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Who we are

I am Anissa. That’s me on the right in the picture…just in case, you know.

I’m 34 years old and I live in Brandon, Florida (a suburb of Tampa) with my husband and kids.

I’ve been a waitress, a barista, a bartender, a computer tech, production assistant and craft service provider for TV/Video production and now I’m a SAHM with a 11-year-old son, 7-year-old daughter and 5 year-old-daughter. I met my husband online, I got my kids the old fashion way.

I started blogging in July 2006, days after my youngest was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The original purpose of the blog was to have a way of sharing updates on her treatment and health, but it soon morphed into a tell-all medium for the stranger-than-fiction chaos that makes up our lives.

I grew up in a Baptist household, but my personal relationship with God didn’t start until 2000, and it has grown stronger every day. My faith in the Lord has sustained us though 3 incredibly straining years with me having a stroke in 2005 and then my daughter’s journey through cancer. I am thankful to Him every day for the many blessings with which I’ve been gifted.

This blog has been my therapy, my tool to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with pediatric cancer and my way to share my faith with others. Living in the Tampa area when Peyton was diagnosed with cancer was a real God thing. We have been blessed with support and encouragement like I never dreamed was possible. We are very involved with a tight-knit community of cancer families and we are very active in the push to make our voices heard for the needs of children battling cancer.

I don’t pull punches, I don’t gloss over the brutal reality, I don’t make nicey-nice on truth. I talk about cancer a lot, I talk about the kids who have cancer a LOT, I get up on my soapbox and rant and rave about cancer A LOT. But (and how thankful I am) our lives are about more than that.

My son Nathaniel is 11, going into the 5th grade and is sadly addicted to anything that involves button pushing and little digitized characters moving around. He’s brilliant beyond anything my genes could possibly have had anything to do with…thank you, Pete. He is the inquisitive one, always with the questions and usually with the answer just to make sure we know what we’re talking about. He is a joker and a goof, he is at that age where most humor revolves around bodily functions and their products. He is both a logical thinker and a creative soul and I find so much joy in watching his progression into a young man

Rachael is my 7 year old. A single picture of her can describe her beautifully. You can see in her eyes that she is mischievous, sassy, and so very full of life. She has the most incredible laugh that comes from down deep and you can’t stop yourself from laughing along with her. She is going into the second grade and we are proud of her for the generosity of her heart and the compassion she shows everyone around her. She is a ball of energy and people are just drawn to her by sheer force of her animated spirit.

Peyton is 5 and she has had a pretty incredible life crammed into those 5 years. At 2 she was diagnosed with Leukemia. We were shocked and devastated and thrown into a life for which there is no preparation. She has been in remission since the first month of treatment. Treated at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg and Tampa, she underwent a year of hard core chemotherapy and then radiation. She is now in maintenance treatment…which involves daily chemo at home and monthly chemo treatments at the oncology clinic…and we pray that she continues on a path of health that is scheduled to be done in October 2008. Life is uncertain, we aren’t promised another day, but she has taught us so many lessons and we the greatest is that we never take a single moment for granted. Peyton is certainly the princess of her world, the rest of us just hurry to keep up. She is a happy, funny little thing with an almost freakish maturity about her. She has changed our lives, and her courage through this harsh life has touched many. She, and the many amazing kids we’ve met along the way, inspire us to fight to give them better chances of survival.

My husband Peter and I have been married for 10 years and its never been easy, but it’s always been interesting. You know you’re married to someone special when their response to being told he’s about to be a father is, “Are you sure it’s yours?” Yeah, that pretty much sums up our relationship. We have our squabbles, we have our tense moments, but most of all we have a deep friendship, the ability to make each other laugh and a love that carries us through everything. Plus he can reach the stuff on the high shelves and make cool things happen with his computer.

We are currently a “family apart”, with him living in Valley, Alabama….heard of it? Didn’t think so…so that he can work and do all those cool things like provide a paycheck and insurance. It’s hard not being together, but this is the path God put us on and we’re excited to see where it leads.

I think my favorite quote about the life of a parent with a child fighting cancer is “Having a child with cancer is like swimming in a toilet bowl. Some may have a bigger piece of crap to hold onto to stay afloat, but it’s all still crap.”

We never stop fighting. We never stop praying. We never stop hoping.

f.r.o.G…fully relying on God