IHS Snr Prizegiving 2020 Rory 2 Handshake

I’ve had cause this week to ponder what is achievement, and how do we measure it.  Achievement is “a thing done successfully with effort, skill or courage”.  It is usually measured by a standardized test developed to determine skills and knowledge.  But is a standardized test a fair measure for all?  Do the results reflect the qualities required for success; courage, patience, determination, resilience, a positive mindset and passion?

When I look back over the last year what has Rory achieved?  With courage he faced, and recovered from, surgery to remove a large bone tumor from his face and reconstruction of his jaw.  With patience and determination he completed the MAP chemotherapy protocol for osteosarcoma when many teenagers do not.  With resilience he lived a large part of the year away from his home, extended family, peers and friends.  With a positive mind set he is working hard to regain physical strength, stamina and control of a body which often resists control of any kind.  With passion he returned to Inglewood High to be a Year 13 student.  He brought home a Principal’s Commendation in Te Awhinatia a couple of weeks ago for “displaying Ako – Excellence – every day in his outstanding work ethic.  Rory always tries his best.  He works to a high standard and has an amazing attitude to learning new concepts”.  Rory keeps moving forward in life with a positive attitude to find a new normal even with faced with an increasing number of disabilities.  We are immensely proud of him.  Yet on the way to Inglewood High School Senior Prizegiving Rory said to me “I won’t be getting any awards.  I haven’t done any academic things.  I haven’t achieved anything”.  I was upset and angry to hear this.  It has caused me to question how we measure and reward achievement if Rory feels this way, if he is unable to qualify for any of the large number of Positions, Awards, Cups, Prizes and Fellowships available for senior students.  Thankfully Rory was able to go up on stage to receive a certificate for Diligence in Home Room.  For us the greatest achievement is that he still awakes up with us every day to lead a life full of experiences, meaning and joy. 

Rory had an appointment with Paediatric Oncologist Dr Yvonne on Tuesday.  She gave him repeat prescriptions for hydrocortisone, thyroxine and testosterone, the hormone replacements he needs to keep his body functioning at a ‘normal’ level.  Dr Yvonne has booked the 6-monthly CT scan for the first week of January 2021.  If this is NED (no evidence of disease or clear of cancer) Rory will have his port removed at Starship Hospital.  Dr Yvonne is working hard to find a lead Doctor in Adult Services at Taranaki Base Hospital.  She will hand Rory off to this person so he can transition from children’s to adult services.  As Rory is medically complex, and the adult system overloaded and stretched thin, it has not been an easy thing to achieve.  On Thursday Rory started the process of being re-immunised.  Nurse Cheryl said to him “I know you are over pain but we have to do this to protect you”.  He walked out with a shot in each arm for Tetanus, Ditheria and Polio. 

Grannie and Grandad Gardiner have returned home after a whirl wind 12 days.  It was lovely to see them and the house is quieter.