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.
Mom

TGIF

June 4, 2010

Tanner’s just not feeling very well. It’s like this most recent round of chemo is affecting her more than it usually does. Through all the first 6 months of horrible chemo she received, she threw up only twice, now she has thrown up twice in one week and has needed anti-nausea meds every day. Weird.

She’s also been really hot, which I assume is caused by the steroids. She will complain about not being able to cool off and will actually feel really hot to the touch, but has no fever. Like hot flashes, I guess.

I did a little research on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society discussion boards. I go there especially when I have a side effect I want to know more about. Doctors are only so helpful about side effects. They’re more concerned (as they should be) with the effectiveness of all these drugs and whether they’re actually killing the leukemia. Mommas are the ones who worry about side effects and the LLS discussion boards are where they talk about them. Turns out it’s not uncommon for kids to begin having more side effects as maintenance goes along. The theory is that the toxicity of the chemo over the long-term just builds up in their little bodies and they become too tired to fight them off. Many mothers of boys (who do an extra year of chemo) talked about how sick and fatigued their boys were the third year of chemo. So sad.

All this feeling bad hasn’t really stopped us from having some fun, though. Yesterday, after waking up sick, Tanner rebounded and, within an hour, we went to the pool. Kids are amazing. We haven’t played outside as much as usual; the heat was too much for her. But, the steroids are wearing off and we’ll be back to scootering and biking in no time, I’m sure.

Wednesday, we went to see our favorite singer, Roger Day, at the Spring Hill library. It was, as always, lots of fun. Tanner and Jake got a seat up front and Roger worked Tanner’s name into a couple of songs, which tickled her. They got signed t-shirts and we went home with a new copy of a CD we misplaced during the move. We’ve been singing, “As a matter of fact, Jack, I like Yaks! We like YAKS!” in the car ever since.

When we were in line waiting to get into the room where Roger was going to perform, Tanner started talking to a Mom in front of us. She said, “I have cancer, well leukemia, and Roger Day came to our house and had a concert with my friends.” The look on that’s Mom’s face was priceless. Tanner was so matter-of-fact about it the woman never said a thing to her about having cancer, she just looked startled for a moment and kept talking. Lol

Today, more pool time and then we need to go sing Happy Birthday to Aunt Kim. Happy birthday Kimmie! Next week, Tanner has theater camp all week. I’m hoping it will be the perfect outlet for my little drama queen.

Love,
Beth

Clinic Day #33

May 27, 2010

Some clinic days go well, others don’t. Today… not so much. It was Tanner’s once every three months lumbar puncture where they take spinal fluid to test for leukemia cells and inject chemo (methotrexate) into her spinal column. This is because the Central Nervous System (CNS) protects itself from the chemo injected into her blood stream or taken orally. Therefore, leukemia cells hide in the CNS like devious little monsters and come out when the coast is clear. Injecting chemo directly into the spinal column kills them where they live and, hopefully, prevents the leukemia from coming back. Having CNS leukemia is a serious thing that necessitates some pretty serious “super chemo.”

Tanner hates having the lumbar puncture. It’s not the LP itself, but the fact that she has to be put to sleep that bothers her. It’s the only thing through all of this that she really has a big problem with. She worries about it for days ahead of time and today was one of our worst experiences. She broke down in the pre-op room and held the end of her access line refusing to let them give her Versed to calm her down. We ended up getting them to put a longer line on her port and they hid behind her while they injected her line with propofol so she didn’t know it was coming. Right before she went out, she looked at me with panic in her eyes and said, “It that the sleepy milk?” She could feel it going into her port.

It’s so sad. There’s no reasoning with her about it. I think it’s the place she has chosen to put her anxiety about all of this. She is brave about having her port accessed, about getting chemo, about all kinds of other things, but this is where she harbors the anxiety she swallows from all of it. Thankfully, it’s only once every three months, but next time, we will give her anxiety meds before we leave the house… it seems like the kind thing to do.

She usually wakes up from the propofol pretty well, but didn’t today for some reason. She couldn’t wake up and didn’t feel well. In the car on the way home, she got pretty sick. I assume maybe the methotrexate LP did it. It usually doesn’t make her sick, but IV methotrexate does. Poor thing.

So, not such a good day. Hopefully, she’ll feel better tomorrow. We start steroids tonight… just more fun.

Ughhhh.

Love,
Beth

One Mile

April 29, 2010

Yesterday, as we headed to school, Tanner and I talked about the mile run scheduled that morning that is part of her school’s physical education program. Just the night before, she had taken the last dose of a five-day steroid pulse, and just 6 days before, she had a dose of Vincristine. Both things bother her legs and make her weaker than normal, among other side effects.

