Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rhabdomyosarcoma does not have us

Zach is now four year cancer free! That is still amazing to me. We still see gastro and that is our main issue. We also now have an ortho doctor watching his hips and pelvis due to lack of growth due to radiation. Cancer does not hold us but we do hold many scars. Please find our caring bridge below. Thanks for always following us! Jennifer

Friday, August 17, 2012

Two years post rhabdo

Still in remission. Still no more rhabdomyosarcoma. Two years this past June. Remission is not a perfect life. We still see Derm and urology. We also have a GI doctor as well as a endocrinologist! Our biggest issue is weight loss and wt gain. I can not keep wt on Zach for nothing! So we resorted to pediasure milkshakes a few days a week and that seems to help. He is still dealing with neuropathy. Very very clumsey but not due to being a kid but that lovely vincristine. Radiation has stunted his growth to the 25% when he should have been 90% but he is here when so many are not. I will take my son, health issues and all, over cancer having him any day. Living life and making memories! Fighing for other as often as we can. The cartwrights

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

bad blogging

As Zach recovered from Rhabdomyosarcoma and "normal" life came flying back in I left this blog by the wayside. I never ment to, life just happened.

Zach has now been off-treatment for 1 year. He has many lingering side effects of cancer. The big 3 being constipation, incontentance with pee and poop and neuropathy from the waist down. We now not only see an Oncologist, we also have a gastro dr, a urologist, and a dermatologist!

I would never change the last 2 year of our families lives for what we have learned. Cancer made us all stronger. If you would like to learn more about our struggle we update Zach's caringbridge monthly and that link is above.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Our Mighty Mighty God!

please click the title and listen to this great song. Remeber when you think all is lost focus back on Him! He will never leave you or forsake you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Remission from Rhabdomysarcoma Rocks!

We finally have pathology results back! They show the cancer found during the biopsy was from the original cancer/tumo​r and the cells were mature Embryonal Rhabdomyosa​rcoma cells, the cancer Zach has had all along. Other than wishing they had not found cancer at all, this is the best scenario to hear!

As I posted before, this does not mean Zach relapsed but rather he was actually never in remission as we originally thought. After 42 weeks of treatment, Zach still had residual cancer in his body; the treatment did not get all of it. We were able to remove the entire tumor and we hope all the cancer along with it! We are very thankful to hear this is not classified as a relapse! Zach is now in remission.

Zach’s scan he had last week where clear! Love to hear these words. Now we keep playing the wait and see game. It’s a game that’s very familiar, one that has its benefits as it teaches us to reply and depend on God more, fall on our knees more & get more of Jesus, but one that is not easy. We are basically waiting to see if there are more cancer cells in Zach’s body (remember there is no way to test for this) and for the cells to come together to form a mass that is visible on a scan. Our hope and prayer is that this never happens and we ask that you continue to pray for healing for Zach. We know the statics surrounding this scenario for Zach but we also know our God is bigger than statistics!​ Please keep praying for healing for Zach, that there would never be another cancer cell found in his body. Please also keep praying against the long term side effects of all the radiation and chemo that went into his body.

Zach is doing really well right now, loving life and getting to enjoy being a normal 3 year old boy. Last week he went to NRH2O, Toy Story 3 & Six Flags and he is sure having a lot of fun! He has gained his weight back, is eating really well and growing so much hair. One day he told Jennifer, “Mom, I don’t want you to cut my hair again”. Jennifer said she would not cut his hair until it was as long as Uncle Anthony’s! She may be regretting that soon as Uncle Anthony has a full head of long hair!

Zach has more scans in 2 months, but I’m sure I’ll be in touch before then!

Much Love,

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wai​t for the LORD! Psalm 27:14 ESV

Monday, June 28, 2010

I hate Rhabdomyosarcoma

Final pathology is still not back but I want to post what we know at this time. Thanks for your patience as we have been trying to get the best information we can about what is going on with Zach. It was all pretty shocking to us last Friday as to “what does this mean, they found cancer?”

