It is fast approaching. Brinley's year anniversary of diagnosis. 9/3/08. A date that will be etched in our minds and hearts forever. Has it really been a year? What has happened to us in a year? I was reading back through our blog and it has been very difficult to read about. I won't lie, this has been a terrible year. Yet, we are happier. How is that even possible? This year we:

- Cried more tears than we could ever have imagined
- Felt pain we didn't know existed
- Watched helplessly while our 2-year-old daugher took on a battle with cancer, a battle she is still in
- Looked into her terrified eyes as we held her down for so many procedures we lost count
- Watched them sedate her so many times for surgeries or LP's we lost count
- Met more doctors than we could keep track of
- Have been financially devastated
- Have spent hours on the phone with bill collectors, hospitals, doctors, etc.
- Watched our other children suffer from neglect that was unavoidable
All of which has been terrible. So why are we happier? This year we have also:
- Grabbed onto our family and held on as tight as we could, and have survived
- Seen miracles
- Learned how precious life really is
- Watched our children learn about compassion, lessons that cannot be taught except by experience
- Discovered who our true friends are
- Felt an outpouring of generosity that continues to leave us speechless
- Met people who want to make a difference in the world, and have made a difference in our little family.
- Met doctors and nurses we never would have even known existed
- Made new friendships with people we have never even met
- Come closer to Christ, learning to rely on him
- Discovered what is important in this life, and it is not money, or our house, or our clothes, or our status
- Formed bonds in our family that will never be broken, between husband and wife, parents and children, and sisters with sisters.
- Come to a understanding of trials, and why we have them, and how we grow from them

Can I say I am grateful for this trial yet? How could I possibly be grateful to have watched so much suffering from our little girl. No, not grateful for the trial. Just the lessons learned from it. Grateful for the blessings that come from it. Grateful that we have somewhere to turn in our trials, someone who will not leave us alone and will send us tender mercies when we are suffering. We won't have it be in vein, if she has to suffer, we WILL learn something.

I don't know how this strange anniversary will be, my emotions are running high. I am tearing up about anything and everything. Brinley's birthday is next week and I remember last year, how unsuspecting we were on her birthday. As we were celebrating, cancer was taking over her body. One short week later, our lives changed forever. I don't really know what to do on that day. Rejoice that she is doing so well? Cry for all she has been through? Be angry that we have to deal with childhood cancer? Or just make it another day and try not to think about it. How about a kicking cancer's butt party? Now that might work...

Brinley got to make her wish yesterday! It was such a cool experience. First we all got to make a wish at their wishing well, then we went upstairs where we all got to write down our own wish for Brinley. There was definitely not enough room on my paper...

They had given her a key last week that unlocks the door to the wishing room, so she carried it around the whole time until it was time to make her wish. We all got to to into the wishing room, it was really awesome. It was a very small room, everything was clear and white and the whole room changed colors with a little waterfall type thing in the middle. We videotaped it all. We all got to read our wish for her. It was hard to keep from crying. Brinley got to "announce" her wish, and send it off to the wishing wizard. Her wish was to meet Ariel. So we went downstairs to have ice cream sundae's and something "arrived" for her...see picture below....
this was from the wishing wizard telling her that her wish would be granted. In Walt Disney World! (we did know that was coming, but it was still exciting!) We have already picked our dates and I got the flight info on my e-mail this morning, they don't waste any time! We will be going Sept. 29th-Oct. 5. The whole family will be staying at a resort called Give Kids the World, it is set up especially for wish families, and only wish families can stay there. I cannot begin to tell you how excited we all are.
These are her wish granters, Brinley and Jade attached to them very quickly, they are both so sweet. You can't see it, but the star has her name on it, that was there right when we walked in. They sure made her feel special, and they were very careful to include the sisters in the whole experience, which is a big deal when there is a cancer kid in the family. The other siblings can sometimes get lost in the shadows.
One of the things they gave her was her own princess dress. It is so pretty! She really loves it.

The next day after making her wish, it was to clinic for chemo. She doesn't make the connection that the medicine they give her at clinic makes her feel sick later on, so she really loves to go to clinic. They make it so fun for her. All the nurses were so impressed with her hair, and she was quite the ham with all the attention she received. The port access was a piece of cake this time, a little crying, but so quick, and when the nurse de-accessed her she exclaimed "That didn't even hurt!" My tough little Brinley has come so far. She used to cry just to get her blood pressure taken at clinic, here she is now...
She is absolutely in love with her oncologist. Dr. Druzgal went to give her a high five after her visit and Brinley ran over and gave her a big bear hug. We are so grateful to be at this hospital. The doctors and nurses are truly wonderful. Especially they way they always remember Brinley and are so sweet to her.

We are starting steroids tonight, I don't think I will ever get used to giving her the medicine that I know will make her feel so miserable. I am preparing for the red-rimmed eyes and sick little girl, but oh boy, did we have a good month. Thanks for checking in! We are doing fabulous!

Little Anika Wilke passed away this past weekend. I have been so sad for her parents and sister.