Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Preparing for School

Natalie got the green light to go back to school. Acutally, her doctors urged us to put her back in school because she's missed so much of her childhood already. We just have to be cautious with making sure Natalie washes her hands a lot in school and do the best we can to help her not get sick.

We met with her new principal a week ago to discuss the transition. She was really nice and supportive of providing whatever support is needed to help Natalie do well. She has been a principal for many years and Natalie is her first case of working with a child who had cancer. We are going to start with a reduced schedule for Natalie and see if she has the stamina to handle full days. This is a little scary for us all and we are going to need support and help to get through the transition.

If it was up to me, I would have Natalie stay home for another year just to make sure that she was good and ready to be back. By then, her hair will be long again and she would not have to hear the comments she hears all the time from kids now like, "Why did you cut your hair?" Also, she would be stronger physically.

Last night, one of her classmates rode his bike over to our house to see her. He lives one block from us and has seen Natalie ride her scooter in the evenings down his street. A couple of nights ago he tried to get her attention, but she didn't recognize him because she was riding her scooter really fast. It caught us by surprise to see this little blonde boy all by himself on a bicycle that was too big for him, asking, "Is she done with cancer?" Natalie was a little shy and also surprised that he knew where she lived. I told him that Natalie is done with her treatment and going back to school in a couple of weeks. He just smiled, turned his bicycle around, and said, " I have to go tell my mom!"

The truth is Natalie is nervous about how her classmates will react to her going back to school. Eileen (Natalie's child life specialist at the hosptial) has volunteered to come out to her class to explain to the kids where Natalie has been and what cancer is to help with Natalie's transition. This helps the kids to know that what Natalie had is not contagious and why her hair is short. Natalie wants her to come because she wants to see Eileen again. Just the mention of Eileen's name makes her smile. She also does not want to explain a million times to all her friends why her hair is short. She rather have Eileen do that.

Sean will also start kindergarten since Natalie is going back to school. He had his kindergarten assessment last Thursday and did great. The teacher who assessed him said to me afterwards, "He is amazing! He is totally ready for kindergarten and beyond. I can tell that you've worked a lot with him to get him ready." I told her that I really haven't done anything with him. I was even honest in his paperwork that his favorite toy is his DS and he does watch way more television than he should. In fact, he has seen practically every Pokemon movie that is out there. If she only knew where I've spent most of the last year of my life, she would've believed me.

My biggest challenge as a mom is to not hover over my children. I do feel guilty that I work. So every moment I have with them, I do hover. I realize one day last week that one of my job as a mom is to help my kids be independent adults one day. They can't really learn independence if I am constantly there. Natalie's principal even said me in our meeting last week that I need to not hover and let other people share in the joy of raising my children. So, I am going to try my best to not hover.

We'll keep you posted on how things go with going back to school.

On a different note, we do have a special request for all of Natalie's angels. We have a friend of the family who is battling pancreatic cancer. Her name is Terry Wise and she lives in Indiana. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer shortly before Natalie was discharged from the hospital. She has her own blog on CarePages named, "Terry's Angels", which was inspired by Natalie's blog. We've been praying for her every day, but would like to lend some of Natalie's angels to pray for her too to win her battle with cancer.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Great Day

Yesterday was Natalie's monthly visit to UCSF and blood draw. The morning started with waking up to the sound of Sean's little legs running with delight down the hallway to the living room in search of his DS. He was excited about his last battle with Gym Leader Cynthia on Pokemon Platinum because the victory would mean that after months of battle, he would officially be the champion and arrived at the highest level possible with that game. We've been limiting his DS time to only an hour a day so he's been patiently waiting for his last battle. The battle was quick and he emerged victorious! We have never seen anyone so excited for a battle.

We've been battling Natalie's cancer and transition with less enthusiasm. As usual, we woke up with a little anxiety about how the day would go. So Sean's energy and happiness was much needed and an unexpected gift going into the day.

We went first to John Muir for Natalie's blood draw. Nancy, the nurse who normally performs the draw, was away this week at Camp Okizu (Camp for Kids With or Recovered From Cancer). Natalie was a little sad she wasn't there, but was happy to see Dr. Smith. The Draw took less than 30 seconds and Natalie did great.

We then went to UCSF to see Dr. Clay at the clinic. Yolanda came to hang out with us before our visit. She just got back from China and had pictures to show. Natalie was really excited and so happy to see Yolanda. She almost jumped out of the car when she saw Yolanda on the sidewalk when we pulled in. She was happy and talkative throughout her whole appointment.

We also got good news that we can stop her meds which means Natalie can start going out during the day again! She also can be around people again. We just have to be cautious about handwashing and keeping her healthy.

It was great news and a great day for us and Natalie. Thank you for all your prayers!