Thursday, December 23, 2010

Weekend Fun with Friends

It's hard to believe that it is almost Christmas and the year is coming to an end.
This weekend, we enjoyed some special Christmas traditions with friends.

Thinking about the weekend and these friends, I know we couldn't have made it through this year without these two dear families. They have given us much love and support in so many ways. A meal, a card, a hug, a smile, an email, an hour or night to ourselves, hospital and clinic visits, encouragement when we need it most, and having confidence that things would be ok when we weren't so sure, are just a few of the things they have provided for us. I'm thankful they have not given up on us or this fight.

Friday night was a great party for the kids at the Latham's house. They are amazing party planners and hosts!! It was a night filled with cookies, icing, ornament making, movies, squeals, laughter and love!

Yes, under all that icing is a gingerbread man!

Artists at work on beautiful platters.

I wish I could post the rest of the party and Stone Mountain pictures, but for some reason I can't...

Sunday, we went to Stone Mountain Park for their annual Christmas event. We can remember taking Elena when she was two. Soon after we started going with our friends the Vickers. It is a wonderful afternoon and evening filled with musical shows and performances, singing, dancing, carols, lights, and ending with a train ride complete with the story of "The Gift". The real meaning of Christmas shared with a captive audience on an open train. The story of Jesus' birth and God's most precious gift to us, His son.

As Christmas weekend is near, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

In Him,
The Tates
"But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas is Coming

Just a few pics to share what has been going on at the Tate house:

On Saturday, we finished decorating our Christmas tree.
Liv did a great job straightening the tree skirt.

Elena loved hanging the ornaments as high as she could reach.

We loved snapping some new photos of our girls.
It is amazing how quickly they grow up!

Mark always places the angel on top of the tree.
This is the twentieth year that angel as sat atop our tree!

On Sunday, our family had the privilege of lighting
the Advent wreath at church.

It was the second Sunday of Advent.
Mark lit the candle. Elena read the verse.

Liv ended the lightning by saying "O come, O come Emmanuel."

On Sunday, while grocery shopping
we picked up an item not on our list : )

It is now a new favorite at the Tate house.....
gingerbread men marshmallows!
Yes, they are light brown marshmallows that are shaped like little gingerbread men AND taste like gingerbread!
Yummy with hot chocolate, coffee or plain!

Find time during this beautiful, yet busy, Christmas season to focus on one another and the pure joy that can only come from Christ alone.
In Him,
The Tates

"We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Full of Thanks

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. While this past year has held its' share of struggles, God's blessings have been amazing and for this we are extremely thankful. The prayer and support we have received from friends and family have brought much comfort and strength to our family. We can't fully express how thankful we are for all your prayers.

In Him,
The Tates

“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 has made us, and we are His; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Psalm 100

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Fabulous Fall Day

Even though Mark had to work on Saturday, the girls and I decided to get out and enjoy the beautiful day together. We packed a picnic, bundled up (the high Saturday was a brisk 50 degrees!), and headed to a nearby nature center that has plenty of great hiking trails.

It was the best day we have had in a long time!
No distractions, no homework, no tv, just us!
I'll never forget the joy, laughter, and love that filled this day!

"Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom." Psalm 90:12

On one of the trails, there was a ring of short walls. The girls pretend to be Liesle from "The Sound of Music". Remember the scene in the gazebo when she is running on the benches?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dressing Up for Halloween

Who doesn't LOVE dressing up for Halloween and going trick or treating? Our girls certainly do! This year was our first year outside the realm of princesses, garden fairies, and cheerleaders. The girls wanted to be VAMPIRES! With the help of our wonderful sitter, Mrs. Cyndi, she transformed the girls into super vampires. She did an amazing job on their hair, makeup and accessories. (Yes, Liv has a snake necklace on!)

Mrs. Cyndi is another blessing in our lives. While I was working part-time, she kept either Elena, Olivia, or both girls, for a total of about five years. Now, once again she is keeping Elena. Elena goes to Mrs. Cyndi's each morning before getting on the bus. She loves helping with the babies and toddlers.

