Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Further Along

This past weekend I learned of another family in my town who's daughter has been diagnosed with cancer.  I checked out their CaringBridge website, and read through from the beginning.  Reading about their heartbreak, the sickness, the fear, and the extremely difficult beginnings of chemotherapy...well, it brought back a lot of horrific memories. (You hear about war vets who have flashbacks--well, I have them, too. And let me tell you, they aren't much fun).

I can remember sitting in the hospital and seeing families who were obviously much further along in treatment than we were.  I can remember thinking, "Oh, why can't that be us?  I just want to be done with this!"  And now, I see others at the very painful beginning, and I am grateful that it's not us back there.  I am glad to be "further along", even though we still have 76 weeks to go!

Don't get me wrong, I still wish we were done.  Just this week I screamed in my head, "Okay God.  We're done now.  Can we have our real life back now?"  But still, I am thankful to be "further along".

Please keep the Dison family in your prayers...they desperately need them!  You can keep up with their journey here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Re-Visiting and Charity

Last week I posted about repressing any happy feelings for fear that they would bring on something bad--a jinx if you will.  Putting my innermost fears out there for anyone on the world wide web to see really made me realize that it was time to do something about them.  I am not a "sweep things under the rug and hope they go away" kind of girl.  So, I have made a list of things to work on, in order to give myself permission to be happy again.  Will it work?  *Katie Shrugs*  But it's worth a try!  I thought I would share my list, in case anyone else feels like doing some personal improvement along with me : )

1. God hasn't given us the spirit of fear.  He tells us this in II Timothy 1:7 "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."  God loves us, and has gotten us this far.  He will still love us if something else goes wrong, and he will still keep us going in spite of it.  He doesn't want us to live in fear--and if the Bible says that God didn't give us this fear, than that means only one person did.  I decided that I will NOT give Satan that kind of power over me.  I WON 'T live in fear just because the devil whispers in my ear that I better not be happy.

2. It takes a village.  My family has not gotten this far alone.  We have a wonderful family, and wonderful friends.  We also have a wonderful church family.  How could we have come this far without them?  They have prayed for us time and again (and I mean this very honestly when I say this is the #1 thing I want people to do for us.  God can save these children like no chemo treatment ever can).  These folks have been with us through our toughest times, and I am sure in the fact that they will be here for us in the future.  If you are trying to fight for your life all alone, then you need to seriously re-think your strategy.

3. Trials will come regardless.  This is a key point, in my thinking.  Do I really think that just because I don't let myself enjoy all the happy things in life that no more bad things will ever happen to my family?  That's ridiculous!  Bad things will still come--that's just part of life.  So I need to enjoy the mountaintops while they're here.  And I intend to (at least to try!).

So that's my two cents.  I hope it helps someone : )

And now for my charity highlight.  In a few weeks we will be traveling to Walt Disney World via the Make A Wish Foundation and Give Kids The World.  So, I thought I'd tell you a little about them.  The Make A Wish Foundation began in 1980 when a police officer made a young cancer patient's wish come true--he became a police officer for a day.  The patient passed away two days later.  Today they are the largest wish granting organization in the world!

Who Are They:   Make A Wish Foundation

Their Mission Statement: We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.

How To Donate: Visit their website here.  There are numerous ways to help, including donating money, volunteering, or donating items.  You can also adopt a wish, meaning you can sponsor a child's wish.  I know of one family who's wish sponsor ran a horse farm.  The child's wish was to have a horse of her own, and her wish sponsor simply donated a horse.

We will be going to Walt Disney World.  When wish children visit Disney World they stay at Give Kids The World.  You can learn more about them here

Who They Are:  Give Kids The World

Their Story:
The story of Give Kids The World begins with a little girl with a wish and the desire of one man to make that wish come true.
The little girl's name was Amy. Amy had leukemia and one wish - to visit the theme parks in Orlando. To facilitate Amy's wish, the request of a complimentary stay was made to a respected hotelier. As he had done many times before, the hotelier gladly obliged and Amy's wish was that much closer to being realized. Sadly, the remainder of Amy's travel plans took too long to arrange and her wish was never granted; Amy had passed away. Time simply ran out.
This unfulfilled wish inspired a man, the hotelier, to make a vow that no child in need would ever be failed again. That man was Henri Landwirth and his desire to ensure that Amy's story would never repeat itself is where the story of Give Kids The World begins.

