Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

Time for an Update

I only had one class today, so I happen to have some extra time on my hands. Somehow I ended up on my blog and started reading through past posts from when I was sick. It is so crazy to think that it is now 2013 and I was diagnosed in 2010....oh how time flies. My brother is always getting after me for not ever posting. I guess I just figure that my life now isn't as interesting as it was a few years ago. But I guess I can keep posting when I have days like today, and if you don't find my new posts interesting then by all means don't feel inclined to read. (really, I won't be offended)

Well...thanks to my lovely immune system that is trying its hardest, I have spent the last week fighting for my every breath. (I bet you have dearly missed my over exaggeration and my hilarious sense of humor) More like, I have been battling a severe case of bronchitis and apparently some respitory something or other. Long story short my airways are inflamed and not allowing a whole lot of air through, resulting in plenty of coughing, weezing, etc.. Also accompanied by a nose that is running ALL.THE.TIME.  Hopefully I have turned the corner with this lovely mess, but I am still coughing most of the time.

Other than that, things have been going good. I am enjoying my new classes for this spring semester here at UVU. Somedays I wonder if I will ever get sick again. I think this is something every cancer survivor faces. I figure that somewhere down the road, something is bound to come up. Some say it's only a matter of time. I know I am more prone to things...sometimes I just can't help but wonder how much longer I have to be healthy. Every little bruise that stays too long, or any peculiar feeling I have anywhere on my body-- I can't help but think the unthinkable in the back of my mind. It's not this constant fear...but rather just this looming thought in the back of my mind. I am happy to say, however, that this doesn't hold me back. I love being healthy, and I love being alive. So for now, that's good enough for me.

I don't know if I have made it publicly known on this blog of mine, but I am considering going into nursing. Being a college athlete, I can't simply major in nursing due to the busy schedule I have. My options are to either major in exercise science or community health, and then go on to an accelerated nursing program after volleyball. But we'll see what happens. When people used to ask me if having cancer made me want to do something in the medical field, I would say: HECK NO. I'm getting as far away from hospitals as I can. But with each visit I make up to primary children's, I find my self excited to go. Excited to see all of the nurses who became my friends. I guess it's easier to be excited to go when I know I can come home at the end of the day. I find myself wanting to help and to give back, primarily to patients who are going through what I went through. I find myself looking for any way I can to share my story and to help others-- to tell them that they can get through this. That's why I want to be a nurse.

I don't know why I decided to post today...maybe just because I figured this blog was a really neat thing I have, and it would be a shame to just let it stop altogether. Or maybe just because I'm bored. But--I think the cough medicine I took is making my hands shake, which is making typing quite the ordeal at the moment....SO- until next time, when I either get bored enough to write or I have something profound enough to say. To those of you who are still reading, thank you. And thank you most of all for reading in the times when it mattered most, and for praying for me when I needed it. This blog was a huge support system to me through my illness. Until we meet again!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012


 I know it has been forever since my last post. My goal is to start posting more, at the very least once a month. (Try to refrain from jumping out of your seats with excitement). I missed posting on my bone marrow birthday, which was November 4th. Yes, my bone marrow is now 2 years old! Crazy! Before I get into the good stuff, I should probably update you on what has been going on in my life.

College has been crazy. By crazy I mean busy. Really, really, busy. Between school and volleyball, I find myself looking for nap time any time I can. I actually schedule naps in my planner to make sure I actually allot time for one. This may seem a little extreme, but I will do what I can to keep up. For lack of a better term, volleyball is kicking my butt. In a good way. My body isn't quite the same, and it is a long, slow process of getting back into shape and at the level I need to be at, but I slowly chip away with the hope that things will start to get a little easier. I love playing and I love the team, and so far, that's enough. Long story short, playing volleyball again is not the glorious comeback I had imagined--if only everything were like in the movies...I feel like they speed through the hard work part within a minute of inspirational music and then it's over-- but I guess I have to go through the hard work and all the pain and frustration to reach that glorious moment of comeback I envisioned while in my hospital bed. To sum this lovely paragraph up... I will keep at it, with the hopes of progress speeding up a bit.

