Through our family’s fight with cancer we have stood firm together, helping and loving one another.
Happy Holidays from our family to yours!
Aaron was diagnosed (informally) with Lymphoma on 12/30/2016. It was a blow to our family that we thought would never happen. It was formally given its name after all the test, biopsies, and procedures on 01/05/2017 of Large B cell Lymphoma Non-Hodgkin’s. It wasn’t something we were prepared for, nor expected.
Aaron was diagnosed after a night of fun and play. It started our long journey with Medical University of South Carolina and all the loving doctors and nurses there. They were quick to find out what it was and start his treatment. But they also made sure we understood the whole way and that Aaron was in the best care. We spent New Year’s in the hospital, but with smiles on our faces and celebrating it with all the nurses on the floor and with family had come visit. Aaron started his treatment right then and was pronounced in remission by April 2, 2017 just in time for his 13th birthday!! He had gone through more than any child should have to deal with at that age and between the chemo, losing his hair, mouth sores that kept him from eating and, being in agony, to sleeping a week always hooked up to morphine drips and food supplements (TPN). He had to be home schooled from the time he left his school for winter break to the end of the year in order to make sure he would stay healthy and away from all the illnesses being passed around while his counts were low. Through it all though, he kept a smile on his face and laughter in his voice. He was the reason we kept going many days. If he wasn’t giving up or in, then neither were we!
As a mom, I took a leave of work for 6 months while he went through treatment and to get him through the first couple months of appointments. His brothers were worried, but never showed it. They didn’t like visiting the hospital much and seeing him hooked up to all the pumps. His stepdad (my fiancé) stood right there by his side whenever he could. Now he is doing fabulous, in remission, and back to being a boy for the most part. We still have trouble with his studies some from not understanding while being homeschooled, and from his reading comprehension disability, but we are managing.
Life is getting back to normal for the most part. It has still been financially straining since I have switched positions at work to have better hours for the family which also comes with a slight pay decrease. The time off I took to be with him through all the treatments didn’t seem to bother us then but has since caught up. His stepdad is a mechanic, so his hours depend on what work is given to him at the dealership. He does what he can working 60 hours a week, but only getting paid for 30 maybe. But it’s what he is good at and loves. We don’t have as much or do as much as before and hate having to tell the boys we have to wait to get something or do something they want, but they understand or seem to and are happy with that.
As we thought life was getting better, we now find that our youngest has a minor heart issue (First Degree A/V Block) and possible GI Issue that we are now working to understand. It seems life is always full of punches, but that is what makes us stronger. My boys were all born either very premature (Andrew at 8 weeks earlier) to just slightly (Ayden at 2 weeks early and Aaron 3 weeks). They have been fighters their whole lives and show us every day.
We have learned that we as a family are a rock and nothing can break us. We may get scratched and chiseled at, but we stand firm together, helping each other. Instead of this tearing us apart, it has brought us closer together and we love each other more for it.
A little about our boys.
Aaron Smith, now 14, is in remission and doing as well as anyone can expect him. He is growing like a weed, much happier, full of life, loving school and even being a mentor to some of the younger kids in clinic that he sees. We still have our moments of sadness when we go to clinic, but nothing like before. Now he is just vitamin deficient in some areas and has to take meds for that, has bones due to the deficiencies and his scans still show swollen nodes every now and then. Aaron takes everything in stride and never lets it get him down.
He loves going to the Children’s floor after clinic and visiting 7B! He likes seeing his old nurses, helping out wherever possible and visiting the kids on the floor since he can relate with them. He is still planning on joining the service after school and going into the medical field. I am very proud of him!
Ayden, his youngest brother also continues to do well. He has decided to join the Junior Varsity wrestling team this year as long as he can pass his physical. I have to say, I am slightly worried he won’t since he has a slight heart defect. He has a 1st degree AV block which basically causes it to skip a beat every now and then or speed up. He has passed out twice over the summer from it and a combination of not eating, but still continues to get the clearance from his doctor to do whatever he wants. He doesn’t even consider it a defect or disability. He considers himself normal. He still loves anything outdoors and sports of all kinds. Aaron and Ayden were both able to go on a youth hunt recently with a group that focuses on children of special needs and the outdoor experiences with hunting, camping and fishing. They both loved it and were able to have souvenirs to take home and great memories to last.
Andrew, my oldest, is growing like a weed. He is 17 and stands 6’3” tall and wearing a size 14 shoe. He is doing great in school and trying to graduate early. He is very bright and adapts to all situations. He helps his father out with construction jobs like tiling, building cabinets and painting when he can. He also is in line to join the service when he graduates. He has already taken his SAT and awaiting his scores and preparing for his ASVABS for the military testing. He rides his bike everywhere or gets rides from friends for the moment since he isn’t even interested in driving yet which is a blessing.
I have since switched jobs and now work with oncology patients in the adult department. I love feeling like I help and can relate with what they are going through. Many patients have become second families in many senses. We cry, laugh, love and celebrate together. And for the few that we have lost, we mourn together. They always ask about my Aaron and look forward to updates and pictures and hopefully to meet him in person one day.
We truly do not like asking for help but know that it is needed at times. And this is one of those times. We are hoping to be able to give back in the years to come and do for others the way others have done for us. I have recruited friends and family to help with other families and it makes me feel great to know that I could turn to them and they were able to open their hearts to others. We are determined 2019 will be the year that turns around for us. We truly are thankful for everything and everyone that opens their hearts and lives to helping those less fortunate! Thank you!