10.29.2018

When I Found Out My Son Had Cancer: A Dad's Perspective

I will never forget that call. It’s the call you think only happens to other people or even only in the movies. But many people get that call everyday, so I shouldn’t have been too shocked or too surprised, I should have been ready, but I wasn’t.

When I found out my son had cancer

It was a Friday, almost always sunny in Southern California. This day wasn’t any different. Work was slow for the moment, which is hit and miss at my company. Some Fridays before the holidays can be crazy busy all day, but this day only had a couple slow moments. I had already been talking with my co-workers, trying to stay optimistic about my son’s recent surgery to biopsy a mass growing in his nose. Michelle remembers them talking about the possibility of the mass being malignant, but I guess I blocked that out. Because, all week my co-workers were trying to encourage me that it was going to be benign. I guess it worked, cause I remember thinking “It is probably benign and I am sure they will call us to confirm that”.

Michelle was the primary contact, but I gave the hospital my number as the 2nd option in case they could not get a hold of my her. Another reason, I was not ready for the call, I figured Michelle would get the call confirming it was benign, then she would call me to give our family that sigh of relief.

That phone call would have been so much better, but that one never came.

My cell phone began to vibrate and I just happened to not have any customers in front of me so I looked down at my phone and saw a number that was familiar, but did not fully recognize. Most of the time, if I don’t recognize the number, I will not pick up. But I thought, “Oh I think this is Rady’s Children’s Hospital for Luke, they must have not been able to get a hold of Michelle.”

So I answered. But again, I wasn’t ready!

One of the things I love about Luke’s doctor was that she did not sugar coat anything, she just told it like it was. I appreciate that, because then we know exactly what is going on and we can deal with it, instead of wondering what the doctor is talking about; Is she trying to say something positive? Was that negative? Do we have to worry? With that first phone call,  maybe it would have been nice to prepare me for what she was going to say.  I don’t know,  because that never happened.

As soon as I answered, the doctor introduced herself,
“This is Doctor Ahn and I am overseeing Luke’s case. His mass is malignant.”

Just like that I went from being relaxed, in a good mood just happy that my son’s mass was being taking care of, to a numb, devastated state of mind. It took everything in me to fight back the tears and the tears eventually won. Even as I am writing this, my eyes are tearing up remembering that moment that would change our family forever.

My son has cancer. I just kept playing that over and over in my head.

How could this happen? He is only 9 years old. And he didn’t do anything. But the truth remained. My son has cancer. Luke has cancer.

I remember she explained what needed to happen. But after she said the mass was malignant most of what she said was just words words words. I had to ask her to repeat the next steps twice just to make sure I was well aware of what we needed to do. I shouldn’t have needed her to repeat herself, but it was all so much. The next step was pretty clear, he was scheduled for another surgery to remove most of the mass and he would need to be admitted to the hospital right away. We were scheduled to go in on Monday, December 22, 2014. I can’t even remember if I finished work that day or not, I am pretty sure they let me go home and so I did. We spent the weekend together, letting everyone in our families know that Luke would be in the hospital on December 22, it sounded like he would have surgery on December 23 and we would be home in time for Christmas Eve.

my 9 year old son has cancer

Luke went through several tests that first day at the hospital. MRI, CAT scans, X-Rays and blood tests and several others I don’t remember. What made his situation unique and a little scary is that the mass was so close to his skull. We would find out over the next several days that he had Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer and that he would have surgery and his first chemo on Christmas Eve.

Osteosarcoma makes up about 2% of all childhood cancer, so not a very common cancer, but not the most rare either. What really made Luke’s cancer unique, was the location. Almost all Osteosarcoma patients have the growth or mass found in their limbs, legs, arms, feet, hands, places like that.

For doctors to find Osteosarcoma so close to the skull was extremely rare. I believe that was by design. But to be clear, God did not give my son cancer. Let me write that again, “God did not give my son cancer!!! But he allowed it. God is good all the time! And I believe He made sure it was rare. But I will write more about that in future posts.

dad and childhood cancer survivor
When you have cancer, it’s bad news no matter who you are. Cancer sucks! I don’t know why certain people get cancer and others don’t. I don’t know why my son got a non-terminal cancer and other children get terminal cancers. But what I do know is God is in control of all of it. And if you trust in Him, He will give you the strength to get through it, no matter the outcome.

