I think Bridget is just as excited as the rest of us to have radiation complete. I notice a sense of calm about her especially at bedtime and nap time. She knows that when she wakes up, Gabriella and I will be there. Before, I could sense her anxiety about going to bed when G and I would have to leave early for the hospital. She was uneasy about napping and I had to reassure her (to the best of my knowledge) that we would be coming home.
We've been doing our best to get back into some kind of grove this week; some kind of normalcy and routine. Adam and I have been able to get back to the gym and get organized back at home. Picking up the tasks that were left behind for so many weeks; laundry, bills, etc. etc. has been a big chore but we're slowly chipping away at it. It's what most people do after a long trip yet the memories are ones that I want to forget.
Thursday was our regularly scheduled chemo day. Adam had to work so I took both girls up with me. I thought, "Heck, we just made it through radiation, this should be a breeze". Famous last words. For some reason, the whole day was just a bit off starting with morning traffic getting us a late arrival to the hospital. The clinic was already backed up about an hour and by the time we got into the room, the girls were arguing and I was about to (calmly) pull my hair out. Finally after seeing the nurse practitioner, we made it to a room, got G accessed, labs drawn, and got her chemo. It was past lunch time so we went to grab some food at CPK. After about 4 trips to the bathroom and Bridget refusing to wear her diaper anymore (such timing), we ended up taking the rest of the afternoon to go shopping at Macy's for some "big girl undies". The girls were so excited for Bridget to get to pick out her new set of "Dora undies" and play chase through the store ;-). She's just growing up right before our eyes! Of course, Gabriella had to get new Hello Kitty undies as well. I was wiped by the end of the day but once the girls went to bed, it was off to the computer to work on the bake sale logistics, organize and return emails.
Friday was a last minute and fun dinner with the Winter's after a few errands during the day and asking for donations for the bake sale. Woodworm in Santa Cruz has been amazing and incredibly supportive with the bake sale. We replaced G's costume from last year, which has gotten a lot of use during dress-up play. She insisted on wearing it to dinner, wig and all. How could I resist when she looks this cute? I'm sure we'll be back for another halloween outfit in a few weeks!
Today (Saturday) turned out to be pretty special. The morning was spent playing Strawberry Shortcake, watching Barbie and trying to get us out of the house to the gym...unsuccessfully. We ended up at Hocus Pocus park to have a little fun before Bridget's nap where there was a cute ladybug birthday party going on. Gabriella made a new friend, Leah, and Bridget played with a couple of tiny tots as well. It's always so amazing to see the little kids playing together. I get the special advantage because I'm the hovering mom with the hand wipes and sanitizer spray running after the girls to clean their hands. What was really sweet was to see how protective G was over her little sister. She'd say to the kids, "Watch out for my little sister. She's right there" or "Be careful of my little sister. Her name is Bridget". They definitely seem to have an amazing bond and a special way to get through this together.
The mom throwing the birthday party, Stephany recognized us from the blog and invited us to catch ladybugs with the kids at the party. She released about 1500 ladybugs and each little kid had a container to catch them and bring them home to put in their yards. It was a pretty special moment watching all the ladybugs flying around, landing on the kids, and watching the kids go crazy trying to catch the little bugs to put in their containers. My girls got to be a part of it and Gabriella didn't stop talking about it the rest of the day. So, thank you Stephany for inviting us to be a part of your daughter's special day. You made it really special for my girls as well!
As much as we would like to leave this pediatric cancer world behind, it's always something that is going to be right there in our face, like the big white elephant in the room. No one really wants to talk about it, no one really wants to be reminded about it but it's always going to be there. With every cough, every stomach pain, every odd looking bump or bruise on our children's body, it will always prompt the questions, "Is that cancer... is that a sign that my child has relapsed...is my other child going to get it...are we going to have to go through this again?". These amazing people have entered our lives and as painful as it is to hear their stories, we can't and will never turn our backs to them. We will always be there as much as we can; for comfort, celebrations, and for those god damned funerals. Sometimes I don't think I'm strong enough to be a cancer parent and get so involved but as I've said before, I can't turn away...not now...not ever.
And there it is, it hits like a ton of bricks, almost knocking the wind out of you. A couple of days ago, I got an email from a new friend we met at Camp Okizu about her little girl Anelise's recent CT results which came back...positive for a relapse. A progressive form of her cancer had come back again...to ravage her little 4 year old body. What? How can this be? I can barely think the question that I hate to think, the one that I push deep down inside when it starts to haunt me, "...could this happen to my child?". As I read her email leaving the gym and trying to maintain my composure, I felt a lump in my throat and my knees got week. Now, I know how it must feel to be on the "other side". You feel helpless and grasp at whatever it is you think of to help this person telling you this horrible news. I drove around running my errands in a daze the rest of the day, realizing finally at 4pm that I forgot to eat, just trying to figure out how I can make this better and thinking if only one less parent had to hear this kind of news. Sitting here writing this, I can hardly hold back my tears. But, we must stay positive, strong and continue to act.
Hence, my bake sale commitment. I can only think that what we are trying to do by spreading awareness and by raising funds for childhood cancer will help. If it helps just one parent from hearing the words, "Your child has cancer" or from one child having to endure cancer treatments, I must continue to fight; not only for my daughter but for all of the children and families out there. I often wonder what is it going to be like when Gabriella is cancer free...will I continue to be as committed, will I continue to have so much motivation... and I just answered that question. HELL YES!!!