For over two years, Brinley has been battling cancer. Yesterday was her very...last...treatment. The day could not have been more perfect. Let's get to the details first, get them out of the way. Her ANC was 2000 since she has been on hold for her oral chemo. Dr. Fluchel felt it was pointless to restart her oral chemo for 9 more days, soooooooo......when she is done with steroids on Tuesday, she is DONE!!! We were not expecting that, it was a nice surprise! We will be having our own little celebration once the steroids are done, next weekend probably. It did shorten my weight loss goal though! Instead of having 9 days to lose 2 more pounds, I now have 5. Anyhow, I have lost almost all the weight I gained while she was on treatment, 22 pounds so far! And I feel wonderful, all around wonderful.

She will have surgery to get her port removed in December and have her first "off-treatment" check, that we will be doing monthly for the first year.

Dr. Fluchel warned us going off-treatment can be very emotional and scary. We no longer have the "blanket" security feeling of the chemo keeping the cancer away. It is not correct, she does not have a higher chance of relapse when the chemo stops, but there is something comforting knowing she is getting chemo every day. So I'm sure we will be having all kinds of emotions. I just feel fluttery in my heart. It's like a nervous feeling, but happy at the same time. Maybe like before you get married, you are so nervous and excited at the same time.

Are you wondering why there were not any pictures of our perfect day? Well, we videotaped the whole thing, and in our hurry to make sure we got every little thing on video, we didn't take one picture. Not one. So look for a video in the next few days when we can get it together.

The nurses came and sang her an "off therapy" song and presented her with a gift, well, a slew of gifts really! It was such a happy day. We were hugging, and thanking, and smiling the whole day. Brinley had brought donuts to thank everyone, except she was fasting for her LP, so the whole ride in the car she said "those smell soooo good!" As soon as she woke up, she asked for one of her donuts back. Funny girl. They were happy to give her one.

They allowed us to videotape the whole LP (they sedate her, remove spinal fluid to check for cancer, and inject chemotherapy into her spinal fluid), one of the nurses did the video tape for us since we can't go in at the RTU. We had to get permission from the Dr and the anesthesiologist to do it and I was so worried they would say no way. I've heard of that happening. They were so nice and agreeable and had no problems whatsoever. I really want Brinley to have that someday, so I was so thankful they allowed us to do that.

I feel like we are in a dream, it doesn't feel real to me yet. I will have more to say this week, for now we are so happy this will be the last time she will do this, and sad at the same time. Not sure where the sad comes from, I guess we have been through a lot.

So what now? What do we do now, with no chemo and cancer and treatments to worry about? Now we watch her grow up.......

We are back on track with life finally! Brinley had counts checked on Thursday and her ANC was right at 500. So we did one more day of antibiotics Friday, assuming she was still climbing and would pass 500 in a day, and we were able to de-access her port. It is quite the inconvenience having a needle sticking in her port all day, so we were glad to get it out. She fell flat on it once, luckily it didn't do any damage, although it did hurt her pretty bad. She was able to go back to pre-school yesterday, as she had missed all week last week, including her class Halloween party.

She is still on chemo hold and we will see what her counts are at her LAST TREATMENT this week!!!! She will continue her oral chemo (if they decide to restart it) for another week or two after her last IV treatment. We have a kicking cancer's butt party (I mean off-treatment party) in the works.....gonna be awesome....can't wait.....

Brinley has out of the blue started complaining of back pain again. I am hoping it will just go away because it makes me nervous. I'll keep an eye on it, it's so strange that it would be suddenly back. Then again in the cancer/chemo world nothing is really strange any more.

