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“Sometimes the strength of Motherhood is greater than natural laws” - Barbara Kingsoliver
There are lists and lists of things to get “Mom” for Mother’s Day but this story is truly the #1 greatest gift any Mom could ask for – her life. This is the story of a Mother’s life that was saved by love, hard work, hope and one big miracle. A few months ago I shared a story of a Mother in desperate need of help from the world. (One Match to Save a Mother’s Life) Myy dear friend Erica needed a bone marrow transplant to save her life. She had been diagnosed with a deadly case of leukaemia and was told she only had only months to live unless a bone marrow donor could be found.
This is her story. A story of being a Mom with two beautiful boys, a remarkable husband, a story of community, a story of hope and a story of the greatest gift a Mom could ever want.
The gift of life.
Guest Post by Erica Harris
When I was asked by Jacqueline (founder of 365give) to write a little synopsis of my journey in honour of this very special Mother’s Day, my mind instantly brought me back to my Mother’s Day celebration last year. The day started with a wonderful wake up, spoiled by drawings and wee surprises. And after a fun filled family brunch with the in laws, my oldest son, then 4, then took me on a “date” – we rode the bus in absolute glee and smiled away at an afternoon kids concert. Beautiful day, beautiful memories. Not once did I then consider what would arise in the weeks to come as even a distant possibility.
Last spring as I spent a fun morning at the aquarium with my boys, I picked up an urgent message regarding a relatively routine lab I had done hours earlier. Thinking there must be some confusion as my results couldn’t be in that quickly, I then learned I was to avoid all public places as my immune system was so comprised. My final diagnosis of acute leukemia came within a few short days. Hours following this, a bed was made available for me in the province’s Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant unit at Vancouver General Hospital.
I had no time to prepare myself, or my family for this huge upheaval. I embarked on my new path in shock and disbelief. For one so passionate about life, health and wellness this was just not within the realms of possibilities. My heart simply ached at the thought of being separated from my angels and not having any idea where to start explaining what had transpired and why mama would not be home.
I had no idea what was to lie ahead- the tubes, the machines, the surgeries, the days of isolation as a result of life threatening septic infections, the endless gut retching nausea, the frequent bone marrow biopsies, the exhausting night sweats, the ongoing blood transfusions, etc. What was assumed to be an original 3-4 week stay resulted in a full 2 month stay as the original chemotherapy proved unsuccessful. After I did not respond to what is referred to as “salvage” chemotherapy, I given a 2 month diagnosis, perhaps 6 months at best and offered no further treatment aside from palliative care. A second opinion in Seattle at one of the leading US leukaemia treatment centers confirmed the prognosis. So despite having had just received the amazing news that perfect 10/10 bone marrow donor was found on my behalf (after great efforts on behalf of One Match, the VGH team, my incredible husband and our amazing team of support who started their own missions to spread awareness), I learned the very next day it was an unattainable goal as I first had to be in remission to be eligible for transplant. After hearing this prognosis, I knew I just needed to be home with my family. I did just that- the team at VGH reluctantly discharged me the next morning. And with the strength of my 3 handsome loves by my side, I gained strength and “our fight” began.
On every step of this road, our family has been embraced by an amazing circle of love and support. Friends, family and and complete strangers sent messages of love and inspiration, devoted hours on our behalf to prayer, meditation, research on alternative approaches and leading health care providers in the field, cared for our babes, donated blood, prepared meals, shopped, and helped in any/every way possible. All of this paved the way to a very unexpected victory in ‘our fight”….and by the grace of God, the healing hands of my beautiful angel babes, the world’s best husband by my side, and our incredible team of support, my labs started to reflect some change and very slight optimism that at least the disease was not progressing at a rate that was originally anticipated. Another biopsy was scheduled and we learned I had attained remission.
Our head Doc said there was absolutely no explanation he could offer aside from saying it was a true miracle.
I was then eligible for transplant, which I had at the end of October. Although I am still on a rather bumpy road while adapting an entirely new immune system from an unrelated superstar donor, I am now moving full steam ahead and getting stronger every day. I am not yet off this big detour but I get to be here to be the first to greet my angels when they wake and the last to kiss them goodnight.
