After examination and several tests, we were called into a small room to meet with the a pediatric hematologist/oncologist and told that our son had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
A mouthful of words that hit us like a runaway train. The news rocked us to the core, shook our faith and left us feeling alone and terrified. He was promptly admitted to the 5th floor where he remained for 37 days to undergo the Induction Phase of chemotherapy in hopes that he would achieve remission.
How we survived those long weeks, I'll never know. It was surreal, like we were going through the motions and looking in from the outside. My husband and I had no choice but to divide and conquer. We took turns at Tucker's bedside and caring for our younger son at home. I continued to work, though depleted most of my sick and vacation time because I needed to take off so many days.
Family, friends, neighbors...everyone came forth to lend a hand. And in the midst of all the chaos at the hospital, there was a presence - a constant guiding light, if you will. It was the Tomorrow Fund staff. What struck me is that our Parent Consultant had a son who had survived leukemia after a very long haul. That was such a comfort because she knew exactly what we were going through. She helped us sort through our emotions and identify our needs, because when your heart is breaking, it's hard to think clearly. In a word, she was fantastic.
We were offered daily stipends to cover meals, gas and incidentals. Because my husband is self-employed and had to stop his contracting work, we needed a little extra help financially. The Tomorrow Fund paid our mortgage twice. They also taught us how to respond to our friends who wanted to help. These wonderful folks took us by the hand and led the way. And they still do!
Tucker is doing wonderfully. He achieved remission on September 22, 2009 and will continue to receive weekly chemotherapy at the Clinic until he is two years cancer free (fall of 2011). Doctors remain very hopeful that he will make a complete recovery.
Believe it or not, he looks forward to going to his chemo treatments, as do we! It's an experience that's hard to describe. We are welcomed like old friends, given anything we need to make our stay more comfortable. We are entertained and informed and above all...cared for.
We tell people that our journey has been filled with many silver linings, and the staff at the clinic and the Tomorrow Fund are our "tour guides" on this journey. So while it's nothing we would wish on anyone, in a way, we feel lucky to be a part of it. These are people we will never forget and we hope to be aligned with this organization forever in an attempt to give back all they have given to us.