I am back on track too, out of that mini-rut I got into after our hospital stay. In fact, I had a very intuitive friend come and jump start things for me. She came and cleaned my bathrooms and floors on Tuesday. It gave me just the boost I needed to catch up. I was able to catch up on laundry, which was getting to the no-underwear point (you know what I'm talking about). Her and I had a talk about accepting help, because it didn't take much convincing to get me past the embarrassment of someone else cleaning my bathroomsIf there's one thing I've learned, it's when you need help, and someone offers, DON'T TURN IT DOWN! I'm not talking about times when you really don't need help, so you turn down an offer. I am talking to those of you out there who are drowning, and when someone offers a hand, through your desperate gasps of air you choke out "no thank you, I'm doing just fine".

It reminded me of a story:

While out to sea, a large boat became shipwrecked and there was only a single survivor. This man prayed and asked God to save his life. Soon thereafter, another boat came by and offered the man some help.

"No thanks," he said. "I'm waiting for God to save me."

The men on the boat shrugged their shoulders and continued. As the man became more deeply concerned, another boat came by. Again, the people aboard offered this man some help, and again he politely decline. "I'm waiting for God to save me," he said again.

After some time, the man began to lose his faith, and soon after that he died. Upon reaching Heaven, he had a chance to speak with God briefly.

"Why did you let me die? Why didn't you answer my prayers?"

To which God replied "What more did you want? I sent you two boats!"

What I am trying to say is that God works through other people most of the time. If you are on your knees asking Him for help, and when He sends it and you are too embarrassed or prideful to accept it, how many more times do you think He will send it? The day after we got home from the hospital some members of my church offered to bring dinner. I accepted that right away too. Then I was on my knees that night thanking the Lord for sending the help I desperately needed. (And thanked them of course!!) And the people who have helped over the last couple years (you know who you are!), thank you for being in tune enough to know when you can help answer a prayer. We will all have our opportunities to serve and be served. I prefer to be on the serving end, but we can't be in that corner all the time or who would we serve? Nobody would need it right? So let's recognize the difference, swallow the pride, and let people be the Lord's instruments. It does not make you a mooch, or weak, or pathetic, or helpless. It makes you humble. And grateful.

This is turning out to sound like a lecture. Let's face it though, I've had two years to practice accepting help when it is needed. It is a lecture I've earned the right to give :)

Moving on.....Halloween was great this year. The first party was the Make A Wish trick or treat party. Mylee had a cough so she and Taylor skipped that one, but Brinley and Jade loved it. Brinley was dressed as a cat and Jade was a ballerina. Brinley switched costumes for Halloween because she wanted to be a witch. Actually it may have something to do with this funny story:

Brinley has been obsessed with smell the last year or so. She wants her hair to smell good, she wants us to take a shower if we have bad breath, if she needs one of us in the bathroom while she is doing you know what, we have to stand in the far corner "so you can't smell me, because then you will throw up." If I am cooking something, she tells me if it smells bad or good. If I am wearing perfume, she will just sit there and sniff me sometimes. I don't know why her sense of smell is so much more heightened than others, but she likes things to smell good. Anyhow, her kitty costume had a white tummy. It must have looked a bit like a skunk, because one of the staff knelt down to her and with a big, friendly smile said "are you stinky?" What I would give to capture the look on Brinley's face when she said that. It was HI-LA-RI-OUS. Here she was expecting this woman to come up and tell her how cute she looked, and she tells her the one thing that would mortify Brinley, that she is stinky. I am laughing just typing this. Needless to say, she didn't want to be a kitty any more, and she made an adorable witch too.

Well, that's it for now. This is a big week for us. Thursday will be her last treatment, and while I am excited for that day, we will still have to get through the week of chemo, the last week of chemo. How we got to this day I have no idea, it is all a bit of a blur.

Signing off from the never-a-dull-moment Torres household, thanks for checking in!

Make A Wish Halloween Party (Brinley's costume #1)

Can't have Halloween without pumpkin carving, even if it is on Halloween DAY! Procrastinators we are!!

Brinley's costume #2. Scary, but not stinky :)

Pretty ballerina Jade.

Gangsta Taylor. Can't see the gold chains though...

Mylee!! (the best picture we could get out of her)