Monday, September 28, 2009

Great Day

Elena had a great day at the clinic. Praise God!! It was one of the smoothest visits ever. No long waits, no tears, no problems! Thank you Lord!!
Elena woke up in a great mood, ready to go. She even wore a cowboy hat to the clinic today
. She said if she had to go, she may as well make it fun! : )
Tonight, we began taking medication at home again. Six pills each morning and evening. Please pray that each time Elena has to swallow these pills, she will remain calm, not think about it too much, and that there will be no after taste from swallowing them.
Elena has to go back to the clinic on Friday to get the PEG shots in each leg. Please pray for this upcoming day as well. She will be checked out of school at 12:45, not her favorite thing to do...
As you continue to cover our family with prayer...we will be having Olivia's meeting at school on Wednesday, 7:45am. We will be developing a plan that will include accommodations to be used both at home and at school. Please pray for clear decisions to be made.

We are thrilled to be ending this day happy, well, and thankful!
With much love,
The Tates

"For in Him, we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:28

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Week New Phase

Tomorrow not only begins a new week at the Tate house , but it means beginning a new phase of treatment for Elena. Tomorrow morning she will begin Delayed Intensification. This phase will last 56 days and brings eight different chemo drugs with it, three of which Elena has never received before. It also means returning to weekly clinic visits. : (
We ask that you pray for Elena's strength, her health and her attitude throughout this course. We have been told that it is intense. We want the chemo to effectively do its job without bringing terrible side effects to Elena.
Tomorrow morning she will be sedated to once again receive methotrexate in her spine. She will also receive two different drugs through her port and one by mouth. Later this week, Elena will have to go back to the clinic for another round of the PEG shots in her thighs.

Thank you for being with us throughout this journey! It's hard to believe that Elena has been undergoing treatment for almost 6 months and that another 6 months lies ahead before we move into the maintenance phase. We also appreciate your generosity in giving to two organizations who are helping children with cancer. It has been amazing to watch the amount of money being donated in honor of our girls to both Aflac Cancer Center at CHOA and CURE Childhood Cancer this month. Nearly $5,000 has been raised to directly help children at Aflac and support research in the goal to find a cure for childhood cancer.

Thank you for your prayers for our family!
With much love,
The Tates

"...all things are possible with God." Mark 10:27

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday Clinic Update

Both girls had wonderful visits at the clinic on Tuesday. Elena's counts were good and she is scheduled to start her next phase of treatment, Delayed Intensification, on Monday, Sept. 28th provided her ANC remains above 750. It was at 790 on Tuesday and will be checked again Thursday afternoon. Elena has not had any treatment during the past 10 days and has been doing great! She still gets tired every now and then, but hasn't really slowed down. She was just over at the neighbor's house with Olivia playing with friends and catching snakes~~. Olivia received good news from all of her neuro doctors...oncologist, psychologist, and surgeon. They were all pleased with the results of the MRI and with her progress socially and physically. Her next scheduled MRI will be in June 2010. We also discussed her weaknesses in learning and how to best help her succeed in school. We will be having a formal meeting at school next week to put a clear plan in place.

Please pray for Elena's counts and spirits to remain high as we gear up for a more intense round of treatment. Please pray for Olivia's meeting at school to go well and for her to not feel frustrated with school struggles. Big praises for all of the doctors, nurses and staff at CHOA and the Aflac Cancer Center. They are an amazing group of people who truly care about children and their progress.

Since both girls had appointments on the same day, they presented the money they have raised from the lemonade stand to Aflac. Karen, one of our wonderful Child Life Specialists, accepted the check. The girls are proud of their hard work and are so very thankful to everyone who donated money to help kids with cancer. It has been amazing to watch one small idea blossom into a project that has touched many lives.
The donation grand total was $2,579.74

Thank you for your continued prayers and support! We are indeed blessed!
With much love,
The Tates

"For He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways." Psalm 91:11

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Next Steps

While we are catching our breath, we are also looking ahead.

For Olivia, that means a Friday afternoon appointment with our pediatrician to discuss the results from her neuropsych tests. Bottom line, as a result of two brain surgeries, Liv has a few areas of weakness that have caused some delays in school. We are working with the team at school and her doctors to figure out exactly what to do.

For Elena, she is now in a recovery time period from chemo to give her body a chance to bounce back before beginning the next phase of treatment. Woo hoo!! No chemo for two whole weeks!!

