I have been so taken by the blogs that I have read this week that I have started my own. David wonders what I have to talk about. We'll see.
I am 48 years old, a wife and mother of two, with a 14-year old son in 10th grade (David) and a 12-year old daughter (Katie), who would have been starting 7th grade, but who died of cancer on August 16th, 2007. We are still reeling from this. I have been so amazed at the courage and honesty of other "cancer moms" that I wanted to share...whatever comes.
Posted here are photos of our family. You can see us before Katie got sick, at Thanksgiving 2005. Then there are the post-cancer photos: Katie and David were in their cousin's wedding in early August. One week later, Katie's legs became paralyzed due to the tumor on her spinal cord. The next week, she passed away.
The photo of Katie and me (taken at the wedding) is precious to us. With her diagnosis, our family decided to be together as much as possible, because that is what Katie asked us to do. We moved from our home on Puget Sound to Ronald McDonald House in Seattle. I slept in the hospital 5 nights a week; my husband, Gregg slept there on the weekends. David moved from his school to the Hutch School and commuted from the hospital daily. He and I had breakfast together every morning. After school, we had family time. Gregg worked shorter days, and we all had dinner together. We created a family circle around Katie, and would spend the evenings together, talking, watching TV, giving her backrubs, etc. We went through so much together during the past year: 5 rounds of chemo, Katie's 18-hour surgery to remove the tumor, 3 weeks in the ICU, 3 weeks on the surgery floor, and then home in April to try to take up life again on a follow-up drug routine.
Katie and David attended the Hutch School in Seattle until June, and then it was SUMMER at home! They attended Camp Goodtimes on Vashon Island in June, a gift from the American Cancer Society. This was a great experience for them. We also had fun with our cats, walks together, fireworks on the 4th of July, family parties, a beach fire, visits from family and friends.
In July, strange symptoms began to flare up, and we went to Seattle so that Katie could have a scan. The cancer had come raging back, with a large tumor in places that no surgery could remove. It was time to go home and call Hospice. They were wonderful, and helped us to keep Katie as comfortable as possible, at home in her own room, in her own bed, with her own things around her. She was happy at home.
When she passed away on August 16th, Gregg, David and I were all by her side. We told her we loved her. She passed peacefully and gently, by Grace. We are thankful for that.
We think of our friends on the cancer journey with love, and we pray for remission and healing for them. We also pray for their strength and courage and abundant love. We pray for all of those in the world who are suffering, and for those who care for them, that they would feel LOVE and COMFORT. May all of their needs be met through the One Whose name is LOVE.
PS: Wedding photos were taken by Paul Dudley of Paul Dudley Photography, Poulsbo, WA. Thanks, Mooselips!