I praise God everyday that our son's cancer was not terminal. I remember thanking God that it wasn’t terminal. My prayer was “God you are so good. I am not sure why we are going through this, but I thank you it is not terminal. Thank you Lord, thank you. Thank you that we get an opportunity to fight this." I know some can’t say that, and I grieve for them.

how I found out son cancer
If you are going through a similar struggle, my hope is that no matter what kind of cancer you or your child might have, you will be encouraged to fight and encouraged to stay positive. And maybe someday you can share your story too.

I want to leave you with this, a simple prayer that I have prayed before and I will pray right now.

“Dear God, thank you giving me the strength to get through Luke’s cancer. Thank you for allowing me to be a source of joy for Luke as he went through it. Lord I would have gladly changed places with Luke, so he did not have to go through it. But thank you for giving him the strength to see your Love in it. I am praying for all the people who will hear our story, who will read this post, who will meet us in person, I hope they see You in all that we do. Don’t let us hide your Love from them as I often do, but let us be the light you intended."


If you are going through a similar struggle, whether you or a loved one are going through cancer, we are available to talk any time. You can find our contact info in the 'About Us' section at the top of our site. If you want to read more about our journey, you might also like:

10.15.2018

Chef Battle San Diego Highlights and Photo Recap

Chef Battle San Diego is a local San Diego event that highlights the culinary stylings of four local Southern California and San Diego chefs. They compete for one hour, sautéing, chopping,  and wielding their chef knives like the pros they are. After the competition, guests and attendees get to sample the culinary offerings each chef whipped up.



We had so much fun at the event. Each chef must race to the ingredient table, securing their ingredients for their dish within one minute. The chefs are all local to San Diego.

The Chefs Battling It Out

Chef A.C. of Canape Catering and Toronado SD

Chef Khaddy of Cooking With Khaddy

Chef Stevan Novoa of NV Personal Dining

Chef Mike of Stag Bar & Kitchen and Dori Deli




Chef A.C. made deconstructed California Burrito with a blackberry salsa (and handmade potato crisps) , Chef Mike made delicious vegan tacos plated with leafy greens, Chef Khaddy made a fried noodle dish representative of her filipino culture, and Chef Stevan made a tasty chorizo slider with an avocado dressing.

Chef Mike in action.

 Our Host for the day Samantha Thomas.

Chef Mike's souf chef, firing up the wood chips.

Chef Stevan's chorizo.

Chef A.C. in action!

Chef Mike's plated Vegan Tacos.

Chef Khaddy San Diego

Chef Khaddy's deliciousness...So many flavors!

My choice for winner was definitely Chef A.C.'s deconstructed California Burritos!

Chef Battle San Diego Recap


Chef Battle is a nationwide food battle event that is happening in cities across the U.S. Along with Chef Battle San Diego, there is also Chef Battle Spokane and Chef Battle Chicago as well as it's sister event Say Cheese Fest. To stay updated on any other local chef battle events and festivals in your area, visit Social Power Hour

Chef Batle San Diego Event


10.02.2018

FLOCK Presents Intimate Blogging Conferences



As a blogger and influencer, I am always learning and growing as the industry ebbs and flows. Whether it's social media trends, new platforms, or advances in SEO techniques, there is a ton of information to know. There is so much information and education out there that it's can be difficult to sift through the fluff and get right to the good stuff - the strategies that actually help my blog excel. So when I heard about FLOCK and their one day small scale intimate blogging conferences I was intrigued. I've partnered with FLOCK to share about their conferences, and after reading all about their mission, their individual conferences and workshops, and their speaker line-up, I can't wait to attend!

FLOCK was started by Cam Bowman and Emelia Cellura, two fellow bloggers who saw a need for a more intimate, intensive, practical, and results driven approach. As bloggers, they have attended many conferences themselves, so they know what attendees are looking for. I love FLOCK's mission to Gather, Gain, and Grow. I'm so ready to do all of those things! That's why I will be attending the FLOCK event at Disneyland in just about a week. It's a one day Pinterest intensive workshop.


Why FLOCK?

