Telling It Like It Is

October 28, 2010

I made it through my first day of the low iodine diet. Thanks to Beth and her yummy bread and muffins, it wasn’t too bad. Although I will say that scrambled egg whites are a little weird (no point in trying to make an omelet without cheese). I never realized how often I must take a little “taste” off the kids’ plates while I am fixing meals until today when I couldn’t.

Batman and the Joker joined forces today!

Jake had his Halloween party at school day. They wore costumes and trick-or-treated to all the classrooms and offices. He was Batman, of course, and his little best friend at school, Spencer, was the Joker. Too funny. Hilariously, he insisted on wearing his new Superman pajamas under his Batman costume so when he took it off, he was still a superhero! Imagine if Batman could really fly, instead of just gliding, and had x-ray vision in addition to that Batarang… talk about superpowers!

Last night, when I was picking up Tanner’s room before bedtime, I found a little piece of paper on her bed with “Wish List” written at the top. Tanner had written 10 things that she wished for. Most were cute things that any seven-year-old would wish for like “more Silly Bandz” and “All the Build-a-Bears I can make.” But, what broke my heart was #1 on the list… “No More Leukemia.” Further down the list, but not far behind, written in a second grader’s careful scrawl, was, “No More Medisun.” It solidified for me my suspicion that no matter how much Tanner seems immersed in school and friends and play rehearsals, leukemia is still top of mind for her. It still dominates her life.

John and I recently had a conversation about Tanner and I expressed my concern that all this fund-raising and cancer awareness stuff we are involved in could cause her identity to be wrapped up in having leukemia. John said, “It already is. How could it not be?”

And, he’s right, of course. How could a child endure the type of medical treatment she has had; be told all the time not to touch something, eat something or do something because she might get sick; and know how much longer it will go on, without it becoming an integral part of who she is? It’s become a part of who we all are, really.

And, now, ever so slowly, cancer is becoming a part of who I am. For the next two weeks, I will be reminded every time I choose something to eat, that I have cancer. I will cook and freeze food so my family will not have to cook while I am out of pocket. I will frantically try to do all the laundry and cleaning and grocery shopping I can do to leave the house in good condition before I’m not able to help anymore… again… for the third time in 3 months. No matter that it’s not a big, scary cancer like Tanner has… it’s still affecting us all. I can understand how leukemia is top of mind for Tanner.

If you remember, this summer I wrote about a film crew following us for a fund-raising video while we were at Vandy. The video is now available for viewing online at It’s a powerful testament to the blessing that the Children’s Hospital is to our community. Tanner appears at about 4:15 if you don’t want to watch the whole video (it’s about 8 minutes), although it’s worth watching. There are no words to describe how proud John and I are of her role in this video. From a child’s perspective, she tells it like it is. No adult explanations needed. Her child’s view is pretty mature, considering all she has been through.

As Tanner says, “Kids shouldn’t have to go through all this mess.”


Clinic Day #37

July 15, 2010

Hurray for counts above 1,000!!!! Finally!!! Tanner’s neutraphils were at 1,500 today, which means she can have salad and go to a restaurant again! She was very happy.

Mercifully, we had a pretty quick visit today and got her back to theater camp by noon. She is so excited about tomorrow’s performance. I keep trying to fend off the bad thoughts that keep creeping into my head when I remember that she was super excited last time as well and woke up sick that morning. I can’t shake the feeling that we are not quite home free yet. I’m trying to let hope win, though, and think positively.

Today at clinic, we were once again accompanied by Ms. Donna, who is videotaping Tanner’s clinic visits for a fundraising video for the hospital. It’s sort of like being on a reality show. Tanner had a little bit of a hard time acting like herself today with the camera there, but forgot about them long enough to sing “Day by Day” with the music therapist in the infusion room. She asked me to sing with her at first, then got confident and asked me to stop singing with her (lol) so she could take her act solo. She is singing that song in her performance tomorrow and she has a solo at the beginning of the song.

