Monday, November 03, 2008

What I did this weekend

Interesting - I didn't notice when I posted last, but today when I logged on I noticed that the date of the last post was October 29. That would have been my mother's 93rd birthday. In a big way it hurts me that I didn't note it on the day. She passed away December 1972 from melanoma. I am aware of her birthday, but at that moment my mind was elsewhere. Happy belated birthday Mom.

This is in line with what I did yesterday. It dealt with another cancer death. Here is Swampland, we have public service announcements from our blood center. I think even last year, they showed two with a darling little boy named Johnny Romano. The first was Johnny and his mom. They stood out to be because he was still bald from his chemo for leukemia. They were addressing how important blood donation is because it was so important to Johnny in particular. He stood out even more because he had on a pink T-shirt that something like even real men where pink. His smile was so warm, and his eyes just sparkled.

The next spot he did was with a man who would hold an apple. He likened the apple to the number of people who could donate blood. He then removed the stem with the words that that represented the number who actually did donate. He tossed the apple to Johnny who then took a big bite from the apple with eyes twinkling.

I didn't know the rest of Johnny's story. He was a really good skate boarder. I am not into skate boarding, so I certainly didn't know that. He was seven years old. He was diagnosed in May of 2005. He immediately was taken to Texas Children's Hospital where he began his chemo.

The family was so looking forward to September, 2008 when his chemo would stop. During these years, he was really on chemo the entire time. He had quite a following. Again I was unaware of all this. Yesterday our newspaper had a front page story on Johnny. He died September 27, 2008 - the day he was to stop chemo. He had a relapse in June, 2008, three years to the day of his first diagnosis.

I was entranced with Johnny's story. I went to his blog, written by his mom. I followed each entry. I could so relate to much of what Johnny endured. I was especially moved by the entry that described one of his treatments where they accessed his port only to not get a return. If you should not understand, that is part of the accessing of the port to make sure it's open. Saline, or perhaps a blood thinning agent, would be injected into the port, then they would pull back on the plunger of the syringe to get a return of blood. Often the accessing paraphernalia would have to be removed, and then it would start all over. In my case, I really hated it because my port was very deep. I would agree with Johnny's take (and others) that the pressure was not comfortable. His mother didn't know about that pressure. It made me think - that was probably just one thing those who have never had chemo don't realize.

After his relapse, Johnny basically never left the hospital. His last months were really a pure hell - especially when you think of a 10 year old boy. I was so impressed at the valor he showed during the entire ordeal. He was my hero. I just wish I had known when he died. As I have said before, I don't read the obits. G does, but I find myself lingering over the young women who have died from breast cancer. This time it would have been for a darling little 10 year old boy.

Should you be interested in reading Johnny's story: It's a read that will really draw you in with your emotions vacillating constantly. Even knowing the end, I found myself rallying with the mother with her hopefulness.

Peace be with you all.