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Dear Joanne, where does one begin? I just read your most recent journal entry. My heart aches for all the parents who must watch their children fight for life and for those who sit by an empty bed. I don't even know Michelle and her family, but I felt numb as I read, "she is now with Nikki". And when I think of how your lives have been put on hold as you fight this dreaded disease, I want to cry. I am not asking for your concern, I just want you to know that we are all touched by Laura's illness. And my heart breaks for you as a mother, for Laura for the pain she experiences and for the loss of innocence for both Laura and Joelle. I know there is much to give thanks for
and I know we are reminded to give thanks always ...in every circumstance, but  still my heart breaks and God must expect as much. Joanne, I'm so glad you are home ...in your own beds with all your riches around you. If you need anything at all please do call....my love to you all, Nancy


Hi Joanne and Laura:
We'll be on our way after school to St. Louis today for the Walk for Children.  Gail's already there keeping busy getting the word out on children's cancer.  We'll be walking for Laura and every child who has faced cancer.  Our prayers and thoughts are with your family.
Love, Debbie

Hi Joanne and Laura:
We'll be on our way after school to St. Louis today for the Walk for Children.  Gail's already there keeping busy getting the word out on children's cancer.  We'll be walking for Laura and every child who has faced cancer.  Our prayers and thoughts are with your family.
Love, Debbie

Hi My thoughts and love are with you and Laura and Joelle


You, Laura, Joelle and Michelle are in my prayers!!



Joanne-   What spirit!  Can you imagine what Laura will accomplish when she puts this struggle behind her!    I am so happy to hear about her request for food!   As always, you are in my thoughts and prayers.   Tina

Where does Laura get her stamina??? She is truly an amazing individual whose strength and spirit are an inspiration.
I have been following Michelle's journey for a little while now and will continue to pray for her as well.
Enjoy the Linguini!!!


Thanks for keeping me informed via e-mail.  I love receiving messages from you. Makes me feel closer. Hope Laura will enjoy the dinner!  If I made that dish, I would deliver it myself/...but I am sure the Italian restaurant will do a better job.

I will add MIchelle to our family prayers. You remain in my prayers/thoughts/heart daily.  Lover & Prayers, Dorothy


thanks for the update! our prayers are with you!   Jim


Joanne, I am so glad you were not alone when Laura started this reaction.  I like the food order though, sounds good by me!  Tell her we said enjoy every bite!

Love and prayers, Anne


Joanne: I just made chicken francaise last night!  The next time I am coming up I will bring some.  God bless you all.  I will pray for Michelle.  Is she the little girl I met once a while back who's Mom is a nurse?  I am sure it must be difficult for Laura and you to deal with.  There is an uplifting article in Girl's Life Magazine this month about a 14 year old who beat Leukemia.  Maybe the hospital has it there.  I also wanted to tell you that the combination of Rad. Therapy and chemo was the trick for my two friends who beat Lymphoma.  The second one, Joe, had it in the latent stage as well.  This was 25 years ago.  Believe!!!!!!  Love   & Hugs, Donna  xxxoooo


Dear Joanne. -  Just got the article from the Hartford Courant dated  9/19/02 from Billie Anderson from Dan Fitzpatricks office.  I had no idea Laura was ill.  I can't tell you how heavy my heart is from the news.   The last I saw you was in New Jersey when you and the girls were visiting Mona down in Monmouth Beach.
Everyone was so happy.   I thought of you and the girls often but life happens and people get busy and it's no excuse.   Forgive me for not keeping in touch.  You  seem to have a wonderful support group and that is so very important.   Needless to say you are all in my prayers and will continue to be.   I will keep up to date with this wonderful website.    God bless technology.   Take care of yourselves.