We had a sobering moment in the waiting room before being taken back. A little boy, maybe 5 years old, walked through the waiting room. His hair was gone and he had that familiar gray look kids get when they are taking a ton of chemo. He also had a feeding tube taped to his cheek and I detected a familiar little limp that told me the chemo was affecting his legs. Tanner watched him walk through and then looked at me and said, “That boy is taking everything.” I nodded and watched a look pass over her face that a 7-year-old shouldn’t have. In that fleeting moment, I knew she understood the seriousness of this cancer business, the gravity of the potential consequences of this disease and it’s treatment. I pulled her to me and hugged her tight with tears in my eyes. And then it was gone. She giggled and said, “Stop squeezing me!” The child was back.


Love Letter to Tanner

June 15, 2010

Mothers and Daughters have it tough. Our relationships are not always the easiest. Maybe it’s because our daughters fall too close to home that we find it somewhat easier to parent a boy, or at least I do. But, what I hope Tanner realizes, in the middle of all the mom-daughter tussles, is that I love her completely and really do want the best for her.

The beauty of this blog is that maybe someday she’ll see that. That even though it didn’t always come out right, I was always doing my best and that anything I did came from a place of love.

So, this post is a love letter to Tanner. A letter that she can read when she’s old enough to understand some of the grown-up things I write about here, and old enough to forgive her Mom for the blunders and maybe even understand where I was coming from. But, mostly, for her to see how much — how very much — I love her.

Dear Tanner:

I hope by the time you read this, that this leukemia business is far in our past and we have moved on to arguing about what you will wear to school or whether it’s okay to wear makeup or not. I’m thinking you won’t remember much about being treated for leukemia, but I know it will have shaped who you are. Maybe reading this blog will help you understand some of things you do, and some of the things Daddy and I have done.

I don’t know who you will become, but I do know one thing… you will be strong. You would have been strong before this damn cancer, but after you will be a force to be reckoned with. There will be nothing you can’t do.

Being your Mom is a privilege I wouldn’t trade for all the power jobs or peaceful Saturday afternoons in the world. If it hasn’t always felt that way to you, I apologize. Being a Mom, and maybe particularly a stay-at-home Mom, is decidedly unglamorous. And, I’m a pretty lousy homemaker, so I probably gripe about that part. But, never doubt that I stayed home with you and Jake because I wanted to… desperately. I didn’t want to miss one minute of the wonder that has been you. I didn’t want to look back and have not been a part of all the things that made you grow into the wonderful young woman I know you are becoming.

I’m sure it won’t always be easy for us… we are too alike. You have inherited my stubbornness, which makes us a little like gasoline and matches at times. As long as you can remember that being right doesn’t equal happy (I’m still trying to get that one down), your stubbornness can serve you well. It will help you not give up, but instead work harder than everyone else. And, it will free you to be yourself all the time and not care too much what other people think.

I’m going to try to practice what I’m preaching here and admit that I haven’t always been right when it comes to being your Mom. You are a hard cookie to parent with a strong will, but a bright spot of joy also, and I have often struggled with how to teach you right from wrong without breaking your beautiful spirit. If I haven’t done it right, it wasn’t because I didn’t want to or because I wasn’t trying or because I didn’t care. It was because I am human, and what you will learn someday is that there is no instruction manual for raising a child and we all just do the best we can. In particular, there’s no instruction manual for raising a child with leukemia and few qualified people to ask for advice.

Daddy and I were nearly broken in two when we found out you had leukemia. It was, without a doubt, the worst day of my life. Either one of us would have gladly taken your place rather than watching you suffer so. The physical treatment was hard on you, but it was the isolation that was the really tough thing for you to swallow. You are a social butterfly and love people, so being kept out of school and away from friends and activities was so difficult for you. I know you blamed me for a lot of that, because I was usually the one breaking the news that you couldn’t go to a birthday party, or spend Thanksgiving with family, or go to the beach with your cousins. And, that’s okay. I just hope that one day, maybe when you’re a Mom yourself, you’ll get that being a parent means loving someone enough to let them hate you when you have to. We did everything we could to keep you safe and assure that you had a life to live at the end of this seemingly endless chemo.

