Wednesday, May 25, 2011


"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10

It's a strange place to have one foot in regular life and normal routines and the other foot in a foreign land with unfamiliar paths and unknown landmarks.  That's what's it's felt like recently.  There have been days of normalcy.  Emma has had a great few weeks since her last round of chemotherapy.  She attended school almost every day except when she had clinic appointments.  A friend asked her over for a playdate, out to dinner and then to a musical. She went to Joseph's soccer games, participated in the Relay for Life and walked this year as a survivor, and went to church.

I could "almost" relax as I dropped her off at her friend's house and I "almost" felt like she would be fine.  Twinges of worry were there.  Those never go away.  I had the thoughts, "What if she gets a fever? What if she gets overtired and doesn't realize it and has an emotional crash?  What if some other unknown complication hits her body and I'm not there to witness it or help?"  Irrational maybe, but those thoughts run through my mind each time she is away from me.  It's like she's a toddler again and I'm a hovering mother.  It feels out of control.  It's uncomfortable and exhausting.  I don't like it.

We've raised our kids to be self sufficient.  We believe responsibility given at a young age will foster independent and capable kids. (it's our theory anyway) They put away their own laundry....even if it gets stuffed into the drawers sometimes.  They empty the dishwasher....even if the teaspoons and tablespoons sometimes end up in the wrong section of the silverware organizer.  They feed the animals, they ride motorcycles, they shoot airsoft and paintball guns....all with proper instruction beforehand and warnings to be responsible.  Sometimes they are good at following the rules, sometimes they push the limits and break the boundries. (some of our kids are guilty of this more than others.....ahem.....Joseph!)  We may let our kids do more than some parents are comfortable with, but it's risks we have been willing to take (within reason and with proper safety gear). They are kids and they are growing, maturing and learning.  We don't really hover.  We experience joy as we see them learning to be responsible and maturing young people.

Now, we have a daughter who is by far the most naturally responsible and mature of our three children whom we can't allow to experience the freedom and carefree life that she was once accustomed to.  We have to say no when she wants to ride the dirt bike.....she could injure herself or her port which is placed within her chest wall and feeds right into her superior vena cava....her heart.  We have to say no when she wants to spend the night at her friend's house....she could spike a fever and need immediate treatment.  We can't sign her up for vacation bible school or Girl Scout camp without reminding her that her attendance to those events will be based on her blood counts that very week.  Possible disappointments lay ahead.  We hover over the possibilities for her....hoping they will work out, but realistic that they might not. 

Today we are hovering with a fever.  Emma has had a low grade temperature for the last 24 hours.  We kept her home from school today to keep tabs on it and to call the Dr. if it reached over the important 100.5 degree mark.  100.3, 99.8, 100.7. 100.0, 98.9, 100.9  were temps throughout her day.  We finally called the Dr.'s office when one thermometer read 100.3 and one read 100.7.  Tylenol dose and appointment tomorrow is the plan for now.....unless she spikes higher tonight.  I'm hovering in my mind.  I don't know which way it will go.  I'm not planning ahead and I'm not going to be disappointed if it turns out that we have to be admitted.....well, not too disappointed.  It's never fun.  It's always worrisome and it's just what we have to do.

Someday, we might have our feet on the ground a bit more....more to feel the earth more predictably under our feet.  But, for now, we hover, being held silently and securely with the hands of God.  We are learning to relax and let go.  The less we fight against the invisible forces pushing us around in the air, the more we can feel the gentle, caring, protective hands of our Father carrying us and guiding us where we need to go.

Learning to let go......

"Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Emotional Weight

This has been a hard week for us emotionally.  The new "normal" is sinking in and taking hold.  It's hard to breath sometimes under the weight of it all.  It's hard to function and it's especially hard to plan.  We are trying to live in the moment, but those moments can be scary and raw and hurtful.  They can test your patience and resolve.  They challenge my mothering skills to the core and unfortunately those skills crumble and fail more times than I want.  I listened to the sermon from our pastor on Sunday which described so vividly how I've been feeling lately.  Please listen if you would like.

