Jack was diagnosed with Leukemia three years ago.
It’s been three years since I heard, “This is the best kind of cancer to have.”
Three years of worrying that he could die from a cold or infection or even just a side effect of treatment.
Three years of worrying what damage the same treatment that would cure him would cause. Heart damage? PTSD? Learning disabilities? More cancer?
He’s had 12 or so lumbar punctures in the last three years.
Plus Four surgeries – two Broviac catheters placed and one removed, and the placement of a PICC line.
Three infections – one likely viral, one due to a rare bacteria, one due to a common bacteria.
Countless toxic drugs, blood draws, dressing changes, line flushes, doctor appointments…
Jack has lived with monthly “Roid Rage,” as well as daily headaches, stomach aches, fatigue, trouble walking, numbness in his extremities, bone pain, skin sensitivity… His appearance has gone through drastic changes thanks to weight gain, weight loss, and hair loss. He’s dealt with acidosis and pseudotumor cerebri for much of the time. His personality has changed – I no longer describe him as carefree.
He has missed so much school in the last three years – half of kindergarten, at least a third each of first and second grade. We’ve had 504 and IEP meetings – and it’s only now, three years into this, that he is getting the proper assessments.
He has developed food aversions to the things we used to try to administer pills. He won’t touch applesauce or peanut butter anymore. He avoids yogurt and nutella.
It’s been over three years since he’s gone swimming. He will do anything to avoid an extra dressing change!
It’s been grueling for all of us. We are beyond tired, beyond shell shocked. We are different than we used to be. Cancer is a part of our life now. When treatment ends, it won’t go away.
Still, we are looking forward to the end of treatment - March 20, 2015. Maybe we will breathe more easily then.
Three years is too long to hold our breath.