Hello my friends,
It has been a while since I have updated - ---
Thank you for the many e-mails of support that you continue to send
Joelle and I are doing well. I am so proud of her.
We finally completed Laura's wish for a pool with a fountain. It
really came out beautiful and we had special times with it the end
of the summer. There are 3 fountains with a Memorial
garden on the back raised wall of the pool. Father Sass came and did
a beautiful blessing of the pool for us. This year Joelle and I with
Kim sent balloons
to Laura for her 17th birthday. We sent up balloons with messages on
them and included Nikki and another young boy in heaven with similar
birthdays. Suddenly the balloons went to the trees and they were
gone-no string-no flat balloon. The three of us stood there trying
to figure where they went! We decided that the teens took them up to
heaven!! Never a sign of the balloons!
"Laura's Pennies From Heaven" continue to privately and directly
help people. Some of you have thought the umbrellas collecting money
for CCMC at Walmart is Laura's-but it is not. While it is good to
support that, ours is separate and different. It brings such a smile
to bring someone no strings attached spending cash when in need. So
thank you for helping and keep the pennies coming in!!!
In December we went to the Madgical performance at the school. It
was so beautiful and this year Joelle was in it as a 8th grade
chorus member. I enjoyed Joelle but also was hurting remembering how
happy Laura was when she was in it both in 8th and 9th grade. Lauras
friends are so sweet to me and Joelle. And, I want them to know how
greatfulI am to have them include me or hug me when they see me. It
means a lot to me and Joelle.
Many have taken Joelle under there wing and of course that makes
Joelle feel Laura's connection. Again, thank you!
Last week we had a Mass for Laura's second anniversary into heaven.
Joelle and I went to visit the cemetery and then went for a swim and
out to lunch. She and I needed that one on one time together. Later
Nikki's Mom Gail came over and we had a good time talking and
reflecting on Nikki and Laura-as her entry to heaven was Jan 1,
I know that I will never be the same person, I never
know when the tears hit, or a smile breaks because I will grieve or
honor Laura in some way or at some place. I remember when Avon
hosted the Special Olympians from Indonesia and we were a host home,
how she really enjoyed meeting these gentle people. Now when I see
what the natural disaster has done there I pray that Laura through
God is able to help these children.....or give us the ideas of how
Well, I will end here for now. Please know how important many of you
are to us in our journey of grief.
Hello every one. Today it has been a year
since Laura entered heaven.
It is hard to believe it and I feel that it is
still a dream that will wake me up.
Joelle and I know that God is allowing her to
watch over us. Joelle and I left for
a few days this past week so that we would be
distracted and make new memories.
While there, there was an electrical fire and
the fire alarm went off. We were in a small hotel and felt quite safe.
I was in the lobby checking on something on the computer and Joelle
went to our room to get ready for the night. Suddenly the fire alarm
went off and every one was evacuating the building! I panic and went
to look for Joelle in her room before I left-not being sure how Joelle
would react. Well, Joelle has been well trained by the Avon School's
fire drill. She knew to immediately leave and to get out of the
building and then find me- She said she was in her PJ so she was
looking to grab her coat to protect her. She was upset because she
could not find her coat -and then said suddenly it was in her arms and
she was off. She said she knows Laura helped her with this. As it just
showed up in her hands.....off she left the hotel and went to a worker
to find me. I was more nervous than Joelle - as I worried about her
panicking and being afraid-but she had an odd sense of calmness.....
Today we have a Mass being offered for Laura at
St. Anne's at 11:30 and we will visit her resting place. I am not sure
how I feel today or how I feel -so please excuse me if I do not get
back to you as my throat some times swells......Joelle and I are
Our Pennies From Heaven is still doing well. We
have given a lot away-so please remember to drop them off or give them
I am not sure how much longer I will keep this
web site about we have gone through.
It has been a wonderful source for me to
communicate and for others to learn about what we have gone through.
This has helped them or helped them with their friends. My intent is
to print all of this and get it bounded into a permanent form for
Joelle and for me as a keep sake when this ends.. So if you have any
special memories of Laura or things that have happened since Laura has
gone to heaven--please post them so we will have these special
Well, I pray that all is safe and doing as well
as can be.
As always thank you for your support and love,
March 17, 2004
Hello my friends,
It has been a while since I have
updated this. A morning never goes by that I do not open my eyes
and think of Laura and take a quick check on Joelle. The same when I
wake up in the middle of the night! Joelle and I were talking the
other day saying that we feel like we will wake up to find out that
everything is a mistake and Laura will walk into the house and our
life will be like before......wishful thinking.
I know Laura is with us-but not the
way we wanted it to be. Last weekend Elaine and Amy Deluzio took us away for the weekend
to the Berkshires. I could feel and see Laura's presence through
Joelle while in the pool-it was a birthday gift from her, I am
sure......And I thank the Lord for letting me feel this. I had
promised her a memorial pool/fountain -- and this just makes it all
the more important for me to keep planning for it! And then of
course when I am nervous she always drops pennies for me! For
example, two weeks ago we went to NJ to visit with the Squillaro
family and attend the early St. Patty Day celebrations where they
live! First we spent the night with my sister as it was the 3 of our
birthdays within the 1 week! (Joelle in now a teenager!) Then the
three of us met with the Squillaro's and their family and friends
for the Irish celebration!
I still seem to have a hard time at
celebrations without Laura and was tense. The Squillaro's live down
the NJ shore in an area that just before my parents had their
accident and passed on - I was planning to relocate to. I remember
Laura looking at houses with me down there and being excited about
being by the water! Any way- I was following Donna 's to park the
cars for the parade when I got out of the car and long and behold
there were 5 pennies right by me on a loading dock -not spilled
pennies scattered-but 5 in a circle with another one a foot away- I
took it as Laura's giving each of us a penny and her penny was a
foot away from us just leading the way a little ahead of us! We all
were silent for a few moments as we realized what it was....a warm
gift! I knew I could enjoy the day and be happy that Joelle was
having a great time too with Alexa and her friends!
Our Pennies from heaven is doing well
-- a Confirmation class from the Hebron area is collecting Pennies
From Heaven for Laura as a project. Patients are always bring in
their pennies to my office-and then on this web is posted Joelle's
letter to the Avon Police Assoc. for their large donation presented
to Joelle at school! What a surprise this was!! On top of this, the
Avon Middle School is doing a Pennies From Heaven Collection this
month! Joelle gave an announcement at school and posters were out
up as well. Thank you Avon Middle School-students, faculty,
administration, and cafeteria staff for helping us to bring a little
special treat to families! And, for being so supportive to Joelle.
From all that I have read and
experienced from my parents-the second year is harder so I have
started going to Compassionate Friends recently-so if any one wants
to know about that it too is posted on the web or please contact me
about my experience.
The new plates are out for childhood
cancer awareness. Gail Giampolo has been active in this program and I am happy to see
this- we will be getting a plate to put on Joelle's car from Laura!
Also, I do not know if any of you saw the program about the baby
teeth investigation showing the possibility of cancer revealing
properties from the nuclear reactors.
Nikki's teeth had a positive test for
A youth group is here is selling
"toilet bowl insurance" as a fund raiser for food money for the
poor! So look for the toilet bowl and buy permission to get it off
the yard! I heard our yard is a hit for it this week!
As always -- thank you for showing me
your support, love and friendship.
And thank you Gene for letting me
have this vehicle for communicating. I have received many notes
telling me how they still check Laura's web site for inspiration or
connection. You have helped more than just my family, Gene.
Have a good day and soon the snow may
stop and the tulips will be back!
Hello all my friends! It
has been a while since I have updated-some times I feel that there is not
much to say from my heart, other times I feel as though I am on stage just
going through the motions with little bits of true happy feelings. I am
getting more and more emotional right now as all the memories of the last
part of our fight goes on in replay in my head and heart.
Sometimes I cry just saying
her name to someone.......I am not always sure of what to say when it
seeps out!!! But I know it is part of the process-
Last month I attended a fund
raiser that Elise Rosenstock did for CCMC with her jewelry. It was
beautiful. On each table was a Nikki Bear with Laura's necklace on the
bear. It was beautiful. The two angels are still partying!
Nikki's Mom Gail spoke so
beautifully about the bear and Nikki and Laura and Dr. Eileen Gillian and
Elise spoke about their special memories of Laura. I had prepared
something-but the three of them said it all beautifully.
I saw some old friends,
patients and made new friends there as well....Christina Bill looked so
pretty working there that day for the jewelry!
She is another special soul!
Joelle and I decorated the
outside of the house with Jolie's help when it was warm! (smart us!)
For Thanksgiving we visited in
Little Rock, Arkansas. It made us feel good to visit this special person
who chose to be a Grandpa to Joelle! The three of us had
dinner in Little Rock-it was a beautiful buffet at the Peabody Hotel. This
was a good change for us. On Thanksgiving morning we went to Mass at the
convent where the sisters are cloistered. Afterwards, we were privilege to
meet them in the convent area. There they had Laura's picture by the
Virgin Mary statue in their dinning room. Another sister came out holding
Laura's book mark. They had been praying for Laura when she was so sick.
Joelle felt so happy to meet the sisters who have Laura in their heart. It
was a nice day for us. When we returned to Connecticut Joelle and I with
dear Jolie's help decorated our tree. Many of my ornaments were picture
ornaments of the girls-one each year and then ornaments from special
vacations. It was bitter sweet........
My friend Elaine has been
keeping a close watch on us and has us at her home with family functions.
Friday the Avon Middle School
will be singing for my Avon-Canton Rotary Club. Mr. Kawicki is the chorus
teacher there. It was like yesterday that Laura did this all dressed up in
her Magical costume! He was just an instrument for giving Laura her
confidence to sing. Now he is keeping Joelle smiling in his chorus and
piano class! Thank you Tom!
Today for some strange reason
I was drawn to a video of Amanda Searles Bat Mitzvah party. I knew Laura
was in it with Joelle-but I did not know how much! There she was with her
scarf on her head dancing her heart away!!!
Somehow it was the thing I
needed to take away the horrors in my head and see her happy! She loved
dancing! Just ask her friends that went to the semi
dance at the high school!!
Thank you Amanda, Darcy and Fred for this!
My family neighbor friends -
Aunt Joan and Uncle Larry are getting ready for their 3 grandchildren to
visit from California! Two twin babies and one "older" sister! Their house
looks so pretty!
I think Linda and Peter
Buonome (mostly Linda) are planning another day trip for us -with Erin and
Daniel and Joelle. They are like cousins to Joelle! Always watching out
Then there is Aunt Phyllis
Kayan with all her children-always making enough cookies for us too!!!
I will never learn to bake
with a friend like her around!!!
The Ketchif family has
included us with family events and that is special
for she and Ellen Gobel took
care of us for so many weeks.
Ellen is always keeping tabs
on me too-usually with a beautiful card!
I, like Laura, am so grateful
to this community.
Well, I hope you all had a
May God Bless All of You,
Hello my friends,
Today it is 16
years since my beautiful Laura has entered my life. I always knew my
children were on loan to me from heaven - but did not expect it to be
like this.........Today Joelle and I will have grapefruit with a
round coffee cake for breakfast.. We are going to put candles in it
this morning to acknowledge the start of Laura's birthday! This is
something that we do when the birthdays fall on a day different than
the official party! My parents did that with us growing up.
Saturday we were at St.
Anne's youth ministry's Golf in the Dark in honor of Laura. It was so
warm to walk in there and see Laura's picture and 2 beautiful cakes
that Mary Lou Connors brought with beautiful memorial messages. I
always remember the first cake you bought - It was a golf theme cake
saying "we puttin for you Laura" Thank you Mary Lou! Every one had
fun that night as well as me Joelle!
