtis and Bill Tegel, for their immediate action upon learning of Sahara’s diagnosis. Within twenty-four hours of receiving our information, we had an appointment with Dr. Johannes Wolff, an expert in Sahara’s type of tumor, and we were on our way to Houston. After seeing Dr. Wolff and undergoing extensive testing, the very next day Sahara began receiving treatment. In less than four days we were well underway to fighting this disease. Without the help of St. Francis, there is no way we could have accomplished this feat. St. Francis Medical Center truly cares.

To Tee and the wonderful folks in the laundry department, the purchasing and receiving departments, and everyone else in between, your kindness will never be forgotten.

St. Francis now has the resources and access to one of the top cancer research hospitals in the country. We cannot stress enough the importance of this link. Their partnership not only helped us get our daughter into the MD Anderson system, but will allow her to be treated on an outpatient basis once she is back home from Houston. They will work hand in hand in treating Sahara’s cancer at home, which is so very important. Our family is deeply grateful for the alliance between St. Francis Medical Center and MD Anderson.

Our community should be very proud and aware of this team. It will serve our region well in years to come.

Thank you!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Show me the way to go home

Maybe it's the moon. Seems everyone I know is having a rough week. I've had my ups and downs, but today, I'm tired and teary. I came home and crawled into bed, and then I worried about 10 million little things. Such is life.

I don't laugh in my sleep, but I do have weird dreams about one of my colleagues. Last night I dreamed I took her home from work and she kept trying to make me chicken and show me a green photo album. Another time, she had a sheep in a meadow and was trying to put his feet in sneakers.

My husband talks in his sleep. He is a teacher; when we were first married he'd be snoring away and would suddenly yell "Everybody line up! Get on the bus!" But my favorite was when he suddenly beamed in his sleep and mumbled "Mmmmmm. Chicken!"

Sweet dreams to Sahara--and to all who make her world a little brighter.

It's almost the weekend, and this should be a good one! My sister Sandy is flying down tomorrow afternoon. We are very excited and can't wait to see her. :)

Today was, as Sahara predicted last night, not as good as yesterday. The fatigue got the best of her, and she's really been exhausted and sleepy. Had to make two separate trips to the hospital for appointments and radiation today. That contributed to making her even more tired. Tonight she asked for Papa John's pizza, so we ordered in. Hadn't had any of that since before we left home, so it tasted great to both of us. I was just glad to see her interested in eating something. She went to bed early tonight, and I hope she'll have more energy in the morning.

Dr. Wolfe is so pleased with her progress. Let's just all continue to pray that it keeps happening, a little bit at a time, until this tumor is history.

One of our families at the RMDH found out today that their 15 year old daughter has another bone tumor, this time on her skull, and it's pressing on her brain. They weren't expecting this, because they were here for surgery on her leg for bone cancer. We all have our good days, and we all have our bad days.

We "scrapbooked" a sign for our room door at the RMDH. It was Sahara's idea, and it is so cute. After I get my camera and computer cables when I go home, I will try to start sending photos of us and the cool things we do.

I need to clarify a couple of things, to the best of my ability at this time! There are two different benefits being held in Cape Girardeau.

The first one is called "Love 2 Sahara," which is being coordinated by Allison Morningstar and Angie & Bill Tegel, and will be held at the Elks Club on Saturday night, October 14. There will be a dance and a silent auction. It is going to be such a fun night!

The other big event is called "Hope for Hoops." It is being put together by a group of Sahara's teachers from Central Middle School and Central Junior High School. It will be held on Sunday afternoon, October 15, at Capaha Park. There will be two bands playing at the Band Shelter. Food, drinks and bracelets, among other things, will be sold. I will have more specifics as time draws nearer. These events are possible because we have the greatest friends, teachers and family that anyone could ever hope for!!! Thank you ALL!!!

I'm beat tonight myself, so I'm gonna make this short. I can't even think of one clever thing to say!!! Take care and I'll talk to y'all tomorrow!!!


Dream a little dream

HOORAY! We got out of the hospital last night and were back at the RMDH promptly at midnight. We got the best sleep EVER - until 9:30 this morning! Both of us felt sooo much better after that. We really needed some sound, uninterrupted rest.

