Tuesday, December 18, 2012

1000+ Letters to Santa to benefit Make-A-Wish

Chloe, Christa and Judy (Christa's mom) "mailed" 1,021 letters to Santa this morning to benefit Make-A-Wish!
Thanks to the following schools for helping with the letter writing:
Holland East - 246 letters
Roosevelt Elementary & ZQuest - 287 letters
Grandville Middle School - 488 letters
(Special thanks to Jeff Pietrowski for organizing the GMS effort!)

The mailbox is full!

UPDATE: There was a nice article in the Holland Sentinel sharing our letter collection efforts.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Make-A-Wish: Thanks, Letters to Santa, & Chloe's Trip

Make-A-Wish Walk for Wishes

A very belated thank you to those who helped Team Chloe raise $960 for Make-A-Wish back in October! Thanks to the walkers who joined us on a chilly, rainy morning: the Divozzo family, Christa's dad, and my parents. Also, thanks to those who joined us virtually by donating to our team's efforts: Jenny & Jon, Heather, Tara, Tracey, Barbara, Allie & Tim, Adriann & Jason, Ann, Bethany, Beth, and our parents.

Macy's Believe: Make-A-Wish Fundraiser

While Santa doesn't stop by our house (much to Chloe's dismay), we will be writing letters to Santa to encourage Macy's to donate to Make-A-Wish. Macy's will be donating $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to a $1 million, for each letter to Santa that is dropped off at their store. We're encouraging the teachers and students at each of our schools to participate, and if you'd like to participate as well you can get your letters to our family and we'll drop them off at Macy's next week (week of Dec. 17th).

Chloe's Make-A-Wish: Yellowstone

We're in what I'll call final revisions for Chloe's Make-A-Wish trip to Yellowstone next August. Some of our destinations have been booked and we're working on the decisions about a few others. Thanks for your support of Make-A-Wish that makes Chloe's and our family's trip to Yellowstone a reality, and Wishes a reality for other kids and families who are living through childhood cancer.

We are blessed to be a blessing to others...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

We're Thankful

Ready for a chest X-ray 
We're thankful for the most recent report of Chloe's clear scans we received last week.

We're thankful that you've walked along side us through the challenges and celebrations of the past year and a half. 

This morning Christa and I shared some of that journey with our church family at Third Reformed. The text of what we shared is below.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


Chloe adds hats knit by my Aunt Gail
to the hat box at the clinic
Good morning. This morning we would like to share a small part of a chapter of our family’s story with you. It’s a chapter we often call our year with childhood cancer. As with most journeys, it was a year of highs and lows, tears and laughter, moments of profound gratitude and times of great anger with God for having been chosen for the journey.

We are grateful that so many of you traveled that journey with us, but for those who are unfamiliar with our story here’s a quick summary. 

In July of 2011 our youngest daughter Chloe went in for her four-year-old well-child check. Chloe’s health was great and she was acting like every other vibrant, joyful, active four-year-old we knew. At that appointment, our pediatrician felt a lump in Chloe’s stomach. Two days later an ultrasound confirmed that there was a mass on Chloe’s left kidney and we received the phone call that no parent wants to hear. The words will forever be with me as our pediatrician calmly told me that we needed to pack our bags and get Chloe to the Helen DeVos Children’s hospital in Grand Rapids within the next hour or two. She had spoken with one of the pediatric oncologists on staff and they would be waiting for us.

A little over 24 hours later Chloe would be in surgery to have her left kidney removed along with a mass the size of an over-stuffed softball. I wrote the following post on our family blog hours after that first surgery to remove Chloe’s kidney.

Dated Friday, July 8, 2011

The title of the post is Grateful

The past thirty-six hours have been full of so much shock, fear, grief, adrenaline, and questions. It's difficult to put into words exactly what I've been thinking and feeling. But tonight, as I sit on the end of a sleeping Chloe's bed, looking out on the lit skyline of Grand Rapids, I feel grateful.

