Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sometimes, Fly Slow.

"Sometimes a butterfly needs to fly slow."

True words spoken by the wisest 5 year old I know. As she walked carefully out of the ER this morning, her words just reminded me how spectacular she is. She always knows what to say at just the most impactful moments. Wearing her rainbow colored wings that had gotten her through all those past hospital stays, she knows to take it easy and not fly so fast back into "normal" life.

In the 9 months post chemotherapy, it's been easy to assume that she is in the clear. In that time she finished preschool and is preparing for kindergarten. In that time she rehearsed and performed in her first ballet recital. In that time she has become a happy 5 year old who's been basically free of medications and hospital stays. In that time she has gotten to reclaim her childhood and just be- ANIA,  Our Survivor and Our inspiration to keep moving through life at a steady, yet all too fast pace.  

This morning, we were reminded that a butterfly like Ania still can have delicate wings -  even though she is a warrior who beat Cancer. Today, we as her parents were reminded that we too are not fully healed from the trauma of what it was like to watch her battle Cancer, be taken in for tests & poked with needles. It still hurts and is something that we will probably never fully recover from. 

This morning she came into our bedroom crying in pain- saying her chest hurt and it was so tight when she breathed. She crawled into our bed and I could feel the heat radiating off her little body. The type of heat that used to send me into panic mode during treatment returned. She'd been complaining of pain in her chest for the last few days but I brushed it off as "growing pains." You know, normal life pains. Add a fever to the mix and I immediately feel the dread and worry. I didn't say it out loud but certainly thought it. Her dad said it outloud though- "what if it's some kind of Cancer returning?"  Off to the ER we went. I shoved her rainbow wings into my purse. To me, they are some sort of hospital good luck charm. If she wears them, she will be ok. 

Now that she is 5, she is so much clearer in her responses to doctor questioning. Unbelievably mature. I was in awe of how she could explain what she was feeling and how she took directions to have her chest x-ray done. She told me she had to throw up with enough warning time for me to leap across the room for a bucket ( not an easy feat for an 8 months pregnant person!) She cried when it was time to have her blood labs drawn but giggled when it was time to pee in a cup- see she's seen me do that so many times throughout this pregnancy so it made her laugh to try and "catch her pee!" 

Thankfully, her xray came back clear but we left the hospital with a diagnosis of Costochondritis and a mystery viral infection. Basically random swelling of the cartilage of her sternum along with some pesky viral bug. Nothing that rest and Motrin won't fix in time.  A mere reminder, that just sometimes, a butterfly must fly slow

Life has it's way of reminding of us it's delicateness. Fly slow sometimes and keep healing my Dainty Warrior! 

God Bless,


Monday, December 15, 2014

A Dainty Warrior in New York City!!

In the weeks since Ania's final chemotherapy and MRI coming back clear from Cancer, life has pretty much returned to seemingly normal. She has surgery on December 22nd to remove the port in her chest used to administer her medications so that is like the final step to Cancer freedom for her- although if she could choose, she would be happy to keep her port, or "tubie" and she calls it. It's become a sense of comfort to her so she is actually a bit sad and probably a bit nervous to see it go. Life will go on without "tubie" and I'm sure after a while she will hardly recall it being there.

This weekend we were given an amazing opportunity to take an adventure away- just mommy, daddy & Ania to New York City thanks to a wonderful charity dance organization called Move The World. Watch a video here to see how Ania was chosen: MOVEtheWORLD Ania
Ania was given the gift of a ballet-filled weekend with the New York City Ballet! 
We arrived in NYC on Saturday afternoon so we spent the evening walking down the very crowded streets in Times Square. Even though Ania is a city girl, New York is quite a different beast compared to Chicago. All the people, especially at this holiday time of year and all the lights and sounds were something she has never seen- and she did well! She wasn't scared or intimidated and she enjoyed riding on daddy's shoulders above the crowds (poor daddy's back after LOTS of shoulder rides!).

We took her to the ultimate toy store- FAO Schwartz and she got to choose a little toy for herself. She chose a silly little stuffed squirrel who she named "Chunky". It was instant love- she was petting him and giving him kisses, insisting he come home to Chicago with her. He was probably the best $25 we spent while there! What a lucky squirrel to have Ania as a friend ;)
Dancing on the "BIG" piano at FAO Schwarz!

