Clear Scans!

 

Hanging out after the MIBG scan

Hanging out after the MIBG scan

Scans snuck up on us quickly this time. The anxiety was still there, but not as bad as in the past. I don’t know if this is due to our  boys’ hectic schedules keeping us preoccupied or due to the words of encouragement Dr. Rawwas shared with us at John’s last appointment…but scans didn’t weigh as heavily on our minds.

We headed up to Children’s Minneapolis on Wednesday afternoon. The hearing test had been cancelled at the last minute and that left John with just the injection of the MIBG scan. Once again he was such a brave boy about the pokes and IV. Jon and I can’t say enough about the technicians in radiology. They are always so nice and we’ve been there enough they know John well and he easily engages in conversation with them. John was scheduled for a CT scan the next day, but since he hadn’t eaten in 3 hours and they had an opening, they suggested we do it then (Wednesday). This would allow John to eat Thursday morning and to have just the 45 minute MIBG scan and then his appointment with Dr. Rawwas. Once the CT scan was done we were on our way back home.

Thursday morning we once again headed back up to Children’s. When we were checking in at the Welcome Desk “Dude” from the Star Studio stopped by to visit with us. It is always fun to see the Dude. You can’t help but smile when he is in your presence. John and I fast-walked raced to radiology (everything is a competition) and when we got there we were told John’s appointment would be 15 – 20 minutes late. More fast-walking….back to Star Studio to watch a little of Dude’s televised TV show. Fast- walked back to radiology and they were ready for us.

It is always the same routine: John picks out a movie to watch once the scan passes his head and he can turn it, he hops up on the table, a wedge is placed between his feet, his feet are taped together, the technician places his arms and head how they need to be, the scanner part of the machine is lowered so it sits almost touching his nose, I position my chair next to John – but with my back to the screen that displays his body as it is being scanned….and then it is time for the scan to begin.

I had decided that I was not going to look at the screen this time and I had even asked that the screen be turned off. Unintentionally it was left on. I had brought a book along to keep my mind busy, but at the very end I turned and peaked. To my very untrained eye it looked like a normal scan and I texted Jon my diagnosis. (He is always with us in spirit, but much elsewhere on the hospital grounds. We deal with scan day in our own way. If I need him, I know I can get him.)

Next we headed to lab for more blood draws and to hand over John’s first morning pee. We were then off to the Star Cafe for a little lunch before meeting with Dr. Rawwas for the results.

While eating lunch one of John’s nurses, Deb, from the 7th floor was walking through and stopped by to talk. Deb was one of the very first nurses we had during John’s diagnosis and first hospital stay (Yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of bringing John home from that first hospital stay that lasted 20 days.) and she spent hours with us during those days educating us on our new normal and the care that would be required of us. It had been almost a year since we’ve seen her and of course I had to get a little teary-eyed. So much emotion…We are forever grateful to all of John’s nurses for they lovingly cared for our little guy through the darkest of days. It is the nurses that were in the trenches of cancer treatment day in and day out…Those 7th floor nurses will always have a very special place in my heart.

Finally it was time for our appointment with Dr. Rawwas. Cindy, John’s nurse came in first and talked with us and then Dr. Rawwas came in and told us right away that John’s scans were great. Yay! John had his examination and his counts are all good (Urine won’t be back for a few days.)  I had a very good discussion with Dr. Rawwas. Jon is there listening, but he says little. Again….we deal in our own ways. Dr. Rawwas told us that we balance each other out.:)  12 weeks …and then scans again. Next regular appointment is May 22nd.

We got in the car to go home and I was hit with a wave of exhaustion. Obviously even if I try to tell myself I didn’t have scananxiety as much as before….it was there. These days are emotionally exhausting. Exhausting….but also exhilarating. There is such a sense of relief with the good news.  I know that we are so very fortunate for John to being doing so well. We are blessed beyond words.

 

Life has been hectic and normal, which we are so grateful for. These 3 boys keep us running. Here is a glimpse into some of what we have been doing. Of course there has also been lacrosse and hockey thrown into the mix as well.

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Thank you for your continued prayers for John!

