Today's post is all about my 2 girls and why today especially is significant for them and for me. My 2 girls are Bianca and Caitlyn. They share their time between our place and their dad's place. Bianca will be 10 years old in just a few weeks and Caitlyn turned 6 in February. They both enjoy doing cheerleading and Bianca loves playing netball.
|Caitlyn trying cheerleading for the first time and she loved it!|
|Bianca is on the left.|
Looking at my girls it is hard to imagine that today 6 years ago everything changed for them. 6 Years ago Bianca who was 2 weeks away from turning 4 was diagnosed with leukemia. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. I look at my beautiful girls and feel so incredibly proud that despite everything they faced, they showed me and others what living life really was all about. Despite going through some of the biggest challenges, Bianca did so with grace and with a smile that would light up the room.
|The photo on the left is one of my favourites! Even without hair Bianca was still beautiful!|
I remember when Bianca was 5 and was still on treatment and could hardly walk properly thanks to a particular drug (let alone run like other kids her age), her school had a cross country event and she had the option of sitting out or to be a special helper. But instead, she chose to participate and she did. Not only that, she completed the race despite coming completely last. She was not going to give up just because of cancer.
Caitlyn too - she was only 3.5 months old when Bianca was diagnosed. She came into this world and suddenly had to fit into a world not dictated by her needs, but by a hospital schedule and the medical needs of her bigger sister. She was the normal we needed so desperately at the time.
During Bianca's treatment she collected around 1,300 Beads of Courage. This represented 830 days of treatment, procedures, hospital stays, blood product transfusions, lumbar punctures, bone marrow biopsies and so on. This is an amazing programme that was designed by a nurse in the US.
- 1,322 Beads collected during this time
- 652 days of chemo (IV, sub-cut, injections into the muscle, tablets, spine)
- 142 Finger pricks, port accesses and injections
- 47 Blood Product transfusions (Red Blood, Platelets, IVIG)
- 43 Clinic Visits
- 4 NG Tube insertions
- 4 Times where Bianca lost her hair or it thinned significantly
- 20 Lumbar Punctures
- 73 Different tests such as x-rays, CT Scan, Ultrasound, Echo, nose swabs, etc
- 117 Days spent in hospital. All of these were for various infections
- 112 days where Bianca was isolated, had a fever or was neutropenic
- 1 Surgery to insert a port
- 1 Port insertion
- 16 Dressing changes
- 45 Days of IV Antibiotics (I probably missed some days)
- 4 Bone Marrow aspirates
- 41 Unusual things happened during treatment such as being on oxygen
- Bianca developed a severe allergic reaction to one of her chemo injections
- Bianca had a severe bronchospasm requiring immediate assistance
- Bianca had kidney stones
- Bianca had shingles 3 times
- Bianca was diagnosed with panhypogammaglobulinaemia (now there's a scrabble word for you...)
Bianca is now off treatment - she finished treatment in September 2009 and we planted a tree at her school to celebrate this incredible milestone. This tree represented growth, strength and courage as well as new beginnings. The tree is the same age as Bianca and she will always have the opportunity to go and visit her tree. You can read about this very special day here.
But this post isn't about being sad or mourning loss of innocence (because let's face it at the age of 4 Bianca discovered a world no child [or adult for that matter] should ever have to enter. This post is about hope. It is about showing that you can live life despite cancer. Bianca is not yet cleared. We still have a few more years to go before we will be able to say she is 'cured' and there is still a risk it might come back. There is still a risk of other long term effects as we go forward, but for now we celebrate this moment where Bianca (and her sister) are nothing more than typical kids. They love life. They enjoy doing their activities and playing with their friends.
|Caitlyn's 6th birthday.|
We don't know why we were chosen to walk this particular road, but what I learnt was that despite dealing with the challenges we faced, we met some amazing people, we had wonderful support through the Child Cancer Foundation and more than that we have had the opportunity to make a difference, to create awareness and to (hopefully) give others hope and for that I will always be thankful.
|Collecting for the Child Cancer Foundation|
|Click here for the article.|