Enjoy the Halloween pics!

Bonus pictures!
Mrs. Cyndi's daughter, Lauren, transformed Elena into a vampire the weekend before Halloween. Elena had been invited to a costume party. She won first place!! : )
Check out the skeleton earring!

For book character dress-up day at school, Liv went as ....... Junie B. Jones.
FYI-She wore those glasses (no lenses) at home all day today! : )

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Day at the Clinic

Today was a clinic day for Elena. It was also a sedation day. She received chemo in her port as well as in her spinal fluid and brain via a lumbar puncture. While she was sedated, Elena also received a flu shot. When we left the clinic she felt rather like a pin cushion from all of the little sticks in her body. It always amazes me to see how well she comes out of the sedation and is then ready to get on with the rest of her day. Today was no exception, even though she was feeling a little nauseous. She had a Math test this afternoon that she was determined to get to. When I brought her to school we ran into her math teacher and Elena told him that she came back to school for the test. Mr. Boynce just smiled, shook his head and said, " I knew you would". This little girl is determined to live life as normal as possible no matter what. It is from her that I often times draw my strength to go on. It is for her, and the rest of our family, that we live for each new day. We look forward to each new morning and to finding joy in even the smallest of things. For all good things come from the Lord!

We hope you have a wonderful evening and an even brighter tomorrow.

In Him,
The Tates

"Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it. We may receive it gladly, with thankful hearts." 1 Timothy 4:4

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Long Overdue Update

Sorry it has been so long since our last update. Each time we sit down to write, we don't know what to say....should we say how bad some of our days really are? Should we say sometimes we lose hope? Do we say that we can't stand our life with cancer?

Here we are 19 months into this journey and we are worn down and tired. We are often confused about the treatments and their effects. In July, after 16 months of intense treatment, Elena's counts struggled for weeks to recover. In August, we moved into the "maintenance" phase of treatment. This final phase was supposed to be "easy". It has not been.

As it has been with most of Elena's treatments, she doesn't just have the "usual" side effects, she has the more "unusual" ones too! True, Elena only has to go to the clinic once a month for chemo now rather than every seven to ten days. But, the battles we fight now pale in comparison to making multiple clinic visits.

Starting middle school is a big adjustment for many kids. Add to that trying to handle the physical, emotional, and cognitive effects of treatment and it can be an awful combination at times.
In the past month, we started seeing a great psychologist at Aflac to help with the emotional side of dealing with cancer and change. Elena also had an MRI last month. It showed that her brain has been affected by the chemo she has been receiving to her brain and spine. These changes have impacted her short term memory and her ability to process and retrieve information. This has affected her at school and at home. So, Elena has been dealing with starting middle school, not understanding her classwork or homework, and new side effects from new chemo during this new phase of treatment: weight gain, a rash on her face, peeling skin on her fingers and toes, and not being able to do things she was once able to do both mentally and physically.

All of these emotions and feelings have meant having some really bad days. The weight of it all has taken a toll on all four of us. At times, we wonder if we really will make it through the next 10 months. Though we doubt and question all of this, we still try to stop and remember the good things in our lives: a sweet kiss, the warmth of the sun, pizza nights, a laugh or a giggle, one peaceful moment. We also remind ourselves where our hearts and hope lie; in God.

Chris Tomlin's song, "Our God", says it perfectly,

Our God is greater

Our God is stronger
God you are higher than any other
Our God is Healer

Awesome in power

Our God, Our God

So, we keep on going, day by day, and our hope remains in Him,
The Tates

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thank you!

Thanks to you, we are excited to say that we have passed our goal of raising $1,000 for CURE Childhood Cancer!! As of tonight, you have donated $1,500 in honor of Elena to CURE Childhood Cancer!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Your donations will help fund research that will lead to better treatments and a cure for pediatric cancer.
CURE's goal was to raise $60,000 in the month of September while honoring special CURE kids each day of the month who have been affected by childhood cancer. They have surpassed that goal and have currently raised over $73,000!!

