Monday, July 29, 2013

Back to and from the Island...........

So it hits me…. I’m at lunch, my cell phone rings… there in BIG BOLD letters…. CANCER CENTER. I hadn’t REALLY forgotten about “them”. How could I? It’s always in the back of my head. “Three month scans next month,” but until that phone rang, it wasn’t a reality. It was just on my to do list. NOW, it’s Leena calling to schedule the scans. Partially freaked out, I tell her now is not a good time, I will call her tomorrow. I'm not ready to do this, I've just had a wonderfully, peaceful weekend camping and kayaking with my girlfriend who visited from Tennessee and I don't want to be jarred back into reality just yet. What difference is one day going to make.

As you can tell, the blogging has slowed way down. We have been living our lives, as if every day were out last.  Mom, Zack, his friend Garret and I were fortunate enough to make a trip just after July 4th to Jekyll Island, GA. A gift, mom said from “someone”, she is never allowed to share whom. Grateful and eager to get away from the weeks of thunder storms and constant rain, I jump at it. Frank was unable to go as he has several contracts, for which we are equally grateful. I rent a larger car for the trip, as the two “boys” are 17, but each over 6 feet tall. To say we had a blast is an understatement. Mom and I haven’t seen Zack this funny and relaxed in a long time. Garrett (Biscuit to Zack’s Jelly) and Zack have known each other a long time. They have recently re connected through mutual friends. Both like to hunt, trap, fish, work on cars and of course girl watching is a constant with these two.  

Mom could never remember his nickname so she started a new one “Cookie” is how we now address him. He took to it pretty quickly and didn’t seem to mind. With the two together it was an ongoing comedy. This was “Cookie’s” first trip to the ocean, so it was awesome to witness through another's eyes. He immediately fell in love with the ocean. He and Zack spent hours in the water, jumping, diving into and running away from the waves as they were breaking over their heads.  Mom stayed in the room most of the time, it was simply too hot and humid for her, but after two days I arranged for us to move upstairs for a better view of the ocean. All she wanted, was to be away on a break and see the ocean.

View of Mom from above
We would spend the days at the pool or ocean and a couple of times would run out in the early morning to visit the little shops on the Island. Our ultimate adventure was to climb 133 stairs to the top of the light house in nearby St. Simmons Island. This was something on my personal “bucket list”. Having had a fear of heights 

most of my adult life and having conquered it by zip lining two years ago, this was just another challenge I wanted to conquer.  Since the end of treatment, I challenge myself to do new adventures, some think to remind myself that I am alive; mostly I feel it’s to remind myself that I am grateful. Though Zack does have a fear of heights, he climbed to the top and stood at the doorway. That, was something I never would have been able to do before, with my fear, so I’m immensely proud of him for going that far. 
Panoramic View from Light house
Of course a trip to the Island is not complete without our usual fresh off the boat crab legs and shrimp lunch at the Warf. What was wonderful was Cookie announced he was taking us all out and wouldn’t hear no!! THIS from a 16 year old!! It was truly generous of him and we graciously accepted. We stayed a total of five nights, staying one night on the road. It was the perfect way to begin our summer, get plenty of sun, rest and fun all in one, not to mention more memories.

As I sat there on the beach, I couldn't help but remember where we were exactly a year ago. Zack was healing from the surgery that removed the tumor and we all we innocent of the future our life would hold. We "knew" it would be full of appointments, chemotherapy and radiation, whatever THAT meant. We simply guessed at how we would all handle this, how we would make it through the year. Little did we know, we would all become warriors in the fight of our lives. Here we are now. I'm not even sure how we have made it. Zack certainly has made the journey easier than I ever could have at his age. His strength, determination and total lack of self pity has taught many of us a lesson. We have all changed and for the better. Anyone that has come in contact with him, can't help but change. Yes, he has had moments of despair and anger, but when looking at the big picture, he stood strong and in spite of some of the obstacles throughout the year and the many changes he was forced to endure, he made us all proud to be with him.

It's hard to stay in that dark place. He has been cancer free since the removal of the tumor. In many cases, it returns, even during treatment. His has not! Many children have lost their lives this past year to this horrible type of cancer. Many more were diagnosed, with little hope, and yet there were equal amounts of NED (No evidence of disease) and celebrations across the globe. Having become connected with a few intimate sites involving Ewings Sarcoma, we become a unit, a family of Heroes, Warriors and Angels.  Did I ever see myself and my family in this light? No, never, but I am a better person for having this experience. 

The little pleasures mean so much more. Even to Zack, who still is running 1000 miles an hour. After returning from the Island, he has been going to more movies, swimming, hanging out at bonfires with his friends, starting his training at Rescue Squad, working on trucks, "chasing" girls. He is back to working at least three days with Frank and though it's not his perfect idea of a job, he loves the paychecks and what they can afford him. We see him less and less, as he returns home at 10, 11 and when he can really push the envelope, midnight. He reminds us that he will soon be 18 and we calmly remind him of the cost of living away from home and the fact that there are still rules to follow. With the rolling of his eyes he says, "I guess I can take it two more years". Oh the memories THAT brings back to when I was his age!!!

It's breathtaking to witness him coming back to life. His eyebrows full and brushy, his eyelashes the envy of every young girl and woman who would love to have half the fullness and length from a bottle of mascara. His hair is returning with a light blonde color, feeling like a babies hair, so soft to the touch, you can't stop "petting" him. 

He is in the works with Make a Wish to have his truck painted, detailed, new tires and rims and a "lift". Which pretty much means it is going to be higher than it currently is. He is so excited, he can't wait! He starts school in a couple of weeks with a full course load. He is anxious, but since having taken and passed his math entrance test, he's more secure in returning to school. So far all of his classes involve automotive, but the lady who signed him up, didn't realize he was getting his Associates, so that may change a bit. 

Well, having returned from the Island, the lake and any other place I could hide out, tomorrow is another day. I WILL call the Cancer Center, schedule his three month scans and KNOW that everything is going to be just fine!!!! Right?

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