Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mailia's Miracle in 2011 Brings Hope for Her Cure for Eisenmenger's Syndrome

Greetings dear ones…and Happy New Year on the wonderful eve of 2012. We pray this finds everyone blessed and happy this holiday season and wanted to send each of you a personal note of gratitude for your ongoing support, prayers and love shown to our Mailia and her incredible healing journey and ask…if you have had a chance to read the updates to her blog and story. 2011 was indeed a blessed year for us and Mailia. She has continued to work hard at doing what it takes to be “alive” right now, on this planet. She truly amazes us all.

Our year started out being given the opportunity once again, to look hard and strong at the fact that Mailia’s healing in her lungs from her first stem cell transplant in 2010, had pretty much reached a plateau and she was no longer improving but at least, she was not regressing in her disease and the pulmonary hypertension was not progressively getting worse.

After her Nov. 2010 right heart cath validating her conservative 30% overall improvement and much discussion with her doctors, it was decided that Mailia would definitely benefit from another adult stem cell transplant.

Throughout 2011 Mailia maintained her physical stamina but would occasionally crash and burn when over exerting herself, a constant reminder to Max and I…just how fragile she still was…and is. But she learned to pace herself…and allowing her the benefit of getting out into the fresh air, to go to summer baseball games was giving life to her and affording her freedom and happiness.

Fundraising abound throughout 2011 for Mailia’s Miracle benefit fund…as did an unforeseen donation that came in the form of an “unexpected” turn of events…my being laid off from my job of the last 10 years. With that layoff…came a truly blessed severance package and also, the same day I received my “pink slip” a wonderful manager in my department had stopped by to hand me a monetary “incentive award” for helping her team and projects. All these monies…straight into Mailia’s fund. YES! Thank you God!~ It helps to find the good in everything, does it not?
I found another temporary job that had me bleeding through my ears for 5 hard months but this too, was another blessing to help us financially catapult Mailia closer to her second stem cell treatment.

Then…we got the most awaited news in the fall that Regenocyte was ready to schedule Mailia’s procedure in Florida and the Dominican Republic. They would take what we had raised so far, and allow us to pay back as soon as we could, using the honor system.

Mailia was able to fly by commercial air now, keeping all our fingers and toes crossed, we found a direct flight out of Seattle to Miami and her oxygen provider Lincare, supplying Mailia with a portable oxygen concentrator. Her blood draw was on October 24 and 8 days later, after mobilizing into the Dominican Republic, Mailia had her second adult stem cell transplant, and was able to handle the anesthesia this time, so her three cardiologists, Dr.’s Rosario, Fernandez and Grekos were able to ablate and hold the balloon catheter in place for 3 minutes at a time, to allow her stem cells to "stick" to the walls of her lung vasculature. Unlike last year…where her stem cells had to be delivered “Hale Mary style” because of being much more fragile and sick. See blog post…

Our return to Miami had us scheduled to meet her heart surgeon Dr. Michael Black, who has now a dual role doing surgery both in San Francisco, Ca and now…St. Mary’s in West Palm Beach. On Nov. 4th, Mailia visited with Dr. Black and met another cardiologist on his team, Dr. Emmanouil Tsounias to do some post stem cell exams, echo’s and follow up that went incredibly well. Another blog post…

Now...we are in the holding pattern... Mailia is scheduled for a 3 month follow up on Jan. 25th…which will involve an ECHO to her heart here at home. At 6 months post stem cells or around the end of April 2012, Mailia will then be scheduled to undergo another right heart catherization to measure her lung pressures, this time….possibly back in Florida.

While we are waiting for her stem cells to do their repair work to her lungs we are anxious as all of you to see if this will lower her pulmonary vascular resistance enough to warrant a future repair to her heart defect...a large hole in her lower chamber or VSD which would possibly involve a temp artificial heart (a RVAD) to offload the right ventricle or...a double flap patch with banding of her pulmonary artery per our discussions with her heart surgeon, Dr. Michael Black.

