The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Posts tagged “Austin

Dirt. Bike. Goood…

problem solved. Harlie Grace Keeton and Austin Keeton are pictured below. Precious.

Harlie Grace Keeton and Austin Keeton

Harlie Grace Keeton and Austin Keeton


Things I learned from Cancer 101 (8)

by Sandra Pullen on Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 11:30am

When we mess up, immediately, we seek an excuse.  We’re only human.  How many times have you heard that?  Or said it yourself?

To be human is sort of a given, I mean, I doubt you could be anything else, right?

But to be human is not an excuse for mistakes.  One mistake is just that, a mistake……….but the second time you make the same mistake, it has become a choice.

Choice, choices, decisions  all equal  free will.  Just a little something that GOD gave us.  The freedom to choose.

Most of the time, our choices are good ones.   To go to the best college, who to marry, which dress to wear…….Roll Tide or War Eagle.  

Choices like this are easy to make.  There is not a lot of effort needed to make those type of decisions.Austin, Aaron, and Allison Pullen

I heard once…”I’d rather die than to take any more chemotherapy”

WHAT????   Are you crazy?

Now, I understand. It becomes a choice of quality over quantity.   So often choices we make are selfish, made with  ourselves as the number one consideration.

When it comes to a child with cancer,  decisions become  much harder to make. ” Well, there is no decision to be made. I want my child healthy and whole, no matter what the cost.”

We all do.

It’s our job as a parent, to want the best for our children and set out to obtain it.  But what if the best is painful?   During Austin‘s treatments,  I remember Aaron, my son casually mentioning a slight irritation with his wife, Allison.

Now being the mother that I am and that my children know me to be, I wanted to get defensive and take his side. But instead I found myself saying…”Don’t tell me about arguments because you are mine, and I love you.  I will always take your side, but………….you are not always going to be right.

Our heavenly Father is the same way after all, He is where we learn it. He is always on our side, even if and when we are not right, but yet He loves us.

The best for Austin was three years of Chemotherapy and oral medicines. On a particularly difficult day, we tried to give Austin his chemo med in pill form.  Every single time, he would throw it right back up. We knew how desperately he needed this medicine and we were desperate to get it down.  We tried, water, milk, cool aid, holding his nose, a syringe. Nothing worked.

I asked Allison to go and call the Doctor and ask if we could get this medicine in a liquid form. Maybe we could get it down and it would be easier for him.  By this time we were all in tears and Austin was exhausted.

Allison returned.  Her face pale and tired. She looked that way a lot for those three years.  She never stopped. Not once did she say, “I quit” She was strong and knew that she had to be for her son. That’s what we mothers do

“What did he say”  I asked “It doesn’t come in liquid form”  she replied. “Well why not? Don’t they know how hard it is for a two year old to swallow a pill?” “I asked him the same question.  He just said that it doesn’t come in liquid form because, babies aren’t supposed to get cancer.”

Oh my poor baby!   My heart ached  those three years for him.  My own cancer was never as painful  to me as his was for me.

Nothing about that time is pleasant for me to remember. 

Nothing about that time is happy for any of us. But I will tell you this…. I love that boy!  He is special in more ways than one.

The innocence of childhood protected him and insulated his little mind from so much.   He doesn’t remember some of it, he was only a baby. But he does know the way to St. Jude.   If he is in the car and see’s his surroundings, he can tell you really quick,  ” I don’t wanna go to St. Jude!”

Aren’t we all the same?   I don’t wanna go!   I don’t wanna!   I don’t want to have to deal with cancer, it is physically and emotionally painful.  Well, guess what?   Put on your big girl panties and deal with it!!   That is one place, one circumstance that you have NO choice.

You know what, if I find out there was a choice about this cancer business, I’m gonna really be pissed!!! I had no choice, Austin had no choice. Not about cancer, not about treatment.

The beast.   I hate the beast!  I wish IT would get cancer and die!!

Now, having said all of that, I want you to know………the next thing cancer taught me is that life is about choices……..good ones, bad ones, ones we didn’t make,  all of them come together to make us who we are. 

But, the most important thing to remember about your choices is this……………they always affect some one else.  We don’t get to be selfish all the time.  Our actions, though our own, affect the people around us. Whether for better or worse.

I choose to be happy, never trusting any one else with such an important part of my life.  My happiness.  It’s all up to me. You see GOD gives us that choice to make.  HE doesn’t coerce us, or force us to love him. 

My earthly father has never forced me to love him,  I just do!  I don’t question that love, it’s just there.

All I have to do is love him back.

And I choose to do just that…………..love him back

I choose life, happiness and most of all………..My Saviour

Choice……..means one of a number of things from which only one can be chosen

Only one…..Choose.

I did, and I didn’t need cancer to teach me that,  I already knew that!!!


