Liam needs glasses and I killed you.

Ronan. I kind of slept last night. I was restless, but I fell asleep for a few hours, here and there. Your Daddy said I was up and down all night. I don’t really remember, except I woke up in Quinn’s bed. I didn’t send your brothers to school today. It was a half day and they both had an eye doctor appointment at 10:15. We all slept in until 8 or so. I got up, prepared to get ready for the day I knew I had to face. Our Lovie called. I bawled about how I was taking your brothers back to the same doctor, that sent us to PCH for your CT scan. I told him I didn’t know how I was mentally going to do it today. I got a little pep talk, but that didn’t stop the tears. I wiped them away, I fixed my face as best I could and threw on my sunglasses so I wouldn’t freak your brothers out. We drove to Dr. Cassidy’s office. I don’t know how I got us there as all I could think about was driving you out there for the first time, before we knew anything was wrong. I cried most of the way. I am good at hiding my tears when I need to though. Liam and Quinn didn’t notice. We stepped into the office, I filled out their paperwork and we sat and waited. There was a baby boy, about a year old, sitting on his mama’s lap. He kept looking at me and waving. I waved back, smiled, as the tears just poured down my cheeks. He wouldn’t stop smiling and waving at me. His Mama must have thought I was a lunatic as there was nothing I could do to stop the tears. Your brothers saw. They were in full force and I couldn’t hide them while we sat in that waiting room today. We were soon called back. Dr. Cassidy’s Assistant came to do your brothers exam. He asked a lot of questions. I was on auto pilot. The word Chalazion came up as one of your brothers eye lids looked puffy. I just laughed out loud. He asked if I was familiar with what a Chalazion was.

Here was the answer in my head:

“A Chalazion…. why yes. It was what my 3-year-old, was supposed to have  had, which was causing his eyelid to look droopy, which is why we came to see Dr. Cassiday. Well, it turns out, it wasn’t a Chalazion, gosh darn it. It turns out, my 3-year-old had Neuroblastoma, and he is now DEAD. So yes, I am quite familiar with that word.”

Here was my real response: (Insert teary eyes, and fake smile here) “Yes. Yes, I am.”

Boys got their eyes dilated next. Which took me back to being in Dr. (insert name that rhymes with witch here) Robinson’s office. The lady with the not so nice bed side manner whose appointment I walked out of because she was that awful. The lady who dilated your eyes and then made some rude comment about not wanting to listen to you fuss about it so we would have to wait out in the waiting area. We didn’t wait in the waiting area. I grabbed you, stormed out of her office and put you in the car. I called your Daddy and he told me I was crazy, that I would never get another appointment  so quickly because nobody would see you in such a short amount of time. I sat in the parking lot of Liam and Quinn’s school, panicking, googling another Children’s Opthamologist, and found Dr. Cassiday. They didn’t want to see you until September. I screamed and told them that was not acceptable. I needed to get you in, that next day. They listened.

Fast forward, a little more than a year later; and I’m back in his waiting room, with your brothers, and you are dead. I thought I was going to have a panic attack. The voices in my head were screaming, “What were you thinking!? You idiot! You can’t handle this! Why didn’t you have someone else bring them?” Then I remembered. I remembered why I brought them today. Because I am their mom and that is what mom’s do. I didn’t get to be their mom, for all those months. I have to start acting like it again and if it means I have to walk into the same eye doctor, that we saw… then I just have to do it.

We saw Dr. Cassidy. I don’t think he remembered me. It was dark when he came into the room. He told me it was nice to meet me. I told him that we had met before. Those are the only words I could get out of my mouth. Such a nice man. I did not want to get all upset in front of him and your brothers. I did not want to remind him that he is the one who came to PCH, in the middle of the night for us, to read your CT scan. I did not want to remind him that I looked him in the eyes and asked him if you were going to be o.k. He told me, yes. As he should have. He didn’t know what we were up against. I did not want to tell him, that you had passed away. I could not sit and say those words today. So, I didn’t. I listened as he told me Liam needs glasses. I requested a CT scan for Quinn, because he has been having headaches. He said he would set it up for me. I get to play the overly paranoid mommy role now because I am convinced that both of your brothers have Cancer and are going to die, too. It’s an awesome feeling to live like this, Ro. Just wonderful.

We left there, all upset. I was upset for the obvious reasons. Liam was upset about having to get glasses. As I was backing out of our parking spot, crying, crying, crying; I looked in my rear view mirror. Liam threw something at my head. He was crying and yelling about how he was not going to wear glasses. His exact words were, “IF YOU MAKE ME GET GLASSES I’M GOING TO TAKE THEM HOME AND STEP ON THEM UNTIL THEY BREAK!!!! AND THEN IF YOU MAKE ME TAKE THEM TO SCHOOL, I’M GOING TO THROW THEM IN THE GARBAGE CAN!” I could not help it, but I started dying laughing and could not stop. This coming from Liam; my little rule follower, my easy as pie, independent, does whatever you ask of him and does it happily. He was throwing the biggest fit and it only made me think of you. I could not stop my fit of giggles, but I was trying so hard to play the “let’s settle down and discuss this role.”

Quinn took over instead.

Quinn-  “Liam, those glasses looked nice on you. You will be able to see better.”

Liam-  ” I don’t care! I don’t want glasses! Nobody in my class wears them, they looked stupid!”

Quinn- “Liam, they looked nice on you. They looked better on you, than me.”

Liam- ” I don’t care!!!! Glasses are dumb!”

I took over from here, after I got my laughing under control. I got Liam settled down for the time being. I took your brothers to Chick-fil-A, for lunch. We came home after that and they were tired and their eyes were still dilated. Quinn asked if I would lay down with him. I said sure and we snuggled up in my bed and passed out for a couple of hours. All that crying, wiped me out. I held his hand as we slept, just the way I used to hold your yours. I woke up, feeling strange for having have slept in the middle of the day. I felt disoriented and it took me a minute to realize what exactly I was waking up to. I expected to find you, playing with your brothers. Once I remembered what I was waking up to, I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks.

