Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Allison in the News

Check it out! Story about therapy dogs, and Allison is featured in the pictures!

Happy Update

First, let me attempt to post the link to Nicole's Facebook photo album, following Allison's Leukemia journey. Click here!

Spoke with Nicole last night. It looks like blood tests are coming back with positive change. White clood cell counts are going down still and red blood cells and platelets are remaining the same. Also Allison's IV tubes were removed yesterday! That's huge. No more hydration fluids, anti-nausea, and she stopped taking pain medication last Wednesday! Allison also hasn't had a fever for a week.

Also, on Friday Allison was given the go ahead to go outside. Nicole and Shaun took her out on Sunday afternoon. This is all after Nicole got back to the hospital after getting a little R & R at home for an hour or so.

Though things are looking good, don't forget that the only way Allison will get better is through a bone marrow donor. So register now, if you haven't already!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Be the Match Registry for Allison

Dear Friends and Family,

Every day we are faced with decisions. Some decisions we make are life-changing. Other decisions we make touch someone else’s life. I am pleased to offer you an opportunity to make a decision that can do both—change your life and touch someone else’s life.

BE THE MATCH Registry, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program at City of Hope, offers hope to Allison Zicree and the thousands of children and adults like her whose treatment may include a bone marrow transplant.

Joining is easy:

The first step is to complete a registration form, and brief health questionnaire. You can start the process on-line. http://join.marrow.org/friends2allison (This link allows donors to join at no cost.)

In a week or so, you’ll receive a buccal swab kit in the mail. This kit includes Q tip-like swabs which you’ll swirl inside of your mouth to collect cells. These swabs are sent to a laboratory which will then test your sample to determine your tissue type. Your tissue type will then be put into the registry which Allison may one day rely on to find a bone marrow donor.

Finally, the most important step is to stay committed. Like Allison, patients who don’t have a brother or sister who matches them, rely on the generosity of volunteer donors to save their life. The likelihood of ever matching someone and being asked to donate is very slim. But if you are that “one in a million” match, you might just be the only known person that matches a patient.

Donating bone marrow:

The liklihood of every being called as a matched donor is very slim. It’s like finding your twin in the world. However, if you are called, it’s important to understand the next steps-

1- Donors are notified by telephone that they might be a match to a patient in need. Your health status would be re-evaluated, and a blood test would be scheduled to determine if you were the best matched donor. At this stage, the confirmatory stage, most donors do not advance. Our experience is that about 1 in 10 donors who are called in for additional testing are actually asked to donate.

2- If you are the “best match” for a patient and asked to donate, it’s exciting! You are the one person who can make a huge impact on a very sick child or adult. This step requires a physical exam to make sure it is safe for you to donate. After the exam, a donation date would be set. Normally, the date is about four weeks after the exam. This allows for the patient to have more chemotherapy.

There are two ways to donate:

· Twenty percent of donors are requested to donate traditional bone marrow. Bone marrow donation is a surgical procedure in which liquid marrow is withdrawn from the back of the donor's pelvic bones using special, hollow needles. General or regional anesthesia is always used for this procedure, so donors feel no needle injections and no pain during marrow donation. Most donors feel some soreness in their lower back for a few days afterwards.

· Eighty percent of donors are asked to donate “bone marrow cells” through a blood donation process called Peripheral blood cell (PBSC) donation. PBSC donatoin involves removing a donor's blood through a sterile needle in one arm. The blood is passed through a machine that separates out the cells used in transplants. The remaining blood is returned through the other arm. Donors are required to take a medication for five days prior to increase their blood cell production. This method is very similar to platelet and blood donation.

Spread the word:

Tell your family and friends about the critical need for more donors on the Be the Match Registry and ways they can support the Be The Match Registry’s life-saving work. Email this page to all of your family and friends, and encourage friends and family to join our work through your connections on Facebook and Twitter.

Millions have joined the Be The Match Registry, but there are still not enough donors to meet the needs of all patients. It is estimated that a marrow or blood cell transplant could benefit more than 10,000 children and adults with life-threatening diseases each year. We need your help!

Make the decision to do it.
Do it because you care.
Do it because you can.

You have the power to heal, the power to save a life.
Any questions may be sent to:

Jill Kendall-Erb, program director.
Be the Match Registry at City of Hope

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Isolation Begins

Allison's final dose of chemotherapy started at midnight today. Once that dose was done, her immune system will be at its lowest, and so isolation begins, for approximately 2 weeks. I spoke with Nicole yesterday to answer the questions on everyone's mind. Here is what happens during that time (Nicole, I hope that I do our conversation justice):

Blood is drawn daily and tested, in hopes that chemo was successful and the Leukemia goes into remission. If it goes into remission, then Allison would begin weekly maintenance chemo in about 3 weeks from today, while waiting for a bone marrow donor. Once a bone marrow transplant occurs, maintenance chemo will continue for 2-3 years to help fend off a relapse. If the Leukemia does not go into remission, then a new round of intense chemo would start.

