December 2000 Updates on

Mary Beth


The following page contains updates regarding Mary Beth's progress for December of 2000.

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November / January - 01

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Mary Beth attended school last week on Tuesday and Wednesday.  On Wednesday morning she was nauseous at breakfast but wanted to go to school anyway.  She felt better as the day went on and even had nachos for lunch.  Two full consecutive days proved to be too much for her stamina though, so she stayed home on Thursday.  She went back on Friday and is working at home today.

On Friday evening, she had her friend Nellie LaVigne over to hang out and help keep an eye on William.  On Saturday, she paid a visit to the math contest that Barbie and Heidi were attending then shopped with her sisters and Sheila.  She went to dinner with Grandma and Grandpa Kriegshauser then watched our beloved KSU Wildcats go down to defeat in the Big XII championship game.

On Sunday, she joined the family at Pillar for the baptism of ZoŽ Mullinex and the subsequent celebration.  Afterward she attended the Christmas party sponsored by Operation Liftoff then returned home for more homework.  She wasn't feeling up to par last night or this morning, so she is working at home today.  She wants to feel better by her birthday on Thursday so she can have a better celebration than last year.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support.

God bless you,


Happy 15th Birthday Mary Beth!

We Love You!


Mary Beth spent her 15th birthday by attending school all day, then dining at home and visiting "Winter Wonderland" at Tillis Park.  She wanted a relatively low key celebration because it has been a very exhausting week.  She has had a bug that has been with her all week and spent Wednesday in clinic getting an IV blood booster.  This week also saw Mary Beth work extra hard in an attempt to catch up on her scholastic backlog.

She has been feeling nauseous off and on all week and gets tired easily.  Despite feeling uncomfortable all week, she has attended school and dined with Uncle Jeff and Nate on Wednesday, Uncle Jeff's birthday.  Tonight, she had a reunion of sorts with her eighth grade classmates at Billy Hyde's house and had a great time.

Her weekend plans include catching up on her homework.  Thank you all for your continued prayers and support.

God bless you,


During the past four days, Mary Beth has been focusing on catching up on her education but also managed an appearance at the HIS KIDS Christmas party on Sunday and had a great time.  During this time, she has continued to experience nausea and has coughed quite a lot.  Today, her nausea escalated to the point of her leaving school to visit the clinic for examination.  There was a bright spot of her visit when Scott Young, Dallas Drake, Alexander Khavanov, and Vladimir Chebaturkin of the St Louis Blues came by to visit and provided her with an autographed Blues t-shirt.

She had a complete physical exam and was thoroughly tested from a neurological perspective.  Her blood counts were good and her strength has increased dramatically during the past few weeks.  There were no outward signs of any problems but Dr. Shenoy requested an MRI for this evening.  She had a complete scan of her brain and upper and lower spine.  This was done as a precaution to assure there exists no new cancer cells.  We will be advised of the results of the MRI tomorrow and expect to hear good news.  As you read this, we ask you to join us in prayer to ask the Lord's blessing for positive results.

We want to express our continued gratitude to each of you for your outpouring of loving support and prayer as Mary Beth continues to strive to become a normal teenager again.

Thank you and God bless you,


If there has been a more important time for praying in the year long struggle against cancer for Mary Beth, it is today.  We just heard that the results of her MRI from last night show there is more cancer on Mary Beth's spine.

Mary Beth, Sheila, and I are going to the hospital at noon today to speak with Dr. Shenoy to find out what our options are.  Please pray to our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and all the angels and saints to grant us success in our latest development.

We appreciate it more than you can possibly imagine.

Thank you and God bless you,


God works in mysterious ways.  It was just a few short weeks ago when we were rejoicing with the good news of ridding Mary Beth's body of the dreaded disease.  Today, we are facing the toughest challenge of our lives.  When we met with Dr. Shenoy today, we learned that the cancer is back with a vengeance.  It has spread throughout her lower spine and is on the meningis of her brain in patches.

Mary Beth has been put on a daily chemotherapy drug by pill.  This drug is intended to slow the growth of her cancer, not to cure it.  At this point, all possible treatments have been examined and applied to her.  If it is God's will, a miracle is truly necessary to cure Mary Beth.

We are praying that God continues to bless us with all of the support we continue to experience from all of you.  We will be making Mary Beth's wish trip to Steamboat Springs, CO this weekend.

Thank you and God bless you,


It has always been difficult for me to verbalize my feelings when it comes to the misfortune of others, so don't feel bad if you don't know what to say to us.  Just knowing you care is the greatest gift we could dream of.  I imagine that you don't know a more emotional person than me.  So, when you speak with me and I immediately get choked up and cry, please know that I am so touched by the outpouring of love you are showing that I can't speak.

