Last night tonight!!!

A big thank you to Casey O'Leary, Char and Marg for sponsoring me to participate in Funrazor. Only 6 more days... if you would like to sponsor me, please click here.

Yesterday was a better day, but only because Bianca wasn't as sad and emotional. She was quite tired though and around 12pm the school called and asked if I could come and get her. She didn't want to eat her lunch, she was quiet and just seemed tired. As I got there all the other kids were out playing and enjoying the sunny day and I couldn't help realising how very different life is for us. We try very hard to do normal, ordinary things, but unfortunately things like the steroids often interfere with things like that. But she had a long nap after school and a definite improvement last night.

Today she coped with the full day at school, but once again, really tired after school and tonight.

Thankfully, tonight was the very last night of steroids for this month.


Oh how I hate it!

Right now Bianca is sobbing, uncontrollably sobbing. No particular reason, everything is making her sad, incredibly sad.

I hate what the steroids are doing to Bianca. I hate how it constantly gives her cravings, makes her ask for something and then saying she is not hungry, I hate how it makes her not sleep well and then waking up early and then making her feel tired during the day. I hate how it makes her sad, how it makes her grumpy and emotional and clingy. I hate how there is nothing we can do, except sit and wait it out.

I hate steroids and this week seems particularly challenging and tough.

I'm hoping for a better day tomorrow!


Question for the day

Today Bianca spotted the word "chef" on one of the restaurants close to us. She wanted to know why we say a "sj" sound and it starts with a "ch" sound. Oh the joys of the English language...

A really full-on day!

One of the very very common side effects of Dex is that it makes kids sad, emotional, unhappy, have mood swings and can even cause temper tantrums. Well, it is day 2 of our steroids for the month and I am counting the hours until Friday. It's been an incredibly tough and difficult day for Bianca emotionally and every little thing set her off. Bianca was also very very clingy. Earlier today she was okay, but this afternoon and evening was pretty full-on.

This does make me wonder how this will affect our Christmas celebration as Bianca will be on steroids then and it seems likely we may have to shift our celebrations to another date.

Tonight in the bath Bianca did perk up a little bit and we were talking about some stuff in general and then she mentioned that she misses her Ouma Amanda (Bianca's granny / my mom). It seems as if Bianca has really fond memories of spending time with my mom when she was here last year and every so often Bianca will mention her or something that she remembers from some of the fun games my mom played with Bianca when she was here. My mom has always taken such an active interest in us and the kids and pretty much on a weekly basis (sometimes more often) we can count on a news email from her side and usually she would respond to something I wrote about in my blog. That really means such a lot to us that we have this kind of support from such a special person, that even though she is so far away, she makes the effort to stay in touch with her own normal news. So thank you so much Mom!

So now we'll try and get an early night as we anticipate tomorrow to possibly be just as full on with the steroids!

And just before I go, just wanted to say thank you so much to C, S & A and Michele and Marc Danneels for sponsoring me for Funrazor. I am so close to reaching $2,000, thank you for supporting such a great cause! 9 More days and then the big day!!! If you would like to sponsor me, please click here.

Thankfully just a short stay.

Thank you so much for all the wonderfully supportive comments and emails.

Bianca was discharged yesterday afternoon after getting her monthly IVIG and Vincristine. She's much better in the sense that she has no more fevers (I think it shot up to 39.4 degrees - or somewhere there on Sunday night). So now Bianca needs an antibiotic 3 times a day until the course is completed.

Last night she did indicate her ear was still a little sore and she is not 100% herself and it doesn't help that she is also on steroids at the moment.

I was reminded how tough a hospital stay can be on all of us, trying to work out what to do with Caitlyn (thank goodness for Jody), what to pack, the logistics of Terence going to work and me staying with Bianca and be back home in time for Caitlyn and so on. So I'm glad it was just a short stay - I had visions that this might end up a long stay.

The stay was a bit tough on Terence as they put them in a shared room and being in a shared room you have no control over when the other people would switch off their lights and when they would switch off the TV. Around midnight they brought in another child who screamed and screamed and screamed and he was then moved at some point. And of course the 3 IV machines in the room would all beep throughout the night - all at diferent times.

