When Merry was first diagnosed, it was a whirlwind of everything. We met new people, had to go to new places and had a lot of new experiences. I feel like I remember everything so well because I was so emotional, but I also feel that I blocked out the whole beginning experience, just to be able to get through it.
One experience I have never forgotten has come full circle. As you might know, each cancer has its own “recipe” and there are often a few different recipes to choose. Yes, choose, because as a parent, you have to choose which treatment you think is the best one. We choose something called VAC which was a weekly “push” of chemo (like the opposite of a blood draw) and every three weeks, she had a full day of chemo and we had to stay at the hospital the whole day. The other regiment was much more intense, and included a week in the hospital one time a month. I only realized the difference after we were done.
After each long day, we had to come back the next day for a shot to help keep up her blood counts. The very first shot, after the very first full day of chemo, was really hard. But, one thing that made it easier is that our nurse introduced us to a family whose daughter was finishing her treatment for the same cancer.
I remember looking at the mom and thinking, I can’t do this. Pleading with my eyes for her to tell me it was going to be OK and tell me the secrets that it took to get to the end of this. She could not have been more gracious, patient with my stupid questions and just "real". And, that was exactly what I needed, and as a mom, she must have known it. I have thought of her and her daughter so many times since that day. I hoped with all my hope that she was doing well.
A few weeks ago at an event we met a little girl named M who was 8. The mom and I got talking and we were surprised to find out that the girls had the same cancer - because it is a very unusual cancer. To make a long story, short(ish), this was the mom and daughter standing right in front of me – looking amazing, and beautiful and most of all, healthy.
Each time I met or meet a mom who is just getting started with this journey, I thought/think of this woman and how kind she was to me.
I cannot express my gratitude to be able to close the loop on that experience. I am so happy the mom and I got to talking and she figured out that we had met before. I am so thankful that we shared a nurse and she introduced us. And, most of all, I am so incredibly grateful that both these amazing girls are ok.