Joeys Mission

Joeys Journey – September 12th Update

Moving Forward….

The last time I updated my blog, we were just about to begin a very grueling stage of treatment.  And I could write pages upon pages, telling you just how difficult and awful our summer was…because it wasn’t a happy summer at all. It was not the summer a typical seven year old child should have.  His skin was not sun kissed by spending long days at the beach and he didn’t get to go to summer camp with his friends or even watch fire works on the fourth of July.  There were no family vacations or even trips to local amusement parks….. Joey spent his summer receiving harsh chemotherapy treatments that left his already tired body, even more exhausted and ill.

I do not wish to revisit these last two months.  I have no desire to write about them or even think about them if I don’t have to.  But please trust me when I tell you, watching your child suffer, is probably the worst feeling on this planet and I don’t wish it on my worst enemy.

But as I have written before, Joey continually surprises us all with his strength and bravery.  One of his goals this summer was to get to the beach, even if it was just for a couple of days and that is just what he did! So at the very end of August, when everyone else was getting ready to return to school, we headed to the beach.  The smile on his face was contagious and you could literally feel his excitement.  Although his body was drained, he tried to pack as many activities into the little time he had on this mini vacation: he went to the board walk, played mini golf and even got back on his surf board and road a quick wave!

We also hit another milestone last week; Joey attended his first day of second grade! His transition into school will be slow and he may not be able to go every day or even full days, but he is bubbling over with anticipation to return to some sort of normalcy and routine in his life.

I feel like I have witnessed my little seven year old boy, grow a life time in maturity in these last ten months.  He understands concepts and situations that most adults have not been faced with.  But I pray and hope it will shape him to become a more compassionate and empathetic person, who appreciates each and everyday and all the gifts we are given.

I choose to make this blog be as positive as possible, because I wanted those reading to know, that we are feeling the love and support from all of you, even when we are in our darkest moments.  It is because of you that we have the strength and will to continue to fight.  Thank you for choosing to fight alongside us, for believing in us….We are beginning to see some of the miracles that we have been praying for and we hope and pray that they continue.

Beginning in October, Joey will hopefully enter his last phase of treatment called, long term maintenance.  This phase will last approximately three years.  However, it will only require him to go to the hospital clinic one time a month. At home, he will be required to take many chemo therapy pills orally.  So hopefully, somewhere within this space, we will begin to find our new normal.

Please continue to keep Joey and our family in your thoughts and prayers. Please ask God to continue to heal my amazing little boy and make him stronger and healthier everyday.

On Friday, October 6th, our amazing friends are having a fundraiser being held at the Westwood Elks.  If you are interested in attending, please buy your tickets as soon as possible, before they all sell out!! There are some truly terrific prizes!!!  Hope to see you all there!

Here is the link to purchase tickets:



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Joeys Journey – May 24th Update

Our New Normal….

I know that I have not updated in over a month and a half…sometimes it is very difficult for me to put into words the depth of our experiences.  The range of emotions that I feel, that our family feels, from day to day, or even hour to hour is so hard to actually convey.  There are so many moments that I play over and over again in my head…..the weeks and days before Joey was diagnosed….the day I received that dreaded phone call from our pediatrician…and most of all, the actual moment I was told he had Leukemia.  Sometimes, it is almost impossible to comprehend that is it been almost six months since these moments and yet, at other times, it feels like we have been fighting for a lifetime.  Sometimes, it still feels suffocating, impossible to breathe. Sometimes we take it a day at a time, sometimes; we take it an hour at a time.  Every mother I know worries every day, but I feel like my anxieties and worries are heighten and sometimes uncontrolled.  So I thank all for being patient with us and walking this journey with us; even if you do not know the specifics from day to day.  Some details of this journey may be private, but truly most of my feelings and emotions are just too complex to describe….and I hope none of you ever has the words or feelings to understand them.

