Friday, May 16, 2014

Typical East Coast Philly Pholks....

We all know the stereotype of "East Coasters"... brash, blunt, loud... know...the East Coast "attitude" as portrayed on The Desperate Housewives of New Jersey and Jersey Shore.

They are rough and tough and "taulk about drinking caufee" all the time.

I'm a midwesterner...born and raised. I'm not a city girl. I grew up in the country with wide open spaces, beautiful sunsets, horses, and at least half mile before reaching another neighbor.

We've been traveling back and forth between Kansas City and Philly for over 5 years for our son's cancer treatment. He's nine now and we are just wrapping up a 2 month long stay in the city.

I'm used to everyone making eye contact, smiling, and saying hello to everyone we walk the grocery store, mall, walking in the neighborhood, everywhere.

It's not like that in the city...

(city folks are laughing out loud right now in acknowledgment)

I'm a simple country the life of a city mouse...

...with a 9 year old who is bald and wears a big pink mask to protect him from germs after a bone marrow transplant that has left him very immunosuppressed. It's quite a sight and attracts the stares of even seasoned city folks.

But while we've been here, we have learned a lot about you East Coasters, specifically the Philly Pholks with their bad ass, rough and tumble reputation.

Yes, East Coasters are direct...and blunt, (my people!! truly the yin to my yang!)

....but they are also

(they'll really dislike this word)...


Let me tell you about a few things these Easter Coasters have done while we have been here.

There was one family who drove for about 2.5 hours to the hospital to surprise us with two huge baskets of goodies for us as a random act of kindness in celebration of a friend we have in common who would have been 41 that day. I was speechless.

Everyone at the hospital was delightful and the nurses (and some of the doctors) played basketball with Braden using the hoop we hung on his door. The child life specialist played with Braden each and every day and she even made him an official CHOP "Dr. Braden" badge. When he was dismissed, they gave him a stethoscope.

Left to right, our Neuroblastoma APN, Jennifer, Braden, our MDS APN Anne, and Dr. Olson our transplant doctor.

Rebecca...the child life specialist who played with Braden every day...we LOVE her!

Dr. Braden cleaning the baby's tubies.

When we were dismissed from the hospital and had to get a hotel to stay in for nearly a month several local foundations got together and paid for all of it. Each foundation paid for a week of our lodging and that was well over $4,000. I didn't ask any of them, one foundation called the hospital and offered and then asked a fellow foundation to join in. Unimaginable!

Ali and Joe McDonough from the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation
Local people have reached out to bring things to us that we can't have delivered, like Braden's special yogurt and crackers. A sweet young lady even offered to drive 40 minutes one way to bring us fans when the air conditioning in the hotel went out. And one of my friend's best friends worked at the hospital and she stopped in to bring hugs, best present ever!

And a visit from my nephew and niece so I could give them hugs and meet my new baby great nephew, Carson! They've been living in Delaware for about a year and I have missed them terribly!! Isn't Carson BEAUTIFUL?? I know I'm biased...but those cheeks!!

The staff at the hotel we are staying in has been lovely to us. One of the housekeeping ladies we adore saw that I liked hot tea so she brought a beautiful tin of Chinese hot tea for me. Braden always blows her kisses and says hello to all of the folks working each time we go through the door. And they always ask him how he is doing.

It has been shocking how many people we pass in the streets stare (that's the norm) and then smile and say "Hi" to the bald little boy (which is NOT the norm)

Just yesterday, one of the men working at a sidewalk cafe outside Comcast Center was talking to Braden from across a fountain and asked him if he would like a fresh cinnamon roll.  And the police officers patrolling the streets always stop in their steps to say hello to Braden. (I thought they were supposed to be a especially tough bunch). Hmmmm....

The guys running the backhoe outside of the hotel digging some sort of trench for new pipes stop and say hello so they can talk "backhoe stuff" with Braden every time we go past them each day. Kind construction guys? That doesn't seem very East Coast.

A Kansas City friend called a friend who works with the 76'ers and they invited Braden out to the practice facility to play basketball. That's his love...his favorite thing to do in the entire world. And he got to shoot hoops with Greg Foster and some other coaches, he got to sit in the head coach's desk chair. Braden even played a game of "base-ketball". They made it up using one of the pads they use to block in practice and a basketball. It was awesome!


We are now officially the biggest Sixers fans in history, FOREVER! 

Then one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met, Mary, even drove us back to the hotel so we didn't have to get another germy cab. WOW!

There is no way to express how excited Braden was about that hour spent with the Sixers!! Truly a dream beyond our wildest imagination!

On our walk yesterday, we saw a HUGE ladder firetruck outside the Courthouse near Logan Square and Braden was flipping out. We stopped to take a picture and the fireman who was in the back part of the truck near the ladder asked if he wanted to get inside the firetruck.

I quickly threw his mask on and they lifted him up to the main cab...and he got to honk the big horn. Yet another group that was not ranking so high on the "tough guy" scale.

As we walked away, we passed a group of homeless people who are often outside the court house. We pass them every day.  Seeing homeless people in Philly is, sadly, not unusual. The city is filled with people on the streets trying to survive. We generally just try to walk past but Braden is a social dude and always wants to say hello.

We walked past three men sitting near each other under a tree and the man in the middle yelled, "HEY!! SHORTY!!! HELLO!"  We slowed, waved, smiled, said hello, and kept walking...

and he then yelled,



A homeless man yelling "God bless you little man" to a bald 9 year old.

I cried...right there on the sidewalk in front of all of them and only narrowly managed to eek out the words, "God bless you!"

You Philly Pholks aren't nearly as tough and hardened as you want your reputation to be,

and I'm here to rat you out.

You are (take a deep breath and brace yourselves)...


In about 48 hours we are leaving Philly and heading back home after 2 months of city life.  Leaving with a little boy who feels well and has baby sprouts of hair and, to date, no sign of cancer.

Home to our friends who have been madly supportive, kind, loving and amazing for the 6.5 years we have been battling. Friends who were kind enough to send flowers to brighten our day, a box of Easter goodies for Braden (and me) and a Mother's Day package filled with cards and a big surprise, countless texts, posts, and messages. They have even sent wine and vodka. BOOM BABY! Man I am one blessed lady to have such amazing friends! :)

Heading home to daddy, big brother Zach (who donated his bone marrow to try to save his little brother),

our beta fish and kitty.

Home to our own beds, courtesy of a wonderful Kansas City businessman who is flying us home on his corporate jet because Braden cannot fly on a commercial airline right now due to the immunosuppression. Unreal!

Home...the most beautiful four letter word in the universe.

But we are leaving a place that feels a lot like home.

Thank you Philly! We will be back. In the meantime, we will miss you.

And we thank you for being so....


(get used to it...I'm going to keep using that four letter word to describe all of you "bad ass" Philly people) :)

You are beautiful!