Thursday, April 1, 2010

MY WISH LIST (18 to 22 week old)


This picture was taken the day that Santiago rolled over for the first time. My husband and I were waiting for this to happen for a while, so we celebrated it if Santi won a gold medal. We asked our little angel to do it a few more times and he delivered a perfect performance every occasion making us the proudest parents in town!. After his fourth or fifth “act”, I looked at my husband and said: “I wonder when is he going to sit up?”. Human beings are unsatisfied creatures by nature, we always want more and I was no exception. Once, all I yearned was for Santi to be JXG free and learning from most experienced parents the best way to deal with the condition. Yet, in the middle of the journey, I came in contact with many JXG families and my original goal felt too small. Today, not I only want this disease to go away from my son but not to afflict any other kid. My vision is a world free of JXG and where there are cures for all histiocytic disorders. In order to fulfill this new mission, this blog should: 1) Provide JXG families and their loved ones with information and emotional support. 2) Give people the opportunity to take action by raising funds for research, urging government officials to help the cause and increasing awareness. The task seemed enormous and endless but it did not matter to me. JXG has the characteristics of resilience and patience and so do I. I started my efforts by researching many successful organizations that share my vision. I learnt a lot about fighting histiocytosis and more ideas kept invading my brain. One of my steps was to contact the Histiocytosis Association of America (HAA) and after becoming familiar with their programs, I underwent their training and became one of their volunteers. I also created a Juvenile Xanthogranuloma Online Support facebook account to reach out to more families. With the help of some members of our group and HAA staff, I added a “FAQ” section to the blog and I improved the “News & Events” and “About JXG” sections of the page. In conjunction, I wrote to some local and national health shows asking them to have programs on histiocytosis (no success here yet) and I signed up to Change.org and similar agencies that provide petitions to benefit families suffering a rare disease. Lastly, I followed the advice of creating a new webpage for our group (with its own domain, hosting, etc.) and as I have no clue on how to do this, I asked for help to two of my computer savvy friends. They both said yes with no hesitation and jumped on the project right away. With so many things happening, I had very little time to stay in touch with my friends so when one of them finally got a hold of me, she said: why are you doing all this? It is not your job to fix this problem and when do you find the time for it with a 5 month old baby?” Well, I said: “if it is not the job of the JXG parents to fix the problem, who else is going to do it for us?. We know that because histiocytic disorders are considered a rare disease the government will not do too much about it. And regarding the time, I do my “Histio Activism” very early in the morning after I feed Santi his early breakfast. He makes sure I wake up”. After 4 weeks into my work, I started to feel exhausted and a little bit discouraged. The short nights and the lack of responses from many people and institutions were definitely taking a hit on me. My initial enthusiasm and optimism were fading away and isolation and impotence were looming back. Having worked against sexual violence and other forms of oppression, I recognized the symptoms. Sooner or later they attack anybody that fights any social cause. I felt confused about my new goal, “was I really overdoing it?”. I thought about it deeply and I realized that all these projects were my way to fight back, but something did not feel right. In the last couple of weeks, Santi had another episode of lesions. Many new bumps developed and the condition moved from his face and head to his back, neck and extremities. I cannot tell you exactly how many lesions he has now, I stopped counting when we crossed the 60 neighborhood. Besides, who cares about numbers at this stage! After a few more days of introspective thinking, I was able to see that my excessive work for the blog and the cause, although very praiseworthy, was a escape not to feel my anger, fear and powerless with this new relapse. But how could I find a balance? I kept wondering. Last Sunday, we all went to the zoo, and my question was timely answered. As we walked out of the manatees exhibit, I read in the wall: “We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love”—Mother Teresa.

*My deepest thanks to Andrea Arredondo, Esteban and Carolina Soza who joined the cause by helping with the creation of a new Juvenile Xanthogranuloma Online Support site.

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