While at the golf course,
I was talking with the man who was in charge and he said he remembered
when Laura went to the first golf in the dark for a while
and remembered Laura was not there last year. Then this year he felt
so bad when he saw it was birthday memorial for her.....we were
talking about how happy we were able to have it again for her -- at
the last min. there was a cancellation and we were able to have it at
the same place in East Granby. As we were talking-Joan and I also told
him about Laura's pennies. He was smiling -because he said that when
the arrangements were being redone to this golf course - the lady just
left who cleans the club house area and he walked into the room and
there in the middle of the floor were 2 shiny pennies taped together
for him to notice. He said he did not know why-but he felt compelled
to pick it up and put it on the counter and felt it had special
meaning! I guess Laura was helping Joan Gould to have her party at her
Well, today will be
special with the balloons ---- we have about 100 balloons here plus
the ones others may bring on there own! Thank you Mary Moet of Geepers
in Simsbury for helping me with this! She not only has a great store
for kids but also is now in the balloon business! Mary was mine and
Laura's Le leche coach and then birthing class teacher for Joelle and
now my kids gift and balloon supplier!!!!!!!!
Last night we went to the
store to pick up the coffee cake, flowers for Laura's burial place,
and a birthday card to leave there from Joelle and me. As we were
paying for it- a friend of mine was helping me with it on the cash
register and I looked down and there was another shinning penny for me
Well- I am going to get
Joelle up for our birthday coffee cake and then to church, cemetery,
something fun?, then to Laura's favorite favorite restaurant -Great
Wall - to have David's General Tsoas Chicken.
Thank you every one -watch
for the balloons and of course for those pennies.
Hello all! Today is Columbus Day - and it reminds me of when I was
a child and would go to the big Columbus Day Parade in Newark. I would meet
up with school friends and enjoy the day. Yesterday we went to the Bob
Branham Foundation 's Legs against Leukemia walk. Despite the bad
weather-they have wonderful spirit. This organization was so good to us and
I will always be grateful. It was nice seeing people I have not seen in a
while including our Red Cross friends!
So far this is the hardest month of all for me -- it is almost her birthday,
and it is almost a year since she last slept here before leaving for New
York. I have decided not to do the major carved pumpkins on our yard this
year. I may decide to do a few-but that is all for now. That started here
years ago to do honor to my parents -- they had a car accident on Halloween
and went to heaven. So kids brought food for the town food bank and we
carved pumpkins and partied in costumes. Every night I would light them on
the front yard for all to enjoy. Last year my dear friend Leslie Chaput
prepared it with Joelle. As Laura and I were leaving Connecticut, Joelle
was at home with Leslie and Joelle's friends and parents. We had a group
picture of us by the white limo that took us to NY. The ride to NY was so
painful for Laura-but she did it with her grace. I just cannot do it this
year -I am sorry to those who look forward to it and ask about it......
I am very happy about Joelle- I think she is doing well in school and
socially. I enjoy her company and her sense of humor. In school she is doing
well and works hard -- she was also elected student council representative.
She is enjoying her piano, tennis, and soccer! She is so tall! (compared to
As for Laura's memorial birthday -- it looks like we may have a lot of
wishes sent to her from here and all over! Friends will be sending them from
Florida, Riviera, Australia, New Jersey! The plan is around 4 we will write
our message to her on the balloons and have some cider and donuts -- and
then around 4:20 or so we will send them all to up at once. I will be
getting purple balloons-so please let me know if you are planning to come so
that I have enough. Depending of last min. changes and weather-we could have
50-75 balloons going up to her!
Next week is St. Anne's Golf in The Dark event to honor Laura. Thank you
Joan Gould for always being there. I remember how happy Laura was the first
year they did it to honor her......special memories.
Well, I have to get ready to open the office. Again, thank you to so many of
you who are still so supportive to us and keep checking on us and being
there for us.
September 8, 2003
Well school as started well for Joelle. She seems happy. We are busy
getting ready for a new schedule with new activities, I must admit that I
miss seeing her during the day -----
We had a busy weekend-she had tennis, lunch at Francoise home (which made
Joelle happy) , church and then a house warming/birthday party for a friend
of ours. Sunday we left for Manchester to participate in the child hood
cancer walk in honor of Nikki. Her Mom Gail did a wonderful job. They raised
$20,000! It was a beautiful day with blue skies. It was nice seeing some of Nikki's
friends that we know from the hospital and funerals as well as our dear chemo
friends and families. Diane-one of Laura's special nurse was there with her
daughter. If you get the Hartford Courant there is an article in it today. They even
quoted Joelle! At the end they played Laura singing "There You'll Be" We all
hugged in memory of difficult battles these children go through-survival or
not...Aaron Zambrano had a special story for me of Laura being with him and
gave me a beautiful poem he wrote of Laura passing on. Again we hugged....
The pain and anxiousness of searching for Laura is terrible. And time does
not make it easier - just learn to cope differently.......I know I embarrass
Joelle when the tears flow without warning ----but that is what happens....
Next month will be another walk for The Bob Branham Foundation. They were
emotionally and financially directly helpful to us. Many of you walked for
Laura last year. Laura was so pleased that we were able to be there and see
friends, teachers, neighbors, walking and supporting us.
If you want more info on the walk let me know - This year they are helping
to raise money to help a young woman have the money for a bone marrow
transplant as she is without insurance and it is her second time with
Cancer. Her sister is a match for her. The date is Sunday, October 12 at
noon at the MDC Reservoir in West Hartford. Their web site is www.robsfoundation.org. Their walk is Legs
Well, I have to get back to work-but please keep us and all the families
affected by these illnesses or tragedies in your prayers.
Hi every one! I hope the summer is taking a good last leg for you. For
those without electricity -I hope things are back to order and getting back
to order. We were luck only a few blinks of the lights-but some around us
were without it.
Joelle has grown almost 6 inches in the last 5 months-so we have done some
clothes shopping for her. It is nice that I can do that with her this year
and even nicer that she wants me with her!!!!! We are so supportive of each
other and I know that is a gift.
I am a little nervous for some reason when I go to the Middle School which
is where Joelle will be starting in Sept. For that is where my memories of
things blossoming so beautiful for Laura and yet also where she became ill.
I know that because Joelle is going there that is not what is in her
future-but I feel funny somehow.....emotions are odd at times...
I am always appreciative when I can look at the good that comes from the
pain of Laura-one such thing is a new friendship with Elaine Deluzio -her
daughter was in school with Laura. Elaine is even going to teach me how to
use some carpentry tools! She and her husband have done major building at
their lovely home! She is also a good cook!
Joelle is always happy when she is around Laura's high school friends-it
keeps her feeling connected. Thank you for being so special to her. And of
course when she sees the Buonome's it like seeing cousins as it is when she
about the Kayans, Polesels, Wagners , Connors and of course the Squillaro's
in NJ! It is good for her to know how loved she is and connected. The other
night we saw Kevin at Friendly's and that made her happy as well!
Joelle and I are learning tennis-some thing new for the 2 of us to do
together. It is good!
Rotary as always is like having breakfast with family for me. I am still
having a hard time going to events or social functions. I find I do best
when it is last minute. So please excuse me for not being out there like I
My neighbor's Larry and Joan have started helping me work on the statements
from Sloan Kettering and the ins. company and my balances-even though I deal
with this for patients it is terrible. Some times I just cannot talk! It is
so great that they are helping..
Pennies From Heaven are going well-so please watch for them!
And, remember to attend the walk a thon in Manchester Sept 7-if you are up
to it. Nikki's Mom is in that one!
Well, I have to get ready for the office. Thank you again Gene for keeping
this up for me on the web.
Hello my friends,
I hope summer has taken off in a good manner for all. I have not had the
drive to update this lately. The ache and defeat I feel seems to be
swelling. I feel like a roller coaster of emotions-and I guess I will for
I have learned from someone that you try to go to "safe places" -so that I
can try to feel some control. The Cove for grieving children has stopped
until September. But they gave her some tools.
A couple of weeks ago we went to Tangle wood with Sarah and Art Hayes.
A gift from them on their anniversary!!!! It was a lovely night out with
The only other time I had been there was with Joelle and Laura for a Rotary
event. I found the tree that Laura and Joelle played on-special memories....
Thank you Sarah and Art!
My sister Ramona became Superior court judge for the State of NJ a couple of
weeks ago! I had the privilege of giving remarks for her from our family. It
was a beautiful swearing in ceremony. We spent some time with my brother Jim
before and after-so that was nice too. Since the 4th is 6 months - I did not
want to be here-too many memories-and I wanted to be where Joelle had not
We were going to go to the Maine with my child hood friends-Nidia and Joe
Cunha - but their plans had to change -- so we decided to save Maine for them
and went to Cape Cod. We brought Mary Kayak with us as well. This made
Joelle happy! Some times she wants to be alone with me and then other times
she is happy for a buddy. Problem is-when I am alone I can think too much!
Every thing was perfect-hotel last minute, fire works viewed from a golf
course, missed traffic. The night we watched the fire works it had been
cloudy and Joelle was upset because there were no stars-and Joelle always
looks for the first star she spots for the night. Laura told her that the
first star she spots will be Laura and she was upset that there was none.
And Joelle wanted Laura to share the fireworks with us. I looked up to the
dark sky and there in front of us was ONE star right in front of the 3 of
us!!!!! No other was in the sky! We knew it was a gift from heaven!
On the way home Joelle met her first shopping outlet! She and Mary bought
some great clothes at the Gap out let on sale for 4th of July. Every thing
was wonderful. And then on the way home we decided to go to the movies in
East Hartford. I thought that after the movie we would see the fire works
from the car in Hartford on the way home. Well, that was not the plan.
Someone came across the road in their car and hit us. Poor Mary's eye
glasses went flying and the each have abrasions from the seat belt.
Joelle got the brunt of the hit and ended up with a lot of pain and numbness
in her arm. I have some weakness and bruising as well. Needless to say it
put a damper on the week end! As we waited for a taxi to take us home-some
wonderful people stayed and helped us while the police officer and tow truck
took care of things. We were lucky as it could have been worse.
So now Joelle and I are using the convertible that Jimmy gave to Laura and
Laura gave to Joelle! I am trying to keep mileage down so when Joelle is
ready to drive there will be a special car for Joelle.
Last night Joelle had a friend sleep over. They asked if they could sleep
in the family room. I said fine-but felt funny about opening the sofa bed-as
that is where Laura spent so much of her time. Well, I guess it was good
with Laura-because as I opened the bed there was one penny on the mattress!
I recently had an e-mail from a chemo friends Mom who was not sure if she
could do a cancer marathon in honor of her little daughter-as she completed
her first full practice distance there was a penny on the ground in front of
I remember being in intensive care with Laura and we saw her on TV rooting
for her brother doing a run in California! And now I know Laura is telling
her to go for it. These special ways that the Lord lets me know that Laura
is with us are special-no it does not take my pain away. It only makes me
eager to someday be with her-but not at the expense of leaving Joelle alone.
Thank you for all the good things you are all still doing for us. I am sorry
if I do not write notes or make the phone calls that I think I will do. But
to make that call-your love gives me the freedom to cry or get choked up and
then I feel bad or embarrassed. Some times I chock up over the dumbest
things like talking to the hospital or insurance company about coordinating
the statement correctly! They ask me for her birth date and I cannot get the
So please be patient with me I know I will probably crash more before I can
crawl back up. Thank you to Gene the web master for allowing me to
communicate this way!
God Bless and be safe
June 2, 2003
Well the rain has ended and the sun is out today! It is a good mood
elevator! Joelle has not been feeling well for a week now-
I am sure the culmination of life is part of it! But she has the fever,
throat, and no energy. Thank goodness the teachers and administration have
been helpful at her school.....not to mention the Mrs. G -the school nurse.
Unfortunately, many of our plans had to be canceled as well.
Courtney Wagner and Mom (Holly) were planning to visit on Friday as well as
the Squillaro's were up here from NJ and we were going to meet them at the
hotel. We canceled going to the Cove meeting Sunday evening as well!
Hopefully a couple more days and she will be back on track.....
Joelle's garden that she did with Larry is doing great! Joelle loves her
garden! My Swedish grand father was a professional gardener-so I guess that
is where she gets it. Laura use to laugh and say that she liked the products
but that the vegetable garden was Joelle's thing!
