Because siblings are cool and special

Today was an exciting day for Caitlyn. Today Claire from CCF came past and we decided to start Caitlyn with the Sibling Beads of Courage Programme.

Even though Caitlyn is so young still, the reality is that she is a sibling of an oncology child. She was only 3.5 months old when Bianca was diagnosed and has spent many hours in the beginning playing on the parent bed in Bianca's isolation room as we had to take care of Bianca. She had to try and nap during the day with nurses popping in at various times to check up on Bianca. She provided Bianca and us with smiles, hugs, kept things normal when it was everything but normal. All she has ever known is a sister who is sick, who often has to go to hospital, who has to take lots of medicines. She couldn't go to daycare until she was nearly 2 and was isolated many times when we had to keep Bianca away from other people. She's spent more than 100 days away from Bianca and Terence (as Terence often spent nights at the hospital when I spent days with Bianca) and despite all of that, she remains just such a super, fun kid who loves life. So when I found out they have a sibling programme, I asked Claire if we could include Caitlyn. She might not understand what the beads represent or their significance, but one day she might think back and wonder and it would be great if she has something to recognise the important part she played in our journey.

So Claire came armed with some very beautiful, cool beads.

The siblings get 25 different beads as well as beads spelling out their name, but unfortunately Claire did not have the letter beads with her, so we'll get that shortly. They start off with a teal coloured bead that represents strength, courage, hope which is what being a "SuperSib" is all about.

Today Caitlyn got to choose 4 beads and she had so much fun choosing and trying to string them:

So Caitlyn got to choose a fish, cat, polymer and an eye bead. They represent:

Fish: "compassion and kindness, abundance, happiness and beauty"
Cat: "playful, clever and independent"
Polymer Clay Beads: "a loved one or yourself as you help someone smile"
Eye Bead: "protection and luck"

And as a bonus she got to choose an Eye Bead for Bianca too.

This is such a cool programme. So often people forget about the siblings. People often only focus on the needs of the oncology child, but forgetting how important the siblings also are. I'm so pleased that there is a special programme for Caitlyn to participate in too.


Taking a trip down memory lane

Bianca: "Mommy, when is September?"

Me: "Well, it is nearly August, then that means it is one month away, why do you ask?"

Bianca: "Because sometimes when I go to bed I don't always fall asleep very easily and I'd like to have a cup of hot milk"

Aah yes, that would be nice, to get to the end of treatment where Bianca won't have to eat according to a rather strict schedule, where we hope she eats early enough to be finished by around 5pm or 6pm so that we can set the timer for 2 hours which is when she needs to get her evening chemo and then bed. Come September she will be able to eat at a normal supper time like everybody else and there will be no more 2 hour waiting period of no eating and drinking and then a further hour of no eating and drinking after medicines. That will be nice indeed! Will feel funny though and I wonder how often we will feel as if we are forgetting something!

Today I have finally managed to start copying some of her treatment photos into a directory so that I could start playing around with it to see what I can come up with for the art work / creation thingy that I would like to make to mark the end of treatment. I will probably try and incorporate 831 paua shell pieces (I think it will be 831 days from diagnosis to end of treatment) and am now trying to find out where I can buy 831 pieces. I'm also trying to see if CCF would let me buy a duplicate set of beads so that I could incorporate the beads and not use Bianca's original set. That reminds me, I really should start counting beads again to see where we are sitting at the moment.

I have to say that going through the photos is quite a trip down memory lane. I'm glad that I took as many photos as I did. Just the other day I asked Bianca if she remembers when they first took her blood pressure, that they took it on her leg. She was utterly terrified of the blood pressure machine at the time (so much so that she would scream at the mere sight of the machine and I begged them to wait until she was asleep before taking her blood pressure which of course wasn't possible) and it ended up being more effective on her leg than her arm at the time. She just looked at me in disbelieve because she can't remember that. In her world, it has always been on her arm. So it was good to be able to show her the photo.

Now I just hope the art work / creation thingy comes out the way I'm picturing it in my head.


