A Year of Love, Laughter, and Cancer.

B.B. has lost exactly 0.0 pounds since our last post.

Hey! Hey! We’re back!

It seems as if this whole cancer thing, including this blog, was a lifetime ago. It’s crazy to know that it was only four months ago that we completed nearly a year’s worth of cancer treatment and three surgeries. Wow, we’ve come a long way! We’ll pick up where we last left off.

Christmas Morning Joy (or maybe it was the mimosas)

Sam completed his 14th round of chemotherapy on December 23rd. Christmastime was a little bittersweet, but mostly sweet. It was such a relief to know that our 8-hour infusion center days and long sleepless nights at the hospital were finally over for the foreseeable future. However, the continued side effects of chronic treatment were inescapable through the holiday season. Around the second week of January Sam started to perk up, thicken up, and eventually his hair reappeared! We got clearance from the oncologist to head out of town in mid-January and we headed south to the Emerald Coast for nine days of beach fun.

Surf’s Up!

Our wetsuits were a little too tight. Sam's ripped big time.

Some incredibly generous and loving family friends loaned us their beautiful beach house and studmobile for our cancer-free vacation. Every single day at the beach was amazing. The weather was warm and sunny, Sam’s appetite was back, and our life that once seemed so threatening and complicated was a world away.

Stop staring ladies. He's off the market.

Here are some highlights of our beach fun!

Beer and Cheetos! Life is good. Sorry Dr. Keedy!

Sam is proving that you only need one clavicle to kayak and wave at the same time. Mom, we've got to get you some photography lessons 🙂





Nine Days Of Smiles

 And Drumroll Please…

TWO Helicopter Rides! 

Not nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be.

Say What?

I feel like the helicopter rides involve some explanation….so here we go. When Sam was sick, we became infatuated with helicopters. If you’ve ever hung out around Vanderbilt, it’s easy to understand why. Vanderbilt Hospital has three helicopters. It seems as if they are always taking off or landing. These helicopters are loud and humongous. Occasionally, we’d see the LifeFlight crew and pilots throughout the hospital. They are like celebrities and wear really awesome jumpsuits. We got so excited and so obsessed with helicopters that I promised Sam that we’d fly around in a helicopter (and not a LifeFlight helicopter) as soon as he felt better. Until then, we were entertained by remote controlled helicopters that we flew in our apartment.

Little Toy and BIG Toy.

After several months of practicing landing on coasters, harassing the cats with them, and accidentally scratching our tv many times, we were able to get on a real helicopter. We went on an early morning ride and a sunset ride. It was unreal to turn a wish into a reality so soon.

Our nine days of heaven were more than we could have ever hoped for. These days helped settle our nerves and propelled us into our new life together.

 Our New Life

Life these days is pretty fun. Wait. Scratch that. Life these days is TOTALLY FREAKIN’ AWESOME! We have a new set of challenges but it’s nice to feel like we have our life back. We’re mostly normal now, with a few quirks. There’s a long list of continued side effects for chemo patients. The two main side effects that directly impact our life are fatigue and short-term memory loss. The doctors say that it will take about one year for Sam to feel like himself again. He can get tired very quickly and his energy levels aren’t what they once were. We combat the fatigue with an early bedtime, naps, and trying not to do too much in a short period of time. Sam goes to his office three days a week and works from home two days a week. These tactics are all helpful in maximizing Sam’s work potential and energy levels.

Working from home looks like this:



The short-term memory loss will eventually go away (Sam disputes he ever had a working short-term memory). We’re able to deal with this by writing lots of notes, emails, and checklists. We also have to exercise extreme patience. A trip to the grocery store might include all of the following for Sam: getting to the car and realizing that he doesn’t have his keys, arriving at the checkout counter and realizing that he doesn’t have his wallet, and leaving his favorite hat in the grocery cart in the parking lot. Doh! Sam always has a great attitude and more patience than anyone I know. He handles all of this with a smile on his face. Cancer has given us the gift of patience and perspective. Most things that were once a big deal or frustrating have become no big deal at all.

These two minor new realities don’t stop us from doing anything. We’re back to doing everything we love. Sam has gone to concerts, movies, mountain biking, and has eaten a million bacon cheeseburgers in 2012. If you saw Sam today, you could never even imagine that he was so sick just a short time ago. Sam is twice as handsome as he was before he got sick. We believe we are both incredibly happier, healthier, and more appreciative now that life has a whole new meaning. We continue to meet people and hear from people that offer us unending hope and friendship.

No Photoshopping required. He looks that good.

One Year Ago Today. Cancer Thingies.

