Saturday, May 26, 2007

Love is all you need

Since God and Sahara seem to have things in good hands lately, I'm going to take a little break. This evening, I'm zipping out to Vegas for a few days of bright lights, excitement, great shows (we're seeing Love, woohoo!) and delicious dining...not to mention a spa treatment or two.

So, you'll just have to re-read the last few posts again and again for the week. Hey, they're awfully good. Rest assured, if Amy calls me with anything y'all should know, I'll chew my way into the hotel business center to get the story out there.

Besides the garden-variety Aldridge worship we all do so well, I want to send extra-special (with leopard spots and sparkly beads) thoughts to two of our Sahara site regulars. Nancy from Boston recently completed a 96 mile bike ride for charity with Sahara on her back, in her heart, and of course, on her wrists. Brava!

And Gramma Dooley, bless her heart, finally gave up her gall bladder. Rumor has it she made the anesthesiologist and the surgeon both buy a Sahara bracelet...and she woke up singing "Don't talk to strangers..." Healing wishes to you, my friend, from everyone out in Saharaland.

See you in a week!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Everything is beautiful

Yesterday at work we had an event that involved roaming photographers, and despite my pleas that I am Amish or photograph hideously, they snapped away, every chance they got. In the vast majority of the candid shots, I am curling in my lips in a really bizarre fashion, no matter who I'm talking to or sitting with.

This makes me think that this is actually my normal work face, and that scares me. Do people see me like that? What do they think? On the other hand, my hair, which is a month overdue for both cut and color, looked cool. I really do have early-60s Beatle locks. Who knew?

How we see's so important, isn't it?

Hello, everyone!

The past week has been so wonderful - a dream come true. Sahara has been feeling so much better! The MRI results and news about the possibility of the tumor being dormant have really made a huge difference around here. Maybe, just maybe, we have taken a turn for the BETTER for a change.

The weekend was the frosting on the (chocolate) cake. LOL. She woke up Saturday ready to go places and do things. We were astounded by this...she has barely left the house except for doctor's appointments for the last 6 months. Horseback riding was our first glimmer of hope.

But Saturday was incredible. We dragged Shannon along, and I know he enjoyed it too. First she wanted to go to Target...imagine that. Next we hit Petco, then strolled through Goody's.

We ended up having dinner at Outback, where she enjoyed a big salt-free steak. :)

It was so much fun to be out and about, doing things that we used to take for granted. It didn't end there...Sunday she asked to go to the mall. The MALL!!! We spent about two hours shopping for summer clothes, had a pretzel, and made our obligatory girly purchase at Bath & Body. (Have you smelled the new Sunset Mango lotion??? HEAVENLY!!!)

On our way home we were listening to the radio, and suddenly she was singing along to "Here I Go Again" byWhitesnake. She has always loved that song - and sinceI haven't heard her sing in months, that was such a great moment!!! She told me later, "Mom, I really had fun this weekend." THAT was pure music to my ears.

Thanks to Madison Cannon for sharing your birthday cake with us on Saturday...Sahara would live on the cake diet if we would allow it. LOL. And really, one piece would have been enough!!!!!! :)

Tonight was special, too. Sahara was given the CJHS Terrific Tiger award for the month of May, which was presented to her at the school board meeting this evening. The Hecht clan joined us there, which was so sweet. (Erin and Evan, you give great hugs!!!) It was all I could do to hold it together when the board members presented her with the medal and certificate. I kept thinking how much has changed since she won the same award at CMS exactly one year ago this month.

When everyone clapped for her, I was so very proud. It took guts for her to overcome her nervousness about going out in public - but I think she's done it. We thank the teachers and principals at CJHS for being so kind to Sahara in giving her this award. Sahara said,"But I didn't DO anything!" I had to explain to her that she has been so tough, fighting like crazy to beat this tumor, and she has been on the hearts and minds of the CJHS family all year. They wanted to honor her with the award. That seemed to satisfy her!

Tuesday means a trip to the horse barn and a fun ride on Candy. Sahara can't wait to get there. It is so nice that she now has that to look forward to each week. What a blessing!!!If we can continue on this track of steady improvement, things are gonna be a whole lot brighter around here. Thank GOD for the miracles we have seen in the past week. We are so grateful that Sahara is smiling more and more. :)

With love, Amy

Thursday, May 17, 2007

You take the cake

I discovered a couple of things today. First of all, I had a conversation with Sahara's doctor in Houston that both renewed my faith and totally surprised me when I thought I couldn't be surprised any more. Second, I found out that Sahara was paying attention in Mrs. Parker's class last year. Who knew????