Sahara had a bunch of mail to open that had accumulated during the days she was gone. WOW! You guys are getting so creative! AMB, we want to meet you. You must be one of those teachers that really gets involved with her students. We can just tell!! Such fun things!!!

We watched "13 Going on 30" today (thank you very much!) and the most amazing thing happened. She was watching the Jessie's Girl video at the end of the movie. She was singing along, when all of a sudden she yelled "MOM!" I came flying into the room, expecting something, uh, awful, when I saw that she was grinning from ear to ear (and yes, she can do THAT again!). The use of her right hand has been one of the main losses she's suffered since the beginning of this journey. Today: she is able to snap her fingers on her right hand! She was singing and then, before she even realized it, SNAPPING!!! She was so excited she had to call Shannon immediately. It was really a milestone. :)

Also today: she did two jumping jacks. AND she cut with pinking shears during a scrapbooking class. BIG TIME STUFF, PEOPLE!!! We are taking each thing as a victory. (And she's gained a new hobby in scrapbooking, thanks to all of you wonderful folks who have sent the COOLEST materials. I never knew how much fun it could be! THANK YOU ALL!!!)

This afternoon she had radiation. Normally we take the shuttle to the hospital. But today, she asked that I push her in the wheelchair and walk instead. It's too far for her to walk, but it's a pleasant 15 minute walk for me. It wasn't too hot today, and we really enjoyed it. It's the first time she's had an interest in going outside since we've been here. She just didn't care to get hot, and the sun hurt her eyes. Today she did VERY well and really had a good time being out in some fresh air!

I have to tell a little secret about Sahara. She doesn't have nightmares. She has laughmares. Every night, without fail, at some point she will literally SHAKE with laughter in her sleep. My personal favorite is her "Snidely Whiplash snicker." Sometimes she laughs so hard and so loud that she will wake me up from a sound sleep and scare the heck out of me. You can watch her and see that she is "somewhere," having the best time. It is absolutely hilarious. One of our nurses got to witness it two nights ago, and he was cracking up, not believing what he was seeing. LOL.

I'd give anything to know what she's dreaming about. I have a feeling it has to do with cats, dogs and the best kids in the world back in Cape. :) I think that she only dreams about good things. Her life is filled with them. The scary stuff only happens in the daytime...but her nights are filled with the love and laughter of a host of family and friends, and these things keep her spirit happy.

(My childhood nightmares are enough to fill a book. The worst one I ever had was the one in which my dad was chasing me with a staple gun. But I digress. )

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Oh, so you think I'm slacking, do you? Of course Amy can write. That's one of the reasons I love her so. There aren't many people I trust with my writing in its raw stages but conversations with Amy have turned into some of my greatest essays. She makes me laugh just as hard as she makes me cry sometimes. And then we go on about our husbands and we both cry. Hee!

No, J and Shannon, we adore you. Stop pouting. It's not about you.

Tonight it's about Gramma Dooley. Would you please shoot me an email at pamela at scarletcommunications dot com? I promise I'll be gentle.

I've taken up the habit of Googling myself once a month; most of what I find is actually me! I've also found Google results for me in Russian (which I can read) and Arabic and Hebrew, which I can't. For a while there was also something in Korean, probably because I write about the nail salon industry. For some strange reason, my manicurist (who is Korean) just shook her head when I showed it to her. Hmmm. I guess they didn't like my article!

This is a busy week for me, so my posts are likely to be abbreviated. Thank goodness Amy is keeping you all entertained and informed. I'll do my best to get things online each morning, but if you don't hear from us, don't panic. Just means I'm asleep in front of the computer.

I have always hated, loathed and despised bumper cars. For the local folks back home who might remember the place, it all began at Noble Park in Paducah, KY. In the summertimes of my small town youth, it was our Disneyworld. A beautiful park with rides that were open all season. A rickety and undoubtedly dangerous roller coaster called The Wild Mouse, which would leave you with a sore neck, the Merry Mixer, the Octopus, the Parachutes, the Swings that made me so sick once that I threw up behind the merry-go-round, a train that ran around the park, and tons of great junk food like corn dogs and Astro Pops. There was even a water slide adjacent to the park in later years. Good times. Mostly. (Although, I spent one of the worst days of my entire adolescent experience at that water park. But that's another story.)