I had to get to Dr. Joanne’s office for our session today. Papa came over to watch Liam and Quinn. I was crying before I even pulled into her building. I gathered up my notebook, with my “homework.” I walked into find her in the front office putting some things away. She hugged me and we headed back to her office. She had a little treat for me. A picture frame that came with a big magnet that attached to it. It said, “Rockstar.” So sweet and thoughtful of her. We jumped right into where we left off last week.  I told her all the things that have consumed me all week long. The panic attacks again. The guilt, sadness, shame, regret. How everyone I love is either, sick, dying, or going to leave me. You left me, so why shouldn’t everyone else? We talked about each one of those things, in depth and where they were coming from and what they were about. The real reason they are there. I told her I killed you. I told her I promised you I would save you and that you must be so mad/sad/lonely/hurt that I didn’t. I cried almost the entire time I was there.

You know one of the things I appreciate most about Dr. J? There are so many things, but one of the things that sticks out the most is when I fully break down, and go to the darkest of dark places, like telling her that I think I killed you… she doesn’t tell me I didn’t, like everyone else does. I’m sure she thinks it, but she doesn’t tell me this. She lets me feel it, she let’s me talk about it, she let’s me cry about it, she let’s me say it until I’m blue in the face. I know why she does this. It’s because she knows what it’s like to feel the exact same way that I do. Like she killed her baby, too. She’s felt the exact same way I am feeling right now, and she knows the answer is not to tell me I did not. She knows the answer is giving my time to feel this, believe this, and hopefully, I’ll finally come to a place, where I don’t really believe this anymore. She knows it takes time to get to that place, and I will get there when I’m ready. But she knows I’m not going to get to this place by being pushed by anyone. I’ve got to get there, myself.

I left her office, with a slew of books and some tough homework assignments. I left there feeling as if I had just had an exorcism. I looked down at my phone and it read 6:30 p.m. What the hell, I thought to myself. I had been there for over 2 hours. No wonder I felt so exhausted and beat down. It was worth it. I feel somewhat peaceful tonight and sleep might actually happen. We shall see, my little one. I’m going to go now, Ro. I miss you, I love you, I hope you are safe. I am so, so, sorry I couldn’t save you. I hope I can forgive myself one day. I love you, my not spicy monkey. Sweet dreams.

xoxo

I’m leaving you all tonight with something Dr. Joanne shared with me that she had written. I sat with my eyes closed as my tears just poured and I listened to her voice. I sat there and thought, wait, did I write this? How did she get into my head? Everything she read to me tonight, was if she had taken the words out of my soul and put them on paper. Except she does it much more eloquently than I do. I am so thankful for her sharing her words tonight. In a place that feels so lonely, it is nice to sit across from someone who really does get it. As much as I wish that she didn’t; I am thankful that she does. For those of you who don’t understand, because, thankfully, you have never lost a child, Joanne’s words could not explain the feelings that come with it, any better. Thanks, J. You are one of the most amazing gifts to this world.

 

I waited a long time to watch the film The Rabbit Hole. It was intentional. There was too much media frenzy around the film, and I wanted to allow that to settle, wanted to be clear and present with the film in an unadulterated way.


Disappointedly, the film didn’t move me. I shed a tear, maybe two, but there was an emotional lacking for me, an inauthenticity in Kidman’s character with which I simply could not relate. But of course. How could a Hollywood actor possibly capture a mother’s grief? It reminds me of a myth I’d heard long ago about Michelangelo’s Pieta; he was hesitant to sculpt Mary’s face for fear he could not possibly carve, with requisite honesty, the pain of a grieving mother.

After the film, I contemplated the many movies I’ve watched since my induction into bereaved parenthood in 1994. Many depicted traumatic death, and some even child death. Yet, none of the Hollywood enactments resonated any degree of substantive authenticity.

Tonight, I watched The Greatest for a second time. The first time I watched it, I found it to be one of the most sincere portrayals of parental grief and, though it still felt inadequate, I noticed that some memories unearthed during the second watching. Memories of the real storywhich had fallen victim to an ad hoc amnesiac state, but which were rapidly resurrected. These memories evoked powerful emotions tonight.

So, what is the real story- the one I wish Hollywood would tell- so the non-bereaved could really experience the truth about grief after the death of a child?

– I wish they would tell the story of how every single cell in our body hurts. Literally, it hurts from tip of our toes to the ends of our hair. The pain is indescribably physical and as merciless as the Mayan heart sacrifices of its helpless victims.

– I wish they would tell how difficult even basic bodily functions are: drinking becomes work as our throat is constantly tight and closes off to water, or food, or oxygen, or sustenance. Or how we are unable to carry groceries or the mail or the sadness in our arms as they ache with the phantom weight of our children. Or how we cannot breathe because of the concrete slabs on our chest, heavy and dense and gray. Or how our legs buckle and we cannot bear to see other children, especially the ones who are their age and with their names walking gleefully with their parents; parents who may or may not take a moment or two for granted but who will tuck them into bed tonight as we lay sobbing, our salty tears saturating the shag carpeting, in our dead child’s room.

– I wish they would tell the story of how, on the rare occasion when we do sleep, we awaken in the morning, nearly every morning, wishing we hadn’t.

– I wish they would tell the story of how we look in the mirror at our unrecognizable self every day and wonder at the stranger we see. And how every relationship in our lives change, even our conflicted relationship to the imposter-self. And how all the others- family, friends, colleagues- want us to be the person we were previously, but we know that person is irretrievably lost.

– I wish they would tell the story of how our primal mourning is most often done alone and that the supernatural sound of this mourning frightens us, like an wild animal being killed and eaten or like the flogging of human flesh or like the torturing of a prisoner or like Satan being cast from G*d’s presence.

– I wish they would tell the story of grief’s incessant state of craze: pacing the hallways late at night, the inability to focus on anything, the intolerance of music, or laughing, or expressions of joy, sensitivity to lights and other benign stimuli, racing video tapes that replay in our heads as we wish-for-changed outcomes, the constant self-accusations of blame and responsibility, the unconscious roulette of risk with Death as our challenger.

