Georgia didn't attend the conference, she would have been bored and I wouldn't have been able to candidly ask my list of questions. Dr Carpenter wasn't in the office when we'd come for clinic two weeks ago so we decided to make him a little video.
After watching Georgia's video and marveling at how great she looks, Dr Carpenter opened his file full of papers and started with, Everything looks awesome.
For nearly two hours we talked about Georgia's treatment, healing and health today. We reviewed chemotherapies she was given and how they may impact her body in the years to come. We discussed how she needs to be followed and who should do that.
The question at the top of my list, What does being five years post transplant mean for Georgia? With JMML the three year mark is a very big milestone so I wasn't sure what I expected Dr Carpenter to say, but the words that came out of his mouth could have knocked me over. He said, Given the extremely aggressive form of leukemia she had, five years is when we start saying, cured.
Cured. I know this is a word everyone with cancer longs to hear, we know too many that never got the chance, yet I hear it, I say it, I type it and all I do is cry. The trouble with powerful words is that they are still just words. Saying cured doesn't erase the absolute torture of the last five years. It doesn't mean move forward and pretend like nothing happened, we still watch and test her body in different ways than the average six year old. There are still questions that only time will answer and as her mom I will chose the appropriate time to help Georgia understand her body.
I talked with my dad today who gave an analogy that seems to fit just right, you don't want to look at this as the glass half empty, sometimes it's hard to look at it as half full, it's just sort of a glass with something in it.
I am infinitely grateful for Georgia's health and the outpouring of support that has carried our family to this day, I just think it is going to take some time to process.
Last night, before bed I told Georgia that I'd met with Dr Carpenter and he said her body is healthy and strong, she smiled, then asked, is tomorrow Friday mom, because I get treats in my lunch on Fridays. She is just as she should be, focused on things that are important to her, having no idea what a miracle she is.
Yesterday, through the magic of Facebook I saw a post I'd written exactly five years ago, February 4, 2011 we were admitted to the PICU, Georgia had gained 5 pounds of fluid and her liver was toxic, it was such a critical time. If someone would have told me I'd be sitting at the SCCA hearing the word cured five years later, I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have believed them.
I posted again yesterday with the incredible news I'd received, again, there was an outpouring of love and kind words, the comment that comes with the most impact is from my mom's best friend:
Bonnie Steussy I can sense your Mom saying , YES! She was always knocked out by your tenacity, Alison! Like Mother, like daughter, like grand daughter!!!! My heart is full with this news! And , no, you will never get over this experience ! You will remain quickened in every way. Your breadth, presence, depth, compassion and gratitude will set you apart to model for others. Little Georgia Claudia is a powerful teacher and you've graduated with honors! !!! That's what you get with hands on learning: auditing or a correspondence course just wouldn't have been the same! Sending love!
One year post transplant
Two years post transplant
Three years post transplant
Four years post transplant
Five years post transplant
Strongest girl I know!