Sunday, December 20, 2009

Too Long Since Our Last Post

I know! I know! It has been too long since our last post. Life caught up and it has been crazy after Thanksgiving as it has been for so many. So....we will write the "Top 5 Happenings Since our Last Post". Here we go...
1. Our trip to Disneyworld: Had a blast. McKenna felt great (Her counts were too low to get chemo the 2 weeks before.) We were able to get a "Guest Assistance" pass so it sped up our wait in lines. (The pass was something one of Kenna's cousins mentioned as one of the things she was most grateful for on Thanksgiving! :) ) We walked too much, ate too much, laughed a ton, and were so grateful to have this time together.
2. Big plans for week while others on cruise foiled by chemo: Kenna had 3 days of treatment the week we came back. I guess starting it up again after 3 weeks of nothing shocked her body. She didn't want to do most of the things we planned. We did go shopping for a couple of hours one day to find her a dress and saw the movie, "New Moon". We also watched way too many episodes of "Super Nanny". Kenna is a total expert now.
3. Lombardi Awards Banquet: McKenna attended the college football Lombardi awards with some other teens from the cancer clinic on the 9th of December. Her aunt Amy met her at her grandma's house that morning and did her hair while McKenna finished a bit more school work. She got chemo that afternoon and then changed at the hospital and left for the awards at 5:00. She had a really great time.
4. Hanging out with Friends: McKenna's counts were high when we returned from Disney. 4000 ANC!! She has been attending church, hanging out with friends, and making trips to Target.
5. Finishing this semester of school: Kenna finished school on December 17th for the holiday break. Looking forward to the holidays with her Grandpa and Grandma Johnson, Aunt and Uncle and cousins, and family and friends. Is anxious to start cooking our Christmas Eve and Christmas Feasts while she still feels up to it.
Much love to you all. Wishing you the happiest of holidays!!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

McKenna Studies Shakespeare

In our homeschool we are taking a Shakespeare class taught by McKenna's Aunt Amy. Her two daughters Karina and Katie are in the class and other teenagers from Seattle. Although we can't physically be in the class, we can listen in over the phone sometimes and share in the assignments. We have read As You Like It and are now reading Macbeth.

Here is one of McKenna's assignments. She composed a modern version of the speech from As You Like It about the seven ages of man. Here it is:

All the world's a mall. All the men and women are merely shop-a-holics. They open and walk through the entrance doors and exit as they please. There are seven parts to this life of cha-ching!

First there is the infant being hauled around the mall in a stroller all day by his mother, who is busy trying to find the cutest outfit for her precious little baby.

Second, there is the toddler, who thinks that the mall is the perfect place for hide-and-go seek, running around and hiding in between clothes racks, until you hear a "Can Stacey please come to the food court?" on the intercom, only meaning that mother has lost her little toddler.

Third, there is the whiney little schoolgirl, hanging on the side of her little sibling's stroller, and complaining always unless mommy is buying something for her.

Fourth, there is the teenage girl, with all her friends, spending much more than her Coldstone salary, shopping at Forever 21.

Fifth, there is the newlywed as she shops for the perfect dress to wear to dinner with her husband.

Sixth, there is the mom, with her three little kids following behind as she shops for herself, at Banana Republic, and looks throught the clothes at the Gymboree for her tots.

Seventh, there is the grandmother, old and weak, shopping with her husband, realizing just how much joy the mall has brought to her over the years.

The end is when she dies. Her spirit will always be in her favorite store.

Another assignment we did was to take the violent images which the captain in Act 1 Scene 2 of Macbeth uses to describe the battle to the king. We tried to illustrate each image:

And Fortune on his quarrel smiling.

They meant to bathe in reeking wounds
Or memorise another Golgotha.

As two spent swimmers that do cling together
And choke their art.

Yes, as sparrows, eagles, or the hare, the lion.
If I say sooth, I must report they were

