George starting school – a child on chemotherapy

George and his fluffy head
George and his fluffy head

George is starting school tomorrow…. i’ll just let that sink in.

I’ve been cracking on with life like I did when he was diagnosed with leukaemia and burying my head in the sand a little.  Everything’s going to be ok, everything’s fine… I can tell you now, this is going to go one of two ways, i’m either going to be hard faced dropping him off or i’m going to be in bits, with no in between.  Our only saving grace is the fact that he’s just doing an afternoon tomorrow so at least I won’t be in the morning drop off crowd waving him off with Oliver and Harriet.  The rest of the week builds up to a full day then next week, boom, full time education!

This is more than “oh no my baby is leaving me!”, “he’s too young” nerves.  It’s more like “my son is on chemotherapy AND starts school tomorrow” kind of thing… you know the feeling?  No you probably don’t.

I’ve got every faith that his new teacher has got this, she is completely lovely and supportive, the same as the school has been since I had to make the phone call to say “Oliver and Harriet won’t be in today, their little brother has cancer, we’re taking them to Alder Hey”  Now THAT was a shitty day.

No, tomorrow won’t be a shitty one, tomorrow is the next step, the beginning of George’s school life.  It will be slightly different to the other children’s, in that he’s going to spend another 3 years with a suppressed immune system to prevent the “bad cells” coming back.  He has daily chemotherapy, another weekly chemotherapy, blood tests and meetings with his consultant every fortnight and goes to theatre ever 12 weeks for a lumbar puncture and spinal chemotherapy.  Let’s just say, there’ll be no 100% attendance certificate coming his way!

George will be more at risk of infection, and anything like that will mean more “sleepovers” at Alder Hey for IV antibiotics and monitoring too.  He’s going to have to try to maintain a high level of hygiene (he’s 4!?), avoid contact sport because of Barry (his port) and his joints may get sore after physical activities.  Catching anything contagious is unavoidable but we know the school have been on the ball with reminding parents to keep their children off if they’re ill, I mean, puking, the trots, chicken pox – what more could we ask.

The three amigos
The three amigos

Despite all this, we’re looking forward to him getting involved in and enjoying as much of school life as possible, particularly friendship.  Whether he’s reading War and Peace by 6 years old, can do Pythagoras theorem or can sing like a canary… it’s not really what it’s all about in life really is it?  I’m just glad he’s getting to go to bleedin’ school and has a chance to be happy like the rest of the kids from nursery (we miss you Playdays!).

Don’t get me wrong i’ll still post proud as punch photos on Facebook etc when he can draw round his hand at age 12…. that’s because i’m his mum. But whether he’s meeting “age related expectations” at the end of the school year or not is not about to change anything.  We’ve met more than enough families whose children have been taken from them for us to appreciate all of our children just being here.

George and his dody
George and his dody

Since George was a baby and throughout his cancer treatment he’s still always had a dummy (dody we call it) for bed time and when he needed soothing.  He’d always had it, along with his precious scarf comforter.   It was particularly necessary when going through the chemo, needles, anaesthetic and when he has been in pain.

I’d been militant when Oliver and Harriet had dodies when they were little, fretting about their teeth, fretting them being “too big”, or being judged so theirs were banished at the earliest opportunity.  As you can imagine, I hadn’t really give two hoots about the shape of George’s teeth given at one point I worried that cancer might beat him… I certainly did not give a rat’s ass what other people might think.  Like I’ve said before, one of the positive things this awful diagnosis has brought with it, is a whole new perspective… and it’s liberating.

But! actual magical things happened at our house this week… with big boy’s school fast approaching George said he wanted to give his dodies to the baby fairies.  A little door appeared one night in his bedroom and he left his dodies sprinkled with fairy dust outside.  In the morning a fire boat toy had been left in return, a fire boat that George had always wanted!  How did they know?  So George, along with starting primary school has also given away his dodies and has only mentioned them since to tell the story about the fairy door in his bedroom.  The door is still there because the tooth fairy is going to need to get in one day.

So we’ve ironed three sets of uniform, and when I say we, I mean Damien has! well…. I went out buying it all! we’ve tried everything on, got water bottles and PE kits, lunch bags, new haircuts (nearly there George!) and it’ll be baths and an early night tonight.

All ready?
All ready?

On a final note, George has asked nearly every day can he go to school yet. He is totally not arsed!

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