Wednesday, March 24, 2004


WEEK 7, DI #1

I am a mother. I am also a cook, chauffeur, laundress, maid, homework-checker, lunch-packer, playdate organizer, and appointment planner, just to name a few. And occasionally, rarely, sometimes, in the eyes of my children, I get to be a HERO. Take last Wednesday for example. On our way to a playdate with friends at the park, I drove through the drive-through at Sonic (great rabbit-pellet ice; cups that don’t sweat) for drinks. I was in Blaine’s truck and the kids were on the bench-seat behind me. When I rolled down my window to place my order, a bee flew in the truck. NOT a giant, poisonous, mutant African stinging bee, but a teeny, tiny, not-much-bigger-than-a-fly bee. In the bee-world, this guy was definitely sitting way low on the totem pole. He was practically a Pre-Bee (a joke for the other leukemia parents that read this).

My children, of course, freak out. Especially my manly, rough, tough, all-boy son …. Who is squealing like a girl sitting in the front row of a Shawn Cassidy concert and practically climbing over the seat in front of him to escape the wrath of the gnat/bee. I wasn’t quite sure how to get the bee out since the back seat window doesn’t roll down. Kellen, being the great help that he is, starts screaming, “Get the skyscraper! Get the skyscraper!” I actually had to stop and think, before I realized he meant “ice scraper”, which I did, but couldn’t smack the thing with just the little pointy corner.

Finally, after several minutes frantically and unsuccessfully whacking the bee with the skyscraper, it occurred to me to simply open the back door to the truck (I know, I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box sometime) and the bee flew away, quite happily. At which point I got to bask in the glow of the “hero-dom” I acquired in the eyes of my children (especially my frantic, no-plans-to-be-a-beekeeper,-obviously-son.)

So who are *my* heroes? Today, I can think of three, collectively. First, all the medical staff, nurses, doctors and researchers who are working so hard to find a cure for leukemia, who have made such progress in the treatments to date, and who take care of my child on a daily basis. Truly, it’s more than a job, it’s a calling, and there is no way to thank them enough.

Secondly, Kendrie herself is a hero to me. Is it because she handles this battle with courage and grace? Is it because she suffers stoically the side effects from treatment, and bravely marches forward towards her ultimate cure, despite the harshness of the treatment itself?? It is the dignity and calm with which she faces each obstacle? Hell, no! She has a squeal that rivals her brother! She hates the treatment, the procedures, the medication---- and there isn’t a stoic bone in her body! But you know what? She gets through it anyway, despite how much she hates it, and that makes her my hero.

Lastly (for today; I reserve the right to add more heroes later) my hero is the anonymous person who donated blood in the Atlanta area sometime in the past 45 days. Kendrie’s count results from yesterday showed all of her counts dropped (as expected) and her hemoglobin dropped below the cut-off number for transfusion. So today we went up to the clinic so she could have the blood transfusion she needed to get her numbers back up to a safe level. Hemoglobin carries oxygen, and it was obvious by looking at her she didn’t have enough ….. pale complexion, pale lips, lots of naps. Three hours later, viola! Pink cheeks and energy to spare.

So who was this person who gave my daughter the gift of life today? I’ll never know. Our family is not allowed to direct donate to Kendrie in the event she might (God forbid) need a bone marrow transplant at some point in the future. If she were to receive blood from one of us, that would make that person ineligible to donate bone marrow to her if she were to relapse and need it. Of course family would be her best hope for a bone marrow match, so we can’t take ourselves out of the running like that (at least that is how it has been explained to me.)

So we depend on the kindness of strangers who are willing to donate blood for someone they don’t know. Someone who took an hour or two out of their schedule to give the precious gift of a blood or plasma or platelet donation. Someone who perhaps gave up a long lunch with friends and instead ate a sandwich at the donor center while donating. Someone who gave up a few hours at the gym, or the mall, or in front of their tv relaxing, so they could make a difference in the life of someone who needed help. Today that someone was my daughter and I am eternally grateful.

Please, consider donating yourself. If you’ve donated in the past, please do it again. Yes, it takes a few moments out of your day, but the positive ramifications of your selflessness are never-ending. GIVE LIFE 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543)

Stay tuned (stay tuned???? Who am I?? Jeff Probst???) for the new-and-improved Canadian list …. I had no idea how many cool Canadian things were out there, and will be sending out an updated version in my next journal entry. Thanks to all of you for your suggestions.


WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: The panic I felt when the nurse dropped my vial of blood and it shattered on the floor. Then I remembered my port was already accessed and I didn't have to get poked again.

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: When my mom found out we would be making the drive to and from Atlanta today, plus spending six hours in the clinic, she went out and bought me a copy of "Daddy Day Care", my current favorite movie, to watch on our portable dvd player and keep myself entertained. At this rate, I'll have quite the little dvd collection before all is said and done! Watch out, Roper and Ebert!

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