But today Bianca is home and that is great! We decided to still keep her home to see how she is and if she doesn't complain of ear ache anymore today then she will go to school tomorrow morning.

So Bianca's medicines today are:

1 x 400mg Acyclovir tablet (anti-viral)
2.5 tablets Dexamethasone (steroid)
6ml Co-trimoxazole (antibiotic to prevent a certain type of pneumonia)
6ml Augmentin (for the ear infection)

1 x 400m Acyclovir tablet
6ml Augmentin

1 x 400mg Acyclovir tablet
2.5 tablets Dexamethasone
6ml Co-trimoxazole
6ml Augmentin

Wait 2 hours

1 x 400mg Acyclovir
1.5 tablets - Mercaptopurine (chemo)

I'm just thankful Bianca can swallow tablets - thank you PlayKate!

A big thank you to Johan, Lisle, Anthony Theuninck, Mike Kmiec for sponsoring me for Funrazor - you guys are making a big difference! If you would still like to sponsor me - please click here.



First let me start off by saying thank you so much to Catherine for sponsoring me for Funrazor - I really appreciate it! The clock is ticking and only 11 more days and then I will get all my hair shaved off. If you would still like to sponsor me, please click here.

It all started last night with Bianca waking up with a sore ear. In the end she slept with me in bed so I could be near in case she needed me. She woke up a number of times and finally at around 2am I got up and gave her some pain meds to see if that might make her feel a little bit better.

This morning Bianca's ear was still very sore, she was crying, and just generally not really herself. When we rang the hospital her temperature was sitting around 37.4 degrees and the hospital told us that we could bring her in and they would have a look. So at around 11am we went to hospital.

Bianca's temperature by this time was around 38.4 and so we needed to get some bloods done. We then saw one of the registrars who confirmed that her levels were all good, her neutrophils jumped from around 2 last month to around 3 now (this is often a sign that kids are fighting some kind of infection). Bianca has a bit of a cough, but her chest is clear, it is really just that her ear was quite red and swollen inside, so likely an ear infection that we are dealing with. But just to be safe, they took another blood sample to culture to see if there is something else. For most of the time Bianca slept and she was just generally unhappy and grumpy. So Bianca is admitted tonight for fluids and IV antibiotics and they will review tomorrow morning. It's funny how these things always seem to happen on a Sunday...

Regardless of how long Bianca might be in, I do expect tomorrow to be a little bit of a busy and longish day as Bianca will have her monthly clinic visit so she'll get the usual Vincristine and her IVIG and then the dreaded steroids.

Tonight Terence is at the hospital with Bianca and I will be home with Caitlyn and we'll take it from there.


Thank you

Just wanted to say a big thank you also to The Wolfe Family, Jaime, joanw, Kristan Mildren and Sharon Bennett for sponsoring me to participate in Funrazor. Only 13 more days and I will get all my hair shaved off.

If you would like to help, you can:


  • You can sponsor me to shave off my hair - I don't mind shaving it all off. I did it last year and this year I will do it again! Visit my fundraising site by clicking here. It is a secure site that allows you to contribute using a credit card and it goes directly into the Child Cancer Foundation bank account (and it also enables people from other countries to contribute and support Bianca as well). You will even get a receipt to show the payment. Every single cent raised goes directly to the Child Cancer Foundation. If you are scared of the whole online payment thing, please let me know and if you are in my area, then you can donate cash and we will complete your details on the Funrazor form and you will be sent a receipt or I can let you know the actual bank account number for the Child Cancer Foundation and I'm fairly certain they accept cheques as well.
So there are some options to get involved. It doesn't matter how big or small the donation, every little bit will make a huge difference.

The Child Cancer Foundation doesn't receive any government funding and yet they do such important work and people like us simply would not have coped with Bianca's illness if it was not for them. Raising money through events like Funrazor is a way for them to raise awareness and to raise much-needed funds for them to continue providing this service. None of us chose for our children to get sick, it happened, without any kind of warning and for many of us treatment can take years and even after that there will still be tests and things like that.

I am participating because I am so very passionate about the Child Cancer Foundation. This is our way of giving back to them and saying thank you for all the wonderful support they give us. Many of you asked before what you could do to help us and this is definitely a way you can help!

