Help Julia Fight Cancer!!
Almost 2 years of cross-country travel (and over 3 years in treatment total) has meant loss of work, and a difficult financial burden for the Davidson family. We are raising funds to help them cover the cost of travel, treatments, and related expenses.
Todd, Jessica and Julia
Julia's Message To You, October, 2015
We met with MSK's long-term care team in May, and again middle of last month. Each visit had it's own variety of appointments including blood work, MRI scans, dental, vision, dermatology, and other tests. They will be monitoring her thyroid function, neurological and physical development, and reproductive system; all which can be disrupted because of the toxicity of chemotherapy. Our visits to New York will continue every three months for now.
Since Julia's diagnosis 3.5 years ago we have tirelessly sought out the best treatment options for her. Many times it has not been easy, and we are eternally grateful to those who have helped support us. You have, quite literally, contributed to saving our daughter's life. As we continue to rebuild and work toward some sort of normalcy she is a bright reminder of what is truly important in life. She started fourth grade this month and continues to amaze us with her growth and maturity.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and we wanted to take a minute to acknowledge the many kids who have been affected by this horrible disease. Many have become close friends of ours. Some doing well, some still fighting, and a few who have become angels. Please keep these kids and their families in your thoughts and prayers.
"They ride tricycles in the hallway, not in the park. They know the names of their chemos instead of their classmates. Their central lines have names. Nurses and doctors are their new family. They think hair is overrated. Their laughter can make a heart melt. Their strength will make a grown person cry. If you've ever seen a kid fight cancer, it will change your life forever."
With Love and Gratitude,
Todd, Jessica, and Julia
While in New York we are able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House on the upper east side of Manhattan, only a few minutes walk to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. It’s great to be surrounded by other families going through similar situations. Hearing everyone’s stories reinforces our belief that we are in the best place in the country for Julia. It’s amazing how many of us can relate to each other and what brought us here.
Each time we visit New York we try to do something fun. This trip was no exception. Two highlights were going to a NY Islanders game and seeing Wicked the musical. Of course we spent time with Uncle Brandon and explored the city.
Thank you for your incredible support through all of this. We could not be doing this if it wasn’t for the help of our community and friends. The financial contributions help tremendously, and the prayers and positive thoughts are most appreciated.
Much love to everyone,
Todd, Jessica and Julia
P.S. Julia made her local TV debut with a Mission Federal Credit Union commercial a couple months ago. Here’s the link in case you haven’t seen it:
Also, here is a video I made of Julia at the Islanders game. We won and she was so excited!
If you are able, please consider making a contribution to Julia’s fund. Every bit helps. For those of you who have donated - thank you so much. As I mentioned we couldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for the help like yours.
Julia started the Neuroblastoma Vaccine Trial at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York in March. We have traveled there four times in the last two months. We will be required to return every 10 weeks during the trial for a full workup (scans, etc). We have been fortunate to be able to spend some time with Uncle Brandon each visit (he works just a few blocks from the hospital there).
The vaccine trial involves a series of injections which stimulate her immune system to produce antibodies which recognize and attack any newly forming Neuroblastoma cells. The basic idea is to prevent relapse, which is still a major concern at this time. However, Julia's last visit to New York was a week ago and we are happy to announce that she still has no evidence of disease. Scans were clear!
Another piece of wonderful news, she got her central line removed! After two years she can finally get wet! That means she can take a regular shower or bath, and can go swimming again. But she doesn't want her cousins to know yet. She wants to surprise them by jumping in the pool at the next family gathering. So (brothers and sisters) don't tell the kids just yet.
We are so thankful for the support of our friends and family through this incredible experience. Julia is doing very well. Her hair is coming back curly and she's even started to show some eight-year-old sassiness. All is good so far. Thank God!
Todd, Jessica (and Julia) Davidson
The vaccine trial is a series of (painful) injections that are administered over the course of about a year. The first three one week apart, followed by a fourth and fifth about a month apart. Then a few more at a staggered schedule. We will be required to travel to New York many times this year for scans and injections. This first trip will be one week long and we will stay at the Ronald MacDonald House. We will return on Friday, 3/10 and then Jessica and Julia will fly back on Wednesday, 3/15. I will stay home for work. Needless to say travel and accommodation arrangements will be a challenge but there are a few foundations that are helping us.
We have been asked about Julia's treatment history and how we got to where we are. To summarize:
Julia was diagnosed on 4/1/2015 with Stage IV, High-Risk Neuroblastoma. After six rounds of upfront chemotherapy and two resection surgeries there was still some refractory disease. We opted to try (new at the time) a combination chemo-antibody treatment and after three rounds of that she was declared 'No Evidence of Disease' (NED) in January, 2016.
To prevent relapse she has had to continue antibody treatments once a month (week-long inpatient infusions), 12 rounds of radiation, and 5 rounds of Accutane. As you can imagine we have grown quite fond of the staff at the hospitals where she has gotten treatments, mostly here in San Diego at Rady Children's Hospital. After her 15th round of immunotherapy she got to ring the 'bell of completion' on the oncology floor. A bittersweet goodbye to those who have lovingly and professionally taken care of us for two years. Unfortunately there is an ethical issue with nurses maintaining friendships with patients in active treatment outside the hospital, so the goodbyes were sensitive for Julia. She even joked about trying to figure out how to get a fever so we could check-in again.
Your financial contributions and fundraisers have been incredibly helpful. 22 months of active treatment have been a challenge for us. Luckily Jessica will be able to go back to work soon which will help. I recently saw a quote that summarized the financial worry and pressure we've felt throughout all of this so far:
"Every tank of gas, every snack at the hospital cafeteria, every prescription, every bill that arrived in the mail felt completely overwhelming. It was like a constant calculator in my head and the number was getting bigger and bigger by the day. Money became such a huge worry for us, that I felt like we were never able to just focus on our child getting better. We weren't expecting this whole other level of stress that comes along with a cancer diagnosis."
So here we are, two years after diagnosis and one year NED. Thank you for all your prayers and support. It literally has saved Julia's life.
Huzzah! Congratulations on the continued progress, you three! No matter which of her talents she chooses to pursue, here's to Julia's inevitably bright future!
She sings beautiful....Glad to see she is doing better!
Wow! Very happy to hear this news for you Todd and your family. You are blessed and I will pray she will continue on this road to recovery. Take care of yourself
Praying for only the best results of the surgery. Love and prayers XO
Meus Queridos ! Nós estamos juntos com vocês , nossa esperança e mesma que a de vocês...Júlia é forte ...continuamos mandando nosso amor e orações por saúde e força para Júlia e a Família....beijo no coração