June 6, 2008 – Great News!

June 6th, 2008

We wanted to let you know that Mason has been cleared to have check-ups every three months instead of every month! This is huge for us and we are so excited by this news! The head Oncologist, Dr. Lemons was the doctor who examined him and he said he felt like Mason looks amazing and “feels really great about his case” which sounds really promising to us! We are so grateful that he has come this far and that he is such a fighter! He has been so much fun and we cannot imagine our life without his sweet personality!

His hair is thick and…CURLY! We are so excited for that and he looks more and more like his Dad everyday. We just watch him and feel so blessed to have him. We have had some tough times lately and his smile just brightens our moods and really puts things into perspective.

Thanks for checking in on Mason.

Canvas for Cancer

April 9th, 2008

One of my old dancers, Katie Workman, came up with a really great way to help children here in Utah suffering from Cancer.

The first annual “Canvas for Cancer” silent auction will be on April 16th. You can get more information about it on the “events” page on our website.
Even if you cannot bid, your presence will aid in making this event a success! We love you all and appreciate the support you have shown us! Being involved with these kind of events makes us feel like we are – in some small way – paying forward the loads of love you have given us!

Thank you Katie, and everyone else who is involved for making this happen!

On a personal note…

Mason is doing really well! He is becoming such a little boy-it makes my heart sing and ache at the very same time. On one hand – I am so proud that he is understanding, communicating and being so independent…and on the other – where did all of this tantrum stuff come from??? Ugh.

In all honesty, we have lucked out thus far! Mason is a joy and each second I spend with him, the more I fall in love with him! I really hate leaving him for any stretch of time and did I mention he is sleeping WONDERFULLY! (Knock on wood) He is following directions and loves his “mommy and me” swimming and gymnastic classes we have put him in. He is really catching up socially and physically being around all of the kids and having the structured classes! It has been really fun.

Last week we received word that Carson Henrie passed away. He was a little boy that is a month older than Mason we because very good friends with in the hospital. I wrote about Heidi, his mother, once in an earlier post. She found out she was pregnant shortly after Carson was diagnosed with brain cancer and is just a rock of faith! She was always upbeat and positive and is someone I really look up to! She had her baby and shortly after, Carson passed away. The news came with sadness, and a great deal of joy. Sadness for the loss of such a sweet boy, and joy because we had the chance to know them. I cannot tell you how many tears we have cried for them this past week…it just hits really close to home…

We also got to attend a “Make a Wish” ceremony for another little boy named Ian we met! What a great kid, with a great family! Gary and Alisha are so wonderful and became very good friends as well! Mason and Ian shaved their heads within days of each other and both spend a lengthy stay in the PICU while machines breathed for them! He is doing very well and was granted a trip to Disney World with his family! Make a Wish is a truly amazing and we were just really touched by all the stories and the amazing things they do for the families! Each a frozen chocolate banana for us guys!

Other than that, we are still just trying to catch up with our lives. We are surely but slowly making progress which we hope can continue in a very rapid pace.

Thanks for checking in on us! We love you all so much and appreciate you more than you know!

Love – Chris, Michelle and Mason

The “Normal” Life

March 25th, 2008

Wow, I did not realize how long it has been since we have written an update! I never have been a shining star in this blogging stuff…ugh.

We have honestly been going a million miles an hour here since we have had the opportunity of coming home as a family! Getting back into the “normal” life has been a bit harder than I had anticipated, but we’re not complaining as it’s been amazing and completely wonderful! If that sounds confusing, let me explain in a few random ways…

Trying to keep up with Mason is a task in itself! He is enjoying his baths with no encumbering wires or lines involved (as are we), his toys, his freedom to run around anywhere he can, and the fact that his overprotective parents are finally starting to breathe and let him do some things on his own. We had another check up on Wednesday and he is still doing well! I know I am just seriously paranoid, but every bruise, cough, runny nose or tantrum makes me anxious and worried it is back! We are trying to figure out a time when we can get away and take some time just to have no worries, have no responsibilities, and just have time as a family – and where Mason can do some swimming and other fun activities he deserves. There is so much that goes into a vacation so we shall see. Oh, and did I mention he has become a nudist?!

