Monday, April 30, 2018

Surgery Recovery Update / What's Next...

Surgery Update:
Yesterday we got a visit from Caroline’s surgeon, Dr. Chung. He was super impressed with her progress, determination and great attitude!  So much so, that barring any unforeseen complications tonight, she will be going home TOMORROW!!!  That's at least 3 days earlier than planned!  She's rocking it!

To put this amazing recovery time in perspective, over the last 36 hours, Caroline has bounced back from 8+ hours of surgery (and all that goes with that), plus:
- removal of 2 catheters on Saturday
- removal of 2 IV lines (one in each hand) on Saturday
- disconnecting from fluids yesterday and maintaining her own hydration
- moved quickly from NPO (no food/drink), to a clear liquid diet yesterday, then to a regular diet today (she's eating a loaded baked potato right now!)
- her epidural was removed today, which administered continuous pain medication, and she has be able to maintain pain control with oral medication

These are all huge wins!

Thank you for the support near and afar...clearly the prayers are working!

What's Next:
Assuming we go home tomorrow, Caroline will relax and recover at home for the rest of the week.  We will go back and forth to the Vanderbilt Clinic all next week for a multitude of tests required for the next phase (high-dose chemo and stem cell transplant).  Some of the appointments include:
- Echocardiogram
- Kidney Function Test (to determine the max amount of high-chemo her body can withstand)
- Hearing Test
- Various Ultrasounds
- General labs and various blood tests
- Radioactive Injection (which requires 2 days of prescription prep to protect her thyroid)
- Bone Marrow Biopsy - to see if there is still cancer in her bone marrow (at the last check, there was about 25%)
- And the biggest...the MIBG scan, which will show us how much, if any, active cancer cells are left in her body

Thank you for the visits this week, messages, meals, thoughts and prayers.  We are continuously amazed and humbled.  

Hope you're all having as great of a day as we are,
The Lantz Family


We were able to get outside for a few minutes to enjoy the Children's Garden and Koi Pond!

Friday, April 27, 2018

"Wow, that was a difficult one..."

Prayer warriors: THANK YOU!!! Thank you for your constant stream of support today. You carried the burden for our family!

Caroline’s surgery was a success! When her surgeon met with us after the surgery, he walked in and said "wow, that was a difficult one."  He thinks he got over 90% of the tumor out, from what he could see and feel.  He had to leave some around her pancreas (removal was too risky), but the hope is that the next two rounds of high-dose chemo will kill off whatever cancer he couldn’t remove today. Caroline’s tumor was so intricately intertwined throughout her organs, that he had to take it out in pieces. We will get the pathology of the tumor next week, but the surgeon is pleased with the result.

The resection surgery took exactly 6 hours.  Prior to the tumor removal, there were 2.5 additional hours of surgery prep, anesthesia prep, port-a-cath removal and Hickman line placement.

Caroline is currently recovering with 2 catheters and an epidural, which will remain for a few days. We expect the overall inpatient recovery to be about a week.

It was a VERY long day of waiting, as you can imagine, but we had amazing friends in and out all day to keep us company!  We appreciate everyone that came out to visit, sit and chat with us-  it meant the world to us!

Words cannot express how truly thankful we are for every.single.person. THANK YOU for your thoughts, prayers, texts, wearing #carolinestrong gear/purple/yellow, sharing messages...just everything.

With overflowing thanks,
The Lantz Family

Walking herself back to surgery!

First time seeing her after surgery...

"Watching" the Preds game in recovery!

Finally resting in her own room.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

How We're Feeling / Surgery Info

With Caroline's pending surgery on Friday, we wanted to give everyone an update on how we're doing as a family.  We've had almost 2 months without intense treatment, fever or sickness, and unless God has other plans, we have 5 more days together as a family before we get back into the thick of treatment...we're facing 70+ nights in the hospital over the next few months.

