One Year

May 30, 2010

One year ago today, at about 5:30 pm, I stood in the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital ER and asked a young, nervous resident, “Are you trying to tell me my daughter has leukemia?”

When he nodded, solemnly in response, I distinctly remember taking a step back from Tanner’s gurney, so she couldn’t see my face as I fought to comprehend how a sudden backache in the middle of the night could turn out to be leukemia… couldn’t see me crumple in disbelief… couldn’t watch my eyes grow wide in horror as I bent over at the waist and pushed a scream back into my mouth before it could make a telltale sound.

I was alone with Tanner at the ER. John was home with Jake, and my friend Beth, who had come so quickly when I called, was on her way back to our house to trade places with John so he could come to the hospital.

I called John and told him to come quickly, but didn’t tell him why. No one should drive with that kind of news rattling around in his head. When he got there, I took him out into the hallway and told him what the doctor had said and we held each other and cried.

The next two days were a whirlwind of false hopes that it could be something else followed by a deafening silence when the bone marrow biopsy results were definitive. This was it… our daughter had cancer.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since that day. It’s trite to say, but it really only seems like yesterday. My memory is now organized by the things that happened before May 30, 2009, and the things that have happened since. They feel strangely like two different lives.

It’s not a day I want to celebrate… this diagnosaversary, as some call it… but it’s too big to let pass without mention and without reflection. It changed our lives, mostly for the worse, but admittedly some for the better. We now know the incredible strength of our daughter and the unending and unexpected kindnesses of those we know and of those we don’t.

Tanner is asleep on the sofa as I write this, having given in to the affects of the high-dose steroids she takes, her new hair curling softly around her peaceful face, her chest rising and falling slowly. I am struck with the fact that she is alive… not just a little, but a lot alive. She is thriving and growing and having fun, despite it all.

She had made it through one year, and she will make it through another and then just 67 more days after that, she will take her last dose of chemo. She will just stop, wherever she is in her monthly chemo cycle, on August 6, 2011. She will be eight years old. And, we will work hard to make all of this a distant memory and to use what we have learned from it to make our lives even better than it could have been BC (before cancer).

One down and one to go. Go get ‘em Baby.


Happy Anniversary

December 11, 2009

cabo san lucas 072Ten years! I have been married to John for 10 years. There have been ups and downs, good times and bad, smooth rolling and rocky moments and… well, the unimaginable. Together, we have traversed this road side by side and I can’t imagine having taken this journey with anyone else.

The best part about John is that he gets me. He knows I usually have a negative knee jerk reaction to new things at first, but that, usually, after thinking about it, I’ll consider it rationally and come around. (And, no, I don’t usually apologize for the knee jerk reaction.) He just knows that’s what I’m going to do and rolls with it. He knows that’s me and it’s probably not going to change. And, he doesn’t make me feel bad about it. I have a big personality and need someone confident enough to deal with that. If anything, John’s personality is bigger than mine, but somehow, he complements me instead of overshadowing me.

Over the past six or seven years, John and I have faced a lot together. On the way to having Tanner and Jake, I miscarried three times. Jake was born with one kidney and had bladder reflux… thankfully it resolved itself without surgery. John’s Mom has had breast cancer… twice. Then, of course, leukemia for Tanner, an unimaginable diagnosis that could rock the foundation of any relationship.

All these things could have separated us. The stress alone certainly drives John and I to say and do some things we wouldn’t normally say or do. We certainly don’t always agree on everything to do with Tanner’s treatment. But, in the end, I think we’re a tighter team than we have ever been before. We work on it, forgive each other, and sometimes just agree to disagree. But, mostly, I think we come out on the same side and face things head on… together.

Dr. Phil (I can’t believe I’m quoting Dr. Phil) once said that marriage is NOT 50/50. Sometimes it’s 80/20, sometimes 60/40 and, occasionally, 100/0. I think you have to have faith that it evens out in the end and not keep score. I think the best thing about our relationship is that John and I carry each other when we need to and try not to make a big deal about it. No one needs to feel bad about the times when you’re not really pulling your weight.

Bottom line is, I’m crazy about my husband. He is goofy and kind. He has an unwavering commitment to me and to the kids that is rare. He is strong and solid an amazing dad and husband. He makes me laugh and still gives me butterflies. And, I just like hanging out with him… he’s fun.

Happy Anniversary, Baby. I love you.