On the 4th of December I will be there, getting my hair shaved off as a tribute to my wonderful little girl Bianca who has inspired me throughout her journey and continues inspiring me every single day of our lives and also to say thank you to some of the wonderful people who have been there for us, ever step of the way!

Saying goodbye to Kyah

This morning Terence and I flew to Wellington to attend little Kyah's celebration of life.

So this morning at around 7:30 Terence and I got to the Albany bus station and caught a bus to the city. Got there and we had to walk around a block or so to get to the stop for the airport bus and because it was just around the corner we ended up running (with me in high heels) (we must have been such a sight!). But we managed to catch the bus and from there got to the airport with enough time to spare to have breakfast. They have a new system where you can check in online (although we thought that "check in" means you are actually at the airport and checking in before you get to the airport sort of defeats the purpose of the whole making sure you are at the airport, but who are we to complain if it makes our lives easier). On the Qantas domestic flights they sometimes still have business class seats although don't offer a business class service anymore and so because we checked in early we got upgraded to the business class seats. How cool is that? So we got to Wellington and as we came out of the arrival section the bus was about ready to leave and we sprinted (me still in high heels), but we made it. Got to the city and because our flights were slightly late we were at risk of missing our train and so once again, sprinted all the way from where the bus stops to where the trains are and what do you know? We missed the Johnsonville train. Walked back to the bus stop to see if there was a bus that would arrive sooner than the next train and we were in luck!

And so we arrived in Johnsonville promising ourselves that we would not be running anymore. As we came around the corner to where the chapel is we noticed just about everybody had a teddy bear and we did not have a teddy bear, so we ran to Pumpkin patch (who didn't have a good selection on display), then ran to Warehouse who had no teddy bears at all and back to Pumpkin Patch and managed to buy a really cute little teddy bear. (So much for "we won't be running anymore").

And then later when it was time to go back we ended up waiting for the bus to the city and had a bit of a wait for the bus to the airport and we made the airport in time to take a bit of a break and eat some supper. Got to Auckland, waited for the airport bus and then finally arrived in the city. So we took a nice walk to where we would have to catch the bus to home and suddenly we could see the bus arriving and we were still almost a block away - so there we went, running again!!!

Running in high heels, not good! Running when you are as unfit as me and in high heels, even worse! I am guessing I must have run around 1 km today and for somebody who doesn't normally run, that's a lot!


The service was absolutely beautiful, but so incredibly sad. Kyah's big brother read the most beautiful poem he wrote for Kyah, they shared a bit of a favourite part of a Winnie-the-Pooh story, 2 of Kyah's grandparents and Marg from CCF had a chance to give tribute to the bravest and coolest "almost three year old" and Marg shared a really nice story about water bugs (if I remember correctly) turning into dragonflies. And Shanell also read a beautiful poem. It was such a beautiful service. But I can't remember when last I was that sad (well, reading the update that Kyah relapsed and also that she passed away, that was very, very sad too).

Little Kyah, you achieved so much more than so many people would ever achieve. You brought together people from all over the world, you inspired us all, you taught us so much. I'm so happy that I have had the chance to have met you, and thank you for sharing your story with me. Little Kyah, we will miss you so much, but we will never ever forget you!!! Rest in peace beautiful little girl and dance with the butterflies!

Shanell, Jason, Kaleb and Jordan - thank you for sharing your journey with us. Our hearts are broken for you, know that we are always there for you!


Tribute to an amazing little girl

This morning at 11:55 (NZ time) little Kyah passed away peacefully with her mommy and daddy by her side. I feel so incredibly sad for them and whilst I am happy that Kyah is no longer in pain and that she is now at complete peace, doesn't need any more medicines and no more nose tube, I so wish this family never had to walk the child cancer journey.

Kyah still remains the coolest, bravest "almost three year old" and she has achieved so much, and through her journey people from all over the world were brought together as they followed her story.

Shanell, Jason, Kaleb and Jordan - now more than ever you are in our prayers and thoughts. Little Kyah, we will never ever forget you! Rest in peace! (28-11-05 - 19-11-08)


Just quickly...

