Burgerversary? What’s a Burgerversary?
Adversity is something that everyone encounters, but it’s not something that everyone views the same way. Some people choose to put it behind them and move on as soon as possible. Others struggle to move forward, living in a state of paralysis for fear that another similar experience may occur.
As a family, we too have experienced adversity, and I thought it would be cool to share with you how we chose to deal with the aftermath of our own difficulties. Our experience stays with us, but it has become a part of who we are without actually defining us.
On September 10, 2012, our son Michael was diagnosed with Scalp Ewing’s Sarcoma, a somewhat unusual manifestation of this particular form of cancer. Michael went through quite a rough time, especially for a 16-year-old – six and a half months in the hospital, daily immune booster injections, constant nausea, complete mental and physical exhaustion, too many pills to count and 14 rounds (over 91 litres) of chemotherapy.
On the final discharge date, March 26, 2013, armed with a confirmation that Michael was officially NEC (no evidence of cancer), we piled into the car, and as Kim, who had come to pick us up, pulled away from the hospital entrance, she asked Michael how he was doing.
His response? “I want a burger.”
Now, you have to understand that this kid hadn’t eaten real solid food in months – in fact, at times, he was forced to sip his nutrition through a straw since the chemo caused so many painful mouth sores that he simply couldn’t eat.
“A burger? No problem!!”
We stopped at a Harvey’s on the way home. I think it was the most delicious meal that Michael had eaten in his entire life. As he wiped the final remnants of the burger from his mouth, he declared that he wanted to make this date an official date of celebration – on the 26th of every month, we would go out for burgers. Or to put it another way – we would celebrate the completion of his chemo treatments by having a monthly Burgerversary!
And we do. On the 26th of each month, Michael, Kim, the rest of the kids and I pile into the car and go out for burgers. We try to go to a new place each time, we tend to share our story with our server on each outing, and we even invite the occasional guest participant (a friend, cousin, etc). And oh yeah – we also take a group picture to commemorate the event.
So why am I writing this now?
Well, this past weekend, we celebrated our 48th Burgerversary – four years since Michael’s last chemo treatment!
Rather than go out for burgers, as we would normally do, this time we threw Michael a huge party at home. Over 70 friends and family members joined us, and it was a wonderful evening.
I personally barbecued over 100 burgers, Kim made six different salads, we sautéed mushrooms and onions, and even offered up grilled pineapple and fried eggs as burger toppings. All homemade, and all created with love. Our kids pitched in, helping to set up, serve, prepare and clean up. It was a colossal success, and a wonderful celebration of Michael’s continued health.
Throughout Michael’s battle with cancer, I learned so many lessons about parenting and life, and I journaled about them almost every day. Click here to read what was probably the most important journal I wrote during that time.
Postscript – March 28 2017: Michael had his semi-annual checkup today, involving a chest x-ray, an echocardiogram and a visit with his oncologist. I’m happy to report that he was given a clean bill of health and remains NEC (no evidence of cancer).