Love, Hope and Blessings,

Shelly

2 Years…

This brown eyed babe has taught his mom so much.

This brown-eyed babe has taught his mom so much.

It is exactly 2 years to the day that we walked into Children’s Minneapolis hematology/Oncology specialty Clinic with a five year old boy who was in such pain he couldn’t walk. There had been complaints about knee pain here and there..the night before he had run around at Michael’s lacrosse game and the next morning all John could do was crawl. When we left for the clinic we packed a small bag and knew we weren’t coming home that night without even saying it to each other. We were too scared to say it. We didn’t come home that night. We there for the next 20 days.

This is when we first met Dr. Walrus/Rawwas and his/John’s nurse Cindy. This is when we learned we were in deep. I will never forget that appointment. My mom, Jon, John and me in that room. The examination, being told that something was felt near John’s spleen. Holding John with his legs wrapped around my waist and his little arms around my neck as I carried him from the clinic,across the skywalk and up to the 7th floor. Clinging to my son….numb and nauseous with fear.

Today…today is wonderful! Today I saw my son in his first grade classroom interacting with his friends. Today I saw him stick his tongue out at me in the hall of school. Today I took him to hockey and watched him skate his little heart out. Today I listened to him cheer on the Gophers Men’s basketball team and The MN WILD and read Z is for Zamboni.

Yes, John has fought hard along the way, shown strength beyond his years, and endured the unimaginable…but today I focus on the many blessings that have wrapped around our family like a blanket of love. The wonderful nurses, doctors…all of the Children’s staff. They educated us, listened to us, made us feel like we were part of their team, and cheered us on when we needed it most. Our families that dropped everything to walk this journey with us. Our friends and neighbors, our colleagues, the Hastings schools, the hockey and lacrosse clubs,Our Saviors and Pastor Doug,  acquaintances and even strangers, Team John shirts, Mikko bracelets, The beauty school, the donations, Mini-sticks for Mikko, Light the Lamp for Mikko, the gifts, the cards, the meals….our amazing community! All of you pulled us through and gave us the strength and courage to keep on keeping on. We are blessed to have your support and cheering our little guy on. We are forever grateful.

John is doing so well, but his journey with Neuroblastoma isn’t over and we still would like your prayers. Please keep John in your prayers. Prayers for NED (No Evidence of Disease) to stay put and those cancer cells to stay away. Prayers for scans that are around the corner at the end of April, prayers for no or minimal late-term effects. Prayers for John Joseph to continue to thrive!

Two years ago I never dreamed today would be like this.  Today is a gift.

Love, Hope and Blessings,

Shelly

Words of Hope

Last Friday Jon and I took Mikko to his monthly appointment at Children’s for his blood draw, urine tests and physical exam. This appointment was with Dr. Rawwas. This time his blood and urine samples were handled upstairs in the clinic. There was a new guy (to us) drawing John’s blood and dealing with us for this part. I ‘m pretty sure he thinks I’m nuts after all the reminders and questions I was throwing at him. (Do you know some of this blood needs to be on ice? Do you know some goes to Michigan and some stays here. Same with the urine…some stays here…It was taken at 7:15 this morning…It needs a label on it…are you sure you drew enough blood because in the past I thought there were several more tubes…and on and on and on). I wouldn’t be surprised if next time he sent us down to the lab.

When Dr. Rawwas came in he had asked us if there have been any more complaints about leg pain. Nope, not a word. He examined John and then we talked a little more about his thinning hair. I had read on a Neuroblastoma support site about Dr. Sholler (The doctor we saw in Michigan.) suggesting Melatonin and Zinc help with this. We talked for a while about dosages and agreed to give it a try.(I had also discussed this with our contact in Michigan, but didn’t want to start John on it until we talked with Dr. Rawwas about it.)

Then Dr. Rawwas took us by surprise by what he said next. I wish we could remember it better, but both John and I were rather dumbfounded by his unexpected comments. It was something like…Dr. Rawwas wanted us to know that based on how John responded so well to his treatment that he is confident (not sure if that was the exact wording) that he will not relapse AND he smiled. This was HUGE for us to hear and see. Of course both of us had to well up with that happy news.

