In April, 2010, when Andrew was 2 1/2, a tumor was discovered behind his eye. The tumor was removed, but it was found to be an aggressive cancer. He endured seven months of chemo and six weeks radiation. In December of 2010, the day after his last treatment, he was rushed to the ER with an almost fatal bacterial infection. He survived.

He is now seven-years-old!! I don't visit here much, because during the ordeal, this is where I dumped everything--my rage, my fear, my sadness, my ugly, my hope, my everything. But I want all of you who supported and prayed for us to hear his updates. You helped me survive, and I am deeply thankful. Every once in awhile, I will check in to let you know how he's doing. Please continue to pray that cancer will never return to his body. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Waking up

He used to tug at my arm when the other boys were at swim lessons.  He wanted me to play with him.  I wanted to do my own thing. I wished he would just play on the jungle gym and entertain himself.  Makes me sick to my stomach now.

I never liked to sit on the floor and play with him.  I would try, and then get very distracted.  I always felt VERY guilty about that, but somehow, the guilt was never enough motivation to get me to sit down and play for very long.  I didn't know he was good at puzzles, and liked the game "Perfection" and already knew lots of his numbers and letters. 

I learned in the hospital playroom.  With a bandage on his head from his brain surgery, he taught me that he loves to paint.  Attached to chemo poles, he taught me that he loves to play "Breaking the Ice." 

I would bring my older boys to gymnastics and he would climb on me and wanted my attention. Once again, I wished he could play alone, so that I could relax.  I wrote this...

I used to be annoyed at bedtime.  GO TO BED! I'm done! 

Now it gets delayed for all of us.  We sit and play a little, read more books, or watch a little show together. 

I sing Andrew songs in bed again.  I hadn't really done that since he was a litle baby.  We sing "Amazing Grace" and "Sunshine on my Shoulders" and "All Night, All Day."  He sings along and makes song requests.

I used to get so frustrated at little things.  I suppose I still do, but they all seem so much more trivial than they already were.  The other day I was at Target with my two older boys and they were literally running in circles around the clothing racks.  I typically would have been embarrassed and frustrated and angry, and I was still a little of all of those, but at the same time, the thought most present in my mind was that they were enjoying themselves, playing together, and were happy and healthy.

I do not mean to suggest that God would answer my prayers of  "I want to be a better parent" by giving Andrew cancer.  That would be a disgusting, sadistic God. 

But I suppose that if I am honest, cancer has given me new eyes with which to see my boys.  I have a new interest in playing with them.  I now have lots of time (in the hospital) to spend with Andrew playing games, singing, and listening to his two-year-old opinion.  I have a new appreciation for each happy day, each happy hour.

I am just SO sick that he has to go through this horror.  But thankfully,  he is also getting to spend lots of time playing with "mama" and daddy and grandma and grandpa.  He is building lego buildings at the clinic.  He is putting together puzzle after puzzle after puzzle.  He is putting the pieces of "Perfection" into their appropriate places and he has an audience to clap for him when he sends the pieces flying. He is getting SO much more attention than he ever would have gotten. 

He would still be pushed way while I did my own thing, while we watched his brothers at their activities.  He would have a mother who was starting to resent the stress of three boys rather than appreciate the beauty of the days when we are all together.

An awful, horrible disgusting way to wake up.  But at least I am awake now.  I am paying attention.  I am on the floor playing, and cuddling, and talking. 

I hope in part it makes up for the pain and the shots and the mouth treatments.  These past few months have not solely been a year of trauma.  They have also been months where Mama stopped taking her blessings for granted.  Where Mama began to enjoy Snow White puzzles and playing "Ants in Your Pants."  Where Mama stopped pushing them away and started appreciating their company, their play, and their presence.

No more taking time, peace, and three little boys for granted.


  1. A beautiful post which serves as a stark reminder to all of us with young children.
    Tomorrow when my eldest is at kindergarten I will spend more time playing and less time achieving.
    Thank you.