When I was a little girl, I thought my Daddy was stronger than anyone. I knew he and my Mom would never let anyone or anything hurt me. I am sorry that you had to learn at age 5 that the bogeyman is bigger than Mommy and Daddy put together. It’s not a fair age to learn that and we did everything we could to retain your childhood, but cancer is ugly and you are too bright to not notice that no one could ever really promise you would be okay. You must have been so scared and I wish I could have made it better.

I want to make sure, more than anything else, that you walk away from reading this letter knowing three things: 1) I haven’t been the perfect Mom, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. It’s not the easiest job, this Mom business, but I love it and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 2) I am prouder of you than you will ever realize. You have been braver, stronger and more poised than I could have ever been in the same situation. 3) I love you… fiercely and completely… just the way you are. And, I always will.

I hope this helps… for you to understand what happened to you, and to our family, many years ago, and for you to realize that you have been all I could ask for from a daughter.

I love you, T.

The Best Thing About Cancer

June 1, 2010

Tanner and Jake donating change to the Children's Hospital

We’ve been accompanied on our last two clinic visits by a small camera crew that is following Tanner for a fundraising video for the Children’s Hospital. This time, just Ms. Donna came with us, with her video camera, to chronicle Tanner getting her port accessed, receiving her chemo in the infusion room, and waiting in the pre-op area for her lumbar puncture. Last time, Tanner sat with Ms. Donna and her crew for about 10 or 15 minutes and answered questions about what it’s like to have leukemia. During these questions, Ms. Donna asked Tanner what was the worst thing about having cancer. Tanner answered, “Missing school and doing things with my friends.” Then, she asked a question I wasn’t sure a six-year-old could answer. She asked what was the best thing about having cancer. Tanner thought for a minute, puzzled by such a strange question, and replied, “There’s really nothing good about it.” I was really proud of her for not feeling pressured to come up with an “acceptable” answer and for just answering honestly.

But, the question stuck with me and I found myself wondering how I would answer it, if she had asked me. For a moment I felt just like Tanner… there’s nothing good about it. But, I thought a little more and suddenly it hit me… the best thing about having cancer is the unbelievable kindness of people. I literally never knew people could be so kind… really.

Take today for example. Tanner got an email from her “animal friends,” and squealed with delight. We even wrote an email back to the cat to tell him how to make his hurt ear feel better. Charlene has been sending photos and letters from cats, dogs, horses, goats, turkeys and even a bee for a solid year. She even made a book of the letters for Tanner to keep. Tanner still doesn’t know who they come from (shhhhh!) and it’s like magic to her.

Then, I got a call from a friend whose daughter is going to forgo birthday presents for donations to the Children’s Hospital. We’re trying to work out something cool where maybe the party attendees bring toys for the Childlife Center in the infusion room. Too cool.

Then, I got an email from one of Tanner’s Make-A-Wish volunteer coordinators. She is running a half-marathon for Team in Training to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and wanted to know if she could run in Tanner’s honor. She is the second of Tanner’s two Wish Coordinators to do this. As if they don’t do enough

Then, John came home from work and brought me a gift from my secret pal. This sweet woman has been sending me gifts for almost a year now, just every so often, to let me know that someone’s thinking about me. They are always such thoughtful things designed to make me feel pampered. Today, a bracelet with a little charm on it that says, “Mom” and a little heart for each of the kids. I love it, just like I’ve loved the flip flops, the key chain, the monogrammed bags, etc. The card said she has truly enjoyed being my secret pal… that’s the kind of person I’m talking about here. Wow.

