Sunday, February 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Jack!

Our beautiful baby boy turned 1 today.  We had a fantastic lunch at Peter Luger's.  Thank you, Rob and Kevin, for coming out to Brooklyn to help us celebrate, and to all of our friends and family who sent up the wonderful gifts.

It's hard to believe it's already been a year.  I can remember all of the awful, amazing, terrible, beautiful details like it was yesterday.  Only Lord knows what this year will bring for our family.  Thinking about it too much makes me a little panicky, and it's been a bit of an emotional weekend to begin with.  But what I do know for sure is that this was a great day.



Friday, February 24, 2012

Slight Change of Plans...

We found out this afternoon that our donor has backed out.  Apparently this happens a lot.  The transplant has been put on hold for at least another month.  In the meantime, Sam will be going in for another round of chemo next week to keep the cancer at bay while they try to line up another donor.  Thankfully, we still have donors to work with.

We're disappointed, but we're not going to let it ruin our weekend.  We have a very special birthday to celebrate tomorrow!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We're Going to Transplant!!

That's right!  Sam's doctors are very pleased with his last PET scan, and are recommending we move forward with transplant.  He's not in complete remission, but he's about 80% there, and his entire medical team is in agreement that now is the time to act before the lymphoma has a chance to start growing again.  Things are still going well with our donor.  Please, please continue to pray for her over the next week as she rearranges her life for a complete stranger.

Starting next week, Sam will be given 11 rounds of full body radiation followed by one last whopping dose of chemo.  The plan is to eradicate every last cancer cell before rebooting his body back up with the donor's new immune system.  As a reminder, Sam will be receiving stem cells that have been extracted from the donor's blood.  Embryonic stem cells will not be used at any time during the transplant.  There is an outrageously long list of potential side effects and a survival rate of 40%, but that's not where our focus is.  We know the threat of graft-versus-host disease is very real, but his doctors will be taking every precaution to prevent it, and if it does occur they have many methods of treating it.

And yes.  Of course we're scared.  This is the part where we take a deep breath and put our faith in Sam's medical team and trust in God's plan for our lives.

Here we are, exactly one year ago today, a few hours after Sam was officially diagnosed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sam's Birthday Video

In case some of you missed it, Amelia Graves and Charlotte Tripson put together an amazing little birthday video for Sam.  Thank you so much to everyone who helped make it so special.  It was a fantastic surprise!!  Click here to watch.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weeknight Dinner: Spanish Spaghetti with Olives

Sam loves this pasta.  I'm always trying new recipes and usually don't like repeating dinners, but I've already made this three times since we've been here.  I pull some sauce out for Jack before I add the olives so his doesn't get too salty.

Sam has his PET scan tomorrow.  Hopefully we'll have results by Friday.  Stay tuned! 

Spanish Spaghetti with Olives

8 oz whole wheat spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces extra-lean ground beef
1 2/3 cups low-sodium marinara sauce
1/2 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed olives
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided

Cook pasta according to the package directions, leave out the salt and fat, drain.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion pan and sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute.  Stir in the oregano, celery salt, red pepper, black pepper. Crumble beef into pan and cook 5 minutes until beef is browned, stirring to crumble.  Stir in the marinara sauce, olives, sherry, capers, and 3 tablespoons parsley.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

Add spaghetti to sauce. Cook 2 minutes until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.

recipe source: Cooking Light, December 2009 (slightly modified)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Happy 30th Birthday Sam!

It was a beautiful day in the city, and we enjoyed every minute.  We had an amazing lunch at a steakhouse on 5th Ave where Jack consumed an alarming amount of filet mignon.  Thank you so much for all of the thoughtful birthday wishes.  This is going to be a great year!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hi from Sam

Hey this is Sam.  Thought I'd give my wife a break from all this bloggin, aka graffiti with punctuation.  Haha, she's not going to like that.  Anyway.  After my forth round of Augmented ICE, 14 collectively, we were able to leave the city for three days.  Kristen's family picked us up on Sunday afternoon and an hour and fifteen minutes later we arrived at a historic farmhouse in the Pennsylvania countryside.  It was nice to get away from the fast paced lifestyle of New York city.  Kristen and I had a roommate for the trip, Baby Jack, which was fun... Jack dreams a lot when he sleeps and makes a ton of noise.  Kristen informed me of this every morning which surprised me because I didn't hear a thing!  I was excited because we were able to drive around town in a brand new GMC Duramax! We drove over to Hamburg, PA to visit Cabela's, which is not the same as a Bass Pro Shop, to do a little shopping.  We also found a Cracker Barrel and had some pancakes and country fried steak (a big change from our current diet).  We had a great time and I loved the change in scenery.  Here are a few pictures my wife took. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Transplant Update

Sam is home and doing well.  He's extremely tired so it's definitely a couch and movie kind of day.  We had some great visitors come by during his hospital stay.  Thank you Kelly Huss and Cady Walden for brightening up our Friday morning and Rick and Sarah Starr for keeping us company all afternoon.  Sam's transplant doctor stopped by to say hi and let us know they actually have two perfect matches to choose from!  Of course, they won't let us know who they are until they're confident the transplant has been successful, but we do know that both are woman who've been pregnant before and both have agreed to be donors.  Amazing!  He also gave us a new date of February 27 which is fine with us since this means Sam will be able to be with Jack for his 1st birthday on February 25.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Good News!!

Sam's doctors were very happy with his scan today!  The cancer is still there, but it's been significantly reduced.  He was admitted this afternoon for just one more round of chemo (hopefully this is the last time I type those words) and they plan to go ahead with an allogeneic stem cell transplant on February 22.  We still haven't found a perfect match, but they feel confident moving forward at this point with a partially matched donor.  This is amazing!  They keep reminding us that transplant will be the real challenge, and that may be true, but for today we are enjoying our news.