October 4, 2002

Today my eleven-year-old daughter, Hannah, completed the last of four rounds of chemotherapy to treat acute myeloid leukemia. It has been 134 days since my world spun off its axis with a phone call. We (me during the week and my husband, Mike, on the weekends) lived with her at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. For 83 of those days, Hannah was an inpatient in either a positive-pressure room or one of the other rooms on the pediatric unit reserved for children with cancer.

Enduring this trial meant segmenting my life into a series of overlapping but separate functions:

• helping Hannah cope with treatments, transfusions, and medications along with all of their attendant side effects;

• trying to protect her from infections or secondary hospitalization problems that could prove fatal;

• supporting Hannah through all of the emotional effects of treatment, the loneliness of isolation, and just normal “preteenism”;

• mourning with her as she struggled with weight loss, hair loss, and innocence loss;

• keeping home and household running while not being at home;

• continuing to be a mom to my fifteen-year-old daughter and wife to my husband while rarely seeing them;

• being a health care professional in a health care setting with a nonprofessional role; and

• finally, fighting daily not to succumb to the constant gut-gnawing pain and fear that this unique person who is my daughter might die.

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