Monday, 17 December 2012

A Christmas Catherine!

Well it is nearly Christmas and Catherine continues to do very well. She is fighting fit and leaping around like any other seven-year-old.

Her stamina and physical abilities are continuing to strengthen following her chemotherapy. She is now grade 4 at swimming - the lessons have really helped her to develop strength and stamina - and she recently received her certificate for 20m. She has great confidence in the water and is developing in her swimming techniques.

At school, she continues to do very well. She is sociable, confident and loves every minute of being at school. Her teacher is really enabling Catherine to achieve her potential, and her school reports have been excellent. This year all the children have forgotten that Catherine was ever ill; memories of Catherine with no hair have disappeared. This means that she is now treated like any other seven-year-old girl which has been fantastic for Catherine. No more sympathetic or odd stares. No more awkward questions for her to deal with. A world full of opportunities for a girl who so definitely deserves them. She still dreams of being a doctor, and is now obsessed with the gruesome medical programmes on CBBC.

At night-time, I go in to my children's bedroom and check on Catherine and her brother. It is only in the silence of the evening that I look at them both, give thanks to God for them and then remember the extra thankyou for strengthening all of us to get Catherine where she is today.

Catherine is looking forward to Christmas. This year she has asked for the usual hotchpotch of strange items from Father Christmas including a carrot costume and a Hello Kitty Chair. I'm not sure how successful Father Christmas will be at finding all the items on this rather bizarre list, but the most important things he will have covered, I'm sure.

Thankyou all for continuing to read Catherine's blog. It continues to have many hits per day and my prayer is that you will find her story inspiring, strengthening and a very real and true account of one little girl's life since 2008.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Four years on!

Last month, it was four years since we were hit as a family by our daughter's diagnosis of Leukaemia, a form of childhood cancer.

It was a traumatic experience.

Two and a bit years of treatment; very intensive at the start.

Countless general anaesthetics, blood tests and syringes of chemotherapy.

A few infections, always coming when least expected, leading to a lot of stress.

Worrying about her falling over in the snow because she didn't have enough platelets (blood clotting cells).

Isolation when immunity counts were low; hospitalization with any temperature over 38degrees.

Hair loss, reactions from other children, threats from simple viruses such as chicken pox.

But also:

God's presence, right in the centre of everything that was happening, guiding, strengthening and protecting.

Wonderful friends, particularly those associated with The Salvation Army. Those who prayed, those who visited and those who made cups of tea. Those who sat with Catherine's parents and chatted and supported.

William Booth College.

Jonathan turning up in full uniform after the diagnosis (in case they turned him away).

Gifts of craft equipment and Catherine's daddy's patience with children's DVD's.

Meals (home cooked) delivered to hospitals 'on legs' rather than on wheels. Ironing done. Washing dealt with. Parents who lovingly kept chicken pox-covered children away from our daughter. Our 'isolation house'.

Fabulous consultants and medical staff, who treated Catherine as if she were their own.

And tomorrow, Catherine will be starting year 3 in her primary school, completely well.

Thankyou God!

Please join with us today to be thankful to God for getting us all through. Be thankful for pray-ers everywhere; over 15,000 of whom prayed for our daughter and many who continue to remember her, and others, in their prayers. Be thankful for the amazing natural rainforest plants, and the great minds who could transform them into Catherine's chemotherapy. Madagascan Periwinkle Plant - we salute you! (Vincristine). Be thankful for trained medical professionals, counsellors and support teams everywhere. Continue to pray for those currently on the journey.

But most of all, be still, and know, that He is God.

Monday, 2 April 2012

A 7th birthday for my one-in-six-million girl

We stand on the threshold of Catherine's seventh birthday amazed at how far she has come.

