Wednesday, June 30, 2010

End of Treatment/Princess Dance Camp

We are done! More importantly, Katie is healthy! Katie trooped through one last lumbar puncture and one last bone marrow aspiration on Thursday, and we got results early Friday morning. She has been off her medications for three weeks now, and yet there is still NO SIGN OF CANCER in her bone marrow, spinal fluid or blood. Woo hoo! Our friends must think we are crazy--We have announced the news, completely unprompted, to anyone we know who walks within ten feet of Katie, and we have grinned and danced each time we have shared the news. Suffice it to say, this weekend's Relay for Life was a real celebration.

People have asked whether or not Katie understands that she is currently cancer free. She does know that she has finished her treatments and that we are extremely proud of her. She knows that the cancer is gone. She is not jumping with joy, though--she is simply taking it in stride as she has taken everything else in stride for the two and a half years (!) we have dealt with cancer. For her, it seems, this is just another event among many. For us, Thursday's phone call was like every holiday in the calendar year celebrated all at once. We are giddy with the news. Additional samples of Katie's marrow and spinal fluid traveled to Johns Hopkins, and those samples came back clean, too, so we are further reassured that the nightmare that has driven our lives for such a long time has really gone away. It's hard to explain how much lighter I feel and how much my sense of the world is already changing.

On a funny related note, Katie is enjoying camp this week: Princess Dance Camp. (No. I'm not kidding.) This is the dance studio to which I took a nearly bald, pasty white, skinny and uncoordinated Katie just as she started Maintenance therapy. She had just turned three, and she wanted to dance, so I let her try it. That was just weeks before her immune system fell apart, and she missed so many weeks of dance lessons that we finally gave up. She was heartbroken. I didn't even dare enroll her this last September--I couldn't deal with the idea that she might start again and then have to drop out. Princess Dance Camp was just too good to pass up. The Katie who waltzed into dance class Monday morning didn't even pause to look back as she left me in the waiting room and went to join the other little girls. She has long, curly, unruly hair. She has color in her cheeks and little brown freckles. She has the muscles of a serious runner. And she is strong. She dances each morning for two hours, leaping about in ballet slippers and clomping around in her tap shoes. This is all new to me--I never danced, and I don't care whether or not she becomes a prima ballerina. It is simply moving, in a way I cannot completely explain, to watch as she tackles a new challenge that was off limits for a long time. She loves to push her body. In fact, we ran laps and then went swimming after dance class on Tuesday, and she never tired. She can take the strength that she needed to muscle through a grueling chemotherapy regimen and apply it to other endeavors of her own choice now. She gets to decide how and when to use up the strength, energy and power she has regained. She is amazing.

Local readers will be pleased to know that she is participating in the Derby parade this Saturday. She is a princess on the dance studio's float. Oh, my. While I am more at home hiking, I will very proudly walk beside the float as she celebrates the good health that allows her to play this way.