Sunday, November 15, 2009

November 15, 2008

On Friday at clinic McKenna was supposed to start her next phase of treatment. (She wasn't able to start yet, because her ANC is 50 and it has to be at least 750 to start. We'll go back Friday and they'll see if her counts are high enough.) It is called Interim Maintenance. It includes a couple of meds that she hasn't had yet, so we don't know how she will react. It is, however, supposed to be less intense. Good timing for the holidays!
Next Sunday we will be leaving for Disney World. We have been looking forward to this trip for a long time. For a number of years we have been trying to do a Disney cruise with Jason's family as a family reunion. It took a little while to get the timing right to make sure no one was pregnant or had a baby too young to go. This is the year. We talked to McKenna's doctor about going and she said it really wouldn't be possible for her to do a cruise. If she were to get sick, she would need to be in a city where she could get good medical care and her doctor could communicate with the local doctors to treat her accordingly. She did say that it would be just fine to take her to Disney we decided to go to Florida a week early so McKenna could participate in the vacation before the rest of the family leaves on the cruise. Her grandparents and two cousins, Katie and Karina, will also come to Disney World with us. We are really excited to have this time together. McKenna is already trying to talk her younger sisters into riding the "scary" rides with her. (I think she actually made Maddie sign a contract saying she would go on all the rides McKenna went on. I think Maddie is having "signers remorse".)
On Saturday the cruise ship will leave and McKenna and I will stay until Sunday morning. We are planning some fun things to do while everyone else is away. I told her that she didn't have to be disappointed that she wasn't going to swim with the dolphins. We could totally do that here!! The dolphins might be plastic and miniature and we might be swimming in the bathtub....but we could swim with the dolphins! (I think I really am going to make her do that and yes...I will put it on the blog!)

Monday, November 9, 2009


The past week and a half has been a bit of a pain. Because Kenna is allergic to one of the chemos she has to take the replacement. Unfortunately the replacement is 6 shots (Actually shot in each leg.), as opposed to 1 dose of the other med. Because of the allergic reaction risk she has to get these at the hospital. (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) We will finish the first round on Wednesday. She was quite nauseated and sick last week. We are starting to watch her weight and food consumption more carefully. I bought her whole milk and Ensure the other day to try and sneak into some smoothies and she gave me the "if-you-think-I'm-drinking-that, you're-crazy" look. She did start feeling better by the weekend. Thank goodness!
As you noticed in the pictures posted previously McKenna still has her hair. We think that is may just thin. (Thank goodness for thick hair.) That would be such a blessing. That has been one of the most traumatic things for Kenna to deal with since she was diagnosed. It would be wonderful to have one less thing to cope with.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rennaisance Festival

Yesterday we went to the Texas Renaissance Festival which is really big and lasts two months. They have two school days so we went for one of those. Jason went with Jacob and the Abercombie School. Kim came down from San Antonio and met us there.

It was so much fun. We saw juggling shows, bagpipe shows, mud fight shows, and the Birds of Prey show. McKenna did bungee jumping on trampolines and I got some great photos of her reactions. She and Grandpa had fun swinging but they kept accusing each other of not pulling their fair share. McKenna had never shot a bow and arrow so we did Archery. It is just fun to walk around and look at all the people and shops. We met Queen Isabella of Spain. It was fun and went along with our study of Shakespeare.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Taking Pills is a Drag

McKenna has decided she is tired of taking pills. She takes quite a few during the week. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday she takes a couple of pills twice a day that help prevent her from getting pneumonia while her immune system is suppressed. Every night she takes two LARGE chemo pills. She adds a couple other pills that keep her body running smoothly with the effects of some of the chemo meds and then tops it off with pills for nausea.
She has developed a technique that prevents her from tasting them as little as possible. First, she takes a drink of water. Second, she tilts her head back and drops the pill down her throat. Third, she takes another drink of water to wash it down. She has about a 50% success rate at keeping them down the first try. She is looking forward to the day when she won't have to take quite so many!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures!!!

An adorable birthday blanket made by her young women's class at church. She has some of the best blankets. I may have to steal a few!

I'll always cherish this picture of us. Spending time with her at the hospital and taking care of her when she hasn't felt well has helped us become closer. One of the blessings!

McKenna and some of her friends smiling for the camera. She has the best friends!!! (Notice their "Kenna's Girls" pink t-shirts)

We had some photos taken of our family after McKenna was diagnosed with leukemia. This is one of the photos of her that I love. She felt awful that day, but you'd never know. She was a trooper!

McKenna shaving her dad's head. She seems to be enjoying it a bit too much.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Update on McKenna

McKenna had a bit of a rough week last week. The week after having her Benadryl trauma, she had an allergic reaction to one of the chemo meds they gave her. The nurse told me it happens fairly often. Because the medicine is formulated to be a slow release med, they always make sure that you have your epinephrin pen before sending you home in case there is another reaction. Kenna was thrilled at the idea. :) (Luckily we didn't have to use it.) She ended up getting another spinal headache and had a lot of back pain from a different chemo. By Wednesday she was absolutely miserable. None of the pain meds they sent us home with helped so they had us go back in for something stronger. This girl can handle her meds. She had 3 doses of morphine and didn't fall asleep! On Thursday she felt like a new person. She had good energy and no headache or back pain!
This coming Friday is her birthday. She is supposed to get chemo again, but only if her counts are high enough. If they are then it will be a very long day at clinic. If they aren't then we will go home. We are bringing cupcakes and balloons in case we need to do a little celebrating there.

