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Infusion Game Strong

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough.” -Mother Theresa

With patience and a solid sense of humor, Abraham can bring happiness and ease to some serious situations. Today, our young warrior was exceptionally prepared, present, and positive. Even at the onset of a long, daunting medical task, those smiling, honest eyes let everyone in the room know he was going to be just fine.

Back home, Big Brother Tom shined up the kitchen, washed the windows, and set out these little lovelies (snips of Saturday’s bouquet) to make us feel cheerful, welcome, and calm.

Since May, Abraham knew the stim tests were happening after the 4th of July. Even though he’s been infused plenty, it’s never easy; plus, hormones are new territory.

We were blessed with a smooth day: highly-skilled double IV access to start, a LOT of necessary but swift blood draws, 7/8 of a game of checkers, laughter during two movies (Zootopia and Minions), one ice pack, plentiful ice chips, a puke bucket rapidly taken out that was not utilized, quick traffic (big shoutout to chauffeur Aunt Margaret), and warm sunshine .

Thank you for carrying us in your thoughts today -it lifted us.

Peace and love…

Moments before Cancer

Treasured moments are everywhere. Coach Dad and Babe waiting for the team to arrive is one I was lucky to capture in May 2014.

For many, the simple joys of life are overlooked due to rushed schedules, skewed priorities, distracted downtime, and apathetic outlooks. Yet, with the right perspective, even the worst of days deserve gratitude.

The time we are given each and every day to honor a life we love can easily be ignored, but its value becomes shockingly evident the moment we realize how fragile life can be.

This second photo was taken just as I was leaving for Abraham’s first MRI. We were ruling out a concussion because he’d smacked his head on a newly posted metal sign as he and his brother ran off the T-ball field. I had planned to return to work after lunch; I was to direct these two happy boys and the rest of their class at the 8th grade graduation that night. Instead, I found myself frantically driving a frightened, pain-stricken Abraham to Lurie Children’s Hospital for the first time. The Dan Ryan expressway was under construction and it took nearly three hours to get there. Helplessly stranded with traffic at a standstill, our sweet, always-happy 6-year-old began to cry out from his booster seat that he couldn’t stand the pain in his head and was “absolutely sure” he was dying. My husband, Chris, tried from the passenger side to help us both, but there really was nothing he could do. Our ER experience was surreal -colored in blurry waves of panic, pain, and tears.

Ultimately, the incredibly talented and compassionate hospital team got our little boy into emergency surgery and relieved the pressure on his brain. I remember still being in those same clothes the next day.

So in addition to the happiness this photo represents, I remember that horrific day as graced with blessings because we were pushed by circumstance, guided with care, and able to address the truth of Abram’s situation before it was too late.

Treasurable moments aren’t always obvious. In fact, we rarely know when a particular happy experience could be our last. With gratitude, we can uncover our own valuable truths -as we celebrate each precious day we are given.

Peace and love…

Life Matters

Letting go is not the same as forgetting. Loss happens. Illness and injury happens. But, LIFE happens to matter most of all. What we do with our pain is up to us. Do we ignore it? Do we surrender to it? Do we let it define us? Or, do we feel it, tend it, and grow through it? We are not what happens to us. We are who we become -driven by our choices, our actions, and our reactions to life’s blessings and trials. Notice those blessings; learn through the trials; and nourish the gift of life that remains.

Peace.

Smile Searching

Always in search of a positive path while still living a life in the now.

Smile: it’s Monday!

-Jac

Positive Attitude In Negative Situations (P.A.I.N.S.)

You know Abe’s had more than a couple surgeries when the anesthesiologist asks, “Which flavor mask would you like?” And he looks her pointedly in the eye like DeNiro ordering a cocktail,

“Mixed. One tiny drop strawberry first. THEN, the rest bubblegum.”

Also, Abram said to Dr. Chin as the team wheeled him in to Surgery yesterday, “Doctor, I’m so tired after last night, you’re not even going to NEED those anesthetics.”

