Help Sydney's Parents Please!

For: Joe & Karin Hawk
Organizer: Joe & Karin Hawk
of $50,000 goal
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The Story

Hi, my name is Addison. I am 6 years old and this is my little sister, Sydney. This is what she looked like before she got sick. Sydney has Leukemia and is very sick in the hospital. Mommy and Daddy travel to and spend a lot of time at the hospital. They take turns staying with Syd. Mommy has a computer now and does not have to go to her office every day. Daddy works from home and does not travel as much as before Syd got sick. A lot of people have been here to help. My grandparents sleep over when both Mommy and Daddy spend nights at the hospital and I get to spend a lot of time with my cousins at my Aunt Emily and Uncle E.J.’s house. Everyone is being so helpful to Mommy and Daddy with taking care of me, cleaning the house and doing laundry. Sometimes our friends and neighbors bring us dinner. I am thankful and pray for them. Mommy and Daddy made some changes to keep germs out of the house. We do not wear our shoes in the house and we use a lot of stuff to clean and paper towels so germs go away. My Sissy did get to come home for a few days, but Mommy and Daddy had to take her back to the hospital because Sydney got a fever. She was in the PICU for a long time and I was not able to visit her. That made me very angry! I really miss my Sissy! Finally, Syd was able to leave the PICU and go back to the 9th floor! I am happy that she is there because I can visit her. She is weak because she has been in bed for so long. Sydney can’t stand, walk or talk yet. I really miss hearing Syd’s voice and can’t wait for her to talk to me again. I pray for her every night and ask God to help her be brave and to get better so that she and Mommy and Daddy can all come home. During the course of Sydney’s treatment, which will last about 2 ½ - 3 years, we are going to experience financial hardship due to extra expenses and loss of income. Most of all we need your prayers. However, if you would like to help with a monetary contribution, you are able to donate on this page.

If you would like to make a contribution to be utilized solely for Sydney’s benefit, please visit her YouCaring page at the following link:

Thank you very much for your support!

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on January 1, 2014 by Joe & Karin Hawk

December has been quite the busy month, with preparation for Christmas and Sydney’s nine outpatient trips to the hospital, the month has flown by.  Monday, December 2nd, Sydney began the next block of her treatment – 1st Reintroduction.  She had to be at the hospital at 6:30 am.  Even at 5:45 am, Sydney was quite perky and happy during the drive in.  She was thrilled that she was going to the hospital and coming home the same day!  This visit entailed an operation to insert the port, a bone marrow biopsy, a spinal tap with IT chemo and pulling the PICC line.  Sydney did well through all the procedures.  Her opening pressure for the spinal tap was 23.5 (normal is between 10-20).  This is great considering her pressure on Nov. 8th was 38!  Sydney is thoroughly enjoying not having the PICC line in her arm and being able to scratch it!  She comments frequently how glad she is that it is out! 

The week of Dec 2nd Sydney was also on steroid (Dexamethasone) twice a day for 7 days.  The mood swings a four year old can have are quite scary!  The weeks of Dec 9th and 16th Sydney went to clinic on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Mondays were longer clinic appointments; consisting of an exam, counts, and chemo.  She received IV chemo (Vincristine and Doxorubicin) and an Erwinia shot in her thigh.   The Erwinia was required because Sydney had an anaphylactic reaction to the PEG.  Unfortunately, one IV dose of the PEG equals 3 shots of Erwinia.   Wednesdays and Fridays were shorter clinic visits.  During these visits Sydney received only the Erwinia shot.  The week of Dec 16th was another week of steroids.  The weeks of Dec 23rd and 30th Sydney went to clinic on Mondays and received IV chemo.  No shots during these visits;  which was much more pleasing to Sydney!

Prior to each IV chemo treatment, Sydney was pre-medicated with Zofran to reduce nausea and we administered as needed at home too.  Fortunately, she has not experienced many upset stomach issues with the chemo.  Her main side effects have been tiredness and lack of appetite from the chemo and extreme mood swings and crabbiness from the steroids.  Thank goodness they were out of her system by Christmas!  For our Christmas celebration with the Hawk Family on Dec 21st, Sydney did not even want to open presents. 

