When we say (against all odds), what do we really mean? Does it mean that we defeated a concept? Won a battle against some well-studied mathematical perimeters and statistics? Were part of an unexpected miracle (if you are like me and still believe in miracles)? Or all the above?
Lately the idea of numbers and statistics has been surfacing in my life more than usual. Maybe because numbers have a deeper meaning now, 4 years are not just 4 years but they are 4 years of my new life… the new me, the me after cancer. 20% chances of survival is not just a small percent, but it is the only percent that we were allowed to grasp on and define as hope, 38 is not just the scary number of kids exposed to a limited clinical trial but instead it was the number of the silver lining at the end of a really dark tunnel or maybe it is as simple as my utmost hate for the idea of numbers period, at school…it has always been a hate hate relationship between me and numbers (yea, absolutely no love there!) let me explain…
A few weeks ago, I sat down through a full day of detailed analysis to assess my son’s abilities after fighting stage 4 cancer twice and dealing with a set of disabilities. It was intense and mentally exhausting, but in my book a piece of cake! After all, what is an 8-hour day of questions and answers verse living in the hospital surrounded by IV’s and chemo? Results came in a couple of weeks later and I had to sit down to listen to what didn’t surprise me, yet shook me! I knew the struggles he had after cancer, I knew the disabilities he is left with, I knew the areas that he pushes extra hard more than any other normal kid his age but hearing all this labeled with a scientific term wasn’t the easiest nor the happiest moment of my life. So, after the expected moment of breaking down, getting the ugly cry out in the hospital bathroom, feeling defeated like heck… I washed my face, thanked God for the person who invented the concealer, saved some of my face with makeup and went out like nothing happened.
In my drive back home, the words from my meeting kept ringing in my ears. Words like (percentage of acceleration, numbers of progress, statistical delay, expected struggle) and I couldn’t help but wonder… who dictates that certain perimeters define a successful person more than the other? I understand there are studies, and science and all. But what if one person can only excel in one area and another person can multi task? What makes person two more successful than person one? And why is it that we always think of areas of weaknesses as disabilities, instead of empowering those same exact weaknesses to become strengths and develop more self-confidence.
Based on the typical book of life, my son beat the odds! My family beat the odds! I beat the odds! We together fought stage 4 cancer not once but twice, and he is a living, breathing, talking and walking miracle. But the odds are endless in this life, and it all comes down to the power of our mind to either use it in our favor or against us.
In this picture, we celebrated him reaching the final level of BOB (Battle of the Books), where he managed somehow to read the books, test and fail and test again probably a hundred times, make the deadline and finally compete with his peers, because of course the regular AR (Accelerated reading program) was not enough to increase my stress level this school year, my achievement seeker son had to sign up in yet another academic challenge (that was pure sarcasm if you hadn’t noticed). Yet what I thought was just a kid who didn’t like reading, was explained to me that this is an area that his brain works one thousand times harder than any average kid his age to recall the details, test and pass. Yes, it did take sweat, blood and tears to reach that deadline and take this happy picture. I may or may not have prayed to God, crossed my fingers and tossed some wishing coins that he never wants to join this competition again, but at the end of the day he did it! We did it! We beat the odds! The odds were completely against us, seriously something as simple as reading books is now added to the list of things cancer stole from us.
Yet by the grace of God, Zein’s persistence, my husband’s support that I wouldn’t quit and completely go insane… we made a choice! We figured ways around the challenge, we read the books while acting them out, we did role playing and took our time (our sweet old time) in each book, we wrote notes, we googled quiz questions and reviewed each chapter as we went, even his grades showed tremendous improvement and he is graduating fourth grade as an honor roll kid with a report card of A’s and B’s.
Driving that day from the hospital feeling defeated and overwhelmed, my mind kept drifting into two opposite directions. The darkest side of the what if’s and how will he survive the odds, and the other side wondering what odds? We create the freakin’ odds! We utilize them, work with them, embrace them and accept them.
So, after the dust settled, and I had a clear moment to reflect and think, I wrote the following quote on my vision board to serve as a fresh reminder every day, may it brings peace and determination to you as I hope they bring to me daily…
“Occasionally and in different phases, life can conspire to break and beat us.The odds are for them to study and create, the results however are for us to achieve and enjoy!” #oddswhatodds