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Finding Joy in the Hard Times

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photo: Meagan, Jacob and MaggieOn June 1st of this year, my life came to a crashing halt. My five-year-old daughter, Maggie, was diagnosed with very high-risk b-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For the following four months I lived in a fog. A fog that shook up my routine. I had stayed home since Maggie was born and we had our little routine from early on. I’m a planner—I planned what days we went to the store, play dates, the library, and so on. But now our lives were controlled by doctors’ appointments and our calendar was wiped clean.

In October, we went through a phase of treatment where Maggie was admitted for a week and then we stayed home for a week, repeating this four times. Before this phase, we had been going up to Children’s almost every day for treatment and appointments. Having a week off at home sounded like a vacation! We got home from our first admitted stay and I was lost. I found myself worrying about getting the laundry done, making dinner, and the other mundane house stuff. Before I knew it, we were packing up for the second admitted stay. I felt like I had wasted a week. Precious time that Maggie’s oncologist told us to treat as normal life. I felt like I had failed Maggie. I realized that I needed to view our days through Maggie’s eyes. Maggie wasn’t worried about the laundry. She wanted to play, be silly, read books, and know that everything was going to be okay. She needed to be shown happiness because she’s the one living with the pokes and the icky medicine. So now when I wake up, I don’t worry about the laundry, I think of what joy can I bring to Maggie’s day. We play games, bake cookies, and read lots of books! But all these things bring her such joy in a simple way, and her happiness brings me joy.

—Meagan Fritzinger, Jacob and Maggie