We haven’t played in a while, but Delaney and I used to play quite a bit of Chutes and Ladders. I’m pretty sure if we played 100 games together, she won about 157 of them. She didn’t seem to quite grasp the concept of getting to go up the ladder but having to go down the chute if you landed on it. She would land on the bottom of a slide, start giggling, and then move her game piece all the way to the top of the chute. Or at least she used to this. She tried it one to many times so I decided to teach her a lesson by breaking her finger. Okay, not really, just seeing if anyone actually reads this. Anyway, leukemia is a lot like Chutes and Ladders.
In the game you start cruising along, get to move forward three spaces, and then break the cookie jar because you are a little glutton who should have just said no. Instead of a cookie, you get to slide down about four rows and wonder aloud whether the game will ever end. Well with leukemia, your child is cruising along doing well, puts her hand in a cookie jar, doesn’t realize that some kid with a runny nose beat her to the jar, and that her glutton dad ate all the cookies anyway, which unfortunately left no cookies but plenty of germs for the girl with the low white blood cell count. Instead of sliding down four rows, she ends up back in the doctor’s office or ER getting poked and prodded. Good times.
Unlike Chutes and Ladders, the Consolidation Phase actually is coming to an end. We are less than 48 hours away from it being done and done (Two months down and 25 left to go). Out with the old, and in with the Interim Maintenance (I) Phase. Gone will be the three consecutive lumbar punctures and the daily oral chemo. Instead of going every Friday, it will move to every ten days. Even though it seems like we get to spend less time at the doctor’s office, we actually pick up an extra day. They will have to make sure her cell counts are high enough for her to tolerate the type of chemo she will be getting, so she needs to get her labs checked the day before the treatment. One minor bonus of moving from every seven days to every ten days, is she hopefully gets her Fridays back. When the rest of the world was screaming TGIF, Delaney was telling us that she didn’t like Fridays. Cancer or no cancer, I refuse to let a child of mine NOT like Fridays!
Let me be serious and just state the obvious for a moment: cancer is nothing like chutes and ladders. In fact, there is nothing funny at all about cancer, nor is there anything even slightly cute about it. I really hope that nobody misinterprets my pathetic attempt at humor or a silly “Cancer can Kiss my Stache!” saying as me making light of cancer. I have lost friends to cancer. I have more than one friend who have cancer throughout their body as I write this. It is very sad. Nowhere near that extent, but as a father I found it heart breaking this past weekend when my beautiful six year old daughter told my wife while crying, “Mommy, nobody thinks that I am beautiful any more. ” Unfortunately, there is a LOT more that I could share that would probably make the strongest among you cry. That isn’t my goal here, but I sincerely wish cancer never existed. For those of that happen to read this that are either personally dealing with cancer or possibly lost a loved one to it, please know that I am not making light of this horrible disease. My (lack of) humor is how I deal with things and if a silly mustache on a shirt or a bracelet brings a sick child joy, I am all for it. Thank you for hopefully understanding. I think most of you already get this and are wondering why in the heck I am even saying this. I just want to make it clear that I would never make light of this horrible disease or to the many, many people who have succumbed to it. To the people that do already get this and maybe even my sense of humor (Mom, I’m looking at you here), I’ll just say, “Keep your grubby paws out of my cookie jar!!!”