Saturday, March 29, 2014

Courage is contagious....

For 6 years, I have watched our now 9 year old son, battle cancer.

First, neuroblastoma with 30% odds for 5 year survival, then a relapse with a less than 10% chance of five year survival (of which is 3 years and 2 months into and still in remission) and now secondary leukemia caused by the treatments he has had to save his life. Our teams in Philly and KC have never known a child who has survived this particular type of MDS after neuroblastoma. 

Not one.

We have been faced with more decisions about which path to walk down for treatment, or no treatment, more times than I can count. 

More life/death decision than I care to remember. 

Seriously, you have to choose whether to fight for your child's life or resign from attacking cancer and appreciate the time you have left.

Not an easy choice to make.

We have always followed Braden's lead. He has never, once waivered in his fight. 

Braden has autism so he can't tell us with his words, but he shows us. 

He wakes up happy and joyful every day, and he is silly even the cruddy days that he feels horrible because of his treatments. 

His bad days are still full of life, gratitude, and love.

He just wants to play and be with his family and friends. He loves everyone he meets, accepts them, appreciates them, and wants to play with them.

That's an attitude we should all adopt.

Braden doesn't know life isn't supposed to be filled with pokes, poison, cores of your bone marrow being drilled out repeatedly, medicines, and managing the side effects of treatment.

So he just appreciates what he has, even if it isn't what most of us would consider to be "normal" or good.

And he is HAPPY about it!

As we sit in the hospital for a bone marrow transplant and he is getting high dose chemotherapy to kill all of his bone marrow so he can accept his perfectly matched ten year old brother's bone marrow, he remains happy and joyful...and he wants to play...

We have a hoop in the room and he seriously plays for hours a day.

He flirts with the nurses and has won them over. Just this morning, he was winking and smiling at his nurse and told her, "Hey you...I'm flirting!" :)

Yesterday morning, the first words out of his mouth when the nurse walked in were, "It sure is a lovely day today!"

Seriously, who does that while getting high dose chemo and feeling yucky?

I would be in the fetal position in a corner sucking my thumb crying.

Not Braden.

But what I didn't realize was how much courage is contagious.

Braden is like King Arthur and the Braden goes, so go those around him...

especially mom.

I understand how horrible his odds are, 

I understand how impacted his body might be, if he survives,

I understand how it could change this quality of his life because we made the decision to fight,

I understand fear...

and worry.

I understand the bad stuff that he is blessed to not understand. 

But because Braden is brave, so am I.

His strength fuels my strength.

His will fuels my will.

His fight fuels my fight.

His HOPE fuels my HOPE!

And on this, the last day of his conditioning chemo, we will play basketball while he stops in between shots to double over in pain...

and then continues.

And I won't cry.

I will cheer, and clap for him. 

I will smile,

and have the courage to fight too.

God has this and our job is to remain courageous and trust.

cancer is not bigger than God,

and it is NOT bigger than Braden Hofen,

so I'm going to follow his lead and remain courageous...

thanks for sharing that inspirational gift my sweet Prince.

Mommy loves you!