If her pressures are still too high, then we revert back to our Regenocyte team once again, and hope one more round of stem cells will finally take hold and make a difference but this time, we will not wait 15 months between treatments. Come this summer…it will have to either be heart surgery or stem cell transplant. Does this sound urgent? Can we do it once again? Yes we can…with everyone’s help and prayers and our hard work Mailia will get there!

To Mailia’s incredible doctors and their staff…we pray this will be her year and you will be graced with the power of love and hope for it is through your pioneering spirit that Mailia and others lives will be forever changed. Thank you!

This has been a very challenging journey for us all...but we know it is for a higher purpose, and Mailia is definitely an agent of change in this world who will make a big impact to others with her future contributions and incredible story of her miracle journey. She is pioneering this new procedure for us all and we will help so many more in our country and around the world.

Max and I will continue to stay busy working hard to help our sweet Mailia and we continue to be so very grateful especially to all our friends and family who have come forth to help us in so many ways by giving of themselves, their time, their resources, donations, prayers and comfort and being an integral part of Mailia’s Miracle.

We leave you hopefully connecting in 2012 to a message found here…you may recall the starfish story. On the beach where thousands of starfish have been stranded, an old man is throwing them back into the ocean. A young man walking by tells the old man “You can’t possibly make a difference.” As another starfish lands safely back in the sea, the old man replies… “It makes a difference to that one.” And he keeps picking them up and saving them, one by one.

We must be like the old man who is willing to make a difference in someone’s life and to see the opportunity that we have, to save and transform lives. We are honored and thankful you have allowed us to share Mailia’s Miracle with you and your loved ones.

We love you…Max, Andrea, Mailia and SteelDust

Hurricane Rina, Marriot Resort Marco Island Beach Music Festival with Casey Weston a Gift to Mailia's Miracle

Have you ever found yourself at the front door of an incoming Hurricane?  Watching computer models on the news and hurricane center’s web site made for some interesting times while we were sitting tight in Bonita Springs.

October 28th…was a Friday and we decided early that morning to take a drive over to Sanibel and Captiva Islands which are famous in south Florida for having some of the best sea shelling around.  Mailia was forever asking…”can we go to the beach today”?  So today…after getting a raving recommendation from Nancy at Regenocyte to hit the beaches at Sanibel…we loaded up our little rental car with oxygen, snacks…and plenty of towels and bags for our shellacious booty!

Is there such a word...Shellacious?

Oh well…when we left Bonita Springs to head north…it was very overcast and wouldn’t you know it…the rain started as soon as we started across a long causeway heading straight for the Island.  We made a pit stop at a local visitor center and got some directions to an accessible “handicap” beach for Mailia’s wheelchair. 

We did not stay too long, as it was quite apparent the weather was taking a turn for the worse.  We hustled, both Max and I to comb the beach for shells while Mailia sat amused by a little hermit crab who would not give up his residence for anything.

She was in heaven!~

Beachcombing on the verge of a monsoon...

Heading back to our wonderful warm condo…pinching ourselves daily at how blessed and grateful we are to Nahla and her parents for affording us such a wonderful place to stay, we were thrilled to get back to watch the final game 7 of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals…and what a game, that turned out to be…what a finale!

All three of us were rooting for both teams but alas…the Cards took it. Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals! You are a deserving champion and David Freese is a deserving World Series MVP!!!

After the game…we looked out the back patio and could hear and see the downpour from the remnants of Hurricane Rina, and wondered if our plans for tomorrow Friday…would be a total wash. You see, two weeks before we left our home in Pasco, we found out that Casey Weston was to be a feature performer at the Marco Island Beach Music Festival on October 29th…the eve before our departure to the Dominican Republic for Mailia’s stem cell transplant.

Kelly Drouin, the Director of the Alliance…Mailia’s nonprofit, had been given charge by Max, Mailia and I to spearhead any fundraising that we could do, or help her with…during our stay in south Florida. One idea came to see if there would be a way Mailia could participate in the festival by representing the Alliance in some way, but unfortunately, we missed the deadline to have a booth because all their vendor space had already been committed.

