Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Touching #TeamBolton Facebook Memory

Facebook reminded me of these photos today and it stopped me in my tracks. This was Mireya's 4th birthday, all she wanted to do was go to Kings Dominion because she had never been. Just weeks earlier she had been hospitalized for about 3 weeks due to low counts and unexplainable bruising.
We had yet to determine a diagnosis because at the time only one cell line was in mass destructo. Reya had just received a transfusion the day before to help her platelets bounce back and diminish the amount of bruising present all over her body and in her mouth.
I remember this day so vividly, we knew she wasn't well enough to endure a lot, but we went anyway because we had to be back at the hospital within a day or two for more extensive testing. We enjoyed this day like we had nothing to face. It was the last fun day we had together before our lives were forever changed by a almost three year battle with life threatening illness. It is so hard to watch your child endure something you cannot fix or change. Praying today for so many families....those grieving, those battling and those preparing to fight.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Champion Fun

The last few months have been full of Champion activities.  I've had the joy of speaking on behalf of children's medical issues and funding with the Jr. Board of the Children's Hospital Foundation, the YMCA Board and the Miss America Organization.  It is always a pleasure to add the real life experience and challenges to the WHY of the overall goal.

It has been awesome to spend time with the Partners who have been working over the last few months to raise awareness in the community and helping raise money for Children's Hospital of Richmond @ VCU and Children's Miracle Network.  I feel like a Mom-mager coordinating schedules and balancing some great events for #TeamBolton.  Some of the fun has included a half-time check presentation from Virginia Credit Union at the last home game for the VCU Rams.  We enjoyed meeting the President of the Credit Union and his wife to thank them personally for their generosity.  The kids loved seeing themselves up on the jumbo-tron and the super fan even made the shot and our section was chosen to receive free pizza...which was totally winning!!!

#TeamBolton was a part of the check presentation for Wheel of Fortune's Secret Santa sweepstakes, in which a local winner's charity of choice was Children's Hosptial of Richmond @ VCU for $10k.

The students at Meadowbrook High School did a phenomenal job with their Roar-athon event this year.  We continue to be in awe of what a committed group of young people with hearts to serve others looks like.  You can't go wrong with music, festivities and a goal.  #TeamBolton loves a dance party, so this will continue to be a favorite of ours for years to come.
Crowns and hearts go together so beautifully.  We enjoyed meeting many of the local and statewide pageant titleholders to share our story, along with our appreciation on behalf of our family and patient families for all these lovely ladies do throughout their reign to benefit Children's Miracle network.  This is one of Mireya's favorite events....as she loves a sparkly crown!
Jalen and Mireya are the Champion kids for the Walmart, Sam's Club, Costco and Chico's stores in our area.  It is always great to get out and visit with the employees.  The employees in one store are wearing aquamarine ribbons (Mireya's favorite color) along with the Champion photo on their name badges.  The others have photos on the registers and bulletin boards.  We love all the texts and photo messages we receive from our friends and family when they visit these locations during this campaign. It will be exciting in the next few weeks to see how much they have raised through donations, raffles, cookouts, carnivals and store events.  Throwing pies in the Store Manager's faces during the carnival was really cool! It makes my heart smile to see how everyone comes together collectively for a period of time to make a difference.
We will have the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, then D.C. for the kick-off of the official Ambassador's Tour.  This will be an amazing time to meet the other 49 families and children as well as speak to lawmakers on behalf of patient families and participate in some fun activities.  I'm certain there will be a lot of stories and pictures to share, but also unforgettable memories.

Sometimes it is so hard to see beyond the immediate devastation of a situation.  Never would we have imagined what the Lord had on the other side of what has been one of the most difficult times in our lives as a family.  We are so proud of our children and see it as an honor to serve alongside them in their roles!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015


We spent the first part of today at the Children's Hospital in Child Neurology trying to get closer to figuring out how to address and work through some of the issues Mireya has been having over the last several months.  I feel confident that we were able to put a plan in place that will be helpful.

We spent the early evening celebrating an amazing honor granted to us by the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU.  Many of you may remember, in October of last year Quentin and I were at the Q94 studios to share the #TeamBolton story for the Radiothon.  At the conclusion of the taping, we were asked for a few minutes of our time by our friends at CHOR to tell us about an Ambassador program for Children's Hospital they wanted to nominate both Jalen and Mireya for.  The program brings awareness to healthcare, Children's Miracle Network (CMN) and the importance of supporting Children's Hospitals and programs across the United States. 

Every year after a series of nominations 'one' family or 'one' Champion is chosen as an Ambassador to represent his/her state.  Jalen and Mireya were submitted in recognition of their ability to brave their respective battles with grace, strength, courage and determination despite and through it all.  We continue to be in awe of all they endured over the course of two and a half years to bring us where we are today.  