Grateful for Dr. Worpel, who found the mass, questioned it, and followed up on it. We've been told over and over the past two days how amazing it is that this mass was found during a well-child exam.Grateful for The doctors, surgeons, nurses, and other specialists who have taken us in and made us feel that no matter what turns up during the next test or procedure that they have it figured out.Grateful for our families that have been by our sides.Grateful for the mass coming out in one solid piece and the surgery being so successful.Grateful for the fact that my brother was able to get away from work for a few days and flew in this evening.Grateful for our professions as teachers and that we have nothing else to worry about right now other than nursing Chloe back to health and taking care of our family. Grateful for our insurance company who told me this morning that my only concern is Chloe and that they will take care of everything.Grateful for the flood of communication from friends and family letting us know that we are not alone in this.Grateful for trust in a loving, gracious God.
The official diagnosis of a stage III Wilm’s Tumor would follow three days later. Yet, even in the midst of not knowing what the future had in store us (there is a very happy ending, by the way), there was gratitude to God.

Christa:Today I can stand here, reflecting upon the last year and I can see how God’s presence was with us. Even though I felt God’s presence throughout the journey, there were hard times, there were times when I did not feel thankful.

I remember coming to this Thanksgiving service last year. Since Chloe wasn’t feeling well, Kip stayed home with the kids. I sat without my family, but surrounded by my church community. I felt God’s presence as I looked at familiar faces, received hugs and answered questions about our well-being.

Yet I did not feel thankful.

I listened as one by one, people stood and shared the blessings in their lives. I did not begrudge their thankfulness.

Yet, I did not feel thankful.

I felt guilty about my own lack of thankfulness. After all, hadn’t I marveled over the generosity of family and friends over the past 4 months? Hadn’t I felt overwhelmed by the prayers, cards, meals and limitless support bestowed on us, sometimes by people we didn’t even know?

Yet, I did not feel thankful.

I reflected on the wonderful care we received through DeVos Children’s Hospital. Somehow the staff made it fun for Chloe. Their patience seemed unending. Their ability to provide distraction during long appointments was astounding.

Yet, I did not feel thankful.

I also realized that Chloe’s cancer was very treatable. Her oncologist reassured us that we would see her grow up. The doctor shared many stories of adults who had this same cancer as children and were able to live normal lives.

Yet, I did not feel thankful.

As I walked out of the Thanksgiving Day service, I was struggling with my inability to find perspective. I was frustrated with myself for feeling so ungrateful. As I reached for my coat, Pastor Kama stopped me. She asked how we were doing. Many of you know how she has a gift for asking the right questions. She made it very easy for me to be honest with her about my struggles. She affirmed what I was feeling and encouraged me to be honest with myself and with God. Later, she sent me an e-mail. In it was this prayer.

God,I am not thankful.I am not thankful for my human limitations:my inability to maintain internal patience with my children,my moments of leaking my anger and frustration onto the kids or Kip;my exhaustion that leads me to want to scream at a simple request;

I am not thankful.I am not thankful for being at a place in life where we need so much support:I'm tired of receiving, and still not receiving enough to feel true relief;I'm frustrated that nothing can satiate the need we have for rest or respite;I'm sick of being needy, and needing more.

I am not thankful, God.Do you hear me?I am not thankful.
Except for one thing:I am thankful that I can scream at the top of my lungs:I AM NOT THANKFUL!!!!!!!!!!!and you will hear and understand.

As I prayed this prayer, I did feel thankful. I also understood that whether I felt thankful or not, I could pray honestly to God, that God hears and understands.

Today, a year later, I do feel thankful. I not only feel thankful that our family has survived cancer, but I feel thankful for the way in which God’s steadfast love carried us through the ups and downs of the journey.I feel thankful for a church who prayed for us and supported us through all of it, the good and the bad.I feel thankful for so many things.Most of all I am thankful for a God who is forgiving and understanding.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Please Support Team Chloe on the Make-A-Wish Walk for Wishes NEXT SATURDAY

My, how the month of September flies by when you're a teacher (or a two-teacher family!) and jumping into a new school year. All of a sudden it's October which means that next weekend is Make-A-Wish's Walk for Wishes fundraiser.

We'd love to have you join Team Chloe in a walk around the Meijer Gardens. Visit the Team Chloe page and click on the JOIN OUR TEAM button.

If you're not able to make it to the gardens, please consider a financial donation to help our family reach the $100 minimum goal for each participant by visiting our family page and clicking GIVE NOW. Every little bit helps. Thanks.