Final pathology could change everything I type below if it shows immature cells, which would indicate the cancer they found last week is new growth. Below is assuming final pathology shows mature cancer cells; which is the most likely of scenarios.

Here is the best information we have at this point. Zach has never been in remission. The cancer they found last week is still residual cancer from what was originally discovered in Zach back in June of ’09. I know this sounds crazy, believe me, it was very shocking to all of us. Basically this means Zach’s 42 weeks of treatment (chemo & radiation) did not get all the cancer. Good news, the Lord guided us to keep looking for cancer; even though we knew it was an aggressive decision since Zach’s scans have been showing clear for some time. Our doctor has explained its likely Zack’s cancer cells do not respond to the nuclear medicine used in PET Scans to light up active cancer cells and regular scans cannot show you what is happening on a cellular level inside the body; both are not 100% accurate. But as I said last week, they were able to remove the entire tumor during surgery last week and we HOPE all the cancer along with it! We cannot know for sure if they got all the cancer or not.

What now you ask? Our Dallas doctor helped us get four Sarcoma expert opinions from the best-known doctors/cen​ters in the U.S. as to what we should do next. Although the opinions are not all conclusive, the majority suggests we should wait and see and keep aggressivel​y looking for cancer. We have no way of knowing if there is one or one million cancer cells in Zach’s body. There is no blood test for Zach’s cancer. We must be able to see a visible tumor to treat him. Because there is no cancer we can see in Zach’s body right now, they do not feel we should treat with maintenance chemotherap​y at this time or pursue aggressive chemotherap​y which we will need to use if Zach has a true relapse. If we find cancer again going forward, it will be considered a relapse (we think!). We will have more scans in 4 weeks, the again in 6 weeks (instead of the normal 3 months). This is the course we are choosing at this time.

I personally have so much ambivalence about what happened last Friday when they found the cancer. We see the Sovereign hand of God directing us, helping guide our decisions against/amo​ngst the plethora of information from the medical world that would suggest A) we should not take Zach’s tumor’s out & B) there is no cancer in there and Zach is in remission; and we just want to shout PRAISE THE LORD! He guided us to move forward with the biopsy and He already knew there was cancer in there and that we could easily remove Zach’s tumor, not affecting any of his organs! This part of our heart is still thrilled and excited that we found the cancer when we did! The other part of our heart’s is still sad we found cancer and we don’t have any way of knowing if we got all of it. This initially leads to fear about the unknown. This is where we just have to lay it all down at the feet of the cross and beg God to remind us daily about the Truth and to put our trust in Him. Truth and trust that He is in control, He loves Zach more than I or our family could ever dream of, He has an amazing plan for Zach’s life (no matter how short), one that we know is already being used for His Glory. This life is about giving God Glory and Praise His Name Zach’s life gives Him Glory. So today, we rest in that. We don’t know the future for Zach, but thankful because we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we have the power to rest in God’s Peace and Truths.

As always, thanks for all your MANY prayers and concerns coming our way.

Much Love,

Julie & All the Cartwright/​Inman Families

​Isaiah 43:1-7.

But now, thus says the Lord, your creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed even whom I have made" (NASB).

Monday, June 21, 2010

More Cancer? Praise God!

Sounds silly right. But how can we not.

Zach Had his follow-up scan 2 weeks ago and the scans were great. Praise God!

We, John, our oncologist and I, as a team decided to do a biopsy of the remaining tumor to make sure that what the scans were showing was true. The tumor was dead. We knew the probability of finding cancer were slim. Like looking for a needle in a haystack. We were told the as long at the preliminary biopsy came back negative we could remove his port and g-button. Praise God we were almost done with cancer!

Friday morning, June 18, we arrive at Children's in Dallas early at 7:30 am to do the 3 procedures. The 2 patience before us had canceled! We get to go early. They take Zach back and tell us to expect 3 hours of surgery.

One hour in the nurse calls us back and tells us Zach is done. Done?
Then we see Dr. Paul and the surgeon and we know. They found cancer. The biopsy was positive for Rhabdomyosarcoma cells. How? Why? We just finished 45 Weeks of chemo. But-The tumor we have been told is inoperable, is now removable! PRAISE GOD!