Blessings and Service

As many of you know, our church and our faith are very important parts of our lives. Our faith in God and His plan for us, especially during these past two months, has comforted and strengthened us. This has been such a blessing to us.
Early on in McKenna's diagnosis, I was reading a magazine that is published by our church called "The Ensign." That day I read a talk by one of our church leaders that really touched me. It was about serving others. He taught that even in times of difficulty, serving others can bless our lives. I really felt that I was meant to read that talk that day. As we have tried to follow this counsel we have found that we are less focused on our own problems and happy being able to make someone elses day a little brighter.
I wanted to mention some of the awesome things some of our friends and family have been doing to serve others that have really inspired me.
McKenna has a sweet group of girlfriends from Northland Christian School. There are 11 girls that have a class at the beginning of the day called "Habitudes." After learning of McKenna's diagnosis they decided to do something to make a difference. They started planning fundraisers in Kenna's name (Kids for Kenna) and are donating the funds to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. They have sold wristbands, soda, and homemade notebooks just to name a few. We are so amazed by these girls and their kindness and determination.
McKenna's friends and teachers from our church have been amazing. They have been so awesome to come over regularly to visit, hang-out, or just watch movies with her. Even though she can't be at church right now, they bring it to her. A couple of weeks ago they brought over t-shirts that they had designed with the logo "Kenna's Girls" on the front and "Kenna Kicks Cancer" on the back. (They were bright pink, of course.) Everyone wore their shirts to school and work the next day. These girls mean so much to us.
My brother Jared and his wife Brittany were recently involved in a big service project in their church. It was called "The Big Give." Families were divided into groups and were asked to come up with some sort of service they could provide for someone else. Jared and Brittany's group decided to provide dinner to the Ronald McDonald House in their area of Boise. Of course we loved this idea. I'm sure those families were thrilled. (Brittany is a good cook!)
Our friend Dallin Sellers was trying to decide on an Eagle Scout project when McKenna was diagnosed. He heard of some of the facilities, like the teen room, at Texas Children's Hospital, and the need for blood donors for so many of these children. He decided to do a combined blood drive and fundraiser/party for his project. I am helping get the word out about the blood drive, so if you are able and interested in donating blood please call me and I'll give you the details.
After crocheting hats for McKenna, I decided it was a good way to pass the time while McKenna is at the clinic on Fridays. My mom has also been crocheting and we have quite a collection of hats now. We have been making fun flowers and bows for the girls to add to them. We will bring them to the clinic with us so McKenna can give them to some of the children there. I think she is excited to be able to do that. (If any of you know how to make cute hair bows...I would love some instruction!)
I am so inspired and thankful for your kind deeds and service. I am recommiting myself to do something everyday to make someone elses life a little better.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hi everyone, Since I am no longer in Texas I can only stay in touch by phone. Jen said Kenna had kind of a rough weekend. When she got the chemo on friday she had an allergic reaction to one of the drugs. It was pretty intense for a while but she is doing better now. One of the chemo drugs makes her back hurt pretty badly, so she is taking some pain meds for that but she still remains positive. I'm telling you this girl is amazing. I talked to her last week and she was upbeat and sweet as ever. We are continually grateful for the love and prayers of everyone. The young women in Kennas ward made t-shirts for her and her family members, (they even sent one to me, thank you so much girls) the shirts are darling they say Kennas girls on the front and Kenna Kicks Cancer on the back. Everyone is so kind.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Crazy Weekend

On Friday we went into the clinic for McKenna's regular chemo appointment. Because she received chemo 4 days in a row last week, her port site was covered for those 4 days. When they took the covering off on the 4th day there was a huge rash there. They think that moisture got into the area and became infected. (Easy to happen when your immune system is suppressed.) They started doing the normal blood work they do when we first arrive, but also wanted to see if there was an infection at the port site that might have spread. Her hemaglobin was very low so they needed to give her blood before doing anything else. While we were waiting for her blood to come her rash started itching like crazy. They decided to give her a dose of benadryl intravenously. Almost immediately after giving her the dose of benadryl, she started acting very agitated. She didn't feel right. I yelled for the nurse. She came in and saw that she was hyperventilating and shaking with chills. She started getting oxygen on her and told me to grab the phone and told me numbers to start dialing in order to page for the doctor and other nurses. Her blood pressure dropped and she looked horrible. I was so scared. One of the nurses started flushing her IV with saline to reverse the effect of the benadryl. Within a couple of minutes she was back to "normal". It was so awful to see her that way.
They weren't sure at the time, but thought that any infection that might have been near the port site could have been pushed into the blood stream when they administered the benadryl. It is their policy that if they suspect an infection, they treat with antibiotics until blood tests show differently. They transferred her to the 9th floor of the hospital about an hour later.
On Saturday afternoon we spoke to the inpatient doctors. The blood cultures they took didn't show an infection. The doctor thought that it was a strange reaction to the benadryl with her blood counts being low. He told us that they would send us home later that day. We were so grateful that she didn't have an infection in her port and are grateful to be home today.

