About Me

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Bakersfield, CA, United States
Hans was a busy, happy, sweet and fearless three year old when he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. He fought his disease like a "gladiator" for nearly 6 years. Hans was an animal lover to his core. He was 'guarded' at home by his three cats, Black, Orange and Cotton. He also had his Golden Retriever, Honey, to keep him company. Hans enjoyed swimming, biking, gardening, grilling (he had his very own grill!), horseback riding, playing video games, building Legos, and flipping between Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Animal Planet. Hans loved all members of his family and he was a loyal friend. He had to go through a lot of treatment in his life. But Hans powered through it. His attitude was let's get this done! His motivation was always to get back home, to his family, pets, favorite foods and pool.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hans Dancing with Splint

video

Yesterday Hans didn't move off of the couch once, without us carrying him into the kitchen, or to the potty. Today, he learned to get around with the splint. We are feeling happy that he isn't in too much pain.

Lara

Elle's Choir Video

video
This is Mrs. McGraw's 4th grade choir at Glen Loch Elementary. Ruth Davis has the first solo part, and Elle follows. Sorry so shaky! The choir has been neat, thanks Mrs. McGraw! And Congrats! Elle is really going to miss Glen Loch - Elle will move up to Wikerson Intermediate next year.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Buckle Fracture!

Just a quick post to let you know that we had a little mishap around here last night. Kevin and Hans were going for the same door, at the same time, on opposite sides. Kevin got there first, opened the door, not knowing little Hansie was barefoot on the other side. The door ran over his foot and scrunched him pretty good. He seemed in pretty significant pain. Ouchie! We took him back to the St. Luke's ER. Poor baby had a buckle fracture on his foot. The plan is to leave him in a splint for 2 - 4 weeks. They put it on him last night and he has been compliant with keeping it on. Our other option was to have him wear his tennis shoes at all times to keep the foot at a 90 degree angle. We are trying to stay on top of the pain, and taking our schedule down another couple of notches for now. He can't bear weight on his foot and needs help getting around. I wouldn't be surprised if he heals quickly. I found myself asking for a moment, 'why can't some other kid break his foot???' and then I quickly remembered to be thankful that we have a fracture, and we're not dealing with something much, much nastier. I did ask the doc if the bone looked healthy otherwise, and it seems so!

I think it's safe to say that Kev feels like a real heel, and Hans won't let him forget it for a moment. We will go into clinic on Thursday to talk with Dr. Russell and get it all checked out again.

I think I need to use my tough-day slogan again...Everyday is an adventure. Everyday is a gift.

Lara

Monday, April 27, 2009

Switching Gears


Hans and Kevin at Elle's Spring Choir Concert
Hi - I didn't mean to let a whole week go by! Most importantly, Hans has been fine:) He is doing normal stuff and eating like a little lion cub. As I type this, he is grazing on a small plate of bacon, a quesadilla, a bowl of chicken noodle soup, dipping chips in salsa, with a side grated cheese and the ever-present ice cold Sprite. Kevin and I try to keep his plates full. I have still been nervous between 6 am and 7am, but all has gone well. I forgot to mention that it was only 7:45 am last Sunday when all the excitement happened, it wasn't like I had allowed him to sleep in until 9 or 10. I think I've been a little shell shocked, and in some ways I feel we've been set back by about a year and a half (that was about when Hans' last Hypoglycemic event happened). But, we know that we have to remain vigilant, and trust our gut instincts, sometimes over the doctors, because he is just a kid who is a little different than he "should" be if you just looked at his chart. I've tried to free up my schedule a bit, and I did decide to cancel this week's Chick-fil-A fundraising nite for the CNCF. I just didn't feel like I could promote it right this week. We will reschedule for a night in September, in honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