This last round of treatment was very different, in that Joey received all his treatments inpatient, (in the hospital).  There were four scheduled stays, and they were supposed to last approximately four days.  Our first stay was completely routine.  He received a twenty four hour chemo drip and then on the fourth day he was able to be released.  However, the next three stays did not go as planned.  In ordered to be released, Joey’s body had to clear the chemo.  Although, nothing medically was wrong, his body was not clearing the chemo as quickly or efficiently as the doctors had hoped.  It became a long arduous process.  And the longer the chemo stays in his body, the more sick Joey would feel.  He suffered greatly from the side effects.  It was awful watching him feel sick, tired, and defeated.  Most of all, he just wanted to go home, sleep in his own bed, cuddle on his own couch and we couldn’t give that to him.  As a parent, you feel desperate and inconsolable, and gutted when your child desires something so basic and you cannot provide it for them.  Being stuck in the hospital for long stretches of time, gave me lots of time to think and also gave me great perspective of this journey that we are on.  I would often gaze outside the window and look at the cars moving quickly up and down the street or planes gliding across the sky and think, what I wouldn’t give to be in that car or plane.

I am so sad for Joey that he is not playing baseball on a team with his friends, and that he had to miss his class field trip and countless friends’ birthday parties.  It broke our hearts, that we could not attend our nephew’s communion and be with our family.  But what I was learning sitting in that awful yellow colored hospital room that I often thought looked like the color of vomit, was I will never take normalcy for granted ever again.  Whether it is driving back and forth to sports practices or games, birthday parties, traffic to work, or even dreaded food shopping…I will be grateful for the normal.

We were released from the hospital right in time to be home for Mother’s Day.  It was the only place in this entire earth that I wanted to be….home with my Joey.  As we celebrated the day, I was acutely aware of all the mother’s that have surrounded me so fiercely on this journey. Every single one of you have been an angel.  People say to me all the time, “I don’t know how you do it,” and my response often is, “You don’t  have a choice, he is my child, you do it because you have no other choice.”  Being a mom, means that you never stop fighting, never stop giving.

So now that we have finished this round of treatment we are having some much needed time off….no treatments, no hospital visits…NOTHING!!  And it feels great!! We all are feeling great!

So what is next, we start our next round of treatment on Tuesday, May 30th, it is called Delayed Intensification.  This round is the last of the front line treatments for Joey, (if all goes according to plan).  It will last about two months, but it should be all outpatient, (if he does not get sick with a fever or other complications).  However, from everything that we have researched and been told, it is supposed to be one of the most grueling stages of treatment.  We are trying to prepare ourselves…but I question anyone, how to you prepare yourself to watch your child suffer?

I am trying desperately to live in the moment and enjoy him today.  Listening to him laugh, play baseball in the front yard, ride his bike and play with friends, but in the back of my mind, like a ticking time bomb, I can feel the time closing in.  I am praying, pleading with God, that he will watch over Joey in the upcoming weeks and months and not let him suffer.  I pray that we have the strength to endure this process and can give Joey the love and support he needs to fight.  And I ask all of you, please pray along with us that we endure this next stage of treatment with little to no side effects.

As I prepare myself, my son, my family for this next stage of battle, we are continuously grateful for all of the continued support, love and prayers from our friends, family and community.

A new meal train has been created, so on the days that treatment is scheduled, we do not have to worry about cooking.  Treatment days can be long, lasting anywhere from four hours to eight.  The meal train has been amazing and we have learned that so many of our friends are amazing chefs!  But seriously, when we get home from the clinic, we are all exhausted, mentally and physically and the last thing we want to do is cook…but believe me we are usually hungry…so thank you for feeding us with your love!

