About Me

Kathryn Bradley was born on 2/5/91 and given a Hawaiian name Kahiwalani meaning "Gift From Heaven" She has been a special gift from the day she was born.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful 2014

Fall Oct-Nov 2014

"A caring, grieving person on the outside. As a grieving parent you don’t realize how those around you are grieving. You are so deep in your grief, so depressed, so angry that you don’t realize just how deep the pain is for others. A good friend standing on the outside is hurting and doesn’t know what to do or say. This person has been in your life forever. This person has watched your children grow and celebrated every accomplishment they made. Oh this person hurts with a pain so deep but this person goes without notice. This person’s pain is not recognized nor acknowledged. How we forget those who have always been there when we grieve so deeply. I feel ashamed as I watch my good friend grieve over the loss of her uncle and yet her grief goes unnoticed. The wife the daughters and granddaughter are sent flowers, given cards and brought dinners. But the niece who thought of this man as more of a Father than her own Father goes without comfort or sympathy. I did this to her too. She loved my daughter as her own and I let her suffer in silence. I won’t let her go without comfort this time. A card and some flowers with let her know I care. I have talked with her and let her share her feelings but I think she needs more. I need to be the friend that gives her comfort because I let her go to the side when I was so deep in my grief. I cannot undo the past but only work with the present. My story is for all who have lost someone dear. Please don’t’ forget those on the sideline who could be filled with great pain. They have been part of a person’s life and just because they are not a close relative they too my be hurting and need comfort. Or maybe just to have their pain recognized.

15 months survival rate and less than 5% make it to 5 years. This is for GBM and grade IV astrocytoma. Just some infromation.

I had coffee with my former student Gina the other day. She is now 43. She told me she came across a letter I had written to her when she was out of school and living in Florida. She still had that test she was taking on the day I came in to inform the teacher covering my class that Kathryn had a brain tumor (1999),her first. She told me it wasn’t fair that they should have to count that test as they could tell when I came into the room that something was really wrong. I was tearing up and she said that upset her. She got a D- on the test. I believe it was her emotions. She did end up with an A in the class. She also skipped school to be with my family and me on the day of Kathryn’s surgery. It was nice to have her there as she took away a lot of the uneasiness of the situation. She also shared with me how she is now using her math in her new job and her math skills put her at the top of the class. She was proud to share the specific cases of where she used the math that I taught her. She doesn’t know just how much this means to me. I felt so good and I shared her stories with my current students the next day. Then I commented on one of her tattoos. I told her I wanted to get one to honor Kathryn but I wasn’t sure what to get. She said it was obvious to her. I asked, "What?" She said a Panda. Then we talked about what panda. It has to be the right panda. It is a hard decision to make. After all it is forever. It will come to me and it will be the right tattoo.

Klyde, Kathryn’s cat is in mourning. He misses Princess. He lost Kathryn and now he lost Princess. He has become more affectionate with us. But what is really weird is how he has taken pillows off of the couch in the living room and brought them to the spot in the family room where Princess’ bed use to be. He has done this four times. He also drug one to the place where her food use to be. It had to be a struggle for him as they are good size pillows and heavy. It’s kind of like he thinks if he brings her a pillow to sleep on she will return. Poor baby. He watched her struggle through her last seizer. He knew she was not well. He tried to love her and give her comfort the last few weeks of her life. He was extra loving towards her and would rub against her. Now he is left with us boring old people.

I talked with student about Kathryn and Katherine. She was looking at my photos on my bulletin board. She commented on the fact that she doesn’t ski or anything but saw that I was snow skiing and waterskiing. We then talked about Kathryn. We also talked about how Richard is now calling Bee, Katherine now. After all her name is Katherine. It’s just been hard to call her Katherine since we met her through camp and her camp name is Bee. And, well to say Richard and Katherine without it being Richard and Kathryn is just strange. It’s difficult to say but we are working on it.

A shooting at a Washington school. My co-workers know that Richard is teaching somewhere up north. Before I even knew about the shooting one of my dear friends came by my classroom and just asked me where Richard was teaching. Just matter of fact. We were chatting and then she told me about the shooting. This was after she knew it wasn’t Richard’s school. We continued to talk and both of us teared up as I told her that if I lost Richard it would be the end of me. I could not go on. My life would definitely end. As we finished our conversation my principal came up to my room too. I just said, “Not Richard’s school.” I knew he was coming to check on me. I’m very grateful I work in a place with such loving and caring people. It’s hard to believe that this young man would call his friends together to take their lives. No one will ever know what was really going on in his mind and heart. To me it is just a sad situation. I also think parents need to take a more active role in the lives of their children. They need to talk to them about things and how to love and care for people. They need to create a place for their children to come to them with issues. Parents should be the ones that children go to and feel safe sharing their problems with. The fall of the family is really sad and prevalent in this day and age. We live in a selfish world unfortunately.

I went to my first of three celebrations of life (Oct 30th) for the next three weeks. This one was for a long time family friend. I believe my Dad had met this man (Skip) through the gas station business. His wife and my Mom would take us kids camping every summer at Twanoh State park on Hoods Canal. We went every summer for years and years. The Dads, My Dad and Skip, would come out in the evenings after work and then stay on the weekends. We always had so much fun camping. Because of the wonderful memories that I have of camping I started taking my children camping when Richard was just a little guy (3 or 4). My kids loved going camping. I went with one of my friends the first time but after that I went on my own. Richard and Kathryn brought a friend each. A couple of times I let them each bring two friends. When they became young adults they brought even more friends. The memories from camping are deep inside of me.

I just wrote about how our printer went off making noises that one night. Well on the 30th of October my computer started making this ringing noise like a phone ringing only not as long of a ring and a bit softer. I thought it was music at first. I couldn’t figure out right away where this noise was coming from but then I did. There was a button blinking when I opened it and I pushed this button and it turned off. How weird I thought. But then I thought it was Kathryn. Never heard this noise before.

So Halloween was a bit slow for trick or treaters but still fun. Our neighbor had an awesome haunted house. Scott and I went through it. It was really scary. Halloween also reminds me of three years ago. We headed out to Houston for some hope for Kathryn. It was our only hope and our only option to extend her life hopefully beyond our own. There we met Rowan and family. Rowan had just turned three and Kathryn was 20. It was one of those dual times. I mean I am so glad we met Chuck, Rebecca and Rowan and love them dearly but I really wish we didn’t meet them at all. If we didn’t meet them we would have never been in Houston. Kathryn wouldn’t have had that GBM with only a short time to live. We wouldn’t have been searching for hope. Yes, a dual situation as there are many with parents of children with cancer. You want one thing and have another. You are grateful for your doctors but wish you had never been introduced to them. You are happy for treatments and yet they make your child sick. Just as I was happy Kathryn had such great care when she was 8 and yet it killed her in the long run. One good seems to bring bad when it comes to cancer.

A 29 year old woman took her life November 1st 2014 because of GBM. How this struck me, as it would have been Rowan’s 6th birthday this same day. This young woman didn’t want to die the way the doctors told her she would die. She was suffering from seizers and she could tell she was getting worse. Watching Kathryn go through one seizer was terrifying. I’m so thankful we were in the hospital when it happened. I really don’t know what we would have done if she had that seizer here at home. To tell you the truth we probably would have lost her right then and there. We watched Princess go through about a dozen seizers and it was horrifying. We finally let Princess go on October 3rd 2014. Just in case you don’t know, Princess was Kathryn’s dog. There is a lot of controversy about this young woman taking her own life. For her it was the right thing to do. She didn’t want to put her family through or herself through the suffering that she was told would come. She was going to die. There was no cure and still is no cure. They couldn’t remove the entire tumor and it grew back bigger in just two months. She knew she was on her way out. She was an only child. I feel so deep in pain for her parents. She was just starting her adult life with so much to look forward to. Her parents were probably so excited that she had found a wonderful man to start a family with and to share her love with. They will never have grandchildren. My Dad was a wise man when he told me I had to have at least two children. It’s like he knew or something told him to tell me that. He said you just never know. He was right. I’m so fortunate to have Richard who I love so dearly.

I had a beautiful dream about holding Kathryn in my arms when she was 8. We were snuggling together on the love seat as we did often at that time in life. She was skinny and bald but the love was there and that was all we needed.

Klyde is still dragging pillows and acting weird. He wants so much attention. He even climbed up in bed with me a couple of times in the middle of the night.

I started doing homebound tutoring for a student at our school. He has bone and lung cancer. I think having a common bond made his mother trust me. I felt very comfortable with her. The young man and I worked on some things and I left him with homework to do over the weekend. He did it all and his sister even checked over it. I was impressed. (Monday 11/10) I was supposed to see him again today but he was not feeling well after going to the clinic. So, I told his Mom I would come by in the morning on the 11th. Yes, it is a holiday and I have the day off but he is eager and I don’t want to leave him waiting. Some people thought this might be hard for me but it has really been good for me. I feel blessed and fortunate to have the life that I have. I feel so very fortunate to have had Kathryn for 21 years that were so good and joyful. This family has so little and now they have a very sick child. We had so many resources and blessings. I feel for his sweet Mom who told me she is just in shock. I gave her a big hug before I left.

I went wedding dress shopping with Richard’s fiancĂ©’, her Mom and a bridesmaid Alyssa on 11/8. I felt very honored to be invited. I love the fact that I have been given consideration and brought in as an important part of the wedding (even the dress). She found one at the first place we went to that she really liked. Then at the second store she found one that she really, really liked. You could see the confusion on her face before she said, “I’m so confused.” This second dress brought tears to my eyes. I thought she looked so beautiful and like a bride. Of course Katherine would look good and did look good in just about every dress she tried on but this one… Well it was perfect. It was just what she had described to me as the dress she wanted. We will see what she picks. She has time to do more shopping.

On Sunday (11/9) I went to a celebration of life for a dear friend and Uncle of my friend Robyn. I saw so many people that I knew there. It was good to see all of the family together. Uncle Dave as I have known him was a real self made man. He grew up without parents pretty much. He and his brother were put in an orphanage at 8 or so. They were not the cute little babies and didn’t get adopted. By age 13 he set out on his own. We worked jobs and finally worked his way up to be a multimillionaire. He only had a 9th grade education. He found his brother in recent years. He was homeless and Uncle Dave took him in and gave him a place to live. A beautiful place in Uncle Dave’s own home. Uncle Dave was a man who worked hard and didn’t waste a minute. He also loved hard and played hard. He went to every Huskie’s Football game and took a month long fishing trip to Alaska every summer in August. He was good and generous to his friends and family. He made visiting his friend’s weather they were home, in the hospital or in a nursing home part of his daily routine. When you worked for Uncle Dave there were no excuses not to work hard and persevere. Even though he didn’t have a high school or college education he knew the value of an education. He was a great man – the type of man this world needs more of.

