Thursday, December 31, 2009

Holidays and Jacksonville

We survived Christmas on our own. I mentioned before that this is the first Christmas that I have not been in Michigan - in my life! It wasn't bad until Christmas Eve when we started thinking about everything that we were missing out on. We always get together with the Lansings over at Ryan's parent's house, have a feast and then watch a movie - a night of enjoying togetherness with family and friends. Christmas morning begins with breakfast over at my brother Chad's house followed by gifts and the afternoon wraps up with cousins and presents. This year was different...not bad just different. We have talked in years past about experiencing Christmas on our own - I think this year, a year without a choice, probably cured me of that desire.

The Sunday after Christmas we decided to brave taking Audrey to church, just for sacrament meeting. It wasn't an emotional experience for me until I saw the excited faces and even some tears. Then, I became emotional. I know that we have people around the country loving us and praying for us and it was so apparent in the faces we saw on Sunday morning. On a side note - Audrey was nuts during church and Nathan was in a mood and burst into tears a couple of time, though it was hectic, it was worth it.

After church we began our drive down to Jacksonville where we had several appointments and had everything set up to do Audrey's proton radiation therapy. This is an intense five week program where Audrey will receive radiation 30 times. We went in thinking that it was a 5 week program, but even if we do it five days a week it will take at least six weeks. We were also told to expect delays due to machinery malfunctions and if her blood counts are not good we will not be able to have treatment. I am really not looking forward to the time in Jacksonville. It is a long time to be away from home, having my family split apart and everything "normal" on pause. I am going to have a very hard time being away from Nathan. We have things set up so he can go to someones house every day from the time he is finished with school until Ryan picks him up after work. Ryan and Nathan are going to travel down on weekends but the drive is over 6 hours and it makes me feel terrible having them travel that distance for such a short period of time we are able to spend together.

Audrey and I are currently in the hospital receiving her third set of Chemotherapy. So far so good. We will be here until sometime on Sunday afternoon/evening. Ryan will be staying with her tomorrow night - it is always a nice break for me. The constant in and out of the medical staff is very taxing.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thank You

For all of you that responded to my help request and sent my brother a letter, card or a package - Thank You. I had the chance to speak with him today (missionaries are able to call "home" on Christmas - because of the circumstances he was given permission to call our home too). He mentioned that he had received a package, letters and cards.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Letter

We were able to send our Christmas letter out this year to some but I am sure that not everyone received the letter so I will include it here:

And so our year began as did everyone else’s, with taxes. Tonya ventured out and learned a new skill, preparing taxes for H&R Block. In those few months she learned a lot, met a lot of very interesting people and created some very good friendships while working. Ryan, being a tax attorney, was not left in the dust on this venture – he was consulted on occasion regarding difficult tax returns and often after a little research, he gladly provided the needed answers. By far the most challenging tax return Tonya prepared was our own!

Ryan studied and prepared to take his second bar exam. A few months later the results were in and Ryan is now licensed with the North Carolina State Bar. He continues to work with The Van Winkle Law Firm in Asheville, North Carolina. Ryan’s specific area of practice includes working in wills, trusts and estates. The middle of the year proved to be challenging in that he did not feel as though he had enough work and focused on meeting other professionals in the area in order to stimulate more business. Thankfully work picked up and he has been busy ever since.

At the end of the summer Nathan turned 5 though he wanted and claimed he would be 4 forever! Shortly after his birthday Nathan began kindergarten at Nativity Lutheran. The program fits Nathan very well. He is in a class with 12 other students and has two teachers in his room at all times. The teachers are wonderful, the program and curriculum is impressive and Nathan has really begun to flourish academically.

During this time Tonya was presented with the opportunity to watch a couple of children in our home. Nathan and Audrey were both excited to have the two little girls over and they all got a long so well. Not too long after the girls began coming a lump on Audrey’s back was discovered and within a couple of weeks the babysitting had to end.

