Today is Michael’s birthday. Of all the many, many things for which I am thankful, his presence on this earth is at the top of my list. I marvel daily at my great fortune for having married such an amazing human being.
On my way to work, I stopped at a coffee shop to meet the grandmother of a local little girl we know who shares Benji’s diagnosis. This sweet woman is hosting a starmakers’ gathering tomorrow night, and I handed her a big package of rainbow colored tissue paper and laminator pouches. She brought her granddaughter with her. I hadn’t seen McKinley in person in quite some time, and she looked absolutely beautiful. She is in maintenance now also. Her hair has returned, sweet and soft. It’s the same golden color as Benji’s, and as Cody’s before him.
Because of McKinley, I’d been already been thinking about Cody today when his mama called. Cody had treatment yesterday and his numbers are perfect. She called to tell me that a little boy in their baseball league was just diagnosed. He’s only four. He is one of three children, their mother is single, and they have no additional family in town. Cody’s mom has already called her to reach out, shining her light on this mama’s path the way she shined her light on ours. I love that woman so much. She told me the little boy’s mother was offered a mentor, a parent from All Children’s who has been down this road before. This is a new program and I think it’s a fabulous idea.
Cody’s mom also told me something else, and I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach when she said it. “You know Dr. Oshrine is leaving us, right?” She heard my reaction and quickly told me he wasn’t leaving All Children’s, just the clinic. He’ll be taking care of bone marrow transplant patients full time. I was relieved, but still felt the sting. We talked for a while about the need for the hospital to hire another leukemia specialist. The only three are (were) Oshrine, Moore, and Grana, who has to be close to retirement. Benji’s diagnosis (and Cody’s, and McKinley’s) is the most common among childhood cancers. Their staff should reflect that. For a split second, I considered the invitation I received back in February to join the patient advisory board. I shelved it back in my “one day” category.
We will miss Dr. Oshrine in clinic very much, but I am deeply thankful that he was our guy when we needed him most. He was there for our biggest decisions and for Benji’s most pivotal moment of frontline treatment. We (especially Benji) have developed such a trusting relationship with him, unlike any doctor-patient relationship I’ve ever experienced, and it has taught me a lot about what that relationship can and should look like. Fortunately our clinic visits are less eventful now. Dr. Grana and Dr. Moore are quite competent and kind. But our entire family will always have a special place for Dr. Oshrine in our hearts. The children who are receiving bone marrow transplants at All Children’s are in excellent hands.
After another very long day, we gathered with our sweet family to celebrate Michael’s birthday at one of his favorite local restaurants. Tomorrow, we will caravan northward for the long weekend to see Michael’s grandmother, and to breathe fresh, pine scented south Georgia summer air. I’m grateful tonight, for so many things.