In speaking with Jada Shigley who is the Director of Reservations for the Marco Island Marriot Resort and lead for the festival, Kelly and I were able to work on some options for Mailia and when we got word what those options were…we or I should say…Mailia went ballistic with excitement and happiness!~

After reading and hearing about Mailia’s story and journey, it was like the Make-A-Wish troops fell into place at the Marriot Resort, only it was Jada and her staff…that made this wish for Mailia, to see Casey Weston…a reality and a dream come true. She and the Marriot Resort gifted Mailia a beautiful Penthouse suite overlooking the event!

Friday morning came…the sun was out and not a cloud in the sky….but boy howdy, the pond in the back of the condo had rose over a foot from the deluge of Rina. We had heard on the news that morning that Naples had gotten over 4 inches of rain which constituted a lot of flooding for Collier County.

No matter…we had our sights set on packing our bags and readying ourselves for our departure that afternoon to Marco Island, a beautiful drive and a gorgeous part of the gulf and southern Florida….and extremely relieved that we would be out of harms way now, with no worries about the storm vying for the Caribbean or the Dominican Republic. Another thanks, to God and our guardian angels for continued protection on our journey. A truly humbling time for us.

We found the Marriot and checked in to our suite, not before taking a taste of French desserts being flambe’ed and crafted by a wonderful chef…down in the lobby. We looked for Jada but she was busy putting out fires as you would not believe the condition she found the beach and stage front that morning.  She was frantic…thinking how in the world would they be able to pull off the event with so much water and flooding from the night before. 
Another miracle in the making…she and her staff did a remarkable job and by afternoon…the beach was impeccable and ready for people to rock!~

Jada sent us these before pictures…and we snapped the after ones for you to compare…now tell me God shows no mercy. This truly humbled us…

Before photos above...Saturday morning and Below...just a few hours later...Transformation!~

The Princess charriot arrives....
We got Mailia into her wheelchair and proceeded down to the beach area where we found we could “exchange” her conventional wheelchair for a “Beach Ready” wheelchair so we could push her easily along the beach.  We were all so very fascinated by the beauty of this incredibly gorgeous area…white sandy beaches, sea shells everywhere, birds…hundreds of birds and oh the beautiful horizon and setting sun that afternoon, right after a hurricane or tropical depression is one to behold.

More gratitude and love…what can I say.  We were so relieved in knowing that Mailia was going to be okay now.  We learned to have so much faith and trust…and to just get out of the way!~
We found an beachside bistro, Quinn’s right adjacent to the stage and were graciously seated right to the side of the stage where Mailia could watch for Casey Weston who would be performing shortly. By this time we were starving and decided to order dinner while waiting for Kelly Drouin to come join us. Yum…tropical island food, breathtaking ocean views and sunset.

How Mailia came to know and admire Casey Weston was also through an unusual turn of events. You see, Greg Finely from Regenocyte had asked us last summer to please go online and vote for Casey who was in a competition on The Voice reality TV show. We did…and also were adamant to come to Casey’s defense when we heard some folks not liking the choice of song she had chosen to perform on the Voice… “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”. Please click on this as it will take you to the video we created for both Mailia and Casey…one we hope you will like and share.

So hence…the connection.  Our dinner came…as did Kelly and we were all enthralled with seeing Casey up on stage…the acoustics and view…perfect!
I excused myself and went to go up towards the front of the stage so I could get some pictures of Casey for Mailia. Lots of pictures and some video but then came the cool and gutsy gal sitting next to us, Kelly…getting up out of her chair, with half a taco crammed in her mouth saying…I will be right back, I am going to go get some things for Mailia!
And boy did she!~ She went to the table where Casey was sitting with her mom Toni, signing autographs on her CD’s and posters and told her Mailia was here and wanted to know if she could see her. Casey without batting an eye…excused herself from her fans as Kelly grabbed her arm and lead the way to find Mailia.

