Goodbye 2007 and hello 2008

I cannot believe that we are here on 31 December 2007, the very last day of this year. Looking back, this year did not turn out the way I imagined it would at the beginning of 2007. It was an eventful year for us. Some of the things that happened:
  • Caitlyn was born 22 February 2007 and Bianca was so very very excited to become a big sister.
  • Then in May Bianca got tonsillitis and I thought it was the worst 2 weeks of my life, it was the first time in her life that she got so sick that she went completely off her food, just lay there and was sad, emotional and clingy.
  • In middle May we signed a rental agreement for a new rental home (to move into middle June).
  • On the 31st of May I was made a job offer for a position that I really really wanted.
  • On the 1st of June Caitlyn started daycare and later we would have to remove her.
  • On the 2nd of June Bianca was admitted to hospital.
  • On the 5th of June we knew she had some kind of leukemia.
  • On the 6th of June we knew it was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and she got her first chemo treatment, surgery to insert a port, a bone marrow aspirate and a lumbar puncture. I also had to email my new employer to let them know that I would not be able to start work on the 18th of June.
  • Bianca celebrated her 4th birthday party on the 8th of June in hospital with kids she never met before and couldn't blow out any candles. She turned to me and said "but mommy, my friends aren't coming". Later on this day she had an injection into her leg and cried for an hour afterwards.
  • So many more things happened.
Suddenly the tonsillitis seemed like nothing in comparison...
  • Today is exactly 213 days since Bianca was first admitted on the 2nd of June.
  • It is exactly 208 days since she started her very first treatment.
  • We had approximately 164 doses of chemo until today
  • We had approximately 59 doses of steroids
  • We had 9 injections into Bianca's legs
  • We had 1 surgery to insert a port
  • We had approximately 11 spinal taps / lumbar punctures
  • We had approximately 23 blood product transfusions
  • We had approximately 77 hospital stays (of which 39 days were spent in isolation)
  • We had approximately 50 different tests such as X-ray, Echo, CT Scan, Ultra Sound, Cardiac Monitor)
  • We had 4 bone marrow aspirates
  • Bianca lost her hair twice
  • We had 26 unusual things happening such as having Bianca on oxygen, bronchospasm and so on)
  • We had a nose tube inserted 4 times
  • Bianca had a severe reaction to one of her chemo treatments and that required immediate assistance and admission into hospital
  • Bianca had kidney stones
  • We traveled approximately 7000 km (probably approx. 4350 miles) from home to the hospital and back again.
  • The list goes on...
When Bianca was admitted and diagnosed it was at first a huge shock and the most devastating news to us. But then we made the decision that we would approach this one step at a time, one day at a time. It is easy to want to become impatient and just to speed up the process or to try and find an easy way out, but then I had to remind myself that we will just have to be patient and follow the road as it came along. At times it did feel like a prison sentence. I mean either way I look at it, treatment will still take a bit more than 2 years. There is no way to speed it up, there is no "getting out early". This has become our new life, the life we had before, we left behind on the 2nd of June and we entered a new life that was completely unknown and foreign to us. Suddenly we had to get used to words we never heard of before in our entire lives. It is also an exhausting life, like a race that you just have to keep running and running. It was almost like being pushed off a diving board and we had no choice but to keep going.

Of course you do get used to it. At first all you want is "normal". Then you start realising that "normal" is just what you are used to and this has become "normal" to us, the hospital visits, the isolation and the daily medicines.

Bianca taught us so much. She just accepts what comes her way, without question, but fully trusting that we are making the right decisions for her. She might cry now, but then it is forgotten and the next moment she smiles again. We had to slow down and we had to live for the moment.

Way back we decided that when we look back on this journey we wanted to remember the fun times. And looking back over the past 213 days, I can honestly say that we have had many many times of lots of fun and I believe that we will be ready for 2008, no matter what comes along, to continue this journey as we fight leukemia.

So for 2008 I wish you just the very best, I wish you lots of fun, I wish for times where you can slow down and just enjoy the moment and when you have some down days, just remember that there is a little 4 year old girl (don't tell her I said "little") who can still smile, dance and sing silly songs, no matter what comes her way. So I leave you with approximately 645 reasons why this coming year should be a year that nothing should need to get you down, that even when you have a bad day, you can still get up and smile and have fun. We all have to live for the moment because:

"yesterday is gone and will never come back, tomorrow may never be given to us, but today is a gift because it is the present" (anonymous)


TinaP said...

Having just read your final year post, I felt compelled to reply. As a mum to a wonderful and brave 3 year boy called Ross, who was diagnosed with ALL on 25th May 2007, so much of what you wrote has touched my heart and soul, despite the distance between us, you have been able to put into words what I have felt for these past months and i have to thank you for that! I have read many sites and blogs since may but have found yours to be truly inspiring and so familiar. Ias we continue our battle alongside yours, i would like to wish you and your family a very happy and healthy 2008...
Tina Parkes, Birmingham U K.

Lea White said...

Hello Tina,

Wow, thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate it.

Have you got a blog / journal? If you do would love to follow your journey.

I would like to wish you and your brave boy all the very best for 2008 and hoping that as he continues with his journey that it would be a healthy one with little or no complications and delays.

Has Ross entered maintenance yet? We are so very nearly there.

Scott said...

Hang in there, guys! We're pulling for you in California.