Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Party Details

We invite all to attend the services next week on Thursday and Saturday to honor William.

Thursday, June 7th---public viewing
5:00-8:00 PM
Miller Funeral Home
507 Scott Street, Folsom, CA 95630

Friday, June 8th---private family burial

Saturday, June 9th---Celebration of Life service
12:00 PM
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
89 Scholar Way
Folsom, CA 95630

For those who would like to make a donation in William's honor, our family has chosen two organizations we would like to support: Sutter Child Life and a national Neuroblastoma research organization.

The Sutter Memorial Child Life Program was part of William's everyday life in the hospital. They provided support to both William and our family. Their program strives to empower children and families to cope, understand, and heal as they encounter illness and hospitalization. Opportunities are offered to create meaningful experiences through play, education, preparation, and emotional support. These programs and activities include educating children about their illnesses, preparing them for procedures and surgeries, offering normal childhood play experiences (toys, games, arts & crafts, movies), celebrating holidays and special events, etc.

Checks can be written directly to the Child Life Program and they can be "tagged" to do something specific to honor William.

Checks can be given directly to us or mailed to:
Child Life Program
Sutter Memorial Hospital
5151 F Street
Sacramento, CA 95819

The New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy (NANT) consortium is a group of 15 major pediatric institutions in the US that test new therapies that have promise for improving long-term survival for children with neuroblastoma. William was diagnosed with high-risk Neuroblastoma. It is an aggressive cancer with a low cure rate. Many of the treatments William received at UCSF Children's Hospital and Sutter Memorial Hospital were based upon laboratory and clinical studies conducted by NANT consortium investigators, who continue to develop new treatments. Children's Hospital Los Angeles Foundation Department handles all contributions to the NANT consortium and its member institutions.

To donate by mail, checks can be mailed to:
Brooke Glazer, Director
Foundation Department
Children's Hospital Los Angeles
4650 Sunset Blvd, #29
Los Angeles, CA 90029
**Please make checks payable to Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and the memo line on the check should read: In Memory of William Murdock/NANT. Please also include your name, address, phone and email address, and note that the donation is in memory of William Murdock and designated for NANT.

To donate online, go to:
**Under "I would like my donation directed to:" please make sure to type NANT into the "Other" box. You can also specify that your donation is in memory of William Murdock.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Returning Home

Our sweet William returned home to the loving, welcoming arms of his Heavenly Father on Sunday morning, May 27, 2012. His battle with cancer is over, but his legacy of faith, optimism, strength, patience, and adventure will live on forever.We love him dearly and are so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and to know our family is eternal. We are thankful for the gift of his life and those who helped to extend it and enrich it.

Our boys are doing very well. William's passing was sweet and peaceful and we were able to have some precious, sacred family time all together. Our children understand and are comforted by knowing God's plan. We know our family will be together forever and that William is not far away. Clark, 8, was very tender with his emotions and commented with tears in his eyes that he feels William is really, really happy and is still very close. He added, "It feels like he is touching me right now."

We are still making arrangements to celebrate his life. I will post more details in the coming days, but for those of you who are planners, like me, it will not be this weekend. We want to have time to be with our children and not feel like their needs have to be postponed again for William. The tentative plan is:
  • Thursday, June 7--public viewing
  • Friday, June 8--private family day
  • Saturday, June 9--Celebration of Life services

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Soaking up each moment

Guess who?  I wanted to give you an update because I feel like the whole village has fallen in love with William and he is on our minds all the time lately.  William is becoming increasingly tired but after his catnaps, he is alert and we are able to enjoy this time with him.  Julie and Ryan are taking turns sitting with William and holding his hand.  His brothers also take their turns having special time with William and they too sit and hold his hand.  These moments are very sweet and tender.

William always perks up for his visits with James.  It means the world to James when Julie and Ryan tell him how William changes when they are together.  Tonight as we attempted to leave to go to swim practice, William cried that he didn't want James to leave.  Guess who didn't swim today?  How could we say no to this sweet boy?  He's got all of us wrapped around his finger!  William doesn't have a lot of energy but he still beat James at 2 out of 3 games of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games on the Wii. 

Julie and Ryan appreciate all the prayers, cards, emails, messages of love and support.  I am also grateful for the delicious strawberry jam and jam vehicles (biscuits) dropped at their door today!  And thank you all for all the nice comments written to me and my son on this blog and on Julie's Facebook page.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ode to Angry Birds

Last year, during William's bone marrow stem cell transplant at UCSF we were introduced to BayKids, an organization that "empowers children facing serious medical challenges to express themselves through the art and magic of filmmaking." They partnership with local hospitals, teaching "digital filmmaking skills to hospitalized children. Through [their] programs, children discover their own unique voice and experience the healing power of self-expression." And they are awesome! What a gift they bring to the children and their families.