Founded in 1975, CURE Childhood Cancer is dedicated to conquering childhood cancer through research, education and support of patients and their families. Since its establishment as a grass-roots organization, CURE has focused its efforts on improving the care, quality of life, and survival rate of children with cancer.

We are grateful to have an organization like CURE who not only helps meet immediate physical and emotional needs of families dealing with cancer, but who also work tirelessly to help find a cure.

Thank you for your continued love, support, and prayers for our family!
In Him,

The Tates

Monday, September 13, 2010

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Dear Family and Friends,

When Elena was diagnosed with leukemia on April 6, 2009, we were as frightened as any parents could be. We were not only terrified by the realization that our child had a disease that could prove terminal, but that there was no clear cut cure or plan of attack to follow. Since Elena’s diagnosis, there has been little improvement. One of the factors for this is the severe lack of awareness of childhood cancer.

Did you know September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month? If you didn’t, you’re not alone. Many people do not know what the month signifies. Yet every day, two full classrooms of kids are diagnosed with cancer. And still, only 2% of federal funding for cancer research is directed at solving cancers that impact our children.

While doctors and researchers have made strides in the battle against so many other types of cancer, the lack of funding and awareness for our children has led to an insignificant improvement in survival rates for pediatric cancer over the past decade. As a result, cancer continues to be the number one disease killer of children in our country, more than asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and pediatric AIDS combined! So how does childhood cancer become a priority cause in this country? The journey begins with each of us. We need your help to raise more funds and more awareness.

Throughout the month of September, we are participating in an initiative called “CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time.” On September 19th, Elena will be honored. CURE Childhood Cancer will feature her story on this web site . Our goal is to raise $1,000 on Elena’s day in her honor to help fund research that will lead to better treatments and cures for pediatric cancers.

We hope you will consider donating in Elena's honor. We would also like for you to share Elena’s story with your friends and family. Together, we can make curing childhood cancer as urgently important as it should be.

In Him,

Christy and Mark

Friday, September 10, 2010

Time to Catch Up

Sorry it has been so long between posts!
I forget how crazy it gets when summer is over and it's back to school! Early mornings, homework, projects, late nights. Then, when we think we are finally getting into a routine, we hit a bump in the road. But things are looking good right now and we are enjoying each weekend that comes our way!

Some things we have been enjoying...
Friday nights at the pool

A great event at Turner Field called Hit a Home Run for Camp Sunshine. The girls took their picture with two Braves players and we all enjoyed a great game in a suite.

The girls interview on 750WSB for the Care-a-Thon to benefit the Aflac Cancer Center at CHOA. The 37 hour event raised over $1.5 million dollars this year!
The girls gave a GREAT interview!

A service project at church called "Pray and Wash". The kids washed cars for free. While waiting for your car, you could pray in the church.

Tailgating before the LSU/NC game with family from La. It was fun to hang out all day!!

Spending time with our friends Cori and Phil. Cori took some more family pictures for us.
The first two pics below are from their previous visit to our house this summer. Cori and Phil will be welcoming baby Cooper to their family in October. We are all excited about that!

Check out the sneak peak of the family photo shoot from my camera.


Add several clinic visits to the Aflac Cancer Center to all of this and you have a busy family!

Thanks for continuing to check in on us and for praying!
Enjoy your weekend! We plan to!

In Him, The Tates

"Whoever abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5 "I tell you this so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." John 15:11

Monday, August 23, 2010

Looking Ahead

It is hard to believe that August is coming to an end and we will soon be moving into September! At times, the days seem to stand still, while others simply fly by.

While we have had our struggles moving into new school routines and realizing that we will forever fight this demon cancer and its lasting side effects, we have had our share of joys too.

Joy has come in the form of hearing girls giggle, sitting together on a porch swing, and all sharing about our day at dinner. Just today a precious friend reminded me that, "God did not mean for you and Mark to carry this alone. You need him and you need folks like me who are willing to carry some of the load. Life is not easy. We have real struggles everyday and it is okay be sad, angry, and disappointed. God loves you and he will come to you wherever you are and you can pour out your heart to him – he can take it." We are thankful that God is there for us and will be with each of us today, tomorrow, and each day to come. We are thankful that there are friends here to help us through.

