Saturday, June 7, 2014

May Madness

WOW! Is it really June?!?

We can not believe how quickly this school year came to an end!

Our May included many, many great things. Just a warning that this is a really long post. Almost each event listed below could have been its own post!

Here's a recap of our May:

Liv had state CRCT testing in five subjects - she passed in all areas!

We celebrated Elena's 15th birthday! 15!! Can't beleive that this summer she will be getting her Driving permit!! Elena wanted a small party this year. She and three friends went bowling then back to our house to change and get ready to go out to dinner. We all went to Macaroni Grill but the kids sat at one table and we sat at another. It was great fun!

We shared our story on stage at Gwinnett County's Relay for Life event.

We celebrated Mother's day. For the first time in more than twenty years, Christy was able to spend Mother's Day with her mom! What a blessing! We are so very thankful for the moms in our lives. How they care for us, love us, pray for us, guide us, encourage us and give us more than we could ever thank them for!!

We went to Liv's Awards Night at school. She received certificates for the Merit Roll (all As and Bs) and Outstanding Student in Study Skills. We are SO proud of how hard she has worked this year! She had a great year in sixth grade!

We attended Elena's Theatre Banquet at school. She took the Intro to Theatre class this year. At the end of this year, she had to audition if she wanted to continue to in the school's theatre program. She auditioned for the Children's Theatre class and made it! Can't wait to see what shows they will put on next year!

We attended Liv's end of year chorus concert and went to see an Atlanta Braves baseball game where her chorus sang the National Anthem.

The girls had their dance recital. They performed three dances. It is wonderful to see their confidence on stage and watch them dance!

Both girls successfully survived finals! Like Liv, Elena made all As and Bs this year.

This month, we also enjoyed overnight visits from Christy's aunt and uncle, Christy's parents, and Mark's brother Patrick, Angie and Stephen.

Elena had her 3 month visit at the Aflac Cancer Center with Dr. Lew. Once again, her counts were great! Praise God! We can't beleive that Elena is just two months shy of the two year anniversary of her bone marrow transplant!! That milestone will officially make her a survivor in the medical world! In July, she will have her first appointment at the survivor clinic at the Aflac Cancer Center. There, she will see a doctor who specializes in survivorship and late term effects of treatment. She will also continue to be seen by Dr. Lew every four to six months. At her appointment last week, they both said they are not ready to stop seeing each other!!

We attended high school and college graduation parties.

Liv began piano lessons!

Our neighborhood swim team honored the three leukemia survivors who live in our subdivision by holding their Third Annual Orange Out - Morningview Swims for CURE. Once again, they raised awareness about childhood cancer all while raising money for CURE Childhood Cancer. It is a great event and we were happy to be asked to participate again.

As you can see May was jampacked with many fun events! We had great fun celebrating the accomplishments of our girls and thank God daily that He has brought us to this point in our lives!


The final thing we want to share is something Elena wrote.
As part of her final in her Language Arts class, she had to write a speech. She had to write about how she has grown this year or about something she learned this year, her freshman year. Then, she had to connect it to a theme or lesson from a piece of literature they had read in class. With Elena's permission, here is what she wrote as she prepared her speech. In her own words, she summed it all up so well!

While in the hospital I experienced wanting to escape reality many times. I know I might talk about my cancer a lot, but it is basically my life. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with leukemia. Right then our life stopped. I had to go through many obstacles and treatments, like clinic visits for blood tests and check-ups, for chemo and blood and platelet tranfusions, hospital visits if anything weird or wrong as going on and also for tests. We went through a terrible and hard time. I was poked and prodded, woken up many times during the night, spend days in the hospital and received chemo almost every week. I felt really bad.

After 29 months of this, we thought we were all done and that it was over. But, soon we found out some bad news. I had relapsed with leukemia. Because what the doctors did the first time didn't work, they had to use a different approach.

I had a bone marrow transplant on July 25, 2012. I was in the hospital for 66 days. The whole time I wasn't allowed to see my sister or even leave my 15x15 room unless I was walking laps for PT. I would have to walk around the small nurses' station. That was the only time I could leave my room. As you would probably think, that was really hard and horrible. Also, while in my hospital room, I hated all the poking and prodding, the hustle and bustle of the doctors and nurses coming and going, and all the medicine and beeping machines.

Often I would wish I could escape the real world and what was going on in it. Escaping reality can be a good thing. At one point during my transplant days, I just couldn't take it any more. So, I decided to escape reality, forget and not pay attention to what was going on around me. To do that and to try to distract myself, I would watch my favorite movies, do crafts, listen to Pandora, make playlists on itunes, and play games. Also, when I did leave my room to do my laps I had an awesome nurse named Amy who would not ony do my laps with me, but also made them super fun. Instead of just plain old walking, we would act like super models, walk like tigers, be cheerleaders, rock stars, karate experts, and many other things. So many of my other nurses would talk to me and do things with me too.

Because of my experiences, I relate most to Odysseus and his crew because when they were on the island of the Lotus Eaters they ate the Lotus flowers. This controlled their minds and made them never want to leave or do anything. They didn't pay attention to what was going on around them. They were escaping reality. This is just like when I was in the hospital and would do crafts and watch movies to distract me from what was going on around me. They were my Lotus flowers.

Even though escaping reality can be a good thing in certain situations, it can also hurt your life in other ways. My cancer has affected my brain in different ways and that effects my school work. It's harder for me to process stuff from my brain to paper. It takes me longer to do work and tests. Having to learn to do work in different ways and being different than other students makes me feel different and that makes me mad. I don't like it. I don't like being different. I sometimes wish I could escape reality rather than have such a hard and stressful time at school. The only problem with that is that if I don't care about my school work or my future, I won't have good grades and that would lead to perhaps not going to college which could lead to no job or a bad job and life. So I can not escape reality school, just like Odysseus and his crew couldn't stay on the Lous Eaters Island and had to snap out of the fantasy world and come back to reality to continue their journey.

Even though I can't escape reality at school or in my life, I have definitely matured through my freshman year. I learned from my problems, my teachers and my friends to always try to stay positive, to work to overcome my problems and to never slack on my work. Also, many teachers and friends pushed me to keep going and they would always help me with my problems. They treated me like a normal person. I learned throughout my freshman year that even though I've gone through many hard situations, never give up, never doubt yourself in your work and don't escape reality, unless it is helpful. Through good friends and teachers you trust you can make it. Your friends believe in you and push and encourage you. Your teachers make you believe in yourself and make you stronger.

We still can't really believe that we made it to another summer. But just like Elena just said....because of you, our family and friends, we made it. God gave us each of you! With God's strength and presence in our lives, you have encouraged us, prayed for us, and loved us through it all! Thank you!

We'll post May pictures soon!

In Him,
The Tates

"Look to the Lord and His strength, Seek His face always." Psalm 105:4


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