Friday, September 28, 2018

Proton Radiation Days 15-19

What a week!  We've done so many fun things since the last update, and lots of pictures to show for it!  Caroline has successfully completed 19 of her 20 scheduled Proton Radiation treatments today, and she's actually feeling better than she did last week...minimal nausea, minimal pain, and LOTS of energy!

Saturday morning started with a play date!  Here is Vivian, another sweet 5 year old that is also battling Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, like Caroline.  We met her through the Proton Center, and have been able to see her several times.  Please keep Vivian in your prayers!

Saturday ended with a visit from one of Caroline's favorite "night nurses" from Vanderbilt, Valerie.  She and her husband moved back to Ohio...we miss her so much, but were so excited that she was able to come over and play some games!

On Sunday, cousin Victoria came to visit for a few nights...she's an AMAZING chef, and let Caroline help her in the kitchen.  We loved having her here with us!

Monday required a blood transfusion...Caroline taught Victoria how to meditate...hard to not laugh when she's wearing a deer costume!

On Wednesday, we went for ice cream with another fun friend, John, who is also fighting Stage 4 Neuroblastoma.  Please keep him in your prayers, too.

Graeter's "famous" ice cream!

Wednesday night was super special...our new friends, Miss Sue and Miss Jill, came over to help Caroline decorate some cakes.  They created a hulk fist out of fondant...the cakes turned out awesome, and were so thankful for the new friendships!

Thursday included a "behind-the-scenes" Proton Therapy Tour.  It was really a mind-blowing experience, and we feel very fortunate that Caroline is able to receive such cutting-edge treatment, even though it's requiring our family to live apart for a short time.  

Until Monday, peace out Proton!

We are really excited to head home on Monday, but have truly had an amazing experience in Ohio!!!  We have been welcomed and embraced by this community (neighbors, friends-of-friends, random people that turn into new friends, the hospital team, etc), and luckily, for the first time in a long time, Caroline has felt really great!  

Thank you for your constant prayers, love and support for our family.

The Lantz Family

Friday, September 21, 2018

Proton Radiation Days 10-14

Caroline finished her 14th of 20 total Proton Radiation treatments today!

To date, she has minimal side effects (just nausea/vomitting and some nerve-related leg pain), and is doing a great job with the daily routine.  She loves seeing her Proton team every morning, and so far, the experience at Cincinnati Children's has exceeded expectations!  We are very thankful for everyone in the medical field that have dedicated their lives to helping others; it's truly a gift. 

Caroline has been able to continue her home-bound schooling a few days a week while we are here, thanks to a very generous new friend we met last week!

Mark came to visit for his birthday - so much fun celebrating, although we really missed Andrew.

While in town, Mark and Caroline were able to go to a Flashes of Hope photography session (Margaret and Caroline have done this before) our surprise, Caroline's picture from her Vanderbilt session earlier this year was spotlighted on the Cincinnati Chapter table!  They told us that all 55 chapters (nationally) are probably using her picture in their display and marketing materials!

On Thursday, Caroline pulled out her NG Tube, and is going back to taking her daily medication orally.  The tube was rubbing on her nose and causing some redness and discomfort so she decided it was time to get rid of it all together; she hasn't needed to use it for feedings in over a month.  We are very proud of her!

We are BEYOND thankful for our friends who have helped us with Andrew, Hank (the dog), and our home, while we continue to juggle and navigate this chapter of a very long and difficult process.  We would fall apart without this amazing army of love and support!

Again, thank you all for the prayers and encouragement throughout this journey.

Much Love,
Team Lantz

Monday, September 17, 2018

Weekend in pictures / Halfway through Proton Therapy!

It was a great weekend in Ohio!

Saturday morning started downtown, with a "Go the Distance" 5k Walk to benefit Cincinnati Children's Hospital!  After the race, everyone was invited into Paul Brown Stadium for fun and games!  Caroline's Radiation-Oncologist, Nurse Case Manager and Child Life Specialist were all there walking with the Proton Team, and it was fun to see them outside of the hospital.  Very memorable event!

