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A Message from the Wilson Family

We would like to thank every one for your outpouring of love and support over the past year. We have never felt alone in this battle, and your support has been a source of strength to us. It was a privilege to have Erin as a part of our lives for the past twelve-plus years and to fight this battle with her.

To Erin’s friends and classmates, we ask that you remember Erin physically as she was before her leukemia returned last summer. We hope that you carry in your hearts Erin’s spirit of facing adversity head on, never giving up and her belief in miracles.

Many of you have said, “I don’t know what to say.” Please do not worry about this—there really is nothing one can say. Your mere presence, by itself, says enough. Likewise, please do not be afraid to talk about Erin or share a favorite memory of her with us. Knowing that you continue to remember her and talking about her will be a source of healing for us.

Although this is our final entry on this site, we will maintain this site indefinitely as a tribute to Erin and to share her remarkable story. It is an inspiring story about a young lady who refused to quit and who, despite the many obstacles she faced, enjoyed life and lived her life to the fullest. Even though Erin is no longer here with us physically, she will always live on with us in our hearts. Erin loved many and was loved by many more.

God Bless,

The Wilson Family

I Hold in My Hand

by Erin Andra Wilson

I hold in my hand the gift of life and the opportunity to do something good.

I hold in my hand the chance to beat the odds.

I hold in my hand fear that when I go out in public I am always being stared at.

I hold in my hand the challenge of keeping my tears when I know others are thinking or talking bad about me.

I hold in my hand the knowledge and the feeling of pain, both mentally and physically.

From the pain, I hold in my hand the inspiration to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I hold in my hand the need and the stride to be strong, brave, and courageous.

I hold in my hand the faith and the thankfulness to know that there are people who care.

I hold in my hand the blessing of prayers from family and friends.

I hold in my hand the belief that if you set your mind to something you can do any thing.

I hold in my hand . . . .


Erin's Obituary

Erin Andra Wilson, 12, of Overland Park, KS, passed away August 6, 2002 at Children’s Mercy Hospital from complications associated with a bone marrow transplant after an eight-year battle against leukemia. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Friday, August 9, at Queen of the Holy Rosary Church, 71st and Metcalf, Overland Park, KS. Burial will be at Resurrection Cemetery. Visitation will be Thursday, 6-9 p.m. at Queen of the Holy Rosary Church with a prayer service at 7:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Children’s Mercy Hospital Cancer Center, the Heart of America Bone Marrow Donor Registry or the Mid America Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Erin was born December 30, 1989 in Overland Park, KS. She attended Santa Fe Trail Elementary School in Overland Park, where she was named Outstanding Sixth Grade Girl. Erin enjoyed sports, music and drama. She was a member of the Milburn Country Club swim and dive team, the Kansas City Children’s Chorus, Werner’s Specialty Meats Orange Crush softball team and participated in Shawnee Mission North High School’s production of The Wizard of Oz. Erin was preceded in death by her grandfather, John F. Andra. She is survived by her parents, Bret and Christy Wilson, and sisters, Rachel and Emily Wilson, all of the home; grandparents, Catherine Andra, Conway Springs, KS, Larry and Jean Brenton, Liberty, MO and Herman Wilson, Kansas City, MO; and great grandparent, Loraine Horner, Liberty MO. (Arrangements: McGilley & Hoge Chapel, 8024 Santa Fe Dr., Overland Park, KS 66204, 913-642-3565)


(Day 24)

Erin passed away this morning at 9:16, surrounded by Bret, Christy, Rachel and Emily. In accordance with Erin's wishes, Mrs. Donegan and Mrs. Thoeni were present as well as two of her favorite nurses--Rose Highberger and Cathy Burks. Erin died a peaceful and painless death, with her Uncle John's classical guitar music playing in the background.

We will post information tomorrow regarding Erin's funeral and visitation. We thank every one for their support over the past year.


(Day 23)

Today has been a disconcerting day. On the positive side, Erinís lungs still are functioning well and her liver functions continue to improve gradually. On the negative side, Erin had problems with low blood pressure today, although those problems now are under control.

