Sunday, December 25, 2011

A wonderful Christmas!

Christmas this year has been beautiful! Being together, home for Christmas, truly is the best gift ever! My heart aches for those families and children currently undergoing treatment. My heart aches for those who are where we were last year at this time. So many unknowns, sad moments, and fears, but here we are, we made it through and so will they! No matter what, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We have been so blessed to have our Jessica, healthy and happy, back to herself!! It is hard to believe that we spent Christmas at the hospital last year and that Jessica went through all that she did. Just so thankful for our many blessings. So very grateful for Jessica, for our whole family, for the many wonderful doctors and health professionals, for so many others who gave so much love and support to our family during a difficult time. I just hope that our family can be there for others in their time of need. Merry Christmas and wishes for a beautiful New Year filled with Faith, Hope, and Love!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

No more Port!

Two days ago, Tuesday, October 25th, was Jessica's last day with her Port in! She had surgery to remove it Tuesday night at about 7:45 p.m. A very late surgery, but all went well, quick and simple, and she is doing great and very excited to be done! No more regular blood draws and NO MORE CHEMO! Her CT scans that were done on Monday look great. The spots on her lungs that the doctor was a little concerned about 3 months ago look much better. In fact where the largest tumors had been and where there had been some leftover material of some sort, they now see nothing in those spots. And the two areas where there was calcification have gotten smaller. The doctor says that those may take some time to completely dissolve, but this was definitely Jessica's best scan yet! It is strange to have this behind us now. Jessica will return to Primary's every 3 months now for 1 year for scans. Recurrence most often happens within that first year, but the 3rd and 5th years will be the big milestones to get to! It has been a journey we will never forget! The many children, families, and health professionals that we have come in contact with will never be forgotten! Many friendships and bonds have been made throughout this journey and we are so grateful for the opportunity to know all of these amazing people! It will be fun to watch Jessica continue to grow and learn and it will be fun to watch her beautiful hair grow back. The other day she was talking about her hair again and said, "When my hair grows back, Mom, I want a ponytail with a braid." So cute! With the difficult challenges always come the happy moments and many lessons learned! So thankful to be at the end of this journey. So thankful for the many little miracles that have happened along the way! And I am so thankful for a beautiful little daughter who is definitely a Miracle!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Back to School for Jessica!!!

Jessica had her labs done today and her immune system has returned and her platelets seem to be on there way back up! Jessica was hoping she could go back to school on Monday and when I told her that her counts looked really good she just got a big huge grin on her face! With the ringing of the bell at Primary Children's, I had forgotten about the two chemo treatments that Jessica had here in St. George. She received Vin Cristine last Wednesday, along with getting Red Blood Cells and Platelets. Her Aunt Lydia went with her again to get her transfusions. She always has a ball with Aunt Lydia, who rented a red box for them and has made transfusion time something to look forward to. Jessica will get her last vin crisitne, and truly the very last treatment, this Wednesday morning. Vin cristine is what they call a place holder. It is a chemotherapy, but it does not affect Jessica's counts. I guess that is why when we left Primary Children's almost 2 weeks ago, we felt done. No more trips to S.L.C. for chemotherapy! Today Jessica said, "Mom, can you see my hair growing back?. When my hair grows back, can we braid it and pull it in a pony tail?" Is that the sweetest!! She makes very sweet comments about her hair every now and again. One time she said, "On my birthday, mom, my hair will be back. It will probably be like Jacobs. (her baby brother)" And another morning as we were getting ready for church Jessica said, "Mom, I look beautiful without hair." And she does!!! So grateful for my beautiful daughter and her amazing spirit and the strength she has shown through it all! I am so happy for her to be back at school. She is surrounded by some great little friends who I know will be a great strength to her! And her big sisters, Annalise and Alyson, have been very anxious for her to be back at school with them! They are so excited to meet Jessica at her classroom door after school!! They are great big sisters and can't wait to do their part to watch out for Jess! Caleb feels the excitement and wants to go to school too! I think we will definitely need to put Caleb in preschool next year! He will be ready to go to kindergarten, but that September birthday will keep him from going until fall of 2013. As strange as it sounds to say, 2013, it will be here before we know it! Time just doesn't slow down. There are times I just wish we could put the brakes on...even just for a minute! But, I am always reminded that I better focus on what matters most. I certainly fall short, but hope that I can do better each day! Jessica's experiences this past year have really helped our family put things into perspective! I can honestly say that I am so grateful for this journey. I am so grateful for Jessica's Miracle!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Celebration Day!

Jessica finished her final treatment at about 8 p.m. last night! It took us the extra week to make counts, but we made it up. The fluids following the chemotherapy will keep us here until about 6:30 p.m. tonight and then we will head for home. She is doing well! We arrived yesterday at 8 a.m. for a quick cross and type for a needed blood transfusion and then she had an echo of her heart at 10 a.m. The blood started around 11 a.m. and took about 3 hours. It took her until 6 p.m. to be going to the bathroom enough to start chemotherapy. Both Jessica and I have really been missing everyone, but especially Jacob because he has always been with us and we left him home with dad this time. I kept nursing Jacob so that I could keep him with us at the hospital, but it has been only at night and he certainly doesn't need it anymore. He turned a year on September 15th, which is hard to believe. Cody decided to take a couple of days off to be with the kids. Caleb, who just turned 4, has always come up with us too, but has stayed with my sister in Farmington, which he loves. Caleb loves coming up north, but was excited to get to stay home with his dad. Cody was the one who said, "why don't you just leave Jacob too." He is walking really well now and it didn't take long to think that it would certainly be easier in many ways and a lot more fun for him to be home with his dad. So Jessica and I headed off on our own. Jessica didn't want to leave Jacob behind at first, but I assured her that we would have a fun time together. Yesterday, Jessica's Grandma Sheri, Aunt Jan, and cousin Tallie came down from Idaho. We got to spend the day with them, which was tons of fun! Between a pizza party, paper flower making, barbies, pretend cell phone calls between Grandma and Jessica, a visit from our friend Makenzie who is up here at Weber State, and lots of laughs and smiles from Jessica, it was a very fun-filled day! Even Aunt Amelia and cousin Kate made a late night stop after a treck to the Utah Symphony! Jessica had a great day! By the evening her appetite was no longer there, but this has happened every time with the chemotherapy. It will build back up and now we don't have to keep returning to have everything go back down....YEAH! They do a special song and bell ringing for the kids when they finish treatment. We should be doing that this afternoon. We are scheduled to return in 4 weeks for scans and appointments. They will evaluate her counts then to see if they feel she is ready to have her port removed. She might have it removed the following day or because she may still need blood products it may have to stay in a few more weeks. These are huge achievements for Jessica! She has been amazing through every last moment of her journey! It has been a great experience in so many ways, even though it will be so great to have it all behind us! We never know what may come our way or what the future holds, but we have witnessed countless blessings in Jessica's life and in our own lives. How important it is to recognize lifes miracles even when they seem difficult to see. They are always there....always! Jessica truly is a miracle!

We have the most amazing family and friends. If not for them, our journey would have been extremely difficult! We are so grateful to you all! Thank you for all of your love and support! We hope that we can give the same kind of love and support to others through their life's journey's. Someday soon.... : ) I will post pictures! I promise : )

Monday, September 5, 2011

1 more treatment left!