The growth on Audrey’s back was a malignant Rhabdoid tumor. This type of cancer is very aggressive and measures were taken quickly to have the mass removed. Over the next several months Audrey will undergo an intense chemotherapy schedule coupled with proton radiation therapy. Nearly all of our family has been here to help and visit since Audrey’s diagnosis.

On the same day Audrey’s mass was discovered we also found out that Tonya is expecting our third child. The baby is due to arrive on June 19th. As one can imagine, our excitement has been postponed as we deal with the reality of Audrey’s cancer and helping Nathan to continue to learn and grow with all of the challenges our family faces at this time.

We know that God lives. He knows and loves each of His children individually. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to bear the weight of this world. Christ entered this world as a child, grew, taught, led and took upon himself the sins, sickness, sadness and all that we experience in this world and atoned for each of us. It is through Jesus Christ, our elder brother, that we will have the opportunity to again live with our Father in Heaven. For this we are so grateful and wish to share with you our knowledge and joy this Christmas season.

Ryan and Tonya Beadle

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The biggest snow storm to hit Asheville this decade came with full fury this weekend. We kind of thought that escaping Michigan forever would relieve us of this. We don't even own a snow shovel. We were without electricity for most of the night on Friday night, but it was back on at around 7 in the morning. What a blessing! The house was quite a frosty 55 - 58 degrees by morning.

We have been trapped in the house for two days. We live on a hill and our street will not be plowed for the foreseeable future. Getting down the hill - no problem as long as there are no other cars at the bottom of the hill. Getting back up the hill - I don't know if that would work. The state owns the street and we are very low on the priority list for snow removal. We don't mind, though - we have everything here at home we need right now. Our only worry has been that Audrey would become sick, and fortunately she has not. Her white blood count was nonexistent on Friday, but she has been able to avoid anything bad in the meantime. She had a fever yesterday, but we decided to try Tylenol and it relieved the fever. Fever is the main warning sign for us to beware of this weekend. If the Tylenol hadn't worked, we'd have braved the snow and journeyed to the hospital yesterday. Fortunately, we had a good night.

Nathan was so funny. Tonya took him outside in the morning, intending to let him play in the snow and make a snowman. He said, "Mommy, you can build the snowman by yourself, it's too cold out here." In the afternoon, Ryan took him out again to try and see if he wanted to build a snowman. He decided it was fun and so we built "Frosty" (that's the name he gave the snowman). A few minutes later, "Jack Frost" (Nathan's words for Nathan's decision to kick, hit and destroy Frosty) came along and destroyed Frosty, so Frosty had a pretty short life.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Never Ending Cough and Big Girl Beds

Nathan has been afflicted with a terrible cough for no less than two months. He has twice had prescriptions from his pediatrician, has taken a lifetime of cough medicine and we have even tried crazy remedies. It seemed nothing was going to work. Amazingly, last night I do not believe I heard Nathan cough this is the run down of treatments for the day - prescription medication (tablet on the tongue), Robitussin DM, breathing treatment also from pediatrician, Vicks vapor rub on the feet with socks over, humidifier with Vicks in the water - that might be it... And can you believe it, it seemed to work...UNTIL this morning! Maybe it is chronic.

We brought Grandpa Beadle to the airport yesterday after getting Nathan from school. In our ten minute trip home from the airport Audrey fell asleep. I knew she was very tired so I put her in her crib when we arrived home. Well, she woke up during the walk up the steps and she was sure she wasn't going to fall back to sleep. I left her in her crib thinking she would settle down and fall back to sleep. I went down stairs and was in the bathroom washing my hands when I heard a loud clunk on the ceiling above me. I quickly headed up the stairs to find Audrey meeting me on the way down. She wasn't graceful in her decent and claims to have hit her head although I did not see a mark of any kind. So, our life with the crib is over. She went to bed in her twin bed last night. We closed her door thinking we would be able to hear her if she were to wake up in the night. Well, we did hear she was rounding the corner from the upstairs and heading downstairs to the basement looking for "momma" just before midnight!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Homecoming #3

Yesterday morning Audrey awoke while in the hospital and I was telling her that it was Daddy's birthday and he is 30! Our nurse walked in during this conversation, went out to the desk, called Audrey's doctor and put things in motion for us to come home earlier than anticipated. Sure it was just a few hours early but it was wonderful for all of us and I am guessing one of the best birthday presents Daddy has ever received!