Thought for the week

Even when you have to do boring, mundane tasks:

Keep smiling!

Have a wonderful week!

What a fun weekend!

This weekend Bianca went off to Camp. We dropped her off on Friday evening. She was a little shy at first, but it didn't last long and she joined the friends she made at the two previous camps she joined.

Starting the weekend off having fun:

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Blue skies, sunny, no wind. The weather doesn't really bug me, regardless of what it looks like, but yesterday was the perfect day to just go for a drive. First we took Caitlyn to a fun indoor play area - Kids Republic. She had such a great time. There was one slide that is really fast and looks quite steep when you sit at the top, but she was fearless and kept going again and again and again.

We then took a drive and stopped at a number of beaches we haven't visited before. It was beautiful and peaceful. There were times where there were other people too, some walking their dogs, others just taking a stroll down the beach, but it felt nice that it wasn't crowded. Not that you ever really see any beaches that crowded (or at least none of the beaches we have visited to date). It was so relaxing and so beautiful!

Then this afternoon we went and picked Bianca up again. She hasn't shared much about what they have been doing except her usual standard answer "I forgot", but we know she had a great time. She mentioned that she was running around a lot and how her team came first or something and she has already asked if she can please go to the camp in January again. And tonight she mentioned to Terence that one day she'd like to be a companion too. That is just so sweet!

Here is Bianca on the bus as the bus arrives:

Saying goodbye and thank you to the two companions who looked after Bianca and 2 of her camp friends:


I "met" the most amazing person this week

Many times during our journey, I have encountered some amazing and often very generous people. This past week I met a person online who is so incredibly generous and I would like to share this with you.

A friend of mine and her family are currently staying at the Ronald McDonald House here in Auckland. Unfortunately they don't have a lot of space at the moment and so the family is stuck in a room that is probably no larger than the average main bedroom. I saw the room and my heart just broke. There is literally no space left in the room and whilst there are some communal areas to go to like the kitchen, lounge and dining room, it is also used by other families so very little privacy or "alone family time".

I've been wanting to find a way to help or support them and so suddenly thought that perhaps I could find a self-catering, furnished apartment with a bit more room where they could spend a night or two (just to have a break from RMC for a bit) and maybe buy a voucher so that they could book when it works for them. So I emailed a place that I managed to find on Google and explaining that I would not be able to book on their behalf, but would like to buy a voucher and why it has to work this way. Ken came back to me saying that they could have the apartment for a couple of nights and when I asked what it would come to, he simply responded "no charge". Wow. I was absolutely speechless, that somebody could be so incredibly generous.

Ken, thank you so very much. You have made this family's day. I am sure that the weekend you offered them would absolutely mean the world to them, it will give them a chance to just catch their breath, have some quality family time for a bit. Thank you so very much.

And to anybody if you are looking for accommodation in Auckland, please do consider contacting Ken at mail@aptsinakld.co.nz and you can see more info on the website and you can also see more info here.


Just wanted to share...

this photo of Caitlyn. We bought her some rain gear today as I needed to buy some for Bianca for camp just in case it rains this weekend. Her whole face lit up and she was so thrilled when she dressed up. It's amazing the little things that would make a 2 year old happy.

All ready for Camp Quality

Well nearly... I'm halfway packed, still waiting for some clothes to dry tonight, and of course I can't pack any of Bianca's toiletries until after she used it tomorrow morning. But that's okay because we are dropping her off at the bus at 6pm tomorrow night, so still a bit of time.

Tonight I quickly put her costume together and am quite pleased with the results. The theme is creepy crawly and so I made Bianca a spider costume - you really can't get more creepy crawly than that!

I'm sure that at camp they'll either be painting her face or maybe she'll be making a mask, but as a trial run, this is what she will look like:

Bianca is so extremely excited and simply can't wait. What a blessing that she is able to go to Camp Quality.