And then there were the bumper cars. I can still see them, mocking me as I waited in line to ride. I'd try to scope out the one that moved the best...the one that didn't die in the middle or get stuck in a corner. It never worked. I always ended up getting smashed over and over by some smirking, pimply-faced punk who enjoyed my misery waaaay too much. I remember the antenna-like things on the backs of the cars that connected with the ceiling for electricity. Even got burned once by flying sparks. Stupid bumper cars. Yet another scar on my childhood.

It all came rushing back to me last night when I had this moment of "wow." Several of the kids on the floor were out at the same time last night, taking walks around the wing and getting some exercise. Some were walking, some were in wheelchairs...but they all had one thing in common. The antenna-like things that are IV carts. Everybody has one. Some have lots of IV bags, some have only one or two, but everyone is alike with their tagalong hardware. Occasionally, as we crossed paths with one another as we took our walk, it was necessary to move to one side or another, or even make a quick dodge if the patient was little and not a very good "driver."

And then it hit was suddenly a distant version of bumper cars. Sometimes you get stuck, in a doorway that has a bit of a threshold that is hard to get across. Sometimes you get bumped even when you're minding your own personal beeswax. Courtesy is the norm, but there's always that chance of running into someone or getting in someone else's way. I've even witnessed a bit of rudeness in traffic. We have a couple of kids who are just so miserable that they refuse to move, but I can understand that now. At least there's no one grinning and trying to smash us into a corner.

Looks like we are OUTTA HERE tonight! Sahara's hydration cycle ends at 11 pm, and Dr. Wolfe says we can leave any time after that (or we can stay until morning...which do YOU think we chose?). She's taking a short nap now, and in a while I'll throw everything into the duffel bags and be ready whenever they give us the okay to go. At night, the University of Texas security shuttles give rides, so it'll be easy to get back to the RMDH.

She was tired today, but never got sick. Had her radiation treatment at 2, a couple of doctor consults in the room, and that was that for the day.

Can't wait to sleep in a nice, quiet room tonight. No nurses, beeping machines or trying to get her and the IV cart into the bathroom. Oh yeah!

Tomorrow I'll post all of the details I currently have for the benefit on October 15.

Have a great night, all!


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Have you ever googled yourself?

Looking yourself up on the internet can be lots of fun--and when you get older, exasperating. It seems there is another person who shares my name, and naturally our "stuff" mixes up a bit. I've learned not to worry about it. What's fun is finding search engine results in another language and realizing that they really are talking about me.

Try it sometime... and go for more than Google. Perhaps you'll discover something--or someone wonderful!

While we're on wonderful, I'll join Amy and Sahara in a big thanks to those who didn't have yesterday off. Many years ago, I worked in a big hospital's emergency department, and I did the night shift on every single holiday. But I'll let you in on a secret: double or triple overtime for holiday pay. Those shifts were the best! And no cranky bosses to order us around. We worked hard, but those were the days we had time to smile at our patients, to walk a parent to the cafeteria instead of handing her a pre-printed slip, or have a real conversation with a young doctor who had to be there for the holiday. Days like Labor Day were a treat.

I've never had to work on Labor Day. I've always been lucky enough to have the day off, many times spending the holiday weekend going to concerts or to the beach. Never gave much thought to those unfortunate ones who had to work - like nurses, housekeepers, maintenance folks and other essential people who keep a giant place like MD Anderson going, even when many of the doctors and administrative personnel are enjoying three-day weekends. These folks have to work extra hard on days like today. Bless them all. And if you are working, thank you for whatever it is that you are doing!