So no port removal, no g-button removal but we no longer have a tumor!! So now we wait. Zach is recovering at home now. We wait for news from the pathologist and Dr. Paul to make decisions with other Sarcoma specialist. But

PRAISE GOD we found it early before is spread. Praise God they think they got it all! Praise God for leading our paths and our Dr's path the right way.

Let everything that has breath Praise the Lord!

The Cartwrights

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

1 yr ago and

So​rry for the long break I took from posting, I’m back now.


We had a great Off Treatment Party at Great Wolf Lodge back in April. Zach, family and friends had a fun filled weekend staying at the Lodge and playing in the indoor water park all day. Zach was so happy to be running around playing, laughing, giggling and have the time of his life. It was so great to see him so happy and we saw the first signs of his hair staring to grow back. It was a great way to celebrate Zach being off treatment.

Disney World was AMAZING!!!!!​ Make-A-Wish (northtexas​ and Give Kids the World (www.gktw.o​rg) made our trip full of memories we will never forget! GKTW property, were Zach and family stayed was incredible.​ It’s a property that helps create memories for children with serious illness by bringing them to a special resort in Orlando. The housing, eating places, entertainme​nt & even the trash cans….all of it was built in such a way that it makes your stay magical. The playground was a life size “Candy Land” board game, including the gum drop & candy cane forest….the turf is decorated to be a life size Candy Land game; it was unforgettab​le to play with Zach and Aaron here. The swimming pool and splash park, the “Ice Cream Palace” that is open for every meal, the Safari themed Theater, the merry-go round, the train station, the clown trash cans that sucked in your trash when your hand got close to them…all of it was such a hit with the boys. We had “Christmas” one night and got to go see Santa and pick out presents, one of Santa’s Elf read to us and autographed a book of choice for Zach, we decorated cookies, had cotton candy, went on a horse drawn carriage ride around the property, decorated Zach’s “Star” that will be permanently placed on the Castle’s ceiling, I could go on and on. Sound like an amazing place? It was!

Disney World was UNFORGETTAB​LE as well! We had a special pass to not wait in any lines and boy can I tell you this made the trip so great for Zach. He was able to do everything in one park in one day & really make some special memories meeting all the characters, riding all the rides, and seeing some great shows. Favorite show was “Nemo the Musical”, favorite ride was Winnie the Pooh & Peter Pan, favorite characters to meet was Buzz & Woody, and by far favorite memory for Jennifer was the “Wishes” fireworks display. It was all about how each wish is special and each person or child should dream big and wish big. Jennifer said, “As I held Zach in my arms throughout the display I thought about all the hopes and dreams I have for him and Aaron, to grow old and marry. It brought back the hope that it might happen for Zach.” Aaron felt special as well as he was able to ride the big rides with the adults (and might I remind you we did not wait in any 45min. long lines!). We were a large party of 11, all family to Zach from both his mom and dad’s sides…all coming together to making a life long memory of Zach having the time of his life. It was so special. Thank you Make-A-Wish and GKTW!!! Pictures to follow soon!


Exactly 1 Year ago today, June 1st 2009, our journey with cancer began. It’s crazy to think about all that has changed/gon​e on in 1 year. I know it’s cliché to say but in some ways it feels like a long time ago and in others the memories of those first 2 weeks are so vivid that it seems like only yesterday.