No matter what is happening in my life, time just goes by too quickly. Here we are so close to the end of Jessica's chemotherapy treatments. We spent last week at Primary Children's. Jessica did well. Her kidney is still struggling some, but somewhat expected by the doctors. They just continue to keep a close eye on it. One of the drugs, cytoxin is hard on the bladder. She continues to have red blood cells in her urine, with protein and some other things, but the only thing they can do for that is just flush a lot of fluids through her system during chemotherapy. This has kept Jessica in the hospital for a day longer the last few visits, but overall Jessica is doing great. She is so excited that she only has one more chemotherapy treatment! I have yet to post pictures. Jessica has had many reasons to be excited about the past month! She has had some special moments with friends at the hospital also! She is always thinking about those special friends! Jessica is scheduled to report for her last treatment on Sept. 20th. The last couple of treatments she has had at least a weeks delay, but we are shooting for the 20th. Jessica is amazing! She has come so far! We all love her so much!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Delays, but doing well

Jessica is scheduled to have chemo next Tuesday, August 2nd. We will meet with the doctor at 12:30 and then she is scheduled to be admitted after that for an overnight stay where she will receive cytoxin and Doxyrubicin. We are looking at the statistics over the past 5 years of children who were on similar drugs to Jessica. That is about as far as the track record goes, which is why we have even more questions. It isn't a protocol that has years of experience. Two years ago there were changes to the protocol and they are looking more closely at the drugs again. We have decided to omit carboplatin, which is part of the 4 night stay 3 weeks following next weeks treatment. Jessica has had a lot of complications after the last treatment. Besides the infection and so many tranfusions of platelets, her blood pressure is high. We are treating that with meds, but it is always higher than it used to be. We certainly had blood pressure issues at the first until the other kidney/tumor came out in March. But since surgery, up to this point, her BP has been fine. We just need to make sure that her kidney is okay. We have had 2 weeks delay because of her infection and platetlets. Yesterday, they were still only 91, which isn't normal yet, but above 75, so she can have chemo. I have never seen her platelets get hit as hard as they did this time. They have been super slow to return on their own. She had a total of 6 units of platelets in about 8 days. She also dropped to an all time low of 2 before her last transfusion.
Jessica is now able to take meds through her mouth again, her choice, so no feeding tube is necessary. She feels good and looks great, even though her blood pressure is a little high. A fun little announcement is that Jessica's wish from Make-a-wish, which was a playhouse, should be here on August 4th. She is very excited!! As we all are. When Jessica wished for a playhouse, I don't think the playhouse that she got to choose had even crossed her little mind, but it will be something special for our entire family in honor of Jessica and her strength through her cancer journey. Make-a-Wish and our volunteer Jackie have been so great with Jessica and all of the kids. G-Force construction laid the cement foundation in the backyard, and they were also great with the kids and did a wonderful job. It has all been a great experience, something we will all never forget. Lots of fun memories will be made in the playhouse. A great big thank you to so many who make foundations like Make-a-Wish possible!!
I can't believe that school starts on August 15th for our 3 girls. It is hard to see Jessica already 5 and ready for kindergarten, but I can't help but be happy for her because she is so excited to be at school with her big sisters. Caleb will be a little lost without Jessica, but at least he has Jacob :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Home and doing much better!

Jessica was discharged from the hospital this past Wednesday afternoon. It was a much longer stay than usual and certainly longer than hoped for, but we think we have things under control. Thank goodness for all of the amazing people on the Peds floor at DRMC. They always make our stay as comfortable as possible. We feel very at home when we are at the hospital believe it or not! Jessica's blood cultures did come back positive, both from her central line and her arm. Always one of the things we worry about, but we feel that we caught it early. Jessica is on 2 antibiotics, Fortaz and Vancomycin. The Fortaz will stop once her ANC is .7 or
700. She was .5 yesterday. They will draw her blood again tomorrow and hopefully we can stop the Fortaz. Her Platelets have really taken a hit with this infection. She had to be given 4 units of platelets in less than a week. Her platelets were 10 last Thursday so they gave her a transfusion then. By Sunday they were at 8 so they gave her 2 units (which we have never had 2 at a time before). Monday they were at 80 and by Tuesday they were 40 and on Wednesday they were 15 so they gave her another unit then. She also had another blood transfusion on Wednesday before we left. It has taken a toll on her little body. Antibiotics certainly work for her, but they can sure mix up the system. She feels really good and then suddenly her stomach will hurt. Not only does she have the infection, but I think we are seeing even more of the cumulative effect of chemo. We are so close to the end of treatments, but there is a part of me that just wants treatments to stop now. She truly has done so well, its just hard to see her hit the bottom. So many children struggle with many more complications than Jessica has had, but I just want the treatment to be exactly what she needs, no more, no less. And we will probably never know what that is exactly. Medicine is hard. In many ways more of an art than a science. Very difficult to make the best decision always. I know the answers are there, we just need to be really be prayerful and seek for them in the right places! Her counts are showing signs of return now, but they still may postpone chemo for another week. It might be really nice to have the week to regroup and definitely important for Jessica's little body to make a full recovery!!! Primary Children's will decide on Monday.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

High fever and no immune system

Jessica and I came early this morning to the hospital. She had low grade fevers off and on through the day yesterday and last night hovered around 101. After talking with Primary Childrens and our Doctor here, we decided to bring her in. Her fever has reached 104, which is very unlike past visits for fever with no immune system. We have given her Tylenol, but that only brings it down for a short period and she still stays around 100.7 then climbs back up. She doesn't feel like eating, but she is resting good, most of the time. I was questioning coming in because every other visit like this has led to the fever quickly subsiding and cultures always coming back negative. We had one positive last visit, but at that point she had her normal immune system back. As always, Jessica is such a good sport. I am glad we came in. It is always scary when children get fevers. It is the normal response of the body, but it always causes stress and worry, especially with no immune system. Cody brought Jessica in this past Thursday evening for a transfusion of platelets. That went just fine. We knew then that her red blood cells or hematocrit was low at 24, but the CBC blood test early this morning showed her hematocrit at 20. They gave her a transfusion this morning. We needed to come in anyway, but wish she didn't have the fever. We will be here for at least 48 hours. This has definitely become routine, but always a worry. We are so close to the finish line and we just hope and pray for no serious complications. Jessica's little body is so strong, just hoping that she will feel better very soon!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

3 more treatments and a great CT

Tomorrow, we should be able to leave the hospital around 3 p.m. We have been admitted here at Primary's since Tuesday. After tomorrow we will have 1 overnight stay, 1 four day stay, and 1 more overnight stay, all with 3 weeks in between. I can't believe Jessica is almost finished with treatments! They did a CT scan of her abdomen and chest on Tuesday. Everything looks good. There is nothing in the abdomen and the small spots in her lungs are more than likely leftover from the tumor. They may always be there. One shows calcification, which is like scar tissue and the others are almost like a left over tumor skeleton. Our doctor feels like we are moving in the right direction! So many miracles, each and everyday! We have met two new families this trip. Both have children that have just recently been diagnosed with cancer. My heart aches for them. They are beautiful families with such amazing little children. They too, will make it through! It is hard to watch others just beginning their journey, but looking back, the journey goes by so quickly. Once again the reminder to treasure each moment, each day. This thought has been coming to mind a lot lately; Come what may, there are miracles everyday! We just need to make sure not to miss them and find as many opportunities as we can to smile and be grateful for what we have been given! Easier said than done at times, but it can be done, I know it can!
Jessica is amazing! If she feels aches and pains, she rarely shows it. I ache for so many of the children here who are struggling so much. Jessica had her time in the beginning, but has made it through the rest of these past months amazingly well! I hope I can be just like her someday!
Tomorrow, Jessica, Jacob, and I are thrilled to travel to Shelley, Idaho to join Anna, Aly, Caleb, and Dad at Grandma and Grandpa Schmitt's. The 3 kids have been up there since Monday. Cody will arrive a few hours before we do. We are excited to be all together again to celebrate the 4th of July. And we can't forget to watch the Price is Right Monday morning (the 4th of July). Cody has his moment of fame : )
I will eventually get some pictures posted, but for now just know that all is going well and that we hope that for all of you as well!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Blood transfusion with 2 big sisters

