Conversations, emotions, and winding it all down

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“It seems like just yesterday, when you called us to see if we could take Mackenzie for you.”  I was having a conversation with a good friend last night and he was referencing the day that my wife and I will never forget.  It was when we first got that call instructing us to immediately head to the Children’s Hospital where they where awaiting our arrival in the emergency room.  They continued by informing us that they thought our youngest daughter Delaney had leukemia.  As our hearts sunk, we needed to find someone to take care of our other kids.  We had no idea how long we would be in the hospital with Delaney, we just knew we needed to be with her.   It seems like just yesterday, but it was actually about 800 “yesterdays” ago.

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After over two years of treatment, this past Friday was Delaney’s very last IV chemo.  WOOHOO!!!  My wife brought a card to say thank and a cake as we were ready to partayyy.  Even as we were pulling up to the hospital, we got the call to schedule the surgery to remove the port from her chest.  It is official, Delaney is definitely winding down her (non) adventures with cancer.

Before we went to her appointment, I called my wife to check in on her.  “I’m an emotional mess!” she admitted.  We are beyond thrilled for her to be done.  But, I guess if we are honest, we are also nervous and even a little fearful. For the past two years, she has had an entire medical team watching out for her.  What if something happens to her after Tuesday?  When and what do we need to worry about after this?  I have no idea, but I can’t help but be reminded that “Do not fear” appears 365 times in the Bible… one for every day of the year.

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“Do you know our kids have prayed for Delaney every single night for the past two years?”   I heard this again last night.  We’ve heard different forms of this, my son or daughter, my mom, our family, or I have prayed for your daughter….  We appreciate every single prayer said for her and for us.  I hope someday Delaney will understand how many people she had praying for her.  So many of them, we have never even met and probably never will this side of Heaven.   Thank you.  By the way, at that same function (and by “function” I mean watch the fight and play some poker party) a guy was wearing a “Cancer Can Kiss my Stache!” shirt.  I don’t know if he even knows who Delaney is or her story, but I love it.  Same for all those folks that have been wearing a rubber bracelet with the same message for the past two years, thank you.  I know I’ve said it before, but we can’t even begin to thank so, SO many people for their kindness shown to our daughter and to us.

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*****

At Friday’s appointment, we met with her doctor and he filled us in what it would look like from here.  One of the things he wanted to make us aware of is how long it will take her immune system to fully recover.  It sounds like we can expect about six months for her immune system to be back to 100%.  She will continue to take one of her antibiotic pills for the next three months to help with that.  On that note, he wanted to see if there was anything that could be done about her persistent cough so he ordered a CT scan of her sinuses. That was one more affirmation that she is almost done as we get to wait a week for the results of the scan.

Anyway, some folks have asked what happens from here.   Along with getting her last IV chemo on Friday, she  also started her last five days of oral chemo and steroids.  On May 5th, mere hours away, she’ll get to take her very last oral chemo and finish her steroids (I’ve got to be honest, we are not going to miss the steroids one bit)!  After that, she’ll go back in once a month to see her doctor and to get labs drawn.  After 12 months of that, assuming all is still good, she’ll go to every other month.  Then every three months, and so on.  Eventually she’ll only have to go once a year, and that will pretty much be for life.  Within the next couple of years, we will go to something called the Hope Clinic where they will further educate us on, and watch for, the long term side effects of her treatment.

*****

Tonight, my wife was brushing Delaney’s hair and they were being silly together.  Delaney even allowed her to pull her hair back in a ponytail, and she observed that her hair was now almost as long as when she was first diagnosed.  “Don’t cry mommy,” Delaney told her.

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*****

As for Delaney, she is doing amazing even during this steroid week.  She followed up Friday’s chemo by playing in her soccer game Saturday and Sunday.  As excited as we are for her to take her very last chemo on Tuesday and get her port out on Thursday, she is probably even more excited to perform a hip hop routine with one of her best friends in her school’s talent show on Wednesday.  After all, she is just a (very cool) kid!

