Tomorrow, she starts again. Early in the morning, she’ll have her breakfast, stay in her pajamas and ride with her mom to Children’s Hospital to resume chemotherapy. She had a nice break for the holidays, and particularly enjoyed her time away from the needle. But it’s time to start again.
The start of every new year marks an odd anniversary for us. It was precisely five years ago that Jordan became symptomatic. The first signs occurred at Christmas. She had a headache. It wasn’t a monster, but it was big enough to beckon a nap. When she awoke she seemed fine. The next day she had another headache. This one really bothered her. She tried to sleep it off, but when she awoke, it was still there. The next day we took her to the doctor, who prescribed antibiotics for a possible sinus infection. But the headache got worse. For two sleepless nights she cried in pain and vomited her antibiotics. When she started seeing double, she found herself in the hospital. Thus, in January 2003, Jordan began her battle with cancer.
When Jeanette and I realized that five years had passed, we were a bit somber. It was an odd feeling. Our rational minds told us to rejoice. Jordan has survived five years and is in relatively good health. She is extraordinarily active. This holiday season she sang in the church choir. She relished the on-stage attention and performed with zeal. She dances, rides her bike and runs around the house just like any other kid. We have every reason to be cheerful. In fact, we celebrated her accomplishment as a family, with glasses of champagne and apple cider raised high. But, proud as we are of her remarkable resilience, we are also mindful of the disease. Five years is a very long time. After five years of treatment, she is still fighting cancer without any sign of victory. Jordan proudly exclaims to strangers that she is “kicking cancer’s butt,” but she and the rest of the troops are tired. Our life is a series of compromises and compensatory actions. Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine life without the disease.
Much has been written about the power of positive thinking. We think positively as often as we can because it lets us all focus on living. Recently, Jordan’s doctors have been very upbeat about her progress. They note miniscule reductions in the size of her tumor. We hear them confer and speak positively of her treatment. Though they may not agree about the nuances in her MRI film, they all agree about what they observe in the patient. They are astonished by her buoyancy and her restless wit. As we begin the sixth year of her journey, our family will do all that we can to preserve that spirit. And we thank all of you for helping us come this far.