Kendall Grace Little's Fight

First post: 9/24/2015 Latest post: 3/21/2017
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August 11th 2015 was like any other day in the Baltazar’s house…crazy.  It was the last day of Summer Break for the 4 youngest and we getting prepared by making sure everyone had their backpacks and school supplies.  We made sure there were everyone’s favorite things to pack for lunch. We got haircuts and new shoes.   The day was also assigned to get everyone’s well child exams done.  All five of the kiddos were going in to be weighed, measured and get shots if need be.   Paco works from home, so he handles those duties fabulously and was giving me the play by play via text.  Eric had grown 6 inches in the last year.  Morelia was excited she finally made her goal weight, even though she is gorgeous with or without a few pounds.  Jones and Jausia were going to try a new face cream together and they were both excited.  I was laughing at all the texts and videos of them getting their dreaded immunizations. I was walking into the gym to meet my trainer when I got the text from Paco.  ‘Hey babe, they are going to send Little for an ultrasound of her neck’…. I read it again.   I asked him if he was being serious.  He said it’s going to be fine, the doctor feels something in her throat but it was probably just a gland that was swollen.  He kept reminding me she was our super healthy one.  Besides a few bumps and bruises or a random weird episode of Mono, she was awesome.  Never so much as a sniffle and the ONLY time she missed school was for a fun day or a vacation, not because she was sick.   He was right.  Worst case scenario it was a thyroid condition or something.  They scheduled her for an ultrasound late in the afternoon on Thursday the 13th.  Paco, Little and I waited in the lobby of SimonMed.  Paco was tickling her and teased her while I browsed Facebook, of course. I remember hearing their sweet banter with each other.  They called her name and the ultrasound tech walked us back.  The tech was sweet.  She asked Kendall if she had ever had an ultrasound before.  She walked her through the whole process and made her and I feel very comfortable.  She was asking her about school and boys, which of course made Little giggle.  Then the Tech was quiet.  She asked Kendall to sit really still for her.  It was a really long 10 minutes before anything else was said.  The Tech turned to me and said, ‘I’m sure they will call you right away.” Something in the tone of her voice startled me.  We walked back out to the lobby where Paco was and he could tell I had a weird feeling by the look on my face.  ‘You are worrying for nothing’ he said, ‘Let’s just wait to see what they say’ he reminded. August 14th 2015 should have been a good day.  It was Morelia’s 18th birthday, it was a Friday.  Jausia was moving back into the dorms and starting her junior year at GCU.  Jonah started high school this week.  Kendall was crazy excited about starting at LFPA with all the other kids.  At 9:35am, while I was sitting at my desk at work, Paula Smith NP from our family doctor’s office called me.  Actually when I answered the call it was her assistant Sarah asking me if I had a minute to talk with Paula and she wanted to put her on the line.  The next few minutes were a blur.  I heard 3 cm tumor in her thyroid.  I heard most likely carcinoma.  I heard micro-calcifications appear to be there as well.  I heard we will call you back as soon as we know when she will be seen at PCH.  I remember saying ok and hanging up and looking at my phone and thinking, “wait what?”  I rushed home. Not that I needed to take Kendall anywhere or that we had an appointment yet, but I just needed to be home.  With Paco.  And the kids.  My safe harbor, or so I thought.  It was all day before we heard anything.  Sarah called me back from the doctor’s office and said “Don’t get frustrated.  There will be a lot of hurry up and wait from here on out” and proceeded to tell me I should hear something by Tuesday. TUESDAY??  So to spare all of the endless phone calls details and telling you all about the run around we would get daily, we finally had an appointment set for August 25th.  Two weeks to the day from finding the lump.  When the doctor walked in and asked if we knew what was going on, something in me clicked.  She has Cancer.  Kendall Grace has Cancer.  My crazy beautiful, sometimes strange goofy big hearted, wickedly smart, fabulously fantastic 11 year old has Cancer.  I went immediately into fix mode in my mind right as I was sitting in that chair.  I have worked in health insurance for over 20 years, I knew we needed to start prior authorizations, we needed to find a surgeon, I needed to start the FMLA process and the list went on.  I had my notebook on my lap and was making notes of everything that needed to be done. I turned and Paco was on the verge of tears, (sorry baby but you were).  Here I was like a train moving full speed ahead and he was stuck back at the station.  I asked him what was wrong and he said “I have always been able to protect my babies. That’s why I was born.  I am their protector; their hero.  I can’t fix this.”  As always, as irritating as it is, he was right.  