Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Honest Reflections

As I ponder about the last few months a few words come to my mind.  These words are joy, blessings, happiness, sadness, frustration, overwhelming and isolation.  These words convey a mixture of realities for our family.  I am sure we all face similar emotions in our families, but the difference for our reality is that they are all controlled by one facet.  It is the journey of walking hand to hand with your son as he faces a brave walk with cancer.  It is the moments such as observing our children hug and share how much they love each other that bring us joy and happiness.  It is in the moments that my children look to me and tell me I am the best mommy ever and that they love me sooooo much that brings me happiness.  We love the moments we get as a family to run around in our backyard using our imaginations and going for simple walks together to adore and walk in amazement in God’s miraculous creation.  Over the last few months since my last post we had a joyous occasion participating in camp Trillium.  Our children were entertained with our “special friends” whom we appreciated bringing smiles to our children’s faces.  Mike and I had the entire weekend while at camp Trillium to reconnect and spend time together while each of our children were with their “special friend.”  I was reminded once again why I love my husband and fell in love with him 11 years ago.  During one of our evenings together for a walk listening to the sounds of the night and chatting amongst ourselves we happened across another couple.  This couple shares in our love of the Lord and daily walk in faith while their daughter battles cancer.  This couple amazed us at their strength and faith in Jesus Christ and this glow radiated all through them.  We were glad to have met our new found friends and family in Christ.  We look forward to getting to know them more though there is a great kilometres between us.  I am glad for e-mail, phones, facebook and an occasional visit to keep in touch.

Our family was booked for Disney over the thanksgiving weekend, but this trip was soon cancelled after Gabriel spiked a fever.  We were saddened and frustrated that our trip to escape our reality for seven days has now been put on hold.  We were admitted to hospital for four days over thanksgiving weekend.  However, we enjoyed a lavish thanksgiving spread from turkey to amazing desserts.  This meal was generously donated by families who share this journey and volunteers of Childcan.  We thank this organization for sometimes the unrecognized giving you provide to families during a difficult time in our lives.  Our trip will be rescheduled once Gabriel’s counts are stabilized and once most viruses lay dormant so that a plane trip is less infectious.

Gabriel began his first experience of school routines in the world of education when he began senior kindergarten in September at a private school.  We are happy that we chose this school as Gabriel’s class has a total of seven children and no more than 100 children in his school.  The risk for infections is less compared to a larger school, so we are less concerned.  However, there is always a risk when he is in the community around other children, but we trust the Lord to protect him from serious infections.  His school has been extremely supportive and caring.  Gabriel has shown such growth in confidence.  He continues to amaze me as he shows such sensitivity, love, and generosity at such an early age.  His walk with cancer may have robbed him of some of his childhood, but it has not taken away the spirit of gratitude that God continues to teach him.  He is an honourable little boy whom God will have great things for him one day. 
 Gabriel is busy learning to skate and swim on the weekends and Monday evenings.  He loves sports and does bring out his competitiveness.  The process of signing Gabriel up in activities involves the same as we did for school.  It is never an easy process as it takes meetings and letters to all parents.  I am sure many ask why we bother if there is a risk to Gabriel.  My response to this statement is that mental health is just as important as physical health.  I cannot and will not limit Gabriel’s growth.  I want him to experience life.  I don’t want this disease to debilitate his mind.  I want him to have fun and gain confidence in himself.  I don’t want cancer controlling all elements of his life.

Simone is busy participating in swimming and ballet on the weekends.  She loves ballet and calls this her school.  My little girl is gracious, kind and loving.  Simone seeks to ensure that people who are sad are lifted up with a smile, words of encouragement and a hug.  She brings me to tears when I see such innate beauty that can only be a true gift from our heavenly Father.  She teaches me so much at such an early age. 

Yasmine is growing so much.  She is such a content and spirited child.  She loves to seek out her siblings to spend time and laugh with them.  I am excited to see what she continues to become and know that will be of great things because our heavenly Father instills great things.  We are made in His image, which means we can aspire to do great things through Him and for His glory. 

Mike and I have come to know this journey as one that takes an appreciation of the day to day.  There are moments when life is hard, sad and overwhelming and we find that every ounce of us has been drained.  It is those days that anger surfaces and finds its way to each other.  These days tend to align with long days at the hospital for lumbar punctures.  These days are hard as I watch my child be put to sleep knowing he is receiving chemo in his spine to prevent cancer.  Mike and I have come to appreciate that arguing about superficial and inconsequential attributes of life does not matter.  We try to seek compromises to such inevitabilities of life.  This journey has cemented our love and I am blessed for that.  It is not the particular method that I would have liked to have cemented our love, but I try to find the roses amongst the thorns. 

