Ways to help the Stenson Family
My sweet niece, Charlie, was diagnosed with cancer the week before Thanksgiving. Charlie has had tummy and digestive issues for some time now and has been seen quite a few times to try and find the cause, each time resulting in a different theory. After having a fever for a few days and not acting like herself, Emily and Derek (Charlie’s parents) decided to trust their gut and take her to the emergency room in hopes to find some answers. After multiple tests, scans, and hospitals, they finally received the devastating news that Charlie has stage 4 cancer. She has a tumor that is about 5 inches in her abdomen and the cancer has spread to her liver.
They did two biopsies on the tumor, the first was non-invasive with just a needle to extract some of the mass, but a few days later they did a more invasive procedure where they did a 3" incision on her abdomen, removed 6-8 small tumors from the liver, as well as her omentum which had a larger tumor on it as well. There are still other small tumors as well as a larger tumor in her abdomen affecting her other organs. They received the official diagnosis on 12/2 that it's a Sacrococcygeal Teratoma. A germ cell tumor made up of a combination of malignant and benign tumors.
While it's a rare tumor, only about 100 kids a year get this type of cancer, it's treatable. She recently completed 3 months of chemo to shrink the large tumor, then on Monday 2/27 they will get their first official look at the tumor since diagnosis day (when it was the size of an iphone). The next step will be to remove the tumor surgically. Charlie had surgery (12/5) for her port and began her first round of 4 three-week chemo cycles on 12/6 and ended on February 10th.
She started to lose her hair a little before Christmas, and it became annoying as it was falling out so they took charge and Charlie's hair went on vacation and she is now rocking a soft little bald head! She looks so sweet with her peach fuzz and it's been so crazy to see how much she has changed in these past few months. Seems so short but also a lifetime.
This is a bit old but I wanted to keep it in here: A big thank you goes out to everyone who helped make the Stenson's New Years Eve in the hospital a magical one. They have had a lot of large events around past New Year's (got engaged, found out they were pregnant with Charlie, announce pregnancy for Annie, etc) so this year was memorable in a different way. The received a gift basket with goodies, pajamas, a cozy outfit from Blaze Kids Wear, decorations, as well as cookies from Gracene's Bakery, a charcuterie board from Peterson Pineapple Boards, and folks chipped in to buy them dinner from their favorite restaurant, El Gaucho.
We will continue to keep everyone as updated as possible as we learn more (please check out Emily Stenson's Instagram/Facebook stories for more updates in real-time: @emilyestenson). I know a lot of folks will be reaching out asking how they can help, here is a list of ways to help if you would like to:
PRAYERS: Please, first and foremost pray for Charlie and the Stenson family. This time is full of unknowns and anxieties, if you can pray for strength and courage for the family, especially Charlie, that is a good place to start. If you don't pray, please send all the healing and positive vibes her way! This Monday 2/27, prayers that the chemo has done its job and the tumor has shrunk to a removable size, that the tumor is NOT attached to anything vital (organs, spine, bones, etc.), and that this is leading to the road to kicking cancer to the curb forever.
GO FUND ME: With hospital stays and treatment also come bills, gas expenses, and additional food costs. If you are able to contribute monetarily on top of your prayers, please do so on their Go Fund Me. They are small business owners and that means dealing with their own insurance coverage, which can always be a nightmare.
MEAL TRAIN: Next up, they are going to need some help with nutritious meals over the next several days, weeks, and months. I have set up a Meal Train where you can sign up for specific days to bring meals, as well as ideas for gift cards etc. I will update the meal train as often as I can with their needs. They would love some fresh meals (breakfasts, lunches, dinners) and freezer meals are also welcome! Please sign up on the meal train link and you can message Bailey (Derek's sister) email@example.com to coordinate delivery! Here is a blog post of freezer meal ideas!
VENMO: If you'd like to gift something directly to Derek and Emily to grab coffee, snacks, etc from the hospital, Emily's Venmo is @emilyestenson. ***Venmo will ask, but you do not need her last 4 digits of her phone number as long as you feel comfortable donating without that. Just make sure to double-check that it's the correct username.***
MARY BRIDGE AMAZON WISHLIST: There is an incredible playroom at the hospital where Charlie is receiving treatment and all of the toys and crafts are free for the kids to use in the playroom, bring back to their room, or take home with them. Mary Bridge has set up an Amazon Wishlist if you're interested in donating a toy or craft to the hospital in honor of Charlie.
If you have any other ideas on ways to help, please feel free to let me know!