– I wish they would tell the story of how we are terrorized by insidious ruminations of our other children dying, and we either over-protect to maintain illusory control or under-love to maintain illusory protection from recurrent grief.

– I wish they would tell the story of the dark and ugly thoughts about other people and their happy and naive lives. Or how we become fierce imaginary protectors of children who are neglected, or unloved, or scolded, or abused by their “parents”.

– I wish they would tell the story of how a mere turn of a corner in the grocery store that confronts us with baby food, or car magazines, or cereals can unhinge us to the point of utter helplessness and madness, frantically abandoning $200 worth of unpurchased frozen foods for an exit sign .

– I wish they would tell the story of how this brings us to our wounded knees. On the floor. Face in the dirt. Begging and pleading for a different life. Willing to do anything, anything to turn time back and go through another door. Or how we fantasize about time machines and contemplate self-institutionalization.

– I wish they would tell the story of a pain so deep and so wide that no word in the English language can begin to express it. That no subsequent child, no new job or house, no distraction- no pill- no drug- no G*d- no joy- no self-induced suffering is sufficient to fill the chasm of the loss.

– I wish they would tell the story of how we pray, even in the absence of a belief in a Creator- we pray, that the suffering would end, by any means.

-I wish they would tell the story of how well-meaning others cause us to recoil with their platitudes and mindless remarks about G*d’s will and His garden, the one which needs tending, and something idiotic about making lemonade.

– I wish they would tell the story of how this mother and that mother and this father and that father would have given their life in a moment to save their child, and that we continue to negotiate that with a G*d in whom we may or may not believe for months or even years.

– I wish they would tell the story of how life goes on but that everything has changed, and that we have died in a sense, and must choose to be reborn.

– Mostly, I wish that they would tell the story of a bittersweet survival that does not include a fallacious or contrived “end” to the grief after a prescribed six months. This is not reality for most of us. Yes, I wish they would tell a true story of the anguish absent the “happy” ending. Not that we, at some point, aren’t capable of pure love and joy and contentment. In fact, having really “looked into the eyes of such sorrow” is the only way to such pure joy, as Gibran says. But there is no bypassing the tortures of child death, it’s effects perennial and relentless for much longer than the unsuspecting world believes.

And there is so much more I wish they would tell.

I wish they would tell the story because I wish others knew. Certainly, if the others knew, they would have to be kinder, more compassionate, more loving to bereaved parents. Wouldn’t they?

Wouldn’t they?

Yet, I find even my own words fall woefully short of the real story.

As the Michelangelo-myth goes, some things cannot be expressed in sculpture or form or film or with words. The real story is one we can never truly tell.


No more plans…..just a new adventure

We started off the morning early as we got up and ready to take Ronan to St. Joe’s for his CT scan and RT. Dr. Maze met us at the Ryan House and then over at St. Joe’s just to make sure we were taken care of. He knew Ro did not need anesthesia, but came anyway to be supportive. After he got us settled, he left and we sat back in a room and waited for the CT scan to begin. Ronan did amazing, as always. He held perfectly still as they took pictures of his little body to decide where they would do the radiation today. After looking at the CT scan, Dr. McBride decided that Ronan’s pain is coming from his pelvic and hip area as the bones there have been eaten away at due to the Neuroblastoma. It is with radiation, that the neuroblastoma cells will be killed in hopes that the bone can heal back and Ronan’s pain will get better.

Thoughout this blog, I’ve always had a plan as far as what we would do with Ronan and his treatment. We chose what we thought was right, and I don’t have any regrets in the choices we’ve made; but it sucks when the plan you think you have in place goes arye. I’m done making plans for Ronan. We are going off for another adventure instead. This time, as long as Ronan remains stable, we will be leaving for San Diego on Sunday. Dr. Sholler has agreed to try something else for Ronan and we as parents, have decided to give it a shot. What do we have to lose? At this point, nothing. We are fully aware of the risks involved, but this is not the time to sit back and do nothing because we are afraid. I am more afraid of sitting back and watching Ronan get worse and worse as the days progress. Woody has been on the phone all day with different doctors all over the states and most seem to think this is worth a shot. We will be admitted to The Children’s Hospital of San Diego on Monday and we are praying that all goes well and Ronan can start treatment on Monday or Tuesday.

Here is a little info about Dr. Sholler and what therapy we will be trying for Ronan:

Dr. Sholler’s research focuses on new therapies for neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma. These neuronal tumors continue to be therapeutic challenges in pediatrics. Dr. Sholler has shown that Nifurtimox increases oxidative stress in neuroblastoma and induces cell death and decreases tumor size in xenograft models of neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma. Nifurtimox also decreases AKT phosphorylation increasing the cells sensitivity to chemotherapy. She is presently studying the mechanism of this drug, drugs effecting metabolic regulation and oxidative stress, and determining the best drugs to use in combination.

Dr. Sholler has completed a Phase I trial of nifurtimox. She has opened and is currently enrolling in a Phase II trial of nifurtimox in combination with cytoxan and topotecan for relapsed neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma patients. She will be opening this trial at other sites in collaboration with Dr. Roberts at Children’s San Diego, Dr. Ferguson at St. Louis University, Dr. Zage at MD Anderson Houston, and Dr. Eslin at MD Anderson Orlando. Within this consortium she hopes to bring new therapies through research to children with relapsed neuroblastoma and medulloblastoma.

Dr. Sholler’s lab is working in collaboration with Dr. Jeffrey Bond at the University of Vermont to understand the genomic differences within patients neuroblastoma cells. Understanding the specific biological profiles of patients neuroblastoma will lead to better understanding of the most effective treatment.

I am trying not to get my hopes up, but this just has to work. Our hearts were so broken when we left Chop as we were so sure MIBG therapy was the answer for Ronan. There are a couple of doctors who are advising against doing this, but there are also a few who are saying, “Why not.” Exactly. I’m not going down without a mother fucking fight for my son. I am not going to let him down as he deserves to be fought for like I’ve never fought before. Woody and I are both in total agreement on this; Woody is fighting just as hard, if not harder for our son. We will do anything we can at this point. There is nothing worse than sitting here, watching Ronan die. Because that is what he is doing. At least if we get him to San Diego, and try this clinical trial; the worse thing that can happen is ultimately, what is happening anyway. I don’t want him to die peacefully at The Ryan House while I sit here and just watch and wait. That’s not how this is going to go down. It’s not in our nature and it’s not in his.

