This post is #159 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.
January 12, 2009
At this point, I rarely went anywhere other than back and forth to Children's Hospital every other day. I was no longer working, I was unable to attend church, and even my trips to Walmart were rare. As Hannah's motor skills and vision began to decline, Brad began to accompany us more and more often on our trips to Little Rock to assist with transporting her.
While we were consumed with Hannah's care and hospital visits, 13-year-old Bethany was still participating in life. She was going to school, playing basketball, cheerleading, and attending youth group. As such, she became the face of our family in the community ... and the one who had to field all the well-meaning questions about her sister's condition. What a heavy burden that was for her! Those questions were difficult enough for us as adults to answer, much less a child at her tender age. The doctors had not yet told us that Hannah was dying ... there still seemed to be some hope that the chemo drugs would be effective ... but even Bethany could see that unless God miraculously intervened, that would be the outcome. So when you are repeatedly asked how your big sister is doing, and your own young heart is breaking at her deteriorating condition ... how do you respond?
One day we pulled Bethany out of school and had her accompany us to one of Hannah's appointments. While she was gone, the school counselor (at our request) called an assembly of all Bethany's classmates and teachers and requested that they stop asking her how Hannah was doing. That seemed to help, at least while she was in the school setting.
Such a heavy burden for such small shoulders.
My email from a decade ago today ...
It's Monday, so we are at Children's for our regular clinic day. They had a little bit of trouble getting her bloodwork done today...her PICC line would not give a blood return, so they had to stick her to draw blood. Thankfully, they got a good vein on the first try. We just got the results back, and her platelets have dropped to 31,000, so she will be getting platelets today. Hopefully, her PICC line won't give us any trouble during the infusion...I'm not sure what we do if it doesn't.
Hannah seems to have stabilized right now, as far as her vision and her balance are concerned, and we are thankful for this. We used the wheelchair for the first time today, just to come in to the hospital and get to the clinic, and it was really helpful. Hannah seems to be adjusting to the situation really well.
We would ask that you pray for Bethany, though...it's been difficult for her to see Hannah going through these changes over the last couple of weeks. And because she's in school and out in the community every day, she continually fields questions from well-meaning people who are concerned about Hannah and our family. Sometimes this can be difficult for her. So please keep her in your prayers, as well as Hannah. We hope to bring her with us to Children's next Monday, when Hannah gets her next dose of chemotherapy, just so she can feel a little more involved in her treatment.
We have received so many wonderful emails, phone calls, cards, gifts, etc., over the past couple of weeks. I wish we could respond to every one personally, but there are just too many. Please know that we are keeping every single email and card and we treasure each one. Thank you for keeping us reminded that God is good, all the time!
Jill and Brad