2023 went pretty quickly overall considering Brax was going through intense chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Our neighbor once told me when the girls were very young that “the days are long but the years are fast” and we have found this to be true in cancer treatment as well. Some days, just getting through the day, can seem to wear on you like a week worth of work/stress, but before you know it a month has somehow passed. When initially diagnosed with leukemia and told it will be 2.5 years of treatment and then 2 years of treatment when Brax relapsed it feels that you can’t even imagine that much time and how you will get through every long day, but it somehow has a way of going fast as well. Brax has a little over 9 months left of treatment and we are sure to experience many long hard days, but before we know it 11-15-24 will be here and we will absolutely experience so many great days along the way as well.
December had some challenges for Brax – an unexpected hospital stay right before Christmas, a lingering cold that didn’t want to go away, having to hold oral chemo due to low ANC & platelets, and even a case of pink eye. As always, Brax found a way to make the best of tough situations – the power of positivity, mental toughness, faith, and surrounding yourself with the right people is truly a game changer.
We had a fun evening with our neighbors attending one of our favorite Christmas movies – Christmas Vacation – which had a few select dates in theaters this year to kickoff the holiday season.
Brax was finally able to do the annual TB1F Electronic Giveaway at Masonic in person. She had so much fun gifting the patients at the hospital with awesome electronics to try to help ease the burden of being inpatient for the holidays. Our friends at UNRL partnered with Brax & TB1F to give patients the opportunity to receive one of their Limited Edition Minnesota Vikings hoodies that were sold out in stores. DJ Mad Mardigan from GenNOW provided the music for the lobby party and Chick Fil A & Cub provided food and drinks for this fun event that featured Goldy and the Cow from Chick Fil A.
Brax was able to attend both sides of the family Christmas parties this year. It was so good to head up north for a few family filled days of fun and holiday cheer on the warmest MN Christmas ever. We were very thankful to be outpatient and in the position to travel and see family.
Brax & Bry are both so excited for the Olympic Trials to be coming to MN this summer. Brax was able to attend an event at MOA hosted by Minnesota Sports & Events that showcased gymnastics at all levels. She was able to meet Suni Lee and be around others that love the sport as much as she does.
In January Brax was starting to feel better and was able to do more. Her sister Brylee’s Level 8 gymnastics season was officially underway. Brax was really looking forward to attending her travel meet in Knoxville, Tennessee this year, but her lingering case of pink eye delayed some of her treatments and she needed to stay back in MN. Bry had a great time with her teammates, but really missed her sister. They may or may not admit it, but Brax & Bry are best friends and are always 100% there for one another through everything. When one hurts, they both hurt and when good happens they celebrate together. This whole cancer thing really takes a toll on not just the patient, but the rest of the family as well. Brylee is the reason why Sibling Days and family days are so important to Brax and TB1F. Siblings sacrifice so much! You do your best to try to keep life as normal as possible, but the truth is there is nothing normal about this way of life. You can physically see cancer affecting the patient, but the side effects that siblings experience are often silent from the outside world. As parents you must continue to believe in the greater plan and know that calmer waters are ahead for everyone in your family.
At the end of January, Brylee turned 12 and we were able to celebrate in person. Last year Brax ended up inpatient for every single birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, New Years, and Thanksgiving, so this year we will not take anything for granted and celebrate them all (hopefully outpatient).
Gopher Women’s Gymnastics asked Brax to be an Honorary member of the team for their Always Dreaming Cancer Awareness meet. This meet is special since it brings awareness to cancer and how it has affected everyone in some way, shape, or form. The team did their warm-ups in the Team Brax TB1F leo. It was an amazing honor to see the team, at the school she loves, wearing her leo. They also did a toy drive to collect toys for Brax’s Toy Closet on the 5th floor of Masonic Children’s hospital where Brax has spent 200 nights.
Dr. Sadak, our primary oncologist the first time through treatment, organized a halftime scrimmage at the Gopher Men’s Basketball game vs Wisconsin. Staff of the Journey Clinic and former patients played in the Coaches vs Cancer Hardwood Heroes Game. Its intent was to bring awareness to the importance of cancer research and was a fantastic group of people to share the court with.
A few other things Brax has been up to included: attending her first high school gymnastics meet, going to the St. Thomas vs UMD exhibition hockey game that featured 2 of her favorite hockey players, attending her cousin Brooklyn’s basketball tournament in Forest Lake, going to the Mean Girls movie reboot, PT, working out at home, attending Brylee’s meets, and getting outside to enjoy the spring like temps.
We have lots to look forward to in 2024! We are especially looking forward to the end of treatment in November, but trying not to wish the time away as well since we know it will somehow go quickly even through the long hard days. We Got This!!!!
Also, a few dates to save if you are able to make any of the events coming up this year.
Champions Cup – TB1F’s adult only, largest single day fundraiser of the year. Friday, April 26
Putt 4 Patients and Annual Toy Drive at Scheels – Saturday, June 8. Mini golf, face painting, caricatures, fair food, bounce houses, and DJ. Family Fun!
Summer Sounds // Music With A Mission – Fri, July 19 & Sat, July 20 – we added a 2nd night this year and are bringing in (4) acts from Nashville…details coming soon!
Info on any/all events can be found at www.TB1Fund.org