As I have said before, we will not be cruel to Ronan and his needs. If for some reason, his pain gets worse within the next few days, we will of course re exam our decision. As of now, he is stable, his pain seems to be controlled, so we are going to take a huge leap of faith and do this. But it is not a plan at all. Plans always fly out the window. We are just following his lead on this journey of his and will do whatever we feel in our hearts that Ronan wants us to do. We want to take the twins with us, as we feel this is no time to be apart as a family. We need to be together for this part of Ronan’s journey. I’ve had enough of leaving them behind and so has Ronan. As long as we are together, Ronan will be happy and that is all that matters right now.

I got out of The Ryan House today and went to the twins’ baseball game. It was hard for me to be out in the real world, as always, but I did it for the sake of my twins. It’s hard for me to hear the conversations of others around me now as I hear bits and pieces of people complaining about the petty things in life. If they only knew how good they all have it. I kept thinking to myself about the baby boy whom I left back at The Ryan House, who is so sick with cancer and how we as parents, have been told that there is no chance for him to be cured. How am I supposed to go out into the real world anymore without it hurting so badly? All I wanted to do was run back to Ronan, to kiss him for the millionth time, tell him how lucky I was to be his mama, how sorry I was that he was hurting so badly, and promise him that we would get him better. I have been making this promise to him since day one. I did today for the sake of my twins’ but the sadness I felt while I was there was unbearable. Ronan should have been there with me, running around, getting dirty and watching his big brothers, play ball. I would give anything in the world to have those carefree days back with him.

I cannot sit here and wish for the past back though. The past is gone as we know it and we have to focus on the here and now and what we need during this time as a family. What we need is to be together and to continue to fight for Ronan. Each day that we don’t, we get closer and closer to losing him. He is just too special of a little boy to let go so easily. This next part of our journey is going to be hard, due to Ronan not feeling well anymore; but I know as a family, we can get though it. I’ve always loved the saying, ” Adventure is the spice of life.” It’s time to take on this new adventure and tackle it together with all the love in the world that surrounds us. I’m not giving up on hope, love, faith or Ronan. He is my baby and I know him best. I am going to listen to my heart and soul on this and we are going to turn this thing into the most positive adventure yet. If my son is going to die, it is not here and it is not now. I’m not accepting that this is the way he is supposed to go.

We have to be at the clinic early tomorrow for blood work and I’m assuming platelets for Ronan. I am also going to try my hardest to go to the twins’ school for the Mother’s Day Tea. Their little hearts will be broken if I do not show up. I have to be there for them and as hard as it is for me right now due to never wanting to leave Ronan’s side; I cannot let them down.

Ronan is sleeping peacefully so I am going to snuggle up to my little bug. Thank you all for sharing our story and loving us so much. I’ve tried my best to keep up on your comments as they mean so much to me. I am in awe of the love that surrounds us and will be forever grateful and inspired to be a better person because of all of you. So many of you love us without even knowing us. You’ve taken a leap of faith on our family and I feel you fighting right along with us. Thank you so very much. Sweet dreams my darling friends.

xoxo

Not a kissing day

I sat here at The Ryan House all day with Ronan, rubbing his little leg that is hurting him so badly. We had a lot of visitors in and out. Ronan slept most of the day while I had the chance to sit in our room and see a lot of friends and family. I was hardly awake when Niki came by. She sat by me on my bed and held me while I sobbed in her arms as I knew I would the minute I saw here. She brings out the raw emotion in me for some reason. I held on to her and stroked her insanely gorgeous red, wavy hair that I am so in love with. After I let go, she sat by me and rubbed my back and I think I fell asleep again. Her visit was so peaceful. I had lots of other visitors…. Melissa, Patty, Sarah, Auntie Karen, my Aunt Sheri, my sweet cousin, Shannon, my mom, Jim, Liz, Olivia, Luke, Heidi, Stacy, Fernanda, Tricia, Tiffany, Dr. Maze, Katie, Addison, Lane, and I think a few more of the cousins. It was busy here but Ronan didn’t seem to mind.

I spent a lot of the day, curled up with Ronan, thinking, thinking, thinking. It’s not a fun place to be right now. Woody and I met with a doctor today about getting Ronan in over at St. Joe’s tomorrow to do radiation on his legs. It will be  a one time treatment, and we are hoping it will subside his pain. The pain medication he is on is just not cutting it. Woody and I both decided he can handle it as we know how strong he is on the inside. It will be fast and painless and we are praying it will give him a little relief. The pain is swallowing him whole as he cannot even move out of bed and even me carrying him to the bathroom is torture to my little guy. I cannot just stand back and do nothing if there is a chance this may help him.

Woody has also been in contact with Dr. Sholler from Vermont. She has a trial that has opened up and I am not going to say much as of now; but if we can get Ronan comfortable enough with his pain, we are talking about making the trip out to San Diego to start this 5 day treatment. We have sat all day and weighed our options. I get that my first priority is keeping Ronan comfortable, peaceful, and happy. But as of now, he is none of those things. I am not foolish and I am not unrealistic. My child is dying right before my very eyes. I do believe in the power of miracles, but our miracle is not going to come in the form of him, lying in this bed, while I sit back and do nothing. I know that God is not going to open up the heavens above and heal my baby. This cancer is going to eat his little body alive and as of now, I am just sitting back and watching that happen. That to me, is not acceptable. I am loving him with everything I have; but if someone out there is willing to take a chance on Ronan, I believe I have to take it. His miracle is going to come in the form of medicine combined with the power of prayers. But prayers alone are not going to save Ronan.

