Four years ago today, Charlotte was diagnosed with AML. She was 27 months old.
September 11, 2010. Fighting a 105 degree fever.
September 2, 2014. Starting 1st grade.
It has been a wonderful 4 years-more magical and exciting than I could have ever imagined. Every day I spend with our family is an absolute blessing!
It is because of Charlotte that we are walking in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night walk next Friday. It is because of the families that we know who didn’t get four years with their child or family member. It is because every three minutes one person in the US is diagnosed with a blood cancer.
It’s been a wonderful and happy summer! We have all been keeping busy! The girls are having a great time every day, and I am sure they will miss each other when school starts next week. Charlotte will be entering first grade, while Molly will be starting 3k preschool for a couple of mornings a week. Amy and I are both excited to see them start school and learn and grow like every other child is doing.
We just had to share this picture as it is an example as to why we are trying to raise more money for blood cancer research. At summer school this year, Charlotte was asked to draw a timeline documenting her life. Everything above the purple line are the good things in her life. In case you can’t read it, the good things include Disney World, up north, learning to ride a bike, her birthday, and her cousin Brett’s birthday. Also listed is her port….this is how the nurses administered her chemo, medications, blood draws, and transfusions during her leukemia treatment. She knew how it important it was for her for those months and that’s why she wrote it on there. Never in a million years would we have ever thought Charlotte considered her port as something “good.”
The bad things in her life are below the purple line. She simply wrote two things: Dean and Leukemia. Her Great Uncle Dean lost his battle to the same cancer as Charlotte had last year. Uncle Dean was one of Charlotte’s biggest supporters and we miss him dearly every day.
Charlotte was so proud of her timeline and I had a horrible time fighting back my tears. I firmly believe that no one, especially a 6 year old little girl, should ever have to list leukemia on her timeline.
Please help us fund more research so that we can find cures for this horrible disease. Help us keep the word leukemia off of the ti melines of so many others. Please join our team in honor of Charlotte and in memory of Dean. There is no registration fee so I encourage you to donate to yourself when you sign up.
I am also happy to announce that we will be having a fundraiser night at the Columbus Culver’s on Monday, September 8th from 5-8pm. Charlotte’s Angels will receive a percentage of all sales during that time frame. Please come for dinner and frozen custard and support this wonderful cause. Or let us know if you are interested in helping us volunteer!
We have had an enjoyable and quite busy summer so far! Charlotte finished up summer school, and now she and Molly are in swim lessons. They both love them and are learning a lot every day!
We were fortunate enough to attend a Brewer game with the Wisconsin Make-A-Wish chapter last month. We all had a swell time! I hope it’s the first of many games that we are able to attend.
We are excited to announce that Charlotte has been asked to be an Honored Hero for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk. The walk takes place on Friday, September 19th at 6:30pm at the Warner Park Duck Pond in Madison. It is a fundraising walk to celebrate and commemorate lives touched by cancer.
For Charlotte and us having this walk in September is especially meaningful. Not only is September National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, but it will also be 4 years since Charlotte’s leukemia diagnosis. We know that Charlotte benefited from research that organizations like LLS funds and we are thrilled to help raise crucial dollars to enable this research to touch more lives.
Please join us in honoring Charlotte by joining our team, Charlotte’s Angels. All you need to do is click on the link below. Can’t walk? Please consider making a donation in honor of Charlotte instead.
Saturday was Charlotte’s 6th birthday!!! The lucky girl had two birthday parties. One with her friends from school, and another at our house with family. Both she and Molly had a wonderful time and kept right on playing until bedtime.
On Sunday we delivered balloons to AFCH, 4th floor to hopefully bring a little smile to someone who is spending their Sunday there. It was awesome to see some of her favorite nurses again and they all couldn’t believe how big she has gotten-Molly too!
After that we went to Chuck-E-Cheese and had a swell time again! Lots of junk food. Lots of excitement. Lots of playing last weekend!!
Well, it’s been over two months since I’ve last posted and I really have no excuse other than we have been busy doing regular things like any other family would be doing.
Charlotte is still very much enjoying school and is looking forward to having her school friends come to her birthday party at the end of the month. She is getting better with her reading and math and we can see little improvements every week. We are happier with the fact that she still likes school and is eager to talk about the things she does every day with her friends.
In case you hadn’t heard via other means, Kim Schuetz was named Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Woman of the year. She and her dedicated team of friends helped raise over $28,000 for the fight against blood cancers!
I wanted to let you know about another fundraiser that is close to our hearts. A cousin of mine contacted us about honoring Charlotte for her own St Baldrick’s fundraiser. St Baldrick’s is another wonderful organization dedicated to funding research to end childhood cancers and last year raised over 34 million dollars, 80% of which went directly to research. We are proud to know that such organizations exist and that people like Krysta are willing to shave their heads to raise money for a good cause.
