I’m trying something… I created a photo album on Facebook and I think this link will allow you to look at the pictures whether you have a Facebook account or not. Let me know if it works!
February 10, 2010
We’re cooped up and feeling it. That’s all I can say about it without whining and I think I’ve had enough whining in the last few days to last me a lifetime! Tanner feels good and we’re going in for counts tomorrow to see if they are at least on their way up. Her oncologist called yesterday to tell us to stop her oral chemo until her counts come up. He felt they might not rise quickly while she was taking the 6-MP so she’s off of it until at least tomorrow.
Those of you who keep up with us on facebook will have likely seen this picture. I posted it the other day. I can’t stop looking at it. There’s something about it that is so powerful for me. I didn’t ask Tanner to pose for this picture. If you know her, it will not surprise you to hear that she inserted herself into a picture I was taking of the floors in our new house. She ran into the room, saw me taking the picture, threw off her coat and jumped right into the center of the picture. Nothing unusual. She’s a ham, alright. But, I was surprised when I got home and loaded the photo onto the computer.
It’s not her pose… that comes straight out of my People magazines that she sees lying around the house. It’s her face. I expected her to be a little silly, a little put on, with a cheesy grin or a comical pout. But, her face is open and honest. She’s staring at the camera with a confidence and an integrity that takes my breath away. Leukemia has stolen many things from my child, but it will not steal this. It will not steal the strength and courage that I see in that straightforward look… in that beautiful face. No hair to hide behind, but she doesn’t need it. She is a force to be reckoned with.
This is not a child who is afraid. She may have fears, but she is not afraid. She expects the best for herself – you can see it in that look. The way she is looking so calmly at the camera. She’s a superhero. She’s a rock star. She’s GI Jane.
I take comfort in this. I look at her in this picture and know that she will be able to handle whatever comes her way. That she will be an extraordinary woman someday when all of this is just a memory. That the same tenacity and persistence that drives me batty as a parent will be the same determination that allows her to succeed against all odds as an adult. She will have learned it the hard way.
Say a prayer for us tomorrow if you think about it. We’re hoping to hear her counts are on the upswing.
Wouldn’t have been such a great time without Beth and Kim and wouldn’t have been possible without my awesome husband and mother-in-law at home taking care of the kids.
I did miss the kids, though and I was happy to be home. Things seemed to go very well at while I was gone. I think the backpack making party and barbecue afterward was the highlight for Tanner. Everyone seemed to have a good time and they made a lot of backpacks to boot. I love this picture of them. Tanner and Jake look like they had a huge time, as usual. Thanks to our church family for making this possible for Tanner.
This week has been a nice break from the normally restrictive nature of our outings. With Tanner’s counts at an almost normal level (although her immune system is still more compromised than normal), we were able to cautiously get out a little more. We ate last night at Pie in the Sky restaurant where the kids get to play with pizza dough while they wait for their pizza. Then, this morning I took the kids to Opry Mills mall to buy new shoes and go to the Rainforest Cafe. Normally, this is a huge hit, but it was nearly a bust today. I forgot to bring Tanner a sweater and she was so cold I wrapped a paper napkin around her shoulders while Jake spent the whole time very nervous that the animatronic monkeys were going to leave their perch and attack us. He didn’t even eat since he had his fingers stuck in his ears the whole time saying, “It’s too woud” over and over again. When we threw in the towel and decided to take the food with us and eat it in the car on the way home, he said, “Wets get out of here!” Tanner and I laughed about that the whole way home.
This afternoon Tanner had her friend, Isabella, over for a playdate. They made a hair salon in the bathroom and washed each other’s hair and then put on an impressive show for John, Jake and I complete with dancing, piano, acting and singing. Tanner sang the national anthem. It was quite a patriotic moment.
We’ve been incorporating some of the play therapist’s suggestions into handling Tanner and it does appear to be improving things. There are less tantrums, and although she is definitely still angry, she seems to be able to better get hold of herself. She went to talk with the therapist today. I won’t find out what they talked about until next week, but Tanner had a good time and wants to go back so that’s a good sign. Hopefully, she’ll be able to unload a little anger at these sessions and we can find a way to talk to her about this whole rotten thing. It would be nice to be her partner in this instead of her punching bag.
Poor Jake has definitely started to feel the tension in the house and is acting out as well. (I’m just waiting for the dog to rebel next!) It just breaks my heart. He is the sweetest little thing ever and it’s not in his nature to act this way. Thankfully, he’s pretty easy to deal with and I’m hoping a little visit to Grandmom and Grandad’s next week might give him the undivided attention he deserves. It’s hard for a little fella to not get lost in all this, and we need to remember that his needs are just as important as Tanner’s even if she is sick.
Tomorrow is another landmark in this long journey. It is the last day of Consolidation, the second of five phases of treatment Tanner will endure over 2 1/2 years. It’s also probably the last day we’ll have for a while that she’ll be feeling this good. Thursday, provided her counts remain above 750, which I assume they will, we will start Interim Maintenance. That day, August 6, will mark the first day of exactly two years of remaining treatment. They count it from the first day of Interim Maintenance and go two years to the day from then. Crazy how they know exactly how long to treat leukemia to give you the best chance of avoiding a relapse.
Again, please pray for Tanner’s friend Lily. She has only a week to get her counts up high enough to start school on-time and still isn’t there yet. I just know from our experience how important it would be to her to be there on that first day and to be part of the class from the start. This is so hard for these children… not something an 8-year-old or a six-year-old should have to worry about.
Just added some new photos here: Tanner and Jake – 2009