I got this idea from someone online. Buy Dr. Seuss’ book Oh, the places you’ll go and have Joey’s teachers from K-12 sign and leave some notes. On the date of graduation from high school, I will give Joey the book full of the sweet notes from all his teachers before. When I gave the book to his first grade teacher, she exclaimed, “Fabulous idea!” One month later, it became a book that we need to constantly fight for, a book of luxury for the family.
On March 20th, the darkest day of my life, Joey had a normal physical after his 9th year old birthday. The pediatrician felt his tummy hard and suggested an ultrasound. She called me right away. “They found a mass in Joey’s kidney.” I didn’t know what that meant. A doctor in Shands later talked to me. “He has a tumor in kidney, which is around 12cm big.” My head exploded. I called my husband Luke right away. I told myself to calm down.
“Mom, what’s a tumor?” Joey asked.
“A bump in your tummy, honey.”
“Ok, I don’t feel anything.”
Joey was admitted to Shands right away. The scariest word for all the moms in the world was in my head all the time. I couldn’t feel my feet. Later, doctor said it’s probably Wilms, which is a type of kidney cancer in children. How can she be so sure it’s malignant tumor? I comforted myself. It could be a benigh one, isn’t it?
I couldn’t help crying in front of Joey. I am not prepared in such situation. No one teaches me how to be strong.
“Why are you crying, mom?”
“Because you need a surgery.”
“I don’t like surgery,” he said. Then he continued watching the cartoon in TV.
Luke held my hands and said, “It’s probably a mistake.” No, it is not. I told myself. It is a huge tumor. It was there probably for a while. How come I never noticed before? How long did it grow there? Several months? A year? Two years? Nothing else in this world matters to me. Our life is completely changed. Luke stayed in hospital with Joey. I didn’t remember how I drove home that night. I cried out loud in the car because I can’t cry at home when my mom is here taking caring of Joey’s baby brother. House was so quiet without Joey. Darkness in the room. I was scary. I went into Joey’s room. I cried out loud like a baby. No, I can’t. I can’t live in a house without him.