Saying Goodbye to Cancer

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The Light House Retreat was a life-changing experience. There was so much healing that took place there. I am so blessed to have met all those little heroes that were forced into battle with cancer, and their families. I can’t wait to down load my camera and share more, but for now I have naming my 4th child on my heart and thought I would share…

Many have pondered (and so have I at one point) if a person can really love a child as their own if they were not actually born to them. For me that answer came early in life. When I was 16, I took care of 3 little boys, Todd age 3, Jack & Ben who were just born. I cared for them several years and fell in love right from the very beginning. In college I met the Hackett family and became their nanny for baby Paul. He too melted my heart and I simply fell in love. To this day one can search the very depths of my heart and find a love for these children that is as endless as time. As I nannied throughout college and afterwards with my daycare, there were many more children that I cared for and loved dearly.

Finally the day came when it was time for me to have my own baby. After Mason was born and as the years have gone by I can think back on all those children I cared for, especially those 4 boys and question the depth of the love I carried for them. Yes, I whole-heartedly loved those children. If I adopted I knew I could love that child. The question was, “Would I ever feel like she was really my child, or would I always feel like I was raising and loving someone else’s?”

For me, what set my children apart from the children that I cared for besides the obvious fact that they were growing inside me, was that I got to name them. Being able to actually name my children was one of the biggest highlights in my life. Being able to name my children set them apart and allowed me to claim them as my own. Honestly, I was concerned about how I would be able to bring a 4 year old into our home and feel like she was really ours, not that we wouldn’t love her, but would I always feel that I was taking care and loving someone else’s child.

So, God allowed a few things to fall right into place. In my heart I wanted us to be the ones to be able to name our own child. Miraculously when Anika came to us through the foster care system, she was already available for adoption. New name or not, once the Judge said she was ours, that’s when it would really all come together.

We have been so blessed with baby pictures and lots of family history given to us by Anika’s Great-Grandparents. In fact we were given an 18×24 photo of Anika when she was about 6 weeks old. When I stare into that picture, my heart just aches. I would give anything to have held her in my arms and experienced her as a new born. She was just beautiful! God’s perfect plan is not always our perfect plan. But still we are so grateful that God did allow us to have her and adopt her so quickly. Being able to name her was just icing on the cake.

Anika’s name originally was Rachel. So her new name was going to be Anika Rachel Powell. In fact for the first few weeks we called her Anika Rachel, so she could get used to Anika. Soon Rachel naturally fell away as it was easier to just say Anika.

About 2 weeks before the adoption was final, Doug and Anika were riding in the car with me. The name, “Ivy” popped into my head. Out of no where it was like God just threw that name at me. I turned to Doug and asked, “How do you like the name Ivy?” He said he loved it and he knew someone growing up with that name and so on… Then I turned around and asked Anika how she liked it. She said she loved it too!

Then I asked her, “Do you want your name to be Anika Rachel Powell, or Anika Ivy Powell”. She said with a big smile, Anika Ivy. After that I pondered the name Ivy in my head. Ivy… Ivy… Ivy… at first I thought about the green lush vines growing up a trellis.

THEN IT HIT ME… Ivy… Adelaine’s IV. All those IV’s she had to have placed into her body because of cancer. Her hand still to this day has a scar from one of them.

If it weren’t for those IVs Adelaine never would have gotten her sister, her best friend, our daughter, the answer to our family’s prayer.

It was through Adelaine’s cancer that we were able to meet Anika in the first place. It was through Adelaine’s’ cancer that I learned enough about nutrition that I felt I could help Anika loose all the extra weight and get healthy. (By the way she has only 5 more pounds to loose)!!!!

I am so thankful that we were able to name our forth child. Search the depths of my heart and you will find that the love for her is endless. Every child on this planet is a gift from God. They are His children He just lets us borrow them. I desired my brown- eyed girl even before I ever met my husband, and tried to get her. I also knew that I one day wanted children that looked just like me. Who knew that I would get married, have 3 children and that brown-eyed girl would come last?

For sure, Anika knows how loved she is. She is so proud of her new name and her beautiful brown eyes. (We play “Brown Eye Girl” for her often, that’s her song). She loves being adopted, she speaks of it often. She goes around the house telling each of us that we are hers forever! All of these things that were ours (including Daisy dog) are now hers, and she just loves it. She is so appreciative of everything she now has. As blessed as she is, we are equally blessed!

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So what’s in a name? I’m sure Adam had a great time naming all the animals so long ago! It was a real privilege for him to be able to do so, and a neat gift that God gave to him. Because I recognize this maybe that’s why I felt the need to name our current vehicles “Pearl” and “Georgette”!

Seriously though, being able to name our 4th child was such a gift and I am so grateful for that. Not only do I love Anika with the depths of my soul, but I do feel that she is my daughter. We are 100% sure that God’s plan was for us to be her parents and for her to be our child. She is a perfect match, a perfect gift from God!

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Wait a minute for the videos to load before you

click the triangle on the left  to play each video.