One year ago today, Sam was diagnosed with a highly aggressive malignant bone cancer. On this day in 2011, sisters-in-law became sisters and friends became family. It was this day that our world we once knew abruptly came to an end and our new life of battling a disease began.

After eight months of harsh treatment, three surgeries, and countless setbacks and tearful days, we only know one thing for sure. We are thankful. We are thankful for the two oncologists who worked with us and continue to give us confidence, thankful for the endless love and support from all of our family and friends which includes everyone who reads this blog, and thankful that the whole cancer thing is over for now.

You commonly hear people who have battled cancer or dealt with a tragedy say that the tragedy or disease does not define them. We think our saying is, we don’t let cancer get us down. The cancer community and grim life of a year of illness, hospital stays, and uncertainty is a world we never thought we’d be a part of. We are though and we plan on making the most and best of it. When Sam has been cancer-free for a year, we will be eligible to counsel other families who are going through what we went through. We look forward to working with cancer patients and their families in 2013. Throughout Sam’s rigorous treatment, we took thorough notes and can’t wait to share our knowledge with others. Sometimes when we try to rationalize a crappy cancer diagnosis at 27, we can’t help but think that this is exactly where we’re supposed to be. We plan on making a difference to other cancer patients and their families.

It’s easy to get lost in our own thoughts. Usually once a week, all the “what ifs” and the daunting insurance paperwork and medical bills creep into our lives. As much as we would love to put the whole cancer thing behind us, we know we’ll never be able to. It’s a part of our life together, but again, we don’t let it get us down. We tackle everything as it comes up and move on. We have plans to travel to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle this year. Instead of spending the weekends sick in bed, we spend the weekends biking, grilling out, and throwing the frisbee (seriously, clavicles are so useless). Our oncologists tell us to live our life as if the cancer is not coming back, so that is what we’ll do. Party on!

 It’s All Good In The Hood

We do a lot of smiling these days.

Since we last spoke to you all, Sam has gotten two CTs, an MRI, and had his labwork checked out three times. Dr. Keedy says that there is no evidence of disease. Woo hoo! Sam has also gained more than 30 pounds since his sickest days (thank you Momma Bledsoe). We just got all of this information last week and are thrilled that we can keep on partying on. When we went back to Vanderbilt last week, women from all over the cancer clinic were coming out from behind their desks to check Sam out. They were hooting and hollering. I thought I was going to have to beat them off with a stick. The compliments were flattering and they all said that seeing Sam look the way he does, rejuvenates them. It was a unique experience for us. We have until the end of June before we head back for more scans. Until then, we will just assume the cancer is gone for good and look forward to a year of traveling and fun times to make up for last year.


It’s hard not to get emotional writing this blog. Thinking about where we were and where we are now makes us feel like the luckiest people on the planet. We owe almost all of our happiness and success to you all. The unwavering support, thoughtful acts, and love is what made Sam well again. We now make it a habit to hug people instead of shaking hands or just waving hello or goodbye. We’ve given out a bajillion hugs this year and we’re just getting started. We have a lifetime of saying thank you, showing appreciation, and paying forward everything you all did for us. Thank you for seeing us through till the end and thank you for helping us get our lives back to this new normal where our fear is limited, our confidence is high, and our happiness is immeasurable. We love you.


Love, gratitude, and a big hug,


Sam, Leslie, Theo, and BB Bledsoe



We did it!

Last Day of Chemo!


It’s over. We ALL did it! A MEGA THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO GOT US HERE! If you are reading this blog, YOU got us here. This was an enormous team effort. We did it! We did it! We did it!!!

We had five of the happiest and saddest days at the hospital this week. We’ll miss all of our Vanderbilt friends, but we are overjoyed that our long days of receiving treatment are finally over.


We will rest happily. Our new beginning has begun. We will start our lives over with a fragile new not-so-normal normalcy. We couldn’t be happier. We know that we will have a new list of challenges for next year, but we hope it will be easier than this past year. Sam will soon be getting stronger. He has his first set of scans in three weeks. We expect the scans to be cancer-free and we plan to take a vacation as soon as we get the “all clear” from the doctor. Life is about to get a lot more fun!

We came home from the hospital to a decorated and clean apartment! Thank You!


Over this past year, we had many bad days and scary nights. Over and over again, I found myself thinking, “If Sam can just make it through the day…” and “If we can just make it through this night…”. I always thought Sam would get better and life would get a little easier. That never really happened. From the diagnosis till now, life has been difficult in so many ways. I can’t imagine many things scarier than the nights we were up all night or at the hospital early in the morning. Sam’s days were plagued with illness and mine with heartache. Every now and then, we got a few good days in a row, or a week if we were lucky, but nothing more than that. It’s strange for us to live a life in which we don’t look forward to many things. Besides visiting with friends and family, we haven’t looked forward to anything but THIS day and it’s finally here. Whoop! Whoop!

