On January 27, 2011 Eric Merkley was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. An aggressive cancer that we hope and the doctors to this point seem confident that is contained to one spot on his leg. Prognosis is good. Treatments and recovery will be long and painful.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Preping for the Ringing of the Bell

As soon as Eric found out that he made the count to go home, he asked to have his port "De accessed".  Alisha was our student nurse that was taking care of Eric today, so he told her he wanted her to do it.  You should have seen her face.  She was so nervous.  What are friends for, but to let you practice your nursing skills on, right?

Look at Eric's face, he is trying to sneak a peek at what she is doing.  She did fantastic and the cool thing is, this will be the last time his port will be accessed and this was her first time to de-access a port.  Hopefully within 3 weeks the port will be gone for good. 

Another message from nurse Annie.

When Eric was talking about ripping the bell of the wall, I thought I would just order him a bell as a souvenir.  I had it engraved in August that says "Strength Endures"  "Eric Merkley" September 2011.  Of course I did this when I thought that he would be done September 9th... then came the delay.  All I can say is there is power of writing down a goal, he walked out of PMC September 30!  Aunt Janet made these wonderful cookies for Eric.  When I was talking to her on Tuesday about the cookies, Eric said that he wanted a man without a leg... and a mustache!  This is his special cookie with a peg leg.  When I went to pick up the cookies this afternoon, a couple of servers commented on "Is he okay with this and this is weird".   They could not believe that it was Eric's idea and he has a great attitude about it.  It is what it is! 

Tim came out of his room to see Eric ring the bell.  His big day is tomorrow!  His leg is sporting BYU's logo! 

Todd took a lot of pictures at the hospital of the actual event, so when he makes it home and downloads the pictures I will post them! 
It was a great night and such a relief.  After they sang, the nurses were asking me if I was misty eyed.  I have been misty eyed all week long.  Eric told me last night that I had better not cry.  So I have been taking a lot of deep breathes and just being so excited for him.  He has been feeling so sick this treatment and weak and he was just a trooper to put up with this little celebration.  As soon as we got home, he went right to bed.  It is only uphill from here!  Stay tuned for more news and pictures of the event.  Did I say we are home?  I have all the bags unpacked completely for the first time in 8 full months.    I think I am dreaming!

We are coming home

We did receive a huge bonus!! We are coming home tonight! Eric will ring the bell at 6pm tonight! Then we will walk out of here ready to face the world! More to come.


We may have just received a bonus. When they checked his blood this morning Eric's metho levels were .11. We need .10 or less. So they are going to retest at 2. We should have the results back around 4 and if he is cleared to go home, he will ring the bell at 6!!! When I was told about the news I was so excited, because I will get to go home to my honey. We could not wake Eric up enough to tell him the news, but when he did wake up he said "close enough" let's go home now.... I will keep you posted.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Saying Goodbye for now

As Eric's nurses are finished from their shifts, they have left messages for him.  It is a bitter sweet moments as we work our way through this week.

Steven was getting ready to leave for a few days, only to come back for his last treatment.  We decided to take a walk and say goodbye to him and he had a special surprise for Eric.

These two troopers allowed the moms to take another picture.  :)  The funny thing is Eric's leg which goes up to his hip is almost as tall Steven. 

I hope you can read this, it cracked me up.  I love the part about his "Mustache"  Can you see the wax mustache?  I love it and so did Eric

We are so excited that Steven gets to ring the bell next week and Tim Wright gets to ring it Sat at 4.  SO there is a lot of excitement here among these kids.  Eric has threaten to ring the bell so hard that he will rip it off the wall. I told him that he needs to be gentle so Tim can ring it right after him!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The last drip

