I knew this new part of Ashley's story, the part that includes the cancer, would be difficult. The fear of the unknown, the stigma of the disease itself, the treatment(chemotherapy), the battle against the invading cells, the knowledge that once it was discovered in her body she will face it for her lifetime, and the wondering if she will be stronger than it is, are all difficult for Dave and I as parents. As difficult as all of this is on us it pales in comparison to the difficulties it brings to our Ashley. We are in the 3rd day of the first cycle and it is tough. Our Ashley is struggling. She aches, she hurts, she sweats, she can't sleep, she is confused. The high level of steroid is making her miserable. For the first 5 days of all 6 cycles she will be given this incredibly high dose. Ash is trying to cope with how she feels. She is crying constantly and screaming if I am not holding her. She will not allow anyone else to touch her or hold her. She is digging her thumbs into her eyes and pulling out her hair. She is tearing off her ostomy bag and pulling off her leads. She just doesn't understand why she feels so bad.
My coping mechanism at this point is: Diet Coke(yes, after being 6 weeks free from my drug of choice it has reared its ugly head back into my life, and I really don't care.) and Chocolate.
I cry with Ash while she cries. I cry for Ash while she drifts off to sleep. I cry for Ash as I dream of better days where she feels like playing with the baby in the mirror again. I cry and hope and pray that we will learn to cope with all that is going to happen to her in the next 18 weeks. When I think of how long this cycle of chemotherapy is it makes me cry even more. 126 days. We have to make it 126 days. She has to deal with all of this for 126 days. She has to stay free from infection and illness for 126 days. She has to beat this cancer for 126 days and then we will move on.
How I wish that cancer and transplant related issues where all that we were battling right now. Our list of "must deal withs" is long and seems to be getting longer and longer everyday. In the midst of all that goes on in Ashley's story real life continues for our family back home and as you all know real life is just that. It isn't always easy. It doesn't always go the way you had hoped or planned. The underlying reason that we are able to continue is this: We believe that He has a plan for our Ashley, for our Blake, for our Allie, for our family. Even though we may be caught off gaurd or caught by surprise I believe that He is not. We will learn to cope with all the changes, the tough days, and the time we are forced to spend apart. Thank you for lifting our family up in prayer. It means so very much.