Thursday, May 27, 2010

The year in numbers

One year ago. May 27, 2009. Ally was diagnosed with ALL leukemia.
One year later. May 27, 2010. I will try to reflect on a bit of our year.
I am an accountant, so some of the numbers stick in my head. So this post will be about the numbers and dates I remember.

White Blood Cells at diagnosis 92,000
White Blood Cells after chemotherapy 0-3000
1 surgery
52 weeks of chemotherapy treatments...sometimes getting chemo 4 times a week.
4 inpatient methotrexate weekends
8 radiation treatments
About 20 spinal taps
4 Bone Marrow Aspirations
MRD at .45% 6 months of intense treatment goes to 12 months.
20 blood transfusions
6 platelet transfusions
40-50 nights slept in the hospital
335 days without hair
$147,000 of medical bills in 2009, probably the same in 2010
7 days without speaking to us because of mouth sores (twice)
5 days with no food at all due to pancreatitis
20 days of being fed through her IV.
20 pounds lost. 20 pounds gained. 20 pounds lost again. 20 gained.
100 hats, 3 different sizes of clothes in one year (see above)
One wig. Never worn.
Countless days absent from school.

In the hospital on her brothers birthday, my birthday, and our wedding anniversary.
In the hospital for her Pa's fall party, released one day prior to Halloween.
In the hospital for the fall gala in honor of my Mom.
In the hospital on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and St Patricks Day.
In hospital for Butler WSU game (a holiday for some of us)
In a wheelchair at her Valentine Party.
In the hospital on the anniversary of her Grandmother's death...the day we were to spread the ashes.

1000 Ally's Army Orange Bracelets
400 Ally's Army T-Shirts
1200 people reading Ally's blog
3 Awesome Hematology/Oncology Doctors saving her life
Countless nurses doing the same: We love you all.
400 people walking behind Ally for Light the Night Walk
$40,000 raised for LLS for the walk
600 kids chanting Ally's Army at a school pep rally
12 WSU players wearing Ally's Army orange to their game
12 WSU women players signing a basketball and presenting to Ally
2 Poker Tournaments in Ally's name
1 Junction City Dance in Ally's name
50 dinners delivered to our door by true friends
15 days taken off work by Grandma and Grandpa to watch Evan and Carly
7 days taken off work by Aunt Jess to do the same
3 surrogate mothers for Evan and Carly (Melissa, Nicki, and Suzanne)
6 visits to the hospital by Pastor Gil
1 generous and loving Pa who opened up his home to 600 people for her fundraiser party
600! people attending Ally's Army Battles Cancer event
$150,000 raised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in one night.

3 grandparents with broken hearts
2 siblings who were shuffled around all year long.
2 tired parents.
2 proud parents.
2 grateful parents.
1 horrific year.
1 amazing year.


We love our Ally more than any words can ever say. More than I can ever write about, speak about, probably even think about.

Today, we marked the day with an event at the hospital. The Mills Family foundation (my Dad) gave the funds to completely renovate the Hemoc Lounge/Kitchen on the fourth floor. Today, Ally and our family cut the ribbon and walked into the room for the first time. It is beautiful and kid friendly and parent friendly. People will actually be able to cook meals for the their kids and make a cup of coffee for themselves. And sit in a comfortable chair and play a game or watch TV or just have a moment of peace. We wanted to do this for the kids who spent weeks, months at a time in the hospital. When we decided to do this (early December) we were doing it for Ashley and Davey...and a few others. Ashley and Davey are no longer with us, but the room will live on to help those that come down the cancer road.

I have so many pictures and videos of our event today too. I will save it for another day, because my post is too too long already. Again, I am promising to get them out here. Today, I felt it best to focus on what Ally has been through and honor her for her strength. It is quite ironic that last year, I was throwing up into a trash can in that very same room upon hearing the leukemia diagnosis. This year I was enjoying the room with my kids, my husband, my Dad, my sister, my nephew...and quite a few of our hospital family who I have grown to love so much.

I am praying for a much better year to come.


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  2. Love all your numbers. Well, I don't LOVE them, I just like how they put everything in perspective. I was wondering about that wig! She never needed it anyway--she makes bald look good.

    You said it best--what a difference a year makes. It sure does! I remember last year that Ally was getting ready to join the swim team and she couldn't do it...yet today at the ribbon cutting I overheard her asking you if she could go swimming when you got home. She's already been to the pool everyday since it opened, hasn't she? Makes me happy to see her being able to act like a kid and want to do what all the other kids will be doing this summer!

  3. 2010 will bring Better Days...definitely! :)

  4. What a blessing Ally is, and what a journey all of you have been on. I hope the upcoming year will bring joy and healing to Ally and all of your family. Joanne

  5. You have truly made something brilliant out of something bad. Keep going, keep smiling, keep healing.

  6. What a post, Janel. What a year. As you said, "a horrific year, an amazing year." You not only "got through it," you made it amazing. You've set an example for your family, your community, your blog followers ... I hope the year to come brings healing and joy -- and time for you to be totally pampered at some point!

  7. I remember last May 27th like it was yesterday...her "3 surrogate moms" standing together outside watching the other kids when we got the call. Shocked, we all started to cry. I felt helpless. (Still do sometimes) I remember thinking, "What am I going to tell Madison?" How could she possibly understand that her best friend was very sick, was going to lose her hair, and wouldn't have the energy to play like she used to.

    A trial like this brings people's God's way of helping us support one another. One thing is certain...Ally was never alone. So, almost a year to the day I wrote it last year, here's the scripture that still comes to mind when I think about the past 12 months...
    Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

    Always in our prayers...

  8. Look at how far you've come . . . I am speechless beyond that. Love to you and yours, Janel.


  9. What a difference a year does make! Truly amazing, when you look back and see how far you all have traveled. Totally inspiring to everyone who knows this story. Janel, you and Jerad continue to show everyone what Leukemia is really like, and for that I am grateful. You have kept all of us in the loop, informed and educated. I know that there were times when you did not want to share, but you did, I am extremely proud of you. I keep you all in my daily thoughts and prayers, and know that in the end, Ally will win this battle. She is a true warrior. Hugs to all of you. :)

  10. Janel, this post was just beautiful. It made me cry- sad and happy tears. Much, much, MUCH love...

    Jill, Gary, Ella and Grant <3

  11. Way to go Mills and Barnett family--you have accomplished so much in a year. Ally is the best and she will win this battle. Know that we are all here for you and our thoughts and prayers are loud and strong every day. Great job Janel. Love all of you guys

  12. Wow. Amazing. Brought tears to my eyes. I just found your blog, but can already see what an inspiration all of you are.