Tag Archives: AT/RT

Chase’s Story [VIDEO]

Have you ever seen this video of Chase?

If not, I highly recommend it.  And even if so, feel free to watch it again…  We have been so blessed to partner with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation this year and are continually thankful for the platform they give us to share Chase’s story with so many.

-MbM-

[Our deepest gratitude to the incomparable Matthew Lackey for his mad, crazy video skills.  Also, a huge thank you to both Jane Hoppen and Kristen Thies for all they did to put together the finished product and the time spent filming it.]

Three Years And A Letter

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This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Friday, July 31, 2015

My Chasey-Bear,

How very far you’ve come!  When they first put a name to the giant ball inside your head, the nightmare of it spreading through your skull and down your back, I read that “long term survival” was 3-5 years, and now, here you are: at the three year mark.

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I know you don’t like me to even speak about the hospital on the majority of days and it’s okay, we can mostly play on your terms, but today is different.  This day in your short history, you were on nobody’s terms and only God himself knew what came next as we learned the unfolding: that you would carry a terminal illness with you the rest of your breath here on earth.

I still remember how small you looked in that first ER bed, how confused your eyes were, and how rosy your cheeks got from all the steroids they pumped in as they tried to save you from yourself before the damage became too great.  

I remember holding the oxygen mask to your face and thinking it couldn’t really be happening, and if we were in a movie, that would have been the moment for slow motion and an audible heart beat.  Because sometimes life feels like it’s slowly tearing apart.

We’ve given you over to Jesus more times than I can count and held you close even more time than that.  Yet here you are, still on your journey, standing smack in the middle of your life road, laughing at anything barreling down on you – and how we love you for your fierce, “you-and-what-army” self.

I know these days turned into years have not been easy for you – and I know “not been easy” is a gross understatement.

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None of us know how much further this road continues, but I know if it’s with you – as I’ve known from the first time you kicked inside of me – it will never be dull.  And so we’ll just keep at it as we have tried to all along… in His grace, moment by moment.

All our love, my darling survivor,

Daddy and Mama

Your grace abounds in deepest waters. Your sovereign hand will be my guide.
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won’t start now. So I will call upon Your name and keep my eyes above the waves when oceans rise. My soul will rest in Your embrace, for I am Yours and You are mine.  ~Oceans, Hillsong United

The Two Doors

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“The prognosis for AT/RT has been very poor, although there are some indications that an IRSIII-based therapy can produce long-term survival (60 to 72 months). Two-year survival is less than 20%, average survival postoperatively is 11 months, and doctors often recommend palliative care, especially with younger children because of the poor outcomes.” -Wikipedia on Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor

Tomorrow, February 6th, is Chase’s first truly post-treatment MRI.  The first real chemo-is-all-out-of-your-system, three-months-without-a-single-drug-to-guard-against-relapse, have-your-sleep-patterns-changed, why-did-you-forget-that-word, you-fell-twice-yesterday… MRI.

Tomorrow, there will be two doors.  Behind Door #1 is the clear scan and the sigh of relief and the three month wait until next time.  Behind Door #2 is relapse and all the possibilities that it brings.  Writing that thought down leaves me sick to my stomach, but the truth is, we’ve known about Door #2 since the early days of August 2012.  So, even if it comes to that horror, there will likely be few surprises.

People say in mistaken comfort “Yes, but what are the chances…?”  For a parent of a child that only ever had a hairs-breadth percentage of getting cancer and this cancer and surviving this cancer, the chances hold no comfort at all.

The only comfort is in knowing that I am invited to bring my worry to God, and then not worry about it anymore, because He will guard my heart and my mind.  The only comfort is knowing that all of our days were counted and known before we ever breathed, that we were fearfully and wonderfully created, and our very souls cry out with that thought.  The only comfort is knowing that all our pain and suffering is but an earth-moment, and then we’ll stand in the presence of our Savior, understanding the promises and knowing no more pain or sorrow or tears–only closeness to Him forever.

I know those truths.  I believe those truths.  But as I stand in front of these two doors, my heart is still heavy… what now?

BE STILL…  WAIT…  BE SILENT.

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14

Silence?  My make-it-better, make-it-stop, never-give-in heart wants no part of that.  Silence is accepting defeat.  Silence is acquiescing… isn’t it?  Being silent is one of the hardest things for me to do, yet I’m called to do it in this moment.  And as I obey, not speaking becomes speaking.  The quiet becomes loud.  We will watch and see what unfolds as we remember how far we’ve come, and know beyond a shadow of doubt that the same grace that covered all waits always, ahead of us, behind any door.

The doors are in place as they always have been and will be… The right thoughts are known and remembered time and again… and now?

We wait for what He will show us in His time.

We are silent…   Moment by moment.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting the Unexpected

Chillin’ through infusions and transfusions…

Our trip to the hospital this weekend was unscheduled, but it wasn’t completely unexpected.

Up until now–as we’ve made our decisions about Chase’s treatment plan/location–we haven’t said too much about AT/RT, but if you read “The Other Shoe” and googled that specific cancer, you probably already have an idea about what this looks like.

The truth is that AT/RT is very aggressive and doesn’t have a great prognosis (I won’t share the exact percentage here because Chase is either 100% with us, or he isn’t and that’s all that really matters). Regardless of statistics, Chase is a fighter, and the cancer’s aggressive nature requires an aggressive response.

Treatment of AT/RT is a little like a Looney Tunes-style destruction of cancer cells: they’re going to punch it, and then kick it off a cliff, and then half-way down the cliff, catch it and put it in a cannon and shoot it to the moon… then let it fall to earth to explode in a fiery ball of death in the side of a mountain (I’m picturing Wile E. Coyote in my head right now).

What this looks like in real life is: getting to know the hospital REALLY well. Chase’s treatment protocol is front-loaded to try and force a remission and so for almost the entire first half of the year-long period, he is scheduled to receive chemo every week (yes, every week).

Because of this, he is going to be in a pretty continual state of low immunity, which means he’s prone to every infection and will get fevers very easily.  Because of this, he will probably have a lot of unscheduled hospital visits (like this weekend) for antibiotics, transfusions, and extra monitoring.  Chase’s oncology team had been verbally preparing us for this from the first day. It doesn’t save us from seeing him in obvious pain in a hospital bed with a fever of 104, but it definitely helps prepare us to expect it.

Does it sound crazy? Yes, probably, but our son’s life is the answer to that question, so how could we ever NOT pursue this treatment.

I do not know how this year will end or what the long term effects will be on our family.

Here’s what I do know… We are going to get through it (let’s all say it together) …

Moment by moment through GRACE

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. –Proverbs 16:9