This is just one day’s kindness. Other days, there are little gifts, cards of encouragement, supportive comments to the blog, babysitting, and countless other acts of generosity. There are also the quiet behind the scenes things like the great friends who make this blog possible by hosting it on their site and doing all the technical stuff I don’t understand. Then, there are indescribable things like the friend who has loaned Tanner his St. Christopher medal he wore in Vietnam so she will be protected like he was. How do you thank someone for that?

These things mean more to us than their face value. It’s not the gift or the gesture itself that is so important… it’s the support, the friendship, the hope, the love that they bring that make them so instrumental to surviving this ordeal.

So, if Ms. Donna were to ask me what is the best thing about my daughter having cancer, I would say it’s all of YOU.

Thank you for everything you have done, and continue to do, to make this journey bearable.


P.S. Happy Birthday to Tanner’s port, which was put in one year ago today. We sang to it tonight.

Compassion Fatigue

April 2, 2010

This is a risky post. It will not win me any motherhood awards, and it will likely make a few people cringe. But, I try to speak the truth here, when I can own up to it, and to paint a realistic picture of what this journey is like for us and for the countless other families who endure the pain of caring for a sick child, or even a sick adult.

I like to call it “compassion fatigue.” It’s my term for when I have been sucked dry of all empathy and I can no longer see Tanner’s suffering as anything other than an annoyance to me. I’m there right now. It’s 10 pm and for the second night in a row, Tanner is still awake and I am bunking in her room. She is terrified thinking about a TV show she saw five minutes of the other day before we realized it was scary and changed it. She has come out of her room no less than 20 times since we put her in bed at 7:30. We had a day full of activity and I know she must be exhausted. And, I know with my brain that she must truly be too scared to care about consequences because she has opted to endure several of them in order to continue coming out of her room and to avoid sleep.

She also, I believe, has a urinary tract infection for which we will have to go to the doctor in the morning to have a urine sample analyzed, if we’re lucky. If we’re not lucky, we will end up in the ER sometime tonight. I’ve had a urinary tract infection and I know how it hurts, so in my brain, I know she is uncomfortable, although we have given her a healthy dose of oxycodone.

I also know in my brain that she didn’t mean to skin both knees today and have to be carried 3 blocks home, and that she didn’t mean to tucker out on the hike we took this morning and have to be piggy-backed a good ¼ mile or more back to the car. I know in my brain that she didn’t know that popcorn would burn her mouth when she asked me to make it after asking for and receiving two cartons of macaroni and cheese and three glasses of milk. She didn’t know we would have to throw it away and I would have to interrupt my dinner for the 10th time and get her goldfish instead.

In my brain, I know all these things and I know I should be sympathetic. But, unfortunately, your brain doles out knowledge but your soul doles out sympathy and understanding, and my soul is all shut down today. I have compassion fatigue… nothing left to give. All I can hear right now is “I want…,” “I need…,” “Get me…” “When will you…” The part of me that cares about the child behind these requests stopped functioning sometime around 1 pm today when Tanner interrupted the 15 minutes I tried to claim to myself eating lunch on my bed with the TV on. She needed miralax because she felt constipated. A realistic request, but so ill-timed.

I know she is only six years old and that she doesn’t understand when she’s asked for too much, but she has. I’m just filling requests like a begrudging robot at this point.

My husband wonders why I stay up so late after everyone is gone to bed. It’s not that I don’t need the sleep. I fall asleep sitting up almost every day while I’m putting Jake down for a nap. I stay up after everyone goes to bed because I know, if I am lucky, that there is a good chance that for hours, no one will ask me for anything. That I can do exactly what I want to do, uninterrupted. And, it’s worth whatever sleep I lose doing it, because it preserves my sanity and allows me to wake up the next morning and fill requests all day without feeling resentful about it. I have a feeling a lot of Mom’s do this.

But, I think that having a child with cancer adds a layer to Momdom that complicates things. That makes your need for a compassion recharge that much greater. And, I’m fresh out.

