The Face of Leukemia (December 2, 2013)

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Another couple of days spent sitting patiently watching her sleep. For some this could become tiresome or even boring, but not for me. Time trudges on, as the thought of her waking to speak with me, even for just a little while weighs heavy with anticipation!  A second of lucidity, a moment, a glance, the chance to press her cheek against mine long enough to feel close again.

Through all of this, I am reminded that as her husband it’s my job to care for this woman.  It is an honor to ensure she has all she needs and it’s my privilege to do so. But none of that would be as easy as it sounds if it weren’t for all the wonderful people who continue to support our family back home. To continually be humbled by the kindness, care, love and empathy shown to us by our friends, co-workers, acquaintances and strangers is overwhelming to say the least. But I am and I thank you all..

Saturday while staring at the east Kaiser wall an epiphany overcame me! So after a little one on one discussion, today with Jacy’s help the two of us acted upon that revelation.

This morning my wife woke up, shuffled her way into a shower, did her hair along with a little make-up. Now this of course took all the energy saved up from a solid nights rest that one participating in chemotherapy could muster, but that did not deter her from participating in this master scheme. A phone call, some texting, our kids taken to school without the slightest knowledge (because loose lips sink ships), and I stealthily rolled into the parking lot of Dixon Montessori Charter School at 0800.

At 0815 I cleared the threshold of Ms. Jacy’s classroom with nothing more than a smile, a cell phone and one iPad mini in hand.  The students were gathered together and a simple question and answer period began. You see Ms. Jacy (as most already know from reading my blog) was hauled off to the hospital right after returning home for her lunch break on the Wednesday before the Thanksgiving holiday. Although her students knew what was happening through reports on Thursday and Friday, they had not seen or spoken with the teacher they have all grown to love since.

That was about to change

Jacy’s students know me either as Mr. Jacy or Firefighter James, Ms. Jacy’s husband. So not a lot of time was wasted with useless questioning about my presence. The kids were excited to see me and to hear the latest news, especially in person. But when I held up the iPad and explained my plan the place went nuts!

Now it took me a few tries as I am not the most advanced person immersed in the world of technology. But for the rest of my life I will never forget the sounds of joy that came from each and every student when I turned the iPad around and there was Jacy’s smiling face looking back upon these students. They cheered and clapped and screamed HELLO! A few “bomb-diggities” were tossed about freely! It was fantastic.  She could see all of them and they could see her. I stood as still as I could holding the iPad up so she could take in the room and they could feel as though she was right there with all of them.  This woman truly loves these kids, all of them and they love her! She has spoken of them everyday since being incarcerated in the Kaiser hospital system.  She told them all about her stay, what was happening with her and how much she missed them! It was grand.

When we were finished,  looking down and saying goodbye into the iPad, she beamed at me with a look of happiness. The look on her face warmed my heart, but being the ever gruff man I am supposed to be I choked back a bit of mist in my eye, told her I would see her in a couple of hours and hit the end button.  Walking out of the classroom I knew Jacy had just received a good old-fashioned jolt of uplifting spirit! Something we all need from time to time, but more so for her right now.  Looking back, pretty sure some skipping was done on the way back to the car. Maybe even a selfie high-five?

This week is going to be a long one. There are more complications like the persistent headache that never goes away, continued fatigue and weakness, there are also some sporadic nosebleeds which have us worried just a bit.  She can’t bleed as there is no way for her blood to effectively clot, so she has been receiving blood and platelet transfusions.  Friday is D-Day and it cant come soon enough. It’s when we find out whether the first round of chemo did the trick! There is a long road ahead for us and every time we meet the doctor I feel as though it is preparation for the road to get longer. But never the less we will travel this road and hopefully meet some really wonderful people along the way. Hopefully we can spread the word about Leukemia and the effects it has on its victims, their families and friends.

The face of leukemia spares no one.  It belongs to your mother, your father, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, friend, acquaintance, and stranger.  The face of Leukemia can attach itself to any and every person in the human race and it does not discriminate. The face of leukemia cares not about your age because, old face, young face, the face of an infant it still survives. The face of leukemia doesn’t care about your  financial status, whether you vacation in the Hampton’s or live in a cardboard box under a bridge.  The face of leukemia is driven by this disease and the victims it inhabits therefore the face of leukemia is and always will be you.

Look in the mirror and ask yourself, what would I do if I had cancer? Who would I turn too. What questions would I ask? How would I react? Would I be ready to take cancer on and kick its ass without wavering?

I never asked myself those questions before now. But I have, and I am going to do everything in my power to make this a success for the woman I love. I am also going to tell everyone I can about leukemia, it effects, its signs and symptoms.  Then with a little luck, the power of positive thinking, prayer and the amazing skills associated with the many medical professionals we have encountered up to this point.

“The face of leukemia” will have a happy ending!

Because I love her face, and leukemia can’t have it anymore……

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