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Again, where has the time gone? So much has happened in the last couple of weeks and we have lots to report on. It was JB’s idea to write a “Thanksgiving message” for Mac’s website and it was me who fell down on the job and never got the post up last week. Better late then never, right? The day before Thanksgiving we woke up early and started to talk about all the things that we have to be thankful for…you could see the wheels turning in JB’s head. He so poignantly noted, “We have a lot of things to be thankful for.” I agreed. We took turns saying what we were thankful for and JB’s list, not surprisingly, far surpassed ours. Marshall and I said things like we were thankful for our family and friends who love us and for Mac’s doctors. JB’s list included the following:

I am thankful for my family and really Mac; I am also thankful for Dr. Carrye and Dr. Nick (Mac’s doctors); I am thankful for my school and my house; I am thankful for the balloon fairy (who drops two balloons on our doorstep every Tuesday after chemo); and I am really thankful for all these presents and especially for Toy Thursday from Karen (and David) Landsdowne.

I thought it was a pretty good list.

We had a great Thanksgiving dinner with all of our family together. Usually, between the Campbell’s, the Breit’s, and the Wilhelm’s, there is a cast of thousands at holiday dinners. This year, because of Mac’s condition, we scaled back. Although we missed all of our guests, it was nice to be low-key… and to serve a gourmet meal on paper plates (my brilliant idea that Mar and Ga agreed to!!).

About three weeks ago, Denver had a week of brutally cold weather. Up until that week, Mac and I had been getting out for walks regularly, since otherwise we were cooped up in the house all day. Well, with the frigid temperatures and Mac’s counts being down, we spent that entire week inside – literally, all week, with the exception of chemo, without a trip out. So, by Friday night, when Marshall came home from work, the boys and I told him that we must get out. Marshall’s response was that we weren’t supposed to take Mac out. I knew that and thought – to hell with the rules tonight, we are going out! Both boys knew we were breaking loose and were so excited!

At 8pm that night, when most reasonable parents are putting their kids to bed, we were bundling our kids up and taking them out! As we loaded into the car, we called Mar and Pa (Marsha and David) to either one, say goodnight, or two, invite them with us on our jail break. They were in! So we picked them up and all piled into our car for an adventurous Friday night! We went to a great Mexican restaurant that we love and we had an awesome dinner. I was nervous about bringing Mac out in public and planned to wipe down our table and the highchair at the restaurant with my Clorox wipes. We discussed on the car ride over how I would tell the waitress who seated us that we mean no disrespect to them by sanitizing their furniture, but that we had a sick baby and needed to do it. As we were being seated, I told the waitress just that. JB then chimed in “Mac has cancer and chemo and is bald and that is why he can’t be around any germs and why we needed to disinfect his highchair.” Oh boy. Such a talker he is! I then explained how much we just needed to get out of our house and this was the place we wanted to come. The next thing we know, a round of margaritas was delivered to our table from the owner. She told us she was honored that we chose her restaurant to come to, especially given the circumstances. It was so thoughtful… and of course, brought tears to my eyes.

And the waterworks continue for me these days… I find myself tearing up (or down right crying) more and more. Whether it is looking out my bedroom window to see my neighbors raking our leaves, or going into JB’s classroom for the Thanksgiving lunch and seeing a basket the size of a trash can filled with “chemo day” presents, food, and gift cards from all the kids and families in JB’s classroom, or finally being able to return to work where I could not ask for two more incredible bosses or a more supportive group of colleagues, or standing in the elevator at Children’s holding Mac when a random woman nods and says to me that God only picks the children with perfectly round heads to get cancer, because they still look so beautiful even after their hair falls out. I never use to be a crier… for better or worse, that has now changed.

One of the things that has been really difficult for us over the past several weeks (that we were just recently able to articulate) is that we are now “on the other end.” Both Marshall and I are usually the ones meeting others, our clients, who are in crisis, who have hit their rock bottom, and who desperately need our help, our advice, our counseling. Often, they are the ones crying. We are the ones in control, who provide guidance and expertise to those in need. Although not a truly accurate comparison between these legal and medical realms, the tables have now turned, and we are the ones who are desperately seeking help and guidance and advice from Mac’s doctors. We are not in control of this situation and it is such a hard thing.

In the interest of not turning this “update” into a novel, here is my last story. Earlier this week, a nasty stomach flu hit the older generation at our house. I was the first one down, and Marshall followed the next day. It was brutal and thankfully the boys never got it because we were able to ship them each to a respective grandparents’ house for 48 hours. Again, what would we do without Mar and Pa and Ga and Gumpy who step up to the plate on a moments notice. I was even too sick to take Mac to chemo on Tuesday so my mom, Marsha and David stood in. They were incredible – they texted a play-by-play, all Mac’s lab counts, everything they knew I was at home wondering anxiously about. They called themselves “Chemo Team B” — I call them Chemo Team A+.

Through all of the pain, grief and heartache we have been hit with, I wonder, everyday, how it is affecting our boys. At times I try to convince myself that Mac is too young to remember this when he gets older, but I have a feeling that no child who goes through cancer, even a child of Mac’s age, escapes this experience without it somehow being ingrained in who they are. Mac has such a sweet, strong spirit – even on really tough days. He is gentle, but he is a fighter. I know he will beat this cancer and he will go on. What will JB take away from all of this? I think what he will take away is how many people love him and his family…that generosity and kindness to others are good things and make the world a better place… that even when life gets really, really hard (because cancer f*u*ing sucks), you still go on…