Stanley W. Ekstrom Foundation

Healing with Hope and Happiness is the proud recipient of a generous grant from the Stanley W Ekstrom foundation toward our polar plunge fundraising goal.  We are grateful for the SWE Foundation’s support and are excited to use these funds to continue our mission in bringing hope and joy to children dealing with a serious health situation.  Please visit the SWE Foundation website for more information on the great work they continue to do in Mr. Ekstrom’s memory.

Meet Our Friend, Kellen!

Meet Kellen as told by his mom, Mykel:

Kellen was diagnosed at 2 1/2 years old with stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma. He ended up in the ICU after round 1 of chemo due to his tumor punching a hole through his diaphragm and bleeding into his chest cavity.

He underwent several rounds of radiation to hopefully stop the bleeding and needed a chest tube, breathing tube and feeding tube placed. After 6 days, he was released back to the pediatric oncology floor where he had 4 more rounds of chemo that came with all of the usual side effects… mouth sores, pain pumps, nausea, etc. Kellen’s counts did not recover well at all so we never left the hospital (one occasion took 54 days) and after the 5th round of chemo, he had his tumor removed.

When he was diagnosed, the tumor was 8 inches long, but by the time it was removed, it was under an inch. My son weighed 28 lbs and had an 8 inch tumor in his gut. After surgery, he had one more round of chemo and then we got 11 days at home. Next we went in for his bone marrow transplant… not a good time for Kellen!! Or us as parents, watching him suffer!!

He ended up with an infection and we were close to losing him. The doctor allowed his sister in to visit (I personally believe the doctor thought Kellen might not pull through) and she was the best medicine! Kellen sat up and smiled when he saw her! Finally on day 8 following his transplant, he started to recover.

In 10 months of treatment, we spent only 28 days at home. He spent every holiday and his 3rd birthday inpatient.

Kellen’s most recent scans show that he is cancer-free! His broviac (the catheter line used to deliver his chemo, blood products, medicines, etc) was removed recently and he’s ready for some fun! We are so happy to be home and to be enjoying a little freedom!

Healing with Hope and Happiness is thrilled to be able to send Kellen and his family on a swimming trip to Great Wolf Lodge!

Meet Landon!

Adam and Jessica are the proud parents of two precious boys: Landon (6) and Bennett (3). Here is Landon’s story as told by his mom :

In November of 2015, at the age of 5, Landon was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor – Medulloblastoma. He underwent a 13 hour surgery that successfully removed all of the tumor, followed by 30 intensive radiation treatments and 6 months of chemotherapy. He finished treatment in August of 2016 and remains cancer free! He has had to relearn how to walk, talk and eat as a result of the surgery that saved his life. We are so proud of our Incredible Landon!

When Landon was diagnosed, our world was turned upside down. There were definitely more tears than smiles in the beginning. Healing with Hope and Happiness has been amazing to us – they helped brighten our darkest days. The Whitecaps first pitch experience was unbelievable! Definitely an emotional moment to watch your child that couldn’t move his arms and legs just months prior, throw the ball over home plate. He proudly waved to the crowd and really soaked in all of the star treatment that he received day!

Surgery took away Landon’s ability to walk and because of the radiation he received, it’s important that Landon remains protected from the sun. HHH gifted us a wagon that has adjustable seats, cup holders and a nice big shade on top – it fits our needs perfectly and has made it possible for us to go on lots of outdoor adventures. We’ve also made many trips to John Ball Zoo and Frederick Meijer Gardens, all thanks to the generosity of HHH.

We are gearing up for our trip to Great Wolf Lodge this weekend! We have never been and the boys are so looking forward to it! We can’t thank you enough for everything that you have done for us! You have given us precious memories that will last a lifetime and so much hope for our future.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! ❤

Go Cole, Go!

Here’s a note from Cole’s mom, Lana:

I was thinking about HHH this weekend while watching my kids ride bikes together for the first time. Thank you for helping to give Cole some independence! It is so rewarding to be able to see our kids have all of their ‘first’ experiences. Watching my kids be kids makes all the struggles worth it. From one mom who completely gets it, to another, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Riley Jo gets power wheels!

We were able to delivery this cool power wheels dune buggy to our friend, Riley Jo!

