Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wedged in the middle

Yesterday was a big day for us Ramers.  Brent completed chemo one year ago, which is one tick of the cancer clock.  There was no cake.  We didn’t celebrate, unless you consider playing a game of Catan as a family a celebration (I kind of do).   It was, however, something that I was aware of, one of those dates that stick in your head.  It is one of the days that seem to matter.  We have rather a lot of those days and dates those that give me pause.  Some people call them “cancerversaries.”  Diagnosis, end of treatment, surgical removal of a tumor…they are important steps in the process.  But there is some controversy, according to some, in marking them, in celebrating.  Should we?
I think that on the one hand, it is important to see how far we have come, and to reflect.  Has the last year been easy?  Not remotely.  Brent had physical therapy.  He has already had 3 surgeries with another one scheduled in less than 2 weeks.  He faced the strong suspicion of his cancers return and the possibility of losing his leg…again.  He missed 62 days of school.  So, no, I would not characterize it as easy.

But was it easier than the year before?  Most certainly.   The previous year Brent missed all but nine days or so of school, spent more days at the hospital than at home, had 4 surgeries, countless scans, procedures and the horrible beast that we call chemo to wrestle, as he did simultaneous battle with cancer itself.   And as a family, we had that small matter of Lauren’s brain tumor to contend with.   So, I will enthusiastically go with our vastly improved, cancer free trend of the past 365 days.

In short, we have come a long way, and are most grateful to be cancer free:  Brent for one year and Lauren for 18 months.  I am grateful, and would celebrate the milestone in my mind. But I do not want to live 'there,' tied to our difficult past.  

Today, we celebrated the baptism of my nephew, and enjoyed brunch with extended family.  We had a quiet afternoon, reading outdoors after a nap (And we sit here laughing at Alex as he sings over the roar of the lawn mower… who is laughing at himself, now that he is caught).  It is summertime, and we are together which I consider a blessing on the sheer face of it.  The nice weather today, the opportunity to be outdoors and to have a bonfire is an extra bonus.   I swear that I don’t need much. A nap is always a good start these days, because I am so tired. 

Tomorrow is a new day.  I understand that they all are.  But Lauren has scans, so it threatens to be another day or date that will matter, worthy of remembering.  It is potentially wedged between the denouement of the past year and a half, and the beginning of a fresh nightmare.  This is the anxiety, the reality that we must manage.  And for the most part we have. 

I should point out that “we” means Dan and me.  I do not notice any concern in the kids at all.  They are kids, and this has become normal, these ‘field trips’ to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, our upcoming ‘vacation’ in the Big Apple. 
This may not be the way that I grew up, but it is normal to them.  So I try to adopt their attitude and pray that it remains simple and that our future holds many more opportunities for Olivia to squeal with delight over a package of marshmallows.  It doesn’t get better than that.  And this is the day I currently have, one that calls for pointers on the proper toasting of a marshmallow.  

I am going to get to that important life lesson...right now.

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