From Mark:
Five months in and I'm not "ok" - as I often get asked- no one could be in this situation.  I struggle every day.  I am able to stay busy during the day and I don't really slow down enough to think about what's going on.  I stay mostly positive around the kids, friends, and family...that's my job.  Things are often different when I am alone. I'm awake in the middle of the night most of the time...thinking about how this all could play out. I often focus on the sadness of the situation itself.  I have anxiety about what Caroline (and Margaret/our family) is/are about to experience over the coming months (surgery, 2 rounds of high-dose chemo, 2 transplants, radiation, immunotherapy).  I am not looking forward to being 30 minutes away from Margaret and Caroline for weeks at a time.  I'm sad that Andrew won't be able to see his whole family every day.  I'm upset that Margaret and Caroline will most likely be quarantined to a small hospital room for days or weeks at a time.  This whole thing is awful really, but we can't focus on that all the time - we have to be productive and keep moving forward like #carolinestrong does. Caroline is a warrior and an angel, and Margaret should qualify for sainthood for what she is doing for our family.  I appreciate their hard work and sacrifices every day.  I appreciate the care and love the Vanderbilt team gives to our daughter.  Those folks are amazing and always go above and beyond for our family. We have received an enormous amount of support from family (all who live out of town), friends, neighbors, strangers and co-workers - we appreciate every one of you.  We have a long way to go, and this upcoming stretch over the summer is going to be the hardest to date.  We will need a lot more help, so a BIG Thank You in advance for your continued support. #FTGF

From Margaret:
In one day, my life literally, completely changed.  Not only did I find out that our daughter - my walking heartbeat - had cancer with a statistically terrible prognosis, but I also instantly knew that the care she needed would mean I had to step away from my career -- something that has defined me and has been a source of fulfillment my entire adult life.  I lost my "life plan," my job, and my children's innocence...all in one fell swoop.  Over the last 5 months, I have had all the typical emotions people would expect with this sort of news, but most consistently I feel three things: sad, grateful, and humbled.  I cry almost every morning at the gym so that I can stay positive the rest of the day for the kids, and then let it back out again at night when they're in bed.  This morning I heard a song with a line in it that I can't stop thinking about: "better than I used to be."  As crazy as it sounds, I feel "better than I used to be," before she was diagnosed.  I feel lucky that I get to take care of Caroline...I feel lucky that Mark was supportive of me instantly walking away from my job, taking on the burden of providing for our family alone, while he's coping with the diagnosis as well.  He has been a rock for our family, and we are in a good place.  I've had lots of time to reflect, and I truly feel like God has been preparing me for this diagnosis since she was born (and probably even before).  Caroline and I have always had a special connection, but this has taken us beyond.  Her spirit inspires me every minute of every day...she's my light.  Every morning I wake up and remember she has's like a nightmare groundhog day situation...but then she wakes up with a smile on her face, and I have a reason to fight through the sadness.  I feel more gratitude in my heart than ever before.  I cherish family time and friendships more than ever before.  I also feel so humbled by everyone that has shown up for us: family, friends, friends of friends, neighbors, co-workers, complete strangers!  My eyes are open, and my heart is forever changed.  I have had a lot of anxiety recently, probably because I am trying to mentally prepare myself for what is ahead.  I've already spent so many nights holding my daughter in the middle of the night in the hospital bed, as poison is pumping into her little body, aching and wishing I could take her place...I'm not looking forward to more nights of that, and we haven't even gotten to the hard part yet.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, for holding us up and walking us through this devastating time...I can't say that enough.  Thank you. 

From Andrew:
To quote him directly..."I'm good."  You don't get too much out of this 10-year-old boy, but we think he is doing as well as we can expect.  His routine has stayed relatively normal with school and sports.  He plays with his friends every chance he gets and does all of the usual "stuff" kids do at his age.  He's very protective and loving to Caroline, but they still annoy each other like typical siblings!

From Caroline:
(We asked her if she had anything to say to everyone who is praying for her)

Caroline's surgery is scheduled for 8am on Friday (4/27).  The surgery is expected to last about 6 hours.  The tumor will be removed, and she will also have a Hickman line placed (in addition to the port-a-cath she already has).  We are going to lay low for the rest of the week and just spend time together as a family.  Mark will post an immediate update on Facebook when she is out of surgery, and a blog post will follow later that day.  Thank you in advance for all of the prayers and thoughts that will be lifted in her name on Friday.  We have faith in God, confidence in her surgery team, and comfort in all of your thoughts and prayers.

***If you have any #carolinestrong gear, please wear it on Friday and think of her.  If you don't have any, please wear yellow/gold, which is the awareness color for childhood cancer.

Words will never be able to adequately express our gratitude,
The Lantz Family

Friday, April 20, 2018

Rally on the Runway

Last night was an amazing, fun, emotional event!  Caroline shined on the runway!  We are very thankful we were invited to participate in the Rally Foundation Fundraiser.  Thank you to everyone who participated - friends, supporters and volunteers - it seemed to be a huge success!


