Sushi & Ninjago

Madeleine with some of the sushi ingredients

Parker’s Dad again….  and this is going to be a Japanese themed blog…    First of all, I have to say, Tracey’s visit to Michigan was such a blast.  I’m sure you could all tell from the pictures, the kids had a wonderful time meeting Tracey and the day flew by…

As for me and Erica, we cannot thank YOU ALL enough on behalf of not only ourselves but also our whole family for such generosity…  We were truly speechless and we are SOOOOOOO thankful…

So today is New Years Eve and our two older children Madeleine and Harrison have been looking forward to it for quite some time…  Not so much because of tonight but because of what happened this afternoon.

19 Rolls 🙂

We made sushi!!!!!!  It is such a fun family time because it takes a couple hours to complete from start to finishing eating and Harrison and Madeleine simply LOVE the process. (Also, just to clarify, we don’t make the sushi with raw meat, we primarily make it with tempura shrimp, crab meat, chicken or veggie.)   Upon completion, we had made 19 rolls and lunch was AMAZING!!!

Lots of sushi!!!

Another quick topic I wanted to share was Parker’s gift from Tracey, the Ninjago Lego set. It was a great part of Tracey’s visit when Parker attempted to TEACH Tracey how to pronounce “Ninjago”.  Parker told Tracey, “Say it with me, NIN….  JA….. GO….”.  (The “Ja” part has a long A sound.)  Tracey had been pronouncing it as “Ninja Go” and Parker was cracking up since Tracey couldn’t “say it right”.  He has been playing with the set all day and is still playing with it right now on the front room floor.

Parker and his NINJAGO Lego set from Tracey

New years will be fun tonight.  Erica’s sister Amanda and her husband Bob will be coming over for a fun time with the kids.  It will be a nice way to bring in the new year as we reflect back on all the blessings we have as we enter 2012.

Thank YOU ALL for being part of our lives in 2011.

2012 is going to be a fun year… especially when Tracey announces the ‘Parker Project’ plans tomorrow.

Celebrating the Good and Fearing the Unknown

“I’M FREE!”

Those were the first two words Parker shouted after he was disconnected from his port on Monday afternoon.  At 1:00 pm his blood level reached the targeted level and he was allowed to go home!! It had been a good treatment phase.

I thought this would be a good place to give a snapshot of where Parker is in his ALL Leukemia treatment schedule as we understand it. *** We know it’s about 3.5 years but doctors seem to keep it all a bit vague, perhaps to allow for setbacks along the way or not setting up false hope. It is not a strict schedule as there are so many conditions and factors that can influence his treatments.

As of this week, we do know that Parker just finished up his 3rd phase of an eight phase treatment process.  The entire eight phases will take ~3.5 years to complete and we are currently in month six. This third phase, which we have been able to share with you through this blog, consisted of two spinal taps (where chemo is injected into his spine to destroy any cancer around the brain) and four hospital admissions to receive the 24 hour chemo treatment through the port in his chest.  We would then wait for it to clear from his system (it usually took five days after each admission).  Finally, this phase also included 56 days of another chemo administered by mouth.

Apparently 7 laps and 3 sprints = 1.02 miles (as measured by Google Earth)

On a very positive note, the third phase of 24 hour chemos did not affect him as they did in the previous two phases. This was a great answer to prayer because during this 3rd phase he was very active and his hair even started to grow back. It was very evident how he has felt based on his “running of laps” around the unit during the 4th and final 24hr treatment.  Tracey may have done “52.4 in 48”, but Parker ran is own back-to-back “In Hospital Marathon”. One day he “ran” 3/4 of a mile. But he wanted to “do more” so the next day he proceeded to do laps totaling over a mile!!

After Parker completed his mile, I couldn’t help but think of a picture I took of him during one of his initial admissions.  21 days after Parker was diagnosed, he had just completed a surgery to remove a port that had been put in four days earlier. The port didn’t work; it became infected under his skin and hurt him terribly, so they had to remove it.  After the surgery to remove it, the nurses encouraged us to get him up and walk….This is what he looked like… he cried and barely walked the whole way (about 50 ft).

21 days after diagnosis – Parker just finished having an infected port removed from his chest and he could barely walk due to the pain.