Mailia and Casey met and hugged and had so much love to exchange…the energy between the two was miraculous and so very healing.  Can’t quite compare Casey to Winter and Panama the dolphins from Mailia’s encounter…but she comes pretty darn close!

Casey gave Mailia a copy of her first CD, Casey Weston and two beautiful posters Mailia now treasures.  Casey…thank you so much sweetie, you have filled Mailia’s heart with so much happiness and joy with your love and generosity.  We look forward to seeing you do great things and above all…being happy in your chosen path.  Mailia will see you again…this we are sure of!
Nine o’clock was cut-off time for Mailia…we could tell she was getting a little tired and we still had to get her back to the room where she could shower and get ready for a good nights rest, for we would need to be up by 4a.m. and out the front door of the Marriot by 5a.m. so as to make our noon flight in Miami to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Max stayed to watch the Landsharks perform, a band like the Beach Boys only more Caribbean and Jimmy Buffet style, also the fireworks off of the beach which Mailia and I missed.  No problem, Mailia collapsed from exhaustion in a beautiful bed and I took advantage of a nice hot Jacuzzi bath…there was no way I was just going to look at it…well…would you?

We were so very grateful and appreciative of this incredible gift given to Mailia this day. If you ever find yourselves in south Florida…you must visit the Marco Island Marriot Resort. I know we will be back some day…it is truly paradise!...

Thank you Jada…thank you Kelly, and thank you Casey. An amazing experience…so far, Mailia is batting a 100 on this journey…now if Max and I can just relax and not worry about her and her upcoming stem cell transplant , life would be great!~

Next blog post…Mailia’s stay and procedure in the Dominican Republic.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dolphin Therapy from Dolphin Tale's Miracle Dolphins Winter and Panama Help Contribute to Mailia's Miracle and Healing During Her Adult Stem Cell Journey

                    ...Dolphins:  Messages and Meanings: breath work, altruism, playfullness, exploration

Our fifth day, Wednesday morning we set out in our little rental car, oxygen and wheelchair in tow…to take Mailia to see the animals and fish at the Clearwater Florida Marine Aquarium.  She was so very excited to finally get to meet the star of the movie we had long heard about, Winter…of “Dolphin Tale” and to learn more about Winter and her story.

We had just taken Mailia to see this movie the other day…and had time to go onto the Clearwater Aquarium’s web site where we found so much information and a listing of different activities she could participate in.
We made our reservations on-line that morning, got our entry tickets and also, a chance for Mailia to have a Dolphin encounter. So many incredible things happen from children and adults, communicating, touching and connecting with these incredible animals or so we have read, can happen. I figured why not. The movie had such a spiritual and heartfelt impact on Mailia and she has such a passion and love for animals both virtually and in the wild.
Our trip took a little over two hours and we found the Aquarium thanks in part to Google Maps and directions and Max’s wonderful driving and my co-piloting skills or backseat driver as Max fondly refers to me. I will still say…Florida drivers who are not snow birds will definitely getcha if you do not keep up flying down the interstate.
We parked…got our belongings and necessities and Mailia’s wheelchair and headed in for our adventure. No sooner we get in through the gate, a wonderful volunteer approached Mailia to show her a real copy of the prosthetic tail, complete with the entire mechanism and sleeve as soft and subtle as silicone gel. This really complemented the movie…for it was this same device that was finally used and not rejected by Winter…in order to have and maintain her physical therapy.

We then stopped to visit the first exhibit containing two sister nurse sharks named Thelma and Louise, and many other fish and rays in their watery world.  Then it was off to find Winter, where we found her swimming alone without her prosthetic tail in a very large tank that you could see from below…or up above the surface.

Moving through this incredible maze, Mailia also got to see many sea turtles and river otters that were permanent residents of this working hospital and rehab center.

