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.