Rory Gardiner's Webpage

10, Apr, 2012

April update

The spectre of Rory’s cancer continues to re-appear at random, triggered by connections with the past; the scrunching of dry autumn leaves under my feet, Rory staying away on school camp, and the date of his diagnosis on the calendar. Rory was diagnosed with medulloblastoma on the 17th of March 2009, three years ago. When he was finally able to leave the hospital I regularly pushed him in a wheelchair through huge piles of fallen leaves in Auckland Domain. Two weeks before he was diagnosed he went on school camp with Dargaville Primary into the Tangihua Ranges. He had a headache and an episode of vomiting on camp and I didn’t bring him home, assuming it was a temporary migraine, and he would recover quickly to enjoy the adventure. In reality his symptoms were evidence of the tumor growing in his brain.
But March and April are not months to dwell on the negative, in our family they are a time of celebration. On the 27th of March Rory reached double figures, turning 10. What a huge milestone for him. We are overjoyed. Rory had a combined birthday with his best mate Ethan. The party started with lunch and games at Ethan’s house, with friends Jack, Alex, Ben, Alana and Jenissa in attendance. We moved on to the Aquatic Centre in New Plymouth for a swim and hydroslide rides mid afternoon, followed by tea at the New Plymouth Club with our extended family. Ethan and Rory blew out the candles on their icecream cake together. The children slept over at our house watching a DVD before bed, and scoffing a big breakfast in the morning. Parcels arrived in the mail from Trudi and Kody, Lyn, Auntie Teri, and Grannie and Grandad. Thank you everyone for making it a special day for Rory. We have also celebrated the birthdays of Poppa Honnor and Uncle Guy, Rory’s great mate Kody, and Sam’s good mates Tarn, Kieran, and Taylor. Birthdays are something which I put a lot of effort into as they are a celebration of life, and life is fragile and our grasp on it tenuous. On one of my morning runs I rounded the corner in Inglewood to find a car smashed into a tree on the main road. The driver was still in the vehicle and there were nurses helping him, and men directing traffic. I looked the driver in the face. I later found out he died. It was very sobering and reminded me to be grateful for all in my life.
It is a little quieter in our house this week as Sam and Rory are in Northland with Grannie and Grandad Gardiner. Sean and I thought without them we would feel energised and rip around doing all the things we can’t when they are here, but surprisingly the opposite has occurred. We have slowed favouring rest and a slower pace of life. It seems even we can’t keep operating at an accelerated speed indefinitely.
The boys are all well. Rory spent the last week of Term on camp with the other Seniors from Inglewood Primary. They stayed at Vertical Horizon, a camp with a variety of challenging fun physical activities on offer. I went out on the Wednesday and watched Rory participate in the blind trail, the river walk, building a hut in the bush for survival, soaring on the flying kiwi high wire, and scaling the climbing wall in a harness. Many of the adults were impressed with his bravery and tenacity. I was very proud of him. He had great fun but was drained. For Rory to do what ‘normal’ kids his age do he has to work twice as hard to gain physical control and strength, and concentrate twice as hard during mental effort. Rory is booked for an MRI next Friday (20th of April) in New Plymouth. It is his first MRI outside of Starship and Sean and I are very nervous about this. He also has to have a battery of blood tests. He has a clinic appointment with Dr Stephen (Oncologist) and Dr Craig (Endocrinologist) in early May when they visit Taranaki. The Doctors appointments are timely as the Ministry of Education is reviewing his Teacher Aide allocation. We have to submit reports from his Doctors, the School, and ourselves. This month Rory will begin counselling sessions, funded by the Child Cancer Foundation, to assist him to manage his negative emotions and to try and prevent loss of control and self harm. We called in to see Sandy at Hells Pizza last week and she gave us $332 which had been donated by her generous customers. Thank you all very much. We continue to put this money toward funding Rory’s maths tuition and swimming lessons. They make a positive impact on his life.
Sam has been to a couple of sleepovers; at good friends Kalind’s to work on his short film, Tarn’s for his 12th birthday, and Taylor and Kieran’s for their 13th birthday. The boys think staying up all night is cool and fun, but they look worse for wear the following day, unable to stay awake for lunch and the afternoon. The swimming season has finished and Sam got 1st in the 25m backstroke race for the Town vs Country inter-school competition. If he decides to swim next season he will need to join a squad. He has resumed soccer practice under Coach John and both boys have enrolled at Inglewood Football Club for the winter season. Sam enjoyed the Intermediate team trip with Chaddy’s Charters around the Sugar Loaf Islands, and an investigation in the rock pools at Bell Block.
Colt is nearly 16 months old. At the moment he has a horrendous cold, his second this year. He is now walking most of the time but is still a little unsteady on his feet. He has started feeding himself with a spoon. I must confess to continuing to breastfeed him first thing and last thing in spite of many people’s astonishment - ‘he has teeth’! Colt started off as a great sleeper but since the start of the year has been waking a few times in the night. Often he settles on his own, but sometimes finds his way into our bed. He starts most days at 5am which results in me being asleep in bed by 9pm most nights. Colt loves our Monday mornings at Playcentre. Last week he did his first proper painting (then ate the paint), and spent half an hour playing in a bucket of soapy water. I am working on a Portfolio to document his Playcentre education. We bought a seat for Colt for the back of my bike. It sits on a carrier and he has a little red helmet to wear. On Sunday we cycled the length of the New Plymouth Coastal walkway from Ngamotu Beach to Bell Block and back (20km). Many people wanted to know why I had the extra weight and nobbly tyres!
The boys have riden their new MGP Scooters on the New Plymouth Coastal walkway and at the skate park at East End. Sam was thrilled he was able to drop down the high ramp (I tried not to look). Both boys completed the Weetbix Tryathlon. Sam came off his bike catching his leg in the chain but still managed to be near the front of the group of 12 year old boys, not far behind the older age group who started ahead of him. Rory competed with Sean at his side. He was more confident than last year, capably completing the swim leg and the cycle leg, but tiring by the run leg so he ran/walked. Rory was tired at the finish line but happy with his effort and keen to do it again next year. Sean is continuing to train for the Goat run on his own, well ahead of my efforts. I have been heading out five mornings a week with Sam on his bike. He now has a basic cycle computer which measures speed and distance so he is able to monitor my progress, and push me on, which I’m not sure is a good thing! We have had a couple of tramping trips; completing the short White Cliffs loop on a very hot day, catching cicadas as we walked, visiting Pouiatoa Forest to check out the trial being run by the East Taranaki Environment Trust for the new self-setting possum trap, and walking the Puniho Track to the Stoney River on Mt Taranaki. We all enjoyed the Inglewood Primary Twilight Food Festival and Garage Sale. The boys each had a turn working on their class stalls, and enjoyed hanging out with their mates and sourcing their own dinner, although I’m not sure candy floss can be classified as food.

Easter has passed quickly. We were lucky to have Sean’s family around us. Auntie Teri and Uncle Graham were over visiting from Australia, and we had lunch with Graham’s family on Saturday at Cape Egmont. We visited the Yacht Club there for the first time. I have lived in Taranaki my whole life and didn’t even know it existed. Grannie and Grandad Gardiner came down from Northland for a couple of days and took the boys back with them for some quality time. It’s hard living so far away from them. I know the boys will be enjoying the one-on-one attention up north.