I have one more (my third) celebration of life to go to. This one is for one of our schoolteachers. It will be on Sunday the 16th of November. I will arrive early to help set up along with several other staff members. It will be a big deal. He was well loved and coached football and baseball. There will be many young men there that he inspired to do better and to work hard. He taught them about teamwork and how to work together. Another good man left this world.

While at the celebration of life for my coworker and friend Mr. Cooper I found out that our principal’s son just lost his friend. His friend was stabbed to death at a store. He was a good kid and football player. I think he was about 22. A random act of violence that took a young man with so much potential. Jeff was pretty upset as he just recently found out and his son was extremely upset. It is heartbreaking.

I also think I am figuring out my purpose. Meaning, I’m not just a Mom as I was before Kathryn passed away. With my experience I can help others and this is where I am turning. We will see where it all leads.

So I knew my student with the cancer was going to be in the hospital for three days of chemo (Nov 17, 18 and 19). I tried to find him at the hospital but couldn’t. I knew they were there but they did exactly what we did to stop people from just dropping in. They took him off the list. That means that not even the people at the front desk know that he is there. They have absolutely no information. So, I didn’t stop by but instead I went shopping and bought them a gift and decided to drop it off the next day at the clinic. I knew that would be the next place they would be going. I stopped at Fred Meyer and picked up some little things for the family and put them into a cute gift bag. My heart was filled with joy as I found this and that to put into the bag. And on my way out I had and elderly woman behind me who was jumping up and down to get her husbands attention. I noticed that she had only a few items; two pot pies and one or two other things. She asked her husband if he had any money, as she might be a little short. He joked with her and said, “Why are you asking me for money, ask her.” He was referring to me. So, after I paid for my items I told the girl to ring up the next purchase and I would pay for it. So, she did. The woman was so surprised and shocked. The young girls behind got it. I hope they really did. I mean the give to others deal. As I left the store I felt so good inside. The saying that you get when you give is so very true. I feel so much sadness with Kathryn gone that when I feel this happy after helping others I know it is the right thing to do.

Back to the package for my student. I drove to the clinic the next day. It was the first time I have been there since 12/23/11. The last time I took Kathryn there. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I wanted to go into the back and talk to the nurses and doctors but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I came and left pretty quickly. But I did it without breaking down. This is a step in the right direction. The family was extremely grateful for the package. The next day I dropped off a grocery gift card and a ticket to pick up a full Thanksgiving dinner. Our counselor at school worked really hard to arrange all of this and I was just the one to drop it off. I saw my student and he had lost almost all of his hair. Those three days of chemo were pretty intense. He wasn’t feeling very well and very weak. I hated seeing him like that. He was just so happy the week before and so excited to do his schoolwork. I missed seeing his beautiful smile that day.

I spent a little time talking with my student’s mom. She had met another parent who had recently lost her son to cancer. She was explaining to me that these stories help her feel grateful. She was trying to say it in the right way so she wouldn’t hurt me. I knew exactly what she was saying. It’s when you hear someone’s story and you see that your story isn’t so bad because their story is so much worse than yours. It make you grateful to be where you are and not in their shoes. I know exactly how she feels and what she means. I have thought that so many times. And now you are thinking that I have had it so bad that my story is the worst of all stories. No! It isn’t. I’m still grateful that my story is my story. How can I say this? I had a wonderful life with Kathryn. She wrote about how she loved her life and us. She was grateful for all that we did for her. Even though her life was short it was beautiful. I also learned so much from her. Her death was calm and peaceful. And without drugs. I know she watches over me and leads me in the right direction. I have a good life. Yes, a little empty without her but a good life. I have good friends and family who love me. I have a husband who treats me like a queen and my son is the best. There are so many people who have so little compared to me. I’m not talking about things and money but the real things in life. I’m very fortunate.

I know Kathryn is with me. When I eat my popcorn I hear her saying regulate Mom. That means, eat one piece at a time. Not two or three pieces, just one. And on Sunday the 23rd, I asked Kathryn to leave me a penny that day and she did. When I returned to the car there on my seat was a penny. I don’t carry change in my pocket so it couldn’t have fallen out of a pocket. I didn’t tell anyone that I had asked Kathryn to leave me a penny that day. It was right in the middle of the seat. Yes, she is here with me and for that I am grateful.

I saw my homebound student last night (11/24/14). He was up and feeling good. It was nice to see him smiling again. Another teacher stopped by with a wonderful gift. This teacher and some of the students have been working hard to raise money to get this young man a laptop. He delivered it last night. Not only did they buy a laptop, but a printer and tons of programs. The smile on my students face got even brighter! He was so thankful and happy. I’m glad I was there to see this. I almost started crying. It was very touching.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving remember the good things in your life. You have so much to be thankful for. Count your blessings, hug your family members and say thank you and I love you. And if by chance you come across a stranger or know someone who needs some help reach out and be the one who does something. Your heart will be filled with incredible joy and you may even find yourself signing out loud.

Happy Thanksgiving
Love to all,
Carol








Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall 2014

Fall 2014

Dream from Kathryn – In the dream she told me I needed to let her friend from way back know that she died. I know what friend it is but I don’t remember his name. In elementary school somewhere from Kindergarten to 2nd grade her class rode the ferry to Anderson Island. This boy who I’m supposed to let know of her passing is the son of the captain who piloted the ferry that day. I really don’t know how to get hold of him. His name is… I may have to call one of Kathryn’s old teachers to figure out his name. I want to say Shane or Joey but it’s just not hitting me as the right name.

First day of school. Well people have been posting the first day of school pictures of their children. I certainly have a bunch of those photos. We always took pictures of Richard and Kathryn as they headed out. My first day with students (9-3-14) and great kids. I shared about Kathryn and when I read that part of the letter you can hear a little noise that sounds like “oh my gosh.” I don’t mean to send fear but I need my students to know my story so they understand who I am and where I come from or even better, where I have been.

This is pediatric cancer awareness month. There is so little funding for research for pediatric cancer. Parents of kids with cancer have to learn quickly and learn to trust the wisdom of the doctors yet still have enough knowledge to know when to question the doctors. Sometimes the parents know more about their child and can make a better decision than the doctor. That was our case many times. Siblings have to learn patients and understanding while parents try to deal with this tragic diagnosed. Life becomes hell and yet you find times that are so wonderful and rewarding that would have never come without this disease attacking your family. There is good in every situation if you take a moment to recognize it.

On Friday 9/5 my friend told me that her cousin (also a friend of mine) had just lost her husband. She had gone shopping and when she returned he was sitting in his chair dead. How horrifying. No reason, no illness. She called 911 and the firemen came and pronounced him dead but they couldn’t take his body. She had to wait for the coroner and this took hours. The firemen left and there she was with her dead husbands body. This is exactly why Scott made arrangements for Kathryn the day before she died. He didn’t want her to have to lie there waiting. His Mom laid on the kitchen floor for four hours until they finally took her away. We had a choice of how long we would keep her here. We weren’t waiting on someone else to get to our home. We had all said our good-byes and her little body was getting cold and firm. Her soul had left and it was time. The guys from the funeral home were so gentle and careful. They explained to me that the law requires them to cover her completely when they go out of the house. They warned me as the zipping up of the bag can cause a little distress. I was glad we had the arrangements to ease a horrible and difficult situation. For that I will be forever grateful to Scott and Bee. Yes, Bee went with Scott for moral support. She is a wonderful young woman.

On Monday 9/8 I walked into my school building and felt a heaviness. As I went into the library for our morning meeting there was a sadness. I could feel it. I even asked one of my collegues, why is everyone so sad. She relied, “There’s some bad news.” Our principal came in and announced that one of our teachers had passed away over the weekend. I was so shocked. I actually shouted something like, No Way. I didn’t think it would affect me like it did. I really had a hard time telling my students. I broke down a couple of times with the kids. My students in my yearbook class want to do a memorial page and we will. Thank goodness we are a family here at Fife. We were the ones that had the police go to his house because we knew something had to be wrong. His only family around is his Mom who is in a care facility. Someone finally tracked down some relatives down south and they will be coming to Washington to make arrangements and deal with his belongings.

On Tuesday 9/9 I read about a lady who is a 5+ year survivor of GBM. Of course I am happy for her but it brings me back to the question of why Kathryn isn’t one of these survivors. I cried when I was messaging back and fourth with her. We talked about how there is a plan for everyone and how my friend said she had a vision of God telling her Kathryn had a duty and her duty was done. I was pretty upset with all of this talk and the passing of our teacher. On my way up to bed Kathryn gave me that little signal of her being near. The front entry light flickered as Scott and I walked up the stairs. We both said, Thank you Kathryn and good night sweetheart. We know it is her. The light never flickered before her passing and now it flickers on nights that I think of her strongly and am upset. It is like a little reminder, I’m here Mommy, don’t cry.”

I found a bright shinny penny at school on Friday. I found another one a few days later too.

A Panda bear showed up in my school mailbox. I sent out a thank you to the staff and asked who gave me that Panda. I thought it was sweet and wanted to be sure to thank the person who gave it to me. No one has come forward. I asked the one person who I thought it might be and said it wasn’t her. So now I think it may be a student. Our mailboxes are open so someone could just drop something in my box. Panda sits on my desk and watches over the kids.

Speaking of my students. One of my boys said he might not have his assignment done the next day as he was going to visit his Mom. He told me she is homeless. The next day I asked how it went. He didn’t say too much about his visit. It went ok. I feel so bad for him. He is a great kid. It must be hard to have a Mom who is absent in your life. My Mom was always there. I think she wasn’t home one day when I came home from school. but it wasn’t long before she got home.

I read this story a Mom wrote about her son and their cancer experience. Her son passed away. She talked about the dual life. I can’t remember it well enough to share it now but I will find it. It was really good. I could relate to everything she said. Part of it was about the death of her son and wanting him to live but yet glad his suffering was over. The mixed emotions that go with being the parent of a child with cancer.

On the second of October my cell phone rang in class. I usually have it off just so this doesn’t happen. I said, “It’s mine but I will ignore it.” One of my students said, “It could be your daughter”. I said, “No it couldn’t because she lives up there now.” The girl next to her said, “You shouldn’t have said that.” The other girl said, “I forgot.” The other girl said, “You don’t for get things like that.” I said, “It’s ok.” I knew she was embarrassed and I didn’t want her to feel bad. After I said it was ok several times she said maybe it is your son. I said, “No, he is doing the same thing as me right now, Teaching math, so he wouldn’t be calling”. I thought it was funny how the other girl was all over the other one for forgetting about Kathryn and how important it is to remember. Their little side conversation was sweet.