Sahara woke up feeling great this morning. You just never know! She didn't even take a nap today. We talked on the phone to friends and family, watched movies, and had some really great conversations. She was so excited to find out that she's on a couple of other websites. Imagine the look on her face when she saw her photo smack-dab in the middle of this afternoon!!! For all of us General Hospital fans, how cool is that?? I think she swooned a little! LOL. Word has it that he is a really nice guy. Dr. Patrick Drake...wooo hoooo! I also heard that she's on a Nickelback site, but I haven't been able to find that one yet. She looooves that band!

Just started the last dose of this round of chemo. If all goes well, we might be able to get out of here tomorrow evening. It all depends on how her blood levels check out later in the day. At the latest, we'll get released Wednesday, but she is hoping soooo hard that it won't be that long. We are definitely tired of being in the hospital!

We have a 9:30 checkup with the radiation oncologist in the morning. We meet with her each Tuesday. The next radiation treatment is at 2:30. Let the new week begin!


Sunday, September 03, 2006

The tooth fairy

Another roadtrip out on the island today--top down, with less screaming from me. I got my hair cut yesterday so my bangs no longer blow into my eyes. And after all this rain, the sunshine felt pretty good. Sahara, if you were in the Beetle's backseat you would've seen (and smelled) goats, chickens, three horses, two brown cows, and an invisible but very stinky pig farm.

We visited a winery, had a flight and a glass, then hit some farm stands for sweet corn (the perfect dinner), peaches, nectarines, and big bunches of colorful flowers. I felt like a bride riding back home. The nectarines were so sweet--I still have juice running down my chin.

A couple of updates to note: first, we've added a line to the address for Sahara's fund. It's on the right if you're interested. And second, someone brought up a protocol issue in the comments that is not correct. You do not have to comment anonymously. However, I will remove address and phone number information left in the comments, especially from kids. It's just not a safe thing to do. If you truly need to reach Sahara or her family, leave me a message with your email address and I will get it to them.

Sahara has many friends, teachers, and supporters leaving encouraging messages here and it would be silly to make them anonymous. Just use good judgment, everyone.

Oh, if that remake ever happens (see below) I wanna be Rizzo. And Amy? Frenchy for sure.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday...alternately reading and napping, chatting with various folks who were so excited to see us in the paper today, and enjoying the fact that Sahara felt pretty darned good this afternoon and evening.

The day did manage to provide a bit of excitement. The jaw tooth that's been loose for weeks finally decided that this was the day it had to be extricated. As she's done with every tooth before, out of the blue, she says, "I need to pull this tooth."

Five minutes later it's out and she's handing me the bloody evidence. I thought it would be a good idea to tell the nurse, in case we had an issue with bleeding. We were told it could be a problem if she got any cuts, so I'm always on the lookout.

Anyway, I found our nurse, Ponamma(pronounced "Panama"), a sweet lady from India. Told her what had happened, and I could tell it freaked her out a little. She said she'd be right there, and took off like a shot. I went back in the room with Sahara, and about two seconds later she came running in with alcohol pads and other assorted "nurse stuff." She was looking at S in a weird way, checking her port, etc. Then we looked at each other - she had misunderstood!

When I'd said, "she pulled out a tooth," she thought I had said, "she pulled out a TUBE!" No wonder she was running around like crazy. LOLOL. We all had a good laugh over it.

Sometimes things just get lost in translation. There are people from all over the world working here, and the accents can be hard to understand at times. Ponamma said she'd never had a patient lose a tooth on her shift before. She also told Sahara that she couldn't eat anything except broth and jello until tomorrow. As if. (In her defense, I know she was trying to prevent unnecessary bleeding, but it had completely stopped within 15 minutes. No clotting problems at all.)

Sahara had been starving right before she pulled the tooth. She wanted her soft tacos (which consist of a soft tortilla, sour cream and cheese) and she wanted them NOW. At the risk of being found out and chastised, I made them for her anyway. Cut 'em up in little pieces and she ate every bite. She didn't have any problems at all, either. It's a good thing, too - they probably have very special ways of punishing parents who break the rules.

The nurses on the floor were so excited to see the article in the Missourian online. One of them printed it and put it on their break room wall. She's become one of their favorites. Gee, that's a surprise. You all know how shy and demure she is. HA!