The verdict: Sahara's tumor is still stable with NO new growth. No fluid buildup, no swelling...YEAH!!!! We of course want to hear that it is shrinking into oblivion, but that will come in time.

The shocker came with the next part of her report. The radiologist brought her the MRI reading and said, "This is a low-grade tumor, right? It appears to be dormant." She was as stunned as I STILL am by that statement. She told him that it had been graded stage 4, glioblastoma multiforme when it was diagnosed last July. Well, right now it is NOT behaving like a GBM.

Could it BE that everything we have done to this point has actually had enough effect on the tumor to stop the activity within it????

It looks like the answer is...YES!!!!! I just couldn't wait to get to the other room to tell Sahara the incredible news. I explained everything, first about the tumor remaining stable (which does not impress her), then about the fact that it seems to be in a stage of very low activity, or even dormant. I asked her if she understood what "dormant" means, to which she replied, "Yeah, I learned what dormant means back when we were studying volcanoes in Mrs. Parker's class last year. If a volcano is dormant, it's not moving. It's not active."

I thought, wow, what a PERFECT way to explain it, and I didn't even have to! LOL. So, Mount Tumoria is quiet. It's still in there, in all of its lumpy, ugly glory, but right now it doesn't have much to say. We are going to continue exactly as we have been doing and keep waiting for it to do some serious dissolving. Today we reduced her decadron again, down to 3 mg per day, and as long as she doesn't develop any problems we will reduce it again in another few days. What a blessing it will be if she is able to stop taking it entirely.

She was geniunely happy this afternoon - the happiest I've seen her in ages. She even felt like going outside and playing with LuLu for a while. She and Shannon stayed out for about an hour, which is the longest time she's been in the yard since last summer. This is the fourth day in a row that she has felt pretty darn good - and I'm praying that with this amazing turn of events that she will be feeling good for many days to come!

I went in to work for a couple of hours this afternoon, and on the way home I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a small chocolate cake in the bakery. I had them write "Sahara, YOU ROCK" on it. She was really glad to have cake for dessert tonight. LOL. It was truly a day for some celebration.

OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD...let no one ever forget that!

With love, Amy

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Good vibrations

Sahara's had three really good days in a row. She's been sitting up more, talking more, and acting much more alert. Today she had an MRI, which is always nerve wracking, but we all did very well. We finished too late to get a radiologist to read the scans, and I had to get the cd shipped overnight to Houston. They'll have it soon enough, and we will hopefully hear some GOOD news tomorrow.

Praying hard that the improvements she's had lately are good signs that the beast might be shrinking. As soon as we know some results, I'll let y'all know.

A million thanks to everyone who participated in the Milwaukee fundraiser on Saturday...another fantastic effort by our Rick Springfield fan club family. Sending big hugs to Teresa, Linda, Pamela, Dawn, Michalle, and ALL of you who helped or attended...our deepest love and thanks. Thanks to Rick for the shirt off his back, too. LOL.

My goal is to attend next year- and perhaps help with a fundraiser for another family who needs it - with Sahara by my side. :)

And just how lucky are we??? We have GRAMPA Dooley heading up Sahara's bathroom project!!! This family was truly heaven-sent to us. Sahara is looking forward to taking baths without Shannon having to haul her up the stairs like a sack of potatoes. LOL. If it wasn't such a scary sight, it would make a reeeeally funny video.

Horseback riding was cancelled today, dang it. Maybe we can go another day this week. She enjoys that SO much. It's a great motivator to get her out of the house for a while!

I'll post again when there's news about the MRI. Everyone just keep praying!

With love, Amy

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Rocked for Hoops

The Rickchicks continue to amaze me, and if you are a Saharafan, tonight when you say your prayers, add a collective thanks to the mix for blessing the world with such a spirited, giving group. And another thanks for giving Rick the heart, soul, talent (and body!) that inspires his fans to help Sahara.

Saturday's Rockin for Hoops luncheon brought in an amazing $13,450 for Sahara. Which means, if I've read the plumbing catalog right, we can definitely do that solid gold toilet with the mink seat. Woohoo, people! Bless you all.