When we left Primary Childrens last Friday we knew that Jessica's hematocrit was only 25.7 so a transfusion was in her near future. With transfusions, the more you have the more likely you are to begin having reactions to them. We like to spread them out as much as possible, but her count this morning was only 20.2 so they wanted her to have a transfusion. Her platelets have dropped to 56, so we may need those, but hopefully they won't get to transfusion point. The neulasta shot given has boosted her white blood cells and ANC up at 7.8 and 7.6 which is the higher end of normal, so that is great. We are hoping to not bottom out! We will keep our fingers crossed. We are here for the transfusion now. It has been a special trip because Annalise and Alyson are able to be here with us. We left the 2 brothers with Dad and the 3 girls have been enjoying being together. The children under 14 visiting rules were lifted just a few weeks ago. Not being able to be with Jessica in her rooms has been hard, especially for Annalise. This is just what they needed. They have played candy land, put Mr. potato Heads together, visited the playroom that I didn't realize they had here at DRMC, and they are now watching a movie together. We love it here at DRMC. They are so good to us!
Jessica has been such a great example of strength through this whole experience. She is constantly amazing us with the things she is able to do! And her brothers and sisters and parents too, have grown so much. But, like us all, there are times that make us stop and think. Last week, while we were up in S.L.C. still at Aunt Amelia's house right before heading to the hospital, Jessica was eating a bowl of cereal and out of the blue she said, "Mom, I wish I didn't have cancer. How did I get that tumor, that rock?". I had a hard time holding back the tears. I explained the best I could and she moved on happily. I am actually glad, in a way, that she expressed how she was feeling. She had never said anything like that before, but tonight she made another comment as I was putting her feeding tube in. She was upset because she didn't want to take medicine by mouth, but she didn't really want the feeding tube either. She said, "I wish I wasn't sick." Boy do I ever wish the same thing and to hear her say that. I just love my little girl. No parent would want their child to have to go through these difficult things, but I know there is a plan, a perfect plan. Our loving Heavenly Father knows that we need challenges to grow and become better. With the loss of a good family friend and the amazing strength shown by his family, I have once again thought hard about what is most important. I fall short each day, but I hope I can slowly but surely learn to treasure each day and truly enjoy the journey. I hope I can show my love always, even when that seems hard to do. We never know what will come. Life is so short. Too short to not make the most of everyday!
So grateful for all that I have! And so grateful for all of you and your many examples of strength, unconditional love, hope, and faith!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fun times and another treatment

It is hard to believe that it is June 7th. Time has flown by. From May 28th until June 4th we were able to be in SanDiego with the whole Chipman family. It was a wonderful family vacation!! Jessica's counts were at a great point the day we left and we had no complications the entire time, just a very happy little girl and family. The beach house, one day at Sea World, one baseball game, pictures at the SanDiego Temple, and hours and hours of sand, sun, sea shells, family time, and the kids favorite...sand crabs, made a perfect trip! We were all a little sad the day we had to head for home. Sunday afternoon, the 5th, Jessica's blood was drawn and her counts looked great. Her hematocrit at 26 was low, but not a problem for chemotherapy on Tuesday. We left Sunday evening because of a kidney test (GFR) that had to be done at 9 a.m. Monday. It has to be done 24 hours before the start of one of the drugs, Carboplatin. (sp?). Jessica was admitted today at 1 p.m. 2 drugs, Cytoxin and VP 16 have been given. We will be here until Friday as the drugs are given each day for 4 days. Jessica's kidney function was not quite where it should be. The dose of Carboplatin would need to be lessened. Our Doctor decided to do another test over a 24 hour period. By tomorrow afternoon we will make the decision whether or not to give the carbo. It is only given on one of the four days, so it will not affect the amount of time we are here. Because Jessica only has one kidney it is a worry. There are many things to worry about. We just want the very best for her and sometimes in medicine there isn't always a perfect answer for everything. Just very grateful for good doctors who try so hard and give so much time to better the lives of others!
I have so much updating to do and many wonderful pictures to share along with some funny stories, memories, and acts of love by family and friends. We love you all and know that Jessica continues to do so well because of your many thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Counts are good

Yesterday Jessica's counts were great and they scheduled our arrival time for 1 p.m. today, Tuesday, May 17th. Her ANC was the highest I have seen it in a while at 4.9 or 4900. Total white blood cells were 6.1. Her platelets were 298. Her hematocrit was 24, so almost to transfusion point, but they just decided that if she needed a transfusion they would give it to her at PCMC, which is what they did when we arrived today. Dr. Affiy wanted her to be given the red blood cells before chemotherapy. It is now 10:30 p.m. And we have just started chemotherapy, but even though it is late, we should still be able to get off good time tomorrow morning. They have been hydrating Jessica since we got here. Her urine output and certain ph levels have to be at certain levels before they can start chemotherapy. Through the night we get her up every 2 hours to go to the bathroom. Sometimes she needs to go even more often than that. She is such a trooper! She just let's me pick her up, carry her to the toilet, set her down, and there is no complaints. Anyway, all is well. Even though she wasn't seeming super tired with her low hematocrit, after the blood transfusion the color came back into her skin. Little rosy cheeks....pretty darn cute!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

One more change

Last Friday we received a call from our Dr. at Primary Children's. After a meeting with all of the doctors that have been working with Jessica, the general consensus was that Jessica should still stay on the higher protocol of chemotherapy. More information came back on the warnings that had come back on this protocol from the clinical trial and it was found that out of the 3 deaths (total children- 36), 2 were unrelated to the drug treatment. With as much success as Jessica has had on this treatment, they all felt that she should continue on with this protocol. If she came in today with the same diagnosis it is true that they would not start her on this protocol, but we believe that it is a blessing that Jessica was able to receive this treatment and continue it because her tumor may have never been able to be removed as successfully as it was. Our Doctor is always so great to have us think about it and make sure that we agree. Cody and I agree with the doctors, even though it will be hard to see her blood counts drop so dramatically. We are just very grateful for good doctors who are constantly thinking about Jessica and very concerned about what is best for her. As long as Jessica makes blood counts this next Monday, we will head up Monday night or Tuesday morning for an overnight stay for chemotherapy. Jessica is still doing great! Her ANC (Immune system cells) came up even though she received the lesser chemo on May 3rd. We continue to count our many blessings!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fun Adventures!

Jessica waiting to show her Dad what radiation treatments are all about.
Cody was with us as much as he could be. Cody, with his mother, worked back home and held down the fort while we were gone. Jessica is so lucky to have such an amazing Dad and I am so lucky to have such an amazing husband!!

