It would be easy to look at the last four months of our life as the worst we've ever experienced. I mean, for heaven's sake, our kid was diagnosed with brain cancer! Throw in a flat tire, the terrible twos, a dog with a busted leg, financial uncertainty, long days at the hospital, and a best friend in a coma, and it's got to be right up there.
But for all the challenges, the ups and downs and sleepless nights, stress and angst and worry; we stayed resolute in our faith that Jesus would see our family through in tact. And now, clearly on the other side of radiation, Rachel and I can start to survey our surroundings. Honestly, we're not doing so bad.
Malorie was a champ on what we now officially call "Bell Ringin' Day." She woke up 40 minutes early from her normal anesthesia nap because she felt them removing the bandage from where her PICC Line had been for the past 40 some-odd days. At first, she was in no mood for ringing a bell, much less anything else. But then she remembered she had gotten a new bike (from Friends of Kids With Cancer, more on them later). And then we let Micah come have breakfast with her in the recovery room. And soon, she was ready to ring the bell.
As much as I hope and wish and pray that the bell meant a victorious end to her fight with cancer, we probably will never know that for sure. For now, Mal's blood counts on Bell Ringin' Day were good enough that she gets four long weeks of no doctors appointments, and that is a victory enough. The first night she was home without the PICC Line, she cried when we didn't put a big bandage over her upper right arm before bath. She cried even harder when we got it wet. But on her third bath post-PICC removal, she finally got the idea. "Daddy, can I swim?" she asked. When I told her yes, she laid down very carefully, but eventually dipped her right arm into the water. Every bath since then she has sprawled out on her stomach and just laid there, playing. All the doctors told us that the toxicity from the radiation would really be kicking her butt this week, as it would be reaching its peak. For once, the doctors were wrong... that girl has shown no ill effects at all in the past nine days. We have been thankful all week for no complaining of a sore throat, no sickness, no extreme fatigue, no nothing! The worst Mal has had is a rash she can't beat on her own, so she has a cream to help boost her immune system to shake it.
We've been told by many families about scan anxiety: the worry over the next cancer check to come. Mal's is in about three weeks. But for now I am content to just look at Mal and know in my heart and soul that she is fine. She just looks so good, so healthy and strong that she can't be sick.
I know the anxiety will catch up with us eventually, but for now we have some very welcome distractions in the Klug house. Micah is basically potty training himself at this point. Rachel and I keep putting it off, and he has just persevered. I don't think he has leaked anything into his diaper for about 36 hours (including overnight). Rachel has her hands full with the kids back in full force, and now with a three legged dog. OK, so Tyson didn't lose a leg, but he did have to have a major surgery to repair a damaged knee. We were presented with the option of expensive surgery or putting him down, and chose the surgery. We (mostly me) could not part with a member of the family right now. And so Tyson has six weeks of limited movements, days locked in a kennel to keep him from running with the kids, and nights locked in a snuggle with Rachel on the couch. And I am back full time at work and also trying to get back in shape for the spring.
The other big distraction these days is our benefit to celebrate Malorie and her strength and courage through her battle with cancer. For those not in the know, on March 31st we are holding a Trivia Night and Silent Auction in honor of Mal for Friends of Kids With Cancer. They are the charity that gave Mal a toy every day of her cancer treatments. They also hold fashion shows with models that are cancer survivors, organize social events for children battling cancer, and are generally a great cause. Since we have been blessed with such wonderful friends and family and faith, Rachel and I wanted a way to show we were thankful. The best way we could think was to have a great night with those friends and family and raise some money for a deserving cause. Everyone who has followed Mal's story is welcome to attend. And for our out-of-state friends or those with previous arrangements, you are welcome to donate to the cause. Anyone wanting more information is free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. So far we have some awesome items for the silent auction (like an autographed Jimmy Buffett surfboard, baseball tickets, gift cards and baskets galore) and have taken reservations for 31 tables of ten.
So, for now, we will continue to be thankful and hopefully return to our quaint suburban existence. Movie nights and potty training again filling the conversations instead of medical terms and fears over Mal's future. I will do my best to keep everyone posted on Mal's progress, but I do imagine things will slow down here for a while, so I hope my posts become less frequent. Again, we are so grateful for all the kind thoughts, prayers, word and works that you have all given us. It's a pretty awesome feeling to know you are as loved as we are, and so thanks. Hope to talk to you soon with some good news of Mal's first scan.