Friday, August 06, 2004


Week #9 (extended) of DI #2

“Dear Teacher,

Today, I turn some of my little girl’s life over to you. It is not easy for me, because I held her so tight when she was newborn. And I taught her and she felt the love of her family.

But today a new chapter in her life begins. And for a few hours, I will not be there to answer her questions, kiss her bruises, to “save her” from some pain, but you will be there.

Be kind, for she is small. She has so much to give, and so much to learn. And so for those few hours when she is yours, remember, I held her tightly, I share her dreams, her hopes.

Give her love and help her learn. And when the day is over, send her home unharmed.”

Author – Eden Taylor

I can’t even describe to you the pure joy and excitement that was Kendrie today, on her first day of Pre-Kindergarten. First of all, she was up and had eaten, dressed and brushed her teeth, sitting on the couch with her backpack strapped to her shoulders, proclaiming LOUDLY that we were all going to be LATE, at 7am. School doesn’t start until 8:30.

She RAN (I am not kidding; it was so cute but she was faster with her feet than I was with my camera) into the school and sighed loudly and fidgeted the entire time we were getting Brayden and Kellen settled into their rooms.

Finally, FINALLY it was time to take her to her room. Thanks to the meeting we had with some of the faculty earlier this week, plus the Open House on Wednesday, she knew exactly where to go and felt comfortable right away. At least I *think* she felt comfortable, she wouldn’t stop playing with the toys and exploring the room long enough to really stop and tell me.

We have been blessed with a teacher and a para-pro (teacher’s assistant) in her room who are both warm and caring, and extremely receptive my many quirks and paranoia’s as a cancer-parent. Kellen and Brayden both got teachers who are also receptive to our requests …honestly, the year couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.

I think Kendrie was so excited to start school this year for several reasons … first of all, thanks to the Georgia lottery and public education funding, she’s attending the same all-day elementary school that her siblings have attended the past two years; obviously that makes her a big girl. In fact, she’s practically a grown up now, and she proceeded to show us by pouring ALL of her own milk today. (Of course, she neglected to put the milk back in the fridge afterwards and kept leaving it out on the counter … but maybe that little tidbit of responsibility will come later.)

Secondly, what kid wouldn’t be thrilled for any chance to own a Scooby Doo backpack? Notice the Purell attached to as many places as I could find???

And third, I think she was just plain sick and tired of being stuck at home with me these past nine months. For those of you who aren’t as familiar with her story …. (I’ll keep it brief, I promise) she had previously attended a full-year of private pre-school and was about seven weeks into the second year at the same school, with the same teacher, when she was diagnosed last October with leukemia. Although she loved school and her oncologist encouraged us to leave her in, we panicked a bit and decided to pull her out through the holidays. We toyed with the idea of sending her back in January, but decided against it. (The fact that the school sold her slot to another child the week after she got sick might have had something to do with it, but maybe that's just me being bitter and angry that they never so much as called one single time to check on her ... I mean, come on, would a phone call have hurt them??? Oh wait, there I go again!)

So, for the rest of the year, she was home-bound, with just Mommy, Dora and a whole lot of Clifford for company. I go back and forth in my mind ………. She was so healthy that she probably would have been ok in school ………. Or was she so healthy because I kept her home with me and didn’t send her to school?? Who knows which answer is correct? The million-dollar question regarding the chicken vs. egg dilemma is next.

Irregardless, she has waited a long time for her turn back in a classroom, hanging with her homies, and was ecstatic to go to school this morning. It was a little bittersweet for me, not because (as some might think) that she’s my baby and now they’ve all left the nest for elementary education seven hours a day, but because as I watched her zip around the room, meeting the other kids, finding her cubby, exploring her new world, I couldn’t help but think back to nine months ago, when we were terrified she wouldn’t even live, let alone be as happy and adjusted as she was on her first day of Pre-Kindergarten. I can guarantee you that while many of the parents dropping their kids off this first morning, taking pictures with the teachers and peeking in the rooms for one final goodbye probably love their kids just as much as me, NO ONE loved their kids MORE than me this morning. Today, seeing the happiness on her face, was my reminder that life does go on in spite of cancer, and some days it is damn good.

On the medical front, her counts weren’t quite recovered enough after that last DI to have chemo this week and start the maintenance part of therapy. That means the clinic appointment was pushed back until next week and she’ll miss one of the first days of school for chemo and a spinal tap, but that’s ok. The silver lining is that meant we got to spend our final day of summer doing FUN stuff like swimming and having dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse (where Kendrie leaned over to me during the meal and asked if *everyone* who worked there could speak Spanish?) It also means she won’t be on steroids the first full week of school. (Probably more of a blessing for her teachers, ha!) So now for we’re on “pause” with instructions to have her counts checked again next week when they will most likely be high enough to continue the chemotherapy.

I hope you have a great week in the meantime,


WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: "What, me? Cancer didn't slow me down one bit today! I am a full-time STUDENT, baby!"

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: "I get permission to wear hats to school, but to be honest, once the novelty wears off I think I'll skip it. It's just one more thing for me to keep up with and my cool Scooby Doo backpack is already pretty full!"

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