Random Reflections

It has been a wild last few months from moving to a new place in the country, a school change for Tessa, juggling the weight of our workload, traveling and making necessary lifestyle changes. All of which contribute to this transitional phase in our lives right now.  Some days are better than others.

But at the end of every day, my heart is full and my faith is constantly restored. It feels good to find contentment in change…finally.  After a long period of heartache and chaos that came into our lives without warning, I am certain that this adjustment was the right move for our family.

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We are healing and growing from our life experiences; gaining perspective along the way.  None of which happens in a day’s time.  And none of it happened immediately after we were no longer confined by a disease that held my daughter–and our family–captive.  In the process we face hardships and frustration and we learn hard lessons.  Recovery is a long process.  When treatment ends, it absolutely does not mean that it is entirely over.  We are never going to be free from this.  Never.  Every single day it remains with us…not because we choose it that way, but because that is just a part of it. This is something many people struggle to understand, and I would not expect that understanding either from another point of view had I not experienced it myself.

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Where I once shook my fists at God, demanding an explanation, I now have peace; appreciating the road less traveled because it has opened our eyes to other things in life that we may have otherwise missed.  It also gave us the chance to really realize our dreams after all was said and done.  To have the opportunity to chase them down and live them out without justification.  It has not been easy. These dreams have been met with resistance on several ends, but I am learning to let it go.

We battle self-doubt, fear and all kinds of what-ifs; but we let it go.  When others use words or actions to try and reduce us, our achievements and even our happiness…we let it all go.  And you know what?  It is amazing how freeing it feels to do so.  To literally not give a damn about any of it; to stay solely focused on what we have going on and to know that nothing can break us down or hold us back.  Because I can’t control how, when or if negativity will approach us; but I can control how I react.  That is the mantra I roll with.

The best thing I do for myself is to spotlight my own dreams, not someone else’s; by living freely each day for myself and not in spite of anyone or anything else.  Life is incredibly short and extremely fragile, and it can change in an instant.  Knowing that, I cannot allow my energy to be exerted on things that only add unnecessary weight on my mind and heart.

We know where we have been and we know where we want to go.  Our feet are steadily planted in a path we are choosing to follow–for the first time in a very long time.  We are days away from the anniversary of the day that changed our lives forever–Tessa’s leukemia diagnosis.  The significance of this day is not lost on me.  I will struggle on that day and the days that surround it; I won’t even lie about that.

As we head into the season of giving and gratitude, this landmark occasion serves as a good reminder for me to pay attention to the present; to look past the trivial things and soak in all that is good and well; recalling how things could have been very different for her…and for us.

Give thanks.  Life is good.

The Day Before…

I read this somewhere once…

“The day before my child was diagnosed with cancer, I wasn’t a cancer mom either.” 

And it’s true.  I wasn’t.  However, the night before we heard the words “…she has leukemia,” I knew that she already had it.  Under odd circumstances, we had been preparing for leukemia’s arrival for many months.  That night I could see it in her eyes, on her skin and I could feel it in the deepest part of my soul.  But in those last moments at home, knowing life would flip upside down in the morning, I held on tight to what life was like before cancer.  Because everything would change the following day.

The day before my child was diagnosed with cancer, she was free from central lines, machines and chemo.

The day before my child was diagnosed with cancer, she had a head full of thick and beautiful hair that I was madly in love with.

The day before my child was diagnosed with cancer, I had no idea what it meant for life to be crazy–even though I thought our’s was most days.

The day before my child was diagnosed with cancer, she was free of fear.

The day before my child was diagnosed with cancer, a cold was just a cold, germs were just germs; and we didn’t live in fear of either.

The day before my child was diagnosed with cancer, my heart didn’t have to decide which of our kids needed me most at any given moment.

The day before my child was diagnosed with cancer, she cried in our arms in pain and misery but smiled when daddy joked.

The day before my child was diagnosed with cancer, it didn’t exist in my mind.

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Looking back at the day before my daughter was officially diagnosed with cancer, I took for granted the things in our life that were actually blessings–chaos from work and the kids, agonizing over what to make for dinner, organizing school and therapy schedules, complaining about mountains of laundry, crying over little things. And sometimes I was blind to the beauty around me.

The day my child was diagnosed with cancer, I collapsed in my living room.

The day my child was diagnosed with cancer, she was scared, but incredibly brave.

The day my child was diagnosed with cancer, I cried myself completely numb.

The day my child was diagnosed with cancer, she cuddled her blankie in the car during the ride to the hospital.

The day my child was diagnosed with cancer, I left our six month old baby behind to care for her sister.

The day my child was diagnosed with cancer, she hugged her new nurse.

The day my child was diagnosed with cancer, fear took over and I assumed the worst.

The day my child was diagnosed with cancer, our lives changed forever.

One week after her diagnosis. Halloween in the hospital.

One week after her diagnosis. Halloween in the hospital.

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Becoming an accidental pro at the hospital.

Every day after my child was diagnosed with cancer, the silver linings sparkled brighter than before; and I truly understood what it meant to be blessed even in despair.  Nurses became dear friends and crying alongside doctors was common.  There were late nights and long isolated days.  Pain and pride became one while we experienced tribulations and triumphs.

Every day after my child was diagnosed with cancer, we learned something new.  We watched our daughter fight for her life.  I found fear, but believed in hope.  We gave in, threw our hands up and prayed for miracles.

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Every day after my child was diagnosed with cancer, we gained an intense appreciation for those who work in the medical field because they loved, cared for and save our girl while working endless and often heartbreaking shifts.  We learned to advocate for our daughter and for kids with cancer because they deserve more.  They deserve a chance to live a full life outside of cancer.  Kids with cancer deserve freedom from their diseases and a fair shot at just being a kid.

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The day before my child was diagnosed with cancer, I knew very little about pediatric cancer–especially how grossly underfunded it is.  Less than 4% of federal funding is allocated for all kids cancers.  If you want to learn more hard truths and grim facts of childhood cancer, take a look here … or here … or here.

 

The more we turn our cheeks, the less we will help the future of our kids. Yes, it is scary.  Yes, it is unsettling.  But it is real.

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The day before my child was diagnosed with cancer, I was a mom unprepared for what would come; and she was just a toddler living a normal life.

The day my child was diagnosed with cancer, a spark ignited a powerful flame in my heart to fight for kids battling cancer everywhere.  And because of this beautiful face, I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

go gold tessa