Happy Father’s Day!

It is hard to believe a year ago today, that we didn’t know if I would have another Father’s Day.  Every holiday that comes up is very special to us and we treat it as though it may be our last.  We are grateful to our friends, family and supporters that have been with us through this bumpy ride.  There are so many fathers that are not here today, but there are so many fathers that are and I can say that I am one of those.  Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there and may we have many more days together like today.

Transplant Doctor Appt May 14, 2013

Today Sal and I went to see the transplant doctor in Los Angeles.  We were told that Sal is still in remission and to do a cord blood transplant right now is dangerous and the possibility of the cord blood not working is extremely high.

When a person goes in for a transplant, the patient has to go through extremely high doses of chemotherapy and possible radiation.  Once all of the bone marrow is destroyed by the chemo, the transplant of the new cord blood would be infused.  This is done just like a blood transfusion.  When Sal went through each phase of chemotherapy his white blood count and platelets would decrease and he would have to worry about getting sick because he didn’t have an immune system to fight even a cold, this would last about two weeks after the last day of chemo.  With the cord blood transplant, his white blood count and platelets would decrease for a longer time period because of the immature cells, which would increase the chances of infection.  In a cord blood transplant, the cells are extremely new and take longer to create bone marrow.  Because of this the patient is more likely to get an infection and can die from the infection.  This is just one of the risks with any transplant, but with the cord blood the risk of infection can last longer.

For this reason, the doctor said that it would not be a good choice to do the cord blood transplant at this time since Sal is currently in remission and is doing good.  As of right now, Sal will continue to go to the doctor each month to monitor his counts.  He has returned to work and we will continue with our daily routine.

In the event that the leukemia does come back, Sal will have to go through another round of chemotherapy that will hopefully put him back into remission and only then will the use of the cord blood be considered if it is still available.

Thank you for the continued support and we appreciate everyone’s prayers!  We will continue to hope and pray that the leukemia will stay in remission for as long as possible.  Thank you again!

Sal says, “We are still in the fight and life goes on”

Update on Sal

On May 9th, 2012, Sal was diagnosed with Acute Monocytic Leukemia and about a month later we were told that he was not in remission and he would have less than a 30% chance of going into remission after his second round of induction chemo.  Luckily Sal is a fighter and he has been in remission since July 2012.  He will be returning to work on Monday, May 13th.  He is working out everyday and trying to loose weight.  He feels like his old self besides being fat…..which is driving him crazy and me, because that is all he talks about!

The past year has been a roller coaster and we have been blessed with some amazing friends.  We have enjoyed weekends in Big Bear and a few days in Yosemite and will cherish every memory that we have made.  Recently, a friend gave us a vacation to anywhere we wanted.  Since time was limited since Sal was going back to work and the kids were in school, we decided on Hawaii.

We enjoyed a beautiful family vacation in Kauai last weekend.  We stayed four nights at the Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort.  The resort was absolutely beautiful.  The kids had so much fun playing in the pool and just relaxing.  The staff was absolutely incredible.  The first day we arrived they gave us a bag full of goodies and the last night we were there they dropped off another bag of goodies.  We enjoyed a tour of the Waimea Canyon Tour, which included a stop at the Kauai Coffee Plantation. The scenery was absolutely beautiful.  We spent a day in North Shore, Kauai, with our friends Shawn and Tammy Owens, exploring caves, Queen’s bath, and numerous beautiful beaches.  We ended the day going on a zodiac down the Hanalei River and then out to the ocean to watch sea turtles swimming in the Hanalei Bay.  Our friends Shawn and Tammy Owens were wonderful tour guides!  The next day we took a drive up the coast again to explore more beaches and visit the Kilauea Light house.  The views were breath taking.  We ended the trip with a Smith’s Family Garden Luau.  The food was so good and it was so neat to see a family owned business.  The owners were so nice.  Jacob fell asleep during the show, but it was a long day and the three hour time difference was hard to get use to.  It was a wonderful experience and a nice way to get away from reality right now.  We have already decided that we will definitely go back next year, hopefully we can stay even longer!

Back to reality, we are still looking for a bone marrow donor!  We were told a few weeks ago that the doctor has checked out three units of cord blood for Sal.  We will be meeting with the doctor on Tuesday to see what options Sal has.  The cord blood transplant was an option that the doctor really didn’t want to do unless they had to.  This is a very difficult decision to make.  Sal feels so much better and our lives are going back to normal, but the doctors want him to do the transplant before the leukemia returns.  Granted they don’t know when it will return but they know from other patients that it usually returns 3-6 months after the last treatment which would be around June.  Does this mean that it will return this soon? No, no one knows they just know that cases like Sal, the leukemia does return and once it returns they know that the chemo will only prolong his life for a short time. This is why the doctors want to do the transplant before it returns because once it returns he will not qualify for a transplant.

With any transplant there are risks.  A patient has to worry about host vs graft disease which can be fatal in up to 40% of patients, pain, organ failure, and with cord blood there is a higher chance of the body destroying the newly transplanted marrow, which is called graft rejection.  Even after the transplant there is still only 42.5% survival rate 3 years after the transplant according to the HRSA Blood Cell Transplant website.  If we wait and do the transplant when he isn’t in remission, which the doctors would probably not do, the survival rate for 3 years after the transplant is 19.3%.  Sal is a fighter but the odds need to be more in his favor.  This is why the transplant needs to be done while he is in remission.

