Magic Medicine… Day 2, Round 4

That stupid pit is back in my stomach today. It is the worst feeling. Makes me not want to eat, not want to sleep…. it’s like a dull, empty pain that comes and goes. And when it is here, it is a constant reminder of what we are up against. Before all of this, I didn’t even know what an Oncologist was. Yup, I was that naive. I thought the last thing we were going to hear is your child has cancer. I still think this is some kind of a sick joke. But staring at my baby’s bald head, as he peacefully sleeps… I am reminded that it is not. And it is more painful than anything I’ve ever felt in my life. When I was driving back to PCH today, after running home to shower and take a power nap… I thought to myself, how in the world can I ever go back to a normal life? A life before all of this? In a weird and twisted way, I have come to love our new life. It is a new life full of getting Ronan well and keeping him alive. He is still here. He is still alive. He is still mine. I am so thankful for that. I remember at the beginning of all of this, when we were talking to one of the doctors here about treatment options…. he told us that if we wanted to take Ronan home, to let him be at peace and not do any of the treatments, that they wouldn’t fight us about it. His words still haunt me….how in the world could that have even been an option?? To give up on your baby and not do everything in your power to help him fight though this…I can’t even imagine. I am very thankful we caught this when we did. A month or two later… and it could have been too late. We are going to do everything we possibly can to get him well… I have no doubt that what we are doing will work.

Ronan has his chemo running through him for 72 hours straight. It is a little clear bag, full of some orange fluid. He is sleeping now, but seems to be tolerating it pretty well so far. My little fighter. Woody and I met with Dr. Eshun today to go over our plan with him for NYC. We are working getting all of the dates finalized and set. No matter what the case, my stomach always goes into knots when we have to meet with a doctor. Guess it just goes with the territory though and I need to learn to get used to it. This is not going away any time soon.

The little boy who we are sharing the room with is still alone. I hear him talking to his mom on the phone every once in a while. He just called her to ask if she was o.k…. he wants to know what she is watching on T.V. and wants to know if his dad is asleep. He sounds so happy just to even talk to his mom on the phone. I could just eat him up.We’ve been with him since yesterday around 4… and no parents have been here. Not even during the night. I cry for him. He is the sweetest little thing and he doesn’t make a peep. I want to bring him all sorts of toys and things to play with. He never asks for a thing… even after the dozen times that I have asked him if he needs anything. Sweet kid. Shitty situation. Life really is not fair sometimes.

Last night I slept about 3 hours. Better than nothing. I am paying for it tonight though… very tired. No matter how tired I am, I never sleep well here. Too many people coming in and out, too many beeping noises, too cold, etc….. It’s fine though… I could stare at Ronan all night long and never tire of it.

Before I try to get some rest I wanted to say a big thank you to The Academy House in my hometown for putting on a wonderful fundraiser in Ronan’s name. I am floored by all the people who showed up, all of the money raised, and the beautiful spirits of the young kids who worked so very hard to raise awareness for Ro’s cancer. Also, a big hug to Lisa for organizing everything and being the force behind it. The love and support from my hometown has been amazing and I am so thankful and proud to be a Longview/Kelso girl.

Sweet dreams to you all out there. Thank you for loving us, believing in us, and fighting for us. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again… I will never forget the love you all have shown us and I will forever be changed because of each and every one of you. G’nite<3<3<3

And P.S. Gay, I love you and your messages. Thank you for checking on me… sorry for not calling you back… will call you tomorrow. And you and your guys’ are NEVER too much for us. That was the best Halloween ever. Thank you for sharing it with us… we adore you all and are so lucky to have you in our lives.

