Monday, March 7, 2016

Restless in Seattle

I know I've been absent from this blog for a while...a long while.  I have to admit, just the thought of coming back here after being away for so long makes me break out into a cold sweat... and even makes me a little nauseated.  There's not much more I can say that I haven't already said.  But something inside me stirred this past weekend.

Adam and I just attended the annual Firefighter Stairclimb.  This is an amazing event done by the The Leukemia Lymphoma Society every year where firefighters across the world come to Seattle to climb 69 flights of stairs in the Columbus Tower .... all while wearing their heavy gear and breathing bottled air... face masks, helmets and all.   This ads up to be about 60 pounds of total weight (not including their body weight ;-)).  The first year we brought Gabriella and Bridget up and the last two years, the girls have stayed at home with grandparents while we've gone to show our camaraderie.  We have consistently submitted honorees including our daughter but this year, we submitted a few more children to be honored..and remembered during the day's event.  LLS posts pictures of these honorees in the stairway while the firefighters embark upon their climb....under 20 minutes for the faster ones and up to, sometimes more than an hour for the slower climbers.... all along encouraging the participants and reminding them that they have willingly chosen to climb in support of those who have not chosen this battle.  It's a somber memory for each and every one of them as they make their way through the stairs.  I am lucky enough (or unlucky...depends how you look at it) as a parent of an honoree to be escorted to the top and watch as these firefighters finish their climb.  And I love being there to cheer Adam and his crew members on.

LLS has a dedication wall so I made my way over to write our honorees on the wall.  I started writing the names of the children we submitted to honor; Gabriella, Samantha, Tianna, Matthew, Lauren, Sofia....then I started to write down the names of the recent children we had come into contact with; Ava, Sofia, Luke, Massy, Giselle.  Then I though, there are all of our inspirations on the Team G website so I continued to write their names down; Nick, Ben, Alex, Aurora, Ahmie, Brooke, Hadlie, Jake, Ginger, Charlie, Carter, Sammuel, Sage, Jalen and Breanna, Taliyah, Pablo, Mya....  And then I got exhausted just thinking of and trying to remember all these names.  There were moments of just feeling overwhelmed and I did my best to take it all in.

Leukemia has hit me especially hard this past few months when my good friend's daughter Samantha was diagnosed.  Then another friend, and another acquaintance, another friend of a friend diagnosed  all within days and months of each other.  It feels like everyone around us is getting diagnosed with cancer...pediatric cancer...which was once so rare in my life.  Even at work, one of the nurses said to me recently, "everyone has cancer".  Yes, I feel this way too, even though that isn't the case.  It is just our lives.  I've done my best the last three years to "work through" some of the stress and the almost impossible journey that we traveled but I've realized I live so much in the present.  It's joyous to be here.  I have my two daughters, I have my families health.  That's all I ever wanted.  Do I have to relive the trauma which was taking my daughter and my family through treatment?  A question that I still ponder and probably always will.

Which brings me back to this blog... this damn blog...this life saving blog.  I haven't yet been able to go back and read it.  No way.  Can't do it.  I end up with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.  Sometimes I think I can even tell my story without having tears in my eyes.  But I can't.  Especially not this past weekend.  And I have a survivor.

Always a highlight of our trip...meeting with Dr. Doug Hawkins,
Seattle Children's Hospital and Children's Oncology Group.

As many of you close to me know, I'm currently in a statistics class.  Online.  And it's not always fun. Most of the time, it sucks.  I just applied for the pediatric nurse practitioner program at UCSF but I don't know if I've been accepted yet.  Yes, I will specialize in pediatric oncology and I will continue my journey and mission to fight pediatric cancer, with everything that I have in me.   I ask myself, why the hell am I doing this?  I often think, I could easily slam the computer closed, throw my TI 83 Plus calculator in a drawer and just be done.  Then I look at my children, all those precious children, the ones that have fought, the ones that haven't survived.... all of them.  And I keep going.