I worked as a pharmacy tech at Walgreens for quite a while and I loved it the majority of the time. I got to know all the regulars pretty well and even had a proposition to run away with a dirty old man. My favorite shifts were the nights I closed with my boss, and great friend, Jackie. Those Wednesday nights comprised most of my favorite memories of working as a pharmacy tech. I thought for a while that I might want to go to school to become a pharmacist. I even started taking the prerequisites for the Rx program at OU. After working in the pharmacy for about a year it became painfully obvious that I didn't want to keep dealing drugs out of the tiny cave in the back of Walgreens. Now that I'm back in school (and almost done, woot woot!!) I find myself wondering why I spent so much time counting pills instead of staying in college. It wasn't until recently that it hit me. If I hadn't worked in the pharmacy, I would have never met the tiny little person that impacted my life in such a big way.
One night I was closing and a very friendly woman rushed to the counter to fill a prescription. The pharmacist (not Jackie) said that we should just fill it the next day because we were in the midst of shutting down shop. The customer, who I now refer to as my long lost sister Kerry, explained that her daughter had just had surgery earlier that day. She had her port put in. The little hairs on the back of my neck stood up at the word "port". The year before this my little cousin, Tanner, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. He had been through more than I, a grown woman, could ever even imaging enduring....surgery, pain, chemo, C-dif, infections, CANCER. (We found out after Christmas that Tanner beat cancer for the 3rd time! I'll be blogging about that guy soon enough!) So when Kerry mentioned the dirty word she had my full blown attention. Her little firecracker, Sicily, had been diagnosed with Wilm's Tumors two days prior to this pharmacy visit. We filled the script, talked a little about CaringBridge, and went on our way. I couldn't stop thinking about Sicily for days and days. So, I violated every HIPPA law out there and looked up Kerry's phone number and called her. It turns out Sicily was inpatient at the hospital only a few miles from my apartment. That afternoon I made the first of many visits to see Sicily. I soon met Patrick (Sicily's dad) and her siblings - Corinthian, Isabella and Elias. It takes all of five minutes to fall head over heels in love with this family. They lived out of town but came to OKC quite often for surgeries, chemo, scans, etc. Every time they came to OKC, Kerry stopped by my little cave to give me an update. In February of last year, we moved to Broken Arrow, only a few miles from Siciliy and Co.
Sicily went NED (No Evidence of Disease - a term that cancer families learn to LOVE) for a short while. She relapsed around the same time that Tanner started his second bout with NB. Let me tell you a few things about Sicily. She had the worst of the worst of everything you could have in terms of Wilm's Tumors - the worst kind, the worst side effects from treatment, the worst complications. However, if it weren't for the shiny little bald head she sported you would have no clue what she was dealing with. She had a spunky little spirit that was infectious. She laughed, played, got fired up and let you know all about it, and she touched lives of people that she never met. She was the best dang UNO player I have ever met. When she busted out the money card, she yelled "DRAW FOUR SISTAAAA!" On March 21st of last year, Sicily passed away at home in her mom's arms. In the very short time she spent on earth, she changed the lives of so many people. Her fighting spirit made me re-examine my outlook. No matter how bad I think my day is going or how frustrated I might be about something that isn't going my way, I know that there are people struggling with far more than I have ever faced. I knew a four year old that struggled with something worse than I could imagine and she did it without complaint. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I will say that she is my hero. Sure - I complain and I stumble. But I have a Draw 4 Uno card in a frame above the TV that reminds me to put things into perspective. Sicily's mom, Kerry, is now one of my best friends in the entire world. She is left without her little firecracker. But instead of sinking into the hurt, she continues to touch people through Sicily's journey.
Having a bad day? Take a second and think about how bad it REALLY is. Appreciate what you have, what you've accomplished and what is yet to come! Love you guys!