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Survival: The First Night

In episode 2 of the Golden Voices Podcast, join the Golden Ladies as they take a deeper look into how their two children ended up at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Find out how Mac and Lucy were diagnosed and hear the inside stories from Ty and Laura on how they navigated “The First Night.”

Lucy: Diagnosed with Leukemia ALL on November 3, 2017 at the age of 3.

Mac: Diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma on February 14,  2018 at the age of 11.

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Wait? What? My kid has cancer?

In Episode 1 of the Golden Voices Podcast, join the Golden Ladies as they make their podcast debut. Find out who they are, how they met and how they decided it would be enjoyable to chat all things childhood cancer. Ty and Laura will give listeners an inside look into what to expect this season on the Golden Voices Podcast.

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For us life was good. Our life was filled with laughter, adventure, love and success. Things that most people would be grateful for. Life was exactly what we hoped it would be. We had bought a house, had two healthy little girls, we had a loving and supportive family and a great network of friends and successful jobs.

Our daughter Lucy, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on November 3, 2017. Looking back now, there were several red flags, but at the time we always found an excuse to cover up what was actually going on. Toward the end of October, Lucy developed a lymph node on the back of her neck. At first, we did not know it was a lymph node, and we decided it was time to see Lucy’s pediatrician. After a long conversation with Lucy’s doctors, we convinced them to order a lab draw. We wanted to confirm that Lucy was healthy. The following day, Lucy’s labs were drawn. Within a split second our lives would forever be changed.

Lucy arrived at the ER around 5pm. She checked into the ER, with a hemoglobin of 4 and was in a desperate need of a blood transfusion. A few hours later, we received the most devasting news “I’m sorry, your daughter has cancer.”

The following days were exhausting. Lucy had nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff entering her room providing care, support, and other information on what this new “cancer” journey looked like. On day two, we met with the social workers. The social workers provided descriptions and breakdowns of a few local and national organizations that were created to help families with a child who was diagnosed with cancer. We sat there listening. I remember seeing this folder. The folder was filled with information and applications for the organizations. The social workers gave instructions and asked us to fill out as many applications as we could. At that time, we were overwhelmed, we had no idea what our needs were, and we were not good at asking people for help. Kellen and I were always willing to help others and this new approach to asking for help was uncomfortable.

As our journey continued, we were able to connect with a few organizations. We were amazed by the work these organization are doing for families like ours. We quickly started learning about how families were connected with these organizations and how long did it took for a family to be connected with the available resources. As we moved forward in Lucy’s treatment, we gathered more information that reviled that connection rates with families and service providers for children with cancer was months, years, or never even connected.

We were so focused on the health of our child, we did not have the time to research and locate organization that could assist us with our families cancer journey. Families from all walks of life began contacting us about resources for childhood cancer journeys. It became clear that there was no single place to access information on all the services available to families.

Creating Bridges of Gold gives families an opportunity to connect and access resources that were created to help children with cancer. This website contains, lists of organizations by name, state, area of service, and cancer type. We have streamlined the process in locating and communicating with service providers for children with cancer. We hope to strengthen family connections by pairing families with the organizations that provide support, experience or financial assistance.

Lucy arrived at the ER around 5pm. She checked into the ER, with a hemoglobin of 4 and was in a desperate need of a blood transfusion. A few hours later, we received the most devasting news “I’m sorry, your daughter has cancer.”

Everett was born in June 2017. Just after he reached four months of age, his mother noticed he was starting to get a black eye. After watching it for a few days, she noticed his eye wasn’t straight anymore. An appointment with an ophthalmologist resulted in a referral for a MRI. Unfortunately, Everett was taken to a local ER on Thanksgiving day 2017 due to changes in his behavior. A CT was performed while he was awake, and that was the day we first heard the words “I’m sorry. Your baby has cancer”. 

