Saturday, May 28, 2011

A grandmothers love!

It has been a fabulous and fortunate two months for the Crowell family while Chris’ mom, Marilyn has been staying with us. We have been very blessed that she was able to take the time away from her life to help us with ours. I was just speaking with another new mom today about the gift that only a grandmother can give – loving your child just as intensely as you do. It is the eternal mother instinct that kicks in the second you have a child and (I am going to make the leap and say) continues on with your grandchildren and great grandchildren.  I cannot express the relief I feel as a mother knowing that somebody who cares for my children as much as I, is helping to get them through this difficult time. It has been a demanding time for our family and, as much as we assume that kids are resilient, I know that our current situation has affected Evelyn and Ryan. They are in such pivotal developmental stages in their little lives that I feel it is necessary that they are motivated emotionally and psychologically. It is too easy for Chris and I to leave them in the dust as we race around the city to radiation, chemotherapy, doctor’s appointments and more. Therefore I am so so so so thankful to have our mothers close at hand to provide our kids with the love and closeness they so much need at this stage in their lives. THANK YOU!!!!!
Rhonda teaching Evelyn the fine art of dishwashing!

While on the subject of thank you’s – thank you to Louise and Co. who dropped off a cool slide for Evelyn today. (ok ok Louise might say it was junk in her backyard but Evan is just tickled pink to have it in ours!) Thank you as well to Aunty Rhonda and Uncle Brent who made the trek out to Airdrie (in rush hour traffic!) to spend some time with us while on their visit from Nova Scotia.

Radiation is going well for Christian and time seems to be just flying by. We are already half way through and he seems to be responding so well. No terrible side effects, yet, so keep the prayers coming. We feel very strongly about the power of prayer and we truly believe that the Lord will heal Christian and take the disease right out of his body. We need people to persist in praying that the tumor will dislodge itself from his Inferior Vena Cava (aka main vessel returning blood to the heat) and be clear from any major organs. We need to pray that this mass, which remains, will be dead tissue and have no active cancer in it when we have our next scan in July. Thank you to everybody who has taken time out of your lives to think about and pray for Christian. We are so grateful to all of you!

Working on the dance moves!!!!!
Also a note on the power of prayer for our friends the Phaneuf’s who son is also in a battle for his life. They received some amazing news the other day that it appears that his cancer is disappearing – clear of his body. Jayden’s story is inspiring to our family and a true testament to the power of prayer. When it seems like nothing else is going right, you are not getting the answers you want, and life constantly kicks you back down – God will lift you up and show you his strength. That nothing – not even cancer - can beat him. Praise God!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Remember When

I loved those beautiful locks.....sigh

I was looking at some old photos tonight and felt compelled to post some older pictures of Christian. Remember when? I cannot believe that some of these photos are only five months old. Perhaps the ‘soaps’ have got it right, like sand through the hourglass so are the ‘Days of our Lives’ (ok just so there is no misunderstanding I don’t watch soaps!) Time seems to just slide right on by and we don’t even notice. Christian is already ¼ of the way through his radiation and the next thing I know it will be full on summer.  

Thankfully Christian has not had any adverse symptoms yet. We are still on a small chemo break until the middle of June, so life is a tad less complicated. Christian is a trooper and just keeps plugging away at the daily routine. I think it is so fascinating to see how much children need and crave structure and schedules. Christian actually looks forward to his daily ‘noodle’ cleaning and trips to the hospital. They are his new reality which he finds comfort in. He knows what to expect and when to expect it. Chris and I learned quickly that the best way to keep Christian happy was to keep him in the loop, tell him everything that was going to be happening and when it was going to happen. As long as we don’t surprise him with anything he continues to roll on. Amazing.
Hanging out on the rocks in Canmore

I geuss she needed a arest
Yesterday we said goodbye to Denise and the kids. Christian and Evelyn loved having somebody else to play with. Ok maybe Evelyn didn’t like sharing her dolls with Josie but I know they enjoyed each other’s company. Seth and Christian were a riot to watch as they played together so well. It brings joy to my heart to see them having so much fun together. Our last day was spent out in Canmore.  It is my children’s new favorite place to waste the day away. They love to look at the mountains, picnic in the park and throw rocks in the water. It was so warm on Saturday we even made a beach of the riverbed. It was an amazing end to a weekend that started with a midnight run to the hospital. Thanks so much to Denise for helping out (especially my flower bed!) and spending time with my kids.

