Wonderful news

Yesterday, I got the best Christmas gift I have ever received when my son, Glenn announced that his oncologist informed him he didn’t want to see him any more, thus ending a five and a half-year relationship. It brought back so many memories.

  • I remember Glenn’s wife Michelle not accepting his primary care doctor’s diagnosis that the persistent sore throat and itchy skin were nothing to worry about.
  • I remember waiting with Michelle for Glenn to recover from the surgery to biopsy a lymph node. I watched him sleeping and loved him so much and hoped … hoped.
  • I remember the diagnosis: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
  • I remember how the chemo affected him; how he kept his spirits up by joshing with the staff. How he managed to miss very few days work; his courage.
  • I remember how his brother, Joel, and I shaved our heads, and how Joel applied henna tattoos to Glenn’s baldness.

    Joel Applies tattoo

  • I remember our joy when the oncologists announced that they had got it.
  • I think one of the saddest days of my life was the day Glenn came in the back door and said simply, “It’s back.” We hugged and cried on each other’s shoulders.
  • I remember visiting him at the KUMC Oncology center where he was undergoing stem cell transplants.We had to decontaminate ourselves to go in, but Glenn was positive and upbeat.
  • Oh how I remember sitting with him at Hope Lodge in Kansas City where he stayed while an out-patient. He was so weak. I remember him raising himself up on one elbow to take a bite of soup from the can; falling back and resting to gain the strength to take another bite. He had no appetite, but knew he had to eat to live so his daughters could have a daddy.
  • I especially remember one day when I was with him at Hope Lodge, he was so weak in the morning he could hardly walk. In the afternoon I took him to the hospital where he received whole blood. That evening we played shuffleboard in the basement of Hope Lodge. I’m so grateful to the unnamed blood donor who helped give my son life.
  • I remember him getting stronger. I took him, bald and masked to dinner and to a Royals game. I remember the stares.
  • I remember him calling his “nurse” to consult on whether the trip was ok. I was surprised to learn that the “nurse” was Michelle. How I love that woman.
  • I remember him walking, everyday walking, to build up his strength so he could go home to his family. The streets are steep around Hope Lodge, and I remember not being able to keep up with him.
  • I remember him planning what he would say to his doctor so the doctor would release him to go home.
  • I remember him coming home.
  • I remember a year after his release we took a family vacation to Colorado, how encouraged we were to meet a woman who had had the same treatment 20 years ago.
  • I remember each check up. First three months, then six months then a year, always hoping always fearing.
  • I remember yesterday. Glenn was here to pick up his girls and just before he went out the door he said, “My oncologist doesn’t want to see me any more!”

No more checkups.

It is my sincere hope that someone who has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s will read this and have a bit of hope; I hope someone will read this and donate blood; I hope that I never again have to face the loss of a son.

And now, just because, here are recent pictures of Glenn and his family. I posted them before; they are from the Sci-Fi Fish Fry.

Aren’t they beautiful!


Success and Responsibility

Just a couple of things on my mind this morning. Let’s take them in chronological order:

First the community building excercise for the incoming MPH students at The University of Kansas Medical Center was an unqualified success! At the end of the session, I heard one student remark, “I have been on campus for three months, and this is the first time I feel like I belong here.” Of course, in addition to accomplishing our goal of creating a sense of community, we all had fun. Yours truly most of all.

Sunday was my son Glenn’s birthday celebration, and as is our custom, the entire family went out to eat at the restaurant of his choosing. Our server was a very pleasant young woman, but when the food arrived, one order was missing. When I called it to her attention, she said, “My fault, I failed to put it in. I will get it in right away.” Wow! “My fault, I failed to put it in!” Not, “The kitchen messed up your order,” or “Someone else must have picked it up.” “My fault.” I was very impressed.

At laugh2learn, we include accepting and celebrating failure as an essential part of being successful. Acknowledging a mistake and taking responsibility for it, goes hand in hand with accepting failure. I was very impressed with our server, and although the service was less than perfect she earned a healthy tip.