Wednesday, April 18, 2007

You Deserve a Vacation--First Leg


That's right. You deserve a vacation, and I'm here to give it to you.

The Buengers have already started to make summer vacation plans. First up? A long weekend at the beach at Port Aransas in May. Walter, Davis, and I will have our semester flushed, and Erin doesn't mind a respite from the grind from time to time. DC is on the calender for late June, and we hope to get to somewhere cooler once the heat sets in in the second half of summer.

In the midst of end-of-semester grading, student hand holding, and generally not having enough time to keep up with grocery shopping and laundry, I am more than ready. I'll bet, you too, feel the lazy, hazy days of summer approaching, though not quickly enough. It's in that spirit that I invite you to take a journey with me. No, I'm not inviting you down to your local library for a mind-journey into literature. Over the next few days or weeks (I envision this as an occasional foray), I want you to take the trip I take every morning. Come along with me as I visit children with neuroblastoma.

First, I stop in to take a peek at the local kids, all treated by Heidi Russell at Texas Children's in Houston. This will be a breeze. Everyone is doing well. Even Colby (first picture below. . .imagine his mother's delight that he covered his hands with permanent marker) who relapsed after Erin is having a great response to trea
tment. Colby recently had scan results that showed his tumor load improved, so everyone at their house is riding high. I also usually stop by Hannah's place. She has been out of treatment for a really long time and her parents don't update her site very often. Still, I stop by every morning, and last week I was rewarded for my loyalty with a new long and heartfelt entry. Ryan (shown with his beautiful sister Haley, who apparently has a voice to match her looks) now sports a a full head of curls to go with the impish smile he never lost. CD, who does much of the writing on Ryan's website, would love for you to add a note to Ryan's guestbook. He is especially fond of the Aggies (NOT) so you should highlight them in any comments you leave. Ryan had a nontraditional path through treatment ,and it took a long time to get free of the cancer beast, but their family pulled together strongly.

For those of you who love the west coast, I also check on Sam in California. Sam shares Erin's red hair and love for soccer. He has two younger brothers (Charlie is in the picture with him), and I think the pack of them move at a pretty fast pace. Earlier this spring, Sam's great Aunt (whom I admired almost beyond words) Molly Ivins died. If you scroll down to last week's entry (April 12) you can catch a glimpse of the pre-scan experience that I write about every few months. His mom captured it to a T. There is a link on the main page of Sam's website that takes you to a site called Magic Water. Magic Water supports parent-driven pediatric cancer research dedicated to finding and funding promising treatments, quickly bringing them into the clinic to save as many lives as possible.

Sam's dad works diligently to find ways to help children before it is to late. He and Penelope's dad have made great strides, but for Penelope the time is running out too fast. For the past many weeks, she has been held in the loving arms of her family, while they hope for a miracle. I know that none of you want to spoil this vacation journey by think sad thoughts, but these parent's love for their daughter is too heart-felt and well-expressed for me to let you pass them by. Don't stop with the most recent entry. Click on journal history and read a few of the entries to appreciate the love and humanity created by this little girl.

I've sent you to Spencer's website before. His dad doesn't update that often, and there is rarely very much information about treatments or symptoms or concrete things that parents look for when they cruise the internet. In fact, the site isn't all that "useful" at all. But boy does it make me laugh. I think I'm going to stop adding new places to visit right now, just in case you get a hankering to dig into all the past entries on Spencer's site. If you're up to it, start with the first one, back on November 11, 2002 (that's right, they've been in the game almost as long as we have) and go from there. Now that I have single-handled undermined North American productivity for the rest of the day, I'm going to sign off. Don't come looking for me, I'm reading Spencer's journal.

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