Five months in and I'm not "ok" - as I often get asked- no one could be in this situation. I struggle every day. I am able to stay busy during the day and I don't really slow down enough to think about what's going on. I stay mostly positive around the kids, friends, and family...that's my job. Things are often different when I am alone. I'm awake in the middle of the night most of the time...thinking about how this all could play out. I often focus on the sadness of the situation itself. I have anxiety about what Caroline (and Margaret/our family) is/are about to experience over the coming months (surgery, 2 rounds of high-dose chemo, 2 transplants, radiation, immunotherapy). I am not looking forward to being 30 minutes away from Margaret and Caroline for weeks at a time. I'm sad that Andrew won't be able to see his whole family every day. I'm upset that Margaret and Caroline will most likely be quarantined to a small hospital room for days or weeks at a time. This whole thing is awful really, but we can't focus on that all the time - we have to be productive and keep moving forward like #carolinestrong does. Caroline is a warrior and an angel, and Margaret should qualify for sainthood for what she is doing for our family. I appreciate their hard work and sacrifices every day. I appreciate the care and love the Vanderbilt team gives to our daughter. Those folks are amazing and always go above and beyond for our family. We have received an enormous amount of support from family (all who live out of town), friends, neighbors, strangers and co-workers - we appreciate every one of you. We have a long way to go, and this upcoming stretch over the summer is going to be the hardest to date. We will need a lot more help, so a BIG Thank You in advance for your continued support. #FTGF
In one day, my life literally, completely changed. Not only did I find out that our daughter - my walking heartbeat - had cancer with a statistically terrible prognosis, but I also instantly knew that the care she needed would mean I had to step away from my career -- something that has defined me and has been a source of fulfillment my entire adult life. I lost my "life plan," my job, and my children's innocence, all in one fell swoop. Over the last 5 months, I have had all the typical emotions people would expect with this sort of news, but most consistently I feel three things: sad, grateful and humbled. I cry almost every morning at the gym, so that I can stay positive the rest of the day for the kids, and then let it back out again at night when they're in bed. This morning I heard a song with a line in it that I can't stop thinking about: "better than I used to be." As crazy as it sounds, I feel "better than I used to be," before she was diagnosed. I feel lucky that I get to take care of Caroline...I feel lucky that Mark was supportive of me instantly walking away from my job, taking on the burden of providing for our family alone, while he's coping with the diagnosis as well. He has been a rock for our family, and we are in a good place. I've had lots of time to reflect, and I truly feel like God has been preparing me for this diagnosis since she was born (and probably even before). Caroline and I have always had a special connection, but this has taken us beyond. Her spirit inspires me every minute of every day...she's my light. Every morning I wake up and remember she has cancer...it's like a nightmare groundhog day situation...but then she wakes up with a smile on her face, and I have a reason to fight through the sadness. I feel more gratitude in my heart than ever before. I cherish family time and friendships more than ever before. I also feel so humbled by everyone that has shown up for us: family, friends, friends of friends, neighbors, co-workers, complete strangers! My eyes are open, and my heart is forever changed. I have had a lot of anxiety recently, probably because I am trying to mentally prepare myself for what is ahead. I've already spent so many nights holding my daughter in the middle of the night in the hospital bed, as poison is pumping into her little body, aching and wishing I could take her place...I'm not looking forward to more nights of that, and we haven't even gotten to the hard part yet. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for holding us up and walking us through this devastating time...I can't say that enough. Thank you.
To quote him directly..."I'm good." You don't get too much out of this 10 year-old boy, but we think he is doing as well as we can expect. His routine has stayed relatively normal with school and sports. He plays with his friends every chance he gets, and does all of the usual "stuff" kids do at his age. He's very protective and loving to Caroline, but they still annoy each other like typical siblings!
(We asked her if she had anything to say to everyone who is praying for her)
Caroline's surgery is scheduled for 8am on Friday (4/27). The surgery is expected to last about 6 hours. The tumor will be removed, and she will also have a Hickman line placed (in addition to the port-a-cath she already has). We are going to lay low for the rest of the week and just spend time together as a family. Mark will post an immediate update on Facebook when she is out of surgery, and a blog post will follow later that day. Thank you in advance for all of the prayers and thoughts that will be lifted in her name on Friday. We have faith in God, confidence in her surgery team, and comfort in all of your thoughts and prayers.
***If you have any #carolinestrong gear, please wear it on Friday and think of her. If you don't have any, please wear yellow/gold, which is the awareness color for childhood cancer.
Words will never be able to adequately express our gratitude,
The Lantz Family