Intimate

FLOCK is all about bringing the big conference down to a more  where you can get to know fellow attendees, sponsors, speakers, and brands in a small scale setting that lends itself to practical education and collaboration. As an attendee you won't get lost in the fray, you'll be able to really dig in to the content. Each FLOCK conference is unique with speakers, location, and brands that are tailored for the event.

Intensive

Each FLOCK conference is a one day intensive workshop that is centered around a single topic like SEO, Pinterest, Socia Media, and blog niche specific topics like traveling blogging. With the focus on single topics, that allows the speakers to dive deeper into the subject matter and details. 

Affordable

Blogging conferences can be expensive. With travel, hotel, and expenses, this price can climb pretty high. Education in any professional field is definitely a worthy investment, but it doesn't have to break the bank! That's why flock keeps their prices lower than most other conferences. Listen, I'm all for growing in my field, but not for $1000. Register early for their conferences and you can lower your ticket price by $50. Also watch out for discount codes for the specific FLOCK conference you want to attend. 

So here are the different conferences for the coming year! See each link for more information

FLOCK Presents: Very Pinteresting! - A Pinterest Intensive - Anaheim, CA (Disneyland) 

Learn all about Pinterest, best practices, and tools to grow your engagement and following.

FLOCK Presents: Beyond the Likes, Retweets, and Filters - Orlando, FL  (Walt Disney World)

An intimate one day worship focus on a few social media platforms.


All about travel blogging!

 Be sure to check out Flockpresents.com for tickets, speaker lists, location info, and so much more! So what are you waiting for? FLOCK is ready for you!

Photo credit: RawPixel.com on Flick

9.04.2018

Every October Kids Go Free in San Diego!


October is coming! That means kids go free in San Diego. Every October, so many San Diego theme parks, museums, attractions, restaurants, and hotels offer fabulous deals - even free admission for kids! It all began more than 30 years ago when the San Diego Zoo began celebrating the anniversary of the month it opened by allowing kids free entry for all children! Now, more than 100 places, in and around the county offer what popularly known as Kids Free San Diego. While we can't list all 100, there are quite a few we love to participate in every year. Of particular note is the San Diego Museum Council's 40+ museums participating in Kids Free October. The council has opened the doors to it's many museums and your kids are going to love it! There really is so much for kids to see and do. It's good to know that the October Kids Free San Diego program is for children ages 12 and under. You will want to visit each location's website to see their specific coupon, hours of operation, and any restrictions. This is such a fantastic community offering for the residents of Southern California. And because San Diego boasts one of the most temperate climates in the world, October is the perfect month to visit San Diego from anywhere in the world! Below is a list of our favorite San Diego attractions taking part in Kids Free San Diego.

Kids Free San Diego

The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

The world renown San Diego Zoo and Safari Park is offering kids free admission to the parks during the month of October. Your kids can feed a giraffe, watch a flamingo parade, catch tigers playing, and monkeys swinging all for free during the Month of October. We love the children's area of the San Diego Zoo and the Tiger exhibit at Safari Park. Children receive free admission to the park all month long. Children must be 11 and under.


Sea World San Diego

Kids play for free at SeaWorld San Diego all month long. See Clyde the Sea Lion, Seymore, and all of his animal friends. October is a super fun time to visit Sea World. They have trick-or-treating stations on the weekends, stellar halloween decor, delicious fall food, and so much more! Admission is free for kids with an accompanying adult admission. You don't want to miss out on the all new Deep Water themed area of SeaWorld -there are new rides and animal encounters. One of our favorite  encounters at Seaworld is the all new re-imagined Orca Encounter Experience that features animal behavior demonstrations and tons of educational information about Orcas . Admission to Seaworld San Diego is free for children in the month of October, with 1 paying adult. See here for Details and Info.


San Diego Botanic Gardens

Children 12 and under recieve free admission to the San Diego Botanic Garden with each paid adult during the Month of October. It's good to know there is a small parking fee and the garden is located in the North County coastal town of Encinitas. There is plenty for children to do at the San Diego Botanic Garden. Check out our post of visiting the San Diego Botanic Garden with kids here.


