Wow, what a year it has been. I think it's been a few years since I've written a Christmas letter. Although I believe most of you we are sending this letter to already know all the we have been through the past few years.
For 7 weeks in the summer of 2012, our whole family, including the dog we got in January traveled the United States with everyone picking some destinations that they really wanted to see. We went to Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore/Crazy Horse, Memphis, New Orleans, Disney World, Gator Park, Key West, the Jersey Shore, NYC, Philly, Washington DC. and visited with several friends and many family members in various states along the way. We ended to going to 30 states in the 7 weeks. Although it was 6 of us and a dog cooped up in a motorhome, we truly had an amazing time and have many fond memories! We still have the motorhome and have taken it on several weekend trips and to the local beach. Along the trip our motorhome was affectionately named the "brass monkey" by a friend's son.
When school started in 2012, Faith started her Senior year in high school, she continued with competitive cheer at California Allstars and traveled with her mom to Las Vegas and Dallas, bringing her whole family to Palm Springs to watch her compete in cheer competitions, where most of the time they placed 1st and were grand champions. She cheered the season before, but had to step down with all that was going on at home with surgeries being scheduled around her competitions dates.
Early on in 2013, Sean started another business as well as continuing several others. On June 14, 2013, Faith graduated from high school. This was quite and accomplishment and we were all very proud of her, not many kids go through their last two years of high school with a parent battling cancer and all the help she had to put into our family.
At the end of June, Melanie's sister Julie passed out at home, was rushed to the hospital, and ended up passing away on the 4th of July as she was unconcious she went too long with out oxygen. Melanie spent 2 weeks out there at the beginning of summer. All of this ended up being due to her heart and was a complete fluke thing. Another reminder that life is short and that we need to live it to the fullest. Faith and Melanie attended her funeral in mid July. This was a very hard time for our family and Julie will forever be missed and thought of everytime fireworks go off.
Melanie has been continuously getting brain scans every 3 months and for the first year they all came back clean, with no changes, or nothing visible on the MRI. However in June 2013, the oncologist thought it looked like there was about a 10% change/growth. We knew another surgery was immanent, as the "natural" treatments we had been doing we not helping, nor was the vaccine.
In September 2013, we decided to have another surgery and after a great deal of research, meeting with doctors, we decided to move from UCLA to Cedar Sinai Hospital and to have another surgery with Dr. Black, a world famous brain surgeon. The surgery was successful and Melanie recovered from the surgery with the help of her family and her mom coming down to help as she did for each surgery. Since the tumor had grown so much about 20% by Dr. Black and the tumor board's findings, it was advised for Melanie to start chemotherapy. She started on December 13th taking Temodar, a pill form of chemo, for 5 days on and 23 days off. This will continue for approximately a year and the doctors think this will help postpone another surgery.
Faith just completed her first semester of college at Palomar, a local community college while Josh and Zach just completed their first trimester in 4th and 2nd grades. Ben will start Kindergarten in the Fall of 2014 and he is currently being home schooled for preschool by Melanie. Zach played another season of baseball, with Sean as his coach, and Ben played his first season of T-ball, while Josh was in the Chess Club at school. Josh, Zach, and Ben participate in the running club at their elementary school, while Melanie volunteers for it. Melanie does a lot of volunteering in the classroom. Josh and Zach have quite a school, each student has an iPad, they do yoga, karate, garden science (which Melanie volunteers for), music, PE and many other activities no longer offered in public school.
We have been blessed this year with great friends and family who have helped us out through the hard times and been there in the good times. May you all have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed new year!
Melanie, Sean, Faith, Josh,
Zach, Ben and Honey (our dog)
On the right hand side of this blog under the "Never miss a post!! Follow by email..." you can enter you email address and you will be emailed any blog posts I make, usually updates about my treatment, sometimes diet changes/alternative treatments we are trying and trips we do as a family will be written about. Feel free to check out any other blog posts while you're here. I try to post pictures, if you'd like to keep up with the every changing/growing kids you'll be able to. Please don't feel like this is something you have to do, it's just an option of keeping up with us as Melanie is no longer updating carepages. We thought this would be better as we could later turn it into a memory book for our children. Thanks for stopping by, we appreciate it!!