People continue to text, email, Facebook message us daily ad ask what else can they do to help. You can always donate directly on our Mayday Missions website or sign up to bring us a dinner.  But we have now also created an Amazon Wish List. During the demanding weeks of treatment, even sometimes running to the grocery store or any store is complicated. The list on Amazon is a public list, called JoeyBStrong.  This list is complied of several types of things; one being household cleaning products that we use daily to keep our house as clean and germ free as possible, as Joey continues to remain immune suppressant throughout his treatment.  Additionally, we have added some bed linens.  Unfortunately, Joey does become ill and we often are changing sheets several times a day and it would help to have extra sets in our home.  And as one can imagine, we are doing laundry almost around the clock.  Joey is also using a soft brush tooth brush that is gentler on his gums, to prevent bleeding.  Due to germs, his toothbrush has to be changed very frequently.  We are also using a calorie enhancer called Duocal.  It is extremely important that Joey maintains his weight, so that he can handle the side effects of the chemo.  I put this calorie enhancer in his water, soup, pasta sauce, and wherever else we can get creative! You will also notice on the list I have put some insulated cups; these cups not only keep his water cold, but also hide the calorie enhaner when I mix it with his water. I have also put some organic sunscreen on the list, as it is extremely important to have him protected this summer while in the sun. Another item on the wish list is the Wii Fit.  Joey has been receiving Physical Therapy services through the hospital for several weeks now and it has helped him immensely.  Due to one of his medications, one the side effects, is possibe issues with balance and or difficulty walking.  The Physical Therapist mentioned the Wii Fit as a good at home resource to help Joey when its too hot out to play or when he only has the energy to do a small amount of activity.  We are also seeing that when in treatment, Joey has been especially thirsty, so it is helpful to have extra cases of water on hand whenever possible.  There are some other products on the list that are self explanatory….but this is our new normal now.

Six months ago, I could have not imagined this would be our lives…things can change in an instant.  Like I wrote above, I go back to these moments all the time and think about what I was doing, what the expressions on others faces were, what the smells were like….I felt like the world stopped…but the truth is, only my world stopped.  My normal changed….and for the rest of my life the word normal will take on an entire new meaning…the new normal.

Thank you again for always supporting, loving, and praying for us….Tuesday, May 30th we begin another step in our journey, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  We are able to fight, keep hope alive and move forward because you have fought besides us….


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Joeys Journey – April 5th Update


Lately the word gratitude has been weighing heavily on my mind….I wonder if before my family went to war with cancer if I was ever truly thankful.  I mean truly, truly thankful for the littlest things that occur on a daily basis; because those little things, have become the biggest and best things to us.

Last week, was our first week without treatment (inpatient or out patient). We were just at home, trying to figure our new “normal”.  Chris returned to work for a couple of days and Joey and I were at home. Joey began to eat again…. a little at first and then it almost seemed like his normal appetite. I used to take for granted when he would easily a plate of pasta for dinner and now when he finishes a serving, I want to throw a party!!

Joey also began to his want to socialize with his friends again and not just play video games with them; but really PLAY!!! There were toys all over my house!! Upstairs, downstairs, and on my front lawn and I couldn’t have been happier!! I was so thrilled that I wanted to throw toys around with them!

Joey also decided to visit his school and class! Talk about feeling like your heart wanting to explode out of your chest with pride….it was probably to date one of my proudest moments as a mom.  I know that he was scared, nervous, anxious and probably a lot of other emotions, but Joey confidently walked into his school and held his head high. It was amazing to see him in his classroom, smiling, surrounded by his classmates.

Chris and I also ventured out of the house together one evening without Joey, and were surrounded by friends of our loving and loyal community. Not only did they greet us with warm smiles and big hugs, they made us feel like we continued to belong with them, even though we feel so changed by circumstance.

Throughout the week, Joey laughed, flashed that magnetic smiled, and began to use his silly humor to make us belly laugh!! It was simply little miracles happening all around us,all day everyday.

But today as I write this and slowly glance across the room, we are back at the hospital for our three night, four day stay… and that smile has faded and that laugh seems like a distant memory; as the reality of that long and arduous road ahead is of us. You can’t imagine what it is like to hear your child ask, “Why did God do this to me?” Your heart and soul are crippled and all the joy you have ever felt is ripped away.