Thank you very much to Chelsea, Sharon van Wyk and the Liang family for sponsoring me for Funrazor. Only 17 more days to go - you won't be disappointed!!!

I don't feel very inspired to update the blog tonight, so just a brief update.

On Saturday night Bianca was asleep and around 10pm had quite a big vomit, she was still sort of asleep. So there we were at 10pm, changing sheets, drawing a bath for her to clean her up and putting her back to bed. Terence set the alarm to check up on her every couple of hours. The first thought that popped into our minds were "oh no, she caught Caitlyn's bug!". But she didn't get sick again that night. The next morning Bianca slept in a bit and was pretty grumpy for several hours after she finally woke up. But thankfully no further episodes and that is a big relief. Not sure what was up, but thankful that it isn't a tummy bug!

Today Bianca also had her very first visit to a swimming pool since she became sick. They had a swim safety lesson at school and this morning they had the practical bit where they actually went into the pool. She was so excited. She will soon have regular swimming lessons as soon as we hear back from the swim school. One more step towards normality...


I've been tagged! Just a little bit of random fun

Wow, I've never been tagged before and this week I've been tagged by Suzanne (Always Ours). Her blog is fairly new and I must say I really enjoy reading her updates!

There are number of rules to being tagged...
1. Link to the person who tagged you (visit Suzanne's blog here)
2. Post the rules
3. Share seven random or weird facts about yourself
4. Tag 7 random people at the end of the post with their links
5. Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

Now for 7 random or weird facts about me (well, not sure if you would find them weird or random, or both, but anyway):

Fact 1 - I can speak two languages fluently (Afrikaans and English, with Afrikaans being my first language) (although my South African followers won't find this very random or weird) and say a few phrases in Sesotho and hello in Mandarin

Fact 2 - When I was little I used to eat tomato sauce (ketchup) on a sandwich

Fact 3 - I love doing crosstitch (but haven't for a while)

Fact 4 - I hate anything that was naturally born with 6 feet or more (especially spiders), so when we moved into a rental home in Khandallah it was like living in my worst nightmare - in the first 2 weeks we discovered 12 really big, gross spiders living in our house.

Fact 5 - When I was around 13, I loved writing poetry and even once tried to get some of my poems published which didn't happen (oh well, it was worth a try...).

Fact 6 - I hate shoe- and clothes shopping (except for the kids)

Fact 7 - I don't drink coffee (the last time I drank a cup of coffee was when I was around 6 and one day declared that I would be drinking tea from then on), now I pretty much only drink hot chocolate

It's pretty hard choosing only 7 to tag as I follow so many blogs on a daily basis. So here goes and in no particular order I tag:

1. Angus at Life with Leukemia

2. Annie from Living with CML

3. Kristy from Passion for Purple

4. Del from Super Relish

5. Renee from Life with my Special Ks

6. Kristie from Not Quite What I had Planned

7. Annie Fox


Boy, am I glad today is over...

Thank you so very much to Angela (Dominic and Luka), The James Family and Saana [and parents] (Saana is one of Bianca's best friends) for sponsoring me to participate in Funrazor. Your support is amazing and will make a big difference.

This morning Bianca woke up pretty emotional and she complained of sore legs. So I decided that it would be best to keep her home. For most of it she copes pretty well with school, but I guess there must be times that she must get tired too and so on those days it is best just to let her take it a bit easier and let her body recover a bit more. The chemo must be working pretty well because she is definitely losing hair again, and of course that might mean that she might get more tired than usual. I'm not quite sure why Bianca is losing hair again as I really thought that once kids reach their maintenance phase that was it for the hair loss and she would get proper hair again, but Bianca's hair doesn't seem to grow much. I mean it did for a while, but it stays short and now it is really thin at the top and I can see parts of her scalp through the hair. I see other kids on maintenance who is at the same part of maintenance as Bianca and they definitely have way more hair than Bianca has. This morning when she woke up she had hair all over her pillow and I also notice this in the bath in the evenings. It makes me feel a little sad for her because sometimes she really just wants to have a ponytail or two and right now there is no way that I would be able to make a little pony tail at the top of her head (can't do it at the back because it is really short at the back).

