Thanks, Giving, and Hanukkah

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I've been thinking a lot about Thanksgivukkah.  At first, I was planning a menu to celebrate the once-in-a-lifetime event: deep fried turkey, latke stuffing, and pumpkin pie filled doughnuts.  Then, I started filling my trunk with small Hanukkah presents that the kids would enjoy after they finished their meal.  And finally, I began to search for the perfect menurkey.  The ceramic kind I tried to order online was sold out.  So I tried googling "make your own menurkey" but my search yielded no results.  Lucky for me, Ari brought an awesome one home from school:

Food? Check.  Gifts? Check.  Menurkey?  Check.
I was all set for the 4th Thursday in November!

Yet, as this merger of holidays quickly approaches, I now find myself thinking about the meaning behind both special days.  I just can't help but be overwhelmed with gratitude and with a belief in miracles.  Thanksgivukkah.  It's the story of my life.

I still wake up in the morning some days and cannot believe this is my existence.  I have a 3 year-old who has been in treatment for cancer for half his little life.  Our kitchen cabinets are no longer stocked with spices and olive oil but instead with syringes and medications.  I used to write about poop, and now, I write about hope.  A few years ago, I would get stressed over my annual review at work.  These days, it's Ari's weekly blood count print-out that gives me angina. (That's still my all time favorite word.  Some things will never change.)

This year, I give not just thanks, but I send the most profound gratitude to Ari's doctors and nurses and to our family and friends.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again (and again), it is the medicine and the research that has saved his life and keeps Ari alive, and it is your support and friendship and your giving that has sustained us and encouraged us throughout this long process.

I wish I could give back to each one of you, to the medical professionals, to the hospital, and to the Dana Farber.  I truly believe the Team Ari funds will save lives.  And I am so proud of Ari and all of you for donating Ari's 3rd birthday presents to kids currently in the hospital (I do not know who you all are because Amazon shipped directly there, but I will be posting pictures soon and a note of thanks from the hospital.)  And like last year when we helped a family from the Dominican Republic whose daughter M was extraordinarily sick, we are trying to help an Israeli family in a similar situation this year. 

We thank. And we give.

And this year, we celebrate miracles.

I have two of them.

Happy Thanksgivukkah. 


We need Superman

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Yesterday, I blogged about pee. 

Today, I write about something more serious.  And tragic.  And sad.

I did not know much about childhood cancer before Ari was diagnosed.  I have vivid memories of the hospital visit I made in the 5th grade to see my friend Jeremy as he battled leukemia.  I brought him candy and a stuffed animal and I sat by his bedside and wondered what leukemia meant.  I can still picture him bald and puffy cheeked.  And then two years later, I remember slow dancing with him at my bat mitzvah.  And then I recall watching him walk across the stage at high school graduation.  And today, according to Facebook, he has 3 college degrees, plays baseball, has a ton of friends, and lives a normal healthy life. 

I thought every kid with cancer had a happy ending like this.

But that's just not reality.

And it's not the ending for Sam.

How do I even begin to describe the way I feel about Sam?

Superman Sam.

He's been fighting for the same exact amount of time as Ari.  He lives in Chicago with his parents, his two brothers, and his sister.  I have never met him.  We have no blood relation.  And I'm not even exactly sure how to pronounce his last name.  Yet he is my son.  His mom is my sister.  His family is my family.  We fight the same battle.  And I thought we would all win.  And then celebrate together.

But Sam's leukemia is aggressive and stubborn and the cancer has re-emerged more vicious than ever.  And now, for little 8 year-old Sam, medicine and science can no longer help.  They've tried everything.  So now, they pray for a miracle.  And they make every last second fun and lively and love-filled.  This has been their mantra and continues to be so even when the heart aches and the throat tightens and the eyes weep.  Their days, their nights, and their lives are filled with friends, family, and fun.  Nothing else matters. 

I pray for Sam.  I pray for him to experience as much excitement and joy and happiness as possible during this incredibly hard time.  I pray for his parents and for his siblings and for their entire family. 

And I ask you to do the same.


Rule #1

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Remember that story I told you about my baby drinking chemo pee?

Oh that's right!  I didn't tell you about it.  I was too embarrassed and too disgusted to re-live the image of sweet Alison with her head in Ari's little potty, happily lapping up his tinkle.  Yeah.  Under normal circumstances this would be gross.  Given our unique circumstances, this was, indeed gross, and possibly dangerous.

So I did what every other cancer mom does.  I called the on-call doctor and explained my pee-dicament in a very calm tone, "Umm, hi.  This is Ari's Mom.  He's fine.  But, uh, umm, well, my baby drank some of Ari's pee."  And then after I heard nothing but a gasp, I asked if she would be okay.

Turns out, I was the first cancer mom to ask this particular question.  I should get a prize or something because it created a small panic, followed by a stir of activity and a bunch of consultations with medical professionals.  I'm doing my part to keep those docs on their toes!

Turns out, trace amounts of Ari's current chemo cocktail in his pee cannot hurt Alison.  But the doctor (and the toxicologist...and then another doctor...and a nurse) kindly suggested I be more careful and empty Ari's potty on a regular basis and not leave the bathroom door open... ever again.

But just to keep things interesting around here, I had de ja vu yesterday.

"Urine big trouble JulieSue."


P(ee).S. Photos are re-enactments of actual events.


Picture Perfect

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy things that make me cry:

1. Romantic comedies:

2. Weddings:

3. School pictures:



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