Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One Year Ago Today...

...Bree was diagnosed with cancer. Forgive me while I go back down memory lane. I want Breezy to know the details of that day one year ago, so she knows how special she is.

I can honestly say, it was the worst day of my life. I can remember it so clearly in my head. Justin, Bree & I had just got home from a cruise to the Caribbean. It was a Monday. I was doing mountains of laundry from our trip. I had missed my boys. It was so good to be back with them. We were playing silly games, reading books and I was just enjoying being with them again.


That morning, I called our pediatrician to get an appointment for him to look at the bruises under Bree’s eyes. They had come and gone for about 3 weeks and I remember wondering why they weren’t going away. Originally, I had thought she got hit in the head by one of her brothers (naturally) and they would eventually disappear. While we were on our cruise, the bruises seemed to fade a little. By the end of the week, they were coming back, only a little darker. Looking back at this, I can say these bruises were a miracle. Had they not shown up, who knows how long it would have taken to diagnose and treat her. Anyway...on to the Dr's visit...


Our appointment was one of the last ones of the day, around 4pm. I remember taking all of my kids to the doctor’s office, thinking we’d be in and out and back home in time for dinner. Justin happened to be working near the doctor’s office and decided to come by to lend a hand with all the kids.


Originally, our Dr said that he felt that one kidney seemed larger than the other and that she should probably have a ultrasound done. So, we headed home with the intent to make an appointment for an ultrasound later in the week. However, on my way home, the Dr called us and told us he had a feeling that didn’t sit right with him so he called a specialist and was told that we should go straight over to the ER and have a catscan of Bree’s tummy, just to rule out anything serious. I was a little annoyed because I really just wanted to be back home as a family again. Looking back, I feel so naive. I thought everything was going to be fine…that they’d say she just had some trauma to her nose from an injury from one of her brothers. I felt bad later that I kind-of blamed the bruising on the boys.


We were seen fairly quickly at the ER. She was given a catscan and we had the results sooner than I thought. I remember the darkness of the room when the ER doctor told us it was cancer. He said ‘neuro…something’. I had no idea what he was talking about. He was rambling on about something about our genetic make-up, wait, did he really just tell me that my daughter has cancer? She has a tumor inside her perfect body? “But, there’s nothing wrong with her”, I said, “she’s not sick. She's perfect. How can this be happening?”


As he left the room, Justin and I just sobbed. We held each other as I held Bree. She was sleeping so sweetly in my arms. I began to feel this incredible weight on my shoulders. I didn’t know what was ahead of me, but I knew right then that I needed to be strong for Bree. This was the time when I needed to carry her through this. And even more, I needed the Lord to carry me.


I remember Dr. Shah (the first oncologist we met) telling us about her type of cancer. Neuroblastoma. It took me a week to pronounce it correctly. I remember his look of concern. A look like he wanted to get her better. He was genuinely concerned for our daughter. That made me feel a little better. He sat with us and answered our millions of questions. I was still so shocked that we were here. The ER, hearing again those words your daughter has cancer. She needs surgery immediately.”


I remember walking through the hall from the ER to the Pediatric Oncology Unit to Bree’s hospital room that night. I remember the clothes I wore, the necklace, my earrings. I had tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t look at the nurses as I walked by. I was in disbelief. I remember asking if I could take her home. Give her one good night at home in her bed. She’d been sleeping in a closet on a cruise ship for the past week for Heaven’s sake.


Both of our parents were there. We all just sat and cried. We all just held one another. I remember our first night nurse, Joy, explaining some different things to us about childhood cancer. It seemed everyone just kept asking her questions. I was quiet. Still in shock.


That night I didn’t sleep. I laid down on the fold out couch and kept thinking this was a nightmare. That I'd wake up and be home with my boys and my biggest worry would be what I was going to make everyone for breakfast. Instead I opened my eyes to the cold hospital room, the steel bed where Bree was sleeping. The sounds of beeping IV poles. The realization hit me that we might be here for a long time.