Tonight was pretty full on with Caitlyn crying from around 7pm to 9pm when she finally fell asleep. Not sure what was up, whether she felt too warm (so I changed her into cooler clothes, just in case and opened her windows), tried closing her door, opening it, closing it again. Tried sitting with her a little while, she had a bottle, changed her nappy, let her have some water. Each time I go there she is happy, each time I leave, she screams as if she is in severe pain, which of course she can't be if she stops crying as soon as I walk into her room. But all is quiet now in her room and so I guess she must be asleep.

After Caitlyn's bath, I also noticed a number of bruises on her legs and of course this brought an instant flashback to when Bianca was around Caitlyn's age and she used to get all those bruises. All the time. And I remember thinking "please just don't look like hand / finger marks" - because how would I be able to explain that? Of course Caitlyn is quite active, she runs around a lot and no doubt also bumps into things and a number of times when she gets cross or she doesn't want you to hold her hand, she will make herself fall down, so her legs do get a bit of a rough treatment from her. But either way, I don't like bruises. I will always worry about bruises. I shouldn't, but that's just the way we've had to become.


Cancer sux!!!

The last little while has been pretty sad and pretty heartbreaking and last night and today probably worse than before. These times I can't help thinking how very unfair life sometimes can be. There are days like these that all I can think about is how much cancer sux.

Just a mere 2 months ago (I think it was in September), little Kyah relapsed (she has Neuroblastoma) and she had no further treatment options. I remember reading about it in disbelieve and it just hit me and I couldn't function for a couple of days. There is no way I could even imagine what it must be like getting news like this, here is a little girl who has only ever known what it is like living in a hospital, having a nose tube that had to be reinserted each time she got sick and it came out, having medicines and so much more. She was around Caitlyn's age when she was diagnosed. She was doing so well and then suddenly all those hopes and dreams were shattered with the word "relapse". I think what makes this particularly hard for me is that we know them, we have followed their journey for such a long time now, we cried when they made a particularly tough treatment decision, we laughed with them when there were good times, we were so happy that she coped fairly well with all the very intense treatment and with them we celebrated the last day of radiation, the day her hickman line was removed and the day the removed her NG tube.

She is just a little kid who is supposed to enjoy life and have fun, but instead her life revolved around whatever medical procedures needed to happen.

Last year this time, Kyah was still in Christchurch with her mum and they had a fun outing to the Botanical Garden and now? She has now reached her final stages and it is just so incredibly heartbreaking and sad to think that she won't even see her 3rd birthday (on the 28th of November).

I'm so incredibly sad for them. Please could you keep them in your thougths and in your prayers so that they will find strength and comfort during this incredibly difficult and challening time.

It should be simple right?

Buying a gift seems a simple thing. Sending it should not be much of an issue either. And so that's what we did. We bought Terence's dad a birthday present and sent it with DHL thinking it would get there faster. Right. Of course you throw South Africa and its service levels in the mix and - chaos. So that's what happened. We got an email from Terence's brother that we would have to pay customs clearance on the gift (which came to around NZ$112) before they will release it. So we said that we thought it was too expensive and that perhaps he should just ask them to send it back (thinking that they would just charge us what it cost to send in the first place).

So this morning I got a call from NZ Post saying that it can be sent back, but we would still need to pay the NZ$112 for the South African Customs Clearance fees. AAARGGHH!! So either way, it was going to cost us that much money now. So Terence took the email they sent with the reference number and he went and paid the NZ$112 for them to release and deliver it in South Africa. Now it is going to be late as well. Unbelievable.

They can't tell me why we have to pay customs on it. It is not a food item, it is not made of wood, it is pretty small, it is a single item and not an import of some kind, we ticked the box that said "gift" and it even has a birthday card inside. So it seems they just decided to hang onto this parcel and charge us the customs fee.

This made us just realise that thank goodness we are done with South Africa. Of course this does now put us in a position where we don't want to send any more parcels to South Africa, at all. We simply cannot afford for them to keep something again and charge us hundreds of dollars each time they feel like it. This is unfortunate and so frustrating, but for us this was an expensive lesson to learn.