“You feel okay to run today?” I asked.

“Sure,” she said.

“You know, if you’re too tired, you don’t have to run,” I said.

“No, Mr. Parks says it’s not just a fun run, it’s a test; we have to do our best,” she insisted.

“Well, I know, but I can talk to Mr. Parks if you think you won’t be able to finish. I don’t want you to push too hard.”

“Why wouldn’t I be able to run, Mom?” she asked… innocently… expectantly.

Long pause on my part. “No reason… run like the wind, girl.”

And, run she did. One mile in 13:09 minutes. She ran, joyfully, in spurts, giggling with friends as she passed them or caught up to them. Jake and I ran with her for part of the run and John took video from the side, the only Dad there in a suit.

She ran as if there was nothing wrong, as if there was no reason she shouldn’t be able to, as every child does… with youthful abandon.

I have to admit, I teared up as she crossed the line ahead of some of her classmates. This child with every reason not to run, and every reason to run.

It made me think about the run the year before. I said to John, “She ran faster than she did last year, when she didn’t have cancer.”

But, here’s the thing. She did have cancer when she ran last year. We just didn’t know it. In fact, she limped the last ¼ mile or so, complaining about a pain in her upper right leg; the leg that was so painful when she was diagnosed, and the leg that still hurts her now.

That afternoon, I told Allison, her therapist, how Tanner had run with all that medication in her, all that poisonous chemo eating at her. She smiled and said, “That’s her incredibly strong will. It’s what makes her so difficult to deal with when she really wants something, but it’s serving her well, too.”

One mile. 5,280 feet. Two proud parents. One joyfully determined child.

Love,
Beth

Three Day Weekend

April 24, 2010

I woke this morning to John and the kids getting ready for an impromptu trip to cheer on the runners in the Country Music Marathon. We know some people who are running, many of them for Team in Training, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundraiser. They had a great time clapping and cheering (Jake really liked the clapping) and then went to cousin Mack’s for a visit.

I stayed home. I would like to say I got tons of stuff done, but I didn’t. I watched the news to see if the marathon would escape the severe storms headed our way and dabbled at the computer. I finally roused myself to go for a quick walk before the rain started when my neighbor’s dog jumped the fence to come with me. They weren’t home and every time I put the dog back in the fence, she jumped back out. By this time, the storm was coming, so I bagged the walk, put the dog in my garage and folded laundry instead.

It was just that kind of lazy day… lots of rain, wind and lightning. It’s beautiful to watch a storm at our new house. There’s a huge tree at the base of our yard that sways mightily in the wind and completely fills the wall of windows in our living room. The creek swells and makes little rapids. Once, we saw a rabbit “swimming” in it. Although, from the looks of it, it was not his intent to be swimming.

So, we lay around, played wii, watched movies, and took naps. Tanner needed the rest, even if she didn’t want it. She was up last night every four hours on the dot, asking for painkiller. The Vincristine was causing her right leg to hurt pretty badly and I actually had to help her to the bathroom. By this morning, she was a little better, and seemed fine by this evening.

Tomorrow, we’re looking forward to a visit from some old friends who are in town running the marathon. We haven’t seen them in many years and their kids will be unrecognizable. Should be fun.

Then, if Tanner can continue her two-day, tantrum-free streak through Sunday, we will go to the end of year Yummies (Young United Methodists) picnic at church.

Is this our new dog? I hope so!!!

Tanner has off school on Monday and we’re going to…. Prison!!!! A trip to meet our potential new dog, Domino. This news feels like a déjà vu, since I think I wrote this exact same thing about a different dog about 3 months ago, right before Tanner’s counts went on a roller coaster ride due to several viruses. A few chemo adjustments and an IgG (antibody) infusion later, we are ready for take 2 on the dog deal. This one feels really right. I had a dalmatian for 14 years whom I dearly loved. But, she was very high energy and I would never get one now that I have two kids, a husband, a house and much less time to wear a crazy dog out. But, this dalmatian is mixed with something mellow, so he might be just the guy for us. Cute and spotty, but much less hyper. I love it.

Tanner’s therapist gave us some really good tools for helping Tanner deal with her anger and anxiety that seem to be working. Also, I think we’re just learning, with Allison’s help, what makes her tick (and what makes her TOCK!). Hopefully, these will result in some lifetime self-soothing skills for her and some solid parenting skills for us. God Bless therapy. One of my cancer mom friends said she thinks they are buying Allison a new house with all this therapy. I think we’re securing her vacation home. But, so be it. Peace of mind is priceless.