Caroline's escort for the evening was Mr. David King, a Defensive End for the Tennessee Titans! 

Tennessee Titans escorts and the models!

Caroline and her friend, Sadie, who battled Neuroblastoma when she was a baby.

Caroline's runway debut - sassy swagger!

So touched that Carmen and Shannon volunteered - it was great to have them there!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
The Lantz Family

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pre-K Graduation / Parlour 3 / Nashville Zoo

Just wanted to share some random updates from the last few days...we've certainly been enjoying our time together while Caroline is feeling ok!

Today, Caroline went to get her preschool "Graduation" picture taken.  We were so touched to be invited back to The Academy of McKay's Mill for this very special day!  Caroline attended the school full-time since she was 16 weeks old, but wasn't able to return once she was diagnosed.  We haven't been there since November, and it was (unexpectedly) a very emotional morning for us...seeing all of the friends she's grown up with (they look so much bigger!)...all of the teachers that loved on her for so many years...just being somewhere that reminded us of our "old" life and daily routine.  We are so, so thankful that Caroline will now have a preschool "graduation" picture to put next to Andrew's; it was something we thought she would miss out on.

Yesterday, Caroline and Margaret were treated to a "Day of Beauty" at Parlour 3 Salon, to prepare for the Rally on the Runway event this coming Thursday (you can read more about the event here).  A driver picked them up, and even had flowers for Caroline (shout out, Mr. Kemper!).  They arrived to a red carpet and a whole welcoming fancy!  They met the other "runway models" and their mothers, as well as many of the Rally Foundation volunteers...very inspiring.  Caroline got her make-up done, ate lunch and made a craft to give to the Titans player that walks her down the runway.  They even went home with a cool swag bag!  We are really looking forward to Thursday, and feel very lucky to be a part of such an amazing Foundation.

Last Friday, Caroline and Margaret went to the Nashville Zoo.  She LOVED it!  It felt great to walk around in the fresh air and check out all of the animals.  We're trying to squeeze in as much as we can before surgery next week!

Thank you for your continued support for our family - you're all still helping to hold us up and push us through. 

Much appreciation -
Team Lantz

Thursday, April 12, 2018

CT Scan Update - Surgery Date

We got a call from Caroline's doctor late this afternoon, and they reported that the CT Scan showed "significant" reduction in the shape and size of the tumor.  They also noticed an increase in calcification within her tumor, which indicates more dead cancer cells.  This is all good news!

Surgery to remove the tumor is scheduled for April 27th.

After surgery, Caroline will have approximately 9-12 months of treatment left, which includes: months of inpatient hospital stays, various scans, 2 rounds of high-dose chemo, 2 stem cell transplants, radiation, immunotherapy and a clinical trial.

Today was also extra special because Caroline was able to play in the gorgeous TN weather with Molly and Jamison for a few hours!  We were so happy our families could be together outside of the hospital.

We are very grateful for all your support to date...please keep the prayers coming for the long, tough road ahead.

Celebrating the wins,
The Lantz Family

Monday, April 9, 2018

Prayers for CT Scan Tomorrow / Rally for the Runway

Caroline is scheduled for her CT scan tomorrow, which we hope will confirm that her tumor has shrunk enough to be operable, and she can move forward with the resection surgery later this month.  The surgeon will review the scan and make the decision by the end of the week; we will keep everyone updated.  In the meantime, please continue to pray that her tumor has shrunk enough for surgery, so we can move onto the next step in the process ASAP!

In other news, Caroline was asked to be a runway model for "Rally on the Runway" on April 19th.  She will be escorted down the catwalk by Tennessee Titans players!  The event is a major fundraiser for the Rally Foundation, which raises awareness and funds for pediatric cancer, including grants that go directly to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.  We would love to see our local friends come out to watch Caroline's "modeling" debut, as well as support an amazing foundation.

You can purchase tickets by clicking here.

You can see Caroline's "Rally Kid" profile by clicking here.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support for our family!

The Lantz Family

Caroline and her buddy, Tex!

Play date with Milo at Ms. Hilary's!

Learning how to make pasta at Kathleen and Mark's house!

We met up with Rob and Jennifer at the Preds game, and they were able to sneak Caroline in line with them to get a picture with the President's Trophy! (Thank you, Ginsbergs!)

Waiting outside the Preds locker room to meet the players and get their jerseys signed!