This lung cancer cannot stop a Gramma from doing what she loves. And what does a Gramma love to do? Play with her grandchildren of course! And we don’t just play GO FISH and OLD MAIDS – although I do like those games. All my life I’ve played and learned with children, as a child, a parent, a teacher, and grandmother. I can’t imagine not finding a way to continue.
For the past few summers I’ve invited my four grandchildren to spend the day playing at our camp multiple days per week. It began, I think, as a way to help with childcare, a way to spend time with them since I’m much more available in the summer, and a way to be sure to share with them the most special place in the world, the Salt Pond, Sedgwick, Maine. It’s also the perfect way to assure that I will be able to play in the summer! It has become one of my very top reasons to not only want to carry on, but to keep myself in as healthy condition as I can. You see, keeping up with two nine year olds and two eleven year olds as they explore, create, play in the fields, woods, and ocean, is not for most grandmothers, very few I imagine. Even our camp counselors (their mothers who take turns playing with us) have a tough time keeping up with Gramma and the campers.
I began on my first targeted therapy Xalkori in March 2016. I’d been really ill, had radiation, coughed until I’d collapsed my lung and broken two ribs, and lost 30 pounds. The drug started helping right away, but I’d been quite weakened by everything. And, now the children were starting to wonder about Camp Gramma. “Will we have camp this summer Gramma?” Of course I wanted to, but I don’t think any of us, except the campers, really thought I’d be up for Camp Gramma by mid June. But Grammas are tough old birds.
Again, my family rallied around me. If I wanted to do camp, others would help make it happen. That year, last year, we decided on three days per week. Every day Gramma would be joined by a fellow “counselor”. My daughter Mandy did one day, daughter-in-law Jenny did one, and granddaughter Jasmine one. Back-up plans were in place and fingers were crossed as we approached June. Everything went as planned, perhaps better and Camp Gramma was in business. Lung cancer never took a minute away from the campers. They hiked, swam, built forts and fairy houses, played with the goats and in the field, and so much more! The summer of a lifetime for all.
This year we did something similar. Our final day for the summer was just a few days ago. It was a perfect summer. Yes, we missed some Thursdays because Gramma was in Boston for scans and appointments. But we didn’t let cancer stop us from having a great time. We swam, kayaked, hiked, played with goats, gardened, played in the field and forest, picked cukes and made pickles, played board games, learned about macro-photography, made goop with friends, cuddled with cats and danced with dachshunds, and when all was said and done, we ate ice cream. A perfect summer!
Gramma and her campers are oh so much stronger than lung cancer.