We finally made the hard decision to lay Princess our dog to rest on October 3rd after 15 years 8 months. She was the dog who helped Kathryn get better and come home from the hospital when she was 8. Princess more than likely had a brain tumor the vet said. We let her go as long as she was still able to enjoy her walks. She finally got to the point where her walks were not fun and doing things on her own were very difficult. It was time. We knew things would only get worse for her and we didn’t want her to get so bad that she hurt and was terribly uncomfortable. We wanted to save her from all of that. So, she is now with Kathryn. We are pretty sure she was looking at Kathryn on our last walk. She kept stopping and staring like she was looking at someone. Both Scott and I thought it was Kathryn. They are together now.

Over the 10th and 11th of October we had the Drive-A-Thon for Camp Goodtimes. The kids all got to ride in different cars at lunch time. The rode in Porsches, Nascars, BMWs, and a Lamborghini. They had so much fun. Even the parents were able to take rides around the track. We had a silent auction too. We raised over $40,000.

After school I found a quarter on the floor. I happened to have a student in my room and I told her that I found my quarter from Kathryn. I told her about pennies from Heaven. I told her how Scott and I find pennies all the time. Then I told her how my friend said I should ask Kathryn to leave quarters instead of pennies. She laughed when I told her he said I would make more money that way.

On the 17th Scott and I were laying in bed and all of a sudden the printer started running and making noise. It was really strange. We both figured it was Kathryn making noise for us to let us know she is around. Of course we were both thinking about her and then the printer starts acting up. It’s the printer we don’t even use.

A friend of ours died recently (October 11th). He was stable and then he was gone. The family, his wife and daughters have taken it very hard. My friend Robyn, his niece also took this very hard too. We stopped by to see all of on them on the 18th. They seem to be doing better and over the anger or at least the part of blaming others. It was good to see all of them. We also stopped by and saw an elderly woman (Erma). She will be 90 in April. She lives alone and takes care of herself and her house. She walks to the store. I think she is finally comfortable enough with us to call if she needs something. She just lights up when we stop by. It’s so great to see her happy.

The truth is that I have been a bit down. I just haven’t been full of energy. I have a hard time getting going over the weekend. It really stinks. I guess I may be a little depressed. I think about Kathryn and just feel sorry for myself. It took me forever to put up the Halloween decorations this weekend (Oct 18th and 19th). It’s just hard to get started as I would decorate with Kathryn. We loved to decorate together. It’s hard looking at the things we bought together and would put up together and remember the time we shared. It really stinks that she isn’t here to do this with me. It would be ok if she were living somewhere else and I was decorating on my own because just lived somewhere else. But she’s not here and never will be again. We can’t compare decorations or buy them together. Shopping alone is no fun. Decorating alone is not fun either.

I keep smelling these smells too. I’m not sure if it’s from Kathryn or what. It’s the same smell again and again. I just hope it is Kathryn. I’m always looking for signs and asking for signs.

Well, Halloween is up and it looks good!

Take care,
Carol

Monday, September 1, 2014

Spring/Summer 2014

Spring and Summer 2014

In May I had a chat with my friend at work and he asked me if I still feel Kathryn. I don’t feel her but I know she is here. I told him about pennies from Heaven and he didn’t know what it was. I told him that we find pennies all the time especially when we are thinking about or missing Kathryn. He said I should ask her to send quarters instead of pennies and I could actually make some money. We laughed about it. Wouldn’t you know that the next day I went into the bank and on the way back to my car there was a shinny new quarter right by the passenger’s door. I couldn’t believe it! You know, I was the only one in the parking lot so there wasn’t anyone who could have dropped the quarter. And I don’t carry change so it didn’t drop out of a pocket. My friend and I talked for a while. I told him how Kathryn was the silly one in the family. Any of those Christmas cards of silly poses were her idea. She had me paint the one bedroom in polka-dots. I had a formal design in mind but we did polka-dots instead. I also shared the book “Closer Than You Think” with my friend. It is an easy read and a great book about our loved ones being with us in spirit.


Shortly after this chat with my friend I was home and feeling a little, maybe a lot, down. I was missing Kathryn and crying. When I got up from the loveseat there was a penny on the floor. No way was it there prior. This blows me away every time.


I was also thinking about her and tearing up when the entry way light flickered. I thanked her for that. She gives me signs just at the right time.


I was asked about mother’s day by a student and asked if I have a daughter or son or what. This is always a tough question. I had to say I had a daughter and now I only have a son. Explaining my loss is coming place now. Sometimes I do it just fine and other times I tear up. Mother’s day was a good day. Oh how I wish it were complete. I have asked to see Kathryn and maybe I will someday soon. I regularly ask God to let me see her or hear her sweet voice.


I was out walking Princess and my neighbor Duane asked me if that was the same dog I have been walking for years. I don’t know this neighbor real well so this was the first time that we really had a long conversation. I told him that yes this is the same dog and how she came to be our dog. I told him about Kathryn’s passing and this led into a conversation about his wife. She died of ALS just before Kathryn was diagnosed in 2010. We talked about the progression of the disease (ALS) and how it was similar to Kathryn’s. We were fortunate that Kathryn did not have a long time of not having abilities to walk and communicate. ALS brings on these disabilities an they linger for years. I think we both felt good about sharing our stories and we both had great losses and we could really understand each other’s suffering. I gave him a big hug; he really looked like he needed one.


I have been looking and looking for the glass babies that Rowan’s Mom sent me. I know I put them safely in a box at Christmas time. But our house was in such mess because of the remodel stuff I was afraid they disappeared. So I finally gave up on my own search and asked Kathryn to help me find the glass babies. Sure enough, I was given the vision of where to look. When I came home from work that day I immediately had Scott get the ladder and I pointed to the box that he needed to take down in the garage. I went through the box and there they were. It’s so fantastic that I can ask Kathryn for help and she responds to me. I love it!


Richard’s grad party was this weekend (May 17th). We had 45 people over. One of Richard’s friends announced that he and his wife are having a baby and the due date is December 1st and they are having a girl. This is so exciting! We had a beautiful afternoon that went way into the early morning hours. We had a bond fire and fire works. Oh, the Bradley traditions! We had 9 people spend the night. Richard and I put together a big breakfast. I cried when Richard gave me a great big hug good bye. I haven’t done that for a long time. I just love him so much.


Today, May 18th, is one year now for Rowan’s passing. I sent Rebecca a message. Tomorrow they should receive our card and gift. I sure hope their lives change for the better. I hope I hear from them soon that they are expecting a baby. This would be so good for them. A few weeks later I did hear from them and they are expecting a baby. She told me when she was only two weeks along. Then she let me know a few weeks after that they are expecting twins. I had a feeling that they were going to have twins. She a little worried about two at one time but I know they can do it just fine. They are awesome parents.


As you have read before the Jahova Witness ladies come to visit with me now and than. I actually love visiting with them even though I am Lutheran. There was a new lady this time. She lost her 28 year old daughter. It was nice to chat with someone who really understood my situation.


We ( Scott, Richard, Bee and Myself) went to the cabin the 31st of May to tear off the deck. Richard told Bee that I would be really mad if she didn’t work hard. The poor dear worked so hard she had blisters on her hands. Richard and Bee did most of the work and fast! Richard brought his thank you cards with him and I helped him by doing the addresses. It was fun and funny that I had to keep him on track to get them done. He is such a little boy sometimes. So, when we came home from the cabin Princess had a seizer that night. I think this was the first one we had witnessed. She recovered just fine but had another a few days later. Once again she recovered just fine. Very scary!


Have you heard this new story about a 3 year old boy who says he lived before? He said he was murdered and he took the police to the place where his body was and also led them to his killer. There was a little boy murdered and there was a man now arrested for the murder.


Scott and I headed to Monterey California on June 13th for the Porsche Club Parade. We met a lot of good people. Over 1200 Porsches were there. We shared our story about Kathryn and Camp Goodtimes with so many people. One lady lost her first husband at 42 years old to a GBM just like Kathryn. She also lost a sister early in life to cancer. She said her mother never got over this loss. I can tell you that you never do! We also had Griots Garage offer to donate products to our Drive-A-Thon for the auction. It was 9 days of tours, events, dinners and just good times. Everyone was super nice. One of the tours was to the Hearst Castle. That place is amazing and the story behind it is really something. While we were there a butterfly came up to me and hung out for a while. Longer than a butterfly usually does. I thought it may be a sign from Kathryn but not too sure until later. That story will come.


Once we got home form California I was on the 9:20 ferry to Vashon Island to go to camp. I volunteered in the Arts and Crafts area all week. I met a young man who went by the camp name (Bunkbed). His story gave me goose bumps. He was diagnosed with a GBM like Kathryn. He is young like Kathryn. When he was diagnosed he was only given 3 months to live. They were expecting him to go fast. His family prayed and prayed and in two weeks his tumor started to shrink. He is now cancer free. I told him he was a walking talking miracle. He truly is a miracle. There is no way to explain how his tumor went away other than it being a miracle. I told him that people wonder if God answers our prayers. I know that it was difficult to believe that God didn’t answer our prayers in the way we would have liked him to. I told Bunkbed that his story shows us that God does answer prayers as we asked for them to be answered (sometimes). Maybe this young man was at this camp this week for me to meet. Maybe I needed to hear this story to strengthen my own faith. I never stopped believing and still do believe that Kathryn could be brought back if it is God’s will.


Another young man that was at camp was there because of Kathryn. He had met Kathryn at the clinic and now I’m wondering which clinic. It may have been up in Bellingham. But Kathryn had told him about camp and he wasn’t able to work it into his life until this year. He wished that he could have been at camp with Kathryn as several of her friends have said. I’m so glad Kathryn had such a positive influence on people. To have so many at camp that are there because of her is amazing.


At camp I was talking with a couple of ladies one evening and I told them it doesn’t get any easier. In fact I told them that it is harder than ever right now. I cried. I don’t know how to explain the emotions that goes with this loss. It’s always there and some days it is so hard to even function.


After camp I was in Kathryn’s room (a hard place to be) and I noticed this small container with little lanyards in it. I thought, how could I have missed this? I didn’t know Kathryn had made these. They were made for the staff at the Mary Bridge clinic. I didn’t think she had even started them. I was planning on taking her list and making them myself but there they were. I never saw her make them and I was constantly with her. Any how soon (by the end of September) I will take them to the clinic. They do need the hooks put on them.