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10 lessons I learned from cancer

I should probably start by stating that I do not have cancer now, nor have I ever had cancer.  So I am probably not qualified to even write this.  However, please note that I am not being so presumptuous to call this, “What YOU should learn from cancer.”  I have no idea what your experiences are with cancer (or any other major illness), so I am definitely not trying to make light of them or offend anyone.

Exactly two years ago today, my youngest daughter Delaney was diagnosed with cancer (leukemia to be specific).  That day (February 25th, 2013), was easily one of the worst days of my life.  However, during the past two years of her treatment, I have made some observations and learned some things that I think are worth of sharing:

1. People are kind- That is an understatement.  I really have no way to say it without being an understatement.  My wife and I have been overwhelmed and literally brought to tears by the simple kindness of people.  Friends, family, old folks, young ones, people we barely know, and even people we’ll never meet have shown our family kindness time and time again.  This one may seem obvious but I think it is worth pointing out because tonight, or any night, when you turn on the news they will let you know that there are many people that aren’t very nice.  That may be true, but there are a lot more people out there that are truly kind.

2. Prayer works- Either you believe it or you don’t, I know I’m not going to convince anyone here but I can only share from our own personal experience.  I don’t say this because of a specific treatment went well or a certain procedure worked out.  But there have been several times when we have amid the cancer storms, and have felt completely at peace.  Times when we’ve had plenty of reason to get discouraged, but only felt hope.  My belief is that it comes only from HIM who gives hope.

3. So does laughter- I know chemotherapy, dexamethasone, methotrexate, 6 mercaptopurine, vincristine, septra, and a ton of other drugs I can’t pronounce or spell are all good medicines, but laughter probably is better than any of them.  No, it doesn’t cure cancer or heal the body, but it nourishes the soul.  I know we are a crazy family.  We have fun.  In some of our toughest times, we’ve ended up laughing the most.  I know that I have chronicled some of them in this blog here (and here), but there have been far too many others to capture them all.

4. Attitude and outlook matter (A LOT)- One of the most important lessons we learned, we were fortunate to learn early.  We’ve met many other “cancer parents” in the past two years and whenever I am asked for my input, I always try to convey this lesson because I just think it is so important.   Think about your own kids for a minute.  When something completely foreign happens to them, what do they do?  If they are like most kids, they look at their parents to see how they react.  Really early on my wife and I agreed that if one of us were going to get emotional, we would just step out of the room to regroup before entering the room again.  We always just “knew” our daughter was going to beat cancer, so she always KNEW she would beat it!

5. It’s okay to cry- I remember trying to go back to work after she was newly diagnosed and just losing it.  I was in a cubicle at the time and would intentionally wear a jacket with a hood so I could try to cover my face when needed.  I think depression to a certain extent is almost natural when faced with these circumstances.  I think as parents more than anything we want to protect our kids and hope they have a long, happy life.  When something happens to them that we can’t protect them from, we feel we’ve failed.

6. Whether you agree with their advice or not, people mean well- We’ve been offered a whole heck of a lot of alternative remedies that will “cure” cancer.  Besides all the cures, we’ve also heard all the conspiracies about how (usually Western) medicine doesn’t want to find a cure for cancer because it is a billion dollar industry.  I won’t mention the various cures and conspiracies here as my goal isn’t to poke fun at any of the people offering them, but eventually we realized that the people mean well.  We appreciate all the tips, but we’ll stick with the folks that spent all those years in medical school.

7. Half the crap that we think matters, really is just crap- Before our daughter ever had cancer, my wife lost one of her very best friends to cancer.  I still remember something she said about how cancer put everything into an immediate perspective for her and how she couldn’t care less about who some celebrity was dating or whatever the latest gossip is.  This doesn’t only extend to the worthless celebrity stuff, but it is a good reminder to really love our loved ones while we have them.  Sure kids will still need to be disciplined and you’ll still get upset with those you love, but at the end of the day make sure they know you love them.