Just part of the process of radiation. Jessica laid completely still for her treatments and did not have to be sedated. She was amazing. There was one day that she had to lay still for well over an hour. Most of her 13 days were not that long, anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.

Jessica and her cousin Kate with Uncle Jeff's fiance, Christina, who the girls, and all of us for that matter, absolutely adore! We came home the first weekend in between radiation for Christina's Bridal Shower. Jeff and Christina will be married on May 20th! That same weekend, we also threw a surprise 8th birthday party for Alyson. Her birthday is April 6th, and we had to be up north, so we surprised her the weekend before and then we were able to do her baptism the weekend after her birthday.

Jessica holding her cousin's, Isaac, Andrew, and Lucy's new puppy! This is the day we said goodbye to Aunt Sara and the kids as they headed off to Texas for another baseball season for Uncle Brandon. We will be excited to see everyone in less than a week for Jeff and Christina's wedding! Cute Jessica and her little wisps of hair up front that she has never completely lost.

Jessica with her Grandma Sheri Schmitt.
Grandma Sheri has been such a blessing to our family. She is the one who took over as mom for Annalise and Alyson (and Cody....again :) while we had to be up north for so long. Sheri has given up so much time to be here in St. George. I honestly don't know what we would have done without her. She kept things as normal as possible for our older girls. Annalise and Alyson love their Grandma dearly. It was not easy on Sheri to step in, but she did. We always came home to a much cleaner home than when we left it and yummy food to eat. Sheri is always checking in on us even when she is not here. And when she says I'll be there if you need me, I know that she means it. Sheri sacrafices so much for all of her children. She is a huge blessing to each one of them! Sheri had just retired from teaching school last year. We know that it has been a gift to have her help with our little family.

Jessica and Caleb with Grandma Chipman at our Easter Picnic at the park

Grandma Chipman has sacraficed much time and effort to be there for our family. She is always there whenever we need her. She is teaching 5th grade full time, but even with that she has taken a whole lot of time to help where needed. Her Christmas break and the first week back for her 5th graders was spent with us in the PICU at Primary's. Grandma Chipman is the one who got Jacob started on solids, which made being away from him longer much easier (since the little guy has never taken to the bottle). And Grandma Chipman is a cancer survivor so Grandma and Jessica have a special bond. Grandma knows what Jessica is going through. My mother is a great strength to me. You could definitely say that she is my Hero! She is aware of our needs and takes special care of all of our children, especially Jessica's older sisters who have really struggled through this whole experience. My mom has also made sure that Cody and I take time together. She has taken the kids several times, making sure that Cody and I get some quality time together.

How truly blessed I am to have two amazing Mother's! And how blessed Jessica is to have two amazing Grandmother's!

To both of my mothers (my mother and mother-in-law)


On our way home one weekend, in between radiation treatments, we met Aunt Lydia and Uncle Nate in Beaver. They were headed up north for a reunion. Aunt Lydia, who is a registered nurse, has been a great strength to us! She is always so willing to step in and help at anytime. What is amazing is that I know that each one of my 7 siblings would do anything, absolutely anything to help when needed and they have done so much! I love my family. I just can't say that enough!

The second weekend in between radiation we were able to come home for Alyson's baptism. It was a beautiful day! Can't believe that my Alyson is 8 years old!

Jessica with her best cousin Kate

We have been so lucky to have my Sister Amelia and her family to stay with in Farmington. We feel so comfortable in their home and it makes it so much fun!

Jessica on the last day of radiation with some of the amazing staff at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

We had a great experience at Huntsman!

At Huntsman we were able to quickly valet park for free everyday. This is one of the nice valet parking guys with Jessica on a very cold April day in Salt Lake!

Here is Isaac, Jessica's very good friend, bringing her flowers. Isaac always makes Jessica smile!
Great friends, Jessica and Isaac!
Jessica visiting preschool with her friends and Miss Mary. Jessica loves spending as much time as she can with Miss Mary!
A hiking adventure to Red Cliffs just yesterday, Friday, May 6th!

We all had a great time hiking and playing in the water! Jessica had a great time. It is times like these that we will look back on with sweet memories that will never be forgotten!
Alyson, Jessica, Caleb and Annalise on the trail at Red Cliffs

How lucky they are to have each other and how lucky am I to be their mother!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Quick trip and doing well!

Jessica came home yesterday afternoon. Nothing serious came of her bowel obstruction. The scar tissue is actually on the outside of her small intestine. I guess these things can come up after surgery. The scar tissue either tightened down on the intestine or caused it to twist somehow. This could happen again, but the hope is that the body will work through it. The Xray yesterday morning showed good improvement. She was on a clear diet for almost 2 days, but this morning enjoyed yogurt, ritz crackers and pancakes with jam. She was a very hungry little girl. I guess adults with similar problems are put on clears for about a week. But thank goodness they can't do that to children. Calories become a problem quickly. Anyway, Jessica is doing well! Her blood counts yesterday morning had come up enough for chemo this next Tuesday. So unless something strange comes up, we will probably head up Monday night. And it should be a very quick trip....yeah! We should be back home Tuesday night!! Thank you for all of your kind comments. There are so many of you struggling with your own very difficult challenges. Please know that our hearts are with you also! We never know what life will bring, but we will always be there for each other. We are in this journey called life together. And what a gift it is to have the opportunity to experience the journey of life! We love you all!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Trip to the hospital

Jessica woke up last night around 11 p.m. with a lot of abdominal pain. She had been running around and playing just a couple of hours before with everyone. It was a beautiful day and night in St. George. It was quite a shock to have her in so much pain so out of the blue. Something wasn't right. We made the needed phone calls and ended up at DRMC around midnight. Aunt Julia ran up while studying for finals to be with the other kids while Cody and I ran Jessica to the hospital. After the first CT scan, the radiologist saw some questionable spots, but Jessica had not been able to hold completely still because of pain, so he asked for a 2nd scan with contrast and something to ease the pain. It looks like Jessica has a blockage in her small intestine, possibly scar tissue from surgery March 8th. They have Jessica on a couple of antibiotics until they completely rule out a couple of other possible infections. Her ANC has dropped again to .6 or 600. Her platelets are up a little from 85 to 92. They will watch her for 24 hours. If her symptoms get worse or she doesn't improve we may have to return to PCMC for surgery to remove the blockage. We are hoping that the body will be able to take care of the problem on it's own. They have placed a larger tube down into her tummy to remove the stomach contents to give her gut a rest. Even with that she is still throwing up about every 20 to 30 minutes. Her pain seems a little less to me, but she is definitely uncomfortable. There are always bumps that come along. We just hope that this bump doesn't throw Jessica too far off track.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Walk down Memory Lane!

Jessica's counts are still too low for chemo. Monday, April 25th, they drew blood again and for the 3rd time we haven't made counts. Now her platelets are okay at 85, but her ANC came down to .7 or 700. They aren't worried, it happens with these kids. And Jessica is just happy to be home. She shows no physical signs of having low counts. If she didn't have a feeding tube and wasn't missing her hair, you wouldn't even know she was battling any kind of sickness. We will now draw blood on Friday the 29th in hopes to head up on Tuesday, May 3rd for chemo.

I have been enjoying looking back at some fun pictures of Jessica and our little family. I can hardly believe that Jessica is almost 5! Where does the time go? Jessica is an Amazing little girl. It is a privilege to be her Mom! She teaches us so much everyday! She has a great deal of strength and courage. She doesn't have angry feelings or even feel afraid of cancer. She just has that gift of simple faith. She knows that everything is going to be okay! That is what is so wonderful about children. They don't let the cares of the world in that can make us as adults angry or afraid. They just take life as it comes and more often than not, they see the good in everything around them!