Now some really big news if you don’t already know. On the 4th of July we got a call from Richard and he told us that he proposed to Bee. He is engaged!!! He bought her a beautiful ring with white and blue sapphires. We are extremely happy. But with this wonderful news comes a little sadness. We are a little sad that Kathryn will not be there. She would have loved to be part of Richard’s special day. I know she will be there in spirit. She wouldn’t miss this for anything.


Worked at Cabin for a week to rebuild the decks we had torn down (7 days of hard labor). While there Princess had three seizers in 12 hours between July 12th and 13th. Not the same dog after those, but spurts of the real Princess sometimes show. The vet believes she has a brain tumor. We bought her for Kathryn to help her do better with her treatment when she was 8. It got her out of the hospital. Kathryn said, “If you didn’t get me Princess I don’t think I would have ever come home.” This was after she spent a week in the hospital after a bad reaction to chemo and radiation. So the dog for the girl with a brain tumor develops her own brain tumor.
We finished two decks and replaced beams under the house. Jacking a house up and replacing beams is a big job. We also spread a truck load of gravel and finished burning the old deck as well as building a new fire pit. It all looks good.


So I started working on the yard and one day before I headed out I asked for a sign. I asked Kathryn to give me a sign that she was around while I worked in the yard. I said, send a butterfly and have it flutter in my face and around me. Well, there I am in the yard and here comes this white butterfly. It flutters right in my face and around me. Then I said, “That’s not a real butterfly, send one like a Monarch.” Holy Moly!!! A few minutes later there was a beautiful Monarch fluttering in my face and just hanging out with me. I was so excited that I started to laugh and cry all at the same time. I couldn’t wait to tell someone. I called my Mom right away.


Just before the second session of camp started one of our campers learned he had relapsed. All he asked for was to be able to go to camp. He relapsed last year and his family found out while he was at camp. This boy has had two bone marrow transplants, a stem cell transplant and t-cell therapy and who knows how many rounds or radiation and doses of chemotherapy. Yet, he keeps a smile on his face and he and his family do not give up hope. Camp does that for kids and parents.


I went up to Children’s Hospital to visit with Nick and his Mom. Nick is on his third diagnoses of cancer and his second bone marrow transplant. He will also receive t-cell therapy. Nick was not in a good mood that day. I think he was just sick and tired of being in the hospital. He was on day 40 or 50 something that he’d been there.. ICK! His Dad was there too. I looked as his Dad as he sat quietly. I thought about what he might be thinking and feeling. He knows that I represent death to this disease. He looks at me and I can only imaging him thinking, how can she even function. I can see the pain in his eyes. I can see that he fears what I have faced. His son is his buddy and they have a bond that only a Dad has with his boy. As I left that day I also noticed the mom’s there with there own children. The worn out Mom’s. The Mom’s spending every moment with their sick child and creating a bond that is special but not the way you want to create a bond with your child. The Mom’s who have learned so much about cancer and the treatment. The Mom’s who know all of the numbers and what they should be and what is done to fix them when they are out of line. The Mom’s who watch and make sure every dose of medicine is the right dose and given at the right time. And as I was getting in my car I watched this Mom as she pulled her rolling suitcase behind her as she walked toward the entrance of the hospital. It was a very humbling day. I was seeing things from the other side.


Princess had 6 seizers in 25 hours over August 5th and 6th. We didn’t think she was going to survive. We have her on anti-seizer medication and then we had to bump it up after this episode. Then we asked about the tremors that she was having constantly. They would make her fall down and also made it hard for her to walk. Scott had called the Vet about putting her to sleep as he quality of life was not what she deserved. So in addition to her seizure meds she was placed on phenobarbital to stop the tremors and it worked. We are giving her half the dose and splitting it up to two times a day and it seems to be giving us back Princess. As we prepared for the Bradley Backyard Benefit (August 16th) she was right there all day following us around. This is the normal Princess. And during the event she was her normal snoopy, begging self. She did great. That night she slept like a rock!


We had the Bradley Backyard Benefit (BBB) and raised $4553 and more on the way. It was on the 16th of August. We had 60 people plus the guys from the band. The music was awesome and everyone had a great time. I had so many people say, “I will see you next year.” So, I guess this will be an annual event. I’m happy to do it too.


One of our friends that attended the (BBB) had just come from a funeral. He said he had been crying all day. He and his family had known this young lady since she was 4 or 5 and a long time friend of his son. She died at 18 and they still don’t know why. I told him that the parents need to find something that will keep their daughter’s spirit alive. We support Camp Goodtimes in our effort to keep Kathryn’s spirit alive. It also brings us closer to Richard. He loves camp and wants to see it continue too. So we are all working on it and this helps mend our hearts too.


We finally gave Richard his College Graduation present. He was so excited. Scott had bought this 1975 Porsche 914 just 5 days after Kathryn’s passing. He had been trading his electrical work and supplies with two body shops on getting it restored. Slowly but surely and now here it is. He couldn’t believe it when we walked him down a neighbors driveway and he saw it. He could not believe it! He still has a few little things left to do on it but it gives Richard a project too. He was so surprised and he beamed from ear to ear. What a great addition to the BBB.


On my birthday (August 24th) we went to Crystal Mountain and road the gondola to the top. It was just the three of us (Scott, Richard and myself). I was a perfect day! The weather was nice and the food was delicious and the company was wonderful. That evening Scott and I were out walking Princess and there was my gift from Kathryn, a shinny quarter.


Princess is doing great. She wasn’t able to eat without falling over or face first into her food. She couldn’t go to the bathroom without falling over. She wouldn’t go on a walk or walk up or down the stairs. She does all of this just fine now. She even runs up the driveway and looks back at us as if to say, “What’s taking you so long?” She is pretty much normal. We are amazed! Scott and I both feel there has been some kind of spiritual intervention. We know the vet thought she wouldn’t recover like she has. In fact she was so bad that we were planning on having her put down on the 11th . But then she came a live for the party and has only gotten better and better.


Well, life continues. School will be starting on the 3rd. Richard will be teaching full time in Mount Vernon at Mt Baker Middle school. He will be teaching 7th grade math. He is excited about this new adventure. As you may have read our superintendent of the Fife School District passed away from cancer on August 27th. I think most of us new this was coming. He was a good guy and always did his best at every job he had. I had one of his sons in my math class a few years ago. A good kid. His two sons are about Richard’s age or a bit younger. They are going to miss their Dad. I see how Richard and Scott interact now. They are really getting closer. Scott had some troubling times every since Kathryn was diagnosed in 2010. He has finally overcome these troubles which have allowed him and Richard to develop a better relationship. I makes my heart so happy! A boy needs his Dad and a Dad needs to feel needed by his son. I feel this is all happening for the two of them I couldn’t be more pleased.


Life is Good!






Monday, May 5, 2014

Heaven is for Real 5-4-14

Heaven is for Real 5-4-14 I found a resume on my computer at school. This was by chance and it must be a sign. I was thinking about applying for the position of camp director but was a little uneasy about it. I haven’t really applied for a job for over 30 years. I have changed jobs but they were all guarantees. Nerves have helped me make excuses for not putting in an application. I wrote my letters that they asked for but I didn’t put together a resume. I was putting that off because it would take so much time and effort and the closing date is drawing near. But, as I was working on my computer at work and organizing some files I ran across one that said, Carol’s res. I opened it and found this resume all written. I forgot that I had to put one together to teach those night classes through SPU. Is this a sign that I should indeed apply? Did I find it so I would get going on my application? Was Kathryn there helping me find it and leading me there? I did ask her to help me make a decision on whether or not to apply. I guess I got the answer. Kathryn did tell me one time that I lacked confidence. She was right. She had more confidence than anyone I have ever met. She believed in herself and she believed in all of us. She was amazing, strong and confident! Long Island medium – Sure wish I could find a way to connect with Kathryn. Never ever gets easier! It just doesn’t. Time does not heal the pain that I feel. I do however stay busy enough to keep my mind preoccupied so I don’t think about my loss all of the time. Kathryn had started an avocado tree as a seed. She had put toothpicks through it and had it suspended in a small bowl of water. It sat in the window for a long time. I thought it would be one of those things that we just discarded after a while, but no! Scott has been taking care of it with such love. It is now a 5 foot tall tree. What happens when it reaches the ceiling? It actually has branches too. It is really something else. He started a second one and it is growing too. They are both in Kathryn’s room. Grandma teased and said the tree was reaching for the sun. That would be the sun I painted on the ceiling. Silly grandma! I was looking to see if I had saved my last blog and ran across one I titled “Ashes.” I wrote about Scott picking up Kathryn’s ashes and the tears just started to flow. How could this little blue box be our daughter? How could this beautiful joyful girl become a box of ashes? All is changed forever. A huge part of me has gone. A huge part of my joy and life has gone. The pleasure I had being with Kathryn is gone. Her death took so much. It took joy, love and beauty from my life. The Chris Elliott Foundation had a fundraiser at Glass Babies in Seattle. Alli met me there. They had some refreshments and wine. I met Chris’ wife Delann. Chris is a man who died of the same brain tumor Kathryn died from. I don’t know how I came into contact with this foundation. They raise money to help families who are battling brain cancer. I also met a lady who works in the field of neuroscience. That was interesting. I was hoping they would have a speaker but they didn’t. But then I met Jason, Becky’s Dad. Becky is a 28 year old with a GBM. Her friend contacted me through Alli a year or two ago. She was looking for someone who knew something about GBM and possible treatments. She went to the Burzynski clinic and she was doing very well on that treatment and then it was like it stopped working. She also picked up Hep-C somewhere so her kidneys and liver are failing. I sure feel for her and her family. I know the final outcome and by the look on Jason’s face he does too. He told me to call her or text her and I did. But no return. She doesn’t know me so I wasn’t surprised. There are more brain tumors in this region than anywhere. Alli has plans to get a tatoo. It will be along the back of her neck so if she needs to hide it for a job her hair will cover it. But it will be a cross with Kathryn’s initials KMB. She loved Kathryn so much. Kathryn introduced to her camp. Kathryn was the first person she went to when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Kathryn gave her comfort and assurance that everything would be alright. Rebecca’s news – no baby. Her eggs that were expressed didn’t work out and the ones that were left have expired. They are only good for so long. They are going to try another method. Of course it is costing them a ton and it is very emotionally draining. So, if you believe in prayer please pray that this new method works so Chuck and Rebecca can have a baby. They are warm loving people who are awesome parents. Rowan was a lucky girl to have such wonderful parents. I was on the internet the other day and this notice read something like, “Girl’s Deadly Brain Tumor Eradicated With The Polio Virus.” This caught my eye. She was 20 when diagnosed with a GBM and at Duke University they injected the Polio Virus into her brain. She was the first human they tried it on. Well, when you are diagnosed with a GBM you have nothing to lose so you should try whatever. It worked. This was done in May of 2012. This is just 3 months after Kathryn died. I cried to think that we could have been that close to saving her. This young lady is now 23 and cancer free! She is the same age as Kathryn. She wants to help people in the medical field like Kathryn. She is a lot like Kathryn. I’m glad they are getting these new ideas out there. The T-Cell therapies are working too. I heard they can match the T-Cells to the type of cancer. Amazing but too late for us. My Mom and Scott and I all went to the movie “Heaven is for Real”. We all confessed that we cried. It was a tear jerker for anyone who has lost a child that is for sure. It’s a good movie and confirms my belief. My Mom said, “I wonder if my baby that I lost is in Heaven like that little girl?” My Mom had a miscarriage just before she had me. She never found out if it was a boy or a girl. Probably too painful to ask much about it. I had an incomplete pregnancy and that tore me apart. I couldn’t talk about it without breaking into tears until I had Richard. Having a miscarriage would be so much harder. My mom hasn’t talked about it much at all. I think she has mentioned it maybe 3 or 4 times and that’s it. When we got home from the movie we were went to sit down in the family room and I noticed on the floor right by the couch there was a penny. It definitely was not there before we left for the movie. We all decided it was from Kathryn. We decided she was telling us she was here and that she knows that we believe she is in Heaven. Speaking of my Mom, Monday will mark 3 years since we lost my Dad. I know my Mom misses him so much. I miss him too but he gave me the words to make it easier to accept. He told me not to cry when he died. He told me he had a good life. He had good friends and family that loved him and that he would be ok. I’m so glad he told me that. I also wanted to mention that I love seeing and hearing from Kathryn’s friends. When I saw Cody and Ryan at The Swiss a couple of weeks ago it was fantastic. They both gave me a long tight hug. It really felt good. They are both very special boys who have had a hard time with Kathryn’s passing. I hope to stay in touch with her friends forever! They all make me happy and keep Kathryn’s spirit alive!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

