She Just Kept Swimming. The Final Chapter Of The Team Mallorie Story.

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For three years I have been thinking of the time I would be able to write this post. As much as I love words and creative writing, nothing I say here will ever show my love and appreciation for the support we had during Mallorie’s illness. It’s finally over and my heart is still moved by the compassion so many brought to our family.

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It is time to close the chapter on Miss Mallorie’s cancer journey and move on. I am a strong believer in moving on when the time is right. Now is that time. But as our family moves on to a cancer free life, we will not forget the journey, because the journey made us stronger.

The first text I made when Mallorie was in the hospital that night was to Daniel and Rachel Mahannah. I wanted to let Daniel, my boss at the time, know I was not going to make it into work that next day. His wife, Rachel, called me immediately (she is a nurse). She is so smart. She was asking me questions that I had no idea how to answer because we weren’t 100 percent sure what was going on at that time. She comforted and prayed for me. Even though I was afraid, I had peace.

Some of the early times of Mallorie’s diagnoses are sort of a blur. So I know I am going to be leaving some really good stuff and people out. So forgive me. But besides all the support of family, there was a group of dear friends that were always there for me. Becky, Amy, Megan West, Megan Hopper, Tami, Tanya and Brad.

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I have been trying to think of ways to let them know I still think about their kindness, prayers and support to this day. Having them come to the hospital day in and day out to bring us food, a good laugh, NERF guns, hugs and support can’t be justified by words. They took time out of their busy schedules (Megan and Brad West about to pop with her first child) to make sure we were ok. Guys, I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for Mallorie and I (and Madison). You are a blessing and your hearts are so big. Your kindness will never be forgotten. 

crosshairsThank you Crosshair Press for the book Overcomers. Thank you for using your talents to help our family. 

I do believe there are people brought into your life to just love you. That is Rick and Carla Siler. Rob and I have known these two amazing people for many years. I have always been fond of Rick and Carla, but when Mallorie got sick, these two were immediately up at the hospital and their kindness and blessings to our family is unmeasurable. Rick and Carla, I love you both so much. Thank you. 

The Ritter and Sandy Ledbetter were another family that went above and beyond the call of duty shirtsduring our journey. From bringing Mallorie a Christmas tree to brighten her spirits, to managing a t-shirt drive to help with medical expenses. This family is one I treasure. Ritters and Sandy, you all are amazing. You helped us in more ways than you could ever realize. Our appreciation goes deeper than that Christmas tree. Thank you for everything. And thank you Harris family for bringing ornaments, smiles, and hugs. 

And Hairwe can’t forget all the peeps who shaved their heads in honor of Mallorie. Let’s see if I can remember everyone. Glen, David, Kristin, Bryan. I am sure I am forgetting someone. What an honor and Mallorie was so tickled. Thank you. 

 

Jonie Miller gets a shout out for our Zumba fundraiser. Mallorie was to sick to attend, but it was a blast. Oh and the “homemade” scones. I need you to make me some more of those. You know you’re my favorite Mrs. Lady! Hugs! Jonie

During our many, many hospital stays, we got to know the nurses on the Wesley Peds and Peds Sedation floor like family. These guys are true angels because they see the absolute worst. If it wasn’t for the peds team, I am not sure what we would do. From the grumpiness, tears, cries of pain, to great listeners, sharing laughter and someone to talk to in the middle of the night, these women and men are the lifeline to recovery. Thank you for being wonderful. We shared this journey together. I will never forget the old beach scene room. You rock! 

Thank you Angela Sailsbury and family for putting together the best 5K in the history of 5K’s. 

The WIRE was a big part of Mallorie’s life at the time of diagnoses. We can’t forget the awesome support she received from her church family. Now tWIREhese students are going to be freshmen! Thank you WIRE and WIRE Small Group Leaders for your prayers and support. 

 

 

Thank you, Connor Richardson for shoveling our driveway when Mallorie was sick that first winter. You are such a sweetheart and a great friend to Mallorie. 

danielMy NewSpring family. During my absence taking care of Mallorie, running her to appointments, chemo and labs. You were supportive and made sure we were taken care of. I know my absences created more work for others and I am forever grateful for the grace and kindness I was shown. 

I started a Team Mallorie Facebook page so family members could keep up with Mallorie’s treatment. I was overwhelmed by the support. Team Mallorie has over 3,700 followers. And these followers were hardcore when it came to support. At one point, we received so many messages, I couldn’t keep up. So to our Facebook friends, thank you for sharing and liking her story. Your prayers were a tremendous inspiration and definitely felt. God bless. 

baileyBailey Bean, thank you for staying by Mallorie’s side during her hospital stays. I can remember you missing school to come to spinals and surgeries. And when you would come over and just sit with Mallorie while she slept and had no energy to do anything. What a true friend you are and we love you! 

