Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Sunday was a very, very important anniversary: the anniversary of Dr. Graves telling us, "You're done with treatment. Go home." I remember it quite vividly; we were standing in the atrium, having completed some kidney tests in the morning and spending time outside playing with students from U Pitt. They were hosting a field day for the kids at the hospital, and The Boy was playing some of the games. That is, he was playing with the equipment, but not quite in the manner one would expect. It's all good when you're 2.

We were definitely not expecting it, but when you're involved with a 30-treatment, multi-year chemo regimen that was already going on 20 months, it feels like you're going to spend the rest of your life on chemotherapy. We knew that the end of chemo was in sight; his body was just not regenerating after the rounds of chemo. It was taking 4 and 5 weeks to get his numbers back to acceptable levels, which is right at the border between effective chemo and just pissing off the cancer cells.

(One more shot across the bow at the incompetent care we received at the Valerie Fund: why is it that our oncologist here in Pittsburgh spoke with the originator of the treatment regimen, who encouraged him to adjust the doses to his actual kidney fund? Why were they at the Valerie Fund dead-set on giving The Boy full doses of chemo, no matter what happened? Why did our oncologist here in Pittsburgh actually do the research about what happens to kids who stop after x number of treatments, and they didn't at the Valerie Fund? Epic fail, folks, that could have cost me a child.)

I remember feeling like I had been punched in the gut. I couldn't breathe when Dr. Graves told us to go home. My brain - which is usually pretty quick, I can immodestly say - was absolutely dead and racing at a million miles per hour, both at the same time. No more weeks and months in the hospital? No more trips to get blood? No more seclusion from the rest of humanity for weeks at a time? No more shots given at home by The Wife? A chance to become an actual family again? A chance to reclaim our lives again?

Now, we have three beautiful, vital, energetic young boys. My new career is in its infancy, and things look bright. We're starting to house hunt, and our biggest worries (besides juggling hearing aid batteries) usually consist around Little Bear's potty training and the days when our children are uncooperative.... children. We've made a couple of emergency room visits, but those have been actual emergency room type stuff: cut chin, high fever, constipation. Normal kid stuff.

Man. What a couple of years. Here's to a lifetime more with no Wilms Tumors.

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