Audrey was a little bothered that Ryan's birthday cake wasn't the traditional kind that she is accustomed to. Instead it was a cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. There are only two in all of North Carolina (maybe three but they are only in two cities). We have friends that recently moved here from Raleigh and they have family that was willing to transport it here for us! It seriously saved like $15 in shipping! It was the perfect gift, Ryan was so excited.

Today is Ryan's and my 7th anniversary. We couldn't be happier to spend the evening together as a family. We will have many more years to celebrate on our own. I believe this is our most recent picture together, it was taken the summer we moved here to Asheville - 2008.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

On Thursday night, Audrey had a couple of special visitors from the snowy north - uncle Chad and aunt Sarah. They stayed with her for a few hours and as evidenced by this picture, uncle Chad is such a good sport, even allowing Audrey to use his hand as her palette.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Week 3 day 1

First day of chemo down. We didn't make it without Audrey getting sick though. She is resting now. Today she had a treat though... Uncle Chad and Aunt Sarah are here and they spent a few hours with Audrey so I could go out and attend a Relief Society Christmas party. Audrey left messages for several family members (she loves using the phone). Uncle Chad let Audrey paint his hand. They made play-dough hats and all!

We have definitely had a long day. I hope she can rest well tonight!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Almost Normal

This weekend was wonderful. Friday morning started out very interesting. I walked into the kitchen early in the morning to see that Nathan thought he would make himself breakfast - a/k/a peanut butter sandwich. He was giggling so hard I thought he was going to fall off the chair. The funny thing is that he wouldn't finish his sandwich claiming it was "spicy" (the bread had cracked wheat on the crust). I spent a few hours during the day baking peanut butter kiss cookies with Audrey. On Friday night I was able to spend time with some of my very good friends. Thank you all so much, I really needed it. On Saturday evening we asked Sandy to stay at our house with Audrey while Ryan and I took Nathan on a date. We met up with some friends and had a great time. On Sunday we put up some Christmas decorations and put the kids in their coats so we could go outside and look at our lights. It was wonderful!!

Notice how dark it is outside the window? That is how early Nathan wakes up each morning!

Audrey was unwrapping the kisses to put on top of the cookies and absentmindedly placed one in her mouth! She actually tried to give it back... (This is the first phase hair cut - she is now bald).

We have had our Christmas tree up for over a month decorating for while Steve, Rosie and the kids were here. So I didn't think that I would put up any more decorations, especially lights outside. I decided just to go ahead and do it and guess what, it was a wonderful idea. Putting up the lights was so exciting and brought up so many good memories that I am so happy I went with the idea. Christmas - the whole season - is magical no matter what is going on in your life.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Help Request

Friends and Family,

I have a request to make... Because of all of the things going on with Audrey right now I have not been able to do many of the things I would otherwise make a priority. So, I would like some help...

My younger brother, Justin Brace, is serving a mission for our church. He is serving in Boise, Idaho. He has been on his mission for nearly a year which means he has just over a year to go before he comes home. I have not been able to write to him nearly as much as I would like. Because it is the Christmas season, and he is probably missing home more around the holidays, I would like it if you would be willing to write him or send him a Christmas card, nothing that will take too long or will cost too much - just something to let him know that he is loved and that what he is doing is important.

Elder Justin M. Brace, Idaho Boise Mission, 1111 South Cole Road, Boise, ID 83709

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Homecoming #2

Audrey was released from the hospital today. She is on a new antibiotic to help with her viral cough. Nathan has the same nasty cough and our pediatrician is calling in the same prescription (without even demanding to see him!!!). Hopefully we will get past all of the cold season quickly and without any more disruptions.

We will be back in the hospital for the second set of chemo on the 10th of this month. This time Uncle Chad and Aunt Sarah are coming down to help with Nathan.