It's almost as exciting as having Rick talk about me during last night's concert...I just hope that giant carrot wasn't headed in my direction. Oh my.

Seriously, though, thank you to every single person in that room--and every single person who helped make it happen. You are all blessings in Sahara's life.

A big thanks to Laurel for sharing the photo in her online gallery--great shot!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


This weekend I am headed to Milwaukee, and it's a homecoming of sorts. I lived in Wisconsin for much of my childhood, and there is a part of me that still considers it home. Twenty minutes after my plane lands, I'll have slipped into the rounded German accent. It's a quick trip, so I won't have time to visit the old homestead. The last time I did, we drove through the old neighborhood and all the names on the mailboxes were the same...except the one on my old house. It was a good place to call home.

On Saturday, I'll be speaking for Sahara at a luncheon put on by a dedicated group of Rick Springfield fans. We'll be raising money to pay for her bathroom renovation--a potty party! Wish us luck, and if you'd like to chip in, the link to Sahara's fund at US Bank on the right will do the trick. Just mark the memo on the check "PP" so the money can be set aside to cover the remodeling costs. Having an accessible bathroom will make Sahara's life much easier...and who doesn't need a cheery loo?

Amy's busy being a whirling dervish, so Shannon has hit the keys this evening.

Sahara has been feeling fair this week, and seems to be smiling more. Of course, this makes my own week so much better. She went horseback riding again Tuesday evening and is already getting used to the routine at the barn.

We're down to only 25 cookbooks - out of 5000!!! Thank you so much to EVERYONE who has bought or helped to sell them. We are simply overwhelmed by the response to these wonderful cookbooks, which were put together with so much love by employees of Southeast Missouri State University.

There's a very special girl at Oak Ridge Elementary School. Her name is Brittany Anschler, and she worked very hard baking sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies, and sold them to raise money for Sahara's cancer fund. She raised $154.00! I had the pleasure of meeting Brittany, and she is such an incredible kid. Thank you, Brittany, for your kind heart and hard work. We appreciate you!

There are two new fundraisers in the works! Our great friends at P-Mac Music in Cape Girardeau are running a special, with all proceeds going to the cancer fund.For the next two months, you will get $1.00 off of every item you purchase at P-Mac if you are wearing your Sahara bracelet. If you don't have one yet, they'll be glad to sell you one.They have purchased 1000 more Hope for Hoops bracelets - they are the same orange and white swirl bracelets that the amazing Gramma Dooley has been selling, so if you want one, now is your chance! Go by and see Eric or Paul and wear your Sahara bracelet proudly!

Next, on June 30, at the Elks Club in Cairo, IL - "A Night for Sahara." There will be a full dinner, live band and dance, and tickets will be $15.00 per person. All of the food, drinks and entertainment for the evening have been generously donated, and 100% of the night's proceeds will be given to Sahara's cancer fund. Tickets will be available at P-Mac Music, Stop and Shop in Mounds, IL, the Elks Club in Cairo, IL, and from Bobby Pace, Jeff Berryhill or Stephanie Dixon. More details and contact numbers will follow soon. Come and join us for an amazing night of food, music and fun, southern Illinois style!

In closing, something I wrote for Sahara.

I wanna live
don't wanna die
and that's the way it is
I wanna live
I will survive
and I'm never giving in


Thursday, May 03, 2007

I want Candy

Horseback riding went wonderfully last night!

The place is called Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship. It's way out in the country in a beautiful area just north of here. The organization has been around for seven years, but they just moved into a brand new facility that is so impressive. They serve nearly forty kids of all different ages and abilities.

I know Sahara was very apprehensive, but she wanted to do it so badly that her courage won the battle over the fear. When we got there and met the volunteers, it was obvious that we had found a place that she would love. After we had the initial introductions and a look around, they asked us to come out into the main area. We rolled her wheelchair up onto the platform, and they helped her get on the horse.

The horse's name was Candy, a beautiful Appaloosa with the sweetest personality. They got her secured into the belt, then two people flanked her sides to keep her from falling, and a third person led Candy around the ring. Sahara was so scared at first, but then her smiles told me that she was having a blast for the first time in a LONG time.

She rode for 20 minutes! It was a huge event for her...and she says she's ready to go back again next week. It was such a great experience. Looks like we finally found something to get her moving again! YEAH!!!!