The ninth floor of Doernbecher Children’s Hospital is connected to OHSU by a short skybridge. We like to walk here and see that Greg’s photo is still in the display case. While he was undergoing chemotherapy he created this layered-glass tile and wrote the following:
Cloud Break – This piece of art simulated the struggle between good and evil. As waves pound on the rocks in the storm, lightning crack and water surges into the air. Behind the dark billowing clouds, the sun is constantly shining, and as the waves are tearing, the clouds break and the sun shines through. For a moment the wind and storm recede and the sun fills your view and the world seems calm once again.
This analogy is one that models my cancer treatment. As nausea and sickness threaten my well-being, they are like the waves smashing against me. But as the storm gathers, sunshine breaks through and lightens my life. The sun comes in different forms; friends visiting, cards from well-wishers, and also the many helpful arts and crafts activities throughout the weeks. It is through these that my mind can be occupied with new, creative and pleasant thoughts; and I can work with my hands to make beautiful things.
This was all done as a school assignment in the oncology ward. They have a full time teacher employed to help the patients with their work. She either works with their regular school teacher, or tutors them privately if they have had to drop out for the year. Some kids simply miss an entire year for treatment and recovery, others just a few weeks. Greg was taking classes full-time at Clark Community College in order to graduate from high school with his associates degree. He had also done this his junior year so he had enough credits to graduate. He began treatment in October, so we let him know he could just stop school altogether, and still be ready for BYU in the Fall. He wanted to finish with the AA; mostly to say that he had finished what he started out to do. He loved it when he was well enough to go and visit with the ladies at school. Art was particularly stimulating and when he heard it may lose some funding, he wrote the little essay to go with the tile. (Most of the art he did was with CHAP [Children’s Healing Art Project] because they came at least once during our stay and would bring supplies to our room).
Chemotherapy for Greg lasted 29 weeks (Oct-May). At first our schedule was:
Week 1: 3-4 days inpatient stay
Week 2: 4-5 days inpatient stay
Week 3: 4-5 days inpatient stay
Week 4: Clinic visit only
Week 5: Clinic visit only
During the final three months we lost week five – this was tough because it took away a week of recovery. As treatment wore on, Greg’s immune system was about wiped out and he was unable to be out and about. For several months his bed was in the family room and he had to use a wheelchair. He made a very conscious effort to stay positive and to better appreciate even the slightest amounts of “sunshine.”
Greg’s sunshine thoughts are sweet. Our lives have so much rain, and waves and darkness… but then the sun breaks through and energizes and gives new perspective. Trials are sometimes so large we cannot seem to see our way around them; sometimes they are just daily annoyances. Sunshine will always come eventually. Sunshine, in Greg’s mind, always centered around people and activity. Sometimes we are in desperate need of sunshine, and at other times we need to be the sunshine for others. Currently the rain is pouring down on our home, but our lives are both lighted up and warmed by the sunshine that comes to us through all of the meals, gifts, cards and especially prayers of so many people who care – some who don’t even know us!
We are home! Here is a photo of Kimberly with a wheelchair full of sunshine!