Isn't the photo in the article just perfect? It totally captured Sahara and Shannon picking at each other. She felt so bad, but she still managed to make it a really cute shot. I'm just happy you can't see the dark circles under my eyes and the fact that I am having a hair emergency. Shery Varney - I will be calling you SOON. :)

We think Matt Sanders did a great job with the article. Her tumor is not a neuroblastoma (it's a glioblastoma), but that is an honest mistake. A couple of months ago I certainly wouldn't have known the difference. But aside from that, he really managed to capture her story and paint a really good picture of what is happening here. Kudos, Matt. We really appreciate your hard work!!! She enjoyed being interviewed on the phone!

We were talking about "Grease" again this afternoon. The idea posted about having a big showing/party at the theater in Cape sounds like so much fun!!! I think we should try to do that once we get back home for good in November!!! (By the way, Sahara thinks there should be a new version of the movie with Rick S. as Danny and his wife Barbara as Sandy. Perfectly adorable, don't you think???

The nurses will be coming in a few minutes to hook up tonight's chemo. I hope she manages to make it through without getting too sick. They've changed the way they are giving her the anti-nausea meds, and today was much better. We'd been using the "puke pills" with fair results, but they have been putting liquid Zofran in her IV today. Seems to work better for this situation.

And so far (knock on wood) no mouth sores with this round of chemo. That is such a relief.

I hope all of you have a great Labor Day holiday! It makes me realize that I can't wait until we're sitting on our patio again, with Shannon cooking on the grill. I don't care if it's snowing when we finally get home in November...I want to fill the neighborhood with the heavenly aroma of grilled burgers and steaks! To all a good night!

Front page news

Here in New York, we've got front page tales of Ernesto the wimp, who somehow managed to uproot a tree and flood a street or two. In Cape, they've got Sahara (and her parents).

Once you've had your coffee (or juice, or mango bellini, if you are in a party mood) you can check out the story here.

For those of you asking about Sahara's benefit in Cape, we'll post details once things are confirmed. A bunch of people have emailed me for the scoop--I'm not withholding secrets. Once the Aldridge family knows, they'll get the info out there. Promise!

Now get back to bed!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Hopelessly devoted

At last, the riddle's answer is revealed--although I loved some of your guesses--and one of you got it right! A big thanks to NV, for being a hero and living the principle of Give A Kid A Hand. I'm humbled.

Oh, and two more things--that computer cretin was certainly not Amy and as bad as I look some mornings, not me, either. Hee! And Ernesto is a wimp. Misty showers, light wind. Bring on the sunshine.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging!

It was probably the best entry I’ve ever written. I had the time and the equipment to sit down and really pour my heart out. Took me over an hour. I hit “send” - and received “page cannot be displayed.” Gone. I think it was Yahoo’s fault. I’ll do my best to try to recreate what I wrote last night!

Yesterday was full of great things. It didn’t start out so great, though. Sahara began her first night of chemo at 11 pm Thursday evening. About 5 am she started getting sick. That lasted until around 9. She felt crappy the rest of the morning, but began to bounce back by the afternoon. Her resilience never stops amazing me.

Let’s see, where to start with the good stuff? It appears that there will be an article about Sahara’s battle in the Sunday issue of the Southeast Missourian newspaper! Some friends of ours contacted reporter Matt Sanders and told them about her. He got in touch with Shannon, and ultimately did interviews with all three of us. He even contacted the communications department here at MD Anderson, and got a photographer from Houston to come by and take some photos of us in the hospital room. Poor Sahara wasn’t feeling well when they came by, but she mustered a couple of smiles for the camera. :) He also interviewed some people near and dear to us. We can’t wait to see how the article turns out!

At 3:30 Friday afternoon, she got her second radiation treatment. While she was getting that done, I ran back to the RMDH to pick up a few things, retrieve the mail, and made a quick dash to the store. Sahara’s surprise from Pamela had arrived. Did anyone guess the riddle? Black and blue, and the farmer had one??? Drumroll, please...

A LAPTOP! A Dell laptop!!! (get and blue...farmer in the dell...giggle, snort...LOLOL) My friend Pamela is not only brilliant, she’s resourceful, determined and very, very well connected. I happen to think she’s one of the most fabulous people on the planet. THANK YOU, PX!!!!!

