Josh’s cancer diagnosis last March changed all of our lives forever. During the months that followed, it felt as though our world had gone off the rails. When he returned home last July, it seemed like we were beginning to put things back on track. We would never be able to return to a normal that we once knew, but I felt closer to it in January when he finished his round of chemotherapy and began attending high school classes. I would have expected that the discovery of the two new brain tumors would have felt like a step backwards away from “normal,” but strangely enough there was a familiarity to it which made it feel routine.
It helped that Josh had gone through radiation before, so that we knew what to expect. Still, he’s the only one who could say what the radiation treatments felt like. When he was undergoing his first round of radiation last year, I would ask him about them but he told me he couldn’t remember. I don’t know if that’s true or not. All I needed to do was wait in the lobby until his treatment was over.
After two days of driving from Shepherd to Grand Rapids and back, I began to miss the twenty minute drives we used to make in the afternoon from Mary Free Bed to Josh’s radiation treatments. I always tried to leave ourselves with lots of time to get over there to ensure that we were on time. We did the same thing when we left from home, in case we needed to make stops along the way. Of course, we’ve had months of practice now with helping Josh get in and out of the car. I don’t need to think at all anymore when I fold up his wheelchair and place it into the trunk.
We began listening to the audiobook version of “Zoo” during our car trips home. Last fall, Josh’s English teacher had encouraged him to try reading a book while listening to the audio. I hoped to carry that idea forward during our car ride. By the time we rolled into Shepherd on Josh’s last day of radiation, we had reached chapter 52. My loan for the audiobook expired shortly afterwards, although Josh has indicated that he’d like to finish listening to it. He was also interested in watching the “Zoo” series when I mentioned that it was available on Netflix. So, this week we watched the first three episodes. Josh would have watched more if I hadn’t stopped him. It was already ten o’clock, and both he and his brother needed to go to bed. It didn’t seem appropriate to expose his little brother to a show about animals that attack humans, so we had sequestered ourselves into Josh and Elijah’s room. As it turns out, however, there is far less human carnage in the show than what was described in the book. Not that I’m complaining.
Josh’s other cancer treatment has been a somewhat new experience. When I went up with him for his second treatment, we were asked to pick a space along what was basically a wide hallway. It was a little like being a patient in the hospital tent on M.A.S.H. Each section was equipped with a TV, couch, recliner, and a chair. The process was pretty easy, considering that Josh spent most of the time sitting and playing video games while the drug was being injected into his arm via IV.
Looking ahead, Josh we’ve been working on getting Josh back on track with his therapies at McLaren. This week was his first day back for re-assessment and therapy work. He will be attending therapy sessions on a weekly basis. In between doctor appointments and therapy, we are all trying our best to make the most of our summer.
In June, we surprised Josh with a visit by his Grandma Boyne, Aunt Susan, and Cousin Allyson. We had kept the plans a secret from Josh so it would be a surprise. We ate lunch, and spent the rest of the afternoon catching up. With everything that has been going on, it had been a while since everybody had been able to see each other.
I hope that everybody else is enjoying their summer. We are inviting everyone who reads this blog post to send Josh a letter or email sharing a funny story from your summer, catching him up on things, advice, or just random thoughts. Email can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters can be addressed to:
P.O. Box 532
Shepherd, MI 48883