KENDRIE KICKED CANCER!
Final Day of Pills --- Starting Tomorrow, No Mo Chemo!!!
Photo taken December 15th, 2005; LAST DAY OF CHEMO!!!!
Diagnosed with ALL in October, 2003, one month after her 4th birthday, Kendrie is a happy, giggly little girl who is a tomboy at heart. She loves playing outside, swimming, riding her bike, building forts, and says when she grows up, she wants to be "a boy". On occasion, though, we catch her playing with dolls (usually GI'Joes), so not all hope is lost yet! :)
Kendrie followed treatment plan CCG 1991, arm D. After twenty-six months of chemotherapy, with relatively little problems or delays, she finished chemo on December 15th, 2005. She will continue to see her oncologist for the next few years for follow ups .... monthly at the beginning, then the visits will begin to stretch out as long as she remains healthy and cancer-free.
Wow! Exciting, surreal, bizarre, thrilling, stirring, awesome, dreamlike, odd …. There just aren’t enough adjectives to describe how I felt at 8:17 pm tonight, when Kendrie sucked down those final three pills! What an incredible feeling, and I know she was excited, too! Then I started doing the cabbage patch in the kitchen and her only question was, “You’re not going to take a picture of *THAT*, are you?????”
We had a really great day, all around. Yep, it was a beautiful day! Well, the weather here stunk, so it’s not like we celebrated with a picnic or anything, but we did mark the occasion the best way we know how … with a party! I had approached her kindergarten teacher about bringing in cupcakes or cookies or something today, and the teacher told me yes, she’d been thinking of doing a little something for Kendrie, too, but she’d like for it to be a surprise. Her idea was to title the party “Kendrie Kicked Cancer” and have us bring in snacks that start with the “K” sound …. You know those teachers… always thinking, they are. Me? I’d still be searching for a way to make a party educational, but what can I say? She’s a lot smarter than me.
So I agreed to keep it a secret from Kendrie and went out and bought Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy Corn, and Koolaid Jammers. Now, unbeknownst to me, was the fact that the entire party was a surprise that they were also keeping from me! I showed up today to bring my party supplies, only to discover they had sent notes home with the other kids, who had also brought in treats (they had cherry cheesecake, chips, more cookies than you could shake a stick at, more cupcakes, cashews, candy, cantaloupe, kettle corn, candy canes; those kids could have holed up in that room for a week and not run out of food!) They had decorated the door to the room with posters, the kids had all signed a huge congratulations card, and one of the moms made her a quilt that all the kids got to sign…. and they managed to keep it all a secret from Kendrie. The school nurse came down for the party (I could practically see the relief in her eyes that Kendrie won’t be bothering her all the time now -- although she professed that wasn't the case!) and several of the other kids’ parents came in to help as well, so I didn’t have to do a darn thing. Now, that’s my kind of party!!
They kept Kendrie out of the room for a extra minute and when she walked in, all her classmates yelled “Surprise, Kendrie! We love you!” (which made several of them break out in hysterical giggles) and she got to sit in the seat of honor and open her gift. They really went above and beyond what I thought they would do and I couldn’t have appreciated it more.
Kendrie, opening her blanket and seeing all the names on it. I was very impressed with this, especially seeing how I can't even sew on a button.
Kendrie with her long-time companion, Nicholas, aka Koolaid Mustachio’d Man. Today was also Polar Express Day at school, hence the pajamas and slippers.
After school we were busy running to get haircuts (not hers yet, although she’s already asking for one!) and then going to a PTO meeting tonight where the 2nd graders (Kellen’s class) performed. So by the time we got home for the evening, it was already late and time for the final pills! Then, of course, Kendrie wanted to know if she could have ice cream, since she is now “done with cancer.” Sorry, honey, one more night!
"You mean this is it? This is really and truly it?" I didn't have the heart to remind her she'll still have to take her Singulair and Claritin every night ....
"Ugh, Dad, let's just get it over with!"
Sorry, I couldn't help it. This is the face she has made every night since she started Long-Term Maintenance in Aug of 2004. If anyone ever invents yummy-flavored chemo, they'll make a mint.
Since we started this morning with ONE DAY TO GO, I thought I would share with you some of the special “Ones” that happened to me today:
**One really stupid thing I did: I went grocery shopping this morning and was pushing the cart when I picked something up with a poor grasp and dropped it. When it fell out of my hands, I thought I broke a fingernail (I know, tragedy) and immediately popped that finger in my mouth because it hurt. Ewwwwwwww! I had my hands all over that cart, all over the store, touching Lord only knows what other people had been touching all day, and I stuck my finger in my mouth without any sort of Purell precaution!!! Disgusting! (Trust me, cancer-parents everywhere are cringing at the very thought … guess we know who’ll be sick for Christmas at our house!)