Ever the definitive comedian:)

(Chemo Groucho. Chicago, 2015)

Peace, love, and happiness…

Discovery Passage

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.

-Helen Keller

Discovery lights children with vitality. As we age, it seems we find fewer moments that fill us with awe. Is it that we become jaded to joy? Or, do we become so resigned to our circumstance and routine that we decide there isn’t anything worthwhile left to find?

When Chris, Abraham and I stayed at the Ronald McDonald House near Loyola, the director informed us that the home was built with a secret. We were free to walk the floors and look for a hidden room. Despite the looming task of cancer treatment, the mystery fueled our sense of wonder. Knowing there was something to find kept us searching. We searched for hours and were delighted to discover a brightly painted secret passage with a spiral staircase hidden behind a bookshelf. One by one we wound our way up the tiny stairs to an enormous attic. The entire floor was sparsely furnished and minimally decorated, but its expanse was thoughtfully accented with quiet cubbies, game tables, and children’s art.

In the secret attic, we met a red-haired boy named Andrew expertly sinking billiard balls (despite his heavy reliance on a walker) who became a dear friend to Abraham. A small window seat overlooking the flower garden became my favorite hideaway. After our discovery, years fell from Chris’ eyes while his movements and posture revealed a lightening of his spirit. He often recalls our time at RMH Loyola as “our magical stay at the castle.”

We had arrived at “the castle” physically, emotionally, and spirituality exhausted just days after Abraham had received his central line, and we remained there as the dreaded combination chemo-radiation treatments began. The rooms were small, and the area was sketchy, but the atmosphere of possibilities at our home away from home was different-otherworldly. As a result and despite our pain and apprehension, we had great fun.

I mention this today because it reminded me of how different life becomes when we actively seek hidden joys instead of expecting them to materialize without direction or effort.


(Chris and Abram in front of RMH Loyola, July 2015)

My recent lack of posts belies my standard routine. I write every day to let go and work through the pieces of life that strike me -good or bad. Currently, my family is steadily progressing down the twisted, singular road of pediatric cancer survivorhood. Though I sometimes share the teachable moments we uncover, lately I’ve become cautious.

With each paragraph I write, I feel more and more protective of my thoughts. Why should I add our personal joys or struggles into a social mix where blanket hatred abounds and keyboard critics reign? Scrolling through the social muck and placing a photo of my children or myself in the mix feels like trickling glitter down a drain.

Then I remembered searching for The Secret Garden at Ronald McDonald House and the lasting effect that day of discovery had on all of us. I want readers to feel my faith in the unseen possibilities that can come despite trials and loss. It’s easy to choose joy when days go well, but it’s vital to choose light when life goes dark.

Maybe if I cast out flashes of decency and hope, some of its glitter will stick to the edges of our plunging, murky standards. It’s a small drop in a large bucket, I know. Yet, I am compelled to remind others that amid the endless trauma and pains of life there remains abundant happiness to seek.


I see myself as a hopeful realist. I know that there is a shortage of love and an abundance of evil in the world. I know it is always a close race between what should be, what can be, and what will be. I also know that life isn’t always fair.

But I choose to focus on what I can bring to the human race so that I can best lead my family through its tricky paces. I find it fruitless and ridiculous to spend precious time fixated on the transgressions of others running in their own lane.

So, despite the social spectacle dousing reality with real (and imagined) fears, I will face forward and move along in positive measures.

While doing so,  I hope no matter the climate, I can continue to chronicle our shared, imperfect, spectacular landscape where limited days draw purpose and unlimited hope fosters love.


Peace.

The Heart That Gives

“The heart that gives, gathers.” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching.

Taking care of ourself should be a priority. Our body, mind, and spirit grow strongest with proper use.

So, eat well.

Read more.

Listen.

Give.

We gather a love only as plentiful as the seeds of compassion we share.


I wish you all big love.

-Jac

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