8. Those lemons you’ve been handed can be used to make lemonade- By no stretch of imagination am I an expert on cancer, but I don’t need to be (and neither do you).  If somebody else can be encouraged by our story, fantastic.  If we can help a charity raise money and awareness that could help eventually eradicate cancer, even better.  Our daughter Delaney is a fantastic example of this.  She is honored to be the Denver Chapter of  The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Girl of the Year, but she is also doing her part even closer to home.  Just last week she was teaching her classmates about leukemia at her school’s science fair.  Here is a picture of her with her award winning presentation:

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9. The higher the stress, the more grace that needs to be extended- One of the saddest things I’ve learned in the past two years is how high the divorce rate is for couples affected by cancer and other serious illnesses.  As the stress builds arguments tend to increase.  When it feels like you are in the middle of the pressure cooker, it isn’t the time to argue who is right and wrong.  It is the time to extend extra grace.  Even when you feel the other person doesn’t deserve it, do it anyway. If it isn’t something you can’t work out by yourself, don’t be too proud to seek outside help.  A divorce added to lives that have already been turned upside down, is the very last thing that is needed. Speaking of grace, it usually isn’t cancer, but I’ve learned that everyone is going through something.   More often than not, you don’t know what that person that seems so angry, withdrawn, sad, or “different” is going through.  Just extend grace.

10. People are kind- I know I already stated this, but it is worth repeating.  Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.  We honestly can’t express how much we appreciate all of the kindness that has been extended to our family over the past years so I guess I’ll just leave you with a simple, THANK YOU!!!

The countdown is on!

10…9…8…   I didn’t get to witness the Orion spacecraft countdown, but I’m sure it was exciting because they pretty much all are.  At the end, you know something big is going to happen.  7….6….  Six, that is where Delaney is at right now on her own countdown.  We just got the word last week, God willing and if all goes well, she is down to only six more months of treatment!  Her official last day of treatment will be May 5th, 2015 talk about a good reason for a fiesta!

As for her part, Delaney has been doing great.  We had a fantastic Thanksgiving and she was as spunky as ever.  We put the bird in the oven and then went out and played some family 3 on 3 football.  Even her non-tomboy sisters got out there and played.  When they tired of that, we switched to soccer and played that until the bird was gobbling for us to eat it.  We went inside, gave thanks, stuffed ourselves, played games, watched football, took a nap, stuffed ourselves again, and then played more games.  It was the perfect day!

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The fun continued all weekend.  A very nice parent at Delaney’s school who owns 3 Ring Photography offered to shoot some family photos for us.  We happened to all get the case of the giggles so it turned out to be a very silly fun-filled hour.  We also managed to sneak in a movie and an art exhibit at the Denver Botanical Gardens before having to send Delaney’s oldest sister back to college on Sunday morning.

That afternoon, a fellow leukemia survivor invited Delaney and our family to come take a tour of the Denver Fire Department’s station 27.  Russell and his wife Katie were at the Leukemia & Lymphoma’s Light the Night Walk and heard that Delaney wanted to be a firefighter.  It turned out, Russell is an older, male version of Delaney.

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Not only does he have his own battle with leukemia, but he is a firefighter who loves legos!  Russell, and all of the firefighters on duty that day, made Delaney an honorary firefighter.  Along with her sisters, Delaney got to go up

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(and I mean wayyyyyy up) in the bucket on top of the firetruck.

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We got to hang out in the firehouse and eat lunch with the entire firehouse.  Delaney got to try out all the cool gadgets, put on the uniform, and even fire the hose.   She was in heaven!

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After the weekend highs, Monday came along and brought her chemo treatment and steroids with it.  It was another rough week.  She was home sick all week and still wasn’t really feeling well as of last night.  She did rally on Friday for the Make A Wish event at Children’s Hospital where the kids get to pick out gifts for their loved ones from Santa’s workshop.  It basically took it all out of her by the end so she didn’t get to meet the Denver Bronco cheerleaders were there, but a couple of them were nice enough to send her a personalized message.