I debated whether to share this as I know there are no guarantees in life, especially life with cancer. I also know there have been children who have successfully completed the COG protocol for Neuroblastoma and have relapsed. But I also know that Dr. Rawwas would not say anything that he didn’t believe and his words of confidence lifted our burden of worry  a bit. His comments on Friday were a gift to Jon and I,  allowing us to lower our guards just a little and breathe a little deeper…to live each and every day as the gift it truly is….pushing the worry further behind.

Of course we will always worry to some degree. If not about relapse, then about the possible long-term side effects from the drugs that rid John’s body of his stage IV Neuroblastoma. One day at a time…we will keep on keeping on.

We are almost 2 years out from John’s diagnosis on April 6, 2012. It’s crazy to think of the life we’ve led for the past 2 YEARS!

 

 

Many adults think of Michael as a quiet kid, keeping his thoughts to himself. Both he and I are night owls and it is late at night that we have some of our best discussions. It usually happens as he comes up out of the basement around 11:30 or 12. This happened last Thursday and it is a conversation I will remember for  a long time…forever. It all started with my talking about getting ready for John’s doctor’s appointment the next day. Michael always wants to know what kind of appointment and what is going to be done. Then the questions and comments from Michael started:

He told me that John’s cancer had been very difficult for him. Right then and there I had to FIGHT tears because I knew if I cried the conversation would be over in a flash. I listened to him and I won’t share that part of our talk, but man it tugged at my heart. He then asked me what was the most difficult thing for me post John’s diagnosis. I answered and he answered. (Remember it is Michael leading this entire conversation.). Were there ever times during John’s diagnosis/treatment that I  thought he was going to die. Ugh…again we talked and talked for a long time.

It was a good conversation and I am so thankful that Michael feels comfortable enough to talk with me as he does, but it was a reminder to me how cancer turns the entire family inside out and upside down. It has touched  us all and left a mark on each and every one of us in different ways. Looking back there are things I’d do differently. Most importantly I would find a way to be more present for my big guys. I also wish we all would have went to counseling to help us deal with the chaos our lives were thrust into. Hindsight…right?!

This post has taken me FOREVER to write tonight. When I would stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning I had much better luck writing. The house was quiet and I was alone with my thoughts…able to put a few sentences together. It has been extremely difficult to find this time before 2 in the morning. Tonight I put John in bed, took a shower and crawled into bed to write/ type while the guys watched the WILD game. The dog was with me and stressing out from all the yelling/cheering coming from the living room. She was constantly trying to get on my lap (65 pound lab!) Jon came in and wanted to know what I was writing and he was bugging me. I told him it is far to late in my journaling to censor me. Later Jeffrey did basically a cannonball onto my bed and wanted to know what was up. Jon came back in to bug. Jeffrey came back in. Dog was still trying to get on my lap again. Jon was bugging again.

It is midnight and Michael just came up from the basement to share that all Scandinavian countries are working towards passing legislation to ban homework. Too bad he lives in the U.S. and has a chemistry test tomorrow, a paper rewrite that will take a minimum of 45 minutes(I’m told) and math. I have also been informed that I have no idea how busy he is….waaaay busier than me. :)

Happy April 1st!

Love, Hope and Blessings,

Shelly

Windy City Spring Break

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On Monday March 17th we took the Amtrak train, Empire Builder to Chicago! We got a late start as the train was running 3 hours late, but thankfully we knew this ahead of time so we weren’t sitting in the little terminal in Red Wing that entire time. This was the first train ride for all of us. The train pulled up, we walked out and on we went. The fact that there wasn’t any security seemed odd to me and the fact that there is no checking your luggage ..a little concerning, but we all got there with all of our bags. The kids passed the time on the train with their electronics (of course), eating snacks, and playing a few card games.

We were in Chicago from Monday to Friday. Tuesday morning we hit the ground running and kept that pace through all of the days. We visited many museums, ate too much awesome food and had a great time. We would leave our hotel in the morning and return after dinner each evening. The boys were awesome and easy to travel with. They all got a little too comfortable with hailing a taxi cab (John called it “hawking a cab”…so that’s what we called it the rest of the trip.). We walked as much as possible, but at the end of our days John was tired and wanted to “Hawk a cab”. :)

The Art Institute of Chicago: Michael was on a mission to find all the art work that was in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day off. We would have been better off leaving Jeffrey, Jon and John at home. Their feet and legs started to hurt 5 minutes into visiting this museum!