Chris and I have been running around like crazy, mostly due to my dance team schedule – poor guy. Getting my team ready for competition this year has been one of the hardest things I have done due to our situation. The world’s best husband and son duo have been completely wonderful to support me and my girls as they became Region Champions and GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONS on a trip to Orlando! I have had a great time with my girls who have been incredibly supportive and troopers themselves! One of our friends brought us a card in the hospital with this quote…”LIFE ISN’T ABOUT WAITING FOR THE STORM TO PASS. IT’S ABOUT LEARNING TO DANCE IN THE RAIN.” This is one of my favorites! I really hope that if my sweet girls get nothing else from this experience, they apply this quote to everything they do! I love them all more then they know! Coaching at Northridge has been the highlight of my dancing experience!

As we were in Church a couple of weeks ago (which by the way is a circus in our row every week due to the fact that Mason is a pure 21 month old) we were all sitting there as a family I got completely overwhelmed because for the first time things felt so “in place” if you will, and … normal. It was honestly the first time that I took a deep breath and felt at peace. I couldn’t help but cry because I am just so grateful. When I think of where we were less than a year ago… ugh. We are so blessed! We know several people who don’t have the second chance that we have been blessed with and we do not intend to take it for granted.

So in a nutshell…We are so happy to be home with our little family. We are asking a favor of all of our friends and family…we want your photos of you and/or your families in your Team Mason gear! You have all played such an important roll in Mason’s recovery and we want to post your photos! We also want to put them into a keepsake book for Mason so he can see all of the amazing people who were cheering for him! Just send them to my email at buttah76@gmail.com and know that we love and appreciate you all so much!

Love, The Falk Fam

Here are some pictures we love that we have not posted.

The Nudist
mase2.jpg
mase1.jpg

Last night at the hospital, last bone marrow asirate, visiting some of our favorite nurses.CIMG1566.JPG
mase.jpg CIMG1580.JPG
CIMG1579.JPG

My first tractor ride with Grandpa
CIMG1679.JPG

Mom’s favorite picture with me
momnmase.jpg

Nationals with my team and my 3rd year Seniors – They are awesome!
nationals.jpg Nationals2.jpg

Drum Roll please….

January 17th, 2008

We got a phone call from our doctor on Monday. He told us that Mason’s results had come back and read…”No sign of Cancer”!

REMISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Words that come to mind: Grateful, blessed, miracles, prayer, WOW, YEE HA, Woo Hoo and YEAHHH!!!

We are overjoyed and want to let you all know how much you all mean to us. We couldn’t have gone through this journey without all of the thoughts, prayers and well wishes! It has been a very long and hard road for us to travel, but we have witnessed many miracles and feel very blessed. Our lives have been changed forever because of the love so many have shown us. Our hearts are so full.

We will keep you posted as Mason gets tested once a month for a year. His type of Leukemia has a very high chance of coming back but we have faith that everything will work out as it should! It is not totally over for us, but this gives us a chance to get back to a “normal” life – whatever that may be.

Go to http://web.mac.com/michellefalk to see some of the moments that brought us here! It may take a few minutes to load.

Again we thank you for your friendships during this time. Thanks for checking in on Mason!

HAPPY LAST CHEMO – AND NEW YEAR!

January 1st, 2008

It seems like every time I go to publish an update…things change. It’s up, then down, and up again. But we have good news now…we are home!

On Friday (December 28th) Mason’s doctors came in and released him! His counts had started to recover very quickly and we were out the door! We were sad because we didn’t have any time to say goodbye to all of the ICS staff who we had become so close to. So we hope they read this and contact us if they can!

The nurses that were there that night had a “Happy Last Round of Chemo Party” and wore awesome hats while they sang and clapped! It is something we have been looking forward to since we came to the hospital in July. It was a bittersweet moment… but we emphasize the sweet! No kid should have to go through with that horrible stuff…although we are grateful for it and glad it is available. Weird isn’t it?

Mainard-happylastchemoparty1.jpg Mainard-nursesparty.jpg

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We will go back into the hospital in a week for some tests. The tests (another bone marrow sample, Cat Scan, etc.) will tell us where we go from here. Remission or more treatments. We are happy to be home but we are not in the clear yet. We are optimistic that we will get good news and then for the next year we will be on pins and needles waiting to see if it comes back. Mason’s diagnosis has a fairly high percentage for relapse — so you can imagine, we will be very paranoid parents after this.

In the mean time Mason is such a blast! He is laughing and smiling all of the time. It seems like our old Mason is back and his smile is contagious! Maybe our personalities are different now, or maybe he just senses and understands where he’s at with the treatments, but he seems to know he’s not scheduled to go back. We cannot stop playing with him and have gotten absolutely nothing done because of it. It has been such a fun few days! WE LOVE BEING HOME!!!

We are so happy that we have moved on from 2007 and hope that 2008 is much more mellow for us! Come what may, we will continue to have faith that God will continue to watch over our small family and all of you as well!