There's more on the Event Page, but here's some information for those of you who are considering joining us.


* Registration (Located in the Grand Room near the Gardens main entrance):
8:00a.m. - 8:45 a.m.
* Opening Ceremonies (Located in the Grand Room): 8:45am
* Walk Start Time (Located in the Grand Room): 9:00 a.m.
* Closing Ceremonies (Located in the Grand Room): Approximately 11:00 a.m.
* Enjoy the Gardens with friends and family: Approximately 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(Garden's closing time)

More reasons for joining the fun... Walk for Wishes Perks:

* Entrance in to the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
* An official 2012 Walk for Wishes T-shirt
* Morning Refreshments
* A Healthy Walk around the Gardens
* Complimentary Post-Walk Lunch
* Fun Entertainment
* Full Access to the Frederik Meijer Gardens following Closing Ceremonies
(The Gardens remain open until 5 p.m.)
* Joy, knowing YOU have helped make Michigan Wish Children's Dreams Come True!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Clear scans

We just returned from Chloe's checkup with her oncologist. CT scans from yesterday look great (thanks for those prayers!). Blood tests show kidney and liver function is good, white blood cell counts are still a little low (which is expected), but everything else is great.

There was really no reason for us to believe differently. However, Chloe's been complaining that she's tired every day and frequently complains of stomach aches. Considering her history, there was a seed of doubt and that seed can quickly turn into the "what-ifs?"

We also had an opportunity to talk long-term and received a re-cap of what we heard a year ago at the initial diagnosis. Nothing earth-shattering, but we got a clear picture of what to expect in the years to come.

Now on to getting her caught up on her vaccinations and ready for kindergarten!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

scans today

chloe's 3 month scans are today (8/1/12).
pray for great results,
smooth prep,
easy ride to the hospital,

we see the oncologist on thursday (8/2/12).
we are

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Make-A-Wish Fundraising and Fun Opportunity

Join Team Chloe for the Make-A-Wish Walk for Wishes

While our family won't be taking part in Chloe's Make-A-Wish until the summer of 2013 (a camping trip to Yellowstone), we'd love for you to join us on this 5k walk and help raise some funds for this outstanding organization.


Family-Friendly Walk through the Meijer Gardens

Saturday, October 6, 2012

8 am Registration, 9 am Walk Begins

Refreshments, lunch, entertainment - entry to the gardens included

If you are interested in walking with us or donating, visit

We're looking into making Team Chloe t-shirts, more on that later.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lighthouse Family Retreat

If you have ever been on a mission trip, you will understand how hard it is to put the experience into words.

As mentioned in the previous post, on July 8th, we surprised Martha, Henri and Chloe with the news that we were headed to Florida to attend a Lighthouse Family Retreat. We had an amazing experience.

The retreat is held at a condominium complex in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. The ocean is just across the street. We were given our own condo unit to stay in for the week. At the center of the complex is a large field. Lighthouse set up tents and tables and all of our meals were served there.

Lighthouse matches up family partners with each retreat family (retreat families are families who have lived through childhood cancer or who are in the midst of treatment). In addition to their full time staff and summer staff, there were many families who volunteered to serve the retreat families for the week. The retreat families were outnumbered at least 2 to 1.  That is a lot of support!

Each morning we would get up and head out to breakfast (which was cooked and served by the volunteers). Our family partner would greet us, make sure we were all set with breakfast and disappear to clean our room and do our laundry! Soon after they would join us at breakfast.

Breakfast was followed by a short devotional time.

After breakfast, the kids headed off to Flip Flop, which was a fun time of swimming, playing games and doing crafts.

The retreat family parents headed off to Common Grounds. This was a time in which we could share our stories. It was such a good feeling to connect with people who have been through a similar experience. Even though the children faced different kinds of cancer, different treatments and different struggles along the way, we were each able relate to one another's stories. It did not take long to form a bond with these families.

Common Grounds was followed by lunch, usually donated by a local restaurant. One of the days, we had our first taste of Chick-fil-A! Most of the volunteers were southerners and were shocked that we had never tried it before. They had such fun introducing it to us, right down to the sweet tea!