The Shedd Museum: We all loved this and had spectacular views of Lake Michigan. Michael wasn’t pleased that I purchased tickets to the dolphin show as I was told it conflicted with his morals (This is new after watching a documentary about whales in captivity on Netflix….). He suffered through it. We enjoyed our first 4D movie experience at the Shedd Museum. It was a short movie called Sea Monsters. Four of us laughed most of the time and one little spectator was scared to death! We were wondering what makes an experience 4d. We quickly learned it is the air and water that hits you from the chair in front of you and the pokes you get in the back from your own chair.

The Field Museum: A favorite for all five of us! So many amazing exhibits. We could have spent the entire day here. Sue the T-Rex is here.

Adler Planetarium: This was another Michael request, but we all enjoyed this one.

The Museum of Science and Industry: We were running out of time so I took John and we did our thing and Jon took the big guys and did there thing. We would have loved to go in the U-505 Submarine, but all the tickets were sold out! Bummer…. That is on our list to do the next time we get to visit Chicago.

The Sky Deck: 103 floors up! One Gegen kept his back to the wall and was ornery during this experience. His children were heckling him and doing their best to get him to come on the platform….but nope….he wasn’t doing it. He tried his best to take a picture of the boys and me….they didn’t turn out. I think he just went “click” without looking and ran to position himself back on the wall.

At one point on our trip John said to me, “What were we doing last spring break mom?”. I told him we were in the hospital for his 4th antibody treatment. Of course he knew this when he asked me. We both agreed that this was a much better way to spend spring break!

We were all a little sad to leave Chicago. There were more things we wanted to do and see, but we packed up and headed to the station. The train was full on the way home, but John and I did manage to find a few chairs in the observation car. We played crazy eights for a long time and then he wanted to to the “Chat Pack” cards that I brought along. They are cards with conversation starters on them. John had watched how I did this with Jeffrey and Michael on the way to Chicago (Much to their horror) and he wanted me to do it with him. So we did and he took each question very seriously. So there we sat. I read the question and he would give his answer. Here are a few that he answered.

In your opinion what is the most beautiful man-made object in the world? Our hotel in Hawaii.

If you could hear a speech from a leading figure in any field, whom would you choose to hear? Martin Luther King

Describe your dream home:( He went on and on until I realized he was describing the home he’s building in his Mindcraft game.)

If you could walk into any painting which painting would you choose to enter: The one with the naked people (This is in reference to one of the many paintings he saw with naked people in it at the Art Institute.)

And then we ended with this last question. What is the greatest lesson in life you have ever learned? Without missing a beat he tapped his finger on his chin and said, “This has to do with the hospital.” (He then paused a moment and continued on)”Don’t be scared. You never have to be scared.”  With that response it was game over for this mom. I hugged him the best I could and told him what a special boy he is.

Yes we had a wonderful vacation, but right there, in that moment I was reminded by my beautiful boy that what is truly wonderful..we were all together. All 5 of us…happy…healthy…living for today and not fearing tomorrow (Jon and I have fear…but this past week it barely reared its ugly head. This is progress!). A year ago our lives were so different. 2 years ago…it was all just starting, we just didn’t know it. And today….today is a gift, a blessing.

Enough for tonight! I hope to update later this week with the events of John losing his first tooth in Chicago! He was determined to lose it there and he did with help from his big brother Michael. More on that later.

Love, Hope and Blessings,

Shelly

There’ll Be Days Like This…….Somebody should have said!

Urine results: There aren’t any…I had been checking, checking, checking online since John’s last appointment at Children’s for the results of his urine tests…Nada. I finally called this week and our nurse was very apologetic as the orders were made, but the lab didn’t do them. I was ok since I knew urine did get sent to Michigan as required by the study and before you know it we’ll be back at Children’s at the end of March for John’s next visit. I did share with here my frustration and understanding (being this is a new clinical trial) that no one in the lab seems to know what to draw each time we come and what to do with the pee (Of course I tell them!). Jon told me one time he didn’t even want to hand the pee over to the lab tech because he was worried it wasn’t going to end up where it needed to be.

