Saturday, June 15, 2013

Leukemia - June 15

June 15th has made it's mark on my memory. Last year on June 15th I was in the hospital with Jemma wondering why she still had severe chest pain after three days of heavy antibiotics and medication. Why did she have three nose bleeds during the night? She had undergone many ultra sounds, x-rays and other medical testing and I had no answers.

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.


Wow! It's been a long year.

This post is linked to: 
Wordless Wednesday


  1. Julie, those of us who haven't been in your shoes cannot possibly imagine what this last year has been like for you. But I do know that by sharing your story you have touched, moved and inspired us all in ways that will continue long into the future. We never know what the future holds but anyone who reads your blog will, I'm sure, take away a heightened appreciation for what's really important in life. Thank you, again, for sharing your story. Lucinda

  2. Like Lucinda said, we cannot begin to imagine what you and your family has gone through. I can only get a mere glimpse of an idea when I see children come in for chemo when I get my radiation treatment. You are such an inspiration to me.

  3. Cancer is a word which holds so many connotations, most of them are instinctively negative. It takes a great deal of courage to overcome the fear which inevitably accompanies a cancer diagnosis. I really do feel your strength and the manner in which you have dealt with this will give many others the hope that they too can not just manage but thrive. I pray both the present and the future holds many wonderful things for all of your family.


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