This post is the ninth in a year-long series ... Through this series of posts I plan to share our family's experiences during our 17-year-old daughter's year-long battle with brain cancer, which began in February of 2008. My desire is to process through the events of that year from the perspective that a decade of time has brought ... for myself, really. But if you'd like to follow along, you're welcome to join me.
February 22, 2008
The next few days were a blur. We had so many visitors it was difficult to even have time to eat. I remember that one day I didn't even have the opportunity to take a shower because of the steady stream of people coming through her room. Many of the folks who appeared at Hannah's hospital room door we hadn't seen in months, or even years ... but there they were to encourage us and pray with us. One dear lady arrived with a key to her home in Little Rock that we were free to use whenever we needed to get away from the hospital.
There were other people who did not come to the hospital, but instead served our family by caring for those staying at our home in Magnet Cove. People took the time to visit Bethany and help her feel less lonely in our absence, to prepare meals for our parents who were staying there with her, and even to take care of our dog when no one was home for extended periods of time. Others sent notes, wrote emails, made phone calls, mailed gift cards, sent flowers or balloons ... the list goes on and on.
And then there were the hundreds (which swelled into thousands) of people who prayed for Hannah and for our family from the moment they heard of her diagnosis. Oh, how those prayers buoyed us up on the heavy days!
These incredible kindnesses were both humbling and overwhelming. I know I did not adequately thank all of these wonderful folks for their selfless generosity to our family at the time. And I hope that ten years later is not too late. If you were one of those people, I want you to know that your kindness, however big or small, was a huge part of what kept us afloat both during those early days of shock and awe, and even over the year that was to follow. Thank you.
So many people were interested in following Hannah's story, I began trying to think of a way we could keep people informed of the developments. There was no way we could communicate individually with everyone who was asking about her, and we wanted to avoid the "telephone game" scenario where facts can so easily get distorted as they are passed along from person to person. We considered a CaringBridge site, but Hannah, always a private person, did not want one. In early 2008, Facebook was a thing, but not nearly what it is now, so that wasn't really a consideration either. So I settled on email as our primary mode of communication with those who wanted to follow her progress and pray for us. That decision started a year-long series of nearly daily emails which would eventually reach literally around the world.
This is the email I sent ten years ago today at 11:14 pm ...
Tonight, I’m writing from home. I’ve come to spend some time with Bethany, and to get a good night’s rest at home. Brad is staying at the hospital with Hannah.
We met with the surgeon for the first time about 2:00 this afternoon. We still don’t know for sure when the surgery will be, but it should be Monday or Tuesday. We’ll get the word out when we have a definite date and time. He told us basically the same thing the resident had told us. They will go in through the lower part of the back of her skull (not needing to cut off much hair, which Hannah is excited about!) and remove a piece of the tumor and examine it. If they determine it will be treatable with radiation, they will close the incision and end the surgery. If it is not treatable with radiation alone, they will go ahead and remove the entire tumor. He did tell us that in looking at the MRI and CT scans, it appears to be the second kind, and will probably require complete removal. She will have to spend at least 24 hours in ICU, then will remain hospitalized for 5 to 7 days following surgery. He said the tumor is in a delicate area, and not very easy to get to, but he has a lot of experience with this type of tumor in this location. His name is Dr. A…please lift him up in your prayers.
Hannah is feeling great and is still amazingly strong and enjoying all of her visits and phone calls. The outpouring of love and support for our family has just been wonderful. Thank you to all who have called, visited, emailed, sent cards, brought or sent gifts…it has meant so much to our family. I wish we could personally answer every email we have received, but there have just been too many! Please know that we are reading every one and gaining strength from them. Please continue to pray for God to be glorified in this situation. Also, please remember Bethany in your prayers…she has mono and really feels terrible (worse than Hannah does right now, actually). Her spleen is enlarged, and she needs to rest, which is difficult with all that is going on right now. Her grandparents are taking good care of her, and she was able to come to the hospital today to see Hannah, which I think helped her a little bit. Please pray for her quick recovery. By the way, we also found out today that Hannah tested positive for mono, but she has no symptoms, and the surgeon does not seem to think it will be a problem.
God is good, all the time!