So far this is what is known from the blood tests that have been occuring daily during chemotherapy:

Allison's white blood cell count is decreasing (good). Her red blood cell count and platelet count seems to be fairly normal (odd but good). Intense chemo has not negatively effected Allison as predicted. She has not lost her hair (her hair is too pretty to fall out), she has not had vomiting (she's very well hydrated), and though she's slowed down a bit, she's still her peppy, up-beat self (hello, she's a rockstar!).

Let's continue the prayers, and prepare ourselves for blood and bone marrow drives that are coming up! July 15-17 and July 19. Look for the info tomorrow!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Light the Night

We're forming a team for Light The Night Walk and we hope you'll join us. Light The Night Walk is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's evening walk and fundraising event. It is the nation's night to pay tribute and bring hope to thousands of people battling blood cancers and to commemorate loved ones lost.

By joining our team and raising funds for this important cause, you'll be making a real impact on the fight against cancer. On Walk night, you'll join us with other teams and individuals from all over our community in the culmination of our efforts to find cures. Walk night is a family-oriented evening in which participants carry illuminated balloons, raise awareness of blood cancers and come together as a caring community.

We all know someone who has been affected by cancer. Please join the team and "walk the talk." http://pages.lightthenight.org/los/SClarita09/TeamAllison

So far we have 14 people walking for Team Allison! Let's make it 100!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Incredible Hulk

Had a great visit with Nicole and Allison last night. Nicole had called me and said that she was having an unproductive (i.e. emotional) day. I believe that Nicole and Shaun have been the most productive parents ever, because if it were me in their shoes, I'd have to be heavily medicated at all times.

Allison has slowed down a bit, and is sleeping more. Her appetite is still awesome, if not better. In all, she is still the same smiley girl, with the beautiful brown locks and big brown eyes. Yes, she still has her hair! Amazing, as the Zicrees were told that usually around day 7 (which was Tuesday) hair begins to fall out. However, Allison keeps shocking everyone and the doctors. Her doctor was in yesterday, and to paraphrase Nicole paraphrasing the doctor, "She's doing great."

Tomorrow, Friday the 26th is Allison's last day of chemo. Her immune system will be at it's lowest, so the Zicrees are asking for no visitors. However, please feel free to send cards and notes to them, via snail mail, text and e-mail. Nicole is able to check e-mail from the hospital now. Shaun is in the process of setting up an address for all cards, gift cards and donations to be sent to. Please be patient.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pictures from the Hospital

To see the entire photo album, click here! The pictures are heartwarming.

Happy Father's Day Shaun!

After a morning stint at church, the Mister and I headed over to the hospital to see the Peeps! Bearing "stuff" as only we could and Father's Day wishes, it was a good day.

When we got to the hospital Miss Allison was napping on Mommy, while the chemo drip was going. Allison looked so peaceful. She woke up to enjoy the company, and chat and dance around. She started her second chemo drip while we were there, and the nurse explained that she was receiving 120 mL in the second drip, but getting only 20 mL an hour, so it was going to be in for another 6 hours. After a quick dressing change, and outfit change, Allison continued socializing. I must admit she gave me some of the best and loving hugs ever!

Also, the nurse said that Allison is doing really well. Her numbers (whatever they maybe) are right on track. Because she's doing well now, that's an indicator of how she should do for the remainder of treatment.

Nicole does have internet in the hospital. So she'll begin posting soon (first hand is always better). I'm going to post a few pictures from today in a bit.

Shaun has set up an account in Allison's name, as a special needs account. The address to where checks can be sent will be posted this week. For now, you can send it directly to the Zicrees home, if you have that address. Please make checks payable to Shaun Zicree, and in the memo put Team Allison or Allison Zicree. Now I will put pressure on you all. Our family has committed to donating every week! So if you can, that would be great!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"She's a Monster"

Talked to Nicole this morning, while Round 2 of chemo was going on. All I could hear in the background was Miss Allison giggling along with the nurses. Nic said that yesterday the chemo went well, for 12 hours, full of babbling and dance parties. Afterwards, everyone got a solid 9 hours of sleep. YAY! Mommy called Allison a monster, she's taking the chemo very well at this point. Let's just call her the Incredible Hulk.

Today, chemo started at 9 a.m. and was supposed to go for 12 hours again. Haven't talked to Nicole this evening, but will in the morning.

Save the Date - July 19

Save the Date of July 19 for a KP Blood and City of Hope Bone Marrow Drive! We hope that we get lots of people out to show support for our little Superstar - - ALLISON ZICREE! So mark your calendars now!!! More info to follow!