The girls participated in Cardboard Testimonies at our church on July 12, 2009. I am trying to get the video up here, but our church just started hosting their videos on truthcasting and it is a HUGE hassle to watch the entire videos there let alone download them.

It is very moving. I will get it wrapped up better soon…

Why did the camera add 20 lbs to my belly and none to anyone else?

Need to remember to suck it in.  I seriously have lost over 50 lbs in the past 12 months.  I am am in pretty darn good shape.  I do still need to loose more obviously.

I weighed 261 last July.  I have been sitting at 208 since February.  I do ride the bike between 60-100 miles a week and hit the weights 3 times a week.  I must be getting old.  Maybe another Master Cleanse will help…

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Last Thursday I realized that we only had 3 days to pack for a two week vacation! Yep, I thought we had 8 days and luckily a good friend pointed out that July 12 was only 3 days away! It’s summer, who keeps up with what day it is? Apparently not me!

Once I had my big realization, I couldn’t move. Talk about being overwhelmed… The house needed to be cleaned, errands needed to be run, Daisy needed a bath, and there were no clean clothes or towels. I honestly didn’t know where to begin! Then it happened…

“Mom, there’s a snake in the house”!

I was on the phone (procrastinating further) and Mason came in and made the big announcement.

Granted the 4th child did put me over the edge a bit as far as housekeeping goes. Doug’s uncle Bob came over not long ago and he was like, “Wow, you now live like “normal” people now, maybe even a bit messier”! I’m not sure but hoping he meant it as a compliment. My days of obsessive housekeeping are officially over, but I do still TRY! So for a snake to think that he could just move in… well… it was going to be either us or the snake!

So I screamed, then Mason screamed, we placed Daisy in the closet and began searching the house for… yes… a snake! I was hoping there was some mistake, did the snake have legs by any chance? How long was it? What color was it? None of the answers where what I was looking for! Except that he thought it was a black snake. I guess if you have to share your house with a snake, a black snake is the way to go! I went on to explain that if he ever saw another snake in the house, not to leave the room to come and tell me, but keep his eye on it an yell!! (After I said it, I couldn’t believe the strange words that left my mouth). Was I quoting some important words to live by? Hope not!

So, what does the snake have to do with us getting ready for this trip? Well, I got out the vacuum cleaner in search for the snake on the loose. I decided that I would clean as I searched for him. I vacuumed behind the entertainment center, under the sofa, behind the fridge, absolutely no nook or cranny was left unturned. By the end of the search, I had spring cleaned the entire house as was beginning to realize that we may never find this snake – how creepy. Have I come far enough with my O.C.D. and obsessive cleaning to share our living quarters with a snake? I DON”T THINK SO!

My friend, Barb, that I was on the phone with overheard Mason’s big announcement and our screams and insisted that I not hang up. Not because she was so worried about us, but because she thinks my life is so amusing, and she didn’t want to miss anything! Living it vicariously through the phone proved not to be entertaining enough so she decided to come on over. Was I planning to vacuum the snake? No. I had a giant bucket to put over him until Doug got home. Anyway, Barb’s the one who found the snake. She and I slammed it in the sliding glass door and Doug finished the job when he got home.

Thanks snake, who turned out to not be black!!! If it weren’t for you I would probably still be too overwhelmed to start cleaning and packing!!!

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Well, here’s my excuse for not cleaning and washing clothes up until then. I’ve been training for a 5-K run. My first ever! Did I like to run? No. Did I want to have a runner’s body? YES!!! I’d tried over the years to start running, but could never get into it. Then my friend Barb and I decided to start training together. Now I am ADDICTED! Right after we started running, my mom told me about a race here in Georgia. So basically I had 2 ½ weeks to train for it! I was running every night while Doug graciously put the children to bed. So yesterday was the big day. I prayed that I would come in 5th place, Bowen prayed that I would come in 3rd place, and Mason (realistically) prayed that I would be able to finish the race. Really, my goal was to finish the race in 35 minutes AND I DID IT! Next year I hope to finish in 28 minutes or less.

Anyway, the children and I have been at my parent’s house for a week enjoying swimming, horse back riding, and just being spoiled. On Monday we celebrated my grandmother’s birthday and the entire family got together for the first time in 5 long years. Now that Adelaine is well again we are all planning to get together at least once a year. After meeting all of them, Anika said with a big smile, “Wow, I didn’t know I had so many cousins!” Together my cousins and I have 10 children on my dad’s side. They all just loved being together.

Tomorrow we leave for the Lighthouse Retreat in the Florida Panhandle. It is a camp for children who have had cancer, and their families. We went last year and had a blast. This year the Evers’ will be joining us again. We will be sharing a beautiful home on the water. It will be an amazing opportunity for Anika and baby Mary to sleep under the same roof together as sisters! After that we will come home for a week and then leave for Maine. So far it’s been a crazy summer and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Angela

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Exciting Mancation

I am in the middle of a 2 week mancation.

I am updating the photos on the site here and it is mind numbingly monotonous .

