In November, we highlighted Caroline and her family. Caroline is beating neuroblastoma cancer in Nashville, on one of the clinical trials you're helping us drive. Today we have a guest post from Margaret, Caroline's mom.
Black Friday (literally!) 2017: Diagnosis Day
Black Friday 2018: Same spot, one year into treatment, and still showing evidence of disease.
Black Friday 2019: NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE and celebrating Thanksgiving at the beach!!!
So much has happened in the 2 years between when these pictures were taken. Our life has a distinct difference: before cancer and after cancer. Before chemo, transplants, radiation, surgeries, scans, shots, immunotherapy, clinic visits…and after. Before we were truly aware of the facts about pediatric cancer, and after.
Caroline was diagnosed on Black Friday 2017. Thanksgiving was a worry-filled day that year…we knew there was a “mass” on her spine, but didn’t know the extent or next steps; cancer certainly wasn’t even on our radar! Last year for Thanksgiving, Caroline was inpatient at the hospital, getting her 2nd round of Immunotherapy. Our awesome friends made us a full Thanksgiving dinner, which we ate on paper plates, on top of a cooler in the hospital room. But, we were all alive, and we were together. This year we spent Thanksgiving at the beach!!! We were far away from hospitals, and far away from reminders of the day that changed our lives forever.
The biggest blessing is that Caroline is alive and still has NO evidence of disease! She is on a clinical trial drug to (hopefully!) prevent relapse, and so far, so GREAT! She takes 6 pills a day, but relative to what she’s been through, it’s nothing. She is thriving in Kindergarten, was able to play soccer this Fall, and is enjoying being a Daisy Scout. She loves hanging out with her friends and having the freedom to do things that involve germs! She still loves singing, dancing, talking to everyone she meets, all things American Girl Dolls, and of course, her BFF dog, Hank.
Andrew has had his own version of challenges during this process, but he is resilient, strong, and protective of his little sister. He seems to have bounced back and is in full-on tween mode (fun times). He's loving all the new-found freedom Middle School has to offer, and is still football’s #1 fan!
As for Mark and Margaret...we’ve been trying to find or new “normal” over the past 6 months. I went back to work full-time in September, and Mark has been steadfast in keeping our family together and supported; he's been our rock. PTSD is real, and it’s something that weaves in and out of our house regularly. We process and cope differently, but try to take each day, hour, minute as it comes, and practice patience.
Thanksgiving will forever be associated with “diagnosis day,” but like the holiday’s name, we are pausing to reflect on what we’re thankful for. The biggest thanks to the people that work tirelessly to find a cure for this ravaging disease, who care for the sick patients and their families. Thank you to the parents that collaborated to create Beat Nb, and the supporters that continue to fund the DFMO clinical trial that will hopefully give us many more Black Fridays together as a family. From our family to yours, thank you.
Help us support Caroline's family and the many others who are beating cancer in part thanks to the clinical trials we're funding. Thank you!
To read more about Caroline’s cancer journey, visit www.carolinestrong.com.
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