Danielle left us at 10:10pm last night, surrounded by four people who love her: I was curled up on the bed on her right and had my arm around her neck and the other hand on her right shoulder, brother Kirk had her right hand in both of his, our old friend Joe knelt at the foot of the bed with her feet in his hands, and our dear friend Marianne held her left hand in hers. She had begun to breathe heavily and with some difficulty around 8:30, so I gave her some more morphine at 9:30 but her discomfort continued. By then we all had our hands on her and were telling her it was okay, to relax, we love you, etc but she kept gasping for air. It upset me so much I couldn't help myself and broke down sobbing into her hair and neck for a few minutes. Then I felt I needed to pull myself together so that she could maybe calm down, and she gradually did, and I slid down so I could look into her face. She has had an infection in the lower halves of both eyes and her eyes have been mostly rolled up into her head the past few days, but I looked at her and told her we all loved her and that it was okay for her to go. As soon as I said it, she lowered her head so that she could look at me over the infection and looked right in my eyes for a brief moment, then she sort of just relaxed, let out a last exhale and her head gently fell to the side. So she went peacefully and calmly and just like I wanted her to go: in my arms, with the bonus of extra love from three of her favorite people on all sides. Molly was there, too.
So there's a new star in the sky tonight. Shine on, you beautiful eternal diamond and forever be a beacon of our love. Thank you for being mine. I love you Danielle.
Dear friends of Richard and Danielle,Please share this page and get the word out. Here is update from Richard this morning. Share this page, spread the love. Let's raise lots of money so that Richard can be home with Danielle:
Wish I weren't having to share this, but Danielle's MRI was not good news. She has cancerous meningitis cells in her spinal fluid and there is excess spinal fluid in her brain. This is what caused the initial swallowing problem which allowed the yeast bacteria to establish the thrush infection in her throat and tongue. Meds are clearing up the thrush so she's got some relief from that, but this is just the first of oncoming neurological problems that will begin to appear, and there is nothing more they can do for her. On both her doctors' advice, I have opted to discontinue any further chemotherapy treatments; they would only be annoying at this point. Her oncologist, Dr Grow, estimates she has two to three months left. She might go home tomorrow, and hospice will get involved at some point, but I want her home with me and Molly.
So my job now is to make sure she feels only love and safety and comfort from here forward. Her mother and I agreed that all crying should be done outside her presence, and believe me, plenty was done yesterday with lots more to come. I would like friends to visit her and touch her and smile and kiss her, but I will let you know when that can happen, and you will have to be stout of heart. "Thank you" is so inadequate to say to all of you for these past three years of love and prayer and favors and everything else, but if she could, Danielle would say the same. We have been blessed with something far more valuable than material riches, and that is the wealth of your love and friendship--we couldn't have soldiered this long without you.
Last night I crawled into Danielle's hospital bed and she fished her good hand out from the blankets and grabbed mine in a tight grip. Then she let go and reached over to stroke my cheek. My heart was too full to do more than whisper, "Thank you" in her ear.
Happy Holidays Everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday with your family and friends. Please show your love and support to Danielle and Richard during this holiday season, as they continue their battle against cancer. Share this page and spread the love!
Here's an Christmas update from Richard:
This morning, Christmas Eve, was bittersweet for me because Danielle was discharged from out-patient rehab. She has reached "Plateau in functional progress", which means they really can't do much more for her at this point so there's not much reason to continue rehab. She isn't making any gains so they feel a period of "rest" will be okay right now. By that, they mean I will continue to do her exercises at home, paying close attention to frustration and fatigue levels and not overdoing it so that she starts to dislike the work. The chemo being administered through her chest port has robbed her of much of her energy, therefore she flags in rehab. Her rehab doctor says that even doing 50% of her previous level is better than doing nothing, so we will keep a home regimen in place. She has tapered off on the longer naps, so maybe her body is becoming acclimated to the chemo and she will begin to gain more stamina. Some days she will do better and I always hope this is the beginning of an upswing, but the next day she might not do as well.
She has now had 4 brain infusions of chemo (these don't seem to have any effect on her) and a new MRI will take place soon. She is on steroids to prevent swelling in the brain, so she has the round cheeks again and stays hungry. I am trying to keep her on a healthy food path for these cravings and she doesn't need to re-gain the 40 pounds she lost since March 2013. That's 40 pounds she would have to carry as she tries to do exercises, and 40 more pounds I have to catch if she buckles at the knee.
She remains generally silent, but speech exercises of course force her to talk, and she understands more than you realize. She will laugh at a wisecrack, so I know she's listening and comprehending. Sometimes she will say "Thank you" if I do something for her, and even when she gets frustrated and yells "NO!" I don't mind because I love to hear her voice. Last week we were in my van and bumping along on a brick street while Danielle was playing a game on her phone, and she suddenly says, "Love, you drive like a nut!" Hey I'll take anything I can get.
I often wonder what goes on in that little round head. She will look around as though seeing the room for the first time, and will look at me between every bite when we're at the table. I look right back and try to smile at her. Today as I was getting her dressed, I said, "Tomorrow is Christmas," and she laughed at herself and said, "I didn't even know!" Definitely not our best Christmas, but I am thankful I still have my girl with me. I hope your Christmas is your best ever.
Danielle's surgery is this morning. Please send love and prayers. Here is Richard's update:
Danielle's surgery is scheduled for 10am today, and it will be pretty lengthy, most likely. Dr Rosen says he will proceed slowly and carefully, and there is an MRI machine in the operating room so he can check his work before sending her to recovery.
Last night I fed her lime sherbet and we read all the loving messages left for her on yesterday's post; especially liked Eric's plea for friends to taunt the tumor with the most juvenile insults possible. Thank you all for your love and support as the next part begins... surgery waiting room is on the 3rd floor at FL Hospital on Princeton, if you want to help me pace a path into the carpet.