Happy School-a-versary

Today is exactly 1 year since Bianca started school last year. We have so much to be thankful for - the fact that she could start school last year. Shortly before we came back to Auckland the Christchurch doctor wasn't keen that she should start school, but our doctor here was happy for her to start and so we took a step into a new world that felt quite unknown to us. In fact it felt complicated because suddenly Bianca would be exposed to so many bugs all of a sudden, we needed to let the school know so many things relating to Bianca, she needs to get medicines every single lunch time, we need to know if a child is diagnosed with anything that could be bad like chickenpox and measles, we need to know if she falls (in case she gets some strange-looking bruises).

When we came to Auckland we didn't really find a rental home with a school in mind not knowing at the time if she could start school or not, but we were blessed to have found Bianca's school. It is smaller so to some extend less risk. They were already familiar with leukemia (already having another child in another class who is also an oncology child with leukemia) and they were just absolutely brilliant to work around us. If Bianca needs a rest, she can go to the sick room and lie down.

They have been great at making sure she got her medicines every single lunch time. They are quite happy to make it possible for her to participate in an activity and accommodate her limited physical abilities.

Here is Bianca meeting the headmistress the day we enrolled her:

And having a look around the school:

She is blessed with some really good teachers:

And even now with Bianca admitted to hospital, her teacher was quite happy to share information for us to carry on with school work to make sure she does not fall behind.

And friends. Wow, she's made so many friends this past year. Bianca is very popular at school, we often get kids saying hello and bye when we see them at the shops or walk past them to our car or to her class. She has made so many wonderful friends and it was just so great being able to invite some of her best friends from school when it was her birthday party recently.

For the first 8 months of her treatment Bianca had to be isolated so many times either at home or in the hospital and I think during that time she has maybe only had 3 play dates. And this past year she has been making up for that completely. Once there was a time where she sat at the top of the slide all alone wishing she had a friend who could play with her and today things are just so wonderfully different:

Bianca has done so well this past year. From learning those first few high frequency words:

to taking her first steps at reading basic books:

and within a term she was just flying ahead. Here she is today reading probably at an 8 or 9 year old level, her spelling is great and she manages most words correctly and even know in what context they are being used, she is ahead with her writing ability:

Her teacher has even gone so far as giving her extra projects to extend her.

She is right on track with her maths and she's even had a speaking part in her very first school production.

And when her class was responsible for leading assembly, she was the Queen Bee. The last term they discussed bees and so when a class leads assembly they get to share a bit about what they have learned. Here is Bianca reading her bit during assembly:

and this is what she read, fluently and without hesitation:

Bianca, you are one amazing little girl. You don't ever feel sorry for yourself. You don't give up just because you face certain challenges. You always do your very best. I will never forget how very excited we all felt that very first day where you found your seat in your brand new class. We knew that this was the start to an amazing new adventure:

Unfortunately today you were not able to be at school, but that did not stop you from doing your school work:

And tomorrow will be a brand new day again, filled with possibilities. Bianca, you have proved that nothing is impossible, that you have courage and that if you set your mind to it, you will achieve great things. We are so very proud of you! Happy school-a-versary Bianca!

What a wonderful day!

Bianca was discharged at around lunch time today. Yeah!!! Her counts are slightly low still, but are busy coming up and so she is back on the usual chemo doses again from tonight. She has a cough which is at times quite persistent and annoying for her I guess, but the doctor they saw this morning is not worried about the cough and confirmed that she is not infectious at all. I mean she's had tamiflu since Sunday and none of the tests came back with anything to worry about, so despite the cough she's got permission to go to camp this coming weekend. She is so excited. The theme is creepy crawly or something like this so in the next 2 days we have to sort out her costume.

Bianca met the hospital teacher during her stay and got some great activities to do even some Year 2 activities. The teacher was quite disappointed (in a good way) that Bianca won't be there anymore after today and she mentioned Bianca is a great student. But we'll carry on with the activities as part of our homework every day - can only do good.

Bianca also managed to go to sewing class this afternoon and things are getting back into our routines. That's a great feeling!

Where is my Happy Meal?

