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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines and Thank You

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
Thank you for your support
It means the world to us two.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love and Kisses,
Prince Liam and Princess Ella

As we approach the one year mark since the day our lives turned upside down, we wanted to send you a special Valentine’s greeting to thank you for your support. While we know you’re familiar with Liam, you might not know as much about his sister Ella. Ella’s sun rises and sets on her big brother. It’s Ella who greets Liam with a huge, “’Wee-Um’ is Home!” when we walk in the door from the hospital. It’s Ella who rubs Liam’s feet when he’s dealing with residual pain. And it’s Ella who is always asking, “Are you OK ‘Wee-um’? Are you OK?”

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the world to get involved to fight pediatric cancer. Thank you for everything you have done on our behalf and for all families battling pediatric cancer. Together we truly can and are making a difference.

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Gretchen, Larry, Prince Liam and Princess Ella

Monday, February 11, 2008

Valentines Effort Makes News in Tampa

The link above is to a story about the University of South Florida's Ice Bulls (Hockey Team) and how they along with family and friends have created over 2,000 Valentines for Liam. The Ice Bulls have supported various pediatric cancer initiatives over the last few years and we want to personal thank them for their efforts on behalf of our son. What a wonderful team of caring young men. Thank You!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Valentines and Nascar

Our dear friend Julie Yenichek, who dreamed up Valentines for Liam (post below), is also responsible for Liam appearing on ESPN.com on the NASCAR page! Marty Smith, a writer for ESPN and good friend of Julies, heard about Liam's story and has written a beautiful piece that I am sure all of you will enjoy. We were touched by the way he captured our world.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Valentines for Liam

Dear Gretchen, Larry, Liam and Ella,

You have truly been an inspiration to people worldwide. In not even a year's time, you have moved mountains - you have helped launch a new non-profit that has already raised over $1.5 million, baked 96,000 cookies, educated us and the list goes on and on. We know that you will not stop until there is a cure! And we want you to know that we will not stop either!

In honor of you, we would like to recognize your huge hearts and have launched a campaign called: Valentine's for HOPE - Fight Cancer - Set a Record. This Valentine's Day - we are going to set a record by sending Liam valentines and help raise additional funds.
We are asking that people make valentines and mail them to:

Valentines for Liam
PO Box 2701
Cornelius, NC 28031.

We are also encouraging people to make donations to http://www.bandofparents.org/.
There are so many lives that you have touched including church groups, classrooms, playgroups, families, etc. who will be sending cards to Liam.

The link below shows some of Liam's buddies including our kids (although he has not met them before but they all talk and pray for him every day!)

Love always,
Julie, Tony, Jack and Katie Yenichek

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sunday, February 3rd

I made panini sandwiches for lunch today. It’s one of our favorite weekend lunches. It was the first time in a year I’ve made them. I pulled out the panini grill, cooked some chicken, sliced some delicious rosemary bread, cut leaves of fresh basil, and assembled the sandwiches. While I was cooking, Liam happily ate a grilled cheese sandwich with no protests…he ate like any 3 ½-year old would do with no cajoling, begging, or pleading. Larry was reading a magazine and talking with Liam. Ella was taking a nap. Liam was talking about how he’ll ride a school bus when he gets bigger. It was a totally normal scene, except for the fact that I couldn’t initially find the panini grill because my kitchen was rearranged by my mother to deal with her nervous energy after Liam was diagnosed!

It’s a beautiful day, this Super Bowl Sunday. And it is so, so, so great to have a just a typical day. Everything from the outside looked “normal.” It could have been except for the little gremlin that is permanently mounted on my shoulder whispering the words, “cancer….cancer….don’t take anything for granted….cancer…cancer…live in the moment…cancer…cancer…bloody, awful cancer.” The gremlin is always there. Always. No matter where I am, what I’m doing, if I’m with Liam or not, that gremlin is there. We haven’t talked about it, but I’m pretty sure Larry carries that gremlin too. It’s what makes us determined to keep doing whatever we can to raise awareness and money and make sure that progress is made. It also in a strange way has strengthened our relationship…we are on the same page of needing to effect change in any and every way we can. We have to. Too many precious lives are at stake, including my own precious son’s.

I don’t normally do this. I don’t normally talk about the other warriors...not because they aren’t constantly on my mind and with me…they are…constantly. But cancer is a very personal thing and I would never want to violate another family’s personal space by saying anything about their child. At the same time, it’s the names and faces of all the children we have met along the way that literally puts fire in my belly. I can feel the fierce Leo coming out in me and a desire to do everything I can to protect those children by shaking every tree I can to raise awareness. At times I’m angry…very angry that pediatric cancer doesn’t receive more support from either drug companies or the government. Can we not catch a break anywhere? But I try to kept those feelings to a minimum…they don’t do me or anyone else any good. And then I think about the mother who I’ve known since the early days who I recently saw and had a silent communication with as she excitedly pointed to her daughter’s new hair. I know how she feels. Every time I kiss Liam’s hair, I let the softness of his “new” hair brush my lips and drink in the feeling.

The faces of every child we’ve met are permanently etched in my memory. When I haven’t seen a child for too long or hear of another one who is in Vermont receiving a different treatment option, I worry and wait and grow even more determined and also sad that I can’t do enough, fast enough. Many nights I awake with a start realizing I’ve been dreaming about one of the children I know who is in the battle that I often refer to as D-Day. And the nights I awake in a cold sweat are the ones I know I was dreaming about Lillie, Grace, Beau, Lucas, James or one of the other precious children the world lost the privilege of knowing in the past few months. There are so many others…other people whose faces I recognize but don’t know the names of but know they’re on the same cancer “team.” One little boy who we have heard of but have not met is now at home with no treatment options remaining. My heart aches and breaks for him and his family. Please honor him by reading about him and while you’re reading, you’ll understand why we are determined to fight. Carter, I hope your days are free of pain and discomfort. Carter’s Mommy and Daddy, I would do anything to take this pain away…anything.