Memorial weekend we gave two families Pennies From Heaven and even went
bowling with them-we had a great time! They are 5 and 2 yrs old. Joelle
enjoyed this! And on Sunday The Zambrano family came up and planted the tree
that they and Nikki's parents bought for us at Christmas time. It was good
for Joelle -she enjoyed her talk with Aaron. It was also good for her to see
that not all hem/oc children react like Laura did.....
Last week the Freshman class had the sale of the purple ribbons for Laura's
memorial scholarship -- it sounds like they did well! And this past Sat. the
sophomore class had a car wash to honor Laura. So we took Laura's car
(which Laura gave to Joelle) to be washed! It was nice to see school friends
I know and do not know giving up another day for her! From what I
understand, the money will go to possibly the Ronald McDonald's house and
the scholarship for Laura.
Then, two lovely young ladies from Avon High came over to do a profile on
Laura for the school paper. It will be about how she affected the
community-so watch for it! I know Laura will be happy to see this as she
enjoyed being on the school paper with Mrs. Marzano in Pine Grove and then
at the middle school!
This Thursday will be the Avon For Dollars Scholarship awards -- we will be
part of it this year by giving the first Laura Vivian Santiago Memorial
Scholarship. My plan is to make it large enough so that it can continue each
year. The community has been so good to us-so this is a good way to give
back to those who are not sick but have helped the community.
Part of our criteria is that the recipient is a good student that is active
is community events, church activities, and good moral character.
And then this week end is the Relay for Life. The Rotary club is dedicating
their team to Laura. I remember when Laura was first diagnosed and under
treatment for a couple of months and Rotary was walking for Laura -
(you can see some of these pictures on our web site) Her Uncles and Aunts
came up from NJ and we all walked with Laura. I never thought she would not
be here now......
The pain of Laura not being here is so bad at times.....I wrote a friend
that it is like a tidal wave that hits from no where. Some times I think she
is on a trip and I am waiting for her to come back-but of course I know she
is in heaven asking the Lord to take care of us. So, thank you for your
special love and support.
And as always watch for those pennies! And thank you to those who have dropped pennies off at the bank! A special
thanks to the Bessel children!
Take care and God Bless.
I hope that everyone had a peaceful weekend. We did good-but it was hard at
the same time. My day started with Joelle surprising me with a fancy
breakfast in bed. She made me perfect home made waffles with a smoothie --
she served it beautifully garnished. She said she kept hearing Laura in her
head to be sure to clean up! Then she presented me with a very feminine
plant in a beautiful tulip painted pot. I guess while I was checking out
some supplies at the store, she and Jolie were busy checking this out for
After breakfast we followed Joan and Larry to Lourdes in Litchfield for
church. I did good until the memories of me taking Laura here as a baby
just to have quiet time in the park and then last time taking Laura in the
wheel chair here. The pain over came me and the tears came hard for a brief
period. I miss my Mother and ache for my first born.....At the end of the
service they had a pretty blessing of Mothers.
After that we went to White flower nursery and bought 3 purple columbine
plants call Remembrance. Joelle spotted them and wanted it for our yard. We
then went home, did a little yard stuff, had leftovers for super and went
into the hot tub. Then Joelle practiced her piano pieces for me.
It was as good as the day could be for us without Laura. I remember
last year Lucy at CCMC took Laura's picture for Mother's Day. I will cherish
that forever. Then Francoise brought a fancy dinner with her family to the
hospital so we could have a special meal together. She even brought special
This past week was a special week in other ways as well. We started the week
being presented by Pine Grove students $910. that was from their Pennies
From Heaven. The Hartford Courant gave a report on it. Joelle and
I felt so special about it and about being there! The second big item was
Rotary asked me to bring Joelle to the Meeting Friday. All I knew was that
they were going to do something special for her. Well, that special was the
Paul Harris Award. It is a very special one where you receive a beautiful
certificate, medal and pin. Our club gave money to Rotary International
Foundation in Joelle's Name. I remember when I was honored with one and
feeling so special-so you can imagine how I feel about Joelle!
Nancy Nation gave a beautiful talk about the reasons for Joelle receiving
it and Rev. Salin gave the announcement! Thank you Rotarians!!!! When I get
the pictures I will get them to Gene to post!
Have a good week every one and thank you for your prayers, love and support
on all levels.
Hi Everyone! We are back from Disney! We had some good laughs
and memories here! Joelle talked a lot about things that she and Laura
did at different times together. We found a penny on the floor by our feet
as we were waiting for our plane and a few other odd places in Florida. It
Joelle feel good to know that she is watching over us and is with us!
Because of this, Joelle finally has enough nerve to ride the roller
We made it to all 4 parks plus the water park there called Typhoon Lagoon.
It turned out our friend Robin S. was there for the day with some friends,
so we all enjoyed the park together. The wave pool was something else!!!
One night we went to the camp ground resort where they had show and dinner
done in an old western style. It was fun and uplifting!
The trip back we had first class seats! The first plane we were able to
totally recline back and sleep. We had our own personal TV with games etc.
The second plane was smaller but we had first class service. Joelle felt
so special from the beginning to the end! Yep and I felt special too! Thank
you again to this mystery person who did this for us!!!!!
Today Joelle was to play soccer but due to rain it is canceled-so she is
catching up on lost sleep!
Mark your calendars if you have time! June 6-7 is Relay For Life here
and the Rotary club has decided to again dedicate it to Laura-this year they
are naming it Laura Journey
Thank you Erin for posting for us about our Easter together.
I hope you enjoy reading how we spent the morning after church on Easter!
It is posted on my mail part of this web April 23. She wrote so
If you could have seen the 6 of us dancing to Laura's CD! We were doing
some fancy moves!
Take care every one and God Bless.
Nature shows funny curve balls on many levels-now the curve ball is
the weather fluctuation! Yesterday was heat and today winter jackets!
Sunday we met a wonderful lady name Sue from Special Wishes. She came to
visit us and present the give from an unknown person to us to Disney World.
With it is hotel, air fare, park passes, and even spending money! What a
special thing to do for us. We are so touch that someone would read about
Joelle and Laura and do this for us! At first Joelle was feeling odd about
it-but after Sue came to the house Joelle feels special!
So, thank you to this person and the organization. What we found out is that
Special Wishes is based in and for Connecticut children. There are no paid
administrative position-so it is all volunteer-as a result almost every
dollar given goes to the child's gift.
Thursday we met Aaron and Maryann Zambrano for dinner. I was happy to be
with Maryanne and Joelle was happy to be with Aaron. It is special to watch
how Joelle is happy to see Laura's chemo friends and feel so special about
It has been quite a month-blood drive, bone marrow drive, Passion Play
all in honor of Laura. This is a hard time of the year-as mentioned before.
She was Diagnosed on Easter Sunday 2 yrs ago and the relapsed after April
vacation last year.....
The Passion Play was wonderful! They ALL did a wonderful job!
Kevin had the roll of Jesus and as does happen in theater he had the last
min. nerves. I told him to picture Laura in his head and she would
be with him! He said he could do that! Well-Kevin did a wonderful job!
I know he would have done a great job any way-but it was nice that we could
reach out to her! Joan Gould used Laura's cover design from last year-so it
was also special to see her be part of this as she was in Last year's first
presentation for St. Anne. Thank you Joan. And, thank you all from St.
Anne's who did this.
For those celebrating Pass Over tonight -I wish you a warm spirit for this
special time of the year. And for those preparing this week with the
Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. May our celebration of our Risen Lord
allow us to rejoice.
May our soldiers be safe and the innocent be protected.
God Bless all of us.
Wee.....where are the lilies??? I hope they can get out from under the
snow soon! Joelle and I are doing OK - and getting ready for the Disney
We went to Bobbies to get our hair cut on Saturday-the first time I have
been in a real salon for a year!! Bobby would come to me at the hospital!
While we were there we were honored to see a young woman have Bobby cut
about 10 inches off for Locks for Love. They turn this into wigs for Chemo
Bobby donates her service doing this for them. How special that we could
thank this woman for doing this! Today is the blood drive at Roaring Brook
in honor of Laura.
Joelle is helping there with her friend Devon tonight. I will try to give
blood again -
years ago I tried twice and had a pH drop so was told not to try-but after
almost 20 years I will try aging tonight! It is so important!
Pennies from heaven is going like crazy! Pine grove told me they have $900.
for us to help families! And Heather Kayan gave me $100. from Pennies just
from their family! Joelle and I are so pleased.
Saturday is St. Anne's passion play dedicated to Laura. Joelle is happy as
is enjoying being with her and Laura's friends. It is this Sat. at 7 at the
It is emotional for Erin, Joelle, Joan and myself as last years was her last
performance just before relapse....
As for Laura, Joelle and I feel her presence a lot with us. We know and
believe she is in Heaven and she is watching over us. She enjoys Kim Savage
in the office with Anne-because she always signs for them!!! Her CD comes on
in the office -- and it is
scheduled as a random shuffle! The woman Laura is no longer with us-but we
have someone else that is very nice.
Nikki's Mom said the pain comes from missing them and being reminded of what
the girls have not been able to do before leaving us. This is true.
Well, have to get ready to see if I can give blood! I am so grateful to Gene
Gillis for keeping Laura's web site active so that I can keep all these
special memories and notes and photos together!
Hi all again! Maybe spring is here for a few weeks to stay! I can see
most of the yard now! Things have been going......some days better than
others.....I have finally started to cry which is part of the trip.......
There are so many things still being done and planned in Laura's honor. I
hear the bone marrow drive in Laura's memory at CCMC was a success. I keep
praying for a match for a special baby that needs a bone marrow transplant.
Laura as well as Joelle and I are so fond of this baby! Who knows if there
was someone from that group!
Then Roaring Brook will be having the blood drive. And then there is Pennies
From Heaven! We with Thompson Brook's participation and Rotary and friend
now have enough for 3 more recipients from our little account! Our friend
Aunt Donna went to a Batmitzva for a family friend in NJ last weekend and
the young lady did a beautiful Mitva based around Laura's Pennies - Donna is
going to post what she did. It was beautiful! But I will tell you it was a
success and even at the end they played Laura's song.....
Last Tuesday evening I was working on paper work and Joelle came down to
give me a phone call message. She slipped on the steps and really hurt her
hip where I needed to get her x-rayed and could not do it in my office
alone. She was so bad and in so much pain that our dear Uncle Larry had to
stay with Joelle while I drove the car around to take her to CCMC. Needless
to say it was like a horrible rerun for me.....but with a good out come.
Pushing her in the wheel chair was scary to me....She is still limping if
she walks a lot-but doing fine! Saturday my niece Jessica drove up for the
day. We went to the movies and for diner -it was nice having her here!
This Friday is the Students VS Teachers basket ball game at Thompson Brook
and I was invited to attend while they make a presentation to me and Joelle.
Today I was there picking up the pennies and it was so special to see the
"Pennies From Heaven" sign and "Laura's Legacy" sign up.
Last week we were invited to the middle school's coffee house performance.
As always, it was a great job. It brought a lot of special memories of when
Laura performed there and next year Joelle will be a student there.
It is a good icebreaker for me to do these things.
We were recently at a surprise birthday party for Aaron Z. Mom Marianne. It was warm being with some of the hemoc families -- but as happy as I was
being there, it felt funny too. I felt like I was in such a shell and cannot
at times focus off the lessons I have learned by being Laura and Joelle' s
Gail said the Build a Bear will be having a Large Nikki bear making the
circuit of hospitals and stores where they will have a belly for hearts to
be purchased for helping children with cancer. So Nikki is on the circuit!!!!!
I can imagine little Michelle M. and Laura enjoying this with Nikki while
fling around in heaven!
Last Thursday I went to a Chiropractic seminar in Rocky Hill. It was warm
seeing people I have not seen in a long time. I belong to a group of lady
Chiropractors call Mind Masters-We take turns hosting it and we have
agenda's on all aspects of our practices -- from clinical to insurance.
These ladies have been SO SO wonderful to me and supportive. They have been
supportive and like family to me.
Beth F. Girl Scouts have been delivering us Monday night meals. How warm,
supportive, and delicious!
Then there is my Rotary family who every Friday go out of there way to make
me feel special about being there! It is warm to watch the Penny bank go around!!!