**One bad parenting moment before I even left the house this morning. You would think, after four years of school, hence four years of getting ready for school each morning, my kids would understand that we have a routine at our house. Breakfast, clothes, teeth, hair. It’s not complicated …. four simple steps. Actually, in general they do really well, which is why mornings like today, when we have to leave the house in three minutes and people still aren’t dressed and can’t find a hairbrush and haven’t brushed their teeth or packed their backpack yet and lost their socks and what have you, it just makes me insane. So after talking at breakfast in my “pleasant, happy mom” voice about what a special, heart-warming day this is for our family, I ruined it before 8am by yelling at my kids to “Get your butts in the car NOW--I don’t care if you have to go to school barefoot --- THAT’S YOUR PROBLEM NOT MINE!!!” Ahhhh, joyful family memories.
**One unexpected welling up of tears --- Kendrie has been in class both years with an adorable little boy named Kobi whose dad is one of the custodians/maintenance men at school. He’s a quiet man and probably hasn’t spoken two words to me ever, besides a passing nod and smile each morning. This morning he was working the drop-off car ramp and since it was raining I decided to drive my kids through instead of walking them in like I usually do. (I know, lazy me.) They were taking a while to get out of the car (still looking for that damn sock, I think) and we were sort of backing up traffic. Kobi’s dad walked over to my car and I rolled down the window, fully expecting him to tell me to pull up and quit blocking the lane. Instead, he looked me right in the face and said, “My wife told me today was Kendrie’s last day of treatment and I just want you to know how happy I am for your whole family …. It’s truly a blessing. I’m really, really pleased for her”. What a kind way to start my day, even if it did make me cry!
**One episode of bad timing: Kendrie’s Polar Express Day was today, Kellen’s was yesterday; pajamas to school, and they get on a decorated bus and drink hot chocolate while the vice-principal reads the story … it’s a really cute tradition at their school. On an unrelated note, every year I buy my kids matching Christmas pajamas and I was disappointed that they hadn’t arrived in time for them to wear them to school for Polar Express Day. Plus, I was annoyed that I had to go buy them new pjs to wear, since theirs are all high-waters and while no on calls them "The Escoe Orphans" to their faces, I figured pajamas that actually fit might not be such a bad idea. So, after buying three brand new pair of pajamas on Tuesday, guess what came in the mail THIS AFTERNOON????
**One unexpected surprise: Walking into Kendrie’s classroom and seeing the other parents there …. Especially her boyfriend Nicholas’s mom and dad. After all, since they are her future in-laws, it’s nice they got to be there to help celebrate such a special day.
**One not-so-serious-but-in-a-way-yes prayer request: After being given such a gift, twenty-six months of chemo with relatively little problems, and reaching this end of treatment, I feel a little selfish asking for more ….. but we’ve got lots of kids coming for a party this weekend and I’ve got footballs and hula hoops and horseshoes and a moonwalk waiting … and they are forecasting 47 degrees and rain. Now, I’ll do my Victory March to the Lake in the rain if I have to, but it would be great if we could get a slight break in the weather for just a few hours that day…. Pretty, pretty please???
**One slightly-more-serious prayer request: As exciting as today was, and as grateful as I am to everyone who helped make it so special (that includes all of YOU by sharing this journey with us) I would really prefer that this be the ONLY TIME EVER that she finishes chemo. In other words, I would love more than anything for her never to have to START chemo again. I am perfectly content to settle into finding our new normal, even if it takes awhile.
Again, thank you all so much for following along this past week or two and leaving such touching messages in the guestbook. It’s truly the icing on the cake, or the cherry on the sundae, or some other sort of "finishing touches" metaphor. The countdown is over …. Although I’ll continue to update, probably daily, at least through the holidays. I hope you guys will be able to keep checking in on us as we segue back into a normal life again. Well, as normal as things get around here, anyway. And if you are willing to keep touching base, dog barf and all, then I’m happy to stick around, too. I certainly check enough CB sites myself, and I’m just as happy to keep Kendrie’s site updated, also. But you guys have to promise to tell me if the updates get too painfully boring. We can have a secret code word you can leave in the guestbook ... like "lobotomy" or "comatose". Or, if I forget to use my spell check on a regular basis. Trust me, THAT is worse than boring!!!
Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our lives … blah blah blah, but doesn’t it ring true? :)))))))))))))) (that is one big happy smiley face!)