Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

This past Saturday I joined my sister and her two nieces (actually one is my niece as well, but the other isn't so I'm all confused on how I'm supposed to write that) at the St Jude's Give Thanks. Walk. When I first agreed to "do the walk," I knew that I was going to have to prepare a bit for it. Now you might think that preparing for a 5k walk might involve some physical exercise, but come was a WALK. How much training was I going to need for that? After all, I walk every day! You put one foot in front of the other, then repeat. Easy! No, I wasn't worried much about the physical part. The preparation that I had to do involved something that I detest even worse than exercise. I had to shop.

I'm not sure how exactly I missed the shopping gene that most women automatically get at conception, but if you put my DNA under a microscope I'm pretty sure that you would see that I am, indeed PC - Purchase Challenged. Every now and again, I struggle to overcome my genetic defect and venture into a store, but I truly try to hold off for as long as humanly possible before getting to that point. That admitted, I knew that I could not go to the Walk in the same old sweats that I wear around the house. Sure, they are comfy enough - but have been through a couple of pregnancies and therefore, don't exactly fit very well anymore. For the task of finding a new pair, I enlisted hubby's help. He likes shopping just about as much as I do, but when I mentioned Academy, his fears melted away. Academy is not the mall, and therefore acceptable to him.

Finding a decent pair of sweats didn't take very long, but before I settled on THE pair, I tried on a couple of different ones. Naturally hubby got a tiny bit bored while waiting that whole five minutes. Rather than just standing around at the entrance of the dressing area, he made himself very useful by finding a cute jacket for me. It didn't match the sweats exactly, but I loved it anyway - mainly because it meant that we were officially finished looking and could head to the check out.

Once safely home, I thought the worst was over. I was wrong. You see, when my oldest daughters saw the jacket, they immediately proclaimed me "too old" for such a jacket. I tried pointing out that there was no age limit on the tag, but they weren't having any of that. They insisted that if I went out in public wearing the jacket, I would look like a fool. I might have rolled my eyes at that (because they are teens and I'm trying to learn to speak their language.) After all, I don't need a jacket to look like a fool! Ummm...wait...that doesn't sound right.

I feel a need to point out here that my children did have an ulterior motive fueling their taunts. The 14 year old wanted the jacket for herself. Yeah, she is a rat.

In the end, I wound up wearing the jacket to the Walk, ignoring the great risk of looking like a fool for donning apparel that had been deemed "too young" for me. I'm wild like that. But even if I had been the slightest bit worried about looking foolish, that fear would have vanished quickly enough. When we arrived at the site we saw hundreds of other walkers, many wearing "team" shirts that proclaimed support for loved ones. Suddenly I remembered what the walk was all about. Childhood cancer.

We've had a number of health issues in our home - mostly the normal childhood illnesses. Danielle was a very healthy baby and toddler. She didn't even get a cold until after she was a year old. As a preschooler, she dealt with a few bouts of Reactive Airway Disease Syndrome and now as a teen has occasional sinus trouble, but over all is fairly healthy. Emily was just the opposite. Her food allergies and asthma brought us quite a few sleepless, worried nights. She also gave us a scare with an inconclusive Cystic Fibrosis test that lead to more tests which neither confirmed nor ruled out CF. That was nearly 10 years ago and since she's never exhibited any symptoms other than the ones that prompted the test in the first place, we've all but forgotten about the abnormal test results. Derek's respiration trouble as a toddler/preschooler likely stemmed from the RSV he contracted at two months. He has a few other issues, but I'm going to touch more on that in another post. Last is my Anna, who like Danielle, is a pretty healthy kid. We did have one big scare with her too - back when she was still nestled in my womb. Because I was the ripe old age of 35, my OB deemed me an "older expectant mother" and sent me to the hospital for a special ultrasound that she couldn't do in her office. The radiologist first pointed out that my baby was a girl, and then told us that he found a cyst in her brain. I think that I was supposed to be afraid at that point, but I simply refused to believe that there was anything wrong with my baby. Not even when he mentioned the scary term "Trisomy 18" and gave us a very brief description of what that was. Then he zoomed in on her little hand - which was stretched open - and explained that children with Trisomy 18 do the opposite. They clench their hands. That was all I needed. I refused the ammio for personal reasons and instead opted to go back for another ultra sound several weeks later. By then the cyst had disappeared.

So really, yes, we've been blessed in health matters. I was reminded of that fully at that walk. My heart wept for the parents who have been told "I'm afraid it's cancer" and cheered the bravery of the children who fight each day for life. There was one special shirt that caught my eye. I asked the wearer if I could take a picture of it, but don't feel right about posting it because she was a child. Instead I'll just share what it said.

To Do List

1. Beat Cancer
2. Grow hair
3. Live my dreams

Yeah. That puts things in perspective.

So now I'm giving thanks. When Anna fights me as I try to brush the tangled mess on her head, I'll remember the children who lost their hair to chemo. When Derek refuses to taste even a morsel of what I think is good for him, I'll be grateful that his body doesn't reject what little nutrition he does manage to swallow. When Emily accuses me of playing favorites, I'll thank God that she's only upset about a sibling getting to have a friend over - instead of feeling left out because a dying sibling needs more attention than she does. When Danielle hides in her room to work on what looks to me like a comic book, I'll rejoice that she is working on living her dream.

What are you thankful for?

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