It’s an ugly thing to talk about and definitely not one of my finer moments, but it’s where I am. Tomorrow, after the visit to the pediatricians, and possibly the Vandy ER, after the Easter Egg hunt at church, I will run away. I will go to the movies with a girlfriend, or even just by myself. And my wonderful husband will recognize my need for this recharge and send me off with the reassurance that I should stay gone as long as I like.

And, when and if I do come back (lol), I will do more than just go through the motions. I’ll add a kiss and a hug to the bandaid and Neosporin routine. And, I will actually mean it.


We Didn’t Make It

March 2, 2010

We didn’t escape the fever. Tanner developed one this morning and we headed into clinic after dropping Jake off from school. We’re still here. She’s receiving a dose of IV Rocefin (a powerful broad range antibiotic) and then she’s getting an IVIG infusion. That’s the antibody infusion I referred to in my last post. IgG is an antibody that should normally be between 600 and 1,000 in a blood sample. Tanner’s was 478, which is really not especially low for a kid on chemo. The chemo, along with killing cells, kills the antibodies in the blood. But, she has been sick so much, especially with coughs, ear infections and pneumonia, which are indicators of a low IgG level. They hope by giving her an infusion of IgG, she will feel better and her immune system will improve.

The IgG she will receive is compiled from the plasma of up to 100,000 donors, so she will have the combined immunity of lots of people. AMAZING… DOCTORS AND RESEARCHERS ARE AMAZING. Just yesterday, the guy putting the countertops in our kitchen said his wife was a researcher at a local cancer center. I told him to tell his wife we thank God for her and others like her every day.

It’s a little unnerving to have this transfusion; there is a low risk of her having a reaction (much like someone could react to a blood transfusion) and it concerns me that she is receiving a product that is donated by so many people. But, the doctors have assured us the risks are very low, but the possibility of a reward of an improved immune system outweighs any risk.

She feels lousy and is just done. She has broken down in tears several times over small things that wouldn’t normally have rattled her so much. We are tired of being here and tired of the rollercoaster. It’s almost too much for me to bear today, so I don’t know why a six-year-old should have to bear it either.

The nurse just came in and hooked her up for the infusion. Should take several hours and then we will get to go home.

I’m telling you… this is one wild ride.


Clinic Day # 26

December 31, 2009

Standing room only in the infusion room at Vanderbilt Children’s today. A run on chemo. I’ve never seen it so crowded. Tanner, Jake and I actually sat on the floor. There were people standing around everywhere. Some parents were actually rude enough to remain sitting while kids needing chemo were left to stand waiting. Crazy.

Tanner’s counts were perfect – in leukemia world, that is. Her neutraphils were at 1,700 (the doctors want them between 1,000 and 2,000 during long-term maintenance). They were at 16,000 on Monday when she went to the ER with a fever. The body is an amazing thing. The good news is that, for now, they’re not raising her chemo levels… AND we don’t have to go into clinic for FOUR WEEKS! Good grief… we won’t know what to do with ourselves.

Everyone seems to be feeling better today. Of course, the steroids should fix that for Tanner. In addition, she got a dose of Vincristine today and will get an oral methotrexate pill tonight. The methotrexate seems to wipe her out the next day and make her feel bad for a little while. So, it probably won’t be the best week, but maybe we’ll be able to play a little tomorrow.

While the nurse was pushing Tanner’s Vincristine into her port, Jake said, “What are you doing to Tanner?” Cari replied, “I’m giving her medicine that will make her feel better.” Tanner said, very deadpan, “It doesn’t make me feel better, it makes me feel crappy.” Well said.


A Blog Holiday

November 30, 2009

Sorry to have not updated in so long… I was on a blog holiday… in honor of Thanksgiving. Okay, maybe I was just really tired and haven’t had anything very nice to say.