Sunday morning included a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo, and it did not disappoint!  We saw the infamous "baby" hippo, Fiona, watched kids feed the Giraffes, and even measured Caroline's weight in insects!  Great weather, great zoo, great time!

Sunday ended "family-dinner" style!  We have been fortunate enough to befriend the friends of a friend from Nashville, and they invited us over to their house for a BBQ and s'mores.  Caroline had a little playmate; they ran around almost the whole time, and even caught some frogs.  Everyone has been so kind and welcoming...we feel so loved!

Caroline completed her 10th Proton Therapy treatment this morning, so she is officially halfway through! 

Thank you for your continued prayers, support and showering of love!
The Lantz Family

Friday, September 14, 2018

Proton Therapy Days 5-9 / God-winks

Caroline has now completed 9 of 20 Proton therapy treatments, and is still hanging in there!  The only side effects she's been feeling are nausea, some leg pain, and trouble sleeping.  It's VERY hard on our family to be this far apart, but despite it all, Caroline still has a ton of energy, and it's unfolded to be a really great week, with some pretty amazing God-winks...

An adventure trail walk in Sharon Woods Park to meet up with an old friend of Margaret's cousin...she was the sweetest!

Nona came for a visit!  Quality time, games, "prizes" and infamous Dewey's Pizza!

Bullseye Cake Pop at Target Starbucks for the win!

EWA Cubs won their first game of the season...and their tribute to Caroline is so touching!

God-wink of the week: We were a part of a chain reaction of kindness in honor of a girl named Maya, who lost her battle to cancer.  Her 15th birthday would have been on Wednesday, 9/12, and people were going around town doing random acts of kindness in her honor.  Caroline was the recipient of THREE of these acts!!!  It all started in Target, when Caroline was picking out a "prize" from Nona for being so brave...a lady came into the aisle and told us she was doing a "random act of kindness for a friend..." and handed over a gift card.  Caroline gave her a #carolinestrong bracelet, and everyone was emotional...THEN Margaret got an email from a friend of the lady who gave the gift card in Target, and she wanted to bring Caroline some toys she intended to bring to the Children's Hospital as her act of kindness...THEN someone bought us an UberEats giftcard for dinner and one of their random acts of kindness.  Although we never had the privilege of meeting Maya, we have been blessed by her and her friends.  You can read all about her and the "kindness cards" by clicking here.  We will definitely be paying this forward!!!

With lots of love,
The Lantz Family

Friday, September 7, 2018

First Week of Proton Radiation / EWA Cubs / Pancake Dinner

Caroline finished her 4th of 20 Proton Radiation Therapy treatments this morning, and so far, she's still feeling great!  She's been able to go to the park, go for walks, get ice cream, do school work, dance and play all week!  Although nothing about this is easy, this week of Proton Radiation has been the "physically easiest" portion of her treatment protocol (so far), and we're really praying that the side effects of radiation stay at bay, and this continues.

Getting Proton Radiation Treatment feels like groundhog day: wake-up, don't eat (because of the anesthesia), drive to the Children's Hospital, check-in, get vitals, re-check info to make sure nothing has changed, get connected, walk back to the Proton room, get up on the table, distract with iPad while the "sleepy medicine" gets injected, give kisses...Proton Therapy takes place while we wait in the waiting room (about 30 minutes), then Caroline goes to recovery, the nurse gets us when she wakes up, and as soon as she has stable vitals, we head out for the day!  Repeat.  It's really a simple process, so we will just update the blog weekly while we are here, unless something unusual occurs.

 Playing before Proton Radiation - Carly from Child Life really takes great care of Caroline...

We wanted to share some special love and support we've received this week in particular.