It's good I slowed things down on my schedule, because my little firecracker, Elle, is having a busy couple of weeks. For some of the highlights:
- Tuesday she competed in the District Fun Run. Her singular goal for the fourth grade was to make the cut, which she did with her 7'18" minute mile. Go Elle!
- Wednesday Elle started Volleyball with Coach Debbie!
- Thursday Elle's school choir performed its Spring Concert and we beamed with pride as she sang as one of the two soloists - I'm not sure how the video came out, but I took a brief film, I'm trying to post it below - keep checking back, I guess... Probably a little shaky...
-Saturday she wrapped up a great soccer season with a good team, that has lots of fun moms on it (my favorite combo). We had a fun pool party after and I had to pull Hans out of the pool after several hours of 'partying'.
- This week Elle's adventures continue - I will update more on all of that next week. We sure are proud of this fun, well rounded bright girl of ours. She's an excellent big sis to Hans and a joy to parent! I am mostly proud that she just goes for it - in so many different areas:) Everyone knows we are proud of tough little dude, Hans, too. He has this ability to go into autopilot when things get tough, and just kind of 'get through it'. I think we can all do that to some extent, but it is sure neat to see how gracefully Hans transitions right back into normal life and attitude after a tough time.

Kevin and I celebrated our anniversary this weekend in a very low key fashion - with take out and a movie marathon! We had planned to go out, but we were feeling a little wiped out and enjoyed ourselves just taking it easy around the house.

Finally, Hans did start up on Round 4 of ABT751. He is doing fine, it seems. He even avoided his Saturday night insomnia. We continue to pray that he can keep tolerating it, and that it will do the job of keeping the disease away. Thanks for checking in on us.

Lara

Monday, April 20, 2009

Long Weekend

We had a CRAZY weekend. For a bake sale update, with Vickie's help (thank you Vickie, Jennifer and Pat for making this impromptu bake sale happen so swiftly and smoothly!), we were able to move the sale to Bryan/College Station for plans B and C... We worked out of Mary Branch Elementary where loving Erin fans bought more lanyards than we have ever sold before. We took the show on the road and set up at a Wal Mart where we continue to sell down most of the baked goods. It was incredible, and so far we are at $2,200, with a little more anticipated in the sales of non-perishables this week. Awesome! It's one way to honor a can-do kid. Thanks to all of our (thirty some?) bakers and to Carmen and Michelle who travelled with us for the adventure! Vickie kindly took Hans away from all the bake sale insanity for a little R&R back at her place for several hours yesterday, he loved it!

As for Hans, I think I ran him into the ground just a little bit over the weekend, Kevin had been out of town in Colorado on a field school. So, Hans had come along with me. Well, Hans fell asleep at about 6:30 Saturday night, in the car on the way home. He slept through the night, and into Sunday morning when I noticed he was twitching a little and sweating, and cold. Oh, it was scary. He was having another Hypoglycemic event. Petite seizures and non responsive. Elle placed the 9-1-1 call for me and I very shakily drew up his emergency Solu Cortef injection and gave it to him. The aid car and fire truck were here before I knew it. His blood sugar didn't even register on the monitor. (It had to be under 40 for this reading.) Hans got an IV placed and got Dextrose. They loaded him up and had the him in the ambulance before we knew it. I seriously think we were leaving within 20 minutes of placing the call. Elle rode shotgun and later noted we were going 80 in a 35! I rode in the back with Hans where the EMT completely traumatized me when she said, "he should be responding by now. I'm concerned." I had to place a call to Kev, out in the field, hours from the nearest airport, from the ambulance. By the time we made it into the ER at St. Luke's here in The Woodlands, the doc had a much calmer perspective. All of Hans' vitals looked okay - except a temperature that was scarily low at 96 (rectally, which you are not suppose to allow them to take on a hemonc kid, but I was talking to the doc and an RN did it under my radar). The doc told me he thought he'd be okay, that Hans was just sort of sleeping it off after his hypoglycemic episode.