The mountains just did the boys in!
My thought for today for Christian is how little he sleeps. Or how random his sleeping patterns are. I think we will be all finished his treatment before I ever figure out how to get him to bed at night. For some reason he refuses to go to sleep at night and finds all sorts of random ways to keep himself awake. His go to plan is to ask for a multitude of different foods.  Hot cereal, strawberries, puffy’s and crackers with cream cheese are the fav’s.

Today I am thankful for: 
 1, The Incredibles
 2. Rain
 3. Beautiful flowers on my table


Friday, May 20, 2011

Where is my hair?

What is more beautiful? My tulips
or Christians smile?

Sleep deprived. Two words which so perfectly describe the past few days. I don’t even know where the week went. Last night we made an emergency run to the Children’s hospital at 400am. It was the first midnight run that we have made since Christian was first diagnosed. It was another one of those unwanted “wake up” calls for Chris and I. Christian woke up with a horrible croup sounding cough and a fever. Of course just having had his chemo I was deathly afraid that his counts would be in the toilet and he would be unable to fight off whatever bug he was hosting. Thankfully he recovered almost as soon as he got to the hospital and they kept him only to give him some fluids and a course of anti-biotics. We will return tomorrow am to finish off his dose and check his counts. It was a good prompting for Chris and I to return to our prior ways of constant hand washing and germ tracking instead of the loosey-goosey manner with which we have been handling our current sanitization. 

Christian is such a happy little soul it is sometimes easy to forget that he is fighting for his life. Everyday his body is battling this senseless tumor in his belly while he continues on with his life. While he plays, reads, watch’s TV and sleeps his body is perpetually trying to breakdown the tumor shattered by the radiation. I try to think about his little body fighting yet his spirit just flows from him like a positive energy that affects everybody who meets him. As we speak he comes running to me across the kitchen floor after a 3 hour nap with the biggest smile on his face – and I feel like I have won the lottery.  Is it possible to really love someone this much? I yearn for the day when he will be disease free, poke free, pain free, limitless, fruitful and passionate.
Tubby time with Evelyn

Today’s story for Christian is a testament to his witty sense of humor and ability to poke fun at himself. When Christian began to lose his hair we explained to him that the medicine that the doctors were giving him was going to make his hair fall out (temporarily). He didn’t really seem to care and shortly thereafter he looked at the mirror and said to me with a big smile on his face, “Hey! Where did my hair go”!?  The other day got a little cut on the top of his head that has been healing quite nicely. He looked at himself in the mirror at my mom’s house and said, “Look! I’ve got this cut on my head and no hair to hide it!”  Cutest baldy ever!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Simple Things

I started this blog for Christian. I wanted him to have an account of what he had to endure to beat his cancer. Every posting is for him. I am hoping he can understand how much he inspires his parents and his family. How much he inspires his friends and our friends. I want him to know that we cried, rejoiced, laughed, hoped, prayed and loved him to health.  I am going to start posting all the things that made Chris and I look at each other in wonder and amazement. The things that made us cry and the things that made us realize he is the most amazing little 3 year old we have ever met. 

Today i am thankful for
1. Chris making me laugh 
2. Sticker books
3. Perogies

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Welcome Back!

Ryan and I at White Rock beach

Welcome back! I am sorry it has been so long since my last posting. I was feeling very low and expired so I decided to pack up Ryan and head to Abbotsford to watch my niece play volleyball. Of course anybody who knows me, knows that I can’t go that close to the American border and not do a little shopping! My niece played in the U17 Volleyball Nationals (she played amazing!) and I was able to visit with some of my family in white rock and down in Seattle. It was so nice to reconnect with family and have a little ‘disconnect’ with our current grind. That being said I had Ryan with me and he decided to not sleep while we were away! I have never returned from a vacation so tired! Nonetheless thank you to Sandra and Jon for having me, Aunty Shirley and Uncle Victory for putting up with me and Rose and Shannon for entertaining me! Thanks for the break.

