As many of you know last Monday the 18th we got the discouraging news that one of Bree’s tests still was positive for cancer. Last Friday she went in for a two hour surgery to remove the last bit of the tumor in her abdomen that showed up on the scans. They then ran tests to determine if the tumor was active or not.
Two days ago, May 27th, Dr. Williams came in to our hospital room and told us that Bree’s tumor biopsy showed no active cancer cells were found! That was the news we were hoping to hear. What a blessing. That same morning Bree’s 5 oncologists plus the radiologists, pathologists and nurse practioners met together for a ‘Tumor Board” where they discuss what is next etc. As a group they unanimously agreed that Bree has shown a complete response (CR) to the treatment she’s received. Yea!!! They declared her to be in remission now! No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you! Yes, REMISSION!!!!!
When he told us this news, Justin and I just basically sat there with our jaws dropped on the floor. We didn’t even know that would be an option at this time. We thought at best they would say to “observe” and at worst recommend a bone marrow transplant. We were almost in disbelief because she still had the MRD bone marrow test show positive for neuroblast cells that previous Monday.
To explain in more detail about the MRD test, it is a new test that has been developed in the last 2 years. It hasn't been in a lot of research yet but it is a good tool to have. It tests for any neuroblast in her body. The doctor explained to us that since her tumor biopsy showed that there are no active cells, this could mean that the neuroblast cells that showed up in the first place could be slowly dying or are on their way to dying, yet will still show up because the test just looks for any neuroblast cell, whether it be active or slowly dying. Hopefully that makes sense. Over the next year, she'll be closely monitored. She'll have blood work done every month as well as an MRI and bone marrow aspiration (biopsy) done every 3 months. And the theory is that we will see a negative MRD test in the next year because the neuroblast cells that showed in the test are on their way to dying.
Initially Justin and I weren’t sure how to react. We were a bit guarded due to the MRD results explained above and because they don’t consider the cancer cured for two years. Our fears are real and valid but we decided to live by the Savior's words when he lovingly told “Doubting” Thomas “be not faithless, but believing” (John 20:27). We are so grateful to our Heavenly Father that he intervened on our behalf and restored Bree to health. We believe that He has granted us this blessing because little Breezy has a lot to teach us and a lot of good to do on this earth!
Right after we were told the news we took Bree for a walk to her favorite spot at the hospital, the trains, and we called our parents and family members. As we were talking to people, it started to become more real. It started to set in…Remission. She’s finished. Done. No more chemo. No more hospital stays. No more pokes (at least for 3 months at a time). But, now she’s finished with treatment. Wow, that feels so good to say.
Before her surgery, posing with Daddy.
A quick picture with Mommy before they took her away to surgery.
Coming out of her surgery. She did so great!
Showing off her owie...4 inch incision. She's so tough.
This is the smile I got when I told her the yucky tumor was gone and no more owies!
A quick pose as a family on our last day at the hospital. The boys came to celebrate Bree being finished with her treatment. The nurses at Banner Children's do a wonderful ceremony when a child completes their chemotherapy treatment. I will do a separate post on this later.
We wanted to say thank you to all our doctors & nurses for taking such great care of our sweet Breezy so many times. I have come to develop great relationships with these wonderful people. Our nurses are the best around. We love all of you and will miss seeing you on such a constant basis, but will come back to visit often. (But, sorry, no more sleepovers. :)) Thank you to our doctors (Dr's Shah, Panchoosihgn, Abella & Williams) who work non-stop, who dedicate so much time and energy into fighting and beating cancer. We are so grateful to you all!
Thank you to our family and the wonderful friends and readers of our blog who have touched our hearts with your comments. You have lifted us in ways you will never know. Thank you for the sweet gestures of love and compassion. Meals dropped off, flowers brought, gift baskets, visits at the hospitals, watching our kids, bows and toys for Bree, notes of encouragement and the list goes on. We love you and YOU have lifted us, so thank you!
We are so indebted to our Heavenly Father who has been with us every step of the way. We thank the Lord for this great blessing. Words are just not enough to express our feelings. We are thankful for His tender mercies, the miracles we've experienced, the Spirit that has been with us. There have been so many nights that I have spent over these past 7 months that I have felt the Savior pick me up and carry me through this. I'm not saying this was easy by any means, I just know that with the help of our Savior, He got us through it. I know He has been with Bree through her surgeries and times when she has felt sick, afraid or alone. His children are so precious and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be a Mommy to my kids.
Lastly, I wanted to tell my husband how thankful I am for him. He has been such a wonderful husband, father and friend through all of this. He's been the one I lean on, who I depend on when I've been at the hospital for several days at a time. He's been the one to help me, calm me down and let me talk things out when I thought I couldn't take it anymore. We've leaned on each other through this entire journey and I love him so much for showing me courage, perserverance and faith in our Heavenly Father.
And now the cancer-free party planning has begun! Details to follow! Our love to all!!