 As we wheeled her around, we came to an outdoor tank that houses one of the newest additions to the center, a young juvenile dolphin by the name of Hope. We captured a couple of photos with her story which was so heart wrenching.

Then it was a male dolphin that attracted our attention, the amazing Nicholas captured in a video we will try to post here later.

After this exhibit, it was Mailia’s turn to have her dolphin encounter…with a female dolphin by the name of “Panama”…a roommate to Winter.  I positioned myself across the tank enclosure so to capture photos of Mailia…all the while holding my breath and praying she would be okay…walking out on a narrow platform, with her oxygen concentrator.  She cleaned her hands with hand sanitizer and away she went…smiling ever so brightly.
Max stayed close to her…and let the trainers know we were there should the need arise.  Nope…these incredible dolphins knew the drill.  This dolphin Panama…was actually deaf…and could not hear.  Only hand signals…but I still wonder if she could sense Mailia’s fragility as she was intent on making a connection with her and the little boy next to Mailia.

Mailia showed such enthusiasm and excitement the entire time…she listened to the trainer’s instructions…asked questions and participated giving hand signals and commands to Panama…and rewarding her with treats of fish.  In trying to describe this dolphins healing presence, for Mailia…this was such an incredible energetic exchange that we witnessed.  Panama’s energy caused Mailia to come away so emotionally lifted and happy.  I have read where dolphins can be biologically drawn to imbalances they sense in the human body and are innately driven to “fix” us.  Are they kindred souls, as some have described, joining in the healing ritual through an altruistic desire “to help”…or are they both?  I think the truth of the matter is…only the dolphin knows.

What I will say…is something very special happened to Mailia that day. She came away from this experience totally changed on a cellular level. We were anxious to see, how her upcoming stem cell transplant would play out after this. Not if, but when we get back to Florida for her next procedure, I think Max and I will do whatever it takes, to get Mailia into another dolphin encounter prior to her next procedure. All she could say was…wow…this is the most incredible thing I have ever felt or experienced. Thank you mom and dad…thank you!...

See the movie…be touched by the story. And don’t be afraid to dream and act on what is possible. And if you are ever in Florida...go visit these incredibly loving dolphins who are cared for by the wonderful and inspiring staff and volunteers at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Love, our gratitude and blessings…

The Goforth’s

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mailia's Second Adult Stem Cell Blood Draw at Regenocyte Clinic a Huge Success!

                Mailia and Dr. Zannos Grekos day of Blood Draw

October 24th…2011 landed us that Monday morning at the Regenocyte clinic in Bonita Springs, a convenient 2 block distance from our temporary residence. We were greeted by everyone and settled ourselves in, to ready Mailia for her blood draw, which would be drawn from a femoral pic through her right side/groin area ( A preference by us..since her arms do not generously give up blood so easily) so why traumatize her with Rosie the Riveter?

Same as last year, the only difference was that Mailia knew the drill now, and was not so nervous or anxious about this. She relaxed…started her breath work and chatted and laughed with everyone.

The Regenocyte staff were a little disappointed that her little service dog, “Steel Dust” did not accompany her this trip…she had to leave him back home this time but brought a substitute, a beautiful little Blue Merle Australian Shepherd with blue eyes…the spitting image of her little Steel Dust who she acquired through the WebKinz web site. Yes…he is a “stuffed” toy.

No matter, he brought Mailia much needed support and comfort and she borrowed SteelDusts “Service Dog Vest” and identification to play the part.

                              Here comes the Poke!

Mailia was later readied into a gown, and hooked up to a heart monitor. I followed her oxygen saturation levels which were in the low to mid 80’s on her standard 5 lpm of oxygen. Her two nurses, prepped the site of her femoral pic, after which Dr. Grekos gently guided the needle into place, and filling the standard 250 cc bag from which Mailia’s adult stem cells, would be derived.

