On Being Grateful

July 10, 2009 Yesterday, when we were at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for Tanner’s clinic visit, there were several kids in the various waiting areas we visited that reminded me to be grateful Tanner has leukemia. There, I said it. Grateful my daughter has leukemia. Because, for all the horror that word struck in my heart the first time I heard it on May 29, it could be worse. In approximately 2 years, her treatment should be over. She will still have to be tested frequently to be sure we don’t relapse, and for years and years to come, we will worry about her increased risk for a second cancer, but the treatment will be done and she will be living a normal life doing normal things that an 8-year-old does.

The kids I saw yesterday will never do normal things. Their parents will spend countless hours, no years, of their lives in hospitals and doctor’s offices, and undergo too many tests, procedures and treatments to imagine. And, in the end, their kids will never do normal things that an 8-year-old does. And, they will never be able to say that treatment is over.

So, I reminded myself yesterday to be grateful that Tanner has a cancer that is treatable… with a 95% cure rate and that she is low risk with an excellent prognosis.

Then, today, I forgot to be grateful… actually, I just couldn’t be grateful. Days and days of staying around the house, not being able to do the simple things you want to go do, listening to LOTS of whining (no matter how legitimate), enduring the behavior issues that accompany parenting one child who is sick, frustrated and disappointed and another who no longer gets out enough or gets the exercise he needs… all of these things combined just dragged me down. I didn’t feel grateful or lucky… just fed up and tired.

Suffice it to say, I did not win any “Mom of the Year” awards today.

Oddly, two things snapped me out of it: 1) We went swimming at the Whitlers’. Who can be fed up when you’re in a pool? Tanner got to play with some other kids, I got to talk with some adults and Jake got to throw every pool toy the Whitlers own (and they own a lot!) into the pool at least three times. Everybody went home a little happier. 2) My best friend Kim had to put down her beloved dog of 15 years, Boo. I went over to Kim’s house with our other best friend, Beth, and her husband, Glenn, to sit with Kim and realized that I had a better day than she did by a mile. It seemed pretty self-indulgent to be having a pity party at that point.

So, we’ll start again tomorrow. Tanner is doing great so far with the chemo she got yesterday and the daily chemo pill she’s taking. A little nausea, but nothing else, so we’ll cross our fingers that it stays that way and try to do something fun this weekend… without anybody whining… including me.


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