A Childhood Cancer Survivor Blogging about the World of Childhood Cancer

Posts tagged ‘Cottage Hospital’

Going Bald Again…This Time for The Kids

GraceBrushing my teeth in a reflective daze, I stare at my shampoo bottle…I won’t miss it.  Nor will I miss my brush… bobby pins- none of them.  I imagine what it must be like to feel the tickle of the breeze on nothing but delicate fuzz.  Towel in hand, I think about how many strokes it would take to dry my head.  Staring into the mirror, I try to envision others’ questioning glances.  Oh that’s right- I knew… I know.  Yet recollection is a mysterious thing.   While I can vividly recall my chemo-ridden body reaching for the razor five years ago, the chaotic emotions of the time have instead been replaced with gratitude, excitement- hope.

            Who am I to have a choice?  They don’t.  I didn’t… once upon a time.  My own trials through cancer have been glossed over with the faces of kids around the country- of those whose stories I heard while sitting intently at their bedside.  Amazement continues to knock on my soul. 

There is no choice but to fight-  no choice but to bitterly resist the chemo bag hanging beside you, yet surrender to it…  place your absolute trust and hope in it.  What if… what if you had so much certainty in that little, seemingly harmless, bag that you could let go… trust… know.  That you could give in and not face fear of slipping… slipping…. leaving. 

This is my desire, and one that the St. Baldrick’s Foundation works towards daily.  The number once private funder of childhood cancer research, they hold events worldwide each year.  St. Baldrick’s raised $33 million last year; this money provides grants for researchers who are working tirelessly to find less toxic treatments and cures for those children who face, and will face the same beast I did.  As my heart overflows with appreciation for my own life, yet sadness that others still fight the battle I know all too well, I find that hope is the path that must be taken. 

I have decided to join in St. Baldrick’s mission and participate in an event that is taking place on March 30th, 2013 at Oakland Children’s Hospital.  The deal?  No more shampoo… no more bobby pins, brushes… or anything of that sort.  In an effort to be in solidarity with cancer kids everywhere, to raise awareness, and to raise money to fund research grants, I will be shaving my head…. again.

If I refuse…I lose.  It is as simple as that.  What is hair, anyway?  Something that keeps your head warm- something that gets tied back or covered up on bad days.  It can be straightened, gelled, curled, and colored.  However, many people don’t realize what else it can do- create awareness, provide greater funds for research, better treatments, and hope for each and every child fighting. 

I am just one person, but if everyone allowed that thought to build a wall in front of them, no change would ever happen… no amazing things would take place.  And so I choose to do what I can…give what I can in this life that can, at times, tell you to give up- to not give because “it is not enough.” I encourage you to do the same.  We never lose by giving… only by passing an opportunity to give our own unique contribution.

For information about St. Baldrick’s and their mission, please visit: http://www.stbaldricks.org

To support my individual participation, my team, and children with cancer everywhere, please visit:

http://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/melinda

John and Vicki kiss my dome during treatment at Cottage Hospital in March 2008.

John and Vicki kiss my dome during treatment at Cottage Hospital in March 2008.

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Go Ahead… Jump In!

Grace: A Child's Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery

Today is a gratitude day… as grateful as every day has been since my outstanding medical team helped rid my body of cancer. My three-year scans just came back “All Clear.” For Dr. Dan, Nurse Pam, Nanci, Robyn, Zippy, Jaynie, and everyone else at Cottage Hospital, I give you my love and thanks! I apologize for not being a “normal” patient and thank you for dealing so “gracefully” with my Melinda-ness!

Rather than let “Survivor’s Guilt” overtake me to the point where I cannot function to help others, I have found it necessary to tweak that thought and those feelings into action that will help. The hardest part of all for me is knowing of children who die each day from childhood cancer– knowing the suffering they have faced and the suffering of their families. There is no “Half-Way” point of caring about childhood cancer patients… either you jump right in and become submersed, or you stand on the sidelines with little understanding of what is truly going on.

Fair warning: Jumping in will give your heart the ride of its life.

Truth: Jumping in will bless your life with truly remarkable heroes!