-> Our first house with our first 3 girls...Jessica is the baby!

Jessica- probably about 9 months

-> Alyson, Annalise, and happy baby Jessica.

Jessica on her blessing day!

Jessica, always round and healthy!

Jessica holding a starfish at Sea World.

Riding a horse on a trip to Bryce Canyon.

On a very rare, snowy day in St. George, Jessica made friends with a snowman.

Jessica was only 15 months when her little brother Caleb was born. She was a little unsure about the whole thing as you can tell. Jessica weighed 8 lbs 6 oz. when she was born and Caleb was 8 lbs. 10 oz.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

No chemo this week.

Jessica didn't make counts yesterday, so the plan is to draw blood again on Friday in hopes to travel Sunday night for Chemo Monday morning. The only area that Jessica's counts were too low was her platelets. We have never not made counts, so I actually asked what the cut offs were. Her platelets have to be above 75 and she was at 30 yesterday. It looks like she is on her way up. Everything has just moved a little more slowly this round. With that said, Jessica is her normal, happy self, just loving being home and being with all of her brothers and sisters and her dad! Still have to post lots of cute pictures. We want the treatments to happen, but it is okay to have a little more time to catch up at home before heading back up. Can't believe that Easter weekend is here. It is a beautiful time of year! I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives! Sweet is the Peace the Gospel brings. Wishing you all a very Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2 more days to go...

With two weekends home, Jessica is now 2 days away from finishing radiation! We plan to leave on Thursday after radiation and lab draws at the clinic(PCMC). We hope to be home in time to pick up big sisters Annalise and Alyson from school at 3:30. Jessica's counts have stayed low a little longer this time because of the effect from radiation, but the great thing has been that we have not needed any hospital stays besides the couple visits for a blood transfusion and some platelets. We have made an almost definite decision with the doctors to fall back to the normal Wilms chemotherapy treatment. There has never been any solid proof of anaplasia(more aggressive), so there doesn't seem to be as many reasons to keep pushing with the harder treatments. Jessica has responded extremely well to the stronger regimen, but it is certainly a roller coaster for her immune system. On the normal treatment her immune system shouldn't take as hard of hits as it has taken over the past few months. The plan now is to return this next Tuesday for chemotherapy. It would simply be a day trip! Yeah! We are all looking forward to coming home. Jacob, and Caleb have been up here with Jessica and I, so for all of us to be back together will be wonderful! We love you all and so appreciate all of the love and concern. I know that it is the strength that pulls us through!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chemotherapy and radiation

Well, I am falling behind in my updates. Jessica made it through her week of chemotherapy and 1st time radiation. After an overnight stay for chemotherapy from Monday to Tuesday, we reported to Huntsman Tuesday morning, March 28th, at 7:15. I am so proud of Jessica! They had an anesthesiologist on call worried that she would not be able to hold still. Well Jessica proved them all wrong. We did practice a little, we took a tour, watched an animation about radiation, and we just talked about how they would have to give medicine to make her go to sleep if she didn't hold completely still. Jessica shocked them all. The first appointment she had to lay still for at least 30 minutes, but every appt. after that has been around 5 to 7 minutes. Jessica is an amazing 4 year old. I have so much I want to write about and pictures I want to post, but I am going to have to spread things out a little and in small am I finally getting the idea of a little at a time and not all at once :) Jessica's Immune system has bottomed out and we are just hoping her ANC won't stay zero too long. We are hoping to avoid any hospitalizations because of a fever. Today is Wednesday, April 6th, and it is Jessica's older sister Alyson's 8th birthday. We love you so much, Alyson! We are hoping to go home this weekend, like we did last weekend, but if her counts are still low, the doctors would like us to stay close. Alyson's baptism has been scheduled for this upcoming Saturday, but we may have to reschedule if Jessica's counts are still low. Jessica has done great through radiation. The side effects of nausea and diarhea did finally show up on Monday. We are able give her a medication called zofran which helps, but it is no fun to throw up and be running to the bathroom. Today after tears from her tummy hurting, a run to the bathroom, and then throwing up, I laid Jessica down and was just holding her hand and scratching her back. She began to relax and then seemed deep in thought. Out of the blue she said, "Mom, did you hold dad's hand like this and dance together when you got married?" I told her yes and then she just started talking cute about our wedding and the pretty crown that I wore on my head. I asked her if she would like to wear my crown/veil when she got married and she thought that sounded great. :) I then said that she would make a wonderful mother someday. She thought for a minute and then said, "Mom, after I'm a mom I want to be a cowgirl." How cute is she. For not being much of a cowgirl myself, I certainly have some daughters who LOVE horses and the idea of being a cowgirl. I guess I do have a little experience with dairy cows :), but not much experience with horses. Hey, I guess that does make me a little bit of a "cow" girl. Anyway, the precious little conversations and time spent with Jessica is priceless! I am so grateful for the opportunity and blessing of being a mother! There truly is no greater calling than that of mother!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Home again!

Jessica, Jacob, and I arrived home last night at about 11 p.m. I didn't think they were going to dischard us until Tuesday morning, but at about 6:35 p.m. they said that we could go. YEAH! On Sunday we saw our surgeon, Dr. Meyers. No bacteria had grown from the fluid that was tested and Dr. Meyers was positive enough that it was just lymphatic fluid that she stopped the antibiotics Sunday afternoon. They decided to send one more sample of fluid to be tested and the initial results were also negative for any bacteria. Jessica did very well the entire hospital stay. The only down side is her weight. They took out her NG tube during surgery and she had it out for about a week and a half. But when we were admitted last Thursday,she had dropped from 19.5 kg to 17.8 kg. It is common to lose some after surgery, but everyone felt that we needed to replace her feeding tube, so we did on Sunday. It is difficult to watch the toll that treatments take on Jessica's little body. She is so amazingly strong, but the side effects are still there. I just have to be more on top of her diet and pack it full as often as I can. For now we are starting back with feedings through her tube just at night, unless we don't start to see weight gain soon.
It is just nice to be home. Jessica loves being home, and for me, it is hard to even want to leave just to run to the store. Just very glad to be home!
We are exactly one week off schedule. Jessica will be admitted this following Monday for a round of chemo. Then she starts radiation Tuesday morning which will last for 14 days with the weekends off. Thank you for all of your thoughts and messages. We feel so much love and support always!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Home away from home

