So much at once

I went to Mass today and on my knees spoke to the Lord. Tears streaming down my face begging the Lord to [let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will but as you will.] (Matt 26:39). I then cried on the shoulders of Father Snyder. He listened gently and provided much comfort and some very practical advice.

Many things are happening at once. No one I have ever known has dealt with a situation that is as complex with so little time for planning. Kevin was involved in the integration of all the 1800 Brooks/Eckerd stores making all of them RiteAids in 18 months. RiteAid hired Accenture. Marissa (our dear friend who works for Accenture) wonders if we need a nanny to help care for the little girls (Molly who is 4 and M.E. who is 2 today). Yes, we will but there are a couple of problems with that I am not out working so can we afford this and we have more issues than just childcare. I have told several of you that I feel as though I need a “Wedding Planner”. Someone to coordinate all of the schedules and possibly organize fund raising so that I can focus on Catie’s treatment and Kevin can attempt to focus on his job. I prefer Martin Short or Jennifer Lopez – humor keeps me going. Does anyone have any ideas? This is and isn’t a rhetorical question. One of the things that we have noticed is that if I mention to two different people this or that would be a good idea (and I am thinking out loud) both people lovingly begin to work on my idea. On Monday afternoon I am going to sit down with Father Snyder and go over some of the needs that I think we will have. Thank you Father Snyder.

On Friday, we met with the Oncologist. The pathology is not completed because of the uniqueness of the tumor. The tumor that was removed from Catie is still active, 30% is still doing its thing. It has been sent to CHOP for additional molecular testing. Special thanks to Megan and Michelle Connolly for watching the children. It was determined at Friday’s meeting that Catie needs to undergo a bone scan, spinal tap and possibly another MRI to determine whether the cancer has spread after her surgery and before her treatment can begin. Her treatment will begin very soon. She does need 2-3 weeks to heal from the surgery. Catie and I return to Hershey for a Bone Scan on Monday. Both the bone scan and pathology results should be known by the time we meet with the Oncologist on Tuesday at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Hopefully at that point we will be able to select a treatment plan that will take care of the cancer and return Catie to us.

Those of you who know me know how important Thank you cards are to me. The children have to wait to play with any of their birthday or Christmas presents until after the thank you cards are written. I have had a pen pal when I was six and loved writing and receiving “real” mail. Even if Catie was not sick it would take me a while to thank each and every one of you for the generous gifts, cards, and prayers you have offered for Catie and our family. On Friday Catie received a beautiful purple prayer shawl. She gets cold very easily (she is not as active) and loves to wrap herself up. Thank you. She also received a blessed scapular which because it is not metal she can wear it throughout her testing. She didn’t like take off her cross when she had her MRIs or for surgery. She received water from the Grotto in Emmitsburg, MD which thrilled the little girls as they love to bless everyone in the morning. We are grateful for all of your generous gifts. In the coming months we will have some real needs to be met and will need your help. Please be patient with us as we determine what our needs are and ask for your help. We are very blessed to have many groups, even many church groups who want to help us. Saint Joseph Church in Mechanicsburg, Saint Joseph School (Catie attended 1st grade and will go to 2nd grade too), Saint Columbkill in Boyertown (Catie and Mia went to pre-school there while Molly and M.E. attended daily Mass), Saint Aloysius in Pottstown (Catie went to Kindergarten), our neighbors and our friends and family. This is a wonderful problem to have, having said that we need to organize all your loving and generous help so that we don’t have duplication of efforts.

So the first thing we would like to ASK everyone to DO is count. Could we have a count of all the people that you have forwarded our letters to and then forwarded the e-mails again? That way we can give Catie a rough number of the people who are praying for her. Our guess is that it is in the thousands, THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. I know we are sending this e-mail to 35 faith filled family and friends. One of the people we send it to is my mom who in turn forwards it to her sister, my siblings and others. Mom how many people are you sending Catie’s Story to via e-mail? Also believe it or not some folks don’t have e-mail and some of you (Phyllis) have told me you print it for others. I am printing and saving every e-mail for Catie. I am also saving every card. (If you send Catie a card, please print she loved reading her cards and gets frustrated when she can’t because they are written in cursive.) Hoping to put together (idea for now – or have someone put together a scrapbook (the old fashion kind where a card is glued to a page)) of Prayers for Catie. Also thank you for all the positive comments about the letters we have sent. Some of you have told us how much inspiration you gain from them, how much you enjoy them despite the fact that they have originated because Catie has cancer, and that after reading them so of you who don’t even know us feel as though you do and pray even harder for our Catie. I have even suggested to Kevin that we compile all that we have written and will continue to write as we go through this journey and have it published. Kevin could go on Imus (Kevin listens to Imus and is a fan of Imus’ commitment to kids with Cancer, the work he does for Children’s Miracle Network and through Imus Kevin has learned to love country music) and tell Catie’s story the book would become a best seller and all the money could go to Pediatric Cancer Research.

It is truly wonderful to be home all together. The children are wonderful with Catie. M.E. is so delightful and Catie derives so much pleasure watching her play and laugh. We all went out to dinner (a brave soul had the eight of us for dinner) on Friday. It was wonderful. Catie and I played outside and Catie laughed so hard and smiled so broad I will never forget that night. She was exhausted. We all were. We are all sleeping so soundly. There are some of you who are not – pray, pray, pray. Peace is the best sleep agent there is. On Saturday, we were late getting to the farm, so there were no black raspberries left. We just walked around and were able to pick up free zucchini, lettuce, onions and herbs. It is so beautiful out there row after row of beautiful organic produce. When we returned home Kevin and I did routine chores the lawn, weeding, wash (actually Maggie our 10 year old does the wash), going to the grocery store, getting a present of M.E. (a pink/purple Radio Flyer tricycle), returning some things that needed to be returned. As I walked through the Mall, at first I was in a daze wondering what was so important to leave Catie. Even the mundane activities of life seem different when faced with a sick child. Yet somewhere between walking in a daze and pouring out my story of a daughter with cancer to a stranger who simply ask “What can I do for you?” I realized again the blessing of our situation. I realize how precious life is, how it can change in an instant, how no matter what is going on God is with you, how important it is to share yourself with others, and how even in the face of cancer you can have peace if you begin your day thanking the Lord for the day and sincerely telling the Lord what is on your heart.

May God Bless each and every one of you and may you a have peaceful and restful Sunday.

Peace be with you,
Kevin and Christine

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