All of these posts lately are about babies, newborns, first time parents. That's not me. I'm a mother of a 14 year old daughter and an 18 year old son.
Our worlds changed when my son, who was 17 at the time, was diagnosed with cancer. Talk about a curve ball! He was a senior in high school, on the varsity basketball team and applying to college! This can't be happening, not to him, not to us, no way. But happen it did. With the diagnosis on 10/21/2014, and what the pediatrician described as a whirlwind of tests to endure, his first chemotherapy round began on 11/3/2014. All in less than two weeks!
We had just returned home from a wonderful couple of days visiting the University of South Florida in Tampa and had a scheduled tour of Florida State University on 11/4/2014. How can this be happening? As a mother, I felt numb. How did this happen, how did I not see it, when all of the symptoms were put together on a piece of paper I should have seen it. He had weight loss over the summer but we thought that was because he was working out and trying to get "lean" for basketball season. He was always hot; the a/c cranked down while the rest of us had blankets on all day and night. But none of that matters now, now what matters is, he has cancer and we need to do anything and everything possible to get him treatment and get it now!
When the doctor told us he had Lymphoma, Classic Hodgkin's Lymphoma, I was stunned. The needle aspiration had come back negative for lymphoma, we were thinking it was a reactive lymph node. No big deal, we will get it taken care of. But cancer? No way. My son looked at my husband and I, as we sat there with tears filling up and falling down our cheeks, NO CRYING, I got this!!! I thought oh my gosh, how is this possible, how is he going to manage to get through this? How are we going to get through this? It isn't fair, he shouldn't have to do this! My husband and I said a zillion times that we would take the fight for him if we could; we couldn't so we would be by his side the entire way. Our family's got this!
My son was amazing! He had a smile through it all, well most of it. He did have a few tears too but who wouldn't! He was in a hospital bed for four days while his teammates were starting the basketball season. Those were the toughest days, when he knew he couldn't be with his team or his friends at school. His friends were amazing though, they came to visit him at the hospital any chance they got. They came to the house and brought him candy, cookies, hats, and watched movies to hang out. He is a part of a group of friends that I believe will last a lifetime. Those kids have seen what a lot of adults have not. They have seen a child struggle to get well, lose his hair, eyelashes, eyebrows but never lose his smile! It's his trademark, thank god for our orthodontist!! He eventually won the superlative for PEARLY WHITES!!! :)
After four rounds of chemotherapy, hospital stays, doctor appointments, blood counts, surgery and 14 radiation treatments he's in full remission! Amazing! He is truly amazing, he did this all at the ripe old age of 18! But he handled it so well, with grace, with dignity, we shared the milestones and kept the challenges private. His doctors said that treatment would take between 4-6 months. He proudly shared to all in the doctor's office that he completed all treatment in 3 months and 23 days, the ultimate competitor! He has returned to school part-time for a mostly social experience before graduation in May.
My daughter was 14 when her brother was diagnosed with cancer. She felt helpless, what could she do to help? How can I keep her feeling a part of this journey? I have to remember I still have two children, although one really, really needs me right now. She registered for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Light the Night walk which was being held in our area in 3 weeks. She raised funds for her page and the total reached over $8,600! Everyday she was excited to see who had donated and what post they may have left for her and her brother. That was a wonderful experience for her to be a part of. We were all able to attend the walk and what an experience that was. My sons school gathered together to support him and put together a team for the walk as well. They had well over 100 students and staff members there including the principal of his high school. He felt the love! We all felt the love. We are blessed to have had such support. We are blessed to have had a positive outcome from his treatment. We certainly realize, not everyone is as fortunate as we are, god bless those families. My heart goes out to them and all they have endured.
Our family has changed. Each of us is a changed person. What I thought was important about being a mother really isn't. What I did learn about being a mother is that the love you have for your children and family is stronger than you will ever really know. Just when you think you can't do it, whatever it may be, you can, you will, it always gets done. Somehow, someway, don't stress about it now. Enjoy each moment, big or little. Celebrate anything that deserves celebrating.
We are getting ready to celebrate remission on Spring Break from school by taking a well deserved vacation! His next celebration will be at the six week point when the scans come back! And celebrate we will!!!
I am proud to say that we have raised a sweet, strong-willed, tenacious son who was able to rise above the adversity and fight with all his might. That will be my greatest gift to society! Enjoy him world because he is amazing, special and my son!
Hopeful for a healthy future!