JONATHAN AND MICHELLE
In reading back through the previous updates, I realized that I had not given an update on Jonathan or Michelle in quite some time. It saddens me deeply that I cannot bring you good news.
Jonathan Parker died on December 16, 1998. He had celebrated his second birthday just two weeks prior. I will always miss Jonathan. He was such a beautiful baby, and so full of love. It always brightened our day to run into him and his parents at the hospital. We loved Jonathan and his family dearly, and his death has left an empty place in our hearts.
Michelle Champagne died on August 23, 1999. She was seventeen years old. Michelle and Ashley had been big buddies in the hospital. When they were both feeling like it, they would make joint trips to the gift shop. They were always wanting to know how the other one was doing. We were deeply saddened to learn of Michelle's death, and her family will always have a special place in our hearts.
GROWTH HORMONE SHOTS
In an attempt to reverse the stunting of Ashley's growth which resulted from her initial radiation therapy, Ashley was put on a growth hormone called Humatrope. Humatrope is given by injection, so hormone shots became a nightly ritual around our house for awhile. Ashley never liked the hormone shots, but she bravely tolerated them and hoped that they would help her start growing again.
During the summers of 2000 and 2001, Ashley made two trips to Washington DC and New York City with a group of students from her Junior High called the "Washington Warriors". The trip is quite expensive and the students are given several opportunities throughout the year to raise money to help pay for their trip. Ashley partipated in nearly every fundraiser, and raised enough money to almost pay the entire trip fee both times. She was a hard worker!
Ashley enjoyed both Washington Warriors trips very much. She especially enjoyed New York. She saw both "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King" on Broadway, and was especially enthralled with "Beauty and the Beast". She also got to see the World Trade Center towers, the second Warriors trip being just a few months before that fateful September day when the towers were destroyed.
On April 11, 2001, Dallas radio station KISS-FM 106.1 featured Ashley's story on their morning show with Kidd Kraddick and the Morning Crew. You can listen to the show by clicking the links below. (NOTE: The following audio files are recorded in RealAudio format, which requires the free RealOne Player in order to hear them. If you don't already have RealOne Player installed on your computer, you can download it free from http://www.real.com.)
Since the end of her treatment protocol in July 1998, Ashley had been cancer-free for three years! Life was beginning to get back to normal. It seemed that Ashley had her whole life ahead of her. She started high school, was making plans to travel to Paris in the summer of 2002 with her freshman French class, and was even beginning to make plans to attend Texas A&M University after high school. Her future was looking brighter than ever.
Then Susan started noticing some signs that were troubling. Ashley began having a slight problem with her balance, and began stumbling every once in a while as she walked. Susan mentioned this to one of the doctors when she picked Ashley up from a weekend cancer retreat in early September. Doctor Bob scheduled Ashley for a CT scan of the brain the following week.
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, as terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC, we sat in the Radiology Department waiting room at Children's Medical Center in Dallas watching the horror unfold before our eyes on the hospital's TV sets ... unaware for the moment that our own personal horror was about to begin unfolding as well. Because of a "slight abnormality" on the CT scan, the doctors wanted to go ahead and do an MRI to get a better look. We were at the hospital all day, arriving back home that evening. We would have to wait until the next morning to learn the results of the MRI.