For both girls, it means a Tuesday, September 22nd visit to the Aflac Cancer Clinic. We have been to the clinic all together before, but never at the same time with BOTH girls having appointments. Olivia will be seen by the brain tumor team and Elena will have her counts checked. Since we will all be there, we will also be presenting the clinic with the check from the lemonade stand proceeds. We'll save the grand total announcement til then : )

As always, thank you for taking the time to check in on us, pray for us and encourage us! We couldn't do it without God and He uses each of you to help us.

With much love,
The Tates

"..the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge."
Psalm 94:22

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Catching Our Breath

It seems like things haven't slowed down since last Wednesday....

Elena had a clinic visit on Friday, September 11th. She left school HAPPY, not upset, thank you Lord! Since Elena's last clinic visit, her doctor had taken her off of the seizure medication, too many negative side effects. Her attitude and outlook are back to normal, more proof that taking her off Keppra was a good thing! She received two different types of chemo in her port and a flu shot. She came back to school happy and ready for a fun Friday night.

Our school was having a Friday night Tailgate Party. It's a fun PTA event. There's food, inflatables, face painting, games and more. After the party, the families can walk across the street to the high school for the Friday night home football game. As a part of National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, our principal asked if we would like to sell lemonade and other drinks as a part of this event. The girls of course said yes! Well, the girls did more playing than selling, but thanks to the wonderful teachers who volunteered to sell lemonade at both the elementary school and the high school during the football game, a lot of money was raised.
There was also a Hat Day at school on Friday, with all proceeds going to CURE Childhood Cancer. As a result of all three of these events and the generosity of our school, the high school, faculty, parents, and students, $898.83 was raised!!! WOW!
It is amazing to witness the love and support that keeps growing and growing as we keep fighting this ugly beast, cancer!!

Saturday was a fun stay at home, play with friends, go to the pool day.

Sunday started with church and a very tired, slow moving Elena and ended with a trip to the emergency room for Elena. As the day went on, Elena started running a fever, which for her means a trip to Scottish Rite's ER. After a super speedy check in, labs drawn, and some IV antibiotics, Elena was sent home. Praise God! Her counts were good and she was able to come home rather than be admitted.

Monday, Elena stayed home to recuperate from her fever. The fever never returned after 8pm on Sunday night. We still do not know why she ran a fever or why it only lasted 6 hours with no other symptoms, but we are looking at it a blessing and happily moving on to whatever lies ahead.
Monday night was the first night of dance class for both girls. We are sitting out this soccer season, but sticking with dance. They both love the class at our neighborhood clubhouse and are returning for another year.

Today was a great day back to school for Elena and it seems every day is a great day for Liv, the Miss Happy Go Lucky she is! We ended the night with hamburgers on the grill (YUM!) lots of homework for Elena (glad she is a math whiz!) and "playing school" with Liv reading aloud to all of us (love that expressive voice!). It was a good day indeed!

Thank you for taking time to check in on us!
With much love,
The Tates

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:20

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sing to the Lord

Our pediatrician and one of Liv's nurses from the Aflac Cancer Center both called with the MRI signs of a recurrent or residual tumor!! Thank you Lord!! Praise God!! We are so thankful for the wonderful news! We are blessed to have received the news so soon and to have two such amazing and caring women call to give us the great news.

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the Earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His." Psalm 100:1-3

Thank you for being with us in prayer and praise!
With much love,
The Tates

Overall A Good Day

Thank you for your prayers last night and this morning! Overall, today was a good day. Liv did great this morning and was very brave. We had to wait quite awhile and Liv never once complained about not eating breakfast. The IV went in the first try, smooth and easy, no problems. Prasie God! Liv is so sweet, patient and strong! Our only rough spot was when Liv came out of sedation. You can sum up the 30 minutes that followed as the opposite of sweet and patient!! She was still strong, just in a different way! It is so very difficult to watch your child struggle. However, God saw us all through it and we made it home. After eating a late lunch, Liv rested until it was time to go get Elena from school.

We will let you know when we hear any preliminary results from today's test.

Thank you for your continued prayers!
Much love,
The Tates

"I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 91:2

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Prayer Request

We hope all of you enjoyed the long holiday weekend. Unfortunately Mark had to work all day Saturday, but we enjoyed Sunday and Monday together. After church on Sunday, we had great fun at a neighborhood BBQ. Lots of great food, horseshoes, croquet, and tag. On Monday, we loved our lazy morning and had fun playing more yard games in the afternoon. It was wonderful to laugh and play together.

Olivia's 6 month MRI is in the morning. We are scheduled to arrive at 9am and to get an IV. The test itself is scheduled for 10am. It usually lasts about 45 minutes.

