Sunday, May 18, 2014

Less grass, less hair, less cancer

There has been much activity in our household as spring has arrived. Spring is a season of transition, as we can finally, happily, and with all hope, safely put away snow shovels and cold weather gear, after such a brutally long and cold winter.  There is what I refer to as the "march to the end of the school year" filled with band concerts, awards banquets, art shows and final exams for the older ones.  We were tested throughout the winter, but we can celebrate our success in spring.

We have medically transitioned as well, ending daily travel to the hospital for treatment and getting interferon delivered to our home where we can give Brent the injections ourselves. Wow... I have just compressed countless, horribly frustrating hours spent on the phone over the past several weeks into one sentence.  Sigh... But spring is a time to clean up the winter messes, and then move on, leaving those things behind.

Several weeks ago, we got started doing just that, cleaning up our yard.  Dan found me in the front where I was moving some bulbs and weeding the flower beds. He urged me to come to the backyard, because there was something I really needed to see.

I walked back to discover that Alex was supervising and had been giving a tutorial to Brent...who was cutting the grass.  Gratitude washed over me as I watched Brent, who was in the midst of interferon treatment, who is missing half his pelvis, who has has endured over ten surgeries in the past 2 1/2 years...who has fought hard and repeatedly for the opportunity to walk again and for the gift of being able to cut the grass.  At 14, this shouldn't be considered a big deal, but let me assure you that for those of us in this house, it is.  It was an amazing thing to see.

So, we are also busy with Kick-It, which raises funds for pediatric cancer research.  Lauren is making earrings and selling them to raise money.  Alex collected donations from businesses in the community and is doing a Chinese auction at the High School next week.  Back in the fall, Brent had committed to shaving his helmet of hair this month in support of those kids in treatment, which feels like several lifetimes ago.  I would point out that this was before Brent was once again, one of those kids in treatment. However, he has not wavered in this commitment.

Over dinner, after that long day of yard work, we talked with the kids about their projects.  I also shared news about the daughter of my mutant friend.  Lily, an adrenal cancer survivor like Lauren,  was raising money for St. Baldricks and also to honor her mother.  She grows a fantastic crazy mop of hair, btw.  In shaving it, she raised over $4,500, far, far exceeding her goal.   Brent thought this was pretty awesome.

But, Brent also wanted to DO something, to somehow earn it.  After brainstorming, he decided to offer to cut the lawn of the highest donor... BECAUSE HE COULD, which, as I have mentioned, is nothing that we take for granted here.

Last weekend, Brent and Dan went with a group of friends and their fathers to tromp in the woods and play paintball, which we thought was a great way for Brent to celebrate finishing the first phase of melanoma treatment.  He had a fantastic time, enjoying his new found mobility like he hasn't been able to since 2011.  He was moving pretty slow on Sunday.  Limp was more pronounced on Monday. Pain lingered on Tuesday.  Wednesday, back at Rainbow, we found the break in his foot.  He is back on crutches.  Sigh...

Medically, there are not concerns about this break being cancer driven, only that he has been non-weight bearing for so long that the bones in that leg are not so strong.  We will x-ray again in a month.

I asked Brent if going to paintball was worth it, knowing that he is on crutches for a bit again.  His face lit up, and he had an ear to ear grin..."Absolutely! It was so much fun, mom!"  I like that he has no regrets.  His solution to the lawn mowing prize for Kick-It?  He will cut the grass for the highest donor in July, rather than in June.  It will be no less meaningful a month later.  And I have no doubts that he will continue to work hard.  It is just what he does.

If you were interested in supporting the RamerNation for Kick-It, we would be most honored and grateful.  The grass grows high in July!