Not only could we not fix her, we could not control the process.  Her doctor assured her and us that Thyroid Cancer is the best kind to get.  It’s easy peasy.  Take out the tumor and you are good to go.  You’ll take some pills the rest ofyour life, but hey it’s better than the alternative right?The next step was the biopsy.  PCH called me over the next week to schedule the next steps.  They wanted a repeat ultrasound and were going to biopsy the tumor. The biopsy would help know what we were up against; what type of Cancer it was.  We had to wait until September 10th for the procedure.  While doing the repeat ultrasound, they noticed that her lymph nodes in the region of the Thyroid were also enlarged and wanted to biopsy them as well.  I feel like I remember everything that happened that day but it all still feels like a blur again.  Scary words were thrown around casually like aggressive and advanced and spreading. All 3 of those words I didn’t want to hear at all.  That meant that this wasn’t so easy peasy.   She was all done about 10 hours after we got there.  We drove home to a house full of friends and family bringing us dinner and she rested.  She said that the biopsies were no big deal and she didn’t have any pain at all.  She had a few Advil and was down for the night. It just so happens that my sister Shilo had planned her trip to Arizona to spend time with the family she has here at the exact same time all of this went down.  Because Shilo was here, I had many things planned.  BBQ’s, a concert, some shopping, some swimming and of course a Diamondbacks game for the whole Fam Damily Friday night.  I had been on edge all day wondering about the results of the biopsies.  They told me it could be well over a week before I heard anything, but my anxiety was still through the roof.  At 4:55 pm on Friday, September 11th, her endocrinologist called me.  We were 10 minutes away from the ball park, 3 of the 4 kids in the car had fallen asleep from the drive and Paco, Shilo and I were just chit chatting about nothing and my phone rang.  The first words out of his mouth were “Hey Jamie, do you have a minute?” Damn.  I wanted to say, NOPE and hang up the phone.  This must be pretty bad if he is calling me with 5 minutes to spare on a Friday. This must not be able to wait until Monday.  Results were in.  Metastatic Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma with advanced spreading to the regional lymph nodes. He said that someone would contact me Monday to discuss scheduling the surgery, total Thyroidectomy and lymphnodectomy and she will be in the hospital a few days and he will stop by.  I said Ok and hung up, just as I had before. There I was, outside Chase field, ready to go to a baseball game, trying to figure out how to explain to Paco and Kendall and the other kids that our life wasn’t ever going to be the same.   The kids took it well and Little took it like champ.  She is a trooper and tougher and braver then I have ever had to be.   I’ve been a mess.  I am trying really hard not to be.  I remain quiet instead of talking about it because talking about it makes me feel like I can’t breathe.  I can’t sleep.  Well, I couldn’t sleep until my doctor finally made me agree to take something to help me sleep.  I know the kids can see I am not ok but we are trying to make life as normal as possible, whatever that normal is.  Life still has to go on.  We had concert tickets and theater tickets and baseball tickets and my 40th birthday within all of this mess and we have had these things planned WAY before her diagnosis.  Life had to go on.  For me, for Paco, for the other kids and absolutely for Little.   People will ask“How are you doing?”, “how’s your daughter?” and holding back tears I would honestly say that I didn’t know.  Where’s the instruction manual on this crap? All of this brought us too yesterday.   We met with her surgeon.  There will be a team of surgeons it seems.  The procedure will take about 8 hours but if it goes longer we aren’t supposed to worry.  Yeah, ok. She will have a total thyroidectomy that may or may not include removing her parathyroids.  She will also have a total left neck dissection.  The surgeon told us not to google it, so I will advise you the same.  I did google it because I hardly ever play by the rules and I firmly suggest that you don’t. She will have a very significant scar so there will be a plastic surgeon in the OR.  She will probably be out of school for a month and has learned that a Gluten Free and Dairy Free diet will significantly help her going forward. She has been very cute about how tragic it will be to never have ice cream again.   I am sure I have missed something, but my Mom and Paco have been there every step of the way and can fill in the cracks or the missing pieces. I could not have made it this far without either one of them.   We are currently waiting for the call to know when the surgery will be.  I will try to keep this updated and in my absence my mom will update the best she can.  If you pray, your prayers are appreciated. If not, send good mojo or juju our way.  She is pretty amazing if you aren’t blessed enough to personally know her and our little family doesn’t work without her.

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