We have shifted back into survival mode, this has been a hard week for Brinley. She is up at night and pretty miserable. She's eating all day and having problems with constipation, which is causing a lot of stomach pain. Yesterday was the last day of the steroids, but I know the effects will linger for at least another week. I feel awful I can't make her feel better. She won't let me out of her sight during the day. She got her CBC yesterday and her counts are very low. ANC is at 200, which is very low, and her hematocrit is at 24, also very low. So we are stuck at home and it is making for some very long days. I just have to look in the mirror a few times a day and tell myself to suck it up, it'll pass. David has had a stressful couple weeks at work, but that should get better soon. I know we can get through this, we did it in induction and we can do it now too. We are just tired. My mom is coming today for the weekend, that should give us a little break. David and I will get some much needed time away. Thanks mom!

Sometimes I just want to tell my kids how sorry I am for all that they are going through. It breaks my heart. So here it is:

Dear Brinley,

I'm sorry for all that has happened to you. I'm sorry I can't take it away. I'm sorry for all the times I have held you down for shots, or blood draws, or IV's, or dressing changes when you were screaming to stop. I'm sorry that you have cancer. I'm sorry that I have to force medicine that you hate into your mouth. I'm sorry that you feel sick and holding you doesn't make you feel better. I'm sorry that you don't have hair anymore and can't wear pigtails. I'm sorry that every time I do you sister's hair cute and you say "my turn!" I have to pretend you have hair to fix. I'm sorry that I have to look into your hopeful eyes and tell you you can't come with me, to the store, to church, to the soccer game, wherever I am going. I'm sorry that your sisters get to go to birthday parties and you have to stay home. I'm sorry that as your mother, the person charged with protecting you, I can't protect you from this. I'm sorry that I have to give you medicine that I know will make you sick. I'm sorry that I can't put a band aid on your tummy and make it feel better when you ask. I'm sorry that I can't take the good days and make them last forever. I'm sorry that I cry when I sing you songs at night. I'm sorry that at two years old, you have to be exposed to a world that is sad and scary and unknown, the world of cancer. I'm sorry that you don't understand. I'm sorry that I can't promise you when this is over you will be free from that world. I'm sorry that my love isn't enough to change what you are going through. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry.

Love, Mom

Dear Jade,

I'm sorry you have to go through this change in our lives. I'm sorry that you don't get enough attention from me. I'm sorry that you have had to play by yourself, or watch TV, while I am taking care of Brinley. It isn't fair to you. I'm sorry that you think your sister hates you sometimes. I'm sorry that we have to stay home and not go to the library or do fun things we should be able to do. I'm sorry that at 4 years old, you have to try to understand about medicine and side effects, and why Brinley is acting the way she is. I'm sorry for all the gifts that Brinley has gotten while you wished you had gotten something too. I'm sorry for all the attention Brinley gets from everybody. I'm sorry that I'm not more patient. I'm sorry that I yell sometimes, it's not your fault. I'm sorry that I'm not a better mother. I'm sorry that this was thrown on us and everything is different. I'm sorry that you don't understand why. I'm sorry that sometimes I am too tired to read you a story before bed. I'm sorry that Brinley seems to always come first, I wish I could change things. I love you, and I'm so sorry.

Love, Mom

Dear Taylor,

I'm sorry that you are old enough to remember all of this. I'm sorry that so much of this falls on your shoulders. I'm sorry I expect so much out of you. I'm sorry David and I can't both be at all of your soccer games and tournaments any more. I'm sorry that I can't go on field trips with you, or help with your school parties or in your classroom. I'm sorry for all the days I am in bed and you are left to see yourself off to school because we have been up with Brinley. I'm sorry for all the plans that get dropped because we have to go to the emergency room. I'm sorry that I lose my patience when you haven't done anything wrong. I wish I was better. I'm sorry Brinley won't let you hold her, and screams at you when you come near her. I'm sorry that an 11 year old has to be introduced to cancer and be afraid for your sister. I'm sorry that we expect you to act older than you are. It isn't fair. I'm sorry if I am not there for you when you need me. I'm sorry I don't spend more time with you. I'm sorry for all the times I have put Brinley first. I'm sorry for all of the times people have asked about Brinley and not about you. I'm sorry we still have 2 more years of this. I would change it all if I could, I really would. I'm sorry that loving you to pieces isn't enough to change where we are right now.

Love, Mom

We had a great trip to Vegas. It was a lot of fun to see our family and watch Taylor play soccer. Her team played great, then ended up losing in the semi-finals to a team from Vegas, but it was worth the trip! We got to visit with our family and it was relaxing to be away from everything for a few days. David gets a HUGE thanks for being so willing to stay with Brin while we went off on a fun trip! On the drive home, both Taylor and Jade came down with some kind of stomach bug, and Jade threw up in St. George. We then stopped at every town for a bathroom for sick girls until we got home. It was a long drive, and I am nervous about Brinley catching it. Luckily it wasn't a terrible one, but they are both running very low fevers today.

In the meantime, Brinley had a rough weekend. (Which of course means David did too!) She started the steroids again and was up a lot at night and was not feeling well for most of the weekend. Today she looks pretty sick, her eyes are all red. She is demanding most of the attention, so I have just been giving it to her, I know she feels sick. I guess when you are battling cancer, you are entitled to a few perks, right? Her peach fuzz that had grown back in is falling back out now, I am wondering if she will lose her eyebrows and eyelashes during this phase too. She was happy to have her sisters back, I think she really missed them! We are almost three weeks into this phase already. That means we have 5 weeks to go, then we move on to long term maintenance! The countdown continues.....