For those of you following this story, I apologize for keeping you in the dark. Apparently having a kid with cancer is time-consuming and exhausting. Who knew?
Goo is, as expected, kicking some serious – well, you know.
Radiation? Owned it. Finished 28 days of treatment with NO – that’s right, NO – side effects. No burns. No neuropathy in her extremities. No mouth sores. No esophagitis. No fatigue. Because frankly, cancer, you don’t stand a chance against my kid.
Chemotherapy is expected to be ongoing through November. We have an evaluation in six weeks. But she’s on a roll, defying the odds, shocking the doctors, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got to finish early. I know that’s unheard of, but so it is having 5.5 weeks of intense radiation therapy with no side effects. Well, except the sweet tan she’s got going on.
I don’t write often because I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer (if you don’t get that reference, watch this). There are days when I’m kicking butt and taking names, and there are days when I cry in the shower because no one can see me. Or in the car because I’ve got a good hour to get tears out, and still have time for the red, puffy eye and nose thing to go away. It’s so unbecoming. Honestly, most people are aware of the heartache that having a child with a serious illness can cause. I didn’t want to write about that as much. I didn’t want to wallow there, to dwell on the overwhelming physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual fatigue. So there. Now I’ve said it happens, and we can move on to the good part.
Goo’s fight with cancer has shocked me in a very, very good way. The world is full of ugliness. Full of wars, threats, disease, incomprehensible greed, and suffering. It is easy to forget that it is also full of courage, hope, victory, inspiration, and love. If you hang out with a pediatric cancer patient for a while, you get to see that. And because you just can’t understand unless you really see, I’m breaking my own rule and sharing photos. This is my family. This is our team.
Exhibit one: Goo’s radiation oncology team. These ladies were there every single day, reassuring her, playing her favorite music, cracking jokes, and getting us through what is, in the beginning, a very scary ordeal. The fact that they get paid a fraction of what some tall guy with a ball gets paid is deplorable in my opinion, but that’s another post. These are my heroes. There is a lot more money in other fields, but they spend their days lifting patients, reassuring terrified families, and bringing a little bit of joy to a very dark road.
Exhibit two: This beautiful group of bald heads. Our church did a St. Balrick’s fundraiser in honor of Goo, and several other members who are battling cancer. We had about 30 heads get shaved, in addition to 8 ponytails donated to Locks of Love. And because the sight was so overwhelming (read: I cried my mascara off), I’m breaking my own rule and sharing pictures. Because you guys have got to see this. Donations are still being accepted, and all funds go to support pediatric cancer research – the scientists taking the cure rate of children’s cancer from 58% to 80% in just the past 35 years. If you’d like to donate, please go here.
Exhibit three: Sisterly love. Cancer impacts everyone in the family, and siblings are no exception. Punkin has always been an inspiration to me, but watching her fight alongside her sister has blessed me more than I could ever communicate. She has endless patience, even when mine has run out. She opens up her room to extra sister sleepovers, and spends her days off from school going to chemo with us because it gives Goo extra courage to have her big sister there. And then there was this: At our church’s St. Balrick’s event, we also had women donating their hair to Locks of Love. Punkin has had long hair for years, almost covering her back. She hesitated to even let me trim it, until Goo lost her hair. Almost immediately, she decided she would donate her hair to help other girls fighting the same fight. I want to be like her.
Exhibit four: I don’t have a picture for this one, but I’ve noticed something. When Goo lost her hair, I immediately went into Mama Bear mode. One horrific comment was made to her from an unknowing observer, and I prepared to obliterate anyone who used hurtful words with my baby. I braced myself for the strangers staring. And it happens all the time, just not in the way I expected. I expected to see looks of fear, curiosity, even disgust. What I have seen? Looks of compassion. Looks of hope. Kind nods from passersby that seem to say, “Good work, Mom. You’ve got this. She’s a fighter.” If you take the time to look, the world is full of truly wonderful people. We encountered a fellow cancer patient, a beautiful woman with three children of her own, who took one look at Goo and said to me, “She will be a strong woman, with a powerful story to tell.”
I couldn’t agree more.