Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day +736: Two+ Years & Fabulous Florida!

Today is day +736 for Max, 6 days and two years since his life-saving bone marrow transplant on April 1, 2009! Wow! He continues to do fabulously! We all enjoyed a wonderful vacation in Florida last week for Spring Break and life couldn't be better.

We spent our vacation in Marco Island and visited with my 91 year-old grandma (my dad's mom) who lives there year round. My mom and dad had been down there since January for the winter also, for the first time ever so, we stayed with them this time in their place across the island from my grandma's and had a great time just hanging out with them. We really had one of the best weeks of vacation that I think we have ever had. We all just enjoyed being able to do what we wanted to do, when we felt like doing it! We swam, fished, went to the beach, ate yummy lunches and dinners out, even went to the local farmers market. The boys, Matt and my dad loved playing basketball every afternoon on the shaded basketball court at the local island park and even got in a few rounds of baseball at a local field. We spent some great time visiting with "Great" Grandma and, all in all, we just had a wonderful time.

What made this vacation particularly special was that last Friday marked the two year anniversary of Max's transplant. We were thrilled to be able to spend this day together, down in Marco, celebrating our miracle. We began the day with Max's favorite, Dunkin Donuts (thanks to my dad) and enjoyed eating them from the chickee hut at my mom and dad's place while watching the sun rise above the ocean and the dolphins frolic around. Per Max's request, we spent the morning in the pool at mom and dad's and then spent the afternoon at the local park playing basketball again, followed by a dip in "Great" Grandma's pool. We capped off the special day with dinner out and ice cream in the chickee hut. Matt and I could not have imagined a better way to celebrate. We watched as Max and Ellee hugged and kissed each other and our three kids danced around in the chickee hut, eating ice cream and acting silly. Our miracle continues every day...the two year anniversary of it just gives us a chance to acknowledge it more directly. I have posted all the pictures from our trip on the sidebar of the blog if you're interested.

Beyond all this excitement and fun, we had a busy March between Max's basketball, a visit from the West Virginia Sherwins (my brother and his family), Max and Alex's bowling league, our nephew Carter's 1st birthday, a trip to the circus, Alex's baseball and basketball practices beginning, even Max and I appearing in a video that Children's Hospital is making (more on this to come when it's finished)! Max's basketball team finished up the season with a loss in the semi-finals of the tournament. Max was heartbroken after the game and shed some tears and Matt and I comforted him, knowing that it was a good lesson in how to deal with disappointment. Later that evening, Matt said to me, "It was hard to see Max upset about losing that game...but, all I could think about was how glad I am that my worry right now is about how to be sure he's ok with losing a basketball game!" We both agreed that we've come a long way and it's so great to be back to more "normal" worries these days.

Max's March appointment with Dr. Davies brought continued good news. His counts remain in normal ranges and his engraftment continues to be pretty steady at about 85%. No changes to his medications at this point - in other words, no beginning of the wean of the cyclosporine - but, we remain patient, knowing the time will come when Max's body will be ready for that. Until then, we'll take good counts and good health and all the wonderful blessings that come with that!

The Clubs & Clowns event for Max's Meals & More has been keeping me very busy of late. We have had some absolutely fabulous things happen in relation to this event and we are getting very excited about it. I wanted to share my favorite story from the event planning with all of you because it has been the most validating thing that has ever happened for us in relation to Max's Meals. A few weeks ago, I received an email from a Matt at Sara Lee, here in Cincinnati, asking me some questions about the Clubs & Clowns event. I have a small group of friends helping me out with the event so, I assumed that someone knew this person and had contacted him about a potential sponsorship. To make a long story short, Sara Lee is donating virtually all of the food (hot dogs, smoked sausages, buns, desserts) for the event!!! While that is incredible news, the story of why is even more incredible...Matt (the Sara Lee guy) has a one year old son that had a bone marrow transplant last fall. They were in the hospital on Halloween when we served our meal and it meant so much to them that they have been following Max's Meals ever since! His wife got my post on Facebook saying that we were looking for sponsors for the event and told Matt. He contacted me and said that he and his wife wanted to be sure that we know how much the meals mean to the families on the floor and that Sara Lee wanted to donate all the food! His daughter was visiting the hospital on Halloween and was on cloud nine that she was able to take a Max's Meals goody bag home with her that day! :)

I'm sure you can see why this story is our favorite. We have been honored by the numerous donations and great support that we have received from companies all over Cincinnati in preparation for the Clubs & Clowns event. I am sure that it is going to be a great time for all! The golf scramble is going to include quite a few kids and the picnic/party to follow will include a DJ, live singing entertainment, clowns, face painting, balloon animals, kids games, a bouncy house and more! We are praying for good weather and a great turnout and hope that you all will consider joining us, if possible! The event is May 7th and you can learn more about it or register to attend by visiting our website at Hope to see you there!

Memories of many of the tough experiences that we endured with Max two years ago continue to flood our heads lately, even as we celebrate Max's two year anniversary post-transplant and the amazing miracle that we have witnessed. While these memories can be painful and difficult, we are thankful for them and for all that we have learned as a result of Max's journey. We never want to lose some of the emotions that Max's journey taught us to feel so deeply - love for one another and appreciation for every moment. Through our ministry with Max's Meals, we remain in touch with these emotions and reminded of these important lessons. We are eternally grateful for Max's return to health and for the opportunity to touch others and ease a tiny bit of their burdens through our mission with Max's Meals.

As always, thank you to all of you that continue to follow our story through this blog! Hope to see many of you on May 7th to celebrate, laugh, hug and have fun, all while nourishing families going through tough times by supporting Max's Meals & More!!

Peace and love,

Kristi (and Matt, Max, Alex, Ellee and Spud)