ALL THE WAY FULL by Rebekah Ham
I knew. I knew as soon as the ER doctor pulled us to a back office that the news would be bad.
“Your daughter has a brain tumor.”
The airlessness of that moment haunts me still.
I didn’t immediately understand this meant cancer. Our daughter Grace, our red headed, cowgirl boot wearing powerhouse, had cancer. Grace, who was born just 5 years earlier at 2 lbs and had already fought her share of health battles, had cancer.
We poured ourselves into Grace’s survival. Steroids, surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, more chemotherapy, needle stick after needle stick, and prescriptions too numerous to list... all when she should have been in kindergarten.
We distracted ourselves from the fear and loneliness of cancer any way we could; I’m now quite accomplished at making Udderheads out of hospital gloves and singing for smiles: “You Say Goodbye, and I Say Commode.”
Grace understands optimism; she knows what it takes to be glass half full. “If I never had cancer,” she would say, “I would never have met Dr. Harrison or Phlebotomist Debbie!”
During one inpatient stay, Grace said, “Mommy, you’re not just half full. You’re ALL the way full.” So… all the way full I will be . . . for Grace, for her sister Fiona, for their father, for our family. I believe in all the way full.
This September, Grace will be 3 years from diagnosis. She battles numerous side effects from treatment, but her MRIs have been clear. She is one of the lucky ones.
This September I will join with The St. Baldrick's Foundation and 45 other cancer moms from around the country to shave our heads on a national stage. We 46 Mommas hope to raise awareness and fund a cure for pediatric cancer.
Extreme? Sort of. But everything about our lives became extreme on that night in the ER. I prefer to call it: All the way full.
While I have yet to meet the other mommas, I know their stories. Some, like me, have children out of treatment, some still in. And some, like Amy, Heide, Shannon, and Mimi, have children who have died.
Children are not supposed to die from cancer. Children are supposed to skin their knees and swim in the ocean, blow out birthday candles and play dress up as practice for when they will one day graduate, carry a briefcase, dance Swan Lake, or have babies of their own. Children are supposed to grow up.
Will shaving my head with these brave women find a cure? Someday.
The longest journey begins with a single step … or, in this case, 46.
Will Grace beat cancer? Yes. I believe she will.
Why? Because I am ALL the way full, and because . . . what other choice do I have?