Hans slowly started coming around, to take drinks of Sprite and the chips and Salsa that I managed to grab on the way out the door. By 2pm we were discharged, and Kevin had made it to Grand Junction, Colorado to catch a flight home. All is well that ends well??? I've relearned the lesson that we have to keep Hans' jacked up on sugars and foods, around the clock. When we met with Endocrine back in November, we shared our feeding habits, and they told us it was unnecessary to be so extreme. Hans basically eats like a WWF wrestler, yet he has a 3'3", 33 lb frame. Our Endocrinologist believes that in addition to being prone to Hypoglycemia, Hans also has a food absorption issue. He requires many times the normal volume of food for a kid his age. I actually think he got enough to eat yesterday, he just fell asleep too early, so that he wasn't able to eat around he clock the way he usually would. Let me tell you, I have a full time job as a short order cook! I have to thank Michelle who came to scoop Elle up from the ER and take her on a fun adventure to Huntsville State Park, and Carmen, who came to pick Hans and I up from the ER.

Hans is now very happy to have his dad back at home, eating, dancing around the living room, blowing up balloons and water balloons. We are going to head to the grocery store to stock up everything that we are out of, and then try to be at Glen Loch Elementary for Kindergarten Orientation at 1pm. Everyday is an adventure. Everyday is a gift.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bakers!..change of plans - Please READ!

Lara asked that I post:

Unfortunately, due to the bad weather passing through today and expected tomorrow, the Woodlands Earth Day Festival (where our bake/lanyard sale & Erin's Tribute was being held) has been cancelled. However, the great news is that we will still be able to sell everything the bakers have made but in College Station at sweet Erin's school carnival tomorrow. Please, if you were reading this and were planning on getting your baked goods to Lara on Saturday at 8:00a, bring them to Lara's this evening or have them there by 7:30a instead, since we will need to begin driving to College Station early. If you were planning on bringing your goods to the actual festival, please get them to her by the time stated above. If this perhaps won't fit in with your schedule you could always take it upon yourself to sell them yourself to friends, neighbors, family, etc. and give the money to Lara for CNCF later. Thanks again to those who baked for this event! If you have further questions please contact Lara.

Carmen

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Going Forward

Hi there,
I think I'm not quite ready to post again. But I think I shall. I wanted to let everyone know that Hans is doing GREAT! He has finished Round 3 of ABT751 without any further complications. Thank Goodness! And, he's wearing an actual shirt today, thanks to Alex and family, who brought him a green HULK shirt to College Station yesterday. I guess they are going shopping for an Iron Man shirt this week! That's kind of a big deal for Hans, whose preference for jammies is going strong for many months now! Hans and Elle and Alex spent the day with Tracy's boys Colby and Riley while EB and Josh kept watch over them yesterday. Thanks so much for that! Hans had to go in for counts today. So far so good - but we're still waiting for a report on his chemistry's. It was a great treat to have last week off of clinic. Apparently, we only have to go in two times for counts in each three week cycle. Hans is enjoying time off therapy until next Friday when he'll start Round 4.

I was able to attend Erin's memorial service yesterday, with a pew full of friends from TCH. It was terrible and wonderful at the same time. Congressman Chet Edwards attended, and gave an excellent testimonial. He called Erin the best teacher he had ever had. And then, the pastor talked about going forward - he did a great job, addressing the 5th-7th graders there, but it was just right for me, too. I realized yesterday that everyone loved Erin the way that I do, and she truly made everyone feel special and connected. I cannot stop thinking about her and her family, and I appreciate the way that everyone in Hans' circle of support has included her family in their thoughts and prayers at this time. At this time of loss, we are also thinking of those who have gone before Erin, children's lives cut too short by NB, and keeping each of their families in our prayers as well.

I will post more later. Please plan to come out to The Woodlands Earth Day Festival (free event) from 10 - 3 on Saturday April 18th at the Woodlands High School on Research Forest Drive. Look for our Bake Sale in the Green Market. Proceeds will go to the CNCF as a tribute to Erin Buenger. Thanks to all the bakers who are making this event possible!

