Although most of the doctors spoke English very well I was thrilled when one from England entered the room. I had so many questions. When he started to speak I didn't yet understand why he was there. Then he gave me the news that Jemma had Leukemia. Honestly I wasn't too worried because I was sure he was wrong. After all we were very healthy people and this just wasn't possible.
When I was in junior high school I had a friend who told me his brother died of Leukemia. At the age of 13 I didn't really understand the gravity of what he was telling me. Sympathy was not my strong quality and I don't recall much more of the discussion. Now I think of him in a whole new light. I'm sure I can relate to his parents, and now that he is an adult with children I'm sure he thinks about his brother in terms of his own children.
My experience with him was the only time I had known of anyone with Leukemia until my daughter's diagnosis. That's why it couldn't be true. I didn't know any of the details of his case, and didn't even know his age when he passed, but all I could think of was him.
I called my husband and my mom. My sister, a former children's cancer nurse, called me and said don't wait to begin treatment. A few hours later we were taken by ambulance to a hospital 45 minutes away which had a children's cancer ward. I had no idea it would be our home for the next 45 days.
For the first three days, I spent much of my time in shock mode. I cried a lot and paced the halls looking at all the photos of former patients. I wondered why the nurses seemed happy and so did the other parents in the ward. Then I realized that crying wasn't doing anyone any good and made a conscious decision to stop.
It still upsets me and I do cry even now, but not in front of Jemma and not nearly as often. It's been a year and she is doing very well. She still has a long way to go, but treatment is continuing to get easier as the chemo dose is much lower.
You already know the rest of the story. It's all under the Leukemia page if you want to take another look.
Here's a timeline of photos from the past year beginning a few weeks before diagnosis.
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