When we received the phone call about a week ago, I pulled over on the side of the road, speechless and in tears....I am so proud to share the 2015 Champions for the state of Virginia are Jalen AND Mireya.  Our friends at CHOR planned a super special family celebration for us at The Desserterie to announce and share with the children that they were chosen to represent Virginia this year in this role and capacity.  What does this mean???  It means we continue to do what we've done all along...participate in events to support the Children's Hospital and CMN, share our experience and our story. But wait there's more....an Ambassador's Tour.  Two trips, one to the White House (the 2014 Champions met and spent time with the President) and a second week long trip to Walt Disney World with approximately 52 other families (one family from each U.S. State and Canada) all together for a common goal.  What an amazing opportunity.  Here's a little clip of the 2014 Champions and their time together on the tour.  Thank you BIG sister Paris (unable to be with us) for dialing in from school for this special occasion.

News traveled fast via FaceTime to Big Sister 

Thank you to so many that have loved, supported and kept us covered in prayer. We are so honored to be thought of in such a way to be nominated, but even more humbled to be chosen.  To God be the Glory! 

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light

Friday, December 26, 2014

Procedures & Plans

Our family enjoyed a wonderful time together yesterday on Christmas day.  Today were down at Children's Hospital to complete some procedural testing to help us pinpoint the cause of some of the challenges Reya has been having over the last few months.  We expected to have an IV placed and scans done with and without contrast.  I wasn't certain how long it would last, so I packed up the bag with fun things to help pass the time and a bag of treats to have at the conclusion of the testing since Reya was not able to eat anything since last night. We reported to Radiology and after a considerable wait, there was a change in plans....no IV, no contrast needed.  With those two elements eliminated, we were done relatively quickly.

We are still in our maintenance phase of treatment and are routinely seen in an auxilliary Children's Hospital clinic in the West End. Since we were at the Main Hospital, we decided to take a trip down to our old stomping ground for a quick visit.  It is such a joy to see the smiling faces of people who were such a big part of the process and journey. The entire clinic experience starts with these two ladies and I truly love them both so much!!!  Reya was super happy to see Ms. Rachel and Ms. Roz. It was like catching up with family and friends.

 The girls attended the Clinic Preschool with this beautiful trooper. We are thrilled to hear all the great news happening in the midst of her 2nd battle.  God is so amazing! Continuing to pray and thank the Lord for continued progress and victory in her fight.

 As we were leaving the hospital we saw several familiar faces and ran into the Dietary Technician that cared for us while on the Bone Marrow unit.  She used to bring the latest movies to the room for Mireya and the children to watch.  She took great care of us and always knew how to put a smile on Reya's face.  It was such a blessing to us and I love that our paths connected again.

We have few additional appointments in the coming weeks to help us assess and determine a plan of action to manage these issues.  We are continuing to enjoy the 'new normal', but look forward to 2015 being a year that propels #TeamBolton to even greater places.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Continuing to Walk in the Promise

These last few months we've faced issues and situations that have had us on alert, but we are grateful for progress and even more thankful for God allowing us to continue to hurdle the obstacles and common issues that children encounter as latent effects of chemotherapy and some of the toxic medications taken throughout the process.

We have officially transitioned to the Peds/Hemoc Survivorship Program.  Our appointments continue to track every 3 months and will hopefully soon be stretched to every six months beginning in January and then annually for the duration.

Overall Mireya is doing well in the maintenance phase of her treatment.  She has some of the common struggles with sun exposure, fatigue, unexplainable stomach and headaches which make it difficult to flow through school days, but she loves learning and is doing exceptionally well in 2nd Grade despite it all.

 Makinley started Kindergarten this year and is adjusting well to a new schedule and routine.  Our Hero brother, Jalen has managed to admirably work through the anxiety and level of uncertainty that began to affect his day to day activities.  He is having great successes as a 4th Grader.  Paris is exploring the world through her studies abroad in Spain this semester and preparing to graduate in the Spring.  It is something I had the joy of experiencing as a child and I love that she has the opportunity to be immersed in the culture and life of another country. To capture her experiences visit lapuertaaespana.blogspot.com

Quentin and I continue to push through to get all areas of our lives on track and we make a conscious effort, to keep things in perspective, while savoring life in this new place. It has been several months, but it still feels different to exist in a space where you are free to live without major limitations. Simple things give us great joy. I cannot count the number of times there have been tears in my eyes or I've cried relishing the normalcy of a single moment or occurrence in time.