                   Mailia's beautiful blood for her stemmies

The courier arrived to pick up Mailia’s and another patient’s blood which was hand couriered to a special biological laboratory in Israel where her stem cells will be activated and multiplied using naturally occurring growth factors. In this process of activation, Mailia’s new stem cells are customized for the purpose of which she is being treated for…her lung vasculature…i.e. Pulmonary Hypertension. They will regenerate lung vasculature…and help her build new blood vessels throughout her lungs.

                   Regenocyte's timely and wonderful courier

This process will take aprox 8 days from today so we will spend the next few days, getting Mailia relaxed, happy and healthy for the next leg of her journey which involves mobilizing into Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic for her actual adult stem cell transplant with the Dominican Regenocyte team.

                       Dr. Grekos, Mailia & Greg Finley
After Mailia’s blood draw was completed…we got her up and ready to leave the office to head out to get her some lunch and replenish her iron levels. Her uncle Greg Finley joined us as we drove north to have lunch at Ted’s place (Ted Turner) where you can find the best all natural buffalo burgers. Mailia…had a beautiful chicken salad instead.

The following day Tuesday, we were scheduled to bring Mailia back into Regenocyte for an ECHO and further discussion with Dr. Grekos about Mailia’s procedure and where we would go from here. Her right ventricle looked very good and Dr. Grekos was very pleased with her overall heart function.

Our expectations are to see Mailia’s pulmonary pressures come down further and her energy level improve equal to or better than last year. Will this be low enough for surgical repair being afforded her?...that, time will tell and if not, then another course of stem cells, her third…would not be out of the question.

In the interim…we continue to give Mailia a balanced regime of supplementation we have found will complement her stem cell therapy…and she will keep up with her breath work, Pranayama.

Tomorrow…she is delighted and happy to know we will be taking her to see Winter…from Dolphin Tale. If the day is anything like the movie…she will be so very happy and at peace.

Thank you for being a part of Mailia's continued journey towards her miracle.  Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers for her successful transplant next week.

All our gratitude and blessings!

Andrea, Max and Mailia

Florida Bound for Mailia's Miracle 2nd Adult Stem Cell Transplant

She did it! We stressed for months, both Max and I whether or not Mailia would be capable of flying to Florida this time instead of taking the long road trip like last year in order to keep her closer to sea level because of her lung pressures being so very high.

We trusted our Mailia...knowing how much stronger and more energetic she became from her first round of adult stem cells (see May/June 2010 blog entries) that yes, quite possibly she would be able to tolerate a 5 hour flight with supplemental oxygen and her new found Power of Breath or Pranayam technique.

So after a lot of prayer, consulting between doctors and physical therapists and much discernment we decided to go forth with plans to fly Mailia...this time and oh, are we so glad she did.

Mailia's wonderful grandparents, John and Janet Goforth came to spend the last couple weeks with us helping us all get ready with many honey do's and last minute details prior to our trip. They also graciously gave us a donation to help offset some of Mailia's stem cell procedure costs, to her non profit The Alliance for the Advancement of Adult Stem Cell Therapy and Research, for which we are so grateful.

The night before we left on October 20, our local Tri Cities Dust Devil’s baseball organization held a World Series opener party which became Mailia’s official send off party. It was an exciting time and event for Mailia, one she will cherish and remember always. Our thanks to the Dust Devils management team…for an incredible year.

We landed in Florida on Friday October 21th, so very tired and exhausted from our late night/early morning flight, straight to claim our baggage and find our rental car with such a great relief. We managed to find our way out of the maze of streets surrounding Miami International and Max promptly got us headed west along Alligator Alley…or I-75 west heading for our destination of Bonita Springs. A quick stop to our favorite little restaurant chain in the South and Mid-West, Cracker Barrel restaurant…for a good breakfast and new Webkinz for Mailia, a polar bear she named Knut, after the famous polar bear from Germany.

Upon our arrival in Bonita Springs, we were instructed to visit the Regenocyte office to pick up a key to the condo where we would be staying. You see…our dear friend Nahla Abbo, who is Cal’s mom…who you have heard us reference in previous posts being so very connected to Mailia as they share a similar journey, so graciously offered us her parents condo so we could stay rent free…helping us out immensely!