So frustrating!!!

Losing hair again...

A great big thank you to all my generous sponsors out there - you guys are making a big difference! Thank you to Sophia Elize - NZ Art Guild; Paul, Cathy, Scott and Fiona; Bridget Kenny; Sam; Simon Jordan; Lynley Marwick; Lena, Alistair and Tyler; Claire in Huddersfield, UK; C, J & Z; Pacific Forum Line (NZ) Limited; The Duxfields and Annie Wong. Thank you so much for sponsoring me to shave off my hair for Funrazor. A few more votes for size zero.

Speaking of hair, Bianca's hair seems pretty thin at the top at the moment. I've noticed the past couple of days she's been losing hair again. I guess that must be the Vincristine, but it is frustrating as we really just want her hair to start growing properly now. It doesn't seem to grow much at the back and so it is still very short. It has longer bits to each side, but even that doesn't seem to grow very fast. Only 9 more months to go, well, more like 9 months and 4 weeks. It is days like today that I just really want to be done with treatment.

The night before last was a pretty rough night for me. Caitlyn had a tummy bug of some sort and she really didn't sleep well and was awake a large portion of the night. I guess she was thirsty too because up to that point she would even vomit from drinking some water. So when she cried at around 4:30am after a number of other times, I figured it might be safe to get her a little bit of water and so I got up to get her a bottle with some water. She drank that so fast and then said "bobble" (her word for bottle) and I said "no Caitlyn, no more" (thinking that the last thing I want is for her to get sick all over her bed, and myself, and the carpet) and so of course she started crying "bobble!", so I gave in and got her another. Lucky she didn't get sick and by morning it seemed much much better. So now I just hope and pray that none of us will pick up the tummy bug.

Terence is still in Wellington on his training course or something and we are all missing him lots.

I haven't been doing much housework this week and most of my time has been spent on my project. It's been one of those where you think it will go quickly and then realising that it ended up bigger than you thought. But I do enjoy doing it and can't wait until it is done.

This afternoon after supper we quickly went to the beach (at around 5pm). The weather was nice and with our daylight savings time it is still light enough until around 7pm (maybe slightly later). The girls loved playing at the park and playing in the sea was as much fun. I had to keep watching Caitlyn as she keeps running towards the waves even if they are still a bit of a distance away and at one point I said to her "stay here, don't go further. Are you listening to me?" and she said "no" which seems to be her standard answer for everything.


Another vote for size zero

Thank you very much to Christy, Jo and Del (SuperRelish) for sponsoring me to shave off my hair for Funrazor. I had another vote for size zero, so it looks likely that that is what I will do. Every little bit counts and will make a big difference to help the Child Cancer Foundation do the work they need to do. It is a shame they don't get any government funding because the work they do is so very necessary and so many people are impacted every single year. So thank you so much for sponsoring me (click here if you still want to sponsor me). Of course another way to get involved would be to register and get your own hair shaved off (click here for the site to register yourself, if you want).

It seems that Caitlyn has a bit of a tummy bug and I think we will be in for a rough night. It all started after lunch just around the time when she was supposed to have a nap. And so it carried on throughout the afternoon. She did eat a little bit of rice this evening, so hopefully it doesn't go too bad tonight.

I noticed this afternoon that Bianca seems to be losing hair again. When she runs her hand through her hair she has a quite a bit of hair left in her hand. It is probably the Vincristine. I just can't wait until we are all done with treatment so that her hair can grow back properly and not fall out again. Her hair doesn't seem to grow much at the back of her head at the moment.

[I spoke too soon, Caitlyn's rice just came back up - sigh!!!]

Well, better run. I have a feeling we'll be in for a long night, I have a load of washing to catch up on and I need to get going on my project.

Please could you keep little Kyah and her family in your prayers and thoughts tonight.


Busy, busy, busy

First of all - a big thank you to Ashlea, Juliette & Crispin (and Summer & Merlin too), Annie, The O'Rourkes, Hannah, Ouma Amanda (my mom), The Gallaher Family and Play Kate for sponsoring me to get my hair all shaved off. At the moment it looks like I will be going for a size zero this year, and right now my hair is pretty long and irritating me quite a bit so I can't wait to get rid of it all. If you would like to sponsor me, please click here. All money raised will go directly to the Child Cancer Foundation, a number of you have asked what you can do to help, and this is a great way to help. The nice thing about this site is that even if you are not in New Zealand, you are still able to sponsor me.