Truest intentions, purest of hearts

I need to get my shit together today. My house looks like a bomb went off in it, I can’t stop crying, and I think I just picked my nightgown up off the floor and beat the crap out of my bedroom wall with it. Don’t worry. Ronan didn’t see this… he was playing in the other room. He did hold me though, while I cried in his lap. He patted my head and held me. I needed to let some things go today, and I did. Everyday is so different from the next. I never know waking up what the day will consist of, how I will feel, or how Ronan is going to act. The inconsistency in my life makes me nervous and anxious. Today, I have had a pit in my stomach the entire day and I can’t seem to get rid of it. The reality that surrounds us is overwhelming at times. Thank god for good friends who I can call on. My friend, Gay, called me right when I needed her most. My friend, Pamela White (who has been a GODSEND) let me vent and gave me advice…. Little Jack’s mom, Laurie, always puts me at ease. Just hearing her voice and the updates on Jackers helps me get though the days. To people who are walking to the end of the earth and back for us, to the people who refuse to let go of my hand, to the people bringing dinners and helping with Liam and Quinn, to the people who know just how to make me smile…. Please know how thankful I am for you. The fact that you are walking though this with us and supporting us so much, means the world to our family. We are so lucky and thankful for all of you. It speaks volumes about the kind of people you are in the way you choose to live your life and I will FOREVER be thankful, humbled, and amazed<3 You all have changed my life and the way I view the beauty of family, friends, and strangers. You have taught me to question everything and accept nothing but the best for me and my family.

Last night I went out for dinner with 3 of my dearest friends. I was able to let go a little bit and live in the moment surrounded by strength and love. I went to the best restaurant in town, Tarbell’s, with my friends, Niki, Jen, and Lindsey. The place was packed, food was amazing as always, and the service was above and beyond. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I was with the bosses wife;) I sat with my 3 darlings, for 3 hours. We shut the place down and I left there feeling extremely blessed to have spent the evening surrounded by those 3 incredible women. They are more than friends to me; they are my sisters. I would trust them with my life and the life of my children. They are the type of friends who would never let me down or let me fall without picking me back up. I need them more than ever at this time in my life. I get that I am asking a lot from my friends right now…. but my true friends, are the one’s I have to ask nothing of; they just give and do because  they have the inner strength to see me through this. Their intentions are true and pure… there is no bullshit or superficialness. I worship them and if the tables were turned, I would be there for them in a heartbeat. They know this of me… they get the bigger picture of all of this.

Once Liam and Quinn got home I put everything that has been going on inside my head, on hold. I made them a snack, took them for shaved ice, and we went outside and played in the backyard for 2 hours. We took every ball in our house and put it in our big, grassy yard and played soccer and dodgeball. Ronan had a BLAST. He ran, kicked and threw his balls for an hour straight. The strength and power that boy has when it comes to anything physical is insane. He is so coordinated and fast. We took a bunch of glow sticks when it got dark and shaped them into frisbees and threw them up in the air and at each other. It was an evening full of laughing and playing. Woody came home, scarfed down some dinner (thanks Jules) and took Liam and Quinn over to The Village for basketball practice. My poor, tired, husband. He worked so hard today.. and I can tell he is exhausted. But he will never let us down or complain about anything. He came home with a smile on his face and a big kiss for me and off to practice they went. Love that man.

I feel like a kept woman with Ronan. Seriously. The little man decides my every move. I’ve got to get some control back with him. My sweet Sarah, whom Ronan LOVES… came over to peel me off my floor today. Ronan threw a fit about having her here. I can’t win. I need help, want help, ask for help…. but Ronan is so territorial of “his house.” He wants nothing to do with visitors and ends up slamming doors and screaming in his room the entire time someone is here. And Sarah is like family to us. He let her stay for a little bit after I bribed him with a toy and we played Star Wars with him. Sarah took over with the playing and I was able to get a few things done around here. Then we “locked” Sarah in the laundry room (that was the only way he would let her stay) so she could fold my laundry. Sarah the Saint. She has been so helpful to me and I know she would do whatever I needed her to, if Ronan would just relax a little. I have a list a mile long of things I need to get done before we check into the hospital for Round 4 of chemo on Monday. Tomorrow, we go to the clinic and I am hoping to help in Liam and Quinn’s classroom for their Halloween party. That leaves me Friday to get everything done. The weekends are usually pretty busy around here and I don’t want to spend my time getting caught up when I could be spending it with my boys.

So tired tonight… but one last thought….All of his kisses mean that much more. Every smile, laugh, hug, I love you, that come from Ronan, wash away all of the sadness and anger that I feel… for a few moments. It doesn’t last long, but it is oh so sweet.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Dr Seuss (Thanks Dana)

What a day!