We are also thankful for two special organizations that have really been at the center of Elena's care this past year. They are the Aflac Cancer Center at CHOA and CURE Childhood Cancer.

We will be participating in two separate events that will benefits these two groups.

The first event is the
WSB 750 AM Care-a-Thon . This annual Care-a-Thon has raised more than $8.5 million for the Aflac Cancer Center. Our family will be participating in this year's Care-a-Thon. We will be doing a live interview this Thursday, August 27th at 6:45pm.

I'm nervous just thinking about it!!
Pray one of us can tell our story, making it meaningful to the listeners, all while glorifying God. The Aflac Cancer Center is where Elena's and Olivia's doctors are. It is where they have received all of their treatments, evaluations and care. They are one of the top pediatric cancer centers in the country. They are staffed by the most amazing, dedicated people you will ever meet. They are a non-profit organization and rely on donations and fundraisers like the one WSB 750 AM is doing.

The second event in in September. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. One organization that works hard towards a cure for childhood cancer is CURE Childhood Cancer. Some of you may remember that last year at this time, we participated in CURE's Kids Conquer Cancer fund raising event. It was the first year that CURE held this event. Their goal was to raise $30,000 for research. They easily passed that goal and have raised this year's goal to $60,000. We are happy to say that CURE would like Elena to be one of the children spotlighted again this year!

It is a privilege to be a part of an incredible local organization that is committed to raising awareness to the issues of childhood cancer, as well as raise money for research and more. We will let you know when Elena's day will be. Before then, you can go to, to learn more about this amazing organization.

We ask you to prayerfully consideration giving to either or both of these fundraisers. The benefits that comes from the work both the Aflac Cancer Center and CURE Childhood Cancer do could never be measured. The blessings they give each child and each family they touch are countless. We know we have been blessed by both organizations!

Thank you for your continued prayers for our family. We continue to be reminded to see the joy in each day and to fully rely on God.

In Him,

The Tates

"This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Picture Post Review

I thought this would be a quick way to review the last week : )

Friday: The girls were treated to manicures and pedicures.
A back to school tradition. Thanks Gram! (and Grandpa!)
Are you trying to guess who's toes are whose?

Saturday: Fun at the pool

Liv on the water slide.

Elena on another waterside.
Outside by the pool there was a Back to School Bash.

We finished our second 1000 piece puzzle of the summer.
Can you tell there is one piece missing?

Check out Liv's new school shoes.
This is the BEFORE shot.

This is the AFTER 180 days of school shot.
Yes, these are the same shoes, last year's shoes.

I guess you can say Liv got plenty of wear out of last year's shoes!
They almost lasted through the summer.

Monday, August 8, 2010
The First Day of School
Elena's in the sixth grade, Liv's in the third. WOW!

Mark sneaked this shot of Elena getting on the bus!
She hasn't ridden the bus since this first part of kindergarten.
We quickly switched to being a "car rider" back then.
I think she will be just fine now. : )

Monday night....the Justin Bieber concert.

Thanks to CURE Childhood Cancer's gift of four tickets in a suite, we all four went to the concert! We found out it was a suite that belonged to the Gwinnett Arena. Thanks to them for donating the tickets to CURE! The assistant GM of the arena even got the girls t-shirts before we left. It was a really great "first concert" experience for the girls! We all had great time.

The girls have had three fabulous days at school.
LOVE their teachers! LOVE their schools! (I do too!)
Thankfully, it has been a really super school transition week for them!

The only exception has been two really rough homework nights with Elena : (

Tonight, she was in tears (again) saying it is so hard for her to be at school for 7 hours and come home and do homework. I miss that girl (before diagnosis) who would come in, sit down, and breeze through homework. These nights are so hard on all FOUR of us! Please pray for us, for Elena's ability to focus and communicate calmly, and for peace, patience and understanding for all.

Thanks for continuing to check in on us!
In Him,
The Tates

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9