Tuesday, January 20, 2015

First Day of School!

Today started off like any other morning over the last few months.  Paige and I dropped Jeremy off at school and wished him a fabulous day.  From there it was usually back to the house for breakfast and schoolwork--but today was different.  Today was extra special.  Today was my girl's first day of school!

Yes,  it's January.  School has been in session about 5 months now, and Paige has been working very hard to keep up with classwork while undergoing some pretty intense chemotherapy.  So, why is today such a big deal?  This is Paige's first day to attend classes at school in over a year!

We've been striving for this day for a long, long time--so why am I such a ball of nerves over this?!?  To my defense, we have been joined at the hip for the last year.  I have been with this girl through every chemo treatment, procedure, MRI--you name it.  I have been her physical support when she was too weak to get up from the couch on her own.  I have comforted her through nausea, pain, tears, and fears.  Getting that girl well again has been my primary focus the last 12 months.

Whew--that was quite the rundown!  Time to go back to the "I've-got-it-all-together" version of myself.  I know this is a good thing, for Paige and for her mom.  She went through all of the 'normal' kid stuff last night and this morning.  Deciding what to wear.  Difficulty getting to sleep.  First-day jitters.  Questions about just how different high school would be.  Stuff every kid experiences.  It may sound crazy, but she actually seemed okay with all of those feelings--because they were normal.  She's been needing this time, and it's finally here.

Her stamina isn't quite where it needs to be to attempt full days just yet, so we are beginning the transition with partial days.  Paige will attend her first 4 classes--allowing her to be there for the all-important lunch period with friends--and continue homebound instruction for the remaining 3 classes until she's able to make it the entire day.  We're not putting any kind of timeline on it.  It depends on maintaining counts, continued good health through treatments, and a whole host of other variables--but that's okay.  If I've learned anything over the last year, it's to take things one day at a time.

Our journey of faith continues.  Paige still has about 18 months left in her treatment, but having her health at the point where it's safe for her to be back in school for any amount of time is a giant milestone.  I couldn't be more thankful.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   Romans 12:12 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Journey of Faith - One Year In

Today marks one year since this journey of faith began.  One year since we heard the words no parent ever wants to hear: Your child has cancer.  One year since we were brought to our knees, crying until the tears would no longer come.  One whole year.

Quick review: Paige was sick.  Very sick.  A lingering cough and mild breathing issues quickly escalated into severe respiratory distress.  A trip to the emergency room resulted in a 9-day hospital stay.  A preliminary pneumonia diagnosis was quickly changed to cancer.  Cancer.  One year later I still have trouble grasping the sometimes harsh reality of this new way of doing life.

Don't get me wrong--there's much to celebrate, and I'll get to that shortly.  I've got to be honest, though.  This week has been rough.  Really rough.  Thinking about where we were at this time last year knocks the wind out of me if I linger there too long.  Let's just say God's perfect timing led us where we needed to be that night.  Paige fought back tears last night when she came across some goofy photos we had taken with the iPad during last January's long wait in the ER, thinking we'd be home in a few short hours.  When memories of that traumatic time hit, they hit hard.  For the last 7 nights, Paige has been awakened by nightmares that force her to relive the events of last year.  She wakes up sobbing and gasping for air, feeling like she can't breathe.  We talk and pray through it, taking lots of deep breaths together as she settles back down.  The fact that I can't make this stop cuts me to the core.  I can only pray that this too shall pass.

As rough as this week has been, it's also cause for joyful celebration.  Paige is here with us, getting stronger every day.  After several bumps in the road, she finally made it to the maintenance phase of treatment and will soon make a return to school--something we couldn't imagine several months ago.  My daughter's strength and courage never cease to amaze me.  I have seen this girl push herself through treatments and side effects that would have even the toughest adults on the floor.  I have watched her grow stronger physically, mentally, and spiritually, trusting God to bring her through good times and bad.  She has set the bar pretty high for the rest of us.

Paige's journey is not a solo mission.  There's a saying in the childhood cancer family that "no one fights alone."  Truer words were never spoken.  God has held her in His mighty hands from the very beginning.  Family, friends, nurses, doctors, and countless others have linked arms with us in this fight.   She is not alone.  We are not alone.  Together we stand firm on faith, trusting in God's perfect plan for Paige's future.  For our family's future.  Hope is a pretty amazing gift, don't you think?