They help the children come up with ideas of stories to tell and how to tell it on film. Some conduct interviews, give tours, share a creative story, etc. William chose Angry Birds as a theme (big surprise) and stop motion animation as his method. We spent months slowly crafting the construction paper figures and William planned how the story would be told and shot. Since BayKids only comes to UCSF on certain days, we carefully coordinated his last treatment to be there when he could do the final filming of his project. The talented volunteers take over from there with editing and final production. I suppose William could have been a part of that too, but he was done with treatment at UCSF at that time.

Each year BayKids hosts a Movie Premier featuring kids from the BayKids Moviemakers Program at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital and Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland. William and his film were one of the handful to be chosen to be honored and celebrated at this year's event at the de Young Art Museum! What an honor! The kids are interviewed and honored on stage. Each of their films is also screened by the entire audience. William and our family were really looking forward to this event. We even took William into the hospital on Thursday for blood transfusions just to give him a boost to make the day a good day. Today is that day. Unfortunately, we decided on Thursday evening that his weakening condition was not going to allow him to attend.

Our great friend, Zack, came up with a brilliant and very generous idea. He would attend in William's honor and videotape the whole thing for him. Wow. Problem solved and what a gift. William didn't even have a chance to be upset about not attending because he liked the alternative so much. I also think he is coming to an understanding that he just isn't able to travel outside the house any longer. The ideas and possibilities improved. William was able to FaceTime with Zack via iPad when Zack accepted his award. William was able to give a brief speech via FaceTime. The iPad was connected to and broadcast over the house system so the audience could hear him. Oh, the technology! Thank you to Zack, and his brother, Matt, for going to such great lengths to make this special for William. (And for braving the traffic and parking nightmare during Bay to Breakers today in the the same vicinity!)

I suppose William would say one of the perks of this format was snoozing through the parts he wasn't interested in. :)

Enjoy the show!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Best Friends

And it's Lisa again.  I just have to start this blog with a statement of the obvious: I love that boy.  I just love him. 

And I love our boys together.  They had a really good visit today.  William really perked up when James arrived and he smiled and laughed when James read "Walter the Farting Dog".  Ahh, potty humor.  James understands that time is precious and it looked like the weight of the world was lifted off his shoulders this afternoon after we left.  James had a really rough visit on Wednesday night (maybe it was Tuesday, we are tired).  William was very irritated (very irritated for William, less irritated than me in commute traffic) and James could sense this.  William wasn't always awake and wasn't always making sense when he was talking.  On a couple of occasions, I thought James was going to shoot through the roof with anxiety.  Why put my kid through this?  Because life isn't fair.  And this is our life.  And it is important to take our son through this transition time so he too can transition.  Yes, it is painful for him but he goes to visit to honor his friendship with his best friend, that is all he has to offer.  We do not believe (and I say "we", but my husband is the psychologist who gently guides us with his brain bending to right my wrongs) that you hide the tough stuff from your kids because it teaches them that you are not honest with them and you believe they are not strong enough to handle the tough stuff.  We also bring our son down this tough road because pretending this experience is anything less than the most painful moment of his life is disrespectful to his friend.  Any questions?  I didn't think so.

So we had a bad visit the other night and when we go home we just sat in the driveway and finished talking about what was happening.  James really hoped that we would get one more good visit with William and I am so glad that happened today.  At the end of our talk in the car James said, "I'm really excited for William to go to heaven".  Heartbreaking, yes.  But my son has compassion for his best bud and I couldn't be more proud.  In tough moments James has cried that he wants to go to heaven with William because he will miss him too much.  I understand this is a ten year-old boy solving an immediate problem for himself as a ten year-old boy would do but still heartbreaking.  But this time he didn't mention going with William, he wasn't thinking about himself, only William.  It was important for James to go through this.  If he only saw William when he was feeling well, it would be much harder to understand.  Adults understand cancer sucks, James gets it now too.  And James understands everyone is working around the clock to keep William comfortable but he sees that there is still suffering and he wants his friend to be free of pain.  We all want that.