Before Bianca became sick, I had a big thing about McDonalds. As far as I was concerned my kids were not going to be McDonalds kids and there was no way we would ever queue up like the masses waiting to place a McDonalds order. Absolutely no way! Then Bianca became sick. As far as the doctors were concerned we needed to do whatever as long as she ate and if that meant adding cream to her milk / cereal and using butter instead of margarine on her toast, then so be it. Anything to give her the calories she needed.

During that first month on steroids she developed a craving for chicken nuggets. She would beg me every day to take her to the food court and buy her chicken nuggets and so I finally gave in and we bought her a chicken nugget happy meal from McDonalds. I sometimes wonder what people thought as the steroids made her look quite overweight with these round, puffy cheeks and she still had hair, so to others she must have looked like a greedy little piggy stuffing chicken nuggets into her mouth begging for more when she finished, and I must have looked like a terrible parent for overfeeding my child like this.

But let me tell you, thanks to the steroids she was constantly hungry (and we had steroids for 28 days non-stop). She could quite easily eat a big meal now and then 5 minutes later beg you for food because she is so incredibly hungry and it is not fun at all waking up at 3am in the morning having to prepare a proper meal for your child because the steroids make them so hungry. It was a real shock to the system and quite heartbreaking too. I actually asked our doctor at the time if this was what it was going to be like for 2 years and thankfully there were breaks in between the steroid pulses, otherwise I would have gone mad.

Since then McDonalds came to the rescue many times when we had trouble with her appetite. Some people say that chemo drugs make food taste like cardboard and so just the fact that she was eating was a big deal, regardless of what she was eating.

So to some extend my kids became McDonalds kids, to some extend, because they don't eat the burgers, they don't drink the fizzy drinks. It is always a chicken nugget happy meal with water. That and Subway (or "Sub-ay-eat-fesh" (Subway eat fresh) as Caitlyn would say) and then for Bianca this is always a ham and cheese sub, no lettuce, no tomato, no salt, pepper or any of the sauces, just ham and cheese.

And of course many times when I simply ran out of ideas, ProNutro, because even though it is a breakfast cereal it is at least healthy with vitamins and minerals and protein and things like this.

I must say that more recently Bianca has become much better with her eating. Much less fussy. More willing to eat what we would eat. But up to recently, eating became a bit of a frustration at times and we had to learn to become flexible and go with the flow. Certainly steroids are no help either because it creates cravings and sometimes for things you simply don't have in the pantry like wild boar which she recently wanted after watching Asterix.

But back to the point of this blog entry.

Yesterday I took Caitlyn to the food court as a treat (we don't go there all that often anymore) and I bought her a happy meal which of course came with one of those toys from Ice Age 3 - Manny, the Mammoth. Caitlyn recently saw the movie and she took an instant liking to this toy, except that she calls it "My Happy Meal" (not Manny, not Mammoth, but Happy Meal).

And last night she took the toy to bed with her. Not quite sure why he must be a favourite, he doesn't do all that much except move his head from side to side, and he isn't even cuddle-material, being all hard and plastic, but anyway that's her choice and that was the end of it...

Until 5am this morning when she woke up crying "Where is my Happy Meal? Where is my Happy Meal?" and I had to get up and search in the dark for her "Happy Meal" that must have rolled off the bed sometime during the night. Sigh!

Then when she finally woke up again at around 7am she was sitting in her room playing for a bit and I smiled as I listed to her saying "Hello, what is your name? My name is Happy Meal" obviously she was introducing the Mammoth to some or the other toy in her room.

But I guess she is probably not too wrong, somewhere in a distant past when there were mammoths and they were hunted down, surely they must have been a "happy meal" to some or the other creature.


Thankfully so far it is not flu

From what I gather (from the messages Terence sent me) is that Bianca is fairly happy. A short little while ago she was eating popcorn and watching a weird show on the cartoon channel. Today she managed to do some school work, spelling, some maths and reading. Terence got some activities from the hospital teacher too and hopefully Bianca will stay right on track with her school work. It was a real pity that she missed school today - the first day of the third term, but oh well, such is life.

