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
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