The past week has been, and I expect the next week or so will be pretty busy on our side and I'm not too sure how much time we'll be able to spend on the computer this week.

Last week Terence had a work conference that was from Sunday to Wednesday. It was good for him to catch up with some of the people from the Wellington branch and he mentioned that there were some very interesting discussions during the conference. He was also lucky and he won a massive big picnic hamper and a digital camera. Of course the idea was pretty good behind it, but we couldn't help wondering what would have happened if somebody from the Wellington office won this hamper and had to fly back with it.

On Friday Bianca won a North Harbour rugby ball. At school during Fitness they write down the names of the kids who try very hard to do their best and then during assembly they draw some names and those kids win prizes. So Bianca's name was drawn and she had a choice between a water bottle or a rugby ball and she chose a rugby ball. She was so excited. And then later that afternoon she assured me that if she ever win anything again, she would give it to me.

That evening they had a family sports evening at school. It is ideal now that we have our daylight savings time and it gets dark much later than before. So Terence and Bianca went. I stayed home with Caitlyn as it was around her bedtime. Bianca had a great time catching up with some of her friends and she absolutely loved all the activities. Especially the tug-of-war and she kept going back to it to have another go.

Saturday was election day in New Zealand and we went to vote. I sort of imagined these long queues and people getting frustrated, but it was so quick. We walked in, showed our quick voting cards with our details on it, they ticked us off the list, gave us our voting form, we went to the special voting area, ticked our boxes and put the slip in the box. All done. I think it took us all of maybe 5 or 10 minutes.

I've also been busy with a special project (which I can't say much about at the moment), that is pretty much taking all my available time at the moment, and I want to try and finish it really quickly, but unfortunately it doesn't leave me much time to spend on the computer. It is good though to have something like this to do. Usually all my time is taken up with the normal house and children things and I don't have much time for hobbies and things like that. So it has been exciting taking on this project. But I expect that if I want to (or rather I need to) get this finished soon, this week will be very busy for me.

Then this week also Terence has to attend meetings in Wellington, so he won't be home for a number of days, and I'm just glad Bianca is not on steroids this week.

So it seems as if this month is a very busy one for us.


A big word

Wow, thank you so much to Steve from Make a Wish, Jody and the Melvilles for sponsoring me. Every single cent will make a difference!

Tonight Bianca came to me after supper and she said "I had my co-trimoxazole, that is what the pink medicine is called?" What a big word for a 5 year old to say!

An opportunity to help

Some of you might recall last year December when I got my hair shaved for Funrazor. I even made front page news which was great publicity for such a great cause. Well, this year I will be shaving my hair again and best of all (if all goes according to plan) Bianca will be right there helping to shave my hair. Last year I went to size 1 and this year I might very well go down to size zero (so let me know 1 or zero - which do you prefer...)

I set up a fundraising site (click here for my site) which will make it really easy for you to sponsor me (of course unless if you choose to get your own hair shaved) and I really hope you are able to help me reach (and if possible exceed) my target. It is a secure site and all proceeds will got directly to The Child Cancer Foundation here in New Zealand.

They have been absolutely marvellous in their support to us (and so many other families). They don't get any government funding and rely on events like these to raise the funds they need to do their really important job. In our case, active treatment alone is 2.5 years and we are not done yet, we still have 10 more months to go. Then it is still not done as there will be ongoing tests as we go forward. CCF has become family to us. They were there right from day 1. Way back in June 2007 when Bianca was diagnosed, they organised this big bag full of stuff. Things to help with overnight stays in hospital, meal vouchers, loads of reading material, and when we were all worried about Bianca's first hair loss, they even organised us a pink bandanna for her. Since then they have always been there for us, they are our voice when we need them to help us out with decisions at the hospital, they help with whatever help we need (and so many parents suddenly have to cope with only one income), they organise time for us to meet other people or things to let our kids just be kids and most of all, they are right there listening when all we want to do is talk, or just be there if we don't feel like talking. This journey would have been so incredibly incredibly hard if it was not for the Child Cancer Foundation.

