In the fall of 2009, the Flaa family had recently arrived at home to the Twin Cities after spending several years in South Dakota and Ohio. We were happy to be closer to family and adjusting to new schools, sports and other activities. Our kids Anders and Hannah, proved to be very good at making new friends and fitting in. Our biggest worries were work, winter approaching and an occasional 3 1/2 hour drive to Fargo to visit grandparents and cousins. Normal family stuff.
Anders, who was 12 at the time, had a history of sinus issues and had tubes put into his ears when he was younger. When he started getting headaches around the first part of December 2009, it wasn't unusual and we took him to see his pediatrician who prescribed antibiotics. After a week, when the headaches persisted, the doctor ordered an MRI. We clearly remember sitting in the waiting room that day, having a cordless phone handed to us, and being told by our pediatrician that our boy had a brain tumor. 4 days later Anders was at the University of Minnesota Hospital undergoing brain surgery to remove the tumor, which tests soon showed it was cancerous. After surgery, Anders underwent radiation and oral chemotherapy in the spring of 2010, followed by a very successful summer and fall of baseball. The disease reappeared in October 2010 and since then, Anders has received monthly infusions of chemotherapy, which required a 4 day hospital stay and two days in surgery to place the drugs in the precise part of the brain where they can attack the cancer. This treatment known as blood-brain barrier disruption has taken a toll on Anders physically, so we are happy to be down to our final two treatments over the next couple of months. The next step is yet to be determined, but his doctors are hopeful and optimistic about several options.
Anders has always been the best possible son parents could ask for, a caring and patient big brother, a supportive, encouraging teammate on the field and court, the pride and joy of his Grandparents, our unanswered question to this day is "Why Anders"? We've been blessed in so many ways throughout the process. He was diagnosed after we moved closer to home and we have a world-class team of doctors who are on the leading edge of research finding new ways to beat this disease - but we still have to ask, why Anders - why anybody?
We believe in, and love Jesus, we have had amazing support from our family, friends and neighbors. Anders has been a rock and an example of strength in the face of this adversity. All of these things give us hope and strength to fight every day to beat this and learn.
Morgan Dawn “Pookie” Kolling was born on June 13, 2001 in Fargo at Meritcare hospital. She was welcomed into the family by her mother Angela, father Joe and big brother Andrew. On April 22, 2008 just a few months before her seventh birthday Morgan was brought to the hospital by her mom and dad for an acute onset of dizziness and vomiting. She had been hit in the head with a toy while playing at a friend’s house over the weekend and we wanted to rule out a concussion or a bleed. This is the day that our world was turn upside down. We were informed the Morgan had a brain tumor and they were sure that it was a form of cancer known as Medulloblastoma. Morgan underwent a craniotomy (brain surgery), several rounds of chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, 31 treatments of radiation, hickman lines, feeding tubes, sleepless nights in the hospitals and countless number of pills. She took treatment on like she took on the rest of life; she did it with a smile on her face. Morgan completed her treatment on October 20, 2008 and was ready to start enjoying life again and being back in school with her friends.
During the April flood of 2009 we started to notice some of the old signs back again and brought her in to the doctor. At first it was thought that the balance issues were brought on from treatment and that she might be suffering from depression. The following week on April 14th we brought Morgan back to the hospital as she was not able to walk, it was this day that we were informed that she relapsed and the cancer had spread into her spine. Morgan was set to leave in one week for her Make A Wish trip to Florida. The doctors gave her permission to go on the trip and to enjoy it to the fullest. Of course it was not the trip she had planned as she was to be running and picking each and every ride she wanted to go on but thanks to the cancer in her spine she was now in a wheelchair and not able to walk. She still made it to all the parks and to the beach, but due to the pain that she was in she had to pass on a lot of the things that she wanted to do. Morgan still made sure that she had a good time on the trip and lived by her motto to Live Laugh and Love. She made sure to remind us every day that life was worth living and to not take it for granted. It was in Florida that Morgan began drawing pictures in hopes to raise money for the Make a Wish foundation of North Dakota. Thanks to her teachers in the Kindred School they turned her pictures into greeting cards and helped her sell them as a fundraiser as well. Morgan’s dream was to make sure that other kids were able to have their wishes fulfilled as well. To date with Morgan’s vision and the help of friends and family over 20,000 dollars has been raised and three wishes were able to be granted. Morgan passed away in her home on June 22, 2009 just 9 days after her eighth birthday surrounded by her family. Cancer may have taken Morgan’s life, but cancer never beat Morgan. She will be forever loved and missed by her family and friends.