Monday, November 17, 2014

I just want a break.

A break.

It’s the only thing I’d like. A span of 3 months where I didn't worry about cancer, doctor’s appointments, surgeries, medicine, therapies or anything else but my kids, my husband, my dog, my home and my family. You know, those normal things people worry about- I’d like to worry about that. Apparently it’s too much to ask for.

The last time I left you, I was starting physical therapy for my hip metastases and a compression fracture in my spine. Getting a second opinion for a double mastectomy would be on hold for a couple months. Well, it’s going to be a lot longer than that now . .

Our dog started not doing so well after one of her shots in September. We had her to the vet every other day for weeks trying to figure out what was plaguing her. She started itching, became lethargic, was losing hair; we just couldn't figure out what was causing it and nothing was helping. After about 3 weeks, she was diagnosed with an immune disease which was causing her to not be able to control skin mites (which every dog, animal and human have). Thus causing a severe skin infection. For a month straight she needed doses of Benadryl, Pepcid (because she wouldn't eat) her antibiotics, her medication to treat the mites, and a bath every other day. She has gotten skin scrapes every 6 weeks along with new doses of medication, which causes neurological side effects. She won’t be deemed “cured” until it has been one year since her last clear skin scrape. We were finally able to get her scheduled for a spay that we had to put on hold because of her infection. She has been doing better lately, but the added stress of a dog with special needs was a lot to handle. 

As if the cancer and the dog weren't enough to make me crazy, I was also trying to figure out why it seemed that Stephen wasn't making any improvements with his speech. I’m going to skip over exactly how this came to be and get to point. We took Stephen down to the hospital for an evaluation, where we found out that he had a submucous cleft palate. The boy has had numerous doctors, therapists and specialists in his mouth since he was born and it took this guy all of 2 minutes to diagnosis him. Of all the times I felt like a horrible mother for putting my health first and not his, for blaming myself for him not making improvements, feeling wretched about him getting kicked out of therapy for not improving- it was all answered in one day and I realized: it wasn’t anything I’ve done. I didn’t fail him. The specialist said no matter what we would have or wouldn’t have done, he would have never made any improvements. In fact, since this was caught so late, therapy has had the reverse effect on him, actually making his speech worse. Now the problem lies in that Stephen only knows the incorrect way to produce sounds because he has compensated for so long trying to make the right ones. I just cried. I was happy to know and devastated at the same time. He will have surgery in January, which is a simple surgery. It’s the recovery that will be tough. He will be in the hospital for a little bit and on a liquid only diet for 2-3 weeks. Then he will move to a puree diet for 2-3 weeks, all while he is in arm braces so that he does not stick anything in his mouth. If he is cleared at a 3 month post op checkup then he will have to go in to intensive speech therapy- where he will have to re-learn how to speak all over again. His recovery time will be around 6+ months. Given our family history, and Stephen’s extensive list of different diagnoses, it was suggested that he be tested for a genetic mutation called 22Q Syndrome.  The deletion or duplication of the 22Q chromosome could be the result of over 200 varying disorders. Some children may only have a few, and some kids many. Given Shannon’s history of the heart and diaphragm defect, Stephen will need an echo-cardiogram to check his heart. We will have some baseline labs drawn and then he will meet with a genetic team in January to discuss the syndrome and have a special panel drawn to check for chromosomal abnormalities. If this is what he does have, then it means a long road ahead of us. 

I have been so busy scheduling appointments for Stephen that I have been working on this blog post for over a month. I waited so long in fact, that it seemed that more things just piled on top. Steve had been having a lot pf pain in his knee for a while and I finally made him an appointment to go get checked out. Yeah- he has a fractured fibula and torn meniscus and ACL. He is in a brace and off work now for 7 weeks. He has surgery tomorrow.

Did I mention Molly has surgery Thursday? Oh and SJ's echo-cardiogram down at Children’s at the crack of dawn the same day. Aandddd I got a call from my Endroconologist that said I was in menopause. Dude, I’m 30. And menopause sucks. This all sucks.

Everybody says “You’ll be fine”, “This will pass”, and “You’re strong”. I know all those things. However, don’t you think it’s a bit much? I am losing my damned mind! Literally losing my mind- I lost my car keys a couple weeks ago and had a complete meltdown like a 2 year old's temper tantrum.

