Week #3 of IM #2
OK, let me be the first to say cancer pretty much stinks and no one wants to be here voluntarily. But you know what they say about when life hands you lemons ….. well, to be sure, Country Time ain’t got nothing on us! We are making lemonade, baby!
After our fun (albeit cold, and no thanks to my Canadian friends for mocking my pain) trip to DC for Easter, we had two more fun, cancer-related events happen this past weekend. Who knew that a diagnosis of leukemia would be such a boost for our sagging social life?!?
First, on Friday, we attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the brand spankin’ new AFLAC Cancer and Blood Disorders Service Outpatient Clinic at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. (Whew, what a mouthful!) While the staff has been fabulous since Day One of Kendrie’s diagnosis, they were falling all over each other in the old, cramped, crowded clinic. Now, with 23,000 square feet of space, funded in part by a $2.5 million gift from AFLAC, well, I don’t know that we’ll actually *look forward* to chemo, but let’s just say we’ll be riding in the Rolls Royce of Cancer Centers from this point on. It was nice to be a part of the opening day ceremony and see the excitement of the staff who definitely deserve such an amazing facility.
Did I mention that amid the new, immaculate, spotless facilities, with new carpet, new treatment rooms, conference rooms, offices, etc (emphasis on the word NEW) they served a BBQ lunch and one of my family members (not me!) had the dubious distinction of being the first one to spill a plate of BBQ on the brand new carpet? It’s always nice to be remembered for *something* but that wasn’t quite what I had in mind. And for the record, it’s much harder to yell at your kids when there are lots of other adults present.
Then, we left from the ceremony and took part in a Family Camp Weekend at Twin Lakes Camp, sponsored by Camp Sunshine. “Camp Sunshine provides programs throughout the year to give children with cancer the opportunity to enjoy normal activities like swimming, horseback riding, arts and crafts, and making friends!” Now if that sounds like a commercial, it’s because I took it directly off their website. Go there and check out this wonderful organization and all they do for kids with cancer, and the parents and siblings of kids with cancer.
Before those of you who know me fall over backwards in your chairs at the fact my name and “camping” were mentioned in the same sentence, let me be quick to reassure you that this is MY kind of camping --- private cabins that have heat, a/c, full baths and electricity. The camp is run by volunteers who cook, clean, and facilitate activities for the families that include fishing, boating, archery, panning for gold (my kids’ favorite!) tennis, putt putt, arts & crafts, sports … the list goes on and on. After our weekend in DC (have I mentioned to you guys that it was cold there?) the weather Gods threw us a HUGE bone and it was perfect at Camp Sunshine! Sunny, high 70’s, perfect weather for being outside. In fact, hiking down to the lake I got something suspiciously close to perspiration on my upper lip so I’d say it was almost too warm.
All of the families who attended (around twenty families) have a child either on treatment, or finished with treatment, for a variety of cancers. Talk about a peer group made in Heaven for us! And although the prevalent mood of the camp is FUN, not cancer, it was still a great chance for us to visit with other parents facing the same challenges, fears and frustrations as we are. A special memory for me this weekend was meeting Dustin, one of the counselors at the camp who used to attend as a camper himself. Diagnosed at age 7 with ALL, Dustin is now a college junior who was kind enough to visit with our family, take a special interest in Kendrie, and provide me with a glimpse of what “can be” in our future. Thank you, Dustin, for holding out that special hope for us this weekend … that kids can and are cured of this disease and go on to become kind, caring adults. The kind who now spend their spare time helping other kids with cancer attend camp. Many MANY kudos to the wonderful people who make Camp Sunshine a success.
So, I guess that’s it for us the past few days. I feel a little odd talking about how much fun we are having with all these cancer-related activities. Trust me when I say I’d much rather be sitting at home, watching a boring movie from Blockbuster, complaining that there just isn’t anything to do. You know, the way my life used to be, about six months ago. Oh well (sigh) pass me the lemons … I’ve got some squeezing to do!
LIFE LESSONS LEARNED AT CAMP LAST WEEKEND BY OUR FAMILY MEMBERS:
Blaine: Having a massage by a man does not automatically make you gay.
Kristie: Wearing new tennis shoes to camp is a really stupid way to start the weekend.
Brayden: Never go to bed with gum in your mouth. Enough said.
Kellen: Being the kid who actually catches a fish in front of everyone else is a cool thing!
Kendrie: Conga lines are much more fun when your Mom is carrying you! Hey Mom, why are you breathing so hard???