This was our view at 9:00 last night.  I can't even begin to tell you the many different emotions that were running through me.  Mainly pure joy that as of 10:00 pm on September 27, there will be no more poison pumped into his chest.  But I am not going to lie, the other strong emotion is fear of "is it enough?"  I try not to dwell on that part because I have always felt that once we get through this trial, that he will be able to go on and live a normal, healthy life.  Some day I may write about one of the most profound experiences that has left a very large impression on me....but for now I can only say that Eric is ready to face the world standing tall, with one proud mom behind him.  These kids go through pure hell not only physically and mentally, but the outlook of "normal" has changed.  They have to face and accept things in life that are not "fair".  But life is not fair.  That is why Eric and these other young heroes facing cancer will be changed and made stronger because of it.  The ripple effects of what Eric has to face does effect everyone around him and I have seen so many good things happen because of it.  Like I have said before, "I don't know what Heavenly Father has in store for him, but it will be fun to watch."

What now do you ask?  Well this week he will continue to flush out the methotrexrate out of his system.  Last week the round of metho left him with sores in his stomach, which was pretty miserable to eat.  Eric has been sucking on mentos during treatment, but to put one of those candies in his mouth now makes him very sick to his stomach.  At nine last night he could not take it any more and spit out the candy and said "I am done, I can't suck on one more."  He was given a flu shot last week which has also left him feeling achy so this week and next week will begin the process of just feeling better.  I am thinking that on Saturday at 10am he will be RINGING THE BELL to signify that he has completed all 18 treatments.  Then he will walk out of the doors for the last time as a patient.  I am sure he will come back and say hi.... but no longer as a patient.  

Next Tuesday he will go back to fit well to be re casted for his leg and hopefully get a better fit.  Then life will continue from there!!!  Did I mention that we are done with chemotherapy?????....all 18 of them????? 

Monday, September 26, 2011


What a tough day!  With one day off of being at the hospital he was able to do something we have joked about for a long time.  And believe it or not, his foot fit in the tub!   This lady was very sweet and did this pedicure for Eric as a Last Treatment gift.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Long and Short of it

Well if you want the short version of today, here it is:  We made it home to another "Chubba Wabba" package from Aunt Theresa!
The long version.. if you are interested  is, our day started pretty rough. Eric woke up at 6:30 really sick to his stomach.  I jumped out of bed to grab the bucket and as I stepped out of the room to grab some wash clothes, Vanessa our nurse said that his metho level count was in and it was .4!  I said "NO WAY", how can it go from .22 yesterday to .4?  We needed .10 or less to go home.  This news just upset Eric even more.  So he went back to sleep, while I had a heart to heart with Heavenly Father.  This news was going to throw everything off again.

When Dr Lemmens came in he said that he was going to have them run the test again on the same sample of blood.  I asked if they could draw a new sample, since 5 - 6 hours had passed.  As a favor to me, he agreed.  When the results came back in 2 hours later, it was .08!!!  I swear the lab messed up big time.  But all is well now.
So as I was packing I asked Eric if he was going to get dressed so we can go.  He looked at me like "DA" and said "Well I need to get unhooked first."  He was still hooked up to the IV pole.  So as the nurse unhooked him, Dr Spraker came by to say YEAH you are going home.  I asked if she heard what happened and she said "No".  Eric spoke up and said "Someone took my leg" as he lifted up his nub.  She got quite a laugh at that. 
I have been worried about Eric's heart and asked a doc 2 weeks ago if his heart will recover from the doxi and he told me no.  That the damage was done.  My heart wanted to stop.  So I asked the same question to Dr Spraker and she said the echo cardiograms are a subjective test for one thing and that yes his heart will continue to get stronger.  It may not get to the top condition it was before, but it will get stronger.  So on that note we were 2 happy campers leaving the hospital! 
Can I tell you how great the nurses are there?  Our nursing tech knew I was pretty bummed out because of the metho level being so high, so as I stepped into a parent restroom to blow dry my hair, the service cart for parents with bagels, muffins and juice came.  Rachel was so worried that I would miss out that she grabbed me a juice and muffin.  Also Kathy, from Boston, had bought Eric a copy of her favorite movie... "I married an Ax Murderer" and she was going to give it to him as a "last treatment" gift.  But knowing that he was going to be so upset about his metho levels gave it to him early.  They are the best!
Right now our plans are to be back at the hospital on Tuesday.  We are not expecting any blood count issues, because his counts have gone up to healthy strong levels!!!  YEAH!!
My prayer was heard!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Attack of Spider man