How is Zach doing? A common question I get almost daily that I will do my best to answer. He is full of new found energy, smiles & laughter and is growing a new head of hair…all of which we are so greatful for! He still has a low immune system which has prevented him from going back to completely normal life; he is very susceptible to illness & b/c he still has his port he has to go the hospital for fevers. He still has his feeding tube in but we hope to get that out very soon; his port will stay in for another 3-6 months to see that there is no evidence of disease recurrence.​ Taking the port out is a lot easier than putting it back in. He is still in physical therephy for walking/bal​ance; he is better but still falls frequently.​ He is progressing in verbal and he has grown 1 inch!!! After our last set of scans in March, the doctors called us back a few weeks later and said they did further research and want to keep looking/tes​ting to see if they find any active cancer cells in Zach’s body. We agreed to keep looking, even though the last scans showed clear, b/c we have learned scans/MRI’s​/even PET scans are not 100% accurate and b/c Zach has an aggressive cancer that comes back after the initial treatment a high percentage of the time. So, we did some CT scans about a month ago (I know I know…I should have posted) to see where, if any blood flow was going into the tumor. Blood flow into the tumor can be an indicator of blood feeding the tumor which is a sign of activity in there. They wanted to see this before they did a biopsy of the tumor. Zach’s tumor in his abdomen is big so the CT will give them a better understandi​ng/accuracy of where to biopsy to check for active cancer cells. The biopsy will not be full proof but it will give us another way to check for activity in the tumor. They will do more scans before the biopsy, the scans are scheduled for Tuesday, June 8th followed by a Doctors appt on June 9th with the results. As long as the scans are unchanged since March, then they will proceed with the biopsy which is a surgery for Zach. We are being so aggressive in continuing to look for active cancers cells b/c of the high rate of return for Zach’s specific type of cancer. During the trip next week they were given tickets to the Rangers Game on Tuesday night from the Starlight Foundation (Thanks!) and they are staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Dallas which continues to be a huge blessing.

Overall, my heart is so grateful for more time with Zach. I cherish each day we have with him. We know the odds of people that relapse with Rhabdomyosa​rcoma, but our Hope is not found in these statistics…​our Hope is found in Jesus..the author and sustainer of life.

I ask for your continues prayers, specificall​y for next week as we move forward with all the testing. Please pray for the doctors, specificall​y the ones reading the scans. Pra​y for our hearts that they are centered on Jesus & Truth. Pray that we would rest in His peace, not in fear of the test results. I’ll be in touch next week. Pray for John and Jennifer and they are struggling with “scanziety” and feeling nervous about next week.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Letter to God

This movie come out today all over the US. Based on a family whos son died of brian cancer. As a church community we over look how much commpassion and hope we need to spread. We are not optimistic, we have Hope through Faith in Christ! Are you an agent of hope? daily? weekly? all year long?

Please Go see this movie. Be Hopeful.

Here is my favorite song from the movie-Everything is Beautiful.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ding dong the cancer is DEAD! (or no more Rhabdomyosarcoma)

We had a great time at Easter celebrating Jesus resurrectio​n with family this past weekend; it was such a joy to see Zach feeling so well and full of life!

We received the official “Road Map” last week of what it will look like for the next 2 years for Zach. We are very grateful & excited Zach’s last scans showed no active cancer cells but the doctor was clear our journey with cancer is not over. He meant this two fold; (1) Rhabdos comes back within the first 2 years after treatment for a number of patients so we have an aggressive plan for 2 years to check Zach (2) After 2 years we have 8 more years of a moderate plan to check Zach for cancer b/c a small percentage of patients have a relapse of cancer between years 2-10. After 10 Years of no relapse Zach will be deemed “cured” by the medical field. But overall our hearts are overwhelmed and grateful for more time with Zach! What a blessing we have more time with him here on this earth. I pray we see each day as a gift from God. Please continue to pray that Zach’s cancer cells will stay dead!

To sum up the road map, we have scans/x-ray​s/blood work every 3 months in Dallas for the next 2 years. Soon Zach will have his G-button (feeding tube) removed and if the 3 month scans come back showing no active cancer cells, then they will schedule surgery to remove Zach’s port. Zach does have a large mass (which we learned a few days ago is made up of all dead cancer cells) inside his abdomen but at this time, the doctors are not recommendin​g we remove the mass. They believe aggressive surgery in the absence of active disease is not warranted.