Since the diagnosis, we have gotten mentally stronger, wiser, and more patient. We stopped questioning, “Why us?” and started thinking, “We’re going to get through this and we’re going to be a million times happier and more appreciative because of it.” We stopped complaining early on and tried to get through each day smiling if we could.

I spent a lot of our hospital time reading books written by cancer survivors. In one of my favorite books, someone wrote, “Cancer was the worst thing that happened to me. Cancer was the best thing that happened to me.” We think that is exactly what it has been for us.

Cancer has been the worst thing because of the unbelievable amount of stress, horror, and ups and downs we’ve been through this past year. Our world has been grim since April. This cancer will probably be the source of worry for years to come. It’s been the best thing because of all of you. We have laughed so much this year. Once you or the person you love is diagnosed with cancer or any illness, you kind of lose your inhibitions and start living the life you’ve always wanted. As cliché as that may sound, it’s true. Even though we consider ourselves unlucky, we are very lucky for going through this together, and with all of you. Throughout this year, we’ve learned the importance of positivity, family, and love. When you combine that with our desire to laugh and have fun, we have to believe we’ve got a good thing going for us.


This blog has been an outlet and a major source of entertainment for us. It has been a challenging and fun distraction. It’s hard to be sad when someone emails us comparing BB’s rear end to J. Lo’s. This blog has allowed us to keep everyone informed while putting us in touch with new friends all over the world. To every cancer patient, young and old, stay in touch with us and we hope you too can find a way to laugh.


The blog must go on. Our updates will not be as frequent as they have been, but we look forward to keeping everyone updated on Sam’s progress in 2012. This blog is a part of us and the cancer community that we love which has given us so much love and hope in return.


We can’t thank you all enough for taking this journey with us. We read and reread every comment, email, and card you sent us. From Nantucket to Australia, you have all left a handprint on our hearts and we’ll always be thankful for you.



Moms, you are the best people on this planet.

With all the love in the world and warm holiday wishes,


Sam and Leslie Bledsoe



We’re Almost Finished!

Let The Countdown Begin!

If everything goes as planned, we will finish chemotherapy on December 23rd!

Hey everybody!  We just finished our 13th round of chemotherapy!  We had a successful two days of treatment and we’re thrilled to be finished with another round.  With the completion of each round comes a bigger smile, so you can imagine, our smiles are pretty big at this point.  It sounds awful to wish time away, but when faced with a rigorous treatment schedule and being so sick so often, we can’t help but wish the days away.  We only have one more round to go!  Sam’s last round of chemotherapy is scheduled for December 19th-December 23rd.  Because we are nearing the end of this part of the adventure, Sam and I took some time this week to figure out what we’ve been through this past year.

Sam was diagnosed with a malignant bone cancer 232 days ago.  Since then, we’ve had 105 scheduled appointments.  He has had 13 rounds of chemotherapy.  He has had 3 surgeries.  He’s had to get lab work done 58 times.  He has gone to the infusion center for treatment 46 times.  We’ve spent 10 nights in hospital rooms.  I’ve had the unfortunate duty of giving him 78 shots and will give him 10 more before this thing is through.  And finally, we hope to be on the beach in 42 days.

This journey has been grueling and incredible.  In fourteen days, we’ll finally breathe a sigh of relief.  We both fully understand that this particular cancer doesn’t have an expiration date.  There will always be a chance of the cancer coming back, but we’ll worry about that if it happens.  We’ve done all that we can do and we believe that the cancer will never return.  There’s no way we’ll ever be normal again, but in two weeks, we’ll begin to be more hopeful and happier than we’ve been in 232 days.  Normal is boring anyway.

Throughout these last several months, we’ve learned that family and friends are all that we need in life and we will never take a day in good health for granted again.

Almost too much cuteness for one picture.

We plan to rest over the next week and stay away from the hospital.

Good idea Theo and Nina!

Thank you for being a part of our support team and another thank you for getting us this far. We love you so much.

With love,


Sam and Leslie Bledsoe

P.S.  Thank you for always making our trips to the mailbox so fun.  After two days at the hospital this week, we came home to a mailbox full of loving cards and funny packages.  We have new friends in Little Rock and a new friend in California.  Christina, keep your head up and stay in touch.

P.P.S.  Matt-thanks for the Bob Marley sweatpants from the Philippines.  Sam’s wardrobe is now compete.


Giving Thanks!