Our Saturday at PMC was quite exciting.  We decided to take a picnic lunch on the patio and get a dose of vitamin D and as we were walking to the patio SPIDER MAN JUMPED OUT AND TRIED TO STEAL OUR LUNCH!!  So Eric gave him the smack down and saved our lunch!
MAN WE MUST BE REALLY BORED!!  Eric's metho level was .22 this morning, so we should be home tomorrow. We will get to sleep in our own beds for 2 nights, then we will be back here for our LAST treatment!!!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011


Our favorite student nurse was on duty and what better experience for her than to have her give Eric his daily shot.  Alisha Spencer did not hesitate at all to stick Eric.  Alisha is Jace's sister.  It is pretty nice to have familiar faces here.

Good thing he only gets that shot once a day, and considering that Alisha is just learning, it did not hurt to bad.  :)  We are just kidding, the syringe was filled with Gatorade.  She was just a trooper to play along.

Much to cherish

I am reminded all the time just how fortunate we are. This past week I have heard 2 separate stories of young lives cut short because of this terrible cancer. As I sat in the program for Hyundai Hope on wheels, the doctor spoke about how just less than 50 years ago the survival rate on sarcomas were 0%. It is now up to 70%. I know that I am just as bad as a teenager in thinking that we are invincible, but the reality is that life is always very fragile and thankfully Eric has been placed in the most capable, knowledgeable and healing hands possible. YES we are very blessed and the future is very bright. I always have a prayer of thanks in my heart for those blessings.
Yesterday was a great day, not only because McKell came to visit, but Dr Spraker came to talk to us about Eric's "dismount" from treatments. The feelings of anxiety and uncertainty seem to lift away as we spoke about his LAST treatment next week. We will continue to monitor his blood counts over the following 2 weeks where we will schedule the full round of testing on his heart, ears, chest and bones. If all is clear a surgery will be scheduled to take the port out of his chest.

His port has been a symbol of the harsh reality of cancer. I will never forget when the biopsy on his tumor was done in January. Right before he walked back to the operating room, he said "So if I wake up and see bandages on my chest, I will know that I have cancer." When I was allowed to go back to the recovery room and I was still trying to pull myself together and dry the tears. I was trying to figure out how I was going to tell Eric. But as I stood by his bed side and he started to wake up, Eric lifted the sheets off his chest and looked down and saw the bandages. His head just dropped back on the pillows as a tear trickled down the side of his face. Eric took a deep breath and asked "what now?" I don't think he has ever shed a tear since about cancer. Yes that port has been not only a vehicle to deliver the chemo in his body, but it has been the symbol of the reality Eric has cancer.

The day he has his port removed will be day of celebration, one that we are both looking forward too. Thank you once again for all your prayers and acts of kindness. We have truly been blessed by you, our guardian angels.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

McKell came to visit

McKell was so excited to have cafeteria food....she is a little strange. :) But I have to admit it was actually really good and Daryl was so jealous.

So before McKell left I wanted to get picture and Eric immediately pretended to sleep.

McKell was learning to make a crochet wash cloth, but it ended up looking like a yarmulke (a little hat the Jewish guys wear) hmmmm It's a good start??

We loved that McKell came to visit. She is so determined to learn how to crochet that she was willing to drive all the way to the hospital for lessons. Pretty scary considering the teacher is just learning too. Eric did have fun harassing her though. Can you believe that Macklyn will be here in 6 weeks? I think McKell looks amazing!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

hyundai hope on wheels

Eric painting  his hand for his hand print to be printed on Hyundai Hope in wheels promotion

we laughed about how much room his hand took.  It is a good thing the other kids left him the big corner.