After lunch we were given time as a family, time to rest, to swim in the pool, to play in the ocean or to do some sight seeing. We connected so well with our family partners, that we usually spent some of this time with them.

Dinners were always a surprise. On Italian Night, we were seated at candle-lit tables and the volunteers came out dressed in black and white, dancing across the field, ready to serve the main course. There was also a "date night"for the parents. Our family partners came to our condo, served the kids dinner and took them to a movie and ice cream party, while we enjoyed our special dinner. There was a talent show (the kids rehearsed all week during Flip Flop). The last night was a slide show and dance party.

Lighthouse has built quite a network of support in the 30A corridor of the Florida panhandle. In addition to the donated lunches, a local restaurant, Pizza by the Sea, treated the parents to a night out. Frost Bites, a shaved ice shop in Seaside gave free shaved ice to all of the retreat families and volunteers (if you saw the photos I posted on facebook, you've seen that Frost Bites became one of our favorite places!).

One of the things that surprised and amazed me were the volunteers, children as well as adults. I have never seen a group of people so service oriented. Retreat families always ate first. Once we were a little late to lunch and we lined up behind some volunteers. When they saw our white ID bracelets, they stepped aside and waited until we had been served. Another time the kids were playing a game. One boy notice that Henri was watching. He asked Henri is he wanted to play and took himself out of the game so that Henri could participate. It was a busy week, especially busy for the volunteers. Not once did I hear complaining or crankiness. The volunteers were so generous and loving, true servants. They were an inspiration to our family.

For the first time in a long time, we had nothing to think about other than enjoying time with our family. We laughed and played. We looked for shells and crabs. We watched the sun rise and set. We saw rainbows. We watched turtles and frogs. We swam and tried out a Stand Up Paddle board. We danced and sang.

It was really hard to leave. It was hard to say goodbye and leave our new friends. It was hard to leave the ocean and the feeling of truly being on vacation, without a care in the world. It was hard to cut off that ID bracelet. We are already thinking about returning next year as a volunteer family.

In the meantime, we hope to bring a little of that inspiration, joy and carefree spirit of the Lighthouse Family Retreat into our every day.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

an adventure awaits

today is the anniversary
of chloe's surgery.

today just happens to be
the start of an exciting adventure
for the holland-anderson family.

this morning we surprised the kids
with the news that
we are boarding a plane,
and heading to florida
this afternoon!

we are heading to
lighthouse family retreat.
lighthouse family retreat's mission
is to "serve children with cancer 
and their families 
at a seaside retreat 
to help them to laugh, 
restore family relationships
and find hope in god."

kip and i had our
time of rest and renewal
in mexico.
now it is time for our family
to find healing and fun.
we are so excited!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


this week marks several anniversaries
for our family.

on july 5
chloe went for her well-child check
and dr. worpel felt something on
the left side of her abdomen.

on july 7
chloe had an early morning ultrasound.
dr. worpel called by 11 with the results,
there was a relatively large mass
on chloe's left kidney.
we were to head to devos children's hospital

on july 8
chloe went into surgery
to have the tumors
and her left kidney removed.
a port was placed at that time.

thus began the whirlwind,
visits to the clinic,
checking counts,
taking medicine.

in the chaos
we felt god's presence.
it was so tangible.
the e-mails,
gas cards,
chloe's crew,
team chloe,

life will never
be the same again.
we are new people.
our emotions
run deeper.

while i would never
wish cancer upon chloe,
i feel thankful
for what it has taught us,
i feel thankful
for the wide net of support
which surrounds us.
i feel thankful
to have experienced
the grace of god.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

finally, rest for the weary

july 2011 was our 15th anniversary.
we planned our first
week-long trip
without kids.
we were going to new york city!
we made arrangements with grandparents,
we coordinated and planned.

less than a week before the trip
chloe was diagnosed with cancer.
it is a phone call
we will never forget.
when our pediatrician called
to send us to devos,
she gave kip all sorts of details.
she told him to plan on spending
a week to two weeks in the hospital.
at some point, he said,
"but we are going to new york next week."
the doctor replied,
"no, you are not."

