Tomorrow is Jackson’s fifth stem cell transplant anniversary. I can barely believe it’s been that long. It’s a huge milestone in survival.
I was pretty anxious this time five years ago. Jackson was starting to get really tired and refusing to eat. The chemo we’d given him to wipe out his bone marrow had done its job. His eyelashes were gone. His eyebrows were gone. His color was a mix of gray and white. He couldn’t even stay awake through a bath or to watch a full movie. He cried when I left his side. Whenever Ev and I tried to switch spots, he’d grunt and shove Ev to get out, and put Momma back in.
The stem cell transplant itself was really anticlimactic. I always thought transplants happened in an OR somewhere with white walls and fluorescent lighting. Jackson’s was in his hospital room; they literally unfroze his stem cells, hooked it up to his line and it went in like any other bag of fluids. The weirdest part was the smell of the preservative for the stem cells. It smelled like garlicky creamed corn.
We have the best support system in the world. The day of Jackson’s stem cell transplant, our family came to the hospital and wore royal blue “Jackson’s Entourage” shirts we’d made specifically for the day. It was really amazing to walk into the waiting room after it was over and see a roomful of blue. Our families came to visit everyday, bringing food or sitting with me while Jackson slept. If Everett and I were the ones to hold Jackson, our extended families were the ones to hold us. I can’t tell you how much that means to me, even now.
Jackson may have scars from his cancer, but he does not remember a bit of what he went through. It’s funny to me when he gets afraid of a mascot or a thunderstorm. I give him a little bit of a hard time over that, and I know I shouldn’t. The Orioles bird or Mickey Mouse are nothing to fear compared to cancer! But that speaks to the young age he was sick, and though it was incredibly tough to watch, it is a blessing. Jackson’s conquered more in the first two years of his life than most do in their entire lifetime.
I love you, dude. You’re the first to wake each morning and the last to leave the dance floor. Even though you’re a knucklehead some days, it has always been a pleasure to be your momma. Your huge hugs and determined spirit make you Jackson. There is only one. I thank God that He let us keep you and I look forward to celebrating every milestone with you. I am so proud of the sweet, bald-headed toddler that fought an adult’s battle and the kind, blonde-haired boy you’ve become. You’re my favorite boy in the whole, wide world. Happy anniversary of something you aren’t real sure about, but are glad to celebrate anyway. And no, you cannot get a toy.
I love you, buddy.