For the last 14 nights, 4am has had a new meaning. I have figured out that is the approximate time that the lab reports are available to the doctors at the nurse’s station. It has become my ritual to walk down the hallway, say good morning to the nurses and then ask for Scarlett’s latest blood work report. Each night, I am hopeful that her blood counts will move higher indicating that her body is recovering from the latest round of chemotherapy. A higher white blood cell (WBC) count means her body’s natural bacteria will be put in check and the mouth and throat sores will almost magically disappear. When the sores disappear, it won’t hurt to swallow, and Scarlett will start eating again. And when the numbers recover to a certain level, we can go to a place better than any vacation spot any of us have ever been. We can go HOME. So, it was natural for me to feel a bit disappointed when I saw the results today. The WBC number did not budge again last night. I turned back towards Scarlett’s room and thought, I know what Nurse Nancy would say, ” At least it did not move lower!” And she is right! (Nancy is Scarlett’s primary nurse and she is simply amazing.)
I received an email from Austin’s kindergartner teacher last week. It turns out that her brother, Andrew McMahon, was diagnosed at age 19 with leukemia. She kindly shared his story with me and included a link to a documentary that he made about his journey which I recommend watching.
Andrew wrote a song, called Swim, that really speaks to me. To quote Austin’s teacher, “This song has a great message of hope, staying strong, fighting the good fight, and surviving.”
One of his fans posted the song with pictures and words here if you want to take a listen:
Fighting cancer is a long and difficult journey with all sorts of unexpected twists and turns. We are learning quickly that there is no set path. I keep hoping that a copy of “What to expect when you have cancer” will magically appear that tells me what will happen on Day 25 but alas, I know that is not happening. I have realized that there are some moments that are just simply hard moments and those are the times I reach out asking for support or seeking inspiration. This week, I found what I needed when I read the email about Andrew McMahon. His story, his attitude and his eventual success in overcoming cancer motivated me to focus on the good news we have had this week. Scarlett’s numbers are stable and not heading lower and she has no fever. Perhaps more importantly, today is Friday which means the candy cart will be making rounds tonight! It’s also Austin’s 9th Birthday! Robert will relieve me at 6am so I can run home to be the one that wakes up my sweet boy on his special day.