Belmont Park

Belmont Park is San Diego's Coastal Amusement Park. Kids 12 and under can "Ride, Eat, and Play" for free at Belmont Park during the month of October with the purchase of an adult ticket! Visit the Belmont Park Website for more info.

Birch Aquarium At Scripps

The Birth Aquarium is another fantastic experience for kids in San Diego. Located north of the city, in La Jolla. The aquarium is the public viewing space that is associated with the world famous Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UCSD. The aquarium sits high on a bluff overlooking the pacific ocean. Children can explore hundreds of species of ocean animals and there is even a hands-on touch pool, the kelp dive show, rotating one-of-a-kind exhibits and more. If you can be sure to schedule your visit on a tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday when they offer one of their many rotating feedings of the sea creatures. You don't want to miss it! During the month of October, kids 12 and under are free with the admission of at least one paying adult. Be sure to visit the San Diego Museum Council's website for the Kids Free San Diego Coupon for the Birch Aquarium! We love the Birch Aquarium!


The New Children's Museum

The New Children's Museum is located in downtown San Diego, and is such a great place to take the kids when exploring all that Kids Free San Diego has to offer.  You can think, play and creat your way through every inch of this epic space for kids! There are interactive art installations, think spaces, places spaces and studio art spaces for kids. Travers the Wonder Sound exhibit, take in the pantone mural where nature's fruits and veggies are matched to a pantone color square, races cars in the desert derby, and solo much more! Visit the San Diego Museum Council's website to download your Kids Free San Diego Museum coupon.

San Diego Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum of Art, locate in Balboa Park is actually free all year round for kids 17 and under. This makes for a fun and inexpensive outing for families. Things to do at the San Diego Museum of Art for kids include having a little mini art scavenger hunt with the "search and find activity book", seeing priceless works of art up close, and the teen art cafe! You can learn more about the San Diego Museum of Art here or by visiting the San Diego Museum Counsel to get your Kids Free San Diego coupon

Balboa Park Museums including Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History Museum

So many museums to see in Balboa Park as part of Kids Free October! I think the Fleet Science Center and The San Diego Natural History Museum might be doable in one day. YOu could even take a picnic lunch or grab a bite to eat with the kids in the Nat's new Backyard Cafe. The Fleet Science Center offers hands on science experiences, live science shows, as well as tons more. The Nat has multiple floors of dinosaur bones, and interactive exhibits. You won't want to miss the Backyard play space for children 5 and under on the bottom floor. Children 12 and under are admitted free in October with a paid adult. Be sure to download your Kids Free coupon from the San Diego Museum Council!



U.S.S. Midway

Steeped in history, The decommissioned Aircraft Carrier USS Midway is permanently stationed in San Diego and is open to the public for guided and self-guided tours. There are many docents who willingly impart their knowledge of the carrier, Navy history, and the military in general. The Midway is a floating museum that honors the legacy of the aircraft carriers service. There are different exhibits on each deck including 26 restored aircraft up on the flight deck, 7 pilot ready rooms to tour, and viewing the captain's quarters. One of our favorite spots was getting to sit in the conference room where decisions about Operation Desert Storm were being made in the early 90's. 
Kids will love the flight simulator on the hangar deck as well as the all of the aircraft on board.  Adults will love the on board cafe, rich history and stunning views. As we have mentioned above, be sure to visit the San Diego Museum Council's website to download your Kids Free San Diego coupon 

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Discount

The Pacific Surliner is the Amtrack railway that spans over 300 miles of California Coastline. Amtrak makes it easy to explore Southern California by train and takes the stress out of driving through traffic. In October and every month of the year, kids ages 6-12 are always 50% off of the adult fare and children 5 and under ride free. See PacificSurfliner.com for more details.

Know Before You Go

  • Be sure to check websites for each offers rules and restrictions, including children's age requirements, days available. etc.
  • Follow along on social media with the #KidsFreeSD hashtag
  • Check for hotel deals to get the most out of your stay. Some San Diego hotels offer deals in October to accompany the Kids Free San Diego promotion.
  • For a complete list of San Diego Attractions offering Deals For Kids Free San Diego visit SanDiego.org 
  • For a complete list of San Diego County Museums participating in Kids Free in San Diego visit the San Diego Museum Council


8.27.2018

Tradewinds Island Resort St. Pete Beach Florida

St. Pete Beach is a small resort beach city on the gulf coast of Florida. It's actually located on a barrier island off the west side of the state. Our family vacation there and stay at the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort is something we will always remember! 


