Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cancer Free!!

Ellie remains cancer free!! Thank you God! We had our 6 month post-chemo visit Thursday at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It's hard to adequately describe the roller coaster ride feelings that these check-ups bring. You see with Ellie's type of cancer, there is very little medically they can do should she relapse. I know in my heart that God is fully, 100%, in control regarding our situation. It has been like that since that first night she awoke back in April 08 with a slight cry. The guidance, direction, peace and strength to endure everything we have and the way we have, has only been given to us by the grace of God. This I know and feel in my heart. I also know that Ellie does not belong to us and at any time, God can call her home. But really, doesn't that hold true for any one of us?

The MRI scans are every three months for the next three years. It is that scan, that one electronic piece of information, that holds our daughter's fate. I can honestly say that I hate the scans and wish we never had to return to St. Jude. Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful, on my knees grateful, for this hospital and all it has done for Ellie but part of me wishes we could cut that tie and just forget about cancer and it ever coming back. She fought her illness, followed the treatment plan and she survived and got better. That should be it, end of story, now go live your life without a worry or concern. Unfortunately, that's not the way it works with cancer.

I have followed three other children with the same type of brain cancer as Ellie. They were St. Jude patients and Dr. Gajjar was their doctor too. Two of the children relapsed and one is cured. The two that relapsed were basically sent home on hospice. One child has passed on to heaven and the other, she is a fighter. Her mother left the care of St Jude for a hospital in California and although, it is really the chemo that keeps her alive and she will not be cured, she is still here and her quality of life is pretty good. She is two years out from her relapse. While Ellie has her MRI, all of those kids go through my mind. I won't ever forget them and while I beg God for His mercy on my daughter, I thank Him for letting us know about these children. Life is better, more meaningful, knowing them and I am grateful. I also know to hand over the worry to God and to live one day at a time. The future is a mystery and I have to let it go and accept is as it comes. It's challenging to do at times but I do trust in God's plan, whatever it may be whether I like it or hate it, I trust Him.

Wednesday night as we settled in to our hotel room, I was nervous about the MRI. As Ellie watched I -Carly and snacked on some pizza, I asked her to pick four numbers starting with the number one. She picked 1543. I turned to that page in my Bible and do you know what was listed? 7 reasons why God DOES NOT want us to worry. A load of bricks was removed from my shoulders and I thanked Him for making it clear to me. The signs He has provided us with during our journey have been so clear and I thank Him for leaving no room for doubt. I guess I need that 'in your face' type of message to really get it sometimes.

Steve, Emma, Ellie and I are so relieved and happy that the cancer is gone and has not returned. Each check-up brings us closer to being fully cured in the eyes of the doctors. One day at a time and by the grace of God.

Ellie poses alongside her image on the new St. Jude display at the Memphis airport.

close-up version. This photo was an outtake from the 'Ellie Vs. The Brain Tumor' ad last year. That is why she looks so serious.