Then St. Anne's has still been there for us. Confirmation classes delivering
meals and Joan Gould always checking on us and making Joelle feel good.
If you want tickets to the Passion Play let me know. It will be performed at
the High School on April 12. Joelle is in it again. Laura was so happy last
year that she was in it. It was truly her last performance! Joelle is happy
to "hang out" with the teens as it makes her feel good too.....
Well, I have to get back to work.
God Bless all of you and may peace be restored in a short time period for
I thought by now it would feel warmer -- but it is not!!!
Well, Joelle and I celebrated our birthdays this past week. It was full of
emotions for me. For Joelle as for me-it was difficult not having Laura have
her party. And then for my birthday it was hard. Laura and Joelle always
made my birthday something special for me to them it was-my special day....I
have wonderful memories of the two of them throwing me surprise parties.
Even hearing them start the day getting ready to serve me breakfast in bed.
They had no money but they made a list and called people to help! Then last
year with Francoise help Laura with Joelle's help made me a formal sit down
dinner with the good China and all! Laura even made the center piece! I came
up from work and found this wonderful present waiting for me!
Joelle talked about how the two would start planning and make a list about
what they were going to do for me for my birthday, The twinkle in Joelle's
eyes revealed how much she enjoyed that! This year Joelle planned to take me
out-we just were not sure where. So since the weather was nice we went to
our friends-the Pollens and then continued to Fox Woods where Joelle
arranged for us to have dinner at the Chinese restaurant and have them sing
Happy Birthday to me. It was different then the past but still full of love.
I felt bad for Joelle because I could see the pressure she had on her...She
also gave me a beautiful pin that is an angel with rhinestones on it. Gail
Giampolo took her shopping at West Farms Mall so that she could get me a
present. Also they visited Build A Bear. Joelle said-Mommy Everybody knows
Aunt Gail there!!!!
Joelle came home with a beautiful Irish Bear! For those of you who do not
know this - Joelle has a passion to be Irish!!!!
The office is slowly getting reorganized for the paper work....and I have a
new assistant now -ironically her name is Laura! My dear friend Anne has
volunteered to come in on Mondays and help with "special" projects for me.
She has been coming here for a long time and is familiar with things so it
was a big help! I have a good deal-she volunteers, brings lunch and flowers
and makes me sit and have lunch!!!!!! Her projects are almost over and I
will miss this treatment!!!
Joelle had her stitches taken out last Thursday - from her minor gum
So that is done except for follow up checks on it! Something I needed to do
with her a while ago.....
I am Happy that Charlie is home safe now -I heard it was a wonderful
adventure! And I so happy that he got to meet up with our family friend
Robin Nemeth in Australia! This week is the dedication of the teen room for
Laura at Connecticut Children's. It will be the first time Joelle and I will
be there since Laura was there.......When Laura had a small window to return
to Connecticut she said she did not want to and wanted to stay in NY
-because she loved so many in CT and did not want to feel she could not hang
in there any longer;;;
As for Pennies from heaven - I am happy to say that Thompson Brook
Elementary School already donated more than $200. worth of Pennies!
So Joelle decided that one recipient will be a family at CT. Children's and
another will be a family from Avon. These will be families where a parent
has had to stop work due to a sick child. We will give them a $100. in
cash-so they will have it in hand to use as needed for whatever-parking,
gas, a dinner treat etc. Thank you Thompson Brook!
Roaring Brook is sponsoring a blood drive in Laura's memory-so watch for
that as well! This too was important to Laura as well as to me and Joelle.
Well-have to get ready for the office.
Thank you every one for all the special meals and special cards. It means a
lot to us.
Hi all! Today Joelle is 12 years old! It is hard to believe. Today I will
make it as special as I can for her! She has been so caring toward me and I
am so proud of her.
We had a good time on our R&R. Joelle was hesitant about leaving but ended
up she liked the rest and did not want to leave! It gave us time to smile,
remember, and grieve..... At the end we were able to visit the Shrine of
Guadeloupe which was an added bonus as She was present in our home and
Some times I feel like I have to pretend that the feelings are temporary and
they hurt so bad because I know it is not. From what I have read and
know-this will never go away just need to learn to deal with each situation
differently. It is very different from when my parents left the earth by
hitting a tree in a car accident 10 years ago. I thought that was horrible
and painful -- but you know someday they will go before you. But not
Laura lets us know her presence and that will keep us hopeful that we will
see her again in the long future. Our friends and the hem/oc parents have
been wonderful to us! And there is always something special being done for
us in town and else where! It all represents that we are not alone in the
journey and for Joelle particularly I appreciate it.
The article about what Charley is doing in Australia was great in the Avon
Thank you Lisa! And Pennies are showing up every where!
Well Take care and I will update,
February 12, 2003
Hello all! Hope all is staying warm. I hope Joelle does not have school
in July with the hard season.....Joelle did a great job at her school
assembly talking about her love for Laura and how they came up with "Pennies
Then Charley Hubert's daughter talked about what her Dad is doing for the
teen room and us in Australia. They played Laura CD. The children were all
so respectful and listened to the program......needless to say my eyes were
full of tears. I was so proud of these 2 girls and hurting at the same time
March 11 is the official naming of the teen room at CCMC for Laura -
keep posted to Laura's web on how that goes....
Uncle Jimmy will be sending me and Joelle to the mountains in Mexico for
a health rest to get some energy back. This is more for me than Joelle. It
will be odd traveling without Laura...it sort of scares me as I am always feeling comfortable in the number 3 as a
I had been thinking that it would be nice one day if I could take Joelle to
some place fun for her -- like Disney. And then I received a phone call that
through Special Wishes a very kind lady wants to send us to Disney for a few
days since we never got to do Make-A-Wish with Laura! The date has not been
set yet. Do you think Laura had any thing to do with this?????
Some times I feel she is so close that I can hear her or hold her hand when
I am sleeping.....I miss her so deep so deep. I always say to the girls I
love you so deep so deep -- but now I miss so deep so deep as well.
Joelle has a nice time at St. Anne's working on the Passion Play. I think
they are getting off to a great start! And, tonight she signed up for spring
Well, I will end here. Keep an eye on how Charley is doing on
I am working on the thank you card. But if I missed any one-please forgive
me as some times I thank them in my mind and heart and then cannot remember
if I I wrote the card.
Well, I hope every one has a nice Valentine Day.
Well, the time is going-some times so fast that I wonder where the
day wondered off to and other times especially at night-it seems so
long.....I quasi that is part of the process. Joelle and I are busy worrying
about how each other is doing-so that is good --
as when Laura was alive, it still feels like a roller coaster with my
I panic what will happen when I stop taking care of things related to
The event in New Jersey was wonderful and emotional. Some friends were there
that I saw during the course of Laura's illness and others I have not seen
since my parents hit the tree and passed away. It was nice for Joelle see
so many people come out on a cold winter week night for us because of
knowing us from "the old neighborhood"
As for CT - our friend Charley leaves soon for Australia to begin his bike
ride for Laura and the teen room. Rotary is trying to locate hosts homes
for him as well as our Robin Nemeth in Australia is doing so through the
Chiropractors in Australia. And then, at CCMC, at the end of the month they
will be putting the sign up dedicating the room for Laura and something
about her. They are also having a bone marrow drive for the donor registry
and dedicating it to Laura in March.
Our friend Theresa is in Feb. is doing a run in New Orleans and dedicating
it to the memories of her son Jake and Laura. We think they are flying
around together in heaven.....so they will be pushing Theresa on in New
We were in New Orleans for a seminar when Laura was first getting bad-and I
was staring to worry that I had to order an MRI because her regular spine
ray looked ok......after class we went looking for a dress for the 8 th
grade graduation.....we did not find one there but had fun looking just the
I am back in the office getting back into the saddle slowly and trying to
update myself! The patients are kind and every so often a patient will ask
how is Laura - then some tears when I do not expect them and when I think I
will have some I can hide it....
Joelle will be 12 on March 1st. -Wow where did the time go? I was pregnant
with her when I joined Rotary. Tomorrow, I will try to go to Rotary if my
emotions are OK. They love us and we love them!
Father Guerrilla has been keeping an eye on us as is many others from church
and the community. Thank you my friends....
Joelle and I are trying to "get it together" and we are doing our
We are blessed by all the concerned wishers. The other day I received a
poster signed by a Boy Scout troop that meets at Thompson Brook School!
Every day there is a sweet memory......
Today Joelle and I went to Laura's mausoleum. I explained to Laura that
she was going for a ride with us too and that this was a marker to honor
and not a place that we were leaving her at.
We brought her CD player, played some music and danced to it in the
As we did a beautiful ray of sun light came in. We were sure that Laura
was dancing and singing with us! I am sure that if someone came in they
would think we were disrespectful-but it was anything else
but.....Joelle was OK with this and so was I - and that is important!
We are trying to get things in order at home-but the grief and
distraction some times makes the time aimlessly pass.....
Joelle has been back to school-however I would get her during her lunch
and recess and go to lunch-once we went out and then the rest of the
time we ate at home. It was a good safety net for the 2 of us.......
Kathy Marzano is working to get her caught up. Joelle feels like she is
OK-so that is good!
Thursday afternoon we plan to attend the fund raiser in NJ that is
honoring Laura.....it will be nice to see old NJ friends and also meet
I know it will be emotional -- but warm.....
Meals are coming to us which is a help when I am trying to get things
done and focus on Joelle.
My friend Dr. Karen Shields will be scanning special pictures of Laura
to the web master -- so when you are ready take a look at the happy
times Laura had....just click on the home page where he has a notice
about my pictures.
Thank you Gene and Karen.
Karen's son Odin made a beautiful video of Laura at Sloan Kettering
during the last week of her life. He correlated it to Laura singing.
What a keep sake! Thank you Odin, as I appreciate how hard and emotional
that was to do it!
Well, -I best get back to reorganizing!
By the way Pennies from Heaven is taking off!
My dear friends
It is hard to believe that tomorrow is one week since Laura went
The last couple of days her eyes were closed but she responded by noise
One such time was when a patient of my brother's who is a minister
prayed for her on the phone. While the phone was by her ear she was
praying with him.
Yes, she was ready to see Jesus. Our dear Father Guerrarra anointed her
when he visited and she was re anointed by the hospital priest and even
received Holy Communion.....
The night before she took her flight she was very anxious and was
reaching out to me and Joelle. Joelle was up quickly and for more than 2
hours talked Laura through so many happy journeys they had together. I
marveled watching the love between them and I know that that will never
Then tired Joelle and I fell asleep. We had 2 beds pushed together-so
the 3 of us were together. About 10AM I woke up and noticed that Laura
was breathing calmly about the same rate but not making the hard noises.
I ordered something for Joelle to eat for when she could get up and then
returned calls back to my brother Jim and then to my sister Ramona.
Ramona was blocks away only....
An assistant came in while on the phone and told the sleeping Laura that
Joelle was sleeping next to her....
When off the phone, I looked up and saw she just stopped breathing.
I quickly put her CD on and told Joelle to wake quickly as Laura was
getting her angel wings. We stood there with such emotion and peace at
the same time.
We called the nurse and she called the doc. -I was right she was in
Leave it to Laura to make sure that I had a few winks of sleep and to
wait for Ramona to almost be here but to give me and Joelle that special
private time to see her pass!
Joelle asked the nurse to take all the tubes out and then proceeded to
wash her face and her hands in a loving sister fashion.....she thought
the deceased would be scary-but she was not-she was love.....
The hospital was supportive and loving during this hard time. Even one
of her nurses came in on her off day to help us prepare to leave. Child
life was wonderful with Joelle and gave her presents and special loving
attention. Leaving Laura was so hard.....
Prior to Laura's passing the girls talked about how Laura would let
people know she was around. Laura told Joelle that she would always be
around but when she saw a penny that would be a special sign from Laura.
From there, the 3 of us took it to the next level and decided to collect
pennies and when we get to
$100. in pennies we will change it for a one hundred dollar bill and
give it in an envelope to a parent who had had to stop work due to their
We will call it" Laura's Pennies from Heaven". This is something many
people are now excited about! You too can do this in honor of Laura for
a child in your location.
