Loving School

Scout Becca

So Becca will be starting her fourth week back at school, and she is loving it!  She picked up with the routine pretty quickly and has been enjoying getting to know her new friends.  When asked her favorite part of the day, Becca replies, "Snack."  Lunch and recess are her least favorite.  Unfortunately, Becca has been blessed to be a "super smeller," and she is extremely offended by the smells of other students' lunches.  Needless to say, she returns home from school each day with the exact lunch she left with in the morning, and  is ravenous.  On recess, she isn't really playing with other children, but she has learned to do the monkey bars and is showing some pride on that front.  Mrs. Finn explained that recess is difficult for lots of kindergarteners, as they get out on the big playground and run around, but then they cannot find each other.  Hopefully it's just a stage, and the kids will grow out of it.

I am really enjoying hearing Becca tell me about the things she is learning at school... it has been a long while.  Her cute little voice talking about spheres, cylinders, cones, seeds, roots, and plants, singing songs from her upcoming class musical, and explaining art projects she is creating is music to my ears after a year-long hiatus from such things.  Though the first day away from her while she was at school was difficult (not knowing what was going on or seeing her for an entire school day after a year of constant surveillance), it is great that Becca has "her own thing" to tell us about later.

On Thursday this week, Becca will head to the clinic to see Dr. Grimley, her Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) doctor.  She hasn't seen him since November or December, as we were moved back to the HemOnc side with Dr. Absalon.  We are at nine months post-transplant, and it is amazing how well Becca is doing.  She looks fabulous (hair still growing and curly!), feels good, and is doing activities that a normal six-year-old girl does.  Please join us in praying or crossing your fingers and toes for good labs!

On another note, the Butterfly Walk for CancerFree KIDS is coming up on May 11th!  This will be the fifth year that we have had a team for Becca, and we plan for her to lead Becca's Believers this year as we walk the one-mile inspirational lap around Cottell Park.  Last year at this time, she was again fighting for her life at Children's Hospital, so this year we have even more reason to really celebrate her courage while supporting an organization that funds important grants to researchers seeking a cure for pediatric cancers.  You all are invited and encouraged to join our team or to donate (even a small amount) on behalf of Becca's Believers.

Last year, we had almost 90 members and raised over $5,800!  Your $30 adult registration fee gets you a t-shirt, bracelet for the day's activities and food, and some other perks.  If you would like to do the 5K (which starts at 9am), the adult registration is $35 and child (12 years and under) registration is $20.  Youth (ages 3-12) only pay $15 for the walk and fun festival, and children under 2 years are free.

For more information or to register/donate, go to www.butterflywalk.org or https://runsignup.com/Race/Donate/?raceId=2547&runnerFundraiser=LTksigjxQcKkvMNG .
 Be sure to list "Becca's Believers" as the team and "Trisha Kniskern" as the captain so that your contribution or registration goes towards our team.  The deadline to guarantee a t-shirt is coming soon (not sure of the date), so if you definitely want one, please register soon.

I will post a quick update when we have labs on Thursday and will leave you with a video of sweet Becca singing one of the morning songs from school:  http://youtu.be/Z1X7qDIymhw


Back to School!

 Yes, I made her pose with the backpack (without the winter coat).
 Our "puzzle queen" insisted on doing a puzzle while eating breakfast.
Sisters waiting at the bus stop together, and BOTH of them boarding the bus!

I cannot believe it's been a year!  April 2, 2012, was the last day Becca attended school, and today she returned a year older and exponentially healthier.  Boy, she's had a year!

To think about all she has been through in a year to make it to this day exhausts me, while simultaneously humbling me.  This child of mine will be able to do absolutely anything she sets her mind to in the future.  My Becca is a fighter (always has been), and she will let nothing stand in her way.  She has overcome so much in her short life, and I am having trouble putting words to how overcome with joy I was to send her off to school again.  As Ethan and I animatedly waved goodbye to the bus this morning, I had tears welling, and my heart felt like it would leap out of my chest.  Being without her at home today (I had an extra day of spring break) felt odd, and I really think Ethan will miss having her with him during the weekdays.  A huge thanks to Mrs. Finn for texting me at lunchtime to let me know that Becca was doing great, and that she would probably be wiped out tonight.  I was wishing that I was a fly on the wall in her classroom all day.