Mike and I sadly made a decision recently to stop attending our church based upon the increased risk to Gabriel.  During our short time back our family has been exposed to hepatitis, shingles, and chicken pox.  Mike and I made the decision to continue instruction at home together as a family.  In addition, Mike and I are looking forward to starting back at our home church.  I am also reminded that everything is in God’s timing.  The first day back to home church for Mike and I begins with the series topic called “suffering and the hard questions of life.”  This topic is the very topic that Mike and I struggle with each day as we walk hand in hand with our son who is fighting cancer.  We are thankful to Grandpa and Grandma Smith for kindly babysitting our children while Mike and I attend.  We thank you for your love and support.

Mike and I share sadness when we think of the friends that we have lost or have withdrawn from us.  This journey has brought much restriction, limitations and has taken a lot of our life.  We know there are friends who have struggled with knowing that a child has cancer, there are others that have not understood when we have had to cancel as a result of this journey and others simply by ignoring the very nature of this disease and just don’t want to acknowledge the journey we are on.  We have always put our family first, but since Gabriel’s diagnosis we have done so even more.  We want to thank those who have stayed by our side even when we could not devote a lot of time and had to cancel.  We value your friendship and we love you all. 

To our families…we love you and thank you for your unconditional love and support.  This journey has been made lighter as a result of your care and ability to leave all your expectations of us behind. 

We have not been able to be all things to all people, but I hope that one day we will be able to be there for you no matter who you are and the differences in the past.  Life is too short to carry burdens, pain and bitterness.  My goal is to continue learning how to emulate Jesus’ love and grace for all people.

Gabriel’s Treatment

Treatment has been frustrating and overwhelming.  Gabriel has been off of chemo four times as a result of viruses and his immune system dropping.  During maintenance counts are to be stabilized.  However, Gabriel’s immune system has been bottoming out and poses a great risk of contracting even the slightest infection.  At this stage we are concerned about infections that pose a threat to his life based upon the difficulty in stabilizing his counts.  A particular reason why his immune system bottoms out is from the high risk protocol during the intensive phase.  Gabriel’s diagnosis with a translocation leukemia chromosome resulted in a high risk protocol that has caused his bone marrow to become tired.  His bone marrow reacts more quickly to chemotherapy and drops his counts after a certain phase of treatment.  Our Oncologists is still testing dosage levels to determine the right amount for Gabriel so that his counts will stabilize.

We continue to walk this journey with faith and love.  We have days where this journey is difficult, but I am reminded that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins.  Jesus underwent much pain so that I and everyone else who chooses him and follows will have eternal life.  I cannot fathom the pain that our heavenly Father was feeling the day his very own son died on the cross.  God realized that through his son’s death our lives can be renewed so that one day we can go to live with Him.   

I would like to end this blog with my thankfulness, prayers and a special poem written by a dear friend, sister-in-Christ and confidant.  Thank you Rosalind. You inspire my soul, give me ears to listen and encourage my heart.  In love always!

  1. That God is teaching me to appreciate each day for what it brings.
  2. Each of the beauty in my children.
  3. For friends who have stayed by our side when there were many times we could not give in return.
  4. For the unconditional love and support of our family.
  5. That Gabriel and our family was protected from chicken pox, shingles and hepatitis.
  6. For opportunities such as Camp Trillium.
  7. Meeting our family-in-Christ at camp Trillium.

Pray for:
  1. Gabriel to be CURED.
  2. Protection over Gabriel’s organs from potential risks of chemotherapy.
  3. Protection from serious infections and that Gabriel does not spike a fever that causes admittance.
  4. Counts to stabilize.
  5. No brain function damage from chemotherapy.
  6. Strength and peace for Mike and I.
  7. Growth in faith and walk with our heavenly Father.

This poem strikes my very thoughts concerning this journey that I am on as a mom to a child fighting cancer and the fears that I have concerning my other children.  These words touch ever cord and bring tears to my eyes every time I read it.  Beautiful poem Rosalind.

“No Answers Yet”
Mystery remains. Faith is necessary.
I step into that foothold even though a chasm stretches beneath me.
 I see as through a glass darkly. My eyes are dimm. I strain to no avail.
I have to trust, rest, listen to my heart. Listen to Yours. Rest in You.
 Like a seedling, awakening to warmth and light,
I reach towards what is right and good.
Trusting judgement, listening to that steady, still, small voice.
Trusting in goodness. Trusting Your Word
 Conditions, contrasting challenges, dark and light, turmoil and peace, right and wrong,
pain and comfort, injustice and justice, rejection and acceptance, work and rest.
I twist and turn, coiling, reaching upward, weaving through obstacles, grasping at handles.
I dig in deeper for sustenance. Rooting.
 Like a child quieted by a parents gentleness and loving care. I lean in and am held. Quieted.
 Darkness may envelop me but I am not lost.
 For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2Cor 5.7)

Thank you for spending a little time with our family even though it is through my blog. 
Blessings to you all,