As for the funeral home -- they too are wonderful and so kind to us.
and his sister just took care of all the details. The wake was nonstop
of people from before 4PM and went to after 9 PM. That evening, we had
Father start with a prayer and then near the end had Kevin give a
beautiful narration about Laura going to heaven, DR Kissel talked about
Laura being a Rotarian and doing the 4 way test and her civic
commitments such as the teen room at CCMC, Francoise Miller who was her
school home teacher turned family member to us talk about Laura and her
Joan Gould youth minister for Laura and her experiences with that, and
Rev. Falsey a special family friend said special memories about Laura.
I felt so bad however, because I kept telling people how Kathy Marzano
past teacher for both Laura and Joelle was going to talk about them and
to have her introduced! I felt awful about it-but she mailed me a letter
with her special message in it....
The next day we had a large processional to the church. Joelle was so
impressed at all the police escorts and so many people.....Her pall
bearers were her cousin Greg, John Erocole who prayed and supported us,
Craig who helped her make her CD,
Larry M, Peter B, and Jim K who are like Uncles to her. Her God parents
Aunt Mona and Uncle Phil did readings from the Bible. Then eulogies were
done by her sister Joelle, her baby sister type friend Erin Buonome,
Cousin type friend Anthony Squillaro, and then by her dear Uncle Jimmy
who was with us so often on a regular basis....
The music was beautiful. Ezequiel Menendez always said that he will come
from wherever he is to play for the girl's wedding. Well, he honored us
by preparing the music program for Laura. He on the organ, Mercedes-his
wonderful wife on the piano, A trumpet player, the women and chamber
choir under the direction of Jackie Pruett from Avon High, the Cantors
were Carl who is now Joelle's music teacher at school and Bonnie who use
to be at St. Anne's and is at the Cathedral and was Laura's first voice
teacher and came to her school to give a talk on opera. It was truly
Alter servers were youth that knew Laura and then we were blessed to
both Father McCarthy and Father Guerrarra celebrating the Mass.
Father Victor's homily was wonderful and so personal to Laura. It was
beautiful and all knew he had a special relationship with us during our
And then, as an added present the Bishop that confirmed Laura - Bishop
Maccaluso was also on the alter and addressed us and did the final
blessing for Laura. I was so proud and pleased for Laura and for the
community that I live in.
The procession to the cemetery was also long and then final resting
They too were so special to me and Joelle.
When we returned to St. Anne's it was beautiful. They had tables
decorated in purple with flowers. Aunt Mona helped with some of the
expenses and many donated food from the church and community. We had
food that we were able to send to the shelter-which pleased Laura I am
sure! Kathryn, you did a great job with the other ladies. Thank you!
So now Joelle and I are home trying to continue and make new ways....and
it will be hard.
I feel so anxious at times......and Joelle has described the same......
We are truly honored by all the things every one has done-by thought,
prayer, action etc.
We love you and ask that you pray for the children in treatment who are
so dear to us and for the families who have angels in heaven. For now,
as Anthony said,
we can pray to her instead of for her!
Mom and Joelle
My Dear Friends,
Thank you for all your wonderful messages and love.
And, thank you Billy Powers from Avon High for helping to contact Faith
about Laura! She had a smile on her face that I had not seen in a while
when she received a beautiful "Patrick the Pup" stuff dog from her. And
then the next day she had a phone call from Faith Hill. All three of us
got to talk to her. She is one nice lady who made my girls and me very
happy and special! Thank you Billy, Faith Hill, and her manager!
Laura, as is typical for her, is surpassing her 3 more days and is with
for Christmas week! Our Christmas was peaceful. Her Uncle Phil
and Aunt Sue came for a visit Christmas Eve and on Christmas
Uncle Jimmy and Dawn, Aunt Mona and Steve, and cousin Jessica
were all here together. There was a pediatric family Christmas dinner
for the families on Christmas Day so Joelle took them down for dinner
while Laura and I had ours in her room. Then, as is typical of other
years, we watched a couple of videos in Laura's room. The sweetness here
is the open love between us.......Joelle said it was the best Christmas
because we could express our love to each other so freely......
Two days ago, they were able to transfer her to a special stretcher that
changed into a chair. This was a special adventure. I took her off the
floor to the lobby with Joelle, Alba and Danny (from Uncle Jimmy's
office) helping me! She was sitting there with her eyes closed but
taking in the change.......it was a special time!
Laura is incredible - I was told to have my brother come back from his
conference because Laura had a few days. He arrived and her kidneys
started clearing urine! Her liver has improved some. The biggest problem
is that her legs do not move and she does not feel her legs
and her mouth the last couple of days has become very painful
so they are increasing one of her anti-viral meds to help
Yes the cancer cells are there.
Yes, we are praying for our miracle-but I realize that it was a miracle
that she was here for Christmas!
The other night I had a dream that the three of us were in Puerto Rico
on vacation. The hotel gave us a place right on the water because of
Laura's legs. The three of us were in the water and oh so happy and
free. When it was time to get out she walked!!!! It was as if she was
healed in God's water. It was a good dream.........
Laura is tired to write but has asked me to write to you and
ask the following.
If you visit her she wants you to remember she is the same Laura on the
inside and well as on the out side and that she wants you to think of
her as the Laura you know. She also wants to tell you that she loves
you and is grateful for everything.
My dear friends,
Life is very hard for us now....I have Joelle here with us a week
The cancer is present and her kidney and liver is not working well.
I look at my baby who is preparing for her next flight and I want to
scream, cry and yet be so proud of her. She asked me this morning to not
break because I have Joelle and that she loves us.
How can this gift leave us?????Yet -every morning I think-maybe today is
the miracle? Please pray for us.
Laura is struggling to recover from the second round of chemo.
Her organs have taken a hard hit and not all the cells are gone yet. So
we ask that everyone pray for that special miracle. Next week they will
do a second bone marrow check on her cells.
I am eager to see Joelle! She is coming up on Thursday this week!
Thank you for all your notes sent to NY, e-mails, making sure things are
OK in CT., driving Joelle, your blood and platelets, support spiritually
and monetarily, etc., etc., etc.
I hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving. Laura ended up in their
"observation" room which is a step down from intensive care. So it was
good-she had some monitoring while she got her self back in order...
Her heart is good, Liver and kidney improving. Nausea present but
decreasing. The legs are still having problems.
Next week she will have an MRI and bone marrow check and we will know
where we are headed with this plan......so I need prayers for good
counts, decreased tumor, good bone marrow and spinal tap results, and
some WBC. Also she keeps eating her platelets so she needs them too!!!
Joelle had a good time here-child life put her to work setting tables
She saw the parade balloons and went out for a late NYC Thai dinner on
Wed night, Thurs. she went on the subway and saw Macy's with Aunt Teresa
and Uncle George NGO ' daughter Jennifer, Friday she and I walked around
here, Sat. we walked to see FAO Swartz and the stores while Laura was
doing a project with child life.
On Thanks giving- we did not have our regular dinner-but Aunt Mona,
Jessica, and Uncle Jimmy were here for a dinner that the hospital gives
for the family. The food was good. We have a lot to be thankful for and
also for all the wonderful things people have done for us.
We are doing OK-but I am tired and Laura's legs and hips are very
At first they thought she could have infection in the bone but all is
OK-but severe inflammation causing severe pain.....Her AVN hip
problems..... Plus some neuropathy from the chemo in her legs. Her
screaming in pain was breaking me emotionally -- so I had a hard time
talking to anyone for a while.
Joelle was a big help there,,,,,
As for Joelle, she finally made it back to Avon Wed. night! Linda and
Peter Buonome went on a hunt for Laura's hip and pelvis x-rays and Peter
drove here with them and brought Joelle back to Avon. Thank you! If any
of you are going to NY and can bring Joelle to me or back-let me know.
She usually comes on Friday evening and returns Sunday.
Today Laura is also having blood and platelets-she was excited to have
Donna Squillaro 's blood last week and today she is having Tony
Squillaro! It was fun to see the bag have "direct donor" written on it!
Laura is A+ blood so if any of you want to and can donate blood or
platelets when visiting us please let us know!
Laura has enjoyed receiving the cards,etc. mailed to her-it feels good
for both of us to read her "fan" mail.
Well,-Laura needs me-so I have to help her. Keep praying!
We are doing OK! It is hard sharing a room....Laura has pain in he hips
Tomorrow they are doing another full spine MRI - to make sure all is OK
Monday will be a bone marrow check and next round of chemo for 5 days.
Joelle is coming Sat -we miss her....
We are doing OK! Laura is back in for fever - but doing OK. Sat she
had another MRI and the tumor appears 50% less in the pelvis!
She is having leg pains -- but possibly due to some invasion on the
nerve in the breakdown, So we are very happy!
As for the Leukemia part-she will have a bone marrow test next Monday -
but they are hopeful that there will be good decrease. Her next chemo
will also start again that day!
SO keep those prayers going!!!!!!
Laura met the educator here -- so she has work to do also!!!!!
Hi all from the Ronald McDonald House! We are doing OK- Laura has
some mouth soars and nausea-but nothing new to her.... Sat she will have
an MRI of the sacral area to keep an eye on that tumor.
There was concern about it getting too close to the foramina in the
The people here are very nice and are use to chemo kids!
The volunteers are also wonderful and committed.
Joelle went to court for the day with Aunt Mona-she learned a lot
watching her Aunt in action as a Judge. That evening she also got to see
the play Annie. Another exciting NJ adventure for her! Now however that
she is with us over night -she is already upset about leaving. She is a
help to me and a good mood elevator to Laura!
Yesterday we had to go to the clinic unplanned because the patches gave
her cuts on her skin. But ended OK. Her counts are still 0 WBC. It is
good for Joelle to be part of things here.
Hope some of you were able to check the link on the Ronald McDonald's
facility here. Those caps that Mrs. Dully's daughter was collecting for
is part of this place! When the nurse Diane from CCMC gave us 2 bags for
Mrs. Dully never did I realize the importance! Thank you to Diane and
the Dully family.
Yesterday we had a wonderful visit from the Friars. They did a
healing prayer for Laura here in the chapel. What happy people they are!
They brought us a beautiful cross blessed by the Pope and some other
gifts that we will cherish! This occurred because of Mary Bangs sister
who is from NY. so, thanks again!
Well, I best get back up to Laura. Keep the prayers coming and remember
when possible to keep Joelle feeling important and special!
Hi every one!
It hard to believe that more than a week has passed! We are doing OK.
The room feels tight-but tonight our room mate was discharged. She was a
lovely person-but it made us feel so cramped! If you saw us at CCMC-we
look like we are at a college dorm! But no room here!!!!!
Joelle is here ad I get to hound her on homework - but I really want to
say forget it and enjoy the time with us!!!
In a couple of days we may be out patient at the Ronald McDonald
house-which will be another transition-but good.
Her ANC is 0-but no blasts in the blood!
Friday she saw Tara - an old CCMC nurse who works in NYC now and Sat.
she was also surprised by seeing her primary ccmc nurse Jocelyn. She was
so so happy. She also enjoys the calls and notes from the CCMC crew!
Tuesday, the Buonome family is coming-and that will be great as well.
Donna Squillaro has been so helpful with us and with Joelle. Uncle Jimmy
also has helped us get settled here. And Joelle now is sleeping at Aunt
Mona's-goes to court with her and a police officer takes Joelle in to
NYC on his off time.
Well, it is late and I should try to sleep while Laura does and while no
noise from another person in the room as well. For those who
can-remember to vote!
For those who do not know what a Ronald McDonald house is-check here!
Many do not know what a wonderful place this can be for us.
Click here: Official Site of the Ronald McDonald House of New York City
Happy Halloween every one! I hear the pumpkins in the front yard
look great this year! Hope all are having a great day!
Laura is doing much better on pain control now-which is good.
The travel here was hard on her-but in Laura's style, she tightens
up the belt and goes forward! They have started Laura on a study
chemo-and we pray that there is an effect after some rounds.