On Sunday, we had our "ballet extravaganza" with the New York City Ballet. It was indeed a jam-packed day of dance. It began with a special Nutcracker   workshop for children to learn a little more about the story and a chance to dance with some of the company dancers! 
Ania was one of the first to arrive at the studio so she took lots of time practicing her leaps! What a nice, giant space for this tiny dancer! 
Practice on the barre

Can you spot her amongst all the little dancers? 
What a fun opportunity! 

Immediately after her workshop we went to see the "Big Girl Ballerinas" of NYC Ballet put on The Nutcracker. It was a beautiful display and Ania enjoyed watching while muching on Gummy Bears and m&ms :) 
Intermission= more candy.....

And a giant umbrella (?)

After the show we had another special treat- literally! We got to go to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy- aka backstage! 
Ania was able to see backstage and even sit at the sweets table! 

Looks picture perfect yes? Well...... She IS a 4 year old and sometimes it shows... 
THE Sugar Plum Fairy came out to say hello to Ania and present her with a pair of signed ballet slippers.... Ania's response? 
Well, we can call it stage fright because she was just not sure about meeting fact, she stuck her tongue out at her.... Oh boy and I got a picture of the interaction... Oh Ania!!! ;P 
I'll tell you, Mommy was sure blushing in embarrassment! Can't be a perfect child all the time right? ;)

The Sugar Plum Fairy, aka Maria Kowroski, was a very gracious and a classy lady, not to mention, such a beautiful dancer!
To Ania with Love, Maria

I have to admit, Maria wears the same size shoe as me so I had to try them on for size when we got back to the hotel. I gave Ania a good laugh as I tried to get up on my toes- OUCH!!! I give dancers so much credit! How in the world is toe dancing possible?! :)

After the show, Ania finished her New York experience with a walk through Central Park.
Ania Loves New York :) 

We made our return flight to Chicago this morning and Ania was still beaming with excitement from her weekend as we flew but she was eager to get home to her little brother Kellen! 
All buckled in and ready to fly home- and of course "Chunky the Squirril" too! 

Thank you again to Move the World and the New York City Ballet for giving Ania such a magical weekend she will never forget!  

God Bless,


Monday, November 3, 2014

Check Up & Checking Out

We had our last follow up today ( well for 3 months at least). It was an appointment with the retinal specialist. Not going to lie, I was nervous for Ania- not because I was afraid he would see a reoccurrence (a beautifully clear MRI last week eased that fear for me!), I was more afraid because most of his exams have been done under anesthesia. Any time it's not been under anesthesia, many eye drops and a metal speculum have been put into her eye. It's pure torture for her to go through and I to watch. 

Today however, both Ania and I were pleasantly surprised! It was more like a regular eye exam. Just two drops and NO speculum to pry her eye open! At nearly four and a half years old, Ania cooperated in such a pleasant manner! She didn't like the drops of course but resigned herself to taking them pretty quickly. She sat so steady for photographs of her eye, listened to directions ( look up, look down etc.), and cooperated fully during an ultrasound of her eye. I was so impressed by her maturity- I think the doctor was too! Sure Ania has grown physically in the past year but mentally, she has grown leaps and bounds! I am incredibly proud of how she handled today's appointment! I am also incredibly happy that this was the end of check ups for awhile. 
       Having her eye photographed

Going forward, Ania will have this type of  exam done every 3 months and an MRI every 6 months until she is six years old. She will soon have surgery to remove her chemotherapy port as well. By no means normal for a kid her age to endure but we'll take it considering all she has been through! 
               Freedom feels GREAT!

After her appointment this morning, I taught her how to do something really fun! She's been asking me to teach her this for awhile so I finally gave in. Considering she is mature enough to go through all she has endured, it seemed like it was the perfect time to learn something all kids are eager to learn - how to make a bubble with chewing gum! It sounds simple yes but I no longer take simple pleasures for granted!

So now that we are on the downslope of this cancer journey and check ups are slowing down, it's officially time for our family to just enjoy life. Enjoy the day to day simple pleasures!

It's been a long year and it's time for me to check out from the Dainty Warrior blog for a little while. I know many have you have read each and every entry and cried along with me as I documented our story. Thank you very much for joining in on  our journey. Luckily, our story has a happy ending so I hope you allowed yourself some cleansing tears of joy in the end :)

So long for now! Go enjoy some bubblegum in Ania's honor ;) 

God Bless,


Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Dainty Warrior Celebration

She has waited patiently for her day to celebrate cancer freedom! 

The day is HERE!! 