Riley Jo was born at 23 weeks (1lb, 2oz!) when her mother had a stroke and preclampsia. She had only a 5% chance to survive but is now 8 years old. She has endured ongoing issues (sensory, speech, nerve and vision to name a few) due to her extreme prematurity. We’re thankful that our supporters enabled us to bring some smiles to Riley Jo.

Peyton Goes to Avalanche Bay!

We’re so excited to help 7 year old Peyton take her family on a mini vacation to Avalanche Bay water park!! Check out the sweet suite (see what we did there?) that her family will be staying in with a special bunk house that’s perfect for Peyton and her 9 year old sister to claim as their own. Who calls top bunk? Doesn’t matter… there are 2 sets in there!!!

Glo gets a VIP Shopping Spree!

Meet our friend Gloria, who was recently treated to a VIP shopping spree at the Justice store in the Rivertown Crossings Mall.

Gloria was born with VACTERL Association which is a syndrome that can affect all areas of the body. Each letter in VACTERL stands for a different area of the body it can affect. Most people with VACTERL have only 3 of the letters to be determined to have this but Glo has all 7.

The V represents Vertebrae. Glo’s spine is not fully formed and she has severe scoliosis. This interruption of her spine has effected the nerves that control bowel and bladder causing incontinance.

The A stands for anus. Glo was born without one. Thankfully after several attempts to create one she has one. 😊

C is for cardio. Glo had a hole in her heart that was patched when she was 13 months old. She also deals with ongoing arrhythmia issues.

The TE stand for tracheal esophageal fistula. Glo’s trachea and esophagus were connected when she was born. Had we fed her everything would have gone in her lungs. When she was less than a day old surgeons fixed this connection and stretched Glo’s esophagus to attach it to her stomach. They also gave her a colostomy at the same time.

R stands for renal- Glo only has one functioning kidney that is very prone to infections.

L is for limb differences. Glo had surgery on both hips for Dysplasia and had two fingers on each hand fused.

In total Glo’s had over 60 trips to the OR and is followed by 16 different specialties. Right now here biggest hurdles are her kidney issues, esophagus issues, and severe chronic lung issues.

Thanks to the support of our donors, Glo was able to have a fun trip to Justice!

Gloria and her brothers
Gloria with Libby Neifert (left) and Ella Neifert (right)

A Bounce House for Elizabeth!

Meet Elizabeth as told by her mom, Jennifer:

Elizabeth is quite possibly the silliest, most fun-loving 6 year old you’ll ever meet. She loves My Little Ponies, Little Mermaid, playing with her little sister, Anna, and laughing whenever possible.

On April 28, 2013 we took Elizabeth to the emergency room for a lingering fever, loss of appetite and mild shoulder pain. She didn’t appear sick but we figured we should probably have her looked at. That evening, just a few short hours after her tap dance recital we rushed from our local hospital to Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. The following day, after an invasive biopsy, Elizabeth was diagnosed with Stage IV Wilms Tumor. This rare form of childhood cancer begins with a tumor on the kidney. Elizabeth’s tumor was the size of a small soccer ball. The cancer had also spread to her lungs, liver, and was growing inside her Inferior Vena Cava. Elizabeth underwent 13 consecutive weeks of chemotherapy before having a 9 hour surgery to remove the tumor. The surgery was very successful! After two weeks of recovery from this very extensive surgery Elizabeth endured 12 straight days of radiation to her chest, abdomen and pelvis. She is currently 1 round of chemotherapy away from completing a 33 week treatment protocol!

Elizabeth’s small body has been through so much. However, her happy, fun-loving spirit has never ceased to amaze us. One of Elizabeth’s most consistent requests during her treatment was to go to a bounce house. With her immune system being constantly compromised from the chemotherapy and radiation, we were unable to take her to public bounce houses. On a warm July afternoon, after a particularly challenging round of chemotherapy, we were able to surprise Elizabeth with a bounce house of her very own!! The look on Elizabeth’s face the moment she saw the bounce house was one we will never forget. This summer Elizabeth and her sister, Anna spent countless hours bouncing to their hearts content. They were “hit” of the neighborhood! We are forever grateful to the Neifert Family and Healing with Hope and Happiness for putting a special “bounce” in Elizabeth’s heart during an extremely challenging time.