I have so many prayers everyday that I sometimes wonder if I’m already asking too much. But we struggle with “little” things so often that we can’t take anything for granted. So, although I’m grateful for our daily victories, today, I am extra grateful.
It’s Day 8 of chemo cycle #5 and we are so used to the idea of a low Hemoglobin count (8.9-9) around this time. Yet when Ri went for her blood test today, she got a really good count of 10.1 (normal is 11.6) which is usually the value she gets two days before the next cycle when her body has “recovered.”
Good Strong Vein
Ri’s veins are so challening (apparently, they move a lot or sometimes, the flow isn’t so good) to insert into that we’ve been told countless times that they (the veins) have lowered the confidence of many (doctors included). Today, however, despite one failed try (which is usual), the Outpatient Oncology staff was able to insert into a really good vein. This success cut down our hospital time by half, giving us a record-breaking short stay of 3.5 hours!
Ri has asked me for days if she could go visit her gymnastics club, PGAA, but for the same reasons restricting her exposure to people, I haven’t really allowed her. Today’s good blood count, however, gave her the chance to push her case and so I said yes.
And this is how I met my third answered prayer for today, a lady named Jo…
Now before I continue with the Jo story, don’t get me wrong. Anyone who finds out about Ri’s cancer do tend to be sympathetic. And while this is greatly appreciated, I’ve gone through moments of wishing and praying that there was someone who knew exactly what I’m going through, i.e., the exhaustion from countless hospital trips, functioning on auto-pilot, the constant worry and pain while seeing your child suffer, the bouts of sadness hitting you in the most mundane of tasks, etc.
So while Ri was busy reuniting with her coaches and gymnast friends, a young blond girl walks in (in her training leotard) with her mom and grandma. Mom walks over to where the displayed leotards are (next to where I’m sitting) to browse if she can find anything for her daughter.
She asks me quickly if I’m the person-in-charge and when I said no, she apologized, clearly embarrassed for her mistake. To try to lessen the blow of her embarrassment, I went on to say her daughter must be new to the gym because I used to know all the coaches, gymnasts, and parents alike; with that gym being my daughter’s second home, having trained there almost everyday for the last 5 years until June this year. To this, the lady stopped her browsing and instroduced herself to me as Jo from Australia whose 8-year-old daughter was just starting gymnastics.
I’ve never met or seen Jo before but somehow, I felt compelled (in a good way) to tell her why Ri stopped going to the gym…from how it all began to her ongoing treatment.
As I was concluding my story, Jo was in tears! I’ve never felt so bad relating the Hodgegirl journey till now. It was my turn to apologize…I mean, it’s bad enough to have one sad person in the room! But Jo went on to say she was amazed (and it wasn’t all-sad tears) that we were destined to meet today. You see, Jo’s 5-year-old son, Elijah, has been sick and feeling a lot of pain in his abdominal area. His stomach has grown as big as a ball and doctors have been unable to tell the family exactly what’s wrong with him. He has been medicated for different kinds of diseases but nothing has solved the problem so far.
She went on to tell me how she knew my pain of seeing my child suffer, my worries as I lie in bed before falling asleep, my uncertainties of what the future brings, and my fleeting moments of sadness while I wash my hair or brush my teeth. She even knew how knowing the hospital like the back of my hand was in no way comforting.
And just like that, Jo saw through my very soul as I saw through hers. And for the first time since Ri got sick, I completely bonded with someone outside my family. It felt great to have someone know exactly what I was going through. And as she herself expressed, Jo felt the same way. It was amazing, extraordinary…we were gifts to each other.
Two days from now, Jo, her one-year-old, and Elijah, will be flying to Sydney, hoping to find answers, get treatment in the best children’s hospital there, and strive to completely recover by Christmas. My only regret is that I didn’t try to get Jo’s number or email address. I would’ve wanted to check on her and Elijah, to let her know she’s not alone.
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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you can, please say a prayer for Jo and Elijah, most especially on October 29th, when Elijah will go into the hospital in Sydney. 💙💛💚