Thursday, July 25, 2013

Good Experiences

Life is full of experiences and opportunities, right? There are a lot of interesting opportunities and experiences that come with a cancer diagnosis. Some of them are quite amazing -- and when you start to get excited about them, then you realize why they're happening. It does take a little bit of the wind out of your sails. Sometimes the experiences are just for Sam, but often we can involve other members of the family. Sometimes they're planned and sometimes they just come up. Either way, however, they do help to make each day a little more full of joy.

This week, our awesome friend Susie Sherman helped to set up a behind-the-scenes tour with Dr. Bruce Beehler, Deputy Zoo Director of the Milwaukee County Zoo. As you've noticed from some of our earlier posts, my family loves the zoo. Especially Sam. This was a pretty big deal! Sam and Yael (and Dad!) were joined by our friends Tricia and Talah, while I stayed home with Solly who wasn't quite ready for the tour at his age. Dr. Beehler introduced them to an octopus, took them to see the quarantined-fish-tank, showed them a 100-year-old turtle and gave them a  bird's eye view of the shark tank. They also rode around the zoo in a golf cart and learned a lot about the zoo and its animals! The Milwaukee Zoo has a train that travels around the property, and they also saw the handmade steam engine that was part of the original train project. It was pretty amazing, and Sam was overjoyed to tell me all about it. Thank you so much to Susie and to Dr. Beehler -- what a wonderful experience!
From an earlier zoo trip this week, with Sam's buddy Nick, who came to visit:
Rabbi Steve came to visit and brought along a Segway for Sam to ride on. I took a deep breath, laughed, and said ok....luckily Rabbi Steve knows me very well and he brought along a helmet! It started out with an insistence that Sam ride WITH the really-a-big-kid-rabbi, but Sam quickly convinced him that he could ride by himself. Now THAT was fun -- watching Rabbi Steve run alongside the Segway was a highlight of my week! (Thanks, Rabbi Steve!)
Sam and Dad discovered the Dave and Buster's nearby (it's an arcade), and had a few happy moments there this week too. They had one of those "experiences" when a worker at the place noticed Sam's t-shirt that says "We Don't Back Down to Cancer" -- and he opened up the tickets and gifted Sam with quite a few. It was fun and wonderful...and one of those experiences that I wish we just didn't ever have to have....but what a sweet and generous gesture from that employee!
Speaking of generosity, one of our greatest experiences in the last week has been all the mail we're receiving! Each day we get a huge load of packages and we have the delight of opening them and delivering the contents to the Ronald McDonald House staff. Yesterday, we even helped to process the DVDs -- opening them and adding identifying stickers to each movie. We are overwhelmed with your generosity, and we love the way that it lets US feel that we are contributing to our stay here at this remarkable place. We thank you! (There are still items available on the Amazon Wish List here. I think we will continue to add items as the House tells us of various stay tuned.)
I think this was just ONE day's worth of mail!
Processing and delivering toys and DVDs
(Full disclosure: Solly did NOT want to relinquish some of the toys intended for the playroom. So we played with them in our room for a few minutes and then he insisted on carrying this toy himself!)

We met this week with the doctor who will be overseeing Sam's bone marrow transplant. He said to us, "just keep doing what you're doing." He meant that we should continue to keep Sam upbeat, engaged, active, and of course, healthy. I must admit, this job is actually quite exhausting! Today Sam fell down and skinned his knee. A totally "normal" moment, but of course, it led to a great deal of internal panic not only on our part, but Sam's too. He was so scared that something terrible had happened. It took a while for it to stop bleeding, since his platelets are a little bit low, and we did make a quick phone call over to the HOT Unit just to check in and make sure we didn't need to do anything else in a precautionary sense. It just underscored the precariousness of our situation. For the most part, things feel "normal" -- the chemo seems to be having little negative effect on Sam. So we have to hope that inside the deepest recesses of his cell structure, it's doing its job....and in the meantime, we just try to experience as much as we can.


  1. Please let Sam know that he will be receiving a free copy of the book "Yoga for Children: 200+ Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, and Meditations for Healthier, Happier, More Resilient Children" by Lisa Flynn. He was the A Way to Give nominee in the winning entry from Jessica Millen. I included you on the e-mail as well :)

  2. Thanks for sharing - Sam and the whole family are always in my thoughts and I check-in on a regular basis to read on the progress. This post reminds me to stop and appreciate life & the present moment, even the seemingly small moments. Your positivity is inspiring.