Eleven years ago today, Sunday, May 28, 2006, dawned much the same as this morning; the sky was clear, the temperature was pleasant, and a gentle breeze ruffled bright green leaves.
That morning began with an unexpected wrinkle in our plans: we finished our final evening performance of "Oliver!" the night before, and anticipated performing the very final performance during a Sunday afternoon matinee. Laura, Eamon, and I were looking forward to our next big adventure, a weeks-long trip to Europe with my mother. Laura was scheduled to sing with her choir in Salzburg, and then all four of us planned to travel to Belgium to visit dear friends in Brussels.
Laura, Dennis, and I never made it to that matinee performance, and Laura, Eamon, my mother and I never made it to Salzburg. Instead, we spent that sunny day at Duke Medical Center's Emergency Room, praying for our daughter's life.
After emergency brain surgery to remove a golf-ball sized tumor and repair a brain bleed, we would find out days later that the tumor was an aggressive pediatric brain cancer called medulloblastoma.
Although I chose to spend that day eleven years ago in optimism and hope, that moment when you're told your child has cancer is unforgettable and earth shattering. I couldn't know at that time the amazing blessings that would flow from what was the most terrifying moment of our lives.
Although my prayerful intentions and visualizations saw Laura as completely cured, grown up, and living a healthy, successful life, the reality we faced in those early days and in the months ahead challenged those intentions. I couldn't know then that Laura would, indeed, make a full recovery, and be well enough to travel with her family to Italy on a Make A Wish trip just one year later. I couldn't know then that Laura would be accepted to and attend her grandmother's alma mater and later transfer to and graduate from Meredith College. I couldn't know then that Laura would create a satisfying career in Graphic Design, or enjoy a long-term romance, or fly to California, or sail to the Caribbean.
I couldn't know then that Laura and I would become published authors, or that our family's personal agony and heartache would become a public opportunity to inspire others to take authority over their own health and wellbeing.
I often tell my clients that cancer is not a death sentence, but an invitation to make different choices; to make beneficial changes to the way we nourish ourselves, the way we respond to crises, the way we interact in our relationships...the way we live life.
Happy Anniversary, Laura, Eamon, Liam, and Dennis; we've all come such a long, amazing way since that Memorial Day Weekend eleven years ago!