When I began this blog 1 1/2 years ago it was designated as a “housewife writer dishes on combining writing with motherhood.” Then, as I got deeper into work on my book about couponing, I started integrating information about saving money with coupons. Having gone through a cancer journey with my husband in 2006, I thought I had put talk of cancer behind me. Then my mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in August and cancer reared its ugly head in my life once again. My mother died on November 3, 2010, on my 51st birthday. Since her death became a spiritual experience for me, I also wrote about that. Still, I was relieved to return to my talk of combining motherhood with writing and for regaling everyone with my great couponing skills.
Now I have hundreds of people checking my blog daily for news of my five-year-old grandson Jacob and I feel a responsibility to keep sharing those updates. Not only that, but as a writer, I write about whatever is all-consuming in my life, and right now that is Jacob and his family. In the last few days I have been scouring the Internet for information regarding this type of cancer along with perusing blogs of parents who are facing a Wilms tumor diagnosis. There are special websites either Elizabeth (Jacob’s mother) or I could use to keep family and friends updated but right now neither one of us has the time nor the inkling to create one of those. I haven’t wanted to take pictures of Jacob in the hospital bed or photos of his abdominal scar for garnering sympathy nor for cataloging a pictorial history of his journey. I won’t be taking pictures of his little bald head for posterity either. I won’t need to. Every time I close my eyes at night, the pictures are there in my mind; his huge brown eyes pooling with tears of pain, his brave little smile in the face of more medical procedures, the little pictures of army guys and army tanks that he draws on the chalk boards in the waiting room during endless waits.
Yesterday I went with Elizabeth, Ben and Jacob to the University of Iowa hospital to speak with the medical and radiation oncologists. After much discussion,Elizabeth and Ben decided on enrolling Jacob in the UH-1 study. I was proud of both of them as they asked questions, weighed options and struggled to come up with a decision. I loved the radiation oncologist and appreciated the “connection” with someone on the medical team. “Are you big risk-takers in the rest of your life?” he asked when they said they hadn’t made a final decision yet. When he told them that there was no “wrong” decision, that they had to make the decision they could live with, I wanted to hug him. This chosen treatment will hit Jacob hard and fast, with both radiation and a combination of five chemotherapy drugs. Jacob had his first radiation late in the afternoon and started throwing up right before his first chemotherapy treatment. Ben and I had to leave Jacob and Elizabeth in the hospital overnight while we came home, where Emily and David were watching Jo-Jo and Becca. Jo-Jo ran to me and hugged me, as if never to let go, tugging my grandma heartstrings. He misses his big brother. He misses his mother.
Jacob had his second radiation treatment this morning and will return for daily treatments for 11-13 days. He will have chemotherapy once a week for 4 weeks and beginning the 4th week will start a regimine of chemotherapy that alternately requires 4-5 days of treatment in the hospital. This treatment lasts 30 weeks, so Jacob will be 6 years old by the time he completes it. He will get regular scans throughout, to see if the treatment is working. His first scan will be at week 13.
In the meantime, friends, family, and perfect strangers ask how they can help this young family. I will be caring for my two other grandchildren most of the time so babysitting probably isn’t needed, but food, gas cards and maybe an occasional offer of doing laundry or cleaning house would be helpful. And, of course, the prayers are invaluable. As suggested by one of my readers, I have spent a better part of the day attempting to put a donation button on the side of my blog with little success. I’ll be turning that task over to my son Dan, I’m afraid. It may end up being a Facebook page instead. In the meantime, if your heart leads you to help financially, Elizabeth’s paypal e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org Donations can be targeted “For Jacob.”