TWO BIG PRAISES TODAY!!!
-Thank you all for praying specifically for Hazel's fever. The very next morning her fever broke and has not returned!!!!!!!!! Praise be to God!
-We received the results from the bone marrow biopsy: NEGATIVE!!!!!! It, so far, has not spread to the bone marrow!!!!!! The doctor told us that when we have the MIBG scan on Friday, these results can give us some hope that nothing will show up on her bones! Please pray that the scan can confirm!
We absolutely needed this news today because yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life. This was the day we got our full diagnosis. First let me say, God knew that this moment would be hard for us, and He orchestrated a support system for us to be there: my parents and the pastor of our church Todd Nighswonger. I could not have gotten through yesterday without their support, so thank you...
So, the official diagnosis is High-Risk, Stage 3 Neuroblastoma. It will take at least 18 months of treatment, plus surgery. It breaks my heart even typing it now. But from what the doctors told me, most cases they see here are almost always either Stage 3 or Stage 4, because this STINKY tumor doesn't show symptoms right away. We can take encouragement in the fact that they do deal with these all of the time, so they know what they are doing. And this specific type of cancer generally responds to treatment very well. They also told us several things about the tumor itself. First, it appears so far that the tumor has not spread to the surrounding organs, but is just pushing up against everything; which explains why Hazel is uncomfortable and has very little appetite. But we won't know about spread for sure until after the scan on Friday, so continue to pray for that scan specifically!
The doctors began to take us through our treatment schedule and began to explain how our life will look for the next 18 months. Essentially, the treatment will be broken down into 3 phases: 1) Induction 2)Consolidation and 3)Immunotherapy. Each stage will last about six months. In the induction phase, Hazel will receive 3 different types of Chemotherapy; A, B & C. Each round of Chemo will be given to her over the course of several days, and 3 weeks later (unless her blood levels show she's not ready) will receive the next round. The schedule will look like this: A, A, B, C, B, C. Near the end of this phase, she will have surgery to remove the tumor, assuming it has responded well to therapy. The doctor discussed all facets of this treatment, including tests that will be done, side effects, etc... The next phase, Consolidation, consists of more Chemotherapy and Radiation to attack any lingering cells. Immunotherapy consists of being injected will her own healthy stem cells, which they will remove from her body during the Induction phase and prepare it for this phase. The doctor then began to describe the side effects and long-term effects, and this was the moment when I could not take anymore. I felt sick to my stomach and I remember something one of the residents told me: "This process will move very fast, and if you ever need to take a minute and slow down, just say something". I mustered up enough strength to ask if this was information we needed to know at this moment, and he said no; so I asked to stop. I stepped into the bathroom, prepared to vomit, but fortunately, I did not. Aaron was wanting to find out more, so he went to another to continue asking questions.
Needless to say, this was devastating. But God was good, because at the very moment I needed her, Hazel began coming out of her morphine trip (she was on a lot after her surgery) and began perking up. She was smiling and talking, asking for crackers (first time in days!), and wanting to watch a movie. I just soaked this all up. Aaron came back from talking with the doctor, and gave me some very encouraging information. He had asked the doctor if there was any way to detect if this was the most aggressive kind of neuroblastoma, and the doctor said that there was, and he does not believe that is what we are dealing with with Hazel! Also, he said that the cells are more immature, which respond very well to treatment. Then Aaron asked if there are any statistics about how family life and support affect a child's success. The doctor said, absolutely. He believes we have the most ideal situation. He said we are the type of parents who are asking questions, advocating for our child, will be on top of treatments and will be responsible with her care. In addition, we have such a strong support system, and that will definitely play a large role :)
Although this day was extremely hard, I was constantly amazed by God showing us His hand in all of this. Firstly, I am absolutely humbled by the outpouring of support we have received. I have seen how quickly God has spread the word. This blog is being read all around the world, and people are praying for her like crazy! This is amazing! Also, Aaron and I have looked back on our lives over the last few years and can now see how God has been preparing us for this moment. He has put people in our lives that have been through what we are going through, and who have already proven to be such invaluable resources and supports. He has given us some surprise financial assistance before we even knew we were going to need. For example, we recently looked into buying a new home, but Aaron and I both felt led to re-finance instead. Had we purchased, I don't now what kind of situation we would be in right now. When re-financing our house, we were expecting a small amount of money back from escrow, but we ended up getting $5000 dollars! Lastly, God continues to send information from families all around who's child was diagnosed with this same kind of cancer. Each family so far have provided us stories of hope and survival, and I truly believe that it is no accident that God keeps covering Aaron and I with these.
Again, I am so sorry for such a long post, but I know these first days are so full of information; but as time goes on, we will become experts and adapt to our new routine, and the posts will begin to reflect that. Thank you all so much, from the bottom of our hearts, for being there with us is prayer and support! We love you!