Homeschooling McKenna

I just want to report on the first two weeks of homeschooling Kenna and Lauren. They arrive at my apartment every day a little after 8:00. Jen usually drops them off when she takes the others to Abercombie.

We start out with a devotional which is a study of the Life of Christ this year taken from old seminary manuals and Jesus the Christ. Then they go into working on their assigned work. McKenna is doing Algebra with the same book her Dad used as a teen. It is a great book on an honors level that really teaches the concepts creatively. She is taking HS Biology from BYU Home Study so she will get high school credit for Biology.

The rest of the classes we are doing with her cousins in Seattle, Karina and Katie. Amy is teaching Essay Writing, Shakespeare and Grammar/Vocabulary. We are using 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary which I used with my children and is our all time favorite vocabulary book. We are reading As You Like It and writing a descriptive essay. I teach Spanish. They get two classes, one at Kenna's level which is review for Lauren, and then I skipped them ahead to be in the class with the Leonard girls which is just finishing up Spanish I. I can do this because they have so much experience with having heard a lot of Spanish when they were younger, thanks to Rocio. Then I also am teaching history using Abraham's Lincoln's World by Genevieve Foster as a text and jumping off point. Last week we read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. The history also includes some Literature. They have to work hard to keep up with all the assignments. For each class they have a couple of hours of class over the phone and then assignments to complete before the next class.

This system gives McKenna a place to go away from home, some contact with others over the phone and will give her a couple of high school credits for next year. She is so smart and organized. She loves organizing and decorating her notebooks. She gets dressed to the hilt everyday even though it is just for us. She never complains and can rest when she needs. She can lay on the couch and still do her work. She is so positive and grateful. I love her more each day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I just wanted to clarify my last blog. While the tests came back negative for the presence of leukemia cells in her marrow, this does not mean that there is no presence of leukemia in her body or in her marrow. The doctors are limited by the current technology that they use to test for the presence of leukemia cells. They know that there is still leukemia present in various stages in her body and this is why the treatment lasts 2 1/2 years. The next seven months of chemotherapy is still very aggressive because the remaining leukemia cells are much harder to eliminate.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bone Marrow Results and New Chemo

Great news! We received McKenna's bone marrow results on Thursday and they showed that there is no leukemia cells in her marrow. This is what her doctors were hoping to find. While her marrow looks clean, clinical trials over the past 30 years show that if they were to stop the chemotherapy now the leukemia would come back.

On Friday morning McKenna started her new chemo protocol. This phase is called consolidation and it lasts 8 weeks. We left for the hospital at 6:30am yesterday and didn't get home until 7:30pm. Long day! She had another spinal tap. (She'll have one every week for the next 4 weeks.) In the past they haven't wiped her out, but it did yesterday.

One of the chemo drugs they gave her yesterday can do a lot of damage to the bladder so they have to hydrate very well before giving it and after giving it. (About 8 hours worth...the reason we were there so long.)

The drugs they are giving the next couple of months seem to have more annoying side-effects. (Nausea, lack of appetite, aches and pains similar to the flu, and low, low counts to name a few...) McKenna felt pretty rotten last night. You know she really doesn't feel well when she complains because she hardly says anything about her discomforts. We were finally able to get her comfortable so she could sleep well last night. (She is still sleeping.)

We are thankful for your prayers and all your support. We feel the power of those prayers strengthen us all daily.