The Warmth of Sunlight on My Face

I'm Not My Hair, BUT I'm Back Where I Started
Take nothing for granted.  Handle others with love and a true measure of grace. Enjoy every day as it could be your last and remember every good and perfect thing comes from the Lord in HIS timing.  Several of you have shared how you've visited the blog and felt our absence.  Thank you for continuing to love, support and connect with us. Sharing and connecting with others is the beat of my heart.  Your support and presence with and for us, kept that beat strong even when it was weary.  I will work on consistently sharing the good that continues to happen with and for us.

Love and blessings always from #TeamBolton!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Relaunching & Paying It Forward

Giving the 'Stress Talk'
If you know anyone that has been through any sort of medical journey, you know or can associate with the financial burden that treatment over an extended period has or can have.  As a result I had truly been seeking direction on what it is I needed to do to help my family's financial bottom line.  I started reaching out to former colleagues and Managers about the possibility of going back into the conventional workspace.  I've had the opportunity to be at home with my children for the last 10+ year and I've enjoyed it very much. The thought of going back to the Corporate environment was even more of a concern when I considered having to find something that would allow me to make enough money to cover the expense of having my children cared for and still allow me to take care of the obligations that need to be addressed.

Many of you know or may recall I had a growing Spa and Wellness business that afforded me the opportunity to go into the home, workplace and community to share the importance of eliminating stress and give the 'gift of relaxation' through an amazing and relaxing spa experience. I help others 'de-stress and increase face value' through the education of proper skincare and the essentials of taking care of ourselves.  I have not been been able to pursue this business over the last few years as we've dealt with my daughter's illness and ongoing treatment.  I have been affiliated with and representing this company for a long time.  Connecting with people and helping others is my passion. Whether it is through providing solutions to issues, giving people permission to take 'the pause' or through helping them make changes in their lives by taking advantage of this opportunity for themselves and their family.   I pondered and prayed about what I could do, and the Lord continued to instruct me to 'use what is in your hand'.  Several months ago, my daughter was released from her treatment and a few weeks following that, I revived and relaunched my business.  To connect with me or learn more check me out at www.facebook.com/beautispava
I work with an amazing group of people and have never been more excited about this business until now.  About 4 weeks ago I was at a Leadership Conference in Dallas when a BIG announcement was made.  Let me preface the announcement by saying, BeautiControl has an amazing Foundation, W.H.O (Women Helping Others) www.whofoundation.org that has granted over 5 million dollars to community focused charities and organizations serving overlooked women, children and families.  I have seen dollars from the W.H.O. Foundation granted and serve the Richmond area several times over the last 10+ years.  I was at a loss for words when BeautiControl unveiled their partnership with the Make A Wish Foundation. I sat in that meeting sobbing as a Wish Family came out and shared their journey to victory over illness. Understanding their plight and knowing first hand how tremendous this is for families made me PROUD of this company I represent. Our collective mission in one month was to share this opportunity with 4,500 people. My personal desire was to do my part to make this happen by sharing it with everyone I could. The reward of going out and working on behalf of 'Paying it Forward' and blessing others for me, was bigger than any other reward the company could give.

Incidentally during a break the day before, I took a detour to a bathroom off the beaten path and ran into this beautiful lady. Obviously, she got the black and coral memo.  We chuckled, decided we had to take a picture because what were the odds amongst 2000 women you would 'happen' to run into someone in a long bathroom line dressed just like you.  Nothing happens by chance....she lives in Pennsylvania and her brother happens to be a Veterinarian in Glen Allen, Virginia (a short 20 minutes from where I live). We messaged one another a few weeks after our meeting in Dallas.  I shared with her my excitement for the Make A Wish partnership and she shared with me that she sat in the audience that morning in tears because her family was a Wish Family and her daughter has been in treatment for the last 3 years with a brain tumor. The odds just increased and I know without doubt our paths were intended to cross on that day.

Our lives were more connected than we could ever have imagined
I'm also so proud to say not only did we meet our goal, but we surpassed it and were able to share this opportunity with over 4,900 people.  The impact this will have on and in the lives of these two families is immeasurable.  I am thankful for opportunities that have opened up for me and people that have embraced my decision and helped me thus far in and through the process.  Together we can make a difference and the best is yet to come!! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Settling in Our Groove

These last few months have been a time to really getting back into our groove and enjoy the regular rotation of life.  It's very easy to want to jump right back into everything, but honestly just taking a step at a time, being present in the moment and living each day to the fullest without medical constraints or restrictions has felt like a true luxury.  I wish and want this for all our friends and family we know and love in the varying stages of caring for a child with illness and in treatment.

We continue to be so thankful for the restoration of Mireya's health.  Seeing her smile and knowing she is healthy brings us great joy.  The joy of the Lord continues to be our strength.

Psalm 19:8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.