Tuesday, September 07, 2004


The comparisons between natural disasters and the world of childhood cancer.

Week #4, LTM

The only thing worse than the rain and bad weather from Hurricane Frances canceling the Atlanta Braves baseball game that we were supposed to attend yesterday with friends, watching the ceremony for the MLB fundraising initiative for CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation……… would be the fact that we assumed the rain and bad weather would cancel the game, so we decided not to make the drive, and of course it wound up not raining a single solitary drop. What’s that phrase about hindsight being 20/20? Instead, Blaine watched the game on tv and we’re kicking ourselves for missing what promised to be a special and fun day with friends.

Not that Hurricane Frances didn’t have ANY impact on our lives. We had lots of rain, one tree down in the backyard, twelve hours with no power, two days (so far) of cancelled school --- and we are hundreds of miles away from the shore. I hope everyone farther south fared ok.

I was actually thinking about the bru-ha-ha caused by Frances, and the differences and similarities between a natural disaster and a life with childhood cancer. Nothing profound, but a few random thoughts:

** Unlike a hurricane or tornado, there is no Cancer Doppler Radar System. You have no advance notice or warning, no way to prepare. No time to board up your windows, throw your possessions in the car and flee the area. You’re just sitting there innocently, minding your own business, and *BAM*, Mother Nature throws a terrifying disaster into your life. Sort of like living through a tornado, only without the adrenaline rush, or the possibility of really cool photo opportunities.

In fact, if there were any natural disaster on par with a diagnosis of leukemia, I think it might be an earthquake. When suddenly, the solid ground beneath your feet is shaking and pitching and rolling, nothing is stable anymore, and in the shock of the moment, you feel like the earth is opening up directly underneath. (for the record, I’ve never actually BEEN in an earthquake, but I assume that is what it would be like!)

** In preparation for a hurricane, residents stock up on batteries, duct tape and bottled water. In preparation for Steroid-Week, cancer-parents stock up on macaroni & cheese, pizza and breadsticks. But believe me, the prospect of a child on steroids is much, MUCH more frightening than the prospect of a hurricane. Both are whirling dervishes that wreak havoc … but the steroid child has an attitude to go along with the destruction. Be afraid parents, be very afraid.

** The span of therapy for your child is similar to the time a hurricane spends working its way to shore. You know the storm will pick a path …. but there is nothing you can do but wait and see which way it will go. Will your child be directly in the path of the worst of the side effects, or will the storm of chemotherapy veer off just enough to spare your child the brunt of the storm? You sort of sit back and hold your breath and hope when the storm passes, the parts of your life you care about the most are still standing.

** Your friends and family will become your own personal FEMA team. Online friends and total strangers will become your very own Red Cross, lending moral support and encouragement when you need it. For me, my ALL-Kids support group and Caringbridge friends are my natural disaster response team and they (YOU!) have helped me more than I would have thought possible.

** When the storm passes, and you are considering the toll it took on your family and child ---- looking at the damage it has done and the innocence that has been lost, you sit back and think how lucky you are that it wasn’t worse. Because you know it could always be worse. And you are grateful that the sun will shine again. And most of all, you pray for no more storms.

Here are a few funny comments made by my kids regarding the storm this week, just to show you the kind of perspective they have about life:

Brayden, upon learning school was canceled today and since we had no power, we also had no tv or computer: “This is absolutely the worst day of my life.” My reply? “Then you’ve had a pretty good life so far, I’d have to say.”

Kellen, when I told him that school was canceled again tomorrow: “Oh great. Now I’m going to be stupid.”

Kendrie, getting a glimpse of my stomach today and pointing to my stretch marks: “Look mom, baby skid-marks” (ok, that has nothing to do with the hurricane but it made me laugh).

I hope all you Florida residents are doing ok. Check in and let us know; we are worried about you.

Many, many thanks to all of you who took the time to sign the guestbook for Kendrie’s birthday. It was really cute that morning when she woke up, she rushed to the bathroom and stood looking in the mirror. I thought maybe she had just noticed the duck fuzz on her head and asked her what she was looking at. She replied, “I’m five …. And I’m pretty sure that I’m taller!”

Hope you all enjoyed your Labor Day, and have a great week.

Love, Kristie .....ps, several of you asked in the guestbook what Brayden and Kellen bought Kendrie {with my money, I might add} for her birthday. I was actually quite proud of them for giving some thought to what SHE might like to have …. Brayden bought a Batman toy and Kellen bought a plastic bowling set. Not too bad for six and seven years old, do you think?


WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: Well, what really stinks is that there was no school yesterday (something about my dad and all the other workers deserving a stupid vacation day --- whatever that is about) and then there was no school today or tomorrow because of the stupid storm, and then on Thursday I have to spend the day in Atlanta getting my stupid chemo …. So I will only get to go to school one measly day this week! How am I supposed to further my education at this rate?????

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: So many of you who are kind enough to send in donations for our Light the Night walk. My mom says to tell you that you can still donate online at Team Kendrie and Madie. I’m not really sure what all this means, but my mom sure looks happy when she opens the mail and gets a donation, and Lord knows if she’s happier, then me and my brother and sister are happier, too! So, thanks!

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