Week #8, Long-Term Maintenance
ONE YEAR AGO TODAY:
One year ago today, Kendrie woke up with a fever. Actually, one year ago last night, she went to bed with a fever. We really didn’t give it a second thought. I mean, yeah, she had a weird fever six weeks ago, too, but it’s not cause for alarm, right? We gave her some Tylenol and put her to bed. When she woke up and still had a fever, I just assumed she had some 24-hour bug and kept her home from pre-school that morning. Kellen had a class party scheduled for his kindergarten class in the afternoon and I assumed Kendrie would perk right up -- she LOVED going to the older kids’ classes. Kellen’s teacher took this photo that afternoon, and it breaks my heart to see how pathetic Kendrie looked. I didn’t even realize how crummy she felt until I saw this photo. And I remember being annoyed that the damn fever still hadn’t gone away!
My sister and I have a running joke going about how lucky we are that Kendrie got cancer. To back up and explain a little, my sister is good friends with a girl (who shall remain nameless because I didn’t ask her permission before sharing this story) whose parents divorced when she was very young. I’m not sure about all the details, but her dad either didn’t pay child support, or didn’t pay enough child support, for years and years and years. About the time she turned sixteen, he made a huge, lump-sum back payment on his child support and her mom let her use that money to buy a really nice car. (Way nicer than the green Maverick I drove --- see journal entry of Feb 7th, 2004, if you don’t remember MY piece of junk!) So when her friends would all say to her, “Wow, you’re so lucky your dad gave you the money to buy that car!” she would think to herself, “Yeah, it’s *real* lucky when your parents get a divorce and you grow up without a dad.”
Along those same lines, while we certainly wouldn’t use the adjective LUCKY to describe Kendrie’s diagnosis with leukemia, I have to admit there are a few silver linings in this cancer cloud, and we are feeling pretty fortunate to have them. Like it or not, you have to admit that sometimes, good things come out of bad situations. It’s hard to see them when you’re so busy frowning and scowling about the crap in your life …… but it’s there if you’ll just remember to look for it! (Wow, that sounded kind of Polly-anna-ish, didn't it?)
Case in Point: Family Weekend at Camp Sunshine, held this past weekend at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge, Georgia. I was on the phone with my sister, telling her about the weekend we spent at Family Camp last April and how excited we were to go back, and amid the “Oh, it’s so much fun!” and “Oh, there’s so much to do!” and “Oh, we get to spend time with such nice families!” my sister is like, “Um, yeah, you guys are *so* lucky Kendrie got cancer so you could do things like that!” (insert sarcasm) and really, what can we do but laugh? She’s right, of course -- I’d take a boring weekend at home, with three cancer-free kids any day, but as long as this is the hand we’ve been dealt, think of all the great things we’ve gotten to do, places we’ve gone and best of all, the wonderful families we have met along the way!
Highlights of this past weekend included fishing, paddle-boating, bug hunting (NOT my personal favorite) panning for gold, arts & crafts, magic shows, games, baseball, and lots and lots of time just hanging out with other families who also got a big, fat unwelcome houseguest named childhood cancer on their doorstep. As one mom said, “Welcome to the club you never thought you’d join!” Best of all was spending time with online friends: Madie, our fellow ALL friend who is the other half of our Team Kendrie and Madie team for our upcoming Light The Night Fundraising Walk, and her mom Regina. (Thank you all who have donated to our cause already! We appreciate it and will be giving more details and revealing the final amount later this week!)
We also got to spend time this weekend with Brandon and his family, friends of ours from the Lighthouse; with Jacob and his family, whose mom Tiffany is also on my ALL online support group. It was our first chance to meet them in person, but hopefully not the last! (Tiffany, Kendrie has her new outfit for school tomorrow all lined up on the end of her bed --- thanks again!) Other online friends we met in person for the first time included Will and his family, who we had heard so much about, and Brady (Brady's Progress Page) and his family, who we met in passing at the clinic last month .... and who I hope to meet much more often in the future (LaFortune, we need to get together and go for a massage sometime, ha!)
It’s so great that there are organizations like Camp Sunshine who make it their mission to help families like us. Camp Sunshine is the group I am currently working with to start up a middle-Georgia support group for families. Contact me if you or anyone you know would like more information. We are holding our first meeting on November 2nd and I’m very excited about it.
Anyway, like I said, Camp was great. The a/c unit in our first cabin was broken so we had to change cabins the second day (I told you, *this* is my kind of camping!) but everything else went smoothly. Well, except for my kids fighting over everything under the sun (the wagon, whose turn was it to ride, and push, and pull, and whose bag of “jewels” were those, and whose turn was it to use the clippers to pick up bugs, and who was crowding who at the art table, and who got the last can of Coke … the list just goes on and on) But when they weren’t arguing like cats and dogs, we had some real family-bonding time! Kendrie’s favorite part (besides panning for gold which is always a huge hit) was being the “Worm Girl” at the fishing dock. She obviously got THOSE genes from her father!
We also love the Camp Songs CD we were given, which is what the song playing now is from. The singer’s name is (I think) John Abbott and he’s like a kinder, gentler Weird Al, with goofy songs that my kids just love. I could go on and on about how much fun we had, and how relaxing it was to get away from it all for few days, but it’s getting late and I’m tired. So I’ll close for now with a HUGE THANK YOU to the staff and volunteers who worked so hard this weekend to ensure our good time. You were extremely successful. In fact, we are feeling pretty darn lucky to have met you all. (smiles!)