Happy Holidays

We decided to go back to Flagstaff and spend a day in the snow with Lydia and Vin.  Brianne did not last very long in the snow, but she did sled down a small hill a few times.

I am very happy to report that Brianne had an amazing Christmas.  I was worried we were going to end up inpatient due to Brianne's congestion, but she did not get a fever so we were able to manage her symptoms with Benadryl.  We were able to go to the annual Pasko Family Christmas Party on Saturday and to the Hopkins Christmas get together on Sunday.  We chose to lay low on Christmas Eve so that we would not tire Brianne out too much.  It seems like everyone has been battling respiratory illness and we did our best to avoid it.  The one thing we did on Christmas Eve was go to church.  We had not been to church since Brianne's diagnosis, but because the kids stayed with their parents for the service I was not worried about her being exposed to too many germs. It was great to be back at church and I am hoping we will start to be able to attend more regularly next year.

 Christmas morning Brianne woke up at 2:50 ready to start opening presents.  She was very excited that Santa brought the American Girl Doll that she wanted.  A family from the clinic "adopted" Brianne and went way overboard.  She had about 50 presents under the tree to open Christmas morning.  We spent the afternoon with Charlie's side of the family opening gifts and eating a delicious meal.

Brianne with her American Girl Doll she named Bri.  They have matching PJs thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Doras.

These are all of the gifts that the family from the clinic purchased for Brianne along witht he Lego table the Dad and Grandpa Hopkins built for her.

First thing Wednesday morning we were at the clinic for Bri's count check.  Her counts were great and she cleared to start Maintenance for Thursday.  Thursday Brianne had spinal chemo and Vincristine through her port.  She will receive nightly oral chemo until the summer of 2014 along with lumbar punctures every three months, Vincristine in her port monthly, and 5 days of steroids monthly.  We are very excited to get started with this last phase of treatment.  The nurse explained maintenance as being like Italian cooking, there is no real recipe you just adjust things until everything is right.  We will be going to weekly appointments for a while and hopefully slowly working towards only coming in once a month if counts are within normal range.

Brianne is very excited to go back to school.  As long as her class is healthy enough she should be returning on January 7th. 

We hope everyone is having a great holiday season.  Happy New Year!

The North Pole Experience

Brianne had an amazing time in Flagstaff last weekend at The North Pole Experience.  We were greeted with a room full of gifts for Brianne including an Elf University sweatshirt, sugar cookies, a Ram Rocket, ornament, and lots of other sweet treats.  We had a great time during the experience with Brianne's cousins, Connor and Kylie.  We enjoyed a "sleigh" ride through the woods after dinner.  In the morning we had breakfast with Santa, played at the playground, and packed up to go home.  It was great to be able to meet Morgan and her whole family while we were up north.  She is the person who made our trip possible.
Brianne with Santa's Oldest Elf, Alabaster
Brianne and Morgan

Getting an autograph on her ornament

Making toys in Santa's Workshop

Monday morning Brianne had her LAST dose of chemo for her frontline treatment.  This is the first time she has ever said she did not want her medicine.  She told me she didn't want to feel sick.  She slept most of the day after her chemo and threw up in the evening.  Tuesday was spent laying on the couch.  Brianne threw up again this morning, but seems to be doing better this afternoon.  She has started eating again, so hopefully the side effects are behind her.  If all goes as planned she will never have to take IV methotrexate again, which she is very happy about since this seems to be the medication that is making her so nauseated. 

I have a meeting with Brianne's school tomorrow to discuss her going back to school in January.  She is very excited to be back in school, I am a little nervous about the flu season.  Brianne will have count check the next two Wednesdays and will start her maintenance treatment on December 27th.  Maintenance will consist of daily oral chemo, monthly IV chemo, and spinal chemo every three months.

We hope everyone is having a very happy holiday season!