Primary Children's has definitely become our home away from home. And that isn't all bad. There is some feeling of security being close to the doctors and nurses who know Jessica and what is going on. A little frustration over coming home when we shouldn't have, but even that said, glad to have had a day at home, just enough to regroup a little and be together as a family! I think I posted that we were released from surgery on Monday, but it was actually Sunday. We had to wait until Tuesday because of Jessica's radiation simulation appointment. The interesting part is that we had a CT scan right after the radiation apt. Back at primary's. It was ordered by our oncologist just to help aid the radiation doctor. We left soon after the CT which is when the radiologist would have been reading the CT. We now know that the CT showed an infectious fluid where Jessica's right kidney had been. For whatever reason this was not communicated as it should have been. It was a blessing that on Wednesday Jessica started having a fever. It was midnight Thursday morning that I called the on call oncologist who at that point said to go ahead and treat the fever and to call back in the morning and talk to the surgeons. Well at 4 a.m. Her temp. reached 103 so I called again but asked for an on call surgeon this time. The surgery resident that I talked to immediately pulled up Jessica's information on the computer and right away saw what could be causing the fever. She couldn't make the call on her own, but was pretty sure that we would need to return to the hospital. By about 8 a.m. We got the word that we needed to return for them to drain the infection area and administer antibiotics. We flew out at 9:30 and arrived at the hospital soon after 11 a.m. Thanks to Aunt Helen. I know that I say this all the time, but we have the most amazing family. We are so blessed with amazing family on Cody's side and on mine. With a total of 10 siblings, our wonderful parents, and Aunts and Uncles, we have felt overwhelming love and support from every single one of them. I love my family! I love them so much! My emotions run high when I think of the many sacrifices that our family makes in our behalf.
Thursday, at 4 p.m., a drain was placed in Jessica's lower back to drain the area where her right kidney was. She has started an antibiotic called Zosyn, which she will take for 2 weeks. We will stay in the hospital until the drain stops releasing fluid. It may prolong chemotherapy,
but hopefully not radiation. They are testing the initial fluid that was taken from the sight. It is unusual for this kind of infection in the area where the kidney was. It could be something from the removal of part of the liver or possibly something from the removal of the tumor.
Hopefully we will know soon. Jessica does feel some discomfort from the entry of another tube, but she has had no fevers since we arrived
at the hospital. I am just grateful that she had the fever long enough for us to make a call and for the right person to see the scan. The
infection would have eventually shown itself, but it could have been much more complicated later on. There are always, always, always blessings that come from challenges! This has become my journal, so forgive my rambling. I took advantage of both Jacob and Jessica napping at the same time!
I want my children and my wonderful husband to know how much I love them! The separation of a family during times like these is probably the most difficult thing. It is hard on everyone. But we are in this together, no matter what, and we try hard to be strong for each other. Jessica's little brother Caleb and her two older sisters Annalise and Alyson are the greatest strength to Jessica. She loves them so much and feels of their love for her! And how grateful I am to be their mother! It has been really hard on them, hard to understand everything, but they have amazing strength and love that pulls them through! Jessica couldn't ask for a more loving and concerned father. and I certainly couldn't ask for a more loving and supportive husband. Cody has had a lot of pressure dropped on him and he as more than
stepped up to the plate. We will all make it through! We are all kind of like that song says " stuck like glue", which also happens to be one
of Jessica's favorite songs! Together forever no matter what!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Back to the Hospital

Earlier this morning Chandra, Jessica, and Jacob caught a flight back to Salt Lake. Jessica had a fever in the night that caused some worry. It looks like she will have to have chest tubes put back in to drain fluid from her lungs and will also need fluid drained from the area where her kidney was removed because of an infection in that area. She's been readmitted to Primary Children's for the time being.

This whole experience has just been a roller coaster. Things start looking up and then they take a turn, but that's just how it goes. Jessica is a tough little girl who we all love very much. We love Jessica and her whole family and are praying for the best.

Iva(Chandra's sister)

**Update: It doesn't look like she'll need chest tubes, but does still need fluid drained from her kidney area.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Out of the hospital!!

Jessica was released from the hospital Monday the 14th at about 5 p.m. YEAH! Jessica has recovered much more quickly than we all had expected. She is doing so well! We are still waiting on the pathology report, but unless something comes back completely unexpected it will not change the chemotherapy at all. The doctors have decided that the tumor responded so well to the more aggressive treatment that even if pathology still shows more normal wilms, they will continue with the same treatment, which makes sense! Jessica has her first radiation appointment tomorrow, which is basically a practice run through and planning appointment for the actual radiation treatments that will start next Tuesday, March 22nd. She will also have another CT scan tomorrow at primary's, which will aide the radiation oncologist in his plan for Jessica's treatments. We will head home tomorrow around noon, enjoy the rest of spring break in St. George and then head back Sunday the 20th to report for appointments Monday morning. Jessica will meet with the surgeon and then her oncologist. After those appointments, they will admit her to the hospital for a round of chemo. There will be 3 drugs given, but she will only have to receive hydration after and just be watched overnight. Then we start radiation which will be at least a week, possibly two. Radiation is all outpatient, but happens everyday. They should be short visits. The hope is that at Jessica's simulation appt. we will find that she does not have to be sedated each day. Jessica can do it, I know she can!!
Each visit we meet or learn about other families who have and are facing some very big challenges. It is amazing to watch and learn from others. We will all have struggles in our lives, that is part of the plan, but how we react to these challenges is the key. We can learn much from the challenges we face. Through our challenges I really believe that we can become better. We know that life is not always easy, but we know that it is worth it! As we go through challenges with the right perspective, our capacity to love, learn, and move forward, grows. We realize our own potential and often surprise ourselves. I am grateful for the strong examples of families who have been through and overcome so much. We are all in this together.
**Well it is now Wednesday. I never seem to complete a post all in one night. We arrived home Tuesday night. Jessica's simulation for radiation and her CT scan went well. We made it through and were so excited to get on the road for home! We will head back up this Sunday to report for appointments and chemo on Monday. Radiation will start Tuesday. Jessica will have to have 14 days of radiation which will keep us up in S.L.C. for about 3 weeks, because those days consist of the 5 day work week. We may come home on at least 1 weekend, we will see how we are feeling about the drive. Jessica is doing well. She is much more tired and has had a little bit of a temperature at times, but overall is recovering well. She is so happy to be home. There really is NO PLACE LIKE HOME! Thank you again, for all the thoughts and prayers! You are all a great strength to us! So grateful for good friends and family!**

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Smiles before and afer surgery!

Almost 2 days after surgery and Jessica is still smiling! She is doing very well considering how major her surgery was. They removed her right kidney, an adrenal gland, her appendix and diverticulum, part of her liver and diaphragm, and peeled/cut tumor away from the vena cava. They also placed her port, which is the central line for chemo treatments. She had a picc line in her arm up until a week before surgery. 11 tumor specimens were sent with the pathologist. We should have some good information by next Monday, as far as the pathology report. Jessica had an amazing surgeon, Dr.Rebecka Meyers. We are so grateful for the amazing doctors and nurses here at Primary Children's. It is a blessing indeed, to have the technology that we have and the trained Physicians who can perform these operations that save lives!

Just a day after surgery and Jessica is still trying to smile. Her first night was tough on her. It took them a little longer to get her pain managed, but they made the needed adjustments and by the next day things were much better.

The morning right before Jessica went in for surgery.
We came through some bad weather Monday night as we traveled. At some points it was a little scary. Soon after we passed through Fillmore, the freeway closed from Fillmore south. We were lucky to make it through. We were headed to Farmington to Amelia's, but decided to stop at Aunt Helens in South S.L.C. to avoid another hour of bad roads. We all love Aunt Helen's. We always feel so welcome. We arrived between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. and there was Aunt Helen out shoveling snow for us. THANK YOU ESPLIN FAMILY!!

Aunt Helen and Grandma Chipman with Jessica just before we headed to the hospital Tuesday morning. Jessica was absolutely loving all the snow...which was a whole lot and now is completely all melted.

Grandpa and Grandma Chipman with Jessica and Kate.
Two days before surgery, we all spent the afternoon at Grandma and Grandpa Chipmans. Jessica's cousin Kate came down from Farmington with us last week when we were up for the CT scan. We knew we were returning soon for surgery, so we got to bring Kate home with us! Kate and Jessica had a super fun week together!

