I have had this post written up for days now, but every time I go to publish it I stop myself. I just don't feel like I have done Cami and this last year justice. I have made multiple collages, typed up stories, and rearranged pictures, but still it just doesn't seem right.
I have come to the conclusion, that no matter how badly I want to share with you all how truly difficult this last year was...
No matter how hard I try to write the stories of the miracles that we have witnessed..
No matter how badly I want to describe the ache I have felt in my heart watching my daughter suffer countless times...
and no matter how badly I want to properly thank all of the countless people who have swooped in and literally taken over where this exhausted cancer mom has left off..
I cant do this last year justice, no matter how hard I try, so Im going to stop trying. I am so glad we made it past this year. Cami has been a trooper through it all and no matter how hard I try to tell her how honored I am to be the mother of such a brave, courageous, vivacious, spunky little 5 year old...
So here is my simple tribute to Cami and the last year we have spent fighting... and WINNING!
Here is Cami in November 2009, exactly 8 months before she was diagnosed.
This was before those cancerous cells entered her body.
This was Cami healthy and normal.
Here is our sick little girl just a few days after being diagnosed. She just looks so sick.
This picture brings back all the fear I felt those first few weeks. It makes me sad.
You can read about Cami's diagnosis here.
One of the child life specialists in the hospital recommended we get Cami's pictures taken before her hair started to fall out so she could look back and remember it. We liked that idea.
This picture was taken about 10 days after Cami was diagnosed.
I love these pictures, but you can see the dark circles and paleness starting to kick in.
The first phase of treatment was a full month of intense STEROIDS + chemo. Those steroids are nasty little drugs. I think it was the hardest month of my life and I wasn't even the one taking them! Cami literally only slept for about an hour at a time through the night, but other than that she was completely wired. She would come in our room begging for food and she would scream at the top of her lungs until she got it. In fact, if you so much as looked at her the wrong way it was full-blown roid rage. She was scary and miserable. She would say "Im sorry, I don't know why Im acting like this, but my mind is forcing me to be evil". Poor thing. I look back on that first month and it gives me the shivers.
It was that bad.
Here's a picture I snapped of Cami coming into our room asking for more quesadillas at 3AM.
Yes... we woke up multiple times each night and heated up the pan to make quesadillas. The steroids also made Cami's legs hurt, so those are ice packs wrapped around her ankles. This picture sums up that first month almost perfectly, except she usually didn't have a grin on her face.
This picture cracks me up, but at the time it was so far from being funny.
Cami TRIPLED her body weight in just one month thanks to those darn steroids. She couldn't even walk the last week because she got so big.
Here she is next to my 8 months pregnant sister.
Next her hair started falling out in huge clumps, landing in her food, itching her all day long and leaving her with a bald spot. It was time to say goodbye and get it over with in one swift buzz.
Cami was ready, and as always... I wasn't quite as brave.
The next treatment phase is heavy-duty chemo. This stuff is so toxic, that you are only allowed to be given it ONCE in a lifetime. It can cause heart damage and all sorts of other scary side effects. This is where Cami got super skinny (she lost all the weight she had gained and more), she was sick and weak most of the time and she was taking narcotics every day for pain.
This is how we drove around.
Barf bucket and Froggy. Check.
Here she is getting the 'red devil' chemo. Nasty stuff.
Cami has had dozens of back pokes and bone marrow aspirates over the last year.
She had to get multiple blood transfusions and we spent lots of time in the ER with fevers.
Her home health nurse practically lived at our house, not that she needed to come at all.
Cami learned how to do it all on her own and took every opportunity we'd let her practice.
Cami also had to learn how to swallow pills. It was so hard for her at first, but now she is a little pro. Here she is taking 13 pills AT ONCE! (sorry about the crying 2 year old in the back ground).
Cami also got to do lots of fun things this year!
She got to be the parade royalty in the Ogden city christmas parade and she got to flip the switch with Santa to turn on the city lights and welcome the season.
The Jazz Bear came to our house to visit.
We welcomed two new cousins into our family.
She had her wish granted by Make-A-Wish and we all got to spend 10 glorious days in Disney World.
Cami FINALLY got her puppy she has been dreaming of for years.
And she made it to maintenance! We have found a new normal in our lives, balancing pills and Dr. schedules, learning to be flexible (because you never know when those levels might be low or when a fever might pop up), we have made new friends and lost too many of those friends, we have learned to enjoy the moment and love with every fiber of our soul. This year has been the most difficult year of our lives, but the lessons and experiences we have gained are something we wouldn't trade for anything. Cancer has changed us forever.
In many ways, this year was the first year of the rest of our lives.
Cami has been saving all of her medical bracelets. She gets one each time we go to clinic, or the ER, or to the RTU, etc. She has close to 100! That is more than any one person should have in a lifetime.
Cami still has a long road ahead. As long as everything goes smoothly her last treatment is scheduled for September 2012.
Im sure there will be bumps along the way, but I KNOW there will be precious, happy, wonderful moments that we will cherish forever.