Saturday, September 25, 2010

Two Years Ago... (continued)

Picking up the story from yesterday....

After a mostly sleepless night, Brad and I got up the next morning, steeling ourselves for what we might hear from Children's Hospital that day. We put on our brave faces for the girls, and woke them up as usual for school. Hannah woke up feeling good that day, and was excited about going to school, because she was going to be ordering her senior ring that day. She had already picked it out from a school ring catalog, and knew exactly what she wanted. So, Brad went to work (as principal at Hannah's high school) and I dropped the girls off at school. I was supposed to go to work that day too, but I just couldn't. I called our school secretary and told her that I wouldn't be in, without any further explanation. Of course, by this time, they were used to me missing work with Hannah, so she didn't question it.

At 8:00, I called our oncology nurse at Children's and asked her if the scan results were in yet. Of course, they weren't. I explained to her how what had started as a simple brain scan had turned into a lengthy brain and spine scan and she was surprised to hear that. She assured me that as soon as she received the results, she would call me. I waited around the house for about an hour, trying to find things that needed doing, but I couldn't focus on anything and was too restless to just sit and wait. Finally, I just got in my car and began driving. I didn't have any destination in mind, I just knew I had to keep moving. I'm not sure what that says about my psychological state at that point!

I drove around aimlessly for quite awhile until finally, the phone rang. The caller ID showed Children's Hospital, so I parked the car and answered it. The nurse told me that the results were in, and I clearly remember the first thing she said..."It's bad." She patiently explained to me (twice) that the scans showed multiple tumors on Hannah's brainstem and all up and down her spine. She then said (twice) that we were to report to Children's the next day, prepared to spend the night, and that we were going to begin a new chemotherapy regimen. I hung up, shaken to the core, but without tears at that point. I don't remember the drive to the school, but I do remember walking into the building and praying that Brad would be in his office so I wouldn't have to wandering the school looking for him. He wasn't. I found him in an upstairs hallway talking to a teacher, and I didn't approach him or speak...I just gestured to him to come. I hurried back to his office, with him following behind me. He shut the door, and I told him the news...and then finally the tears came, for both of us.

I'm not sure how much time passed while we processed this news, but we knew that we needed to tell Hannah. She had made me promise when she went to school that morning that we would get word to her as soon as we got the results of the MRI. So Brad went, got her out of class, and brought her come to his office. She could immediately tell by the stricken look on our faces that the news wasn't good. We told her what the nurse had said, and then spent some time crying together. About that time, we realized that Bethany would be in the cafeteria eating lunch, so Brad asked the counselor to get her and bring her to his office. So she joined us in his office, and we shared the news with her. And the waves of emotion began yet again. At last, we began to pull ourselves together and decided we would just leave school together, head home, and just spend the rest of the day regrouping.

Just as we were about to leave, the school ring salesman walked into Brad's office. The poor man had no idea what he was walking into! As soon as he came in, he started excusing himself and backing out. But, you know what? Hannah wanted to order her ring! That's what she had come to school for that day! And that's what she did. She sat down with him, calmly explaining the style she wanted, the color stone she wanted, how she wanted her name engraved on the side. After they got all the paperwork filled out, she was ready to go home. So we all got in the car and headed out. But as we were driving past the gym, she said that she had heard that the letter jackets were in, and she wanted to stop by and get hers before we left. So we stopped outside of the gym, and Brad ran in and got her jacket for her.

I don't remember much about the rest of that day, but I do remember the sense of irony I felt about Hannah ordering her class ring and getting her letter jacket within minutes of hearing the news that her cancer had returned with a vengeance. At the time, we honestly didn't even know if she'd live long enough to actually receive her class ring she'd just ordered, much less be a part of the Class of 2010, like her jacket said. I do know that that day really shook us. But again, at some point during that terrible day, the four of us sat down together and re-committed Hannah's life into God's hands.

You might notice that it seems like we had to continually stop and make a conscious decisions to trust God with Hannah's life. That's because we did! Even though we had made a commitment to trust God with our situation back on February 20th, when Hannah's first tumor was found, that decision had to be re-visited time and time again as circumstances changed and faith waned. And every time we did that, we would feel renewed peace and even a deep, indescribable joy as we knew He could be trusted to do what was best for Hannah and for our family.

That Heavenly peace continued to carry us through the rest of September...through the appointment with our oncologist the next day, in which he tearfully shared with us that Hannah had less than a 5% chance of survival; through the days of radiation and hair loss; through the chemo infusions; through the countless blood product infusions; and eventually through Hannah's homegoing exactly five months later. And we are so thankful that that peace is still with us today, as we look back at where we were two years ago, where we are today, and where God may choose to take us in the future!


Kelley's Kids said...

As much as reading this broke my heart,thank you for sharing this story, I'm sure it will help a lot of people reading it. I am so sorry Hannah, and the rest of you had to go through this, but your faith in God is amazing.
Thinking & praying for you and your family always - Kelley

Angie said...

Hi Jill. I somehow found your blog and I'm so glad I did. It has broken my heart yet blessed me at the same time. You probably didn't know me, but I was at OBU with you - I started in 85. I remember when you and Brad started dating - I thought you made a cute couple. :-) Thanks so much for sharing your heart and life.

Lori Harper said...

I can't tell you enough what it means to me to have your blog to come to for encouragement. I remember so well the call from my sister asking me to pray for Hannah. She was so special to them. How would I have known that I too would need the prayers for my son just a couple years later? Thank you so much for being so open on your blog. At times, it is so hard for me to read but the words speak right to my heart. God bless you!

Laurie and Jerry Wood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurie and Jerry Wood said...

oh how i remember that day. i remember calling your cell phone and brad answering. i knew the results of the latest scan at that meant jill couldn't talk b/c the news was not good. i was on my way to my scheduled iron treatment. as soon as i got there i started calling prayer warriors to ask them to intercede for hannah and her family. and those prayers never ended, and those same people continue to follow hannah's story and pray for her family. "the world meant it for evil, but HE meant it all for good"...and it is, still, all for good.