Jessica with her Uncle Josh and Aunt Julia.
Just a couple of Jessica's favorite people.
And that winning smile that we all love!!

Kate, Jessica, and twin cousins, Emmy & Abby.
Just relaxin' having root beer floats at Grandma & Grandpa's.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Surgery Update

After being in surgery for 7 hours, they brought Jessica out at about 7:30 this evening. The surgery ended up being a bit more complicated then they'd thought. The tumor was removed along with the appendix and part of the liver and diaphragm. Part of the tumor was also around the vena cava, which was one reason it took longer than expected.

She is doing pretty well, all things considered, but is very uncomfortable. They expect she'll be in the PICU for another day or two and will remain in the hospital until she fully recovers to start radiation treatments, hopefully in about two weeks.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Jessica and her family. We're hoping for a speedy recovery.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Surgery is scheduled!

Our whole family traveled up to Primary Children's with Jessica this past Sunday. Jessica had a CT scan at 9 a.m. and then apts. with the doctors at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday Feb. 28th. We were very hopeful that the scan would show that Jessica was ready for surgery and it certainly did! The tumor itself has responded dramatically to the chemo treatments. Not only does it seem to have pulled away from the liver, but it no longer encases the superior vena cava (major vessel of the heart- hope that I am wording that correctly). It does still line the back of the vessels, but the surgeon feels very confident in a safe removal! The tumors in the lungs are now very small much different from what we first saw. Jessica is scheduled for surgery Tuesday, March 8th. We will know the exact time on Monday, March 7th. While in S.L.C. for the appointments we spent some much needed family time. We played with our Carlson cousins and went to the Gateway childrens museum. All of the kids had a blast! Jessica loved it there!

Friday, Feb. 25th, was an eventful day for Jessica and our entire family. Pine View High School held a special assembly for Jessica, and Mom, Annalise, Alyson, and Jessica had a girls night out to Seusical Jr. at Fossil Ridge Intermediate. The musical was outstanding!! The girls giggled through out. With Horton on the tree saying "I said what I meant and I meant what I said. An elephant's faithful 100%" Jessica said, "Mom, we have that book." Thing 1 and Thing 2 and the Cat in the Hat were our good friends James, Mark, and Jeff. Other good friends were part of the musical! An amazing job was done by all!

It was the Mr. PVHS assembly at the High School. This was an amazing exerience for our family to be a part of. It is some what uncomfortable being the recipient of so much love and support, but at the same time we are blessed with many amazing experiences and this time was from the students and staff at Pine View High School. Each of the contestants were nominated by different clubs in the school and the cause that was chosen to raise money for was Jessica. The assembly was fun and entertaining, but truly showed the love that so many people have for Jessica and for our family. Many tears were shed as we watched this amazing act of love happen for Jessica. We will never forget that day. Thank you PVHS students and staff! You are a great example and strength to Jessica and our family. Another fundraiser is happening Friday, March 4th, at PVHS for Whitni Nisson, recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It is a benefit concert for her and her family from 7 to 10 p.m. that day. There is a great deal of love and support from our entire community for so many families who are struggling.

Caleb, Alyson, Jessica, and Annalise, with Brianne who is a member of the service club and a good friend of our family who helped to put together the Mr. PVHS assembly. Alyson and Annalise were escorts for the contestants along with 6 other very special friends of Jessica's; Brooklyn, Brecken, Eden, Lainee, Macey, and Sadie. We are very grateful to be surrounded by so many wonderful friends!

Annalise and Alyson, thank you for being such great olders sisters for Jessica, Caleb, and Jacob. It isn't always easy for the siblings to go through an experience like this. They struggle at times. It is often hard as a parent to be the way we should for all of our children as we go through trials. I am just grateful for each one of my children. Cody and I both love them more than they will ever know!

Aunt Julia with Jessica at the PVHS assembly. We are so lucky to have such amazing family support. Aunt Julia is a very special Aunt to all of her nieces and nephews. What would we do without our families? What a blessing they are!
Jessica with Jacob at our hospital stay in St. George on Feb. 18th. She stayed for three days because of a fever and having zero immune system, but even through another hospital visit she stayed happy and upbeat!

On Valentines Day we met Cody for lunch and he took the kids to the nature center to see the ducks. It always feels good to be out having fun together! We are very lucky to have such a great Dad! The kids love spending time with Dad and he makes as much time as possible to spend time with them. He always comes home from work with an exciting story to tell them and gets them excited about the things they are going to do together!

Good friend Isaac, Jessica, and cousin Jason! Can you feel the love!!
Jessica and Caleb playing on the hill behind Grandma and Grandpa Chipman's house. We love the St. George winters! And we love Grandma and Grandpa's house! Lots of memories are made there!
As nervous as surgery makes us, we know that Jessica is in good hands. Normal recovery time can be up to a week, even two. Radiation will follow around a week after surgery and that will be everyday for at least a week. They can also give her chemo while she is receiving radiation. We are just very grateful that the cancer has responded the way it has. We know, without a doubt, that many prayers have been answered!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Quick update!

Today is Jessica's 3rd day at the hospital here in St. George. Last Thursday, her ANC (her immune system) bottomed out to zero. All of her counts dropped dramatically, which is to be expected, we just always hope that her ANC won't go to zero. Thursday she needed red blood cells because her hematocrit was 20, so Cody went in with her to get a transfusion. They went in about 7 p.m. and didn't get home until 11 p.m. All went well until about 4 p.m. On Friday when she spiked a temp. of 101.6. With healthy kids that isn't always alarming, but with Jessica and kids like her, they admit them right away. This happened with our last round of chemotherapy so this may become our normal. They started antibiotics and drew blood cultures right off. Friday evening her platelets had dropped to 13 so they gave her a transfusion of platelets also. At first her cultures looked fine, but soon after the first look they showed signs of a staff infection. The good thing was that by Saturday morning her temperatures were back to normal and she physically looks and acts ok. They have done more blood draws. They are doing them each night at 7 p.m. Her counts today were, total white- .7; hematocrit- 26; platelets- 61; and ANC- .1. To me, her body is starting to rebound. I hope we keep moving on up. Last round of chemotherapy we chose the daily neupogen shots to help build back her immune system more quickly. This round we chose to try the 1 time shot of neulasta. If she keeps coming up each day from now on, I think that neulasta will be the better choice for Jessica! Hopefully we will be able to come home tomorrow. We head back to Primary Children's one week from tomorrow on February 28th. They will do a CT scan, then we will meet with our oncologist and the surgeon to decide if surgery is possible on March 8th. We are crossing our fingers that the scan will show great improvement! After surgery Jessica will have radiation for about a week and she will continue chemotherapy.
Jessica is doing great and still has a very positive attitude. She just has a great outlook on life! Kids are amazing! Thank you to everyone for all of your love and support! So many people are doing so much for our family. It means so much to us! We truly love you all!