I mentioned earlier that my bone marrow birthday was on November 4. I meant to post then but I was most likely napping...ha. Two years ago on this day, I was laying in my hospital bed as the life saving marrow dripped into me through an IV. To be honest, this all seems like a dream. In fact, I would think it was a dream if it weren't for pictures, and the evidence of my "hammered" body that is still trying to bounce back. I always joke that they aged me 50 years in there. Which, is more or less true. Nonetheless, I am thankful. I am thankful for a donor who selflessly donated his marrow to a stranger. I am thankful for modern medicine, and for all of the doctors and nurses who changed my life. I am thankful to be feeling good again. And I am thankful to be here today.

I can't mention things I am thankful for with out bringing up NCCS (National Children's Cancer Society). This organization has so graciously granted me with a "beyond the cure" scholarship, that is specifically for childhood cancer survivors. Who would have thought this whole thing had perks?! Not only have they granted me this scholarship, but they are an amazing organzation who provides support--both moral and financial-- to families and children battling cancer. And for that I am thankful. I am thankful for all of the good in this world. I will be posting more on NCCS but I honestly just wanted to say Thank you for all they have done to help me to move on past my illness, and for all they do for others as well.

I cannot end this post without saying thank you to the people who matter most. That is, all of you. My friends, my family, and my support system. Even those of you who have never met me, who were there for me while I was sick, through this blog. There truly is strength in numbers. I could not have gone through all that I have alone. I am thankful that I have more time to spend with the people I love, and that I can return the favor and help out others in need. So from the bottom of my heart I thank you for the prayers, and support that was rendered throughout my illness. I could not have done it without you.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

UVU Player Stats

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Stats and photos courtesy of:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Relay for LIFE!

Hello! My sister is doing a Relay for Life, and it's to help raise money for
the American Cancer Society. All the money from the fundraiser will go to
help all those cancer fighters out there! Her goal is to raise $100 for her
team, and every little bit will help. You have the chance to donate
money that will help people like me, so please donate!! Here's some can all be done online. 
In the wise words of my sister Emily:

"When I registered online, I was issued my own
 personal fundraising web page. It explains what 
Relay For Life is and why I chose to get involved.
My web page also has my fundraising goal and 
how much money I’ve raised so far. Please 
visit my page, and while you’re there....why not
make a donation to the American Cancer Society? 
Thank you!"

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Anniversary?

Wellllll I figured that I was past due for a post. There are a lot of thoughts going through my mind right now, so hopefully I can wade through my summer-logged brain and tap into my writing skills acquired throughout a whole year of AP English. Based on the quality of that last sentence I should do just fine. (haha just kidding, I am not going to try that hard throughout the whole post or it would probably be relatively short)

First day at Primary Children's
It has now been 2 years since the dreaded day of diagnosis. To be honest, there were days when I never thought I would make it this far. It all seems like a blur, and at times I wonder if any of this really happened. One of the hardest things for me is to let go of the past and stop thinking of what could have been. Lately I find myself using cancer as an excuse for why I'm not where I want to be. Sometimes I have to wake myself up and realize that this happened for a reason, and I'm exactly where I am supposed to be. I read in Lance Armstrong's book a while ago that post treatment was harder treatment itself, and I remember thinking at the time that he was crazy. But I have come to find that this statement is so so true. When you are going through treatment, you are doing something about the situation, you are attacking the cancer. After treatment when you're "all better", you just sit around helplessly and wait to see what happens. I struggled a great deal with this when I came home from the hospital and everyone was still in school while I sat at home still feeling sick.

I am delighted to say that I am over that part of the fun, but adjusting is still so weird to me. I am now graduated, and I feel as though I have been cheated of one year of high school. I don't feel grown up, or ready to move on. I am nervous for the future, and worried to see how my body (which, I like to say has been aged 50 years) holds up while trying to fulfill my dream of playing college volleyball. Everything is so unknown. But I think that is a valuable life lesson that I had to learn all to early: That life is unknown. And we just have to hold on to what makes us happy and run full force into the dark abyss of the unknown. (good imagery yeah?)

