This past two weeks has been an adjustment to a new schedule. I would say busy but I think back to what we were doing this same time last year...we were in radiation treatment for 6 weeks....every day. And every day it was the same routine. We would drive up to Palo Alto for her early appointment on an empty stomach (NPO in sympathy and comradery for her), take her to the radiation area at Stanford and into the room where all the radiation techs would wait for her, lie her on the hard table and hook her up for sedation..... And we would watch as they put our baby to sleep....every day....for 6 weeks. Off we went to the waiting area. I still remember the red flashing light that said "beam on" which would flash and buzz every time the beams of radiation would hit her. "Beam on....beam on". When she was finished, we would wait to hear her heart beat on the monitor as they wheeled her down the hall from Stanford to Packard's recovery area....still in a stupor from the sedation. We got to know everyone so well in the recovery area that they would know our routine....a cup of hot water so we could warm up her milk and have it ready when she woke. She lost so much weight during radiation to the point where they wanted to put a tube in her nose. But we quickly found tricks to help her gain weight (olive oil) and vetoed that idea.
This is why during the craziness of back to school an adjusting to a new routine I remind myself how grateful.....how completely grateful I am for these moments. I remind myself where we were last year and every day I have to wake everyone up for school (including myself), pack lunches and do homework, I remember this. I want to jump up and say "halle...freiking....leula!!!" We are here. We are well. And we are thriving. I am SO thankful.
|Special bracelets from their counselor "Dori"|
This past Labor Day weekend we spent up at Berry Creek sucking up every enjoyable moment with our girls, marveling at how much they have grown this past year. Again, I found myself comparing the present moment to the state we were in last year. We saw many familiar faces and made connections with new families. It was a completely different experience...and we thought last year was great! The thought of being tired or exhausted didn't enter our minds during G's treatment, especially during radiation. We just couldn't go there because we needed to stay focused and stay on task. It wasn't an option. To this day, I still won't let those words "I'm tired" enter into my mind very often. It's interesting how many habits we formed during treatment that we find have been difficult to break like having my phone by my side at every moment...just in case I got the "fever" call. But, I was able to leave my phone in the car for the weekend....and spend a few moments "happily" tired.
We spent the weekend enjoying....just enjoying. I was most impressed with Gabriella's courage to take on the zip line and the ropes course! I thought for sure the Bridget would be the one zipping through the forest but to my surprise and Bridgy's pleasant, "No thank you mommy", G was the one who wanted to go. She was hesitant at first but only for a moment. I could see the confidence she gained that day after overcoming this challenge and a couple obstacles at the ropes course. She climbed about 30 feet up a tree and proceeded across a cat walk but fell off graciously and was lowered to the ground. I could see that she was so proud of herself and we were all in awe, including Bridget.
The girls were so worn out but couldn't resist the big dance party on the last night. Talk about a new experience. Watching the camp counselors and their favorite counselor this year, "Dori" taking our girls out onto the dance floor to dance the night away was another highlight. We had met the fantastic duo last year..."Squishy" and "Dori" but Squishy stole G's heart. She wasn't able to make it this year so Dori stepped in and had a blast with the girls. Bridget ended up falling asleep on our shoulders and G danced till the end of the party. It brought tears to our eyes just watching how far she's come in the last year. From being a pale, thin, bald and emaciated child the previous year to this beautiful confident, tan, and blonde young girl just struck every emotional cord in us. I think daddy was more overcome but we were definitely celebrating.
It poured down rain that night...all night and we were out in the tents. Since neither of us thought to check the tent before we left, we ended up with the 3 man (small) tent. Adam happily slept outside for the first two nights but we all crammed in the tent on the last night to keep dry...somewhat dry. But, we really didn't care. We were all having so much fun that the size of the tent or the wrong tent didn't matter. It was a moment to truly enjoy.
Just the other day, a friend brought up our upcoming scans. I haven't had a moment to think about it and frankly have been keeping myself so busy that I haven't given it more than a thought. Thinking about it too much makes my stomach turn and makes me nauseated. So, I push on and realize what I have here in this moment. My girls are healthy and thriving. They're amazing. Gabriella has overcome such trying times and she's done it with grace and beauty. I look at her and I am awestruck with inspiration. Bridget has turned into a caring and incredibly supportive little sister. She is always so thoughtful and still does whatever she can to "please" G. I'm thinking some of this is a little sister thing but I know these two have already been through a lifetime together.
September 20th will be the day of her next scans and exam....all under anesthesia again. I hold my breath until then reminding myself every once in a while that I still need to breathe. Breathe. She'll be ok. I continue to keep myself busy until then and continue to use all this couped up energy and nervous anxiety to do good things....to continue to establish a good and positive name for Team G Foundation....let others know that they are not alone in this grueling fight and continue to honor those stricken by pediatric cancer.