Today marks FIVE years since Mollie's initial diagnosis with ALL.
Since Mollie's chemotherapy treatment ended, life has been full of all kinds of wonderful and challenging adventures. Mollie has been in dance performances, girl scouts, taken tennis lessons, and played her first season of basketball. We live in California now! Life is full of family, beautiful weather and landscapes, new and old friends, weekend adventures, church, school, work, etc.
Matt and I still think about leukemia often. Not every day, but often. I can still hear the exact inflection in Dr. Vega's voice when he said to us, "She has leukemia." The hectic events just before and after getting the diagnosis come back to me in flashes. My stomach still drops in that same way when Mollie has a fever or seems lethargic and ill.
When we first started reading the treatment protocol, 5 years seemed like a lifetime away.
Yet here we are. These 5 years have been a second chance. Mollie has turned into a wonderful, sweet, warm-hearted person! She is healthy, confident, sharp as a tack, and just cares so much about PEOPLE! I no longer keep calendars for medications, place hand sanitizer on every horizontal surface, or carry a Huber needle and EMLA cream in my purse.
I feel a little ambivalent about this day. Yes, five year event free survival rates are used as an endpoint to assess the effectiveness of different treatment protocols. And the risk of relapse drops (I think- will double check the numbers with the doc tomorrow). But those numbers don't predict what is going to happen to my family, my child.
Cancer took away our sense of ease and safety. I am keenly aware that life could change, again, for us in a heartbeat. Doctors and scientists are still learning, along with us parents, what the long term effects of 3 years of oral, IV, and intrathecal chemotherapy are on growing bodies and minds.
Mollie is sure of herself, yet aware of her limitations. She knows about her health issues and is motivated to exercise, eat healthy foods, and take care of her body. Though it won't be carefree, I am very hopeful for her future.
My heart goes out especially to the families of those children that didn't make it to five years. And those who continue to struggle.
Mollie is excited to host her first ever lemonade stand to raise money for the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation in honor of this momentous occasion. Please find her fundraising page here and stop by in person if you are local!