Thank you for everyone’s continued support and we will keep you updated on what the doctor says on Tuesday.

Relay for Life

On April 27th, 2013, the Menifee Relay for Life was introduced to Team Sal with almost 90 team members out of the 538 participants at the entire event.  We were the largest team at the Relay and in second place out of 23 teams for the most money raised….next year we will raise more!  We raised $9,907.50!  Almost $10,000!!! What a great beginning for Team Sal!

The money was raised for the American Cancer Society to help fund research, programs such as the Hope Lodge and Road to Recovery that helps cancer patients that need transportation to and from treatments.  Every dollar raised helps us come closer to finding a cure!

Cancer has affected millions and will continue if we don’t do something!  Participating in a Relay for Life is just one way you can help.  If you haven’t been to a Relay for Life, it is an experience that will change your perspective on cancer patients and their families.  Cancer is not cured over night.  There are cancer patients that fight for years, some win and unfortunately some do not.  This is why we need to do everything we can to help win this battle.  Cancer does not care about your age, ethnicity, sex, education, or financial status.  Anyone can get it!

Our daughter’s classmate asked, “Is there a cancer that is worse than other cancers or what kills you faster?” All cancers can be deadly, granted there are cancers that can be “cured” with a chemo pill or radiation treatment, but did you know that years later that the cancer can come back in your body somewhere else.  A cancer patient has to live their lives every day, every week, every year wondering if it has returned.  This is why a cancer patient has to stay positive and enjoy life! This is also why we need to find what causes cancer and create a cure that will prevent all cancers!

If you would like to donate to the American Cancer Society, please go to Team Sal Menifee Relay for Life.  All funds are tax deductible and go directly to the American Cancer Society.



Menifee Relay for Life Team Sal

This is our first year as a team and we plan on having Team Sal every year.  Our family has participated at the Menifee Relay over the past several years, however, last year Sal was diagnosed with Acute Monocytic Leukemia about a week before the Relay.  Sal was in the hospital on and off for over 7 months, during this time we would discuss what we were going to do during the next Relay?..well the time has come and we have created our own team.  Our goal was to create a team with all of our friends to help celebrate the life of Sal and many others like him.  He has been in remission since July and he continues to fight cancer.  With the help of our friends and family we want to show cancer that Team Sal isn’t going to give up!

At Relay For Life, our team will camp out overnight and take turns walking around the track to raise money and awareness to help the American Cancer Society create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.Our team is doing our part in the fight against cancer.

By joining Team Sal you show Sal and others like him that he has support in this terrifying fight!  We know that not everyone can join us during the actual event, however you can show your support by donating.  Please join our team or make a donation, because saving lives starts one team, one participant, and one dollar at a time.


April 3, 2013

We are so excited….Sal had his blood work done yesterday and got the results back today.  According to the numbers that we can see, it looks like he is still in remission :)  The doctors told us that it usually comes back within 3-6 months after the last round of consolidation chemo, but with cancer you never know what it will do.  They said it could be years or never, unfortunately though we have been told by several doctors that it would eventually come back this is why he has to go in for bloodwork every month.  However, Sal has always been a fighter and I think he will fight as long as he can!  We are now working on the 4th month after the last consolidation and Sal is working out at 951 Crossfit Gym here in Menifee to gain his strength back so that he can go back to work in May.  It is hard to believe that over 3 months ago Sal couldn’t even open up a water bottle and in a little over a month he will be going back to work. His recovery has been extremely good.  We have so many things to look forward to in the next few months including the Menifee Relay for Life, family vacation, and Sal going back to work!  Now we just need to find a bone marrow donor!  If you or someone you know would like to register as a bone marrow donor, please visit our personal Be the Match website for more information.  Thank you everyone for their support in our fight against cancer!!

Chipotle Fundraiser for Team Sal Menifee Relay for Life

Please join us next Thursday at Chipotle in Menifee.  Our friend Jennifer Mull has setup a fundraiser to help raise funds for the Relay for Life!

Please help us raise money for Team Sal by joining us Thursday March 28th between 4-9pm.  Please make sure you print out the flyer, which you can find on our facebook page.  If you have any problems, please let us know and we can email a copy of the flyer to you.  Click here to view the flyer.

March 7, 2013 Dr. Appt

We just got back from the doctor’s office and Sal is still in remission! The doctor extended his leave for a little longer so that Sal can build up his strength. The doctor says it takes a while to build it back up since he was in the hospital for so long and he had so many chemo treatments. Sal will go back for blood work next month and then back to the doctor in two months, which will be around his one year anniversary of his diagnoses.

March 6, 2013

Tomorrow Sal will be going in for a check up.  He had blood work on Monday and we will know the results tomorrow.  Each time Sal goes in for blood work and we have to wait for results we are so nervous!  We will keep everyone updated on what we find out tomorrow. Thank you for the support!