Welcome to our CaringBridge site. We've created it to keep friends and family updated about Lauren's fight against Leukemia. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement during this time when it matters most.
Our house is on a countdown until Friday when Lauren, Catherine (one of Lolo's BFFs), Janine (Cat's mom), and I will be going to the Taylor Swift concert. Yesterday, Alex Hoffman, from KETV contacted me to see if Lauren wanted to do an interview talking about the concert coming up and revisiting when Taylor Swift came to see Lauren in the hospital. Of course, like everyone else, she asked me if we had contact with Taylor Swift and was Lauren going to get to see Taylor again. I will clear that up first and then tell you about the interview. We have been contacted by so many people and news people asking if we knew anything about Taylor Swift's visit. We were contacted to try and help Prairie, a little girl that has cancer, see Taylor. We have been praying and hoping that Taylor goes to see Prairie. I have had Taylor Swift's contact information through her PR agent. However, we have never used it. Lauren wrote many notes to Taylor over the years. We feel awkward as a family seeking anymore of Taylor's time. So, we haven't. Taylor is one of the most sought-after entertainers out there. There are so many children that want to see her. We feel that Taylor was so generous with us. Both Taylor and her mother spent a lot of time with us in the hospital and showered Lauren with gifts. They were kind and very present to us that day. It helped Lauren receive hope and inspiration. It gave her energy to continue her fight for three additional months in the hospital. It came at such an important time in Lauren's treatment. I think to seek out more of Taylor's attention would be wrong. But, it does mean we have continued to love her and her music from a distance. That being said, we are so happy to hear that Taylor will be visiting little Prairie and we hope that it gives her the healing that she needs. Please continue to keep Prairie in your prayers and thoughts. She is a sweet and brave little girl. This morning, Alex (who Lauren thinks is absolutely beautiful and fabulous) came to our house at 0 dark thirty for an interview before school. She interviewed Lauren and Catherine. Catherine is Lauren's friend that also loves Taylor Swift. Lauren and Catherine were to receive tickets to Taylor Swift for Christmas in 2012. Janine and I had bought the tickets a few days before Lauren was diagnosed with leukemia. Lauren was going to be in the hospital over the next 6 months, so obviously wasn't going to be able to attend the concert. Taylor came to see Lauren! Hallelujah! Catherine went to the concert. But, they both wanted someday to get to share it together. Fast forward.....out of hospital, remission from leukemia, back in school, and 2 more days....that dream will come true. That is what I want to talk about....dreams coming true. I haven't seen the interview with Lauren and Catherine about their exciting event coming up. I will see it on Friday night, I hope. I stayed out of the room because I didn't want to make Lolo nervous. Plus, I thought it was cute that the two girls were just happy and talking about the concert with Alex. It will air probably on the 5:00 news on KETV. Alex interviewed me separately. Of course, I was a bumbling idiot trying to talk about all of this. The concepts are too big to get them straight on air. I was like one of those beauty contestants that fumbled my words. But, I have been thinking about a couple of the questions all morning. Please don't watch my interview! :) Unless you want to tease me about it. Watch Lolo and then turn it off! However, I can't stop thinking about some of the questions she asked. Phil was nervous about Lauren being interviewed. He is always worried kids will be jealous and what the affect attention will have on Lauren. I think it can be summed up by something Taylor Swift's mom, Andrea, said to me. She said she has worked really hard to not let fame change her daughter. She and I were talking about that. I worried what all the attention on Lauren and cancer would have on Lauren. I realized Taylor and Lauren are a lot alike. They don't crave fame. They aren't superficial and into themselves. Taylor is very down-to-earth. She didn't come to see Lolo as a publicity stunt. She asked us not to contact the news and we made sure no reporters were there. It was about connecting to another person. It was about being present to someone that needed you. Lolo needed Taylor. She needed her friends and all of us to stop for a moment and love her through her suffering. That day wasn't about Taylor. It was about Lauren. But, in that moment, I was so proud of Lauren. She was all about Taylor. She loved sitting with her and hearing her sing. She made a bracelet for her. She was interested in Taylor, the person. Not Taylor, the star. She knows about her family, her cats, the inspiration for her songs, her clothes, and her interests. She didn't want to meet Taylor so she could get attention from other people. She wanted to make a connection to someone that resonates with the things that are important to Lauren: friends, family, faith, love, happiness, experiences, and caring about other people. I didn't worry about friends being jealous of Lauren. Lolo is over the moon about getting to go see Taylor in concert with Catherine. Even the concert is all about a shared love of music and being with her friend. She may even be too focused on it right now. She is 13. (Taylor's favorite number!) Lolo is allowed to be happy. It is all good. Alex mentioned that getting to meet Taylor Swift will probably be the biggest thing that happens to Lauren in her lifetime. I realized I was kind of weird as I reflected on this. Alex mentioned also the disbelief and amazement that surrounded the chance that Taylor came to see Lauren. It seemed surreal and impossible. Maybe I was in a weird mindset, like the kind of mindset that changed while we were in the hospital and stopped believing impossible statistics. It was the kind of mindset that did believe in miracles and recognized that they happen to everyday people. It was also the kind of mindset that knew Taylor would come see Lolo. When we made the video 2 months before Taylor came (I can't actually remember when we made it because time was an odd thing for me while Lauren was sick), no one believed Taylor would actually come. My husband thought I was nuts. Lauren didn't know about it at all. When