As I sit here… at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, laying with my only daughter trying to rest from one of the most exhausting days of my life, I can’t help but think, “our life is so far from the average family’s right now.” I don’t mean that in the sense of “whoa is us”… it’s more of an observation/reflection of everything we’ve endured & how dramatically life changed for us in an instant. People always say that… “your life can change in an instant”… boy did ours! We are so far away from “normal” right now & STILL we praise Him… even in the middle of the storm. The worship team just sang a song about praising God in every season of our lives. As I stood there listening, hands raised toward Him, I thought, “If I can whole-heartedly, praise Him, worship Him, & love Him for who & all that He is during the storm of a lifetime… how easy it is going to be to do the same once we are standing on the other side of this… where He has already set joy before us!”
That was a rant, but I needed to just rant for a minute. Today was by far, one of the most mentally & emotionally exhausting days of my life. It’s right up there with the day Keely was diagnosed. I have kept the world update for the most part on where we are in this series of phases of chemotherapy. You all know that she had an allergic reaction to one of the drugs (the PEG-asparagus) & had to go on the ONLY alternative to this drug (remember: this drug does a specific job that the other chemotherapy drugs do not do), Erwinia. The last few weeks have been extremely difficult. Keely was having out of the ordinary reactions to this drug as well. She was going in for a shot of this every other day (remember: it takes 6 doses of this drug to equal 1 dose of the PEG). As the doses went from 1-6, & the drug was building in her system, she was psychologically suffering. She felt like she was going to come out of her own skin… she became more & more aggressive & out of control (screaming, physically abusing Cale, etc.)… she would be up from 8 am- 1 am (which for anyone that knows my children, is absolutely not normal!) & that was even after an entire day of exerting more energy than the average person can imagine. By the end of the first round (6 doses), she had lost over 3 pounds, she was so exhausted that her eyes were sunken in & eerily dark, & it took over 5 days of not getting the shot, for it to finally work it’s way out of her system & for us to see our child again. By the end, her & I were both just plain exhausted!
Today, we were supposed to start the beginning of the second round of the Erwinia. Brian took her in to clinic yesterday for her regularly scheduled chemo (the vincristine & the methotrexate) & he talked to her Dr. about the past couple of weeks. They found that everything we were describing was very extreme & uncommon side effects to the drug (the Erwinia). They thought that she may have a blood clot in her brain that was causing her to become so extreme (blood clots in the brain are a side effect of the Erwinia), so they scheduled us for a CT scan this morning @ 7:30 am with a “parental decision pending” on continuing the Erwinia. So today, after the CT scan came back clear (praise God!), we had to make one of the hardest decisions of our life… whether to continue with this particular chemo or opt out.
You can’t imagine what it’s like to make a decision like this. No one knows if her not getting or even continuing to get this drug will effect her chances of relapse. Today I really realized that even with how far they have come with treatment for childhood cancer, there is still so much they don’t know. So the future of our child, is gently placed in our hands, for us to weigh. The doctor says, “Ultimately, we look long term, we want her around!, but we also have to look at the day to day… is this drug so toxic to her body that we could potentially be doing more harm than good. & when looking at medicine & using it in treatment, we all have to agree that we are using it for good at the end of the day. If we don’t feel that way, we have a hard decision to make… “
I cried all day. Do I do what I feel is best for her stability right now & risk the burden of “not utilizing every single drug that could have helped”, or do we continue (remember: we have 3 more rounds of this!) & risk her health right now, knowing that there still are no guarantees even after having this particular drug? THE hardest decision I’ve ever been faced with. Since she has had the exact opposite reaction to all of the anti-anxiety medications they have tried, in attempt to be able to continue with the Erwinia while providing some relief… they tried one more anti-pshycotic drug today that they thought would help since it wasn’t in the same “family” as the other drugs tried. The plan was, to give it to her 1 hour before the shot, while in clinic to see if it was something we could use throughout the remaining 3 cycles. In less than 30 minutes, she was jumping off of the walls! It did the same thing that all of the other meds did… wired her! So with the help of the entire team, we all decided to take her off of the Erwinia.
The decision has been made & I HAVE to be at peace with it. Maybe this was God’s way of making sure that we really are relying on Him & not ALL of the chemotherapy to heal our daughter. I am writing this to let everyone know what happened today… & then I am releasing it…. releasing it to our Jehovah Rafah! I’m counting on God to be my stronghold, to be Keely’s final Healer, to give me wisdom & peace, to carry out His promise of a FULL life for Keely!
For the first half of the day, Pastor Micah was with us & for the last half, Pastor Bruce was there. Pastor Micah said some extremely profound things to me this morning that helped me to clear my head & guide me on how to deal with the enevitable doubt that crosses our minds during any time like this, & Pastor Bruce… well I just don’t know where we would be without him. He’s been here since day ONE! He’s been here for us so much that Keely even asks, “where’s Pastor Bruce?” when she knows something serious is going down (& you wouldn’t believe how intuitive kids are about these things!). I am so thankful for the church that God placed our family in. I can’t tell the world how many times our family & friends have said “wow. you guys are a part of one of the most amazing churches I’ve ever been witness to.” They couldn’t be more accurate! We love them, we pray for them just as they pray for us, & we thank God for them every opportunity we have. Nothing can ever strip away all of the times they’ve been there when Brian & I were on our own as young parents going through the toughest time of our lives! Nothing can ever strip away the things they’ve taught us & the fact that we wouldn’t have this faith & security in God if it weren’t for their guidance! At the end of the day, Nothing can ever strip away the bond our family has with the people in LWFC… our brothers & sisters in Christ who will FOREVER be in our hearts. & the same is true for the entire team at UNC! Both of our Pastor’s commented today on the level of dedication & commitment to our family all of the doctors, nurses, nurse practioners, etc. are! They have been so good to us. We couldn’t have asked for a better hospital to treat our child!
At the risk of sounding a little weak in the moment… as I still stand on God’s Word & promises for my daughter, I am telling the world, I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER! She is my wings to watch soar someday. I’m holding firm to my vision of her as a young woman telling the world about our Healer, our Deliverer, our oh so good God! I will focus & meditate on that vision until I see it happening right before my eyes. I am focusing on this vision & letting the decision we made today go. God is by our side & He won’t fail us, though we may fail Him. His Word will not return to Him void, but WILL accomplish what He says it will!
Posted in christianity, family :), Keely's Journey, Leukemia, spirituality