September 26, 2012

myHeart: Thank[FULL]

It has been said that we don’t choose our family; we choose our friends [and] our friends are not necessarily those who have known us the longest rather they are the ones who came [and] NEVER left our sides. Forgive me, but I have no idea who to credit with that sentiment or I would.

Christy [and] I are indeed family; however, I think more importantly, we enjoy an incredible friendship largely because we’ve lived the mantra, “Unless you Puke. Faint. [or] Die: Keep Going”. Not to mention the intentional, persevering efforts of our moms.

Our friendship has been far from uneventful through the years. We have had countless number of cat fights with resultant voodoo dolls [and] the burning of diaries in response to breeches of trust on my part, lest you think Christy would yield to such a temptation.

As Christy shared in her post @ www.11MagnoliaLane.com this afternoon, I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, with very little hope of survival. In fact, the best my pediatric oncology team had to offer was 6-12 months before the inevitable, a euphemism for death, would enter their world.

Me w/ Dr. Adkins, Pediatric Surgery

Enter a groundbreaking clinical trial [IESS I], but let’s be clear, the intent was NOT curative in nature. Nevertheless, HOPE began to percolate within our heart-souls. Christy refers to my therapy as the nuclear option of the day as they overshot the moon [and] I have lived to see the implications as the sole survivor, the only one cured through the failing treatment arm of that study.

Christy was my strongest ally, my fiercest defender, [and] a shield protecting me, my feelings at every corner. She went with me for chemo, yelled at those kids who would thoughtlessly tease me because of my bald head, and made sure that everyone knew I was a girl which is arguably hard to discern with a bald head [and] an 8 year old prepubescent body.

I think her greatest gift to me as a kid facing cancer was that she didn’t let me get away with smack. When everyone else was handling me with kid gloves, she had NONE of it. As iron sharpens irons so one man sharpens another [Proverbs 27:17] and though I am certainly a better person because of it, we sure did know how to make the sparks fly.

When my heart failed almost 4 and1/2 years ago, Christy came leaving my side only when necessary, always to return, [and] holding me in her heart-prayers daily. She has loved me in ways and amidst circumstances that we NEVER dreamed we’d have to face. She provided consistent encouragement [and] wise counsel to me as my heart failed, to my husband as he faced decisions he never envisioned having to make, and to our son by welcoming him to Camp Clarkesville on more than a few occasions during my stay @ClevelandClinic.

She provided for my nursing care when she was present with me in Cleveland in a way that no one else could because she knew me [and] the things that would matter to me [and] make me feel special amidst the chaos of the ICU. She reminded me that I was still me: wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend. She told me stories of our son with his cousins, brought pictures of them on the slip-n-slide, read guestbook entries off the CaringBridge; she bathed me gently, lovingly taking the time to rid me of the adhesive on my skin. She touched me in a way that was not painful; she painted my nails, washed my hair, gave me facials; she laughed with me; she listened to me; she loved me [and] met me right where I was in THAT moment. And oh how she prayed leading the legions to plead for my very life.

Why? Because this is WHO she IS; LOVE laying her life down for someone, me whom she loves so dearly.

CGB

Those days were touch-and-go [and] my prognosis was at least as grim as it was in 1978, yet the family of a remarkable 17 year old lady somehow was able to transcend the catastrophic loss choosing to honor her desire to be an organ donor.

All that to say, I have given my professional life to children, adolescents, and their families facing cancer as a pediatric nurse practitioner; however, heart transplant has meant that my passion has been expanded [and] repurposed through the founding of myHeart, yourHands with kindred friend, Judy Bode, who currently awaits heart transplantation secondary to a heart devastated by radiation in the early 1970’s.

Our mission is two-fold: 1) to raise awareness regarding the potential impact of late effects of cancer therapy on future health and wellbeing among cancer survivors and the frontline healthcare providers charged with their care [and] 2) to encourage anyone who is not an eye, tissue, or organ donor to make a decision to donateLIFE today @ www.donatelife.net.

On behalf of myHeart, yourHands, we are honored to be the organization Christy has chosen as one of the beneficiaries of  the collective talent [and] the generous, loving hearts you will find THIS day, everyday @11MagnoliaLane.

Christy, I celebrate you, THIS day, everyday, and especially tomorrow: Happiest [of] Birthdays to YOU, faithful and priceless, you are!

I love you, always [and] No MATTER WHAT…

Simply,

StephieDee

PS 11MagnoliaLane’s Twitter handle is @11MagnoliaLane; you can find them on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/11MagnoliaLane [and] don’t forget about Pinterest

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