Just Finished Round 12!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are now lying on the couch wishing you didn’t eat all those leftovers!  We just finished our 12th round of chemotherapy.   Sam had five full days of treatment this week.  Everything went as planned and we’re happy to be home from the hospital.  We expect a few rough days ahead but are super excited about celebrating Thanksgiving next week.

This week, it seems fitting to highlight the awesome side to cancer and that is the people we get to hang out with so frequently.  Over the last eight months, we’ve been surrounded by the most devoted people at Vanderbilt Hospital.  Last week, we had three appointments on Sam’s birthday. On two separate occasions at opposite ends of the hospital, several women sang Happy Birthday to him (in a tone deaf but heartfelt kind of way).


The cancer clinic can be a heart-wrenching place to be.  Since April, it seems like we’ve lived in the cancer clinic, especially the infusion center.  It’s tough.  The infusion center will crush your spirit and ruin your appetite for several days.  We’re convinced that Vanderbilt only puts the funniest, most charismatic, and loving people in the clinic.  When this whole cancer thing is over, the people at Vanderbilt Hospital will be what we miss the most.  Consistently, from the time we get out of the car at the clinic, till the time we leave, employees go out of their way to talk to us or to ask me how Sam is doing.  A lot of people say something like, “I love you two.  I mean, I hate that you are here so much, but I love seeing you two.”  Little do they know, we love seeing them too.  To everyone at Vanderbilt Hospital, you are all the best part of our days; we consider you family and look forward to stopping by and saying “Hi!” a little less often in 2012. Thank you for seeing us through the good days and the bad days.

Because of our frequency of visits, extended stays, and Sam’s popularity, I refer to him as the Mayor of Vanderbilt Hospital.  We are thrilled that he will be stepping down from this role soon.

We hope to receive treatment on December 6th and 7th, so we’ll see you all later that week!  Enjoy the rest of the long weekend and thank you for all of the love and support.




Sam and Leslie Bledsoe

Back On Track!

Happy Friday everyone!  We’re back on track with our chemo schedule.  Two weeks ago, the combination of illness and chemo led to a pretty rough week.  This was preceded by five rocky weeks of either chemo or hospitalizations.  But last week we finally had some pretty awesome days.  In fact, last week was one of the best weeks we’ve had since the beginning of April. The good days seem to have impeccable timing.  Just when we think the days couldn’t get any longer or harder, we’re blessed with several good days in a row.  Throughout this last year, we’ve learned to take the good days and run with them.

Last week, Sam felt well enough to carve pumpkins…

He had a well-balanced diet…

Two pans of bacon are better than one.

and Sam was able to work from home with the help of Theo and BB.

It was nice to let our guard down for the week.  If you’re wondering if BB has gotten bigger over the last few months, yes, BB is huge.  The more we’re away, the more she eats.  Let’s explain:

For Those Who Would Like To See The Proof:

Back On Track

We had to go back to Vanderbilt this week and resume chemo.  We just finished our 11th round of chemo!  It was a routine week of treatment without many complications.  We’re happy that we’ve made it to the double-digit treatments and eagerly look forward to wrapping up all of this chemo business.  We’ve got a couple of months to go, but we’re getting closer to the beach each day.

We’ve only got three more rounds to go and then there will be…

  A Special Birthday Request! 

Here is Sam getting a blood transfusion in the emergency room.Transfusions make him feel GREAT!

Sam turns the big 28 next week and I was hoping we could all do our part to give back a little for his birthday.  Sam has received multiple blood transfusions over the last several months and we’re extremely thankful for the donors who made them possible – they made him feel a ton better.  I thought we could use Sam’s birthday as a way to motivate and encourage anyone that feels comfortable with donating blood to do so.  A lot of people have told us that they donated blood after we told them how much better Sam feels after a blood transfusion.

We’ve got to send out a WHOOP! WHOOP! to Sam’s uncle Jim who organized a blood drive in Atlanta and gave blood as well.  What a good show of hard work and generosity!  Here is a link to good info for first time donors: http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/first-time-donors, and you can find upcoming blood drives and nearby Red Cross centers by entering your zip code on the right.

Guerrilla marketing. Not to be confused with gorilla marketing.

What’s On Tap For The Weeks Ahead…

Sam is scheduled to get five days of chemotherapy starting on November 21st, which means we’ll spend Thanksgiving at Vanderbilt Hospital.  The good news is that the hospital will be a lot less crowded because of the holiday week and the better news is that we still get to visit with family and eat a bunch of turkey the following week. We hope that this next week will be drama-free with the exception of birthday shenanigans.

While we’re on the subject of Thanksgiving, we’d like to say thank you to everyone.  Over the last several weeks, we’ve heard from a lot of people that have made us laugh and cry.  Each time we get a comment on the blog, receive a card in the mail, or read a ridiculous email aloud, the author has made our life better.  We thank you so much for helping us smile on a lot of days that we didn’t think we had it in us.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and know that we are so very thankful for you all!