Looking back four years to the time she was diagnosed, we remember being told treatment would take at least two years and we remember thinking how long that would be! But treatment is over and Catherine is well. God carried us all through that time and even when we felt like it was all too much to bear, God lifted us up, made the situation the easiest possible and got us all through the storm. You may remember me writing that one child in six million receives a diagnosis of leukaemia. Today I think of all the children who have recently started their journey; I remember all the children we met along the way. I remember Wouter who was diagnosed with cancer at a similar time and his inspirational story of healing. I praise God because he is in control of all things.

I wonder whether every birthday will be full of such memories and such gratefulness for the life Catherine is living. With only three more years until the all-clear, I stand in awe of how God has got us through.

Tomorrow, Catherine is 7.

Praise God.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Nearly an anniversary

It is coming up to the anniversary of Catherine's original diagnosis. Since she finished treatment last October she has gained in strength, lost all the extra weight from the steroids and is now running around like any other six-year-old. Despite missing lots of school from her treatment, she is excelling in dance and in literacy and won the end of term certificate for her reading and writing (she did not, however, stand much of a chance of winning 100% attendance!!!).

Since October last year, her mum and dad have begun to heal from the struggle of the preceding two years. I no longer have flashbacks of her treatment and of hospital buildings and procedures (this is something that was a really big struggle after treatment ended, as I had to try and process everything I put on hold in order to cope). I credit Clic Sargeant and Mel for helping me deal with my emotions following my daughter's treatment, both of whom gave me an impartial and important listening ear. My advice to any other parent dealing with this - find someone to talk to outside of your family.

We do not go to the hospital for regular blood tests. The doctors have told us that we would know any signs and symptoms before they needed to do a test. This has really helped us as a family because every time we go to the hospital, we see other families at different stages of treatment and this brings back many feelings and memories. However we still await her 'all-clear' when she is ten years old. That will be a good day!

We continue to thank God for his unbelievable power and sustaining presence in our lives. We continue to pray for every parent and family who is undergoing this horrible and frightening experience. We continue to be amazed at the number of people for whom this blog is an important means of hope and faith. And we still stand amazed that, with God's help, somehow we got through this ordeal.

Catherine now no longer mentions anything to do with her treatment for 'naughty blood cells'. She has long dark blonde hair (which has grown back in rather funky layers) and considers herself to be like any other child. We encourage this. We tried so hard to keep her grounded and strong. It has, however, left her with one very good attitude and slogan. 'Mummy' she will say, 'Andersons never give up'. And we don't. We can't and we wont.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A chink of light in the clouds

Today has been a remarkable day for me as Catherine's mum. I'm not sure what has happened, but I am starting to feel that at last, the knot that has been in the pit of my stomach since Catherine's diagnosis may actually be beginning to untie. Today I have not felt on alert - I have felt free and easy for the first time in ages. I am still fully aware that Catherine had leukaemia and that she still needs blood tests and check-ups for the next four years, but something changed today.

Catherine, by the way, continues to do well and is now back at school after breaking her leg! I met a lady today that told me her daughter still has some leg pain occasionally years after, and whilst I was initially a bit sad about this, I was pleased to know this was possible otherwise the leg pain may have made me jump to some big conclusions (leg pain was the earliest symptom of Catherine's illness).

Anyway, this personal breakthrough doesn't feel like a fleeting moment. I just want those other onco-parents that read our story to know that there is hope and there will be some calm after the storm. Every blessing to you all in your journeys x

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Nearly 6!!!

Two weeks from today and Catherine will be 6! Since coming off chemotherapy, Catherine has been doing really well apart from breaking her leg a couple of weeks ago. This means we have to wait until 13th April to celebrate her birthday so that she will be able to have her cast off and dance like she wants to! She has coped so well with having her broken leg. Basically, she did it running into an older boy in the playground. At first I was really worried that the chemo had damaged her bones but it seems the chemo should not have made a difference. It was her lower leg that was damaged and she had to have a general anaesthetic to re-set the bones, not that she was bothered, having had 40+ anaesthetics before!! Her consultant says she is 'healing remarkably well' so I am sure she will get her dream of dancing at her birthday. That reminds me...I'd better start planning a party...

Sunday, 23 January 2011