Thanks to all who ran and braved the horrible weather at the Country Music Marathon for Team in Training today. There’s a cure for this wretched disease somewhere and, today, we got 26.2 miles closer.

Love,
Beth

Clinic Day #31

Clinic Day #32

April 22, 2010

It was a long, but pretty uneventful clinic day. We were there for nearly four hours to get five minutes of chemo, but sometimes that’s the way it works. It was standing room only and the doctors and nurses were literally running from room to room. Tanner’s beloved Nurse Carie was out of commission; she had dislocated her shoulder and was on desk duty. Tanner was a little nervous about Nurse Chris accessing her port, but did really well with it.

Her counts were actually high – 2,100 – higher than the doctors like them to be. They did raise her chemo, but only half of it. They bumped up her 6MP to 100% dosage, but not her methotrexate. The hope is that she’ll come back down to acceptable levels, but not bottom out before our Disney trip. We go back in two weeks, right before our trip, to check counts. I’m slightly stressed about the trip getting messed up by the upped chemo, but trusting the docs know best and also keeping in mind that counts that are too high allow leukemia cells to creep back in. Medicine before Mickey, you know what I mean?

Spending that much time sitting in the infusion room means the chance for me to chat with the other parents and Tanner to make friends. She brought a coloring book and crayons out to an adorable little boy named Ian who captivates Tanner and me nearly every visit. Then, she played Barbies with another 6-year-old and then, they shared an infusion chair while they played Wii.

I talked Disney with a couple of Moms to get the low down on Give Kids the World Village. And found that one’s little boy has been coming for treatment for four years due to relapses. The other has a sweet little one-year-old that is asleep every time we see them. She said they give him drugs to put him to sleep until several hours after his treatment or he throws up the whole time. I overheard two other families talking about brain tumors that were affecting their children’s sight and the surgeries they had gone through to try to save their eyes.

Later, an infusion chair opened up and Tanner and moved to the other side of the room where I sat inches away from a little baby and a very tired mom. We began talking and I found out her daughter was six months old and has face cancer. She has been undergoing daily radiation for four weeks and has two more weeks to go. She had already had radiation that morning and had been waiting for two hours for her chemo. The family lives in Chattanooga and has had to stay at the American Cancer Society house. In all, this precious, smiling baby will go through 10 months of chemo and radiation. She was kicking in her car seat, her nose raw and scabbed from the radiation treatments, but still cooing and shaking a little toy with a huge smile on her face.

I asked her mom when her daughter was diagnosed. “She was four months old,” she said.

“Not what you expect when you have a baby,” I said.

“No… I still can’t get my arms around it,” she gushed, looking as scared, tired and overwhelmed as I remember feeling those first months after Tanner was diagnosed.

I assured her that you do get used to it. That there will come a day when you don’t wake up every morning and think, “How did this happen? Does my daughter really have cancer?” You’ll just accept it.

And, the truth is, you do accept it and it gets a little easier when you’re not shocked every time you look at your child. But, it’s not what any of us expected… whether our kids were four months or 14 years when they were diagnosed. Not one of us ever expected to hear the words, “Your child has cancer.” It’s unimaginable, but the craziness in clinic today is testament to the fact that it happens all too often.

If you have been a long-time reader of Tanner Time, you might remember that Matthew West, a Christian recording artist, and his family came to our house one night to bring us dinner and sing some songs for Tanner. Tanner loves the CD that he left for us and we were playing it in the car the other day. There is a song on the CD he wrote for his daughter, Lulu, when she was born. It’s a beautiful song, but I have a hard time listening to it anymore because the lyrics tear at me.

The world’s a scary place here

But baby it’s alright

I’ll make sure the coast is clear

So you can just sleep tight

But if you’re afraid of monsters

Like everybody is

I’ll be right beside you

Closer than a kiss

Safe and sound
You’re here with me now
Like we hoped you’d be
Safe and sound
You’re here with me now
And that’s all I’ll ever need.

Here’s the thing about this song. It’s the way every parent feels. It gets to the core of what it is to be a mother or a father… to protect your child and make a safe place for them to grow up. But, in that room today, I saw dozens of kids whose parents would do anything to make them safe again. To make the monsters go away. But we are helpless to make it better. To soothe away the bad dream that is cancer.

So we trust our doctors. We accept that our child has a life-threatening illness and try to make their lives as normal as possible. We give medicine we don’t want to give. We watch for side effects we wish didn’t exist. We pore over lab results and pray we don’t hear bad news from the doctor.

But, mostly, we try to make sure our kids feel safe and sound… even if we know they’re not.

