2016 started on a positive note, marking what will be the year that Poppy’s treatment finishes. It felt good to have something so momentous to look forward to, finally a light at the end of what has been a very long road.
As with all new years, I often start by thinking backwards to what has passed too. And, an email from Word press on New years Day gave me the disturbing news that I’d only written two blog posts last year. Pretty bad form by me, and I wrong I intend to right this year.
I remember reading somewhere that ALL blogs tend to get pretty dull when patients start maintenance, as nothing much happens worth writing about. I dispute that theory though. Certainly things may not have been as dramatic as the early days of diagnosis and the first stages of treatment. But, I don’t think that being on treatment for Leukaemia could ever be described as dull. More that we have settled into a routine which still involves frequent hospital visits and medicine. It’s become a way of life for us as a family, Poppy’s bedtime routine is medicine (chemo), brush teeth and bed. It’s only when I relay our schedule to others that they seem surprised at what it involves. We’re still in hospital regularly, checking temperatures frequently, and watching Poppy have chemo in her line and a course of steroids every four weeks…
Poppy’s world may keep turning but there is not a day that goes by when cancer and treatment are not a part of it. We see Poppy doing so well and looking so healthy, but terrible news from hospital can filter through of children the same age not being so lucky, and you can be brought back down to earth with a bump.
I suppose what I’m trying to explain that it makes life feel extra fragile. And, I assume it always will. Our future may be finally looking positive, but it will never feel the same again. I think all our lives have changed beyond measure. I know I’m certainly not the same person I was two years ago.
Generally speaking Poppy has been pretty well and healthy. The latter part of 2015 saw some pretty big changes for us all. In September of last year, Poppy started school. A huge achievement in so many ways. And, something I could never imagine her being well enough to do.
Poppy’s school have been exceptional with the care and support they have shown towards her. Helpfully the nursery she attended was part of the school so everything was already very familiar to her. Before she began I liaised with the staff, and a MacMillan nurse came along and we were able to ensure everyone was up to speed. It was a difficult meeting for me, as I felt there was a difficult balance to strike between meeting Poppy’s additional needs but not wanting to single her out as different in anyway. In many ways it felt as though starting Reception was a fresh start for Poppy, so different to when she started nursery and looked visibly ill with no hair, and underweight. As the classes had changed, not all the children and their families knew Poppy – she didn’t just have to be the little girl who had cancer any more.
She could just be Poppy. The one with the red hair. And she was. I found I would instinctively want to talk about Poppy’s treatment to the new parents I was meeting – but stopping myself, as amazingly it wasn’t what they knew her for.
Adjustments all round. The new school year of course meant thirty children spreading germs and it wasn’t long until we found ourselves back in hospital. Poppy seemed to catch every virus going and at one point she had an ear infection, a chest infection and the flu. This also coincided with Oscar starting nursery (and him making his feelings very clear that he was not pleased about it every time I dropped him off) and us moving house. They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do, but although it was we couldn’t have been happier to leave our old house – with too many bad memories and everything good tainted by it being the place where the worst time of our lives occurred.
So the year sped on and before we knew it we were in our happy house with Poppy settled at school and doing well. Oscar was even crying less and less when we took him to nursery… It’s easy to become superstitious when you have faced what we have with Poppy and I am a worrier by nature, but perhaps finally we were beginning to see some light creep through the dark. We’ve had the date through for her end of treatment and the point that I could never let myself imagine in those early days, finally seems within our grasp.