This is us 6 years ago (Molly was staying with Grandma and Grandpa while were were inpatient). March 11, 2011 was the date of Charlotte’s Bone Marrow Transplant from an anonymous donor.
Here’s a picture of her IV rack and the bag of stem cells at the top center.
We weren’t sure how Charlotte’s story would unfold, but here we are today- a very happy and healthy family.
I would just like to say a very special “Thank You” to the Doctors, nurses and rest of the staff at AFCH, to our friends and family who were praying for us, and to Erin-Charlotte’s real-life angel. We wouldn’t be here without all of you.
We had Charlotte’s yearly oncology appointment with Dr Diamond this afternoon. It was a pleasant appointment, catching up on the year’s activities. We got to share our spring trip to Disneyland with Erin, and she loved hearing about Charlotte and Molly doing well in school.
All of Charlotte’s numbers looked great. WBC was 5.1, Hemoglobin 12.9,238k Platelets.
When we were saying our goodbyes, we ran into Dr DeSantes. We haven’t seen him in a few years! He was all smiles when he saw how great Charlotte looked. It was great to see him again and wonderful to know that he is still at AFCH performing miracles every day for kids like Charlotte.
We also stopped up on the 4th floor to say hello to the nurses and saw plenty of familiar faces! Molly and Charlotte loved talking to all of them and telling them how their year has been going.
Thank you again for checking in on us and following Charlotte’s story. We hope you have a blessed and safe holiday season.
And just like that, it’s been another 4 months since our last blog update. With Amy being on this Facebook thing , (that I figured would never take off) I’m sure many of you have kept up to date with our daily comings and goings.
We’ve had a great 4 months. We celebrated Charlotte’s 8th birthday in May. We had a wonderful time with Charlotte’s friends and our families. I had another terrific Canada fishing trip with Grandpa Elske and this brother I have and some other great friends. It was a very enjoyable trip and I’m thankful I was able to go again.
We spent this past Saturday with the Badger Cancer Childhood network playing around at Little Amerrika, and we found an old friend! We were originally introduced to Gloria and Ina on the first weekend Charlotte was admitted to the hospital. Ina was diagnosed with AML as well when she was 2. Gloria was there to help us through some of the hard times and we’ve kept in touch using that facebook thing, but we haven’t seen each other since Charlotte was inpatient. Ina has been doing well and it was awesome to reconnect and share how our families are doing.
We have been very blessed over the years with our good friends and our families and our health. However, today we had to say goodbye to our not-often-mentioned-but-always-loved sidekick, Broadway. He has been in our lives since he was the cutest little puppy and he has been an absolute joy to have around. He truly was an awesome dog and a great friend. We will miss him dearly and will always love him. He turned 13 years old yesterday.
Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s been a terrific 3 months. The girls have been happy and healthy for the most part-only missing a few days from school here and there because of the typical seasonal illnesses. They are both doing well in school and having playdates with friends and getting together with their cousins. And it looks like spring is finally making an appearance. The days are starting to get longer and snow is becoming more of a memory than a daily reminder of the long Wisconsin winter.
Since we have been fortunate enough to get to know Erin (Charlotte’s bone marrow donor) over the last 4 years, we have all been looking forward to the possibility of us getting together around March of this year. We knew we needed a completely special way to celebrate the 5 year post-transplant mark. So we decided to take the girls to California to see her! We recently returned home from a trip to Anaheim that we were able to spend just hanging out with Erin. It was a joyous occasion and one none of us will ever forget. We enjoyed three days in Disneyland as well as a trip to the San Diego Zoo, and a wonderful day partaking in a California style beach party. We were able to meet several members of her family and some of her good friends; all who were as pleasant and kind to us as Erin always has been. She feels just as important to our family now as she was over 5 years ago, and we wouldn’t be the same without her in our lives. We are truly blessed to have such a caring and supportive network of friends and family.
Molly, Katy and Charlotte
Dr Diamond and Charlotte.
Today we visited the American Family Children’s Hospital for Charlotte’s yearly checkup appointment with her oncologist, Dr Diamond. We had Charlotte’s blood drawn and her echocardiogram done last month. Dr Diamond looked over the results today and was not disappointed. It was great to see her again and hear that she thought Charlotte looked healthy and well. We can’t hear that enough. Dr Diamond is very near to our heart and had given us so much to be thankful for. Charlotte’s WBC count was 4.5, Platelets 254k, Hemoglobin 13.3 and 1800 neutrophils.
While we were there, we stopped on the 4th floor to see the nurses. We saw Tony and Angie and Kristen and even got to see Katy again!!! We also saw a mother walking her little bald boy down the hall pushing his IV cart. She was seven months pregnant. Boy did that bring back some emotional memories. We will be thinking of them this holiday season and pray for the best.
