Monday, January 23, 2012


Bravery

My son is often defined as a boy with great strength and bravery.   My son has recently lost his hair, which is the everyday reminder of this painful journey.  When my son had hair it helped me to block the thoughts and images that this journey brings to our family.  However, his hair is now gone, which I will be reminded every time I look at my precious son of what cancer has done to my family. 

Bravery is defined as “having or displaying courage, resolution, or daring; not cowardly or timid,” and so it this definition that describes the essence of my son’s response to cancer.  He may not understand the depth of what cancer is or can cause, but he has chosen to respond in a way that is beyond his own understanding.  My son undertakes this journey with grace, strength and perseverance.  My son does not scream, my son does not shake, my son does not hide, my son just looks at me and grips my hands and says, “mommy, I am scared, but I know this will be done soon.”  He faces this pain with the only word that summarizes all that he has had to become-brave.  It is not the fact that he has cancer that makes my son brave.  It is his innate nature of how he responds to this terrible adversity.  He is admirable at a very young age, and he is my greatest hero.  I may experience this pain as a mom, which is a pain unlike any pain in this world.  However, when I look at my son he reminds me that as a family united we can conquer this journey together.  He has such beauty that I feel blessed to be his mom.  He is my son, and I hope he comes to know one day that he is growing to be like Jesus at such an early age.  I want to end with a poem that I have placed on our shirts for the Relay for Life as it is a good reminder for myself and to all those that read my blog.

What Cancer Can’t Do
Cancer is so limited...
It cannot cripple love. 
It cannot shatter hope. 
It cannot corrode faith. 
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence. 
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories. 
It cannot silence courage. 
It cannot invade the soul. 
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the spirit. 
It cannot lesson the power of the resurrection

CANCER IS JUST A WORD….NOT A SENTENCE.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”         Deuteronomy 31:6


Monday, January 2, 2012

On my Knees as I Suffer


Obedience and Self-Control

It seems interesting to post a blog about two areas of such great difficulty for most of the human race.  Obedience and self-control was my devotional for today and one that I have to learn over and over again.  We all face what seems like the impossible at some point in our lives and for some many times over.  Everyone has various areas in life where obedience and self-control should be a framework to live by, but often are two words that are placed on the shelf and forgotten.  Obedience is a strong word that is often misused for terms such as control and dominance.  However, when placed in proper perspective and appropriate relational roles it has a profound effect.  As a child of God, I am called to obedience to His word and to have self-control.  I must say that many times in my life I have failed a lot in these two areas.  Lately, my self-control has not been prevalent when I say such statements as “I hate life,” easily triggered emotionally when I feel anger and sadness.  I know some may read this summary assuming it is a fair way to experience a life when you are a parent to a child who suffers with cancer.  Yet, I am called to exemplify Jesus who died on the cross for my sins.  Jesus was perfect in every way, and though Satan tempted him He still prevailed. At this stage of my life I am not prevailing in much as I have let negativity, insecurity about the future, and peace be robbed from my home.  The first time Gabriel was diagnosed was shocking. I would define the first year as responding in a robotic manner during treatment days.  Gabriel’s relapse feels as though life is overwhelming, unfair, and that there is no end in sight.  It is taking everything in me to wake up, be mentally healthy for my children, to hold on to my marriage when some days as a result of Gabriel’s relapse we are struggling.  Most days I struggle with finding hope as fear overtakes my entire being.  I do not want to lose my son.   