If you would like to donate your blood now to Allison, please go to http://www.kp.org and look up the Blood Donation for Woodland Hills, Sunset, San Diego or Bellflower. Allison is O+. Please be sure to check days and times for walk-in donations.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Calm Before the Storm

My husband left the hospital about 30 minutes ago. Brought dinner and hung out for a bit with the Zicrees. This is what he told me (paraphrased from phone conversation)...

Allison is in amazing spirits. She had the chemo drip for 10 hours, until about 8 p.m. She was dancing and babbling the entire time. Her control (for a 13 month old) of bowel movements is gone. This is the calm before the storm. No one knows how her little body will react to the chemo. There's a good chance that her beautiful locks will begin falling out next week....so pretty hats and head bands are appreciated :-)

Because today was a good day, here's a picture of Alli-cat! This was taken Summer 2008. We had just gotten back from breakfast, and my daughter was consoling Allison, because Allison was upset that her underwear were showing for the picture ;-)

City of Hope's 2009 Marrowthon

If you've ever considered joining the registry, now's a great time!

From June 8-22, the Be The Match Marrowthon event seeks to add 46,000 new members to the registry and raise funds for the Be The Match Foundation, giving thousands of patients a second chance at life. While adding a new member to the registry costs approximately $100, during this campaign, the registration fee is waived for the first 46,000 new members.Bone marrow transplants change life. Be the change.

To join onlinehttp://www.marrow.org/JOIN/Join_Now/join_now.html

When asked for a promo code, enter Hopemarrowthon09.

Do this for Allison! Be a donor!

Chemo Started

10 days of intensive chemo for 4 hours a day. Started this morning. Pray for our Alli-cat!

The type and what it means...

Allison was diagnosed with Leukemia AML M7, on Tuesday, June 16, 2009. Translation: Acute Myelogenous Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia, which is the most rare Leukemia there can be.

Intensive chemotheraphy begins today. Allison had her first dose on Monday. She also had a Hickman Catheter put in yesterday. The next step is a blood drive. And possible also a bone marrow drive.

The Zicrees will be in the hospital at least a month now. They are looking for a donation of an old used laptop for that time, so that they can conncet with family and friends. If you can donate one, please e-mail team.allisonz@gmail.com.

And don't forget to PRAY. PRAY like you have never prayed before, because we're looking for a miracle.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Restaurants near the hospital

If you are interested in purchasing a gift card for the Zicree family for a restaurant, for a quick bite to eat, a wonderful friend compiled this list:

Poquito Mas
El torito
Z pizza
Coffee bean and tea leaf
Baja fresh
Koo Koo Roo
Burger King
Jamba Juice
Noahs Bagels

Carls jr
Del Taco
Taco Bell
El Pollo Loco
Pizza Hut
Pizza hut

For where to send gift cards, please e-mail team.allisonz@gmail.com. Thanks!

Tuesday Morning Surgery

Allison was scheduled to have surgery today at 6 a.m. rather this evening. The doctor's were going to put in the tube/machine that will be used for chemo and blood draws. More info to come later.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finally, a Monday Update!

From Nicole:

"Hey Monika! We're getting ready to head downstairs for more tests and still waiting on the results on the type [of Leukemia]. Allison will have her first round of chemo as a preventative measure to protect her spine since the Leukemia has not reached her spine and central nervous system. They are doing a second transfusion tonight and surgery will be tomorrow night after platelette transfusion. I think all we need tomorrow is a set of nail clippers. LOL. We can't find Allison's."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

UPDATE! Allison is doing...Excellent! Her fever broke around 5 a.m. and she slept with Nicole ever since. She even stood up in the morning and sat up herself, and greeted Mommy with a "Hey!" Alli-cat even was giggling this morning. Later that afternoon, Allison got a bath and was moving around herself. She had blood drawn again. Keep the prayers coming...this is only the beginning.

Please Pray for Allison

Please pray for Allison Zicree, daughter of Nicole and Shaun.

Alli-cat was diagnosed with Leukemia on Friday (June 12, 2009) afternoon. Everyone is doing as well as they can. Allison will be in the hospital for a while, and the treatment will be for at least 3 years. It looks like it was caught fairly early (10-14 days from onset). However, it is unknown how serious/aggressive it is. Her symptoms started about 2 weeks ago, very needy. That progressed into a high fever, then she stopped crawling and walking and her abdomen was swollen.

I will update everyone as I get info. Matt (my husband) and I spent the evening at the hospital with Nic and Shaun and Allison, and it's not fair (that's how I'm feeling right now). We'll probably be there tomorrow and a couple times during the week.

If anyone is interested in sending cards, and maybe working out a group to prepare dinner for them, please contact Team Allison at team.allisonz@gmail.com. I'm trying to come up other ideas to help them out, so if you got them...please post them too.