Sunday, October 30, 2005

A New Journey

The following letter was emailed to friends and family on 10/28/05

Dear Friends and Family,

First, thank you for all of your prayers, good wishes, and offers of help. We are truly blessed to have you all in our lives. We would love to thank each of you individually, but the outpouring of love is overwhelming and it would be impossible for us reach out to each of you and express our thanks adequately. Trust us when we say that everybody’s kindness is noticed and tucked away for future reference.

Next, we have had many questions about Kerstin that we have not been able to answer. Here’s what we know. She has been diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia. The good news is that if you are going to have one of these types of leukemia, this is the best one to have. Kerstin will be in Children’s Hospital (Omaha, NE) for approximately 30 days during which time she will receive chemotherapy. After that, she will be in “remission” and get to go home to Lincoln. Unfortunately she will not be able to go back to school right away or resume any of her other activities while she continues chemotherapy on an outpatient basis. After two more rounds of outpatient chemotherapy (which last 10-14 days each, with about a week in between), she will be on a maintenance drug therapy for about a year. At this time, there is no need for a bone marrow transplant. (Again, thank you for the outpouring of willing donors.)

Until then, Kerstin can receive visitors at the hospital. Here are some of the rules: “Parents and/or grandparents may visit any time. All other visitors may visit between 8:00am and 8:30pm. Siblings may visit after passing a screening process (for illness or infection). Children other than siblings must be toilet trained in order to visit. Siblings or friends must stay in the child’s room, and are not allowed to go to the playroom without the patient and guardian.” Additionally, the chemotherapy Kerstin will be receiving will lower her immune system and there may be times that no visitors will be allowed. The best bet is to call first to see if visitors are allowed that day. If you have a cough or are sick yourself, please do not plan on visiting at that time. (We just can’t risk having her catch any unnecessary germs.) As far as flowers and balloons, no live plants are allowed and only Mylar balloons (no latex products).

As for Kerstin’s big sister McKinsey, she is handling the situation very well. It is obvious that the two miss each other which is evident when McKinsey is able to visit Kerstin in the hospital. (It’s hard being away from your best friend.) The amount of offers to take care of McKinsey is heart touching, and I know we plan on taking many of you up on that offer. Just FYI, McKinsey is tackling her new health challenge as well: braces.

As for Kerstin herself, she is taking this in stride. Right now it is like a vacation in a hotel room (except you don’t have to pull your IV pole around with you at a hotel. ☺) Anyone who knows Kerstin knows she is a pretty tough little camper and she is holding up very well. We still have a long road ahead of us and we are pre-paring her for the journey. She hasn’t even complained about any of the procedures she has had to endure. She is very brave and we are very proud of her.

As you can imagine, we are a little overwhelmed right now with trying to learn as much about this disease as we can, spending time at the hospital (one of us will be there 24/7), and balancing our lives outside the hospital. With the help and support of our friends and family, and our faith in God, we know that we will get through this part of our life journey.

Take care and may God bless you all,

Jeff and Annie


Aunt Sandi said...

Kerstin, We love you very much and wish you the speediest recovery on record!!! You and your sister [and your mom ... and your dad!!!] give each other BIG HUGS and some good tickles from the RooneyToons in Clearwater. We'll keep up with your progress and news through this blog, but you should know that every second of every day you're all in our hearts and prayers! Casey & Kenna and all their school friends made a card for you, and it's in the mail. Take care, and we'll chat soon! xoxo Aunt Sandi [PS, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, your pink chair!!! :) ]

Anonymous said...

Kerstin, It is good to see a picture of you! I enjoyed seeing you the other day. You brighten my day with each of your pretty smiles! I hope to visit soon and see what else you have added to your room! I hope you are enjoying having your own phone. We will be praying for you and thinking about you all the time.

Todd and Family

K.V.B. said...

Dear Kerstin,
I hope you are doing ok. I can't wait to see you. My mom says we can come and visit you. I bet when you get older you can write a story about this. Your friend, Kelsea Brunner

Jeanne Schroeder said...

Kerstin, It's your friends from Malcolm, the Schroeder's. Do you remember us?? You sure you are in the hospital? Looks pretty cozy to me! I made you a blanket and it may match your chair. My girls have blankets like it and I'm always trying to steal them from them, so look out for your mom. Make sure she brings it from home for you!! You are ALL in our thoughts and prayers and we wish you well. God Bless, Alan, Jeanne, Dallas, Emma, Anna and Griffin Schroeder

Jill Johnson said...

Hi from the Lauren Johnson family, a Cavett and Cancer family. Lauren (6th grade) had heard about your daughter at Scott last week and Pat Polly had taught Lauren and my son Ben is in her class this year. Lauren is at the half way point in chemo treatments for a Wilm's tumor relaspe that was discovered in May in her right lung. I know this sounds weird to you, but we are trying very hard to get back to Children's for her next 5 day treatment. Her counts have been too low, but we will try again Monday. I will stop by and say Hi and introduce myself. You have just joined a very tough community, but you are in a very good facility, Children's is excellent, and you have every right to have the utmost hope that your daughter will be well again. Lauren also has a web site, I'll share my magazines while we're there and hope to help and support your family in any way.

Anonymous said...

Annie, Jeff, Kerstin and family,

Kathy Dimmitt shared your circumstances with me at volleyball & I asked for a way to communicate--You and your family have all of our prayers and every single extra smile and hug for a happy and healthy little girl as soon as possible! We have a little girl, Madison who is about 5 years old and a little guy who is almost 3---I can't imagine the worry and stress you have. I looked through your website and I am so very inspired by your faith, confidence, and good spirits. Good for Kerstin too---what a beautiful and brave little girl!

with our every blessing,

Jamie(Mues), Randy, Madison and Tucker Jankovitz, Grand Island--St. Pauls Lutheran Church