But I am learning in these dark moments about gratitude….   Initially, it was difficult to see the good and give thanks.  When we started our journey, I searched and scoured my soul for any source of it, but I was so angry that my judgement was clouded. But now, every day, I am able to see exactly what there is to be grateful for…And every day, every moment, I am reminded by you and God that there is much, so much to be grateful for.

Last week’s happiness in our home, was an answer to all of the prayers and positivity that was and is continually being given so graciously and abundantly to our family, and especially to Joey. Even today, when Joey’s spirits are low, I remind him that we are grateful to be in remission and to be closer to getting healthier.

We are so thankful to each and everyone of you….thank you for supplying us with all of this support, love, and positivity. There have been numerous ways that people have supported us: meals, buying and selling bracelets and signs, water bottles, attending cycle bar, collecting supplies for Tomorrow’s Children Fund, attending one of the various fundraisers: or by donating directly to us via May Day Missions. Thank you for the beautiful cards and tokens of love and thoughtfulness that so so many of you have sent our way. Thank you for attending the prayer services that our church community has provided. We believe that God is listening.

With your unwavering support, we are able to focus on Joey and his health. We thank you and ask that you continue to pray for us…. your support and love have made miracles happen… please continue…we are forever grateful.

There are upcoming fundraisers to be on the lookout for too! On April 18th, bring your friends and family to Blue Moon in Woodcliff Lake and some of the proceeds will go directly to Joey. (Dine in or take out).





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Joeys Journey – March 21st Update

I have to apologize to everyone; I know that everyone has been anxiously awaiting this news and an update to my blog, but like with every step on this journey, we are learning and processing so much information that it can become somewhat overwhelming, even when that news is positive.

Since diagnosis, our amazing team of doctors have had the goal to get Joey into remission.  And finally on Monday, we were told that beautiful and miraculous news! Joey is in remission! At this point, the tests that were conducted, showed zero minimal residual disease.

And as wonderful as these words were to hear, and we do truly believe that God has listened to all our prayers; the road ahead is still long and arduous.

Joey has another six plus months of intense chemotherapy ahead of him. This is to ensure he remains in remission. We began our first round of interim maintenance on Tuesday morning. It will last two months and require Joey to stay inpatient (every other week) for three nights.

These chemo therapy rounds will continue until sometime in September. And then hopefully we will enter a maintenance phase of treatment.

The entire treatment process for leukemia is over three and a half years….. And as the doctors repeat this phrase to me and

Chris, I can feel my breath quicken and my heart rate rise….. it’s hard to imagine fighting for that long. But the truth is, we have no other choice. It’s easy to be paralyzed by the fear of the unknown and what lies ahead…. but we have no choice.

So as I sit here at the hospital so thankful to God, my family, friends, co-workers, my church community, our doctors and people that we don’t even know….. it’s is still difficult to catch my breath because our fight is far from over.

In the beginning, I described our diagnosis date as a bomb being dropped: war on our family was declared…. and in many ways by hearing that Joey is in remission let us know that we have won the first battle, but the war is far from over and cancer is still the number one enemy that we have to face.

Now that some of the dust has settled we know that we must dig deeper in our trenches, continue to strengthen our faith, and lean even more on our community. We have to continue to fight!!

The last 90 days of our journey we have garnered our strength, faith, love, support, and hope from every last one of you….as as we continue to move forward please continue to stand with us…..


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Joeys Journey – February 12th Update

It has taken me a long time to sit down and write an update…maybe because I did not have anything to really say.  Maybe because there were moments that were so dark for me that I didn’t feel like admitting them to anyone. And although it has been more than 30 days since I have sat down at this computer to type…the concept of time in our house is fickle.  Some days are long and others are seem to pass by with an unsual new routine, that we are learning to accept. Some weeks are easy and others difficult… has become a roller coaster of sorts; there are some really good highs and then there are some really devastating lows.

