Rowan’s Story

Site created on July 14, 2019

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Journal entry by Alec Shea

Happy Thursday,

After not being able to have chemo last week due to a low ANC, Rowan triumphantly returned to Denver to complete session number 14! We are down to 8 sessions left. Rowan can see the light at the end of the tunnel a bit. Yesterday, while at the hospital playing “Friends” trivia, Rowan was relaxed enough to start talking about his end of chemo party. He’s decided he wants a Friends theme. If I had known my child in 2019 would love a sitcom from the 1990’s so much, I would’ve watched it. Thank you Netflix, I guess. But, if Rowan wanted Pink dancing elephants for his end of chemo party, I’d make it happen. The kid deserves it. We have no doubt the Childlife Specialist at RMHC will make Rowans party a wonderful event. These folks are angels. 

Rowan has been feeling fairly well. Last week when is blood levels were so low he was charging ahead. It all started with Halloween when he wanted to rush home for trick or treat. It continued through a visit from my parents. My parents usually visit this time of year to come to the stores for our annual Christmas Open House. But, as you can imagine, they weren’t sure they’d be able to come this year with the unpredictable health of Ro. Well, Ro announced the he’d feel fine for they’re visit. He just came out and told me he would feel great. He was true to his word. His appetite was good, he was at the stores as much as he could be. It was a good week for him and for my parents. They have been dying a little bit each day not being able to hug Rowan. Like all of you who have followed his journey, they’ve read about the terribly hard battle this kid has waged for the first 14 treatments. It did them a lot of good to be able to hug him and see his smile. We are thankful Rowan was feeling so good when they were here. There have been way too many weeks where he wouldn’t have been so good. It all worked out perfectly. Rowan was properly spoiled by my parents! They flew home last night but before going they were able to be with Rowan during his chemo session. I think it helped them to see how the process works. They met the amazing nurses and Rowans beloved Dr. Z. It is also further proof we did the right thing in switching him to a broviac. I would not have allowed my parents to come into the room when Rowan had his port. It was too painful. On so many levels. 

The downside to Rowan feeling so good last week is this is the first time his low blood counts have postponed his chemo schedule. Rowan has always bounced back enough from week to week. Now that he’s not, he will likely need to start Nuepogen, a bone marrow stimulant. Nuepogen should help his ANC rebound to ensure we stay on track with chemo. Unfortunately the main side effect is pain from your body producing bone marrow. Think of it as growing pains on steroids. Rowan already deals with body aches, Nuepogen will intensify those pains. It’s another thing I hate. All of this terrible crap that’s going to hurt my kid...and I know it’s the best thing for him. I can’t wait for this to be over for him.

Exciting news: Rowan has eye brows again! Ever sense stopping the Chyclophosphamide, he’s had these little hairs creeping back. Right now he looks like a Chia Pet a week after planting! It is fun to see his hair coming back. It’s another sign that he’s winning this battle. 

Our fear for Rowan continues. As I’ve written many times, I can’t shake the fear of relapsing. But we look ahead to January 15th. Which should be his last chemo treatment. We look ahead to his bell ringing ceremony. The party that we are going to throw for our community, to thank them for all the love and support. We look ahead to Rowan going on his make a wish trip. We look ahead so much. And it’s counter intuitive because we always preach  honor each day. Don’t wish away days. (Although Jodi always gets on me for wishing away summer. Truth be told, I love winter and each July I’m ready for fall to hurry up. But, I’m a little weird maybe?)

Right now we will focus on those last 8 treatments. We will focus on getting healthy. After the last treatment, Rowan will have a little down time, probably a few weeks, and then scans. When those scans come back clean, we will schedule his broviac removal. Just in time for him to go to Aspen for a week long ski camp. The Shining Stars Foundation puts on the camp for kids with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. Rowan can’t wait! I think about this and all the other things we have planned coming up. I think about all the trips we had planned last summer we had to cancel. We have NO more time for cancer! The cloud of relapse hangs over Jodi and me. We talk about occasionally, we fear it every day. It’s a roller coaster. Today, we will concentrate on today. Tomorrow we will worry about tomorrow. One day at a time. 

Our hope is to be back in town this weekend. Rowan was exhausted yesterday and went to sleep around 5:00PM. Hopefully he can bounce back so we can head home. Jodi’s folks are coming in this weekend for an early Thanksgiving celebration. This year we have so much to be thankful for. Owning retail stores, we don’t get to celebrate holidays with family the way we used to. This year it’ll be even harder to get away. It makes the time we do spend together even more special. It also highlights the family you don’t see often. The siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents. The people who you’re connected to but for whatever reason you’ve lost touch with. They rally around your child. They send packages or donations or kind words. Most importantly, they send love. It makes you ask yourself have I done enough to show my love to them? It makes you think about the reasons you’re not as close as maybe you once were? Time and distance can do so much to change a relationship. So can foolish pride. There have been many blessings borne out of Rowans illness. One of them is self examination. I find myself asking a lot of questions about how I’ve treated people. If I’m being honest, I haven’t always liked the answers. Sometimes life presents us with challenges we can’t handle on our own. That’s when we find out who will stand beside us. It gives us an opportunity to rally and fight for a common goal. It reintroduces us to our strongest allies and it strengthens our bonds with family. We will never stop thanking and supporting all of those who have rallied around Rowan. We owe so much to so many. The Sheas will head out on a goodwill tour as soon as we can! It’ll be sorta like the Beatles going on tour, only different. 😬

For now, we will get Rowan rested up and point our car northward ASAP. Thank you for your love, prayers and friendship. We continue to be overwhelmed by all of you. 

Alec, Jodi and Rowan
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