I also have a hard time with the fact that I am doing so well. My longterm BMT check up was scheduled for june 12 (my diagnosis date). When I found out it was on this day I got mad at my mom for scheduling it on my "bad luck day". All she said was, "Well it's time we turned it into a good luck day." And a good luck day it shall be. (Well, still not fond of the date but who can blame me?) Everything looked good, and normal. Which is great. But then we go over to the floor and visit some friends who aren't so lucky, and who are still fighting this stupid disease. I wonder every day why it is that God has given me a second chance, and these adorable "Cancer Fighting Cuties" still have to fight for their life, some of them not making it in the end. Life truly is not fair, but I will trust that the man upstairs knows what he's doing.

So...enough of these troubling thoughts. There is SO much that I am so happy to be alive for. I will just name a few: FAMILY- I love my family, and love spending time with them. Cancer brought us closer together, and now I hold on to the times we have just a little bit tighter. FRIENDS- I am so glad I got to go back for my senior year of high school, and to be with my friends for one more year. I couldn't have made it without them. FOOD- this subject is very near and dear to my heart. There is something about having typhlitis and not being able to eat for 3 weeks, or months of no appetite and IV nutrition , that REALLY makes one treasure food. I love having an appetite again, and I love eating good food. SCHOOL- yes, I said it. But I think I said it before. I will take the stress of school over sitting at home doing nothing any day. Although I find it ironic that I just now discovered Netflix now that I am extremely busy. Oh well. SHOWERS- I have now had my central line out for over a year, and every time I step in the hot shower I think 'this is so much better than sitting in a bath tub up to my waist' either that or, 'ahhhhhhh'. HAIR, HAIR, HAIR- I have hair! I love it! I can now put my hair on a bun on the top of my head. I can't believe it is long enough! I love being lazy and having the luxury of throwing my hair into a pony tail, or worrying about how I am going to wear it. SOOo nice.

Me in June, 2012

It is so, so easy for me to list off all of the things that cancer has taken away from me. But when I take a closer look it has given me and taught me so many valuable lessons. Cancer does not define me. Although this statement seems like a "No Duh" , it is really hard for me to realize at times. I am who I am despite cancer. There is more to me than my story, and I think I tend to use it as a crutch sometimes. I always think, "oh, if they only knew what I have been through." But it is time to make a new story, and time to realize that everything has happened as it has for a reason. I look forward to many more showers, great meals, hair cuts, stressful school days and late nights, volleyball games, times with the people I love, and many more Happy Anniversaries.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Alright, I promised I would post pictures. I feel weird posting about non cancer related subjects... but my brother insists that I continue to update my blog. All I can say is that I am really glad I documented my whole shabang because there is a lot that I have already forgotten. It is really interesting to go back through and read.

I will have to post more later this week...I should probably go to bed because I don't wake up the best in the mornings. It's not like in the hospital when I can stay up as late as I want and wake up whenever. Until Next time--


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Yes, I'm Still Alive...

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted! I guess I just got used to not posting, but there is a lot I need to update you wonderful bloggers on. My club team this year took third in the Denver Crossroads Open division, qualifying us for Open Nationals in Columbus, Ohio this June. Also as far as volleyball goes.... I have committed to play for Utah Valley University next fall! I can't believe I have gotten this far, it truly is a miracle (you can ask anyone who was around when I first started playing again...I couldn't run 50 yards without feeling like I was going to pass out...when I say miracle I mean MIRACLE)

I am really excited, although there is still a lot of work to be done to get my body back into a lethal machine. :) Health wise everything is still looking great, I only have to go into clinic every 3 months, my next appointment is sometime in May, and then in June I go in for a long term BMT appointment (after the year mark of transplant they send you back over to oncology) I can't believe that on June 12 this year it will have been 2 years since I was diagnosed. It feels like just yesterday, and yet at the same time there are days it seems like it never happened. But to be honest, there are always times when I dwell on what could have been had I not gotten sick. But I know that I am now stronger because of it. 