As the sun came up the next day, suddenly our room was the busiest room on the floor. I couldn’t remember who was who…oncologists, surgeons, nurses, social work, grief counseling, etc. Everyone handed me their card and said their piece, then left again. Bree was scheduled for surgery that very morning. I remember our first day nurse Leslie, writing out the day’s checklist, which included a broviac placement, exploratory surgery and determination of what stage her cancer was. She drew us a picture to help us understand and was really sweet. Later I would come to adore these nurses that tended to Bree so many times.


Today, one year later, as I sit at my house, typing away, I watch Bree walk around, happy as can be. I look at her beautiful face, her platinum blond hair, admire her sassy personality. I smile to myself. I had no idea one year ago she would have endured 8 rounds of chemo, 13 hospital stays, 2 abdominal surgeries, 1 broviac central iv line, 3 bacterial infections, 60+ neupogen shots in her legs, countless fevers, 4 months with NG tubes & feedings, 4 blood transfusions, weekly doctor appointments, weekly blood draws, catscans, bonescans, MRIs & bone marrow biopsies. It was months and months and hours and hours of hoping, fasting and praying that she would win her fight with cancer.


Well, she did. She won!!What a year it has been! Our family has been so blessed. We have felt so loved and supported by friends and strangers alike. The thousands of prayers offered for Bree gave us confidence that despite our family’s weaknesses, God would bless Bree. We are so grateful to the Lord for answering our prayers…your prayers. What comfort to know that “…all flesh is in mine hands, be still, and know that I am God.”


To our sweet Bree,

We love you so much, always know that you are a daughter of God and He has healed you and has preserved your life so you can glorify His name. You have important work to do here on earth. Your brothers adore you, your mommy thinks you're perfect and your daddy…well you have him wrapped around your beautiful little fingersJ. There is a sweetness about you that everyone sees. You have a darling smile, the cutest laugh we've ever heard, and an independent mind. You are not even 2, and already you run the house! I am so grateful to have you as my daughter. Even though you won't remember this past year, I will never forget what you went through. You are strong. You are loved by so many. I adore you sweet girl. You are our Easy Breezy!

Love, Mom & Dad



29 comments:

the bates motel said...

my eyes are filled w/ tears. your such an inspiration and example. i'm so glad bree made it thru her crazy journey. she is such a cutie. what a year you guys had! so grateful for the lord and his hand in bree's success :)! love you guys!

Marie said...

Wow Kari, what a year you've been through! I am so glad she's in remission. Your family has been in my prayers since I heard about Bree's cancer. You have a beautiful family!!

Gina and David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gina and David said...

Your post came on a day when I just felt I had enough. My little Noah was cranky all day, the house is a mess and I just felt I couldn't take anymore. Then, I read your post and realize I can and will take more and I'll do it with a smile on my face and who cares about the popcorn smashed into the carpet, the dogs will eat it! :o) Thank you for the reminder to count our blessings. You have a special little girl there. What a fighter. So happy for your sweet family.

brownymama said...

Do you take pleasure from making me cry? I had a great morning... then this afternoon I turned into a grump. Spilled milk, fighting, whining over homework, etc. Then I read this and now, well, things are in perspective again. So I'll get over my bad mood and go kiss my sweet kids, so grateful for my strong niece that reminds me so often, of so many things. (:

dustin and amy said...

We are happy for you guys you beat it and she did win, you all did. What a journey. We love you!

Chelsey said...

She's got her mother's toughness and sassy attitude. wonderful post that puts so much in perspective. We still need to get together. And soon because I think we're moving next month.

Steph said...

I'm so sorry. . . I'm so grateful. . . I understand, but of course I don't. . . my heart is so tender towards you and all you've been through. Such hard, hard things, but all for a purpose we just can't always understand, of course. You are all great examples. I know Bree is here for a reason. I'm so glad she is doing so well! I still pray for that cancer to never come back. We love you!

Scott+Tiffany said...

What an incredible family I got to marry into! You guys have had a rough year and I'm so happy for you that it's over! I can only hope to be as cute a mom as you someday. Love you all!