After traveling to Doernbecher the next day, further testing revealed a diagnosis of stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma. He had multiple large tumors throughout his body, along with bone disease and marrow involvement. His treatment protocol consisted of 6 months of high dose chemotherapy, a major surgery to remove as much tumor as they could, two bone marrow transplants, radiation, and 6 months of immunotherapy. The halls and staff at Doernbecher were like a second home and family to Everett, since he spent so much time inpatient to recieve treatment.

After 19 months of harsh treatment (June 2019), Everett had end of treatment scans done. A new mass was noted, and not too much later it was confirmed to be neuroblastoma relapse. We were heartbroken, and unsure how the next steps would go, as the family had just found out a new baby would be joining their family in February 2020. We decided to transfer to Seattle Children’s for relapse treatment. 

After two months of treatment, he was again declared to be in remission. Unfortunately, scans in early December 2019 showed a second relapse. An experimental treatment was begun. Everett continued to act like his typical self until early February 2020. Scans were completed as scheduled for the experimental treatment, and it was discovered that the cancer had aggressively spread through his entire body. Curative treatments were no longer an option-the only option we had was to help keep him as comfortable as possible. To say we were devastated is the understatement of the century. 

Everett’s baby brother was born on February 17, and traveled to meet Everett in the hospital when he was just two days old. Every moment he was awake, he asked to have his baby lay by him. He soaked up those moments, patting his baby’s head, rubbing his arms, and having him hold his finger. Everett left this life on February 23, 2020. His baby was named Samuel Everett in his honor. 

Throughout his entire life, he was almost always a strong willed, joyful, and energetic little boy. He idolized his big brother Wesley, adored babies (and was always super gentle with them), loved cars, and trucks, and going for four wheeler rides. Everett lived his life to the fullest, loved without reservation, and persevered when many others would have given up. His vibrant life was an inspiration to all who had the privilege of knowing him, and his legacy will not be soon forgotten. Through his amazing example, we have found hope, inspiration, and important lessons in our lives, even when our path has seemed impossible to walk. We love and miss having him here in our lives

On September 2, 2015 our life drastically changed. Our son Brayden was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 11.

Leading up to his diagnosis, Brayden had been having headaches for several days. Although the headaches didn’t last all day, they were regular enough for us to notice this wasn’t his normal.

The night before, Brayden had spent the night at his grandparent’s house. He was having a good time, but mentioned his headaches were bothering him. We took note and tried to think of reasons why he might be experiencing these headaches. Our first thought was, maybe it was his nerves. Brayden was days away from starting his first year of middle school. We thought this was an odd trigger, because Brayden had always been outgoing, and usually adjusted well to new situations.

The next morning, Brayden mentioned that he did not feel well. He described his symptoms as what he had felt like when he had strep throat, but oddly his throat did not hurt.  As Brayden’s mom, I quickly recalled hearing about cases of strep in other places of your body.  I immediately called his doctor and they quickly got him in. From the original symptoms Brayden described, I thought he would be heading home and starting a round of antibiotics.   

That same day, we were able to see our normal family doctor. She had been following Brayden his entire life and we had a strong relationship with her. During Brayden’s check-up, she asked Brayden a few questions and examined his stomach.  From what she saw, his doctor immediately knew something wasn’t right. The examination revealed he had a condition called petechiae. Petchiae are pinpoint red dots that are caused by bleeding under the skin. On Brayden’s stomach petchiae was visible and this was a condition we had never heard of.

After the examination, Brayden was sent down to get some labs drawn. As we were waiting, sitting in the waiting room felt strange. We had no idea what was going on with Brayden and I wondered if he was contagious. Soon it was time to review the labs. Our doctor had asked to have a private conversation without the kids. I immediately thought this was not normal. As I sat there listening to Brayden’s doctor, I heard her say Brayden’s white and red blood cells were abnormal. From what she gained from the labs and the petechiae, Brayden’s doctor said “I think Brayden has leukemia. 

