Survivorship ain’t all that and a bag o’ chips.

It’s been a bizarre 24 hours.

Not long after dropping off The OffSpring at school yesterday, I get a phone call from the school nurse at Gregory and AnnMarie’s school. She and I have a long history and I love receiving calls from her. Yesterday was different.

She was calling to give me a heads up. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, one of the kiddos in a neighboring classroom to Gregory had Scarlet Fever. What happened next still leaves me reeling. I had an overwhelming and visceral response to this perceived threat to Gregory’s health. A metric ton of adrenaline dumped into my blood stream. My brain zeroed in, found the checklist in my database and went to work.

  • How close is the threat?
  • Check in with oncology.
  • What were his last counts?
  • How recently was his body under stress?
  • How did he look/behave this morning?
  • Will this child have infected any other students?
  • Look up Scarlet Fever.
  • How does it present?
  • What are the symptoms?
  • Is his pediatrician prepared to treat Gregory aggressively enough for his unique situation?
  • If he does develop Scarlet Fever, is an admit imminent? 
  • Who will care for the other kiddos if we are admitted?
  • How in the H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS am I going to handle something like this while going to school, myself?
  • Don’t panic. Get information. Breathe. Exhale.
All of this flashes across the membrane of my brain at light speed. I can feel my feet dig into the floor. My hands and pits start sweating profusely. My gut sinks and my heart races. I fight the overriding urge to go claim him from school, this very second. Without delay. The walls go up and I find myself in Warrior Mode.
After getting what questions I could answered, I start to come down. Start to. Then the shakes begin and I pop a giant headache. My pits drenched. Tears are threatening to flow. 
Shit. We have had months of bliss. Yet, my body remembers. It’s automatic. I have no control over it. Really, I don’t. 
Don’t tell me Scarlet Fever is simply strep. Strep can turn into Scarlet Fever in people who’s immune systems are less than normal. Hello? That is my kid. Will forever be my kid. Regular illnesses are no longer ‘regular’.
My brain realizes that he will, most likely, be OK and never even get close to contracting this. My body and my heart need to catch up. I can’t seem to shake the headache and I find myself weeping at the slightest lowering of my guard. As I went to sleep, last night, my neck and upper back ached like I had lifted weights all day. 
The threats are real, we cannot hide from them. I am really trying to live with a balance between being protective and being free. These things sneak up and take my breath away. I am learning how to parent and caregive to a bone marrow transplant/cancer survivor. Learning how to establish a trusting relationship with his pediatrician. Trying to figure out how to manage Gregory’s bodily demands, demands that we have zero indication as to what they will be. It is an intricate dance. 
Then we have a moment. THIS is what I am forever fearful of losing. DEATH is my biggest fear. I know we are all susceptible to having this happen to anyone of us. Yet, there is something unique to having stared death in the face, manage to skirt it’s clutches and realize that it is still waiting around the corner. No. I am not negative or morbid. I live in the brilliant light of life and gratitude. I also dwell in the dark places. We all do. 
I NEVER want to forget that belly laugh.

Covering you in love,


About Mindi Finch

Living with Magnificence. Kicking Childhood Cancer's Ass.
This entry was posted in ptsd, survivorship, video. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Survivorship ain’t all that and a bag o’ chips.

  1. Jess says:

    That cracks me up too!

    • Lince says:

      Carmit Davis 20.02.11 | 11:38This is amazing, Just wahcting those cakes made my mouth watering . The french are so fantastic with making food looks so appetising, and this is the best example. Thanks for bringing this to our homes. להגיב

    • Good to hear from you Mike. I always know exactly what to write to get you to pipe up, right? Reasonable people can disagree on these rankings, but Syracuse did just lose AT HOME to Pitt by DOUBLE DIGITS. I understand the Kansas-Cornell analogy by we all know Kansas would beat Cornell 9 out of 10 times. That’s the definition of a fluke. Can we say that about Pitt-Cuse? I don’t think so. Let me see more and then I will adjust accordingly. As for West Virginia and Villanova, I’ve had them 1-2 in that order since October and I see no reason to change that right now. Nova losing to Temple in one of those crazy Big 5 games (where upsets are commonplace) doesn’t upset the apple cart in my mind. Again, it’ll all play out. I actually enjoyed Boeheim’s postgame after Seton Hall, even his potshot at the media about OOC schedule strength (at least the quotes were interesting and usable). Much better than the normal blah-blah-blah you get from a lot of the other guys. Bitter, the point about last year’s Big East is how it was the deepest league ever. Obviously no league was better at the top than those mid-80s Big Easts. If it makes you feel better the next time it comes up I will put an asterisk and a footnote making this distinction. Piratefocus,I’ve been beating the drums for Fero Hall as you know, but he is way too small to play center in the Big East. Have you seen the size of the postmen on the other teams? Big John is a space-eater and is useful in short spurts (alas, his knees have robbed him of the rest). Fero has to beef up big-time before he can hold his own at center for any reasonable lengths.

    • Gulalai says:

      Your hotseny is like a beacon

  2. karengberger says:

    I can relate to the adrenaline rush, the fear, the checklist, and the need to be simply present to what is. This is big work which we are called to do. You express it oh-so-well. Blessings to you and your family, as well as to the child with scarlet fever & his family!

    P.S. I got a note from wordpress that you are following Katie’s Comforters Guild on WP; just FYI, that blog has been moved to My wordpress blog is, and I think you know the other blogspot one (Gberger).

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