Please consider making a donation to Krysta’s campaign by clicking here. We are forever grateful for all of those that have donated to this and other similar causes in the past.
She’s just too cute!!
Three years ago today, Charlotte, and our family, received the best gift of all-A bag of stem cells donated by a complete stranger 900 miles away. A bone marrow transplant was a crucial part of Charlotte’s treatment, and gave her a real shot at growing up that she may not have otherwise had. We still feel that God played a huge role in this, as the first two people that were contacted refused to donate stem cells via bone marrow. This delayed Charlotte’s transplant and added another round of toxic chemotherapy to hold the leukemia off until more donors could be contacted and tested. Fortunately, the third donor on the list was Erin. She stepped up without question and saved our daughter’s life. We still have a long way to go in Charlotte’s journey but we are so proud of how far she has come.
I can’t say enough about all of the people that have touched our lives since we started writing this story. Without all of you, we would have been lost.
Thank you Doctor Gindlesberger. For taking Amy seriously when she thought something was wrong.
Thank you Doctor Wagner and Doctor Dvorak. For taking the extra test that led to an early diagnosis.
Thank you Katy. For welcoming us to this frightening world.
Thank you Doctor Diamond. For giving us hope-hope that seemed out of reach too many times.
Thank you Tracy. For making me laugh when I’d rather not.
Thank you Doctor Desantes. For your wisdom and dedication to your work.
Thank you to the staff at AFCH. For everything you do. Every day.
Thank you Erin. For your selfless gift of life, love and laughter.
Happy New Blood Birthday!!
Thank you to our family. Without your love and support, this would have been unbearable.
Thank you to our friends. For putting up with us, and our rules during all of this.
Thank you Charlotte. For always wanting to be yourself.
Thank you Molly. For sometimes taking the back seat, even though you are just as deserving to ride in the front.
Thank you Amy. For taking care of our family in ways that I couldn’t have done myself.
Thank You God. For creating all of the pieces of this puzzle. And Thank You for making them fit.
I vividly remember a conversation I had with Dr. Diamond during one of our early stays. I was feeling a little more relaxed about our situation. Kyle was helping me cope in my job and Cheryl was assisting Amy with her schedule and duties. I remember seeing several families that had to leave their child at the hospital while both of the parents worked every day. They didn’t have a job where they could flex their time and borrow from next year’s vacation pool. They didn’t have co-workers donate their own time off to them. They needed to show up at work, all day to keep the insurance going while their child stayed behind without them. I actually felt like it was sort of a blessing that, because we had such a great support system in place, we were already bearing this weight and not a family that couldn’t make it work. I told Dr. Diamond that if it happened to us, maybe it wouldn’t have to happen to someone else. All Dr. Diamond could say was that it would happen again. And again. It brought me to tears right there. And still does to this day. Every day in the US, 36 children are diagnosed with cancer. That’s thousands of families each year that are thrown into a scary, uncertain world. We were extremely lucky in that there were several possible donors on the marrow registry. That is not the case for everyone who needs a transplant. If you haven’t already done so, please consider joining the National Marrow Registry by visiting Be The Match or DKMS.
Thank you all for your continued prayers and positive thoughts.
Charlotte and Molly with baby Max
Infrequent Posts=Life is Good. Life is still going on as normal for the Elskes. Molly and Charlotte have been sick a couple of days over the last few weeks, but they have been troopers through it all. Each one has supported the other when she wasn’t feeling well and they have been very patient waiting for the other to get back to her normal, playful self. Now that they are both feeling better, they are enjoying the snow days Charlotte has been getting and really driving Mommy and Grandma E bonkers just trying to keep up with them! Charlotte is still loving school and Molly is often very jealous of her older sister and wishes she could go as well.
Amy and I are doing well also. We are both anxiously waiting for this winter to get over with so the girls can get outside and get more exercise than just running around the house.
We wanted to share a wonderful fundraising event with you. We’ve mentioned Austin, the 5 yr old boy from Fall River who was diagnosed with ALL when he was 2. He has spent the last three years battling this disease like a true superhero. His mother, Kim, has been nominated for Leukemia Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year 2014. As you will read in Kim’s letter below, LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world that plays a vital role in saving the lives of children like Austin and Charlotte. Kim was also one of Uncle Dean’s nurses while he was at the UW receiving treatment so she is connected to our family in more ways than one.
Please visit Kim’s fundraising page here and consider making a donation. If you are uncertain about donating online, you are more than welcome to mail a check to us (by May 1st) and we will get it into the proper account.