Things I Learned From Cancer 101 (7)

by Sandra Pullen on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 8:08pm

What has gone so terribly wrong in this world that newborn babies in their mother’s arms, get cancer?

How does that happen?

The types of cancer are many and varied.  Osteosarcomas, Neuroblastomas, Lymphomas, and so many other technical names that are too difficult to pronounce and impossible to spell. 

I simply call “it” the Beast.

The word beast is defined as a cruelly rapacious animal. A living organism.  Fits cancer perfectly.  A cruel beast.

The damage done by the beast is visible and sometimes, obvious.  Austins’ precious little bald head is something I will never forget.  Nor will I forget the first time, his Aunt Shelley saw him as his hair was beginning to fall out.   Her face crumpled as she got out of her car and came around to hold him. We all felt the same way.  The pictures tell the story much better than I can.  They are put away.  Out of sight, out of mind.   So we hope.

When the cancer beast entered my life and world, I never looked at it as a punishment.  It never occurred to me to feel “picked on” or  singled out.

It did however make me more determined to live my life in such a way that others would know, the beast can be beaten.

Now, having said that, never think that for one second,   all stories have the “happily ever after” ending. 

Sometimes the beast wins, and that is what breaks my heart.

When Austin was diagnosed, I admit, I did question…….Why my baby?  Why Austin?

The Pullen Grandchildren

Doug and Sandra Pullen's Grandchildren

One trip to St. Jude and I assure you,  you will not be the same person you were before. It’s one of those places that should be sad, and sometimes it is……..very!

  I will never forget the first visit we had with our Austin there. 

We were so happy to see him!  It had been three weeks.  I was so excited that I ran in and grabbed him up, leaving my purse sitting on a table in the common living room. 

He wanted Papa and I to take him outside to the playground, and of course, we did.  He played on the slide and ran around like he had never met the beast.  The only indication that he was sick was his pallor.

After about an hour, I realized that I had left my purse inside.  Oh no!   Inside were my credit cards,  check book and money.

Doug hurried inside, hopefully it had not been stolen. 

When he came back to the playground, he had the strangest look on his face and my purse in his hands.  

“What’s the matter?”  I asked. 

I will never forget his words.

“It was right where you left it.  Sandra, down here, I don’t think it’s about money. What these kids need, money can’t buy”

You’re right, more tears.

The leaving was torture.  I remember sobbing as he stood in the doorway of the Ronald McDonald house, his little arm waving bye bye to Nana and Papa.  I left my heart there. 

On the interstate, traveling home, all I could feel was heartbreak.  I cried until I couldn’t see. And all at once, I remembered, I had left my purse!

We turned around and went back. 

This time when I had to leave my baby, he was sleeping so peacefully.  It wasn’t easier, but it wasn’t quite as painful to leave him this time.

Yes, you would expect St. Jude to be a sad place.

But with so many little children gathered there, it is filled with giggles and smiles. The play room is awesome, the playground  is a wonderful place for them to explore and just be…………..NORMAL

Cancer patients have only one need, and that is a cure.  We know logically, that the beast can rear it’s ugly head at any moment in time.   After  nine years, it’s still the first thing I think of when I open my eyes, every morning. 

For a split second, I question.  It only lasts for a second, then I’m up and off to start my day.

With the talent and money in this country, why are we still trying to find a cure for this disease?  Jonas Salk did it. But so many  diseases have NO cure.  Oh, they  have treatments, Alzheimers, Diabetes, Hypertension, Asthma, and the list is endless.

There are only treatments.   Why? 

I have no answers.   Only questions. 

The beast is not pretty, and it’s painful. It’s after effects never go away. To this very day, I can’t drink from an aluminum can. Chemotherapy makes your mouth taste like you have been sucking on copper pennies.   The metallic taste is very fresh in my memory. 

Some times, I smell a scent and am immediately transported back to the Cancer Center.   It’s funny how a scent can trigger a memory. 

Austin wont eat anything that smells like grape. So much of his medicine was grape flavored.

The beast causes a chain reaction. Not only does it affect the patient.  It affects the parents, the siblings, the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles and on and on.

Austin’s big brother was only 4 when the beast entered.   He wasn’t old enough to understand why his mommy was away.

I can never forget how my heart broke for him.  He woke up one night, crying with an ear ache, and all he wanted was his mommy.

How do you explain cancer to a four year old?   He did not understand that it was not his fault.  He asked, “Aunt Shelley, if I’m a good boy tomorrow, can I see my mommy?”

How can the human heart deal with such hurt? How will I ever over come so much heart break?  How could I watch Austin suffer? How could I watch his parents go through this???? My heart HURT!   How could my heart survive this much pain?

Now I know….

Just as easily as it can love unconditionally.

Just as it accepts and loves with out question.

Just as easily as it bears your hurts and pain.

Just like Jesus did for us.

Without a doubt.

With unconditional LOVE

And that is another gift of cancer…………To LOVE

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