When I hear it, my heart automatically beats faster and I get that uncomfortable feeling.
Imagine you are an 11 year old girl and you are hearing those words--not for the first time, but the fourth.
Yes, the fourth!
Our second cousin Carly, just heard this news this past week.
Here's a message from her mother Miki sharing the story about their relapse. It is an honest, heart wrenching message about how they are handling this news.
RelapseI don't even know where to begin. So I have asked God to take over here because my thought process is all over the place. This is long...sorry.
We had a MRI and bone scan on Friday. I don't like going more than 3 months on a MRI, so Dr. Pressey and I talked about doing one since she hasn't had one since October. The bone scan was fine, we got a good report on that one, and he opted to do one because we haven't had one in 4 yrs. However, the MRI showed a relapse. Dr. Pressey came in to the room while we were doing the bone scan and he brought me in the hallway to tell me something was going on and he wanted us to come to clinic so he could show me the MRI. I had to gather myself and go back in with Carly. I sat there a few minutes and said I had to go potty and I'd be back. I went in the bathroom, called Scott, and fell apart. Then I gathered myself again and went back to Carly.
So, we got to clinic and they took us in a room. Dr. Pressey came in and examined Carly, and told us there is a 1 cm (about the size of a peanut) "mass" behind her left eye. So, the medical reference is the orbital apex. I am not sure if it's wrapped around the optic nerve or just near it, but it's right on or near the nerve. She is not having any pain or sight issues, which is good, but nonetheless, there is a "beast" in there. This is the area (the left side) where her first and 2nd tumors were, what they call the primary, or local site.
Dr. Pressey and I talked. He feels surgery is her best option. Dr. Berkow (her first oncologist) was there as well, and hugged me, telling me he knew and was sorry. He agreed surgery was best. Dr. Pressey and Dr. Hanna spoke as well, and Dr. Pressey Fed Ex'd the scans to Dr. Hanna so he can make a determination as to what to do.
We don't know if it can be resected. There are a lot of unknowns right now. All we can do is sit and wait, and ask you to pray to God, asking Him to work through Dr. Hanna, allowing Dr. Hanna to come up with the best plan for Carly. There is a possiblity surgery could cost her the sight in her left eye. We don't know this for sure, but it could be a factor. However, we really just need Dr. Hanna to review it all and determine the risks.
I know you are wondering how Carly is. She is up and down. She'll be laughing and dancing around the house one minute, then she'll come up crying and need a hug. She had some light hearted moments tonight too. We decided to tell her about the possibility of her eye, and she was walking around the house with her left eye covered going, "hmm, so this is what it would be like". We all chuckled. Some would say it's wrong to tell her, but Scott and I believe we deserve the right to help her work through the possibilities so that it's not such a huge blow if it happens. We also told her it may not happen, and not to dwell on what ifs. We believe in bracing for the worst, but praying for the best.
As I drove home, I prayed. I kept thinking about the picture frame I have at home that says "Life's not about waiting for the storms to pass, it's learning how to dance in the rain". It's difficult right now for me to dance in the rain. I don't want to dance in the rain...I want to be past the storm. This truly sucks! I asked God why, I asked God to heal her here on earth, and I got angry as well. I am a mix of emotions. I was fine as I was driving. I had a lot of people offer to drive me home, even come up to Bham to get me and drive me home, but God game me inner strength to do it. He gave me peace at times, as well. Carly was in the back seat watching Shrek, laughing. Hearing her laugh made me laugh and cry at the same time. I thanked God at that moment for the beauty of her laughter, because it is what my soul needed at that moment.
I am crushed, heartbroken, and feeling very distraught. I am up and down emotionally. I usually hold it together well, but when I got home and got out of the car, Scott walked around the car to see me and I buried my head into his chest and released the full range of emotions I had been carrying all day. Carly saw that and got scared. When I finally caught my breath and could stop the tears, I looked at her and told her, "I can only be so strong for so long, and then Mommy has to have a moment of weakness, and it's only because I am sad you have to go through this again". And here it is, 3:30 in the morning and I'm crying and typing at the same time. I'm sick to my stomach, and so hurt that this is happening again. I am screaming out to God "Why", and yet, He continues to bring me peace. I can feel Him comforting me. He's allowing me my emotions, He understands I am upset, but He's also comforting me.
I have always said God gave me Carly and Ava for a reason. He hand picked ME. How lucky am I to have been given such an awesome gift? And I know what true love is, because I would take this cross and bear it for Carly right now. I would lay down my life for her or Ava. That's a mother's love, and that is what all of the last 4 years has taught me...to be thankful for each day, to be grateful for the gift of my children, and to be blessed for each happy and sad moment I face. This process is still amazingly difficult. Like I said, I am up and down. But the strength I get from God gives me the grace and peace I need to function each moment.
Please know that I know you all are here for us. I read our guestbook. I am just not able to talk right now. I become very introverted when things like this happen. I recluse to the inside of my house, where I feel safe from the outside world. I can't deal with the world right now. I need the normalcy I can get right now, and the time with my kids and Scott. I have work to keep my mind occupied, and I plan on getting a lot done this weekend since we don't know the immediate plans. I bet we'll be in Houston within the next week or two.
Dr. Pressey does have a plan in place for treatment after surgery. And you know, Thank GOD for Dr. Pressey, and Dr. Hanna. Gosh, I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful they both have been. Julia (our nurse) as well. Julia has been there emotionally and personally throughout all of this. She really is like a sister to me. Our doctors and nurses care, and they are personally doing everything humanly possible to take care of Carly. That's another way God gives me peace. He's helped us get the right team in place for her and He works through them.
I don't even know what else to say. Just pray for Carly, that Dr. Hanna can get this tumor out without risks, that it will be a full resection with margins, that Dr. Pressey's next round of treatment will work and that God will heal Carly here on Earth. Pray that this is the last time I have to hear Carly has cancer again. Pray I remain sain, and that I can hold it together. Pray for peace that surpasses all understanding. Pray for this entire family. We are all still reeling from the loss of my uncle Bobby and now we are dealing with another relapse for Carly. Cancer really is something I wish I could take out on a farm and beat it to death, or shoot a million bullets into. It deserves a huge beating.
You know I'll keep you posted. Thanks for being there for us. We love you all.
Miki (Scott, Carly and Ava)
Matthew 19:26, Philippians 4:6-7 & 4:13 STANDing with Carly
I've been praying about what we can do for this family, and I have a couple of ideas floating around in my head. I want you to begin by praying for this family on the 4's.
Anytime you see a clock, and it has a 4 on it--let that be a trigger for you to lift up Scott, Miki, Carly and Ava to our heavenly Father.
Also, you can visit their CaringBridge site above and see Carly's whole story. While you are there, why don't you leave them a message of encouragement on their guestbook.
And checkback in a couple of days--to see what we can do for Carly and her family.