Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Narrow Road

It's back.  For the third time in less than three years, we heard the word no parent should ever have to hear.  No child should ever have to hear.  No one should ever have to hear.  Cancer.

We have traveled this road since January 2014.  It has been long.  It has been difficult, yet by the grace of God we pressed on.  Through initial diagnosis and its challenges.  Through relapse and its uncertainties.  Through a bone marrow transplant and its aftermath.  We hit bump after bump after bump, yet we continued to push forward.  Paige was getting stronger every day.  There were plans to return to school.  Our family had started to experience the tiniest sliver of normalcy--when we encountered the biggest, most devastating road block thus far.

Last Thursday started out simple enough.  The kiddos slept in while I worked on a few things around the house.  We took in an afternoon movie.  It was great being able to hang out and do 'normal' things.  An early evening fever found us in the ER.  Sudden tightness in her chest meant an x-ray and subsequent CT scan.  The discovery of an all-but collapsed lung sent our girl to the operating room for placement of a chest tube, where they drained two liters of fluid.  Two liters.  A second collection chamber was attached to continue collecting the insane amount of fluid that had built up around Paige's lung, and we spent the rest of that night in the ICU.  Watching the clock.  Waiting on test results.  Hoping and praying our daughter had pneumonia or some kind of raging infection--just about anything other than what we were told a few hours later.

The leukemia is back.  After three aggressive rounds of chemo.  After radiation and still more chemo at transplant.  After donor cells created a brand new immune system to fight this stuff off.  One rogue cell (or more, I'm sure) hid out and initiated yet another attack on my daughter.  Out of nowhere, yet again.

Not only are we gearing up for a third battle with this monster called cancer, we are more limited as far as treatment options.  I've found myself describing this as a road that gets narrower with each diagnosis.
  • The first time around, we traveled a large highway.  If the medications in one 'lane' weren't well-received, we could always change lanes and try something else. 
  • Paige's first relapse detoured us to more of a two-lane road.  There were still some choices available, but the medications needed to be as aggressive as the leukemia.  
  • Relapse after a bone marrow transplant has placed us on an even narrower road.  There are not many medications our girl hasn't seen at this point.  However, her medical team is working diligently to put combinations together that we hope will attack the cancer cells without doing more damage to her already beaten-up body.
Over the last week, we have had conversations with doctors--and with our daughter--that have literally had us on the floor.  We have been angry.  We have been devastated.  But we are not giving up.  Her team is not giving up.  The odds may not look great, but God can still do a mighty work here.  He is here, and He isn't going anywhere.

Tonight I am praying for God's peace and calm assurance to wash over our entire family.  We need it more than ever.  I am praying that His mighty hands will heal my daughter.  She needs it desperately. And so we continue our journey down this narrow road, holding on to hope and asking God for a miracle.