I just want a break. I’m not sure why this has been the icing on the cake for me thus far, but I have a lot of questions that I normally didn’t care to understand. I don’t understanding suffering or grief. I don’t understand why some go their whole lives with no tragedy and others, like myself, are modern day Jobs. I can handle one thing at a time but not twenty. I am finding myself slipping back in to a depression. There is so much going on. Too much. It’s hard to remember things. It’s hard to enjoy things. It’s hard to get motivated. It's just hard to live.

There’s oncologists in Hawaii, right? I want to take a break there.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Belle Vernon Mom and Breast Cancer Survivor Recognized with National Award

Belle Vernon Mom and Breast Cancer Survivor Recognized with National Award 

Kate Crawford is one of eight women named as a 2014 Pink Power Mom

ATLANTA, (Oct.1, 2014) – The Kids II Foundation’s Pink Power Mom network has named

Kate Crawford as a 2014 Pink Power Mom. Joining seven other moms and breast cancer

survivors from the United States and Canada, Crawford was selected for persevering through her

battle with breast cancer and for her efforts to help others in their fights. All eight Pink Power

Mom honorees have worked to positively impact their local communities by using their breast

cancer fight as a catalyst to make a difference.

Crawford lost her first daughter when she was only three days old. This prompted her to start a

non-profit to help grieving parents. Following that heartache, she had twins (now five) and a son

(now four).  In 2013, Crawford was diagnosed with breast cancer and was only given a 30

percent chance of survival. Since then, she has poured her energy into raising funds for her

cancer center, fighting her disease and completing her “mommy bucket list.” Her blog, The

Chronicles of Cancer, is read and respected in the worldwide cancer community.

“Kate was selected because of her insight and immediate outreach to address a community need,

while just beginning her own journey with breast cancer,” said Heidi Floyd, Pink Power Mom

Executive Director. “The network’s pay-it-forward award will empower Kate to continue her

wonderful mission.”

The Pink Power Mom award includes a $5000 donation to the winner’s charity of choice. Kate’s

donation will benefit the Women’s Cancer Research Center at Magee-Womens Research

Institute and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. The Women’s Cancer Research

Program is dedicated to reducing the incidence and death from women’s cancers across the

world. This mission is achieved through the development and fostering of vibrant basic,

translational and clinical research aimed at translating novel discoveries into improved patient


"I am honored to be chosen as part of an elite group of women dedicated to breast cancer

research and support. I may have cancer, but it will never stop me from feverishly working on

raising funds to find a cure,” Kate Crawford said.

Crawford will be honored with all eight of the 2014 Pink Power Moms during the Pink &

Powerful weekend celebration in Atlanta, Ga., hosted by Kids II, in February of 2015.

Nominations to join the Pink Power Mom network begin on Mother’s Day every year. Selected

moms are announced every October, during Breast Cancer Awareness month. For more

information, visit or

About the Kids II Foundation

The Kids II Foundation was established by Kids II in 2006 to advance the company’s

commitment and passion to making a difference in the communities in which employees work

and live.  Through partnerships with charitable organizations, volunteer efforts and donating toys

to children in need, the Kids II Foundation is able to make a profound and lasting positive impact

in the lives of children and their families.  The Kids II Foundation donates over a quarter of a

million dollars annually to charities worldwide, including Pink Power Mom – a non-profit

created by the Foundation to make a global change in the cancer community by rewarding moms

and breast cancer survivors making a difference.

About Kids II, Inc.

Kids II has a 40-year history of developing industry-changing innovations for families across the

globe and has quickly becoming a world-leading baby and infant product company. The brand

portfolio strength runs deep with seven brands under the Kids II umbrella: Bright StartsTM,

IngenuityTM, Comfort & HarmonyTM, DisneyTMBaby EinsteinTM, OballTM and TaggiesTM. Through

its brands, Kids II is a powerhouse of creativity, diversity and innovation, uniquely matching the

individual needs of every parent and baby. Headquartered in Atlanta, Kids II spans globally with

13 global offices in six continents serving customers in more than 72 countries.

Learn more about Kids II, like our Facebook page, or connect with us on LinkedIn.