On December 11th we received the best Christmas gift – Sydney’s bone marrow biopsy results.  “Everything looks great.  No evidence of leukemia, MRD (looking for even the microscopic levels of leukemia) is negative, and we’re not seeing any Philadelphia chromosome in any of the cells.“  This news from Dr. Randy certainly lifted our spirits and Joe and I were in a buzz talking about the good news.  Of course Sydney overheard our excitement and asked, “What is everyone so excited about?”  She did not comprehend the magnitude of the news, but was glad hear that she was getting stronger and we were all talking about her.

Santa made a surprise visit to our house on Sunday, December 15th.  Addison and Sydney were shocked!  Sydney didn’t say a word to Santa and wouldn’t sit on his lap, but did warm up a bit to give him a big hug!  After Santa's visit, Sydney couldn't stop talking about him!   Addison was excited to take a photo into school the next day to show her teacher and friends.

When Sydney went to Clinic on December 20th she was excited to see a huge Christmas tree in the lobby!  Piled 3-4 feet high around the tree were gifts donated bythe City of Pittsburgh and local area police departments for the children!  Sydney was able to choose any gift she wanted.  Her selection was a big girl bike, pink of course!  She is thrilled to upgrade from her trike to a big girl bike!  Fortunately we have had a few warm days and Sydney has been able to get out and ride her new bike.  A perfect gift for Sydney , thank you!

We had a wonderful Christmas at home with our girls, which was our best gift!  Santa was of course good to Sydney and Addison, giving them the top items on their wish lists – a pink dollhouse for Sydney and a crib and changing table for Addison’s Bitty Baby.  We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon and evening surrounded by our families in our home.  We rang in the New Year with a quiet celebration at home with Addison and Sydney.  Joe and I look forward to a happier and healthier 2014 for our family! 

May you be Blessed with the same for yours.


Posted on November 26, 2013 by Joe & Karin Hawk

Last Tuesday (11/19/13) Sydney’s ANC had been at zero for 5 days straight. Her doctors were suspecting that she would not begin to rebound until early the week of the 24th. Well again, our little girl surprised everyone and Wednesday her ANC was 323, Thursday 1510, and Friday over 2600! Her doctor stated that they are impressed at how strong her marrow is and that once it starts to regenerate, it just skyrockets! With her numbers increasing so rapidly, she was discharged and able to go home!! This is a major milestone in her course of treatment and marks the completion of the three inpatient High Risk Blocks.

Sydney will begin her next round of treatment, called Reintroduction, on December 2nd. This block will be as an outpatient in the clinic. A new experience for Sydney, as up to this point she has received all her chemo treatments while she has been in the hospital. December 2nd will be quite an eventful day as she will have an operation to insert a new port, pull her PICC line, spinal tap with opening pressures and IT chemo, bone marrow biopsy and up to the clinic for her chemo.

But for now we are unpacking our bags and enjoying being home for an extended period of time. With Sydney doing well and our families remaining healthy, we are proceeding on with our normal Thanksgiving plans -spending lots of time with the Hawk and Friday Families. We are all looking forward to our first normally celebrated holiday in 2013! 

Thanksgiving has an entirely new reflection for Joe and me this year. We are incredibly thankful for the generous financial support we have received from family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and strangers. We are grateful for all the continued prayers for Sydney’s healing and recovery. We truly believe they have made a substantial difference! For the medical teams that have worked with Sydney throughout the course of this year, we have immense gratitude. And we are eternally grateful that God has spared our daughter’s life, that she is still with us, and He will continue to protect her as she fights this terrible disease. 

May you and your families have a blessed Thanksgiving!  We will! 

