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Sydney’s Story

Welcome to Sydney site. 
We hope you take the time to leave a message for her! 

You can also follow Sydney's fundraiser, Sydney's Coins for Courage at:

Our story begins and will never end...

On May 14, 2009, Sydney was scheduled for a re-check appointment due to a recent case of Strep.  A few days earlier, my mother had noticed Sydney complaining of her eyes and saying she could "see two of Grammy".  Since the re-check appointment was already scheduled just two days later, we didn't see the urgency of making another appointment and still having to go for her re-check.  While waiting the next two days for the appt., I along with several other people noticed a "wandering eye". 

When we arrived at the pediatrician, her re-check test came back positive...we were very surprised and shocked...I almost even forgot to mention her eye.  The doctor did a quick look over and said that it was probably just what we would call a lazy eye.  We stayed put and he had a nurse get on the phone to get us a referral with an the way, happened to be the one that my parents use.  While waiting for our appt. time to see the eye doctor, our nurse quickly blurted out that he had a cancellation come up for the very next morning.  I took it.

The next morning my mother drove us to the eye appt.  Jamie couldn't come because he had just finished, that day, his work project in Louisiana that he has been working on for about a year.  He was traveling home for good.  Once we had the eye exam, the doctor recommended that we have an MRI done because she had some paralysis in her left eye.  I was a bit worried and the doctor kindly told me that I did have a right to be worried.

Throughout the day we spoke to our pediatrician, Dr. Denny from Cornerstone Pediatrics in Madison.  He assured us that we would have the MRI and see a Pediatric Neurologist that day.  I was obviously upset and didn't have a clue about what they were looking for.

We were rushed quickly into an MRI (after the Women and Children's Center in Huntsville rearranged schedules to get us in) seemed that everywhere we went, they were waiting on us!  During the MRI, we had to sign consent papers to have a CT scan done.  By this time, Jamie had made it in along with my father.  After the scans, we were given the news by the radiologist, Dr. Coleman.  Basically, our two choices were to travel to Children's Hospital in Birmingham or St. Jude.  When they said St. Jude, we knew instantly what was wrong with Sydney.  He told us that she had a mass behind her sinus cavity and appeared to be aggressive.  That is what was causing the paralysis in her left eye.

We left on Saturday morning to meet with Dr. Howard, an Oncologist/Hemotologist.  He has been with us thus far and told us that he "couldn't get us around this, but could get us through this".  He related it to a trip to Grandma's house...Sometimes the trip is bumpy, sometimes it is smooth, and sometimes there is a big, bad wolf waiting for us...I like his analogies, they are comforting. 

We received our diagnosis on May 21, 2009.  Sydney has Rhabdomyosarcoma.  We will continue this story as long as it takes to get our cure.  So, this is TO BE CONTINUED...

Latest Journal Update


Wow!  Summer has come and gone for the Newton house!  We have had an awesome summer.  Sydney has enjoyed the long evenings playing outside and spending time with her cousins next door.  She has spent many evenings outside riding her bicycles, playing on the swing set, and jumping on the trampoline.  We also took a nice family summer vacation to the beach this year.  We took a trip down to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  I have had many friends telling us about the beaches along 30A.  It was truly an awesome vacation! That place is so quite, clean, and family friendly.  Sydney played in the ocean everyday and did not want to leave!  We can't wait to go back next summer with our family.         

It is hard to believe that school is once again starting.  Sydney will be entering the 4th grade this year.  She will also be starting a new school. Cynthia was transferred to Creekside Elementary.  It has been a difficult move as Johnson Elementary was the place where both our children attended.  It has some great teachers and lots of memories, but a new chapter in our lives has started and Sydney seems okay with the move.  She wants to be where Mommy is and I can't blame her for that.  Creekside is a much larger school than we have ever attended for elementary school, so it will be interesting to see how Sydney fits in with such a large class of fourth graders.  I can remember changing schools as a child and the fear of that first day.  Sydney is a good, well rounded child.  I have no doubts that she will meet many new friends and that the teachers at Creekside are also wonderful!

Since the last update, we had our first Sydney's Coins for Courage event for 2013.  We did a Chick-fil-A Spirit Night in our hometown.  It went well!  Our family also went down the Children's of Alabama in June to host a Celebration of Courage event.  It was a great event! Children and their families were able to come to the event and participate in activities like making necklaces and bracelets using Beads of Courage.  They were also able to pickup their Dream beads that they requested.  Cynthia got to hand out special Mother's beads to several mothers and Sydney was able to hand out her special ladybug beads to children.  It gave us an opportunity to speak with some families we knew and some new families that really needed some encouragement. We think it was a great success!

Yesterday, we started launching Sydney's Coins for Courage 2013! Sydney and I were able to deliver her COURAGE jars to seven businesses.  We plan to deliver more during the next few weeks. Her online donation site is up and running this morning.  As many of you know, Sydney's Coins for Courage is in our third year.  In the past two years, it has raised over $13,000 to help enCOURAGE children and their families battling cancer at Children's of Alabama through the Beads of Courage program.  This year we hope to beat last year's fundraiser and we have some great ideas how these funds can be used.  We have a great hope that we can fund a scholarship for a nurse at the University of Alabama-Birmingham with part of the money.  The scholarship will require the nursing student to spend several hours a week on the oncology floor at Children's of Alabama. They would be responsible to ensure that every child on the oncology floor is receiving all their Beads of Courage and giving parents a breather when needed.  It will help the nursing student learn the important of bedside manner which is hard to teach in a class room setting.  We look forward to working with Beads of Courage, Children's of Alabama, and UAB to make this happen!

As mentioned above, the Sydney's Coins for Courage online donation site is open!  We hope you will honor Sydney with a donation on that site, at one of her planned events in September, or by placing loose change in one of her COURAGE jars when you see them.  I will list those locations in the next week when they are all available.  

Here is the donation site:

Remember to visit Facebook and "Like" Sydney's Coins for Courage for details of events planned in September for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Jamie - Sydney's Dad