If you've experienced pediatric cancer first hand, you'd understand that there are so many dynamics in this one sweet picture.
While I could post pictures of Savannah in Brave Gowns (which I'm sure I will), this picture really hit home to me, for various reasons. Let's start with the obvious. Savannah has Leukemia, which was what my brother, Mac had. The difference there is that, Savannah, also known to me as "Punky Brewster" is battling it for her second time at the precious age of seven. My wish for her is to be back in her new house with her brother and sister and going to school with friends, but as I've said before, she has a spirit second to none, so I'm sure she'll be home soon.
The next thing I see in the top left, is the chair with bedding on it. That chair. That darn chair. That chair might be comfortable for a night or two, but often nine months later a parent is still sleeping on it, still listening to the machines beeping night after night, still knowing the nurses are sneaking in as quiet as possible to check stats and to administer medicine, while praying and hoping for this all to be over soon. This one prayer made me realize to pray and ask more specifically in life, because while I often prayed for it to be over, I had to look back and make sure that I was praying for Mac to be better, to be healthy and to be home. I had to check in with myself and make sure that I didn't ask for it to be specifically over, but in the moment, that's all you want. You want life to go back to normal, but little did we know, we would have a new normal going home without Mac.
Now on to what is one of my favorite memories! Those darn chicken wings. I follow Savannah's story (you should too) @teamSavannahwristbands and her mom, Cheryl, posts pictures of her and Savannah's journey and quite often Savannah is eating a huge healthy plate of food! Well, when I saw her genuinely enjoying her chicken wings, I laughed with such bittersweet memories. One of the reasons I created Brave Gowns, was to give the children more choices. They're in the hospital for weeks, months and sometimes years. They have such little choices due to treatments, low blood counts, low immune systems, etc...So, if they have the choice of what Brave Gown they want or what super power they need for that day or what they want to eat, then so be it. It's our job to give them what they need to fight during these horrific times.
Well, one thing we learned during transplant is that you can't have fresh food. No fresh vegetables, no fresh fruit. Organic or not, due to the risk of pesticides on the produce and having such weak immune systems. So, when I saw Savannah eating the wings, it hit me that 15 years ago seemed like yesterday. Mac loved food and when you mix that with prednisone, morphine and being tired, we watched his personality morph from a 10 year-old boy to a 90 year-old man. He had us jumping through hoops and driving from drive-thru to drive-thru and heaven's forbid, if one of the workers accidentally put lettuce on his spicy chicken sandwich. Even if the lettuce touched the patty, he couldn't eat it. If we brought it back and there was a slice of tomato or a piece of lettuce on that thing, it would go flying across the room like a Frisbee. When he was eating, we'd stand in the corner of the room and silently watch him like one of those old, Life cereal commercials, hoping that "Mikey liked it." We had to hustle him for 99 cents of his $100 McDonald's gift card to get him a McChicken sandwich. This was pre-ATM and using credit cards at fast-food restaurants.
My favorite food memory was when I was four months pregnant with my daughter, and Mac wanted Arby's. I'm telling you, I was like Ubereats, before it even existed. But any ways, he wanted Arby's. On my way there I got rear-ended. I called my mom to tell her what happened and that I wouldn't be back as quickly as we thought and all I could hear in the background was Mac yelling, "But does she have my food? Summer, did you get my food? She better have my food." We actually laughed even back then. How could you not.
They're not snotty kids.
Anywhere they can find a way to get even a little control, they do. Months go by and they're tired. They don't feel good. They see seasons changing. Holiday's come and go. They want to be home with their families, their friends, their dogs and they want to go to school. They have every right to be frustrated. At that point, you're just so darn thankful they're eating, because there are definitely days they don't and that's not a good sign.
For the next 36 hours, Savannah is going through a vigorous treatment. Please send prayers, strength, sleep and hope their way. They are a team and fighters, but no one can train for what they're living through on a daily basis. This is why Brave Gowns means so much to me. I understand what these families are going through first hand and every Brave Gown I send out, has a piece of my heart with it.
Above is a couple cute pictures of Savannah rocking her Brave Gowns with her mom Cheryl!
God Bless them.~Summer