Posted on November 19, 2013 by Joe & Karin Hawk

During the past two weeks Sydney has received the high dose chemo drugs for this high risk block.  It began with the HD ARA-C. As mentioned before, this drug is 20 times stronger than the high dose she received in September.  While receiving the HD ARA-C, and for 24 hours after, Sydney had to receive eye drops every 6 hours.  These are to protect her eyes from this chemo, but this was quite a tortuous process.  It took 3 people to administer these drops – one to hold, one to pry open her eyes and one to do the drops – all the while Sydney was screaming. While on the HD ARA-C, Sydney received steroids and continuous Zofran to help with nausea. The steroids sure did change our little girl.  She was not her normal happy self, had frequent mood swings and wouldn’t really speak to anyone.  The nurses said that a grown man on steroids had nothing on this 4 year old little girl – watch out!

Already, by Wednesday, 11/6 Sydney’s appetite was gone.  This was one of the side effects of the HD ARA-C.  She ate nothing and only had a few sips of water and milk for 3 days.  Friday 11/8 Sydney had an LP to test her opening pressures and receive chemo into her spinal fluid.  Her opening pressures were 38 - the highest in months.  Her doctor isn’t concerned because clinically she is doing well and not displaying anything to be concerned about and there are many contributing factors that may have an impact on the pressures during the procedure.  Finally on Saturday, 11/9 she was hungry again and began eating a bit.  Her appetite continues to come and go, but she is eating at least one good meal a day.  Sunday, 11/10 Syd received IVIG. This a  transfusion of antibodies. She handled this well, with no reaction.

Sydney finished up with her last chemo, a shot of Erwinia, on Wednesday, 11/13.  Wednesday her ANC plummeted from 1400 to 180.  All the other blood numbers followed the downward trend in the next couple of days.  Sydney received a transfusion of platelets on Friday and a red blood transfusing on Saturday.   

Friday, 11/15 Sydney’s ANC hit zero and has now been there for 4 days.  Despite receiving the daily Nupogen, Sydney does not have any Nuetrophils.  These are the cells that make up white blood cells. 

Monday, 11/18 Sydney had her G-tube changed.  Her pain over the past few days indicated that this change was necessary.  The new tube was increased two sizes!   

We continue to pray that Sydney will remain fever and infection free during this highly susceptible period.  We greatly appreciate your continued prayers and support.

Posted on November 6, 2013 by Joe & Karin Hawk

Sydney’s re-admission was delayed a week due a cold.  Because of the delay, she was able to enjoy another week at home playing with Sissy Addison and going Trick-or-Treating.  Sydney was, of course, her favorite character, Nala!  See new picture added to the gallery. 

Sydney was admitted on Monday (11/4/13) and began the most difficult of the high risk blocks.  This is the third and final of the high risk treatment blocks which are administered as an inpatient stay.  Most of the rest of Sydney’s treatments for the next 2 years will be outpatient in the Clinic.  During this block Sydney will be receiving the strongest chemo yet:  high dose ARA-C.  She received an HD ARA-C in September during the first block, however this dose is 20 times higher.  Sydney’s doctor has told us a multiple of times that he expects this to be extremely hard for her and he is not expecting her to come through as smoothly as she did with the first two blocks.  Her body and marrow are beat up and these chemo meds are by far the strongest.

For several months, Sydney has been plagued with extreme itchiness under her ostomy waiver and PICC line dressing.  Monday night it finally came to a head.  Sydney was scratching at the newly changed PICC line dressing.  All of this scratching pulled up the dressing and the stat lock holding the PICC line into her arm.  At 2:30 am Tuesday morning, it was determined that the PICC was not central and was no longer functional for administering chemo.  The night team of doctors was scrambling to determine what to do with her fluids, continuous anti-nausea meds and next chemo dose coming up at 5:00 am.  They finally determined it was safe to continue to run everything - except the chemo.  The chemo would be stopped until the PICC line could the rethreaded or a port inserted.  Sydney was to go to IR (Interventional Radiology) first thing this morning, but that turned into a 2:00 pm procedure.  This little girl never once asked for something to eat or drink the whole morning or afternoon.  That is AMAZING for a 4 year old!  Fortunately, a new PICC line was able to be rethreaded and the procedure was successful.  Sydney now has a new double lumen PICC.  (Her previous lumen was a triple inserted when she was in the PICU and was then necessary for the numerous antibiotics and pain meds for her infections.)  Once back to her room, she was put back on schedule to restart her chemo plan for this admission.