Sermon "Chaos" by Nathan Oates, Emmaus Church Community

I find comfort in the fact that I am walking each moment with a Savior who knows my pain and knows the end of the journey.  I am but an untrained, out of shape athlete who has just been thrust into the marathon of her life and I'm just at mile 2 and I have so much left to run.  Praying for strength, resolve and grit.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fun is Good

Dear Friends,

We have had a week of calm.  It was as if we had our old life back for a few days.  It felt good to be crazy and running late and packing lunches for 3 kids and soccer practice and piano lessons and school meetings...just the "normal" chaos of life.

We started the week last Sunday with a very fun family outing on Mother's Day to Great America for the Courageous Kids Day, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.  We had a blast.  The kids were all so excited....especially when they saw that there were virtually no lines since not many mothers consider going to a theme park as one of their top choices for Mother's Day activities.  The park was open to the public, but most of the crowds were kids with bright red hats on them stating they were a Courageous Kid.

There were many other bald heads, kids in wheelchairs, kids with surgical masks, kids with scars and kids resting in the shade with their proud parents.  One mom's shirt read, "I had never met a real hero until my son became one."  We had a teenage girl ask us in line if Emma was a Courageous Kid.  We answered yes and she openly asked, "What kind of cancer do you have?  How long have you been in treatment?"  and "I had a brain tumor and now I'm just fine. It was when I was seven and now I'm 18!"  Kids that have gone through this kind of challenge in their lives are open in sharing their stories, proud of their accomplishment of making it through, and seem to be stronger because of it.  They are bonded together with perfect strangers because they have all experienced the fight of their life. It was encouraging and touching to be there.

Emma then went to the hospital on Monday for outpatient chemotherapy and a spinal tap.  She has only one more spinal tap to go in her treatment protocol and we are looking forward to putting those behind us.  The next four days she took oral Prednisone and Chemotherapy at home, but amazingly felt great and attended school for the rest of the week.  This is the first time she'd been back to school so regularly since her diagnosis.  It was so great to see her skipping up the sidewalk to school in a different cute hat every day.  The little victories are worth celebrating and we are so happy when she gets to participate in life like she used to. 

We are in the midst of a soccer weekend for Joseph who has three games in two days.  We plan to attend church tomorrow as a family for the first time in weeks and we are so excited.  We are also finally celebrating Jon's birthday tomorrow (which was April 21) at my mom's along with Uncle Robb as the birthdays recently have gotten a little lost in the shuffle.  We are having fun with our normal days and activities.  As my friend Jen texted me the other day, when she found out that we were headed to Great America.....Fun Is Good!  I totally agree.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Overwhelming Love, Unending Generosity, Indescribable Joy

My cup overflows with blessings. 
-Psalm 23:5

Face of Faith-Emma Kait

The words just don't seem big enough, the descriptions in print seem inadequate when we try to sum up the truly amazing and love filled day that was the Bald is Beautiful BBQ and Walk a Thon benefit for Emma Kait.  

It was as if God gathered all his workers that had any tie to our family...or who knew about Emma's story...or who just heard from friends about the event and put them all in one place at one time. We were witnessing the support we have felt from the very beginning of her diagnosis in the flesh, giving us hugs, wiping our tears, sharing smiles and love and grace to us.  

Emma's first glimpse at the celebration-just released from the hospital 30 minutes prior to the event. 

I would be remiss to not mention at the very start of this post, the incredible and selfless friends I have in Amy Donovan and Jen Russell.  They are two women and moms and wives who gave their time, talents and energy to make this event what is was for us. Thank you ladies. You are true friends.  The hours they put in are too many to understand.  If you attended the event, then you experienced the organization first hand. Everything they both planned allowed the day to run perfectly.  They both have busy lives themselves and they gave to us and loved us through this celebration.  

Amy Donovan
Jen Russell

Then there was the volunteer effort and donations, for without each individual pitching in to help, the day would not have been what is was.  How do we name them all???  I fear I will forget some or not even realize what people did, so will you allow us a blanket THANK YOU volunteers!!!! name a few.....Newcastle Lions Club, Bridgett Farren of Del Oro High School, Clubhouse Cupcakes, Veronica, Mack and Company, Ned Longthorn, Blood Source, Dave and Chriss Johansen of Fantanstical Prints, Lori Sardella of Foster's Freeze, Susan Wozniak and Taco Bell, Ginger Brenning and Burger King,  Dawn Patterson of Funky Fish Designs, Shelly Rabe,  the seven most awesome head shavers on the planet, Garrett Norton DJ and announcer extraordinaire,  Bill and Amy Donovan, Jen and Adam Russell, countless other friends and family.  
Clubhouse Cupcakes girls

Then there was the friends and families and kids and acquaintances and strangers who ate, bought T-shirts, bracelets, cupcakes, bid and purchased auction items and raffle tickets, sponsored or got sponsored to walk, shaved heads, donated just because you wanted to help.  The LOVE IN ACTION was truly inspiring and truly a blessing.  

