Tag Archives: God’s faithfulness

Today

Today, I walked into a huge medical facility bay and stared down a gigantic white truck structure.  The MRI.   

Today, I watched my loving husband carry my darling son up into the structure as he spoke calmly and quietly, and Chase, red-faced and teary, clung to him and cried that he couldn’t…just couldn’t…do this right now.

Today, I stood in the bay as only one parent could go inside with Chase, and my heart ripped just a tiny bit at the sound of his screams and then it was silent but for the pounding of the machine.  And I would learn later that though he screamed in the room, the minute the scan started, he became peaceful and still and stayed still for the whole test.

Today, as I held my breath and prayed for Chase in the sound of the machine, a man came up and introduced himself – the husband of a beloved proton radiation nurse who had cared for Chase nearly two years prior – what a small, beautiful world it is some days.

Today, I watched Chun, the camera man (because yes, we have a camera crew here with us now – so much more on that some day soon) peer around the corner of the machine and flash me the “thumbs up” – Chase was okay and he was done.  He did it!

Today, Chase descended out of the gigantic white structure, held his arms out to me and shouted “Mom!  You came back to me!  I did it and I was SO brave!!”

Today, we – Bob, Chase, the camera crew, a friend from the hospital, and me – we all waited in quiet anticipation to talk to the neurosurgeon.

Today, we all stood in the small exam room to hear that the growths, though changed and grown a little more, are considered stable.

Today, we talked of movies, and keeping up with small children and their energy as Chase went through the paces of touching his nose and myriad of other normal things that may not always come easily to him and Dr. Alden knows this and watches out for him.

Today, we heard that we get to wait to look again until January and enjoy our holidays and that we don’t need to think about biopsies or treatments right now.

Today, we heard that January is most certainly a necessity and that at least one of the growing places on the MRI is still a concern.

Today, we talked about nobody having all the answers and how frustrating it is when we ask and the doctors long to reassure with decades of concrete research and can’t.

Today, we were reminded that if we see any, absolutely any changes in Chase, we need to report them immediately.

Today, we chafed against the wait again and found our spirits wanting.

Today, we were given the day, and we’ll take it…

…moment by moment.

“We were made to run through fields of forever, singing songs to our Savior and King.
So let us remember this life we’re living is just the beginning of this glorious unfolding.
We will watch and see and we will be amazed if we just keep on believing the story is so far from over and hold on to every promise God has made to us…
We’ll see the glorious unfolding.”

Steven Curtis Chapman

Waiting for the neurosurgeon and mildly questioning Dad's ability to assemble a Transformer...

Waiting for the neurosurgeon and mildly questioning Dad’s ability to assemble a Transformer…

Of Looking Back, Looking Forward, and Very Loud Noises

“I’m afraid, Mom.  It’s going to be really loud, isn’t it?”  Chase, cuddled on the couch this chill December afternoon, voices his worries… 

Three quarters of a century ago today, terrible things happened half a world away and boats sank and people died and the country went to war again.  December 7.

Six years ago, late in the evening, as the sounds of the Christmas music barely faded in the halls of the church, I rushed to the hospital and Aidan was born and there was joy and a new baby son.  December 7.

And now, we sit on the couch under the shadow of the almost-winter clouds and there’s another shadow too.  Tomorrow comes the MRI and we sit and talk because today, on December 7 – day of all sorts of remembrance – we sit and look ahead and not back because tomorrow they’ll peer inside his white head again and see if there’s been any change in six weeks.

It’s poetic and strange how life weaves the beauty and pain in every memory of each moment and they’re all mixed together in a life symphony that requires unending grace.

Chase is scared and rightfully so.  Tomorrow will mark his first “awake” MRI in two years.  It’ll be mercifully short, but for 5-10 minutes, he will have to face one of his worst fears.  The noise.  It will surround him and he knows it and he’s frightened.  He can’t escape it and this child who is never still must lay perfectly quiet in his terror for 5-10 minutes or an eternity – whichever comes first – yet another time in his little cancer life when the only way out is through.  And how our hearts wish to cover him from this, but we cannot.   So, through it, he goes.  And he says “Jesus will be with me…and Daddy too.

As you think of Chase tonight and tomorrow, will you please pray for him?  Pray for peace to surround him as he goes into this very hard place and does this very hard thing?  …and then, pray for us as our challenge comes moments after the MRI when we speak and decide over the pictures with his neurosurgeon.

Moment by moment…

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

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The Second Year

Tuesday, July 31, 2012…

Two Years… Two whole years since the early morning panic gave way to a living nightmare on the day Chase was diagnosed.

What struck me most as I looked through the pictures and memories is that life can feel complicated now, and yet, as I look back over the last year and see such crazy hard times, I realize that I’m apt to forget what it looked like in the shadow of whatever the here and now happens to hold.  I can tend to see Chase’s deficits and struggles and not realize how healthy and robust he is now compared to the emaciated waif that was.   The truth is that much has changed.  The truth is also that there are many uncertainties ahead.  The truth is that God’s goodness and faithfulness to us have never and will never change.  And Chase is still living and breathing with us two whole years later.