Thank you for checking in on Mason and may God bless you and yours this year!

MERRY CHRISTMAS and some other stuff!

January 1st, 2008

Happy Holidays! We did not get a Christmas card out this year so we hope you will understand and settle for the next best thing. The second paragraph is Mason’s update and the rest is just a bunch of stuff you can skip if you would like! I am warning you it is pretty long…sorry about that!

Well as you know this Christmas was like no other that we have experienced. Do not get me wrong, not in a bad way, just different.

But to start, after I wrote last Mason got pretty sick with fevers among other symptoms stemming from an infection he got. It is never good when they talk about having a full body scan to find where the problem is stemming from- especially when you are as paranoid about every little and big thing that comes along. At one point they talked about removing his central line, which would have been horrible with the number of times he would have needed poking for IVs, mediations, etc.. Of course we were worried and really disappointed to hear that. I cannot tell you how hard it is to see your 20 month old who is normally so full of life… so sick. Armstong came and Mason wanted him there, but didn’t feel good enough to play with him. For some reason it really hit us hard this time. Armstong just sat by him and at one point he went to give Mason kisses. Mason loved it! What a great dog! But as you know our Mason is a trooper and kicked it with the help of prayers of so many! We are happy to report that we are really starting to see his personality emerge. The last few days, especially Wednesday, have been a blast!

Mainard-armstrong4.jpg Mainard-armstrong.jpg mainard-armstrong2.jpg Mainard5.jpg Mainard-chillin.jpg Mainard-sicksicksick.jpg

Like I said before, Christmas was…different. Here are some examples…

Instead of getting all dressed up – we dressed down into our pajamas early (great tradition by the way!)
Instead of going to a big fancy family dinner – we hooked ourselves up with some fine cuisine at the Rainbow Café (the hospital cafeteria)!
Instead of reading the nativity and singing carols – we cleaned up Mason’s dinner…after it came back up all over himself…and Mom!
Instead of putting the Mason down and having a cup of hot chocolate – I did laundry while Chris tried to put Mason down after a tantrum for the record books! (I also tried the hot chocolate thing…turned out pretty bad and I poured it down the sink!)
Instead of dreaming of sugar plum fairies – we dreamt of Mason’s machines not beeping every 20 minutes!
Instead of just one Santa visit…try four! That’s right! Santa came four times to our room! Mason was spoiled by the real Santa and many Santas from the community! (That was a really great experience actually!)
Instead of sleeping in our nice, warm bed…they hooked us up with matching chairs/beds to sleep in side by side. (I must say that we were grateful they let us bend the rules for one night!)

However, even with all of the “bright sides” I was still not in the “Christmas Spirit.” As I started to wallow in self pity and think of every reason this was the WORST CHRISTMAS EVER… I started thinking about my long lost friend from high school that sought me out after the news of Mason, and just a few weeks ago emailed to tell me that her husband’s cancer was back. And I thought about the night when they pulled Chris and me into another room in the PICU to tell us that they had exhausted all efforts didn’t think Mason was going to make it…

So as you can imagine, as Christmas Day progressed – it didn’t feel like Christmas, but it was a great day! Although I cannot believe it is over – let alone December at all – I cannot help but think of how blessed our little family was to spend it together!

We always talk about the true meaning of Christmas and how the “things” that we receive do not matter. And although I will be the first to admit that the “things” are fun and nice, they do not compare to what really matters! You have to cherish the moments instead of the gifts because you never know what your next July could be like! Cancer didn’t happen to people like us before July. It was always someone else on those commercials or Extreme Home Makeover stories. Last Christmas I would have never thought that there would be a chance that Mason might not experience another one. It is our reality and I do not want to be faced with any regrets of what I did or did not do again! I am more and more thankful each day for this experience. We were given us a second chance that so many of our friends up here have not gotten and we do not plan on wasting it!

Mainard-christmas tree.jpg Mainard-treeaftersanta.jpg Mainard-stockings.jpg Mainard-santa2.jpg Mainard-santa.jpg Mainard-roomforchristmas.jpg Mainard-roomforchristmas31.jpg Mainard-pjs.jpg Mainard-roomforchristmas4.jpg

I personally am looking forward to what 2008 has in store for us and will say goodbye to 2007 with many mixed emotions.

You all know what happened from the end of July on, but here are some highlights from January to July of 2007…

Chris was given “The Most Improved” Award in the NAI Utah company and was also a nominee for “Rookie of the Year”! That is a really great accomplishment as you can imagine! He is the best husband in history and an even better Dad! We went to Disneyworld with my drill team in March and had a blast together!

