Friday, 27 September 2013

Ups and downs

Two images are burned in to my head tonight. One is my baby boy cradled in my arms as we lay on the bed in the hospital room.
The other is the ungodly amount of vomit expelled from his tiny stomach and on to my shirt, his blanket and himself.
The dichotomy of the two instances is a reminder of what it's really like in the cancer ward. Sometimes things go well; sometimes it feels like the day will never end.
Dominic's week started about as well as we could've imagined. Smiles, toys, no side effects from the chemotherapy and general optimism about how he was progressing. The counts of different types of blood cells — taken daily to help evaluate how the treatment is working — were right on schedule.
I speculated that it all seemed too good to be true. Yet on Wednesday he continued to progress to the point where hospital staff allowed him to leave with Trish for an hour for a walk. It was his first time getting fresh air in two weeks.
As I readied to return to Calgary for three days, I was informed that he'd be allowed to leave for four hours on Thursday. He was scheduled to get his last dose of chemotherapy in this first of four rounds of treatment in the morning.
And then, just as I was wrapping up work for the night, I get a text:
"Doms got a cold I think. :-(
"They r sending out a sample of his snot."
A cold. That's what we thought he had in mid-August when this whole journey began. Now, especially now, we know a cold for him is much more serious.
Chemotherapy breaks down the cancer cells, but it breaks down a lot more than that. Infection-fighting cells are a typical casualty. Suddenly, the common cold is a big problem. That's why if you ever come to visit a person on the cancer ward, you have to sign in and state that you haven't had so much as a tickle in your throat for the past 24 to 48 hours. You bring disease in here and all of the patients are in trouble.
So Dom is sick, plus he couldn't eat for 12 hours prior to getting yet another lumbar puncture done. The puncture went well but he and his mom barely slept the night before. It was a long day as a result.
When he's finally able to eat again, we load him up. Bad move. When we try to give him some medicine later on in the evening, he does his best tryout for The Exorcist and expels everything onto Trish's shirt as she holds him.
I did not know an 11-month-old stomach carried that much.
Later on, I saw it again, first-hand. We tried the same medicine, and it was the same result. This time the puke was on me.
We finally got him to sleep by laying in my arms. The rest of the day wasn't too fun, but these are the moments you live for.
"Great job today buddy," I whispered to him as he dozed off. "But let's have a better day tomorrow, OK?"

Donation update
We've finally got some details to share if you have decided to make a donation. After much prodding I finally visited my bank on Wednesday and am told those interested can deposit money in to Dom's savings account at Royal Bank. The numbers you need to know are transit number (07619), branch number (003) and account number (5151345). The account has been set up so you can only deposit in to it for obvious security reasons.
The plan for the money is simple for now. We need to make sure we can pay the bills while Trish stays here in Calgary and is thus unable to work. It turns out she may qualify for a special type of employment insurance but that's not official yet.
Donations thus far have simply blown us away. I don't know how to say thanks any more; I've become numb with amazement. Please know that your thoughts and well wishes are the most important aspect of support we've received. Money comes and goes but the love we've felt will remain with us forever.


  1. Sean, my heart aches for you and your family. There will be days like this again. The good news is, you are already finished with 2 or 3 of them and are that many steps closer to be finished with them.

    You are stronger than you know. Stay in love and hope!

    Sending you prayers, love and light.

  2. Hello...My family is so inspired with your story and we are Running for the Cure here in Toronto. We have our daughter (9 months) featuring tips and memories in honor of her grandmother, and today we decided to honor your son on her facebook page... Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your beautiful boy.