When Sam was first diagnosed with a Grade 4 brain tumor, Jere and I peeked at the Internet during those early days to find out about this dreaded disease. It only took one day to find out that the Internet was not the place to be in our fragile state. Everywhere we looked, it was hard to find survivors. We were devastated. And those that did survive were plagued with challenging side effects. We made it a point to instead focus on Sam’s recovery and surround ourselves with positive thoughts and to stay away from the computer. Jere said that he was sure there were survivors of this type of pediatric cancer, but families who had conquered it were not blogging about it, but were instead trying to get on with their lives. I privately promised myself that I would continue to blog after Sam’s treatment and during his road to recovery so that if new families who were faced with this terrible disease went looking on the Internet, perhaps they would find Sam’s blog and realize that there is a life after Medulloblastoma. Unfortunately, I’ve been terribly slow and have neglected Sam’s blog for quite some time. Perhaps I too was ready to move along after Sam’s treatment; trying to get back to a normal life (our new normal)-one before cancer.
Where to begin! So much to share since I last posted in September. Was that almost seven months ago??? Geesh! Well, let’s get right to it!!!
First up…Sam’s End of Chemo Party. My cousins and close friends were wonderful and threw Sam the most fantastic end of treatment celebration that you could imagine. It was a beautiful September night and the party was held outside in a cul-de-sac full of our friends, family and neighbors. We had a DJ, a Balloon Lady, Face Painting, a Dunk Tank, a visit from a ladder truck from the local fire station and plenty of food and beverages to go around. Sam made his grand entrance riding his “Ground Force Drifter” go-cart and crashed through a sign in his honor, followed by a swing of cold milk. (This is Indy 500 country afterall!) After Sam arrived, our family along with my Mom, sister Jessie and my Grandma said a prayer and released some prayer balloons. It was beautiful. Then it was time to party!
Also in September, Sam had his port removed. Since he was now finished with chemo, it was no longer needed. We arrived early one morning to day surgery at Riley for the hour long procedure. Sam was a little groggy after coming out of the anesthetic in the recovery room. He still always manages to share a smile…even if it is just a little one. :)
After getting the okay to leave day surgery, we headed up to the Oncology Clinic for Sam’s Ringing of the Bell ceremony. This is a little special celebration that takes place with the doctors and nurses after a child completes his course of treatment. Nurse Sally gave Sam some little hedgehogs (his favorite animal) and nurse Robin presented him with a cookie with his initial on it. Dr. Pradhan, Sam’s Oncologist, was also there. Then Sam rang the bell three times signifying the end of his treatment. It was very emotional for me. I couldn’t believe he was finally finished!
Ring this bell,
three times well.
It’s toll to clearly say:
My treatment’s done,
this course is run,
and I am on my way!
When it was time to go home for the day, my friend and awesome photographer Kiera Dubach, followed us over to the Cancer Survivor’s Park to snap a few pictures. Each time I would drive to Riley I would look at this park and say, “One day when this is over, Sam will have his picture taken there because he is a survivor.” So, of course on the day that marked the end of his treatment and the fact that he was now cancer free, a photo had to be taken at this special place.
Now that treatment is “officially” over, Sam is still constantly monitored by his doctors. Every three months he visits Riley for bloodwork (has to get poked like the rest of us since he no longer has a port) and a MRI scan to make sure that there is no tumor reoccurrence. Sam had his first post treatment scan November 29th and his second post treatment scan March 17th and both scans were clean! God is so good and we feel so blessed that our son is on the road to recovery from this devastating disease.
Stay tuned for our next post when we share with you our Make-A-Wish Party and Trip to San Diego!
Erica, Jere, Jack and Sam