This post is #123 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.
October 30, 2008
One difficult aspect of Hannah's cancer journey was how it affected Bethany. You might remember that when Hannah was first diagnosed, she was in the middle of a prolonged battle against mono. Once she finally recovered from that, she jumped back into all of her school, social, and church activities.
But no matter where she went, she was no longer Bethany ... she was "the girl whose sister has cancer." We lived in a very small community, and her dad was the high school principal, so our story got a lot of attention. As Brad and I became more and more involved in Hannah's healthcare, Bethany was forced to the fore. At 13 years old, she became the face of our family in the community. She was continually asked how her sister was doing by well-meaning people who were legitimately concerned about our family. That question was hard enough for us as adults to answer ... and oh, so difficult for Bethany! Hannah was also the recipient of many gifts, cards, messages, etc. While Bethany never, ever appeared to begrudge her sister this attention, I'm sure there were times she felt left out. Also, because I was Hannah's primary caregiver, I missed nearly all of Bethany's school activities and ball games during that year.
There were a number of wonderful people who took a special interest in Bethany during that year, and I am eternally grateful for them. They made sure she felt loved and safe, and gave her attention when we were unable to. These kindnesses continued after Hannah went to Heaven. We were blessed that so many loved her so well.
Because of our experience, people often ask me how they can help a family with a child who has been diagnosed with cancer. My response is to do whatever you can to assist with their other children. If you bring a gift to the sick child, bring something for the other child/children as well. Take that child or children out to eat, to a movie, to a ball game ... anything to help them experience some sense of normalcy. Nothing helped me more during that year than knowing that Bethany was cared for and felt loved.
My email from ten years ago today ...
We were able to go to our local doctor's office today in Hot Springs for Hannah's blood work...and though her platelets are still low, she will not require an infusion since she's done with radiation! Her white count has also actually risen a little bit, and although it's still low enough that she has to be isolated, it's good to see improvement in that area! That means that tomorrow we will not have to make a trip to Little Rock, or any other doctor's office, for that matter. It will be wonderful for Hannah to have a full day at home to rest...actually, three full days counting the weekend. What a blessing!
Many of you have emailed asking about how Bethany, Hannah's 13-year-old sister, is coping with all that is going on. She's a very busy girl, with basketball, cheerleading, band, and church activities, and we've done our best to keep things as normal for her as possible, while still including her in an occasional trip to Little Rock so she can see for herself what all is going on with Hannah. She worries about her big sister, but she is learning (like we all are) to trust God one day at a time. She has an opportunity this weekend (thanks to a precious friend) to go on a 3-day, 2-night hiking trip in the Ouachita mountains, which will be a wonderful experience for her. Thank you to all of you for your concern and prayers for her, as well as for Hannah.
Jesus said, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34
God is good, all the time!
Brad and Jill