In early January, we will be moving into the fourth phase.  Based on what we know, it will probably not be as “easy” on him as the third phase.  It is scheduled to start on January 4th and he will be receiving multiple chemos that he has already had separately during the first and second phases.  During these two phases, the associated chemos destroyed the rapidly developing cells which caused his hair to fall out and his stomach to be constantly upset. During a two week period in phase two, he threw up about 20 times.  So we are not expecting him to feel good during phase four.  There is another piece of stage four that will be a little different than the others.  At the same time he gets his chemo, he will also be getting steroids to boost the function of his organs which will be stressed more than ever before.

So as of right now, it’s all up in the air and there are lots of unknowns.  Will stage four be like the difficult stage two or easier like stage three? What will the steroids do?  Will he stay “on schedule”?   We don’t know…..

So instead of focusing on what we don’t know, we will try to focus on what we do know. We know we will have strength through prayer. We know we will be comforted from so many people we know and many more we don’t know who are now “in our corner”. Thank you !!  We know we will be able to spend Christmas together as a family. And we know we have a very amazing five-year-old who will embrace this as he has the previous stages with strength and a positive attitude. And Parker knows “Pup” and Henry the dalmatian, and all of us, will be right there with him.

God Bless.

Mike and Erica.

No Room in The Inn

Waiting this morning in the clinic for his blood level results.

Today was supposed to be the start of Parker’s final 24hr chemo infusion for this phase, but some things don’t always go as planned.

The day started off normal.   Erica brought Parker into the clinic around 11AM.  They drew his blood to check to see if it was at the target level for him to be admitted.  As they waited for the results, Erica read and Parker played Nintendo DS and watched a movie.  The results finally came back and they were positive.  His blood levels were great and now they just needed to get him a bed on the Oncology floor….

The nurse came back in after checking and said “Uh oh!!!  There are no beds available” So Erica and Parker were directed to go home and they will call us when a bed opens up.

It is now 7:15pm and we’re relaxing with Parker and waiting until there IS room in the Inn.  (It could be anytime…  We told them we would go in as soon as one is available)

No Room in the "Inn"

Parker’s FLIGHT to the North Pole

Parker brushing his hair for his flight.

Now this was a cool day!  North Pole Cool that is!!!   It started just like any other with waking up the older two kids and getting them ready for school.  But after Madeleine and Harrison left for school, Parker, Erica and I headed right to Detroit Metro Airport for a special flight Parker was about to take.

Parker had been invited to join a group of about 60 kids with life threatening diseases to “Fly to the North Pole” and have a party with Santa.

Bus to the Airport

We first drove to a local airport parking company that was instructed to transport all of these special kids and their families to the Airport.  Upon arriving at the Airport, Santa’s elves were there to direct us to the “Flight to the North Pole Check-In”.   Official boarding passes were printed and our seats were assigned.  We were then directed through the Westin hotel to go through “Santa’s Security” (The Hotel entrance into the Airport – It was very private and empty which was nice because there was no waiting).  Just prior to going through security, we were given two full bags of gifts from local charities.

Parker loves moving sidewalks

As soon as we entered the Terminal, our departure Gate was just to the right of us… However, Parker insisted on riding the moving sidewalks so we first headed left to “take a ride” on the sidewalk.   It just doesn’t get much better than riding a sidewalk.   🙂  (It was a nice “Smell the roses” moment).

Clowns, Balloons and Christmas Carols

We arrived at the gate and were surrounded by clowns and Santa’s helpers.  The local Shriner’s circus had many clowns there to entertain the kids and make balloons as we waited to board.  Santa’s helpers sang songs and greeted each of the kids.

Finally, it was boarding time!!!!   We quickly boarded onto a plane with all the shades pulled down, took our seats and waited to “take off”…

At 11am we pushed back from the gate as Christmas carols were playing overhead and “Santa’s flight attendants” sang and handed out song sheets.  After about five minutes of taxi’ing, it was our turn to depart.  With all the shades down, the lights were shut off and we started to accelerate down the “runway” for lift off.  Everyone cheered!!!!