On to more important matters. Christian has completed 5 of his 28 treatments of radiation. He received his first treatment on Monday morning (one week ago today). It seemed to go off without a hitch until we were over at the children’s hospital were he was getting a kidney function test and started throwing up in the waiting room. They had forgotten to give him his anti-nausea drug before starting his radiation treatment – oops. Needless to say the first day didn’t go as well as we had hoped but it was a learning tool for Chris and I. We were reminded that we are Christian’s health care advocates and it is our job to ensure that he gets what he needs while he is in the hospital or elsewhere getting treatments. So each day from then on we gently reminded the anesthetist to give Christian what he needs! Since that day it has been great and we have already had a few laughs or two. The second day of treatment Christian was asleep when we left for the hospital, asleep when they put him ‘to sleep’, asleep when he “woke up” from his sleep and then slept the whole way home in the car, where we transferred him to his waiting bed. Later on that afternoon when Nanny declared how well he had done at the hospital that day he said, “I didn’t go to the hospital today!”  The staff in the basement of the Tom Baker is amazing and tends to Christian, Chris and mine’s every need.  We saw the machine that is used to radiate him as well as the body cast that he lies in to ensure he is in the exact same position every time. It is a bit ominous to look around the room at the ‘casts’ that other patients are using. There are a few other small body casts and a whole shelf of facemasks for people who are getting radiation to their head.  Wednesday was the day of comic relief for our family.  Each day when we go to radiation we are able to give him his injections and clean his central line or anything that he doesn’t like to have done on a regular basis, while he is sleeping.  So on Wednesday I started cleaning and changing his dressing (which he detests), and it lured him out of his trance a little earlier than he would have normally woken up. The funny part is that he was slightly….ummmmm…I guess the word is intoxicated from the anesthetic. He begin hugging and kissing the nurse and flirting like a 19 year old! Then when he told it was time to get in his stroller to go out to the car he said, “no way my big ol’ but is going to fit into that stroller!” When we finally got him in the stroller he looked down and said, “oh I guess it does fit!” He had us in absolute stitches with his age inappropriate actions and use of descriptive words. Anyways it was a nice feeling to belly laugh out loud and make good of a difficult time.

Trying to wake up after Radiation

Love Aunty Rose!
30 minutes later I was in the airport and on my way to Vancouver for a few days of escape. It was great to be gone and great to be home. We are onto treatment #6 tomorrow and big chemo on Tuesday. He is pretty excited as he will get another ambulance ride over to the Tom Baker for his radiation the morning after his chemo as he will still be admitted to the unit while they hydrate the chemo out of his system.
Love Great Aunty Shirley
Lovin' my cousin Shannon and the volleyball cuties

My aunty Denise arrives tomorrow (hahaha I think that is funny because I am a few years older than her and I am going to refer to her as aunty all week!) She is bringing two of her kids Seth and Josie and I am hoping to witness some fantastic ‘parallel’ play between all the kids and a scrap or two over toy ownership. Bring on the good times! 
Kidney Function Test at the Children's

Today I am thankful for:
1.     The smell of the fresh air on the west coast
2.     Green soft grass
3.     The sound of the ocean
4.     The peace that waves give you 
Driving with Grandpa!

Sunday, May 8, 2011



Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful woman out there who tend to children and love them whether they are their blood or not. Being a mother is the most amazing gift that a woman can receive, a gift that can only be understood once you have looked into the eyes of a child that you love. Eyes that tell you how much they love you, need you, rely on you, and desperately want you to love them in return. I have had so many amazing experiences as a mother these past few years. I have had the opportunity to hold a newborn in my arms, to nurse them into chubby submission, to watch them learn to toddle, to see them develop their own personalities and with great trepidation watch them grow their independence. I have cried tears over their pains, disappointments and frustrations. I have said goodbye to one baby and held on tightly with all my might to the others. I have experienced every emotion a mother can feel, good and bad, and knowing the pain I have experienced and could experience again I would not change a thing. My children and experiences have shaped me into the woman I have become as I traded in my own ambitions to ensure that their needs are met, their boo-boo’s kissed, their hands held and their questions answered. I would not trade my job in for any amount of money, fame or freedom. I gave the gift of life to my children: Christian, Evelyn and Ryan and they in turn have given my life a gift.  So here is to every mother out there who is doing the best they know how.


Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Tomorrow brings about a new start to Christian's healing. Radiation begins at 8:00am so please pray that the radiation will immediately begin to work on his tumor. Thank you so much to pastor Doug and the whole congregation at Living Springs Church for praying for our family and Christian. For giving us strength and helping us to feel the love of Jesus.

Another big thank you to the Lions club of Airdrie who showed up at our door on Friday night with an awesome swing set for my kids. Evelyn was beside herself and couldn’t even wait until it was completely installed to try it out. Dean Constantine and the members of the Lions club were so gracious to my family and have truly showed us the amazing spirit that exists within the city of Airdrie. Dean wanted me to plug his club (:)) and remind everybody they want to increase their membership, so join today and it could be you changing someone else’s life tomorrow. THANK YOU
Dean and the Lions Club setting up the slide

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Green Lantern

Christian taking on Rod in a slide race on the play structure.... not sure about the weight limit Rod!!!