When I switched the blog to wordpress a few months back, I did not update the photos at that time. Well, I see why not. I am playing with a few different options to go forward with as an online photo storage / photo album / link to blog and am down to flickr vs picasa vs nextgen (keeps crashing). If you have opinions i would love to hear them.

Flickr is cheaper as we are over the 10gig level with the number of photos we need to store.
Picasa has a desktop application that is really cool.
nextgen is free and stores on your site.

Anyways, you will see old photos show up and new photos with a different look.

I am going to stick a couple that caught my eye as well as my memories. With over 17,000 pictures on my laptop, I have a couple that have surprised me as well.

adelaine close up may 13 2007 012107 adelaine bald head cancer child walking on beach sleepless 120806 Heart Jesus and Adelaine 12_5_06

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Yesterday while I was writing the post with regards to how life was like during our 2 ½ year journey through cancer, I received the following email from Supersibs. Supersibs is a wonderful organization that acknowledges siblings of pediatric cancer patients. They offer love and support to the brothers and sisters whose lives are dramatically affected and ever changed by cancer.
Here is what they have to say about the movie…

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While the movie, My Sister’s Keeper, is “fiction” – many aspects of what is depicted on screen is “real life” for a child battling cancer, the parents fighting for their child’s life, and the brothers and sisters who are trying to survive in the frightening shadows of pediatric cancer.

I would like to caution you, as our SuperSibs! families, regarding the decision to see My Sister’s Keeper. This film will likely be very, very difficult to see, as many elements similar to your family’s cancer journey are played out on the big screen. We are pleased that Warner Brothers offered SuperSibs! the opportunity to participate with advance screenings of the film, and we are grateful for the wonderful encouragement from author Jodi Picoult.

While we appreciate that others should see this film, we do not recommend it for SuperSibs! families. If you or others you know do decide to see this movie — please take the PG-13 rating into account, as this is not a film for children. And as always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your support community, should you need to at any time.

After I read what Supersibs had to say about the movie, I decided that I needed to go and see it. If the general public is supposedly being educated on pediatric cancer and what that journey is like, I wanted to see for myself how the movie was portrayed.

Luckily I was already in the cancer mindset because of Adelaine’s anniversary of it, which happens to fall one day before mine and Doug’s wedding anniversary. So what did we do last night to celebrate our special union? Dinner and movie. Not just any movie, but a movie about pediatric cancer. What a party!!!!!!!

After walking (or crawling on my knees really) down the road of cancer, I sat down with my husband, along with my Slirpy to watch the movie. My main goal was just to make it through the movie, so I sucked it up with a fist full of napkins and watched as Hollywood
unfolded the story of what our family and so many others that we’ve met along the way had endured.

Going into the movie, I really didn’t know much about the story other than it was about a girl whose sister had cancer. I didn’t realize that the sister was going to have Leukemia! I would like to point out that her Leukemia was not ALL which was the type Adelaine had. Also the guy in the movie had AML Leukemia which is also not the exact type of Leukemia. The only unfortunate thing about the movie that I could see is that God was completely left out it (which is typical of Hollywood).

In order to actually sit through the movie, I couldn’t process it in its entirety during the movie. I filed the information and events away in my head and spent the entire night pealing each event off layer by layer. It was tough to see, but all in all as a critic who’s walked the journey,

I MUST SAY THEY HIT IT LIKE A NAIL BEING STRUCK WITH A HAMMER WITH SUCH PERCISION THAT THE NAIL WAS DRIVEN ALL THE WAY IN ON THE FIRST TRY!

Yes, it was that accurate!

After watching the movie, I told Doug that people are going to think that I wrote my post about Adelaine AFTER I saw the movie, which I assure you is NOT the case!

After we left the theater, I asked Doug what he thought of the movie. He said, “I think Adelaine should sleep in bed with us tonight! Just before Doug and I were falling asleep, I said, “Are you going to go get Adelaine or am I?” He said something to the effect that she would probably sleep better in her own bed and … but then he went and got her!

During cancer Adelaine spent many nights in our bed, especially just before she was diagnosed because she was so sick from the “flu”. Then because I was afraid she might die before morning quite honestly. Sometimes I just wanted to have her close in case she needed me, in case she spiked a fever during the night and needed to go to the hospital. I spent many sleepless nights worrying over her, tying to make her comfortable. My soul was crushed over the possibility of loosing her. My heart hurt so deeply because of the unknown, so we’d place her in our bed and having her there helped us sleep a little better. There were also times that we’d place her there just watch her sleep, feel her skin, smell her hair and celebrate that she is still here with us. Last night was one of those occasions, knowing that she is alive and well. It felt so nice to have her beside us after watching the movie unfold.

I felt very alone especially during those first 9 months of treatment. I knew there was no way that people could understand what our lives were like – how scary and painful it all was. Nor did I invite people into our home to see it either. Each family that goes through something like this has there own private suffering that happens behind closed doors. I think Hollywood did an excellent job of allowing people in to see and feel some of what we felt.

To those who have not been directly effected by pediatric cancer (because it may be too painful), my recommendation is GO SEE THE MOVIE!

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