To quickly summarize, the first two weeks of treatment for Joey, were intense.  We spent one night inpatient for a specialized chemo treatment and then we spent the next two days at the clinic receiving out patient chemo treatments.  Some days at the clinic we are only there two to three hours, other days we can be there up to eight hours.

Additionally, Joey also had a chemo pill that had to be taken orally at home.  The first two weeks of this intense treatment he appeared okay, he seemed to be tolerating everything well; he was not that tired and our routines were somewhat the same.  However, by the third week, is when everything caught up with him.  The nausea set in and he began getting sick often, he became lethargic, and his appetite decreased.

As a parent, to watch your child suffer and be helpless is probably the worst feeling in the world.  There are many times that I am paralyzed by fear and watch him for hours as he lays in his bed or on the couch….it is during these times that I pray and plead with God.  I pray for strength and I pray for knowledge.  And I pray that he will give us the miracle that we all have been praying for. It is also during these dark moments that I am truly able to feel the love, positivity and prayers from our community.

But as I have referenced before, Joey is our rock star and because of his strength and determination and his will to win at everything he does…we all will get through this! So there are awful days that he will get sick and then he sits up and continues playing or asks to eat right after! Sometimes, he will play right up until he cannot keep his eyes open and then falls asleep and wakes up asking to play right were he left off!

Due to everyone’s continuing support, Chris and I are able to have Joey continue to work out with his trainers twice a week.  It amazes me that he has the determination and mind set to continue to commit to this.  Additionally, we also have a massage therapist that is coming to the house twice a week and working with Joey!  He is completely enjoying this as well!

Joey also had a visitor at the hospital that not only lifted his spirits, but made Chris and I extremely hopeful too! Mark Herzlich, from the NY Giants took the time out of his busy schedule to come to the clinic and visit with Joey for more than an hour and a half.  Joey and Mark looked at Joey’s football card collection; played a little mobile Madden, and looked at silly you tube videos.  But more than hanging out, Mark was able to relate to Joey’s fight with cancer.  Although their circumstances different, their situations are somewhat similar; and Mark conveyed this to Joey in a way that I or Chris have not been able to.  That day in the clinic, was my miracle!  I will never be able to thank Mark for that visit or for giving my family hope that day.  For those that have not read Mark’s book, “What It Takes,” please do!! I am looking forward to Mark’s next visit!!

And then last Wednesday, we got another little miracle…. Our doctor called and explained that our Foundation One (genetic testing) came back.  They were able to isolate a gene and this explains why Joey did not go into remission after the first month of treatment.  What is even better news, is there is a medication to help treat this!!!  Therefore, the medication was ordered on Wednesday and we have already taken it for three days!  We are hopefully able to target the cancer specifically and help Joey go into remission.  He still remains at high risk, but our doctors all sound so hopeful!

We realized that we have a long, long road ahead of us, but we feel that God is listening to our prayers.  We feel that he is giving our doctors the strength and knowledge and giving us the grace and hope that we need to get through this day by day.  So please we ask that you do not stop praying or believing or hoping…..

Beginning tomorrow, we have 30 more days of treatment before we have our next bone marrow aspiration.  After that, the doctors will discuss with us what our next options are.  We are hopeful that with this new medication that we can put Joey into remission and we can begin a true healing process.

Believe in miracles, pray for us, give us hope!

We are forever grateful to you for your love and support!



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Joeys Journey – Jan 15th Update

As I stare at this blank computer screen in the middle of the night, the only way to describe to everyone what I feel is to tell you we feel like we are drowning and cannot breathe….I am gasping for air and yet I cannot possibly get enough air into my lungs to catch my breath.  This feeling has been happening since around noon on Friday afternoon.

I wrote about before how I felt that a bomb had been dropped on our lives, but now this time it feels worse and I honestly did not think that was possible. Not only did another bomb drop, but our hope has become a casualty of this war.  I know that we will find our will to fight and our hope and our enduring faith…but right now, in these dark moments, we are devastated.

