Exactly five years ago, on Tuesday, September 1, 2009, my daughter, Emily was admitted to the oncology floor of Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) for what looked to be a cancerous tumor. Turned out that, indeed, it was cancer, neuroblastoma, to be exact. After one surgery, and a wide array of scans and tests, we were sent home 15 days later, thinking our life would be back to normal. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the case. Emily was to be admitted to the hospital again, had another (unsuccessful) surgery, and we were told that she now had Stage 4 cancer. At this time, [Read more…] about September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month — What You Can Do
This past Friday, at the Reaching for the Sea Stars Gala, The Maddie James Foundation realized their goal of raising one million dollars for the naming rights to the new Seaside Learning Center at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point. We watched the sea turtle fill up as the night progressed, and as it turned a complete silk aqua; I couldn’t help but reflect on the past few months.
As those of you who have been following Maddie’s story know, the five-year-old was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) on January 16, 2011 and given 6 months to live. Her short life ended eight weeks later. [Read more…] about Maddie James: A Little Girl Who Captivated a Nation
For eight weeks I never put my phone down. For eight weeks I kept the phone by my bed as I slept. And then, exactly on that eighth week, I got the call. Kajsa’s name popped up on the screen. Since we had been communicating purely through texts and emails, I knew this was it. I took a deep breath and answered the phone, “Hello?” “Hi, it’s me. Maddie passed this evening.” “Oh Kajsa . . .” and the tears just flowed down my cheeks.
The week prior, Maddie had a rough day. It was a Friday, and she was experiencing full body seizures. Our dear, dear friend, Alison, was there as it happened. The hospice nurse explained to Alison what was going in layman’s terms–essentially, Maddie’s brain was shutting down, but her body wasn’t ready to, so her body was trying to jolt the brain awake with the seizures. Thankfully, these seizures never caused any pain, and the hospice nurse was finally able to get the right dosage of medications to calm Maddie down, and she drifted into a peaceful state. They didn’t know if she’d [Read more…] about Madeleine Reese James: June 11, 2005 – March 13, 2011
I clearly remember when I found out my good friend Kajsa was pregnant. A small group of us were gathered at her house in Laguna Beach, planning on having a few drinks before heading out for the night. Kajsa was drinking her beer out of a glass and I thought to myself, “That’s fancy; she usually drinks her Bud Light out of the bottle.” But after the rest of us had our drinks in hand she made the announcement—Kajsa was pregnant. (She was drinking a non-alcoholic beer out of that glass and didn’t want us to know, the tricky girl.) After months and months of fertility treatments, to say that we were ecstatic is putting it mildly. Especially since her pregnancy happened naturally. A short while later, three more of us became pregnant, and BAM! we had a playgroup.
The first year of our kiddos lives, Kajsa, Alison, April and I met at least once a week. I don’t know how I could have made it through those first months of motherhood without them. Our children, Maddie, Luke, Finley and Kieran became best buddies. We would rarely do an outing without at least another of us joining. As the kids grew, schedules became busier, and though we didn’t have the time to meet once a week, we did make a point to get together somewhat regularly and have the kids play while we chatted, vented, laughed and cried. You know, regular motherhood stuff.
This past Friday, January 14 was such a time. My son, Kieran, hadn’t seen Maddie in six weeks, and I hadn’t seen Kajsa in a month, so we wanted to have them over. They came to our house for dinner—the kids played with Play Dough, looked at what Kieran had received for Christmas, and then Maddie commented that she was tired and wanted to know if she could watch television and rest. Not something a five-year-old usually says. Kajsa commented that Maddie had been extremely tired during the previous days—falling asleep in unusual places and going to bed at 6:30 PM. She chalked it up to having a big week at school, but had taken her in for blood tests a couple days prior to make sure. [Read more…] about Maddie: A Story of Courage and Heart
WIN! See bottom of post for learning how to prevent cancer in yourself, and win a Gift Bag from the American Cancer Society.
For you long time Breezy Mama readers, you know that my daughter was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of pediatric cancer, in September of 2009. Ever since that time, it seems as if I keep hearing about kid after being kid being diagnosed with some form of cancer. At first, I just assumed that it was because I was more of aware of the disease–those of us who have been through the ordeal seem to “stick together” and tell each other our stories, since it’s always easier to talk to someone who understands. But when two friends, in two different circles of friends, had their children diagnosed, I knew something was up–it hit too close to home. So Breezy Mama turned to Dr. Robert Seeger, Professor of Pediatrics; Deputy Division Head for Research; Director, Cancer Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for his thoughts on why pediatric cancer seemed to be on the rise.
How does pediatric cancer differ from “adult” cancer?
Pediatric cancers develop in rapidly growing tissues such as the blood system (leukemia), brain (brain tumors), sympathetic nervous system (neuroblastoma), bone (osteosarcoma) and muscle (sarcoma). The most common adult cancers develop in other tissues such as lung, breast, colon, and prostate.
It seems as if there is an influx in children being diagnosed with cancer—is this true?
The incidence of some childhood cancers appeared to be [Read more…] about Why is Pediatric Cancer on the Rise?