This is the last one I'll share -
Finally we were told: it was cancer. Our surgeon stopped by this afternoon to tell us that news. He said we should expect to see the oncologist that evening, or over the weekend, and we could start planning treatment. Cancer is something you never ever think your child will get. Isn't it just for old people or smokers? Not your everyday average four year old. We had a lot of decisions to make. We had been told by so many people that St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was the best place to go. We were told by our local hospital that they could do anything St. Jude could do. What we were never told was what that was exactly. The oncologist never came to see us and tell us what our options were. We waited and waited. We mentioned this to the doctors who made morning rounds day after day. We met one who was very concerned about this and encouraged us to go over the oncologist head for answers. We eventually took this as a sign. This sign would be one more thing pointed us to our final desitination
We sat down with our family one night and asked everyone's opinion. We waited and listened to what everyone thought. I had already discussed at length leaving home and going somewhere else for treatment with on of the nurses who had done just that with her child years before. When it really came down to a decision - there wasn't one to be made. St Jude was the best at treating childhood cancer. As my dad said "why go to someone who can do the same as someone else, when you can go directly to the source?" So, that's what we did.
We made plans for someone to take care of our house and yard. We forwarded our mail to my parent's house. They very generously offered to take care of our bills so we could both go to Memphis and be there together with Cole. We were amazed at their generosity, as well as the kindness of strangers. So many people were doing things for us to lend their support.
Less than one month after finding out about the tumor, we dropped out of school, turned in our notice to our jobs and packed up our band new van with everything we thought we could need for 8 weeks and left town. We left our family and friends and headed into uncharted territory. What we would find was the best place in the world! We would find doctors and nurses who would love and care for Cole as if he were their own. We found friends that will last a life time. We found hope, courage, strength and community.
I wouldn't wish this experience on anyone in the world. I certainly wish this it had never happened to us, but looking back, I wouldn't give anything for the experiences we had during this time. The lessons learned will continue to educate us for the rest of our lives.
Just wanted to add, at the time, our hospital in Mobile had one oncologist - only one. They hadn't had a brain tumor kid there in at least ten years. I feel like they did the best they could with what they had. The oncologist finally came to see us but it was the night before we were scheduled to be transported by ambulance, with the van following, to Memphis. Memphis will forever hold a large piece of my heart. The city loves those kids - there aren't tons of funny looks when you are wheeling through Target with your bald kid. No one stared when you quickly left a restaurant because your sweet bald baby boy just threw up on the table. Chick fil a would cook fresh chicken when Cole showed up. So many nice people cared for us there and loved Cole. One day I hope we can give back more than we've done so far. One day, I want to teach there and have Cole there volunteering and playing with kids. I want to be one of those people loving on those sweet babies, hanging out with the teens and painting the girls nails. I want to be there.
It's still a little sad when we go back for check ups - always worried if something will come back - always worried about test results. But it makes me happy at the same time, if that makes sense. We have friends that don't go for check ups because their babies earned their wings and are looking down on us now. I'm so very thankful that's not us, and I'll remember those babies forever.
We were lucky, blessed and fortunate. I'll never take that for granted!!!
Thanks for reading along - if you made it all the way through!!