Return in Progress, or, A Not-So-Brief Update

Two years have passed since my last post...I started Cinnamon Tiger as a means for myself to discover and enhance my own abilities with makeup while documenting my steps and opinions, in the hope that others, like myself, would have a place to go to actually see the results of a product without having to waste money and hours of googling as I have been oh so prone to do.  Two years ago my life was relatively simple.  I was a divorcee who had, for the first time, found a good man, and more than that, the right man, a collegiate working on getting her first college degree, and a loving mom with two normal, healthy boys.  Now, it is much more complex and my blog will inevitably morph alongside.  Let me catch you up to date, dear readers:

The semester I finished my Associates Degree, I moved out of my hometown (a lifelong goal and dream) to begin work on my Bachelors.  Although it felt very strange and yes, sad, to leave behind my family (especially my parents, who I have always been very close with), it was also exhilarating and gave me a profound sense of accomplishment and direction.  We were moving up from a duplex to our first house in a quiet little country town and life seemed to be flowing so smoothly.  College work kept me too busy to post, and I admit that I seldom even wore makeup most days. The university had it's own special challenge, which was that being a financial aid student who had recently (and personally and completely paid for) changed back to my maiden name, I had to wait for the record to catch up.  I'd be damned if I'd let the name of a man who held me back rather than helped me be on those degrees.  The school promised me that this would process before the end of the semester and "everything would be fine". 

On November 27th, 2011-the Sunday after Thanksgiving-the largest (or at least a tie for) tragedy of my life struck.  My mom had died suddenly.  I had seen her barely 2 weeks before and she was happy and in good health, I will never forget how proud of me she was for making it to the university she'd always admired and for accomplishing so much.  There was no warning, and the scar that it has left still bleeds with so much that I cannot put into words...Months later we found out that she had a stomach infection that had punctured a hole and leaked into her body.  She was only 65. 

After that, there was too much tears and depression for makeup.  We had always shared that, doing each others makeup, shopping together, and finding stuff for each other.  It was very much part of our bonding and relationship.  I still have her makeup case, though I only open it now to smell her...

The semester ended, I finished all my classes.  I had all wonderful professors, except one, and although they offered to let me postpone the finals, I knew Mom would have wanted me to finish and so I did.  The financial aid did not come through, and to this day I am still struggling to make payments so that, years from now, I can finish school and earn my PHD... Being out of school after the immense struggle it took to get in and to get through was a horrid blow.  I had already felt so lonely and isolated in this new city, where I knew no one and felt as if I mattered not.  I felt like a failure.

Then, one day in the beginning of January 2012, my youngest son (who had just turned 4 on Dec. 10th) developed a bad cough.  A trip to the library around this same time had resulted in a fall on the snowy ground that caused him to limp.  Over the course of the next week, his energy dwindled and he got much sicker.  He could barely walk.  We took him up to the local family practice clinic twice, once for the cough and leg (which resulted in a diagnosis of "common cold" and the doctor moving around his legs and pronouncing them fine), and then again 4 days later when he could no longer walk on his own and was only getting sicker, having developed tiny red "blood-freckles" all over his body and face.  The doctor swabbed his throat and diagnosed him with strep throat, stating that the red bumps were scarlatina. He was prescribed Amoxicillin and we went home, anxious for him to get better.

He didn't.

On January 16th, my oldest son celebrated his 10th birthday.  Despite the cake and activities, Chance could only lay in my lap, with his exhausted and tiny yellow body curled up like a baby.  By this time he couldn't even go to the bathroom on his own.  This was extremely worrisome, because he was an early potty-trainer and had never had one accident since.  He's a very clean person and he would cry at these accidents each time, even though he was too weak to call for help beforehand. It was only the cries that signaled the mishaps.  Even moving the mattress to the floor and putting his old potty chair by it didn't help.  He couldn't eat the cake, and could only weakly mutter the names of his brother and the other boys as they ran around him, an activity he normally would have been the leader of.  That was the final straw.  The next morning we drove him up to the city and admitted him to the ER, fearing an allergic reaction to the antibiotic that could indeed cause severe joint aches and yellowing of the skin. 

It turns out that the local clinic won't test blood on children under 6 years of age, but thank God that Mercy did.  There was a full team of doctors, nurses, and paramedics all there for us.  His blood counts came back the lowest that they had ever seen.  Our smart, talented, and kinder-than-Snow-White son was on the verge of death. 

He was officially diagnosed with B-Cell ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia; cancer of the blood) by the wonderful team at the Children's Hospital and began his treatment on January 19th.  The "Scarlatina" was actually petechiae, which looks nothing like the other and was a sign of internal bleeding due to the cancer.  We had caught it in time, since it is acute it develops quickly.  We met a lot of other families who had very similar stories and time-frames to ours.  It's important to talk to these families who know what you are going through and can identify and sympathize with you.  "Normal" families start to feel like outsiders that you can no longer identify with...

 You never think that this will happen to you, that you will become one of those families.  We were so terrified of losing him to either the cancer or the chemo, and for the first time I didn't even have Mom to get me through it.  She was always the strong one.  Luckily, so is my Charles.  I'm not sure where my head was most of the time during those first months, so much reading and thoughts and worries and forcing myself to be strong in front my kids. No 4 year old, no child, should have to go through this.  I love these kids, they inspire me to no end.  You have not seen strength until you have seen this children smile and color and play and laugh and so much more in the midst of the whirlwind that is treatment and hospitalization.

But we persevered, having become much stronger and appreciative of the love we have and these moments in life that are so brief and fragile and precious.  Chance is in 100% remission and has now started the maintenance phase of the chemo, and we know he is a survivor.  Boys have 3 years of treatment, so we are not at the end of the road but I feel that we have gotten over the worst.  What's more, is that he is beating this cancer without a single cry or tear at a needle (I cannot even do this!) smiles, love, and caring for all the staff and the other kids, and so much more strength and sweetness that I never knew a kid going through such a tough battle could have.  When he stays inpatient, he actually goes room to room to check on the other kids!  Much of the hospital staff has become an extended part of the family, and provided so much strength and support to us, I love them for it. 

Yes, there have been ups and downs and horrid scares-but that is, perhaps, a story for another time.  Now that Chance is in good health again, and we are preparing to move into an apartment close to the hospital, I will try my utmost best to post again, to share my story.  Sometimes God opens doors we wouldn't have opened for ourselves, and I hope to share our journey through what-happens-next.  And, occasionally, to post up some new reviews and how-to's!


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