We were all greeted at Regenocyte…despite our exhaustion and gaminess with open arms, hugs and smiles. They were so very thrilled to see Mailia again, gave us a bottle of oxygen to tie Mailia over as the batteries in Mailia’s oxygen concentrator were all coming to an end. Max and Kelly Drouin from the Alliance, ran and fetched an oxygen concentrator from the Naples Lincare oxygen service provider, and she was all set up with a permanent source for oxygen.

Bear in mind…for those that might read this who will at some point, consider traveling with a portable oxygen concentrator, Mailia had a unit while traveling to and from the airports, and while in flight only between Seattle and Miami…a direct 5 hour flight, a unit called a Respironics concentrator. It delivers up to 6 lpm but only by pulse…not constant flow which is what she is used to.

Mailia had a week to practice with this unit while using it at home. It worked well…along with her breath work, the only problem we had while in flight was when Mailia dozed off, and went to mouth breathing. Then…I would have to wake her, giving her the elbow and drill to breathe through her nose. Her sats dropped a little while in flight…but then again, so did mine and Max’s.

We made sure that Mailia was well hydrated before and during our flight and that she moved her legs and extremities enough so to avert possible complications with any DVT. She knew what to do instinctively and told her dad and I…not to worry, she was good to go!

Back to the condo where we were staying in Bonita Springs…that evening after resting up and unpacking, we went out to grab a bite for dinner. We decided on Outback steakhouse as Mailia had a hankering for a salad and shrimp. Mailia made a friend last year who she met at our stay at the Trianon Hotel here in Bonita Springs for her first stem cell transplant, a beautiful young woman by the name of Dana Foster who also works at Outback. Imagine our surprise, when Dana saw Mailia…and the two, got to greet and meet for a second time…incredible and heartwarming that these two souls would reconnect with each other. We are grateful to Dana for staying in touch with Mailia…this past year, as her friendship has meant so very much to her.

Arriving here Friday, we had the weekend to just relax and give Mailia some much needed rest before her blood draw on Monday. We made a few trips to the grocery store to stock up on food for our meals so not to each out as much thanks to Nahla’s folks condo’s beautiful kitchen. We also procured a juicer so Mailia could continue her daily cabbage juice routine…an important source of Glutamine to help avert lung bleeds…(really works)!

The baseball World Series was also on…and we watched with great anticipation, the head to head matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. Mailia of course, rooting for both teams.

That Saturday…we had to go procure a replacement modem for our laptop as the one we had, which was an external thumb drive, accidently broke. After leaving Bestbuy…we found a movie theater nearby recommended by Kelly called the Spotlight…and decided to take Mailia to see the movie she had been wanting to see called “Dolphin Tale”.

The theater was unlike any we have ever seen or experienced. Internal restaurant and bar…instead of snack bar. Huge plush high back leather soft seats and 3-D viewing. We opted for lemonade and popcorn. The movie…was incredible. I cried and cried…throughout. This movies story hits close to home. A broken dolphin, broken humans…a broken business. Sound familiar?...well, it was.

When we returned back to the condo, Max told Mailia how very proud he was of her and her unbelievable will and courage, especially during our flight and trip. The movie…impacted and moved Max and I deeply. Mailia asked…if we could take her to see Winter, the dolphin from the movie that resides at the Clearwater aquarium near Tampa. We said…of course without batting an eye not knowing how life changing this experience would be for her…and us.

All I can say is that it is a movie and story worth seeing. Mailia did…and is so very happy and grateful. Maybe Wednesday, after Mailia’s blood draw, we will make the journey north to see Winter and the animals at the aquarium. For now, rest and relaxation for Mailia. Did I mention how she has befriended a little moorhen duck she has fondly named “Stanley” out in the back yard pond of the condo? We leave you with this picture she took of him. What a beautiful bird!

Love and blessings…

The Goforth’s