This 3-year-old just wanted to ride a bus like the big kids.
Mom•Logic: When was your son diagnosed with leukemia?
Jennifer: In October 2006, Prabesh was diagnosed with AML. It starts off as a syndrome and very quickly turns into leukemia. Right after his two year checkup, I started noticing deep bruising on his back, knees, and arms. I was with him all the time, and there was no reason for bruises, especially ones so dark and deep. I thought maybe he was anemic. His pediatrician did some blood work, and they called me and said they found leukemia cells in his blood. He was 2 ½ years old at the time of his diagnosis.
Mom•Logic: What was the prognosis?
Jennifer: Three days after his third birthday, the doctor told us his leukemia cells were definitely cancer. We were given choices of treatment, and we picked chemo. He had five rounds, each lasting about two weeks. After the chemo, the doctors tried an antibody drug that was less invasive. At the time, we were told if it worked, he would be put on a bone marrow transplant list and given radiation before. We tried the drug, but it didn't work. They put him on the bone marrow list, but he was taken off because he was too sick. They told us there is nothing else to try. They said he may make it to his next birthday, March 21, but maybe not.
Mom•Logic: How did you get involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation?
Jennifer: They contacted me back in December and wanted to make a wish come true for Prabesh. Ever since Prabesh was two, he always wanted to ride a school bus. He couldn't wait to get big and go to school. I wanted to give him some sense of normalcy, and I wanted him to be happy and excited at the same time. The bus ride was one of the most exciting things for Prabesh, it's all he ever wanted. It made me happy, but I wanted to cry at the same time. To see his face light up when he saw the bus was amazing, and one of those things you'll never forget. He got to go into a kindergarten class. He had his own desk and locker, and he fell in love with the class pet which was a little gerbil named Daisy, which he still talks about to this day. He went to school on Valentine's Day. The class knew he was coming, so they made him Valentine's Day cards. He got a school t-shirt, and he did math, the weather calendar, sat on the carpet in a circle with the kids, and he was able to be part of something, and with kids his age.
Mom•Logic: How are you handling the possibility of losing a child along with the fact you're expecting another baby?
Jennifer: It's hard and overwhelming. I am due April 29, and Prabesh's birthday is March 21st. It made me think if I am losing one child and I am gaining another, it's not the same. When I found out I was having a boy, I freaked out because I couldn't imagine seeing a new baby in Prabesh's baby clothes, and being OK with that. That made me cry.
Mom•Logic: How do you stay so strong when you're dealing with so much?
Jennifer: I don't know if it's strength or if it's just what you do when you're a parent. You just have to be happy and at peace everyday, and you have to show that so your child sees that, and not be fearful or scared. You do have to allow yourself five or 10 minutes a day when you take a shower to cry. Any more than that is a waste because it's taking away time and moments you could be sharing with your kid. You could be laughing, playing, or reading a story. If you focus on what's going to happen, you miss out on what you could be doing now, and you can't do that when you're in this situation.