That terrible moment is burned into my memory, as clear as if it just happened. It was July 17th, just before noon. I was working from home due to Covid and had just gotten off a conference call. Thinking I would grab some lunch, I headed out of my home office. Sadie was just coming out of her bedroom and I intercepted her going into the bathroom. I was going to give her a hard time for sleeping so late. Then I saw the tears brewing in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong, she turned away. I grabbed her by both arms to turn her towards me, told her she looked like she was going to cry and asked again what was wrong. She said the hospital had just called and she had Hodgkin's Lymphoma. My mind went blank. I hugged her and I asked her what that meant. She said "I have cancer". My world stopped.
The rest of that day, weekend and whole next week was a blur. She had cardiac and pulmonary tests to determine if her body would be healthy enough for chemo. She had a PET scan to determine what stage it was. I read everything I could get my hands on regarding the disease. Our entire family started a raw food diet of mostly vegetables and fruit to stop the progression of the disease.
Our first appointment with the oncologist was on July 27th. We were told that only one parent could accompany her but Garrett and I both went. We thought it would be pretty difficult for them to kick one of us out once we were already there. We were right. We got a few nasty looks but no one said anything to us directly. After blood work and a lot of waiting, the oncologist came in to provide the prognosis and treatment plan. Up to that point I think I still thought it was a mistake. Some lab test mix up. A misdiagnosis on the biopsy that would be picked up by the PET scan. Sadie was healthy, just a small lump in her neck. That dream was not only dashed, it was torn to pieces. We were told Sadie was Stage IV and the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes in her lungs, liver and spleen. There were numerous tumors in both sides of her neck, chest and diaphragm. The only place it was not yet was her bones.
Thank goodness I had prepared a long list of typed questions for the doctor because my brain shut down. We saw two doctors and they were both very patient with my exhaustive list of questions and references to studies I had read about chemo treatments. They recommended the highest dose, most aggressive chemotherapy with potential follow up with radiation and stem cell transplant. We were told that other than the obvious short-term side effects of chemo, like hair loss and nausea, Sadie would be at higher risk of long-term side effects like infertility, permanent heart damage and secondary cancers. All that said, her prognosis with the chemo treatment was good, an 85% 5-year survival rate. We were given information on fertility options and wigs. We asked if we could look at complimentary care with a Naturopathic Doctor and were told they would not support any alternative treatment plans. We asked about diet and were told she could eat anything she wanted, that diet had nothing to do with cancer. We asked for a couple weeks to seek a second opinion.
When we got home, Sadie went to be with a friend and I locked myself in my room. It was by far the worst day of my life.