So far all the tests for flu and swine flu have come back negative. That is a big relief. So today she is still on tamiflu (which apparently doesn't taste all that nice, and smells like bubblegum), but if the tests come back negative again tomorrow I understand they will stop the tamiflu (since there will be no point in giving this if she does not have flu) and they might even stop the isolation tomorrow. That will be great! As soon as her temps are down she might possibly be discharged. They are still in the 37's which pretty much means she is still fighting something and so she is still on IV antibiotics.

Her counts are still on the low side. I think Terence said they were 0.55 or something like that, so a bit lower than before, but that is just typical of her body dealing with some or the other virus. So for now all chemo have been stopped to help her counts recover.

All in all, she is doing good. She is happy, chatty, has an appetite and is interested in the various activities we have for her. So it is all good!


Finally admitted

They were finally admitted at around 18:40 tonight. Finally. I think it must have been such a long day for them today. Terence will be leaving soon to come and get us (Caitlyn and I) so we can drop Terence off with their clothes and lots of activities. This way I can have the car and we won't have to pay for parking at the hospital.

We are pretty well prepared knowing that the play specialists in Auckland are not exactly as much fun as Kate in Wellington (Kate if there is a prize for the best and most fun play specialist, you would absolutely win this!). I must say we miss Kate and Jo so very much. So we are prepared and have packed lots for Bianca to do if she felt up for it.

Waiting to be admitted

Terence and Bianca are still sitting in ED and waiting for a room to be cleared so she can be admitted tonight. They took some swabs and started her on tamiflu and IV antibiotics from what I understand. Not sure if it is definitely flu or not, and likely until results from swabs come back, they will give tamiflu as precaution because she is at higher risk. She is slightly neutropenic at the moment, and her neutrophils are sitting at around 0.60.

So these school holidays she started off with a visit to the hospital for her monthly treatment and she ended it with a hospital admission.

Unfortunately because Caitlyn and I both have some illness symptoms we won't be able to see Bianca at this point in time, but thankfully Terence is well enough to stay with her and he can work from the hospital - what a blessing!

I have packed some school-related activities and hopefully Bianca will be able to do some of those so that she doesn't fall behind with her school work.

Unfortunately it seems unlikely that she'll be able to go to camp quality this coming weekend, but I'll wait until a bit closer to the time before I cancel it.

Oh fun and games!

A wonderful prize up for grabs

Bethany from Happy to be called Mommy is giving away a prize. She is giving away one of her beautiful, magnificent pencil drawing like the one she made for us and all she wants you to do is to vote for her photo in a competition she has entered. Please read all about it here: http://bethany.preciousinfants.com/2009/07/18/win-a-free-portrait.aspx


Right now Bianca and Terence are on their way to hospital.

We decided to phone Starship just to check if we can give her anything (I know onion syrup is fine, but we are not sure if we can give paracetamol or any other cold type of medicines) and they asked if we could please take her to the Emergency Department so that she can be checked out and swabs taken. I think it is more precaution than anything else because she is chirpy enough, doesn't have a fever (right now her temp is sitting around 37.5 and for us above 38 usually means admission to hospital). So we'll see what they say.

Bianca is excited though, she seems to enjoy the trips to hospital and this morning even asked when next she could go to theatre.

Edited at 11:20am - Bianca and Terence in an isolation room in ED waiting to see a doctor. Temperature currently sitting at 38.6.

Oh the joys of winter bugs

Bianca and Caitlyn both have colds - as in constant coughing, the occasional sneeze, a bit of a runny nose. Oh fun and games. To top it all I think I'm busy getting a cold too.

Yesterday Bianca complained about a bit of a headache, not sure if that is what it was or if it was as a result of her coughing. But either way I don't think she will be able to go to school tomorrow when school starts for the third term. We are hoping Bianca doesn't develop a temperature because then we'll probably be in for a hospital stay.

So I think I'm in for a few interesting and busy days as I attempt to keep Caitlyn occupied and keep Bianca busy with school-related activities.