Monday, September 7, 2009

September 7, 2009

Today is Labor Day and we have had a really great day. On Friday McKenna went to clinic and had her procedures done. The initial results look good, but we will find out final results on Wednesday or Thursday. The doctors told McKenna to go and have a great week with friends and not worry about cancer. She has enjoyed spending the weekend with friends and family. It has been wonderful to take her out and not have to worry about her getting sick. McKenna decided that she wanted to go to Kemah Boardwalk today so that is where we spent the day. It was a lot of fun. We rode rides (almost puked), ate fish, played games (won more cheesy stuffed animals... hooray!), and got really sweaty. Definately a successful day.
Tomorrow she "officially" starts school with her grandmother. (She has been working on history and Spanish for the past couple of weeks.) She is looking forward to it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kenna is an amazing girl

It has really been wonderful be here in Houston and to feel of Kennas strong, sweet spirit. The way she is handling this battle with cancer is amazing. The prednisone makes her really hungry as we have said before, so she has decided to become a chef. She has been cooking breakfast and dinner for her family every day. This requires her to arise early every morning. (She is alot more willing and has a lot more energy for this than I do. I am old and tired, partly because of the late nights she likes to keep, but I enjoy participating in her desire to serve.) She cooks yummy breakfasts for everyone and she makes amazing lunches for Jacob and Maddie to take to school. She gets on line and researches creative ideas to make their lunch fun. Last night she said, "Grandma we should do a service for someone tomorrow. How about if we turn off Mom's alarm clock and let her sleep in. We'll get Maddie, Jake and Emma up, feed them, get them ready for school, and then take them to school." Last night when we went to Mike and Amys house she insisted on dishing up my plate for me and she did it before she did her own. She has learned the secret to getting through hard times at a very young serve others. She is such a great example to me.

She reads her scriptures every night, prays, write in her journal, and works on her Personal Progress, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. (Prednisone also causes insomnia.) You can feel of the goodness of her spirit when you are around her. We can feel the strength of all of your prayers, thank you so much, there is a sweet spirit that abides in the Beckstead home.

Kennas over all attitude is amazing. Most teenagers would be freaked about loosing their hair, but Kenna has learned to crochet cute hats to cover her baldness. (Her hair is thinning but she is not yet bald) There was a t-shirt that one of the nurses wore at the hospital. It said "Bald is beautiful, fighting leukemia is bold". It really is ones attitude that determines ones happiness.

Jason (Kennas dad), Mike, Jared, and Jeff (Kenna uncles) have all shaved their heads in a show of love and support for Kenna. You guys are awesome!

There has been a huge show of love and support from friends and neighbors also. There are so many good and kind people in the world. Thank you, thank you for all you do!!


Here is an update of the past couple of days:

On Monday, it was a great day. In the morning, I worked on my schoolwork for the day. After I got it all finished, and these people finished hanging up my mom's quilt on our wall, I went with my mom and grandma to this restaurant called, Mia Bella. It was really yummy, and the weather was great so we decided to eat outside. Whenever we came home, my mom and grandma were experimenting with my hats, and were coming up with really cute pins for me to attach to them. They were coming up with all kinds of cute ideas with flowers, bows, ribbons, buttons, and etc. I am really excited to wear these things!! Also, my friends Meredith and Catie came over to visit for a few hours, and that was really fun. We made personal pizzas, watched a movie, and made bracelets. They were so cute and I am addicted to making them now.

On Tuesday, I also did my schoolwork and just stayed home. I learned how to make my Aunt Heather's recipe for potatoe cheese soup and it was delicious. Later on, while Madeline was at gymnastics, and Emma was at ballet/tap/jazz class (super cute), I went with my grandma to my aunt and uncle's house. My grandma thought it would be nice to make them dinner so she made a pork potroast with garlic mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and rolls. Then, when Madeline and Emma's lessons were through, they came over with my mom and brother, and we just all hung out. It was really funny watching my little cousins and siblings do their wrestling matches. They get so into it. Whenever we came home I was noticing that I was getting really tired. Then I realized that the night before, I had only gotten 3 1/2 hours of sleep, so I guess that explains it. Haha:) I have been feeling great so far, and I hope that it will end up staying that way for a while.

I will post some more pictures later.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

The next couple of weeks

This past week has been wonderful to have McKenna at home. I think that 7 days worth of antibiotics she received in the hospital helped to really give her immune system a boost. We were thrilled that her ANC was above 5,000 on Friday. It was great to have a couple of outings. She has had friends over visiting this weekend. We are so grateful for such an outpouring of love and support.
Several people have asked me what is coming up next with McKenna's treatment, so I thought I'd post it. This Thursday will be the last dose of Prednisone for awhile. (This is the medicine that she takes at home every day.) She will take it during the course of her treatment, but only for 5 days at a time here and there. She is glad to be getting off of it. Friday will be a very long day at the clinic. She is having her 2nd bone marrow aspiration and another spinal tap. They will be looking at the bone marrow to determine what percentage of the leukemia cells they have killed in this first phase of treatment. (They expect 95%) We should receive the results the following Tuesday or Wednesday. After receiving the results, her doctors will meet with us to give us her "road map" of treatment for the next 2 months.
We have met other kids in the hospital with the same type of leukemia as McKenna who are a little farther along in their treatment. It has been nice to find out about what changes have occurred, and when they occurred. This next phase of chemo seems to be a bit more challenging. We are thinking we are a couple off weeks away from her hair coming out and her losing her wonderful appetite. We are hoping and praying that the side-effects won't be too bad, but know that her upbeat personality and amazing attitude will help her to endure whatever challenge well.
Much love to you all!!!