BUT, two evenings ago in the shower as I cried out in desperation to Jesus as this fear overwhelmed myself and saw that my marriage was suffering…. An image of Jesus crying out to our Heavenly Father saying “why have your forsaken me” as He was left to die on the cross came to me vividly.  I was reminded that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Did He do this in vain?  In the shower, I came to realize my faith was being robbed and that I was leaning on only my human strength, which has no power when you are a parent to a child with cancer.  Furthermore, our human strength tends not to have any great strength in the matter of human troubles. I was no longer trusting in God. I was not being “obedient” and had no self-control concerning my thoughts about the future and about my marriage.  I was watching things crumbling down around me.  These last two weeks have been the most difficult pain I have experienced.  To have only fear and no hope overtake oneself is something that no parent should ever have to experience about their child and their family.  I was not going to let the cross be in vain.  I decided in the shower that I would persevere through what I know and can trust, which is only through the Word of God. I am going to be obedient to God’s word and trust Him.  Proverbs 4:20-22 says “My son give attention to my words; incline your ears to my sayings; do not let them depart from our eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.”  I believe that God will one day use this pain to His glory.  The word of God states in Philippians 2:13 that “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”  I don’t want to go through this pain, and no parent should.  Nevertheless, I have to trust God has a purpose and one day He will be glorified in all His goodness. My strength in this journey comes from one place and only one place-to trust, to be obedient to God through prayer and reading the bible, and to commit to control my negative thoughts that this journey creates.  I pray this scripture from Isaiah 53:5 “he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; 
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we [Gabriel is] are healed. This scripture is my prayer.  I hope you too will pray this for my son.  I cannot say that I won’t have days where I feel frustrated, sad, suffer, and the many emotions that this journey brings, but I will make one powerful change.  I will not bear this pain on my own, as I know my Father in Heaven hears this pain.  I will take it to Him and pass this pain to him.   “The Lord is near the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18).

I don’t have the answer to the question why a loving God allows us to suffer, but I do know that suffering comes and is a part of the human condition.  We have all suffered, are suffering, or will suffer.  Life does involve joy and sorrow, comfort and hardship.   I may not know how to solve the mystery of suffering in this life.  I have come to learn that as I consider the many dimensions of this pain that I have come to understand myself in deeper ways, have learned to talk with God about my feelings, hurts, and my relationship with God has deepened.  I don’t want to suffer, especially with one of the greatest suffering one could imagine.  To suffer as a parent over your own child is one that should never happen.  Scripture instructs us to come to God “casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).  God accepts all our suffering without conditions and takes ownership for this pain we entrust to Him.   That night in the shower I reached the bottom and realized I was helpless without Him.  I surrendered to God in my broken state as I looked around my home that once gained back peace this past year, but was now on the verge of being torn apart.   My home is to be a place of peace and one where God is a part of our walk, even when we suffer.  I want this for Mike, Gabriel, Simone, Yasmine and myself.  The only way to be in this world is to walk with the Lord. The "peace" you receive when you suffer is indescribable when you have the Lord in your life.

Update about Treatment

We recently found out a few days ago that Simone and Yasmine was not a match for Gabriel’s bone marrow.  Mike and I are partial matches, and there is new research developed concerning parents being bone marrow candidates with their children.  The question that comes to my mind is that I don’t know whether I am willing to risk my son’s life based upon new research.  Alternatively, our Oncologist, through e-mail over the holiday season indicated that we might use Simone’s stem cells that we banked when I gave birth to her.  If I was to offer any recommendation medically to all those reading this blog I would highly recommend banking stems cells from the umbilical cord as you never know what the future holds.  At this stage, Gabriel begins intensive chemo Tuesday, January 3rd (tomorrow) and is admitted to London hospital for five days.  Mike and I tried to read his protocol, but were very different to his previous protocol.  In addition, this protocol has never been used at London outpatient, which means Sick Kids and London speak regularly about this chemo regiment.  Gabriel receives various chemos over a course of five days the first week. We are then home the following week, and then admitted again for another five days.  A this point, it appears of what we can read of the protocol we will be admitted two weeks each month as inpatients for a period of three months.  The protocol for treatment will be discussed tomorrow.  There is still discussions occurring about Gabriel undergoing a bone marrow transplant, but at this time we are uncertain.  If Gabriel does undergo a transplant he will still receive chemo and radiation, but for a shorter duration in preparation for the transplant.  In addition, Gabriel will have to receive entire body radiation prior to the bone marrow transplant, which we were advised that he would be considered infertile.  This risk and many others are apart of this process whether it is entirely chemo or transplant.  The chemo/radiation protocol is two years of treatment.  We are still in the midst of discussing a transplant because it holds the highest rate of cure.  These details are hard to share, and are only the superficial details.  These details don’t tell the entire story of treatment. 

Parents who have travelled a similar journey with their child can only understand this story.  Mike and I never expect anyone that does not share similar circumstances to understand or have the right words to share.  We just appreciate and love that you want to listen, hug and support us however we need it without judgment or expectations.  We thank you that you spend time reading this blog, and want to help however you can.  We truly thank you with all sincerity for your words of encouragement, reading this blog, and anything you do to help.  We love you all!