The most disconcerting news is Erinís neurological state. The intensive care doctors are concerned that Erin may be deteriorating neurologically. We do not know Erinís neurological status for sure at the moment. She is scheduled for another CT scan at around midnight tonight. Needless to say, we will be staying up to receive and interpret the results of the CT scan and to make any necessary decisions regarding Erinís care.


(Day 22)

The word for today is ďstable,Ē as Erin spent a quiet and uneventful day. Her lungs remain in relatively good condition and her liver readings continue to improve slowly. Erin is still unconscious. Yet there are times when she will move her lips or eyebrows, open her eyes slightly or turn her head slightly. Erin continues to breath with the help of a ventilator. At times, her breathing rate exceeds that of the ventilator, meaning that she is able to sometimes breath on her own.

Erin spiked some low-grade fevers today. The doctors are watching her fevers closely and have given her antibiotics to counter any potential bacterial or fungal infections. Despite all the setbacks and problems of the past ten days, Erin is still fighting. She truly is an inspiration.


(Day 21)

Today was an agonizing day. Erin’s breathing deteriorated this morning to the point that she was placed on a ventilator. Her breathing failure was due to neurological problems that prevented her brain from instructing her body to breath. She now lies in a coma, breathing with the aid of the ventilator.

In light of this morning’s development, the doctors conducted a CT scan to determine the extent of Erin’s neurological problems. Had the problems been due to hemorrhaging or clotting, Erin’s situation would have been irreversible and keeping her on ventilation would not have been warranted. Fortunately, this was not the case—Erin’s problems appear to be due to a build up of toxins in the brain caused by her liver and kidney problems.

In addition to the fortunate CT scan results, Erin had some relatively favorable lung, pancreas and liver test results. Her lung and pancrease clearly improved from yesterday, and her liver continues its slow but steady improvement. In light of today’s relatively favorable test results, Erin remains on ventilation with the goal of improving her liver function to the point that she can once again breath on her own.


(Day 20)

Erin continues to fight. In her typical manner, she is throwing curveballs at the clinicians and surprising those who do not know her with her resiliency. She continues to be unconscious, yet still appears comfortable and without pain. Her lung situation has improved somewhat from yesterday and there are some small, preliminary signs that her liver may beginning to recover. Thus, even though her clinical situation is still very precarious, she may be beginning to recover. Tomorrow morning’s liver test results should give us a clearer reading of whether she is making progress.

We have started to develop an “ICU routine.” Christy and Bret stay at Children’s Mercy 24 hours a day. Christy sleeps in the Ronald McDonald room at Children’s Mercy, and Bret sleeps in Erin’s room in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. Emily and Rachel usually come to CMH every other day for a brief visit. They are at home under the charge of their Aunt Peggy, who makes sure that some one is always there for them. Last night, Emily enjoyed a spur-of-the-moment slumber party in the basement with Julia Johnston (her best friend), Catherine Patterson and Kelly Andra (her “grown up” cousins), Tiffany Andra (wife of another “grown-up” cousin, Jeff Andra) and Jackie Rafferty (Emily’s former nanny who drove all the way from Colorado to see Erin and her sisters).

We are very grateful for the overwhelming support we have received during the past week. Your food deliveries (at home and the hospital), care for Emily and Rachel, household assistance, visits, messages of support and thoughts and prayers have given us strength and resolve and allowed us to focus on Erin’s fight for survival. Thanks to all!


(Day 19)

Erin’s day was quiet and uneventful. She remains unconscious and without pain, resting comfortably with blankets Santa Fe Trail community and the Ricken family gave her. Perhaps the highlight of her day was when Jeanette Cleary came in to paint Erin’s finger nails. Erin has been very proud of her nails—they are a manifestation of her physical beauty and femininity that survived the ravaging physical effects of her treatment over the past year.

There has been no significant change in Erin’s liver status. Although her lungs are starting to show some fluid build up, she continues to breath fairly well. The ICU doctors are surprised at how well she is breathing under the circumstances, as they did not expect her to make it this far. Erin continues to be a very strong young lady.

Although we are holding a very slight glimmer of hope that Erin’s liver will recover, we are now focusing on her comfort and dignity. We are very grateful for all those who have come to visit Erin and support us these last few days.

© 2002. Bret and Christy Wilson.