A couple hundred feet later, the brakes went on.  🙂  and we continued to take off/taxi into our cruising altitude of “0.00 feet.” A few minutes later… we hit a nice cruising speed of “stand still” for an hour of singing, lunch and candy.

en route & lunch

Once we hit our cruising speed of “zero mpg”, the lights came back on and lunch was served.  It was the lunch of champions… PB&J, Goldfish and M&Ms.  Parker was delighted when the flight attendant came by to server sodas or chocolate milk.  He quickly picked a Coke then started into his lunch.

Arrival at the North Pole

Erica and Parker

After about an hour or so, it was time for landing, so they started the engines back up  🙂  then we began to cruise/taxi again to into a landing pattern.  The plane eventually made it to the gate(right next to the starting gate) at the North Pole… fully decorated with snow, Christmas trees and decorations.

We exited the plane and were greeted by Santa, his wife, and another group of elves… Which Parker saw as a great photo op.  After all the kids exited the plane then we re-entered the Westin hotel and were guided to the North Pole party banquet hall.

Parker finds some new elf-friends!!

The party began with a magic show hot chocolate, milk, cookies, and Starbucks. As the magician entertained the group, children were escorted one at a time to see Santa and get a large bag full of gifts. Local newscasters were there along with the local K-9 police units and representatives from many local companies that donated to the event. (We even made it onto the NBC broadcast of the event – Look for us at the end of the video on right side)

Parker talks to Santa

It was a magical day that will never be forgotten and a wonderful idea that even had the child in us just as excited as Parker.

Surrounded by his gifts at the North Pole (Westin)

Way to Finish Strong Tracey!!!

Tracey's view of the Stratosphere as he ran by in the final stretch of the Las Vegas marathon.

So my amazing cousin Tracey was in the final stretch of the Las Vegas marathon and he gives me a call on his Cell Phone…  🙂   WHILE RUNNING!!!!

He said he had just passed the Stratosphere and called to check-in and see how Parker was doing.  So, I gave him Parker’s blood chemo results for the evening…   They were .11 (just shy of where they needed to be).  It looks like Parker will have to Finish Strong in the morning.   🙂

Tracey you are amazing!!! Way to Finish Strong on such an unbelievable journey!!!

We can’t wait to hear about this journey from your point of view….     (…  by the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY in 30 Minutes !!!!  )

Tracey's 2nd Marathon in 48hrs!!!!!

Halfway there…

So while Parker is waiting for the results of his final blood draw of the evening, Tracey just passed the halfway mark of his 2nd Marathon in 48hrs…

Here are Tracey’s results so far…

Halfway there!!!!! Go Tracey!!!

Go Tracey Go!!!  We are all Praying and Cheering for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let the 2nd race begin…

Just prior to Tracey’s 2nd marathon beginning, he was able to get one last photo over to Parker in the hospital.

5 minutes before Tracey's 2nd marathon in 48hrs for Parker is about to start.

At the exact same time, Parker and I were also having our picture taken for Tracey!!!

52.Four TShirts we are wearing at the same time Tracey is running his final race for Parker.

God speed Tracey!!

The Final Stretch….

Here we are in the final stretch for both Parker and Tracey!

  • Parker’s final stretch to reach a chemo target level of .1 before he can leave the hospital for this admittance:
    His blood is drawn ever 12 hours (6:30am & 6:30pm) to see if he is able to go home.  As of this morning, he was almost there. (Chemo level = .14)  We are hoping he will reach his target tonight to Finish Strong so he can run home to his brother and sister.

 

Parker's final stretch starts on the 6th floor Hematology Oncology floor, over to the elevators, down to the first floor, through the hospital and out of the parking garage.

  •  Tracey’s final stretch of running 52.4 (plus a few) miles for Parker and his fight against Leukemia:
    It is amazing to see how far Tracey has come in his race.  What a wonderful story to tell of the cancelled Death Valley race yesterday which he and 4 others ran anyway and Finished Stronger than Strong.

 

Tracey's final stretch will be running down South Las Vegas Blvd between all of the famous hotels.... and finishing right past the Mandalay Bay.

We will received the results of Parker’s blood chemo level around 9:30pm EST.  If the target is reached, then we will be packing up to complete Parker’s current final stretch while Tracey is in the final stretch of his 2nd marathon for Parker.

God speed Parker & Tracey – May you both Finish Strong tonight!!