Tonight for the first time since 2006 (that would be 5 years ago), Bianca and Caitlyn had swimming lessons. Well actually this was the first time ever that Caitlyn had swimming lessons.
In 2006 Bianca was 3 and she had swimming lessons and actually had a bit of a 3 year old crush on her swimming teacher :-). She made great progress and all was going well. Then Caitlyn was born in February 2007. We had the best of intentions to continue with Bianca's lessons and the best of intentions to start Caitlyn with lessons as soon as she was old enough. Bianca was actually just starting to get used to the whole concept of putting her face in the water.
Sometimes I look at photos we took not too long after Caitlyn was born. Caitlyn had her very first "swim" with Terence in his arms and on that day Bianca was jumping in over and over and over and each time showing off how she would put her face in the water.
Little did we know that not long after Bianca would be diagnosed with leukemia. It is hard to think that on that day where she was so happily playing in the pool, we were completely oblivious that she actually already had leukemia cells invading her body. We didn't know it then.
On the 5th of June 2007 we had a meeting with Doctor Anne - Bianca's oncologist. We sat in this tiny little room. I had this list of questions typed up because I didn't know if I would be able to actually physically ask those questions. And Doctor Anne was going through the treatment documents. We had to sign a bunch of forms. Doctor Anne was explaining about some of the side effects how it would make Bianca lose her hair, how it would make her sometimes feel grumpy or possibly depressed or have cravings or mood swings and she talked about neutrophils. I had no idea how they determined when her neutrophils would be high or low. It was this totally foreign concept that I suddenly had to learn about. I remember saying that Bianca liked swimming and that we planned to continue her lessons if possible and Doctor Anne gave us this very definite "NO" "Sorry, but no swimming". We never realised that a swimming pool (and an indoor one especially) would be one of the biggest health risks to kids with cancer. The risk that they would pick up infections that could make them deathly ill and land them in hospital. And so for the next 830 days (the time it took for her treatment) we avoided indoor swimming pools and we had to stop our plans for lessons. Sigh! Just when we were making such good progress too!
So now, finally 5 years after the last time Bianca had lessons, nearly 2 years since Bianca stopped treatment we finally started lessons again. With the Raumati Swim Club. And I felt a bit anxious. Not so much about Bianca, but more worried about how Caitlyn would be. Would she actually be happy to get into the pool without me? Without freaking out? And she did fine. Apart from a few tears as soon as she got in, she had a great time. Bianca and Caitlyn have a long way to go, tonight they practiced blowing bubbles and getting their faces a bit in the water. But I believe that they'll get there. Soon enough they'll be just where all the other kids are. This is simply just one more step into normality away from the world of cancer.