Monday, March 10, 2008

Round 5

Tyler is back on J-5. His blood counts are finally back up and he is very strong. Round 5 of chemotherapy has begun. Surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Kathy is taking the night shift with Tyler tonight. I am leaving for West Virginia at the crack of dawn (my sons refer to anything earlier than 7 am as "the butt-crack of dawn", but I probably should not mention that here).

We have had almost two weeks at home this time. It has been fantastic. It actually feels very strange as we go back and fourth between the two different worlds of life in the suburbs of Dublin and life on Children's J-5 cancer floor. Yesterday Tyler had friends over playing x-box and rock band. They were laughing, joking, and the biggest question on their minds was will tomorrow be a snow day. Today Tyler is surrounded by a team of nurses and doctors injecting 5 different toxic chemotherapy drugs directly into his heart to flood through his veins. By 5:00 the side effects had already begun. I am continually amazed at how smoothly Tyler makes the transition between these two worlds. It is a sign of great strength and maturity. He does a far better job than I do.

Actually, as I think about it, maybe these two worlds are not different after all. Maybe I just like to pretend they are. The J-5 kids are simply facing a reality of life that the rest us can more easily ignore. But ignoring it does not change it. We all have a specific number of days left. Our number of days may be big or small, but there is no changing the fact that our last one will get here soon enough. I guess there are two ways of looking at that fact. We can find it very depressing. Or we can understand that it is what makes life so rich and wonderful. Life is meant to be lived, and lived very well. Every single moment. It seems to me to do otherwise would be to ignore God's creation, and hold Him in contempt.

And I believe a life lived well is one that includes bringing joy, comfort, and healing to others. Many have tried to tell me why kids get cancer, everything from preordained by God to a random occurrence of rouge cells. I don't know, nor do I think they really know. But I do not believe any of these young people are not "supposed" to get cancer. No one is. But they are supposed to beat it. And we are supposed to help them. Help them, and all others in need, with whatever gifts and abilities we have. I think that is a life lived well. I think that is why cancer is here. So we can fight it, and participate in the victory.

I have always loved life, and passionately pursued my goals. I have tried to help others in need. Or so I thought. Tyler has taught me that I have not pushed it as far as I am capable. Not even close. Many of the kids I see on J-5 will win their fights and go on to live long healthily lives. Others will not. But all of them have already shown a strength and determination greater than I have ever had. It is an amazing and humbling thing when your greatest life lesson is taught to you by your own teenage son.

My trip to West Virginia is to attend Brett's funeral. He was only 17, and I knew him only 4 months. But in that time he inspired me more than I have inspired anyone in 49 years. We failed to save him, but he never failed to live his life. And he lived it well.


AJs Dad said...

So very well said my friend. I get chills when I read sometimes, the sameness of our experience and thoughts. The xbox one day then a totally foreign world the next, with a different language, clothing style, and hierarchy. The transition is amazing. And the acceptance of the experience by our son's and others on the floor(J5 = 9th at TCH)....whew I don't know how they do it.

I am encouraged by the continued fight of you and your son. I KNOW you guys can do this.

Please, at Brett's service, silently let him and his family know that we too are thinking and praying for them.

dina b. said...

We humans have the capacity to adapt to new environments. Often, in as little as a day or two, we can feel "at home" in a new locale. It is really strange how easily we fall into the routine of the hospital world. When you settle in for a few days, it feels so weird to go outside and encounter such mundane things as traffic and sunlight! Sometimes I think of being on J5, for any length of time, as existing in an alternate universe.

I sincerely hope and pray that Round 5 goes well for Tyler and that you all can get back to your "other" existence back in Dublin before too long and without complications!

Live life to the fullest!

deyerles said...

Hey guys,

Tyler you are in my thoughts and prayers today as you go into surgery and continue round 5. May it be quick and as easy as possible. I believe in your strength and courage. Fight to win!


Brett family is my prayers also today. I hope noone feels like they failed him. I think everyone did the best they knew how- it just wasn't enough. God was ready for him. God is what gives us the heart and wisdom to help people so when he's ready for us nothing we do matters.

In my thoughts and prayers,

Lisa Slonecker said...

Back at it, Tyler. Glad your counts are up and you can move on. You GO FOR IT and take it a day at a time and you will be back home again very soon. We'll all be praying for strength and stamina as your body endures another round. We know you can do it!

Kyle--How lucky for Brett and his family to have known you and your family. I'm sure you were a source of great strength for them as well. Safe travels--thoughts and prayers will go with you on this difficult day.

Lisa Slonecker