Other fun facts: My dearest mother will be speaking at Women's conference at BYU about her experience with adversity. And I also do speaking things here and there: firesides, assemblies, etc., I realized I really enjoy speaking and being able to share my story. My hair continues to grow longer, I really should post some pictures... Prom is coming up so maybe I will just wait a week and kill two birds with one stone. (or make like Chuck Norris and kill two stones with one bird) < that was a shout out to my little brother Tanner who is obsessed with the 75 year old Walker Texas Ranger. Once again, sorry for taking so long to post...and I just want to say thank you again for all of your prayers when I was sick, I know that I wouldn't be here without them, and that I am here for a reason. Thank you all, my blogging minions, for being great!! 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Well, it's been awhile since Rachel has posted on this blog.  I guess that's what happens when a teenager beats leukemia, has a successful bone marrow transplant, and finally gets to have some normalcy back in her life.  She's been busy planning assemblies, finishing her Sr. year of high school, applying for scholarships to college, playing volleyball, and chilling with her friends.

But along with normalcy comes little "bumps" in the road.  Last week Rach started with flu like symptoms--dull headache, low-grade fever, aches and pains.  We figured she was catching the cold we'd been passing around our family.  On Thursday we found out she had a virus.  They put her back on Acyclovir, a drug that helps you fight off or keep viruses at bay.  (Especially bone marrow transplant kids)  Anyway, we came up to clinic on Monday a.m. to have them check her out...and we landed in ICS!  Luckily, all her labs look good.  They're giving her more concentrated doses of Acyclovir via IV and hoping she can go home in a few days.  I must say that being admitted again brought back a whole bunch of different emotions.  It's not near as traumatic as our first stay here when we were first diagnosed.

Rachel is itching to spring out of here, but comforted to know that she will not be staying her 25+ days that she used to each round of chemo!  We will keep you updated on her progress.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone, I am doing well and will write an update soon! In the meantime, here is a video that my cousins and I made :) Enjoy...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Max Preps Story on Rachel ran a near article on Rachel and her accomplishments over the last year and 1/2. Check out an excerpt below, or click the link to read the full article.

Rachel Steele's comeback from cancer complete
"One minute the Mountain View High sophomore was on top of the amateur volleyball world, the next thing she knew, she was prepping for chemotherapy.

"I remember Rachel talking to the doctors, trying to convince them that they should let her play in Nationals and then she could come back and start chemo," recalled Club Utah 16 Black head coach Katie Peterson. "It is crazy how a life can change in an instant." "

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Journey So Far

Today at church Rachel was able to give a talk to the young men and young women in the ward about her experiences over the past year and half. Thought I would post this video that she shared as part of her presentation:

It's crazy to think that so much time has passed since this has all started. Part of the video shows members of the Sunset Heights 2nd ward, and the surrounding area, who rallied to support Rachel and our family during this difficult time. We have been so blessed from all the prayers and support we have received.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Daily Herald Article

Rachel Steele played with a smile through the entire match of Mountain View's victory of Salem Hills in region eight volleyball. She was smiling because there was a time she wasn't sure if she'd ever play again. 