fortunately, our trip was refunded
in full.
after many conversations this spring,
we realized that we were not up to
a busy trip in a big city.
we opted for somewhere more low key.
we spent the last week in
playa del carmen, mexico.

we truly relaxed.
we divided our time between
the ocean,
the pool,
the hammocks on our patio
and occasional walks into town.
it was truly what we needed
to refill our empty tanks.

back home, our parents took on our roles
driving kids to activities,
playing games,
going out for ice cream
and making things fun in our absence.
for this we are thankful!

sometimes i think that
one of chloe's purposes in life
is to tell us to slow down.
five years ago,
life was getting kind of busy for us.
then chloe was born.
i took 3 years off of teaching.
we slowed down as a family.

chloe's cancer slowed us down, also.
maybe in a different way.
we focused on what was truly important.
our anniversary trip was the same.
instead of covering every mile of new york,
we sat on the beach,
watched the sunrise
and listened to the waves.

maybe we have learned our lesson.
maybe we can slow down,
sit more,
watch more,
and listen more,
without an earth shattering reminder.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Clear Scans

The results from our day at DeVos (just the facts, I'll get to writing about the challenging emotions one of these days):

- Chest x-rays and ultrasound were both clear
- Blood work is normal
- Kidney function is normal

We don't need to be back again for three months.

Thanks for all of the prayers!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

next set of scans

mother's day tea at preschool
tomorrow (monday, may 14)
chloe has her next set of scans.

things have been going well,
she is growing,
she is her sparkly self.

we don't anticipate
any bad news.

and yet,
we feel anxious.
the memory of that
first ultrasound last july
is still too fresh.

we ask for your prayers,
prayers that things will go smoothly,
that chloe will not have
an upset stomach on the car ride to devos,
that we will get
good news
from her oncology team.

we are thankful that we will
get the results right away.
after the scans, we'll meet with
dr. mitchell, chloe's oncologist.
chloe will see her for a physical
and we'll see the results from the scans.

we are also thankful for a great weekend.
on saturday my cousin got married.
we truly enjoyed ourselves at the wedding.
martha, henri and chloe
probably logged the most time
of any of the guests
on the dance floor.
it was truly a great moment
dancing with the "girls in pretty dresses"
to get out there on that dance floor
and to see all three kids
dancing their hearts out.
we needed that!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

catching up

it has been a long time since we have posted.
since the POP, chloe has returned to DeVos twice
for antibiotic infusions.
she was able to go a few days after the POP
to deliver the many poke prizes that were donated.
it was a great moment to be able to give back.

that first infusion involved 4 pokes.
now that she doesn't have a port (hurray!),
the nurses have to access a vein to give the medicine (boo!).
even though i offered to switch to oral medication,
chloe still wanted to continue with the monthly infusions.
delivering the poke prices donated at the POP

after the second infusion in march,
even though it was much less traumatic,
chloe agreed to try the medication.
she started on april 23 and for the most part,
things are going smoothly.
we would appreciate any prayers,
she'll be taking this medicine
6 days a week through july.

celebrating a magical triumph

we also took a trip to disney world
during spring break.
it was a wonderful time away,
our first trip out of michigan
since this all started.

it was not a make-a-wish trip,
it was actually a holland family trip
that has been in the works for 4 years.
we are grateful that we were able to go.
it felt like a big celebration,
with many special touches to celebrate
the end of the cancer battle.

now we are pushing toward the end of school,
we are looking forward to a time of rest,
a time to make more memories.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Michigan Radio: Michigan Cancer Stories

One of Christa's posts from the family blog was included in a feature by Michigan Radio on cancer.  Thanks, Adriann, for suggesting that we submit our story.

Chloe's POP: The Photos

Thanks to Lara and Lois for these photos.  If you have some photos to share, please email them to Kip or burn them to a CD and we'll add them.  Thanks!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Thank You!

Wow!  Christa and I continue to marvel how amazing Chloe's POP turned out.  This morning Pastor Kama described watching the joy on the kids faces as seeing a glimpse of Heaven.  I couldn't agree more.

Thank you to the approximately 250 people who joined us yesterday.  A party isn't a party without the people.  Thanks for the hugs, the conversations, and the well wishes.