We’ve spent many days listening to Rend Collective’s newest album.  Our family’s favorite song is “My Lighthouse” and I truly can’t think of better words to sum the year…the two years…or, the lifetime:

In my wrestling and in my doubts
In my failures You won’t walk out
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea

In the silence, You won’t let go
In my questions, Your truth will hold
Your great love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea

My Lighthouse, my lighthouse
Shining in the darkness, I will follow You
My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse
I will trust the promise, 
You will carry me safe to shore 
Safe to shore

I won’t fear what tomorrow brings
With each morning I’ll rise and sing
My God’s love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea

Fire before us, You’re the brightest
You will lead us through the storm

Even if we know nothing of what lies before us (and we don’t), we can look back and see the joy in so many ways.

Trusting He will lead us through the storm… moment by moment.

**Look back with us and find joy…**

On The Unknown Road

The cold snapped in the air as the sun shone distant and too bright through the windshield of the car as we traveled along the road.  Chase’s first day of therapies.  A new building, new people, new things to be learned…the start of a new chapter.  And with the new, came the old and familiar: the fear of the unknown and the question – what lies ahead?  Always that question.

Chase’s high voice pierced the questions gripping my mind like my hands holding the steering wheel.  photo 2 (1)“Mommy? Where are we?  This is not the road to my hospital.”  For this is how Chase tells direction.  There is the road that leads to his hospital and then there is every other road ever made.  I answered and assured him that this road was a good road and that it was the way to his new therapy – therapy that would help him grow strong.

Silence followed for a brief second as he processed what he’d heard.  Then; “But Mom, are we late?”

“No, Chase.  We aren’t late.  We are right on time.”

Another moment of silence, then his voice again, this time with anger, “But Mom, this isn’t the road and we’re late!”

Steeling myself for the familiar exercise of reasoning with the irrational; I responded: “Chase, this is the road and we are not late.”  I received nothing but an angry growl and the reiteration that I was in error.

How many times would I need to speak truth to him before he heard?  

Finally, this; “Chase, do you trust me?  I know this road and I can see the clock. I know where we’re going and I know that we’re not late.  You don’t know this road, but I do.  I’ve driven on it before and I know where it goes.  Chase, you’ll just have to trust me.”

The petulant retort; “Mom, I can’t trust you because I cannot see the road and I cannot see the clock.  You can; but I cannot.”  

Suddenly, his voice was mine….mine to my Creator who speaks truth to me and calms the questions and fears at every turn.  He tells me that even though I don’t know the road, He does.  He knows where it goes and what’s along the way.  He knows the timing of it and how it will take me to places that will be hard but will make me stronger.  And I sit, petulant child that I am, and question trusting Him because I don’t know what He knows and somehow, in my small heart and mind, that makes Him seem less good and my fears seem more justified.

In that moment, that silly short moment of driving across the city, in the child voice from the back seat, I was reminded how good He is to me and that I don’t have to know what lies ahead to trust and follow.

Moment by moment.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

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Stable

In pre op waiting for the MRI to be available so Chase could proceed with anesthesia

In pre op waiting for the MRI to be available so Chase could proceed with anesthesia

After a very long day that included an inner ear procedure, waiting over an hour for the MRI, almost three hours under anesthesia, and a painful peripheral IV in the arm (instead of accessing Chase’s port), we received an early, unofficial word from the hospital last night: Chase’s MRI results were still being read, but there was no evidence of new tumor growth.  However, there was still a question about the areas of fluid retention and cavernomas (effects of surgery and radiation)…

Removing the painful IV

Removing the painful IV

This morning, we received the second and final call.  The official word is “stable” on all fronts!

There may have been some very minor changes to the cavernomas, but nothing of concern at this point and the areas of fluid are virtually unchanged.  We will have the chance to view the MRI and discuss all of this more in depth next week with Chase’s neuro-oncologist and his neurosurgeon in his routine follow ups.

Taking vitals in post op recovery - and getting to eat for the first time in 9 hours!

Taking vitals in post op recovery – and getting to eat for the first time in 9 hours!

Praising God in awe.   Some days, I still can’t believe Chase has survived 21 months after an advanced AT/RT diagnosis.

Thank you again for your prayer and encouragement as we take this…

Moment by moment.

In the car, on the way home. A long day for a very brave boy.

In the car, on the way home. A long day for a very brave boy.

Finding Purpose: The Normal, Not-Normal Life

Broken beauty

Broken beauty

For some time now, these words have refused to come out.  The unknown, undefined place we’ve inhabited post-treatment has been crippling to my writing because I haven’t known what I’m writing about any more.  I was reminded this week that life is a journey and my heart is to honestly chronicle my way through it – whatever it may bring.   With that reminder, the words finally came and I could write out the struggle.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11


“His counts are in normal range”; “You can return to normal activities”; “You should treat him like a normal boy”; “Not being in this hospital is good…it’s normal”… Normal, normal, normal

We keep hearing this word; they keep using this word; but to quote the great Inigo Montoya: “You keep using this word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I look at Chase – at the scar, at the hair that’s trying to grow past radiated skin.  I watch him – how he struggles to hear a whisper even when we speak directly in his ear, how his mood swings, how his words jumble and garble.  Excuse me for sounding skeptical, but this is normal?  Do normal children have to have medical clearance from teams of specialists just to get their teeth cleaned?  (a true story of how several hours in my week went down)

I remember clear as day – sitting on the couch in his PICU room in the dawn before brain surgery and wishing for normal.  I confronted that wish and had to put it aside.  “There is no normal.  There is only Christ.”  And now normal is being handed back to us…and it’s terrifying.

