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Westward Bound

If you can read this, we’re on our way home to Cleveland.  Somewhere on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, at a rest stop or from a passenger seat, I’ve tapped the Publish button in the WordPress iOS app, sending this post forth to tell the word that the second phase of Rebecca’s treatment has come to an end, and we are finally, after so many weeks, on our way home.

Technology has lifted us in so many ways, big and small.  The ability to fly Rebecca to CHOP when she was unconscious and at risk of her life.  The equipment used to remove the tumor that threatened her, the machines that monitored her brain activity, the shunt that keeps her intracranial pressure low, the arterial port in her chest wall, the massive equipment that fired protons into her skull on precisely calculated vectors into a precisely mapped volume at the center of her brain.  The wireless interfaces to the global networks that let us keep in touch with friends and family, watch a movie on demand, research treatment options, buy supplies to be delivered to our temporary residence in Philadelphia, videoconference with our children and parents back in Cleveland.  The ability to draft this post ahead of time and then simply publish it with the touch of a button.

People have lifted us in so many ways, big and bigger.  The relatives and friends who rushed to our side without a second thought, who did what we asked when we asked without hesitation, who came to see us throughout the whole extended process, who organized to feed and support the family we left in Cleveland, and who came in force to walk for Rebecca and for cancer research.  The Philadelphia friends who came to see us for a few hours here and there, who gave us brief breaks away, who checked up on us to see how we were doing.  The wonderful people at the University City Arts League, where Rebecca was able to take painting and dance and hula-hoop classes in the afternoons.  The fantastic staff at Morey’s Piers, who made sure that the one weekend we could have in Wildwood with the whole family was the best it could possibly be.  The incredible staff and even more incredible volunteers who run the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, who housed us and fed us and gave us a calm and welcoming space where Rebecca could play with other kids.

The web community lifted us in ways so varied and vast that they very nearly defy belief.  When I put out the first call, you were there, instantly and in force, hundreds of you, replying and favoriting and retweeting and liking and commenting and emailing to show your support, your regard, your care.  So many well wishes came our way, and every one of them helped us.  They’ve continued to help us throughout the process, as people have checked back in or just let us know that they’re still thinking of us.  Because whatever you may think about the efficacy of prayer and warm thoughts and good vibrations and karmic loans with regard to medical issues, there is no doubt that the expression of those things help in this way:  they let those who are struggling to deal with terrible choices know that they have a support network and resources to draw on, should they be needed.  That is a bigger deal than you can imagine, unless you’ve been there yourself.

All those things got us through the first phase, the initial surgeries and recovery; and then through the second phase, the radiation treatment and initial chemotherapy.  We’re headed back to a month-long resting period, a brief window of no treatments… and then the third phase will begin: a year (or more) of intensive chemotherapy that will likely have serious side effects, but offers the best chance of eradicating whatever cancer cells may have survived the resection and radiation.  This will be a deeply trying year, but we will face it in our home, with the whole family together.

So we’re wending our way through the Appalachian Mountains, looming dark against the twilit sky, leaving behind the city that sheltered us while we fought for our daughter’s life.  Ahead of us lies the city that is our home, where we will fight to secure her future.  It makes our path forward immeasurably easier to know that so many of you are there to help us.  We can never thank you enough.

15 Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Mon 28 Oct 2013
    • 1750
    Will Kessel wrote in to say...

    Go carefully, my friend.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Mon 28 Oct 2013
    • 1757
    Jim Johnson wrote in to say...

    Thanks for this update. So glad you’re headed home, for the next phase of recovery. :)

    I really enjoyed your photo in ‘Favorites’ this week as well. Nicely done!

    Best wishes to you and yours,

    Jim. (pixelsrzen)

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Mon 28 Oct 2013
    • 1818
    Amber Leigh Turner wrote in to say...

    So glad to hear you are coming home and that Rebecca is doing well! I wish you and your family strength and courage for the year to come, and hope you get to spend many many days and years with your beautiful daughter and family.

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Mon 28 Oct 2013
    • 1831
    Barbara Gavin wrote in to say...

    Safe journey, both on your way home and throughout the coming year. Peace.

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Mon 28 Oct 2013
    • 1833
    Carolyn Wood wrote in to say...

    Yes, still thinking of Rebecca and the rest of your family. So much love, so many things to contend with on these regular old days as life goes on. I’m guessing it will be both a relief and strange to arrive home. May you all have a beautiful break.

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Mon 28 Oct 2013
    • 1915
    Bob Monsour wrote in to say...

    Safe travels to you and your family on this great adventure of life and love!

    • #7
    • Comment
    • Mon 28 Oct 2013
    • 1942
    Derek Damko wrote in to say...

    My family has been praying for Rebecca and your whole family. We will continue to pray as this next year will be a trying one, but know you can and will get through it.

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Mon 28 Oct 2013
    • 2138
    Meagen Howe wrote in to say...

    Hooray for you, for Becca, for Cleveland, and for life!

    • #9
    • Comment
    • Mon 28 Oct 2013
    • 2312
    Jen Woda wrote in to say...

    So happy you are on the way home.
    Thank you for keeping those of us who care about Rebecca but are not immediate family and friends in the loop. I think of her every day.

    • #10
    • Comment
    • Tue 29 Oct 2013
    • 0124
    Adam Reisman wrote in to say...

    Happy to hear you are making your way home and am so glad things have gone as well as they could have up to this point. Will be thinking of and rooting for Becca during the next chapter in this process, and sending as many positive vibes as I can muster your way. BTW, your posts, Eric, have been moving testaments to your and Kat’s love for Becca – the kind of beautifully-written, simultaneously wrenching and uplifting posts that break your heart, strike you in the solar plexus, and make you want to go out and slay dragons if you thought it would help her. All my love to you, Kat, Becca and her brother and sister.

    • #11
    • Comment
    • Tue 29 Oct 2013
    • 1244
    John Blackmore wrote in to say...

    Thank you for your generosity of spirit which has benefited so many of us who have sought assistance in our endeavours. A father of three very much loved sons, my best wishes to you all.

    • #12
    • Comment
    • Tue 29 Oct 2013
    • 1817
    Nick Harvey wrote in to say...

    I may only know you through your work on CSS and the books I have on my desk, but your posts about Rebecca make you as human and real as anyone I know. I hope the next month gives you and your family strength and a respite from the pressures of these exhausting treatments. My thoughts travel all the way to Cleveland to be with you all.

    • #13
    • Comment
    • Wed 30 Oct 2013
    • 1206
    Donna Snow wrote in to say...

    Here’s to a month of “home”. Being away really makes one appreciate what “home” really means. Best of love to you and yours. Praying for and keeping your entire family in my thoughts.

    • #14
    • Comment
    • Fri 1 Nov 2013
    • 0908
    Prisca wrote in to say...

    Eric,

    thank you for the updates – and I am so glad you are on your way home and that this means this phase of treatment for Rebecca is over. It is so good to read that you had such support along this journey, restores faith in humanity.

    Wishing you all the very best in this coming year – you’ve come through a lot already, and I hope you will get through the next phase just as well.
    Thinking of you all, sending plenty of virtual hugs xox

    • #15
    • Comment
    • Sat 2 Nov 2013
    • 0016
    Tiff wrote in to say...

    I’m very glad you’re all home together. Thank you so much for sharing the story as it unfolds. Of course I wish for you and your family peace, resilience and all the supportive friends and geek community you can stand.

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