And just for my mom - I made some onion syrup which my mom and grandmother used to make for colds and other chest-related things. I'm hoping it will do the trick really soon.


No more wishes...

I have finally found a way to get Bianca to eat properly, whatever we make for dinner, without fuss - be it peas, rice, chicken (okay chicken is a given as she seems to be craving it nowadays) and the other day she even ate some beans and broccoli. She knows that Camp Quality is happening soon and we told her she can only go if she eats properly and voila! It works like a charm, especially when I remind her I can cancel her camp booking at any time... I might be a bit mean, but hey, a mom needs to do what a mom needs to do.

Today Bianca dressed up as a fairy and then she came to me offering to grant me some wishes. So I wished for a fairy to give me a kiss and she kissed me on my cheek. I then wished for a fairy to hug me and she hugged me tight and then I wished that I could tickle a fairy's tummy and of course she ran away squealing (she is very very ticklish).

So then as she stood there all cornered I told her that I wished to tickle a fairy's tummy and that she needs to grant me my wish. She then said "you only get three wishes" and I said "well yes, I wished for a kiss, then I wished for a hug, so wishing to tickle a fairy's tummy is my third wish". She looked at me, sighed and said "no, you actually made a wish a long time ago, you wished for a beautiful girl and you got me, so no more wishes". Well, she got me there...


Will the owner of Honda YG4967 please stand up...

Dear Sir or Madam (I'm not quite sure who you are)

I would like to let you know that by putting your parking fine (you know the one you got at 1:33am on Sunday 12 July in High Street, Auckland City? You know - for parking in a loading zone?) underneath my windscreen wiper, does not mean I will be paying the $40 on your behalf.

It was a nice try though. I mean we do drive the same make of car, but did you really think I would just accept a parking ticket when I wasn't illegally parked? Did you really think I would not actually read the ticket and notice the difference in time and location? I mean you did put it under my windscreen wiper some time between 8:10pm and probably 10:00pm at Albany Mall when in fact you received the ticket at 1:33am in the city. Did you really think I would just assume it is my ticket, ignore all the details in it and pay it on your behalf? Nice try, but it's not going to happen!


Exploring the creative side of me

For a number of months now I have been thinking about things I could do once treatment ends.

One of the things I would like to do is to make some sort of photo collage kind of (dare I say art work? I'm not much of an artist though) creation that we could hang on the wall.

Yes it is easy to say "let's just get the experience behind us, forget that it was ever part of us, get back our lives", but the truth is that we will never again have the life we had before, the normal we knew before Bianca became sick. The day she was diagnosed, our lives changed forever. This journey became part of us, it shaped us in a way and I guess will determine the way forward. I don't think we will ever be able to just put it behind us and forget about it. Bianca will need checkups until she is an adult, there will always be the lookout for signs and symptoms, the worry that it may come back. Fair enough the checkups will become less frequent as we go forward, I guess we will become more at ease over time, but it will always be part of us.

And this is part of her memories, she doesn't remember a different life, this is her story, her life the past 2 years. I could never deny that it happened. She may very well have questions when she becomes older and so I will always acknowledge that it was part of us. I want to always acknowledge how incredibly brave Bianca was and is, what an amazing little girl she was and is, the inspiration she has been to us. So I want to make something we can hang on the wall. Something that will show snippets of the treatments and procedures, but then highlight the more normal things she did like going to school, playing at the park and so on, her beautiful smile. I guess that she was able to live life despite dealing with cancer. I want to incorporate the concept of her beads (not her original set though) and the total number of days we walked this journey until treatment ends.

So I have all these ideas swimming in my mind and with end of treatment date just around the corner (tomorrow exactly 62 days or if you prefer 2 months or if you rather prefer 9 weeks away - so whichever way you look at it, not that long from now). And I will start sifting through the hundreds (maybe more) photos we took since Bianca was diagnosed and start playing around to see what I could do and what might work. So if you have cool ideas, please do share.

