We've entered a strange new world wherein socializing and being together with others is no longer part of our day-to-day. We've been told, "Stay Home, Save a Life" and as a result responsible citizens across the world are following the rules and adapting to a new way of life.
For some of us, the less than lucky few, it's not a new way of life at all. We've been here and done this before and we are amazed that the rest of the world, the ones who haven't had the practice, are struggling so much with the adjustment.
In 2003, our daughter was just four years old, when she was diagnosed with Leukemia (A.L.L. for those of you who know about this all too well). It was the third week of July; the peak of summer and family vacations, camping trips, weddings and backyard bar-b-cues were in full swing. But not for us, without any warning, without any idea such a thing could happen to a seemingly healthy little girl, we were suddenly diverted onto a new route, a giant detour we didn't see coming. Maybe life was just to good maybe, we didn't deserve what we had, because truly, up until then life was just about perfect. The diagnosis came quite abruptly and the move into the hospital even more so. IV's and lines were set and within days her immune system was chemically destroyed. After a week that felt like a month time passes slowly in the hospital, every tick of the clock significant. We were sent home with care instructions from our the team of oncologists. And they stated in big bold lettering, "Keep her safe from infections. If fever of 101 or more is present, rush her to the ER."
And that was the start of our new way of life, we never called it quarantine, we weren't that sophisticated really, or maybe that aware. But for the many months that followed our lives were a jumble of stay at home alone. cancellation of play dates, plans and trips, masks for protection, sanitizer and thermometers. In fact, we took her temperature so often we invested in a medical grade electronic one. What was different then? We were in it alone. Sure there were other families out there dealing with a similar diagnosis and treatment protocol but all around us our friends, neighbors and extended family were carrying on with their life. It was the saddest, loneliest feeling to watch the world continue to spin without you in it. A darkest time of isolation that I've ever experienced. We were in the depths of despair, frightened and weary yet it didn't change a thing.
That's what's different this time around. Thankfully everyone under my roof these days is well and no longer immunocompromised, but even bigger than that, is that we are ALL in this together. It's not just our isolated little family, our street or our town, THIS quarantine is the whole country, the whole continent, in fact, the whole world. And in that I feel a sense of safety and certainty that things will one day get back to normal and that we'll all willingly do the right thing to save the lives our careful vigilance can protect .
But, when quarantine is over and we can all go outside, go back to work, go back out to dinner and socialize in large groups again, there will still be families like ours was back in 2003-2006, who can't. Thousands of families will continue to be in quarantine because a mom, a dad or a child is under going chemotherapy treatment and even just a simple cold could wipe them out. Those families are scattered all among us and I am sure most of us know someone in that position, but what you may not be aware of is how isolating and sad their experience is. Now that you've experienced it first hand, think about reaching out and supporting them a little more. There are ways to help, to keep them feeling connected and a member of your family, neighborhood church or community. When your quarantine is over, the people actively fighting cancer will still be stuck there.
Opportunities to support children fighting cancer:
Candlelighter's of Oregon
Sparrow Clubs USA
St. Jude Children's Hospital