Andrew's EWA Baseball Team went outside of the box this season and switched from traditional blue, white and red Cubs colors to Caroline STRONG purple and gold!!!  What an amazing gesture by a wonderful group of friends and neighbors in Franklin.  So very grateful for Coach Brent, Commissioner Jeremy, and all the wonderful, supportive coaches, players and parents in this league! In addition to our team's uniform change, ALL of the teams in the 12U league will display the CS logo on their sleeve! What a wonderful surprise!

Also, we are so thankful to our friend, Jennifer Leonard, and the Walker Baptist Church, for hosting a special pancake dinner and bake sale in honor of Caroline.  If you're in Franklin, and available tonight, swing by!  A lot of work went into this event and we are very grateful for all the friends, helpers and bakers that are putting this on.  We are with you in spirit!

And just for fun..."reading" a cookbook before nap...she's meal planning for the weekend!

Thank you for your constant prayers this week; we are amazed at how well it went.

The Lantz Family

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Day 1 of Proton Radiation - Cincinnati Children's

1 down, 19 to go!!!  Day 1 of Proton Radiation Therapy is officially in the books.  Other than needing a blood transfusion after radiation, the day went as smoothly as can be expected. 

We arrived at the Proton Therapy Center early in the morning to meet with Caroline's prep team (nursing, anesthesia and radiation-oncology).  After getting her morning vitals and being evaluated by the doctor, Caroline walked back to the Proton Radiation room, got settled, laid down on the table, and was administered IV sedation medication.  Approximately 30 anxiety-filled minutes later, we were escorted back to see Caroline in the radiation recovery area.  She was already fully awake and acting like her normal, silly, loving self.  In fact, the nurse said she has never seen a child "come to" as quickly as Caroline did today!  We are glad that she was able to bounce back so quickly after the treatment and sedation. 

Caroline required a red blood cell transfusion due to low hemoglobin numbers, which took about 4 hours, after which she was released to relax at home (our short-term housing).  The rest of the today will be spent working on Kindergarten homework and resting in the cool air-conditioning, to escape the unseasonably HOT September Ohio temps.

We are so very appreciative of all the prayers, kind words, messages, meals, UberEats gift cards, donations, and most of all love and support from so many near and far.  It means the world to our family during this very disruptive time in our lives.  

The Lantz Family

Arriving at the Proton Therapy Center.

Walking herself back into the room. 

Distraction while they prep for anesthesia is the best!

Sedated and ready for Proton Therapy!

In the playroom while getting blood...great view!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Until Caroline was diagnosed with cancer, we didn't know that September was "Childhood Cancer Awareness Month."  We actually didn't know much about pediatric cancer at all, other than seeing St. Jude commercials...which we usually changed the channel because they're so depressing!  It didn't really affect our lives, and like most families, we were busy with work, "stressed" and worried mostly about what was relevant to our kids and family.  Then, in one moment, we suddenly entered the pediatric cancer world and became more than aware.

How did we not know this world existed before?  How did we not participate in the community and create more awareness?  How did we not know about the oncology department less than 20 miles north of our home?  Why did we not care that pediatric cancer only receives barely any federal funding for research?  

Our eyes are officially and forever opened.  We will spend the rest of our lives spreading awareness, fighting for more research, and paying forward the generosity we've received.

There are a ton of statistics to be found or quoted, but here is a good visual for general pediatric cancer awareness facts:

Here's a good visual for general Neuroblastoma:

Cancer sucks.  But, one positive thing cancer has brought into our lives: perspective.  Each day is truly a gift, and we're trying to live accordingly.  So, although you may not have a child with cancer, if you are reading this, you are part of our family, and we hope that our journey has also shared this gift of awareness with you.

Words truly cannot express the gratitude we feel in our hearts for the army of people that have stood with us these past 9 months.  We're only halfway through Caroline's treatment protocol, and will never really be over/away from the diagnosis, but we know that we will be able to keep moving forward, thanks to you all.

With much love, appreciation and awareness,
The Lantz Family