I sat on the edge of my couch, staring into my computer Tuesday afternoon. Ciera had texted me from St Jude Children’s hospital and told me to get on skype when I could. I knew something was wrong. She usually texted me to tell me everything was fine after tests.
“I have relapsed.”
Her face flushed to the words, disappointment and anger flooded her face. Determination and strength underneath.
How do I respond? What do I say? My heart squeezed. I tried to stay calm. She could see my face. Her family was in the room with her, they could hear my voice.
“What does this mean?”… I still don’t remember her answer. “That sucks” I finally said.
I asked about her two other friends that had weighed heavily on my heart all week. One, in the process of becoming deaf from chemo and the other in the process of fighting the fight, after relapsing for the third time. She first was diagnosed with Bcell ALL, then tcell lymphoma, then TCell ALL…
Why?? I was JUST there with her this weekend. I JUST ran an 8k with her during thanksgiving, I JUST saw her get baptized last semester, she JUST ran a half marathon in December…I didn’t understand it. She was so..healthy! We were supposed to spend a blissful day at St Jude on Friday. She was only going there for blood work an in and out appointment. Plus, I was supposed to take tons of pictures and write an incredibly inspiring blogpost about it so you guys can KNOW where your money is going to. The “incredibly inspiring” blog post is below…
I left the computer and went upstairs to find Tracey napping. I woke her up. I looked in her face and said the words “She relapsed”. She sat up. The same shock that hit me, hit her. We looked at each other, angry. “WHY?!” She echoed my thoughts. We talked and then sat in silence.
and in the midst of the silence…in the midst of the tears… in a hoarse voice and with tired hands I started signing/singing.
“Higher than the mountains that I face.
Stronger than the power of the grave.
Constant in the trial and the change… One thing Remains.
Your love never fails, it never give up, it never runs out on me” my voice shook and when my voice failed to a whisper I couldn’t even hear, Tracey picked up the chorus for me, her strong voice carrying the melody
“Your Love never fails it never gives up, in never runs out on me… and On and on and on and on it goes…It overwhelms and satisfies my soul..”
I got up, hugged her, and went to class. My prayers intensified. I couldn’t stop praying. We had to trust Him.
That’s the colorful wall that we saw as Ciera and I walked right into St Jude’s Children Hospital last Friday. I couldn’t believe the colors that flooded my eyes. I couldn’t believe the positive atmosphere that flowed around me, everywhere I looked, everywhere I turned. We walked up and down the halls of the main hospital and ran into different colors and artworks that kids had made, things they had said, quotes from patients.
Some were happy and made me laugh,
while others pierced my heart and brought tears to my eyes..
I met nurses who looked into my eyes and truly wanted to know why I was there and how I met Ciera. They really care about her. We ran into her social worker, Ken and talked for a while. It was wonderful and beautiful. There was so much joy, there were so many smiles, so many hugs, so much positivity. I couldn’t get enough of it. I felt flooded with positive thoughts and feelings. I thought I understood what Ciera meant when she said St Jude was her second home.
However, throughout the trip, tears came to my eyes again and again as I realized that the families that we repeatedly encountered were in the worst “storms” of their lives. Ciera has such a way with them. She would see a child about two years old or so and smile at them, gleaming, looking up at their mother “She has such a beautiful smile! What is her diagnosis?”
“Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia”
Those ugly words that don’t belong to a two year old, or an infant, or a child or anyone… resonated with me. My heart squeezed. I held back tears and smiled.
We walked through a door and looked up, Ciera’s voice right next to me “Those flags represent every person from every single country that St Jude has ever treated.” I looked up, my ear ringing. Silence. I was wowed by all the beautiful flags, I was moved at the work that St Jude had done and is still doing… and I felt broken by the thought of how many families, how many children, how much pain it took to get each flag there. Wow.
We turned around and looked up again:
“There are labs all around this room where research is being done in this very moment…” Ciera’s voice sounded. Research being done in this very room… for people all over the world. Her voice continued “There are 27 buildings on campus where research is also being done, and a few buildings off campus too.” I was amazed. Amazed at God, who created humans to be smart enough to come together and help each other fight one disease… Amazed that one disease can unite so many people together from all over the world.
We encountered a hallway with plaques everywhere… in honor and in memory of patients who have been treated here.
We found Ciera’s:
Hours later, Her appointment only for blood work turned into an appointment with an eye doctor, which turned into a Spinal Tap and an overnight stay for us.
She sat up on the table, getting ready for her spinal tap, fear flooded her face “I haven’t done one of these in a year and a half.” Nurse Martha came in the room and gave her a hug and encouragement. Martha is one of the best nurses I think I have ever met. I’ve never met anyone who cares so much.
We went to the procedures room and Ciera lay on her side with her eyes closed. She took my hand, getting ready for the two inch needle to be inserted to her spine. Dr Sandland came in the room. Martha asked “Ciera, do you want Dr Sandland to pray for you?”
Dr Sandland came over, place his hands on Ciera and started praying. She closed her eyes. One tear fell from the corner of her eye to the bridge of her nose. My heart hurt. I looked up at Dr S., so thankful. So thankful for a Doctor who cared. So thankful for his prayer, so thankful for his thoroughness. So thankful for him. Tears welled up in my eyes and I blinked them back.
I read this while on my way back home Saturday, it was a source of encouragement.
I now more than ever have a reason to run. The race is in less than 3 weeks on April 27. Remember my original post? I had a $100 goal… You guys have now helped me raise 1400 dollars. I think we can do better. I think we can do better for the kids I’ve met, for Ciera, for Hillary and Leslie… For the research…
Please donate… Please pray…. pray, pray, pray, and pray.
I’ll keep you guys updated.