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The month of September always gets me. Not only is it Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, with the barrage of images and stories, Facebook updates and fundraising pleas. I wish I’d been more engaged this month, I certainly meant to post regular updates, but that never seems to happen anymore. (Some other parents did it for me though and they did it well and with anger and passion and jaw-dropping statistics: see here and here and here.)

Then there’s the fact that September 2007 was probably the worst and darkest month for us in all of our years of treatment, the calendar dates file past us with bold reminders of things we’d really rather forget. This was date when we realized his tumor was growing, big and fast and with terrifying mystery; this was the date they removed his right kidney, along with that hard to fathom six-and-a-half pound tumor; these were the six days when we waited and waited and waited, pacing the hospital room, searching for signs, for the results that would define our futures; these were the ten days we waited and waited and waited for Austin to be allowed to eat, hiding ice chips from his weakening one-year-old grasp. It’s a virtual landmine of anniversaries.

And then there is today: the sixth anniversary of my second baby boy’s first birthday.

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Because today Austin is seven. Against all odds. Seven.

photo(301)And, speaking of against all odds, he’s holding a 75-pound albino python in my dining room, but more on that later.

 

In the madness that is springtime (more on that later), I missed two significant anniversaries last week. One was Tuesday, the official date to mark two-years-since-the-end-of-treatment. As you may (or may not) remember, we didn’t know that that day was Austin’s last chemo. We simply finished our three-day hospital stay and went on home, thinking we’d be back again in a few weeks. But his kidney was failing and we spent weeks going back and forth (that you should remember) before ultimately deciding to halt all chemo and trust that what we’d done was enough. And so far, it has been. Or so we’ll see on Thursday.

The other anniversary was last Saturday, 26 years since I was diagnosed with diabetes. Two-thirds of my entire life. I noticed recently on Facebook that someone had received their 25-year medal from the American Diabetes Association and I felt sort of discouraged. Not that it’s not an accomplishment to live twenty-five good years with this disease, but I sure hope they make a 75-year medal because that’s what I’m planning on needing.

My mom and I were having a conversation with some people a few weeks ago about the role of worrying in parenthood (something I’m not a huge fan of, despite its apparent inevitability). She said that when I was diagnosed, she stopped worrying about me. Not entirely, of course. She’s always kept on worrying about me, either about my diabetes and how it would affect my longterm health or about all the other aspects of mothering a teenage girl. But I thought that was interesting and asked, “Why? Because you felt like the worst thing had already happened?” (which is how I often feel about worrying — or not worrying — about Austin). And she said, “No, not yet. But that the worst thing could happen and that I might as well just let you be happy. That you could be blind at 35 or never be able to have children or lose your legs or die young.”

The worst thing could happen to any of our kids — any one of them could get sick or have a terrible accident, no matter what we do to protect them and certainly no matter how hard we worry. So while we should still make them eat their vegetables and insist they do their homework, we should also relax a bit and let them be happy.  Because you just never know. You know?

 

 

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