Thank you to all of those who baked cupcakes, helped decorate, organized food, worked the kids' activities, and cleaned up.*  We couldn't have done it (the POP) without you.

Thank you to all of you, near and far, who have loved and supported us.  We certainly couldn't have done this (the cancer journey) without you.

* A special thank you goes out to the four people who braved the cotton candy machine.  Thanks for your sacrifice to help keep the kids well stocked.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Chloe's POP: The Video

For those of you unable to join us at Chloe's POP this afternoon, you missed the world premiere of this amazing video filmed and produced by our friend Tim Hackney.  Thanks, Tim!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Chloe's POP (Port Out Party) - A few details

The excitement for Saturday is building around the H-A home!

A few quick details:

Everyone - RSVP or not - is welcome to stop by and join us on Saturday!  We'd love to see you!

Cupcakes can be dropped off in the Third Reformed Church kitchen until 4:00pm on Friday or on Saturday after 1:00pm. (No need to have them there early -- save gas and bring them along with you.)

Also, if you attend Chloe's POP and snap a few photos we'd love it if you'd share them with us.  We haven't asked anyone to take photos so if we could make it a community effort, we'd be appreciative.  You can email them to Kip - kieman@gmail.com  Thanks!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Chloe's POP (Port Out Party) - Details, RSVP, Volunteer

You are all invited to come celebrate Chloe's end of treatment - clear scans, end of chemo, and the removal of her port at:

Chloe's POP (Port Out Party)

Saturday, March 3, 2012
Third Reformed Church - Fellowship Hall
111 West 13th St., Holland, MI

Chloe wants to celebrate with chocolate cupcakes...
Henri wants lots of board games...
Martha wants sweet treats...
Christa wants live music by a band she heard at the farmer's market...
Kip wants good coffee...

It will all be there!

UPDATED:  Don't worry about the RSVP, just join us in celebrating!  We'll see you there!

(You can also send Kip an email (see below) or give us a call to RSVP 616.394.4131)

(you can also email Kip - kieman@gmail.com - and he'll plug your name in)

No presents, please! You've all given us so much already.
However, if you don't want to show up empty handed, we'll be collecting small, unwrapped poke prizes (CT scan prizes, EKG prizes, ultrasound prizes, drink this medicine prizes, etc.) to deliver to the folks at the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.  There were some days that Chloe would come home with 2, 3, 4, more... of these in a day.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Full Circle

as the followers of this blog
will remember,
checking oxygen levels before surgery
in july
the idea of chloe's
hair loss
was difficult,
difficult for chloe,
difficult for kip and me.

the other day
the kids were at my parents'.
martha was brushing her long hair
and working on some pretty tough tangles.
"i HATE my hair," she exclaimed,
in dramatic fashion.

chloe looked up at her,
smiled confidently
and said,
"i LOVE my hair."

it felt like she came
feeling pretty groggy
full circle.

likewise, at the beginning of this journey,
when chloe's tumor was removed,
a port was placed in.
a port goes beneath the skin.
it was accessed weekly
to draw blood to check counts
and to give her chemo.

today, in a short,
20 minute surgery
that port was removed.

she had the same surgeon,
dr. robertson.
mmm...  pancakes & eggs!

we waited in the same waiting room.
again, it felt like we have come full circle.

it is not totally over.
she has a few more months of
intravenous antibiotic infusions
and scans every 3 months
for the next 3 years.

we will worry in ways
we never imagined
a year ago.

we will also celebrate
each clear scan,
each moment of victory.
we will breathe easier
if she has a fever.
we will not worry about
the implications
of a fever and a port.

and we'll have that POP
(port out party)!

come and celebrate
with us.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Surgery & Save the Date

Two quick details:

Chloe's port removal surgery has been set for this Friday, 8:55 am.  We need to be at the hospital by 6:55....  Prayers are always appreciated.

Save the date...

Chloe's End of Treatment Party or P.O.P. (Port Out Party)
Saturday, March 3, 2012
2:00-4:00 pm
More details to follow... but you're invited!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Good News

Chloe's CT scans came back clear.  An exam and a review of the scans was previously scheduled for next Friday, but we were able to take care of all of it yesterday morning while we were at clinic.  Instead she's scheduled to have her port removed on the 10th.
Chloe rocks the pinball at Jonny B's

It's great news.  We're excited about it.  Yet, we're wondering when our hearts will catch up with our brains and we'll fully be able to feel the extent of how great it is.