We were told by the doctors on Friday that Joey unfortunately is not in remission. He continues to have 26% Leukemia in his cells.  This number now puts in him in the high risk category for ALL.

The next sixty days of treatment are going to be intensive and difficult and Joey is going to suffer from the results of these treatments.  We are more than likely going to be at the clinic four days a week, with one overnight hospital stay (a week).  He will probably require transfusions during these 60 days.  There will be many spinal taps and also spinal infused chemo treatments.

We were led to believe that Joey was kicking butt during his induction period and in many ways he did – I never want to take away how much he fights and continues to fight this battle!! His teams of doctors even were surprised and shocked by his pathology report.

When I look back at these last 29 days, I think the reason that we as a family were so successful is because we held fiercely onto our faith, had endless hope, were supported by friends and family and by those that we have never even met and that we kept Joey’s life full.

I know in my heart and soul that those same things need to continue, because keeping your mind and spirit healthy are the key to winning anything, but right now it is difficult.  I am watching this horrible, disgusting  disease take away all of our hope and question my faith.  That is why we ask for your continued support, prayers, love and positivity….we continue to ask for miracles.  I know that we have to believe!

Tomorrow will start our next journey into this battle and we all have to be strong for Joey! We all have to pray relentlessly for him, we have to plead with God for a miracle, and I ask you to pray for our doctors and for Chris and I that we have the strength to guide our beautiful child….we know that we are not alone.

On a side note, I wanted to share with you a possible sign that I received yesterday afternoon…waking up and putting on a happy face and acting like everything is fine, is often impossible.  The simple act of making breakfast on Saturday morning felt like running a marathon.  To be completely honest, I wanted to stay crawled up in my bed and never get up.

However, what I did not share with all of you is during the last 29 days, I was given a book by a very special person…and this book changed not only my thinking but I believe it was a sign.  The book, “What It Takes,” by Mark Herzlich, is something everyone should go out and buy and read today.  Mark is a linebacker for the NY Giants and in college was diagnosed with cancer and told her would never play football again.  Mark walked out onto the Superbowl field two years later!  There were many messages in this book for me….MANY! But one, was that life itself is a team sport and that you need others, to win.  I am seeing first hand, that my community and friends and family are my team.  I also was able to take away from this book that believing and fighting are what is going to get you to your goals.  And when I look at Joey, I see that fight….it makes me want to fight.  So yesterday, when I was lost, and felt like giving up, my phone rang….and it was Mark Herzlich…..I believe yesterday, I got my sign…and so I listened….

I cannot tell you today that I am feeling perfect, or that I am not devastated still, but I am getting ready to get back in that ring and fight.  I know that I need to move mountains for this child of mine and I know that I cannot always do it by myself.  So pray for us, support us, love us….

Please share this blog and with your friends, family and co-workers.  Please encourage them to pray….Also, on the site, there is a volunteer form, under “support us”  If you have any special talents, such as an artist, hairdresser, graphic artist, editor, writer, landscaper, teacher, coach, seamstress, stay at home mom, ANYTHING….let May Day Missions know!  They have so many special things in the works to help Joey and I am sure that would appreciate your help.

Please keep praying….#joeybstrong


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Joey’s Journey

Many friends and family members over the last couple of weeks have suggested that I write down my feelings, or even start a blog. I am by no means a writer or someone who likes to communicate by journaling.  Additionally,  I think I was hesitant because I was not sure I could adequately describe to others what happening to our family…..the truth is, I could not distinguish what I was feeling on a moment to moment basis.  However, I do know that on the afternoon on December 9th, it felt like a bomb had exploded on our lives and no matter what I did or didn’t do, none of us could stop it.