  2. Oh my. Words meant just for me, Julie. Really. Actually, to tell you the truth, ever since this all started for your family, I really, TRULY have made myself stop, sit on the floor and just PLAY. You know what I mean. Your story has helped me become better too. It really has.

    And I was really glad to get your comment earlier today. I was just thinking of you, because I just set up my RSS feed (finally!!) and knew I wanted to add a couple more friends. Now I'll be able to keep up with you better.

    Thanks for helping me keep my perspective. XOXO

  3. A beautiful post and exactly how I am feeling today. "cancer has given me new eyes with which to see my boys", Its given me new eyes also - my Mom has had cancer for 2 years now. Today we went for the results of her pet scan. They were pretty good. I will probably do a post about it tomorrow. Cancer even though it sucks puts everything into perceptive.

  4. Praying for Andrew, you, and your family. I admire your strength and honesty.

  5. That was beautiful Julie.... and a wake up call for a lot of us. I can't be the only one at the laptop right now when there is a sweet kiddo around the corner watching TV who would probably much rather play games with me.

    I'm going to go do that now...

  6. I'm glad that you are seeing your boys through new eyes, but I think you were a great mother before all this too. There are all kinds of moms -- some are great at playing, others at planning fun events, others at cooking or cleaning and providing a nice home for their family...

    We have to allow ourselves some limitations. I'm good at playing with my kids, but poor at housework and I need more balance. I'm glad for you that you and Andrew are having such quality time together (just sorry for the way it's come about).

    Every mom has that "Go to bed" moment from time to time! I've sure thought that (even though I love to play with them).

    One day again you'll be annoyed and think "Go to bed!" When that day comes don't feel guilty -- feel relieved that your struggles have subsided.

    Praying for you!

  7. We all do it, wish for that time to do something else, to not have to get down on the floor and play for a while. Don't ever beat yourself up over that. Instead do as you are doing and treasure every happy moment you now have. Wonderfully written post and a great reminder to us all of what is important.

  8. After I read this, your words stuck with me and when my daughter asked if I would play a game with her, I thought about what you had said. I need to remember to take advantage of those opportunities.

  9. Thank you for your beautiful post - you are all SO in my prayers


  10. Your words touched me. Thinking of your sweet boy. - JS

  11. Julie-I am glad you realize how precious the time with your boys is. We could all learn a thing or two from what you've been through. Thank you so much for sharing your story and reminding us that each and every day is a gift. I, too, am guilty of telling my kids "not now" or "can you wait until I finish..." way too often. I'm trying right along with you to say "yes" more often to simple requests like "Mom, will you play a game with me?" -EW

  12. This was wonderful!! I loved reading it. You made me realize so much of what I do every day. I definitely quote say "I'm done!" at the end of the day. Your Andrew is just precious. BTW, I keep an eye out for y'all when I'm at the hospital. I will be there until October 15th. Thanks for this beautiful post!

  13. Oh, what a precious and powerful post! I came over from "Kimberly's Korner" and am so glad she mentioned your blog. My prayers will be with you as you and your family go through this very tough journey. May the Lord give you peace that only HE can give and the strength to make it through it day. Blessings!

  14. EVERYbody has to wake're not alone!
    and even though this applies more to your post on "the way it is," i thought it was a good bit of advice. i'm not sure where my friend found it (couldn't find the article on Jill's blog) but here's the link to my friend's site:

  15. What you're doing is really, hard, but you've found a silver lining in this thunderstorm cloud. That's a real blessing. Thanks for writing this. It's something I really need to remember when I'm ready to wring someone's neck. ;)

  16. A sobering and necessary reminder, Julie. Thanks :) Praying for a safe journey home and hope you get to have a little fun on Friday - it's your birthday isn't it?

  17. Beautifully stated, Julie. Just beautiful. You captured an experience that every parent of a child with cancer goes through... a heightened perspective of what is truly important in this life. Good for you that you are seeing this blessing and that you are seizing the precious opportunities. Looking forward to seeing you and your sweet little guy!


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