Thursday, October 7, 2010



Is the face of a little girl who still has stable scans one year off treatment!


Is the face of a little girl who will be celebrating her 10th birthday in 2.5 weeks.


Is the face of a little girl, who gets to just be a little girl for the first time since she was about 4.

And this?

All makes me absolutely giddy with joy! I sobbed today in front of God and everybody in my clinical group at the hospital when I got the news. I will be calling the surgeon tomorrow to schedule the surgery to remove her port.

Love to all~

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A year later

It has been just over a year since Mandy had her last chemo. She has pink in her cheeks, bounce in her step, thick and healthy hair and an energy that seems to know no bounds. Tomorrow we go for the one year scan. If that is stable, we will schedule the surgery to remove her port and let go of the last of the physical reminders of the war. We are going to make a necklace or maybe a Christmas ornament out of it. Just so we always know that ultimately, we were very blessed that out of something so scary and so ugly came something beautiful.

Alannah is 16 now and will get her drivers license soon. If you have an errand to run, she's your girl... she will be more than willing to drive anywhere for any reason, I'm sure. Now, if only she had a car.

Zachary is in middle school now and slowing discovering that maybe girls don't have cooties. He is as funny and charming as ever, God help me.

I started school almost 6 months ago. When I grow up, I want to be a nurse and in another two years or so, hopefully, I will be. Pediatric oncology has my heart and I really want to be able to do something there. But, I just finished my labor and delivery rotation and absolutely loved it. I am truly passionate about nursing and really feel like this is the career I am supposed to have.

And, after 19+ years, Ronnie and I are no longer married. The why's and how's and coulda, woulda, shoulda's don't matter now. I am grateful for our marriage and for our children. And I believe, we can both go forward and find joy and love and happiness.

Hopefully, tomorrow brings more news of stable tumors. I will let you know.

Love to all~

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thank you!

So, we threw a great big party, to watch the first broadcast of the Eukanuba National dog show in which the ACE awards were presented to 5 amazing dogs and their people. You can see Mandy and Poodle's clip from the show here

About 100 of the people who have embraced our family over the last two years joined us and many more who were there in spirit. We put together a little video to say thanks to some of those people. Unless we used the song "Freebird," there simply wasn't going to be a song long enough to sufficiently be able to thank everybody. But, these lyrics were far more appropriate, so, here we go, from us, to you ... Thank you!

Love to all~

Thursday, January 28, 2010

From the St. Petersburg Times

Columnist Ernest Hooper captures Mandy's story and our family's journey beautifully. We share the link with gratitude.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The big night

On Saturday night in Long Beach, Calif., thousands of spectators learned of a wonderful friendship between Mandy and her Poodle.

You know Electra's story by now; she was the national winner of the Award of Canine Excellence from the American Kennel Club. You know that Electra, or as we know her, Poodle, was given to Mandy by Jane and Cathy, and our hearts barely have room for the gratitude we feel for their generosity. You know that Poodle played a key role in Mandy's recovery as Mandy endured months of chemotherapy.

What you need to know is how incredibly beautiful my bride, my little girl and her dog looked on Saturday night as they took to the ring to accept the award.

Words can't describe how proud I am of all three of them.

Friday under the lights

Some random shots from Mandy's day Friday in Long Beach:

Mandy and Poodle at the photo shoot Friday afternoon.

Finished with their close-ups.

Mandy opening one of many gifts she received.

Mandy with Ronald Rella (left) and Neil Singer of the American Kennel Club at Friday night's dinner. The AKC was incredibly generous to Mandy and our family.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Photo shoots, meet-and-greet, dinner parties ... the life of a star

They say it's not easy being a star. They've never talked to Mandy. As the dad of a diva, I can tell you that little girl can do just fine in the spotlight.

Our blonde bombshell and her canine friend, Poodle, have taken Southern California by storm. Her smile lit up Long Beach, Calif., today as preparations were completed for their appearance in the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, which begins Saturday.

Mandy, Poodle, and Natalie joined the other winners of the AKC Humane Fund Awards of Canine Excellence for a dinner party Friday night. Poodle is among great company; these are some wonderful dogs that are being honored this week.

I realize that you're not here to read my turns of phrase; you're here for pictures. Here are some snaps Natalie sent back:

Poodle and Mandy on their way to their photo shoot

Poodle doing what she does best. Once a champion, always a champion.

Mandy playing tug-of-war with Sage, the ACE honoree for search and rescue. This border collie from New Mexico has worked jobs from New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, to Aruba, to post-Katrina, to Iraq. Quite a résumé, I'd say.

Mandy and Poodle, ready for the dinner party. (Unfortunately, Poodle wasn't invited to dinner.)

At 7 p.m. PST on Saturday, Natalie, Mandy and Poodle will walk into the ring at the AKC/Eukanaba National Championships to receive Poodle's honor. For those of us who are missing it live, the show will be broadcast several times on Animal Planet starting on Feb. 6. For all the show times, click here.

When I talked to Mandy on the phone this afternoon, I was struck by how much joy I heard in her voice. She's loving this experience, and after the last couple of years, well, it's great to hear a little girl just enjoying being a little girl. Even if she's being a little girl on a big stage.