Thursday, December 18, 2008

Advent and Cancer Research

December 18, 2008

On Monday, we had a longer than normal wait at clinic. No explanation. Just a long and unproductive gap between checking in and getting started and slow transitions between each step in the process once Erin got hooked up (hipster warning: "hooked up" is not a reference to casual sex in this context). No one had singled me and Erin out for the slow treatment. Nobody had written orders that instructed nurses to make us wait. It was what it was . . . a thirteen hour day.

I did get a little antsy from time to time, but I never lost my cool. I could feel a lot of frustration in the infusion room, and I didn't want to add to the level of tension when I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do or say that would make things go faster. I decided to re-frame the whole experience in light of the Advent season: waiting and anticipating was an important part of the experience. I would appreciate the end of the five-day cycle all the more if it didn't come easy--if I had time to reflect before it arrived. It was a stretch, but it kept me in relative peace until we finished up and hit the road.

Upon further reflection, I think I used the wrong analogy when trying to make sense of Monday's marathon. Waiting, anticipating, getting ready, preparing my heart and mind makes sense for Christmas. It even makes a little sense in how I frame counting down the days until Davis gets back from Europe (you can see that I have added a countdown timer to The Report). It just doesn't make sense for thinking about a long day at clinic. Here's my new frame of reference:

One of the speakers at the Women in Science day that Erin attended in early December was someone who does breast cancer research. After she had made her spiel, she looked around the room and asked the assembled girls if they thought what she had showed them was interesting and exciting. They nodded in agreement, but clearly the talk had not stirred the audience like the various goops and explosions had during The Chemistry Roadshow, nor had it grabbed their attention like solving the faux murder of Justin Timberlake during the forensics sequence. Erin raised her hand and when she was called on said something like:

"I'm Erin Buenger. I've had cancer since before I started kindergarten. The kind of cancer I have doesn't have a cure. I go to Wahington D.C. to lobby for more money for cancer research for the kinds of cancers kids get. I think my friends and I would be a lot more interested and excited in your research if you were working on kids cancer instead of what everybody else is working on. I'm sort of tired of waiting."

I think that fits better. I, also, am tired of waiting. I don't need the time to prepare myself. I don't need the anticipation (to finish a day at clinic or to embrace big breakthroughs that will save kids' lives). Sigh. Thank goodness Erin fans around the world have taken matters into their own hands, contributing to Lunch for Life in record numbers. Click here to view the 998 ornaments on Erin's tree or better yet be the one to put her over 1000 (estimate a minimum of five bucks per ornament and do the math if you don't think a little effort can make a big difference). We all owe you more thanks than we can ever express!

In the meantime. . .Erin is so looking forward to
sleeping in starting on Saturday. I have drug her from pillar to post for what seems like months now. She hasn't had an absent-free week at school all semester, and she's tired of always being behind. She just wants to relax. Luckily, that is in the cards for her two-week break. Hopefully, this will take care of the complaining and general negativity that she has crept into the way she greets the morning (it's worth noting that after about half an hour she cheers up and resumes her positive outlook).

I'll leave you with a few photos from Saturday night (I'm hoping someone will see this and send us a copy of the photo they took of her with Vince Young):


  1. That girl of yours is going places (and I hope and pray that she has the long life she deserves to prove us all right in that regard). We need more moments of "aha" like that to snap people out of their complacency and understand that not all cancers are alike, not all get equal resourcing, and sadly, pediatric cancers are at the opposite end of the funding/resource scale from breast cancer. This is a moral imbalance in our society that is slowly being addressed but not quickly enough!

    Okay, off my soapbox. Erin continues to inspire us all. May she have two weeks of blessed nothingness to rest and recharge herself.

  2. Oh, man. I fell your pain with the long day. We've had our share of those and when you're dealing with a two year old. Ugh.


  3. I love Erin's comments to the speaker. She speaks for all of us.