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Her Birthday

my sisters birthday passed a weerk ago. i can remember how sad and depressed i was. i missed that day of school for her. i was feeling so awful and just broke down crying.

Christmas is coming up

We are waiting for Melanie’s white cells to come up. While waiting we are introduced to Hama beads by the play specialist in the ward. First day Melanie makes one shape. Second day, she makes three shapes. Third day, I joined her. We start making many shapes in varying sizes and colour. The play specialist complains that she cannot just attend us only (because we ask her to do the ironing). This means I need to do it. Ok fine, no problems. We produce about 50 figures made from Hama beads. Bees, angles, Santa, rainbows and so on.

Forth chemo – final one

Melanie is receiving her fourth chemo – the last one. Hurray, four months of treatment is almost over. The whole thing is almost over. I am not sure how I should be feeling now. Can I feel happy? Four months of living in and out of hospitals is coming to an end. We can finally go home and never think about it again. I know that there is still radiotherapy but it is ok.

Christmas party at school

There is a Christmas play at school. Melanie always participated in the plays. It is her speciality, to be on stage and perform. She is so comfortable on stage. She likes people watching her. But, this year it is doubtful that she will participate. She missed all the preparations already. Right now, she has a break – in between chemos. She seems happy to help her friends out for the play. She seems happy with just being there. Her friends do not leave her a minute alone. Melanie is surrounded by good friends.

Melanie’s brain and eyes

We are waiting for her MRI and CT scans to come in. They were taken a while ago when she had this weird infection around her eyes.

The scans show some abnormality in her brain and the consultants are not entirely sure what that means. Some think that they are sign of leukaemia cells. Not to take any chances, they add additional chemo injections through the spine.

They also suggest radiotherapy on the head after the chemo treatments are over.

Nick is the ward’s naughty boy

There is this boy in the ward, named Nick. He is always around, going from one room to another, visiting other kids. He is 14yrs old. He seems physically much smaller and younger than his age but mentally much older. He’s been in and out of hospitals for about four years.

I understand that he will have a bone marrow transplant soon. He is given 20% success. I don’t know how to interpret this number. Is it good or bad? I take it as bad. I feel sorry for him. I also think that, despite Melanie’s aggressive condition, she stands a better chance than him.

Few months or few years – it is the same

I am in the ward kitchen. I meet Brian’s mum. It is funny how we talk about each other. First names are not used. It is always someone’s mum and dad. Brian’s mum tells me that they came from South Africa and have been waiting for a donor for more than half a year. Finally there is one found and now little Brian is getting for the transplant. He’s been on an doff hospitals for the past five years.

The boy next room

There is this boy, named Andy. He is 14 yrs old. I find out that he has been in and out of hospital for the last four years. I am terrified. Fours years of treatment… Goodness this sounds awful amount of time. The doctors said Melanie will be given the standard four month-course chemotherapy treatment.

Four months vs four years. I am thinking, shall I be grateful, shall I worry or what? I see Andy’s mother outside the ward, smoking when ever she gets a chance. First we criticise her about smoking then her unfriendliness.

Hair…Head Lice…

Melanie’s hair is as stubborn as herself. They are not falling, still hanging there. She has very long gorgeous hair. I talk to the nurses that perhaps her hair will not fall out. They look at me and smile – it will.

One day I am sitting on Mel’s bed… Still I don’t know how sit on her bed. Either I am stepping on the tubes (she then screams at me) or I fall out. Anyhow, I see something crawling on her hair. I cannot believe my eyes – it is head lice. But how comes we did not see it before?

Again, we start laughing and making jokes about head lice dying from the chemo.

The big infection…steroids…wobble

So far Melanie had the typical side effects of the chemo…mouth ulcers etc.

Diagnosis…Prognosis…what next?

Diagnosis is done. We are waiting for the results of many tests to give us an indication as to where to go from here.

I remember the very first night the doctors saying that Melanie was near the edge. She was so weak when she was hospitalised and there was a good chance that she could not make through the theatre session where they gave her total anaesthesia.

She might have been “near the edge” then but she came back to me and everything was going to be just fine.

My husband, Andi tells me all possible scenarios but I don’t want to listen to him. Just focus on the good outcome.

