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Millie Mae Strong is committed to helping those who are experiencing the heartbreak of pediatric neuroblastoma. We hope to find a cure for this disease through raising funds through research and spreading awareness to others. 

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Looking at the bigger picture

January 2, 2018

2017...you were a piece of work. Just to put it nicely. Specifically December, it was a really tough month for us as a family, and for me and my personal growth. Because I feel like the world needs a little more honesty, I am going to be as honest with everyone as I can. As we officially enter 2018, I am looking back on 2017 and gladly saying goodbye.

 

 

This past year was filled with so much heartache...and so so much loss. With losing Amelia, I thought that things couldn't get worse as we took each day with a new beat. Almost exactly 6 months from losing her, we lost what would have been our precious third baby. I was 11 weeks pregnant, at my first appointment when I was told that the baby stopped growing two weeks before and I would have to have surgery to remove this very wanted, prayed for, hoped and wished for baby because my body wasn't registering what was going on. Kaden had to see me cry more than any kid should ever see his mom cry. 

So many tears were shed, but at the same time- so many people came to comfort us and be by our side yet again. 

The same day as surgery, we found out late that night that we needed to be evacuated because of wild fires being less than three miles from our back yard. Luckily we have amazing people in our lives, so we packed up our things and all of us-including Sophie went to go have a sleepover.

 

We made it through Christmas, which is typically the happiest time of the year. We had smiles on our face, but we also were smiling through tears. Kaden was very concerned that Amelia didn't have any presents and her stocking was empty. We had to explain to him that her presents were in Heaven. Looking back, I am kicking myself for not doing more in her name for the holiday season. I'm trying to think of better ways to do things for the season....hopefully this next holiday season will be a little bit less chaotic. 

 

After we made it to California and we were adjusting, someone asked me 'why didn't you get a blood test done. why didn't you do..' and insert whatever they were wondering. As you can imagine, I destroyed my brain for weeks thinking "how the hell did I miss a tumor growing in my baby's body?" especially because I am her mom. But now looking back, I did everything I could. She had her appointments with medical professionals. We brought everything to their attention.

 

I'm sure some people might think (but I hope not) "why would you want to have another baby after yours had cancer, aren't you afraid that it will happen again?" So many other crazy things were said to us...but I'll save that for another day. 

 

Fast forward to today: New Years Day 2018. I can officially look back on this past year and see things from a different perspective. Yes, last year was filled with so much heartache, tears, hurt...you get where I'm going. But it was also filled with growth...and so much love. 

 

Millie taught us that she was happy-every single day.  IF we were to find that tumor that spread- days, weeks, months earlier- would she have been that happy? Probably not. Would she have lived 10.5 months full of laughter, smiles and such genuine joy? I don't think so. Could we have saved her? I'll never know. 

The bigger picture: all she knew was her family and love. She didn't know the inside of a hospital, she didn't know rigorous rounds of chemotherapy that would make her throw up if she even could eat anything. Or the genuine pain that would come from all of the treatment. Kaden knew her as the happy (yet annoying) baby sister that is now his personal angel. When he talks about her, he goes back to when they played together or he fed her breakfast and snacks. When we think and talk about her, we smile (and cry) when we think of her antics. 

People have said to us how horrible it was that we lost her 8 days after her diagnosis, which is true. But my bigger picture view: she didn't have to suffer through at least 1.5 years of basically living in a hospital. When we told her its okay, she doesn't have to fight anymore- she told us she was done. She didn't feel pain, for that- I am grateful. 

 

When we lost the baby, we were told that it was natures way of 'fixing a problem'. Which sounds cold and harsh- yes. But again, the bigger picture: Millie, God and the universe must have been sparing our hearts because whatever would have been wrong would have crushed us even more than we could handle. Feeling the loss early on would be less than feeling the loss months down the road. 

When we had to leave our house because of the fires. Yes, it was a pain. Yes, we were scared and I actually stood in the kitchen and cried at the thought of losing all of Millie's things. If I could run, I would have made a mad dash and shoved as much as I could in a suitcase. BUT I was on painkillers, so running was not an option. But the bigger picture: we had a house. Some people and animals didn't have anything. Our house was unharmed, we were okay. Some people were not as fortunate.

 

2017 taught me and showed me who was really meant to be our friends and who really cared for us. Unfortunately, tragedy can either make or break people and relationships and I understand. Its really freaking hard, its awkward and really sad. The friends and family that wrapped us in their love and support, I will forever appreciate. Sadly, relationships have parted ways but (you guessed it) the bigger picture, it was what was best. I actually was so worried that people would judge us for having another baby...but then I didn't care. Our life, our choices, right? I learned that the people that really love us will support us, and guess what? They do. They cried with us, brought us dinners because I couldn't cook (and I'm the prime cooker in this family), checked on us and continued to see us as people, not what we have gone through. To our framily: we love you.

 

As we enter in the New Year, I hope I can encourage you to take a breath- and look at the bigger picture of things. Things aren't going your way? Maybe there's a reason behind it. Something amazing happened? That is fantastic! Share it with those who share your happiness. Think of your situation and maybe think of someone else's. Surround yourself with people who love and support you- because you deserve it and the world needs a little more love.

 

2017...goodbye. You sucked, but you taught me a lot. Here's to new adventures-happy 2018, friends! 

 

 

 

 

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