My daughter was complaining of leg pain. I dismissed it for a few weeks, thinking it may be growing pains.
When she went to the doctor, they found fluid in her knees and sent her home on ibuprofen. A few days later, I rushed her in because she could no longer walk. She had red spots all over her chest and arms. This we found out later is called petechiae. The doctor did blood work. Later that night, we received a call that we needed to go to the hospital for transfusions -- and things rolled from there.
As a single mom without family nearby, my daughter's leukemia wasn't just a diagnosis: it was the end of a life.
Not her life -- just the life we knew.
Over the first month it was determined she was very high-risk: She would need intense treatment. We decided that the only way we could do this was to move near family. Within a month, we went from a care-free, idyllic life of owning a home, holding a good job, and enjoying multiple pets to sudden chaos: boxes in a moving truck headed from Washington state to Georgia with only one of our dogs.
That first month was the hardest, and steroids impacted my daughter's emotions and body. Once we were settled in Georgia, my daughter's spirit came back. When she wasn't getting chemo, she was happy and seemed healthy. She held on to her hair. She had no idea what was going on.
For Maybin, frequent trips to the doctor just became her new normal. My new normal was crying alone in bed, fearing the worst.
I found a family in an unexpected place by meeting many other parents of kids with cancer. It's incredible how tragedy brings out humanity.
We are still currently going through treatment, but she is finally in remission and responding to treatment! Even with good news, you can't help but feel angry, frustrated and confused about how something that "never happens to you" is now your reality.
It gets easier. You find your purpose. You find a family and you spend every second you can loving your child and fighting this demon -- for your child and for the next child facing it. This is something you can't fix by yourself but as a community you can.
I can't wait for my daughter to be cured, but I know that every ache or pain she has for the rest of her life I will fear the worst. It will be a ghost in the room. We will never live care-free again... but we will live happy.
And we'll give this disease a war it never expected.