Every one here is very nice and realize how Laura misses her CCMC
family. As we were leaving the house she turned to every one and made an
announcement-she said -- "I want you all to know that I am going to make
it. End of statement!"
We miss Joelle so much! Friday she will be coming down with Francoise
while she is away and Joelle will be here for a week. They are redoing
the bone marrow blood tests for the girls on Friday. Each place does
We have been set up with a Ronald McDonald House for our time here. It
is quite the place in NYC - so big. The pedi floor is old because it is
transition-this is a temporary place until the new floor is redone in a
year and a half. Also, Joelle cannot sleep here.
So far Laura has had a CT scan, Muga scan, MRI. Our dear Dr. Hagstrom
helped to make the transition smooth for us here and they assured us
that they will keep him informed on how we are doing.
Any way-for those who want to contact us-we are at
Memorial Sloan-Ketering Cancer Center
5th floor -room22A
1275 York Ave.
Or, if you are afraid that we will miss the mail, send it to the
Ronald McDonald House of NYC
Santiago -room 309
405 East 73 St.
Well, have a good one!
Hi all. Laura made it to be home for her 15th birthday. Twice we
thought we were going to the ER for pain management --but she got under
control and had a nice time at home with ice cream cake given to us by
Rotary and we had turkey tacos.
As for Joelle-she is the best sister for Laura. She maintains love and
dignity for Laura. And Laura, loves and worries about her.
As for our next medical plan - We are going today to Memorial
Sloan-Kettering in NYC. I feel that I need to check every option for
Laura and Laura still wants to fight even though the pain can get bad at
times. It will be harder in the city for us-and more difficult to not
see Joelle all the time-but the 3 of us understand that it is something
we want to do.
Please keep the prayers and send Laura cards once we are settled there!
Hello all! Well, we are home and will be doing a lot of day
procedures at the clinic!
Joelle was shocked to see us surprise her Thursday! Of course, we were
happy too! On Friday, before clinic and school we made it to Rotary - it
was SO SO nice to be there-they are extended family to us and we know
they love us too! After breakfast there we took Joelle to school and
then for a day at the clinic including platelets.
This weekend she will have her infusions at home and Monday back as a
day patient. Wed she will also have another radiation meeting and
Thursday to check her bone marrow in the OR. So pray that that is great!
As for her CT scan -- the tumor is definitely smaller-with no additions!
But radiation is needed because of their persistency of the cells.
Joelle cannot leave Laura's side at home. She is the best sister Laura could
Our friend Gene who is the web master is moving to Florida Tuesday and
we will miss seeing him. He too is so wonderful to us.... From Florida
he will continue doing this for us! When this is over Laura will be able
to print all the wonderful messages and journals and keep in paper form!
What a gift!
So keep those encouraging messages coming for the girls!
There will be a break on the web-but I will continue to post to him and
messages will be forwarded to him until he is in Florida.
Hi all from CCMC! Laura is looking good-she is off food by IV and
has slowly started eating again. She stills gets platelets and blood
transfusions. For example, late last evening she had the "feeling"
that she need blood-and she did! Today she worked with Francaise
- her teacher. And, she walked a lap around the floor plus had PT!
Her counts are coming back-which is good.
Tomorrow she will have a CT scan -- at about FPM.
So the focused prayer is for an easy test with good results and while
the cells come back-only the good ones come back -- no blasts in the
marrow or in the blood!
Joelle is doing better-she was home with a cold-but sounds better --
and Amanda did a good job taking care of her at home.
There is a lot going on this weekend for Laura-the youth group at church
is having golf in the dark for her Sat. and Sun is the walk for Laura in
West Hartford. These events mean a lot and remind us of how supported we
are. The last time we came home it was late and rainy and it was
wonderful to see what Don Bonnar and Tom Voorhees from Rotary made in
the house for us so that there was ramp access for her from the garage.
Thank you Tom and Don for that and all the other
things done at home!
Next week Laura will turn 15 on the 20th -- where did the time go?
Hopefully she will be home with good counts! That Monday she will begin
a week of radiation...
Well, have to go now!
Hi All - we are still at the children's Hospital! Laura's fever has
not gone up as much as the first night but has returned up and down.
And, of course the mouth soars have returned - so the eating has stopped
almost! She is uncomfortable and tired of all the re-runs but wants to
live and get on with things. We have been reading the Lance Armstrong
book together-she loves me reading out loud to her......I really thought
we would be here a few days -- but it will be longer, so I had Laura's
wheel chair, refrigerator a micro wave for the room brought in today.
She does better with this in the room. It is so painful to watch Laura
be so uncomfortable and beg for a pain med. Joelle seems to be doing
well. She and Amanda were invited out to dinner last night with
Christina Bill-so that must have been fun for them in the middle of the
week! Tonight is orientation for the parents at Joelle's school. I feel
so bad that I am not there but Laura is not herself today so Francaise
will go in my place. I told Joelle that Mrs. Miller will give me all the
information! And, that when Laura is home I will ask for a tour with
Laura! Laura is also eager to see Joelle's school as well....
Well, thank you every one who is making our life less stressful!
Hello all -- we got home very late Thurs. Her counts are very low-so
no company now! Now we watch for her immunity, fever, or need for
platelets or blood, etc. It was nice to be home and not have people in
the room at all times!!!
Joelle stayed at the neighbors because Amanda got sick-so Joelle will be
shocked this morning to find us home!
As for our little friend Michelle-she is in heaven with NiKki now......
Hello all-still at CCMC! Laura's chemo stopped the
night before last and on the last day she started with the nausea, vomiting, etc.
Her ANC is holding but she has had no lymphocytes in a while so they
started her on immuno globulin (IGG) -- as it turned out Laura started
with a reaction when they increased the rate. Needless to say, I "acted"
calm on the outside. Our friend Aunt Gail was here to get a picture of
Laura for a walk that she is doing for Nikki and "crew" in St. Louis and
a new friend Linette - who came to talk to us to find out how her
foundation can help us. Linette and Gail were very calming for me --
watching Laura go through this reaction. They will do the procedure this
afternoon again-but at a slower rate. We want her to be able to fight
This after noon Laura will have a CT scan for radiation and simulator
Now, for up beat news-she asked if after the radiation apt. if I could
get her Linguini with chicken Franchise! A great sound to a Mother's
ears. So it will be delivery food from the Italian restaurant across the
I have another favor to ask, a little friend of ours Michelle is at home
in hospice. Please keep her and her family in your prayers.
Hi all! Many of you have seen the beautiful article on Joelle and
Laura in the Hartford Courant. It came out so nice.....
It was so hard to leave home-and it looked so nice there. So many
neighbors and friends and strangers have been so kind to us keeping
things nice there for us!
We are back in the hospital and the chemo plan was changed because
Laura's Bone Marrow test came back as positive for Leukemia again ... so
they have both to take care of. As a result of this-radiation will be
done on Laura for the lymphoma tumor as well....Laura is doing OK -
just very tired with this chemo treatment. Radiation will be in a few
Joelle, could not be a better loving sister and so attentive to her
Keep us in your prayers.
Hi all from home still! Tomorrow we will go back - it feels too
I had Joelle go through the rest of her winter cloths and we washed
every thing...she will of course need to get more pants, boots, snow
pants. But the coat is still OK! Then, we washed blankets etc....
It was nice seeing Laura with her teacher-Francoise Miller at home
working again!!! She had an acute pain issue in her shoulder and leg
last night-but we got it under control without the ER! I feel so bad
inside when she hurts that bad...but then she slept very well the rest
of the night! It was nice to cuddle up to her and then I would go in and
cuddle up next to Joelle.
I beg and pray for her pain to ease away as with the cancer.....
Hi all from home!!!!!! It is nice to all be home!! She is
doing well --
just the pain and fatigue. We went to see Joelle's soccer game -- and
that was nice. Joelle did a great job! The Squillaro family game up to
watch the game and have a short visit with us at the house. It was nice
to see them -a long drive for a short visit-but Laura was happy to see
Tonight we went to the ER-some pain issues and I was afraid her blood
may be low -- but she was pain controlled and went back home!
As for the tumor, it is smaller and definitely not bigger! So Wed. she
will have a spinal tap with chemo and bone marrow test and another chemo
infusion round. Hopefully this will be the charm!
For those following the Jewish Faith, we hope your 2 special times have
been good and peaceful.
Good Morning to all! Laura started drinking her contrast at 6:30
this morning-not exactly orange juice! After her scan at 11 AM she will
have another PT session and then home for a few days. The plan is that
early next week we will be back in for bone marrow and spinal tap with
the start of more chemo. Of course Laura says, and maybe the tumor will
be all gone!! It has been almost 5 months since we slept at home! It
will probably be strange and wonderful -- even though it will be a short
amount of time!
Joelle is so excited! She and Amanda came last night to take some of our
stuff home-and after 5 months we have a lot!! We arrived off the air
plane to an ambulance with back packs -- and now-so much wonderful
Say a prayer that the scan shows something positive.
Hello all! Today was a quiet day. She has pain in different places
-- but looks so much stronger than a month ago. Her counts are coming
back up and if she can get the contrast down she will have another
contrast CT scan on Thursday - they are talking about sending us home
the end of the week for a little while.
The glide stairs are in for her so she will be able to be at home and
not stuck in one room! She is happy about knowing that the house is
prepared for her.
Joelle is doing fine. Busy now with homework! I miss her so much and am
so proud of her!
Tomorrow, is a day that we have all been affected in one way or another.
The hospital is having a service for this at lunch time.
Joelle said they are wearing red, white and blue clothing in honor of
the day. I pray we all have peace soon on many levels......
Sept 8 -10PM
Laura has started with a fever -- so I pray it is a minor
her as she has a very low ANC. On top of this she may be getting
irritation in her esophagus -- last time she had this it was so bad that
she could not sip water without severe pain.....so far she has minimal
mouth sores.....as for bone and muscles -a lot of pain in the legs and
Please pray for our miracle for her and the many children we have met
Hi every one-looks like we are getting some summer weather back!
The last few days have been busy for us. We went home on a pass for a
few hours Thursday and Friday. This was so we could see how Laura and I
could manage getting in and out of the house and to order an electric
chair glider so she can get up the stairs from the family room. This
way, when we can be home to stay or visit-things will be ready for her.
Oh and we bought a portable ramp to get in and out of the house.
The first night she was in terrible pain when we returned-the next night
bad pain but less. Last night we went to a restaurant by the hospital --
by Trinity College - Joelle Linda and Erin went with us. The food was
great and their food-chicken, meats and eggs as well are organically
Laura wants to go to Trinity College - so we will have a good dinning
place to go to!
She was in discomfort and pain-but did it!
Today her ANC is only 100 - so we were lucky she got out when she
did...so hopefully she does not get fever.....
It is so hard to watch her and wonder what effect the chemo has done
Saturday the youth group did a car wash for us. Joelle participated as
well. It had to be the best deal in town. I understand that with the car
wash they had free muffins and handed out pretty little round candles in
a glass container with a prayer for Laura attached to the lace doily.
The prayer went like this-
"Oh, Holy Lord thank you for our angel Laura Santiago who touched many
hearts by being an example for us and remaining strong and faithful in
the face of adversity. Please help Laura overcome her cancer by praying
for a miracle. Amen."
If as part of your prayers, if you could add this special one-Laura,
Joelle and I would love it! Thank you for all who worked or went to the
car wash. These events are so help full financially as well as
emotionally for us! Thank you again.....
Joelle is very happy with school and has started soccer as well.
She says Amanda can get her up in the morning!!!!!Wow!
Pray that the cancer is leaving as you read this!!!! and that she has
minimal side effects and no infections.
God Bless all of you and thank you for being there for all of us on all
Hope everyone is having a good Labor Day weekend.
It is hard to believe that we saw Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor
Day here. So much time in such a short space in our heart.....
Joelle was so happy on Friday because Laura and I surprised her by Laura
feeling OK for me to leave with Joelle to take her to school for
orientation. Joan Gould stayed with Laura while I left for the hour.
