There are many moments in my kids growing up years, their early growing up years, that I sometimes just do not remember. I’m fairly certain I can attribute this fact to the events of 2001. The year I turned 40, the year my first marriage fell to pieces, the year that my daughter, Hilary, had her first grand-mal seizure, and the year that my baby boy, Zachary, received a diagnosis of Leukemia (ALL) at the tender age of 9½. 2001 was definitely THE most challenging year of my parenting and adulthood to date. It was the most trying year for my kids too.
Zachary’s leukemia and other health issues are one of the reasons I started blogging. I have always felt that I had a story to share just because of my multiple experiences with chronic conditions, and now childhood cancer. If I can touch one person’s heart with my stories, and let them know they will be able to get through anything, then that’s why I’m here.
Now back to Zachary; during Zachary’s treatment and recovery from his leukemia he had many, many visits to the pediatric oncology clinic. For certain procedures or appointments he would have to go to the hospital for an outpatient procedure. At this point in his chemo regimen he was going through so many procedures one right after the other. It makes my head spin just to think back about those times. There was one particular day in the beginning of his treatments that he had to have a spinal procedure. This procedure requires the spinal fluid to be drawn for testing, as they are checking for any cancerous cells in the brain stem. For these procedures Zachary would be given Demerol. This would make him quite relaxed, a little sleepy, very chatty, and you never knew what he was going to want to talk about next.
Zachary was laying on the gurney and his little, pale face was chatting up a storm about something. As the medical staff was prepping him for this particular procedure he began to sing. The song he sang still melts my heart every time I hear it to this day. He started to sing Lee Greenwood’s, “God Bless the USA”. When I think about this moment I can picture Zach’s little face while he was lying on the hospital bed softly singing out the words, “And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free”. I cried like a baby for half an hour. It was such a sweet, memorable moment my words here can barely do justice to the emotions I was feeling. This is one of those stories that will be forever ingrained in my brain. This was the sweetest moment ever with my baby boy.
After this happened my Mom sent a letter to Lee Greenwood about Zach singing his song, and Lee sent Zach a nice hat and an autographed picture as a gift. A grand gesture for my little 10-year-old battling the chemo mapping and procedures.
This summer will mark Zach’s 11th year cancer free. We are forever thankful for the tremendous care, love and support he got at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital.
Today is Zach’s birthday, and he is doing so well. He is married, has a lovely wife and a pet turtle. Zach is way less schmoopy about remembering all he’s been through. His mother gets teary eyed at the drop of a hat thinking about times gone by, and what we all went through together in 2001. But my heart is also overflowing with love, pride, and admiration because all of my kids have lived the definition of perseverance. They all know that at any given moment if they are faced with difficult circumstances they can find a way to push through and they will be just fine on the other side of life.
Just know that this is another one of those families stories just waiting for the right moment to be told. Today is the day for this one.