It has been a very tumultuous week in our household. We have experienced a whole gamut of emotions and events this week and I find myself sitting here in my lazy boy completely and utterly ‘done’.  The pivotal moment of the week was meeting with our Radiation Oncologist (aka: really smart guy) who spent quite a bit of time explaining to Chris and I the procedures, limits and expectations of Christian’s radiation therapy. It was unfortunately another one of those moments that left Chris and I feeling a bit sick to our stomachs as we were, once again, given a reality check in terms of Christian’s cancer. We were shown the re-grading scans of Christian’s tumor and were quite shocked to see how large the tumor still is – and just how big it was when we first started.  He was able to show us the two scans (initial and most recent) superimposed on one another, and we were amazed to see how much it had actually shrunk. The tumor was initially so big that if it were in his body right now at that initial size it would stick outside of his stomach about 2 or so inches. The majority of the shrinking has been from front to back and a bit of side to side but it has remained a very long and oddly shaped tumor. We were informed that his left kidney would get a large dose of radiation and will most likely be non-functioning when the treatment is over. As well his vertebrae, which the tumor is laying directly on top of, from his thoracic spine to his sacrum, will also get a very large dose of radiation.  This means that his growth in these segments will be affected (short like his mom!) So these are the things that we must learn to deal with and process, as they are the necessary evils associated with getting rid of the rest of this tumor through radiation.  So much to take in and process – both Chris and I shed a few tears (thanks Tracey!) and took some time getting used to what this next phase of his treatment will be like.  Please continue to pray that the tumor releases itself from his main vessel so that surgery could be done to remove the remaining tissue (if there is any left after it is done getting blasted….) I am going to start calling Christian the Green Lantern from the original Justice League as he may start to glow from all the radiation he will be receiving! We must find humor in everything!!!!

Chocolate chip cookie on the patio,
in the sun, in the mountains
life is good.....really
On a brighter note we had an amazing trip out to Banff were we stayed at a great rustic lodge and took our first step out on a ledge with Christian. We were swimming in the pool with Evan and Ryan and Christian showed up and pressed his little nose against the glass and looked at the pool and his siblings longingly – I am sure I heard my heart breaking. I couldn’t take his disappointment anymore so we strapped on his suit, I covered his central lines water tight, threw on the life jacket and sent him down the towering three storey waterslide.  It was an amazing sight and he was so happy. The best part was after he was done he had a nice hot shower and he stood there forever with the hot water running down his back and I realized it was a sensation that he had not felt in four months. I felt so good for him – Even though he is a 3 year old and doesn’t react the same way an adult would with cancer (he plays, doesn’t really complain, forgets as soon as treatment is done) there are many things I know he does think about and desire. He told me as I was sealing up his chest opening – “When all this is over and these tubes come out of my chest, I’m coming back here and going on all this stuff!”  And I said you bet you are!
So despite the highs and lows of the week (there is so much more to tell but this blog is already WAY to long….) we are happy and enjoying Christian and Evelyn and Ryan – with his first tooth today!

Today I am thankful for:
1.     waterslides
2.     hot showers
3.     the smell of outside after the rain

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mountain Break

Helping mom bake cookies...I licked the spoon everytime!
I am writing this blog as I lie in bed at my new favorite place….the Douglas Fir Resort and Chalet in Banff. Our suite looks out over the mountains and into the forest. The second I stepped out of the car and smelled the fresh air and trees I was in love. The wood burning fireplace and rustic feel of the cottage is what my brain needed. It feels great to be someplace where responsibilities are limited to changing bums and feeding mouths!  The indoor play park is amazing and I am sure a breading ground for germs but I tried to look the other way! With radiation beginning on Monday we wanted to give Christian something fun to do while he had some energy and wasn’t sore or sick to his stomach. We may even attempt the waterslide tomorrow if I can finagle a dressing to protect his central line. I think that two three story waterslides is just to much to withhold from a three year old!!!! It is so good to get away and relax and enjoy nature. I sound like a little granola girl but it just feels right.
My beautiful girl
Friday we will at the Children’s as Christian will most likely be getting a blood transfusion before starting his intensive treatment on Monday. Until then mountains, fun, food and family. Doesn’t get any better. 

Today I am thankful for
1.     Angry Birds (thank you Ian)
2.     Cool hotel’s with amazing mountain views
Christian at 2 - already wanting to be like mommy!
3.     Crackling fires