My five-year-old Jacob can name every single superhero with great detail. He can even tell you if they are from Marvel or DC. He can tell you if they are human or superhuman. He can name what planet they came from and who is their greatest enemy. He can name every Star Wars character and tell in great detail their journeys. I know that may seem not very impressive, don’t all little boys love superheroes and Star Wars? But that just isn’t true. Our eldest, Benno (8), never mentions such things and we aren’t the superhero type of family: We spend our time talking about boats or 3-D printers. Superhero chatter doesn’t make it to our dining room table AND we don’t really watch any of the movies.

So how does Jacob know all the intricate details? When I ask he lists a friend as the source or a game played on the roof at school, and yes, YouTube. He just picked it up along the way, as he does with everything in life: Picking things up, soaking in all that the world has to offer and especially factoids that have capes!

That’s my Jacob. He knows everything. And unlike his brother who THINKS he knows everything, Jacob speaks only truth. He is a natural observer who soaks in all that life can offer.

Sadly, life doesn’t always offer good. Life includes unexpected sorrow and heartbreaking hurt and, suddenly (and often lately) in my family’s case, cancer. Just like everything else Jacob does he soaked cancer. He soaked it in all over his little body.

He is officially diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, stage 4. And now my little Jacob knows another adult vocabulary word: Cancer. He hears it all day long as people in white coats buzz around him poking, prodding, and taking vitals. 

But more on that later…unfortunately, a LOT more on that later.

Back to Nightwing.

I recently learned that Jacob’s favorite superhero of ALL the options (geez there are a lot of them?! Have they created more in recent years?) is Nightwing. I found that odd. I had never even heard of Nightwing. I’ve heard of Wolverine and even an AntMan, but Nightwing was a new one. How could he beat Spiderman? Or what about Thor? Who is Nightwing?

I have been Googling (God I do too much of that recently), mostly words that have too many vowels and sound like aliens from Jacob’s superhero shows, rather they’re medical terms that hold my child’s life in their syllables. But, when I googled Nightwing I learned that he is Robin as in Batman’s Robin, but when he is Nightwing he is working on his own or next to Batman (opposed to being Batman’s sidekick). ‘Ahhh’, I thought. ‘Yes. This makes sense’. Of course, Jacob’s favorite superhero is Nightwing.

Benno is Batman. It’s not that Benno has claimed to be Batman. He has zero interest in it. Jacob doesn’t HAVE to be Robin by any means. He chooses to be Robin, because that is the kind of kid he is. Thoughtful. Adoring of those closest to him and there to help. BUT he isn’t just  a sidekick either. He’s Nightwing. So, I’m naming this blog Nightwing. And that is my intro to this journey of heartache and (I hope) strength. 

I Googled “how to write a blog” and you are supposed to “introduce yourself or your topic.” I’ve never been a “blogger” before. I actually think blogging is ridiculous. Who wants to read about the intricacies of someone else’s life (at least I didn’t). To be crude, who the fuck cares, but clearly, it’s a thing and now that so many of you have expressed such interest (sincerely, thank you), here I am, being a hypocrite and now…I’m blogging.

About me (rule #1 of blogging): I’m a worker. I don’t stop. I work day and night. I have spent my life dedicated to children, learning how to serve them best. This is going to sound cheesy, but anyone who knows me knows I mean it, I really want to help make the world a better place through education. Wanna chat about curriculum and schools and the state of education today, grab a cup of coffee (I’d rather grab a pastry or fro yo), I’m your girl. I can’t sit still and watch the world burn. I taught for 12 years, helped design and build a school that would create best practices to share with the world. I worked from 6am-8pm for years and only left my last job to start a business when I felt I could help more people.

I mean bloggers (🙋) were a joke to me. Get a real job people! Who has time for reading all about your “feelings”?!  But,now all I do is hunt for first person experiences that can help me comprehend the personal and navigate the clinical – I desperately need the voices of the bloggers who have traveled the road I’m about to walk. This is my most difficult and scary job to date. This one is 24/7. This one has no “end of day,” no “end of school year” and no other option but to plow across the finish line and win.

I look for people’s stories so I can learn. Thank you for those who have shared so that mom’s like me have some direction to point what feels like a sinking ship. And, unlike all the times I’ve read product reviews and been grateful for the time someone put into sharing their lessons, but would never be bothered to give back my own, in this moment of hell I’m going to find solace giving to that mom who inevitably is trailing me by a few days, months or years. I hope someone leans on my words the same I have others. 

But, to my audience of one (assuming at least my mom is reading this)…I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. I’m so freaking scared. It has been less than a week since we just thought Jacob had a stomach ache and he’s already had two surgeries, a blood transfusion, and from what I gather, we haven’t even crossed the ‘start’ line yet.. We just have a diagnosis. A sheet of paper and statistics in medical journals. We have a long road to physical recovery and an even longer to emotional healing. The real game-plan does not fit on one 8×11 sheet of paper. It has no map with every curve delineated. I can’t predict it. I can only know this, we will get there. My job is to figure out how to do that for Jacob.

I’m his mother. I’m supposed to protect him.

I’m going to have to learn from the best, Jacob, he’s been playing this roll his whole life. I need to not just be Jacob’s Robin, but be stronger than that, I need to be his Nightwing.

Maybe I need a cape. My mom thinks I need my roots done. I think I’ll do both.

Thank you for joining me, us, him, on this journey. 

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  1. You are indeed a superhero, so are Steve and Benno and mostly so is Jacob….. and superheroes always win at the end …. they fight hard, they get hurt but they win at the end….

  2. Abby,
    I think this is the perfect name for this blog and I am profoundly touched by your writing. You will have many readers and hopefully others will learn from you. After all, you are a great teacher.

  3. OMG I am shaken to my core to read this. I am so very sorry that this is happening to Jacob. My heart is with your entire family.

  4. Oh S*^t! I’m so sorry. I cannot imagine the terror. Today, ironically, we found out that my 53 year old husband that has been fighting stage 4 melanoma has successfully slayed the beast. It took 2 brain surgeries, a dozen radiation treatments and 3 years of immunotherapy. He was treated at MSKCC too. It’s a terrible thing but your baby shouldn’t ever have to know this world. We send every ounce of positive energy (and we have a lot because today was a good day) your way. Go Jacob! Stay strong, Mom.

    1. Oh my goodness!!! That is so scary. I can imagine wait I know… That when you get that diagnosis (especially stage 4) you become a Shell.
      How is everything?!!

  5. Our prayers for little angel Jacob for a full recovery, your whole family is in our thoughts and our hearts. Much love and strenght to all of you.!

  6. Nightwing’s mom: you are a superhero too!
    I am sending you all the strength and love! ❤️❤️❤️

  7. Abby, your heartfelt words have struck deep. I’m sending every positive and healthy vibe I can muster. And lots of strength to your exceptional family.

  8. Abby, I HATE that there is reason to write this blog, and I HATE cancer, but I hope writing brings ‘some’ sense of comfort or clarity to you, Jacob, and your family. Sending you a huge hug from NC.

  9. Saw this on Morgan’s Instagram. Don’t know you but sending you tremendous love and prayers for your little superhero! Everyone is praying for your family to beat this battle.

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