For all our friends and family who may be wondering how we are doing, we apologize for taking so long to post an update since the last one we posted in September. Life just has a way of occupying all of our time and we forget that we have this blog to communicate with all of you.
We are doing well and Natalie's counts looked great on her last monthly UCSF visit in early November. That was the 6 month after treatment visit and her doctor said that it is really a milestone visit since it's been a full 6 months since she was released. She has also been in remission for almost a year. (Grant's note: Natalie's leukemia wasn't showing up after her first round of chemo, which was almost12 months ago. We wanted to go home, but the medical protocol is to complete the entire 5 rounds of chemo. You don't stop when it looks good, you keep hitting it so you're sure you get it all.)
Natalie's visits at UCSF will now be every other month for the next six months. After that, it becomes every 4 months. Yeah!! We took her to a fancy restaurant that night (The Duck Club in Lafayette) to celebrate. Natalie loves going to fancy restaurants because they make her feel special and she gets to dress up almost like a princess.
We also had our big Make-A-Wish trip to Disneyland in early October! We sent the link with pictures of that amazing trip to some of you, but if we miss anybody who would love to see the pictures, please let us know and we'll send the link to you. We had a wonderful time and Natalie's big smile in the pictures really sums up the trip. She had the time of her life. When she was in the makeover chair of the Bibbodi Bobbidi Boutique getting her princes makeover, I (Tammy) started tearing up just thinking about how far Natalie has come from her hospital days. She's so energetic and strong now that I forget that there were a lot of days she spent in the hospital listless and in pain. I have forgotten that she once was so skinny and malnourished that the hospital staff had to weigh her every day to make sure her weight did not drop too dangerously low. When I think of those days, there is a mixture of sadness and joy. The sadness comes because it's still very painful for us to remember our Natalie being so sick. The joy comes from the gratitude we feel for having our family back together again.
Grant's note: My high point of the trip was seeing Sean get picked for the Jedi Training Camp at Disneyland. Sean and I went when Tammy and Natalie were at the BBB (Bibbodi Bobbidi Boutique), but Sean didn't get picked to go up on stage. He sorta lost interest, so we walked out. Our friends told us that kids wearing Star Wars gear or holding up signs usually got called up on stage, so the next day, I went to work. I cut up Sean's Lego X-Wing box and folded it in half. The top still showed the X-Wing and on the bottom I wrote in big bold letters: The FORCE is with me! We got there early and sat in the front. I carefully pulled out the sign and got ready. Meanwhile, Tammy talked to one of the ushers and told them we were on a Make A Wish trip, but the ushers said the lead actor made the choices, so they couldn't promise anything. I held up the sign and prayed. When the lead actor started making his choices, Sean was the very first pick! I was super happy. Sean has suffered, too, and it is easy to forget him, but that was his show. He deserved it!
We almost have a normal life again, but not quite. With the intensive treatment Natalie got, her body is more sensitive than the average child to the environment around her. She's been having bad allergies, which she had around this time last year too. Her pediatrician referred us to a specialist since Natalie's health history is more complicated than a normal pediatric patient. The intersting thing is that the specialist turned out to be the same guy Grant goes to for his allergies. Natalie thought that was pretty funny that she shares the same doctor with her papa.
We also had to take Natalie and Sean out of school for the month of October until Natalie got her H1N1 vaccine. There were a couple of cases of the H1N1 virus at her school. After patiently calling around, we finally got her the vaccine right before Halloween. We were happy about that since she got to go trick-or-treating as Minnie Mouse! (Grant's note: Wow, I owe you pix from there, too.)