Hearing those words, “your son has leukemia” was the worst day of our lives. I quickly called Brayden’s dad Jim, and he immediately headed to the clinic.  While we gathered ourselves, our doctor was already making arrangements for the next stages. We heard that Brayden would be heading to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and checking in as a patient.  Not long after, Brayden’s dad arrived and we all explained our new normal to Brayden and his sister Riley. This was such an emotional time for our family and we were very afraid of the unknown.  

Brayden’s diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia was a shock. Brayden went through three and a half years of treatment and finished his last chemo medication on January 5, 2019.  During his treatment, Brayden showed everyone how strong he truly was. Of course not all days were the same and some days were just hard. Although this journey had challenges, Brayden also had the opportunity to experience some really amazing things. Brayden is now a healthy CANCER free 16 year old.  He is finishing his sophomore year of high school and is a normal teenage boy.

After this experience, we are inspired by the amazing organizations who help cancer families and are grateful for the help our family received.  As we continue forward in life, we look forward to helping other cancer families and supporting them in anyway we can. 

Jack was born on November 24, 2003. He was always a strong, healthy, sweet spirited baby and toddler. The third of four children. As he grew older his confident personality started to shine. He enjoyed video games, math, reading, and playing outside. As he got older he found a new love in baseball. Jack started playing T-ball at the age of 5. He was all over the field, smiling, thinking he could cover every position. Jack was an amazingly gifted athlete and excelled at pitching. He definitely left his mark on the baseball field and within the baseball community. He was an amazing student, a kind and gentle friend, sarcastic, quick-witted and loved by everyone who met him. In May 2017 Jack was originally diagnosed with a gluteal muscle tear of his left pelvis. As time passed, the pain increased and his mobility was becoming more limited. On August 2, 2017, Jack was officially diagnosed with high-grade Osteosarcoma of his left iliac (pelvis). As a family, we were devastated. Jack started chemotherapy right away and was told there would be a major surgery to remove the tumor.

Jack battled a warriors battle on a daily basis. Smiling, crying, laughing, with fear, with confidence he bravely accepted every treatment as if to win the fight for his life and we had every hope he would beat the ugly beast of childhood cancer. Jack had a left Hemipelvectomy on October 19, 2017. His left iliac crest was removed and Jack made the choice to not have it replaced. Recovery was intense and painful. His fear was he would never get on the mound again. His fear was he would be confined to a wheelchair the rest of his life. His hope was that he would be cured of cancer. His kindness was giving to others even in his agony.

In December 2017, just a few days before Christmas, Jack took his first steps. He cried and said, “I can walk.” There was a complete determination on his face and in his spirit. However, there was a major setback when Jack developed pain in his spine. It was discovered that Jack’s tumors had metastasized to his Spine at the C6-7, T1-2. We were told there was nothing more that could be done, chemotherapy would not work, and an operation to remove these tumors was impossible. This was the worst case scenario. “Am I going to die?” he asked his doctors and they said “most likely”. It was hard to say how much time Jack had, but he was able to spend time in Hawaii with his family and take a trip to LA to meet his favorite player Buster Posey from the San Francisco Giants who were playing the LA Dodgers.

Jack attacked every challenge with tenacity. He continued to talk about giving back by starting a Lego Drive for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, where he received his treatments. Jack had an engineers mind and he loved creating and building Legos. He talked about starting a scholarship program for high school baseball players. He wanted to help other cancer families, as ours was blessed. He was always thinking of others up to the very end. He was an amazing kid and on May 18, 2018, at 6:36 am Jack Steven Schumacher took his last breath in his mother’s arms and into the arms of Jesus. In death, Jack donated his eyes and blessed two recipients with eyesight.

Jack wanted to start this foundation and “pay it forward” by blessing other families struggling with their own warrior journeys. Jack’s baseball nickname was “Shoe”, not because of his last name, but because he could never keep his cleats tied. His coaches were always on him about tying his shoes. It just stuck. So he was known as the kid named “Shoe”. Jack was a true hero; brave, loving, kind, smart, handsome, and funny. A giver and a beautiful human being! He is missed with every breath we take and his legacy lives on through his family, friends, and The Team Shoe Foundation.