When Kayla told me she found a lump, I didn't worry. It runs in the family, I had it and it turned out to be harmless. Of course she didn't mention all her other symptoms so I was stunned when the news was bad. Stage two, how could that be, she's only 24! I started to worry because neither my parents survived cancer, nor had (more recently) my sister in law. When we got the news that her body scan was clear, I began to relax and feel good about her getting over this. We were fortunate to be able to pack up our place in Flagstaff in a day, clean it the next, and move back to Illinois the following day. We were immediately blessed with a place to live thanks to Lisa's connections to the Skinner's. Living on a beautiful golf course was nice but ironic since Tom can't golf and I have no interest it. The loop around it became a peaceful opportunity to jog, walk with Tom, or coax Kayla to walk a bit while feeling like crap from chemo. There is so much more to say but I am going to break it into two categories and just mention the highlights or low-points.
The Bad- Chemo. There is nothing positive about chemo except for the fact that it kills cancer. It was awful seeing your daughter throw up and feel nauseous ALL THE TIME and not be able to do something about it. It was horrible to see her turn 25 and be completely BALD. Everyone said she looked so beautiful still. That's not what I saw, I saw my daughter look like the sick person she really was, and there was nothing I could do about it. Devastating is seeing a nurse come in wearing something close to a hazmat suit, inject your daughter with red poison, and then know that her body fluids are toxic to anyone for the next few days. Helpless is knowing that your daughter is in the operating room for the next 4 hours and she will come out missing body parts that could have nourished her (maybe impossible to have) future children. Dreadful is seeing her skin after so many sessions of radiation that have burned, spotted, cracked, and caused oozing wounds to her healthy skin and scars.
The Good- The outpouring of love to Kayla and our family has been incredible! It started with the Peterson's and the Skinner's, Kayla's school, and her friends. It continued with the village of Downers Grove and many of our past swimmers and students to fundraise so that Kayla didn't have financial worries on top of everything else. After that, I saw the Underwater hockey community fundraise for Kayla too. Who else would get support from the Blackhawk's organization but Kayla.
I also saw the creativity of my daughter come out as Themo was launched and the continuous making of posters that cheered up her or made us laugh throughout her treatments.
I got to see my already close family become even closer.
Most impressive was the comfort of knowing that people all over the world were praying for Kayla. How could she not get better with all this support! I loved seeing her pink bracelet in Afghanistan or on Churchchill's hand.
Finally, Kayla was gotten a job from all this if she wants it. A new direction for her to give back to others. And isn't that what life is all about, giving to others?! We have been on the giving side and have been very blessed to be on the receiving side too. Thank you every one.