OK this is straight from my heart. Very honest! Through the tears & all, with typos I am sure!
WOW! I cannot believe it has taken me 17 days to get this email written & sent out. Have you ever thought that you have dealt with demons or struggles, whatever you choose to call them, in your life only to realize you really haven't. So many times I go through the motions of the day, of our life filled with blessings & some how block out those past struggles or as I call the "C" one a demon.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness. Honestly how many gold ribbons have you seen this month? Next month when it's breast cancer awareness you will see thousands of pink ribbons. Chances are you will see one everyday during that month. Why do you not see as many gold? Well probably because I have taken this long to come to grips & write this email. I should have sent ya'll an email each day reminding ya'll about it. How many of you did not even know that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness? How many of you didn't even know there was such a thing? How many of you have someone in your family that has been diagnosed with childhood cancer? If you haven't it's my prayer you never do.
You see once a child has cancer it doesn't go away. It's not a cold that you can get over. It's a demon. It's something that lies inside that child FOREVER. Even after becoming adults childhood cancer survivors are affected by the side effects from the chemotherapy, the radiation, the amputation. They live with it FOREVER. It doesn't go away.
We are one of the lucky ones. I can tell you where I was standing in Boston Children's Hospital almost 12 years ago when I heard Mike ask the doctor after Michala's 4 hour surgery to remove that nasty tumor if it was cancer. CANCER? Where did that word come from? It had never crossed my mind. The doctor said it was nasty & he was sending it to 4 pathologist around the world. Well the denial began for me right then. I would not even think cancer.
I remember the spot I sat in the middle of the floor in our old house, holding the phone, listening to those words, as Mike & my mom walked in. I could barely speak the word cancer.
I remember where I was in the Aflac Cancer Center at Egleston Children's Hospital when Dr. Olson said it was stage 4 angiosarcoma. I remember that feeling. I can still feel that feeling. I saw his mouth move but never heard a word of it.
I remember sitting in the waiting room at Crawford Long, numb, scared & longing for this nightmare to be over. I remember hearing Dr. Munson say it's her life or her leg.
I remember carrying our little Michala to the operating room door. Giving her to the nurse. Turning her life over to Dr. Munson to amputate her leg. I remember standing in the hallway as they wheeled her past us to her room. I remember pulling back the covers to see my baby's leg gone. I remember that first night & every night for the months that followed closing my eyes & seeing Jesus with an ax chopping her leg off. How could my God, that God that I grew up knowing & loving, the one who said He loves me, do something like that to my precious baby girl. That's when I forgot how to pray! That's when I very dear precious lady in my life told me it was ok to be angry at God & even tell Him so. She said He already knows your thoughts & feelings so talk to Him about them. Boy did I.
I remember when Gene & Sandy came in Michala's room that night. I couldn't move from where I was sitting. My legs wouldn't hold the weight of my heart up. I remember making sure her leg was covered. I didn't want anyone to see my baby without her leg. I remember our first outing together after "it" happened. We went to Brooke & Stewart's Christmas party with our very close friends. I remember dressing her up so pretty and crying as I tucked in the extra part of her tights. I remember gasping when her blanket slid off & you could see her leg was gone. I remember Don so sweetly sitting beside her & putting her blanket back on her as if he knew my heart.
I remember it getting very close to Christmas & walking into our home you would never have known. Mike really wanted to put up a tree. Maybe to help my spirits. I remember having so much anger that I wanted nothing to do with Christ birth in our home. I didn't want a living tree in my home representing a living Christ. Mike put up the tree. I remember sitting on the couch holding Michala as Mike & Kim decorated the tree. I wanted no part of it. To say I was bitter was a complete understatement.
I remember taking Michala to Aflac after the new year for her first chemo treatment. I remember getting settled in our room & putting her beautiful gown on her that Aunt Paige had given her. The nurse said that's going to get really messed up. I wanted her to look pretty though. It lasted maybe 30 minutes into the treatment before it was indeed ruined. We had been told this was the sickest sick we would ever see. I thought oh but we have been through so much with Mary Elizabeth. NOPE nothing could compare to this sick! I remember watching as the nurse hung the first bag of chemo. I watched as that poison that was supposed to help heal my child went into her body. I looked at the nurse and through my tears asked when her hair would start falling out.
I remember putting gloves on to change my baby's diaper because those meds were so toxic. What were we allowing to go in our baby's body? What was happening here? I remember looking over at Mike as he sat reading his bible. How could he do that? Remember I had already forgotten how to pray must less read the bible. So now I am mad at him too because his faith was strong enough to see him through this.
When Mary Elizabeth was born the social worker told us the divorce rate among parents of special needs children. Again we heard our chances of our marriage surviving two special needs children when Michala was born had just doubled. When Michala was diagnosed with cancer our chances more than tripled. All I can say is that through this struggle my wonderful husband stood strong in his faith. God blessed me with an awesome Christian mother years ago because He knew my future (Jeremiah 29:11). He truly knew the plans for my life. He blessed us with some of the most amazing friends & family that never left our side through all that. I can now proudly say we have a strong marriage anchored by an awesome God.
I can continue with my rememberances but I have rambled on quite enough. I said all this to say if I had a wish it would be that another parent, grandparent, sibling or friend would never ever have to hear those dreaded words that a child has cancer. The only way this is going to happen is to have support in finding a cure. Here is my lowly plea for help with that. I cannot sit back & just say my child is a cancer survivor when my dear friend just lost her little boy because a cure wasn't found soon enough. Each time Michala coughs or we see an unusual spot on her I think is this it? Is it back? I want a cure for Michala and for all the other children. If you are able to give please do. Give in honor of Michala, in honor of your child that has been blessed not to be stricken with this horrible demon, give in memory of that child that is no longer with us.
http://www.curechildhoodcancer.org/ CURE Childhood Cancer is dedicated to discovering cures for childhood cancer through cutting edge research and providing education and support to patients and their families.
http://www.mycampsunshine.com/ Camp Sunshine has blessed our family more than words can say! They taught me how to smile again and reminded me that we could make it through this.
Thank you for anything you can possibly give! Please remember to pray for the families that will receive the news today that their child has cancer. It will be like two classrooms full that will hear that today. Please pray for the families that are in the middle of their battle. Some have been battling for years. Please remember the survivors & their families. Please pray for those who have lost their children to this awful disease.
With a thankful heart that is still in the healing process for so much!