Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Dear Kyra

Kyra 5-1-91 to 2-15-96
taken 5-1-95

Dear Kyra,

I hope you don't think I forgot your birthday this year.

Fifteen candles this year on your chocolate cake. I'm trying to picture your face at fifteen.

Your brother Ian looks a lot like you did.

We drove up to Aptos, near your house for spring break this year, the place where they hold that golf tournament in the fall where they raise all the money for pediatric brain tumor research. We saw your brothers and your mom there, it was a rainy day and the boys stayed inside and played computer games.

On our way home, we stopped at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We've only been there once before, it was three weeks before Steven was diagnosed with his brain tumor.

The Aquarium was awesome. Did you ever get to see the jellyfish there? They look like creatures from another planet, bearing little resemblance to any other life form on earth that I can think of.

Beautiful, graceful creatures...

We saw penguins there this time too. I don't remember the penguins from our previous visit, maybe they're new.

Patrice in her favorite spot

Some of the penguins there are from zoos in areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. One penguin was named Patrice and she liked to stand motionless at the very top of the exhibit. She didn't even come down when the other penguins were fed because she didn't want to lose her spot.

The giant octopus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The giant octopus was out this time too, spreading his tentacles and moving all over his tank. We didn't want to disturb him, so we didn't use a flash, it was dark, and he was moving a lot, but we tried to take a picture of him.

(top) Ronnie, Josiah, Luke, Sean
(bottom) Noah, Ryden and Steven

We went to see my family for Easter. On both sides of our family, all the kids are boys. There's Steven and Sean, and your brothers Gannon and Ian. On my side of the family, there are five little boys besides Steven and Sean. You were the only girl. We adore those little boys but sometimes we wish there was a girl too.

You never got to meet Steven's brother Sean, but I know you'd like him.

Sean loves baseball. He's pretty good too, as far as 8-year old boys go.

Sean and his teammate Luis jumping off the top of the slide

He played baseball for the first time when we were at St. Jude. Some sorority girls came over to where we were staying and brought plastic bats and balls, and Sean played with them.

He started playing right after lunch, and he played nonstop until they went home around 5:30 pm. They decided to leave the bats and balls with him since he loved them so much.

Sean and Luis

Every day after school, Sean would come home and take the bats and balls down to the Target House playground and organize a game with whichever patients and siblings were available to play.

Now he plays Little League.

Steven is doing well in school and is practicing golf. Both boys are getting ready for the summer, which means three tournaments a week for the first few weeks.

Steven misses you and mentions you from time to time, he has always felt a kind of bond with you even though he was so young when you left us. It's one of the hardest things I can think of, to live in a world where kids get cancer.

Steven has a friend in Memphis named Zach who had a stroke last month due to changes in his brain after radiation. Zach had to go back to the hospital last month because his incision became infected.

They got his infection cleared up and he had another surgery to try and create more blood flow to his brain, this time they did a bypass as a short-term solution as well as the procedure they did last time.

Like you, these kids are tough.

There's another boy in San Diego, also named Zac, who won an award in an art contest last September. He had a very similar tumor to yours and he was treated at UCSF like you.

He's a 5 1/2 year survivor and he's getting ready to go to college next year. When they found his tumor, he was getting ready to climb Mt. Whitney with his dad. But that trip was short-circuited, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, you understand about all that.

Now he's giving it another shot, and trying to raise funds for pediatric brain tumor research. He has crutches and he can't walk the way he used to, but he's doing it. Way to go, Zac.

I didn't want you to think I'd forgotten your birthday. You are special, you are loved and you are missed.

Happy Birthday, dear Kyra.

Much Love,


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