Tuesday, October 20, 2009


In December 2008 we announced our exciting news to our families. We were so glad we were able to tell everyone in person so we could see their reaction! We decided to wrap up a little box with baby socks inside and give it to our parents for Christmas. It took them a minute to put two and two together... but once they realized the socks were too small for them, they were very excited for us. It was so much fun!

To be honest, I loved being pregnant... well most of the time. The first trimester was a breeze without any morning sickness. I was eating healthy, exercising and continuing to work without a problem. Nobody knew I was pregnant unless I told them. I started collecting pregnancy books and studying up on anything pregnancy related because I wanted to do everything right. We bought our first baby item in the after Christmas clearance isle; a Christmas stalking-- one pink and one blue! At our very first doctors appointment we were able to see our baby in an ultrasound which was amazing! I made the nurse give me an educated guess on the gender of the baby despite her hesitation. The best she could do was say "I don't see anything down there." I over analysed that to mean it's possibly a girl!

Second trimester I was still feeling good. I started to get annoyed with my stomach that didn't quite look pregnant but just looked like I ate a big breakfast! However, I got on the scale almost everyday and praised myself for every pound gained. I was able to train my clients, teach my dance classes, run a 5k and read up on our baby's development faithfully. Our families almost had us convinced that we were having a girl, so you could imagine our surprise when the doctor told us it was a BOY!

Third trimester came along and I was still feeling like I could possibly luck out with the easiest pregnancy ever! I was able to finish teaching the dance semester, attend a week of girls camp in 100 degree weather and still get to work by 6 am every morning. Then the terrible 9th month came when my every day tasks like tying my shoes or getting in and out of the car became painful! My back was hurting, my feet would swell when I stood on them too long, I didn't want to eat healthy anymore, I felt like an old lady when I struggled to get out of bed.  I wanted to nap everyday and became uninterested in reading anymore pregnancy books! Reality set in that I was going to have to get this baby out of me and then know what to do once he was here!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Amanda; "Little Sissy"


Deven's sister, Amanda, and Mom, Laura, lived with us for the past 2 years while Amanda fought cancer. We were more than happy to have them stay with us as Houston has the best cancer research and treatment centers; and we wanted the best for Amanda while she battled this terrible disease.
I am thankful for the opportunity I had to get to know the two most important women in Deven's life, and to truly feel like family. Laura is an amazing woman who I will always have a special bond with because of this time we have spent together.  Amanda's strong spirit has made what I believe to be a lasting impression on me.  She immediately felt like a little sister, but as I got to know her and spend time with her we naturally became friends. Eventually it shifted to almost that of a mother-daughter relationship as she became more and more ill.  I planned my days around her, I worried for her, I cried for her, I earnestly prayed for her.  
Although Deven felt out numbered with 3 girls in the house, we would not have traded this valuable time for anything. This experience taught us the value of this precious life and strengthened our testimonies of the Plan of Salvation.  Our hearts ache for our loss and for Laura and Loren who have to experience the loss of a loved daughter, but we know we will see her again.  We could not have made this journey without the knowledge and comfort of the Gospel. 
Laura shared Amanda's story in a blog that summarized the physical difficulties of Amanda' battle;

"Christmas Day of 2006, Amanda had sharp pain in her left leg. Six months later, June 2007 at 20 years old, she was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma - a rare bone cancer which effects mostly youth ages 10-20 years old. It was in her left tibia - in the bone marrow, bone, and surrounding soft tissue. She went through 6 cycles of intense chemotherapy, then had surgery to remove the infected area. The surgeon replaced her knee, removed the bone and replaced it with a cadaver bone, placed a titanium rod down the length of her tibia, and moved a portion of her calf muscle to cover her shin. Then, she had an additional 3 rounds of chemotherapy. She was declared cancer-free in May 2008.
In August 2008, she was experiencing pain in her hip and lower back. After running various tests and scans, the doctors at MD Anderson discovered the cancer had metastasized in her ribs, humerus, clavicle, sternum, skull, scapula, hips, and spine. The doctors started her on a different chemotherapy. After her second round of that chemo, she developed colitis, so the doctors had to modify her regime. In February 2009, scans showed the cancer was spreading in more of her bones. So the doctors took her off of chemo and started her on a clinical trial drug. After 6 weeks of that protocol, further scans showed that the cancer had spread to her spleen and liver. April 2009, the doctors told Amanda that there were no more treatments available for her and she entered into hospice care. On May 20, 2009 at the age of 22, Amanda lost her battle with Ewing's Sarcoma. She will always be loved and remembered as the sweet girl who always had a smile on her face and a sense of humor despite it all. She faced each day with courage, optimism, and acceptance. She will be forever in our hearts!
We are very thankful for all the love, support and prayers we have received through this journey with cancer."
Dozens of beautiful flowers showed up at our house one day.  She was too tiered to get out of bed so I brought as many bouquets as I could fit into her bedroom. She was never too tiered to smile! And I'm sure she felt how much her family loves her!  

I knew Deven would be a softy when Amanda talked him into getting a kitten.  Lilly has become a special part of our family ever since.  
Amanda's good friend Christopher Flakus wrote;

"...Now she’s made her way, to the seat with the clearest view
Where she can watch us all, and laugh at the things that we do
My little girl how you showed us, each and every night
That you were unafraid and ready, that you had finally reached the light:
You taught the world to think like you, and as it happens you were right:
That a life which lasted half as long
Could burn forever, twice as bright"

In her own words:

“It’s amazing how easily people lose sight of the small things in life that matter, the feeling of a shower (which I couldn’t experience for over a year, being unable to stand without support). It is the small things in life that we need to learn to love and appreciate. Each day I wake up thankful for being alive, because I know somewhere out there are many people just like me. Wishing they could have something they don’t, or wishing they could have something back that once belonged to them…”

We love Amanda and keep her close to our hearts.  

Here is a link to a beautiful slide show made by a professional photographer of Amanda;

Here's another website of a slide show of Amanda's cancer journey made by Laura;

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