Jackie Gilhooley


Hello Friend -

These are scary times for all of you and I pray those prayers are answered.  I feel so helpless and wish I could do more - wiggle my nose and make things all better or wave a magic wand and be in a better health mode.  Just know that I am constantly thinking of you all and hope the different chemo cocktails will work in concert to eradicate the monsters growing in that beautiful child.  The world needs Lauras - many more of them, but we need the original!!!  Give her big Italian hugz and purple passionate kisses from me.  And for you my friend, the same and the knowledge that we are all praying for you.  Stay strong, Joanne, but cry when you need to.  It is OK for Moms to cry - they are healing tears.  take care and I love you.

Love   Jacci   xoxoxoxoxoxoxo


Hi Joanne,

It was good to see you and Laura on Tuesday - I hadn't really realized how easy it is to visit - or I would have come to see you there sooner.  For some reason I envisioned a highly sanitized and unwelcoming place.

Laura looked so peaceful when she was sleeping - although I'm glad she woke to find us there - I really want her to know that we care about her and are praying that this awful cancer goes away.  It's held her for far too long now.

Are you home now?  Is there any help you need - I have time this weekend if you need me to do shopping, cleaning - whatever!

Just let me know.

Love Susan

Susan Hacking
PR & Communications Specialist
American Red Cross
Connecticut Blood Services Region
209 Farmington Avenue
CT 06032


Joanne, thoughts of you are always near.  May this be a battle that is not as hard for Laura and you.  Take care and stay healthy.  love, jenn

Hello my friend -

The candle is lit in the window - we are all praying for you most fervently.  I pray the autumn winds will bring healing and transplant.  Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers always and we send our love to the girls.  Give mine and hug and a kiss too from us.
I love you Joanne!  From our hearts to God's ear....... 
Love     Jacci       xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo


Hi Santiago family.  I saw the piece in the paper.  That was beautiful.  What a nice picture.  You are all the best!!  I am going away for a couple of weeks and after that is pumpkin time. Love, prayers and kisses!!!!  Leslie


Dear Dr. Santiago,

My name is Jon Levine and I coach a small swim team called the Aquabears, that practices in Suffield, CT.  I read about Laura today in the Hartford Courant, and I was touched by her story.  Last December, we ran a swim meet at Suffield Academy and donated a percentage of the entry fees to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center in honor of a local swimmer (Nikki) who apparently Laura knew (based on her journal entries).

I have decided to make this an annual event, and was wondering if you would allow us to make our donation this year in honor of your courageous daughter Laura.  The meet will be held December 13-15.  We call it the Santa Claus Classic.

Best of luck in this battle, our prayers are with you.  You have a very brave family.


Jon Levine, Head Coach
Aquabears Swim Team
4 Northwoods Road
North Granby, CT 06060


Hi Joanne,

Just a quick note to tell you that the article appearing in the Town News of the Hartford Courant this morning could not have been more heartwarming. The writer, Stephanie Reitz did a superb job.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you, Laura and Joelle.  You all have been facing daily challenges now for the past 2 years and climbing very difficult mountains.

I think it's safe to say that all of us are praying that your entire family will find peace and happiness in the days to come.

Very sincerely,



Hope you are settling back in without too much difficulty and still savoring that "taste of home."  We all continue to pray and love and hope....no matter where you are !!
                                Love and Prayers always,
                                Mary and Ken  :)


Dear dear Joanne -

I am so sorry for this latest news and I can't imagine how frightened you all are about it.  I guess the tenet "One day at a time" applies to more than one sector of society. So as part of your community of friends and family, I will put in a surge prayer line for Laura up here in town. garner the power of prayer for Laura and send it from each and every mountaintop up here.

I wish I could be there and just be.... what ever you need me to be for you and the girls.  I pray for miracles and healings and peace of mind and all good things as you all have been through so very much for these past months.  Hug Laura for me and tell her to stay strong - she has been such a testament to humanity for her unwavering bravery in the face of all this pain.  She's my hero.......  and you are also.

God Bless you all and we send our purple prayers for recovery and remission.