Their Mission: Give Kids The World is a non-profit organization that exists only to fulfill the wishes of all children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the world to experience a memorable, joyful, cost-free visit to the Central Florida attractions, and to enjoy the magic of Give Kids The World Village for as long as there is a need.

How To Donate: Donations can be made by visiting their website.  You can also sign up to volunteer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Warring Emotions

This morning as we drove to Emma's clinic appointment we were feeling great!  It was a bright sunny day, Emma was in a great mood, and Ashlyn had finally seemed to get over her little sickness.  I was thinking about two upcoming (free) trips we will be taking.  Emma was happily coloring in the back seat.

And then a terrible feeling of dread came over me.  I quickly reminded myself to stop being happy.  And so I was somber.

Sound strange?  It is, I know, but I can't help it.  I am terribly afraid of being happy because I just KNOW that as soon as I'm happy the other shoe is going to drop.  I have a nagging feeling that I'm not the only one who does this.  I think there are lots of cancer moms out there who dread what tomorrow will bring.  Beyond that, I would wager there are lots of other people who have been through something traumatic who feel this way, too.

I remember right before Emma was diagnosed.  We were blissfully happy.  We had a brand new baby; we were spending lots of time together (as opposed to Micheal working all the time); we had just bought a new car.  I remember even having a conversation about how happy we were.  How perfect things were.  Maybe God was giving us an extra dose of happiness because he knew what was coming. 

Whatever the reason it made me a bit paranoid, and now when I get that feeling of happiness I am suspicious.  I'm not really sure how to fix it, but I guess I should work a little harder on it.  What about you?  Have you ever felt that way?  How did you work it out?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy Birthday America!

This week's post is a little bit early, but I really had this subject on my mind so decided to post.  This 4th of July we felt especially celebratory.  Why?  Because a year ago we were stuck in the hospital, for the 5th straight week, fighting the beast called cancer.  Emma was as yet not in remission.  She could only sit if she was propped up.  She certainly couldn't stand, walk, or run.  We were living in absolute fear.

On the night of the 4th we took Emma to the glassed in porch area on the 2nd floor at St. Jude so that she could see the fireworks.  We waited, along with several other patients, for about an hour.  The fireworks never came!  We found out the next day that the city had canceled them due to budget cuts.

This 4th, Emma ran around the yard playing with her cousins.  She laughed and jumped.  She helped shoot off the fireworks in our driveway.  It was absolutely fantastic to be regular.  And that got me to thinking about how often we take for granted the "regular" things.  I am so happy for days that are fantastically regular.  We are always looking for bigger and better, and overlooking all the blessings that we have staring us right in the face.

So be happy and thankful for today.  It might not be here tomorrow.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Getting Support

The world of pediatric cancer can be a lonely place.  Friends and family can’t always understand.  Even a well-meaning friend can say something insensitive.  I was once told (by someone trying to give me an emotional lift) to “not let myself feel so sorry for myself.”  

Sometimes the only people who can understand are other people going through the same things.  With that in mind, I have put together a list of websites that include forums where those going through hard times can find others who are in the same boat.  I hope you find it helpful!

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Boards:
This is a link to the “My Child Has Cancer” board.  However, they have a slew of other boards if you’re interested.  Click here, and from there you’ll find the others.

The Brain Tumor Foundation Boards:
The Melanoma Foundation Boards:
This is a link to the forums.  There are also chat rooms, a blog, and more.  Click on this link, and you will be able to find the other areas.

*I could not find a specific SKIN CANCER board, so if you know of one, leave a comment to let others know!

Pediatric Cancer Boards:
The Crisis Care Foundation Boards:

No matter what your diagnosis or problem is there are others going through the same thing.  Find a support system in your area by checking online or in the phone book!