Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The Barnett family is gearing up for a Thanksgiving with about 20 of our family members. My sister's family, my Dad, my grandma, my Aunt and Uncle, 2 cousins (with family) and even a cousin of a cousin. We are going to have a dinner in the club located in the ground floor of Jerad's office building, each of us bringing a dish or two. Jerad's family lives too far away for Ally to travel..maybe by next year she will be well enough to head that direction. Ally is really feeling great and I have heard her laugh more today than I have in the last three months combined.

If I am being brutally honest, which I try to be, I will admit that deep in my heart I just want Thanksgiving to be over with. Christmas too. I would be good with just fast forwarding to January. But I know I have to do it, for the sake of the kids if nothing else, but also just to cross it off my list. And say I got through it. This is going back to the huge whole in my heart that was created when my mother left us back in March. For 36 years, my mom cooked Thanksgiving dinner. Every single one of them. (a few I spent with Jerad in Junction City, but she still cooked) Growing up, we never went anywhere for Thanksgiving. Never to a Grandma's house or an Aunt's house....we always had Thanksgiving in our own house and it was always cooked by my Mom. Most of the time we also had a few visitors.

Except last year, at the very last minute, we hopped a plane and went to Florida...with my parents and my sister/family. We literally planned it in a few weeks time, knowing that it may very well be the last family vacation we would have with Mom. And it was. And we ordered the dinner from the local Publix store, but we still made a few things. And Mom milled around in the kitchen and got things ready, as she always did. And she set the table with a fancy tablecloth and the best dishes she could find in the condo, she always did. And I distinctly remember sitting on the beach, waiting for our dinner to "reheat", and writing the word "Thankful" in the sand. Imagining what my life would be like in 2009....and imagining what my life would be like without my Mom.
And I was sad then, and I am more sad now. Because here I am in 2009, and now I have even a greater challenge to deal my daughter faces this horrible disease and it threatens her life as well. But I have a fierce stamina in me that knows this time we will beat it. We will.

Just today, I sadly learned about yet another patient at Children's who just relapsed. An ALL patient. I am telling you....everyone is relapsing and it is very worrisome for Jerad and I. We don't imagine ourselves going down that path. I am very good at blocking that whole scenario out of my head. Yea, when you guys say how strong I am, well, NO I am not really strong, but I am very good at blocking horrible scenes out of my head. I am better at not worrying about things until I have to. When you are a cancer parent, it is the ONLY way to live. Otherwise, the fear can overtake you, and then you are left as a pile of nothing and quite unable to take care of anybody or anything.

So, as I see everyone posting different things on Facebook, email, etc as to what they are thankful for, (Starbucks, really?) I thought I should try a list of my own. Because in light of all the tragedy that I have seen in the last year, I have also learned an immense amount. I have learned that you can take a bad situation, and turn it around to something good. And that there are so many people in the world, with giant hearts that that care about us.
  • I am thankful for the love of my parents. They taught me so much that I can now carry on to teach my own kids. Like loving people, appreciating nature, giving to your local community, and sharing all that we have with others.
  • On that note, I am very thankful for Ally's Army. A little old person like me managed to garner enough support for my girl such that she had 400 people marching behind her at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Light the Night Walk. We did something to honor her and also raised $40,000 for the charity as well. (tops in the entire tri-state area) Thankful. Thankful. Thankful
  • I am thankful for all of my friends, old and new, that hold my hand as I walk through the valley and fight and fight. My standard family of 13...they are the friends that are really like family. Also friends that watch my kids, make us food, pray for us, bring me medicine when my kids are sick, send me coffees for the hospital, make sure we get our vaccines, clean out my refrigerator, do my get the idea. Also all of my friends who also have a child who is facing cancer..we support each other so much. Not everyone has these type of friends, and I am thankful
  • I am thankful for Jerad's parents and his sisters who have somehow taken a bunch of days off work to help out with Evan and Carly while Jerad and I go to spinal taps, bone marrows, hospital stays, etc. They are not just coming to help, but using their vacation time to do it!
  • I am thankful for my heros in life. Dr Broxson, Dr French, and Dr Dole. And all of the kind medical staff at Dayton Children's who have become almost like a family to us. Robbie, Sharon, Amy (x2), Heather, Rachelle, Nicole, Beth (x2) and countless others. They are saving my child and will forever be my heros. And nurse Sharon has even taught us how to crochet. In her spare time, of course.
  • And since I have spent so much time in the hospital over the last several months, I am thankful for all the little things too. Mostly for the times when our whole family is together, but also for just sleeping in my own bed. Or being able to get my own groceries. Or having time to open the mail or do a little laundry.
  • I am sad that my kids have had to face a lot of life's lessons too early in their life. But I am thankful for the way they are handling it. Not a day goes by that my son does not mention his Ma. Just today he was making a bead thing and he said...I am making this one for Ma, but I just wish she was here so I could give it to her. Even my two year old still talks about her. They all know that I don't have my mom and that it makes me cry and they are just fine with that. I do believe I have three of the most compassionate kids that exist....just for unfortunate reasons. But they will have big hearts someday and they will HELP other people, and really that is all I want.
Well I have rambled on enough of my story today. Someday, long from now, we will remember this Thanksgiving for what it was. I hope everyone can take a small break from cooking, entertaining, football watching, whatever it is to look around and appreciate the family you have been given. A few extra hugs wouldn't hurt either. Happy Thanksgiving to all of Ally's Army. We love you.


  1. Janele, You are a insprition to ALL mothers especially mothers like myself.Amanda and Ally are on the same track this week and it is sooo WONDERFUL to see them feel good. This is as close to normal as my family gets. I am so thankful for "NORMAL" days. God is GOOD. Have a wonderful thanksgiving with your family... p.s. I know I do not know very well but I can bet your Mother is very proud of you. You are a great Mother and person! Sending our love, Cathy,Michael,Amanda, and Jared...

  2. The Barnett family, I am thankful for you and for your unending ability to share with me and many others the good times and the struggles. I know you miss your mom, especially this Thanksgiving, because I still miss John, but they are both there looking over us. We have both been blessed with wonderful families and friends and for that I am forever thankful. Let the tears come, they are healing and they will help us all through our toughest days. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours each and every day.

  3. Janel, this blog will allow you to look back from the other side of this illness. It will still hurt not having your mom and you will never forget the hard times with Ally, but when she graduates from highschool and then college, marries the man of her dreams and starts her own grown-up life, you will be there with her and will have a whole new list of happy memories to focus on while never forgetting how precious and fragile life is. God Bless you Janel. I do believe you are strong, but you certainly don't have to be. Have a day where all you do is cry . . . no one would blame you and I would assume it is all part of this process. Feel what you are feeling and feel it deeply . . . We are all here with our arms around you.

    {love and hugs}

  4. Thank you, yet again, for being brave and strong enough to share with us. I've read your list every day this weekend, and each time, I have cried, and smiled with your words. I hope you have given yourself some time this weekend to process it all as well. Maybe you, Ally, Jared, Evan, and Carly be full of strength after a few days of healing, giving thanks, and celebration.