As we celebrated Jenna’s 2nd birthday this week and as the one-year anniversary of Jenna’s diagnosis approaches, I feel nothing but gratitude…
I am so grateful for Jenna, for her sweet, glorious spirit, her breathtaking smile, her delight in life and for her being part of our family.
I am so grateful for the many wonderful doctors and nurses who have cared for Jenna, at the hospital and at home… Those hospital staff members who have made her procedures, clinic visits and hospital stays go smoothly and our experiences as pleasant as possible… The oncology and transplant social workers for their empathy and kindness… The hospital volunteers and therapy dogs who went out of their way to make Jenna’s hospital stays more pleasant… The music therapists who helped us write a song for Jenna and entertained and stimulated her with music during our long stays… Our family chiropractor who has offered supportive therapies during Jenna’s chemotherapy and for our friend Holly who has done energy work to help Jenna (and our family) process and deal with the trauma and stress of the past year… For Cindy, Jenna’s occupational therapist at home and for all those who helped with horse riding therapy this summer… For the home healthcare staff… And for modern medicine and the drugs that have healed and stabilized Jenna.
I am so grateful for my husband, Mark, who has been so loving and supportive, who has worked 2 jobs to help pay our extra expenses and make up for me not working, even when he didn’t want to, who has bent over backward to make my life easier, for being an awesome husband and father, and for being the night nurse at home… And our son, Ryan, who has been so courageous and strong through all this, who’s been so tolerant of being shuffled back and forth between home and Gramma’s so many times, who has such a compassionate, caring heart and loves his little sister so much!
I am so grateful for my mom who is… amazing! In the face of caring for a disabled husband, she has taken Ryan overnight many times, shuffling him back and forth between school and our home and her home, came to the hospital when Jenna was admitted as often as possible to spell me off, has kept tons of people abreast of the situation. Even now she watches Jenna 3 mornings a week so I can have a break. She brings us food so I don’t have to cook. She watches the kids so we can have dates. She will do anything she can for us. She has taken care of me when I didn’t have the energy to care for myself. She is generosity personified. She is and has been amazing!
I am so grateful for my in-laws who have been unbelievably kind and generous during all of this, visiting as often as they could, being understanding of us being unable to visit, and providing support and love from afar.
I am so grateful for my sister, Teresa, who checks in with me regularly, making sure I’m (relatively) ok, who cheerfully visited us in the hospital on many occasions bearing dinner and chocolate and laughter. And for encouraging us to let people help us financially, helping us set up a donation site, and sharing it like crazy… For my aunt Kelly who visited us during each hospital stay, kept me company on lonely nights and watched Jenna so we could take Ryan out for some family fun.
For Heidi, who insisted I go hiking with her during that first month-long hospital stay, who brought us dinners and checks in regularly to see how things are… For Stephanie, Missa, Kristina, Karen, Natasha, Melissa, Sally, Lou, Sabina, Ka and Becky who brought us delicious, nutritious dinners and hugs, and seen our family through a lot of life over the years… For Angella, a friend of Mark’s who I’d never met, who came to the hospital, brought Jenna a lovely book and read to her so I could leave the room to eat dinner… For Melinda and Craig who took me out to lunch and listened and listened, and listened some more… For Katy and Erin for driving long distances to visit and bring me fancy chocolates and nutritious treats… For countless neighbors who helped clean our house, mowed our lawn, brought flowers, helped with Ryan, and been kind, generous and compassionate.
I am so grateful for those friends who have reached out and shared their experiences of caring for family members with cancer or similar diseases, for their empathy, love and support.
I am so grateful for my husband’s business associates, most of whom I didn’t know, who have been so very generous, providing cleaning services, donations, gifts, home improvements, organizing fundraisers and for being so caring and supportive of Mark during all of this… For Marilyn who organized donations of 3 months of frozen meals from Dream Dinners for our family.
I am so grateful for my stepsisters and their in-laws, who we’ve never met, who adopted us for Christmas and made the holiday special for our family in every way.
I am so grateful for Holly, Erin and Mark P. for working on my sore muscles… And for Cindy, Stephanie and Davi who have pampered me along the way.
I am so grateful for HopeKids, for the people who organize their events and volunteer, for the businesses who generously donate and give our family fun things to look forward to other than doctor visits.
I am so grateful for Mark’s employer, the great benefits we have through them, the support of his team members and supervisors, and the company social workers who have offered their support since this all began… For government support which we’ve been reluctant to use but are grateful to have, and for the government employees who have guided us through the process with kindness and compassion.
I am so grateful for those people who visited us in the hospital, brought or sent treats, food and gifts, followed us on Facebook, shared our story, donated money, thought of us, prayed for us, called, texted, sent cards, sent their love, sent emails, offered to help, listened, or reached out in any way to let us know we were loved and thought of. All of you made a difference for us and lightened our load.
There were many months I wasn’t sure Jenna would get through this, when I thought, “This will never end.” And yet here we are, not at the end, or even with an end in sight, but Jenna is well, better than ever, our family is whole, intact, solid. I am overcome with gratitude. And we, with all of you loving and supportive people out there, will continue on this journey with confidence and hope. Thank you!