 

And who could forget Jake Stemo?Jake and Mallorie His single “Making Me New” helped Team Mallorie in so many ways. Jake and Micah, thank you for sharing your love of Jesus and music. It was an inspiration to our family. I listen to that song from time to time and I still feel warmth, love and peace. You both truly make my heart smile. 

I have to give Richard Sawyer some props. He prayed and asked about Mallorie almost every day. Thank you, Richard, for being a man of God and caring so much for our family. 

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Thank you to all who came and visited during Mal’s hospital stays. The stuff animals, blankets, hats, toys, coloring books, iTunes gift cards, food, prayers, and hugs were so appreciated. 

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One challenge Mallorie had was missing so much school. I can’t thank Andover Middle School enough for how they worked with us to make sure Mallorie stayed caught up. The teachers and staff are one of a kind. It is an honor to have our kids part of this school district. School

We had so many organizations reach out to us during this journey. I can’t begin to name them all, but we are grateful for the love and support.LLSTo all the people who donated hair in honor of Mallorie, thank you. 

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Now to my outstanding family.

Rob was the glue that held our family together. He kept the fRob and Malort afloat when I was at the hospital. I wish he knew how badly I ached to be at home, but couldn’t bare to leave Mallorie most days. Rob, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being amazing behind the scenes. You kept the laundry up, food on the table, cats fed, Logan bathed, and always had a warm hug waiting when we would come home. I love you memeXOXI! 

Mom, thank you for taking off work and spending time with Mal overnight while she was in the hospital. I know it was hard because you lived so far away, but you always brought much-needed relief and love when you came. Thank you for running with me late at night to the store to get Mallorie fruit because she was carving it. Thanks for listening to me vent and share my fears and frustrations. You are my rock. 

papa leeMallorie’s Papa Lee and Debbie would rotate in and out during hospital stays so we could work. Debbie would spend hours taking care of Mal. Thank you both for helping take care of Mallorie. 

Madison, thank you for your patience and staying strong. I know at times you felt like I abandoned you and I am sorry. Thank you for taking Mallorie to labs and helping out while she was sick. Just one more reason you are one amazing young lady. mal and mad

 

For thnanae most part, when I needed time away for the hospital, Kim (Nana) would take the shift. That way I could come home, see the kids and Rob, shower and just try to do some “normal” stuff. Kim has taken Mallorie to labs and chemo appointments. She has been the other half of this adventure. Kim, thank you for stepping up and helping take care of Mallorie. I know you have missed work to take Mal to chemo and hospital stays. Having your help made it so much easier. You should get Nana of the century! 

My dad and Suzie travel a lot doing ministry work. dadBut when they had free time, they were here. They also prayed continually for healing and recovery. Their dedication to pray for Mallorie and our family is the best we could ask for. Dad and Suzie thank you for praying and being there when you could. 

George and Mal

Everything happens for a reason, and I think the reason Papa George retired was to be Mallorie’s chauffeur to chemo. He retired a few months before Mallorie got sick and because of his unselfish love for that girl, he was the one, once she hit the maintenance phase of treatment, pretty much took her to every appointment so we could work. These two have a special bond and I couldn’t think of anyone better to help take care of her. So George, thank you. Thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty. Your help has allowed us to work and provide for our families. And of course, Mallorie loved you taking her to treatment because she always got food afterward. LOL! Seriously, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. 

RosenDr. Rosen was Mallorie’s oncologist. Best there is. He is so patient and kind. I would call him in the middle of the night and ask tons of questions and he would always smile and answer. Dr. Rosen thank you for caring for Mallorie. She is better because of your knowledge and expertise. We are so lucky to have you as a doctor, but also as a friend. 

Kim Rosen, where do I begin? You and Mallorie are so kim rosenclose and I am thankful for your relationship. I can remember in the beginning of treatment, she hated coming in for chemo, but she looked forward to seeing you. You made this experience as fun as it can possibly be. You are also a rock star! 

 

 

brosHere are the two little brothers that missed both their sister and parents when we were taking care of Mallorie. Thanks boys for being troopers. 

 

 

 

As I sit on my couch concluding this chapter, I chuckle because it is the same couch I sat on when I was in despair trying to figure out what this cancer was and how are we going to make it through this?

It’s over. This part of our journey is complete. After I received the news from Dr. Rosen that Mal is healthy, I thanked God for two things. The first was for his love, grace and healing. Second, was for putting the right people in our path to be successful and win this battle.

God had this from the beginning. And from every single person who prayed, supported and treated Mallorie, God had that worked out too.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Mallorie’s battle was rough, but not all horrible. She’s stronger. She’s braver. She never gave up. She just kept swimming.

The End.

 

She Made It – A Little Snippet on My Thoughts of Mallorie’s Last Chemo Shot

1510006_747034938705261_5810347543368150990_nI just saw Mallorie’s tweet……”19-hour countdown and then bye bye chemo.”

I have imagined in my head many times what this day would feel like. The day when we no longer have to plan our lives around cancer. And in less than twenty-four hours, Mallorie will receive her last shot of methotrexate.

Emotions are a bit overwhelming at this moment. I think back to the beginning. The beginning of Mal’s journey, our journey. It was so unexpected, this diagnosis the doctors called leukemia. At that time, leukemia seemed like a monster trying to steal from me, my little girl. Now, it’s all gone.

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Mallorie’s battle was one with many twist and turns. Rough, exhausting, painful, and unknown. She lost her hair, she lost weight, she lost strength, but she never lost her spirit. She had good days. She had bad days. She had days she wanted to give up. She had days she told me to not give up.

There were tears. There was laughter. There was anger. There were screams.

Watching Mallorie slowly start to wither away in the early stages of treatment is something I will never forget. Flesh on bones. Shunk in cheeks. Frail and weak. Makes me nauseated just thinking of it. Thankfully, we had a fantastic Oncologist and wonderful nurses.

Speaking of nurses, we were blessed by so many people, but the ones who kept us going were the nurses. They became immediate family. Seeing us at our worst. Giving the meds. Hearing the cries of pain. Lending an ear in the middle of the night. The nurses are heroes.

 

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Days turned to weeks. Weeks turned to months. Months turned to years.

Mallorie got stronger. Her hair came back. (Curly and brown. Before cancer, it was straight and blonde.) She grew. Hospital stays decreased. Lengthly chemo stop. Port came out. Things were semi-normal.

Now, hours away from her getting to ring the bell. I am excited. She did it! We did it! By the grace of God and prayers. By wonders in medicine and skills of our doctors, Mallorie will be heading into her Freshman year cancer free. Mallorie Wall

Just Keep Swimming.

 

When Leaving Great Makes You Excellent. Discovering My Full Potential.

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We’ve all heard the saying, “When one door closes, another opens.” It’s such a cliche and probably way overused.

However, it is very fitting for this post. In fact, I would even change that to, “When a great door closes, an excellent door opens.”

When 2016 started I felt I was totally on top of my game career wise. I had been working back at the company that started my marketing career. It was pretty much all I truly ever known and I was making things happen. I was ready for a killer year and looking forward to all the possibilities and projects destined for me in the upcoming months.

I was swamped with projects and enjoyed every single minute. I was proud to go to work every day, knowing I was working with amazing talent. It was fun. No, it was great.

I was knee deep in spreadsheets, trying to organize data for a client. This project was pretty big and I was in my zone. In the midst of creative and organization, my desk phone rang. When I saw the name on the caller ID, my heart sank to my toes. I knew what was waiting for me on the other end of the line.

Before we left for Christmas break, there had been talks of layoffs. I wasn’t too worried about it because I was busy, had work to do, and it wasn’t my client that was giving the agency issues. And hey, I had missed layoffs in the past, so I am golden. I never really thought twice about it. I belong here. This was my home.

Looking at the caller ID, I knew what was awaiting me. My career here was over. I didn’t want to answer. I didn’t want to leave. I braced myself and picked up the receiver. For a split second, I was hoping I was being punked. Nope.

I entered the conference room where two of my colleagues were soberly sitting. For a split second, I flashed back to the day I interviewed in this room. The demeanor was much different today. My heart was now lodged in my throat.  I’m pretty sure I was frozen in disbelief.

I had invested many years with this agency and they in me. I started working there when I was 23, still in college. This organization molded me, taught me, instructed me and lead me to become one hell of a marketer. I had worked there almost six years before I left to tackle another endeavor, but you always end up coming home. I had been back for almost a year, even though the people had changed, it was still like home.

Standing in the doorway of the conference room, my mind gets a little fuzzy, because I don’t remember sitting down. As my colleagues began to speak, I closed my eyes with my head down. For a second, it was like I couldn’t understand them. You know, like how the adults talk in the Charlie Brown cartoon. Again, am I being punked?