It was a rough day to be “Shelly Gegen – Mom”. UGH! It started first thing this morning with Jeffrey. He started laying the ground work last night that he was “sick”. (And not fakeritious sick like Michael can be. Really sick with a sore throat and trouble breathing….so says Jeffrey. The breathing is already thrown in there for good measure.) Alarm went off. I went in. I’m told he’s sick…throat…breathing. If I send him to school he makes his eyes as sad and droopy as he can (And he can make them droopy!) and before you know it the school nurse calls me. Jeffrey stayed home.

I then walked into John’s room, rubbed his back and asked him how he was and he smiled at me so sweet. I then told him there was a change in plans. He wouldn’t be going with me to school, but his dad was going to get him ready. There’s no other way to say it, but the shit hit the fan. He was enraged! Never ever is he like this….bawling…screaming… tearing his bed apart….chucking things around and not just for a little bit. I have no idea why this was going on. Was it the unexpected change in his schedule? I always go over what the next day is going to look like at bed time. (You’re having home/school lunch. You’re going with mom/dad You are riding the bus home.). I told Jon he was going nuts! Sick Jeffrey had to come out of his bedroom to see what all the commotion was about. It was ugly and sad because it was so uncharacteristic of him! He had a lot of words for us as well. I think staying up to watch the Wild/Rangers hockey game had been a BAD idea!

Thankfully I got out of the house and to school. When John arrived he was all smiles and he was testing my temperament towards him throughout the day. I would get a poke in the side when he would see me in the hall. I knew he was feeling remorseful because he usually ignores me at school!

When I got home from work he was busy, busy, busy picking up everything that had been tossed, making his bed and organizing his room…all on his own. He knew he was wrong this morning. So sweet.

Then 5 minutes later “it” hit the fan again! Jeffrey and Jon..short story they both got sent to their penalty boxes (bedrooms). Little one knowing he better zip his lips. Medium one flapping his. UGH!

Two of them are mad at me. Let’s make it 3!

When you are pregnant and expecting a baby you read, read, read everything you can get your hands on so you can take care of that new life. I read and reread What to Expect When you are Expecting, THe Mayo Clinic Book of Childbirth and the First Year, From Birth to Age 5. Jon would tease me and say, “What does the book say?”. That baby arrives and there was a time when just the sight of me would light up his eyes and put a smile on his face. The sight of me at daycare would send him running with open arms to greet me with a hug. Then before you know it, that baby is a teenager and he’s not so excited by you anymore.

Shelly? Shouldn’t you have read some books? Read some articles? Researched who the heck you would be living with?! I just want my teenagers to know I love you guys more than anything. There are times when I need to say no and you’re not going to like it. If my mama senses are telling me no, it’s no. I can live with you being mad at me, disliking me, even hating me for a little while. I know you’ll come around. No is my job, my responsibility. I don’t care if I’m the meanest, strictest mom with the shortest leash or if everyone else is doing it. It’s not my job to be your friend, although I look forward to when our relationships can switch to that gear when you are grown men. My job with your dad, it to raise all of you the best we can to be kind, caring, grace filled men that are ready to make a positive impact on world. I know that last sentence is laugh worthy from you guys. I just want what’s best for you. Oh and….I make mistakes too. This is all new for me, but you can know that no matter the conversation, disagreement or argument….I’ll always love you.

Yep…all 3 tonight were less than thrilled with me. Rough start to our spring break for this mom!

It should be looking up soon. Jeffrey has a hockey game tomorrow morning and if they win, they play for the championship on Sunday. Then his hockey season is over and he’s on to Box Lacrosse.

We have a spring break planned to Chicago via Amtrack train. More on that later.

Happy Weekend!

Love, Hope and Blessings,
Shelly

PS Jeffrey made a miraculous recovery!

