Has there ever been a moment when it seemed everything around you was going in fast motion and your world suddenly slowed down to slow motion, sound started to echo and you felt like possibly your head could rupture at any moment? Well, that was this day for me 8 years ago. Most people refer to April 15th as Tax Day. But, to me, it is the day my, then 2 year old was diagnosed with cancer. My world stopped. Well, my world as I knew it then. Everything changed and has never gone back to the way it was before that day.
Today though, she is 10 years old. She is one of the lucky ones. That word lucky is used so many different ways. Some people are lucky because they win a lot of money or they didn’t get caught doing something they shouldn’t have done. I guess either way, “lucky” would be a word that could fit in both cases. Other people use the word “lucky” when they get home and find out their house was destroyed by fire and they weren’t home at the time or their car was nearly hit by a train by mere seconds… (that is much more than luck!)
In today’s world, many people consider themselves lucky to still have their job or to find a new job and yes, they are lucky and grateful and blessed. There is always the opposite of lucky which I guess would be unlucky but I don’t like to just say someone is unlucky because things don’t just play out due to luck. There are a lot of things that are unfortunate and we see that more and more.
But, today I am going to focus on what started 8 years ago.
The world, our world at least, came crashing down! We weren’t thinking about taxes, what I was going to make for dinner, what was going to happen at school the next day…. Heck, I don’t think I even gave thought to if I picked up my purse before we headed from one hospital to the next. Really, everything just stopped for a while. I didn’t feel like someone hit me with a bunch of bad news or anything because for our youngest daughter, things had been going downhill for a few months. She had been going from one doctor to the next for a while. You want answers to why things are going wrong but you never want the answer to be CANCER! Not that answer! You can have that back and give me another answer, thank you.
I remember though my first instinct was to not act upset in front of my daughter, Katia (she was the one that was just diagnosed). She was just a 2 year old little girl that had already seen too many doctors, been through too many procedures and had just spent too much time feeling bad lately. I knew enough about what I was hearing to know a few things right off the bat.
1. Cancer is not always a death sentence.
2. This was going to mean a lot of explaining to her sisters (then ages 7 and 11)
3. Katia was going to get much more sick before she had a chance to get better.
4. We were going to have to face this with a very positive attitude.
All of that was just buzzing in my head and we were put into an ambulance to head across the Bay Area to another hospital that a Pediatric Oncology Unit. This would end up being home away from home for us over the coming years. Pediatric Oncology Specialist, Nurses, Staff are amazing people!
On the way over, Katia was just sleepy and not feeling well but the ambulance had a lot of things kind of bouncing around and it would scare her at times and other time amuse her. I was watching the traffic outside and thinking how I had crossed over the same bridge so many times and never thought about how many people’s lives had possibly changed just as ours were at the moment. People just don’t think about that. I was thinking about the fact I had never imagined one of my kids would be one of those little children fighting cancer. People don’t think about that either. I was trying to imagine what would happen next and I couldn’t. I am a planner. I don’t like not knowing what is coming up next and my whole world now was all about not knowing what was next. I didn’t know anything about tomorrow. I didn’t know anything it seemed! How could my baby have cancer in her and I have never known? I knew everything about her.
When we were wheeled up to the Oncology Unit, different patients and parents were watching us and we were looking around while also being talked to and shown to a room. A lot happened on that day. But, I will never forget that day. We were the “New Family” on the Pediatric Oncology Unit. Over the years, we have seen that many times when new families come up and you never ever want to see that happen. I wish we had been the last ones to enter as new patients.
We went over a lot of paperwork that day. Katia had a lot of blood work done and more set up for the next day. We had a lot of visitors between family and friends. Everyone was just shocked when they heard she had been diagnosed with cancer. She had been diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous leukemia. She was very sick and had a long fight with very intense treatments ahead of her. She has not had an easy road, nor a predictable road since that time but the fact is her road is a continuing road.
Katia’s journey has been full of blessings and we have been so fortunate to have met many wonderful people along the way and that we are able to work with still. She has amazing doctors and receives at All Children’s in St. Pete where they have always gone above and beyond to give the best of care and stayed ahead of Katia’s care. Is Katia lucky?? By all means! Katia loves ladybugs and ladybugs are said to bring a person luck so I suppose she is surrounded by luck. Katia has also had a life full of miracles.
So, on Tax Day 2010 I can’t help but to always think how much our life CHANGED on Tax Day 2002 and continues to change each day.
“The great use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.” James Truslow Adams
To learn more about Katia and her day to day journey, visit http://www.ladybugkatia.com/
I am glad to have stumbled onto your blog… well, I found your twitter first – through a @BetheMatch retweet, but that's just the intrawebs for you. I am both @brvstrngkds – advocacy, and @mamaplug – more personal/local.My daughter was also lucky. Burkitt's Lymphoma stage 2 (yes!! -rare for a child), surgical resection, and chemo, no BMT. Currently one year cancer free. I can relate to the change in significance of certain dates – we've had a few of those, too. (Valetine's Day is now PET scan#1 day,…) But I have to remember that Annika doesn't care to be called lucky. "No one who gets cancer is lucky, mom," she says. "But," I tell her, "survivors ARE."I appreciate your common-sense outlook and look forward to reading more!~karla