Dear Tessa: You Did It

Dear Tessa, 

I got a phone call today.  An important one, but I will get to it at the end.  This letter is long, so go ahead and grab a seat.  

There is so much going on in your life.  I know that is nothing new, but it sort of feels that way.  New and exciting changes occurring, trips coming up, and distant painful memories keep fading further back in my memory.  

When we were first told that you would get leukemia over a year ago, I really did not know what to expect.  Cancer is such an evil thing, and I could not bare to think that my child would have it.  But you did get it, and I painfully watched as you slowly overcame all that leukemia tried to throw at you.  I cried more than you ever did during treatment.  You handled everything so gracefully in manners that I have since envied and taken pride in all at once.  

I always say thank you when people tell me how amazing, how strong and how beautiful you are.  I know you are all of those things.  However, the impact that you have made on those around you in the presence of unfortunate circumstances (cancer, never Down syndrome) never completely hit me until just recently.  

We held a blood drive and swab party in your honor two weeks ago.  We had an original goal of 40 units of blood and 25 swabbers to add to the National Bone Marrow Registry.  Pleasantly to my surprise we ended up collecting 71 units of blood and 69 new swab registries!  People waited long periods of time to donate in your honor…to have the chance to save someone’s life.  Because of you, there were people who put their fears aside and donated blood for the first time in their lives.  Because of you, there were people who volunteered themselves in the event that someone else in this world would need their cells for a transplant.  They all gathered to give you messages of hope.  From that hope blossomed courage and strength that we needed in order to finish what we set out to do…which was to never, ever, EVER give up.  

2014-07-15 15.57.44 2014-07-15 12.48.19 2014-07-15 15.33.31

2014-07-15 12.32.21 2014-07-15 13.05.30 2014-07-15 13.59.34 2014-07-15 15.28.05 2014-07-15 15.54.56 2014-07-15 15.37.39 2014-07-15 12.50.27 2014-07-15 12.52.25 2014-07-15 14.36.21 2014-07-15 12.47.29

And we never did.  Because we had hope to push us through.  Four days following your blood drive, I helped you walk your first Survivor’s lap at Lafayette County Relay For Life.

Tessa relay  Tessa relay 2 tessa relay 3 tessa kendal relay

Last week we found out that you will be the Grand Marshall in our community’s 100th Anniversary School and Community Fair parade, escorted by a horse drawn carriage.  Two days ago, we celebrated you becoming a Wish Kid for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Your wish was granted, and in two weeks we will be flying down to Disney World where you will be free to be the princess like the ones you adore so much.  You can finally hug Mickey Mouse and eat ice cream for breakfast.

wish kid

When I thought that life certainly could not get any better, I got a phone call that assured me it does.  Your oncologist called today with your recent biopsy results.  She asked how you were doing and how our family was doing.  When I told everything is actually going great, she said “I have more good news for you Becky.  Tessa’s blast population has decreased again, where she is now considered to be in remission.”  I was in the produce section of Piggly Wiggly sobbing and laughing and thanking her and sobbing some more.  Remission.  REMISSION!  This was a word that we have not heard since after your first round of treatment.  There is still a very small, yet normal, percentage of blasts–not even enough to send in for further testing.  They are going to continue to monitor you in three months and hopefully extend the time between each biopsy from now on.

You did it, bug.  You did it!  I am beside myself and bursting at the seams with love and pride and happiness…and joy…and relief…and of course tears galore.  Wherever you are when you read this letter, I hope you realize and understand the impact that your little self has made.  Someday I hope that I can sit and tell you that every frustrating moment, every time my heart broke, every time I thought you wouldn’t make it, every long day spent in the hospital and every emotional procedure all led to this moment.  None of those horrible times can ever steal the joy that I have today while we celebrate your victory.  I hope that you know that nothing can ever stop you from being great.

TODAY you are bigger than leukemia.  You are more than cancer.  You are more than Down syndrome.  You are a rock star!

I love you Tessa, and I could not be more proud of you.

Love always, Mom.

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2 thoughts on “Dear Tessa: You Did It

  1. Yay, yay, yay!!!! Such wonderful news! I am so happy for you all. And Tessa IS a rock star. she has faced the evil and won….. I hope you have an absolutely awesome time on your Make-a-Wish trip to Disney World. You all have earned it. Thanks again, Becky, for sharing the journey of Tessa and your family. I have enjoyed your letters…this one the most! And it renews my hope that our little Lucy will be celebrating the same thing very soon.

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