Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cara

There are so many things you go through after a cancer diagnosis and treatment, things real and imagined, stories you tell yourself, sometimes lies, so you can do what you have to do, get through what seems impossible, insurmountable.

There were times I felt relieved that I could take the bullet, so to speak, with a cancer diagnosis, and irrationally I thought, maybe this is as close as it will get, this is as much as cancer will take from us, I paid the price, we are done.  During Breast Cancer Awareness in October, when I wrote posts that whole month I said I hoped that since one in eight women will face a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime,

I hope I am the one in your eight.  I prayed that for you.  Let me be the one in your eight.

Our family received another harsh and cruel reminder that cancer doesn't work that way.  It doesn't care if you and your family have just finished a hard hard battle, it doesn't care how old you are, it doesn't care what life plans you had, it doesn't care how much you are loved or needed or how good a person you are.  Cancer does not care.  It is an equal opportunity plague and it is ruthless in its disregard.

Cancer doesn't work that way.

There is a girl I love very much, and I have mentioned her here on the blog many times.  I called her "Baby Bear" on the blog, she is my son's girlfriend, a member of our family, and like a daughter to me.  She was very supportive of me through cancer treatment - I remember when early in chemo I could run my fingers through my hair and big clumps would come out in my hand.  I knew the boys in this house would not understand the grief and loss I felt over this, being a girly girl and a long hair girl my whole life.  I knew Baby Bear would understand, and when I showed her she said "awwww" and shared my pain.

We all love Baby Bear in this house, including our doggies, especially Muffin who goes crazy when Baby Bear is over.  When Baby Bear holds that crazy poodle in her arms, Muffin completely relaxes and is like a baby in her arms, her fluffy puffy ears flopping, her little paws crossed.

We all love Baby Bear in this house.

Baby Bear is all kinds of things to all kinds of people, a daughter, a Sister, a girlfriend, a friend, and a mentor for the middle school girls where she is their Color Guard Instructor.  She writes their shows, teaches them the shows, coaches them and attends all of their competitions.

She is your typical and not so typical 20 year old, she loves Marilyn Monroe and Tiffany's, purple is her favorite color and she loves big glasses of chocolate milk made by her boyfriend.  She loves dance and is a beautiful dancer herself, and was often a featured dancer in Color Guard in high school.  She loves Katy Perry and Beyonce and Usher.  Her favorite Disney movie is Lilo and Stitch, and her favorite Disney character is Belle.  She loves Starbucks and her iPhone and iPad.  She loves the show "So You Think You Can Dance." She is an excellent student and role model for the girls she devotedly teaches.





Baby Bear has a name.



It is Cara.

Now she adds one more thing to her incredible list of feats and achievements and challenges.

She was diagnosed with leukemia, a form called ALL.
20 years old.
Fighting a hard battle.
For her life.

They wasted no time when Cara was diagnosed, treatment started immediately with filtering her blood, two blood transfusions, a PICC line installed in her arm, a lumbar puncture to have chemo go directly into her bone marrow in her spine, and more IV's and pills than any person, any 20 year old, should have to endure.





Cara will spend her first month in treatment living at the hospital, she just finished her first week!  She has a two to three year course of chemo ahead of her.  We are all praying for a complete recovery and remission for her, and the strength and faith and grace to get there.

As those of you cancer survivors know, cancer treatment is a full time job, cancer completely clears your calendar, it is what you do every minute of every day, but it does not have to define you.  You are still you. Cara is still our Cara.

Here she is after getting her hair cut to get ready for what's coming, as she will lose her hair.


I've been saying, and I'll say it again, isn't she about the cutest chemo girl you have ever seen in your life?  Cara.  You win.

Cara continues to handle this whole ordeal like the Warrior she is, and we are all so proud of her.

I don't even know how to explain to you the grief and shock I felt upon hearing of Cara's diagnosis.  We knew she had been run down, but who isn't these days, and initially they thought it might be mono.  I laughed to myself thinking maybe my son would have mono too and the two of them would convalesce with their iPhones and chocolate milk and favorite Disney movies playing.  Who'd a thunk in a million gazillion years on any planet in the universe that this girl would face a leukemia diagnosis?

I cried harder for Cara then I did after receiving my diagnosis.  I cried a whole lot harder.  I cried for her, and my son, and her family, and everyone who loves Cara.  I know first hand this is hard hard stuff.  For everyone.

Cara has made all of this easier on all of us, by being so strong and cheerful and resilient and funny.  She is awesome and if there was an award for Tough Cookie, she would get it.

So when you get out of bed this morning, after sleeping in your own bed, when you drag your ass around taking your life for granted, when you complain about things that mean nothing and make your mountains out of mole hills, when you whine about this or that or the other,

just remember,

someone
somewhere
out there

is fighting for her life,
just to survive.

Love your life.
Show up for the people you love.
Show up for yourself.
Live with an attitude of gratitude.
Be of service to others.
Laugh louder than the crying.

And don't ever forget that if you have your health, you are rich Baby!

Will you take a moment in your day,
and pray for Cara?

I love you Cara.  You go Girl.  You got this.

God's got this.






postscript

Would you like to know more about ALL, or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia?  Check out the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society website by clicking here.

Like to know more about Cara's treatment?  Check out this link from the UCSF website.

4 comments:

Wagonwife Designs said...

Deb I am praying for Cara , for you, for both families.
Love to you all.

Kimberly said...

Once again you have me crying my eyes out. This is a beautiful & touching post. I'm going to be an angel for Cara on her journey. We have to get her to a LGFB class! Her hats & other goodies are going out to her tomorrow. I hope she likes everything. As I was writing her card I thought of all the times I wrote a similar note to you. Okay...I'm tearing up again. Dammit! Keeping all of you in my thoughts & prayers. Thanks for the reminder that life could be worse...a good reality check. Love ya!

Anonymous said...

Nooooooo..... This is not what the fan club expected to see today. However, I know, just know, that God has a message in this for all of us and you, dear sistah, put His words into print. Never take your life nor your health nor your family/friends for granted. Cara....we will fight with you. Sending Love.... F & H

writergirldreams said...

Thank you so much for all the concern and prayers for Cara. This has certainly been a challenging time for our family, and we are all doing our best to take things one day at a time.

Has anyone other than my Sister Jane Marie tried to post a comment to the blog and not been able to? I'm wondering if this is a problem, or was just a temporary thing. If you read this message, will you try posting a comment so I'll know whether I need to get some tech support.

Thank you, for all your support of me, and know for Cara.

Deb

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