Jon's mom, Cathy and Great Gramps and Granny Franny

And then, how do we explain how miraculously helpful and generous the funds raised that day are to us as a family?  We would like you all to know that we are humbled at the thought of those hard earned dollars to each of you.  This has not been a easy time financially for anyone in the last few years.  We know that very well.  You opened your pocketbooks as opening your hearts and gave to our family to help us in a very difficult year ahead as well as the future for Emma Kait.  We would like you to know that we are conscientiously using those funds for immediate support in gas money (we drive the 65 mile round trip to Sacramento 1-2 times every week) and special individual needs for Emma right now for her treatment and health.  We want you to celebrate that you are also helping in making a safe and clean environment at our home for her.  Chemotherapy and the resulting immune compromise makes this a vital and life saving modification to our home.  Those funds are helping to finish a bathroom for her needs and an area that keeps the dust and dirt down that comes in the door.  We have had a close knit group of friends that have given significantly financially and lent the sweat equity on this, but some of the funds raised will go towards helping to finish that project. We also plan to put away some of the money for future needs for Emma Kait that we don't even realize at this point in her treatment.  There are many questions ahead for her both physically, emotionally and mentally and we want to be able to allow her the services and support she needs as she grows.  Know that ALL money raised and given that day is going directly to support this little girl.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

Forever family friends the Lemans

Then there were the faces.  Each image captured that day both in our memories and by talented photographers that have shared their photos with us, are a treasure.  Some faces we see every day, some occasionally and some we have not seen in over 20 years.  Some faces were strangers to us in appearance, but not strangers in the cause for that day.  In each face was compassion, support, concern, celebration, cheering, hard work, and most of all love.  Where would we be without each other?  I have heard from several of you, that the day effected you tremendously.  We pray that by experiencing the true power and joy that comes from using your talents and coming together for a cause bigger than yourselves can help to inspire all of us to give of ourselves more freely.  This time, the Stanphill Family was on the receiving end of this blessing, but each one of you, might one day experience the need for help, and or hear the cry for help from someone.  Let us be there for one another, like you were there for us last Sunday.  It is what humans are made for.  Community and love...such a beautiful and powerful thing. 

Jaime, Emily, Shelly, John, Kim, Sarah, Aubrie

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.
-1 John 4:7

70 Bald is Beautiful heads
Some fun stats from the day....
  • 650 dinner reservations
  • Over 800 people attended
  • 70 people in the photo who shaved their heads with Emma (several had to leave early)
  • 5 other brave women shaved their head (Amy, Rendi, Angela, Sophie and Jordan)
  • Many young kids walked almost 5 miles (or more) in one hour
  • Almost 200 T-shirts sold
  • Almost 100 Emma Kait support bracelets sold
  • All 100 pink Face of Faith bracelets sold
  • Over 30 bone marrow screenings collected
It's all amazing!  It's all worth celebrating!  It's all to help one little girl survive the most difficult year in her life!  It's all LOVE.

Simply and not profoundly enough, we thank you.

Stanphill Family May 1, 2011

Jon, Rebecca, Joseph, Emma Kait and Benjamin Stanphill

Here are only some of the amazing faces of faith.





Grandpa Mike



Rendi and Emma

Sprouse Family

 To see more amazing images from other photographers that were at the Bald is Beautiful BBQ you can go to:

Studio KYK (thanks Monica!!)

CR Photography (thanks Charlotte!!)

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Emma's ANC is up.....her fevers have not returned.......her blood culture is negative for infection......and the prayers of so many of you have been heard and answered by our loving God.......

We are getting released a bit early in order to attend her BBQ!!!  She is so excited and happy. 

Praising God for his love for her and the miracles that happen in spite of this very tumultuous journey. 

See many of you soon.  Thank you for praying. 


Our Emma Kait

Our Emma Kait

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