Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Glioblastoma Multiforme

I've been sitting here for awhile tonight, trying to pull my thoughts together for a blog entry. I had sort of started a theme of sharing about the emotions I've experienced over the past 18 months, and then interrupted it with some other posts, following the death of Ted Kennedy and my brother's sudden move. I'd like to get back on that topic for awhile.

When Hannah was first diagnosed with cancer, it was such an incredible shock that for a few days, I just couldn't mentally process it. At first, Hannah didn't want anyone to know that she had cancer...we finally convinced her that we needed to let people know so they could pray for her. She also did not want anyone to know that she was going to have chemotherapy, so when I sent that first email explaining her diagnosis, I said that they were going to treat her with radiation and "medication." Of course, most people figured out that meant chemotherapy, and eventually, Hannah relented and allowed me to share more details. I remember when I sent that first email explaining her diagnosis, we received many, many wonderful, supportive responses. In those first couple of days, we also received emails from children's cancer support groups, some friends who had lost children to cancer, and someone who told me about where to get free wigs for cancer patients. I remember reading those emails and thinking, "No way...this is not for us...not for Hannah!" After a little time passed, I was ready to hear from those folks, but not immediately.

We got the diagnosis about ten days after Hannah's brain surgery. We had gone in to get her stitches removed, and knew that we would probably receive the results from the pathology report. I remember that Hannah climbed up on the table, the surgeon did a brief exam of her incision, and then he told us that the pathology report indicated that Hannah's tumor was a glioblastoma multiforme. He had told us the day after the surgery that these tumors are rated on a 1 to 4 scale, with 4 being the most serious (he never used the word cancer). Brad asked him what Hannah's tumor was, and I clearly remember him saying, "This is a Four." Those words reverberated inside my head for quite some time. Then he introduced us to our oncologist, who entered the room accompanied by three other people. He gently explained the fact that glioblastoma multiforme is a very aggressive brain cancer with a nearly 100% fatality rate in adults. He also explained that Hannah's youth and the fact that it had been removed put her in a more favorable position. He outlined the course of treatment...radiation and oral chemotherapy...and left us with these other people, who I later figured out were social worker/counselor type people. I guess they figured we would each need one of our own after hearing that news. The one who appeared to be the head counselor offered Hannah an assortment of ugly teddy bears, and I remember that she chose what I thought was the ugliest one. As if a teddy bear would fix the problem. We were stunned by the news, but the peace of God was upon us because we had already put Hannah in his hands, and I don't think we even cried while we were there. Once they saw that they were not going to need to scrape us up off the floor, the counselors left too. Then, after all this, Hannah had to roll over onto her stomach and let them pull her stitches out...all I really wanted to do was hold her at that point, but I had to settle for just holding her hand. We left there that day, went to Firehouse Subs, and prayed over our lunch, again putting Hannah's future in God's hands.

More to come....

P.S. I have not yet heard from my brother in Indonesia. They are going to have to live with another missionary family in their new location, and may or may not have access to the internet. Thanks for the prayers...I'll let you know when we hear from them.

No comments: