Ashley could probably legitimately wear the title "Queen of the Beanie Babies". Her collection now numbers well over 100 (I think it is actually up around 130!). Everyone knows how much she loves Beanie Babies, so she quite often receives them as gifts. Her uncle Clint has been conned into buying several Beanie Babies for her, along with video movies and other items. If the truth were known, I think Ashley pretty much has her way with her uncle Clint (and I think he would probably even admit to it!).

Those of you who are Beanie Baby literate will recall all the hoopla about the Princess Beanie Baby (made in memory of Princess Diana) that was released by Ty during the latter part of last year. Each dealer received only 12 such bears. Many were auctioned off to benefit charities, some were simply given away, and some were sold at ungodly prices. Well, the gift shop at the hospital held a drawing to give away the 12 Princess Bears they received. For several weeks prior to the drawing, people could put their name into a jar for a chance at winning one of the Bears. Ashley and Justin each put their names in the jar, as did Susan and I. Faye (the gift shop lady) had asked Ashley to be the official name drawer. So, on Friday, January 9 (which also happened to be my 36th birthday), Susan and Ashley drove up to Children's (Ashley had been discharged the previous day from a 4-day chemo treatment), and Ashley proceeded to draw the names of twelve lucky people who would each receive one of the Bears. She was getting close to the end and had still not drawn any of our names. Then, on one of the last few tries, out popped Justin's name! We had won! Ashley brought the prized Princess Bear home, and we declared joint ownership between Ashley and Justin.

Ashley is always looking for particular Beanie Babies to add to her collection. Quite often, someone will ask me which Beanie Babies she doesn't already have. Her current "wish list" consists of the following:

  • Britannia the Bear (a Ty European exclusive)
  • Maple the Canadian Bear
  • Spot the Dog (the one that is retired, with no spot)
  • Sting the Stingray (retired)
  • Steg the Stegasaurus (retired)
  • Rex the T-Rex (retired)
  • Bubbles the Fish (retired)
  • Flutter the Butterfly (retired)
  • Chilly the White Polar Bear (retired)
  • Tabasco the Bull (retired)


I mentioned in my last update that Ashley has been chosen to be a fashion model for the 1998 "Beyond the Rainbow" Fashion Show and Luncheon, benefiting Children's Medical Center and the Children's Cancer Fund. She was also asked to draw a picture for the calendar that will be issued in conjunction with the fund-raiser luncheon.

Troy Aikman (Dallas Cowboys quarterback) and Roger Staubach (lengendary former Dallas Cowboys quarterback) are the Celebrity Co-Chairs for the Fashion Show and Luncheon. On Wednesday, January 14, we took Ashley up to Children's for a special photo shoot, featuring the calendar artists along with Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. Ashley got to have her picture made with these two Cowboys quarterbacks.

The 1998 "Beyond the Rainbow" Fashion Show and Luncheon will be held on Wednesday, March 4. Ashley will choose the clothes that she will be modeling, from Nordstroms in the Dallas Galleria. We are very excited about this spectacular, star-studded event!


On Friday, January 23, three days before she was supposed to be admitted for her next round of chemo, Ashley broke out in a rash that our family doctor confirmed to be Shingles. Shingles is a disease that is caused by the same virus that produces Chicken Pox. In times of stress (or, as in Ashley's case, a compromised immune system), the virus can re-surface as Shingles. Shingles crop up along the body's nerves, causing large sores on the surface of the skin, and usually causing severe pain "on the inside", because of the fact that the virus is directly attacking the nerves.

We caught Ashley's Shingles very early, and she was immediately put on an acyclovir drug called Valtrex. Because of the Shingles, Ashley's scheduled chemo was postponed for a week.


During the last three weeks of January, Ashley went to school for about 3 or 4 days each week. She really enjoys school, and she is an excellent student. She has consistently made "straight A's", even throughout her battle with cancer.


So far, Ashley has spent most of the month of February in the hospital. She started off the month with a 4-day chemo treatment, which had been re-scheduled from the last week in January because of her Shingles. We took her to clinic on Monday, February 2. The sores from her Shingles had almost all scabbed over, and no new sores had appeared, so it was determined that she was "good to go" for chemo. She was admitted that day, and stayed in the hospital through Thursday.

On Wednesday of the following week (February 11), Ashley woke up with a fever of 103 degrees. It peaked at nearly 104. We called the doctor to report her fever, knowing that we would have to take her to the hospital. That was last week. She was admitted on Wednesday, and remains in the hospital as I write this. A blood sample was drawn and cultured the day she was admitted, and it came back showing a bacterial infection. She was started on two different antibiotics, and a third one was added later. The bacteria that showed up in her blood is similar to pneumonia. The doctors said that if we hadn't brought her in when we did, and if they hadn't been able to start treating the infection as soon as they did, Ashley would have ended up in ICU in very serious condition because of the bacterial infection.

When a person has a confirmed bacterial infection, and it is known what kind of antibiotic will kill the bacteria, symptoms such as fever are expected to subside after several days of antibiotics. Ashley's fever actually went away on Thursday of last week, only one day after she was admitted. But then after a few days, it came back. Since she had been on antibiotics during that whole time, the doctors began looking at other possible causes of the fever. At this point, they seem to have ruled out just about everything except a possible fungal infection. So they have now started her on an anti-fungus medicine.

Ashley has had a pretty rough time over the past week. The doctors said that one of her antibiotics can make you feel really yucky, kind of like you have the flu, and that has proven true. The anti-fungus medicine can also have some very discomforting, though temporary, side effects. The sores from her Shingles are almost all gone, but now she frequently experiences sudden intense pain underneath the skin, in the area where the sores were. This is because the virus is still affecting the nerves, even though the sores are healed. Several times the pain has awakened her from a deep sleep. She will suddenly start crying and screaming because of the pain, and Susan or I will rub the spot where her sores were. This seems to help some, and after a minute or so the pain subsides.

Ashley's bottom has developed a painful raw area, aggravated by a bout of diahrrea that has lasted for several days. As of this morning, however, her problem seems to be constipation rather than diahrrea. She also has had difficulty urinating for the past 24 hours or so. Susan said Ashley's stomach is somewhat bloated and hard today. She threw up during the night, and this morning there was formula oozing back out through the hole around Ashley's feeding "button". Ashley's weight this morning was about 9 or 10 pounds heavier than normal, while yesterday she was at her normal weight. X-Rays will be taken today to see if there are any blockages or constrictions in her urinary tract or bowels.


Ashley has been wanting a dog for some time. She decided on a chihuahua, so we have now begun the search for a chihuahua puppy. Justin felt like it was only fair for him to have a pet, too, since Ashley was getting a dog. Justin also wanted a dog originally, but he was wanting a big dog. I wasn't too keen on the idea of a big dog that would tear up our back yard, so I talked him into getting a miniature goat instead. A friend of ours runs one of the local feed stores, and she said that miniature goats make great pets. They stay small, they don't eat a whole lot, they won't tear up a yard the way a big dog would, and they are remarkably clean animals. So, now we have a miniature goat named "Sweetie" running around our back yard. He is really a cute little thing, and I think is going to make a good pet.

We are all very excited about our trip to Disney World next month. We have been talking to several other families who have recently gone to Disney World courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and they all say that we are in for the time of our lives. Make-A-Wish goes all out to make the trip extra-special. We are extremely grateful to Make-A-Wish for making this trip possible!


Most of you know about Michelle Champagne from my previous updates. Michelle is a 16-year-old girl who is battling leukemia for the second time. She has now been confined to Children's Medical Center for over six months straight, and will be there for some time to come. Arrangements are in the works to get it set up where Michelle can communicate with her friends back home via e-mail. In order to make this happen, a computer needs to be purchased for Michelle. Total cost of a system should be around $1,500 to $2,000. If 20 people each contributed $100, it would be a done deal. Or if 40 people each contributed $50, 80 people each contributed $25, 100 people each contributed $20, etc. THIS IS DO-ABLE, and it needs to be done quickly! If you would like to help, please send your contribution to:

Cancer Kids
P.O. Box 2715
Waxahachie, TX 75168

(this request is no longer valid)

Make your check payable to "Cancer Kids", and please put "Michelle's Computer" on the memo line. Thank you for considering this.


As always, Susan and I want to express our heart-felt gratitude to all of you who continue to be interested in and concerned for Ashley and our family. Your prayers and well-wishes mean so much. The end is in sight! God bless you all.

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