Birthdays. Most of us like to complain that we've had too many. That we're getting too old. (In fact, Tom now uses scientific notation) But there's nothing like celebrating Birthday Number Five for my son Henry. It's almost hard to believe it's here already.
5! Henry did it!
Five years ago, Henry was diagnosed with cancer the day before he was born. Five years ago, he had surgery and started his first round of chemotherapy when he was just one-day old. Five years ago, Henry came into this world with huge brown eyes and we instantly fell in love.
And so, here it is. Year 5.
It's been an amazing year. Henry loves school, in large part because he gets to ride the bus! He's singing, drawing, and building pirate ships out of Legos. He's obsessed with space and even got to see the Space Shuttle Discovery launch in Florida this spring. Henry's becoming more independent: figuring out how to get his sneakers on over his leg brace, jumping off the diving board in swim class, and begging for us to take the training wheels off his bike. (We're not quite there yet!) Best of all, Henry became a big brother - again. He's already teaching little sister Ruby how to scream really loud and how to crack a smile that'll make your heart melt.
Henry finally seems to be developing an appetite, which is amazing after all the feeding classes and nutrition consultations. Some favorites are humus sandwiches, ice cream, frozen yogurt pops, ice cream, chicken drumsticks and... oh... ice cream. He's still catheterized to help with his bladder and he's on new GI medications, which give him some independence and control. The hope is that down the road there will be more effective treatments for his bladder and bowels - possibly nerve transplants.
And so to celebrate Henry's fifth birthday, Henry's father Josh, and Josh's brother Nat, and my Car Talk colleague David Greene are hopping on their bikes to ride in the Pan-Mass Challenge this August. They'll pedal nearly 200 miles across Massachusetts to raise money for cancer treatment and research. All of the money raised goes directly to the cause. Every penny counts. Because Henry's one of the lucky ones. His successful fight against cancer was due in large part to the very generous donations to the PMC in years past. New drugs, new treatments: none of it is possible without money.
Five years ago, I sat in the NICU at Children's Hospital Boston wondering if Henry would live another day. A week. A month. I couldn't even let myself think about a whole year. And here we are... celebrating Henry's fifth birthday.
Here's to many, many more happy and healthy birthdays!
Catherine, Josh, Henry, Leo and Ruby Fenollosa
P.S. You can read the original Henry story here.