Guest Blogger: Grace’s mom, Chrissy

This is the third in our series during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Grace is at a crossroads in her journey with cancer. This summer she had her last treatment. Chrissy, her mom, imparts what it feels like to have cancer behind you, yet still with you.

     “Done”… as odd as it may sound, is a word that makes me cringe when I hear it said by well meaning friends, neighbors and family members. Our daughter Grace has been going through treatment for Pre-B ALL Leukemia for the past two and a half years. About six weeks ago she received her last chemo treatment.  Technically speaking, she is “done.” We praise Jesus for this and we are grateful to be where we are today in this journey! People share their relief for Grace and their sincere desire to see our family “move on” from cancer. The words, “She’s done,” are so final, so indicative of a task that’s been completed.

     Yet Grace’s journey is not like that.

     There is no imaginary line that she magically crossed the day they pumped the last bag of nausea-causing-fatigue-creating-neuropathy-plaguing-emotionally-draining-sorrow-bringing-hair-stealing-childhood-robbing-bone-marrow-destroying-platelet-smashing, yet life-saving chemotherapy into her veins. The side effects of chemotherapy often affect our children for years to come, if not for the rest of their lives. Grace's counts are still lower than normal. Her immune system is very compromised. She cannot be re-immunized for months and is at serious risk if exposed to certain diseases. She has neuropathy and major fatigue that the doctors say could affect her for a year or more. We still go to clinic monthly for counts checks and there are still medications she takes daily at home. Every bruise, complaint of pain, pale face or warm forehead is scary. What if “it's” back? What if she relapses? I cannot begin to count all the kids we know whose cancer has come back. They too were “done,” but now they are fighting for their lives once again. It's a thought never completely out of the corners of our minds, because we know it's real. 

     Once you have entered the world of childhood cancer, you become part of a family… a pediatric cancer family. I met Lisa and many parents after Grace registered with Connor’s Heroes. I have wept with fellow cancer moms, some who have lost their babies to this horrific disease. We call one another for advice, to ask questions, to laugh and pray. We walk this journey together in ways others cannot. Our bond is deep and this also is why we do not feel “done” after the last dose of chemo.

     None of this means we aren't THRILLED that Grace is finished with chemotherapy. We are! We are excited that she is able to go to school this year. We are happy the port is gone! We look forward to the future and are praying hard the Lord will allow Grace to grow, thrive and continue to be used for His glory in her life!

     We will continue to walk this journey with our “cancer family” for life, with all its ups and downs.  You see, we may be “done” with chemo but we are not “done” with cancer.