Sunday, June 28, 2015

Clothed in Strength & Dignity

What a difference a year makes.  I find myself saying that quite a bit these days.  Paige's health is being restored every day--her hair is even starting to make a comeback.  Her smile--that amazingly beautiful smile--shines bright with incredible hope for the future.

If you've followed our story for long, you know Paige has kept a smile on her face throughout this journey.  Yes, sometimes it was a "smile on demand" as she likes to call it--but a smile nonetheless.  That smile represents incredible strength, courage, and hope that can only be found in God.  I fully believe He has equipped this girl with every bit of physical, mental, and spiritual strength she has needed for this journey.  Recently we've caught a few glimpses of the independent, fearless girl we once knew slowly making her way back to us.  It's pretty awesome to behold.

Three weeks ago, Paige joined 27 other Sunshine Kids teens--with staff and medical reps, but without parents--on a Texas Hill Country Adventure.  Talk about getting back into that independent mode!  They were treated to a week of fun, fellowship, and fantastic experiences.  What a way to celebrate the work being done in all of these incredible kiddos!  It's said a picture is worth a thousand words.  Take a look at just a few images from that might find there simply aren't enough words.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Counting our Blessings

It's been a while since I've had some time to write--or think--or just breathe.  May was a busy, busy month.  Paige had clinic visits, chemo, follow-ups to the 'Freaky Friday' reaction, and a lingering spinal headache from her most recent lumbar puncture--and that's just the medical part.  She also had end-of-year projects, state assessments, and final exams to complete.  Since we're still working on building stamina back up, you might guess she was pretty exhausted--I was right there with her. As a technology specialist, the last month of the school year is one of my busiest, craziest times.  Awards, inventory, and equipment collection are just a few of the items on my To Do List.  Did I get it all done?  Nope.  I'll be working on a few things over the next few weeks to get as caught up as possible--and I'm okay with that.  The list will always be there.  We all have one, and the tasks seem to multiply exponentially sometimes.  But it's okay.  Sometimes we need to push that list to the side, take a breath, and count the abundant blessings in our lives.

Seventeen months ago, we had a very sick girl on our hands.  Four phases of intense chemo treatments slammed Paige's body in such a way that there were times she needed help simply getting up from the couch.  Fast forward to this spring, when the same girl discovered she could walk the halls of her high school and even climb a flight or two of stairs without becoming completely exhausted.  She was given a key to use the school's elevator as needed, yet she pushed herself to use the stairs every day--moving a bit slower than her peers, but moving nonetheless.  Blessing counted.

Just over six months ago, Paige received radiation to her brain. Yes, her brain.  Radiation and lumbar punctures (that replace small amounts of spinal fluid with chemo) combine to form a kind of preemptive strike against any leukemia cells that may try to sneak their way into another part of the body.  Though the appointments and actual radiation doses were quick, the fatigue, headaches, and a "foggy brain" remained with Paige well beyond the two weeks of treatment.  These lingering effects threw a wrench into her first few months back at school--the girl was exhausted.  Did that stop this fighter from completing her freshman year with all A's--in rigorous Advanced Placement and Pre-Advanced Placement classes, no less?  Not on your life!  Paige rocked her state assessments and finals, finishing out the year on quite the high note.  Another blessing counted.

About a month ago, our family was asked to join five other families from our clinic on a special retreat.  A wonderful couple--whose contributions to TCH are quite high in number--welcomed us all to their 2,500-acre ranch outside San Antonio.  For three days, we unplugged from the busy-ness of clinic, chemo, and counts.  We enjoyed a variety of entertainment, ate some of the best food around, formed new friendships, and made memories that will last the rest of our lives.  Our breathtaking surroundings provided a sense of peace that every single person there really needed--and deserved--to experience.  Many, many more blessings counted.

Are there more blessings to count?  Absolutely--and I thank God for them every single day.  I am blessed to see healing being done in my daughter.  I am blessed with an incredible family that has grown even closer through this journey.  I've got to say--this is one list I don't mind getting bigger.  Take a few moments to reflect upon and give thanks for the incredible life you've been given--with all its ups and downs.  I suspect you'll find discover plenty of ways you yourself have been blessed!

Every good and perfect gift is from above...   James 1:17