One of the camera guy wantd to compare his hand with Eric's

Yesterday Primary called and asked if Eric could come a few minutes early to participate in the Hyundai Hope on wheels check donation to Primary children's hospital.  There were a lot of cameras, TV and photo cameras here because the Utah Hyundai dealerships donated a lot of money today.  I have to admit that I was very impressed.  There will be stories on the at least fox, ksl and abc tonight, if you are interested in tuning in. 
So #17 chemo is being prepped right now!!  YEAH!!  Have I mentioned we only have 2 more to go?  Eric was mobbed with nurses as we walked in, excited "Mr. Charisma" was here and anxious to hear more Eric stories.  Eric was more than happy to tell them the latest story.  I love that even though this is an ugly, sad situation to be in, I am proud that he has not lost his sense of humor.  We have had great laughs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ready for #17

Eric's blood counts came in pretty good.  They asked this morning if we wanted to come in to get him started today, but we both had plans so we asked if we can stick with the Wednesday admittance.  I think Eric is pretty excited to go golfing with his "BFF" :).  We can't let Chemo get in the way of golfing!  So the plan is to be at the hospital tomorrow morning and we should be released on Sunday morning.  Hopefully we will be able to be admitted next Tuesday so we can walk out of there for good on OCT 1!!!!  WE ARE SOO CLOSE!!

I have a funny story to tell you... Eric logged into his face book at the theater and did not log out... which is a big mistake.  Well Saturday night he started getting a lot of text messages from a lot of girls.  He was very confused to what was going on.  Then he got a message from one of our managers at the theater and said "Hey I like your face book status".  Eric could not get to the computer fast enough.  His status was changed to "The first 10 girls to text me will get a date with me, a kiss is required."  I thought this was soooo funny.  DJ was worried that I would be upset, especially about the "kiss" part.  I just reminded him that a blood work up will be required by all girls wanting to kiss Eric.  DJ wants to be there when I came walking to the girls with a needle.  :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

better pic of the "Stache"

I know I mentioned before how proud Eric is of his "Stache", but because the last picture I tried to take of his "stache" did not turn out very well and he mentioned that he wanted to shave it off, I told him we had to document it... He let me take another picture!!  HEE HEE I think it is pretty funny looking.  Debbie Cook asked if he has been eating Peaches.  He looked at her funny, because he could not understand what she was talking about.  :) 
I got the report on Eric's blood counts yesterday and was very shocked.... They are staying up.  I expected them to drop the last couple of days, but actually went up.  I will take it!  At this point it looks like we will be going back to the hospital on Wednesday, assuming that his counts stay up.  In the mean time, he has been having a lot of fun with friends and was able to squeeze some school work in.  All is well at our home!  :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Date Changes

I mentioned before that I was going to throw Eric an "End of Treatment" Open house, first on Oct 1st, then changed it to the 24 of Sept.  Well I was thinking of different ideas for the party and was bouncing them off Eric and he told me he did not want an Open House.  At first I was surprised because we have talked about this for several months, kind of like a carrot to give him something to look forward to.  He went on to explain that he is so tired of the attention and is ready to get back to a "normal" life.  I totally understand and respect where he is coming from, so if you had marked your calendars, please know that we are grateful to all of you, your support and prayers, but it is time for Eric to start to look forward and LIVE!!  I guess we can celebrate for him in our hearts.
He is still doing great, his blood counts were pretty decent on Monday, but they will bottom out today and tomorrow, so hopefully we will not face anymore delays.  Eric even went with me to get supplies for the theater on Monday and did all the heavy lifting for me!  He has not even used his crutches for a couple of weeks.  There has been tremendous strides in his health, strength and healing.  WE ARE SO CLOSE!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Getting back to real life

Meeting with Dr Spraker as she finished the Mt Nebo 1/2 marathon

Eric Giving Dr Spraker high five for completeing the run

Eric back to work at Stadium Cinemas
This weekend was great because we were able to get a lot done, Eric went back to work as a projectionist at Stadium Cinemas and we were able to cheer Dr Spraker on during the Mt Nebo 1/2 marathon!

