My dear friends,
Last month, Reid went to see the oncologist before his departure as an exchange student to the University of Okinawa in Japan, and that “one last check up” revealed the return of leukemia. Within 24 hours we had returned to Oregon Health Sciences University, and Reid courageously stepped back in the ring with cancer.
After 16 months of remission, we’d all started to let our guard down a bit. As those of you who’ve ever dealt with a life threatening (and life changing) situation understand, you never really go back to “normal.” Old normal disappears the moment the word cancer is uttered, but in time you figure out a “new normal.” In some ways — it’s a sweeter, more grateful, more present normal than your heart has ever known. You start to breathe again. And if you’re Reid – you start moving forward with dreams that have been pending for the many long months between blood draws and check ups.
I’m sure you can appreciate the immense degree of grief, frustration, anger and helplessness that has accompanied this cancer relapse. For those among you who know Reid well, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to hear that he is handling this with grace and confidence. As his mother, I am awed by his fearlessness and pragmatic calm. As his friend, I am just profoundly grateful to know him and learn by his example. And yes, his wonderfully wicked sense of humor persists….
Medically, rather than try to explain the complicated tests and continually changing state of leukemia, I can tell you that he is currently in remission again (post last month’s induction chemo at OHSU) and is now back home. The plan is for Reid to have three months of “out patient” style consolidation chemo through RVMC, and then he returns to OHSU to receive a stem cell transplant.
Transplant itself is a simple and painless process but once it happens Reid will need intensive medical supervision for possible complications. It’s serious stuff. The first 30 days are spent in the hospital, and then Reid will be required to live in Portland – within 15 minutes of the OHSU clinic – for the following 100 days.
We don’t have any dates yet. Once the Portland events begin, we’ll be looking to sub-let a two bedroom apartment close to OHSU. By that time, Reid will also have assembled (with my help) a “care team” of friends and family members who will be trained to assist him during his post transplant 100 days because Reid will need to have someone with him 24/7 to help him with through this healing period. It’s going to be a wild and character-building ride, no doubt about it.
Right now, we’re all thrilled that Reid is home. He and Emily have been offered a sweet little apartment for the next three months by generous and loving friends, so he (they) are getting a bit of independence and privacy during this time. Emily, by the way, continues to be steadfast and devoted to Reid – body, mind and spirit. When you see them out and about – take special note of that pretty young woman holding Reid’s hand – behind her shy smile is a positive force of nature and love that could move mountains.
Here at home-base, we’re trying seeking the baseline for yet another “new normal.” Like any literal journey that a family takes together – there are moments and feelings that you ALL share, while there are also experiences which are unique to each person. For more details on each family member – you’d best go to each source. Suffice to say, we’re taking the challenges one step at a time – and your continued support is greatly appreciated.
Mustering the energy to write, call back, explain and update has been difficult to access lately. For those who’ve been waiting for an update – thank you for your patience. Then again, thank you for your impatience as well because it finally poked me enough times to prompt this overdue letter. I’ll try to do better as things unfold.
In the meantime, I send you and your loved ones health, love and that amazing sense of peace that comes while laughing full out.
~ all will be well, Martha