None of us know how much time we will spend on earth with our family and friends.  We do know that each moment that we have with each other is truly a gift from God before he calls for us.  We should never underestimate any of God's gifts and strive to never take them for granted.  I have always tried to live the philosophy that "Every Day is a Holiday" and have instilled this belief on our family.  Some days are more fun than others (like yesterday) but each one is God's gift of a new holiday for all of us.  We didn't laugh very much yesterday, but we are laughing again today.  If anyone would like to visit us, the welcome mat is always here, although it may currently be covered with snow!

Please enjoy your time with family and friends and verbalize your feelings to those you love.  We love you all and appreciate your faith.

Thank you and God bless you,


We got to bed at 1:00 AM this morning from a wonderful trip to Steamboat Springs, CO so we are all a little tired, but very energized.  We were there with the entire Kriegshauser immediate family and MB's best friend from KC, Elizabeth Gelpi, so wherever Mary Beth went, she had an entourage of 26 people.  It looked like a professional prize fighter was in town.  On our travels, we met Senator John Ashcroft, the Bronco's Bill Romanowski, Olympian Billy Kidd, and Most Reverend Archbishop Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver.  We had a nice visit with the Archbishop as he flew with us from Denver to Steamboat.  He informed us that he was knew our cousin, Bishop David Ricken of the diocese of Cheyenne and has responsibility for him.  We wished the Archbishop the best since Bishop Ricken is related to Grandpa Willie.

Before we left, several of our friends asked if we were traveling to Lourdes.  We informed them that we were going to Steamboat.  When we checked into the condo and read the guest book, we learned that the name of the owners is "Lourdes".  We believe this a true sign for us.  Mary Beth enjoyed the beautiful Rocky Mountain majesty in this winter wonderland.  She skied on a bi-ski with two wonderful instructors, Barbara Walker and Bruce Roemmich.  The day she skied was absolutely beautiful and sunny.  In fact, Uncle Jeff informed us that it was his best day since Aunt Joanie left us.

Mary Beth was dehydrated while we in Steamboat and we couldn't get deliveries because the passes were closed.  We met a wonderful angel in the form of a local nurse, Jan Fritz, who donated time and supplies to hydrate MB with IV fluids.

Another highlight was the humor Mary Beth's cousin Matt Norburg provided while we were snowmobiling.  Matt was making some yellow snow when he suddenly was faced with no place to go when a group of ten snowmobiles traveled slowly by him.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support.  We continue to pray for a miracle for Mary Beth's full recovery.

Thank you and God bless you,


Our first day back in town was absolutely wonderful for all of us.  The true highlight of our day was a visit by Most Reverend Archbishop Justin Rigali and Father Hank Breier.  We discussed our adventures in Steamboat and had a great visit.  We talked about the love and support we continue to experience from everyone and we all prayed together.  The archbishop discussed with Mary Beth the mystery of human suffering and spoke the words of our Holy Father Pope John Paul II by saying that one must look at the crucifix to understand it.  He also asked Mary Beth to reflect on the wide impact she has had on others in practicing their faith, not only at Pillar, but throughout the archdiocese and the country.

Our dear friend Sara Clark was here with us as well and she took Mary Beth and Barbie shopping after the visit while Heidi and I went shopping and Will went to Connor Bick's birthday party.

Last night we were visited by a cast of thousands of Christmas carolers who serenaded us for several songs.  Members of the Tychsen, Mower, Lane, Drury, Millsap, Brungard, Ziemba, Bick, Bippen, Price, Sommers, Evans, and Cassady families were here singing to their hearts' desire.  I apologize if I missed someone because there were truly a thousand people here.  

We continue to be blessed with wonderful experiences in the form of prayers, visits, cards, deeds, calls, and emails.  Thank you for your outpouring of love.  Please pray that God's will be done and his will is a miracle for MB.

God bless you,


As we prepare for the birth of our Lord, we want to thank all of you who have helped us since Mary Beth was diagnosed.  You have emulated God's work in your outpouring of love and faith.  Mary Beth had a restful day yesterday with friends stopping by to visit and watch movies.  She saw Madonna Atwood, Gerilyn Goeddel, Shelby and Ashley Nusrala, Dan and Caroline Sullivan, Bo and Nellie LaVigne, Bet, Kathy and Liz Stapleton, and Patrick, Mary and Tina McNulty.  She is still feeling nauseous on occasion and has some pain in her left leg.  Despite her discomfort, she wanted to go out for dinner so we joined the Stapleton family at Chevy's.

We are looking forward to attending the Christmas Vigil mass today as Barbie is portraying the Christmas angel during the gospel reading.  This will also be Mary Beth's first mass she will be able to attend since her stem cell transplant, just over 100 days ago.  A very blessed Christmas to all.

