Cancer: One Year Later

As a mother, you worry about all kinds of things. Is my child hitting milestones? Is she eating the right things? Are we raising her well? Does she have an ear infection? All of the ‘normal’ things that parents think about as they raise their children.

Cancer was never even one of my worries.

Cancer happened to other families. We heard stories and said ‘Oh gosh I can’t even imagine. I don’t know what I would do-I just wouldn’t be able to get out of bed.’ We changed the channel when the St. Jude commercial came on because bald kids made us uncomfortable. We put our change in the ‘Kids Miracle Network’ jars because we hated having change in our pockets. We’d donate $20 to a GoFundMe, signed up for a 5K, and bought some T-shirt’s to support ‘those poor cancer families.’ And then we went about our sweet little sheltered, happy life.

There’s nothing wrong with that life. Until your eyes are opened to just how BIG the world really is.

On May 18, 2017, I went to work-like any other weekday. We had a field trip that day-which is a stressful day for a teacher. I was hot and sweaty and exhausted after a full day of wrangling 24 kiddos, handing out lunches and waters, riding on a school bus (which is horrible), and walking around with a backpack full of first aid, permission slips, inhalers, and sunscreen. I got home to my Sophie-like every other weekday. Her grandmother updated me on her day, said goodbye, and we has our after school home time-like every other day.

Except. Sophie had been hospitalized in March for a weird breathing episode and then diagnosed with asthma a few weeks before and we were monitoring her breathing and doing breathing treatments 3 times a day until we could get her into an allergy doctor. That was stressful but, she handled it like a champ and did her ‘breathings’ with no problems. Heck-half of the time she would fall asleep holding the mask on her face! It was so cute. When it was done, she’d pop up like she had been awake the whole time and shout proudly-ALL DONE!

On this day-she was breathing really hard and I didn’t like it at all. So, I did what most moms do-I called for opinions. I called my precious friend Monday, a nurse and fellow asthma mama and told her my concerns. She advised me to go ahead and do Sophie’s bedtime breathing treatment early and take her to the ER after that for evaluation because, you don’t play around with a 2 year old’s breathing. I called Jonathan and told him to head home for what would probably be a long night. Then I pulled my little love into my lap and started up her treatment. As I’m doing that I decided to call my coworker Toni-another asthma mom-to tell her what was going on and to let her know that I might need to take off the next day-we had track and field day the following day so this was SO not a great time for us to be sick! As I’m on the phone with Toni-my world fell apart. Sophie went limp in my lap and started turning blue. I screamed ‘TONI SHES NOT BREATHING I HAVE TO CALL 911!!!’ And hung up. I’m holding the breathing mask on Sophie with one hand and shakily calling 911 with the other. She-thankfully-came back around quickly but was still very pale and lethargic in my lap. At that exact moment Jonathan walked in, with no clue what was going on. He walks in to us on the floor, Sophie unconscious and me sobbing on the phone. The Lord was very obviously working in him right then because he immediately grabbed the diaper bag, a phone charger, the iPad, and my wallet with insurance cards in it. He even grabbed my shoes because I was barefoot.

The 911 operator stayed on the phone with me until The ambulance arrived and I carried her out, barefoot, with Jonathan right behind us. We got her on the gurney and oxygen on her and she came around very quickly. We took off and Jonathan-bless his heart had to follow us in the truck.

Long story short-we ended up at the Children’s ER with an X-ray of a softball sized tumor in her chest. We were wheeled up to the ICU at 4 in the morning because she couldn’t lay flat. Her bed was propped up to sitting because when she laid flat, she stopped breathing due to the tumor pushing on her airway. Our world was halted.

We started steroid chemo the next day to stop the tumor’s growth.

Cancer. A word no parent should hear.

Most of you know what all transpired from there and I honestly can’t write all of that out right now. But the point is-Childhood Cancer happens more than you think it does. It happens whether you’re rich, poor, white, Black, Hispanic, happy, sad, Old, or young. It’s real. It happens. And you’re not a cancer mom…..until you are.

One year later and I’ve learned way more than I’d ever want to learn.

I’ve learned words and acronyms like Nelarabine, mediastinal mass, NPO, PRN, stomapowder, chemo rash, fungal workup, PET Scan, ANC, platelets, hemoglobin, neutrophils, immunosuppression, Bactrim, neuropathy, isolation, port access, bath wipes, spinal tap-LP, intrathecal chemo, vincristine, SCU, neuro-rehab, chemo toxicity, Methotrexate, zofran……..And so many others.

One year since my world became much bigger. While I’m not thankful that my girl is gone…I am thankful that I’m more aware of how big the world is now. I’m more aware of the HUGE need for childhood cancer funding. I’m more aware of how incredible nurses are. I’m more aware of what parents in hospitals go through. I’m more aware of the long term need cancer families have…..I’m more aware. And because I’m more aware, I can do something about and you can to.

So today-in honor of one year since Sophie was diagnosed-will you consider #DoMoreForSoph and giving to Childhood cancer research? They currently get 4% of government cancer funding.

4%

Our favorite research organizations are:

Gold Network of East Texas

St. Baldricks

Alex’s Lemonade Stand

Sadie Keller Foundation

All of these support childhood cancer research, support families currently in treatment, and help families that have completed treatment but still need long term support.

Another First. Another Day Closer.

I honestly didn’t know how I would feel about Mother’s Day much like I didn’t know how I would feel on Soph’s birthday. The anxiety leading up to it was pretty overwhelming. I’ve cried over little things in the past week more than I have in the last month combined. It’s so tough to think of a day where your children are to celebrate you…when your children aren’t with you anymore. I’ve been a mom for 5 Mother’s Days. In 2014 I was pregnant with our first and miscarried a week after. 2015, 2016, and 2017 were with my perfect Punkin. And then 2018 and my arms are empty.