Woody and I have not made any decisions as of yet. Obviously we have to weigh the pros and cons very carefully. But as I said in the beginning, I am not going down without a fight and neither is Ronan. It is just not in our nature. By sitting here and doing nothing, I feel like we are not fighting if there is even the smallest chance that this treatment could help Ronan in any way possible. If this doctor ends up telling us no, than we will accept the time left we have with Ronan. If I know in my heart that Ronan is ready to give up, then I will not push him. I know he is not there yet… I know the soul and spirit of my child and he is not ready to go down so easily. How can I possibly give up on that if there is the slightest ray of hope? It is eating me alive just sitting here, and doing nothing. Loving him is not enough if I can still be fighting for him and his life. I cannot let him go yet. I still feel in my heart that it is not his time.

So, the word inhumane has come up a couple times tonight. I’ve decided it’s a word that should not be associated with parents who are fighting for the life of their child with all they have. I believe to do otherwise is inhumane. We only want what is best for our son and we are struggling to figure it out. We as parents do know that we have to know in our hearts that we have done everything possible for Ronan. Even if the outcome turns out the same. So, as parents we will take the next few days, to watch Ronan carefully and make the decision that we feel is best for our family. If we do decide that enough is enough, it will be because Ronan has led us to that decision. This is still his journey, his life, and we will respect that. But it will not be without exhausting every possibility. We do not want to put him though anymore, but how do you give up when there still may be a chance???? I don’t think that you do. I know my child better than anyone, and today when I tried to kiss him and he yelled at me that “It’s not kissing day!” I knew right then and there that his little feisty spirit still exists. It’s my job as a mom and as the adult to help Ronan fight for I know what is in his soul. He does not want to leave us; he does not want to be anywhere else. We deserve our son, Liam and Quinn deserve their brother, and I am not throwing in the towel. I know this disease well enough now to know that things can change in an instant. I just pray that they change in an instant for the better and not for the worse for us.

We will start off tomorrow of a CT scan of Ronan’s little body, that is so badly beaten up and bruised. We will then do his RT without his anesthesia. I talked to him about it tonight and he said he will do it and make Dr. Maze proud and not need any sleepy medicine. The only thing I worry about is keeping him comfortable enough. I know he can do it, he will push through the pain if he has to. This is something no child should ever have to go through and I am beyond sick about it. Looking at Ronan’s banged up body makes me shutter. Listening to the sounds of his screams from the pain is something I will never be able to get out of my head. I swear to god on my life I will fucking live long enough to see a cure for this awful disease. I swear to god I will do whatever I can to help find a cure so no child has to suffer the way I have had to watch my son suffer. No child deserves this pain and no parent deserves this heartbreak.

That’s all for tonight my peeps. Sweet dreams to you all. G’nite my Fernanda. I miss you so much already.

xoxo

No news is good news, yes??

I find it impossible that I am even still standing after today. Let alone, writing this post. I’m not sure how I’m even awake at this point. I didn’t much sleep last night and we woke up early to get Ronan ready for his day. He was mad that I woke him up from his peaceful slumber and even more mad that he had to drink his contrast before we could head to the hospital for his CT scan. I power talked him though it, although he fought me the entire time. Ronan is such a hard headed little boy and after battling with him almost the entire day, I am mentally beat. There was a lot of distracting, playing, bribing, and threatening today to get him through what we had to do. I have am so glad to be in our bed and over with today and am not looking forward to tomorrow at all. Scan days are always brutal and I know 110% that I would have crumbled today had it not been for Fernanda. She was such a big help.

We arrived to the clinic and were told that Ronan needed platelets again because his were still very low despite the platelets he received yesterday. We had plenty of time before our CT scan was scheduled so we went and got his platelets started. While we were getting them, Ronan fell asleep on the little couch next to me. Fernanda and I sat and watched him sleep and quietly talked. We both tried to block out the sounds of the screaming boy next to us who was about Ronan’s age. The poor thing must have screamed bloody murder for a good half an hour. I felt so helpless and so sad for the child and parents. I told Fernanda sometimes watching the parents go through this is almost harder than watching the kids. It is a lose lose situation for everyone involved and never gets any easier to see.

After Ronan was finished with his platelets, we headed down to get his CT scan done. I must have been told by 5 different people that he needed to be ready for anesthesia, even though I told everyone that he didn’t need it today. We got down to the CT room and sure enough the nurse came up to me and on her piece of paper says the word, Anesthesia, in big red letters. As soon as I saw this I told her that Ronan would not need anesthesia today. She looked at me like I had three heads and said that she wasn’t told this but that we could try it without, first. We went back to the room and I put Ronan on the table as he clutched onto his Star Wars guys. I had prepped him all morning for how he had to hold still and how it was going to be a piece of cake, just like radiation. He understood the drill and was very excited that I was able to stay in the room with him this time, unlike RT where I had to leave him all alone. The whole CT scan took about 10 minutes. He held so still and I acted out a scene from Star Wars for him with his Clone Troopers and told him all about the secret mission they were going on with him. He smiled the entire time and listened with his big eyes looking up at the CT machine. I was so proud of him; once again. He truly amazes me with how brave and strong he is. When we finished, all the techs told them how great of a job he did and he gave them all knuckles as he walked out the door. Such a little Rockstar, my Ronan.

I’m not sure where the rest of the day went. We had to wait around forever to get Ronan’s MIBG injection for tomorrow’s scans. We ran out for a bit and went to Dylan’s Candy Shop which I am totally over at this point. Four trips there, in the past 3 weeks for overpriced candy and you cannot even move in the store due to it being jam packed with people. If I never have to see that place again, I will be so happy. And this coming from me, an avid candy connoisseur, is huge. I’m done with that place. After Dylan’s, Fernanda was about to pass out from being on the “Maya diet,” which consists of not eating, so I took her to 4 carrots to eat. I pretended to eat a half of a sandwich for her, but she busted me and gave me a very stern but loving talking to about my lack of food. Ronan and Fernanda ate which was all that mattered to me. I did take a small Fro Yo to go and ate the whole thing for her. That’s the best I could do today.

I asked a few times if Dr. Kushner would read the results of the CT for me today and I got put off which I kind of expected. Everybody reassured me that if there was something that was not good, he would have come to talk to me. I hope they are not eating their words tomorrow. I’m going with the no news, is good news approach tonight so I can hopefully sleep a little easier.

