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February 8, 2013: Turning a Nightmare into a Dream

I’m holding my daughter’s hand on Disney’s Rock and Roller Coaster. We are singing Aerosmith at the top of our lungs while the coaster plunges us round and round and upside down. We speed through the darkness and are just in awe of this ride. We get off and our first thought is how to get back on and do it again. We are screaming with pure delight and for a moment, a short moment, we are not thinking of cancer.

“Look, Dolphins!” my niece screams and my son and his cousin run to the aquarium window and stand in awe of the magnificent creatures swimming by. And for a moment, a short moment, I am not thinking of what it must be like for a nine year old to worry about his mother and wonder just what is happening to her.

“That wasn’t so bad,” my teenage son says stepping off the “Tower of Terror” with a smile. I wonder if he has really stopped for a moment thinking about his own tower of terror.

And so we ride the rides and see the shows and marvel at the Disney magic. We enjoy being together as a family and getting a break, a real vacation from the “situation.” And it seems to me that Stella is gaining strength more and more each day.

We have all loved the rides, but I think the one who has loved it most is the one who has gone on the least amount of rides. I see that Stella truly enjoys the fact that everyone is having such a great time. We are with her parents and her brother’s family, a big crew. But you can tell by the smiles how much this means to her.

We are squeezing. We are taking life and squeezing as much enjoyment as we can out of every second. Sure I get concerned that Stella is doing too much. But then I remind myself that this is how she wants to live. And that to best of her ability, she will. So she may have to go about in a wheelchair or an electric scooter. And she may have to leave the parks sooner than the rest of us.

But cancer be damned. She’s going to have fun and make sure the rest of us do too.

There are two ways to ride roller coasters. The first is to close your eyes, hang on, and hope the ride ends as soon as possible. When we got here, that’s how I rode. But that’s not much fun and you can really miss out.

So the other way to ride is to keep your eyes open, your arms in the air, and scream with delight while you relish the speed and every twist and turn.

Once you are buckled in, you’re on the ride, whether you like it or not. You can’t control what the ride will do. So you might as well try and forget that the ride is scary and instead focus on having as much fun as you can.

And after hitting the Rock and Roller Coaster three times and Space Mountain four, that’s exactly what we will keep doing.

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