Two years ago today David and I were told that our child has cancer. I woke up not realizing what today was, until I looked at the calendar and the date jumped out at me. I was immediately flooded with images.
Of David calling me from the hospital, saying they wanted to keep her for testing. Of her with a cast on her leg. Of the IV drip of morphine that was not even touching her pain. Of her puffy eyes from not sleeping in 24 hours. Then every time she fell asleep her body would twitch and she would wake up and cry out in pain. Of the doctor watching this happen, not knowing how to help her sleep.
Of me, lying next to her on the bed, with two doctors standing over us talking in a language I did not understand, until they said the word cancer. That, I understood. Of putting my face in my hands and the sob that escaped my mouth as they walked out. Of holding onto my husband, trying to comfort each other, not knowing if she would live or die. Of the sobs from David as he called his family from the bathroom of our hospital room. Of a two year old fasting all day, waiting for her turn to get her bone marrow checked to see if it was indeed cancer.
Of our beloved oncologist, our first meeting with her, when she explained it was leukemia, but we would have to wait another day to see if she would have a 90% chance of survival or 50% chance. Of high fiving David in the cafeteria when we went to celebrate that it was 90%, and of laughing together about the fact that we had found something to celebrate. Of throwing up because I had just found out a month ago I was pregnant. Of finding out it would be over two years of treatment, and not know how we would get through it, with a pregnancy, and then a new baby. Of calling my doctor, begging for a sleeping pill that was safe to take because I was exhausted and my nights were filled with nurses coming in and out, and thoughts that would not leave my head so I could rest. Of us getting a crash course on blood counts, and ANC's, and names of chemotherapies. Of Brinley getting a poke every time she spiked a fever, and of us holding her down. Of the time they couldn't get her vein, when I had to leave the room so that I didn't push the IV team off of her. Of the way she looked at us, those charged with protecting her, as if to say "Why? Why are you letting them do this to me?"
Of seeing a new built-in tube sticking out of her chest for the first time and having to sit down because it made me dizzy. Then learning that we had to change the dressing on it once a week, and flush it every day. Of her first chemotherapy treatment going into her veins, while she slept peacefully.
Of the sour smell that came from her skin after the chemotherapy. Of the nurse who accidentally interrupted me while I was crying in the night, and sat by my side to talk out of the kindness of her heart. The way I cried every time I was alone, but put on a strong face the rest of the time.
How quickly those memories returned, like a flood, as if it were yesterday. But it wasn't. It was two years ago. Brinley was talking to me when these images came back, and said "Why are you doing that?" "Doing what?" "This" (she scrunches her face into a twisted mess of a look, and I now know what I look like when I cry. It wasn't pretty.) I made up a story about my ugly-girl cry look and thought how she has no idea what she has even been through. She asked me a few weeks ago "Did it hurt when I got cancer?" It caught me so off guard I started to cry (geez, there's a lot of crying going on in this post. I really am NOT a crybaby!) because again, I remembered that yes, it did hurt. Then I realized, she doesn't remember! I knew she would forget, but hadn't realized it has already happened.
As I started checking e-mail this morning I noticed we had a new online donation to Brinley's lemonade stand. It was from a very dear out-of-state friend who probably had not idea what today was. It was absolutely perfect, since our online donations have been slow. It reminded me that this was not in vein. Everything she has been through has not been in vein. All I have ever wanted to know is that it would not all be in vein. And so, you know who you are, you reminded me today that is wasn't. That we are helping in a way we would not have been able to before. The first year it was about survival. It was about us, our family, holding on, and weathering the storm. This year it has been about others. It is no longer about just Brinley. We are in a good place right now. I don't believe her cancer will come back. It is about the other children who are not in such a place as we are. I know that place, and it is...I don't have a word. I just don't have a word. That is what it is about now. In less than three short months, Brinley will be done. WE, however, will not be done. Not until every child diagnosed with cancer is guaranteed a cure.
Check back later for some pictures of then and now...I am pretty much computer illiterate and David does all the pictures, so it will have to wait!