Over the course of the last month, everyone asks, how did this healthy, happy child get diagnosed with cancer? After a busy month of traveling and celebrating holidays with family and friends, Joey appeared to contract that silly twenty- four stomach virus, on three separate occasions.  He seemed to bounce back the day after and would resume his normal routine.  The last time he got sick I decided to call my pediatrician and asked for an appointment the following day.

We went to see our pediatrician on Thursday afternoon at 4:00.  It was a very quick appointment.  She did a physical exam and a urine screening.  She even said, “Don’t worry, we have ruled out all the big stuff.” As we were getting ready to leave, she said, why don’t we just do some blood work, we haven’t done it in a while…..

After the doctor’s appointment, Joey and I went to Friendly’s for dinner , did some homework , watched some television, took a bath, and read before bed.  Looking back, I wish I would have savored every last second… was our last moments of “normalcy”.

The next morning, Joey went to school and I decided to go to work.  I usually do not work on Fridays, but I wanted to attend a staff meeting and get some things done before the weekend.  Little did we know our lives were getting ready to change forever…..

After lunch I left work, picked up a couple of gingerbread houses and extra frosting and candy and decided that I would have some of Joey’s friends over after school to build and decorate them.  I even got to school earlier than usual and parked my car, so he wouldn’t have to walk in the cold.  I was also excited to surprise him with the ginger bread houses I bought!  While I was waiting in my car a friend pulled up behind me and I decided to jump in her car to chat.

Then I received the phone call…..The bomb was dropped….Joey’s pediatrician is the calmest person I know and from the second I said hello, I knew something was drastically wrong.  She asked me where I was, where Chris was??  The rest of the phone call is a little bit of a blur.  But at some point, I knew my friend knew to call Chris and get Joey from school.

My memory of the emergency room is also not exactly clear.  One would tend to think that you would remember every last detail from the single most important moment in your life, but I cannot….I remember it as doctors and nurses trying to explain things to me that made no sense, trying to convince myself that things were fine, when everyone around me seemed to think something was wrong. They kept saying one blood test showed suspicious cells, but then the blood test they did was not conclusive. What does suspicious mean and why are they are not telling me anything!

Then after what seemed like hours, they said, that the tests were inconclusive and they were releasing us.  However, they needed us to check in with the on call doctor in the morning to review the blood work.

We drove home that night, hopeful, scared, confused, lost, happy, emotional…..Joey went to bed, Chris fell asleep and I was up all night thinking about what time I could call that doctor.  I remember staring at Joey sleeping that night, thinking he looked so peaceful, happy, and healthy, how could anything be so wrong.

At 9:30 I called the answering service and left a message, Joey and Chris were playing Madden on x-box and I was making breakfast.  I remember catching my breath and thinking, maybe things were going to be okay.  And then the phone rang.  I remember the doctor’s voice was calm and soft and he asked how Joey was feeling and then he said, please come back to the hospital.  I remember starting to cry and the doctor said they needed to run more tests.  I knew at that moment that things would never be the same.

By the time we got to the hospital, I could barely stand and the not knowing of what we were up against and having all these questions was quickly eating away at all of us. My parents met us at the hospital, but I can’t remember a single conversation I had with them. They had us wait in the emergency room for what seemed to be forever as they checked us in and then they took me and Chris and my father into a family room to talk to us.

Again, its ironic at the most pivitol moments that you cannot remember what exactly takes place, but I know that they told me in this little room that my sweet, happy child had cancer……and that bomb exploded all over again….and again….

We spent the next week in Hackensack Hospital.  For me that week was a complete blur….I am not exactly sure how or where I got the strength to survive that week.  It was single handley the hardest week of my life.  During that first week, Joey endured chemo 3 times, had a port put into his chest, had a bone marrow aspiration and a spinal tap.  After the procedure he was in extreme pain and had two days, which he basically cried out in pain.  It felt like someone was literally stabbing me….when I close my eyes, I can still hear him cry in pain.