Eric is feeling great and the "Stache" is still growing.  His eyebrows are back and his hair line is coming in strong...... for a little longer!  But the good news is that he is done with the Red Devil... so if he losses his hair this round, he will not be given any more chemo that will cause hair loss.... He is looking forward to having Tonya come and give him hair cuts in the near future.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

#16 Completed

He  was really  hoping that his mustache would show up in the picture... Sorry.  Vanessa told him she could see his "peach fuzz" and he was offended and let her know about it too.
I can not tell you how great it was to see that last drop of Doxirubican clear the tubing!  It means that Eric will not have to have that scary, nasty poison pump into his veins again!!  With only 2 more treatments to go, it sounds like music to my ears.  I mentioned that to Eric and he corrected me by saying that 0 more to go would be music!  I agree!!  Eric did fantastic this round.  He never got sick to his stomach.  In fact I asked him last night what he would like for dinner.  Todd was coming up to see us and take me to dinner and I told him I would bring him something back.  Well we ended up leaving a little later than originally planned so I told Eric I would order him something to tie him over till we get back with his bacon burger.  Guess what he ordered???!!!  Oreo milk shake, cheesecake (with strawberries), pudding and a coke.  My stomach got sick just thinking about eating that!!!  Well he enjoyed it and then devoured the bacon burger when I got there!  I would say he did pretty good!

I forgot to mention that he gained 10 on his time off of chemo!!  He is looking great!

So my prayer is that he can keep his blood counts up high enough to start the next round of Methotrextate on the 20th.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Red Devil

So here is a picture of that nasty stuff that Eric has to have running through his veins. It is nick named the red devil aka doxirubician. This is one of the chemos that make his hair...including his mustache fall out. The other was cisplatin, but he finished his last treatment of cisplatin in June. This will be his last treatment of doxi!! YEAH. IT will drip for a total of 48 hours (we started at 5:00 pm last night. It will take 2 hours to flush the tubing then we can go home for 1 1/2 weeks for his blood counts to recover.

So far he has been feeling great with no nausea. He enjoyed his Hires Big H Hamburger with milk shake last night. I think with the time off of chemo it has also helped with the anxiety nausea or association nausea. So all is well and we are getting closer to the finish line!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

#16 is cleared to go

Well Eric was able to clear his numbers on his heart.  I had the opportunity to speak with the tech and she told me that it is common to  see this and the good thing is if needed they can treat his heart with medication.  YEAH More drugs!  But it appears to rebounding on it's own. 
Home sweet home in room 4417.  Do you like my bed?...It is the one in the corner.
Eric is very proud of his mustache.  He won't let me take a picture of it, but he will draw a picture for you.

We are now pumping fluids in him to prepare his body for the chemo .

Monday, September 5, 2011

Blood tests are good!

We just got the word on Eric's blood. His ANC was 1000!!!!!!!! We will report to the hospital at 9:00 am tomorrow. His heart still needs to clear it's strength test, but we both feel really good about that.
Eric's mustache is coming in pretty good,...good as it looks like a dirt smudge. It is funny that his "tache" grows faster than the hair on his head. Yesterday he needed advice from Uncle Tim about how to care for his "Tache"...does he get a comb or what. Uncle Tim's advice was to get some mustache wax. Eric is hoping that he has the same gene's as Uncle Tim. He really wants to grow a thick head of hair and keep it. :) Time will tell.

More news to come from Primary's tomorrow. YEAH!! We will get the last dose of doxirubican behind us and sprint to the finish line with 2 more doses of Methotrexate.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

More Delays

Well we are facing more delays.  Eric's blood counts have not changed since Monday.  The doctor does not want to tax his body anymore than it already is... so we wait. His blood will be retested on Monday and we will pray to go in on Tuesday and finish this.  :(