Even though the school bus always drops the girls off at the same time each day, I wanted to go out ten minutes early so that I wouldn't miss them getting off the bus.  Yes, Ethan made fun of me.  I shot video while he snapped a pic on my phone, but I had to stop recording so that I could get a running-into-my-arms hug.  Trust me... I'm not complaining.  We got the girls in the house pretty quickly with freshly-made chocolate chip cookies, and Becca was tired of our questions within a couple of bites.  I got a glimpse of a "normal" kid while we were trying to pump her for info.  You know, when you ask your child what they did at school, and he/she says, "Nothing," or "I don't know," or "I don't remember."  It used to drive me crazy when Lily did that, but it is refreshing to see from Becca, even though I was dying to hear how her day went.  I knew the day's events would all come out later (when I wasn't really asking), just as they always have with Lily.

The bottom line is that Becca had a wonderful day, everyone in her class was super nice, Mrs. Finn and Mrs. Montag were really happy to see her, and she wants to go back tomorrow.  What more could we ask for?!  While I thought she would be so exhausted that she might just want to chill on the couch with a movie, Becca started a puzzle, tortured our kitten, ran a few errands with me, played with the neighbors, finished the first puzzle and did two more (at the same time nibbling on her dinner), watched a little bit of a movie while snuggling with me, and read books at bedtime.  I will say that she drifted off rather quickly once she was horizontal.

Oh, by the way, Becca went to day hospital last Tuesday to have IVIG, labs drawn, and her monthly check-up.  It was actually seven months to the day that she had received her bone marrow transplant!  She's looking pretty good considering she is only seven months out.  Unfortunately, accessing of her port still doesn't go well, and de-accessing is no picnic either.  We thought we would want to get the port out ASAP so that she doesn't have to get poked in her chest, but we are not sure how many more months of IVIG Becca will need.  Rather than using one of the veins in the crook of her arm (which is what we thought they could do), they would need to utilize a vein in her hand for the almost four hours the infusion takes.  We opted to wait until they are sure that she's finished with IVIG for the port removal.

Though he was on service that day, and we were scheduled to see Dr. O'Brien, Dr. Absalon sprinted up the stairs to see Becca and visit with us.  He is so dedicated and caring, and we are so thankful that he has been Becca's oncologist throughout this journey.  Ethan made sure to tell him it was great to see him when he wasn't telling us he thought our daughter was relapsing.  Her labs looked great, and her engraftment test showed 99.4% male donor cells!   

We had an enjoyable spring break at home for a change.  Though the weather was cold during the week, the weekend was fabulous and gave us a taste of spring.

 Our Easter bunnies
 Scout Becca
  Easter brunch with Nana and Papa

Finally, time to put in our plug for the one charity we actively do fundraising for each year (I'm going to cheat by copying the email I sent out in March)...

The 7th Annual Butterfly Walk for CancerFree KIDS will take place on Saturday, May 11th, at Cottell Park in Deerfield Township. The funds raised from this walk will go toward pediatric cancer research, and I have again formed a team for my six-year-old daughter Becca.  She was originally diagnosed with leukemia (ALL) in October of 2008, went through a grueling three years of treatment, and then was diagnosed with therapy-related leukemia (AML) last April.  She received a bone marrow transplant in July of 2012 and is passing yet another milestone this spring as she returns to school.  We are continuing to celebrate her strength, courage, and resilience, and though she was not able to attend the walk last year, she is very excited to lead her Becca's Believers team in the Butterfly Walk this year! 
The walk is only a one-mile walk, and there are lots of fun family events during the day.  The 5K run will continue this year, so if you are "into" the running thing, you can participate.  The Junior Jog will also be taking place, as well as the fun festival that lasts until 2pm.  We're hoping for beautiful weather again this year, but even if it's like prior years, we'll still have fun and show our support. 
I have registered our family, but we need at least ten people for the team ("Becca's Believers").  Last year, we had almost 90 members and raised over $5,800, which was awesome! Your $30 adult registration fee gets you a t-shirt, bracelet for the day's activities and food, and some other perks.  If you would like to do the 5K, the adult registration is $35, and child (12 years and under) registration is $20.  Youth (ages 3-12) only pay $15 for registration for the walk and fun festival, and children under 2 years are free.  If you cannot attend but would like to donate to our team, we would welcome the support... after all, the faster they find a cure for cancer, the better! 
For more information or to register/donate, go to www.butterflywalk.com or 
https://runsignup.com/Race/Donate/?raceId=2547&runnerFundraiser=LTksigjxQcKkvMNG.  Be sure to list "Becca's Believers" as the team and "Trisha Kniskern" as the captain so that your contribution or registration goes towards our team. 
Hope you can join us in walking/running to find a cure for pediatric cancer!

Thank you to all of you for the continuing prayers for Becca and our family... they are what keeps us going.