Best Friends
So maybe you are thinking, "Hey Lisa, get your own blog!  We read this blog to check up on the Murdocks".  Fine.  I'll give you your update.  The Murdocks are also taking their family through this same transition.  They are no longer allowing any visitors or returning calls or emails.  They are hunkering down and nurturing their boys.  Tonight Ryan is at the Father and Sons camp-out with Clark, Cameron, Nathan, and Soren.  They all need special time with their parents and they need time with William.  An overwhelming task for any of us, but Julie and Ryan are leading their children through while also balancing the care of one very tough boy. 

And speaking of care- I mentioned the term "Momcologist" in my last blog, a term that I love.  I propose to add "Mompharmacist" to Julie's credentials.  I'm sure other parents have this same experience but Julie and Ryan are so well-versed in the drugs, and I mean the really big expensive and powerful drugs, it is amazing to me.  And Julie, you know me (and my appreciation for a good little white pill) as well as anyone, so you know if I say you are a "Momcpharmacist", well that is an honor higher then Mother-of-the-Year.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Finishing of the Bucket List

I'm not quite sure where to start, but THANK YOU is probably as good a place as any. Thank you for the outpouring of love, support, and prayers. I can't possibly convey in words how truly blessed we are to be so loved. Thank you to amazing nurses, doctors, hospital staff, and volunteers who we love so dearly. These wonderful people have cared for us each day over the past two years and pulled us through good times and bad times. Each of you have become dear, dear friends who crossed the lines of professionalism a long time ago! We love each of you more than you'll ever know!

Thank you to friends, neighbors, church members who have swooped in to fill in all the neglected cracks at home. You have helped us maintain balance and routine and eased our burdens countless times.

So what has been going on?

After William returned from his Coloma field trip, he had his normal scans (on a Thurs) to check disease progression before starting a new round of chemo. He was physically exhausted, but we suspected this was from 3 fun and full days of hiking and panning for gold.
(remember to click to enlarge)

On Friday afternoon, we left to San Francisco on another Bucket List trip. We went to a Giant's baseball game that night and then spent Saturday exploring the ruins of Sutro Baths (where my great grandfather was baptized over 100 years ago), visiting Chinatown, riding the trolley, walking the wharf, and a trip to Alcatraz for the night tour. William was too tired the whole trip to do much more than enjoy the ride in his wheelchair. He napped often, but said he had fun.

 I suspected the need for blood and worried about his increasing labored breathing. After calling the doctor, we made a stop at the hospital on our way home to receive blood and platelet transfusions overnight. His breathing continued to be labored, but the doctors told us it was due to disease progression, but that discussion would happen on Monday. On Monday, at the scheduled clinic visit, we learned that the tumors were spreading and growing. Uncharacteristically, I haven't taken the time yet to dissect the scans, but basically everywhere he had tumors has more tumors and they have grown, new ones are in his abdomen, and most significantly, in and around his lungs. The tumors aren't responding to treatment. We were given our options and it didn't take long to go through them. We have chosen to discontinue chemotherapy.

A chest x-ray showed an alarming amount of fluid in and around his lungs and we were given less than an hour do decide whether to have chest tubes put into the lungs to drain the fluid or not. We went with the chest tubes. Over 2 liters of fluid drained that afternoon and have continued to drain since.

Over the next several days, we received many tender mercies and answered prayers as solutions evolved as to the course of his care. It would take too long to list, but it is very obvious to us that God's hand was directing the course of events. William was able to come home last Thursday with two chest tubes in place and connected to collection bags. A hospital bed is set up in our room and William is on oxygen 24 hrs/day.

William was able to attend William K.'s funeral on Saturday morning as planned. It was a sweet service and William and I watched a video of the two of them in the hospital dancing and throwing paper airplanes down the hallway. It brought back good memories and William said tenderly after watching it, "I will really miss William. I really liked him. He was a good friend." William returned to the hospital on Saturday afternoon and ended up spending the night getting multiple blood transfusions. Thank you to my dad who had his first hospital sleepover with William so Ryan and I could rest.

On Monday, the last of the Bucket List items was crossed off. He went back to San Francisco for more fun! Aerial fun! He flew over Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, California State Capitol, Raley Field, the Sacramento Temple, and our home! What an awesome gift. Thank you, Zack! You have a gift for touching the lives of children.

clockwise from top left: Raley Field, State Capitol and Tower Bridge, William's Hospital, Zack and William, our house, Sacramento Temple
We are very tired from the intense activities, decisions, and roller coaster of emotions. We are grateful to our families who have traveled to be with us and the love and support we feel from all of you. We are so proud of our hero, William. We love him dearly. His courage, determination, faith, endurance, patience, long-suffering, strength, example, and cheerfulness have made this journey inspiring.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Friend Lisa again.  I'm sorry you get me again tonight; I too look forward to reading Julie's beautifully written blogs.  But you'll take what you can get, right?  I am happy to report that William came home today.  The original plan was to stay at the hospital until Friday with chest tubes in place.  It was discovered yesterday that William had the smaller tubes in place that could remain in place and be clamped to allow him to come home, this was GREAT news.  Then Dr Abramson, the Murdock's favorite surgeon got involved and came up with something better.  William is now home with some sort of collection bags in place.  The Murdocks are so grateful for the medical staff and they love Dr. Abramson.  I met her after Will's last surgery and she is full of character, the highest compliment from me!