PS PS The good news..I didn’t eat my way through the stress…probably because I was too exhausted to get my butt up off the couch. :)

Hockey and More

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This weekend marked the end of the regular hockey season for John. He couldn’t have been any more thrilled with the fact that he got to go to the arena twice on Saturday for games and then again on Sunday for games and the medal ceremony. He loved every minute of it! I realized this weekend that when it comes to hockey he has the characteristics of both his brothers. When he’s nervous and excited about something, he gets ornery like his oldest brother Michael is known for. There were few nice words from John before getting on the ice. Just get him ready and get out of the way. After the game he has the skill of embellishing the facts just a tad about goals scored and games won….maybe just a little like that other brother did years ago. It was a weekend all about John and his hockey. Perfect in his big brown eyes.

On Saturday as I watched him on the ice the thought didn’t escape me that it was two years ago when he was skating his last game of that season, he had cancer….we just didn’t know it yet. He was almost 5 1/2. On that Sunday I had done the bad mom thing by letting him skate even though he had a low grade fever…because I didn’t want him to miss out on the medal ceremony. That next day we took him to the doctor and he was diagnosed with strep and from there it would take about a month until we learned the real truth…the nightmare we were thrust into.

2 years…wow. It doesn’t seem that it has been that long ago. 2 years! All John has been through, how we’ve all changed, where we are today… Watching him on the ice this past Saturday filled my heart with warmth. John is our miracle…our gift.

Almost 2 years since diagnosis…almost 9 months since the end of frontline treatment. I’m trying…Jon and I are trying not to live our life in fear of relapse. Jon is better than me at this or better about not verbalizing his fears and calming mine. We seem to click along and then the fear grips us so tightly it seems impossible to function.

This past Monday John mentioned that his legs hurt. Anytime I hear a comment like that from him it sends my mind racing, but I can’t let him see that. I did my best to reassure him, tucked him into bed and prayed that was the last I heard of the leg pain (leg pain was one of his most prominent symptoms at diagnosis). I was up late that evening going over my conference folders for the next evening and John stumbled out of bed a little before 1 in the morning crying, crying crying. His legs hurt. I tucked him in, gave him some tylenol and rubbed his legs. When he fell asleep I went to see Jon who was wide awake. I can’t even explain the fear…the feeling that we were about to be thrust back into our old life of cancer treatment and hospitals. There was very little sleep for either of us that night.

I shared my concerns with a few friends and ignored the strong suggestions from one that I call the doctor. John had an appointment already scheduled for Friday. We would wait. Another comment about leg pain was made on Tuesday after hockey. I walked around with a nauseated stomach all week.

Thank goodness it was a busy week with conferences on two evenings. Thank goodness I work! If my mind had anymore time to think about the “what ifs”…it’d be ugly. I have the best support system at work and I am blessed in so many ways there.

Finally Friday came and it was time for the appointment. Both Jon and I go because neither of us want to go alone EVER. Each appointment carries the possibility of being the one that changes everything.

The appointment was a huge relief! John is great. His appointment was great. His counts were great (I haven’t gotten the urine results yet, but I am confident they will be as well.). He had grown almost a centimeter in 1 month! Growing pains…the doctor was confident that John’s pains were growing pains! What a relief! I was asked why I didn’t call in with my concern (My dear friend was right in BOSSING me to call.). I had told her it was because we had this appointment scheduled. Really….it was because I wanted to live 3 or 4 more days without cancer. I shared with John’s doctor that I was a basket case all week. She reminded me that we are not that far out of treatment and not to be so hard on myself…that those fear will ease over time. I find that hard to believe, but I hope she’s right. It is exhausting to worry.

During John’s appointment Jeanine, his Child Life Specialist, stopped by to drop off a very special gift. It was two framed photos of John with Mikko Koivu from the WIld about Children event from last March. Super cool! It worked out perfectly because Jeanine was able to take John for a while so we could talk about our concerns with the doctor. Dr. Chu couldn’t get over how great John looked. Skinny, but great.

The big guys are doing well. Michael is in between hockey and lacrosse and home a lot more often. For him I have went from Mom to “Shellster”, unless he wants something it is a demanding “MOM”! I think I will start ignoring him when he calls me Shellster. Who calls their mom that?

