One thing I have truly learned from this experience is gratitude. I feel like my eyes have been opened to all the little things that are around me. I titled this post "choosing gratitude" because I really believe it is a choice we have to make. We can all find some things to complain about, no matter where we are in life, and sometimes the negative can feel overwhelming. We also all have things to be grateful for, our lists may look quite different, but we can all choose to be grateful people, wherever we are. When I start to focus on the negative, I realize how quickly those negative feelings can be turned around. I just wanted to write down some of the things I can be grateful for even during these times.

1. I am grateful for co-pays, deductibles, and the 20% that we have to pay for medical bills, because, although it can feel overwhelming, it means we have insurance and do not have $60,000 in medical bills to pay.

2. I am grateful for the bills we have to pay, because it means we live in a warm house, with food and electricity and all the things that money pays for.

3. I am grateful for our weekly visits to the hospital for Brinley's chemo, because it means that she is alive, and fighting.

4. I am grateful for the complaining my kids do because it means they are comfortable enough to be themselves and tell me how they feel.

5. I am grateful for the mess to clean up every day, because it reminds me I am surrounded by people I love who have a place to put their things, even if it's not in the right spot :)

6. I am grateful for a Christmas with no money because instead of rushing out to finish up shopping, we are spending time as a family and enjoying the season more than ever before.

7. I am grateful for all the extra help I have needed around the house because it is teaching my oldest daughter how to work hard.

8. I am grateful for a husband who is just as stressed as I am, and gets frustrated like I do, because it means I have someone who shares my feelings and understands me, and who also would give his life for our children. And it means I have a partner to go through life with, disappointments, sorrows, joys, happiness, we get to experience them together, and I can look at him and know we are fighting this side by side.

9. I am grateful for the pain that I feel, because it means I am alive, and can just as easily feel joy as pain, and after the storm I can see the sunshine, and that makes the storm worth it.

10. I am grateful for all of the advice that I get :) because it means I have people who love us and care about us, and want to help us in any way that they can, and any advice we get comes from the heart of a person who only wants the very best for our family.

11. I am grateful to be in a position to need help from the outside world, because I get to see the good there is out there, and experience firsthand the generosity that other people show, to use as an example to follow when I get the opportunity to pay it forward for someone else.

Yeah, yeah, quite a different post from the other day, but I AM on a roller coaster, remember?

Update: Brinley is doing great, happy as can be, seeming perfectly normal. Her next chemo will be Monday if she makes counts. We are crossing our fingers that she will. We are trying to be cautious about her being around people because we have no idea where her ANC is.
We are truly having a wonderful Christmas season and are feeling very blessed.

This is one of those thinking too much at night posts...but every night when I rock Brinley before bed I sing to her, and think...and think....and sometimes cry....and think. Here are some of the things in my head.

Now that the diagnosis has sunk in, it feels so normal for me to say "My daughter has leukemia". I can talk about it like it's nothing to a perfect stranger. I don't usually choke up talking to people, and most of the day I feel like I am plugging along just fine. We are handling this, and that feels good (of course we are in a good part of treatment). Then there are times when I look at her and realize what she looks like to the rest of the world. I forget when we go to the store, or church that people are looking at her, and she looks like a cancer patient. Her legs are skinny, her hair is just growing back in. This feels like it isn't really my life. Like when I see a family with a sick or handicapped child, and give them a sympathetic smile and wonder what life is like for them. We have become that family overnight. So totally unexpectedly we were knocked out of our normal world and dropped into this different world without warning. Sometimes I think my head is still spinning from that change. But the reality is we are adjusted and this sometimes feels normal.

Sometimes. Then there are times that I want to scream. So many people have said "she will make it through this", myself included. If I really start thinking about it, I am terrified. Brinley still has a 90% survival rate. That is high. Kind of. When I think of 10 kids standing in a room, and mine is one of them, all with the exact same odds, and I know that one of those kids is not going to survive, that is terrifying. One in ten! If the odds of winning the lottery was 1 in 10, how many more people would be buying lottery tickets? I know I would. The scary thing is we have years before we are out of the woods. There is a girl that is very much like Brinley, diagnosed with the same thing at almost 2 years old, went through the same treatment for 2 1/2 years, 3 years AFTER she was off treatment, she relapsed. Three years later! She then had to go through much harsher chemo and they almost lost her several times. She is off treatment again now, and they have to just pray it doesn't come back. That could be us. What if she is the one in ten who doesn't make it? Who would let their kid go to school if there was on 1 in 10 chance of them getting shot? For a school of 500 kids, 50 would be shot and killed. The school would be empty. I don't mean to sound ungrateful for those odds, because certainly when it comes to cancer, those are good odds. But I want better odds when it comes to my daughter. That's not good enough. Brinley had a .01% chance of getting leukemia, and here she is, with leukemia. So please don't tell me you KNOW she will make it through this, because one of those 10 kids isn't going to, and who's to say it won't be mine. Someone has to lose a child somewhere, or we wouldn't have the 10% death rate. None of us know the outcome of this, and I have been known to say it will be good, but the truth is we don't know what is in store for Brinley. That is the reality that I try to escape every day, until I am rocking her and it is quiet, and I have my thoughts to myself and my baby there in my arms. What is her outcome?