Sam and Leslie Bledsoe

A Quick Update

It’s Been A Bumpy Ride…

Hey everyone!  We’ve had five rough weeks, but we hope we’re on our way to better days.  In the last five weeks, Sam has been hospitalized for infections twice and has received two rounds of chemotherapy.  Two weeks ago, we spent 31 hours in Vanderbilt’s emergency department, so the e.d. got us down once again.


The good news is, we just finished the 10th round of chemotherapy, but the bad news is Sam was unable to complete his five days of scheduled treatment.  Honestly, we were both really happy about this.  Due to illness, he was only able to get three days of treatment.  We showed up to the hospital these last two days thinking that Sam would get treatment, but he was just too sick.  Instead of getting chemo, he received fluids for a couple of hours and other iv medication to help him sleep which is exactly what he needed.

We’re not quite sure how we’ll move forward from this point on.  We hope that Sam will perk up over the next week and he’ll be able to receive treatment again soon.  All we want is for Sam to feel better, so watching movies and taking long naps will be high on our priority list.

Kind of like BB, we remain hopeful but timid. BB can't figure out how to get on the counter, proceed to the top of the refrigerator, and then get on top of the cabinets like Theo can. We think BB's butt might be too big for her to make any advancements in this process.


We’ve relied heavily on support from our family and friends throughout these tough couple of months and we’d like you to know how thankful we are for all the help.  Hopefully, we’ll be back to our silliness again soon.


Rest assured, Theo is taking great care of Sam.


Lots of love and thanks,


Sam and Leslie Bledsoe

End of Cycle Eight!

Sam just finished his eighth cycle of chemo!  He had treatment all five days this week, including a Labor Day infusion.  We were worried that his treatment was going to get pushed back a week because of his lack of white blood cells and Labor Day, but Sam came through over the weekend and made a few more neutrophils and was able to begin his treatment on Labor Day.  Even though a holiday infusion sounds like a drag, it was actually kind of pleasant to be at the hospital without such a large crowd.  Vanderbilt only does holiday infusions for the patients in which the timing of the chemotherapy is critical, so we feel fortunate that the holiday didn’t alter his schedule.  There was only one other cancer patient receiving treatment on Monday, so we had a rather peaceful Labor Day at the infusion center.

This cycle is definitely draining for Sam.  He receives a lot of chemotherapy and spends most of the week at the hospital.  Luckily, there’s always delicious food in the refrigerator and naps to look forward to.   Click on the following link to view highlights from the week:  CYCLE EIGHT VIDEO!

Magic Fridge

Sam and I joke about our refrigerator.  We call it the Magic Fridge.  All we have to do is open up the door and (insert oohh ahhh sound effect when reading) it’s filled with meats, pies, quiche, breads, and endless amounts of cookies!  We really appreciate all of the help with the Magic Fridge contributions.  It makes our life so much easier and it always gives us something to look forward to after being at the hospital all day or coming home from work.  Food, movies, naps, and family time is about all we look forward to these days, so thank you all for adding such a variety of food to our days.

If you live in the 37027 zip code, odds are, we have some sort of plastic container that belongs to you.  In due time, we will get all of the containers back to the rightful owners.  Until then, we’ll spend a majority of our free time wrestling with this cabinet and routinely picking up plastic containers off the floor every single time we open up the cabinet.  Funny thing is, I bet you all have this same problem with your plastic containers and you don’t even have a Magic Fridge!

Off Weeks

We try to keep our off weeks as normal as possible.  It’s not easy.  Sam is usually really tired and we’re restricted on what we can do.  Sam comes with a rule list about a mile long.   Our off weeks usually consist of one or two appointments at the hospital, work, and early bedtimes.  We act like we’re 80 years old.  Honestly, it’s not so bad.  We have an excuse to lay around in our sweatpants, eat at restaurants at 4:30 in the evening, and watch a lot of movies.

This is us!

Sam is getting strong again!  Whoop!  Whoop! 

So it turns out, the doctor was right!  When the surgeon first said that Sam wouldn’t miss his clavicle, we thought she was totally crazy.  It seemed beyond our belief that Sam wouldn’t be impacted at all by missing a big bone.  His progress has been incredible.  When he feels up to it, he works on rehabilitating his shoulder and making it stronger.  The fact that he doesn’t have his right clavicle doesn’t bother him one bit and he should be able to do anything and everything once chemo is over.

I guess all of those extra years of school do pay off!