What a day! So glad it is O.V.E.R! Our usual Thursday morning started out by heading over to the clinic, with our Mimi Kay in tow. Ronan seemed like he was in a good mood, until we pulled up and I think that he remembered that it was Thursday, which means Broviac dressing changing day. Holy tantrum! I had to pry him out of the car and he proceeded to kick, scream, arch his back, and cry. He is so strong that I can barely contain him anymore. I was trying to hold him to carry him into the clinic and it took a good 10 minutes outside to even pick him up. He ripped my favorite good luck necklace off, my gold four leaf clover that Woody got me for my birthday last year. Ripped it right off my neck like he was the Incredible Hulk or something. I finally got him picked up and into the clinic but he was still screaming and trying to run away. I took him out into the common area, where the coffee lady is and held him in my lap at the table. He was still kicking and hitting me. I finally broke down and started crying and this is the only thing that ever gets his attention and makes him stop. I cried and did my usual whispering in his ear and he just watched me and soon snuggled up to my neck and settled down. Finally. It was a hard morning. Thank god I had Mimi there to help me carry my stuff and help with his dressing change. His blood levels and ANC counts are still good so he did not need a blood transfusion today which is always a plus. We were able to get out of there fairly quickly. I thought Ronan was getting used to all of this but it is days like today, that I know he is not. I never know what or who I am going to get with him. It is the worst pain in the world to see your baby suffer and hurt. It is beyond emotionally draining and physically exhausting. After we were finished there, Mimi, Papa, and Kathy took Ronan home for me and I went off to see my therapist.I needed it…. my nerves were shot after that visit. We had a good chat and I have started working on some breathing techniques to help calm myself down during the day when I am feeling anxiety. We also talked about things I can do at night to help my mind wander to sleep. I’ll try anything at this point… well, except sleeping medication. Just not going to go there.

After my appointment I met my sweet friends, Jen, Trish, Bethany, and Niki for a nice girls lunch. We had a little pow wow about some things that are in the works for Ronan’s Foundation and Pediatric Cancer in general. I’m telling you, these are the kind of girls you want on your side. Very genuine, smart, honest girls. I felt so lucky to be sitting in the middle of all of them<3 I am very excited about the things we have in store. We are going to turn this into something very beautiful and positive. I will never give up on my vision or hope for all of this. When Ronan is well, it is something I will devote my life to. Right now, I am just going to have to take baby steps to get to where I want this to go. I’m o.k. with that. Baby steps are steps in the right direction.

After lunch I ran a couple of errands and went to pick up Liam and Quinn from school. Such a treat for me. There is nothing I love more than seeing their faces light up when they see that I am there to pick them up from school. It has always been one of  my favorite things, but now it means so much more to me because I am often not able to do it. They were very happy and excited to tell me all about their day. I love that they are doing so well in school and seem to enjoy it so much. One less thing I have to worry about.

Mimi, Papa, and Kathy stayed all day and for part of the evening tonight so Wood and I could go grab dinner. We went to Chelsea’s for a quick bite. It was nice to be out alone with him. We talked a lot about New York and our plan and have the dates pretty much finalized. Woody will take me out there and when he is not there, Mimi Kay will stay with me. Karen, Tricia, and Sarah have all offered to come out during part of the time too and I just may take them up on that. I’ve got a couple of people out there that I know so hoping to connect with them as well. The more support we have, the better. It’s going to be quite a journey.. I am going to have to gather all of my strength to get him though this next chapter.

That’s all for tonight. Very tired, hoping for some peaceful sleep without nightmares. Goodnight, friends. ❤

Knock on wood

Today is day 8. Every time Ronan starts his chemo treatments, his blood levels are supposed to drop after 7-14 days. Which means, less energy, his immune system is low, etc…. Nothing yet. I took him to the clinic yesterday and his blood levels were still good. He has been full of energy and has been running around non-stop. Let’s hope this continues. Woody and I can’t get over him and how great he looks, for being so sick. None of this makes sense at all. I am just taking this as another great sign that Ronan is going to beat this and pray we continue to sail right through this. For dealing with something so difficult, he has been a champion…. not acting like a sick kid at all.

