The beginning of a new year not only comes with a fresh start, but time to reflect on the pass and I have been doing a lot of that over the past month as 2011 came to an end. In 2010 we were in such bliss when our second son, Braden, was born to then be punched in the stomach when we were told that he had a large hole in his heart that might need surgery to be followed by the visit of true Evil when Jack was diagnosed with Cancer. If you don’t know how that feels, to have Evil knock on your door, it went something like this:
Knock, knock, knock….
Evil: Hi, my name is Cancer. Neuroblastoma Cancer to be exact. I really want to take your son from you. I want to take your son and I want to take him by putting him through hell. I will make him extremely sick. I will take things away from him…his freedom, his baths, his play dates, his school, his childhood…I want it all. I want him to lose weight and be so thin and miserable that you hardly recognize him. I want him to go through many tests, scans, pokes, fevers, surgeries, and pain. Not only that but I want to rip your family apart because the stress and emotional toll is something that you have never even imagined nor would you ever wish upon your worst enemy. I want to take away time from your newborn and I want you to suffer. I want you to break down and fall to pieces. I want you to question yourself and all that you have ever done in your life. I want to see if your son can handle this. I want to see if you can handle this, what do you think? Wait, before you answer let me tell you that you really don’t have a choice. This is what I am going to do. So starting now, it’s you all against me, ready for that?
Us: Since we don’t have a choice in the matter, bring it on….not only will you lose this battle, you will miserably fail. Not only will you not take our son away from us, you will not take away his childhood. You will not take away his smile, his laugh, his love, his happiness. You will not take away his faith, his hope, his determination. You will not make the pain larger than him. You will not win. Not only will you not be able to take our son, you will not break my family for my family is stronger than you think. We will take the beat downs, we will take the stress, we will take all that you want to give and we will give it back ten fold. There may be times where you feel like you are winning, but you are so wrong. You will never beat us. So the fact is, it’s not you against us, but it’s us against you. Are you ready for that?
That is what it feels like. It feels like you walked into a brick wall. It feels like someone smacked you in the face with a baseball bat. It feels like someone stabbed you in the stomach. It feels like the floor was just ripped out from beneath you and you are falling into a dark hole and you may have an opportunity to grab a rope and climb your way out but that is also not a guarantee. I do say that you would have to “climb your way out” because you do not get to float your way out. You do not get to fall in to that hole and let a little cloud lift you back to the top, you get to climb. You get to climb a very steep climb with pieces of glass all throughout…with no shoes. Yes, that is what it feels like when Evil knocks at your door. It sucks.
2010 brought us so much we didn’t want but we had to get through. 2011 came and we knew it had to get better. We said good-bye to 2010 with Braden given the all clear until 2011 because he was doing so well. His hole was closing and he was healthy as a horse. We said good-bye to 2010 as Jack rounded the corner with his treatment and his scans started coming up clear. Cancer wasn’t winning. 2011 was a year that still brought much pain and struggle watching Jack continue to go through treatment, our family split up by our constant hospital stays, but our kids continued to stay strong and push through and we knew we had to follow. We could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
2011 brought us much joy when Jack finished treatment and was given the all clear by Dr Eshun. He was able to get his broviac out, go swimming, go to school, have play dates, get dirty, and start being a “normal” 4 year old. We feel very lucky that we are in the place we are now. We feel very lucky that Jack is beeting the odds and Braden has his brother to grow up with.
We enter 2012 with two healthy boys. First time we have been able to do that and it’s wonderful. We get to spend this year still going in for scans for Jack and we will continue with the same anxiety as we will probably have for the rest of our life with the fear of the big Evil coming and knocking at our door again, but we hope and pray that it won’t. Braden will get an ECHO next month to confirm that his heart is still doing ok and hopefully we won’t have to go back to the Dr for another year or so…or for even longer than that. We get to spend this year raising money for Neuroblastoma Research through Jack’s Foundation and that is a wonderful feeling. We feel so great that we get to help and we are so thankful for all of you out there who want to join us in this effort. Of course we send out huge hugs and thank you’s to all of our family and friend who have been there. Thank you to all of our new friends. We really couldn’t get through this without you. There are a few people that have been there throughout this journey that we want to send extra special “thank you’s” to…people who never knew our family personally but when they heard about Jack being diagnosed, they wanted to help.
We thank Evon and Garret Fig. You have done more for our family than we would ever ask of anyone. We didn’t really know them at all when Jack was first sick, but Evon was one of the first ones to stand up and let us know that we weren’t alone.
Thank you to Adrian Wilson and his family. We have asked time and again for help with fundraisers and you have never said no. You are so very kind and we are so appreciative.
Thank you to Megan Kinnie and Brittney Walker who helped to organize our first golf tournament and who have become wonderful friends since then. Thank you for always going to bat for us and for always wanting to be involved. You both are so wonderful and we are so happy to have you in our lives.
Thank you to Tyler Kinnie for always wanting to help spread the word about Jack and his fight and help raise awareness. You and your sister must come from a very great family because you both have hearts of gold.
Thank you to Sue Dunn who has known my husband for many years and the day she decided to start volunteering for PCH was the day that Jack was diagnosed…all a complete coincidence. Sue always made sure we had everything we needed when we were at the hospital and has become a great supporter and friend.
Of course there are many more of you whom we adore, but I just wanted to say thank you to these few because I want them to know how much we appreciate and love them all.
We know that we are very lucky that we have all that we have right now. We know that there are many others out there who’s lives will never be the same because of what Cancer took away from them and it is not fair. For all of this, we continue to fight. Some get through times like this and don’t want to look back. They don’t want to relive it and talk about it. I get that, I really do, but that’s not how we are doing it. We want to scream at the top of our lungs until we help to find a cure for this awful, Evil, nasty disease. Even though Jack is doing well, we will still fight because you never know. We never thought Evil would knock at our door in the form of Neuroblastoma. Did you? Doubt it. So you will hear from us and you will hear from us a lot. We will not stop until we make a difference.
On that note, we will be giving more details over the next couple of weeks, but we are very happy to say that we have a wonderful night being planned right now for March 8, 2012. It will be 2 years since the date of Jack’s diagnoses and we are having a fundraiser to help rase money for Neuroblastoma research. We met a very funny man named Boomer Nichols who is not only a comic in the Valley but like us, his family got the Evil knock at their door too a few years back. They were also able to beet the monster and that is so wonderful! He is graciously helping us plan a very wonderful night at Stand Up Live in Phoenix for March 8th. Like I said, there will be more details to follow and I will get them all to you ASAP but for now…mark your calendars!!!!!