Please pray for Liv to not be anxious, for the IV to go in smoothly, and for her to come out of the sedation easily. Please pray for a clear scan, no signs of any tumor, and for us to be patient as we await news of the results. Also, please keep Elena in your prayers, she will be at school "all alone".

Thank you for faithfully lifting us up! We'll let you know tomorrow how it all goes.
Much love,
The Tates

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Yesterday, we all had a great time in Norcross at the Farmer's Market. It was great to be back there. We were able to meet the group of volunteers who have been setting up the lemonade stand each Tuesday that the girls can not be there. It still amazes us that strangers would put there own lives on hold for 5+ hours each week to help strangers. Well, they are strangers no more! We had the privilege of meeting many of the volunteers last night. They are an incredible group of women and children who felt the desire to help us. We are so thankful for the work they do and are encouraged by their service and selflessness. We are glad we now know them and are happy to know they are a part of our life and journey.
Thinking back to what began as a child's idea to raise money for the Aflac Cancer Center at CHOA, and now seeing all that it has done is truly a blessing. We are thrilled to say that as of last night the lemonade stand effort has raised $2,320.74!!!!!

This morning was Elena's clinic appointment. The morning didn't start so well. She did sleep in which was good, but she couldn't eat breakfast since she was going to be sedated. She also wasn't happy about not going to school. It's sad and upsetting to hear your child so aggravated and fed up with her own life. Once she was settled at the clinic, she was great. She was sedated and received another round of methotrexate in both her spine and her port, as well as, vincristine in her port. She wanted to go to school afterward. She really feels comfortable there. Another one of the many blessings in this. She completed all her homework this afternoon and went to bed early. Thank you Lord!
Here are the girls tonight, pretending to be asleep
It's always a joy to see them lovin' on each other! : )

Due to Elena having a seizure last time she had the combo methotrexate in the spine and port, she has to take Leucovorin, a medication given to lessen the side effects of methotrexate. She will take this pill twice on Friday, once in the morning, once at night. Please pray that this medicine will do the job it is designed to do: that Elena will not have any seizures and that the chemo drug will still be effective in killing the cancer cells. Please for good health for the entire Tate family and the strength and patience to continue this fight.

Thank you for your love and prayers!
With love,
The Tate Family

"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Let's Conquer Cancer

It's so hard to believe that today is the first day of September!

September 2nd Elena will have her port accessed for the 29th time, will have her 9th lumbar puncture, and receive three different types of chemo.
September 6th begins Elena's sixth month of having leukemia.
September 9th, Olivia will undergo her 15th MRI.
September 22nd Olivia will be evaluated by the brain tumor team at Aflac Cancer Center for the 12th time.

September is recognized as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that cancer is the #1 disease killer of children in the United States? More children die from cancer than from asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and pediatrics AIDS combined. Yet, only 2% of federal funding for cancer research is directed at researching cancers that impact children.

How can childhood cancer become a priority? It begins with each one of us.
We need your help to raise more funds and more awareness.

So, we will begin this month with the lemonade stand on September 1st, in downtown Norcross (next to Thrasher Park) from 4-8pm. As usual, 100% of the proceeds will go to the Aflac Cancer Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Not only does this center provide advanced medical treatment for cancer, it is also conducting leading-edge research in conjunction with numerous national and local groups.

We are excited about our return to Norcross! The community has been amazing.
In the girls absence, some wonderful citizens from the city of Norcross have set-up and manned the lemonade stand in honor of the girls' quest to squeeze out cancer. These donations, along with other donations that have been sent to us from people who read the AJC article, have helped the girls pass their original goal of $1,500. So far, over $2,000 has been collected! We give praise to the God who knows no limits!! The girls have set a new goal of $2,500.

This month, in addition to our efforts in Norcross, we are participating in an initiative called "CURE's Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time."

CURE Childhood Cancer is an incredible local organization that is committed to raising
awareness and raising money to help find a cure for childhood cancer in our lifetime.
CURE’s goal is to raise $1,000 each day throughout the month of September, for a grand total of $30,000 that will go towards pediatric cancer research.

On September 27th, Elena will be honored by CURE. Elena will be one of the featured children on that special day. She will be featured with her story and picture on its website, its blog and on While Elena has her own special day, her community of supporters can donate in her honor any time throughout the month.

Thanks for your prayerful consideration of these cancer fundraisers during the month of September!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support during this journey. We continue to be hopeful and rely on God.

With love,

The Tate Family

“We wait in hope for the Lord: He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,
Even as we put our hope in you.”
Psalm 33:20-22