Monday, July 12, 2010

More Oomph!

William hasn't been very interested in talking with us about cancer. We try to talk openly with him and explain what is going on, but it's always in terms he can understand. He does not associate cancer with death (for which we are grateful) and his primary concern remains his hair. Oh, and the fact that he won't be attending school this next year and won't be able to walk to and from school on his own. He had to wait until the 3rd grade and has been anxiously counting down since Kindergarten!

I was talking to Lisa this morning, mentioning that we had tried to talk with William the other night and he told us, "I don't want to talk about cancer." Lisa and her husband, Dan, a child psychologist, have been entrusted with the duty of making sure our mental health is intact (more or less) and that we are communicating with our children appropriately and not missing any red flags or warning signs due to our own stresses. Lisa reminded me to just make sure the communication lines remain open and suggested some ways to pose questions.

William woke up a while later and wanted to snuggle before coming down to eat. So I crawled in bed with him and we started to chat. I asked him what things make him happy. Then I asked him what things make him scared. He replied, "Big flies that sound like bees." Okay, duly noted. That's progress. I asked if cancer scares him and he said calmly, "No." I asked why he plays his DS when we go to the clinic and when he's getting ready for a procedure. I assumed it was a coping mechanism for his fear. He replied, "It's boring when the doctors talk to you. I listen when they talk to me, but you're boring." Okay. That works for me.

This week is our "good" week. It is the week he should be feeling more oomph because it's the last week before he gets hit with chemo again. It's a vicious cycle. He managed to eat today without needing any morphine. Yea! This means his painful mouth sores are healing. On Thursday he is scheduled for his first CT scan since the original ones before therapy began. The doctors can no longer feel the tumor when they feel his abdomen, so we are all anxious for what the scan reveals about the current size of the tumor.

For those of you who like specifics to pray for this week, pray:
1) the tumor is shrinking away from his aorta and major vessels in preparation for a successful removal surgery
2) he will continue to eat and gain some weight
3) his bone marrow will be free from cancer cells so the bone marrow harvest will happen.

The next couple weeks feel like big weeks: we'll get a better idea of how his body and the tumor are responding to chemo through scans and biopsies and we'll be hopefully crossing a major hurdle by harvesting his bone marrow. Things feel like there are going well right now as we take one day at a time. We focus on immediate needs and find joy in small things, i.e., snuggling, holding hands, finishing a shake, playing games together, doing Mad Libs, picking strawberries from the garden, watching our sunflower grow, piggyback rides, conversations about big flies. Perhaps there is a poignant life lesson in that. How much better would our lives be if we just focus on making today great? I can't control whether William wins or loses this battle, but I can make sure that he knows how much he is loved and how much happiness can be found in life right now.

I have heartache when I think about what still lies ahead (can be tied into life lesson discussed above). William still has some big hurdles to cross in the coming months. Talking to one of his oncologists Sunday morning, I was searching for some little nugget of good news to cling to. He didn't have bad new, just noted his current condition. I asked him if things looked particularly good because he's tolerated his aggressive chemo cocktails seemingly well. His response was a low-key, "Well, he's two for two." That basically told me, we gave him 2 cycles of chemo and he survived both. Again, I'm grateful. I wanted him to say he beat the odds and the rest of treatment should be smooth sailing, (I know that sounds unrealistic, but I think that was truly in my heart). I know he won't beat the odds until he makes it through his entire treatment and the tumor and cells are all gone.

When I feel exhausted about how our lives have been the past 2 months (almost), I have to muster a little extra oomph because we are just getting the beginning chunk under our belts. So I'll sign out for now and go to sleep and hopefully wake up with a little extra oomph for the tomorrow.


  1. Praying for you guys. I'm glad that Will's biggest fear with cancer is losing his hair. My grandpa died of pancreatic cancer this past February, so it's been a topic in our house.

    I hope you get some good news with the scans and biopsies coming up.

  2. You are so right, Julie. The ability to enjoy all the little joys that make up each day somtimes get lost as we concentrate on 'getting through the to do list!' Thanks for the reminder. Please tell William that I am a huge Mad Libs fan :-) Hugs to you both.

  3. Life is precious everyday. it is a gift to know that. It is often only appreciated when life surves up curveballs. I am so proud and admiring of your musings and know that Will has a strong and tender mom. Much love, Remae

  4. Can't stop thinking of you and your family. We want so much for William to be healthy and happy with his brothers. We're here if you need us.

  5. Julie, you do not know me, but Ryan might remember the Speedie family from the Sudbury Ontario Ward. I am going to the Toronto Temple this Friday with some sisters from the Sudbury Ward and I will make sure that I place Williams' name on the temple prayer roll. I will also be putting yours and Ryan's name on the roll as well. I will probably put 'and family' such that the prayers will also cover your other boys. I will pray that you will have strength to face the challenges ahead. All our love and prayers. Mary

  6. julie you are an incredible mother. i love you.