The views! There is no need for a passport to see paradise. You can find it at St. Pete Beach! Walking out onto the beach from the hotel, we were greeted by the most gorgeous ocean views. The sand was pillowy, powdery and white. There are no waves on the gulf coast of Florida, just the sea gently lapping against the sand. Perfect for long walks and collecting seashells.




We stayed at the beautiful Tradewinds Island Grand Resort in St. Pete Beach. This  sprawling resort encompasses 2 hotels, 31 acres of resort space, 14 dining options, a resort day spa and more!
The resort's motto is "Just Let Go" and we can see why!



The hotel grounds are lush and beautiful. There is even a river that winds it's way around the resort.






Tradewinds Island Resort Accomodations

The Tradewinds Island Resort offers a variety of hotel rooms and suites to suit your vacation needs. They even have pet-friendly options! We loved our two bedroom suite with a gulf ocean view. We can only speak to the suites, but we think if you choose that option, you will enjoy it as much as we  do. Inside each suite, there is a mini-fridge, microwave, toaster and plenty of counter space. The 2 bedroom suite has 1 king room, 2 queens room, and a lovely sitting area with plenty of seating, a flat screen TV and a stunning view of the water.

For more photos, check out the Tradewinds Island Resort website.


Tradewinds Island Resort Hotel Activities for Families 

There is a mini golf course on the grounds, a giant chess set, a dance party every day by the pool, venders poolside that showcase a variety of fun activities for kids like pottery painting, crafting, and hair braiding. There's also jet skiing, kayaking, and more right from the beach! There are even adorable paddle boats that you can ride in the waterway river around the resort. 

Our favorite activities for kids at Tradewinds are probably the floating watersides and giant Island Grand High Tide Slide that is located right on the beach. Tradewinds also has a chaperoned kids program and a teen program where they provide care for kids if parents want to have some alone time.

The water is a beautiful shade of blue green and perfect for all kinds of water sports.


The beach side inflatable water slide was a hit with the kids.


As you make your way from the hotel to the beach, you are greeted by several beach hammocks that are perfect for lazy afternoon naps.


The resort has an 9 hole mini golf course in the courtyard area. This was such fun for the kids.


The giant chess set was set under a covered patio, so this made for a great rainy day activity. And trust me, it will rain at some point while you are there. 

The weather in Florida, no matter where you are vacationing, can change in a moment. So, be prepared for the weather with activities or games to play indoors or under cover. Thankfully, Tradewinds had us covered, literally.


A fun outing was visiting the famous fish tank from the TV show "Tanked". It's located next door at the sister resort Guy Harvey's Outpost. there is a side viewing area, but if you want to see the full tank in all it's glory, you'll need to make reservations at the hotel restaurant.




We love the Tradewinds Island Resort in St. Beach Beach, Florida. It's the perfect St. Pete Beach hotel for families. We can't wait to get back there soon!

Tradewinds Island Grand Resort Amenities

The Tradewinds Island Resort offers a "resort amenities pass" for $45 per unit per day plus tax. Parking is part of this pass and with all that comes with it - this is such a great deal!

Daily reservable cushioned beach cabana for two.
Ride on Island Grand’s High Tide Slide
Ride on Guy Harvey Outpost’s Surf WipeOut
Take a waterway paddleboat out for a spin.
Guy's Great Touch Tank Experience (perfect for children!)
Family Pirate Show
Campfire S'Mores (weather dependent)
Sea Turtle Talk expeditions
Use of two state-of-the-art fitness centers
Complimentary Yogafit classes
Day play for beach volleyball and mini golf
Beach games, like paddleball, bocce ball and corn hole
Unlimited access to both resort's SEVEN swimming pools
Poolside activities
Dive-In Movies
Plush pool towels
Self-parking (one parking pass per room)
Two bottles of water per day



For more of our family travel posts, check out our travel section and if you loved this post, you might like our San Clemente, California family vacation post.

**This post was not sponsored in any way.