April 20th 2014

It is Easter Sunday 4/20/14. Did you know that every 40 minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer? Scott and I attended the wine auction on April 5th for Camp Goodtimes. It is the biggest fundraiser for camp. $191,000 was brought in. That is the gross amount and I’m not sure what the net will be. Many of the people have been coming for years. They truly have a passion for camp. This year was a really big deal since the American Cancer Society dropped funding for all of its pediatric camps. We spent Friday night in Seattle so we could just chill and go to the Washington Athletic Club early on Saturday and help set up. Richard and Bee joined us there too. My friend Julyn and her two beautiful daughters volunteered that night. While we were eating dinner and listening to the speaker Scott had a drip land on his arm. It happened a couple of times. I don’t know where the drip came from or what it was but he said it was a tear from Kathryn. During the speakers there were some slides of Katie. She is a young lady from camp who is terminal. I had to get up and leave. It just hit me wrong and I became very upset. I guess I just can’t stand thinking of another child dying from this shitty disease. The doctor (Dr. Olson) who spoke was amazing. I personally went over to him and thanked him for the work he does. He researches other ways to treat cancer like t-cell therapy. He knew Kathryn. He had seen her scans. He actually met her at camp so he knew her as Panda too. Scott and Richard both thanked him on their own as well. I also found out that the Barry’s who I had met at the grapevine earlier had also lost a daughter. She died in an accident. She was about 20. But as we discussed it, it doesn’t matter how you lose your child it is still a tragedy. And it never goes away. The people I sat next to are from Vashon Island, Doug and Erin. They have the Kayak Center. They have donated time and the use of their Kayaks to camp for a few years now. Doug had a bad form of cancer that affected his tissue. He understands what the children go through and really wants to help. He also told me about Dr. Chopp. I said I had talked to him. When I was researching different treatment options for Kathryn he was one of the doctors with a new idea for GBM. He is still working on it and getting a trial going. He also has moved to Seattle. When I talked to him he was back East. It was a great night! Yes, we spent way too much money but it was for a great cause. While on a walk, Scott felt another tear. No clouds, no rain but another drop on his arm. He also found 4 pennies all in one spot. He had gotten out of his van and went to the door of his worker’s house. He talked with the girlfriend of his worker and she thanked him for employing her boyfriend and how much it helps them. She actually said, “God bless you.” When he returned to his van, there were the four pennies. Pennies from heaven! During my spring break I was working at my Mom’s house. A lady drove by and asked about the house since there was a” for rent or for sale sign “ out front. As we talked I must have asked her what she did for work. She was in scrubs. She is a shower lady. The one who comes to your house and gives you a shower by either helping you into the shower or bathes you in bed. I told her that she is doing a wonderful thing. I explained how much we appreciated the shower lady for my Dad and for Kathryn. We talked about how a shower makes you feel so good. I told her about Kathryn taking that first bath after coming home from the ICU and having me shave her legs. How she was in heaven having her legs feel silky smooth and soft again. I also talked to my Mom’s neighbor. She is a very cool lady who helps so many people. She runs a program to help women who get out of prison get back into the real world. They need that you know. You can’t take a person and just throw them out into the world with no connections to find work or a place to stay. I had a nice long talk with her about what I might do with my future. She encouraged me to do something I have been a little unsure of. She said I would be great at it. So, I might just go for it! I recently had a dream about Richard. He was sobbing and curled up in my dream. He was crying and saying, “Why her? Why her?” He was talking about Kathryn. Why did she die? Why was it her? He was truly upset in my dream. I hope he is ok. It is hard to tell with some people. You never know the depth of their pain We went to the last camp planning meeting. I had to picked up 30 mailboxes at McClendins. Scott and I took them to the meeting. They are for a project for each cabin. It should be a great week. We are encouraging writing notes to each other and each cabin through the week. As a staff member I will make sure I write to kids that I know are not getting mail and such. Little cards that acknowledge each child. Gypsy also informed me that she sold over $250 in Panda t-shirts. I had given her a box of them at the last meeting. Go Gypsy! April 10th was Scott’s birthday. Richard sent a card that was a reminder of the past. About 10 years ago. It is still funny to this day. He wrote a beautiful message in it about how Kathryn would be proud of the work Scott is doing for camp. It brought tears to both of us. I saw a cute story about a basketball player Adreian Payne and a tiny little girl Princess Lacey Holsworth. I don’t remember how they became friends but this huge black man has this little 8 year old girl as his best friend. She goes to all of his games that she can and he visits her in the hospital. It is an amazing connection. Lacey died on April 8th. Here is the story EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An 8-year-old Michigan State basketball fan whose battle with cancer inspired the team's players, coaches and many more beyond the hardwood was honored by thousands of her closest friends at a memorial service in East Lansing. Lacey Holsworth's family wanted those attending the event Thursday night at the Breslin Center basketball arena to wear bright colors and smiles in celebration of her life. And, many did. Many also wiped away tears, especially when they heard Heather Holsworth's recorded message about her daughter while her pictures were shown on video boards. "I can't wait to see you again, save a dance for me," she said at the end of a composed, recorded message. Lacey died at her home in nearby St. Johns on April 8. The little girl affectionately known as "Princess Lacey" had neuroblastoma, a nerve-cell cancer. She wore a blond wig because chemotherapy took her hair. Lacey met Michigan State basketball star Adreian Payne during one of her hospital stays, and their friendship quickly blossomed. She became a valued member of the Spartan family. Payne, perhaps because he thought he would be too emotional to speak, was not scheduled to address the crowd at the celebration. Travis Trice, a junior guard, represented the team on a raised stage in front of nearly 1,000 chairs — most of them filled — on the covered court and perhaps 2,000 more people seated in the lower section of the arena. "Her smile would change your day and have an impact on you," Trice said. Truly an amazing story. While I was working out in my yard a lady came to the bottom of the driveway with a stroller and two small children in it. I started talking to her not realizing at first who she was. She is my neighbor’s mother and the two children are her grandchildren. She was out here from South Carolina watching the grandchildren because her daughter was asked to be in a fitness video. So, she was helping Adam with the kids so he could go to work. As we talked she said something about the little flowers (primroses). She asked if I just planted them. I said I was given them over two years ago by the neighbors when Kathryn died. They aren’t supposed to come back each year but they have. She asked about Kathryn’s cancer. Her Dad died of a GBM just like Kathryn. She also knew of a survivor. He was treated by the same doctor I contacted at Duke University, Dr. Henry Friedman. She said this man lived at Duke for over two years while getting treatment. She said she is still mad at God for taking her Dad and her brother at the age of 15. She went on the say that there are so many horrible people who get to live and live long. Why, would a beautiful person like her brother, father or Kathryn be taken and those horrible people get to live? All I could think of is, “This is Hell on Earth.” We have all heard that saying but heaven will be so wonderful. People who are taken early, maybe they are the lucky ones and we are left here living in hell. That’s all I could think of. Kathryn is in a better place. A place of peace, love and happiness. I know I hurt and everyone who misses her hurts but she is safe from pain. I went to a friend’s birthday party at the Swiss in downtown Tacoma. It was a lot of fun. But what was great about it, I saw Cody. Cody was Kathryn’s best friend forever. I haven’t seen him since Kathryn passed. I know it was hard on him and he took a nose dive in the game of life but he seemed happy. It was good to see him and get that great big, tight, long, hug from him. He has avoided our house since Kathryn passed. He was invited to her two birthday celebrations and we thought he was going to make the second one but he just couldn’t do it. There are a lot of memories here in our house for him. So many parties since they were 5 or 6. So many good times that they had. So many times we told Cody to be quiet and go to sleep. All good memories. But Cody promised to see me this summer and dance with me then. This should be at our house. I also asked my principal how his Mom is doing. She still is not doing well. They do have a therapist coming to the house a couple of times each week. I don’t think she has left the house yet. I offered to talk to her if she would be willing to talk to me. Talking about Kathryn helps me. He said that his Mom will take a step forward and then two steps back. There are those good days and those bad days for me too. Today is a young lady’s birthday (Sarah). She passed away from Ewings Sarcoma not too long before Kathryn passed away. She was a bit younger too. Her Mom has become an internet friend. She made a comment about my work with Camp Goodtimes and how she hopes to be a strong as me someday. I told her to ask her Sarah for help. She will give her strength. I know that Kathryn helps me and gives me strength. I couldn’t do what I do without her help. In Dear Abby today a woman wrote about the month of February. Her mother died in February and her mother’s birthday was also in February. I thought about how I felt in February. Not so good! But I also have Richard’s birthday in February to cheer me. This woman wrote about how hard mother’s day will be for her without her mother here. Many things are hard but you can’t resent or hold it against others who have what you wish you had. I see Kathryn’s friend’s having boyfriends and getting engaged. I see my friends with grandchildren or doing special things with their daughters. I don’t resent their joy. Richard is so good at recognizing special days for me and sharing his life with me that I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. Scott is good at making me feel special. I have a wonderful life as it is. I have many special memories of times with Kathryn and I cherish those memories. But I would never resent some ones joy they have that I can’t have because Kathryn is not here. I’m so lucky to have thoughtful people in my life. A couple of last minute thoughts. Did you know that every 8 minutes a young adult 18-35 is diagnosed with cancer. And finally, Today is Easter. It is not about the Easter Bunny! It is about love and forgiveness so we can have eternal life. For that I give thanks. Thanks to Jesus for giving his life so that we could all have eternal life. I will see Kathryn one day again in a wonderful place called heaven. Enjoy your day and family.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