While we excitedly start the countdown, that is pretty much our routine right now.  We hope to have three good weeks of non-steroid happy and healthy Delaney (even though she is still taking her oral chemo daily), and then one week when she gets more chemo injected into her port and has to take steroids for the week.  She goes from a feisty energetic kid for three weeks to getting her little bummie kicked for a week.  But… the week is almost over, and she only has six more months to go!!!

Back to school… bring on the 2nd grade!

      As Summer is winding down, it makes me wonder where the time has gone and it also makes me realize that I haven’t posted a Delaney update in a while.  She has had quite the Summer.  Last Summer she was too sick to go anywhere or do anything.  So when me and her sisters were going to spend a week at the beach with Grammy, Grandpa, and lots of cousins, Delaney got to stay at home with Mom because her ANC level was too low for travel.  Well this Summer, she has definitely made up for it.

       From her Make-A-Wish trip, to camping near the Great Sand Dunes, to getting to go Southern California for her cousins wedding  (where she got to show off her moves on the floor), to playing on a softball team for the very first time, or just hanging out with her buddies, she has been out going and doing.  Of course it hasn’t been all fun, but for the most part when she is feeling well enough (which fortunately is most of the time now), she has been out enjoying life.

        Of course, her treatments continue.  At her chemo visit a month ago, they decided to up her doses across the board.  There wasn’t anything wrong or not working, but as she grows her body needs more medicine.  You would think that by now we would be accustomed to this but for some reason this seemed to hit me in the pit of my stomach.  It was just the thought of more chemo in her port, more chemo in her spine, and the toughest part for Delaney, more steroids.  Her little body seemed to do okay with the increased chemo.  Her emotions from the steroids on the other hand…  

      Unfortunately, she just went back this past Friday for more more chemo and more steroids which means when she starts school tomorrow, she is right in the middle of a steroid cycle.  The big 2nd grade.  Delaney was in kindergarten when this whole (non) Adventure started and now she is about to delve into the school year where she officially becomes smarter than her old man.  The great news is that the light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter because if all goes as planned, the end of the the school year is also the end of her treatment.  That’s right, in May of 2015, Delaney should be done with treatment and can officially say, “Cancer Can Kiss my Stache!”

Delaney (making a silly face) at the Cancer Can Kiss My Stache booth hosted by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

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Cows (and cool kids) for joy!!!

Delaney has been quite the rockstar the past couple of weeks. Well… a star anyway. She got to be the student of the week for her classroom. She got to make a poster about her family, favorite things, and what super power she would want to have (I’ll tell you so you can get some sleep tonight: shapeshifting). My wife and I love how whenever she gets these opportunities to talk about herself, she’ll tell people about her three sisters, her dog, and even her two guinea pigs, but never about cancer or being sick. As part of the Student of the Week fun all of her classmates wrote notes to her and the teacher put them in a little book for her.</

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Here is a sampling:

Dear Delaney,

You are funny. You are nice. You are fun.

From, Dakota.

Dear Delaney,

You are a great frend.

You are sweep to peple and I love your posetr.

From Hans.

Dear Delaney,

You are Kool and I tenk you aer spesrol.

(this one had the star colored in and the words “smell this”—what are these little hoodlums into anyway???)

Dear Delaney,

You are a very good friend. You are very nice. Your poster and book, casts, and Trindan Halliday gloves were very cool! Your awesome Delaney! (with a pic of a cow saying “moo”).</
I like this one too with 5 cows added and the words, “Cows for joy!”
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There were actually lots of cows and lots of love from these little first graders.

