Liz’s Journal – Entry 4

Christmas Good Wishes  19/12/2012


Tomorrow Connor begins his second round of chemo treatments.  He’ll be at Royal Melbourne Wed, Thurs & Fri and then off until January 9th.  On the whole, he has coped very well with his first round of treatment.  The first week he was unbelievably bright and showed no signs of having been through anything.  Then last week he did seem much more tired.  He had a day or two with difficulty in speaking (words were slow to come out and he couldn’t always say what he wanted to say), his hair has begun to fall out and he has had diarrhea, which became tricky as moving quickly to the toilet (or anywhere) for Connor isn’t easy.  But the last few days he seems better again, not as tired and more interested in doing things.

Unless something unusual happens this will be my last update on Caring Bridge this year.  I thought I’d take a moment to share with you the truly incredible acts of kindness that have been shown to Connor and our entire family this past year.  This is a bit like giving an acceptance speech…so many people to thank…I’m in danger of forgetting someone.  This won’t include everything/everyone but just give you a feel.

Connor has gone to Brighton Grammar School (BGS) for the past 13 years.  His friends, teachers and staff have been unbelievably supportive.  The senior boys put together a fundraiser selling wristbands & t-shirts saying “Aeternum Fortis” (Eternal Strength), the school’s name and Connor’s initial’s (RCD).  The Latin phrase is special as Connor was about to begin his 6th year of Latin and embark on the very rigorous VCE Latin ¾ with only 2 other boys in his year level.  Through this and a dedicated night of fundraising and other donations the school raised over $24,000.  In addition, BGS included Connor in everything he could take part in: the Y12 Formal, classes, rowing regattas, rugby games, waterpolo matches and graduation.  He was always met by boys willing to help him, visit with him and just make him feel welcome.  The love and devotion a school full of boys showered upon their mate was beautiful to watch and experience.

Our overseas friends and family have sent care packages, cards, flowers and emails.  They’ve made the expensive and long journey here to help and support (Mom, Vickie, Dave, Nicky, Jana & Sara). So many made a huge effort to visit us when we were in the US in July.  My Brady colleague’s (from nearly 20 yrs ago!) have reached out, sent donations, bought wristbands & t-shirts and written letters of support. Scott’s friends from high school and my Beaver Dam high school friends & teachers and family friends have been in touch.  My college friends, our “old” neighbors in Whitefish Bay and friends in Wellington NZ have been so kind. Candles spelling Connor’s name have been lit in St Louis (Kathy). The Facebook support as been extraordinary too. Scott’s family (his mom, brothers, sister and their families) have made a donation to CERN (the center for ependymoma research) in Connor’s name instead of giving each other Christmas presents this year.

Here in Melbourne we’ve received constant (daily, if not hourly!) love and support.  Not just Connor’s friend’s and their families but Nick and Hannah’s too. Our friends, Scott’s work, our neighbors.  People we know and don’t know have cooked for us, friends have cleaned our home, sent over gardeners, run errands, folded our laundry. Connor and I have been treated to massages, pedicures & facials.  People have offered us their vacation/holiday homes.  Sent notes, calls, texts with loving and supportive messages. Dropped off small gifts of meaningful kindness and love.

There are schools in Melbourne that have supported Connor and they have never even met him!  The King David School (a local Jewish School that does Art By Kids every year) ran a bake sale organized by a 9yr girl and raised $200, Shelford Girls Grammar sent him $150 (his Y11 psychology teacher has moved there this year), the Caulfield Grammar senior rowing crews sent over $100 (they heard Connor loved rowing and wanted to help).

The Stanford Rowing Coach (Craig Amerkhanian) has taken a special interest in Connor and has used “Aeternun Fortis” and Connor as a motivation for his rowers this year.  Craig had met with me in Sept of 2011 and said then “if Stanford doesn’t work out I will help Connor find a university to row at”.  Since January he has sent wonderful messages of support. He wears Connor’s tshirt and wristband with pride.

Our friend, Frank Trivieri was at a Packer game this year with Tim Bergstrom (Bergstrom Motors) and told him about Connor (a BIG fan of the Pack).  Tim organised a football signed by Jordy Nelson saying “Hang Tough Connor”. Apparently they want to do more and have asked for our address.

People of all religions and beliefs, all over the world, have prayed for Connor this past year.  He has had candles lit in temples, synagogues, mosques and churches.  He has been put on the Reike Master’s healing list.  He has been put on prayer lists in churches and prayer groups throughout America.

All of this helps, it truly does. We accept and appreciate all of it.  We don’t feel alone and we feel loved.  Most importantly, Connor “feels the love”. I’m not sure people give each other enough credit for how good and kind at our core the vast majority of us really are.  This past year we’ve seen it first hand.

So as Christmas approaches we want to say to all of you “out there” as you say your silent prayers of hope and good wishes for Connor: thank you, thank you, thank you!