Day 264 on the road to recovery…
As we began Sophie’s (hopefully) last chemo cycle this morning, we are filled with conflicting emotions. That may sound strange, as I’m sure everyone would expect us to be completely overjoyed. But in reality, cancer is a disease which carries lifelong risks of recurrence, and can constantly sit in the back of the mind of anyone diagnosed with this terrible disease.
For someone diagnosed with cancer, the end of a treatment plan brings about feelings of genuine relief, but also a fear of the unknown future. Immediate future plans include frequent full body scans (MRI, CT and PET), blood checks, and doctor visits for at least several years. Each of these check-ups will bring major anxiety, unease, and apprehension, until we please God hear the words “all clear” from the Doctor’s mouth. In Sophie’s case, we hope this past year’s events will simply be a “blip on the radar” that she barely remembers, but as her parents, we will never forget. And as her parents, we are so grateful that she is young enough to move forward without the fear of her cancer returning, but unfortunately cannot say the same for ourselves.
As for the past few weeks, they have been mostly fun-filled, but not without a few minor illnesses. Sophie has had to endure a couple of fevers as well as a nasty cough/cold combination from which she is thank God finally recovering. However, in between these distractions she has really been able to enjoy camp and time with her friends. It’s amazing for us to see how quickly she assimilates back into her camp/town groups of friends after each chemo cycle.
As Sophie’s parents, we constantly wonder how much Sophie will remember as she grows older and whether or not she (or her friends) are even aware of her disease and its effects. Some of our questions were answered during a playdate a few weeks ago with one of Sophie’s best friends Joey, and we want to share this adorable exchange.
Sophie and Joey were playing and suddenly began talking about “boys and girls”. Joey remarked very confidently; “Sophie you’re definitely a girl, because you have really long hair”. Sophie looked very confused for a minute, then replied… “but… I don’t have any hair!”. Then it was Joey’s turn to look confused. “Oh” he finally said, “well you’re still a girl anyway, even though you don’t have hair”. And that was that.
While this may seem like the most innocent of exchanges between two little kids, it made a pretty big impression on us. It showed us how easily children adapt to situations around them, and even more so, it demonstrated their innocence; Joey had not even realized during the last 9 months that Sophie’s hair had fallen out and she therefore looked completely different than other children around her. Finally, when he did in fact hear and internalize this fact, it didn’t seem to matter to him at all; Sophie was still the same “girl” she had always been to him, one of his best friends.
This playdate was a beautiful example which showed us that kids this age really do not judge each other based on appearances, differences, or changes; in fact, sometimes they don’t even seem to notice them. The innocence and sweetness they both displayed during this short exchange taught us so much as their parents, and about the amazing resiliency of kids in general.
As we move forward through Sophie’s chemo cycle, through the next set of scans, and hopefully port removal surgery, we will keep remembering this innocent story to help us allay our fears for Sophie’s re-integration into school and normal kid activities.