Our dear Dainty Warrior,  Ania Elaine had her MRI come back CLEAR! Thank the Lord!!! This journey is ending and we are ready to close the chapter on this warrior's cancer saga.  We have had many followers and many of you have lifted her (and our family) up in good thoughts and prayer. We will never be able to say thank you enough.  Writing and sharing about Ania has been such a therapy for me personally and someday I am happy to know Ania will be able to read the "Dainty Warrior Story" and I hope it brings her strength and confidence that she might not have known otherwise. At the age of 4, she has impacted so many people.  Her joy, bravery, creativity and spirit has been so evident throughout her journey.  Mike and I are incredibly proud to be her parents - she has taught us what real strength looks like.  We are better people because of this experience as I think it forced us to take a step back and realize how quickly life as we knew it could change. We are all handed trials in our lifetimes - however, the way in which you learn, move along and move past those trials is what life is really about.  Will you be stuck in darkness or will you keep making your way in the midst of fear of the unknown? Now that this chapter is ending for us, what will we do to keep this momentum of growth and perspective? Well, for starters, our children will not stop growing. That right there reminds us constantly that time is moving fast so we will really savor each day and each birthday because you will never know how many there will be.  We will continue to give back and do our part raising awareness for childhood cancer.  We are one of the lucky ones - our child is a survivor.  Many children do not survive and there is much work to be done to have more outcomes to childhood cancer end like ours.

Ania is one of MANY Dainty Warriors out there. Our hope is that her story sparked an awareness in YOU about childhood cancer. May that spark stay lit up for all the warriors to follow in Ania's shoes.... or wings! 

   Now, It's Time to Celebrate!

A few weeks ago, my dear cousin Ashley Hayhurst took pictures of Ania that were inspired by one of Ania's most recent paintings titled "Up She Goes". The idea was to take Ania out in her element - NATURE...with a rainbow of balloons! 


After the balloon shots, of course we had to let her run around the woods in her WINGS!


And after the butterfly's flight, she headed deeper into the woods for a tea party with her little brother and special lovey friends, Rosie, Riley, Ellie & Miss Olga!



I Rose
I rose, I rose,
From the trampled soil
I rose, I rose
To become the cynosure of your eye
Alike me, many more shall
rise and thrive
If given a small chance to
dream and aspire.
Now friends, you might be
just wondering
As to who I am
So let me to life's
opportunities raise a toast
And tell you,
I am a rose,
the flower rose.
--Rajesh Thankappan

Blessings to All, 

The Moriarty Family

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Photographers Eye on The Journey

Is little brother the photographer behind all these images? ;) 

Like many parents, I really love to take photos of my children and the images Ive taken of Ania over the course of her cancer journey have been impactful and candid- all be it with my camera phone! There is something completely magical allowing a professional take images of your child.  There is  artistry and craft behind a "real" photographers eye- and having a really good camera that doesn't also make phone calls helps the real beauty of a captured moment shine!

So, I am going to let the following photographs that were taken of Ania over the last year do most of the talking..... and I will give credit where credit is due to the magicians behind the lens....

March 2014- After 4 rounds of failed intra-arterial chemotherapy, we were given the somber news that we would have to remove her left eye.  Before that happened, we decided to have photographs taken of our family.  The lovely Eva Suerth captured Ania as she danced and put on silk butterfly wings for the first time.....



April 2014 - After her left eye was removed, Ania wore eye patches to conceal her healing eye (she liked wearing them because she had so many fun designs! Ania was photographed for The Little Lutheran magazine by photographer Mike Watson. I love these images so much because they are the essence of Ania's life right after her eye removal- she didn't skip a beat and she just kept on painting with that one fantastic eye!


After April, there was such a transitional appearance time. Her hair began to fall out and she went through several phases of prosthetic eyes. In July 2014 when Ania was halfway through her chemo regimen, we returned to Eva Suerth's studio to do a photo session of the new Ania- new "hair" and new eye. What resulted was a very ballet focused session- the studio became Ania's "stage" as she danced along to The Nutcracker soundtrack for the action shots. She is quite a serious performer as you can see!

July 2014-

Now that treatment is finished, it was time to do a celebratory photography session and my dear cousin Ashley did an inspired session the first week of October. However, I've decided to withhold those images and publish them on the blog next week on the day that marks the one year anniversary- so we can celebrate rather than dwell on a very scary time. Here is a teaser though ;) 

God Bless,