We have been taking advantage of being at home and doing normal things. The boys’ have been playing together non-stop. The love my 3 boys have for one another is so powerful and moving. It’s helping us win this battle. Last night Ronan cuddled up in Quinn’s bed and fell asleep with him. I left him there all night and only got up a few times to check on him. He slept peacefully the whole night through and woke Quinn up around 6:30 this morning to play. Ronan was upset that the boys had to leave for school this morning but I kept him busy. We ran some errands and I even took him into Target. Shhhhh! Don’t tell Woody;) I took him in to grab a few things, the store was empty, and I didn’t let him sit in a shopping cart. Poor kid has been begging me to take him for weeks now. We were very careful and I sanitized his hands about every 5 minutes. It made his day. He just wants to do normal things, like we used to do. So we did<3 And we will continue to do things as “normal” as possible. I am getting used to the looks of pity when we go out into public and Ronan doesn’t want to wear his hat. It doesn’t seem to bother me as much anymore. Heck Ronan doesn’t even care or notice, so why should I??

As of now, Ronan’s surgery is scheduled for the end December. I have a nice little story about the exact date of his surgery. I was telling my new friend, Pam, who has the little girl, Victoria, who is a cancer survivor, when it is going to be. As soon as I told her, she got a little quiet and goes, “Oh my god. That is the date that Victoria’s surgery was.” Same surgeon, Dr. La Qualia and everything. Another one of those good signs that I’ve been seeing during through this entire journey. We both got goosebumps and I got teary eyed. So Christmas in New York it will be:) Just wish it were under different circumstances but we are going to make it the best Christmas ever. As my dear Karen keeps saying, it’s one step closer to Ronan’s wellness.

Our next round of Magic Medicine does not start until November 1st. Until then, if all goes well, we will just be making visits to the clinic twice a week and we will be home the rest of the time. There truly is no place like home. Tonight, we went for a walk down to the our neighbors house. Ronan ran the entire way, only turning back to catch the football we were throwing. We had a great walk with our friends and enjoyed the cooler weather. It was the perfect evening and I was so happy that we were all together as a family.

I fell asleep early tonight, cuddled up to Ronan. Only wish I could sleep the whole night through…. ended up waking up in a panic and now my mind will not be still. Too many unknowns and worries keep me up. How do you sleep when the baby right next to you has cancer?? I woke him up to tell him I love him a few minutes ago. I tell him that 100 times a day. None of this has gotten any easier, but it has become our new way of life. This is not a life I would wish on anyone, but it is our life now and we will make it as happy and beautiful as possible. To be any other way would not be fair to Ronan or the twins. I know how important consistency and security is in a childhood. Especially in little guys who are 7. They will remember most of what we are going through so we have to make sure we make this as positive of an experience as possible.

Woody came home tonight with his hair buzzed super short. So sweet and cute of him to do. Ronan loved it and kept wanting to feel the top of his head. His long eyelashes are starting to go, as well as his eyebrows. His eyelashes are still there, but they are not as thick as they used to be. It just makes him that much more beautiful. Every feature on that child is beyond perfection.

So, if you don’t hear from me this week it’s only because I am taking full advantage of my healthy baby and being home. This week has been spent playing catch up on all the things I am behind on from being at the hospital all last week. It is amazing how far behind I can get on things around here.

Sweet dreams, friends. ❤

Magic Medicine… Day one, Round 3

This chemo is going to be rough. This is the stuff that causes major vomiting… and a few other side effects that we will PRAY hard, do not happen to Ronan. Hearing loss is a big one. High pitch hearing loss to be exact which I can absolutely live with, if it means keeping him alive. I am hoping and praying that Ronan tolerates all of this well, without a hitch. If he can get though these 4 days, this baby can get through anything. Our poor roommate next to us. He is an older boy, feeding tube in his nose, his parents are nowhere in sight… working I’m sure. Every once in a while I hear him on the phone, crying about how he can’t eat. Poor sweet boy. As awful as all of this is, I am so thankful that I am not a working mom and can devote all of my time to taking care of Ronan. We are so fortunate for being in such an awful situation. I can’t imagine having to leave Ronan in the hands of others to go and work. Thank god for Woody, I thank god for him everyday of my life.