They told me they had to let me go. My actual response was, “Are you sure? I am mega busy right now.” They were very kind to me. They could have been a-holes. One of my colleagues was explaining reasons why and telling me about the layoff process. In a daze, I asked him to stop talking. It was silent. Before I realized it, I was crying. I was super emotional. I began defending myself, not all psycho like, but reminding them how busy I was and how things needed to get done. And how I fit the agency motto and was so pure of heart and passionate about my job.

They told me it was a hard decision to make and it had nothing to do with my work performance. Of course in my head, I was thinking, “Damn right it don’t. I am a hard worker.” With a shaky hand, I signed the paper knowledging I am being let go. And just like that, my career was over.

It was January 11th when I became unemployed for the first time since I started working at the age of 15. What in the hell am I going to do now? I am 36 years old, have a family and bills. The door to my career just got slammed in my face. I felt like a loser. I was deflated.

At first, I tried to play it cool. I posted a blog post about being laid off. I posted it on social media. By January 12th, I had a job interview. Didn’t get the job. I applied at many places. Then on January 14th, I received notice I made it to the phone interview round for a company I had never heard of before but had applied for on a whim. That lifted my spirits.

The phone interview went well and I made it to the next stage, face-to-face interview. The only downfall was I had to wait until February 4th before the interview would take place. To me, that seemed like a lifetime.

As the days after my layoff passed, even though I had this scheduled interview in a few weeks, I sank into this funk. There were days I didn’t get out of bed until mid afternoon. I felt worthless. Looking back, it amazes me how I let my career define my self-worth. I just wanted to work.

Finally, February 4th arrived. I had my interview. I was nervous. This was the first time I had actually had a real interview, with people I didn’t know, in 10 years. Prior to my interview, I had to research how to interview. I can’t explain it, but going into this, it just felt right.

The interview went well. I found myself totally jazzed and hopeful. Now, I just have to wait for my phone to ring with an offer. Twenty-four hours later, it did. I got the job.

I started working for the O’Connor Company February 8th. And I had no idea what I was in for. For the first two months, I was overwhelmed. My brain was on overload. I loved it. Since my employment with O’Connor, I have done more in my field of marketing than I ever had at my former employer. I have developed marketing plans, written television, and radio commercials. Shared my marketing knowledge with clients. Helped organize the sales team. Met amazing people, who believe and trust my field of study.

When I was first laid off, I thought I would never find a place as awesome as my former employer. But I have come to realize, my potential was being underutilized. I was comfortable at my old job. I wasn’t being challenged. And now, I am tapping into my forgotten passions. I am blossoming and growing more and more each day.

In the beginning of my unemployment, I was sure I would never be as successful as I once was. Boy, was I so wrong. I can honestly say I am grateful for my lay off. I am thankful because I now know what it is like to work for a company who values my skill set and wheel house. O’Connor has relit my creative fire and let me tell you, it’s hot.

So back to the cliche, the agency I worked for was great. I loved every second there. The staff is some of the most creative and passionate people on the planet. I have made lifelong friends. And I know they will continue to do great work. I look forward to seeing it. But I’ve moved on to excellent. My eyes have been opened to a whole other side of marketing and advertising.

I will never forget my month of unemployment. I know it wasn’t long and some people are unemployed for months. But for me, it was long enough. When it is all said and done, I am so thankful I was let go from something great, so I could become excellent.

 

 

Chocolate Eggs, Jelly Beans and Jesus

scary-bunny11It’s Easter weekend. Feels like a couple weeks ago we were celebrating Christmas. I think as I get older, time moves faster.

I love this time of year because it’s Spring. Flowers are in bloom, which means my allergies are also in full bloom. The weather starts to warm up. Well, I live in Kansas so you aren’t sure what mood Mother Nature is going to be in from day to day. To give you an example, a couple days ago in the western and eastern parts of the state it was snowing. Where I live in central Kansas, it was 70 degrees.

And of course, we have Easter.

I thought it would be fun to share some witty fun facts about Easter.

  • Easter always falls between March 22nd and April 25th.
  • The first Easter basket was given the appearance of a bird’s nest.
  • Chocolate eggs were made for the first time in Europe, in the 19th century. And still remain one of the favorite Easter treats.
  • Easter is the top-selling confectionery holiday, second only to Halloween.
  • On Easter, 76% people bite off the chocolate bunny ears first, while 5% bite the feet first and 4% eat the tail first.
  • Red jellybeans qualify as the most favorite food for kids on Easter.
  • For Americans, Easter is the second most important candy-eating occasion of the year, after Halloween.
  • In the mid-20th century, it used to take as much as 27 hours to make a marshmallow peep. Today, the time has been reduced to six minutes.