Then by some miracle, on Friday afternoon, he woke up from a nap, happy and ready to take on the world and that has been his attitude ever since.  We were released from the hospital on Saturday morning.  We have been back to the clinic every week for chemo and Joey is a rock star! His blood counts continue to be great and the doctors are happy with his progress!  He is happy and smiling and willing to meet each challenge with his amazing competitive edge!

Getting adjusted to being home, took a bit for everyone.  But we are slowly getting into a routine.  For the first month we are kind of like under house arrest….so at times, the walls do feel like they are crashing in on us.  We are playing lots of board games, reading lots of books and playing lots of video games.  As Joey has built up a tolerance to his treatments he is not as tired and is not really napping as much.  He is sleeping great at night too!  One of our biggest struggles is that he what I refer to as our little “food terrorist”!  He eats all day and night and you can not negotiate with him about what he wants.  At times it can be comical!  However, the downside is that his face has changed due to the steroids and sometimes I catch a glance at him from across the room and my heart sinks.  I know this is only temporary.  But this is just another aspect that has changed in our lives.

This Tuesday, will mark the end of what the doctors refer to as our induction period.  On Tuesday morning, he will undergo another spinal tap and infused chemo treatment into his spine and also another bone marrow aspiration.  The good news is that we are able to stop the intense oral steroids that he has been taking for the past month.

Within five days or so, we should have pathology from these tests and know what are next step is. We will have a better understanding what the next phase of treatment will look like.  We are hoping and praying, that Joey’s tests yield that the cancer is undetectable at that point.

I believe the reason that we as a family have been able to endure this first month is for several reasons.  The first is, I strongly believe that there is something or someone up there that is Joey’s guardian angel.  We are so fortunate and blessed that our pediatrician did a blood test and found his cancer so early.  Joey was able to enter this fight, healthy and ready to win.  Additionally, we would be nothing without and nowhere without our community.  You all have single handily raised us up with your love, light, positively and prayers.  We can feel your love and prayers and believe me they are working…please do not ever stop!   To all of you who helped make our Christmas full of love, we thank you!  This year, we expierenced the true meaning of Christmas!  To everyone who has signed up to cook a meal for us, we thank you! For all the gifts, tokens, cards, donations, texts, phone calls, messages, emails……we thank you!

Due to everyone’s generosity, we have been able to hire a trainer to come to the house twice a week to work with Joey.  Joey’s goal from day one is that he wants to get back on that football field.  So between his doctors and Chris and I, we are going to do everything we can to help Joey achieve his goal!  Additionally, Joey has also started home schooling every day after school and is really enjoying it!

So today, January 10th we finally reached day 29 of treatment…..I thought I would feel different today.  Maybe a sense of accomplishment or maybe even relief, but as I sit here and update everybody, all I feel is complete exhaustion.  Today, Joey finished the induction stage of his treatment.  He had another round of chemo infused through his spine, a spinal tap and a bone marrow extraction.  The pathology results take a couple of days before they are complete.  Although we were at the clinic today bright an early, the anesthesiologist had an emergency and we were delayed until around lunch time.  While Chris and I were nervous and anxious, Joey was basically in a good mood, just extremely hungry because he had to fast.

This week’s blood test showed that his numbers were excellent and that his white blood count came up!  The doctors continue to happy with his excellent progress!  Joey continues to be our rock star!

We are meeting with our team of doctors this coming Friday, January 14th at 11:30.  During that time, we are asking all of our prayer warriors to pray for us during that hour.  Grab whoever you are with during that time and please pray!  Pray for our strength, pray for the knowledge of our doctors, and pray that the next steps of Joey’s treatment are manageable.  We so believe in the power of prayer and the power of our community.  We believe that we can create our own miracles, so please pray with us~ we can feel your love and support and we are forever grateful.

Please check back at for our updates.  I will try my best to keep everyone informed of Joey’s treatment and what is happening on this journey.  Keep praying, keep believing, and create miracles! #joeybstrong

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