Rachel was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) nearly 16 months ago and has spent that time fighting for her life while still looking to the future. 
"She's inspiring," head coach Andrew Young said. "To see someone be in those depths and still coming back is incredible."  
To honor Rachel the Mountain View athletic department created an award to be given annually to the player who shows the great fortitude, resiliency, and inspiration for others. Rachel's name is first on the The Steele Strong Award plaque that will remain at the school for years to come. 
"I had no clue about the award. I think it's cool," Rachel said. "I didn't know they were going to do that, but it's a neat award to be remembered." 
Last June Rachel was playing eight hours of volleyball a day in summer camps preparing for the upcoming season when she began to complain about a stiff neck. Her parents feared it was meningitis and doctors first thought it was a neck strain but tests revealed it was AML. 
Rachel was taken to Primary Children's hospital right away and put on an aggressive treatment of chemotherapy and full body radiation. She underwent a bone marrow transplant nearly a year ago but she was never alone in the process. A family member was always with her and never left her side as she would weeks in the hospital. 
Rachel was starting to receive heavy attention from colleges but ended up missing her entire junior year because of her illness, a critical time in the recruitment process. 
"It was hard, really hard. Not just physically, but emotionally too. I'd watch volleyball but it was super hard because I wanted to be out there," Rachel said. 
"She's worked hard to get back. Just a few months ago she could hardly jump and swing, but she's working hard to get back," Rachel's mother said. 
Rachel's dream is to still play college volleyball and has kept in contact with a few colleges. Club season starts soon and Rachel is looking forward to showing recruiters that she is back to full strength. 
"I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I keep telling myself if I get good enough something will open up," Rachel said. 
Rachel and the other four seniors led their team to a sweeping victory over the Skyhawks in straight sets 25-17, 25-12, 25-20. 
"All of the seniors played well, and I thought the girls played really consistently and were emotionally stable through out the match," Young said. "We played strong the whole time. That's really what we've been working for all season long." 
The seniors also led Mountain View on the stat line as Steele tallied 17 kills and Michele Hill had 23 digs. Paige Lott and Kelsey Carlson both served up five aces, but Young noted that the victory was a team effort. 
"I like it when people don't stand out because that means they're all working hard and playing well," Young said. 
The team has looked to Rachel and learned from her story, and applied those attributes of hard work and quality play.  
"Make it count and enjoy it," Rachel said. "Enjoy it, just have fun with it."

MVHS Steele Strong Award

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Ok, so I am finally getting around to writing about my make a wish trip!! We started started things off on a good note, when I was totally surprised by getting upgraded to business class. Let me tell you, I now know how the other half lives. As we first walked in we had the choice of champagne or orange juice....after much debate I chose the orange juice. Don't let me forget to add that they were in fancy drinking glasses, that were in fact, glass. None of that plastic business you get in the back of the plane. The seats were big and as comfy as airplane seats can get, and most importantly, they had plenty of leg room. So then we took off and were handed a menu that included an appetizer, a salad, a main course, and a dessert. I had the beef short ribs.....on an airplane. No big deal. And we had a ton of movies to choose from, on demand! I better get writing about the rest of the trip before I use up all my energy on writing about the plane ride over! haha
Me and Tanner Livin it UP!
The Main Course


We arrived in Rome at 10 am, where Adam and Emily had been waiting for us for 2 hours due to their flight arriving earlier that morning. We took a taxi to our hotel, where apparently we were not allowed to check in until 2:00. So we stored our bags there and decided to go look around. Rome is a huge city. A lot of it is big and dirty, but at the same time every corner you turn there is something else to see. A huge monument, a cool fountain, and all the buildings make you feel like you are in a fairy tale. There are very few modern buildings there. We walked around in and out of souvenir shops, (which they have a lot of, by the way.) There are also restaurants EVERYWHERE. Filled with yummy Italian food. We went and got our first gelato, and then headed back to the hotel to take a nap. We were still adjusting to the time and Tanner was very tired and grumpy due to the fact that he didn't sleep at all on the plane, he stayed up watching all the movies instead. After taking a nap it was very, very hard to wake up, but after 2 hours we got up and decided to go get dinner. We found a restaurant on the roof across the street from our hotel. After dinner we watched the sunset on the roof, took lots of pictures, and then went and got some more gelato. Then we walked to the Republic fountain, which was all lit up at night. After dipping our feet in the water we went back to the hotel and crashed in our beds.