I love you.         Jacci     xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo


Dear Joanne,  Thank you for forwarding the email from the Aquabears coach.  That is awesome!  Isn't it amazing how people come out of the woodwork??  I remember going to the Santa Claus classic every year,  Nikki always got good times there and it was a fun meet.  I would like to go this year to help them out at this meet in honor of Laura.  I think of you all the time, I want to call, but I know how it gets, and I'm sure as much as the support is needed you guys need your space too.  I stopped by the hospital Wednesday evening.  Are you at home?  How are things going.  I'm afraid to ask.  I miss you guys and think of you all the time.  I am going to St. Louis on Wednesday, till Saturday.  We will be walking 3 miles for this first walk.  We will be walking for all of these special children, our fighters, our angels and the survivors.  Then on Sunday, John and I will be walking with a team of friends from RHAM in Boston for the Jimmy Fund (that one is a bit farther, half the Boston marathon route.)  There is going to be an event at the state capital, did you hear about it?  Its fri. the 27th. Gov. Rowland is doing it for childhood cancer awareness.  I am writing him a letter, I hope his involvement won't stop after this event.  We are praying for you.  I hope to see you soon. Love Gail


Dr. Santiago Please know that you all are in our prayers.  I think I have a new hero and her name is Laura.  I am truly amazed and in awe of her strength, courage and fighting spirit.  I pray that she conquers this obstacle with the tenacity she has shown in the past.  St Francis  -  please assist her.  Fight the good fight Love and Prayers Kelly and Jeff  


Dear Joanne,

I think of Laura and you throughout the day (every day) and I lift you up to the Lord.  You continue to have prayer support from all of my friends and prayer groups.  Although I cannot understand the heart and mind of God ,He is so high above the human heart and mind, I continue to call on Him to heal Laura and to give you strength.




This is certainly not the news everyone was hoping for. This must be very difficult but yet, your emails are always upbeat and positive.  I really do not know how you do it.  Laura has overcame many odds up to this point and our prayers are for that trend to continue.  Much love to all of you.



Hi Joanne - That was a lovely article! The girls are so brave and determined as is their mother! We are all praying for the leukemia & lymphoma to subside so the bone marrow can be done. Good thoughts always!   Love, Bob


Hi Joanne --

I haven't seen you in a while. I think about you and your girls every day. So glad you got to go home. You needed that to replenish and regroup. Laura must love the smell of her own room, her own sheets. I think you're back as an in-patient now. Stay strong Joanne. You're an incredible mom. Laura is so tough. Joelle -- it sounds like she's been in good hands. What a good girl. Seems you have a good support system. Please let me know if there's anything you need. I'm only 20 min away. I'm glued to your journal. I check it every day. I pray for better days.

Love and Peace,



Dear Joanne: I just read your e-mail.  I wondered whether that would happen after the Lymphoma was rediscovered and the delay for the transplant.  Let's pray that the combo of chemo and radiation will do the trick.  Laura is such a fighter.  She will beat this.  Please let me know if there is anything I can do.  We will pray for Laura to be healed as well as minimal side effects from her treatments.  Please wrap your arms around Laura and give her a "Mommy hug" from me.  I am sending one to you, my dear friend.  Know that I, like many, wish I could hug all the hurt away from you, Joelle and Laura.  God must have given you the strength and faith of an army to get you through this.  My love always, Donna  xxx ooo


Dear Joanne:
I just wanted to let you know that the Hartford courant article was such a beautiful tribute to the love that you and the girls have shared throughout this arduous journey.  The three of you have been in my thoughts and prayers each day.  You have been inspirational to many, as you are able to find the strength and courage to face each new day with a smile. Cancer is like surfing, sometimes you have to ride the big waves to get to the calm seas.  I am hoping for calm seas for all three of you. Fondly,
Lore Kearney and children


