Today marks the one year anniversary of Sammy officially being considered off treatment and done! It was quite a low key day compared to the end of treatment celebration, but I think it should have been. We are moving on and growing in strength, wisdom, and understanding. We are entering a new phase and anxiously excited to be doing it.
Sammy went to the clinic with Brian and weathered the shots he needed. There are not many more shots left until he is bionic....well, immunized again at least! Sammy will not be going to the clinic once a month now. He has graduated to once every three months.
Knowing me, I am going to have my mad moments where I NEED to contact Dr. C and check in about something! Going from weekly to monthly blood draws had given me funny turns occasionally. I know I will have a day of utter conviction that the cancer might be returning and panic beyond control because Sam won't be going to the clinic for weeks. That's just me...I'm gonna do it...I know I am....I just have to work on managing it :)
Back to the good news. (You have noticed, I am sure, that I just ranted on about my future panics which means I am panicking already....darn self-analysis!) Anyway, Sammy is excited to be invited to a CHAM party in November to celebrate the children who are DONE! We are celebrating quietly (apart from Facebook and Twitter spreading the word) by having a family dinner at Sam's favorite restaurant over the weekend. We are happily making less of a deal.
So, what might I wish I had known about the first year off treatment? Oh my! There is so much!
- Families hold together during treatment but fall apart once it is done! - We have fought tooth and nail to remain a unit. It has been incredibly hard. Communication is key; acknowledging the problems and spending time working them out. We are coming out of that fog now, but it was a close call at times. Statistically, cancer does not increase the risk of families splitting up, but the aftermath sure isn't fun!
- Parents and siblings also suffer from PSPD - I was a MESS for a few months after Sammy was done with treatment. I fell apart and became lethargic and disengaged from the world in general. I knew why, but I still couldn't do much about it. I did visit counsellors and even tried meds...not a good option for me as they actually sent me more squiffy! I took myself off them and decided to work on picking myself up in other ways. I'm fine now, but it was hard. Thankfully I am blessed with an amazing husband, a brilliant mom and in-laws and fabulous friends who took care of me and cut me some slack for being less than I should have been.
- It is hard to let cancer go - you would think I'd be glad to see the back of it and just run away from anything that reminded me of those years. No! I turned into an obsessed freak! I had to do WHATEVER I could to beat cancer and find a cure. I blogged, Facebooked, and Tweeted all the reasons why everyone should be fighting with me. It was a battle I had to face, my son will be affected forever...and we don't yet know to what extent...so I just kept on going with the cancer thing.
- Sometimes, despite having every reason to savor every precious moment of life, you don't! - Sitting in the hospital during the very first weeks of treatment back in 2009, I couldn't even read a magazine as it seamed so trivial and, well, useless. I hated how so many things were taken for granted and misused or neglected. I noticed all the disparities in the world and resented those who didn't appreciate what they had. I don't do that so much anymore! I don't always appreciate what I have. I am even guilty of brushing Sammy off so I can relax and enjoy some time on the computer or doing 'my own thing'. I have started taking some things for granted again!
- I DO still stare at my child while he is sleeping a weep silently as I think about all he has gone through. I then do the same with his brother who, as a sibling, had his world changed forever without the 'fame' and support. I cry for my children a lot. Sometimes it is with relief ... sometimes regret that things had not been better.
- Eventually the crap gets better! This one is important. We are not the same family we were back in 2009. Not by any means. We have our skeletons and we all probably should see a good shrink...but we are okay. We are stronger now. We are ready to look forward and honor the past but not dwell in it.
ONE YEAR CLEAR means so many things. We are hoping to be a family that gets to 'five years clear'. That is the goal. After that...well, we will enjoy that when it happens.