Joelle's school is beautiful-it was weird to be "out" of the hospital
without something for Laura! Phyllis picked Joelle up and then Joan
brought Joelle back before her work started at Hartford Hospital. It
felt great to be able to do this with Joelle. Today Joelle connected
with Amanda G.. She was having a good time with her here. I am so
grateful to her and her parents for letting us have her here.
As for Laura-tonight her chemo will stop for this session. She has done
well. It was a continuous 6 day infusion plus hydration tonight. The
next few days she will know how the side effects will be on her. But for
now-for where she has been she looks great! Now the hard part-we will
have to wait a few weeks to see what the tumor looks like.....
So -- please pray for no infection, minimal side effects, and a hard
boot to the cancer out of her body!
God Bless all of you and again, thank you for all the many things our
community family close and far have done for us on many levels.
hello everyone! We are slowly
surfacing......Laura was to start a new chemo on Tuesday night-but ended
up being postponed due to a
fever. So it started about 5 am on Wednesday. This will be 6 days of
continuous infusion of chemo plus steroids. After a few weeks we will
check the tumor size and then decide on the follow up chemo treatment.
Laura is getting stronger-she has started to eat and is concentrating
better....our emotions are high - it does not take much for her or I to
break and then there is Joelle-waiting for a chance to kiss or stroke
her sister is some way to make it all better. In preparation for this
she had a blood test today taken here for Dana Farber and Dr. H gave her
a good physical. So, when things look right everything will be ready to
move for transplant.
So, please, help Joelle stay healthy and keep her away from too many
runny noses at school!
Tomorrow Joelle has orientation at her new brand new school! I spoke
with her teacher and he was very nice. Tonight Joelle had a hard time
falling to sleep. I am so proud of the relation ship between the 2
Hope you all have a good Holiday and for those returning back to school
as staff or student -a good year...
But please, continue your prayers for Laura's journey.
God helped her through the lymphoma and the leukemia with side effects
that no one thought she could conquer and she did! So, please ask the
Almighty to help us finish with this tumor and any cancer and do a
successful transplant and a life with minimal pains!
God Bless all of you and be safe this holiday weekend.
Hello every one -- and thank you for understanding the quiet time
we need now -- to emotionally and physically get strong for the next
battle. Right now, Laura is still having bad abdominal pain from the
procedure plus she has developed bad jaw pain with numbness-probably
from all the vomiting and dry heaving. She eats some but the jaw is
another challenge ... emotionally, we are hanging in there. I watch
Joelle stare at Laura to make sure she sees her
breath....for fear "something" will happen so fast.
This time this week is good for her being here. She is so good with
Laura. I am so proud of them.....
As for our battle - Dr. Hagsrtom is still researching the best step for
Laura. We thought we would get our "battle" plans today but it will not
be until tomorrow -
Next week Joelle will be home with Amanda taking care of her......as
school is on....
When I know what is happening, I will post it. Right
now we need to build ourselves up...
We have just heard sad news.....the lymphoma is now back. We are
trying to find out what options are available for us. At this time,
please do not call - check with Phyllis Kayan or Joan Moynihan for
information while we try to regroup.
Pray for Laura, Joelle and Me. Thank you
Well, life is up and down. I had started taking and packing things up
here Tuesday when they said her ct scan has to be redone due to the
contrast needing to get there better since she vomited a lot of it.
Well, today they got a picture-but it showed "something" in the pelvis.
So Boston is on hold until after Thurs. when she will be in the OR and
will have a biopsy by lap. Every one is hoping and praying that it is
not lymphoma again but a collection of fluid due to some other reason!
So please pray for this to be nothing so that we can go to Boston next
week instead! My stomach and heart hurts....
Hi every one-Laura is learning to come off the continues pain killing
meds so that she can stay away over night because Thurs. she and Joelle
have to be in Boston for bone marrow transplant exam.
Sunday we went home for a while -- she did well except for the 2 times
she fell on the stairs-she has to regain her strength and coordination.
Keep focusing your prayers on increase strength, no fever, no relapse,
and Boston is ready to take her shortly after the exam!
Again, thank you God and all of you who have prayed!
Hi all again! Well, Miss Laura has been busy -she has had a
cardiac, pulmonary, kidney, bone scan, eye already done for pre
transplant. Monday she will have a Ct -scan, hearing, and dental exam.
Joelle has to have a dental exam on Monday as well. Then Thursday we
have to be in Boston for pre-transplant exam. Yep-you read
Then we will return to CT. to hear about the next step.
So for those who do focused prayer, I need the following. No infections
for Laura or Joelle. Then Laura needs to stop vomiting and dry heaving
so she will hold food down and feel stronger! We are so close!!!!
This morning I woke up in our hospital room and just starred and starred
watching my two babies (ALWAYS -MY BABIES) sleep here and thinking how
lucky we are that Joelle is a 6 out of 6 match for Laura.
So, this is another hard road for the successful home run-so keep the
prayers up for us and the other very sick children here.
Hi all - I am trying to grasp what has happened-Yep-Laura is in
remission-the final report says she has less than 1% blasts in her bone
So the following tests have to be done for transplant-
full cat scan, MRI, pet-scan, kidney function, bone scan,
pulmonary function, heart function, eye exam, ear exam.
We still do not know where this will finally take place-they need to
find the right place ASAP-before the cancer cells want to start
We are so blessed- it is a miracle of God with His direction for her
God Bless all of you!
GOOD NEWS _READ ON!
Well, Today Laura started with her eyes being dilated for an exam,
platelets, low grade fever, and then prep for the OR plus other meds.
When we were getting ready to leave Laura and I had private prayer time
before moving her to the OR. While in the pre-op, our priest Father
Guerra surprised us and showed up in pre-op to give Laura a beautiful
blessing and asked for a blessing for the doctors, nurses and staff.
Once in the OR I asked the surgeon to ask the oncologist to ask God for
direction on this procedure. Afraid he would forget, I asked the office
to contact the Oncologist and ask her to say a prayer asking for God's
direction for the chemo and the procedure. It turned out that she asked
all in the OR to do this as well with her!
Well, this evening I was given a card with a beautiful gift in a gift
box - I opened the card not knowing who it was from and the card said
BELIEVE on the front of the card and on the inside she wrote-
YOU did it!
Remission! Onward to transplant.
I broke out into the happiest sobbing cry!!!!!!!!!
I felt like I gave birth to Laura - again!
Tonight she is in pain from everything-but has happy news. Every one
here is so happy from the chief on down to us!
Tomorrow a final look at the bone marrow will be done and we will know
exactly what this will mean. Hopefully, My hero Joelle will have her
special place to help soon!
I now pray that it is zero blasts! We will know what is ahead of us
over the next couple days. In the meantime Laura has to stay clear from
infection...... and no organ complications. Thank you Almighty God for
this and thank you all for your prayers. The road is still a hard one
ahead of us, so we need the continuation of your support, prayers and
It was only about 8 weeks ago when I was told that Laura had a shot at
being made comfortable and be sent home for a short time to live. I was
told to have my siblings come to visit while she was able to visit with
them here. I only saw life in her and protected, advocated and prayed
from the deepest part of my heart. I know we have had special angels
watching over us with special Saints and that our Heavenly Father has
guided us and the doctors.
Well, I will try to sleep tonight. I hope Laura gets more comfortable so
that she too can enjoy the wonderful news! I long for the time when the
3 of us are home together....
God Bless all of You,
Hi all -- this is a quick up date! Her OR procedure is postponed
until Tuesday at 12:45 due to low platelets and low potassium. She needs
to be more supported. So, the procedure for tomorrow in the OR will be
bone marrow test, cerebral spinal tap, chemo into the intrathecal area
of the spinal canal, and removal of her pick line in her arm to a double
lumen Hickman in her chest again.
In the early morning she will possibly have more platelets and her eyes
dilated for the ophthalmologist.
So much for now-keep the positive prayers!
Hi every one again! Hope all had a good weekend.
As for Laura-her ANC is up, so she can have a bone marrow test tomorrow.
Her platelets are still presenting problems. As for her mouth sores-they
are disappearing. Tomorrow will tell us what our chances are of future
care. So please, keep your prayers especially positive for tomorrow's
Again, thank you all for all the many ways that you have shown support
to us -- on all levels...
Oh - Friday, Joelle, Laura and I went for a walk for an hour wheel chair
escorted. On Saturday we went for a car ride-Laura smiled when her locks
of hair went straight up in the wind. Sunday she ate a whole turkey
Hope all had a good summer weekend!
We had quite the weekend. Remember-last weekend she ended up in
intensive care-this weekend the following happened!
Friday night I was up with her every 1 1/2 hours all night, but Sat
started good and I told her that if she was up to it maybe she could
start her car and put the roof down since the Foley was out and she
could sit a short time. To our surprise, my brother Jim showed up with
Dawn as did Dr. Colgan from Roaring Brook school. So they and Joelle and
myself took Laura down the elevator to her car. She sat in it and put
the roof down. My brother showed her some driving techniques in the
parking lot! What a happy day! Later she walked a short distance in the
hall way. Need less to say by 7pm she was spent and achy etc. Today, she
woke up to find out that she has a starting ANC of 28! She is body sore
from that as well as the activity and had fever.
Her mouth sores are about to come out. This will be wonderful
when it is done. So her prayers are being answered. Now we have to keep
her safe with increasing ANC and no blasts in the blood or bone marrow
as well as no infections....and remember to say thank you to the
Almighty God. Sitting, she has her first shower in months today! She
said it felt great!
Joelle has been a great help with me on the weekend.
Tonight, after Joelle left, Laura suddenly woke up startled looking for
Joelle. I reminded her that she left and in a loving way Laura said
''Mom, some times I REALLY miss Joelle" I know exactly what she means -
I miss her deep in my belly and cherish our "family" quiet time here.
Tonight Laura is uncomfortable sleeping-nausea and fever....her heart
beats from 135-170 beats per min. I will sleep when she quiets down.....
Please pray for Laura's mouth sores to finish, no infection, and good
ANC with no cancer cells the body!
As well, there are some pretty sick children and young adults on this
floor. Please pray for them as well.
Heather and Jennifer Kayan have been great to stay with Joelle this
summer at home. However, when collage starts that will end, so please
keep an eye out for someone to care and stay with Joelle for a few
months. She is enjoying being at home but of course misses our regular
Good night for now
wow August......we got here the end of April.........
We are now back in our own room on the 8th floor. Laura was nervous
about leaving the one on one attention -- but she is doing fine...
She has had get off the pain meds gradually but quickly, so she has had
some readjustments from that. She bleeds a lot in the urine and vomits
This morning her platelet level was 6! So, blood and platelet
transfusions continue.....she still has fevers and a 0 ANC-but cultures
are negative!!! Her mouth sores are horrible but starting to shed.
Tonight she seems more peaceful and decreased frequency of vomiting etc.
Right now she is in a peaceful sleep!
For those who like to visualize for their prayers-she says, no cancer
cells, no mouth sores, no infections, happy life -- but always remember
to thank The Lord first before or after asking!
It is 1:30 Am and I have to go get the clothes out of the hospital dryer
and get some sleep!
Thank you every one for your kindness and prayers.
Well the roller coaster continues.....we had an OK weekend with
Joelle arriving Friday night to stay over with us. Laura has been not
interactive due to the pain, meds, etc. I have been uneasy about the
pain med. program for her and then on Sunday morning I noticed her left
upper body side was tremoring and her lower body as well. Ct of the head
was done relatively quickly and to my relief it was fine. So, it was
decided that it was the meds and they removed one for nausea that can
have this reaction. As the day went on, she looked out of it somewhat,
but wanted to be able to go to the cafeteria in a cardiac chair donated
by the Rotary Club to pick out something to drink herself!
Then, she wanted me to take her to look at her convertible again! She
then went back to our room to rest. A little while later she was taking
some mucous out with an aspirator and suddenly vomited and gagged on the
vomit. Because she is weak from the pain meds she could not help
herself. Plus she has huge chemo sores in her mouth again. Any way, she
coded and poor Joelle was so upset.....so we are in intensive care for a
while to get things worked out.