I am a fan of facts. Learning the history behind why we celebrate things is fascinating.

But what is the real reason we celebrate this time of year? This holiday wasn’t created as an excuse to eat chocolate rabbits and egg hunts. It was to recognize and remember the biggest sacrifice made by one man, Jesus.

I don’t want to get all biblical within this post, I just want to remember what Jesus did for me within these three days.

Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified by being hung on a cross. He suffered. Not only did he experience physical, agonizing pain, for the first time Jesus felt the absolute separation from God. He died.

Jesus died for me. He took my place on that cross because I am a sinner. I am not good enough to go to heaven on my own. He died for you because he loves you.

But that is not where this phenomenal story ends. He came back. Even though he was placed in a tomb with a huge stone rolled in front of it, he defeated death. Just like he said he would.

That makes me pretty freakin’ happy. And very thankful.

Have a fantastic Easter weekend however you celebrate. I hope your Easter baskets are full and jelly beans plentiful. And  may God bless you.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

My Monthly Memories: February

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Monthly Memories 

February has been a crazy month. I started a new job and absolutely love it.

It is hard to believe that about a month ago I was devasted about getting laid off. And now I am learning so many new things in the HVAC industry, plus getting to use my marketing skills. It’s a total win.

I also realized that I am now in a place of employment which actually values and respects my knowledge and opinion. It has boosted my self-esteem and taken my career to a whole other level.

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Before I was laid off, I really thought I had the best job on the planet. That is why I took it so hard when I was let go. The problem with me is the people I work with become like family and it hurt not being part of that family anymore.

However, this experience made me realized when the unexpected happens it doesn’t mean the outcome will be awful. It could mean something fantastic is in store.

I am thankful for this learning experience and look forward to many years at my new job.

 

 

 

When It All Falls Out ~ A Look Back

I originally posted this on December 31, 2013. It was a few days after Mallorie was diagnosed with leukemia. I remember we had only been home a few days and not knowing we would be heading back to the hospital within hours. As I reread this post, I immediately went back to that scene. I played it over again in my mind. Also, that was the first New Year’s Eve that I never even thought about the upcoming year. But now, as crazy as it may be, Mallorie has her hair back.  It’s spunky and fun, just like her.  I encourage you to read my entry “When It All Falls Out.” 

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https://marketingmojoks.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/when-it-all-falls-out/

 

 

Christmas Blogging Challenge- My Favorite Christmas Story

Today’s blog challenge is writing my favorite Christmas story. I am trying to think back and decide if it was the year I received my first Cabbage Patch doll? I can’t forget the Christmas when my cousins and I moved the clocks up so we could open our presents?  Or the first Christmas with my oldest, Madison? It could be my first Christmas with my husband. I have so many great memories of Christmas, but two years ago, the meaning of Christmas was changed. My middle daughter, Mallorie, was diagnosed with leukemia on December 15th, 2013.

I can remember the craziness and fear during that time. She was admitted into the hospital. We wanted so badly to be out by Christmas eve. So of many wonderful friends brought her a Christmas tree. We were so blessed, blessed beyond our wildest dreams. We did get our wish and got dismissed on Christmas eve. We came home after 10 days of being in the hospital. Mallorie was so sick and looked like she was wasting away. It really but things into perspective.

We didn’t have our Christmas ham. We didn’t have family over. We didn’t get our shopping done. However, Mallorie did have enough energy to build a gingerbread house with her brother. By New Year’s Eve she was back in the hospital.  It totally sucked.Christmas

The reason why this is my favorite Christmas story is that Christmas reminded me that the presents, ham and parties aren’t what makes the season merry. It is being together, as a family, loving and cherishing each other. It is a time for reflection and peace. And the most important, making sure you got your life square in the eyes of God. This will be the first Christmas since her diagnoses that it will actually feel like an “ordinary” holiday. There will be the ham, family and presents. I am really looking forward to it.

 

If you would like to write in the 12 Days of Christmas, you can find the rules here.

12 Days Of Christmas Blogging

Happy Thanksgiving

I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart;
I will enter His courts with praise.
I will say this is the day that the Lord has made.
I will rejoice for He has made me glad.
He has made me glad, He has made me glad,
I will rejoice for He has made me glad.
He has made me glad, He has made me glad,
I will rejoice for He has made me glad.

Today my husband, son, and I are celebrating Thanksgiving. Even though the girls are at their dads, the big kids have other things going on, and my family won’t be here, I am very thankful for all the blessings God has given me.

Hugs,

Dee Dee