My brain whispers that Chase could have been dead.  He could have been unable to walk, unable to speak, unable to do a hundred other things.  My thoughts turn to all that could have been and all the cancer children who have stopped breathing since Chase was diagnosed and I can hardly breathe myself.  The anger and frustration flares… How dare I ask where we are and where we’re going?  How dare I?  What right have we to wonder?  Is it not enough that we’re the ones who still breathe?

But we do wonder.  It feels thankless and rude, but we do.  We are beings created for a purpose and we chafe and fight against this normal not-normal life that at times feels so purposeless.  We no longer belong to the world we inhabited pre-diagnosis.  Those people have been ripped apart and rebuilt time and again with new eyes, hearts and focus.  But we no longer belong to the world we inhabited during treatment.  How do we use our changed lives?  Where do we belong?

The truth is that I don’t know.  I believe that the answer is something that is still unfolding.  And while it unfolds and we wait with hope… this:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10

We were made by God for good things.  Good things that He planned for us to do long before we ever breathed.  He planned them for us, so we can’t miss them or mess them up.  He planned them.

Breathe.

There is a plan.  It won’t be normal, but it will be good.

And we’ll take it moment by moment.

 

The Little Big Things

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When you have a 6cm brain tumor removed at 2.5 years of age and go through months and months of rigorous treatment, all bets are off regarding development.  Often, you hope for delays “at best” as the worst is too hard to think about unless forced to do so.

Last night, I sat across from Chase as he made valiant attempts to match and fold his favorite yellow hospital socks and this morning, as he placed another Superman sticker on his “potty chart” I stopped and I marveled.  These things are small and normal milestones to most children, but for Chase, and for all cancer kids, some of these things are beyond huge.

You see, it wasn’t too long ago that teams of doctors waited post-surgery to see if he’d even wake up…or talk…or walk.  Celebrating these little big things today.

Moment by moment.

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Do You Hear What I Hear?

Wires in his ears

Wires in his ears

I’ve written about Chase’s lack of hearing before.

The tiny room…

The sounds I can hear that he doesn’t…

The frustration in our home as he calls and calls desperately across the house, never once hearing us answer…

Since his doctors surgically cleaned out his ears, the intense frustration has seemed to improve a little.  Now, he seems to be able to hear a voice from across the room, but perhaps that’s just wishful thinking on our parts.  After all, we know the collateral damage we signed on for when we started this journey.

Stimulating his hearing through his skull - fearful and wonderful

Stimulating his hearing through his skull – fearful and wonderful

And yet…

Today, as we wrapped up the audiology exam, she sat down and smiled: “I don’t usually get to tell people this, as it often goes in the other direction, but…his hearing has actually improved!”  The procedure performed in November (when he was under anesthesia for his MRI) was successful and his hearing is within normal ranges in several areas.  His high frequency hearing is still classified as “poor“, but even that has improved from the “unresponsive” conclusion on his last test.

Even as we both celebrate these results and wonder about the results in six months time, I am reminded again of these words…

Chase doesn’t need perfect hearing to hear the voice of God.

Thankful.

Moment by moment.

He feared the giant headphones and we told him that he looked like an airplane pilot :)

He feared the giant headphones and we told him that he looked like an airplane pilot :)

One More: The Last…

Poison

This afternoon, I received the call I’m always waiting for – the first of the twice weekly lab results.

This afternoon, I received news I’ve been waiting to hear for 14 months – “Chase’s counts are coming back, and quickly.  We’ll repeat labs on Thursday, but barring anything really crazy, he should be ready to restart chemo on Monday. This is it!

This is it.  The last chemo.  The last spinal tap.  The last

A small part of me is choking as I’m writing “the last“.  The part of my brain that reads and absorbs cancer research is screaming “The last?  You know better than that! This cancer is never over!”

But tonight, for now, for next week, it’s the last.

Joy.

I can’t believe we’re actually at this point.  And for all the rest that we have yet to walk, we’ll take it as it comes…

Moment by moment.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Two More

Chase’s counts are finally recovering from his last round of chemo!  Yesterday evening, we received word from the hospital that he has been cleared to come in on Monday.  His levels aren’t exactly where they should be, but are very close.  It is our hope that his Monday labs will reveal he’s fully recovered and that he can be admitted for the week.  We don’t hope this because we love chemo, but because Chase only has two chemo cycles left!  …and then he’s done!!

We would so appreciate your prayers as these last rounds are, in many ways, the most difficult.  The protocol doesn’t change, but his body is exhausted and each round seems to take it’s toll quicker and more painfully than the last.

Moment by moment.

My darling Chase

My darling Chase