We've certainly had our fair share of ups and downs and amongst other things Bianca had kidney stones, shingles, unknown viral infection which resulted in a hospital stay of 34 days and mostly on oxygen, a severe reaction to one of her treatments which means she can never have that same one again, around 106 days in hospital with various infections, a severe bronchospasm, more than 30 blood product transfusions, around 80 days spent in isolation or where she was neutropenic. But despite all this, Bianca always smiles, she never complains, she loves life and just does what she needs to. She is such an amazing little girl!

So this year I will get my hair shaved again, and I hope you are able to sponsor me and pass this information on to others who might be interested. If you are in the Auckland area, come and meet us on the day. The plan is that Bianca will be right there helping to shave my hair (I sincerely hope I won't lose an ear in the process :-) ).

Just as last year I will post before and after photos so you can see the results. My hair is fairly long at the moment and since December 2007 I've only had 1 haircut so far, so I will be well and truly ready for this annual hair cut.

This is your chance to help brave and amazing kids like Bianca!!!


The friends you make along the way

One of the really positive things about our cancer journey is the wonderful inspirational people we meet along the way, and certainly the world of technology really helps in that way, a blog or Facebook or email - you name it. It certainly has given us the chance to connect with some pretty amazing people out there. People we would otherwise never have been able to meet. I think in the days before all this technology, life must have been fairly isolated, especially when you are walking a particular journey that others might not always be able to relate to or fully understand.

So yesterday I made a new friend. It was just by accident really (or perhaps I was meant to) that I discovered her blog and apart from their plans to move to this side of the world and the ups and downs of planning such a big move, Sharon's blog also describes her struggles with infertility. And I just feel so incredibly sad for them. It has been 6 long years, procedures, miscarriages and so much more. I cannot even begin to imagine what her journey must be like. I guess I will never understand why things like this happen, I will never understand what we are meant to learn in the process, but that journeys like these certainly make you stronger, of that I am sure.

I know with our journey I had to learn that we cannot choose what happens in life, but we can choose how we handle it - and certainly that motto has paid off with our journey. But yesterday I just once again realised how very unfair life sometimes can be.

And when we got chatting on Facebook she said something to me "You know, Lea, I'm a firm believer that we're never given more than what we can cope with" and that is so true and yet so amazing that somebody could have such an outlook on life.

I am so happy that Technology makes it possible for me to meet such amazing and inspirational people like Sharon! But I also know that people are placed on your road for a reason and I know that I will be able to learn so much from her.

Snow in spring?

Things over here are going pretty well and we can't really complain. It certainly feels much more settled than last week on steroids, and by Friday the big appetite arrived (typical steroids) and by Saturday we had our last dose for this month (until the end of this month). It definitely was worse than last month and the side-effects happened pretty much straight-away. We always have some kind of side-effects, but it doesn't always happen that quickly. But I guess now that that's out of the way, we'll expect it for the end of this month when we do our next week of steroids.

On Sunday we had some friends over for dinner and they work with Terence and were down from Wellington for a conference. It was a great evening catching up and pretty much just chatting until it was time for them to head off back to the city to their hotel. The past two days Terence has been getting some great compliments on the girls and how well behaved they are. It feels great that they are so well behaved that people actually notice. We've even had it at the shops before where people would make comment on good manners and so on. The girls make us so proud!!!

The conference, which started on Sunday, was until today (Wednesday) and Terence found it really interesting. He even won a prize! I know one of the topics I would have found really interesting, is about the way kids learn and how to make it more effective in the classroom. Not sure how things work nowadays in the classroom in South Africa and whether it is still the same as when I went to school, but they are very innovative at Bianca's school.

I was quite surprised to read that it has been snowing in Queenstown, and certainly large parts of the South Island looks pretty cold at the moment. So if you are planning on traveling here any time soon or moving here, know that it is a bit on the cold side at a time when we are on our way to summer.

For now, not much else (apart from the usual day to day things we need to do) happening which in itself is a great concept for us.