So much time has passed, and yet it feels like yesterday when I think back four years... It was this week four years ago that all our lives changed so dramatically, and tomorrow - the 6th March - will be the anniversary of the first time we officially heard the word 'leukemia' tied to Steven and all our futures.
Looking at my thin, pale and sick child, I was just petrified. I had no idea at all of how to deal with this at all and the words just flowed out of my mouth trying to promise Steven that we would keep everything normal as long as possible while he just sat on that table and swallowed over and over and looked at that horrible piece of paper that described different leukemias. Even though the thing I most wanted to do at that moment was to promise that it would all be ok - I could not do it. That was so hard...... that this was all so out of my control, and his too. I have always hated rollercoasters, and this was one of the worst possible.
And so we find ourselves 1460 days down this road and doing better than we could have imagined in our wildest of wild dreams! Plenty of frilly times in those days, many days that my nails have been bitten short and grown again, just to be given the same treatment.. I am sure that my hair has given up and I am going to have to revert to the bottle...... no no, not *that* one - the hair color bottle! :)
But its all so good......... Steven is doing so well, looking so good, moving on with his life in so many very normal ways and takes his Gleevec each and every day as part of this not-so-new-life of his. He works with us most Saturdays which is just great, but it also gives me the opportunity to see for myself that he is ok on all fronts. The first few Saturdays he spent with us, I did check him out closely, Robo-Mom in full swing, and cml was definitely in my mind most of the time - but not any more... Now, so often, at the end of the day I am amazed that I had not even thought of it once! Never in my wildest dreams just 4 years ago did I think that there would ever be a day without cml in the forefront of my mind every minute - let alone for a full day.
And I think of just how much I have grown from this cancer in my son. The people I have met along the way, the friends I have made and the experiences that count for so much. Before Steven was diagnosed I honestly had so little knowledge of cancer and even less 'know how' in dealing with the people living with it. Today a lady with a sick computer came in to our shop and we got chatting about all sorts of things..... and yes, the impact of cancer in my life was spoken about and I could just see her story bouncing around in her eyes - yup, she is a 17 year breast cancer survivor with an attitude that just sparkles! I cringe to think of how I would have handled her story just a mere 4 years ago.....
The people that I am in contact with regarding cml and the support groups, have been my main source of information and peace of mind over the years - especially the mom's of other cml-ers. These ladies are deep in my heart and are absolutely incredible, each and every one of them. They make me laugh, help me cry, keep me real and help me move on with my life too, always holding out their hands and hearts ready to share the load... Ladies - you know who you are - you are just incredible, Thank You!
And so I have come to the conclusion (again) that even though I wish with all my soul that Steven did not have to deal with this, that so much good has come to us all from it. Steven is stronger, Laura is awesome with it all, we have met so many wonderful people and done some really serious and wonderful growing. I can honestly say that I am a happier, fuller person, a person who is so much more sure of what is important in life and who has much more depth of character than before.
I am deeply grateful that Steven is responding to Gleevec so well. I see every day almost how easily it could be different, how easily we could be on a much scarier road. Hans , who is on the Ariad trial, laying the groundwork for the road ahead in the cml world, and all the others on trials to both help their own health as well as to be a part of helping others - they are all amazing people and I take my hat off to all of you and thank you deeply for your actions that will help determine future treatment for Steven. A special "good luck shoutout" for Yanni, soon to join a trial. For everyone just newly on the cml road, hang in there - I wish you a smooth road ahead. Tyler and Mandy, who are struggling with the progression of cml even after a transplant....my heart is in my throat and I will keep believing that you will make that u-turn and get the leukemia under control again.
Everyone has a story and in so many ways everyone's story has made me stronger and more capable of dealing with cml in my son. I honestly believe that because of this input from everyone, Steven sees a more stable mom and through this is also able to deal with it all in the wonderful way he does. So a huge Thanks to everyone I am in contact with - you are all part of this huge healing and dealing circle that I absolutely treasure and that I know has a direct bearing on Steven's attitude and peace of mind.
Steven, you have handled this illness in yourself in such an amazing way. I see such an incredible difference in you over these past four years, I see a determination, strength of character, responsibility and a sense of humor that just makes me want to shout with pride and brings happy tears to my eyes. I am deeply grateful to you for allowing me to be such an integral part of your treatment and journey with cml - I don't know what I would be today without that. You really are one incredible young man and I am deeply proud of you.
And so year five starts........ may the next four be as awesome as the past four.
Love and light