Here is a short video that shows Sam’s progress.  Sam is able to armpit fart with his right arm and raise the roof.   Click on this link to see the proof:  PROGRESS VIDEO!

Now that I’ve subjected you all to the most absurd video ever, I should thank you.  With such a long week, it’s easy for us to see how this would be impossible without all the help we receive.  You guys make it so that all Sam has to do is show up to the hospital and tolerate chemotherapy as best as he can.  All of you, the doctors, and nurses take care of the rest.  Thank you very much for sending snacks, meals, emails, and cards our way.  This would be a lonely and difficult ride without you.  You Mommas are the best.

Love and gratitude,


Sir Armpit Farts A Lot and Leslie Bledsoe



Halfway finished with chemo after an amazing two weeks off!

Seven Down.  Seven To Go!

We just finished our 7th round of chemotherapy!  We have seven more treatments to go and are making some major headway.  It was hard going back to the hospital after an incredibly fun break, but we’re back and ready to kick this cancer for good.

Sam has been able to heal really well. The key to successful healing from a clavicle removal is lots of love, good food, a visit from Kate, and some video game time.  Theo sat right by Sam throughout his two week video game extravaganza.  Occasionally, Theo felt like Sam wasn’t paying enough attention to him.

Life Post Clavicle Removal

Sam met with a physical therapist this week to work on getting his movement back in his right arm.  I think we’re all surprised with his range of motion and his strength.  Because Sam has restarted chemotherapy, his healing won’t be as quick and easy as it was while he was on a break recovering from the surgery, but we’re all really happy with how much progress he’s made.

We’ve established some goals for his recovery: be able to armpit fart, raise the roof, and most importantly…fit through a tennis racquet!  We’ve hit the armpit fart milestone and we’re working on Sam being able to raise the roof.


Sam’s wound has been covered for most of our break, but here’s a peek at what it looks like.  It’s a pretty big scar.  I told Sam that we should tell people that a shark bit him and Sam thought that we should tell people that he got bit by TWO sharks.

When Sam is wearing a shirt, you can’t really tell that he is missing his right clavicle.  He’s a little asymmetrical, but we think that being asymmetrical rocks and is way more exciting than being a symmetrical rock.

There was a lot of buzz after our last post about whether or not I was eating a barbecue chicken wing or if I had inserted a post-op picture of Sam’s bloody clavicle.  Just to clear the air, it was a picture of me eating Sam’s clavicle.

We realize it was totally gross to post and hopefully his clavicle won’t make many more appearances in the blog.  Check out this picture of two dogs that were playing tug of war outside Vanderbilt Hospital.

Made you look.

Sam’s Prognosis!

The pathologist said that Sam has had a good response to chemotherapy.  This means that he will not need radiation and we’ll continue with chemotherapy as scheduled.  We’re so happy that there is an end in sight to all this madness.  After chemotherapy is finished, Sam will have to be monitored closely and rescanned every eight weeks for the next ten years.  Even though that sounds like a lot, anything will be way easier than it is now.  We’re thrilled that his surgery went so well and are very thankful for all of the wonderful doctors and nurses at Vanderbilt.

Now On To The Fun Stuff…

Our two weeks off were the most fun two weeks we’ve had since the beginning of April.  Sam was definitely in pain from the surgery, but that was easily maintained with medication.  Sam said it best when he said, “There’s a big difference between being hurt and being sick.   I’m just hurt.”  We’re normally confined by a million rules and restrictions, but we had two weeks to kick up our heels, paint the town red, and let our freak flags fly.  We needed this break and enjoyed every minute of it.  We spent most of the time relaxing, hanging out with our families, and eating.

Turn up the volume and watch some highlights from our two week break.

Video Link Click Here:  http://vimeo.com/27981147

I was ecstatic to find out that two clavicles pushed together and rotated make a heart. I think that’s a good sign. Gross but good.

Brothers and Sisters!

Thank you so much for coming to town!  We eagerly look forward to your visits and miss you when you leave.  We greatly appreciate all of the packages, emails, food deliveries, and companionship.  We love you all like crazy.  I think we’ve come a long way since the days of pulling each other’s hair and stealing the last piece of pie and strategically hiding in the bathroom to scarf it down while a furious brother bangs on the door…progress indeed.

To the rest of our families and friends, you are all so awesome and helpful.  Your cards and emails always cheer us up.  I know we say this a lot, but we spend a lot of our time talking about everyone else.  Talking or worrying about cancer is no fun, so we definitely thank you for all of the distractions and encouragement.  You help our parents so much as well.  We love you all and know that we’d be lost without you.