At last...we can communicate without time limits! Imagine my sheer joy when, last night, I discovered that all guests (they call us guests) at MD Anderson are provided with free wireless internet during their stay. YEAHHH!!!

Sahara’s mouth dropped wide open when I presented her with Aunt Pamela’s awesome surprise. Our first order of business was to watch the dvd we received from her wonderful friends and teachers back home in Cape.

People, you can’t imagine how much this video MADE HER DAY. She’s watched it five times already. It’s so cool - her friends lead a virtual tour through Central Junior High, through each hour of Sahara’s classes. She gets to see who’s in her classes, meet her teachers, and see what the school is like.

I cried through the whole thing. It’s the greatest! Those who had a hand in producing this for Sahara, THANK YOU!!! She LOVED seeing all of you and it has really lifted her up. I would love to share this video with everyone so they can see just how great the people are in Cape Girardeau, USA! All of her friends, ALL of her teachers (and I do mean ALL of them...from her kindergarten teacher, her grade school teachers, her middle school teachers, her principals and even the teachers at the Jr. High whom she hasn’t even met yet!). They all sent greetings and so much love.

She can’t wait to get back to all of you. I was so excited to see the stage choir practicing songs from “Grease!” Sahara already knows the words, so she’ll be able to join right in. That’s my favorite musical and she’s heard those songs all of her life! (I have the anniversary edition dvd, too...LOL!) Thanks again to everyone, for taking the time to put this together for Sahara. :)

If anyone out there knows another child who is going through a similar situation, who is missing out on school and friends, please look into doing a video like this. You will be amazed at the power it has to cheer them up! The connection with HOME is so important. It’s a fantastic gift.

To the members of RSU - there simply aren’t enough ways to say thank you. I am continually humbled by the acts of kindness we are being shown every day. God bless each and every one of you. And I hope we can see you all at Rick shows one of these days!

We stayed up late last night, watching the video, chatting, snacking, and enjoying each other’s company. Shannon went home early this morning and has that long 12-hour drive ahead. He’ll be back in a couple of weeks, then I’ll head to Missouri myself for a week.

Before he left, we had one of those moments that sends goosebumps flying all over you. She asked us to watch her eyes...lo and behold, there’s some side-to-side movement. Then, she CROSSED her eyes. (Silly girl...LOL!) This is huge! She couldn’t do that a couple of weeks ago! Could it be that the radiation is already shrinking that ghastly tumor??? :)

Got the second dose of chemo started late last night, and she slept through the night without incident. Felt kinda icky about 10 am this morning, but we quelled it with a mighty dose of Zofran, the wonder drug. (Sahara affectionately calls them “puke pills.” LOL.)

Just got the word that patient transportation is on the way to get us, to take her in for her radiation treatment. I’ll close for now, and I hope you all have a great Saturday!


Beastly things

Are you ready for Hurricane Ernesto? Me neither. The weather psychics claim he's going to hit tomorrow, but I'm counting on him to have about as much power as a chipmunk. And hey, if worse comes to worse, I've still got two cases of water from the party, and lots of fresh blueberries in the fridge. All that and a three day weekend--wheeeee!

Amy is still at the hospital with Sahara, and all is going well, except one thing. Apparently the tumor sent its devilish little friends into the hospital's computer--she not only wrote me a juicy email, but she penned an update for me to share with all of you, too. And just when she clapped her hands and said "Eureka!" the computer burped, snorted, made an awful noise that reminded her just why Shannon cannot have beans, and then it ATE THE EMAIL.

She asked me to tell you that it's just technical difficulties, but I think it's the tumor. It obviously doesn't like the radiation/chemo combo platter, so it's looking for a new place to hang out. It seems to me there's got to be a swamp somewhere that would make it feel right at home. Sahara's brain is clearly kicking back.

Her tummy was a bit angry this morning (well, Friday morning) but otherwise, she sailed through the day, her usual sunny self. And, she got her surprise! But I'll let her tell you.