Dear Santiago Family, I want to encourage you to be strong. Every time I read an update I can't help think of Colossians 1:24 where St. Paul says that his sufferings make up for the lack of suffering in the body of Christ. I can only believe that all of you (especially Laura) are "victim souls" who accept the sufferings with patience (as much as you can muster) and you are being "tested as through fire" becoming purified and sanctified for the glory of heaven. The Church teaches that the prayers of those who suffer for the Church and those who are righteous are very effective. I know that you could not bear what you are going through without being holy persons yourselves. So, please pray for me and my family and my new office (we open Wednesday!) and we will most assuredly pray for you! I know that your prayers are pure and free from ulterior motives. I need prayer warriors like you on my side. Love, Eric, Amber, and the staff of St. Luke's Chiropractic Health Center


Hi, Doctor It has been so sad for all of us to hear that the two type of cancer are back on Laura's. It is hurting so much on my heart, on my mind and every part of me. I am not sure what kinds of feelings are on my heart now,  sadness, angriness, or unhappiness, but I still believe in God. I still have faith. Remember, I am here praying everyday. Laura, You and Joelle are not alone, we are with you. Con amor   Jolie


Hi Joanne, I got your e-mail from Linda Schultz after we had discussed the wonderful
article recently seen in the Courant-Burt and I pray for Laura every week in our temple, and know this must be the hardest thing anyone has to endure! If only you and Joelle could know how much everyone is praying and hoping Laura gets a break, and
soon!! You folks are all a constant in our thoughts-just wanted you to know-Laura has
enormous strength and wisdom beyond her years, as does her sister now-we are pulling for you, Joanne-just wish we could do something-
Love, June and Burt Schweitzer

Dear Joanne,

I am sorry the tumor is still there.  But, it is good news that the chemo is working to make it smaller.  I'll pray this next chemo will make it disappear and that Laura will remain strong and healthy and be healed soon.
Last night we had our first meeting with Confirmation students and their parents.  Erin and Ali were there representing the TEENS involved in St. Ann's Youth Program.  It was really nice that many in Laura's Confirmation class were there to tell the new students to keep involved in Church and Community.  We had 35 9th graders sign up to play Golf in the Dark for Laura.

I'll keep in touch.  And I'll keep praying....many, many prayers.


Joanne, Laura & Joelle,
So happy to see things looking brighter. It must feel like being on a vacation being able to spend some time at home together. What a wonderful feeling. As always, sending prayers and love.

Karen K

Hi Joanne!

Boy - you must feel good to be back home for a little while.  Pretty soon it will be longer and that you and the girls will all be together there!!!

I'm so happy for you even though it's a teaser - you have to re-acclimate yourselves to your surroundings.  Wish I were there!!!

Please send hugz & kissez to all and to my miss-ing link!!!  We miss her and hope to see her soon.  
Weekends are crazy with Cat cheering but I'll get back soon.

Spread big Italian hugz to all and I'll talk to you soon.

Love      Jacci    xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo


 What a last couple of months it has been for you.  I have been reading the website to stay updated on Laura's battle, and I am sorry that I have not written before this.  I have to say that you, Laura, and Joelle are some of the most courageous people I have ever had the privilege to know.  Even though I have not written often, please know that you all are always in my prayers.  I feel like that corner is coming and on the other side is good luck and answered prayers.  Keep smiling and stay positive.  You really are an inspiration!!!

Love- Kaeley (Nikki's swim coach)

I am very happy to hear that you will be going home for a couple days. We will keep those prayers coming and hope for good results from her scan.
Love to all of you.


So glad to hear that you will be getting home for a few days.  At this point it sounds like it would be like a mini vacation.  Light a few candles and relax in the surroundings that give you comfort.  Friday the 13th has always been a day of great things, it always adds a little spark to what every we are doing.  This is why I believe this will be a good day for you and the girls. I am praying the scan goes well and even more that you will have a fabulous time at home.  Be safe. 
 Lots of love, jenn the crazy tutor


Hope things are going well for you at home. You all are still in our thoughts and prayers!
Lots and lots of love and strength to you all!