I wanted to thank all of you for looking in on us this year. I apologize that the posts have been few and far between. But know that we are still here and doing well, even if I am not posting nearly as often as I once did. Please think about the families this year who will be spending their holidays behind closed doors like those on the 4th floor. And consider making a donation to a worthy charity, and donate blood as often as you can.
Thank you, and have a safe and memorable holiday season.
Here’s another quick update from the Elske family-We are all doing very well. That’s the short of it.
This one is more on the longer side.
Charlotte and Molly are both enjoying school, though they often would rather sleep in on school days and wake up early and ready to go on the weekends. We can’t seem to get them out of that habit. Charlotte is keeping busy at night with her homework and Girl Scouts. And Molly is enjoying herself in gymnastics. She is learning lots of new things and she loves it.
We recently had a family get together with Aunt Sharon and the rest of the Elskes and Ericksons to remember Uncle Dean. It was great to see everyone and talk with them again. It reminded me of how absolutely lucky and blessed Amy and I are to have two happy and healthy little girls. Life is too short to not hug your kids every day. And to not tell your parents that you love them. And life is just too damn short to be mean to people.
I know I’ve posted a few links to these types of videos in the past, but I constantly find more on youtube. And I really think that they’re worth a watch. A lot of time and effort went into producing these videos to raise awareness for hospitals for children and the good things that they do. They all do so much more than just treat an illness or disease. They take care of the families. They build up emotions that may have taken a turn when physical states do the same.
As I’ve said before – With the exception of one crabby EKG technician, every person we ever met who worked at AFCH genuinely seemed like they wanted to be there. They all knew they had a part to play in the healing of children and their families. That can’t be an easy place to work and these folks do it with a smile on their face.
When you watch these videos, remember that every patient has a story like Charlotte’s. Every parent has concerns and doubts and dark thoughts in their heads like Amy and I did. Every sibling is missing their brother or sister like baby Molly did. Every grandparent has cried like ours have. Every Pastor prays like Jim did. Every Doctor wishes they could make a difference to this family like Dr Diamond did. Every nurse, like Tracy, Katy, and countless others, has seen it all before-and will see it again. And everywhere, all around the US, 43 new families are introduced to this nightmare that is childhood cancer every single day. And the real crappy part is that not all of those kids are going to get the chance to grow up.
Of course, you all know that Leukemia is always on our minds, with having lost my Uncle Dean and my Grandpa Elske (Dean’s father), both to AML. So we aren’t terribly happy to know that every 3 minutes, someone in the US is diagnosed with a form of blood cancer. And every 10 minutes, someone in the US loses their battle with it.
Terrific progress has been made since the time Grandpa Elske was diagnosed in the early 1970s; but overall AML five-year survival rates are still only 25%. More can still be done and that is why we walk in the Light The Night Walk for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on October 15 at The Duck Pond at Warner Park in Madison. You can join our team or make a donation by clicking on the link below.
If you can’t make a donation, just come walk with us. It’s a fun night, filled with good people hoping to make a difference in the fight against Leukemia.
If you can’t donate, or walk, that’s ok too. Just hug your kids, and tell your family that you love them.
Thank you all for everything.
First Day of Second Grade!!
Molly is ready for Pre-K!!
What can I say about this date that most of you don’t already know? It was 5 years ago today that Charlotte was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Cancer survival rates are often dependent upon reaching this timeframe. It was 5 years ago that we were told there was a 50% chance that she would be with us today. I’ve often told folks who comment on how the time passes so fast (when children are growing up) that it’s been the longest 5 years of my life. This is one of the moments that Amy and I have been praying to see. And I pray every night for those that I’ve known or come to know throughout these years that didn’t get the chance to celebrate this milestone with their family member.
- We finally got to see a bear!
It’s been another busy and wonderful summer. Charlotte and Molly both had their first day of school this week. We were a week late because we took a family trip to Alaska two weeks ago with all of the Wagenknechts!! That was a totally awesome time. We all loved it and we are ready to go again. I’m actually thinking of moving up there…don’t tell Amy I said that. We visited Denali National Park and saw parts of Anchorage, and Talkeetna. Then we went to Seward and got on a cruise and saw Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. We were even able to participate in a brief “Make a Wish” type walk on the cruise ship. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the health of our families.
Cruising the Hubbard Glacier
I want to thank everyone for checking in on us throughout Charlotte’s journey. Your kind words, donations and emotional support have made this day, a day that once seemed absolutely impossible, a day for us to truly cherish and remember.
Thank you to all and may all of your days be as special to you as this one is to us.