March 29th 2014

March 29th 2014 I should write more often so my blog doesn’t get so long. But I just can’t find the time to sit and write. Our friend Nick who is a senior this year is going to have a bone marrow transplant and do t-cell therapy along with it. It is his third bout with cancer and once you have had Leukemia you have to take a different route to get rid of it. He had the chemo and radiation and that is probably what caused his second and third cancers because it actually started with a brain tumor like Kathryn. Nick had a bone marrow transplant years ago when he was first diagnosed with Leukemia. We are with him and his family. His friends are very supportive and he and his family are positive people which all helps. Scott and I went to a piano concert the a few Friday nights ago. The choir and band teacher gave me the tickets. It was a religious concert that I was really glad we went. The pianist is about 62 and can really rock the piano. He was a child prodigy at 10. He is amazing. But his story is even more amazing. One song was about thanking God for closing doors. We all think about doors opening for us and giving us opportunity but he was thanking God for closing doors. I get it! The doors that closed would have changed our lives and not always for the better. I couldn’t think of changing any thing in my life. It is mine and if I had walked through another door I wouldn’t have had Kathryn and wouldn’t have Richard and of course that would mean not having Scott either. My children are who I am and they are part of me and I love what I see. This man also talked about the power of our words. Words are stronger than we think and they can never be taken back. You can’t undo what you have said. Once those words come out and are heard they are there forever. My dentist had a poster on the ceiling that read, “I chose my words to be soft and sweet, for I don’t know the ones I may have to eat.” This piano man talked about the last two words his Dad ever said to him. His Dad was a mean drunk and had threatened to kill his mother and siblings many times. One night he missed the garage and drove the car right through the wall of the bedroom he and his brother were sleeping in. His Dad looked at him and glared into his eyes and told him “You’re Worthless.” Then his dad put the clip into his handgun and put it between the boys eyes and said he was going to kill him. That night and those words were with him for years. He felt and lived his life as though he was never good enough. Even though he was and accomplished piano player and songwriter and one of the best, he never felt good enough. He found God and prayed to be able to forgive his father. Instead he was given an image of a little boy who was crying and scared. It was his father and at that moment he was not able to forgive but to love his father. To love him as he was just a child himself who was not given a happy loving home. His father who was never good enough. Now he understood his father and was able to love him. As I child I was always taught that sticks and stones may brake my bones but words could never hurt me. Not so true. Words had caused this man a great deal of suffering for years and years. As cruel words hurt many people everyday. I also had a dream about Kathryn. It must have been when she was first diagnosed with cancer. We were in the locker room of the “Y” and I was getting her dressed after swim lessons. There was another Mom there too and we were discussing the girls throwing up and getting sick from chemo and what would help them feel better. Even though we were having this conversation I was brushing Kathryn’s long blonde hair. She never had that long blonde hair after cancer. Back to words hurting or not understanding a person’s situation. At a conference I was at in one of the classes this teacher shared a story with us. There was a boy in her class who stopped doing his homework and she inquired about it. Well, he said it is getting darker outside and we don’t have any electricity so I can’t see to do my work. She also shared about a woman who was always just a little late to work. Every day she was 15 minutes late to work. Everyone in the office just couldn’t understand why she was always late but had the time to go by Starbusks to get her morning coffee. When asked she explained that she and her husband only had one car that they shared. He would pick up the coffee on his way home. It was the only time they had to talk to each other since they worked opposite shifts. She was late because she didn’t’ have her own way to work and had to wait for her husband to pick her up. The piano man also had a story about misunderstanding. He and his siblings would sometimes have to escape from his drunk father. His mother actually left the keys in the car and had a code word for the kids, which meant to get to the car. They would take off long enough for the drunk man to pass out. Sometimes they would just sleep in the car all night. So, the next day when Mom dropped them off at school they had no supplies, no books, no homework and were wearing their dirty play clothes. Of course they got in trouble and were marked a problem children at school. But, no one at the school knew the truth. They were told never to tell anyone about the problems they had at home. So, the children kept quiet and took the punishment at school. Last Sunday I went to Michaels to learn how to make these new rubberband bracelets. There were 5 or 6 little kids there with me. I was having a good time. The little boy who made the big long chain of these for cancer awareness came up in conversation by one of the boys. He told me he had a friend who was dying from cancer. I told him my daughter had died from cancer. We made a little connection. It was sweet. He said he was so sorry to hear about my daughter. He was a great kid. Well, they all were. We were helping each other and comparing where we were in our process. What a fun couple of hours. I really smelt Kathryn that day. It was amazing! Our cabin is rented by two families over the winter. They have been a blessing and they love the cabin. Of course one room is Kathryn’s and has her touches in it. They are so respectful. They wrote us a note telling us how much they enjoy the cabin. They have done this a few times. Most recently Scott talked to one of them and it made Scott comment that “It is a happy cabin.” It is! We have had some great times there. Just a few facts. Did you know that only 3.8% of funding for cancer research goes to pediatric research? Sad – that it is such a low amount. It is only because kids don’t have the access or knowledge of how to voice their concerns. One in every 285 children get cancer. That is so high. It isn’t rare. That means it happens a lot. That sucks! I had heard of pediatric cancer before Kathryn was diagnosed but I never knew how close it could get. I actually did fundraisers with my math classes at Mason for St Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Not knowing what was to happen in just a few years. Richard’s graduation ceremony was Saturday the 22nd. We went up on Friday night (to Bellingham). They (Richard and Bee) had prepared a beautiful dinner for us (Scott, Myself and My Mom). The ceremony was very nice. I didn’t think I would be taken by emotion but I was. I cried! I’m so proud of Richard. I also watched one of Kathryn’s friend walk across that stage. Kathryn should have been there. She would have graduated at this time too. I’m so sorry that the world will be missing out on such a beautiful person. She added so much to all of the lives she touched. After the ceremony we took a few pictures and then went to lunch at a cute place. It had a Marti Gras theme. The food was different but really good too! I had another dream about Kathryn. It was so real. It was her in the present time. We had our house all decked out for Christmas. Of course I would dream it was Christmas – her favorite time of year. She was decorating her bedroom door. I was probably dreaming this because I was thinking about her door with all the stuff on it. What to do with all of it someday. Whenever. Well, she was asking me about a second door and if it would work putting it on hinges like this and that. We tried it and it was like a secret door because you had to open one to get to the next. She had it all decorated with stripes of ribbon. Different ribbons that went across horizontally and stuck out away from the door. they didn’t lay flat. Beautiful and colorful ribbon. She was talking to me and it was so real. I told Mooselips about it at a Wine Auction meeting. He said, “You must hate waking up from dreams like that.” I do hate waking up to the reality. But in the same time I love having those dreams. It keeps her close and alive. Friday the 28th – In my 6th period class one of my students commented on my t-shirt. I was wearing the rain cloud one that says “Let a cure rain down.” I said Kathryn had designed it. They were impressed. I said the new ones have a printed statement of her dates and that she designed the shirt. Then we got off on the cancer talk. We talked about how there are different types of cancer. Some are very easy to cure and people go on living. Others are a death sentence the moment they are found. One girl shared how her Dad gets cancer every year. She said his body secretes something that causes cancer to grow but they are able to get rid of it each year. I never heard of this. I told them how Kathryn’s first cancer now has a 90 to 95% cure rate. But, her second was incurable. They actually told us that they were only doing paliatative care and I explained to them what that meant. I also told them how we were told we would be lucky to have her a year and we almost had her two years. One girl said, You showed them. Her reaction was just like mine. I appreciated her feeling the same as I did. We did show them. But in the end they were right. There are only a hand full of people (if that) that have survived this beast. We went on to how doctors have to be so emotionless when talking to patients. We discussed how they have to. They couldn’t possibly handle getting emotional about every case they work on. I then started to tell about Kathryn’s doctor and could not hold back my own emotions. They asked if they could give me a hug? I said, “No, It’s ok I can do this.” I choked out the story of her oncologist breaking down after seeing Kathryn in the ICU. He had to go into another room and just cry and cry. The nurse said she had never seen anything like it. No doctor had ever cried like this. It had to be hard for him. He loved her so much. His daughter was Kathryn’s friend. Kathryn talked him into volunteering at Camp Goodtimes. He had to tell her she was dying. He had to tell her she only had 3 to 6 months left to live. That must have torn this man apart. Scott and I were talking about it and he said that Dr. Morris’s PA also cried. She cried the day we knew what it was. Why, because everyone knew what it meant. Then we talked about Dr. Morris. I said he was always so cute with Kathryn. After her surgery she had to stop driving for 6 weeks –regular protocol. At the 6 week visit she asked him if she could drive. He asked her, “Well, do you think you can drive?” She said, “Yes.” and he responded with, “Then you can drive.” It was the same type of question and tone when she asked him when she was 8 years old, “Do you have to shave my head?” He responded with, “Do you want me to shave your head?” of course she said NO! He said, “Well then I won’t shave your head.” You couldn’t even tell she had surgery. He took out a very tiny sliver of hair. She had very long beautiful hair that was all gone in just a few weeks after starting chemo and radiation. I thought he handled her so well. She took a liking to him as he did to her. He is a very serious kind of guy but our family got him to smile several times. The class discussion had to go back to math. We probably could have shared cancer stories for an hour or two. The kids had a lot to say. It was good for me and good for them to share. So after school I went to visit Nick. He was part of our school conversation too. He is into cars or should I say his truck. He showed me a video of doing a burn out in his truck. I just saw dollar signs as I thought of his tires burning the rubber off of them. I also thought of how he has found such joy in such a simple act. When I went into his hospital room it was decorated with posters from his friends and he had three friends there. The two boys were something else. They were joking the entire time. They are good for Nick. He was on an IV pump just getting fluids at the time. His chemo was coming shortly. Five days of intense Chemo. He is a senior and I was wondering how this is going to work for him as far as school goes. He will be getting a bone marrow transplant and will need to move to Seattle to be close to the hospital. He has three months that will put him into July that he will either be hospitalized or living in Seattle. He didn’t look too happy about that. But when this three months saves his life, it will all worth it and the time is just a blip of time. He has a bone marrow donor all lined up. He will also have t-cells taken at the same time as the blood or bone marrow is taken. I didn’t really get that part completely straight. He is taking it as something he just has to do. As do all of the kids and many adults do when they have cancer. You just have to do what you have to do. It was a good visit. I think Nick will be coming back to camp in 2015. He wants to bring his two friends too. We even talked about camp names. It would be great to have the three of them at camp together. That’s it. I am off to try to find discounted flowers or even better, free flowers for the wine auction. I’m also going to see if I can get a sponsor and some free pens. Wish me luck.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A couple of Surprises 3-9-14