The Family at Dinner

The Republic Fountain

We woke up and had breakfast at 7:30, and then walked to meet our tour bus for our "Eternal Rome" tour. The bus drove us around some of the landmarks, and stopped at St. Peter's Basilica. Emily and I were not allowed to go in the Vatican because we were wearing shorts, and Adam was eventually kicked out for looking too European and wearing a tank top. We all thought it was pretty funny that the Mormon family from Utah got kicked out for being immodest. After that our tour group walked to the Trevi Fountain, which was amazing, but extremely crowded. Then we walked to the Spanish Steps, where Emily was conned into buying a 3 euro rose. It was a long walk back to our hotel, but we picked up sandwiches along the way. Adam got the award for most delicious, he had black truffles in his sandwich and it tasted amazing! By the time we made it back to our hotel we are all in much need of a nap. After struggling to wake up, we walked to the Colosseum. It was exactly as it was described: so amazing. It was so cool to see something so ancient, and to imagine what it was like back then. We also toured around the Forum, which was like the capital of ancient Rome. Our tour guide was very interesting and informative and it was a lot of fun to hear about how Rome used to be. We then walked the long walk back to our hotel (we did a lot of walking). We got what we were all looking forward to-- dinner, and then gelato.


Today was the day that we took an in depth tour of the Vatican. (Don't worry, we were appropriately dressed this time) All in all it was breath taking. So many intricate tapestries, sculptures, things that words cannot describe. I will let the pictures do most of the talking. We visited the infamous Sistine Chapel, where we looked up at the amazing work of Michelangelo and basked in the crowded room of tourists and the occasional "NO PHOTO!" shouted by the guards. After the tour we had delicious pizza for lunch (I think the pizza was my favorite food there). And then, just so we wouldn't break tradition, we took our nap :) After waking up we visited a crypt of Capuchin Monks which was very....interesting. It was basically different designs and art work made with the bones and skulls of the Monks. It was considered a sacred place so we were not allowed to take pictures. Then we continued walking to Villa Borghese, which was an incredible park. It was just like in the movies! Little pathways that went everywhere, winding around trees, hills, fountains. It was really cool. We rented a little four person bike thing, which allowed us to see even more of the park. Emily and my mom were not able to peddle so well, as they were wearing skirts haha. We found out that there was a place where you could rent Segways, but much to my dismay there were none available at the time. Then it was dinner time! One thing I forgot to mention is that in Italy, everything is very highly priced. They don't give you free water. In fact, alcoholic beverages are in most cases cheaper than water. So every meal we would have to splurge and buy one, maybe two, liters of water. Just to make sure we had enough water for everyone we would sneak in our own water bottles, and hand Dad our glasses where he would refill them under the table. It was sort of a fun little game to hurry and do it while the waiter wasn't watching. But, I will say that the price of water was almost made up for by all the aqueducts, or little mini fountains that would just flow with cold drinking water along the streets. We were able to fill up our water bottles with fresh water when we needed.

This was a Mosaic... meaning it was made out of tiny pieces of stone!


We were able to sleep in for the first time today! After breakfast at 9:00 we shopped around for a little bit, looking for last minute souvenirs from Rome, and then hauled our family of 6, with 6 suitcases, 6 carry-ons  through the crowded cobblestone streets to the train station. We arrived in Florence around 2:20. Florence was smaller than Rome, but still so beautiful. The architecture just makes you feel as though you have gone back in time. We got settled, and then headed to the Accademia museum to see Michelangelo's "David".  All of the sculptures were so crazy! I have no idea how they can chisel it so smooth and so lifelike. With no modern tools, just a hammer and chisel. It blows my mind. And the David was huge! A lot bigger than I had pictured it. On the way back to the hotel we got some delicious gelato, probably my favorite of the whole trip, that was peach flavored. So so good! As Tanner went to throw his cup away he tripped, spun around, and fell flat on his back. All the tourists couldn't help but look at the boy who just totally biffed it. And I couldn't help but laugh out loud (After making sure he was ok, of course :P) For dinner we ate at one of the many delicious restaurants, but also were introduced to the 10% service charge to eat there. They also generously added a 2.50 euro cover charge per person. Now you know what I mean when I say Italy is very highly priced! I think my dad experienced a bit of indigestion as he looked at the bill. (In the restaurant's defense I loved the food).
The family crammed in the elevator of the hotel 