Happy news! On Friday, at one of my clinic appointments, where I got more chemo and had blood drawn, I found out that my ANC (absolute neutrophil count) had gone up to 5,000. They told me that for a few days, until the chemo knocks it down to zero again, I would be able to go out of my "bubble" and have fun.

So on Friday night, to celebrate, we went to Rudy's BBQ for dinner. It was so much fun, that after, we headed on over to my aunt and uncle's house (Mike and Amy). We brought stuff for banana splits, and chowed down. Then, things started getting crazy. My dad and uncle thought that it would be fun to shave their heads for me. So literally, they got the "shaver", went in the backyard, and shaved their heads. It was so hilarious:) It's going to take some time getting used to a bald dad and uncle.

Then, Saturday morning was a busy time. My dad and uncle have been working on this SEAL competition. They had to swim 11 laps (back and forth), do as many pull-up, sit-ups, and push-ups as they could do in 2 mintues each, and then they had to run 1.5 miles. Their team won! They talk about it all the time now. Also, my brother Jacob had his Broncos football scrimmage and they won too! Hip hip hooray. All during this, I had visits from friends. Sister Tamayo, Pamela, and Valeria came and brought me my all time favorite "lemon water." Cne and Kristen also came to visit. It was a fun time. Then, my family and I went to Beck's Prime where I had the best bacon cheeseburger ever. It is actually rated the 9th best burger in Texas. It was really good. When we came home, we just chilled and had fun. We rented 13 Going On 30, super cute movie! I had a blast for those days and am sad that I have a "bubble" again.

Me before the side effects of prednizone got to me.
My brother loving his pink wristband! :)

My mom is so excited to almost finish crocheting her first hat for me.

The finished product.

Me learning how to crochet.

My pink wristbands! (Kenna kicks Cancer)
Face masks (avacodos & honey)

Preparing our natural beauty products.

My hand-knitted coin purse.

Making French bread.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Hobbies...

Since I've been home a lot, I have been trying to think of different things to learn how to do. I have been doing a lot of cooking, knitting, crocheting, and pamper "parties."

On Monday, I learned how to make french bread, (which my Grandma Becky taught me how to do.) It got a little messy, but it was really fun.

I also learned how to knit a coin purse. It was really cool to learn how to make that. My future knitting projects will include a sunglasses case, a scarf, and a normal purse.

On Tuesday night, my grandparents (Beckstead) moved some of their stuff into their new apartment. They stayed the night, so in the morning, I made them blueberry streusel coffee cake for breakfast. Everyone said it was really yummy so if you want to try out the recipe, here it is:


Ginger Beckstead

1 1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. sugar
2t. baking powder
1 egg
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
4 T
1/2 stick butter
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. blueberries

Sift dry ingredients. Cream butter with sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture alternately with milk. Fold in blueberries. Put in a Pam sprayed baking dish. Sprinkle with streusel. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. I double and triple this recipe using a rectangular cake pan for as many as triple. It can also be used to make muffins but I like the cake better because it is easier. I use frozen blueberries usually.

Streusel Nut Topping:

2 T. butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped pecans

Soften butter and stir in other ingredients.

At night, my friend Lauren came over with her mom, Amysue, and they brought over these wristbands that says: Kenna kicks Cancer (in pink!) I am passing them out to anyone who wants one, so if you want one, then let me know.

After they left, we got a little creative and made our own natural beauty products. We made face exfoliaters, (out of yogurt, honey, and sugar) face masks, (of avacodoes and honey) and even wore cucumbers on our eyes. It was pretty fun:)

Today, in the morning, my aunt, Amy came over. It was really fun. She did my hair and my makeup. Then, when my mom and grandma came back from getting the crochet stuff, we had a picnik outside in the backyard. Really fun. When we came back inside, I learned how to crochet. Right now, I am working on a hat that I can wear whenever I loose my hair. It is super cute. My mom and grandma have already finished one. We're making them in white, black, gray, green, pink, brown, blue, and any other cute colors. We are also getting cute bows and flower pins to stick in the hats. We got the idea when we were in the hospital and we saw the cutest little girl who was always wearing a "flapper hat" (as they are called.) So, we decided we would try to make them and it worked! I am doing really good right now, and will be going to the clinic tomorrow to get chemotherapy again. I will try to keep you posted.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Here are some more pictures of Saturday night's gno. (girls night out, a bit of a stretch since McKenna was actually in the hospital). We had a great time though. We laughed alot and they say laughter is the best mecidine.

