Thursday, September 04, 2014

Gonzaga University and it's Place in our Cancer World Story

Heavy Sigh.... in order to tell this story in the way it should be told, I have to prepare myself for some feelings I have put in the back closet, in a box, with the label.. .do not open.  But sometimes those heavy sighs can be good things. 

So.  Recap... Cancer came in 2004, Cancer was pushed under the rug in 2006 and came back out with a vengeance in 2011. 

Meb was happily ensconced in her new life a sophomore at Gonzaga.  She applied to 11 schools, was accepted to 9 and wait-listed at one. She walked on to the campus of Gonzaga and said to me... "Mom this is it. This is where I belong."  She was so so right. From the beginning they did everything they could to make her successful.  

The gave her money, they wrote up accommodations to help with her the weird stuff Seattle Children's did to her brain. They have a great program for certain kids that come from mixed-culture families and she was able to settle in to her new life with a bit of a head start.  She was able to pick her roommate and life was good. 

She worked hard and thrived until three years ago today when we all received "the call", the "it's back" call.  

I was in a state of confusion and anger and frustration.  My great pal Shelley Buckholtz had the sense to tell me call the school to let them know Meb would no longer be in school.  I gave her the job.

Within 30 minutes, our room was filled with Sima Thorp a dean of students and Father Hightower, a great priest.  30 minutes.  

Within 6 hours I was called by the President, the dean of the Electrical Engineering department was ready to go to her apartment and pack up her stuff AND drive it to Seattle.  Student Accounts was sending all the money back for the whole semester and securing her future grants and aide for her return.  They even were able to return her GET money so we didn't have to pay taxes on it.  A student wrote an article in the paper. A great old priest reached out to her an wrote lovely encouraging letters.  They made sure she was able to go to the Battle in Seattle just before transplant.  Sima kept in touch and was ready to answer any questions I had and was so so good about helping her return.  Someone did a bone marrow drive in her name.

During her time at home they worked on a way for her to continue to study in a way never done before.  Father Tran came to visit us more than once to help with her questions and so did Dr. McKinney.  Over and over there was an effort for her to keep in touch with her school and to foster a feeling of belonging. 

When she did return last year, they again stepped over backwards, turned themselves inside out and then did more.  She was able to live in a Junior/Senior dorm with her old roommates, they worked with her to make sure she could get to her appointments and had time to do so.  

I have dropped her off again to begin her junior year. This time it was different.  Early drop off, books, settling Tucker into the dorm. (A much needed companion dog for her.) Lunch with Sima.  A feeling that she has found such a special special place to finish her education and be successful. 

Gonzaga is a place of real purpose and dedication.  They practice what they preach. They make significant and differences in the lives of the people in their sphere.  I know that what they have done for Meb, they have done for every single person on campus.  Those kids are loved, encouraged and given the space and tools to grow and be successful. 

As  I drove away from campus this year, it felt so good to know this was going to be a good year. A year of growth and learning.  She is so ready to be her own person and grow beyond being a kid that had leukemia twice in a decade.  She is headed to the best thing possible.  A degree from Gonzaga University. 

Now if Tucker could just meet Maddie the mascot... life would be perfect. 

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