Speaking of cool kids, one of Delaney’s very best friends came to Friday’s chemo appointment. They were so excited as her little buddy Sawyer got to experience it with her. They weighed Delaney then weighed Sawyer. Measured Delaney then measured Sawyer. Gave Delaney chemo, then gave Sawyer chemo. Okay not really, but you get the idea. As I watched the two of them laughing and goofing and having so much fun at her appointment to get chemotherapy, it made me realize that life is what you make it. Why NOT have fun? As my buddy Willy Shakespeare says all the time, “There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Once again Delaney is helping me learn the valuable lesson of perspective. Cows for joy!!!
Here is a pic of the little goofballs:
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4 weeks and 4 baldies

      Delaney is fresh off her first full week of school in the past 5 weeks!  After missing four weeks of school and having cold-like symptoms for over three months, her doctor did some additional scans on her.  He showed us the scan of her nasal cavity and being the doctor that I am NOT, I identified the problem right away, “Aha! That little black dot right there is probably the problem!”  Delaney’s doctor was kind enough to confirm my errant conclusion, “Yep, that’s it, but it isn’t because what you think.”  Apparently the whole scan should have been black.  Delaney’s scan showed one little black dot on one side, and no black at all on the other.  So what it meant was that her nasal cavity was 100% blocked on one side and about 95% on the other.  So besides this preventing her from being able to fight anything, there was a slight fear that it could go to the brain because of its proximity to the nasal cavity.  Long story short, Delaney is now getting IVIG (basically blood or more specifically a plasma product) transfusions once a month.  As much as it isn’t fun for her, it did help her get well enough to go back to school!

       On a different note, a little less than a week ago I signed up to do St. Baldrick’s again.  If you aren’t familiar with it, St. Baldrick’s is a fantastic charity that directly benefits childhood cancer.  They have raised millions and millions of dollars and given it back to the medical community in grants to research the cure and treatments of childhood cancers.  Participants shave their heads to help raise awareness and money for St. Baldrick’s.  So as of tomorrow, I’ll be sporting a buzz again… but that isn’t the exciting part.

        A couple of days after I signed up, a very nice guy that I work with (yet barely even know), said that he would also join Team Delaney: “Cancer Can Kiss my Stache!”  A couple of days after that, a guy that I have met once said that he would also join moving us up to 3 baldies.  My sister was then kind enough to sign up as a donor and a volunteer, but too much of a sissy to shave her head.  However, my wife got a call the other day from Luca’s mom, Molly.  If you don’t remember Luka, she was diagnosed with leukemia only a few days after Delaney (you can read the first post from when we met Luca by clicking here – and I’ll apologize for my first impression of Delaney’s doctor who turned out to be wonderful — I feel like such an idiot when I re-read that part) .  We learned the ropes of Children’s Hospital together while we learned about the terrible disease our daughters were just diagnosed with.  Anyway, Molly called because she saw our post on Facebook that I was doing St. Baldrick’s again, and said that her husband Pete was going to come join us!!!  So I have officially changed our St. Baldrick’s team name to Team Delaney AND Luca: “Cancer can Kiss my Stache!”

     That brings us to 4 Baldies tomorrow and more importantly over $1100 raised for St. Baldrick’s in their fight to make sure that no parents ever need to hear, “We’re sorry to tell you this, but your child has cancer.”

Thank you so much to all the people that have already donated to St. Baldrick’s.  If you would like to join them, you can do so by using this link:  http://www.stbaldricks.org/teams/CancerCanKissMyStache 

Childhood Cancer: A year in review

One year ago today. There are parts of that day that I can remember like it was yesterday. More than anything, I remember feeling helpless as a father and as a husband. My wife had just received the call that we had been waiting for that would let us know our daughter Delaney’s lab results. A little swelling below the ear couldn’t be serious, right? I watched anxiously as she moved from the kitchen to the study to take the call away from the kids. I held my breath as my wife tried to keep her composure while listening to our primary doctor. With one last “okay, thank you” she hung up and then told me that we needed to immediately get Delaney to the emergency room where they had a room waiting for us. As our doctor said, “Now is the time to call on any support you might have as we think your daughter has a type of blood cancer called leukemia.” The world briefly stopped while my wife and I collapsed into each other. We just held each other and cried. I was quickly a scared man who was powerless to protect his own family.

~~~Here is a pic that was taken just a few months before her diagnosis:
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In the beginning, the not knowing was the worst. Will she be okay during the surgery to put a port into her chest? What about during her first chemotherapy treatment? What type of leukemia does she have? Are you sure she is even sick? What is the survival rate? What are the chances of our daughter… not surviving? When will we be able to leave the hospital? When, if ever, will our lives get back to “normal”? Are we going to be able to care for her at home? When will her hair start falling out? Will she be able to finish up kindergarten with her friends at school? How will we be able to continue working?