Sisters meet each other the first time

It’s been a while… Melanie seems to be looking much better… I am told that she will get worse before she gets better. Hmmm…She looks alright to me…what worse are we talking about here. Also, her hair is still there, the long gorgeous hair of hers. Not a single hair dropped so far. The nurse smiles at me and he says she will lose all her hair. I say “but it seems ok, perhaps she will not use her hair…”. He smiles again and says "she will lose all her hair".

Cannot sleep in the nights…

Days passed since Melanie has been hospitalised. I cannot sleep in the nights. It is not the bleeps continuously going on in the ward, it is not the nurses coming in and going out and it is not the lights in the rooms and corridors… It is the thoughts going on in my head…

I am a consultant. In my work, I analyse everything from top to bottom and think of every possible success and failure scenarios. It is my job and I do these automatically.

Our au pair is leaving…

One night I come home and as usual my tea is ready. I am tired. And there I hear… Our au pair tells me that she needs to focus her studies therefore she wants to leave. What? Of course I understand that she needs to leave but what am I going to do? What about Jasmin, who is going to take her to school, bring her from school, look after her until one of us comes home. Oh please not now. Where am I supposed to find another au pair in such a short notice? We need an urgent solution.

What do we tell Jasmin about her sister's condition?

Andi and I are running from home to work, work to hospital, hospital to home, trying to sort out things. Things are now like Melanie and everything else. This “everything else” is overwhelming. Jasmin is still seven years old. She does not understand anything well yet (so we think). She is with our au pair at home. We simply told her that her sister is in the hospital.

Why am i blogging

i am a girl who is 12 years old and my sister, melanie, had cancer and died two years ago. i feel very sad because she was the only sister i had and aslo no one else could understand me like she could. she IS the best ssiter anyone could have

What do we do with our works?

Several days passed and we started talking about what we are going to do with our works. Andi and I are working full time.

I am on a high profile client project and there is so much dependency on me. Is my work really important? It is just business.

But I was assured (my prayers were answered or were they?) that Mel was going to be alright so there is no need to quit jobs.

Andi arranges with the college to drop all his admin work and only to carry out the minimum teaching tasks over two days a week. Three days he will stay with Mel and work remotely from the hospital if needed.

Mel is in the hospital…what now?

It’s been a couple of days Mel was diagnosed. She is sleeping most of the time and she is not herself yet. At one point, she woke up, saw all the lines going around her, and started to pull them off herself. We barely managed to control her.

I don’t know how many doctors and nurses and consultants I have met in the meantime. I am overloaded with information I cannot follow easily. I am still under shock – please give me a break.

Fear...pray...hope...believe

The doctor comes in. He says that they need to start chemo as soon as possible. They also need to determine the type. He is very concerned. Melanie’s oxygen level is very low. She needs to be given full anaesthetic. There is a good chance that she may not pull through the theatre.

No, no, no… this cannot be happing. What does that mean she may not pull through the theatre? Of course, she will. What nonsense are they talking about?

My husband, Andi and I go with Mel to the theatre. The doors close on us. We cannot go in. We have to wait. They will let us know when it is finished.

It is very serious...Melanie is sleeping (so I think)

It is 10am on Friday 10 September 2004. I take Melanie to the GP. She walked with me to the GP. The doctor had a look at her and said it would be good to do a blood test. But, it takes three days to get the blood results. So, she said she would give me a letter and it would be better I take Melanie to the emergency. There we would get the results a lot quicker.

--- three years later the GP told me that she did not know what was wrong with Melanie but she knew that it was very serious.---

Two weeks before the big day (official diagnosis)

My daughters are with the grandparents. It is summer holidays. One night I get a phone call from my mum saying that Melanie is not feeling well. Mum says that Mel has a high temperature and ear pain. I say to her to calm down because it is normal. Mel gets ear infections very often. It is one of those again. My dad takes her to the doctor. It is an ear infection.

My very first blog. Why am I blogging?

I don’t like writing very much because I am not good at expressing myself with word. But I have decided to write… My counsellor said it was a good idea to write… To keep me sane…to remember things…to keep my thoughts forever live – digitally I mean.

I have divided my life into four periods:
- Life before Melanie was born

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