**First Things First**

Monday night I went into the ER, again… (you can roll your eyes… I did) with, you guessed it… a fever. As one friend pointed out to me, “This fever thing is really getting old Heather!” I agree with her wholeheartedly. To that end, I saw Dr. Crump this morning at PMH, had some more bloodwork drawn, a CT scan and an appointment scheduled with an Infectious Disease doctor for Monday. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, enjoy my original post.

**It’s Just Normal**

This weekend Jeff and I attended the CLL Conference hosted by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. It was a great time and I look forward to “unpacking” some of my thoughts from the conference on this site over the next few days. Today however, I want to tell you about one single conversation that I had on Sunday morning. It was probably, in my opinion, one of the most important conversations that I have had in a long time.

The agenda for Sunday morning was relaxed. We had a private room in the back of the dining area and families were encouraged to meet other families and just talk about some of the issues that are important to them in regards to living with CLL. Some suggested topics included Women with CLL, Who do I tell?, Does my boss/supervisor need to know? My husband was just diagnosed with CLL and he doesn’t want to talk about it. What can I do? I thought that Jeff could have started his own topic: My wife was diagnosed with CLL and she won’t shut up about it…

Jeff and I sat down at a table and I began talking with Tim. Now, Tim was diagnosed around the same time that I was, but more important to me, when he was diagnosed, he had a one and a half  year old daughter at home. And so we talked about what it is like to parent a child while being treated for an incurable illness. We shared a lot of the same fears for our families and the desire to make the most out of each minute spent together, deliberately creating memories that will last.

And then, Jennifer, now 13 came and joined us at the table. I moved over and introduced myself to her and asked what for me, was a difficult question. “What is it like to grow up in a family when your parent has cancer?” I will never forget her answer. “It’s just normal. It’s what I’ve always known.” She went on to say that she would talk to her friends and tell them that her Dad was in the hospital and they would all freak out and her response is always… “it’s just chemo” or “it’s just…”. It’s just normal.

If you’ve been reading along here, you’ll know that I am often wondering about what the effects of all my infections, hospital visits, chemo, doctors etc… will have on Nathan. I’ve already shared some of the stories where Nathan has shown compassion and prayed for God to “heal my body”. (In fact, he’s prayed for many of you and your situations too.) And I’ve shared that it often breaks my heart that he knows so much at this age about hospitals, needles and medicine. But, in that single conversation with Jennifer, my heart could rest easier. Jeff and I often talk about how this is “just normal” for Nathan. He doesn’t know any different. As far as he knows, every kid goes off to the Magic Castle at PMH and every Mom gets sick. I know that at some point, Nathan will have to wrestle with this issue in his own right, but for now, I know that we are doing the right thing and that Nathan will be okay.

I had lots of expectations for this weekend but I certainly never imagined that the most important thing I would take away would come from a 13 year old girl in three small words. It’s just normal.

Thank you Jennifer.


**Nathan Story: Since taking a new medication last week, an angry red rash has appeared on my arms. Here’s the conversation Nathan and I had on Friday.

Nathan: Mommy, what is that on your arm?

Me: It’s my watch.

Nathan: Not that Mommy! What is that? (pointing to my rash)

Me: It’s my rash.

Nathan: Oh. I pray Mommy. God will make it better. (folds hands, bows head) Dear God, And I pray for Mommy’s rash all better. Amen. See Mommy. God is healing your rash.

**It’s just normal.**