I am over the moon to be able to conquer most of my mama routines on most days.
As I picked up my oldest from kindergarten the other day, I stood from a far as I approached the field. He was running about laughing away with his friends, so enthralled in their game and so incredibly happy. I had tears of joy just being able to see this moment. As I stood there thinking how difficult it may soon be to tug him away from this fun for our trek home, he saw me from across the playground. Instantly, he sprinted towards me shouting to all with such excitement “there is MY Mom!” with his arms outstretched to dive into mine. My now 3 year old sets out on his daily missions to find mama treasured rocks, pine cones, or the prettiest weed of the day and shares them with me in the sweetest, highest pitched voice as he tells says he loves me soooo much. These slower days have welcomed so many quiet simple moments on the home front and these moments are true bliss. I thank God every day for my incredible blessings. My heart shines in ways I never imagined possible simply to hold their hands in mine.
This road has obviously been an unexpected lofty toll- from my husband not working for months on end to be my side, to additional child care costs, to the cost of uncovered medications and the countless supplements, to ensuring every nutrient consumed is of the highest quality, and the many expenses of fees incurred from professionals we sought along the way for many consults/treatments.
Jacqueline’s mission with 365give and her amazing compassion for those experiencing difficult times exemplifies such heartfelt surprises and blessings that have helped ease our path by so many ways. Further, Jacqueline spread the word about One Match registration instantly upon hearing the urgent need. The love, generosity, time and kindness that have been extended to us along the way will remain in our hearts on this very special upcoming mother’s day, and every day.
Happy, happy Mother’s Day to all!
Two years ago I committed to “give” every day for one year. I did this to teach my 3 year old son the importance of giving and to inspire people to give more in their lives.
Two years later and only a few new posts after completing our 365give journey my husband and I have adopted two more children. Every moment of my day is now dedicated to giving back to my family.
This week VancouverMom wrote an article that has inspired me to find the time to write again. Along with Earth Day fast approaching- April 22, 2013 – this post is all about giving back to our planet. VancouverMom in partnership with SPUD.ca is looking for Vancouver’s Greenest Family. When you have a large family ( we are 7 plus 2 dogs) you have to consider the carbon footprint you make every day. We make choices in our family on a day to day basis to make a positive impact on the environment. After completing 365 “gives” I came to realization that many of our daily gives were giving back to the planet. We have started to teach our 2 year old many of these green lessons and our 1 year old will soon follow.
365give Top 10 Ways to Give Back to the Planet.
Just follow the link for a full post on each daily give and you too can change the world one day at a time.
Walk, walk and walk some more. We committed to being a one car family a long time ago. The one car we do have is an eco-friendly car (a 7 seater at that!) and we walk, bus and bike our way around our neighbourhood, to work and to school. This give will help you discover your carbon footprint by using alternative methods of transportation. We saved .52 tons of CO2 by just walking to complete our daily activities instead of driving. What about you?
My Bag and Me is still one of my son’s favourite stories and is fast becoming his younger brothers. This story is about a boy that brings a shopping bag to the grocery store and how it helps the planet one bag at a time. During our year of giving we brought bags with us shopping to Whole Foods. With every bag we bring and fill with groceries Whole Foods donates 10 cents to a local charity. We calculated a donation of over $50.00 that year and we helped the planet one bag at a time. Giving at it’s best!
I have 3 boys and I can only imagine the number of running shoes we will go through in the coming years. Not only have I kept my oldest son’s shoes to reuse for his younger brothers but when they are truly worn out including my own and my husbands we bring them to a Nike Store. Nike’s Reuse a Shoe Program turns old shoes into playing courts for kids to use again and again.
This green give featured a book called How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint: - 365 ways to save energy. I soon realized we were doing many of them. Find the Top 5 every day things my family has implemented including composting, recycling, reusing, energy conservation and more.