We found out that there were mosquitos in Italy. We also found out that I am a little more sensitive to bug bites for whatever reason. One bite in particular  actually blistered up about 3/8 " high and 1/2 " in diameter. It was huge. We lanced it and put a bandaid on it and went on our way. We went to the  Duomo, which was so cool. Adam, EMily, Tanner, and I climbed the belfry tower next to the Duomo...422 steps! It was crazy, and I thought I would die, but I told myself that I would just count it was my work out for the two weeks I would be gone haha. The view at the top was most definitely worth it! We looked across all of florence, endless clay rooftops, magnificent churches, and rolling green hills. I really couldn't believe we were actually in Italy. It is such a beautiful country. We then headed back to our hotel for a quick rest, and then got on our tour bus to Pisa. We drove through the Tuscan countryside, as I once again couldn't believe we were in Italy. We drove past lots of grape fields, sunflower fields, and cottages. We visited the leaning tower, and the church there. There were a lot of shops there as well. It was really funny to look around the whole square and see people taking pictures of the leaning tower with them "holding it up". We drove back to Florence, and got back around 7 pm. We found a great restaurant, and then walked down to Ponte Vecchia, which was an amazing bridge! I will let the picture speak for itself. Then we just wondered around the streets of Florence, picked up some gelato, and listened to a concert in the square.
The view from the bell Tower


We woke up and breakfast, and then Adam, Emily, and I rushed to the H&M when it opened and shopped for a little bit before we had to get on the train to Venice. As we got to the train station we realized that our train had been canceled. But there was one leaving right that second. So we asked if we could take that one instead, and one of the "train men" said no. Adam went off to look for some more info while my dad decided to get a second opinion. He asked another "train man" if we could jump on that train and he told us we could. So we rushed to get all our baggage on before it left, while Emily ran off to find Adam. We waited for Adam and Emily to come back and were worried they wouldn't make it. It turns out that they very nearly got on the wrong train but made it just in the nick of time. It just so happened that others who were supposed to be on the original train to Venice that was canceled, were in the same boat (or train) as us. We walked up and down the crowded train trying to find an open seat. My mom found one, and the rest of us sat on top of garbage cans, or on the floor for the first leg of the trip. As we made a few stops some seats opened up, luckily, and we were able to have a seat meant for sitting in.  When we arrived in Venice we took a Vaporetto (water bus) and rode to San Marco's Square. It was so cool to go along the grande canal and see all the different building along the water. Bridges connected the pieces of land... now it truly felt like we were in a fairy tale!  When we got to the square we drug our luggage through the very crowded, cobblestone square, and through crowded narrow alley ways until we found our hotel. The hotel was a nice, and was furnished like a cottage. Apparently there were some issues with Mom and Dad's bathroom though, because mom got locked in the bathroom for about 5 minutes. We wandered around venice, looking at all of the cool glass shops, costume shops, etc. It was so beautiful! Then for the moment I had been waiting for... We took a gondola ride! It was amazing. We wound through the canal, and under bridges. It felt like a dream. I really couldn't believe that I had actually made it to Italy. It had felt so far off, and as though I would never reach it.

Our seats in the train

Getting ready for a Gondola ride!


This was our last day in Italy. We took the complimentary tour that our hotel offered and took a taxi over to the island of Murano, to see the glass blowing factory. It was so interesting. It really is amazing the things that they can make with glass. We got to watch them blow the glass, and then got to see their gallery of very expensive glass items. I can tell you now that I walked with my arms folded through the gallery, so nervous that I would trip and break a 500,000 dollar sculpture. We headed back to the hotel and got our things packed up, and took another vaporetto to the port where are cruise ship was to leave.

The trip was better than I had imagined, and Italy is even better than it seems in the movies. I really couldn't believe I had actually made it that far, and I loved every minute of it. Although it was nice to get back to an english speaking society, I had an amazing time. I would like to say THANK YOU to the make a wish foundation, and to my wish granters Leslie and Liz. Thank you for making my dreams come true and for giving me a wonderful experience.  I am so grateful that I was healthy enough to walk all over Italy, and most importantly enjoy all of the food!