God bless you,

12-25-00 - Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!  Sheila, Mary Beth, Barbie, and Heidi all enjoyed a manicure at home yesterday courtesy of Aunt Cathy Kohn.  We enjoyed Christmas Eve by attending mass with Grammy and Poppy Kriegshauser and the Haffner family at Pillar and watching Barbie portray the Christmas angel.  We came home from mass and had our traditional homemade fried chicken dinner at home with the Haffners as our guests.

When William was placing the apples and carrots for Santa's reindeer on the front porch, we noticed a pink flamingo with antlers and blinking lights in our front yard.  The phantom Santa has struck once again!  This morning, the carrots and apples were half eaten, the cookies and milk were consumed and we had a wonderful relaxing day at home.  The Lanes, Millers, and Schwartz's came by to visit and the majority of us were still in our pjs.

We continue to say our prayers of thanksgiving for you, our friends, and the all the wonderful gifts of love we receive every day from all of you.  We continue to seek God's work in the form of a miracle for Mary Beth's full recovery and appreciate your prayers.

All our love and may God bless you,


Mary Beth has been experiencing pain in her legs which has made it difficult to walk the past two days.  We visited clinic today to check blood levels and discuss the possibility of Mary Beth traveling to Garden Plain, KS to visit all the Ricken relatives.  The tumor on her lower spine is causing the pain and the difficulty she is experiencing in her walking.  MB got the green light to travel with additional pain medication, so we will be making the trek west tomorrow.  She and I will fly while the rest of the family will drive.  On the way back, Sheila will stop at the halfway mark to pick up Elizabeth Gelpi, Mary Beth's best friend from KC to spend the New Year with us.

Madonna and Bridget Atwood came by today for a great visit just before we left for clinic.  After our clinic visit, we spent some wonderful family time exchanging gifts with Sheila's family at Aunt Patti and Uncle Chris Haffner's home.  We truly cherish each moment we spend with each other and hope that all of you have the opportunity to enjoy one another equally as much during these blessed times.

We love you and appreciate your prayers for all of us as we seek a miracle for Mary Beth. 

May God bless you,


Mary Beth has not lost a step with her keen mind and quick wit.  This morning at 3:48 AM (aren't digital clocks great!), Will woke up so I went into his room.  He was sitting up in bed and the only thing he said was, "I have a dream."  He immediately laid his head down and fell fast asleep.

Then at 4:22 AM, Mary Beth woke up and had to go to the bathroom.  When I was helping her to the bathroom, I told her what Will had said to me about an hour earlier.  She laughed and broke into the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."  I looked at her in amazement and had a good chuckle despite the time of day.

Sheila, Barbie, Heidi, and William are on the road to the majestic plains of Kansas.  MB and I will depart soon.  Updates may be difficult while we are gone, so please bear with me.

Thank you for your loving kindness.  We pray for each of you daily in thanking God for your presence in our lives.

God bless you,


We spent the last four days enjoying time with the extended Ricken family in Garden Plain, KS, just west of Wichita.  To start the trip, Mary Beth and I landed in Wichita on Wednesday.  As we were waiting for Uncle John Fagan to get his van, Mary Beth was sitting in her wheelchair admiring a giant "Peace" Beanie Baby in the gift shop window.  A young woman tapped my sister Donna on the shoulder and asked her to stay put for a moment.  Then, she and her husband came up to Mary Beth and placed the huge teddy bear in her lap and simply said, "Merry Christmas!"  I shook his hand, thanked he and his wife and immediately began crying.  I looked at Donna and she was crying as well.  We looked up and the couple was gone - yet another angel moment among the thousands we have experienced.  Mary Beth was all smiles and she looked at her cousin Erin and said, "This crying thing must be hereditary."

We had a great time with Grandma and Grandpa Ricken, the Fagan, the Feil, the Jim Ricken, the Ken Ricken, and the Sigwing families.  We had visits from some great friends while we were there.  Great Aunt Louise, Dean and Sherri Bugner, Doug, Barbie and Max Bugner, and Roch, Linda Dold and the girls stopped by.  We also had a family picture taken with the 27 of us.  It was quite a challenge for the photographer and we had a great time.

Sheila, Barbie, Heidi and Will stopped by Kansas City on the way back and had a great visit with our dear friends the Gelpis and Millets.  Elizabeth Gelpi and Amanda Millet jumped in the car and are spending the new year with us.

Mary Beth's mobility has suffered during the past week and she has lost a lot of movement in her legs.  Her pain comes and goes and is somewhat controlled by her medication.  Hope will always be eternal in our prayers for a miracle for Mary Beth.  We are enjoying the holidays and hope that all of you are as well.

God bless you,

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