Thursday, September 29, 2011

Magical Key

Jackson got a package in the mail yesterday from Make-A-Wish. The mailman dropped if off while Jackson was at school, and I was so excited that I opened it before Jackson got home, then repackaged it and let him open it when he got home. Man... it's hard to admit that I couldn't wait. I was SO excited- but after the fact, I'm a bit embarrassed now.

Jackson was so excited to check out the shiny silver key. He loved the little box it came in, and promptly took it up to his bedroom and put it in his special treasure box.

The box had a fancy letter with it. When I read the letter it made me cry. I am starting to think that I cry way too much.

This is what the letter said:

It is our deepest honor to invite you and your family to visit A Wishing Place for the special occasion of making your wish.

Please bring this key with you when you come, for it alone will open the Wishing Room at the top of the Wishing Tower.

We eagerly await your presence.

From this point, our wish granters will come to our home and play a Wishing Quest game with Jackson to help him decide what his wish will be, then after that we get to go to the Wishing Center and Jackson will get to make his wish.

Jackson is so excited to get to make a wish. And we are excited for him to have something to look forward to over the next few months.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Young Women and Adversity

Tomorrow I get to go to Young Women's and talk to the girls. The YW president is giving me 10 minutes... I think I'll just sit in front of them and cry for 10 minutes...hmm, yeah, that will be great.

I am supposed to talk about overcoming adversity and trials. I'm so nervous. I don't know really what I exactly want to share. Because really, this is Jackson's journey, and his trial, but somehow it is also my trial.

Wish me luck... I'm gonna need it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Jackson hit two milestones yesterday.

The first is that his hair is starting to grow back. He is very excited about it, and I love feeling his little fuzzy head. We know it will probably fall out again during the next few rounds of chemo, but we'll love the fuzz now.

The second milestone is that Jackson has 2 loose teeth! These are his first wiggly teeth ever, and he is very excited that the Tooth Fairy might be coming soon.

On an unrelated sidenote: I talked to our Make-A-Wish wish granter yesterday. The ball is starting to roll, and Jackson will get to make his wish soon!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The people at radiation

I have been meeting some of the people at the hospital during Jacksons radiation treatments. We have been for 10 days and every day we see the same faces. The first day I kept to myself, but on the second day my curiosity got the best of me and I had to get to know some of the people.

So far I have met 3 different cancer fighters. Ray- a kind, retired pediatrician who is fighting Prostate Cancer. The puzzle lady- I can't remember her name- she is fighting Breast Cancer for the second time. And then there is Chris and his wife Amy.

Chris is what I would stereo type as the typical "Harley Davidson biker". He is gruff looking, strong looking, and to me he is even a bit intimidating. He is maybe in his 40's, tall, and wears a bandana on his head. He is very macho.

Friday after Jackson and Chris went back for radiation Amy came to introduce herself to me. She handed me a very cool bandana and said that Chris wanted to give it to Jackson. I guess they had overheard me talking to some of the other people in the waiting room about Jackson and how Jackson has a brain tumor.

Over the next few minutes Amy and I talked then Chris came out of the radiation room and I got to talk to him again. We chatted for a few minutes and I learned that Chris also has a brain tumor. Chris said that Jackson is his hero. He said that he has been wallowing in his own self pity but then he saw Jackson. He said that if Jackson can be happy and energetic that he could be happy. He said that watching Jackson has given him hope and courage. He said "watching him makes me think 'I can do this'".

As he told me about how Jackson has helped him I was touched. Then as we drove home I told Jackson how he had helped Chris. I told him that they are "brain tumor buddies" and that Chris thinks Jackson is a hero. As I told Jackson these things I was overwhelmed with emotion. Driving down the road with tears running down my cheeks.

Sadly cancer has become our new 'normal'. Doctor appointments, and radiation appointments are routine. This weekend has brought new tears back to my eyes. I have been reminded how strong my little boy is. He is a giant hero squished into a little body.

What a blessing to have a hero so close to me. He is definitely someone I strive to be more like.


We have a social worker that works with our family at the hospital. Today she told me "you can be strong and still cry."

I hope that is true.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Things with radiation are going so great, and because they are so great, I often forget to blog. Since things are so non-eventful (the way I prefer it) I thought I'd blog a random cancer fact.

Jackson is currently taking only one medication. One- can you believe it? Most cancer kids have a list a mile long of prescriptions that they have to take, and Jackson only has one! The medicine that Jackson takes, he only takes it on Monday and Tuesdays twice each day. The medicine is called "Septra". The Septra helps Jackson's body to combat pnemonia- cancer kids are more susceptible to a certain type of pnemonia while they are in active treatment, so he has to take this medicine to help prevent more illness.

One of the nurses told me that even though he only has to take it on 2 days of the week, that it is still VERY important, and that we SHOULD NOT forget to give it to him. I like to think I am pretty responsible, and that I wouldn't forget to give him the Septra- it is very important. But just in case we have alarms on our phones that beep EXTREMELY loudly every Monday and Tuesday at 8:00 AM and 8:00 PM alerting us that Jackson has to take his Septra.

The alarm has been very helpful.

So... now you know a random cancer kid fact.

Oh yeah- Jackson HATES the taste of Septra. He is very vocal about how nasty it tastes. And it's pink.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Million Thanks

Saturday was amazing. More than we ever expected, and beyond what we could have imagined. Our amazing friends put on a fundraiser for Jackson and held it on Saturday. They called this event "For Jack's Sake". I knew that they had been working hard for a long time on it, but I never could have imagined that it would have turned out so incredible.