~~~Smiling during her very first dose of chemo
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It was tough. Eventually we got answers to most of our questions. It was still the uncertainty that ate at me. I remember putting on a brave face when having to face people for the first time because I knew that I was going to have to talk about it. When I returned to work, I purposely wore a hooded jacket. There were times when all I could do was sit at my desk and weep like a baby. I tried unsuccessfully to distract myself with my work. When it got too bad, I would put on my hood to block my face so others wouldn’t know. I know one of my co-workers knew but his father had his own battle with cancer so he could at least kind of empathize with me.

~~~It may have been tough, but this little stud is tougher!
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There were a couple of things that helped us overcome the tough times. The first was Delaney herself. When we sat there in shock listening to a doctor describe the different effects of the medicine they were going to give her or what procedures they were going to perform on her, her only question was, “When you are done can I wake up with a mustache?”

~~~Ahhh… the silly mustache. Who knew that it would inspire the “Cancer can kiss my stache!” movement?
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But more than that, was the overwhelming kindness, love, and support. It came (and still comes) from family, friends, co-workers, churches, entire schools, complete strangers, and just about every place imaginable. Just this past Sunday our doorbell rang. There stood the sweet neighbohood boy with his familiar bag of cookies and the money he made from selling them door to door. It has been a year and this boy still goes door to door to raise money to give to Delaney! Seriously if anyone knows of an award that we can nominate him for or some other way we could publicly recognize him, please let us know. My wife and I probably shed more tears from just being amazed over, and over, and over again at people’s kindness than we have with the actual cancer. Okay, maybe not… but it feels like it.

~~~Elated by the kindness of our friends at the Littleton Fire Department as she gets to ride in the fire truck
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As for Delaney, she just took it all in stride like the little trooper she is. Back to the doctor’s office? Okay. I’ve got to get treatment today? Do you think the nurses will sing “Dynamite” to me? My hair will start to fall out? Maybe I can get a cool Bronco’s hat! Sure she got sick of the pokes, the treatments, not being able to participate in so many fun things because her counts were too low or she wasn’t feeling well enough, and all the other junk that goes along with childhood cancer, but there were very, very few times she really let it get to her. I can probably count on one hand how many times she ever felt sorry for herself.

~~~Proving that bald really is beautiful!
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Of course, the one time that she really let it get to her broke my heart so much that I probably will never forget it. It was April 26th of last year (okay… I’ll admit that I only remember the date because it was our anniversary). Delaney had the moon face thanks to the steroids she was taking. Her once skinny little 40 lb. frame had gained 10 lbs. in just over a month. It looked like it was all in her cheeks, but by no means was it a cute “chubby cheek” type of thing. She didn’t feel well, and the steroids were running rampant on her emotions, and she just lost it. “Why mommy? Why? I just want to be beautiful and feel like the other little girls,” she cried. Besides trying to reassure her that she IS beautiful, what do you say?

~~~She may have had “moon face,” but she will always be beautiful!
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There were other things that may have bugged her, but really bugged my wife and me. The kids at school, not necessarily being mean, but just being kids, asking her why she is trying to use the girl’s bathroom. The little girl at church trying to argue with the teacher when he announced that another girl was joining the class. Of course, it doesn’t help that our daughter is such a little tomboy. I was asked not too long ago if it bugged us, why not dress her up in pink so people would know she is a girl? Most of you are parents, think about it for yourself. Do you want your kids to be themselves or pretend to be something they are not to please others? We want all of our kids to have the courage to be themselves. So we would never force our daughter, who answers the nurses question of “Do you have any allergies?” with “Yes. The color pink” to pretend to be something she is not. Would being decked out in a pink pretty dress with a big bow on her head help people recognize that she is a girl? Probably. And then Delaney is no longer her silly quarky blue loving, bow tie wearing, what little hair I have I am going to put into a mohawk, mustached self and cancer wins… and that will NEVER happen!