Beth

What is normal, anyway?

April 14, 2010

This may have been the longest I’ve gone without posting since Tanner has been diagnosed… 6 days. It’s weird, but things are so normal I feel like don’t really have much to say. Tanner feels really good and looks really good and, mostly, seems like every other kid.

Then, there are moments when I see our life from an objective viewpoint and it hits me that none of this is really normal… it’s just what we’re used to.

For example, last Thursday night, John was preparing Tanner’s nighttime meds and said, “Good grief, am I right with all this she is taking?” He was staring at our medication spreadsheet, taped to the inside of entire double-wide kitchen cabinet dedicated to medicine, mostly Tanner’s. I usually update the spreadsheet about every 2 weeks, after clinic, to be sure we’re current on everything she takes (really, it’s that confusing), but I’ve been kind of slacking lately with the move and all, and he wasn’t sure what he was seeing was correct. I assured him it was. Thursday night sucks. She takes ½ 6MP pill (daily oral chemo), 5 methotrexate pills (weekly oral chemo), 2 neurontin capsules (for neurapathy due to the Vincristine), mepron (a daily antibiotic that prevents a dangerous type of pneumonia), omnicef (antibiotic for the urinary tract infection), claritin (for allergies), pepsid (for the stomach problems that all these meds cause), and zofran (anti-nausea med to prevent the nausea that the methotrexate usually causes overnight). As you can see, nothing normal about a 6-year-old taking all this, and that’s just her nighttime meds.

Today, I spent hours on the unfortunate task of trying to untangle the last month’s medical bills. All of our deductibles have rolled over, so I’m forced to pay close attention to the bills again to be sure we are paying the correct amount. It’s a nightmare matching up the EOB’s from the insurance company and the bills from doctors and the hospital. In the stack, I came across an old bill that had not yet been filed. It was from one clinic day back in the early November – the dreaded first day of the second half of delayed intensification. We stayed at the hospital from 8 am to 6 pm that day, getting every kind of chemo but the kitchen sink. The bill was a testament to the fortitude of my child, to her desire to thrive and survive. Three pages of chemo, listed on line after line. It reminded me how much Tanner’s body has already endured and worried me about how it will effect her long-term.

Tanner came home yesterday SO excited about a birthday party invitation from a little girl in her class. It is at Jump Zone; and we have not allowed Tanner to go there since diagnosis. She was so hopeful, but also was aware that she might not be able to go. I could see on her face how important it was to her… how desperately she wanted, needed to feel normal… to just go to a birthday party like the other kids. I told her I would have to talk to John that night, as he is out of town. That night, we decided that she could go as long as I stayed and applied some hand sanitizer every once in a while. Tanner was thrilled and accepted our stipulation. She was so funny, though. She said, “Dad’s not coming though, right? Just you? Cause Dad will be so crazy with the hand sanitizer.” I laughed and laughed. She’s exactly right. It will be much less embarrassing if germ-a-phobe Dad stays home (love you honey!). So, we’re so happy she’ll be able to go, but there’s nothing totally normal about your Mom lurking in the shadows with hand sanitizer.

So, it’s not really normal, but it’s cancer normal. And, for cancer world, she’s probably about as normal as possible right now. We’re planning for summer camps and our trip to Disney and the Spring Fling at school. We’re grateful and it’s a relief to not feel like we’re in crisis mode, even if it always seems one fever away. I see things ahead that don’t involve hospitals and isolation, but are just normal things that kids and families do. It’s not normal by most people’s standards, but we’ll take it.

We received some awesome news this week… we can get another dog!!! Yay!!! I don’t know who is more excited, me or the kids. We’ve picked out a dalmatian mix from McMuttigan’s rescue in Kentucky. The trainers are child-testing the dog this week and will let us know if they believe he will be a good candidate for us. He is in a three-month training program in a Kentucky prison and will be trained especially for us, by prisoners, by the time we get him in June. We will also know he has been thoroughly vetted over the past three months, so he should be safe for Tanner. So, cross your fingers that he is bomb-proof; we already feel attached to him. If you’re in the market for a dog, consider this program… it’s such a win-win for everyone. The last time we almost got a dog from this program, the prisoners were pouring extra love into the dog we had picked out so their “little angel” would get the best dog possible. Blessings come from the most unusual sources sometimes.

Sorry for the long post… guess I had something to say after all!

