For more than six years now I have been sharing snippets and vignettes from my waltz with leukemia. But what I haven’t spoken of much was the dance that my mom was living parallel to my own; first with breast cancer and then in the last three months, stage four lung cancer.
That is what my kiddos call the baby hair growing back on my head. It has been almost two weeks of growth now and my scalp is no longer ghost pale as if I were wearing a tight, white speedo swim cap. When I ask the doctors if it will all grow back, they answer, “Probably, but maybe not. We will see.” That is a pretty common answer from my doctors. Apparently, we are in somewhat uncharted waters.
Two weeks ago, I stood in my driveway as my oldest son, Shawn, gave me a hug, climbed into his SUV, and drove away down the street. He waved to me, and as I waved back I whispered, “God, please bless your son as he rides into this next chapter of his life in pursuit of his dream to play quarterback in college.”
It is February of 2018 already. Time flies, and I say that with all respect in the world for time, given that four-and-a-half years ago I sat in a room at Duke University Oncology with an IV in my arm delivering toxic chemicals into my system in hopes of beating down the leukemia cells that had taken over 95% of my blood.
My wife is 41 years young, and she keeps our house running smoothly, especially in conjunction with our three kiddos: 7-year-old twinlets Leo and Ella, and 6-year-old Jordan. Recently, I had the responsibility of the kid’s dinner, bath-and-bedtime routine all to myself because my wife was having a sleepover. That’s right, an adult sleepover.
I was standing on the second-floor porch at the beach house recently, looking out over the ocean on a beautiful spring-like day. I could see for miles and the sun was almost straight overhead as it was just about noon this day. My wife was sitting on the beach just below me in a beach chair wearing a sun hat and sunglasses so she could read her magazine in the bright sunshine.
Recently I was having breakfast with a friend at my favorite diner. We had a wonderful conversation about our families and how much we enjoy being dads. My friend was sharing how much he appreciated my book, THE QB MENTOR, and he commented on some of the amazing things that my son, Shawn, one of the two main characters in the book, had accomplished on the football field in high school.
It has been quite the start to a new year already, this 2017. 2016 ended with ten weeks of outpatient intravenous chemotherapy before my family and I headed to Pittsburgh for the holidays. Unfortunately a bone marrow biopsy revealed that the drugs I was being administered did not make enough improvement against the leukemia, so we decided to start a different protocol.
When I was young, my mom kept the pantry in our kitchen stocked with soups and pasta, cereals and canned vegetables, so that in the event of a disaster, our family of six would have likely been able to survive for a couple of months at least. We were probably ‘enders’ before it was in vogue to be so.
It was a recent school day morning, and because I had more energy than most days, I told Kate that I could take our kids to school and then head over to Duke Oncology for my weekly appointment. I have chronicled plenty of the heavier aspects of having cancer in my last several blogs, but today I just want to share with you a tickle-moment.
My prayer on this INDEPENDENCE DAY is that we commemorate our country’s independence from tyranny, yes; but moreover, we recognize our DEPENDANCE on the God that has blessed our country with prosperity and protection for so long and that we also realize that the United States of America was in fact initially founded on those covenant principals between us and HIM.
This Mother's Day, as I reflect, I'm thankful for all of the mothers in my life including my mom Dolores, my mother in law Liz, and my wife and mother of my children, Kate. I pray that all of us would take a moment to reflect on the women in our life and how they really have all the qualities that this angel was so curious about.
I just want to wish you and your family the greatest thanksgiving ever, remembering to actually GIVE THANKS, and to feel appreciation and gratitude for all our blessings. Because, the reality is that when we find ourselves in a posture of thanksgiving, it is impossible to hold onto anger, fear, un-forgiveness or prejudice.