We have been thrown onto this treacherous path of cancer. Along the way, many have lifted us up and helped us over each and every hurdle. The first few weeks after Ania's diagnosis are such a fog of appointments, phone calls, worry and fear. Now that the fog has lifted a bit and we are nearly 4 months into cancer treatment, we have adjusted to this present lifestyle. I think we try to do the best we can. Nobody can be perfect at handling such a diagnosis. What I mean is, we manage this "cancer lifestyle" of doctor visits, waiting rooms, more fear, and thankfully some joy over progress made. However, we would not be able without the support of so many. Yes, now that the fog has lifted and we are on a solid path of treatment, I keep thinking of all the wonderful people who have stepped onto our life path and lent a hand, offered a hug or a prayer has just shown us that there is still grace in this world. There are REALLY good people or there! I need to share all this Gratitude I have. It's incredibly powerful!
I'll do my best to recall as much as I can from the last 4 months:
"Facebook-land" friends & groups (Crockpot Mamas, AP Chicago North/South, RB Moms):
Say what you will about social media and Facebook, in our case, it has been crucial in receiving support in so many ways! Ania has received lots of mail & care packages from people, some who I have never met other than through social media. I've had the opportunity to reach out and learn more about Retinoblastoma from other parents who have been through it with their own children- with a rare cancer that only effects 300 or so kids a year, the support from other parents who are "in the know" of cancer lifestyle has been crucial.
Likewise, friends from my past have reconnected with me and done or sent such thoughtful well wishes. Thank you friends, although you may live far, if we have not seen one another in years,or if we have not even ever met in person, you are most certainly, dear to my heart for bringing Ania into your heart.
A Huge batch of well wishes came for Ania back in November from my "Crockpot Mama" group- a worldwide group of ladies who all expected babies in December 2012. Many of those ladies have been especially supportive for me and have listened to me vent my fears and really gone out of their way to make Ania feel so special :) THANK YOU!!
Meal Train Participants :
It has been incredibly wonderful to come home after a treatment session and be brought all sorts of food for the week following. My dear friend Megan so graciously offered to set up a Meal Train and it's been delicious tasting all the different kinds of comfort foods. THANK YOU!
Irving Park YMCA:
I have been teaching group fitness classes at the Irving Park YMCA since Ania was practically a newborn. The staff and members have watched her grow up- she has enjoyed many classes and time in the daycare area. When IPY found out about her cancer, they graciously offered a place for Ania to come and participate in her favorite classes whenever she feels up to it to continue her sense of "normalcy." She adores all the teachers and daycare workers very much. Kellen has also been given the same love and attention from many of the staff. THANK YOU!
Noble Dolls (Cyd) & Apples & Tomatoes (Claire)
In many of the pictures I post you will see Ania's special doll named Rosie. She was made special for Ania (as a gift from her GiGi) by the fabulous doll maker Cyd Knoble of Noble Dolls. Rosie's name is inspired by Rosie the Riveter and she has been a constant companion for Ania through treatments and doctor appointments. We wont leave for treatment without her! I really could write a whole post about the adventures of Ania & Rosie....maybe I will soon.... ;)
The Dainty Warrior & her mini me :)
She even has a "Sugar Plum" outfit made by Cyd. This was a pleasant surprise made by her and its absolutely adorable! Also a special thank you to Claire of Apples & Tomatoes for making a winter coat for Rosie to wear out to appointments.
Ania is happy that Rosie is no longer cold during car rides. Claire also included a little pet dog for Rosie...I think he's hiding because I couldn't find him for a picture ;) THANK YOU!
The Delorean Community:
My parents operate Delorean Motor Company Midwest (yes like the car in Back to The Future!). Many of their friends and customers have heard Ania's story and sent us so many well wishes! So much generosity shown especially by Delorean owners in Indiana, Canada, & Australia! THANK YOU!
Ania past & present: practically growing up in a Delorean :)
Several of Mike's colleagues from the TeachPlus organization put together a generous monetary gift for our family right around the holidays. It was unexpected and very much appreciated! THANK YOU!
Ania was nominated by a friend (Margaret) to receive a special "Lilahroo" blanket. Lilahroo's was started by a mother who wanted to provide a little comfort to children under the age of four undergoing ongoing medical treatment. It's a super soft blanket that Ania snuggles at night. I have also enjoyed getting to know the remarkable blanket creator, Monica. She is doing a wonderful service to special kids everywhere! She has also given me some inspiration and insights into how Ania's artistic talents could be utilized in the future to raise awareness about Retinoblastoma/childhood cancers. THANK YOU!
Ania with her Lilahroo blanket
Camp Out From Cancer:
Another friend (Sarah) nominated Ania for Camp Out From Cancer. They send care packages to kids fighting cancer. Each kit includes a tent, flashlights, popcorn, glow bracelets, and books. What a special, unexpected treat it was to open this package! The tent is large enough for both kids (and parents too) to play and let imaginations run wild! We have had a blast in the last few days "camping out." THANK YOU!
Playing in her tent!
Sixth & Seventh Graders at an all boys school in New Zealand:
A woman in the "Crockpot" group (Jess) is a teacher at an all boys school in New Zealand. She dedicated some time in one of her classes to have the boys make cards for Ania. The cards were wonderful and FULL of glitter :) I can just imagine the classroom mess the boys made working hard on these cards for Ania. All their hard work was MUCH appreciated by Ania! THANK YOU!
Thanks NZ boys!
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church & Prayer Circles WORLDWIDE
Ania's name has not only been on our church Holy Trinity prayer list, she has been added all over the place! We greatly appreciate it and please keep them coming! We have been blessed thus far as her tumor has been responding as it should to treatment- lets pray it continues! THANK YOU!
Thankful for CANCER??
Sounds weird right? Let's be clear- in NO WAY am I thankful for the risk it has brought to my daughter's life. NO WAY. What I am thankful for that has been brought about by cancer is the sense of community we've felt as a result. Everyone knows cancer stinks! Our world is small when it comes down to it and Ania has impacted many people's hearts and lives becauseof this crazy thing that has happened to her. I see her in a whole new light and can't wait to see how she continues to impact the world around her- especially when the cancer is GONE.
I'm almost positive I've forgotten some....I will have to do more than one "Gratitude" post.... :) More love to share!