Mason turned ONE and we had a fun party for him! We went to Red Fish Lake and he had a blast playing in the water and hanging out with the Falk Family! Mason also got some sweet moves he picked up at Cardinelle practice with me! He is quite the dancer!

I ended a very fun and successful year with my drill team as Region Champs and National Champions in 3 different categories, and then started another year with a new team! I have loved working with them and am grateful I have had dance that going on during all of this. I love being a Mom and have certainly kept busy.

Here are some other pictures I promised to post earlier. Mason waling with his sweet backpack carrying his meds and picts of walking with Mom and Dad.

Mainard.jpg Mainard3.jpg Mainard2.jpg

We hope everyone has a great remainder of the holiday vacation! We love you! Thanks for checking in on Mason!

Mason Update – GO JAZZ!

December 13th, 2007

Well, quite a bit has happened since our last update. Mason finished his 5th (and hopefully final) round of Chemo last Saturday and has been doing pretty well. His counts are really low right now. Lower then they have been in a long time which is really not that common, but nothing to worry about apparently. We are trying to be extremely careful seeing how it is RSV season and so many things seem to be floating around.

We are getting excited for Christmas! Mason’s room is decorated and looking festive! We were hoping to be home- though we know it’s a long shot, so we are settling in here. I thought I would be more disappointed about not being home, and it won’t be the same, but I am really looking forward to it. It is true that home is where the heart is—as cheesy as it sounds. It is certainly true for us! We are going to see if we can twist arms and get us an extra bed in here so that we can stay as a family on Christmas Eve! We’ll let you know how that goes!

We had them move us to a different room a few days ago so we could be in quieter area and have some of our friends around us too. We are in room 4422 which is a good room for us. Mason had his best round of Chemo in this room and we welcome the good karma it brings! It also has the best view this hospital has! It looks out on the golf course and lots of Salt Lake! It is very pretty!

Players from the Jazz came by PCMC the other day and it just so happened that Carlos Boozer came to see Mason! Mason, my Mom, and I all got to meet him and got our picture taken with him! It was pretty exciting and I gave him a Team Mason Fight Club wristband and offered to give him one for the whole team to wear in the next game. He said that Coach Sloan wouldn’t go for it—ahhh come on Jerry! Hey, you’ve got to try right? He and a cute Jazz dancer, Bridget, signed a ball for Mason and Boozer played with him and watched Mason dribble. He was really great and down to earth! Bridget is from Bountiful and commented about how my drill team was really good—I really liked her a lot!

It will be a while for his counts to come back up so for now we just wait! It feels really good to have the hope that Mason could return to a normal life fairly soon. When we were home this past time, we would find him in his bathroom just standing at his tub and looking up at his bath toys. He would try to crawl in too every once in a while. It sounds like something so small, but it broke our hearts to watch him.

That’s about it for now! We hope this holiday season blesses you, your families, and friends as much as it has blessed us!
Thanks for checking in on Mason!

Mason Update – A light at the end of the tunnel!

November 30th, 2007
Okay well we are in the hospital with sweet Mase and he is doing pretty well.

On Thursday he had a CT scan and was not really sure about it when we walked in—that is until they gave him the good stuff (light sedation meds) and then he was all smiles! Saying hi to everyone and blowing kisses (until they really kicked in) to me and the scan techs—talk about the HIGH life!

Well the scan had pretty good news along with it! Our prayers were answered as he seems to be kicking the fungal infection. GO MASON!!! There was a very small amount left that they hope will be gone soon. Small enough that they admitted us and started Chemo Thursday night and changed the treatment to two days instead of 3, so we will go home again on Saturday – YEAH! It is so weird that we cheer for him to start Chemo isn’t it? It just seems like there is a light at the end of the tunnel as we start what could potentially be is final round! (Knock on wood—no seriously knock on wood if you are reading this!) ;-)

We have said before that you get very close to people here. Heidi Henry is from Alaska has a son that is a month older than Mason with brain cancer. We were in the PICU together with very similar situations and became fast friends. To top off her situation, the day Carson was diagnosed with cancer she found out she was pregnant and is due in February. She is an inspiration to me and I really don’t know how she does it. Anyway, we came back and I am sad to report that Carson is not doing well and is back in the PICU. So, if you remember or have the chance, please add Carson and Heidi to your prayers!

I have a few more pictures I will post when we go home! Thanks for checking in on Mason!

November 30th, 2007

 

November 30th, 2007