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December 22, 2001 "Making Cookies (Preliminary Diagnosis)"

Posted March 10, 2005

On December 21, 2001 we had the terrible news that Simon's bone marrow contained small, round tumor cells. The doctors assumed this finding to indicate metastatic neuroblastoma. However, all they could tell us that late Friday afternoon before Christmas was to come back on December 26 for a CT scan. They described it as going on a "fishing expedition" to locate the primary tumor(s) and finalize the diagnosis.

"Enjoy your holiday," the young oncologist said. She did not mean that as a casual, end-of-phone-call remark but as serious medical advice to the family of a cancer-stricken child.

The next day, we hopped in the car to spend Christmas with Mary's parents. The space and time continuum of that holiday defies description. I recall scenes like the one in this video, where we are all going about the business of Christmas. I recall moments of happiness and cuteness from the kids (e.g., Miriam's generous, coughing offer to share her wad of cookie dough). I remember sitting in the living room at night after the kids were asleep, attempting to break the heavy adult silence as we sat together, wondering what in the world to make of the news about Simon.

I like this video clip because of the tender and hovering attention Simon is receiving from his very worried grandparents. I also like the way it demonstrates that part of coping is the simple act of doing something that feels normal and unstressful, like decorating cookies and chatting about an old family cookbook.

You may note some unusually shaggy heads of hair. Mary, Miriam, and Simon are all way overdue for a haircut, but the frantic pace of diagnostic doctor visits, combined with Markus' travels as a job candidate that December, made it impossible to take care of that detail until after Christmas.

December 22, 2001 "Making Cookies (Preliminary Diagnosis)" (3.1 MB Quicktime movie, 2.3 minutes)
You may want to turn up the volume on your speakers to hear the audio in the clip.

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