CURE Honors Holly Slavin

Holly was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma at the age of 6. She is now 7 and in remission!

A woman and her daughter were sitting in the family room while Holly and I were getting ourselves acquainted with the Aflac Cancer Floor at Egelston. We were all a little shell-shocked at that point and still feeling as though we were dreaming. It was the worst nightmare ever. I said hello to the other Momma and little girl in the family room and introduced myself. She told me about her daughter’s cancer. I was shocked and relieved to hear that is was Rhabdo. It was so strange, there we were in a hospital talking as if we had met on the playground. The girls talked about Webkinz at first and then about their rhabdo.

I looked at Holly’s new friend and realized that Holly would look like that soon. Bald, thin, pale and beautiful. Holly asked me later if she would in fact look like the other girl. The whole thing seemed so strange, it had not yet sunk in for us. But sitting there talking and studying them it become suddenly clear that the nightmare was becoming a reality and it was hitting us like a freight train.

I learned more from that woman than I had from the doctors and the Internet combined. She told me all about the protocol, radiation, port, fevers, steroids, antibiotics, feeding tubes and the time of day I was most likely to have enough hot water to get a shower. Holly learned a lot as well. The hospital has bingo, story time, clowns, about ports and how to ride your I.V. pole. It was the other family’s last week of chemo and our first week was rapidly approaching. It gave me hope, if they got through it – surely we would too.

The next 6 months were a roller coaster journey through chemo and radiation. There was a lot of throwing up, screaming, crying, and begging for the torture to stop. I would get a crushing feeling that would make my world stop completely and I needed to struggle just to take a breath. My entire body ached as a mirror image of what was going on in my mind and heart. A life that was secure suddenly seemed hopeless. The feeling of not knowing if your child will live or die is unbearable. The other woman did lose her child. My daughter is here and her baby is gone.

There was a very specific life-changing moment that I realized I had become part of a world I could never fully leave. I had bonded with parents on the floor despite race or status. I fell in love with strangers’ children; we shared successes, devastation, elation and death. Another child dies, my daughter lives. It is impossible ever to leave the cancer world or return to normal. It is impossible to go back to the way we were. The only thing left to do is to just go on and try to help another lost family find their footing in those first nightmarish days.

Janice Slavin

Rhabdo Mom




Filed under Spotlight

3 responses to “CURE Honors Holly Slavin

  1. Thank you for putting into words what I feel on the inside. Your post today was a blessing to me because as a cancer mom too, it is hard to explain all of these feelings that are racing around as you try to cope with cancer. My sweet daughter is in remission right now as well, from rhabdo. She is 6 years old…and fighting strong.

  2. Andrea Neal

    Thank you for expressing these thoughts…Even 15 years later, I can feel the waves of hope and hopelessness, sadness and smiles, that were part of parenting through the childhood cancer experience. I keep the names of the children that were lost during my daughter’s treatment near my heart and pray that their families were able to survive. I know I can never thank all of those who helped my daughter and my family when we needed help. I can live the rest of my life doing the same for others.

  3. Holly is once again fighting. Relapse hit us like a freight train. She is on cycle 2 and the tumor continues to grow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s