I feel so ungrateful admitting that. In reality, we had a nice holiday and I got out quite a bit over the long weekend. Tanner is feeling really good and we’ve been looking at houses again to see if we might find a big yard to romp in when we can’t be around others (ours is a postage stamp). I cut about six inches of hair off and feel so light and wonderfully different. (I felt conspicuous in this family with all that hair.) I saw New Moon with girlfriends and laughed more than I have in a long time. We got a Christmas tree on Sunday morning and actually went into the outdoor garden section of Home Depot with both kids in pajamas (the only public place we have been in almost a month). Tanner ran all over in iCarly pajamas with her pale, bald head uncovered. It was a sight to see.

So, I should have had lots of nice things to say, but somehow I just couldn’t write them down. Whenever I sat at the computer, I wanted to write about how frustrated and irritable we all are cooped up here. About how Tanner is not sleeping, waking 4-5 times a night, sometimes with nightmares, sometimes sleepwalking. She is getting up consistently now at 4:30-5:00 am for good. About how John and I are exhausted. About how Tanner and Jake, once fast friends, can now not spend 2 minutes together without fighting. About how Tanner has asked to go back to see the play therapist because she knows her emotions are out of control and she doesn’t know how to fix it.

I know I should be grateful that our plan to keep her isolated and avoid any more hospitalizations during this phase has been successful. And, I suspect her counts will have come up when we go to clinic on Friday and we will gain more freedom in just a few days. I know how I should be feeling, but I just can’t seem to get there.

Instead, I feel irritable and cranky (have I mentioned I don’t stay at home very well?) and tired of playing 2- and 6-year-old games. I feel desperate for normalcy and a little resentful of all those people I see just romping about taking their freedom for granted. I realize that makes me a glass half empty kind of girl this week, but that’s just the honest truth.

Thanksgiving night, after having a nightmare, Tanner asked me what good thought she could think about while she tried to go back to sleep. I was completely stumped. What good thing could she look forward to? A playdate with a friend? No. A birthday party? No. A special event at school? No. A movie with Mom and a girlfriend? No. No. No. No. No. No. Six months ago, I could have rattled off five fun things to look forward to without even thinking about it. Thursday night, a full 60 seconds after she asked me, I came up with this beauty: maybe you and Jake could get your little stuffed dogs and make a little bed and house for them out of a cardboard box… and decorate it. No wonder she showed up in our bedroom 5 minutes later crying that she was still scared.

It is a horrible feeling to realize your child has nothing to look forward to but another day spent with her Mom and her brother in the house or at some abandoned playground, hiding from other kids and germs.
Tanner’s state of mind is evident in her play. She has played cancer nurse every day for a week. She takes lab tests, delivers chemo, puts me and Jake to sleep for procedures and delivers the bad news that we have cancer… over and over again. This week, the cancer has taken advantage of our weariness and has moved in to take over.

Tanner has just woken up again for the third time already tonight. It promises to be another sleepless night. I snapped at her when she showed up at the balcony the third time, telling her to go back to bed and refusing to come up again and tuck her in… again. I’ll go check on her in 10 minutes and help her if she’s not asleep. There’s no way to know whether her sleeping problems are physical or emotional. I’m leaning towards emotional since she hasn’t had chemo in several weeks. Either way, they’re exhausting for all of us.

So, now you’ll wish I hadn’t broken my blog holiday. Hopefully, I’ll cheer up or it will warm up so we can at least go outside. Friday seems a long way away.


Another Battle Lost

November 24, 2009

I am crying as I write this, crying for yet another child who has lost his life to cancer. I did not know him, but every time I hear about cancer taking a child so early, I can’t help but cry out of sadness for the child and his or her parents… and out of fear for my child. There are no words to describe the terror.

My Mom emailed me last week about a little 5-year-old boy she heard about who was losing his battle to neuroblastoma. He loved Christmas and his family was celebrating Christmas early while he was able. They put out a request on their blog that people send Christmas cards to him.