I wish I lived somewhere that I could hang my laundry to dry outside but Vancouver happens to be a very wet place most of the year and my area of town does not allow laundry lines in your yard. I researched what my best alternative may be to do our families laundry as eco-friendly as possible. First step cold water washing and second the Laundry Ball. When you do up to 8 or 10 loads of laundry a week like we do this gadget really makes a difference. Read on how you can do your laundry with a little less guilt.
I have a dirty secret. I like to garbage pick. I don’t mean dumpster diving for food but finding items for free that others have discarded and turning them into something usable. I shop almost exclusively at second hand stores for my children or on the Craigslist. I believe there is so much “stuff” already out there for kids that there is no need to by new all the time. But my true passion is finding an item that someone may have left outside their home with a sign “free” on it. I pick it up and restore it. I have done it again and again with furniture and toys. Just a little elbow grease and maybe a paint job and you have a brand new item. Take a look at the before and after pictures of a toy cabinet I still use to this day. You know the saying “someone else’s garbage is another’s treasure.”
This recipe is simple. It’s called grow your own food. You can do it in pots, in your garden, in your window sill – where every you can in your home. If you need the official recipe follow this give to see the impact growing your own food makes on the environment. If you can teach a child this environmentally friendly practice you will have made an impact on them for their life.
When you get on a roll to give every day you discover ways that can give not only once but twice in one act. Donating your bottles that can receive a deposit back is one simple and effective way to give. It gives to the planet by recycling and gives to charity by donating them. In one year alone we recycled over $150 worth of bottles, juice boxes, milk cartons and donated the money to charity. Take a look around your neighbourhood and see if their is a charity drop box you can give to.
If you have children in your life there are never enough activities to keep them busy on a rainy day. This idea came to us when I came across the site Be Straw Free. Did you know that over 500 million disposable straws are used every day? Enough to fill 46,400 large school buses a year. My son and I came up with a great way to use straws to create fun art projects. Take a look and see what other ideas you could come up with to reuse straws for creative good.
This is an easy and fun way to teach your children – even at the ripe old age of three – the connection between our planet and keeping it clean. We are in full blossom in Vancouver right now so it’s time to get out and walk with your child. Stop and smell the flowers. While you are there pick up some garbage in your community at the same time. Smelling cherry blossoms and picking up someone’s stray plastic bag will remind you it’s worth keeping our planet clean and healthy.
Our environmentally friendly practices don’t stop here. There are many daily “gives” including water conservation, eating organic foods, saving electricity and more that we do every day. (Day 7, Day 10, Day 25, Day 159, Day 204, Day 222 and more) 365give was a great project for our family to inspire us to give in so many ways and giving back to our planet was one of our favourites. No matter how busy your family is teaching our children the value of being environmentally friendly has to be a priority.
A special thanks to VancouverMom for inspiring me to write about giving back to our planet and reminding our family of how we do give every day.
If you have any ideas you practice in your family please share them with us so we to can bring them into our daily lives.
I beleive it is the the next generation that will make a huge positive impact on our planet. Children are being taught at home and in school from an early age how they can treat the planet with respect and kindness. I personally started teaching my son at the age of 2 and now at the age of 4 he can tell you 10 ways to help protect our earth and practices them in his daily life.
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to get the next generation involved with their Top 12 Ways to save the planet every day. The children of the world can teach us wonderful things if we take the time to listen.
Top 12 Way To Help the Planet by the elementary children of Eagle Habour Montessori School.
- Re-use materials as much as possible.
- Don’t waste food. Don’t buy so many groceries.
- Stop littering to protect the environment- oceans, plants, animals.
- Stop polluting.
- Conserve water-turn taps off/use less water/don’t have so many baths.
- Save electricity- turn off tvs/computers/lights
- Take care of plants and animals-limit trees chopped down and use both sides of the paper!
- Don’t need so many toys! Make our own toys.
- Don’t make so many plastic bag factories. If you drop plastic bags in the ocean, turtles might think they’re jellyfish and eat them.
- Use cars less. Walk instead of driving.
- Re-use ziplock bags.
- Don’t make so many factories.
Earth Day isn’t about saving the planet just one day out of the year. It’s doing our part every day and giving back to our world so it is a safe and healthy place for our children and the generations of children to come to live.