A couple of little surprises March 9, 2014 During the last couple of weeks we each had a nice surprise from Kathryn. I was telling Scott just how bad I was feeling and how much I missed Kathryn. I think this second year has been harder that the immediate and the first year anniversary. It is more real and really makes it sink in that Kathryn will not be with us as a person ever again. Scott told me he was really thinking about Kathryn and there it was for him, a penny. He finds pennies when he thinks alot about Kathryn and needs some comfort. In the book I read the author said that pennies can be a sign from our loved ones. Now I know what that doll I have is all about. The title of the doll is pennies from Heaven and she has her little hand out and has several little pennies in her hand. One day the last week of February I walked into the school building at the same time as my friend Sue. We started to talk and of course cancer came up. Her husband had a bought with throat cancer and she was telling me how a couple of other friends of theirs had the same thing too. I was telling her how I was told that Kathryn’s type of brain tumor GBM was usually found in 40 to 50 year old men and found in the frontal lobe. I have recently found or fallen upon a few young girls with GBMs and I told her that one of them was really ill and probably wouldn’t make it another week or two. She did pass away on the 4th of March at 18 years old. Her name was Amber and a beautiful girl full of love, spirit and life. Cancer is such a bad deal. There is also the 16 year old girl with the GBM (Catherine). I emailed her Mom about the T-Cell treatment. I didn’t hear from her for a couple of days but she finally responded and said she was looking into it. I’m glad to hear that. When we were in Houston this was just beginning and they would not use it on Patients like Kathryn. I’m very excited to say that our house is pretty much back in order. The kitchen is beautiful and I just got my couch and love seat back all recovered. They look beautiful. Simple like I am trying to make things here. Last weekend I spent the weekend pulling wallpaper and painting at my Mom’s house. It was fun because two of my three brothers were there. We had some good memories to share and some good laughs. My other brother had some serious foot surgery so he can’t help but he called to see how things were going and sent us some girl-scout cookies “Yum.” Scott’s been a big help too. When I first walked in it was pretty overwhelming but now it seems that it is coming together. Last Sunday, 3/2/14 I was given a sign from Kathryn. I had been feeling very down and asking for a sign from Kathryn. I asked God if I could please see her or have something that would let me know she was near. Well, My Mom and my brother Pat were all getting ready to leave my Mom’s house and we were in the garage. Now, I have been in the garage the last two weekends and even swept the garage and picked up down there. This day after asking for a sign there it was. On one of the hinges of the garage door was a green ribbon. I had not seen it before and I had looked at the garage door several times. I went over to it and said, “Do you know what this is?” I said, “This is from Kathryn’s 18th birthday party.” When my Mom and Dad moved out the house was empty around Kathryn’s birthday 2/9/09 and she asked my Mom if she and Cody (her BFFE) could have their 18th birthday party at her house. Well, of course she said yes. Kathryn and Cody decorated the garage and used those green ribbons to tie up balloons and such. As I was touching the ribbon my brother Pat came up to me and held the ribbon in his hand and said, “ You mean Kathryn’s little hands were the ones that tied this ribbon here. She was the last one to touch this ribbon. Then he held me as I broke into tears. Then I spotted another one and pointed it out. But Kathryn probably didn’t tie this one because it was up too high. We all laughed. The ribbons were either put there after I asked for a sign or they have been there for 5 years and through three different renters. I don’t know which is more believable. March is an interesting month. This is when cancer started for us. On March third 1999 I took Kathryn in for the second time and they did the cat-scan and found the tumor. On March 5th we met her surgeon and on the 8th she had her first brain surgery. Cancer has filled our lives every since then but it hasn’t taken our love or the life we still live. We still have so much and I know Kathryn is here. Not only did I find the green ribbon but I also went into her room and I could smell her so strong. I said, I know you are here Kathryn. I was borrowing some of her items for our spirit week. I knew she would love to know that I could use her things to have fun. Scott and I went to a camp-planning meeting on the 4th. There were many good ideas to make camp super fun this summer for the kids. On our way home we just missed a big accident. There was a jack-knifed semi in the middle of I-5. It just happened and I was able to drive around it and the other truck in the HOV lane. When we got home we saw it one the news and a huge back up of miles and miles. On the 5th we attended the Grapevine Event. This was also in Seattle. This is a meeting to invite new and old people who might want to or have attended the Wine Auction which is a big fundraiser for Camp. Every time I have attended one of these I meet new people who I just fall in love with. This time the speaker was a Mom of a little boy who attended the Drive-a Thon that Scott started. It was a track day that raised money for camp. This Mom spoke about how cancer changed their lives forever. They had to move from Alaska to Seattle to be closer to doctors and hospitals. Colin was diagnosed with a terrible form of Leukemia when he was 2. He has side effects that have made it so his joints don’t move. His growth is obviously stunted. He is 10 and his brother who is 3 years younger is taller than Colin. He still takes a huge amounts of meds and is watched by doctors all the time. She talked about the financial part of cancer too. The million dollar limit was reached the first 2 months of Colin’s treatment. Every year they spend 10’s of thousands of dollars out of pocket for Colin’s treatments that he still under goes. She mentioned this because she appreciates a camp for her kids that is free of charge. She understands the value of a dollar and would never be able to send her kids to camp if Camp Goodtimes was not around. She also talked about how wonderful it is for her boys to have a week of fun and she doesn’t have to worry about her sons and she is given a break. She has not been far from Colin every since he was diagnosed. She has been by his side and always watching over him. She is a full time caretaker of a very sick child. But for this one week she gets to be a woman without the worries. She knows her boys are in a safe place with nurses and doctors right there and a fun and loving staff. She gets to relax this one week. I never thought about how this week was for me until she mentioned it. It was my week to do a big project. It was my week to surprise my kids with something that I had created. I made them furniture, painted their bedrooms or maybe it was a project around that house for the family. They got to the point where they would come home and ask, “What did you do this time Mom?” I loved surprising them. It was a week for me too! This weekend Richard and Bee came down to visit. I love seeing the two of them. Richard made a delicious breakfast Saturday morning for all of us. My Mom was here too. Richard and I had a talk about feeling bitter and feeling sorry for yourself when you lose someone, meaning Kathryn. We all have those feelings but we both agreed that we can’t let those feelings take over your life. I have had those feelings and sometimes you do feel sorry for yourself but you are not alone. There are other people who have lost children and I feel sorry for them. I thought many times that I must have been a bad Mom and I was being punished for something and losing Kathryn was my punishment. But then I realize that there are so many wonderful people who have lost their children and wouldn’t deserve punishment. In fact it seems like the best parents are the ones that lose their children. I just don’t get it. So it really doesn’t have anything to do with being a good or bad parent or good or bad person. It just happens. We can’t go on feeling sorry for ourselves or being bitter because it has happened and we need to live life. Richard and I agreed that there are those sad times and when you do fee sorry for yourself but we just can’t let them be who we are. We choose to live the way we were and the way Kathryn would want us to live as best as we can. Richard, Bee and I all went over to my Mom’s house. Richard was excited to show Bee as she has heard a lot about the house. It was fun to hear him talk about how much he liked the house and I talked about how wonderful it was to grow up in this house. Then I shared with him and Bee my story about the green ribbon. I think they were a little stunned. I’m not sure how Richard takes it but I know Kathryn gave me that sign. I asked as I have before and I received just like I have before. I think if you believe you will see that the ones who have gone before us are really still here in spirit. So, tonight is the first night of the TV show “Resurrection.” Richard said it looked creepy and so did Bee. I’m curious to see how they do this show. How many of us have thought about someone coming back from the dead. You know I have. I would make it work if Kathryn were to come back. It could be complicated but I would make it work. It may be too late and I may fall asleep but Scott and I are going to try to watch it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tough Days! 2-18-14

