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8:30 PM (Randall posting): As expected, the internet connection at Mary's was unreliable. We had a good visit--too short! The upshot of the past couple of days has been that Sophie still flies off the handle into a steroid-induced rage at the slightest little thing (and never when you might predict). Elisabeth got all worked up about staying with Grammy and Nannie and so she came home with us after all. I'm sure Mary was disappointed, and I'm sorry that it didn't work out, but neither Susan nor I is in the mood to force either of our kids into anything right now. I'm sure there will come a time when Elisabeth will beg us to take her to Grammy's house and not want to come home. This just isn't that time.

We're all home, safe and sound, and no worse for the wear. Sophie is more than halfway through the steroid treatment, so there's something to look forward to. On the way home today, when Sophie (completely agitated) said for the three hundredth time, "I can't wait until I get home!" Susan said (equally agitated), "I can't wait until she's not on steroids anymore." I'd like to take a picture of Sophie sometime soon to show how much puffiness she has gained. It's much, much more noticeable than it was in the first round of treatment. Sophie's hairloss seems to have tapered off some, though. We're learning to not expect much one way or the other, because all that can happen might, but might not, and even the extent to which something may happen is never a matter of all or nothing.

It's good to be home and good to be "over the hump" with the steroids (we hope, we hope, we hope!).


Randall and Susan,

I had an experience yesterday that made me think of you and your little family that I thought I wanted to share with you.

We were going to be moving our oldest daughter into her dorm last night, and since I had one afternoon left with her--I took her out to lunch. We went to Panera Bread, and as we were standing in line, Heather (my daughter) greeted a girl she apparently knew. The two of them hugged and then they stood and talked. The girl's mother and I stood behind them, just watching and smiling and enjoying them. After a little while, Heather asked the girl when she was leaving for college and the girl said she was leaving that night. (The girl had just graduated from high school last year.) When I heard that, I turned to the girl's mom and said, "Oh that's probably hard for you." And the mom said, "It is. I've been so weepy all day, but I'm excited for her too." I told her it was okay, that I had cried for almost a month straight last year when Heather went away to school and she was only five minutes away.

After the girl and her mother left, I asked Heather how she knew that girl, and Heather told me that that was Katie F., a girl she had gone to school with at Immanuel (the Lutheran school our children attended from K-8). Since I don't attend church with my family, I had never seen Katie before, but I immediately recognized the name, and I said to Heather...."Wait a minute---do you mean that was Katie F., the girl who had Leukemia?" And Heather said, "yes".

When Heather was in the eighth grade, Katie F. was one year behind her. Katie suddenly and unexpectedly became very ill with leukemia (I'm sorry---I don't recall what form of leukemia she had). Needless to say, for a couple of years, she was very, very sick, and at one point, it really seemed as if she might die. They would pray for her often in church, and when my family would return home on Sunday, I would often ask if they had heard how Katie was doing. Anyway, Katie (and her family) made it through that particularly rough time, and slowly, Katie began to recover. From what I've been told, at this point, she still has to see her oncologist once a month and she does have a few side-effects from the treatment (for example, she walks with a slight limp) but I just wish you could have seen her yesterday. She was so beautiful and radiant and happy. Later, I mentioned this to another friend from the church, and that person told me that Katie (who is extremely intelligent) is planning to become a pediatric oncologist. I had goosebumps when I heard that. I thought what an inspiring, hopeful story that is, and I just wanted to share it with you.

Best thoughts and wishes for your whole family and special prayers for Sophie during this especially difficult time.
Polly Wickstrom

Now that you are gone, I have an internet connection again. My theory is that my computer recognized that real experts were at the keyboard, and, being a bit lazy, decided it just didn't want to work too hard.

I am disppointed that Elisabeth didn't stay, but I certainly want her to feel like she can make decisions for herself. I was glad that you handled it as you did and didn't push her. She's had a busy few weeks, and sometimes one needs the security of home.

Your visit was so great. I love having you here, and enjoy your visit in retrospect as well as at the time. May I repeat that the girls are "KIDS SUPREME"! You are doing a great job with them.

I hope everyone settles down and has a good week.

Hugs and kisses to all!