This event was overwhelming for us, and extremely humbling. We felt so much love and compassion being surrounded by the people in our community. I never could have guessed how many people would show up to support Jackson. I don't think Jackson still understands how lucky he is to have so many people cheering for him.

Thank you. I feel like those words come out of my mouth a lot, but still they can never can be enough. Thank you. Those words seem so inadequate to express the overwhelming gratitude that we as a family feel for all of your love and support. Thank you. I don't know lots of you that came on Saturday to support our boy and I don't have different words to express how grateful we are. Thank you for coming. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to come spend an evening with us. Thank you for loving our family. Thank you for caring about our son. Thank you for your support, and your hugs, and your kindness and your generosity and your prayers.

Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

For Jack's Sake

(click to enlarge)

I know this post is past due. We have incredible friends who are putting on this even, and I know it
will be amazing. I would love to see all of you there tomorrow, there is an AMAZING raffle, and silent auction.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day of Radiation

Yesterday was Jackson's first day of radiation. If you ask him how it went, he says "I rocked it". He really did rock it. He went right in, climbed up on the big table and got situated on the bed with the pillow and his mask. I squished his little arm, and said I'd wait for him outside, he said "okay, bye mom!" and that was it.

I waited in the waiting room for about 10 minutes, and then I heard cheering. I knew that he was finished and soon enough he was literally running down the hall, racing out to see me again.

He loves the way his mask turned out, and he loves that he already knows the people at the radiation clinic.

While we were there I took a moment to explain to Jackson that everyone in that building has something in common. Either they know someone who has cancer, or they themselves have cancer. Jackson was excited to know he's not alone. We got lots of curious looks when we were there though, it is very rare for a child to be able to get radiation at that hospital, because most kids cannot lie still enough for the treatment. So for people to see a kid- at that facility- is out of the normal.

We left the hospital and I was so full of pride. I am proud to be Jackson's mom, what a privilege and a blessing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Metro Steel

A while back we went to a store down in the industrial part of town. While I was in the store, Brian and the kids drove around and went exploring. While out they ran across a really neat recycling company that recycles steel among other metal things. I vaguely remember mentioning to Brian that I thought it would be a very cool place to take pictures of our kids.

Fast forward several months. I had still been thinking about that awesome recycle place, and I remember seeing these giant metal balls. After Relief Society one day our lesson was on adversity, and the refiners fire. I immediately remembered the steel yard again, and I wanted to take Jackson's pictures on the pile of steel balls. He is enduring a great deal of adversity, and I knew the steel balls would have a symbolic significance to me- and hopefully to Jackson one day too.

Yeah, right. I knew that there is no way any company would let my little 5 year old out into their dangerous yard- especially to take pictures. But I wanted to ask anyway.

So, one day on the way home from the hospital we stopped at the recycling place. I didn't even know the name of the company, or that they had an official office. I just walked into the garage, and started saying "hello". Pretty soon a guy named Howard came out and asked if he could help me. I told him that I wanted to take pictures in their yard, and he said "we don't do that". I figured as much. I then pulled the whole "my kid has cancer" card, and his attitude immediately changed. He sent me to the main office, to talk to Lee- the Safety Supervisor/ HR Director.
Lee was incredible. He was understanding and compassionate, and he said that they would LOVE to have Jackson come for a visit, and they would give him a tour. Never in a million years would I expect the type of treatment that we got.

Two days after I asked we showed up a little later than our scheduled time, but they didn't care. The girl at the front desk greeted Jackson with a smile. She said "I've heard all about you!" She took us back and Lee met Jackson with a bright red manager's hard hat- customized with his name and everything. Then Lee took us back to Dan's office. Dan is the VP of Operations. Dan was genuine and kind, and happy to meet Jackson. They had a big pouch of treasures for Jackson and he gave Jackson a toy of one of the machines that Jackson was going to get to see later that day.

We all put on our hard hats, and we followed Dan and Lee out into the production yard. Over the next 2 hours we went on the most amazing tour. We met some amazing people, all of whom were fabulous with Jackson. They treated him like a king. Jackson got to ride in two different machines- one even had a claw on it like in the Toy Story 3 movie. We went to another location where they had lots and lots of the big steel balls (I found out later that they are called grinding balls). And Jackson got to have a ride on a train car puller as well as work another big machine that lifted the balls up with a huge magnet.

My good friend Mindy came with us to take some pictures of Jackson. I haven't seen any official pictures yet, but I got to peek at Mindy's camera on our way home and the tiny images brought tears to my eyes.

Dan and Lee were so kind. I find myself being overwhelmed with gratitude. It would have been so easy for them to turn us away. It would have been so easy to tell us 'no', but they didn't. They went way above and beyond for Jackson. They gave him VIP access to everything. They made him feel special. I mentioned to Brian when we were driving home that it felt like a Make-A-Wish sort of event.

The pictures of Jackson with his Beads of Courage, his central line, and his bald head will be pictures that I will cherish forever. They will be something that we can look back upon one day, and remember the trials, the difficulties, the stress and the strain that we all endured. They will remind me that through trials we can become stronger.

Adversity is the refiner’s fire that bends iron but tempers steel. It is in the fire of struggle and stress that greatness is forged. A measure of your greatness as men and women will be your response to adversity, the courage you have as you wrestle with problems that can strengthen your nerves and sharpen your skill.

~Alexander B. Morrison. “The Challenge: Basing Your Career on Principles.” Life in the Law, 2004, 99.