Hi Girls, We continue to pray for you and have you in our hearts, as you continue this un-relentless battle!  You just keep proving how awesomely strong you are...I pray that you will be getting your long awaited transplant ASAP and that you will be healthy in no time.  Remember there are many many people who beat the odds and are cancer free... Your resilience is amazing!  I'm so happy to read that you actually went home and out to dinner... the things we take for granted.  We love you....love Gail, John, Jess, Natalie and Nikkiangel:)


Hi, Doctor Although I haven't talk to you recently, I keep you, Laura and Joelle on my heart everyday. I pray to God every night for the total release. As you know Laura and Joelle have been my daughters and you my sister. I am sending a big hug and a kiss for Laura and you. Remember I am here. Please, use me. That will be the way I could pay back to you everything you have done for me since December 1995 when God put us together. I love you, Laura and Joelle so much. Jolie

9/10/02 dear Joanne,   we hope Laura is feeling a little better today.....we sent our prayers to heaven as we prayed in temple Saturday and Sunday during services. in such a peaceful place (our sanctuary)  i looked heavenward for more prayers and answers.  it is truly a day at a time and our prayers run 24/7 for Laura, you and Joelle. we miss you so much. love you, Darcy


Dear Jo, I have been thinking of all of you 24/7, but wanted to give you all the space that you asked for in your last e-mail and respect your time with Laura and Joelle without being a pest!  I just went on the web site to check in and see what was going on and it was really special to see all of the pictures of all of you...I can't believe how grown up both of the girls look....it is really strange to see because I am sure you will say the same thing when you see Britt and Riss, but Laura and Joelle look so grown up...where did the babies that we carried into the sports seminar go in just the blink of an eye??  I hope that everything is getting better and better with every second of everyday and you know that you are always in my heart and prayers....whenever you feel like it let me know when to call and I will ring in a flash!!  Big hugs to all of you....Miss you lots....
Love always, ME

Hi Friend!
Hoping the days are getting better for you and Laura.  I spoke with Amanda tonight and she sounds good.  We miss her!  But she's of more important use for you at this point.
Saying lots of prayers and sending big Italian bear hugs to all.
Love to you
Jacci     xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

I'm glad to read that Laura's finished this round of chemo .... Tell her to spend the next few weeks visualizing the tumor shrinking .. I will concentrate on that as well.
Happy school year to Joelle!

Hi Joanne,

I was so glad to read that Laura is feeling better now.  I think of all of you often, and will pray for Laura, Joelle, and you.  I can't imagine how difficult Laura's illness had been.

I have been working as a clinic nurse, part-time, for the Farmington Valley V.N.A.  It is a wonderful retirement job.

Please say, "Hi" to both of your girls.

Judy Tranchida

Over 15,400 times friends and family have "checked up" on Laura over the last year!!!   One more testimony to how special Laura, you and Joelle are!   The prayers continue, the love continues, now more then ever.  May you all truly feel God's deep and abiding presence through this difficult time....
                                          Always with our love and prayers,
                                                                 Mary and Ken B.

Joanne -
just want you to know I love you and am thinking of you.
Karen and the girls..........

All our payers and love are with you and the girls. Stay strong my friend. Isn't it amazing how much strength we find in ourselves to keep fighting the fight of survival.  We really have no other choice anything else is not acceptable.  You always have had that inner strength in you and  now it has also rubbed off on you beautiful girls, it's amazing.

Love you

Glad to hear you have been able to take a deep breath, shake the cobwebs of disappointment and begin the arduous journey again.  You are, all three of you, courageous and strong beyond belief.  This is not defeat, it is merely another bend in the road.  You know there are many of us behind you with our prayers and support.  Thank you for keeping us informed, I cannot tell you how important it is to know what is happening, for you are always in our thoughts.  Keep the Faith, Joanne, Laura and Joelle, believe in your ability to overcome.  I believe in you.  All my best in Love and Light, Judi 

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