I wrote this post two years ago on the anniversary of Joshua's original diagnosis. Instead of rewriting what I had already written, I'm reposting with a few word changes to make it appropriate for three years later.
April 17th. It’s a day that is forever ingrained into my mind. I remember my kids birthdays, my wedding day and April 17th. Three years ago today my world changed forever. It is a day that no parent wants to face. It was the day we heard the word Leukemia for the first time and for once it referred to us.
I can remember it as if it were yesterday and then again, it seems as though at least 5 years have gone by. I really can’t tell you how long ago it seems yet it has been 3 years. In case you do not know Joshua’s story, sit back and read as I remember April 17, 2006.
It was the weekend of Easter and we had all noticed Joshua and how yellow he seemed to be. It was funny but it seemed as though he was jaundice so I tried to get him out in the sun that weekend. Easter Sunday came and I just had a feeling in my stomach. I couldn’t explain it but I just knew he was sick. If you know anything about our family, you know that the twins had been sick since birth and had so many sinus problems and allergies that we were always at the doctor. This time, it was different. That Easter Sunday night as I went in to check on Joshua in his crib, I came into Jeff and my bedroom and I said. “Something is wrong Jeff. I don’t know what it is but something is really wrong.” I told Jeff that I was making Joshua a doctor’s appointment for Monday because he was sick. I said “It could be something like cancer.” I don’t know why those words came out of my mouth. Call it mother’s intuition, but deep down I think I knew.
Monday morning came and I got the first appointment of the day. Joshua and I even beat our doctor to the office. Once we got into the exam room “Dr. Carol” as the kids like to call her, came in. She asked what was going on and I explained how Joshua was so pale and he had so many unexplainable bruises on his legs. She took one look and said “oh!” Then, she left the room and came back with a nurse to draw blood. Anyway, the minutes ticked by and when she finally came back in she said that Joshua’s blood counts were off and she wanted us to see a hematologist up at Hopkins. She had already called them and they were expecting us in the emergency room. She explained that they thought it might be ITP which is the body’s response to a virus and the platelet level will drop. I knew it was serious and I lost it in the exam room. Dr. Carol let me get myself together as I called Jeff right then and there. I told him to meet me at the house and we would be headed to Hopkins. I tried not to cry but the tears were rolling down my face.
When we finally got to Hopkins Pediatric Emergency Room, it was about 10:30 in the morning. They called us back immediately and stuck Joshua for an IV. It took them three for four tries before they could get one because his veins were so little. Heck, he was so little. He was three days from turning 10 months old. After they got the IV, they drew some blood and tested it. Then, a team of doctors came in and told us they needed to do a bone marrow test. They told us it could be a number of things and being the straightforward people that we are, we asked if it was leukemia. This was the first time anyone had said that word. The doctors said that was a possibility and that they needed the bone marrow test right away.
They came and took Joshua away from us for about 20-30 minutes. Then, it seemed like hours before the doctors came back themselves. The minute the door opened, we had our answer. A team of four doctors came in to the tiny room and we knew it wasn’t good. The doctors told us that we were finding a room for Joshua up on the Pediatric Oncology floor and that he would start treatment immediately. They told us that he had Acute Lympoblastic Leukemia and that it was a treatable and curable disease. They did not go into great detail. That was for the days and hours to come but at that moment the world stopped spinning and fell apart for our family.
From this moment, everything is a blur. I remember crying and then telling Jeff that we had to be strong. I remember thinking of my Dad and how strong he was during his cancer treatments and I knew I had to be that strong for Joshua. I told Jeff we were going to beat this nasty thing and there was no other option. We stayed in the emergency room until 11:30 that night when they finally got a room for Joshua. We then were taken to what would become our life. Joshua spent the next entire month in the hospital. He was not able to see his brothers during that time. Jeff and I were thrown into a world we never wanted to be in. The next day, Joshua was taken into surgery where his first central line was placed in his chest and the first dose of toxic chemicals was pumped into his tiny body on April 19th, his dad’s twenty ninth birthday.
So my friends, that is the VERY short version of what April 17th means to our family. There have been ups and downs and a lot of life lessons. It has been a time of much learning but most of all, it has been a time of healing. God is healing Joshua and with all of your continued prayers, we will be remembering April 17th years from now and smiling because it was the day that God taught us to slow down and enjoy what he has granted us!
As you all know, our story doesn't end there though. Last year on this exact date, Joshua got his port removed from his chest. It was to be the end of this nightmare. Little did we know, we'd have another port placed a little over a month later and begin the battle again.