Here are the pictures I was finally able to post them. I actually wrote the previous blog, but did it on Jen's computer under her email so it came up under her name. Here goes!
While in the hospital there were several guests that came by to visit, not the least of which were the clown family. They were so cute. McKenna and her cousin Whitney were made honorary clowns and were actually engaged to one of the clowns. (so silly) The people who volunteer to brighten these children's day are amazing.

One of Kenna's doctors, Dr. Lindsay, came in to her roon with a clown nose and a silly hat on. He actually met the real Patch Adams and is evidently trying his form of healing. He is a really nice guy and his ultimate goal is to be a Pediatritian in Boise with his father who already practices there. The Doctors at Texas Childrens are really amazing people we are so lucky that they are McKenna's doctors. I am going to try to download pictures. Last time I tried I could not pull up the pictures I wanted to post on Jasons computer.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

August 23, 2009

We got home from the hospital this afternoon. We are so thrilled to be back!

We had a fun evening last night. McKenna really enjoyed helping set out dinner for the other families on the cancer floor. While we were in the family lounge we were able to meet several families and talk to them about their experiences. There are a lot of great people in the world. I'm really glad McKenna has met some other kids so it won't be such a drag when she has to go back.

After dinner, we had a sleepover at the hospital with her Aunt Amy, Grandma Becky, cousin Whitney, and sister Lauren. It was a lot of fun.

So far, she has taken this recent round of chemo very well. She is feeling good and wants me to do a cooking class with her as part of her schooling. (It's the least I can do, right?) Tonight she learned how to make chicken pot pie. Tomorrow she is getting up early to make muffins and eggs for breakfast. Hmm, 7:00am comes early.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

August 22, 2009

McKenna is still in the hospital, but with any luck will be able to come home tomorrow. We're keeping our fingers crossed! You can visit her at our home when she is back. She would love that. (Her ANC has gone up a bit!)
We are seeing more of the effects of the Prednisone Kenna is taking. She wanted me to mention another of the effects it has on her...her appearance! You have probably noticed that when people start chemotherapy their faces start rounding out quite a bit. (As well as other parts.)That is due to the fact that Prednisone makes you retain A LOT of water. In the past couple of days that has become more noticable. She only has to be on the Prednisone for 2 more weeks, at this high dose, so she is relieved that she won't have this lovely look permanently. I have been impressed with her good humor about this. She has made me laugh so hard with some of her comments. (I'll have to ask permission if I can repeat some of them!)
As we mentioned before, McKenna has been noticing others and how we can make things easier for other families while they are in the hospital. She suggested bringing in a dinner, as many of the families eat the same things day in and day out. We finally got ourselves organized and are taking down dinner to leave in the "Family Lounge" so others (and Kenna) can have a break from Ramen noodles, oatmeal, and Chef Boyardee. She wants to put together something like this on a regular basis when she is out of the hospital. It is amazing how serving others can lighten your own load.
She has also met some other teens with A.L.L. in the hospital this week. As we know we will be back from time to time, these friendships will be one thing to soften the blow of returning to the hospital. These kids are really amazing!
We are so grateful for all the support and kind words we have received from you. It has been such a blessing to have my parents here to help us juggle life and try to keep things as normal as possible for our other children. We feel so blessed. There are many tough days ahead, but we know that we will be stronger, kinder, and better because of this experience. Love you all!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

August 21 2009

Mckenna is doing quite well. I stayed at the hospital with her Wednesday night and we had a good time. She is upbeat and bubbily as usual. The doctor came in yesterday and asked her how she was doing and she said good. So he asked me how she was doing and I said I thought she was doing pretty well. He said that they also thought from their standpoint that she is doing well. It was good to hear.

One of the hard parts of all of this is having her so far away from the house. It is about a 40 - 45 minute drive to Texas Childrens from here. Coordinating school, spending time with the other children, getting homework done, and all of the meriad of things that need to be done is a challenge. Because of all of this, last night Kenna ended up spending a couple of hours in the hospital alone. True to her character and sunny disposition she went to the Family Lounge and met a new friend, a ten year old girl who is also in the hospital for leukemia. She was so excited and bubbily to tell us all about it. This girl is 5 weeks into her diagnosis and so could tell McKenna a little bit about what he future holds.