When Joelle was leaving, Laura was so pleased because Joelle kissed her
good bye as she was leaving to go home and whispered to her that Laura
was her best friend and hero. My heart warmed as Laura related this to
me. There are so many bitter sweet experiences with illnesses such as
Laura still has a 0 ANC - so we have to be careful of infections. I am
also concerned over the blood in the urine and the fevers she has
Continue the prayers.
Hello every one from our 8th floor "penthouse" city place at CCMC!
Hope those affected by the storm on Friday were OK. Joelle could not
make it here Friday night because of it.....As for Laura-her stitches
were removed and she still has a very small sore. It is amazing what her
body has done......The blasts in her blood are still O!! But the bone
marrow is our next issue and that is almost another 2 weeks before we
know about that.....Of course her ANC is 0-so her visitation is minimal
and with precautions....as for how Laura feels-she feels very sick-still
severe dry heaving and vomiting bile. This weekend an x-ray was done to
make sure there is no obstruction. She feels so bad and my heart hurts.
To keep the air clean, Uncle Phil ordered us a hepa filter that we will
need at home. Until CCMC gets one I will have that here ----
Also, Uncle Jim showed up here with a green convertible for Laura! It
will be 1 1/2 yr. before she can drive-but he found the car Laura has
had her heart set on and so he got it for in. He drove it up from
Florida with Dawn. You should have seen her face!!!! Jessica-my niece
came to Connecticut to take them back to NJ. So, she had this car as her
goal to be that survivor! They decorated it with balloons and a big bow!
She thought she was being transported for a cardiac exam and was then
given the key by Jim and taken out side with the staff to see the car!
Of course, I cannot use it without permission!!! Joelle was so excited
We are in such a weird but loving way of life right now.
I heard that some friends power washed our home this past week. Whom
ever did this thank you!!! And of course thank you to everyone. We are
Hi again-it is like a roller coaster-it appears that she stopped
showing blood in the urine after her Foley size was changed-which is
good. But, she has a central line staph infection-so in the or the live
has to come out and a temp pick line put in her arm. It would be great
if she had easy blood vessels to tap and put her IV meds in -- but this
will be a means to try and clear it up.... She is so achy and tired
----- keep the prayers coming -- wound healing, no infection, cells in
blood be good and cells in the bone marrow get correctly redirected so
that we can have all ready for a bone marrow transplant!
Hi all - her blast are possibly not there in her blood!
Now to really keep it away and to have the bone marrow decrease as we
wait the next couple of weeks for her cells to come back in good form
with no infections in the mean time!
She looks better today -but slept most of the day and night-which was
better than the vomiting....
Keep the prayers coming!
Hello everyone! The chair Avon -Canton Rotary donated for the
department arrived and Laura is proud of it. So, again, thank you
Rotarians! Joelle is very much enjoying the daily Avon rec. camp! It is
fun and familiar surroundings for her. Thank you, to the town of Avon!
As for Laura-it has been rough some periods of the day -fevers,
vomiting, dry heaving, pain in the wound and musculo-skeletal region
plus fear, rapid heart beats, etc. However, her spirit is strong and
will to live is firm even though there is fear.....
This Chemo, I am happy to say has reduced her blood blasts down to 20%
from 90% -this has to stay at 0% and then the bone marrow has to reduce
to 5% in order to try and qualify for a bone marrow transplant. So, you
all know what to focus on prayer for.....Laura has to have 5% bone
marrow cancer cells with no complications!
Thank you all and thank you again for all the many things that are done
for me and my daughters.
Oh-her ANC is zero -- so she has no immunity to fight infection now, so
I need to keep her surroundings clean here!
Hello my friends. As you know we are still in the same spot. The
hard news is that Laura's cancer is not improving and she has pain with
The good part is that she is fighting and praying. Her wound is healing
faster than I expected. Her echo for her heart is good but she has a lot
of fevers and now low counts. It is time to try a harder chemo
which will help her or severely weaken her. It will start
tomorrow-Wednesday. Pray for her. I hurt so bad.... and am so proud of
Hi all, hope all had a good 4th of July. Joelle was at the beach
and a had a nice day. She now is at our home with family friends, for
the summer and is happy as well! Of course, the dog is happy too!
Yesterday Laura walked the hall way and back and then SAT by the window
watching fire works from this 8th floor-in our room.....she amazes me!
During the day she did a couple arts and crafts.
Today she is out of it. She woke up tired from the evening before and
this morning she had her bandage changed and a few of the stitches
removed. Due to the procedure pain meds and left over pain from handling
the area she is sleeping it off.....hopefully tonight we will see the
Oh OH, Bad news, Laura has a fever. The doc s examining her. Up And
down.....Have to go.
Hello all, I know it has been a while since I updated, but things
have been busy here. Laura did OK in surgery last Thursday-but she has A
LOT of stitches and it is very painful. Her cancer is about the
same...and contributes to pain. They started her on a single agent chemo
to continue to help things and let the wound heal. I am praying that
they find the right combination that she can handle to turn these cells
Joelle was with us for 3 nights and it felt so good to have the three of
us sleeping all together. Joelle was a help here as well. She has grown
up so much...They love each other. I would watch her just go over and
tenderly kiss Laura a sisterly kiss of love just because.... She went
back to the Falsey's home for a couple nights and will be back Wed. for
the day and then will spend Thurs. at the beach with Buonome family and
here Thursday night for fire works.
Today we were blessed with 4 priests - one is the chaplain here -Fr.
Jacob who brought Communion, Then Fr. Russo who does healing services,
and our Father Victor who said a prayer before they took the drain out
and then visited, and then Fr. Dan who brought a healing handkerchief
from the newest Saint-St. Padre Pio. We were very Blessed and Laura was
at peace today.... Did you see her editorial in the Hartford Courant
about the fact that we have good priests? I am so proud of her!
And for her other civic activities-she was honored today by the
Avon-Canton Rotary Club. Art Hayes nominated her for Honorary Rotarian.
Tom Voorhees is a past district leader, and he with Art and Sarah Hayes
presented Laura the formal induction, plaque, pin. This was due to her
work for the teen room here at CCMC. She was very proud and the hospital
will do a press release with a picture of this event!
Thank you every one for your cards, gifts, healthy food dropped off for
me, presents for the girls, etc.
Please continue with the power of prayer...
We are having a difficult couple of days. Her whole body is in pain and
she is back in bed. One of the chemos is part of this. As well, the
packing of the wound is painful and so there is terrific fear of it.
Last night she had a low fever-which broke her. She is so worn out. She
will have a red blood cell transfusion and I hope that will pick up her
energy......her counts are starting to drop again so that may alter her
surgery procedure.....so keep those prayers going. She just found out
that I may have to go back to a cot to sleep because they may need the
extra bed that they allowed us to use. That also upset her very much
because it is the way we can sleep and snuggle without me moving the air
mattress on her bed. This made her very sad - but I told her that we may
borrow one back soon ----
Hope all have a good first day of summer! And for those you who
congratulations! We heard MS Pruett received the Avon teacher of the
We are so happy to hear that. Ms. Pruett -if you read this -a big hug
from us! Also, Laura received one of the first "Nikki Bears" from Build
a Bear Company. They have a beautiful purple bear coming out with a pin
to honor Nikki and remind people about childhood cancer. One dollar of
each bear will go to a Childhood Cancer Organization. This will be sold
As for Laura - she has every one's admiration here. We exercise in bed,
walk a little more in the hall, practice meditation, breathing and
visualization and most of all --
prayer. Her wound is actually healing-enough that next Thurs. surgery
will try to close the wound. I never expected that this early.....As for
oncology, her counts are holding and she is tolerating the chemo program
Dr. Hagstrom picked out for her.
Next week we will know how the leukemia is responding for her. So, if
you pray better by request or visualization-this is what Laura is asking
of The Almighty - Pain go away, no infection, wound healing and full
As for Joelle-we miss her so much.....this week she is with the Falsey
I am working on getting the right person to stay in our home with her.
It will be nicer for her that way....
As for me, well our friend Bobby who is our hairdresser showed up and
did my hair!
Of course, in the middle of that, I had visitors that stopped by to see
Thank you Bobby -I feel better! Thank you also to every one that has
been doing things for us on all levels -spiritually, errands, my office
and house items etc.
Thank you for loving and caring about us so much. It feeds our drive....
I hope that all who celebrated Father's Day yesterday enjoyed it!
My sister Ramona, niece Jessica, brother Phil and Sister in law Sue came
up this weekend. They watched Joelle play her last game of the season in
soccer. She was happy for the fans and to spend another weekend in her
home too with her dog.
The O'connors have been wonderful to Joelle and have taken her in like
family. And I will always be so grateful ......
As for Laura, every one is amazed at her strength to fight. This morning
she got out of bed and slowly walked to the door way, and then this
afternoon she doubled the distance. The wound is trying to heal. No bad
reaction so far from the altered chemo.
She asks that you continue with your prayers and good thoughts. Please
pray for no infections, wound healing and leukemia cells leaving from
the chemo she can handle.
Laura started another set of chemo last night in the hope that the ones
chosen will let the wound heal and buy us healing time. She is very
tired-but as the wound pain improves she will hopefully be more
comfortable. Prayers are being said every where and that is so important
to us.....This weekend Joelle will be at home with her Aunt Mona-so
Joelle can again be in her own home for another weekend.
This is a difficult time right now. Laura's cancer is resistant to the
chemo that she had. On top of that she had surgery on the burn wounds.
If she has a stronger chemo it will drop her counts and she will not be
able to heal the wound.
Laura has decided to not give-up and will continue to fight this.
Please, continue to keep us in your prayers.
Well, we are still in ICU-but this type of care is needed for Laura. She
is being treated for so many complications-and now it is pneumonia. Her
platelets are a big problem. Make sure you donors get out there!!!!!
There is a drive by the Police Dept. honoring Laura. There is a notice
about this on the first page of
the web. But you can go anywhere that is convenient.
Relay for life is this week also is Simsbury, of which my Rotary club is
Her counts are coming up finally!
Take care and God Bless you all
Hi all again. It is 1:30 in the morning and I thought I do a quick up
date. Laura had more platelets today,
but now is in a better place. Her nose is clogged from the dried blood
but in time that will be an easy one to take care of. As for the CT scan
-- it shows inflammation by the burns, but no deep abscesses. She is
still taking leukovorin for the chemo that burned her. One day off and
she got red again....
And for the good news -- she has started a real ANC!
She may have some discomfort when these cells try to attack the bad
areas but they will be doing their job.
Have a nice day and keep her in your prayers and heart.
First, thank you for all the prayers and checking up on how Laura is
doing by this web.
We were out if ICU for a couple of days, but now back in again since
Saturday. Her blood pressure keeps dropping, so they had to put her on
doppa to hold it up. As well, there is concern of systemic infection due
to the burns. She has had 5 WBC transfusions. This morning, her
platelets were 8 - so she needed platelet transfusion quickly. As a Mom,
it was awful to see blood from her nose and coming out her mouth. But,
the platelets did their job and it stopped quickly...
It is so painful for her to go to the bathroom and have her burn
dressing cleaned and redressed. Due to the hips and the burns it is
painful for her to get out of bed. She slithers off with pain and crawls
back on. It is so hard. They have her on oxygen to get more oxygen in
the system to heal the sores. Her mouth also has the regular chemo
stomatis sores. These are also painful. As a result of struggling off
and on the bed, her shoulder is very painful.
As for something good, yesterday she gave birth to a few beginning cells
of her own. She needs to make healthy cells to fight this.
Later today she will have a ct scan of the burn area.
I know I do not usually write these types of details, but I know you
care and want to know what is happening.
As for me, I have my moments where my stomach hurts like it is twisted.
My eyes tear and then I say a prayer and stiffen up for the next
Joelle came to visit for a short visit. I miss her and cherish our
private time when together....
Please continue your prayers and post your good wishes for Laura and
Joelle directly to the web master as she is not able to go on the
computer now. This way when stronger, she can see your messages!
Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts...
Click here to see messages from Joanne in April
and May of 2002
Click here to
see messages from Joanne prior to April 2002.