Nash said...

this was so precious to read.
so grateful that it is behind you.
i thought you might be interested (or it may bring too many memories back i don't know) to read about a 6 yr old who just found out he has leukemia.
he's a nephew of an old friend in Rexburg. his mom writes on a blog all of their experiences.
ironmanjace.blogspot.com.
her words are uplifting and honest.

Andréa Morrow said...

Wonderful! I'm so glad you guys have made it this far and get to continue on for the rest of her life! Going down memory lane is healthy to do once a year :)

LanaBanana said...

Whew. Definitely teared up during that one. I remember the pictures from her first day of chemo---wasn't it on Halloween? I remember that she wore a costume and I couldn't believe that was how she had to spend her first Halloween. You've been so brave and inspiring for me this past year. I'm so glad that this "one year later" post has such a happy ending. :)

Sommer said...

beautiful! what a strong and amazing little family.

Holly Schwendiman said...

Kari I'm so grateful you shared this. Sometimes the silver linings are hard to find, especially with cancer. We love you, Justin and your family so much. Hope you are all doing well.

Hugs,
Holly

The Maxwell Family said...

What an inspiring story! Our prayers were with you all the way. We are so happy Bree is doing so well.

Jason and Kate said...

Definitely a tear jerker! We are so glad that Bree came out on top. She is adorable!

The Wiser Side said...

My eyes too are filled with tears. While reading it-there were so many amazing blessings-your peditrician-wow! We love your family-thank you for sharing this.

The Taylor's said...

Kari- You don't know me, but tonight I feel it necessary to let you know that I happened across your blog several months ago while you were in the middle of your battle with Bree. I instantly found a connection with you as my sweet daughter was fighting a similar battle with Leukemia. My daughter was diagnosed at 18 months old on Oct. 1- we too just hit our year mark, but our treatment battle will continue for another year and a quarter. I am thrilled for Bree & celebrate with your family. Very few of us understand all that is involved in situations like these, but triumph has a whole new meaning as does the gift of life. I have tears of joy for you because I know how much a mother's heart yearns for this. You have a beatiful family. Natalie

Morris Mama said...

What a beautiful post! What a miracle little Bree is! She is destined for amazing things!

Rachel said...

Most of us never want to be stretched the way the Lord stretched you this past year. You have been such a great example of faith. I hope we get to see you sometime soon!

Clay's gal said...

You have me balling like a baby Kari! We are so very happy for your family! Bree is a beautiful little girl! Thanks for sharing her story! Someday I will have to share an experience with you that we had with Bella in the hospital.Love you guys!

Nuestra Familia said...

Bree is so strong and amazing, she has endured so much. She is so blessed to have you, you are wonderful parents, great example to us. She is a little angel girl and miss beautiful. Love you guys!

Amy Lemmermann said...

Thanks for sharing all of your experiences and feelings with us over the year, everyone who has followed along could not help but be touched. you guys are amazing!

The Reed Family said...

I just re-read this and balled all over again. I love you so much my dear sister. And oh, how we love your sweet Bree. I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for our answered prayers. What a testimony of faith and courage. You and Justin will continue to inspire me to be better, to be thankful and to believe in MIRACLES. I love you!!!!

Aimee's Family Journal said...

Sheesh. I cant see through my makeup! Thank you for that amazing testimony you chared. Thank you so much, for teaching me so much this year!

Kelly said...

Love you guys! And are so happy Bree is growing and a healthy baby girl! (Big girl) Hope you have a better week this week! :)

Ben & Heather said...

You, your family and story have been such an inspiration to me and mine. Thank you for sharing.

Kelli said...

It has been such an amazing year for you all. I have tears of joy! What an incredible story and what an example of FAITH, Courage and HOPE! You are a true example to me. Thank you for sharing such 'sweetness' with me. I just LOVE you!

Melissa Bosen said...

I think all of us reading this post try to imagine our own little families going through something so devastating...it's unbearable. Thank you for your example of enduring to the end.
Did I tell you that I miss you?
We need to get Carrie with us for lunch soon, but this month is already too busy I'm sure. Leave a Saturday lunch open in January okay?