Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - A Look Back Before Moving Forward

Hey there, 2014.  I know you're on your way out and everything, but I'd like to take a few moments to look back at the year that changed our lives forever.  It won't take too long, I promise.  There are parts I can't think about for too long, times I'd just as soon forget--though I know I never will.  Trust me, 2014, I'm as ready for you to get outta here as you are.  I just wanted to show you that you didn't get the best of this family.  Someone bigger and tougher has had our backs all along.


January.  Talk about starting the year off with a bang.  Paige's leukemia diagnosis rocked our family to the core.  Brought us to our knees like nothing we'd ever known.  Totally broken, I completely let go and turned the whole thing over to God.  He could control what I couldn't--and He did.  He gave me a peace that has sustained me from Day One.
Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you...  Psalm 55:22

February.  The reality of cancer hit hard.  Multiple chemotherapy treatments and procedures caused Paige's body to become significantly weaker--to the point of her knees buckling and sending her to the floor one day.  Her hair thinned more and more each day, devastating to a teenage girl.  Yet in the midst of all this reality stuff, Paige's attitude remained unchanged.  This, she told me, was "just life right now."  God was always right there to give Paige (and the rest of us) strength in difficult times.  He still is.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.   Philippians 4:13

March.  We rejoiced in the news that Paige's bone marrow, blood, and spinal fluid showed zero signs of cancer cells!  The giant mass on her chest--the monstrosity that set everything in motion--was also GONE!  Ten weeks into a journey of continuous prayer and unwavering faith--and Paige was officially in remission.  God was healing our girl.
And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.   
Matthew 21:22 

April.  Three months of intense chemo finally took their toll on Paige's once long and beautiful hair.  She decided it was time to let go the last strands of what she now referred to as her "old man biker hair."  The strength and courage she exhibited in that moment left me teary-eyed and speechless, but not surprised.  By that point, she'd realized God was always with her--whether it was through chemo or getting the rest of her hair shaved off.  We, on the other hand, realized this girl can rock the bald look!
...Be strong and courageous...for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.   Joshua 1:9

May.  We witnessed one of the scariest moments since the start of this journey.  A week after her first hospital stay for high-dose chemo, Paige experienced stroke-like symptoms--legs and feet that felt heavy, an arm unable to move, and speech so slurred it was difficult to make out anything she was saying.  A battery of tests, including an EKG, CT scan, and MRI, ruled out a stroke.  It turned out to be an extreme reaction from the previous week's chemo combination that called for an admission to the hospital for rescue medications and monitoring.  She rebounded quickly enough to go home just a couple of days later.  Those were some scary days, but God was in control the whole time.  He held Paige in His hands while holding the rest of us up.
So do not fear, for I am with you...I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.   Isaiah 41:10

June.  Due to some necessary adjustments in her treatment plan, it was a really good month for Paige.  Her body was tolerating the medications, she had sufficient time to rest and recover in between treatments, and she was able to be a kid.  For a girl who basically had to grow up overnight, this was a really big deal.  Hanging out with her friend.  Taking in a movie.  Fishing and swimming with the family.  It did wonders for her spirit, giving her a glimpse at great times to come.  She needed it.  We all did.
For I will restore health to you...   Jeremiah 30:17

July.  We discovered another downside in Paige's treatment regimen.  Steroid therapy did a number on her bones, weakening them to the point where a seemingly painless slip resulted in a fracture in her right fibula.  This girl was in pain day and night until we were able to get a medication schedule that would give her some relief.  A walking boot--which she later 'Paige-ified' with plenty of bling--gave her much-needed stability to get up and around again.  I remained faithful in prayer, continuing to ask God to restore Paige's health, and thanked Him every day for the healing we were seeing.  As the days went by, I learned more and more what it meant to pray without ceasing.
Pray without ceasing...   1 Thessalonians 5:17

August.  This month brought Paige's birthday and the start of school--both done a little differently this year.  A bone density scan bright and early on the morning of her birthday combined with intense chemo a few days before meant a subdued day at home.  In remission, cancer-free.  Pretty great birthday gift.  Her first day of school a week or so later also went without the usual hoopla, as she was still receiving homebound instruction.  Bloodwork and a transfusion took the place of first-day photos, though rest assured--when she does return to school, this mom will be taking all the pictures Paige will allow!  Thankful for the hope given to us through Jesus, I can wait patiently for photo ops to come.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope.   Psalm 130:5

September.  Hospital admissions were the mainstay of this month.  Fevers and low ANC counts kept us at TCH more than we liked--yet I couldn't be more thankful that those were the only things keeping us there.  During one of our stays, Paige was in good enough shape to participate in a ribbon-tying ceremony commemorating Childhood Cancer Month.  She was also beyond excited to meet Dr. Jennifer Arnold--so excited she couldn't do much more than smile!  We finished out the month with the first of Paige's high-dose chemo 'make-up' administrations.  Like she had done so many times before, Paige faced it with strength and bravery that is just plain inspiring.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   Romans 12:12

October.  Our family was due for some fun.  Paige was in between hospital stays for chemo when The Sunshine Kids Foundation and former Houston Astro (and future Hall of Famer) Craig Biggio hosted their annual baseball party.  It was a day full of fun, complete with batting practice, a catered lunch, and even a swag bag--but the coolest part by far was seeing Paige's favorite baseball player ever visiting with (and joking around with) the families.  This special time--another glimpse at fun times to come--was just what she needed to carry her into the next round of treatments.
A joyful heart is good medicine...   Proverbs 17:22

November.  We crossed another bridge this month when Paige officially began the maintenance phase, which will last just under two years.  The medications during this time will work together to rid Paige's body of any tiny, hard-to-detect leukemia cells that may be lingering, waiting to cause trouble further down the road.  The journey is far from over, but we've hit a significant milestone.  It's time to press on toward that finish line!
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.   
Romans 8:25

December.  God has met our needs in so many ways this year.  Physical needs have been met through the day-by-day restoration of Paige's health, most recently with the completion of her radiation treatments.  Emotional needs have been met through peace and calm assurance only He can provide.  Financial needs have been met time and time again.  In the meantime, God, who is always faithful, continues His work in our lives.  Our trust, our hope, our everything--is in Him.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.   Philippians 4:19


Well, 2014...there you have it.  It's been quite the year, but you didn't get the best of us.  We are still standing.  Standing on faith and hopeful for the future that God has planned for us.  Feel free to get on outta here now.  

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