Thursday, August 4, 2011
The Milestone...6 Years Later
Six years ago, a miracle occurred in the Foraker household: Patrick ended all treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on August 2, 2005. That date was chosen by a computer. Yes, our fate was sealed by a number crunching machine that decided that after three plus years of chemo, Patrick's body was ready to be done. That would be the end mark to all chemo coursing through his body, all spinal taps to put chemo in his spinal fluid to attack the blood/brain barrier that so often carries a stealth cancer cell or two and creates brain cancer, all monthly doctor appointments and monthly (or weekly) blood draws. It was the date for freedom and boy, did we wish for it, hope for it, pray for it. It was the end of 1,172 days of treatment and anguish and fear.
Looking forward to that day, Jack and Mary Kate and of course John and I wanted to celebrate in a big way but we didn't know how. We wanted to throw a gigantic party but got scared that we might be tempting fate and decided not to. We wanted to sing and dance and live loud that day and we created all sorts of must-include songs on our imagined playlist. The first: "Celebrate!" by Kool and the Gang. If you don't know that song...here it is in all it's celebratory glory. Enjoy!
But again, we got fearful thinking it might be too good to be true. At the time, Jack and Mary Kate loved to draw with chalk and so we created a fundraiser/celebration called "Chillin' with Chalk". We held it in our town's Central Park. We had buckets of chalk, invited our friends and asked for donations for anyone at the Farmer's Market who would like to have some chalk and decorate the park too. We ended up raising about $500 and gave that entirely to Patrick's health team and told them to host a Victory Dinner for everyone involved in Patrick's care on our dime. We gave them explicit instructions to go to their favorite restaurant and live it up. And, we also gave each one of them a Life is Good T-shirt, our required uniform for anyone participating in Chillin' with Chalk. Life is Good
Auntie Claire created a beautiful chalk drawing of Patrick, Jack and Mary Kate. Erin drew a sunshine. Grandma and Papa drew a life-sized purple Barney. Friends and family came a great distance to get their hands messy and write their messages from their hearts on a cement path in a park. Those who were far away drew in chalk at their homes and posted their pictures to us on the computer. I remember coming home dirty and tired, opening my email and seeing picture after picture of celebration from long distance. It was a day full of love and hope and yes, joyful tears.
We celebrated but in a careful way. We wanted to be mindful that at any time things can change and the winds of our good fortune might blow the other way. We were tentative to believe that this whole thing could have a happy ending.
Guess what? Here we are SIX years later!!! I actually didn't wake up on August 2, 2011 and think first of the date and its meaning. I listened to Patrick and Caroline playing. I put my daily to-do list in order in my mind. I lived my regular old boring life and boy was it wonderful.
I can never thank enough the doctors and nurses who played such a huge role in our lives for three years. I can never thank enough the fundraisers who year after year work tirelessly to battle this ferocious foe.
I can never thank enough the tenacious cancer researchers who believe the impossible is possible and prove it over and over again.
If you want to find grace, it's in your ordinary day. The gift of a regular old, nothing special, kind of boring day. I had 1,172 days that weren't very typical...I'll take boring any day of the week.
Celebrate Life this Saturday at the Davis Relay4Life for the American Cancer Society -- we will be there...walking, remembering, and celebrating the gift of ordinary days.