Even though she is in the hospital and going through some pretty tough stuff herself she is looking for ways to help others. There is a family room which has a little kitchen and a little lounge where many of the families eat most of their meals. This room is stocked with a few food items, but Mckenna thought the families must be getting sick of eating ramen, Chef Boyardee etc. She called and asked her mom if she could bring up a dinner to share with the other families. We are working on that.

Mckenna's cousin Whitney flew in last night and is staying with her at the hospital right now they are having a great time.

McKenna is receiving several different antibiotics right now and will have her chemotherapy treatment today. It looks like she'll be in the hospital for about 4 - 5 more days.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Word of the Day and Homeschool

Word of the Day: Neutrophil - the white blood cell that fights infection.

I had never used the word neutrophil before McKenna was diagnosed with cancer. It is now a word that we are very familiar with, and are concerned about every day. McKenna gets blood taken quite often. When they take her blood there are 3 things in particular that they are checking. Her hemoglobin count, her platelet count, and her absolute neutrophil count (ANC). A normal person's ANC can be anywhere between 1800 and 8000. When McKenna left the hospital after her first round of chemo it was 40. After the second round it was 0. When her ANC is extremely low, she is at a high risk for infection. We will see it rise and fall throughout her treatment.

McKenna was planning on attending KLEB Intermediate school this year. While she is receiving chemo the doctors don't want her attending school until her ANC is up quite a bit. Many of you may know that I was going to homeschool Lauren this year with the help of my mother-in-law, Ginger. When we received Kenna's diagnosis I knew that was going to be very difficult. When Ginger came to the hospital I asked her what I was going to do about Lauren's schooling. She said, "I'm moving here and I will homeschool her." She will actually be homeschooling Lauren and McKenna. This will allow McKenna to prepare to enter high school next year, and take honors classes while there. We are SO grateful for this sacrifice. It is such a relief to know that will be taken care of, and taken care of so well.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

August 17, 2009

Kenna's fever is down today and she is feeling better. She said that one good thing about being in the hospital is that the nausea medicine they give her intravenously helps more than the pills. They are monitoring her closely and we will know more soon.

August 18, 2009

Kenna is still in the hospital and we learned today that she will probably be there for 10 days. The first couple of months of treatments are very intense and they want to keep a real good watch on how she is doing making sure that they are killing the cancer cells successfully. Jason and Lauren stayed at the hospital with her last night and Jen and Jake are planning on staying there tonight. There are alot of fun things for teens to do at the hospital and Kenna is talking advantage of some of them. There are books, movies, video games to name a few. Kenna says her room is pretty. We appreciate all of the love and prayers. Thank You!

Back in the Hospital

On Sunday afternoon Kenna wasn't feeling as "good" as she had been. By Sunday evening she started running a fever. The doctors are very serious about having the cancer kids come in immediately to the hospital if they run a fever of 101 degrees. When their white blood cells are so low they are unable to fight the simplest infections. Because McKenna has what is called a porta-cath implanted in her side to access her vein easily for chemotherapy, they always check to make sure there is no bacterial infection there. (Among many other things.) Since her throat was very sore when we came in they think that it is probably related to that.

McKenna will probably be in the hospital for 7 - 10 days. I was disappointed when we found that out. I almost felt guilty that I hadn't kept her "sterile enough" to not have to return to the hospital so soon. The doctors assured us that it is very common for kids to spend a lot of time in the hospital during these intense stages of chemotherapy. They would rather have them in the hospital where they can monitor their blood, fever, etc. and still continue with the chemo.

She got all decked out today. Showered, did her hair, put on make-up. She looks gorgeous. Jacob and I are at the hospital today with her. We will challenge her to a Scrabble tournament later today. (She killed me yesterday.) Thank you all for your love and support!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

August 16th 2009

We've got pictures of Mckenna's cute new haircut to show you. Unfortunately Mckenna has a fever and has had to return to the hospital. We are waiting for word, but are pretty sure she'll have to stay for antibiotics. We love you Kenna.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Kenna's New Haircut

Mckennas first haircut was not exactly what she wanted so her Mom called her stylist who came to the house and did a recut. It is so cute! It is a shorter a-line and looks darling on her. She will look smashing for the family photo tomorrow.

One of the side affects of chemotherapy is nausea. Kenna is experiencing some of this and it is quite annoying since she is so hungry all of the time.

Tonight we all played a fun new game together called Say Anything. It was great to laugh together and just have fun.