Today has been a day of reflection. The past two weeks have been incredibly difficult emotionally on Chet and I and today we lost a part of our being as Chet’s parents left to go home. The difficulty with seeing them leave was compounded by the other challenges which we have faced this past week. Tomorrow Gabriel heads back to the clinic for another intrathecal chemo treatment, a blood transfusion and a checkup. It is such a blessing that we are here at home for a period of time and not having to make any trips to Oakland for the next couple of months.
Looking back, it’s been a roller coaster of a ride. I know I couldn’t possibly expect it not to be, yet the whole experience is just overwhelming right now.
The last several days I’ve been thinking about things the plans our family had for ourselves before Gabriel was diagnosed. Simple things, going with Chet to races, going over the hill to Auburn for training runs. Me and the kids doing fun things while Chet and his friends ran. Going to see movies. Gabriel being a part of his Cub Scout troop. Me making a beautiful cake for the Blue and Gold Banquet for the Scouts. A long weekend or even the week camping and hiking for Gabriel’s spring break.
Yet, December 22 brought all those plans to an end. Looking back, particularly as we come to what would have been spring break, my heart feels sorrow and loss. Not only for me, but especially for Gabriel. The fortunate thing is that he doesn’t fully comprehend all that he has lost. Thank God for that.
Gabriel’s counts have again plummeted as a result of the ARaC chemo. His hemoglobin has dropped so much that he has really been suffering the side effects. When his hemoglobin tanks like it has, his mood becomes erratic and he just bounces between energetic and tired. But, the kid is incredible, despite having extremely low hemoglobin counts, he has been out chopping wood.
It just blows me away how amazing this kid is. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to spend time with him, you understand what I’m saying. He has so much charisma. He has taught me so much about being strong. And, he serves as the most amazing role model to his little sister.
I mean, check her out wielding that ax. She’s just awesome, like her brother.
One of the many blessings and things that we are thankful for is the fact that at least Gabriel has a sibling. As lonely as as isolating as this has been, at least he has had someone to play with. It is just awesome to experience his strength and perseverance.
In the grand scheme of things, I know that this is not permanent. I know that he won’t have cancer forever. I know that in just a few more months we’ll be in maintenance and at that point we’ll have a lot more normality to our life. And, honestly, I am so looking forward to that.
Ohh, and I realized that I have totally forgotten to give an update on the last spinal tap at Oakland Children’s. If you recall, I shared how we were informed that there was a bit of a concern that there may have been leukemia cells in Gabriel’s spinal fluid. Well, we got the word at Chet and Gabriel’s last visit that there was absolutely NO SIGN OF CNS (central nervous system) INVOLVEMENT!!! Yes, that’s three exclamation points! Getting the news that Gabriel was clear of any cancer in his central nervous system was huge. I cannot express what a huge relief it was to us.
However, despite the highs and lows of the past three months, there has been one thing that has been consistent and comforting to Chet and I, and that has been our faith in God. As trite as it may sound, we truly believe that there is nothing that has been laid on the path before us that is not without a purpose and that we will not be given the tools to overcome. Absolutely there are days where I don’t feel as though I have any more emotional or physical capacity to handle one more thing. There have been many times where both Chet and I have felt that we have been on the verge of being at a breaking point. Yet, despite having some of the most challenging experiences I think many people will ever experience, we’ve been given able to pull through.
This journey is far from done. In fact, we’re still more than three years from the conclusion of this adventure. But, every day affords us the opportunity to grow as a family, learn more about ourselves and others and gain a much greater appreciation for all the blessings that we have been graced with.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Right now I am just looking forward to Gabriel’s counts rebounding in a few weeks so we can take a long weekend and go camping. Who knows where we’ll end up – it will partly depend on the weather and our whim at that time. Tomorrow is a new day, and it will be a glorious one (assuming it doesn’t snow here tonight).
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