Day 306 on the road to recovery…
The last few weeks have held their share of ups and downs, but we have finally found a minute to sit down and share our “end of summer”, and “start of school” events. One of our biggest highlights of this summer was finally being able to visit Charlotte (David’s hometown). This was the first time we’ve been able to go as a “full-family” in almost a year. This really meant a lot to us, as we haven’t been able to travel as a whole to a number of family celebrations over the past year. But this trip was incredible; we were lucky enough to have some of Sophie’s cousins, aunts and uncles visiting simultaneously, and she had an absolute blast playing everyday and doing different activities with her Bubby, Zayde, Ouma, and extended family.
However, as we’ve learned already, no outing of ours is ever completely routine; we ended up in the Charlotte Children’s hospital for an overnight stay during our vacation. Fortunately, we had prepared prior to leaving NY, and had the name of the MSK-approved oncologist at Charlotte Levine Children’s hospital on stand-by for this exact scenario. We were particularly nervous about Sophie’s reaction to a new hospital, staff, and surroundings, but she was a real trooper and took everything in stride.
After returning to NJ as planned, we prepped for a busy week, filled with fun as well as nerve-wracking events. We started with a visit to the Dutchess County Fair with some Fair Lawn friends, where Sophie had an amazing time seeing the farm animals, watching some cool shows and petting different little creatures. The next few days were filled with scans, checks and visits with the MSK doctors. We are so happy to report that Sophie’s scans have again come back clear, with no sign of recurrent tumor at this time. This is truly the most incredible news we could have received, which also means we will be going ahead to remove her port.
Sophie has also returned to school full time, which she is absolutely thrilled about. While we were initially concerned with separation anxiety, given that she did not attend school last year, Sophie walked right in with her friends the first day and never looked back. We are so grateful for her to be back in the amazing, loving Shomrei Torah preschool environment, with familiar friends and teachers who have welcomed her back with open arms.
As we look back over the last almost 10 months, it has struck us how much our family has changed and evolved as a result of the year’s difficult events. In the past, it has sometimes been challenging for us to be honest and vulnerable with people around us about things happening in our lives. That is not because we don’t trust others; rather we are (were) incredibly private individuals who would have preferred to ‘keep it in the family’. But this year has taught us the exact opposite life lesson. Writing this blog has been a cathartic experience in which to share our struggles, and has enabled us to learn how to be open and exposed to others around us. We have done this to share the trials we have gone through in the hopes that everyone remains up to date with Sophie’s progress.
Additionally, it has allowed us to educate others about the difficulties of childhood cancer, and hopefully help other families who may have been going through their own struggles at this time. Not only have we hopefully made others feel less isolated, but our new outlook of “sharing” and “letting others in” has truly helped us as well. We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received from friends, family, colleagues, and more, and hope you will continue to be in touch with our family as we move onto this next chapter (and hopefully close this last one for good).
Finally, we have used this blog to provide frequent status updates, and hope in the future to share only good news with all of you as we move forward in our lives (with our next update pertaining to Sophie’s port removal). But we also want to keep in mind that there are still always families out there struggling with difficulties in their lives, whether big or small. We hope that Sophie’s journey has taught everyone the power of prayer, good deeds and helping others, and being sensitive to others in going through challenging circumstances.
And now a note specific to those who have friends or family going through tough times: Know that reaching out to support a family, friend or someone you know in their time of struggle can honestly make a world of difference. Although you may go weeks without hearing any updates from them, it doesn’t mean the challenges have ceased. As the days, weeks, months, and in some cases years go by, it’s often easy to get caught up in our own everyday lives, and it can be easy to forget to reach out. Regular phone calls, emails, texts or cookies can make all the difference in helping them tackle the feelings of isolation and helplessness Setting a weekly calendar reminder can be a simple but effective way to help you remember the importance of being there; the impact that a simple call/text can have is larger than most people know.