I saw the finished video, I knew she would come. I had a feeling. Maybe I had to hold on to something to believe in. I knew if she came, it would make Lauren happy and make her feel like she mattered. The isolation in the hospital was unending and so were her treatments. I thought it would be wonderful. I just knew she would come. When she did, it satisfied my belief that miracles happen. The week before she came, Lauren was extremely ill. The chemo was knocking her for a loop. It was 3 months into a 6 month treatment. I didn't think she would be well enough to see Taylor. It seemed like a miracle that she was. A few days after Taylor left, Lolo was in intensive care and was fighting septic shock. She was critically ill. I think Taylor's visit gave Lolo the momentum to make it through yet another medical crisis. Love from another person definitely saves people's lives. However, I don't think Taylor's visit is going to be the biggest thing that happens to Lauren in her lifetime. It is definitely up there and definitely a joyous and incredible experience. But, the miracle that Lauren survived her illness will be one of the biggest accomplishments for Lauren. In her future, I hope and dream that she will have more amazing experiences, hopefully, many happy ones. After what Lauren has been through, as a mom, just getting to see her play in a volleyball game or goof off with friends is a dream come true. When Lauren was at her absolute worst in the hospital and when things didn't look good, I prayed a lot. I also tried to visualize Lauren in the future being healthy and happy. I visualized her in her high school uniform. I visualized her getting married some day. I visualized her as a mother. I also visualized her getting to go see Taylor Swift with her friend, Catherine. Maybe I was just seeing the future? (I don't believe I can, by the way!) Lauren has had more amazing experiences because of cancer. She went on a Make-A-Wish trip to Paris, she had a giraffe named after her, she did a TV commercial (with her friend, Alex Hoffman). These are great, however, it doesn't erase the suffering and anguish that living through leukemia cases. And although these experiences are treasured, it is the other experiences that have changed Lolo; she has felt the love of her entire school as they rallied around her, she has overcome fears, pain, and isolation. She has worked through how to recover from all of this. Even with all of the attention, cancer has not changed her basic nature, just like Taylor Swift. Lauren is somewhat awkward in the limelight. It is funny how often she is sought out. However, these experiences have given Lauren confidence and have validated the importance of her presence in this world. Lauren is a strong and courageous young lady. She struggles with many things. However, because of some of these experiences she carries a wisdom and view of the world that only someone with her experience could have. She gets it. I am sure people wonder why she has captured the hearts of so many. I think it is the realization of all she has been through and yet what always remains is that sweet, loving smile on her face, her willingness to offer a gentle hug to anyone that needs it, her concern for other people, and her totally weird, nutty personality. Taylor has not been changed in the negative by fame. Fame can make you a greedy, attention seeker. It can change your focus so that everything is about you. However, like Lauren, the fame in Taylor's case and the life-threatening illness in Lauren's case have posed them both with a choice. Taylor has chosen to use her fame to do good in the world and lead a happy life; Lauren has faced her life-threatening illness and has chosen to be happy and optimistic. Cancer does pose that choice. I think our family has chosen to face it by living every moment to the fullest and believing in fulfilling our dreams, not just Lauren's, but all of ours. Alex Hoffman also asked me what advice I would give to Prairie and her mom or what I would change about Lauren's visit, if I could. I wouldn't change a thing, since it was Lauren's experience and she is and was thoroughly in orbit about it all. I would tell Prairie to just be herself and enjoy it. I would tell Prairie's mom to take it all in and be filled up by the joy of watching her daughter experience a moment of happiness. I am sure they will do just that, so they don't need my advice. I do think Lauren would love to see Taylor again. Taylor saw Lolo at one of the worst times in her life. She was very ill. She had no hair. Sometimes, I wish I could send Taylor a "Thank you" card and a current picture of Lauren. I wish she could see how strong she is. I wish she could see Lauren's thick, long hair. I wish she could see how tall she has grown. But, then I think of how Taylor actually saw Lauren. She saw Lauren exactly as she was and still is today. Yes, she was extremely vulnerable at the time. Lauren had a hard time actually talking to Taylor. She was weak and is very shy. But, she had that sweetness about her that I am sure Taylor could see. That is the most beautiful thing about Lauren. Even without any hair, severely anemic, and her pink knitted cap on, what you focus on is Lauren's heart-warming little grin. The other thing that was amazing about Taylor's visit back then was how perceptive Taylor was about what people needed. The first person Taylor greeted when she walked in the hospital room was Jonathan. She told him how talented he was as a musician. That was golden. She hugged him in a very big way. Taylor has a brother that she loves very much. I am sure she knew how much Jonathan must have been suffering watching his sister go through this and feeling so helpless. She probably realized that all of the attention had to be on Lauren. Her attention on Jonathan was perceptive and kind. She also recognized his talent....yeah!!! I think the summary of it all is that in this day and age, we value big things happening in our lives and call those things our dreams. Yes, meeting Taylor Swift is a dream come true. It was a big event for Lauren. We keep a picture of our family & Taylor in an honored place in our home. We will forever be grateful to Taylor. We are big supporters of Taylor. We have hoped that her mother, Andrea, is doing well. We will always be huge fans. However, when you have been through what Lauren has been through and what our family has been through, a dream come true can just be a concert with a best friend.
(Below is a picture of Catherine visting Lolo in the hospital)