Chloe's oncologist showed us slices from her CT scans from yesterday in comparison to July 7, the day she was admitted to the hospital.  It's still a little hard to fathom how she could have had something so huge (roughly 13cm x 13cm x 13cm) inside of her (that wasn't supposed to be there) and we had no clue.

Once her port is out, we'll be able to return to "normal" life.  But what is normal for our family now?  Chloe's cancer has changed our family in more ways than we know how to describe.

Playing pinball at our lunchtime celebration
It's not that we not thankful, grateful, and relieved.  But I think we're all so exhausted.  And maybe shell-shocked would be the word for it.  At least the four oldest members of the H-A family.  Last week Martha burst into tears when she found out that Chloe would be going back in for scans every three months for a few years.  It was a "wait, this isn't really over?" sort of response.  I think we're all wondering when we can truly exhale.

Enjoying a celebratory cake
That said, Chloe is doing great.  Her hair continues to grow, she's gaining weight, there's color in her cheeks again.  Others have commented that she seems to have "her spark" back again.  For that we are so thankful. 

Last week, our neighbor Ellen pronounced Chloe a member of "Team Fun."  After caring for her so intensely for the past seven months, we're hoping that some of Chloe's Team Fun spirit will rub off on the the rest of us.  Heaven knows we could use it.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

scans today

this morning (februrary 2)
chloe has her final scans.
meaning, end of treatment.
chloe will return to devos
for scans every 3 months
for the next 3 years.

everyone is a little anxious
around here.
martha is particularly
please say a prayer
for all of us.

we'll review the scans
on february 10
and chloe will have a physical.
we're hoping for
a roadmap
that tells us our next steps
at that time.

Friday, January 13, 2012


We celebrated Chloe's last day of chemo on Jan. 4th with balloons, streamers, and a few friends who happened to drop by.

We celebrated that Chloe only felt tired and nauseated for about 24 hours after this last treatment and then was ready to go again.

We celebrated that Chloe's trip to the DeVos Children's Hospital ER on Monday morning brought the good news that her dislocated elbow could be popped back into place quite easily.  (The kids were playing on Sunday evening while Christa and I got dinner ready -- something about holding hands and swinging -- lesson learned.)  Christa reported that she was playing Uno with two hands within minutes of getting it popped back into place.  :>)

We celebrated that although Monday's platelets counts were quite low, yesterday's counts were up.

And we're continuing to celebrate that we got a call from clinic yesterday following counts saying that since counts were good we don't have to make any more weekly trips to the clinic!  After at least one, if not two, three, more... visits to clinic each week since July 7th, this is a huge burden lifted.

Plus, Chloe no longer needs to take her nightly medicine...

Where we're at, in case you're interested:
  • Final scans have been scheduled for Feb. 2nd
  • She'll have a counts check, exam, and we'll get a review of the scans on Feb. 10th
  • She still needs to continue a monthly infusion of one of her meds for the next 4-6 months
There truly is light at the end of this long, and sometimes dark, tunnel.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

last week of chemo

my apologies for not updating sooner,
i sent out the prayer request before christmas
and left it hanging.

christmas was quiet and uneventful.
no hospital stays, no additional visits.
she returned for a counts check
on december 28.
the doctor was pleased with her counts,
chemo continues as scheduled for
wednesday, january 4.

chloe has been her spunky self,
playing with her toys,
drawing, enjoying the new snow.
she was very excited to have a
sleepover with her grandparents,
to visit with her uncle jed.

her hair has started coming back,
a little blond fuzz,
she seems to have grown a little,

a little bit of encouragement for all of us
a reminder of new strength, hope.

kip goes back to work on wednesday.
i'll take a couple of days off this week
to take chloe in for chemo
and to be with her if she doesn't feel well.
then we'll return
to our "normal schedule."

we will still make weekly
(or more often when needed)
trips to DeVos
to check Chloe's counts.
we await the appointment
when her port will be removed
and we can relax a little,
worry about germs and fevers less.