Friday, October 31, 2014

Fear and Loathing of Relapse

I have mentioned in the past the "R" words that live with those of us in Cancer World.  Remission.... our favorite.
Relapse or Re-Occurrence....... ones we fear and loathe. 

What we know is that sometimes remission does not happen.  In ALL ( Acute Lymphoblastic  Leukemia) world the kids are supposed to achieve remission after 7 days of treatment. Meb's was a bit more stubborn and but she was in remission by September 13, 2004.  A full course of treatment (high risk because of her age, her presentation and her failure to achieve remission in 7 days).  Life seemed to great.  Of course 7 years and two weeks after remission her cancer came back. Big time. 


Bam.... No real warning. No inkling that something was wrong. Nothing.  Kid looks great. She is in school, she is thriving,  she has this thing beat.  She is headed out into a new a wonderful universe.  Nothing will stop her.  

Wrong.  Oh we  were so wrong.  We had to do another circle of the moon and hope that by firing our reserve rockets we could make it back home.  We did. 

But the spaceship is pretty damaged. The occupants are weary and sometimes it is hard to face the world.  We know there is no guarantee things will stay in the correct trajectory. No way to know what tomorrow will bring. I'm not too sure when we will ever trust that there will many tomorrows.  

We do know that when it comes back, in any form, it does with the fury of the exploding sun.  We are reminded of this often. 

It is back for our dear little friend Allistiare. She had AML when Meb relapsed in 2011 and then she relapsed and then she did so again and then she had a very risky Bone Marrow transplant and now... Now something is back. Something is starting and they know how it will manifest itself. Just having it back, even in little bits they know it is bad.   They don't know if there are many options or where they are headed to figure this all out. 

I love these people, they are family in a special way.  Jai and I had many a cup of coffee during the long transplant months. Sten is great and stoic and a wonderful father.  He always smiles and stays in the moment with a calm I don't know how to master.

It has taken me almost a week to write about this most awful of relapses.  I thought if I didn't say something it would go away.  It would be a bad X-ray tech in Bozemen. It was just a mistake.  It can't happen to such a sweet child. 

As I have wrestled with all of this, cancer and cancer families and families being told to go home to hospice and children dying and this heavy cloud that closes in on me, I have come to a realization.   If there was a good thing to do to make it all better I would have figured it out.  If there was a bit of magic or some secret or special charm, in 10 years, I would have figured it out.  

There are no right words. No right actions. No right answers.  (Now granted there are lots of wrong ones but that is for another day.)  So the only thing I can do is listen. Ponder. Respond. React in a thoughtful way. Have lots of chocolate and Starbucks on hand.  

I can do that. 

Jai, Allistiare's mom is an amazing writer.  Here is the link to her blog.  I would suggest a glass of wine in-hand before you start.

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