Let’s just hope that Sydney got all the excitement out of the way for this admission within the first 24 hours! We pray for the remainder of this intense block to be event-free and infection free. We truly appreciate all of your prayers for Sydney.

Posted on October 18, 2013 by Joe & Karin Hawk

Sydney is home again for another short break!!! She came home on Wednesday, October 16. This marks the completion of the second high risk block of treatment. Sydney will be re-admitted on October 28th for the third block and hopefully be home in time for Thanksgiving.

Thank you for your continued prayers!

Posted on October 14, 2013 by Joe & Karin Hawk

Day 7 (October 3rd) Sydney began Nupogen, the drug to accelerate the production of white blood cells. Five days later (October 7th) Sydney had severe leg and back pain. She was screaming and writhing in pain. She was put on a 3 hour rotation of Oxycodone and Tylenol. The cause of the pain with the Nupogen building new white cells on the existing cells and pushing on the inner lining of her bones. The Nupogen was discontinued and the pain subsided by October 9th. The Nupogen would not be restarted until her ANC was 1000 or lower.

Since then we have just been waiting for Sydney’s numbers to bottom out, which has not really happened yet. Her hemoglobin and platelets got low, but came up on their own – she never needed any transfusions. Her white blood cells and ANC have very slowly trickled down, but her ANC had not yet gone under 1000 to this point. The doctors suspect that if Sydney’s numbers were to have gotten much lower, that it would have happened by now.

Tomorrow, Sydney is scheduled for an LP (spinal tap). During this LP her opening pressures will again be measured and chemo (Methotrexate, ARA-C and Hydrocortisone) will be administered into her spinal fluid. This will be the first time that she has received chemo into her spinal fluid since experiencing the issues with the Hydrocephalus. Very little chemo from the spinal fluid will enter her blood stream and therefore her counts are not expected to be impacted. The doctors will monitor her counts closely for the next couple of days and decide if Nupogen should be restarted in the hospital or at home. At home it is a shot that we have to administer, so we really hope that it is NOT necessary! Fingers are crossed that in the next day or so Sydney will get to go home again for a short break before beginning the third block of inpatient treatment.

This hospital stay continues to be very difficult emotionally for Sydney. She cries daily that she misses home, her bed, Sissy, doesn’t want Mommy to go….We are trying to do our best with keeping things as eventful and normal as possible with activities, and visits from family in the hopes of keeping our little girl’s spirits up. Sydney has had many visits from her grandparents on both the Friday and Hawk sides of our family. Many trips to the playroom with Grammy and Pappy; art projects and baking with YaYa; and Eve, Rachel and Aunt Emily surprised Sydney with a play date – Sydney was thrilled! And of course days are always better when Sissy visits! Take a look at the gallery for some new pictures.

We have been blessed that so far this block has been infection free and continue to pray that it and the future continues as such.

Posted on September 29, 2013 by Joe & Karin Hawk

Sydney and I left the house at 6:15 am on Thursday for her re-admission to Children's. Sydney had to be in the Radiology Department by 7:00 am. She was having an LP to test opening pressures and a tracer fluid injected into her spinal fluid for the CSF scan. The LP went well. Sydney’s opening pressure was 30. However, it didn’t take much fluid to be withdrawn to get her within normal 10 to 20 range. (I did learn that the various vent settings can play into the levels of her pressures. And with all the different LPs and all the different anesthesiologists, the settings would not all be consistent.) The nuclear med people did an immediate scan and then one at 2 hours and again at 4 hours. It was quite neat to see the flow of the tracer during the scan. We were able to see at the 2 hour scan that there was tracer in her brain already. After the 24 hour scan on Friday we learned that Sydney’s flow is NORMAL! For now there are no immediate plans to discontinue or reduce the Diamox.