We got back to the RMH later this afternoon and Fernanda hung out for a while. I practically had to force her out the door and told her to get some rest even though she tried to say she was coming back later this evening. I was not having it as she needs her rest too. My friends, Ed and Diane who are in town with their two little boys came by to see us. We had been looking forward to seeing them all day. They came armed with enough toys for Christmas. Ronan was in heaven not only because of the toys, but even more so because he had two boys to play with. He should have been wiped out from today, but he ran around here and played with those two until 9:45 tonight. It was so good for him and made him so happy. Thank you, Ed and Di. You two and your boys were just what we needed after a long and hard hospital day. I am so blessed to call you my friends.

Alright my dears. This is all I have tonight. I hope you all had a beautiful day full of many blessings. Tomorrow is a huge day for us and I am going to be channeling all of your strength and love. Sweetest dreams to you all.

xoxo

The circle of life…. sucks

We woke up early this morning and ready for our clinic day. Fernanda, who flew all night arrived just as we were getting ready and ran down the street before seeing us to grab me a coffee. Ronan and I went out on the street to meet her and I cannot tell you the wave of happiness that washed over me as I saw my friend and her gorgeous smile, waiting across the street for me with two coffees in her hands. I was so happy to see her and we held each other tight as we embraced for our hug. She has such a way with me and I am instantly comforted by her mothering instants. I often feel like she is not only helping me take care of Ronan, but she is so good at taking care of me as well. I usually have a hard time letting go and letting other people do things for me but with Fernanda, it just comes naturally. I feel like she is my female version of Woody, if that makes sense. She is a source of such strength and comfort to me, much in the way that Woody is. I always know that when Fernanda is around, that everything is going to be o.k. Trish asked me tonight how in the world Fernanda does it all. My reply was because she’s Mary Freaking Poppins. Seriously. There are not many women in the world like her. We have such a strong connection and I am often amazed at the way we sync so well. Many times, I will be thinking about her, and then 10 seconds later she will call or text me. Our minds seem to be thinking the same thing and all I have to do is look at her to know this. Words are sometimes not even necessary. I am so honored, blessed, and thankful to have her here with me. I will never get over her leaving her 5 beautiful babies and husband at home to help me and as much as I tell her this, she acts as if it is nothing, but it means the world to me.

After I reunited with Fernanda, we headed off to Sloan to get Ronan to the clinic for his platelets. He was not happy about going and being “hooked up,” as he calls it. But I assured him it would only be for a short amount of time. We arrived and the nurse got things moving pretty quickly. Ronan was entertained by Fernanda waiting on him hand and foot and we promised him a trip to Toys R Us after we were done. We finished with our platelets quickly and went to meet with one of  “The Team,” members to discuss the plan for the next couple of days as far as scans go. Ronan coroporated for his exam and we were soon out of the door and off to enjoy the rest of the day. We decided to walk to Toys R Us, which was about 3 miles away but Fernanda and I agreed that the exercise and fresh air would be good. Almost as soon as we started our walk, Ronan fell asleep in the stroller and remained that way the entire trip there. It was a fairly wet, dreary, New York day, but I am such a sucker for this weather that I enjoyed walking in the rain.

Toys R Us was a hit but it was packed full of so many people. With Passover, Easter, and Spring Break here, the streets of New York are just as busy as Christmas. We couldn’t escape there soon enough and hailed a cab back to RMH instead of walking again. Fernanda picked up food at Delizia’s for us and we ate it together on the second floor in the community dining area. After lunch, she headed back to where she is staying so she could get in a little nap. Ronan and I were both tired too, so we came back to our room to rest. Before we came back to our room we went to check to see if we had any mail. We were told we did and it was a big box from our favorite little boys’ line; Fore!! Axel&Hudson. We took the box up to our room and I helped Ronan open it up. It was full of the most adorable clothes and hats for Ronan, as well as the cutest little girl Fedora hats. I handed out the hats to a bunch of the girls here and they were so excited. I think the moms were more excited as they kept trying to see if they would fit their heads. It made me feel so good to light up the faces of these beautiful girls today. Thank you Denise, for allowing me to hand out such amazing gifts. Ronan, being the stylish kid he is, lit up like it was Christmas. He kept trying to wear three hats on his head at once as he said he couldn’t choose because he loved them all. Denise, if you are reading this, please know that you and your company are absolutely amazing to support pediatric cancer the way you do. You are inspiring, brilliant, and if the world were full of more people like your company, it would be a much better place. Not to mention, the quality of your clothes are to die for! I am so proud to put my little Rockstar in your gear. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Everybody needs to check out their website, I should have a link on the side of my blog. I will forever support you and your clothing line. It makes Ronan’s day to be all dressed up in your adorable boy clothes and hats.

After we woke up, Fernanda texted me to say she was ready to come back over so I could go on a run while she watched Ronan. My run didn’t end up happening as we went across the street to Barbra’s apartment, who runs the organization Candlelighters, as she had a Star Wars treat for Ro and I wanted her to meet him anyway. We stayed for about an hour and enjoyed the company of Barbra, her husband, another mom, and her son, Jack. It was soon getting late so we headed out to grab dinner before Ronan got too tired. We sat and I ate for Fernanda. She talked me into some protein and asked if I really wanted to eat it or if I was just doing it for her. I told her it was all just for her and I did the best I could on the food in front of me. She is such a mother hen, which is a very good thing for me now. There was some awful woman sitting next to us at dinner and I was wondering if I was the only one picking up on it, but I gave Fernanda my look and I knew she knew it too. She kept looking at Ronan and it was if she wanted to throw up her dinner. She kept giving us the dirtiest looks and I wanted to say to her, “I’m sorry, if the fact that my child has cancer bothers you so badly that you can’t  eat.” The look of disgust on her face was so obvious that I wanted to go over and strangle her. When we were walking out we got a few more looks or more like complete stares. I noticed them all and Fernanda did too. She totally gets what I was talking about yesterday on my blog. The staring is everywhere. If you’re at least going to stare, have the balls to come up to me and say “God bless you.” Or “We’ll keep him in our prayers.” Don’t just be rude and stare. Grow some fucking balls and be proactive about him, who has a name. His name is Ronan Thompson, and he lives on this fucking planet. Stop acting like he’s from outer space. Somethings gotta change because if this  keeps going on, I may go postal on someone’s ass. After dinner we came back to RMH and played with Ronan. He was tired from todays events, as we all were. Fernanda hailed a cab and went back to her place. After she left, Ronan decided he was still hungry and he wanted scrambled eggs to eat. I happily made them for him with extra butter and extra cheese. Anything to fatten my baby up. We sat while he ate and talked with some of our friends here. I’m not going to go into details but I am saying extra prayers tonight for a very special little girl here whose mother I have fallen in love with. She isn’t doing too well and watching what the mother and father are going through is heart wrenching. It is a place that no parent wants to be and all I can say is another big Fuck You to cancer because there are no other words.