One of the special children that we met at PCMC, Ari Lane, passed away the end of January. We just found out yesterday. We love her And her family so much. They were a great strength to us during our stay at PCMC. Ari's brother and sisters were such great examples to our kids. They were so kind and thoughtful, mature beyond their age. We feel very lucky to have been able to meet their family. It was a
blessing for our family! Our thoughts and love go out to them at this time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

PV Boys Basketball Fundraiser

The Pine View High School boys basketball team has teamed up with Nike and Eastbay to raise cancer awareness. Nike has donated pink basketball shoes to the team. The boys will play 3 games wearing the shoes. From now, until the final home game on February 18th, the shoes will be up for silent auction. You can place a bid by emailing Coach Larsen at or calling Pine View High School at (435)628-5255 ext. 140. If you would like a specific players shoes, make sure to mention their name. Also, specify if you would like the shoes "as is" or signed by the player. The shoes were designed to raise cancer awareness and therefore they are very unique and can't be purchased at just any store. The team will be donating all proceeds to Jessica and her family.

The next 3 games are:

Friday, the 11th, at 7:00 PM at Pine View High School. Pine View vs. Dixie
Wednesday, the 16th, at 7:00 PM at Canyon View High School. Pine View vs. Canyon View
Friday, the 18th, at 7:00 PM at Pine View High School. Pine View vs. Snow Canyon

The bidding will end after the game on the 18th. You do not have to be at the game to receive your shoes. Just make sure you leave your contact information when making a bid.

Thank you to Coach Larsen and the Pine View High boys basketball team for thinking about my niece, Jessica, and raising cancer awareness. The amount of love and support that has been shown towards Jessica and her family is simply amazing!

Sara (Chandra's sister)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A week of fun! Counts are up!

Monday, Jan 31st in the afternoon, we got the good word that Jessica's counts (ANC) were up! The neupogen shots everyday for 11 days finally kicked in! Her platelets were still quite low at 27, but no tranfusion needed. She had gotten to 18 while we were at the hospital here in St. George, so they gave her platelets then. Hopefully they keep coming up! Platelets are what give her blood the ability to clot. (For all those non-medical professionals like me) The low end of normal for Jessica is about 150. (Lots to learn!) This is a picture of Jessica with her very best cousin Kate. They were visiting from Farmington. Jessica loves Kate! When we first went to Primary Children's on December 21st, Jessica asked when we were going to go to Kate's house. A few days turned into 4 weeks at the hospital. On January 20th, the day Jessica was discharged, her first request was to go to Kate's house. Even though it was back tracking a little before heading home to St. George, Aunt Lydia and I, Jacob and Jessica, took a detour to Aunt Amelia & Uncle Jason's Home to see Kate (and everyone else too :) Kate's mom, Amelia had her fourth baby, Henry, on December 27th. There has been a lot going on in our family and through it all everyone has pulled together to give their support and love to everyone!

Jessica and Jacob have a lot of love for each other. While at Primary Children's, Jacob was a great distraction to me and to Jessica. Jacob is the best medicine for Jessica. When Jessica felt discouraged or sad, Jacob could always bring a smile to her face. What a blessing Jacob is to our family! Just another reminder of the miracle of life! What a priviledge to be the mother of 5 beautiful children. A great and very humbling, sometimes overwhelming responsibility, but truly a gift!

From left to right, some of the little Chipman cousins: Will, Ben, Zach, Abby, Emmy, Kate, Jessica, and Caleb. Big sisters Annalise and Alyson were at school, but while they were at school, we celebrated the fact that Jessica's counts were in a safe zone.

Jessica was back to her normal happy self this past week. She played with friends and cousins, and even went to her Thursday music group, which she loves! Jessica doesn't always want her picture taken, but maybe that is because her mom is constantly wanting a picture. We just have to catch her at the right moment. We have had a lot of happy moments this past week! There are always happy moments, but it has seemed a little more normal this week.

Jessica, Kate, Andrew, and Annalise frosting valentine cookies at Aunt Sara's new home. A Chipman family get together had been planned for last Monday night, but we had talked about the possibility that Jessica and mom might not be able to go. Kate and her family were to arrive just in time for the party, so everyone was thrilled. Sunday night Jessica said, "I know that my counts are going to be up, Mom." And boy was she right! We had a great time with our family!
One funny little moment I need to jot down so I don't forget. Right after we returned home from Primarys I was giving Jessica her first bath. Her hair was coming out in quite large amounts and I was just putting it on the edge of the tub. Caleb walked in and with a very distressed look said, "What did you do that to Jess for?" How cute was he, very concerned about his sister! Jessica's hair is pretty much all gone now, but most of the time she doesn't even think about it - One of the benefits of being just 4 years old.
We are now back up at Primary Children's for our 5th round of Chemo. Cody drove up with us and then he headed back home for the kids and work. Cody's mother has come back from Idaho to be with the kids. Before Cody left, we met with the Dr. this morning and then we were admitted for our 4 day stay. Dr. Afifi told us first of all that Jessica looks great, so much better than when she was last here. She then told us to plan on returning in 2 weeks, after this treatment, for a ct scan and then a consultation with the surgeon to look at a possible surgery date. So far, things are going very smoothly. Jessica is happy and has a great attitude about being back up here. Four days will be very easy after having had a 4 week stay!
Thanks again to everyone for all that you have done for Jessica and for our family!

Monday, January 31, 2011

So Much to Be Grateful for!!

There is so much to be grateful for! My mind is racing with so many thoughts and emotions. The past month has been a whirlwind, with sad and happy moments mixed together. There have been tears shed, but so much joy as we have watched Jessica make huge improvements! There have been many lessons learned with the knowledge that there are many more lessons to be learned. There is definitely a new perspective on the blessing of life. And then there is just the LOVE. The LOVE felt and so freely shared by others. Our family has been overwhelmed by all of the love and support we have been given by our family and friends and even people that we don't know! Thank you to all of you for supporting us on this journey with Jessica. We can't help but be filled with Faith and Hope because of the love we feel from everyone!

Jessica and Caleb, Best Friends Forever!
Through difficult times there is always peace and comfort to be found in the knowledge of our Heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Knowledge that they know us individually and understand perfectly what we are going through and that they will provide the strength we need. Their plan is perfect even though it may not seem to be at times. Our Saviors arms are always outstretched. This picture shared with us by good friends has brought much needed comfort and peace! It looks so much like our sweet Jessica. We know that the Saviors arms and His angels are around her always!

Jessica's smile and those eyes tell it all. She has a love for life. She is strong and she will fight this cancer hard! She is a wonderful example to us all. There are other amazing little fighters that we have met at primarys, have read about, and even close friends that we know. Children are so strong! They are a strength to each other and to all of us. We have felt so much love & support from these other children and their families!

What would we do without our families! Annalise (9), Caleb (3), Alyson (7), and Jessica (4). Just hanging out before bed. Annalise & Alyson had set up "rotations" for them to play together. Jessica's brothers and sisters are a huge strength to her. Our family has been amazing! Jessica's grandparents, her aunts & uncles, her cousins, and even great aunts & uncles have been so wonderful! We would not have made it through the past month without the help of our family!

A special thank you to Mandi Gubler for starting this blog. I never would have thought to do something like this and it has been a wonderful way to share Jessica's experience with others. And also a great way for me to keep a journal! To my sisters for posting for me and keeping things up to date, thank you. I love you all! How grateful I am for a close family. A family that sticks together no matter what! I hope that I can now keep up on the blog! Thank you to all of those who have worked so hard and spent so much time in fundraising efforts for Jessica. That was something that I struggled with at first, but please know how much it means to our family! For all of the packages and notes, words of encouragement and hope, visits to the hospital, thank you! Thank you just doesn't seem to cut it, but know that we love you all!!