The doctor was also very clear we should celebrate Zach being off treatment! Now for the fun part….we have 2 very exciting things planned for Zach. First, we have an off treatment party with some other cancer friends April 23-25th at Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park in the DFW area. Then, we were invited to “Make a Wish” though the Make a Wish Foundation and Zach has been granted a wish to go to Disney World in Florida! Many in the family, including myself are going to Disney on May 12-20th to celebrate with Zach! We are really looking forward to making a great memory with Zach and to celebrate him being off treatment! Thank you Make-A-Wish for giving us this amazing opportunity!​
Although this cancer journey is not over, we are hopeful because our Hope is found in the One whose promises are true. God is trustworthy.​ He loves Zach more that we could ever dream of loving Him. This life is about giving God Glory and what a joy and privilege it is to be a vessel for His Glory. What an amazing opportunity and platform the Lord has now given our family to shine for His Glory through the journey of pediatric cancer. All though we would never wish pediatric cancer upon anyone, we are grateful that this journey drew us closer to Him and gave us another platform to shine for Him.

Jennifer, John, Aaron, and Zach
(written by Aunt Julie)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New scans+no more chemo= what if? in our rhabdomyosarcoma world

Our cancer journey if coming to a close on Friday. at least this part of it anyway.

We are going off treatment and I am terrified! Terrified? you ask. Well living on treatment is easy so to speak. You know you are working on killing the cancer. You have a mission and a goal-the end of 45 weeks of treatment. We as a family have put our life as we knew it on hold to an extent and now we have to transition back to that old normal. while still living with the effects cancer has had on us and especially Zach.

We still have many follow up appointments. More scans every 3 months for 2 years and scan for up to 10 years after that. Zach can also have side effects we have to follow up with for the rest of his life. So truly nothing will ever be "the same."


We must live life! Living, Laughing, and making memories. Not for the "just in case" but for the just because. Just because my 2 boys are and my husband are wonderful and we all have a blast together! Just because they are still under 5. just because I love them. Because Jesus said do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow has enough worries of it's own.

so-how do we go on? Happily. Joyfully. Praising God for how far we have come and how far we have yet to go. Praising Him in the joyful times and the sad time. Praising Him always.

We can not live in a what if world. We just live.

Please pray for us on these last 2 days. Our pet scan is at 10am 03/25 and our results discussion is at 1:45pm 3/26. (CST)


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Life gave us lemons and i wanted watermelon!

like my title? Let me explain.
To me watermelon is joy, the happiness of summertime, contentment, that feeling after a long day of pure bliss and enjoyment of family. You know-like after a great 4th of July weekend or just a nice weekend at the lake? That is what we were expecting last summer to be like. Zach was 2, his cousin Trey was 2, and Aaron was 4. My sister-in-law Katie and I had all these glorious ideas of what our summer would be like. Memorial Day weekend at the parents lake house was wonderful and normal. just how summer should start. It was to be a perfect watermelon summer.

then came the lemons-June 1. I will never forget our ped's face when he walked in the room after that 1st sonogram on Zach belly. It was one of those drop you to your knee's and pray looks.

And we did, he and I prayed right then and there. Before we called anyone, before I heard what it was. He prayed with just me and Zach. (he is the best in the world as far as I am concerned and a huge blessing from God! thanks Dr. S!) He knew the battle we were facing. The giant lemon God was putting in my path. He also know we could make either lemonade or just eat the lemons and be miserable. His words then and there set the course for the next 9 months. Live-make lemonade, enjoy life just do it in a new way. embrace the old with the new.

you see cancer is like any other trial God put in your life. you have a choice. To praise Him in the storm or curse Him. We choose to Rejoice in the Lord always.

Now-did I morn the life lost? you better believe it! Remember I was planning on watermelon summers! I was devastated, hurt, mad and angry all in one swift moment. It all disappear(snap) just like that. And a new life began.

We are starting to wrap up this part of our journey now. We have our off-treatment scans soon and meeting with drs. Rhabdomyosarcoma will always be around just not as much hopefully! Then we start a new something. I have no idea what life will bring. I have an idea.....but no real clarity yet. I know will will involve our many cancer families we have met. An organization that will help mom's, dad's, kid's all come to grips with this new life. A place to talk and get help in a Christ like environment. A safe place for hurting souls.

