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.

Love,
Beth

6 thoughts on “One Year

  1. i thought about tanner today as Keith and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary. I remember John calling and telling me Tanner was going to mis the wedding. Tanner is so strong!!

  2. Tanner is a fighter and a Champion!!! I am blessed that I’ve been given the opportunity to know her. She is one special lady in ONE SPECIAL FAMILY. Love you guys!!

  3. I remember that horrible day and knowing that we were about to come in your er room and shatter your world. Y’all have come so far and tanner is more than amzaing! Y’all have done a wonderful job as parents. I am glad to know y’all and tanner!! She is my favorite patient of all time and is such a source of encouragement to me. You have fought the battle hard and are winning!!

  4. SURVIVOR — her shirt makes quite a statement! Tanner comes from a great lineage of survivors on both sides!

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