While I was taking Ronan upstairs to get ready for bed I was talking to Woody. I guess he told me last night but I was asleep and don’t remember our conversation, but our little wiener dog, Monroe, passed away. As soon as he said those words the conversion we had the night before slowly started to creep into my head. I started sobbing hysterically. Our two dogs, Monroe and Douglas haven’t lived with us for about 3 years due to trying to sell our house, then selling it and moving into our new house, so they have lived with Woody’s parents who also had 2 wiener dogs. While my 2 were there, one of their dogs passed away so we just ended up leaving our 2 so they could be with the one dog Kay and Charlie had left. They were happy there, together, and Woody’s parents have the perfect back yard for the 3 little musketeers. We missed them a lot but life all of a sudden got so busy, and we would spend time with them when we went over to their house. Little Ro, as we called her was an itty bitty thing. She loved to lick you and be held and was always shivering because she was cold. She was the sweetest thing. Hearing that she passed away hit me harder than I though it was going to, considering what we are dealing with now. It still made me very upset as it’s watching the cycle of life and that is never an easy thing. Woody bought those dogs for me before we got married. They were our first, “babies.” Tonight, I will say a little prayer for my little mohawked Monroe. She was the best puck rock Dachshund that ever lived. R.I.P little Ro. I’m sure we’ll hear your barking all the way down from heaven:) We all loved you so much.

So tomorrow. Ronan has a CT scan at 11:30 and we are tying to do it without anesthesia which I totally think he can handle. We of course need this scan to be good and I know they will be good. I have faith, hope, and love surrounding me at all times, so it cannot go another way. Please pray for him extra hard tonight. I will update you as soon as I can.  Thank you all my beautiful souls. You keep me strong when I am at my weakest and you push me forward when I think I can go no more. With all of you on our side, we can get my baby boy through this. Cancer has no idea how strong of a child he is and who they are messing with. They picked the wrong Ronan “Fucking” Thompson. I wonder when Ronan does beat this if they would really let me change his middle name to that. I’m sure not, but writing it out cracked me up tonight. He surely deserves it. My strong son, my strong boy, he will not be defeated. He is going to come out the other side of this with such determination to do amazing things in life. I cannot wait to see what kinds of things he comes up with and I will fully support him in everything he does. A mothers love is an unrivaled force of nature.

Ambien kicking in. I’d better get off this computer before I start writing crazy things. Good thing I don’t have a car to drive;) Totally kidding. I am going to cozy up in my twin sized queen converted bed with the most beautiful boy in the world. Just don’t tell my husband.

G’nite peeps!!!! Have a beautiful day tomorrow. G’nite Daddy Woo, Liam, and Quinn. Miss you!

Extra special G’nite to my twins’ 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Martin. Hope you had a beautiful birthday day, Cindy. You deserve it so much for being the best teacher we’ve ever had. We love you so much.

xoxo

Bone scans results…. kind of.

We started off this morning with Ronan’s Audiology test. It went alright… but we were not able to complete the test due to Ronan’s lack of cooperation. He was able to get through some of it in which the Doctor played high frequency sounds and Ronan would put a dinosaur into a bucket when he heard the sound. He did pretty well, but the Doctor is suspecting Ronan has a bit of high-pitched hearing loss. He is not confirming anything as of now. We are supposed to go back Friday to see if we can finish up the test. I refuse to believe Ronan has hearing loss… I don’t know why because it is very common side effect after going through so much chemo. Actually, I do know why. It’s because Ronan is different and is going to overcome any obstacle that comes his way. So what if he didn’t put the dinosaur in the bucket the second the high-pitched sound came on. He’s tired, mad, and sick of people testing, poking, and prodding at him. I wouldn’t corporate either.

After the Audiology test, we headed over to check in for Ronan’s scans. While waiting, I noticed a little girl who looked familiar to me in the waiting room. I have heard about her since Ronan was diagnosed, but have never met her. I’ve been on her website though so I knew the little girl was Ava. I went up to her mom, Chrisie, and asked if she was Ava’s mom and she said she was. I introduced myself and she knew who I was because I had emailed her awhile back. I thanked her for helping me out with my questions and we were able to update each other on both of our kids. I met Ava’s Grandmother and her Dad as well. They look like the nicest family in the world. What Ava is going through is beyond heartbreaking but she seems like a very strong little girl. All of Ava’s treatments are done at Sloan Kettering, even though they live here. Ava was here for scans today so please keep her in your prayers as well. Here is her website if you would like to visit it: www.caringbridge.org/visit/avaholder. Ava’s Neuroblastoma has relapsed twice, but she is still here and still fighting hard. I will scream and very loud, “FUCK YOU CANCER!!!!!!” for Ava. Makes me so angry. I just wanted to wrap my arms around her entire family while they were waiting for Ava to come out of Anesthesia. I am so happy I had the pleasure of meeting them today. What are the odds really? They are never at PCH and just happened to be on the same day I was there with Ro. It was meant to be. I feel so blessed to have finally met them and sweet little Ava. She is a little spitfire just like Ro 🙂

As we waited for Dr. Maze to come and get us for Ronan’s Anesthesia, he fell asleep in my arms. I sat and watched him sleep so peacefully. I took that time to think about what a long way he has come since first being diagnosed. I found myself in a comfortable state of mind full of peace and quiet. I sat with him in the dark and prayed for his scans to come back with the results we are hoping to see. I felt a wave of warmth in my heart wash over me because I felt, once again, that Ronan is going to be o.k. He is going to beat this and go on to live a normal, happy, long life.

