Molly Sturgis of Chaska, MN, needs neither ruby slippers nor Glinda the Good Witch to know there’s no place like home.
Her son, Telford, better known as Telly, was treated for acute myeloid leukemia diagnosed at 16 months. He relapsed 7 months later, which meant more chemo, followed by radiation, and a bone marrow transplant.
Telly was in the hospital for 118 consecutive days after the transplant, so just being home is healing for the Sturgis family.
“I think we all know home is the best medicine,” Molly said. “It’s where you find comfort. When you’re sick, where do you want to go? To your Mom. To home. Just walking in that door, you can just let it all out, like …. ‘Aaah, I’m here. It’s safe.’”
When he returned home, Telly had to re-learn to crawl, walk, eat and talk. Now he’s 3, and can’t get enough of imitating his sister Evelyn’s every move.
“For so many months, he was so sick, and unable to even move his arms and legs,” Molly said. “He used to get mad watching her play because it was like, ‘Why can’t I do that?’”
The best healing for her family, Molly said, has been getting back into normal rhythms. “We’re doing what we used to do before the diagnosis,” she said. “Playing and being together. And the routine of going to school. Family lunches and dinners.”
With Telly’s health stabilizing, and the next mountain to climb is getting him to sleep on his own again, Molly said she realizes she still has more healing to do.
“I’m one of those people who says everything is OK, all the time, even when it’s not,” she said.
Molly said she and her husband, Eric, have been a successful caregiving team for Telly, because they understand that they handle things differently.
But as her son’s full-time caregiver, over the course of a very complicated health journey, the young Mom admits she still holds a lot of things inside.
“I think my best friend is one of the only people I let things out to,” Molly said. “But not very much, because then I start crying, and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop.”
That friend is Marie Lockwood. She and Molly have been inseparable since 7th grade. Or was it 9th grade? (This may be the only point on which they disagree.)
Marie said, “I just want her to know that I am always there for her. In the middle of the night, during the day, when I’m at work. She can just come to me any time … no matter what.”
Molly knows Marie will help her heal from Telly’s health ordeal. “If I could only be one-third of the friend she is to me, that would still be extraordinary,” Molly said.