~~~Hmmm… maybe if she wore a nice Justin Beaver wig people could tell she is a girl. Doesn’t she look excited by this?
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At one point I was hoping to put our whole Non-Adventure into a book, but realistically that will probably never happen (although it would probably be the first book with negative sales). But in the longshot that some other parents might come across this who have their own child with a recent similar diagnosis, I’ll share two very valuable lessons that we have learned this past year. The first is to realize that your child is going to react to whatever you react to and in a very similar fashion. Fortunately, we learned this very quickly. On that early evening a year ago as we headed to the hospital we couldn’t stop our tears. So what did Delaney do? She cried. We were scared and so was she. We quickly realized that the opposite was also true. If we were brave and confident she was going to be okay, so was she. That first week in the hospital we had times that we were so overcomed with emotion and we would just walk out of the room so she wouldn’t see mommy or daddy crying. Realize that your child and their classmates or friends might associate the word “cancer” with death. We literally when into her classroom and told them, “Just because Johnny’s grandpa died of cancer, does not mean Delaney is going to die of cancer.” Along with explaining how there are different types of cancer, we also explained that, “Yes, she is sick. But, NO, you cannot catch it.” We didn’t want her classmates to be afraid to play with her because they were afraid to catch what she had. And thank God, they didn’t. Her class embraced her and continued to love her. They knew that she wouldn’t be able to be in class all the time, but when she was able to make it, she was just another crazy kid who they played with and had fun with. They also knew that when her hair started falling out, it was a sign that “the medicine was working.” The hospital staff shared that one with us and we thought it was good.

~~~Who are you calling crazzzzy????
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The second thing I would share with other parents who have a child facing a similar illness is a little more personal, but because of its importance, I’ll share it openly anyway. Cancer is very tough on a marriage. Whatever stress you had in your marriage prior to the diagnosis is still there, but now you have a whole lot more of it. Early on, after continually snapping at each other, my wife and I had a conversation where we said, “We are going to need to be more forgiving with each other than ever.” Is my wife perfect? No. Am I perfect? Yes! I am kidding, of course, but we should have set a daily reminder that forgiveness was now, more than ever,a necessity if we wanted our marriage to survive this. There were times, like most marriages, where we just wanted to throw in the towel. But then there was the realization of, “And how would that help?” Delaney is one of our four daughters. She isn’t the only one affected by cancer and my wife and I definitely are not the only ones. Our entire family has faced Delaney’s cancer together, and as a family we will continue to fight it together.

~~~A family that goofs together, stays together!
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So Delaney is now 365 days into her cancer treatment and has over 500 days remaining. WE have reached the “new normal” that one of the doctors told us about early on. We are slightly more, but still far from totally, comfortable on a daily basis. Delaney has missed 3 of the past 4 weeks of school because thanks to low counts, her body can’t fight a basic cold. She has these weird pains in her foot and there is a real fear that the steroids are causing necrosis, which essentially destroys the bones. At least week’s doctor’s visit due to foot pain, I was expecting to get an update from my wife. When it didn’t come… and still didn’t come… my mind went to, “What if they are saying they need to amputate?” Well, they didn’t need to amputate and as I was writing this my wife sent me a text that read, “They called with her infection test results. Low IGG level and 2 viruses.” I don’t even know what IGG is, but it might be how I feel about leukemia at this point… IGG!!!! Its Gotta Go!!!

~~~Maybe we would be protected if we could just stay in this snow globe!
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We know that God is still in control. These fears are of no value. We don’t let them control us by any means, but they are still there. We have been blessed by people all over the world praying for our daughter, and for us. Most of them will never see this, but I still want to thank them. The same with the kindness that has been shown over, and over, and over again. We will never be able to repay this, but we so appreciate every single bit of it. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU from our entire family!

~~~Cancer messed with the wrong family!
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