Yesterday, I told Tanner about Noah. I didn’t tell her he was dying, but that his family was trying to do something special for him, just like people do special things for her when she is having a hard time. She eagerly agreed to make a card for him and got right to work. She drew a Christmas ornament and wrote inside it, “Merry Christmas. Hi, my name is Tanner. I am six-years-old and I have cancer just like you. Love, Tanner.”

IMG_1303This morning when I woke up, she had gathered a small stuffed fox, a pumpkin eraser and a little fuzzy ball and put those items, along with the card, inside a large zip lock bag. Thirty minutes ago, I put the bag inside an envelope and addressed it to Noah, added stamps and dropped it into the mailbox. When I came in, out of curiosity, I decided to look him up on Caring Bridge to see if he had a site. He did not, but I googled him and found a host of new stories documenting how his family’s request for cards had gone viral and more than 1 million cards and gifts had come to their home. But, the family was asking people to please stop because they had celebrated Christmas on Nov. 8 and Noah had passed away… yesterday.

I can’t stop crying thinking how I now have to hide away the card and little gifts Tanner collected… little childhood treasures put together from the innocence of her heart… so I don’t have to explain to her that he died before he could receive them.

Noah Biorkmann received more than 1 million Christmas cards before he died yesterday

Noah Biorkmann received more than 1 million Christmas cards before he died yesterday

This disease is vile and heartless. It steals childhoods from innocent children and beautiful children from loving parents. It breaks my heart every day and I am sick of it.



November 3, 2009 Tanner doesn’t seem to be bouncing back from this recent bout of pneumonia the way she normally bounces back from things. Normally, she gets more and more energy every day until she seems back to normal – or leukemia normal, at least. But, this time, she just seems about the same every day. She’s still napping every day and still tired at bedtime and she doesn’t really play all that much; she mostly wants to stay on the couch. Now, it’s only been four days since she was in the hospital, so she may be just recovering slowly from a pretty big illness.

Or, it could be the fact that she is on three antibiotics and her body is just trying to deal with that. I suppose it could also just be the effects of the chemo still. Or, last but not least, she could be getting close to needing a transfusion.

Whatever the reason, she’s tired, which is kind of okay since I am, too. So, we dropped Jake off at school today and came home and lay on the couch and watched movies. It was lovely.

Her teacher was supposed to come this afternoon, but Tanner fell asleep in the car on the way home from picking up Jake from school and I didn’t have the heart to wake her. She wouldn’t have been much good to anyone if I had. She slept several hours and still went to bed on time, tired.

Jake had a great time at school today, but told his teacher several times throughout the day that mommy wasn’t coming back. He woke badly from his nap and was sobbing when I got there. Poor thing… he hasn’t known who was coming or going the last couple of weeks.

Friday is Tanner’s long chemo day. I honestly don’t know how they fit everything they are going to do to her into one day. If she needs a transfusion, I imagine it would mess up the whole shebang; a transfusion takes up to four hours. If she still seems super tired tomorrow, I may take her on Thursday to get her counts checked before Friday.

Tanner and I were in the bathroom at church today after dropping Jake off for school and she was wearing her little fanny pack with her antibiotic drip hooked up. She asked how many more days we had to do this and I told her just one more, but then starting Friday, we have to do five days of IV chemo at home. She said, “We have to take chemo every day?” I nodded and said, “I’m afraid so, sweetie.” She seemed to think about it and then replied in a very adult voice, “I’m gonna feel really crappy.” I told her she was welcome to use any word she wanted to describe it; she’d earned the right.

Tanner’s right… she’s going to feel really “crappy.” And, we’re going to feel crappy watching her suffer. And, Jake is going to feel sidelined and confused by everybody’s crappiness and Tanner’s irritability. Let’s face it, cancer sucks. But, it’s four more weeks of this particular brand of chemo hell, and we can make it. The Pages are strong like that.