Julie and Ryan are very at peace with how they were able to get the right sized chest tubes in when they were needed and that they are able to come home today.  Their strength and their outlook never fails to impress us all.  They appreciate the support of everyone around them  They read their blog comments, Facebook comment, and emails, but even the Murdocks get tired.  They are very tired right now and will try to get a little rest and spend time with their family.  As I am sure you can understand, they are not accepting visitors or returning phone calls right now.

Here are a couple of special photos:
William beating James at Chess on Tuesday.

Will with a sourdough alligator.  He ate a little of the leg.
A side note: William met a friend in treatment, Spencer, who is the same age.  One evening when we were visiting, Spencer's dad came down the hall at the hospital and recognized me.  He is my husband's sophomore year college roommate.  It is a small world.  Today Spencer's family wrote a wonderful tribute to their friend William Klopper, who recently lost his heroic battle with cancer.  It was a beautiful entry.  In the entry they called William's mom a "Momcologist".  I loved that.  These parents are amazing!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Quick Update

Hello.  Friend Lisa here.  Julie asked me to post an update for her tonight as she and Ryan are with William in the hospital.  Julie has been a blog-slacker lately due to a wonderful few weeks of small miracles.  A week or two ago she told me a great story about how William was feeling great after an especially good transfusion and he rode the scooter down to the park to hang out.  And, um, yes, we all remember the orders about about no weight bearing on the leg.  Last week William went on his much anticipated fourth grade trip to Coloma.  He had a wonderful time and we are all so thankful for that special trip.  But with barely time to unpack and repack, William and family all hit a Giants game on Friday and Alcatraz on Saturday to complete William's bucket list.  These last few weeks have been so full of great memories for the Murdock family and we are all grateful for this.  And we are all amazed that Julie can pull off all these trips along with scheduling many clinic visits and tending to the needs of 5 other boys (I can't forget Ryan).  Amazing.

Julie and William took a detour to the hospital on the way home from San Francisco on Saturday night for much needed transfusions.  William was feeling pretty crummy.  His oxygen saturation was also low and his heart rate was up.  He had fluid in his lungs and he was working hard.

Today Julie and Ryan met with their doctors and William was admitted for more blood.  They took a detour from getting more blood and quickly inserted two chest tubes to drain the fluid in William's lungs.  The fluid build-up was the top priority but William had said before that he didn't want a chest tube.  But William has a bigger concern; he wants to be at his dear friend William Klopper's funeral on Saturday.  It seems unimaginable but William decided to have chest tubes put in today to get the fluid out so that he could honor his friend who he met in treatment.  The Kloppers became very dear friends to the Murdock family and they all felt the loss when William passed last week.  Chest tubes were placed and at 9 pm tonight, Julie reported that William was starting to wake up, his breathing was much less labored, and he had drained almost two liters from the two tubes, combined.  Wow!

We are glad that William is much more comfortable.  The results of the scans from last week are not good.  The cancer is progressing.  I know Julie and Ryan will provide a much more accurate blog when they have a spare minute, but there are more tumors around the liver and in and around the lungs.  They aren't sure why, but his hemoglobin is not staying high with transfusions.  Julie expected that he would get another transfusion tonight.  Sadly, I am sure I was told more but it all seems a bit blurry; my emotions were perhaps running a bit high today, too.

I may not have the clinical details all correct but I can tell you some other important stuff.  William has asked, in addition to attending William K's funeral, to see Millie, his favorite therapy dog, and to go to San Francisco to the Academy of Sciences and Exploratorium.  Millie has been unable to come to the hospital for the last two months as she contracted a non-contagious parasite.  Her handler made a special call to the vet to get clearance to come in tomorrow and be with Will.  Everyone who knows Will feels the same way about him; he is a special boy.

Julie and Ryan will continue to figure out what is best for William.  At this point they are really calling all the shots and they are so smart and compassionate about every decision.  I know the Murdocks know how much they are loved by all of us.  I know they feel your prayers for William and the entire family.