She Has Cancer
Updated: Aug 11, 2019
Post 1, Series 1: She Has Cancer
It's hard to believe that it's been 16 years since my daughter was first diagnosed. She was 7 years old, an active and engaging 1st grader with a wicked sense of humor and she wanted to do everything, be everything. Of course, that all changed.
“What did I mourn the most at first? Her loss of innocence to a world of pain and suffering that's unavoidable if you want any chance of survival. The alternative to that is NOT an alternative. It becomes the "new normal" and you'd better be ready to fight.
There were signs before May 2003 when she was diagnosed. She had always had a beautiful running stride, truly like a gazelle, but suddenly began braking with every step. Our daughter was in karate and soccer and at first we thought it was because she wasn't stretching enough. Changed that, but it got worse. She also showed up with petechiae, strange bruises, a low fever off and on, and severe lower back pain. A month before Mother's Day we stayed up all night with her, rubbing her back, using a heating pad, and giving her Tylenol as per her pediatrician's late night call advice. As time went on, she repeatedly had strep throat, that low grade fever, and was all over the place emotionally.
I will never forget picture day...I had dropped her off that morning, and saw her in the hallway a few hours later when taking her brother to Preschool. She ran to give me a hug, and the right side of her neck had disappeared under a huge mass. Astounded, I asked her teacher, "what happened?" She had no idea, and even her pediatrician, who we rushed her to, said nonchalantly, "oh, kids present differently with strep all the time." We discovered later that it was the leukoblasts backing up in her cervical lymph gland, as they were too big to fit through.
Months after that we were in the ER on Mother's Day, and they ran a series of blood tests. She was anemic, but otherwise okay. A week later a blood test told the real story: it was ALL, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer. And so began the long battle to hold onto what we could, and reconcile what we had to let go.