Dr. Maze arrived and we were taken back to the room where they were getting ready to do the bone marrow procedure. He let me hold Ronan as he always does while he gave him the Propofol to go to sleep. I held him and watched him get sleepy and listened to him cry out, “Mama, mama, mama,” for me. He doesn’t like the way the sleepy medicine makes him feel. I told him I loved him and would see him soon and set him down on the bed. I gathered up my things, took one look back at my baby, and Dr. Maze yelled at me to go and eat something. I had to laugh to myself because at the beginning of all of this, Dr. Maze was so proper and reassuring. Now he knows me so well and knows that  I am so used to all of this that he is comfortable barking orders at me to eat something. Gave me just the chuckle I needed to get out of there without even tearing up like I normally do.  Woody met me at the cafeteria and I managed to eat a little salad, but pretty much just sucked down a giant Coke instead. An appetite is something that I am still having a hard time with, especially on scan days.

After Woody left, I sat in the waiting room and waited for Dr. Maze to come and get me. I tore through the piles of bills that I needed to get paid and the next thing I knew, it was time to get Ro. He woke up groggy and grumpy like he always does. Dr. Maze went back and looked at the scans for me and came back telling me as much as he could. Our Doctor, Dr. Eshun, is in New York City and will not be back to read the results for us until next week. Dr. Wood, who has followed Ronan since the beginning is here and I sent Dr. Maze a text asking him to please have Dr. Wood call us to go over the scans because next week is way too long to wait. I got a phone call from “A” tonight instead. It was hard for me to talk to her, as I had Ronan screaming in the background and had to run outside to even hear her talk. She said she could go over the results from the bone marrow and bone scan for me in a very limited way. As she put it, in her medical terms…. she told me that there was “No focal discreet abnormalities in the bones anymore.” Um… what?? She may as well have been speaking another language. I couldn’t think of what questions to ask, as I was distracted by Ronan and my nerves were a wreck. I said to her, “I have no idea what that means, but is that a good thing?” She said indeed it was a very good thing and that is just what they would want to see. She told me Dr. Wood would call us tomorrow or Friday to go over what exactly this means and to discuss things further in detail after they do the MRI, CT, Pet Scan tomorrow. Those scans will tell us in more detail what is going on now. All I know is “A” was not alarmed about anything and that alone will help me to sleep a little bit better tonight. I will let you all know the “formal” results when we get them, but as of now, there is nothing to be alarmed about. The treatment we are doing is working and that in itself is a huge victory in its own right.

We are all exhausted tonight and Ronan has another big day of scans tomorrow so I am going to try to get some sleep. Please continue to send your strength and love his way. His diagnoses has been beyond devastating to us, but the way he continues to beat all of the odds is beyond inspiring. He fills me with such hope and love every second of the day and it is the love that I have for him that will get all of us through this.

G’nite and sweetest dreams to all of you.

xoxo

Let the hiding begin….

Hello. Hope you all are well. I have officially gone into hiding. So much so, that my 3 besties had to bust into my house on Sunday morning to make sure I was o.k. I felt like I was on that show, “Intervention.” I don’t mean to shut everyone out; but it’s what I do best. Being home has been great and I have been loving spending time with Liam and Quinny. I could easily stay in my house and never leave again because when I do go out, the anxiety is still too much. Woody practically kicked me out of the house last night and made me go to a movie. I picked up Linds (my go to last minute girl… thanks mama) and we went to see “Black Swan.” Good movie, but I should have picked something a little less dark. After I dropped off Linds, I was driving home and the tears started up and I couldn’t get them to stop. I had to pull over because I couldn’t even focus on my drive. I’m not going to tell you what thoughts were consuming me…. but I’m sure you can guess. I still don’t think this is real. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that my perfect little boy is so ill. It seems like yesterday that he had a head full of hair, and was running around always looking for trouble. I can’t tell you how much I miss that little boy. The little boy that I could never get mad at because one look at those bright blue eyes and that mischievous smile and I was done. I always ended up laughing at whatever naughty thing he did. Well, most of the time:) Now, I get to watch as he is too weak to walk and wants to me to carry him all of the time. Now I get to lay next to him and know that every breath he takes is a blessing and every kiss he gives me is a dream come true. Every tear that falls down my face is for him and I think about what sadness was like before all of this. Before all of this, sadness should have not existed in my world because I absolutely had nothing to be sad about. Everyday is a struggle for our family; nothing is easy anymore. I am doing what I can do to push through the motions, I am doing what I can do to survive. I am still numb to everything around me, except for pain. I feel that every second of the day.

We got a call from Radiology today and we have all of Ronan’s scans set up. February 2nd, Ronan will go under Anesthesia for his Bone scan. February 3rd, he will go under Anesthesia again for his MIBG, Pet scan, CT scan, and MRI. These two days are going to be very telling for us. After these scans, we will know exactly where the cancer is left in Ronan’s body and from here we will find out when we start the stem cell transplant. We already know that it is clear from his bone marrow; but the MIBG scan will be the most telling of them all. A MIBG (iodine meta-iodobenzylguanidine) scan is a test used to find tumors of a specific origin. This scan will light up Ronan’s whole body to show us where the cancer is still active. Of course we will be praying that it has diminished immensely. Ronan has come too far and worked too hard for it not to.

So, this is my update for today. Tricia was officially concerned because I have gone off the radar; so here you go Tricia Boo. I’m here, or I’m here as much as I can possibly be. I haven’t been talking to anyone so I hope none of you are offended. I miss you all but just need some time to get back in a routine at home. I miss my New York Miss Macy dearly. I will think about the time I had with her and Tricia in New York when I need to smile. The time spent with those two and Ronan meant the world to me. It felt so good just to be and laugh, even though we were in a hospital with my baby who has cancer. True friends that can make you smile and laugh during the hardest times in your life, are the truest of the true. I love you both so much.