Jeffey’s hockey season is still going and will end the weekend of March 15/16. His team is doing really well. I believe they are 30 and 2 or something like that. Tomorrow Keith Ballard from the WILD is coming to skate at his team’s practice. I believe the opportunity was won in a contest. I know Jeffrey is really looking forward to it.

On Sunday evening our family all sat in the same room and watched an entire movie together. It was Gravity..a few scary parts for John and Jeffrey, but we all liked it (Although I did have to remind my husband several times that the movie is fiction…so quit saying, “That couldn’t happen”!). I seriously can not remember the last time we all watched a movie together.

Wow…I got wordy again (Imagine that!) I am going to include some winter pictures for our parents that are sitting in the Arizona sunshine.

Love, Hope and Blessings,
Shelly

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Ice Fun, Snow Fun, Olympic Fun!

The Gegens continue to keep busy this snowy winter with hockey. Last weekend Mikko was the goalie for his team and he enjoyed it, but not enough to want to do it all the time. Jon and I are good with that!
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Jeffrey’s team played in The River Rumble tournament here in Hastings and they ended up being the champions. The last 2 games were awesome!
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Michael’s hockey season is over and captain’s practice for lacrosse has already started! Out of nowhere he has taken up snowboarding. I can’t keep up with the kid. Today he told me I really needed to learn how to chill. What’s he talking about?! I’m chill!

That Sunday was full of fun and excitement. After the 2 hockey games we rushed up to Nikelodeon Universe at MOA to participate in the Hematology/Oncology Winter Fun Fest. All five of us went and enjoyed the dinner catered by Crave and still had time for a few rides. Jon and Jeffrey aren’t much for rides but we got them on the Pepsi Crush roller coaster and the log water ride. We also hit a few other rides, but not the ones that Michael wanted to go on. The scarier the better for him.

When we were leaving I heard someone call our name. I turned around and it was the Wolcyn family. We had first met them back in April of 2012 when John was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma and was newly admitted to the 7th floor of Children’s Hospital.The Wolcyn’s 10th month old daughter, Siena had just been diagnosed in March of 2012 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). I first met Siena’s dad Ben and big sister, Avery in the playroom. We had many stays at the hospital where we were at the same time. Running into the Wolcyn’s was the favorite part of that busy Sunday for me. To see Sienna…a person would never know how sick she had been. What a beautiful little girl. I loved her feisty spirit too. She was not about to share her ice cream cone with Avery! There is a new Wolcyn baby sister too! She looks just like her big sisters. Visiting with Becky and Ben…seeing how happy they are, how the girls are thriving…learning that Siena is so close to the end of her treatment…priceless! They are an amazing family filled with faith and hope.

This weekend Jeffrey and John went up to Lake of the Woods to go ice fishing. Michael was invited, but being out on the ice for 2 1/2 days in a little ice fishing house without internet, cell phone service, running water, a bucket for a toliet and no electricity….not his idea of fun. There weren’t a lot of fish, but they had a good time.

Michael,John and I were at home. Michael helped with shoveling, snowblowing and working a penalty box at a hockey game with me to get our volunteer points. He then took John home with him so I could work the next 3 games too. It was a long Sunday at the arena! John and I spent time outside playing on Saturday and Monday. On Sunday we went to the Lego movie and we both give it two thumbs up.

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Of course we are enjoying watching the Olympics. John will watch whatever is on and I dare you to try and turn the channel. Today it was the women cross-country gun shooting competition and he said that was great! I think he particularly found pleasure in the one skier face planting at the finish line. Anyways….on Friday I remembered that while John was in the hospital in the summer of 2012, during the summer olympics, Jon and Jeffrey had made a silly video. Jeffrey was up at the hospital for a sleepover and the nurse rolled a chair in for him. When it was unfolded a comment was made that it looked like a bobsled. That’s all it took…I hope you enjoy the footage from 2012. John was recovering from major surgery and like usual…we were doing our best to keep his spirits, and ours, up.

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Hugs for Aunt Kathie!

Love, Hope and Blessings,
Shelly