I wonder what life will be like? I am hoping for.....
whatever God wants.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Our life now

On June 1, 2009 our life changed forever. We enter a world completely different and unknown to us. A life were you embrace every day to it's fullest and make memories to last a lifetime daily just in case. A life were every holiday, birthday, and celebration is spent not dreaming of the some days but living in the now. The life of a family effected by childhood cancer and Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Did you know each day 46 schoolkids find out they have cancer? that in the USA alone over 12,000 kids a year have cancer? just the US?! 1 in 4 will not live 5 years after their cancer diagnosis and those that do have moderate to server side effects from their chemo and radiation? 80% have metastatic disease when they are diagnosed compared to only 20% of adults!

All of this is unacceptable! just because they are under 18 and can not truly have a voice, our children are limited to treatment and financial funding because they are kids! It this was your child would you want that? If this was President Obama child do you think it would be just as under funded? or George Bushes child?

Cancer is completely overwhelming to the family, the extended family, and even to our community. I live in a community of over 100,000 people with surrounding area of close to 1/2 a million. The closest children cancer treatment is over 2 hrs away! The closest sarcoma center for kids is over 8hrs away! That is unacceptable to me!!

Cancer treatment for Rhabdomyosarcoma has not changed in over 20 yrs. The VAC protocol my son is on the the Gold standard for his cancer and it only has a 50% cure rate for his staging and only to 65 to 70% care rate for the best staging! that mean 1 in 3 will not survive Rhabdo's.

In the last 9 months I have learned how to treat my son, how to give him shots, clean his g-tube, feed him liquid nutrition, count his caloric daily input and output. I have learned my way around ft. worth, Dallas, and new york city. I learned blood counts, cbc's, medical insurance lingo, Medicaid, mdcp, and DADS for the state of Texas.

As we go off treatment next months I will learn what to look for if he relapses, how to live in a cancer free world again. how to have a normal life again. how to move on.

Now I hope for a new mission. A world were a Rhabdomyosarcoma community comes to life. A world were new hope and new cures are found more quickly. Where discussion are open to family and were each family has access to the best doctors in the country at the time of diagnosis!

Nine months ago I entered this world a stranger and completely overwhelmed. Now I embrace it and Pray to God no one else has to hurt alone. Know we are out here. We have HOPE! and our children WILL SURVIVE RHABDOMYOSARCOMA.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

more bad news

Our hearts are heavy today with the news we need to share. Zach was in the hospital this weekend due to routine fever/low counts. During his stay from Saturday to Sunday, his red blood cells dropped significantly signaling something internally was going on. The doctors ordered a sonogram and then a CT scan for Monday morning and we received the results today. Zach's tumor in his last CT scan done in September measured about the size of a flat pancake/silver dollar coin in size but today it's measuring about the size/circumference of a baseball which is significant growth. Zach is no longer responding to his current treatment plan.
We are hurting and sad to hear this news. Many tears have flowed today.

Amazingly, God already had it arranged for us to be going to NY next week to meet Zach's new doctors. We are heading to the best place to get a new treatment plan and move forward with whatever they think is best for Zach. God also worked out our flights in that we got 3 seats on the Corporate Angel Network leaving Sunday morning. The Angel Network is when corporate jets owned by large companies have extra seats they donate them to the Angel Network for children with cancer and their families to fly for free to & from treatment. Zack, Jennifer & I are taking the 3 seats and will be in NY Sunday. We are having a PET Scan and MRI on Monday & Tuesday and then we will be meeting with the new doctors on Tuesday afternoon. They will give us a new course of treatment, we really don't know what that looks like at this point. I will post on Tuesday after we have more information.

We could really use your prayer for strength and encouragement. Please post in our guestbook words of encouragement and let us know if you are praying for us. We really feel that you guys are on this journey with us; we feel your prayers and your words of encouragement give us strength.
We are not without Hope. God is our Hope and that He already knows what is ahead for us and will give us the strength we need to continue this fight.