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta making Children Happy and Health

I just read this news from PAC2 about Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation ! Does it get any better than this? Dancing to raise money to fight childhood cancer??????????? Northwestern University– thank you for jumping in! Happy Dance Time!

I will rewind life a bit for my next posts so that I can begin sharing more about the Hope Tour after we left New Orleans. 

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Who Says a Watched Pot Never Boils?

Grace: A Child's Intimate Journey Through Cancer And Recovery

Yesterday, I returned to Santa Barbara to the place where I received my life-saving treatment for cancer. Now, three years after my treatment has ended, I am reminded again how Cottage Hospital and the people who work there will always bring my heart to its utmost openness. I loved seeing Nurse Lisa and Nurse Cyndi (yes, the very famous Blue Chemo Fairy!) My visit wasn’t for tests or scans; it was to help raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals during their yearly fundraising event. Cottage Hospital is a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. 

It means a lot to me to return each year for their fundraising event. I had the opportunity to encourage radio listeners to support Cottage Hospital and then do the same in a TV interview. Three years ago, I sat with my pink beanie covering my completely bald head while Paula Lopez asked me questions for a Children’s Miracle Network vignette. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking again with Paula… only this time, with a full head of hair and the ability to breathe!

Three years ago…

http://www.sbch.org/Portals/1/Skins/CottageHealth/html/marchiano.html

 When Mom and I first walked into the cafeteria, who should we see?

A therapy dog all dressed up like a nurse!

Guess who else we saw? (For all who have read Grace!)

Dr. Pickert!  Guess what else?  He gets nicer and nicer every time I see him!

There will never be a time when I visit Cottage Hospital that I don’t gasp with trembling gratitude. The reality of my illness, the memory of me in that hospital bed… me rolling down the hall to surgery… me receiving treatment that saved my life… make me bow my head with humility.

Thank you, to everyone at Cottage Hospital.

Most people have heard of the concept “Survivor’s Guilt.” I find that my survivorship has had the opposite effect on me.

I think of Breanna, Max, Noah, Jayden, Nick and all the children whose lives I need to honor with my tireless devotion to what their lives mean. I will never forget them. This means fighting for a cure every day.

Life is one time. Living a “Lukewarm” life won’t do for me.

Turning up the heat to High…

Hi Life!  Full Blast Ahead!

Who says a watched pot never boils?!

One way to be the White Swan:)


My Buddy Jaynie

I don’t even know where to begin today telling you everything I want to share! I read the results of a study that just came out– scientists have found three new gene variations in the development of Hodgkin lymphoma. When I hear about studies like this one, it gives me great hope for the advancement of knowledge and treatment of all types of cancer in the future.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2010/11/01/study-finds-gene-links-common-lymphoma-cancer/

And Jaynie!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you so much for your prayers for Jaynie. Her surgery went very well, and my mom and I will be traveling to UCLA tomorrow. I told Jaynie that I am going to play “Dancing Queen” on my I-pod and when she hears the music coming down the hall, she’ll know it’s me:) And then… I am going to hold the back of Jaynie’s gown closed and pull her IV alongside us as we “dance” down the halls… just like Jaynie did for me at Cottage Hospital!!!!!!!!!! I loved joking with Jaynie at the time about how she “always had my back!” It’s going to be very strange to have Jaynie be the one in the size XXXXXL diamond-print hospital gown, but at the same time, so very familiar.

Dance Celebration Down the Halls of Cottage

Love you Jaynie! Thank you God for watching over her and thank you to everyone for your prayers for Jaynie’s complete recovery.

The Children’s Miracle Network and Cottage Hospital

Many children who are treated for cancer are treated at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Cottage Children’s Hospital, where I was treated, is a Children’s Miracle Network hospital. When CMN raises funds, money collected goes directly to your local children’s hospital. Can you imagine the specialized medical equipment that it takes to treat children? Imagine how much that equipment costs.

I am blessed to have had an incredible children’s hospital save my life. Without Cottage Children’s Hospital, I would have had to travel three hours north to Stanford, or three hours south to Los Angeles. The doctors, nurses, and the entire staff  at Cottage Hospital were outstanding.

