Sometimes life just goes smoothly along and you feel like nothing can get in your way. Then kablammo, right out of nowhere, you feel like you’ve been hit by one of Mike Tyson’s right hooks and your whole life seems to go into free fall.
I’ve been a little quiet here over the last few weeks, mainly due to one of these incidents leaving me unable to focus on much else. No, I’m not talking about my withdrawal from the 2 Bays run at the 36k mark (due to a previously sprained ankle). That is miniscule and insignificant on the scale of things right now. I’m actually happy with how I went in 2 Bays considering the fact I was unsure if I would even make it half way. This actually has nothing to do with running at all.
What I am talking about is something that has recently happened to my 8 year old daughter, Abbey. Let’s start from about 7 months ago.
We first noticed a raised lymph node on the side of her face just in front of her ear which was very painful. Doctors were concerned about it, but said it would go away after a week or two, although it was an unusual one to flare up. 2 months later, it was still there, but to a lesser extent. We had booked in to get it scanned, but it was a 3 month wait in the public system.
The day we were booked in to get the scan done, she woke up with left shoulder pain going down her arm. I spoke to Shaun about it and he suggested an Osteopath he knew of. By the time we got her there, the pain was now in her left leg. The Osteo took one look at her and said get her to hospital. They suspected spinal injury, so a neck brace and numerous scans/x-rays later, nothing to see. Her inflammatory markers (CRP) were up, but that was all. We were instructed to give her neurofen for the swelling and get a blood test in a few days. It showed the inflammation was receding, so all good. It took a couple of weeks for her to get back to normal, but we thought nothing more of it.
But over the next couple of months, the “flare ups” became more frequent, more painful and shifting to different joints in the body. No Doctor could explain it, nothing showed in the bloods, it was just a bunch of unexplained episodes. Our GP was great, as he was pushing for explanations from the specialists and eventually sent us off to a Pediatrician. We were informed that he had a 3 month waiting list, but after hearing our story, made space to get us in within a few days.
All four of us walked in, myself, my wife and my youngest daughter, all full of energy, fully tanned from the Aussie Summer sun and Abbey, pale as a ghost, underweight (due to no appetite), lethargic and shoulders slumped. You could see from a mile away she was not right. He ordered more blood tests covering just about every avenue he could think of. This was late Friday, so we had them taken Saturday morning. Monday morning, the day after the 2 Bays run, we had a phone call from him. He knew what it was, but he needed to see us in his office. We had all sorts of things going through our head. Everything from rheumatoid arthritis, to cancer.
The diagnosis – leukaemia. A word that brings a few tears to my eyes as I type it. Fortunately the type she has is the most common and most easily treated type and her levels fop the bad cells, known as lymphoblasts, are quite low at only 7. The average is around 50 from what I have been told.
We were sent straight to Monash Hospital to start treatment, all 2 years of it with another 8 years of monitoring afterwards. The last 6 months or so has been the most emotionally draining time. I have struggled to tell some friends and extended family the diagnosis, but now that is done, I feel I should get it out there and explain my lack of activity here.
I pride myself on my knowledge of nutrition and health, although I have been a lot stricter on myself than I ever have on my kids. I always felt it was great to teach them the difference between true healthy foods and the rubbish that is out there, but have not forced them to eat that way. Kids need to be kids still. Would it have changed anything if I was stricter on them? Maybe, maybe not. But I do like to think of food as our greatest medicine.
But Abbey has now made some choices in her life to significantly reduce the treats. My sister even came around the other day with some banana cake. Now what 8 year old would refuse that? She did have some, maybe a few bites and said she would save the rest for later, but later never came. She asked for something healthy later on instead. Maybe some positives will come from this. Time will tell. But for now, don’t expect to see me running the trails much or blogging here too often. At least until things settle down a bit and we see some significant improvement in my favourite 8 year old.