Today has been great so far. We spent the morning home, getting ready for our week here. I have the laundry all done, house all clean. Niki stopped by to bring me coffee and Ronan actually came out of my room and played with her for a bit. We headed over to the clinic to have Ronan’s counts checked to make sure he was good to go to start this round of chemo. Ro was very excited about seeing our nurse, Sharon and followed her around the clinic while we were there. We didn’t have to wait long to get a room which was nice. We got checked in very easily and fast. Once we got up here we played in the playroom for awhile. Ronan was full of energy. He is sleeping now.. he didn’t nap today and is taking a late nap. They are going to start his first dose of chemo soon. I am anxious to get it started asap. The sooner we get it over with, the better. Trish is going to come by and bring me dinner and Woody is going to pop in as well.

We are in the same exact room that we were in when we were first admitted to the Oncology floor. It gave me major anxiety, walking in here. I tried to talk myself out of a panic attack but it didn’t work. I almost passed out on the spot. I am fine now.. I had Woody stay with Ronan so I could go downstairs and have a conversation with myself about how I need to suck this up and be strong for Ro. This whole floor brings back so many awful memories for me. It was a very hard 3 weeks when we were first here. I keep telling myself if I survived three weeks of this before, a week will be a piece of cake. Fucking cancer. I still can’t believe this is happening to our precious baby. It is a parents worse nightmare.

It’s going to be a long night. We are still waiting to start the chemo. It has to be double approved by the pharmacy before they can even deliver it, and the person who has to approve it, does not even get in until 9:00 p.m….. hopefully Ronan will stay asleep during the whole process and will not have any side effects. Trish came to visit and brought some homemade pumpkin soup. It was delicious. Woody also came by and brought CPK for all of us. While they were here, Dr. Maze stopped by to check in. It is always nice to see him, Ronan talks about him all the time and always asks me if he is going to carry him to sleep. So sweet and funny. We talked to Liam and Quinn tonight and it sounds like they are having a great time in Colorado. They got to spend some time with one of my best friends, Susie, who lives there. Wish I could have been there with them. Ronan talked to them both on the phone tonight. He misses them just as badly as I do. I hate that they we all have to be away from each other so much now. I will never stop being bitter about that.

Wish us luck tonight. Hopefully Ronan won’t even notice the chemo and will sleep right through all of it. Goodnight dear friends.

The happiest day of my new life

I got a phone call from Dr. Maze today re: Ronan’s scan results. He told me as much as he could, which was so nice of him to do. Waiting is the hardest part and he instantly put me at ease with his news. Woody heard from Dr. Eshun around 5:00. We have some very good news to share tonight. 2 weeks ago we were told to expect the mass in Ronan’s abdomen to shrink around 20-25 percent, but not much more than that. Dr. Eshun told us tonight that the mass has actually shrunk 47%. That is huge news for us! We could not be happier with those results. It is still in his bone marrow, and there are a couple of other areas they are going to watch… but nothing else has progressed or started to grow, so Dr. Eshun is very pleased with what he is seeing. I fell to the floor after hearing this news… and cried like a baby. All I could think about was how I knew Ronan would fight this as hard as he possibly could. He is proving it by the results we are seeing and how well he is handling everything. He is so unbelievably strong. He is fighting so hard for us all of us, because he loves us all so much.Today has been such a happy day for our family, a day full of hope and a big sigh of relief. We still have a long road ahead of us, but today was a victory for us. Tonight, we will sleep a little better and dream a little sweeter. We are so full of hope and joy and are going to continue to love Ronan so deeply and so much that it kills all of his cancer. We are doing everything we can to surround him with positive energy, laughter, and love. We will continue with his treatment plan and pray that we continue to see amazing results.

I had lunch today with 3 lovely ladies. I finally had the chance to meet another mom, Lara, her son was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma and he is now 10 years old. They live here and are very involved in raising money to fund less toxic treatments for this disease and to find a cure. I cannot tell you how much meeting her meant to me. Her son, Noah, is alive, healthy, and is so full of love for life. He beat all of the odds and is living proof that miracles do happen. Lara gave me a lot of great advice and seeing her courage and strength was so very inspiring. I can’t wait to meet Noah someday and introduce Ronan to him.