Dear friends and family of Danielle and Richard, as most of you know, Danielle's cancer is back. This is such a long, hard journey for them both, I really wanted to start circulating this page again to show them our love. Here is this morning's update from Richard:
Looks like we will make our deductible again this year. We are reeling from the news that Danielle's tumor continues to grow despite the gamma knife surgery in May. It is pushing up against the nerves that control her right arm and leg and that is why there's been no improvement. She was admitted to the hospital around 5:30pm yesterday and today her doctors will convene on a strategy, most likely surgery to remove the tumor before it causes any further damage. This is pretty much a last resort and she may have right-side limitations afterwards. The tumor is also near her speech area so that is a concern as well.
So that's why she took a break from her many Words With Friends games yesterday but I see she is currently doing some catch-up. Last night I crawled into her bed and we held each other for a long time and cried a lot and talked about how much love we have for each other. She's been angry about this, but seeing her cry just breaks my heart. On the other hand, it's a relief knowing the tumor is coming out, and we can deal with the after-effects. Dr Rosen is skilled and I trust him completely. Please send my Danielle any love you can spare; we couldn't make it without you.
PLEASE share this page, and show your support for our friends Danielle and Richard.
Here is the latest update from Richard-- Danielle continues to get better and grow stronger every day! It includes a link on the end for their upcoming benefit concert...it's going to be SO much fun!!! Buy your tickets today :)
Danielle used the walker for the first time yesterday--you may recall she asked if she would ever walk again and now we have the answer. She did pretty well, still has to work on the balance issue, and is easily distracted by someone talking or walking by.
Molly visited again yesterday, and sat for a long time in Danielle's lap. She is not really a lap/cuddly dog; she is a tough girl of action, but she seemed really content to just sit still and be quiet. She did have to go check out the flower bed situation but returned for another lap sit.
Today begins another 5 days of intense rehab, beginning with a real shower this morning. No radiation today; the techs are having computer training.
Wanted to share this development: friends have organized another benefit for Danielle, a family music day to take place on Sunday, June 9th here in Orlando at the Orlando Repertory Theater, with Lunch Money, Mr Harley, Jiggleman, and Mr Richard and the Pound Hounds performing. Hope you can make it; details in the link.
Thanks again for keeping Danielle in your thoughts and prayers for sending so much love and good feelings!
Thanks so much for your continued prayers and support. There have been many ups and downs since my last update, but things are now on the UP side! Here is a brief update from Richard about Danielle's progress:
I can't thank you enough for all the well-wishes being sent our way; my wife Danielle has taken a turn for the better since last week. Her ventilator, IV and artery lines have been removed, but she still has a catheter and her external drain from her brain. She personally removed her feeding tube from her nose, twice. She is speaking and singing and getting physical therapy every day. The plan is to install another internal shunt on Friday so that radiation treatments can resume asap.
Please keep Danielle and Richard in your heart tonight, and send them all of your healing strength and prayers. I'm sorry to report that Danielle is very, very sick and in the ICU, with Richard holding her hand. Please send them all of your strength and love. Here is a recent update from Richard:
Danielle's neurosurgeon came by finally around 7pm. Danielle is very sick, I am sorry to say. The blood swelling around her brain is putting great pressure on her head. It can go either way now. They plan to take another cat scan early tomorrow and the doctor will come by and let me know the plan for the day; it will be day-to-day now.
I have been holding her hand most of the day, and the nurses bring her out of sedation every couple of hours to test her reflexes and responses. She is pretty dopey, but after her 7:15 testing, before she faded out again, I leaned over to her face and for a couple of seconds she looked me square in the eyes. I said, "I love you," and there was the faintest of smiles before she nodded off. I whispered "Thank you" in her ear.
And thank you, too, for all the love zooming our way. It definitely is a comfort.
On June 20th, our dear friend Danielle Peeples was diagnosed with Invasive Breast Adenocarcinoma, an invasive and fast growing form of breast cancer. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy, and will need about 6 months of chemo before her mastectomy. After the surgery, she will have daily radiation treatments.
Danielle is a 1st grade teacher at Rosemont Elementary in Pine Hills, where she was voted Teacher of the Year in 2012. Although she has health insurance through her job, she is unable to work during her treatments, and the pile of medical bills and co-pays keeps mounting.
Danielle and her husband Richard (also known as Mr. Richard to his loyal fans) have dedicated their lives to children. While Danielle is a teacher at a low-income school, Richard is Orlando's favorite children's musician, or as he calls it, kiddie rocker. Mr. Richard entertains kids all over Central Florida with his concerts, sing-a-longs and musical story times. Check out his awesome music and videos on his website,www.mrrichard.net .
This amazing couple has given so much to our community. They have taught our children and made them smile. Mr. Richard has donated his time and talent to countless charities and fundraisers, and recently donated his hair to Locks of Love. Now it's time to give back to this couple who have done so much to make this world a better place.
All money collected goes directly to Danielle and Richard to help with medical bills and living expenses during this difficult time. They are aware of this fundraising effort, and are so grateful for the love and support of the community. Donations of any amount are welcome, and we hope that you will share this page so we can spread the word.
Thank you so much for all of the healing love, prayers, and generous donations. Let's show Danielle and Richard how much they mean to us by helping them out with finances so they can focus all of their energy on Danielle's fight against breast cancer.
*In case you are wondering, I am a friend and neighbor of Danielle and Richard. When they told me that the co-pay for 3 of Danielle's anti-nausea pills was $75 (for 3 little pills!!!), I knew I had to do something to help. Thanks again :)