Good night,
Beth

Stumbling Blocks

March 23, 2010

Tanner woke up on Sunday morning with a cold or allergies, hard to tell which. She sneezed all day and was stuffy. Monday morning she seemed no better so we kept her home from school and gave Claritin a try. She didn’t sneeze as much and, aside from a little tired patch in the afternoon, seemed fine. This morning, still stuffy and we sent her to school. They called me by noon to pick her up. Her teacher said she didn’t have her normal energy level and that she asked to go home during recess.

She actually didn’t seem that wiped out this afternoon. She was actually really frustrated that I wouldn’t let her have a playdate. I kind of think she may have allergies, but who’s to know and wouldn’t it be a stupid mistake to send her into the germ fest that school is when her immune system in compromised. Truth is, we don’t know what her counts are. They increased her chemo two weeks ago and that alone could be affecting her counts. Also, you never know what a cold could do to her. We’ve seen infections and viruses make her counts go sky high and we’ve seen them wipe them out. So, difficult to make any kind of educated guess about the right thing to do without a true counts check.

We go in for our monthly clinic visit on Thursday so we’ll keep her out of school until then to be safe. If her counts are good, she can go to school Friday, but she’ll start steroids Thursday morning, so who knows whether she’ll feel like going.

It’s so hard to make a good call in this situation. Inevitably, you go with the choice that keeps her from ending up dying from some cold gone bad, even if it means you feel like you’re slaying her psyche in the process. Seriously, this is the way we think. She senses my lack of conviction in the decision to keep her at home and begs and wheedles for playdates, school or anything that gets her around kids. I don’t understand it, so I don’t know how she’s supposed to.

I feel like this is a blow I had prepared myself for and I don’t feel too surprised by it. Discouraged maybe, but not surprised. I hate that she’s having to stay home most of the week after such a small taste of freedom, but I’m also thankful she got to have last week at all. I’m more discouraged that, after the IgG transfusion, she still seems to have caught a respiratory virus. Hopefully, that’s not the case and it’s just some spring allergies.

Tanner’s handling the disappointment okay on the surface, but is still having some behavior issues which indicate all is not as well as she claims it to be. We have an appointment with the play therapist who, mercifully, came back from vacation. Hopefully, that will help.

On the agenda tomorrow… maybe a field trip to Aunt Beth’s.

Arggghhhhhh.

Love,
Beth

Clinic Day #29 — This is a good one!!!!

March 12, 2010

So here’s how my conversation went with Dr. Mixan as we huddled over Tanner’s count sheet yesterday:

Dr. Mixan: “Her counts still look good. Her ANC is 2100.”

Me: “Oh, good.”

Dr. Mixan: “We’re going to bump her chemo up a bit to 75% and see how she does on that.”

Me: “Okay. “ (I pull him away from Tanner and talk quietly) “So, um, what about school?”

Dr. Mixan: “Yes.”

Me: “Really?”

Dr. Mixan: “Really.”

Me: “Really?”

Dr. Mixan “Really.”

Me: “REALLY?!!!”

Dr. Mixan: “REALLY!!!”

Me: “Tomorrow?”

Dr. Mixan: “Why not?”

This is the part where I dissolve into embarrassing Mom tears and hug the doctor. I turn and tell Tanner who is now officially the happiest girl in the world. She spread her joy all over the infusion room and everyone was congratulating her and telling her to have a good time.

So, she’s going to school this morning… for the first day… about 7 months late.

Wow. I’m speechless.

Love,
Beth

We Need a Break

February 24, 2010

Tomorrow is Tanner’s clinic visit. She will get an IV dose of Vincristine, have a spinal tap with methotrexate and, of course, get counts. I had this hope that she would be high enough that she could at least go into school tomorrow for her class photo. I don’t want her to look at her yearbook and see her whole class there without her. I’m not saying I thought it would really happen, but I hoped it might.

This morning, Tanner has come down with the cough that Jake showed up with yesterday. Of course. It might be fine. Her counts might be high enough for her to fight it off; she’s done it before. Or, it might not be fine. Her counts might take a nose dive again, she might get a fever and have to go to the hospital for antibiotics, she might get pneumonia and become an inpatient. Count on nothing when leukemia is involved.

And, that’s just it. Count on nothing. Hope for nothing. Only I can’t help it. I hope. I just do. I try not to. I tell myself it will end in disappointment. I have learned not to share my hope with Tanner so she is not disappointed too. But, I can’t seem to live expecting the worst. It’s too bleak.

So, I think I’ll be disappointed again tomorrow. I think I will probably not hear that she can go have her picture made with her class. She will not know to be disappointed now, but she will be later when she sees the class photo she is not in.

As one of my cancer mom friends said recently, long-term maintenance is better, but it still stinks. Amen.

Love,
Beth