March 11th, 2012. Day +366   7 comments

Charlotte fighting her 105 degree fever following her first IV chemotherapy at 11pm on September 11th, 2010.

Eighteen months ago today, our world was turned upside down when our then 27 month old Charlotte was diagnosed with AML, a rare and very aggressive form of adult leukemia.  Her oncologist told us that, without immediate treatment, most children lose this fight within three weeks. It was a tough six months of treatment for all of us.

CJ resting during the morning of her stem cell transplant on March 11th, 2011.

One year ago today, Charlotte received the greatest gift we could have ever hoped for; a real chance at a normal life in a bag of stem cells from an unknown donor’s bone marrow.  We are still in awe at such an amazing gift from a complete stranger.  Her donor will forever be our hero.  The transplant conditioning chemotherapy  and acute graft vs. host disease attacked Charlotte pretty heavily those first few weeks.  But she kept fighting and the staff at AFCH took such wonderful care of her…

Now, one year later, Charlotte is happy, healthy and enjoying life like Amy and I could have only dreamed about.  She has yet to truly understand what she has gone through these last 18 months.  She looks at pictures from the hospital stays and you can see her trying to process what she is looking at.  We have had more questions and discussions with her now about her leukemia/transplant than when we were living it.  We can only imagine more questions in the future and hope we answer them in the best way possible.

It’s difficult to find the words to describe how happy, relieved, and blessed we feel today.  This has been the longest, most emotional, and most rewarding year of our lives.  We have found more strength than we ever knew we had.  We have created an even greater bond as a family and have deepened our faith.  Yet we would be lying if we were to tell you that Charlotte’s journey is over.  Or that we don’t continue to fear relapse every single day.  Although one year post transplant is an absolutely phenomenal milestone, we have 4 more years before Charlotte can be considered cured.

Charlotte enjoying the wonderful weather today, March 11th, 2012.

We try to remain positive…remember our mantra?  She’s done great, she’s doing great, the odds are in her favor….this will be her cure!  But some days it’s hard to find that strength.   Our hearts still ache for the patients and families we met or learned about who haven’t had the joyful year we have experienced.  Please continue to pray for the families of Alison, Alexis, Maddie, Keanah, Andrew, Drew, Ross, Ben, Don, Patrick and Paxten.

We received a very special gift today on this one year “birthday.”  A mother contacted us about her little girl, Jade, who was diagnosed with AML-M7 in January of this year.  Like us, she and her husband were scouring the internet for positive M7 stories to find some hope within the diagnosis.  She thanked us for our blog and for sharing Charlotte’s story.  If you remember, we started this blog for three reasons:  1).  To update family and friends about how Charlotte was doing,   2).  To share with Charlotte her story when she was older, and   3). To give other M7 families a real-life story rather than just reading horrifying statistics over and over again.  We feel so honored that the family contacted us today.  Please add their adorable little girl to your prayers too.

Amy and I both said that she reminds us a lot of Charlotte…..demonstrating her fighter attitude by running the halls during chemo rounds with a wonderful family in her corner.

Posted March 11, 2012 by L. Elske in Uncategorized

7 responses to “March 11th, 2012. Day +366

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  1. “Happy Birthday” Charlotte! March 11 is a new Elske birthday we have on our calendar and we were so glad to see this date come! So many people still ask me how Charlotte is doing and are just amazed by her & the strength you all have. Your family is a true inspiration and a continuing success story for this heartbreaking disease. Adding Jade to our prayer list and thanking God for all the good He his given to Charlotte.

  2. Wow. Lon, I’ve just deleted three attempts to tell you how much it means to me to be able to share in CJ’s journey through your blog. My thoughts and heartfelt emotions fall flat. There don’t seem to be adequate words to tell you how wonderful it is to see Charlotte on Sundays and hear her delightfully little voice tell me, “No, it’s a LAMB!” My heart does flip-flops each time I see Amy, Molly, CJ, and you!! My prayers will continue for you all every day. What a special family you have!

  3. I was in Columbus yesterday and saw you guys outside. I couldn’t help but think of what you have gone through in the last year and a half as I saw how normal Charlotte looked running around outside! Everytime I read your posts my heart swells with emotion! Charlotte’s story is truly inspiring! God bless you and your family!

  4. Congrats to a long road to recovery!!!!

  5. Remarkable & Blessed!

  6. Charlotte-When you are old enough to read this blog, you will know and feel all the love and strength we sent your way during the fight of your life. Your parents fought as hard as you did!!!! My eyes filled with tears as I read the new entry by your dad and relived your journey. God has been with you and all of us. We cherish you and are so grateful for your 98% engraftment. You stay our little warrior, stay stubborn just like your German ancestors and continue to fill our lives with joy, pride and love. I so want to hug your donor who so selflessly gave you the gift of life. We owe her so much. May God bless her.

    Love you all

    Grandma and Grandpa Wags
  7. It seems like such a long time ago that this all started and yet such a short time. Our prayers have been answered! May God continue to keep Charlotte and your family in his grace. Much love to all of you. Please keep Uncle Dean in your prayers as he goes through his leukemia treatments.

    Uncle Dean & Auntie Sharon

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