Tough Days! 2-18-14 Super Bowl Sunday 2/2/14 was amazing. It really kept me distracted from the day it truly represents for us. It did mark 2 years since Kathryn passed away. It was a gorgeous day just like the day she passed. I really appreciate it being sunny on that day as it helps to sooth the mood. I was busy most of they day cleaning and preparing for Richard and Bee to come over and watch the game with us. The game was really something. We had a great time watching it but it was almost embarrassing to watch the other team get pounded. We are a family that likes good competition and there was very little competition in that game. Once it was over and Richard and Bee headed back to Bellingham, it hit. I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital. My head felt like it was going to blow up. I was so down and my body felt like it was going to fall apart. I thought I was going to get the way I have been two other times. The last time I went to the ER after 15 hours of extreme pain and no sleep. Luckily I have a husband that knows how to help. He said I needed to get out and walk. Get some fresh air and so we went for a walk and it helped. I had cried all morning and my eyes were sore and I was a little off but Richard and Bee helped me pull it together. But once they were gone my guard was let down and my body just gave in. Kathryn’s death hit me hard this year. I also gained about 7 pounds because of emotions. Hopefully I can shed it and some before summer. Tuesday the 4th was a trip up to Seattle for a camp-planning meeting. It is always fun to be with our camp family. This summer is our first summer without the support of the American Cancer society so even finding a place to have meetings can be a challenge. Wednesday the 5th was Kathryn’s 23rd birthday. It pleases me so when people remember her. Whether it is on the 2nd or for her birthday the 5th it doesn’t matter. I just love it when people acknowledge that she once lived her on this Earth and brought love and joy to everyone. This year we didn’t do anything but remember her for her birthday. Our kitchen was wrapped in plastic for the most part as our cabinets were getting done. My neighbor brought flowers and a card. My good friend Robyn made a beautiful Panda picture. People sent good wishes. I appreciate all comments and wishes. Rowan’s Mom Rebecca sent me a necklace of angel wings. It arrived right on Kathryn’s birthday. On Wednesday (Kathryn’s birthday) my students in my yearbook class asked me if I believed in spirits. I told them I did and how we know Kathryn has been around. The blender going off, finding things after asking Kathryn for help and then my neighbors having a ghost in their house. A little girl, Kathryn’s size and hair color that appeared just days after Kathryn died. It was an interesting conversation. Wednesday night we had a grapevine event. This is an evening that is used to give potential donors for the wine auction a chance to get acquainted with camp. We have snacks, wine and beer, there is a speaker, which I have done in the past, and just a chance for them to met us and get to hear our story and what camp means to us. I met Louise at the grapevine. She was in the Air Force and her Husband is retired from the Air Force. I think he was high up in rank. Anyhow they lost their 25 year old daughter to brain cancer. That was years ago but as she spoke you could see in her eyes and hear in her voice that is was just like yesterday to her. I could see that it won’t ever stop. The pain of losing a child never goes away. At the grapevine event I also made sure I thanked the two board members that were there. They are two of the people who said, “Well if the ACS isn’t going to sponsor or support camp for these kids with cancer any more we need to get going and do something to make sure it keeps going.” They did! They put together the paper work to get a project together that has 501-C3 status (nonprofit) so we could start fundraising. They named it “The Goodtimes Project.” They couldn’t call it Camp Goodtimes at the time because we didn’t have clearance from the ACS yet. To this date we still don’t have the money from the ACS that was designated for Camp Goodtimes. Thank goodness we started fundraising immediately because we wouldn’t have camp this summer 2014 without the funds we have been raising. Any how I thank Bacon and Puck for their efforts. While talking to Puck she shared that her sister just passed away 1 ½ years ago from cancer. Wow! She deals with this all the time since she is a nurse in the oncology department at Children’s. She is an amazing woman. She gives her vacation time to volunteer at camp to work once again with her patients. I’m sure it is also rewarding for her to see her patients having fun at camp. I was so glad I made the effort to talk to Puck and Bacon. They were both so appreciative that I came up and thank them for their time and effort to keep camp going. Puck said that camp gives her a mission in life as it has for Scott and myself. She said, you need something to focus on and to keep you going. She is right. Having Camp has helped our entire family. Scott, Richard and myself have all reaped the benefits of camp. Being volunteers have given us all purpose and a special way to honor Kathryn. The kitchen is getting done. When they offered this week (Feb 3rd through the 7th) for us and a 15% discount; I really had to think about it. I didn’t want to have the kitchen out of commission as we usually would have a party for Kathryn but we did it. It all worked out. They didn’t finish until Saturday and actually still have a couple of things to do. But for the most part it is done and looks great!!!! Ziggy, a young lady from camp that was a good friend of Kathryn wrote to me this week. She is writing a book about cancer and wants to include a part about Kathryn. She loved Kathryn and was inspired by her strength and consideration for others. She had heard that Kathryn had relapsed and asked Kathryn about it while at camp in July of 2011. Kathryn told her that she had relapsed but didn’t want to talk it about it because she was here (at camp) for the kids and wanted to make it their best camp ever. Ziggy wanted to make sure it was ok with our family to mention Kathryn in the book. I told her since her book was to help young people with cancer I think Kathryn would be happy to be part of the book. She would want to give others hope and peace in their time of need. This will be a book that I will read. Some of you will understand that comment. Cancer strikes our friend Nick for the 3rd time. This young man is turning 17 in April. He was just re-diagnosed with Leukemia. He started with a brain tumor and his treatment gave him Leukemia. At that time he could not have any more radiation and chemo is not considered affective. He had a bone marrow transplant and it was successful. Well, for almost 6 years. Just when you think you are out of the woods this beast comes back. It appears to be the same type of Leukemia (it’s sad that I can now spell that word) but in only on chromosome instead of two. I’m not sure what that means but I think it is better than two. I don’t know what treatment they will seek out but radiation and chemo are not in the picture. They will use chemo but knowing it will not cure him. Our little friend Colton is doing well on the T-Cell treatment. Remember he went to Philly and received his T-Cells around Thanksgiving or Christmas. So far so good! Yeah! There is also another little girl who received this same type of treatment who is also doing well. So I suggested to Nick’s Mom to ask about this treatment for Nick. You get low on options after a while. The T-Cell treatment is very new and there are only a few children to have ever received this treatment. They have only used it for Leukemia and only in the past year or so. Maybe it is the one! Nick is the little boy Kathryn told us about from camp. He had a crush on her and brought her flowers and asked her to the dance her third year there. We became friends from camp. The other day one of the men on the wine auction committee made a comment about camp. He had been taking photos at Children’s in the oncology department. One of the girls has been to camp and the other has not. The one was sharing her joys of camp and they were planning what week they would both go. He shared some other stories too. When I was at the camp planning meeting Beef (the director) said that February is like Wednesday at camp. Wednesday is the half way mark where some people are burned out and need a break but still looking forward to each day. Oh, I remember February like this: Christmas is over; Birthdays are over so now we focus on camp. We need to make sure we get our applications in so we don’t miss out. We think and talk about camp and our friends at camp until that day we get on the ferry. Richard and Kathryn would start thinking about songs and skits and when old enough what position they would have at camp. Every year it was the same. Once birthdays were over talk of Camp would begin! Camp is big for these kids. They talk about it all year long. They call each other to see what week they are going. They get excited to see their camp friends who they may not have seen in a year. Camp is a family and it creates bonds that last a lifetime. There is a new man involved with camp this year. It is kind of funny how he came in too. He was inquiring about a job and accidently sent his message back about not taking the job on the wrong email address. Well, That email address got the attention of one of the wine auction committee members and asked him if he would like to see what camp and the wine auction are all about. Well, George said he would like to check it out and is now onboard. He gets it! He understands the bond that is formed by these kids. He understands the family and the commitment that is there. He is going to volunteer at camp too. The 9th was Richard’s birthday. Of course I thought about how I would make cakes for Richard and Kathryn. For the family birthday party I always make a cake that was half Richard and half Kathryn. The last one I made was for their 20th and 24th birthday. I took the cake to Bellingham. We had a small little family birthday there. This year we went to my Mom’s house in Eatonville. Richard and Bee were at the cabin in Packwood so it was nice to have us all meet at my Mom’s. My brother Mike was there and my brother Pat and his wife Gin. Bee’s Mom and Grandma even drove down from Seattle. The kid is special. It was a nice little gathering and I think Richard appreciated it. It’s nice to be acknowledged on your birthday. I know I am very happy that little guy arrived on that Monday morning. The 10th was my principal’s brother’s birthday. He lost his brother in October. I knew it was a hard day for him. There isn’t much you can do but let someone know that you are thinking about them. I really worry about his Mom. That had to be a very hard day for her. I feel really bad because they have really been pounded. I mean just one special day after another. Wedding anniversary, Thankgiving, Christmas, Birthday and they all came in a very short period of time. Father’s day will be tough for the kids. I remember after my Dad died it was a day that just seemed so hard to even think about. It’s not special when your Dad isn’t there anymore. What is Father’s day without a Dad? I know my Mom is having a hard time with being alone. She really misses my Dad. He was a good man that loved her so much. They did so much together even if it was just sitting around having coffee. It is hard to lose a loved on and special days are hard to face. Hell the whole month of February has been difficult for me. Maybe we should have had a birthday party for Kathryn. Maybe that is what’s missing. I don’t know but this year is tough. On the 14th I donated blood. I was reading the poster on the wall and found more interesting things about blood donations. First, only 35% of the population can donate blood but only 5% of them actually donate. Did you know that a pint of blood only has 2 ounces of platelets in it? That may only be one ounce I can’t remember for sure. That’s not a lot. I remember Kathryn getting two bags of platelets at one time. It had to take a lot to get two bags. The platelets help your blood clot. Any how they draw blood from people and spin out the platelets, put the blood back in and draw more blood and spin out more platelets and continue this process until they have a bag full which takes an hour or two. I thought we were so lucky to have people that are willing to donate. I remember when Scott’s Dad was really sick we had friends and family go to the hospital and donate platelets because he needed so much. His leukemia seemed to just suck up the platelets as fast as they were given. On the 15th I went to a cross fit session that was a benefit for camp. We sold $265 in Panda shirts that day. That made me feel really good! It was cold but a lot of fun. Camp events just bring so many good people and you just can’t help but feel good about life and others when you attend these events. Speaking of camp events, we are having a benefit on August 16th at our house for camp. We will be selling tickets for $50. Of course there will be things to buy the day of the event, donations can be made and you will also be able to win prizes during the raffle. We will have food, drinks and live music! It will be a fabulous event. Today, the 18th of February I am getting Richard’s graduation announcements ready to send out. It’s funny how life is. I received in the mail a week or so ago, information for graduation announcements for Kathryn. It didn’t hurt. It actually made me smile. How great it would have been to have both of them graduating in March from the school I graduated from in December of 1982. I would have been so proud to watch both of them probably arm in arm walk down that isle together. I know they would have worked it out that they would have walked together. Just the same I am so proud of Richard. I always knew he was a good boy and smart as all get out but I didn’t really know if he would go to college or not. He has made us very proud and I know he is an amazing teacher. He loves others and has the compassion and understanding that it takes for this job. He will do well and inspire some young people to make positive changes in their lives. I also watched the news last night and they featured a boy from Puyallup who is dying from a brain tumor. They are having a special graduation for him next month since he will probably not make it to the regular graduation. He may be too ill by then or not around. He only has three months to live. But he has a good attitude. He said he is not mad because you are not guaranteed tomorrow. He said that God has him now. I think it is great that the school is doing this graduation for him. It is kind of like Kathryn’s Christmas party. It is a great way to say good-bye in a happy time. A time where the person dying can enjoy your company and is feeling well enough to enjoy the time themselves. Everyone should have a send off like this. I hope we all remember that tomorrow is not promised to us and we can look at today as a gift to cherish. Love you all, Carol