This Saturday, I have the opportunity to tell others about what Cottage Hospital did for me. Coast Hills Foundation is having a fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network and Cottage Children’s Hospital, and I will speak about how Cottage Hospital really did give me a “miracle.”

http://www.cottagehealthsystem.org/tabid/1482/Default.aspx

When you support your local children’s hospital, you are helping children who will be diagnosed and treated for cancer as well as children with other serious health problems. This is one opportunity to broaden the scope of your help even beyond childhood cancer.

To find your local Children’s Miracle Network hospital:

http://www.childrensmiraclenetwork.org/HospitalSearch.aspx

I love my Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, and I love all  of those people who saved my life at Cottage Hospital even more!!!!!!!!

Children’s Miracle Network Telethon

Today and tomorrow, the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon is going to be broadcast nationwide. The hospital where I was treated, Cottage Hospital, is a Children’s Miracle Network hospital. You can imagine why this cause is so dear to my heart. Money donated to Children’s Miracle Network goes to your local Children’s Miracle Network hospital. I am extremely grateful for the care I received and that Cottage Hospital has the staff, the equipment, and the facilities to give their patients the best health care possible.

You may not think that $5 or $10 is much of a donation, but imagine 500 people giving $10! It will add up and every single donation makes a difference.

If you live in the Santa Barbara area, my Children’s Miracle Network vignette will play tonight between 9:30 and 9:46 and tomorrow between 3:46 and 4:00 on KEYT Channel 3. Thank you for considering supporting your local Children’s Miracle Network hospital!

Cottage Hospital Therapy Dogs

I saw a lady in the store last weekend, and she was wearing a shirt with a very cute dog picture on the front.  Come to find out, her dog had just graduated from Therapy Dog Training.  I think I scared the poor woman with my robust reaction.  (I did ask her if I could hug her before embracing her!) 

When I was in the hospital, the therapy dogs brightened my spirits like I cannot even describe.  There was 123 pound Leonberger, Rowan, and teeny-tiny Sugar, and spotted Dottie, and Sammy who kicked off the Let-Larry-on-the-Bed-Campaign, and many more.  Thanks to all of you therapy dogs, and your “people.”  You made me happy when I was very, very sick, and you still make me happy!

From Grace: A Child’s Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery:

Dogs, dogs, and more dogs… my third round was Dog Round.  Jaynie knew just how much I loved visits from the many therapy dogs, so with one quick phone call, I nearly had dogs lining up at my door.  Echo, Scruffy, Carmel, Dottie, and Ralph all came to cheer me, with lolling tongues and wagging tails. 

   And then… there was Rowan.  Rowan is Jaynie’s registered therapy dog, a 122 pound Leonberger, with just as much love as fur.  Of course, Rowan not only had to be on the bed with me, but on top of me.  Her giant tongue painted my face with a layer of slobber.  Ah… I loved it. 

  She wore a bandana that read, “I didn’t ask to be a princess, but if the tiara fits…”

     Her giant paws were as big as my feet and, in terms of pounds, Melinda + Melinda = Rowan.  Her huge, gentle, compassionate eyes stared, not only into my eyes but, into my heart.  

Dogs, dogs, and more dogs… my third round was Dog Round.  Jaynie knew just how much I loved visits from the many therapy dogs, so with one quick phone call, I nearly had dogs lining up at my door.  Echo, Scruffy, Carmel, Dottie, and Ralph all came to cheer me, with lolling tongues and wagging tails. 

   And then… there was Rowan.  Rowan is Jaynie’s registered therapy dog, a 122 pound Leonberger, with just as much love as fur.  Of course, Rowan not only had to be on the bed with me, but on top of me.  Her giant tongue painted my face with a layer of slobber.  Ah… I loved it. 

  She wore a bandana that read, “I didn’t ask to be a princess, but if the tiara fits…”

     Her giant paws were as big as my feet and, in terms of pounds, Melinda + Melinda = Rowan.  Her huge, gentle, compassionate eyes stared, not only into my eyes but, into my heart. 

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