Blog Updates and Email Notifications

We are not entirely sure if we’ll be able to stay on this every other week chemotherapy schedule.  Because of Sam’s white blood cell count, the frequency of the treatments might slow down.  We have seven more rounds to go, but aren’t quite sure when it will all be over or when all of the treatments will happen.  Now that we have a handle on this whole cancer thing, our goal is to make our off weeks as normal as possible.  Yes, we actually look forward to going back to work.

We’re going to update the blog after each round of treatment, which will hopefully be every other week.  If you’d like, click on the Subscribe to Posts link on the top left of this web page.  This will email you when there is a new post.  You’ll receive an email confirming your subscription.  Please open the email and click on the confirmation link.

If that last paragraph sounded way too complicated, don’t worry.  Just email me at:  Leslie.Hackett@gmail.com and we’ll put you on the email subscription list.  If you’re friends with our parents and would like to email them, you can give them your email address and we’ll make sure you get added.

Once again, thank you and we love you all.

With all the thanks in the world,


Sam and Leslie Bledsoe

The Adventure of the Clavicle Excavation and Sam’s Awesomeness!

We Are Home!

We’ve finally made it back home to our soft bed, loving (when not biting) cats, and delicious food!  It has been a draining and exciting couple of days at Vanderbilt Hospital.  The surgery went flawlessly!  It went entirely according to plan; Sam’s right clavicle and the surrounding muscles were removed.  The doctors checked the margins in the operating room to make sure they removed all of the cancer to the best of their ability.  The last few days were emotional, but provided us with a huge sense of relief.

Here’s a picture of Sam right before he was taken to the operating room.  Sam is sporting a lovely but unnecessary hairnet for his surgery.

My two favorite parts about the entire experience was:  1.  Sam choosing to go home from the hospital wearing his hospital gown and 2.  Taping a picture of the beach above our bed immediately after we got home from the hospital.  We’ve had one goal in mind since this whole cancer thing started; get to the beach as soon as treatment is finished.   If we made a movie about the last few days, the trailer would look like this:  Click On Link Below.

The Last Few Days As A Movie Trailer

The coolest part of Sam’s surgery came as a total surprise to us all.  I was called into a conference room to discuss the details of the surgery once Sam was out of the operating room.  Meeting privately with the musculoskeletal oncologist brings back a lot of bad memories.  My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest as I stepped off the elevator.  The surgeon met me with a hug and a smile.  As we proceeded to talk about the surgery she said, “Oh, Sam wanted me to take pictures so I can show you!”  Dr. Halpern whipped out her iPhone and flipped past several pictures of her children and then…BAM…there was a picture of Sam wide open on the operating table and a picture of his clavicle after it had been removed.  The pictures are totally gross.  It would seem rude and inappropriate to post them on the blog.  We will, however, show you a picture of me eating a delicious barbecue chicken wing!

Clavicles are delicious!

We’ve been told for months that we’ll have a much better idea of where we stand after Sam’s surgery.  The doctors will be able to know how effective the chemotherapy has been.  Sam’s barbecue chicken wing has been sent off to a pathologist who will inspect it for cancer.  We’ve waited for months for this information, but have told both of our oncologists not to call us next week with the news.  Sam has an appointment on August 18th to have his stitches removed and we will hear the news then.  We have decided that we will take a vacation from cancer for the next two weeks. Whatever the prognosis is, we can wait.  We want the next two weeks to be as normal as possible and not have our lives revolve around cancer.

Out of the last 100 days, we have spent 42 of them at Vanderbilt Hospital.  We can’t wait to spend the next two weeks avoiding cancer conversations and the hospital.  On a side note, Sam is scheduled to start chemotherapy again on August 23rd.


We’d like to thank everyone for the tremendous support over the last couple of weeks.  From inspiring text messages to a Burger King gift card, you all continue to encourage us daily.  This surgery was a HUGE hurdle.  It’s amazing to hear from all of you and know that you have our backs.  We know how incredibly lucky we are.  We spend our days talking about all of you and how much you help us.

Our cancer-free vacation has officially started. We’ll post again in a couple of weeks and let you know how the healing process has gone and all about the post-surgery news!

We love you all and can never say thank you enough.


Love always,


Sam and Leslie




End of Cycle Six and Surgery Mode!

Sam received chemotherapy all five days last week.  It was definitely exhausting, but I think we have finally figured out how to make this whole cancer thing suck less.  Originally, this experience was off the charts on the Cancer Suck-O-Meter, but we’ve become experts at figuring this whole thing out.

We’re more versed in medications, doctor communication, scheduling, and Sam’s diet.  The five days of treatment went smoothly and we even got another visit from Maddie the therapy dog.  We’re ecstatic about getting a break from chemotherapy for awhile and will not miss going to the infusion center…no offense Maddie.

