Small things with great love in September

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness-4

If you’re anything like me, you really don’t want to know anything about Childhood Cancer. You don’t want to know that your child’s sore knee is going to turn into a Cancer diagnosis, and you definitely don’t want your child to become one of the three children per week who lose their lives from Cancer. You probably also don’t want to think about the complications that may arise in children who go through Cancer treatment (I sure don’t).

I desperately didn’t want to be someone who had to watch their child endure treatment for Cancer, but almost two years ago I heard those fateful words about our beautiful son, Sam ~ “I’m sorry, he has Leukaemia” ~ and thus our journey with Cancer began.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. I don’t want to fill your screens with sad tales and statistics but, over the next month, I do want to share a few stories with you of families we have met on our journey. I do want you to think about how we can do “small things with great love” to help families who are facing a Cancer diagnosis, and I’ll give you a few ideas of how you can join in some fun projects with us. I really (really) hope you never have to hear that your child has Cancer, but I’ll also share some thoughts on how we have made it through the past two years and things that may help if you’re facing a similar challenge.

There are certain things I can never forget. Like the bleachy scent of the Children’s hospital, especially on days when there are less people around. Like the purple gloves we always had to wear when we collected Sam’s urine in bottles in the early days of treatment. Like the musical beeping sound of the machines the IV drugs are hooked up to when they go off (what feels like a thousand times) throughout the night during a hospital stay. And I’m pretty sure the date of 9 September (the day of Sam’s diagnosis) is seared onto my heart. It’s amazing how quickly all the things we would have considered terrifying became our new normal.

But I believe we are amongst the lucky ones. We have a son who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 2013 and not years ago when the prognosis was far more bleak. We have a son who has responded extremely well to treatment and not required many unscheduled hospital admissions. We are lucky because we have been able to take Sam home with us from hospital, time after time, and watch him grow and thrive, and become healthier and stronger over time. We are lucky to have the perspective of two years, to look back and know just how far we have travelled and how relatively calm it feels now in comparison with those heady, blurry early days post diagnosis.

There have certainly been moments (many, I’m sure) where we haven’t felt very lucky to have a child with Cancer, and no doubt there will be more ahead. But today we count our blessings and try to pay it forward, to make the lives of those travelling a similar journey a little easier. Thanks for helping us x

Mid-February 2014

Mid-February 2014, five months into treatment

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April 2015. 19 months into treatment, with 19 months left to go.

35/52 {important cousin business}

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The past few weeks have rendered me a bit frazzled. Between book week and sports days, lingering illness, excursions, a fleeting trip to Sydney, general to-ing and fro-ing and never feeling like I ever get anything ticked off the to-do list, it’s been a little mad around here. But I don’t want to glorify the busy. Crazy busy doesn’t sit well with me and I’m trying to shift and adjust things around here so there’s more quiet time ahead.

Over the weekend, we had two (out of the possible 18) cousins come for a sleepover. While extra children in the house may mean a little more chaos at times, I’m pretty sure having the girls over actually made my life easier as all the kids entertained each other. Nicholas was in cousin heaven having two of his favourite girls doting on him.

And there’s nothing like five children jumping on trampolines, making puppet shows, creating paper samurai hats for porcelain dolls, sewing a new pair of trousers for a stuffed toy, emptying the dressup box a thousand times and general mischief to make you stop and realise what’s really important. Often messy, but so important.

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Mummalove-52-35-1Nicholas: Such intense concentration as you try to master just how those scissors work. I know you’ll get it in time – you always do with your motivation. I have been delighting in your delight lately – it’s so nice to arrive at kindy or daycare, or even home, to the sounds of your “yay” as you’re excited about what we’re going to do next, who you’re going to see and what fun is to be had. Your level of enthusiasm and energy always inspires me.

Mummalove-52-35-13Charlie: My middle love, you have had such a busy time lately with activities at school. You must be exhausted by all those new skills you’re mastering, but you seem to have boundless energy. I am getting better at noticing when my introvert is a bit “peopled out” and in need of some time alone so you can restore that cheeky glint in your eye.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.

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34/52 {lessons on slowing down}

DSC_8909Sometimes the Universe gives us subtle reminders to slow down. “Hey, here’s a sniffle and  a sore throat. You should make a honey and lemon drink and have a rest for while. Go and put your feet up for five minutes.”

And sometimes the Universe builds a rather sturdy brick wall in front of your face and says, “SLOW DOWN! I’M NOT EVEN KIDDING.”

The Universe delivered a slow down message of the not-so-subtle variety last week. I went off to the ProBlogger conference on Friday morning full of enthusiasm and ready to learn, and came home on Sunday via the doctor and couldn’t get out of bed for a few days. Sam had lovingly passed on his bout of Influenza A to me and it wasn’t very fun.

Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who is used to making school lunches and putting loads of washing on, friends who are happy to help out with ferrying children to and from school at a moment’s notice, and cleaners who tuck me into bed with a cup of tea when they find me sobbing into my pink fluffy dressing gown (thank you!). I graciously asked for and received help when required, but it’s not very easy being out of action when you’re the primary carer. It’s not easy being looked after when you’re the one used to doing the looking after.

As I was lying in bed with a fuzzy head and body not functioning very well, it made me think about all the parents (like the spunky Julia) who have serious illnesses and constantly feel under par when also trying to manage family life. You guys rock, and I know that I’m a complete sooky la-la just dealing with a week of the flu so I admire your strength.

When I was feeling a bit better by Wednesday afternoon, we decided to go ahead with our plan to hold a garage sale on the weekend. Sam had been wanting one for years and was pretty excited about it, in particular preparing his Rainbow Loom creations to sell. We are donating proceeds to the Leukaemia Foundation, so the purpose was more for clearing out than making money, but it was an interesting experience. I think I went through every dusty (hasn’t-been-touched-in-5-years) box in our garage to prepare for the sale, so that was probably the most rewarding outcome of the whole process. It felt a little odd putting our life out on tables for people to pick and choose from, but most of the people who stopped by were lovely and it was nice to generate a little cash from items we no longer needed. I’m glad we’ve ticked it off the list, although we probably won’t ever do it again. Have you ever held a garage sale before?

Between Ben being out most nights at conference events and this darned flu, I feel like the past week has been a bit of a write-off, but perhaps we did achieve a bit after all. There were plenty of cuddles with my littlest Love and I read a whole book. Another busy week is ahead for the Loves, so it’s probably good that I had a few days of rest while the Universe was bossing me around.

PS. Yes, I’ve missed week 33 in the 52 Project. I’m not even going to attempt to catchup so it can be our little secret, okay? 😉

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Mummalove-52-34-2Nicholas: Oh you with your teenager bed-hair, licking every morsel of apple off your fingers. You do love apples, and now it’s also your favourite word. I can hardly resist when you ask for them so eloquently. 

Charlie: You have been so delightful lately, stepping up so beautifully when you know Mum hasn’t been feeling well. When I snuck away to have five minutes quiet time the other afternoon, you followed me in, patted me on the leg and said, “are you okay?” and sounded more like an adult than a five year old. I was so proud of you when you came home with a ‘praise note’ from your teacher on Friday, after giving a wonderful talk to your class about the invention you made.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of my youngest boys every week in 2015.

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