After we were finished with the 4 hour scan on Thursday we had to go to the Admissions Office and wait for a bed to open up. Finally around 5:30, I finally got word that there was room for Sydney. She was being sent to 9a - the opposite side of the building which she has had most of her stays. There we got to visit with some of the nurses and the PCT that we befriended when Sydney was initially diagnosed. Sydney began her pre-chemo hydration around 8:00 pm and then her first chemo drug around 3:00 am. This drug runs for 24 hours. So far she is handling it well. Sydney and I were exhausted and slept well! Early Friday morning I learned we were moving to 9b. Sydney and I quickly packed up and moved over to the Oncology Wing (9b) where everyone is familiar with her case. Sydney will get to see all her nurse friends and go to "her" playroom! After a busy Friday, Sydney fell asleep next to me on the couch waiting for fireworks from the "Giant Rubber Duck" party at the 6th Street Bridge. Good thing she fell asleep because - No fireworks! Friday night's sleep wasn’t very restful because her pull-up needed to be changed every two hours due to the hydration for the chemo. Sydney is now in Day 2 of her 6 days of chemo. She is continuing with the steroid. Her weight is holding steady at around 43-44 lbs. and all her numbers remain good. Sydney is continuing to eat pretty well. She had an active day in the playroom Saturday and did a lot of walking around the unit. She is really beginning to pick up the pace when she is going around the unit.  Sydney had a nice nap, but woke quite sad-missing Addison, not wanting to be in the hospital, and wanting to go home.  Her mood brightened when Joe brought in her trike!  Sunday was filled with joy as she peddled her trike around the unit and played with Sissy in the playroom!

Sydney's counts remain good today as she enters Day 4 of this intense chemo block.  We can only pray she stays infection free!

Thank you for all your support!

Posted on September 25, 2013 by Joe & Karin Hawk

Sydney had been questioning, “When am I going to get to see my cousins?”  So, Sunday we spent the first day of Fall at Simmons Farm with the Friday side of our family.  We enjoyed a hay ride to the pumpkin patch, where all the girls picked their pumpkins and Indian corn; played on old tractors, a fire engine and slides; wandered through a hay maze and swung on a tire swing.  "It was a great day!" said Sydney as she and Addie fell asleep on the way home!

Thursday, Sydney will be re-admitted for her next/second block of treatment. She will go straight for a spinal tap and CSF scan. This scan will tell us how well the spinal fluid flows. A tracer will be injected into her spinal fluid and then a series of pictures taken every few hours to determine how far the tracer has moved. With Hydrocephalus, there is poor flow due to the increased pressure. If Sydney is still having these issues, the tracer will not go far at all. The purpose of this study is to determine if Sydney can resume receiving chemo safely during her spinal taps. If the tracer shows good movement, this will begin again with the next spinal tap. Once the scan is complete, Sydney will be admitted to the 9th floor to begin the pre-chemo hydration process. We are praying for an event free and infection free second block!

Thank you again for your support!

Posted on September 17, 2013 by Joe & Karin Hawk

Today brought relief to us as Sydney's labs came back negative.  The doctors agreed that the concern was a contaminated draw. So we packed up again and left Children's Hospital for home! Only this time we need to have Sydney on iv fluids for 12 hours at night as she sleeps.  It is hoped that this extra hydration will help with her diarrhea.  Home Care nurse came tonight to train us on the fluids and the pump.  Results from the Allegheny County Health Department finally came in: negative for Norovirus.

We'll do whatever it takes to be under our own roof!  We're happy to be together!

Thank you for your prayers.

Posted on September 16, 2013 by Joe & Karin Hawk

The hospital called the house to request Sydney come back as there was a positive culture for infection. So Sydney was readmitted back into Children's Hospital on Saturday after many hours in the ER.  We will get the results of the last culture today, Monday, to determine if the initial culture was contaminated or if there is infection.  In the mean time, Sydney is being treated with antibiotics.  Still no results from the Allegheny County Health Department regarding the Norovirus test.

Sunday was a marvelous day for us as the entire Bridgeville community came together to hold a Spaghetti Dinner to benefit Sydney.  We cannot find the words to express our heartfelt appreciation to our community, church, neighbors, family and most of all the strangers who came to support our daughter.  She is a stranger to most, but is loved by all!  We are humbled.

You are in our prayers.     

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