The other night we had a very interesting dinner conversation. My husband attended a conference and one of the lectures talked about the worst day of his life......
A self-described overweight computer engineer, excited about his weekend camping trip, was dressed in clothes too tight at a coffee shop. While in line he received a text message calling him back to work to fix an urgent problem. As he was about to call the office, he dropped the phone so that it could no longer be used. Discouraged, he was still staring at the phone while walking out of the shop. Not paying attention to his surroundings, he walked directly into a lady who spilled her drink all over the front of his shirt. As if that wasn't enough, the sole of his shoe broke completely off while walking out the door. Finally, as he was looking at his shoe, a well-meaning gentleman wearing a community service shirt asked him if he had a place to sleep that night.That definitely sounds like a bad day, but after hearing the story I couldn't help but think either he is very young, or has had a pretty good life if that was his worst day. Therefore, I decided to ask the kids about the best and worst days of their lives.
Surprisingly, they had quite a difficult time identifying both their best and worst days, but after some thought my son decided his worst day was not a day, but the entire week he spent learning long division. My oldest daughter decided her worst day was when she smashed her face falling off her bike, resulting in an ER visit, the loss of a tooth, several abrasions and many stitches inside her mouth. Jemma, my daughter who had Leukemia couldn't identify the worst day of her life. Both my husband and I were shocked. There was no question which day was the worst of our life.
Leukemia didn't only affect Jemma, it changed our entire family. Even knowing how it changed their lives, I couldn't believe none of the three kids identified that day as being terrible. To them it wasn't a great day, but just another day that didn't really stand out as especially bad. After all, my son identified long division as much worse.
Then we moved onto best days and I was again blown away by their thoughts. Neither of my two oldest kids could identify a best day, but Jemma had a thought. She said her best day was when she was done with Leukemia. Confused, as to which day she was referring we continued to listen. Her next comment was, well maybe not that day because it hurt a little. She was referring to the day her catheter was surgically removed from her chest. To her this day marked the end of Leukemia despite the fact that after that day she continued to take oral chemo for over a year. Today she still visits the hospital to have her blood checked.
When she had the catheter she couldn't go swimming. For a nautical family, a year not in a pool is a very long time. I clearly remember the first day she went swimming after her catheter was removed. It was only about 10 days after as we went as soon as the wound was closed. I was extremely nervous, and she was glowing with excitement. I was happy and scared at the same time.
Today, at nine years old, Jemma is like a normal child. Since we moved from where she received her treatment, not many people in our new town know about what she went through. They are always shocked when they find out.
Leukemia is always in the back of my mind. When she was first diagnosed, I received a message from a lady on the internet that I have thought about many times. She said her daughter who was in her 20's had leukemia around 5 years old. She said she is not thriving and thinks about Leukemia some days, but with every day that passes, she thinks about it a little less. Her message meant a lot to me as it gave me a sense that there would be better days ahead.