Am I really here and not there?
I woke up early this morning to prepare Allie for competition and could not believe that I was here and not there. What a long day yesterday was for me. From rounds, to meetings, to the airport, to the plane, to the other airport, to the hotel, to Target (yeah!), to the hotel, to wrestling throat lozenges down my kids throats, to tucking them into bed (with hospital masks on), to sitting down and realizing I was here and not there. Whew! I could not sleep. I sat and stared at two of the most amazing people I have ever known. They slept and I cried. They slept and I prayed. They slept and dreamed of days when we would all be back together again.
Both Blake and Allison are very, very sick. They have high temps, horrible coughs, no energy, congested noses, and achy bodies. They just feel yucky and I wish I could make them feel better. They have never been this sick before, but they have never been in school before either. I had home schooled since Blake was 2 years old and this is their first year in school with other students. They are just passing it around to each other and Blake was one of eight students out of class on Friday. The thing that concerns me about witnessing this is that in yesterdays meeting our oncologist told us that we would become very close with our school nurse. Once Ash moves home if there are students in their school who are out because of illness then we will have to be notified and our kids will not attend school that day in order to protect Ashley. Life is going to be very different for a while once she comes home. She is just so fragile that we must take extra precautions to protect her.
Monday will be the beginning of a tough road for us in Ashley's recovery. She will go down to surgery to have a permanent line placed in which to run her chemo through. Then she will go through an exam that is a lot like a CT but it will be of her entire body and they will place a dye inside of her to make any "hot spots" show up. The hot spots will be places where the cancer cells are growing. We know of 4 tumors in her lungs and since we know there are 4 it is believed that there are probably others that were just too small to show up under conventional CT. We need to identify the hot spots so we can monitor how well the chemo is killing them. After a couple of other tests they will begin her first round of chemotherapy. We expect her to become very weak and very nauseated as a result of the chemo, but they told us they have a very effective drug they use to try and control the vomiting. I have no idea what will happen to her feeding situation. I pray that we do not lose ground in this area as a result. I pray that she will not pick up any type of infections while we are suppressing her immune system even more. She will be in total isolation and we will expose her to as few people as possible during this time. If all goes well during this first round of chemo then we will attempt to get her out of the hospital as soon as we can. We will have to stay for 3 weeks and then if no setbacks occur and she tolerates it well they will have us go to our apartment. We will stay for the next round and do it on an out patient basis. If all continues to be well and she maintains her full feeds, no infections, no viruses, and her fluid balance then they will allow us to bring her home to Texas. We will complete the remainder of our 18 week course in Dallas or Houston on an out patient basis. As frightening as the chemo and the effects of the drugs are we are in agreement with our transplant team that we must attack the cancer quickly and not risk going into rejection. If Ashley's bowel goes into rejection then we will lose our battle and this is not a risk we are willing to take. The bowel does not recover from rejection like the liver does. If we lose it then we have lost it all. I know in my heart that God has done amazing things inside Ashley's body in preparation for us to fight this cancer. Things have occurred that are no doubt without explanation other than knowing that it was His hand and Him alone that have accomplished them. In the end of this journey our prayer is that God will be seen all over Ashley's story and that no other explanation will be possible except that He had a plan for our daughter and our family through each and every chapter.
I did share with the kids that Ash has some bad cells called cancer in her lungs and that they look like little dots. I told them we were starting a new medicine on Monday to try and kill them. I asked them to pray about the spots and to pray that all would go well so that Ash and I might come home soon. We did not go into any more detail than that. I do not want to scare them or to burden them, but at the same time we feel like we need to be the ones who share with them about it. My fear was that they would hear about it from someone at school or church and I did not want them to feel as though we had hidden things from them. I think they understood and took the news very well. Please pray for Blake and Allie too. They carry HUGE burdens on their hearts everyday and it is not easy to have Ash and I living so far away. Unfortunately they will not be able to visit Ash during this first round of chemo. They have not seen her in 4 weeks and they will not be able to be around her for at least 3 or 4 more. This is not going to be easy. They miss her so very much.
I apologize for the length of this post. I understand if I have lost some of you along the way. I still have so much more I could share about this next chapter in my Ashley's story, but the important thing I would like you to know is this: We are not angry. We are not bitter. We are not backing down from this. God is good. He is faithful. He has a plan for our baby and we believe that He will use this cancer in her life for a purpose. The fact that we can not see it right now does not weaken our faith in knowing it is there. Ash is strong and she is amazing. She can do this and I will be there holding her through each and every moment. Thank you for your prayers. They are the most treasured gift during this time in our lives. We love our Ashley and we believe in her. Take care and may you enjoy a weekend full of rest. Trish