Denise Is Home!

The last time I saw Denise she was barely conscious at Chapel Hill’s Children’s Hospital. As you saw, I was there for her bone marrow transplant. After the transplant, there was a 10 day weighting period to see if Janaya’s cells would “take” to her body. Luckily, they did! It was then a few more weeks in the hospital, isolated to a germ-free room…then off to the Ronald McDonald House until the beginning of October.

This has been a very stressful stint for the entire family. On top of big sis being very sick, Denise has 5 other brothers and sisters. Her mother has been trying to manage caring for them at home in Wilmington with driving back and forth to Chapel Hill to be with Denise.

Denise’s homecoming was a big event for EVERYONE. Her mom said on Friday that the “puzzle is complete…everyone is home together.”

I had asked Denise back in May what the 1st thing she wanted to do when she got home was. As you heard in Friday’s story, she said, “I’m gonna go to the pool!” That has always been in the back of mind over the months. When I got the go-ahead to do a story on her on Friday…I couldn’t think of how to come through on her wish seeing as how so many pools are closed down.

The YMCA on Market Street came to the rescue! It was a highly coordinated effort on behalf of the Y, Denise’s mom Valeria and myself. I didn’t know if she’d be healthy enough yet to go into a chlorine drenched environment but Valeria gave the O.K..

The funniest part was not seeing Denise’s face as she came up for air…it was seeing the LIFEGUARD’S face after we jumped in with all of our clothes! Apparently the staff at the front had not alerted the poor lifeguard that I would be throwing her in. She came barreling down the pool side and yelled, “WAS THAT PLANNED!!!???” Trying not to suck down pool water while keeping my head up (a business suit is HEAVY when wet!) I had to shoo her away to keep her from running into my shot!

Quite an event….

It was great to see Denise’s hair coming back in. She had refused to cut it while it was falling out…she’s one tough cookie. She said that a man recently mistook her for a boy…you’d think that would crush an 11 year old girl…but not Denise! She gave it right back to him…thadda girl!

Denise is on Facebook (Denise Hale, Wilmington) and I know some of you have sent ‘get well’ notes and words of encouragement. Please continue to do so!


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