And then I will also start to think about what we can actually do to mark the end of treatment. Some people have parties that they share with others to celebrate the end of treatment, others prefer something quieter, and others don't want to do anything at all. I do think we will want to do something, but not quite sure what yet. So lots to think about and I'm hoping for an "ah-ha kind of moment". But it is cool that we are at the point where we can dream and think about these things, to have that end of treatment date well within sight. It seems almost unreal.


All well, but fingers crossed

Things here are going well. Bianca's counts are good, she is back to 100% dose chemo and she is overall really happy. We are on Day 3 of steroids for the month and so far Bianca's only pretty much been hungry - like in asking for food every 5 minutes pretty much.

We had a brief grumpy moment yesterday and I looked at Bianca and told her if she wants to be grumpy then she is one of the seven dwarfs in Snow White and she better grow a beard. Thankfully she wasn't grumpy for long (I just hope I'm not going to jinx myself with this because we still have 2 days of steroids left for this month).

So fingers crossed and hope for the best.


End of the school term

Today was the last day of the school term for Bianca and we now have a 2 week break ahead of us. Of course once again our first actual day of the school holidays will be spent at the hospital for monthly hospital treatment.

Every term at Bianca's school they have a certain theme or topic that they cover. This past term was bees and how honey is made and so on. Today Bianca told me their topic for next term will be all about the body. So I asked Bianca what she knew about a body and she said "that it gets cancer".

I'm so happy Bianca was able to make the last two days of the school term. We don't like keeping her out of school. Of course whenever you ask her what she did during the day we usually get "I forgot". But we do know that she loves going and loves having a lot of friends, I'm so happy she is able to go to school!


The other side of the coin

Big sigh of relief. Bianca is definitely getting over this bug. She's much more interested in things in general (she even played a game of chess with Terence tonight) and she definitely has an appetite again. Well, fussy as always, but at least very much interested in eating again. Now we must just make sure that the runny tummies are all gone and then she can go back to school (the 2 days that are left of this term). One of Terence's colleagues mentioned that you can tell whether a child is well or not by how cheeky a child is and based on that, I'd have to say that Bianca is definitely on the mend, she has regained her sense of humour and witty sayings that she amuses us with every day. (So by the way, Caitlyn's latest saying is "it's delicious!").

So at this point all is good on this side.

Last night I wrote about the more difficult side of this journey, the side that is most definitely not funny and will never be funny. Funny and child cancer - they don't belong in the same sentence. Just as easy and child cancer don't belong in the same sentence. But certainly we have found a way to make it more manageable. I remember when I sat there that first week, totally numb, shocked, heartbroken - I remember thinking that I didn't want to look back and only remember feeling sad. And so we made the decision that whatever this journey threw at us, we would find things somewhere along the line that was more positive. Caitlyn was good that way. We had to focus on her things as well. It certainly took the focus away from the cancer from time to time.

We try very hard to keep things as normal as possible for Bianca. When she couldn't go anywhere, we tried to make things fun at home, things like letting her bake things for the fairies and then they come in the night and leave special surprises:

Or planting a popcorn tree (who knew if you planted unpopped popcorn seeds that it grows into a popcorn tree where you can pick your own popcorn):

She did ballet for a little while:

She likes to dress up:

Play at the beach:

Or the park:

And just like any other kid, ride her bike:

And most of all, she loves to go to school:

We found it is possible to live life despite having cancer. But in saying that, it wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for some people that we met along the way. Sure there are some really twisted and horrible individuals out there, but there are many many really good people too. We've only ever once had a little boy commented that Bianca had no hair to which she replied "it is growing back" and she turned around and walked away. But other than that, everybody else we came across has always treated us as normal. They never pointed (that we were aware of), they didn't say anything nasty in front of us, whether at school or at ballet (for that little while) everybody just treats Bianca like one of the other kids. She has a lot of friends and the kids don't make fun of her, they accept her. And so as a result this journey has become easier and more manageable. So I want to say thank you to all of you. You will never know how much of a difference that makes to us!