I  also saw a therapist today. I knew within 15 minutes of our session that she was the one. Intelligent, compassionate, and we meshed well. She gets it. You want to know how I really knew she was the one for me?? She asked me about Ronan’s cancer, she asked me to tell her what his treatment plan entailed. I went through the list of 5 rounds of chemo, surgery, another round of chemo, stem cell transplant (maybe 2), Radiation, and the last blast of antibodies. She looked at me and goes, “Does cussing offend you?” I go, ” No, quite the opposite.” And she goes, “Good. Holy shit.” Ahhhhh, a woman after my own heart! I loved that she was so raw and blunt. I don’t need any sissy pants, sugar-coating, therapist. I need someone who understands that this is one of the worst possible things to happen to a parent and who can look me in the eye and tell me it’s bullshit, but she can figure out how to get me through it, so I don’t have to check myself into a loony bin. This lady is going to be that person for me, I can already tell. I feel better than I have in a very long time. I can see little pieces here and there of our old life coming back. It’s like there are little flickering pieces of glitter floating through the air and every once in a while I’ll catch one. I caught one yesterday when I spent a few hours with Woody. We went furniture shopping and to lunch. I can’t tell you how important those few hours were with him. I allowed myself to forget about Ronan’s cancer for a while and just enjoyed spending some time with my husband. It was a beautiful day spent with a beautiful man.

I just want to tell each and every one of you who are reading this blog, following Ronan’s journey, praying and thinking about us, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will say this over and over again until the day I die… I know he feels your love and I know all of the love, prayers, and positive energy are working. There is only so much medicine can do, so please continue to do whatever you are doing for him:)

Strong enough

Ronan had a great day. We went into the clinic to have his blood levels checked to make sure they are high enough to start the harvest of the stem cells tomorrow. They are through the roof so we got the green light! I am so happy we are staying on track with things and Ronan is such a little Rockstar that he is busting right though all this cancer crap. While we were at the clinic, I quietly asked our nurse Sharon a question that has been on my mind all weekend…. eating away at me. I asked her if it was common to never see your doctor. O.K…. not never, I’ve met the man one time to be exact. This is just not sitting well with me. I can always count on Sharon to be honest with me and I got my answer. From that point on, I knew what I had to do but I wanted to make sure Woody was on board with me. I stepped out into the hall and made a quick phone call to him. I then walked back into the room and told Sharon and Marsha, our social worker, that we would like to request a change of doctors. In the blink of an eye, they made it happen. Ronan’s primary doctor, who will be taking over his case is Dr. Eshun. I’ve seen Dr. Eshun a dozen times… he is always checking in on us to say hello or to quickly look over Ronan. To me, that means the world. As a mother, I know I have to be my son’s biggest advocate and I have to feel like he isn’t just another number. He is a child, my child… not some science project. I am feeling pretty out of control about everything to do with Ronan’s situation. This gave me a feeling of control back and tonight, I am feeling much better about things. I need to know that we are in the right hands at PCH. If we are going to stay here, we have to be happy with how everything is going. Otherwise, they are going to hear about it. We are not the type of family to sit back quietly and not express the way we are feeling.

We have a very early and long day tomorrow. We have to be down at PCH by 7:30 and will be there until around 4:00 in the evening. I am hoping to get some sleep tonight without the terrible nightmares. Everyone is already asleep in our house… guess I will try to get some shut eye too. Tonight, Woody and I had some time alone. We cuddled on the couch together and watched Bill Maher. It was nice to just be with him. I am going to leave you with one of my favorite song lyrics tonight. Anyone who knows us knows that we are family that is crazy about music. I heard one of my favorite songs on the radio today… it’s by Sheryl Crow. It reminded me how lucky I am to be married to Woody.

“When I’ve shown you that I just don’t care.
When I’m throwing punches in the air.
When I’m broken down and I can’t stand.
Will you be man enough to be my man?”
– Sheryl Crow, Strong Enough

Woody is so strong. I promise I will stay strong too… for the sake of my amazing husband. I won’t let him down.