We’ll spend the next two days at Vanderbilt Hospital (five appointments in two days) going through pre-op, getting scans, and meeting with the oncologist.  Sam will be put through a couple of machines (a sandwich and a taco) and will be poked relentlessly.  Because Sam’s cancer is super aggressive, it’s important for him to get rescanned frequently.  A couple weeks after his surgery, we’ll have a good idea of how much progress he’s made.  I’d like to assume that his scans will be void of anything suspicious and they will look something like this:

Surgery Mode!

We are getting ready for surgery next week!  Sam’s surgery is scheduled for 9:30 am on Wednesday, August 3rd.  The last time we were in the hospital for a few days, we were totally unprepared.  We forgot a cell phone, computer, snacks, and a change of clothes.  In fact, at the beginning of our extended retreat, Sam asked me if I packed any snacks.  I confidently sifted through my backpack only to find a wet bathing suit and a pair of goggles.

We’re ready this time.  We are loaded down with food, have a squeaky clean apartment to come home to, our suitcase will be thoughtfully packed, and the bathing suit is staying at home!

It’s time to say goodbye to Sam’s right clavicle and other surrounding muscles.  It’ll be an adjustment for Sam and he won’t look as symmetrical as he once did, but we can’t wait to get this cancer-infected thing out of his body!  It’ll be a relief to have all of the cancer removed and begin the healing process.  The surgeon tells us that the clavicle is the most dispensable bone in the body.  Sam will not miss it and he’ll also have some funky movement capabilities once he feels better.  He’s convinced that he’ll be able to fit through a tennis racquet.  We will totally put this to the test as soon as we can!

The same doctor that diagnosed Sam (gave us the news that turned our world upside down)

will remove his clavicle and hopefully all the cancer from his body.  Can we get a Whoop Whoop for Dr. Halpern?  WHOOP!  WHOOP!

WARNING:  Giving blood and receiving blood causes big goofy smiles.

More Inspiration To Donate Blood!

You just can’t imagine how much of a difference the blood transfusion made.  Not only did it help Sam feel better instantly, but it also made him stronger for his five consecutive days of chemo.  He felt so good that he insisted that we swing by the grocery store on the way home from the hospital after getting his transfusion.  A steak was on his radar.  He carefully selected the perfect filet.  As we left the grocery store, a pizza also sounded appealing.  We picked up a large pizza with hamburger meat, pepperoni, and sausage.  When we got home, Sam cooked several pieces of bacon and grilled the steak and added to the pizza toppings.

Let’s Review:

If you’re able and are not terrified of needles, please donate blood.  It made an enormous difference in Sam’s energy, happiness, and appetite.

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Every now and then, we check to see where our blog readers live.  This blog is read in 24 states and six other countries.  Apart from the United States, it is read in:



We thank you all for reading this blog.  It’s provided us with an outlet and is a great means of support and communication.

Let’s Hear It For Sam!  Can I Get Another Whoop Whoop For Sam?  WHOOP!  WHOOP!

Sam has endured a lot of bad news and pain over the last three months.  He has never complained or once felt sorry for himself.  He keeps showing up at Vanderbilt Hospital with a good attitude and a smile on his face.  Occasionally during treatment, that smile turns into an open-mouth snore, but you know what I mean.  He is courageous, compassionate, and loving.  He’s been my rock for years and has continued to calm me and lead me through this turbulence.  He deserves all the credit and admiration in the world.  All of you have acted as heroes and saviors and I think we can all agree that Sam is the real Superman.

Audience Participation! 

As we approach a pivotal point in this process, we are reminded of all of the love that helped get us here in a calm (mostly) and positive fashion. To everyone, we wouldn’t be as happy and thankful as we are without you.  Your encouragement helps propel us through each day.   Please feel free to post a comment* (Don’t be shy; If an elephant can do it, so can you.) and wish Sam luck as we turn a page in this cancer-killing book.  We thrive because of YOUR support.  We sincerely thank you all for everything.

*If you’re not sure how to post a comment (cough…Momma Hackett…cough), it’s easy.  At the end of this post, click on the link that says:  Leave a Comment.

Mom, don't click on this one. This is just an example. Click on the link at the end of the post.

We will end this post with our good luck song.  Whether it’s getting through a long night plagued with some of those chemo horror stories proving to be true or trying to lighten the mood while we’re sitting in a chaotic emergency room, we’ve continually sung one song (chorus) to put us at ease.  It goes like this:

You are my sunshine

My only sunshine

You make me happy             

Though our kitty is gray!

We will update the blog towards the end of next week and let you know how the surgery went and how Sam is doing.  Thanks again for all of your support!


With so much love,


Sam and Leslie

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