These last 3 days have been a huge improvement from Sunday. I guess the chemo is wearing off, and Brinley has been feeling much better, and I am regaining a little sanity...In fact, it has felt so normal this week, I've been forgetting she even has cancer. She's walking a lot better, and faster, and has been a normal 2 year old, normal tantrums, normal silliness, it's been nice. I guess I kind of like this phase so far, because since there is a 10 day gap between doses, she has a chance to recover and feel good for a few days. I'm hoping her numbers aren't crashing as I'm speaking...So we'll have to get through those first few days after the chemo, then hopefully we'll have our normal Brinley back for a week before the next dose.

I'm also preparing for battle with the insurance company, we got some claims today, the original hospital bill included (finally!) with Brinley in-patient for a week, and there are a lot of charges they are not paying, so that caused a little hyper-ventilation on my part. I was on the phone with them today, they are going to review it and hopefully straighten it out. If not, we are in a world of hurt with the medical bills!

That's the only way I can describe this weekend, bittersweet. Friday I watched Taylor play soccer, always fun, and the best part is my mom is in town and kept the kids!! So I just got to go watch without chasing down kids. Then David called and had gotten Jazz tickets from work, so we went to our ward Christmas party and snuck out early to go watch the Jazz. We put Brinley to bed and Taylor is getting into babysitting age, so she babysat. The seats were great, and it was so much fun. And they won. Good times.

Saturday we got together with family for Emily's baptism. That was fun to see everyone, I always get nervous around that many people, but Brinley's counts were good, so we figured it was fine. We got home and started cleaning the house, then Brinley got a fever. My mom came and got the kids, and David and I headed to the ER. When we called the oncologist, he said it might be quicker to just go to the closest ER since her ANC was so high, and have them draw blood to get her counts and do a culture. We debated, we were nervous to go anywhere else, but finally decided it was worth a try. Wrong choice. We were there for four hours! They did not seem very clean, and David and I have become very aware of germs. The minute they walked out of the room, David grabbed the alcohol wipes and went to town sterilizing the room. The doctor came in (very nice doc) and shook our hands, gave Brinley a high five, talked to us for a few minutes, and then said "Let me wash my hands and take a look at her!" Uh, you didn't wash your hands before you came in!! What was the patient before us here for? Some contageous disease! We are used to a sanitizer bottle outside the door, and anyone who comes in is already rubbing sanitizer on their hands. Anyways, we loved the nurse, but they weren't trained in how to draw blood from her line, so we had to walk her through it. It was funny feeling like the expert. Both the doctor and the nurse asked us several questions about how they usually do things when we go to Primary's, so we felt like we were running the show. "Okay, you need to do a CBC and a culture, check her counts first. If her counts are good, give her an antibiotic and we get to go home, if not give her an antibiotic and send us to get admitted at Primary's. Simple as that." But he insisted on doing a chest X-ray, a machine that strapped her down with her arms stuck in the air, she screamed the whole time. Then we had to wait for the doctor to talk to the oncologist to tell him what we already knew, overall we were there 4 hours. Never again. Her ANC was sky high for a cancer patient, 4200, so we got to go home, but he did say that her lung weren't quite filling up all the way, whatever that means, but he wasn't worried about it, no pnemonia spots.
Today she hasn't had a fever, but she has been so grouchy. She has just cried and cried all day. It has been a rough day, that's an understatement. We had to cancel our plans to put up Christmas decorations Saturday because of the surprise fever, so we did that today. It was fun, but I just don't know how to handle Brinley sometimes. I know she doesn't feel good, it's just so hard when she is crying all day and we have to be parents to all 3 kids. During dinner she cried the entire time, and none of us could even hear. I was just imagining a newborn baby thrown into the will I do it? I have no idea. It's really taking a toll. I'm hoping she will be feeling better soon, usually when I am about to snap, things go a bit better, and I am about to snap. I just want to break down and cry with her sometimes, it can be so overwhelming and exhausting. I better stop there for today, because I am feeling discouraged, but looking back over the weekend, we had some great times and some tough ones. That's life, right?
Oh, I forgot a good moment, my mom kept Brinley and Jade so David, Taylor and I could go to Stake Conference (church) and it was so great! I got so much out of it, and I actually got to sit and cuddle with my husband! No chasing! It was definately a high point! They had some great messages.

Here are some of the good moments:

Check out these seats! :)