Lara

Friday, April 10, 2009

Erin

Erin Buenger


The Buengers, the community of Bryan/College Station and the world at large lost a radiant girl yesterday morning. We have lost a young friend. I have lost an exuberant business partner in The Lanyard Project. I keep thinking that the impact of this loss is incalculable. Erin had the tenacity to outrun relapsed Neuroblastoma for about four years. Not only did she fight it, she did it while at the same time achieving her full potential in so many aspects of her short life. Erin was a bright young scholar, an accomplished athlete and soccer player, a motivated community activist, an excellent friend, a true and natural beauty, and the perfect champion for her cause - raising funds and awareness for childhood cancer research.

Erin valiantly fought this cancer with the aide of her close family, her mom, Vickie, her dad, Walter and sweet big brother, Davis. It was inspiring to watch Vickie raise her daughter so well under the ominous diagnosis of Relapsed NB. Erin was incredibly well cared for, nurtured and supported by her mom. Vickie has always made herself available to me when I had questions or needed support. I truly appreciate the friendship that I have formed with both Erin and her mom. It has meant a lot to me, Hans, Kevin and Elle as well. Hans relapsed at the same time as Erin progressed last spring. We have been through a lot together this past year - news of scans, clinic visits and chemo schedules, changes to treatment plans, etc. Vickie has never complained to me. And Erin, Erin always had that gorgeous smile to welcome us, and the sweetest little voice and laugh.

Erin stood apart from her peers in that she wasn't caught up in the trappings of her generation and culture. She was an excellent young citizen of this world and a huge hole is left in her absence.

To leave a note for Vickie, Walter or Davis, you can visit her site at www.erinbuenger.blogspot.com if you'd like to honor her memory, you can skip a lunch this week and put an ornament up on her tree, at www.lunchforlife.org.

Lara

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Round 3 ABT underway...

Elle, at the Japanese Gardens

Lara, Kevin, Hans, and Elle at the Game

Hans and Elle and Grandma Stephanie at the Astros Game

Marshmallow fun?

Hans and Grandma Stephanie on Roller Coaster Simulator

Artists at work!

Oh gosh, I never meant to go over a week without a post. We were having a second Spring Break with my mom and I never sat down to update. We've been going about a mile a minute...

We packed in the Zoo, we got to see Houston's new Red Panda, Toby, and did a little shopping and the important spring chore of cleaning out the sandbox and refreshing it with new sand. We did a b'day party park date for Michael who is now 10! We went to Chuck E Cheese actually twice, Happy Birthday to Donovan tomorrow! We got to check out a little bit of Old Town Spring (as much as Hans could bear), and we saw the Friday night Astros Exhibition game against the Indians, and it was the first time Hans wanted to stay for the whole Fireworks show Marathon puts on afterwards. He loved it!

On Thursday we went into the clinic for counts and Office Visit and an Echo cardiogram (required by being on ABT751). Pretty much everything was normal. HGB just a bit low for Hans at 10.2, but Dr. R. attributed that to a cold. We started him on Friday - and he's been okay. He had a crazy night last night. He was up from about 12 am - 4am! But, he wasn't cranky - just as happy as a clam! The ABT can cause insomnia. I'm hoping it's just like Round 2, though, when he only had insomnia on the Saturday night of the cycle.

Yesterday was a full day of soccer and a girl scout field trip. We dropped off over 200 boxes of cookies at the Houston Ronald McDonald House (thank you thank you kind donors!) Thanks to Ms. Niemeyer's troop who also donated more than a case of cookies. Was it Troop 11645?? We also dropped off 3 large cannisters of pop tabs that our friend Michael had collected.Then, we tacked on a tour of the Japanese Gardens in Hermann Park with our sketch books, followed by a dinner picnic. It was very sweet to me to see all of our girls sketching away. Luckily, irises were in bloom so perfect for sketching, and we all tried to do some of Monet's garden bridges (harder than it looks!)
My mom flew out early this morning, so hopefully she'll be ready to greet the day with her 37 middle schoolers tomorrow.

Hans continues to have an incredible amount of energy. We just keep saying he's doing better than he ever has since he started treatment. We continue to think of this as our miracle. And, we thank you all for the prayers you say for Hans, and for all of his special pals in Houston, and across the US and all over the world with this terrible disease.

Lara