So no, I had no idea what Mother’s Day would hold for me. I felt kind of helpless as it approached. Jonathan-always so conscious of me and my feelings-kept asking me how he could best love me on this day. He didn’t want to upset me by overdoing it OR by doing too little. Bless his heart-I wasn’t much help because I said ‘I just honestly don’t know how I’ll feel that day.’ I did know I wanted to stay busy and my sweet friends just showed up as they always do.

Friday was spent planting succulents with my sister….she says Incan’t kill them but the jury is still out on that. Green things don’t usually survive around me but, I’m willing to try. I spent the evening loving on my sweet friend Tami and Sophie’s bestie Addie Leigh at a gathering of a bunch of friends and their kiddos. Addie is doing so well in her treatment-it’s such a blessing to me to be able to watch her conquering cancer! It also helps my heart to help take care of her and I’ll forever be grateful to Tami for letting me ‘borrow’ her kids. 🙂 It’s also so great to be around people that know me, love me, and know that it’s ok to be normal around me but that it’s also ok to ask me how I am and it’s ok to talk about their life and kids.

I spent Saturday running around with my love and then dinner with some of our precious friends from church. Sweet Carolyn has left something on my doorstep every single Thursday since January 4th. The selfless way she loves me is a true example of what service should look like. We were able to sit and talk for hours and the best part-their daughter’s name is SOPHIE! I didn’t know how I’d feel being around her but oh-it was just so amazing to be able to hear and say the name I love so much. It was so so good for my soul. Our night ended on the back porch of another set of our friends just visiting and talking about life. I seriously am living life with the most amazing people. When I think of how good the Lord has been to us to put so many incredible people to walk this road with us-I’m just overwhelmed with thankfulness. I would most definitely not be functioning without my village.

So yesterday, I opened my eyes at 11:15AM. Jonathan had gone to church without waking me….because he is the MVP of all husbands and knew I very obviously just needed the sleep because his alarm almost always wakes me up. My sister and I joke that a great night’s sleep makes us feel like Disney Princesses when they wake up and, I had Disney Princess sleep Saturday night. I woke up to 47 text messages from the people I love. Words of love, encouragement, prayers typed out, memories of my sweet girl…all flooding my phone reminding me that I am SO loved. I woke up full of peace-which could only be the peace of the Lord upon me. I felt every prayer and good thought I know was being sent my way.

And Mother’s Day ended up being a pretty good day. Flowers from my bestie. More flowers from sweet friends. TONS of incredibly sweet and heartfelt Facebook messages and comments for me. The fact that people continue to take time out of their days to reach out to encourage me is just so humbling and again-reminds me how much I’m loved. I also had great workout in an empty gym-which is always a good thing! Errand running, herb garden designing, and manicures with my sister. Flowers, the most mushy and wonderful note from my love and those big, muscly arms he’s so proud of hugged me more times than I can count. He knows so well that when there’s nothing to say-a strong hug says it all. God broke the mold when He made Jonathan for me.

There were tears today. Tears as I looked at my favorite pictures of my girl. Tears as I sat at the cemetery and wiped away the dirt. Tears as I placed the fake flowers I finally bought because it kills me to have dead and gross flowers there on her spot. Tears as I knelt-like I always do, touched her name, and said ‘Bye my Punkin-I love you so.’ Tears as I read so many sweet messages that deeply touched my heart. Tears as I read the words my husband-a man of few words-poured onto paper for me. And tears as he held me because she’s supposed to be here for these days. There were tears-but also so much joy.

I ended my day at dinner celebrating my precious mother-in-law and laughing with the best family anyone could marry into. (Seriously, be jealous.) And then the famous Skiles sing-a-Long came to my house, ending with more tears as they sang Silver Wings-the song that soothed my Soph in those last days. A song that speaks so clearly to me about my little love going to be with Jesus. It’s not a religious song but, it touches my heart each time I hear it and puts me back in that hospital bed, surrounded by both of my families, holding my 25 pound-fuzzy headed cuddle partner, rubbing her smooth hands, and kissing that head. Sweet sweet memories tied to that song that I am forever thankful for.

The grace that overwhelmed us in those last 13 days is the same grace that covered me yesterday. I felt enveloped in love and peace that could only be from my Father and I like to think from my Punkin too.

I’m so honored to have been her mama. I’m forever changed because of her life, her bravery, and the promise of Eternity with her and my Savior. I’m One day closer.

“Silver wings,

Shining in the sunlight,

Roaring engines,

Headed somewhere in flight

They’re taking you away

Leaving me lonely

Silver wings

Slowly fading out of sight

Slowly fading out of sight”

The grief ‘limit’

It makes me so mad that literally everyday there’s some EXTRA reminder that my daughter fought cancer and died. Like I don’t think about it all day everyday and just need another needle in my heart. I hate that I don’t get to choose when something is going to pop out and slap me in the face. I hate that I’ll tear up over something little and really I’m ok but, my body says ‘No, you’re going to sob for 30 minutes and nothing you do can stop it!’ I didn’t choose this grief and IT. MAKES. ME. SO. MAD. That I don’t get to choose when and how I grieve.

Today was supposed to be super fun and it was….until it wasn’t. Every year, the first weekend of May is a big country music BBQ festival in Tyler. We love it. All of our friends go, we get to eat tons of delicious BBQ, listen to our favorite Texas Country, and be together. Last year, we went and my mom came and babysat our (we thought) healthy Soph. Last year, we were having some of our last happy and normal moments and we had no idea. Last year, we were 11 days from cancer and 8 months from the worst day of our lives…..and no one saw it coming.

May has always been one of my favorite months. Jonathan’s Birthday, my mom’s birthday, Mother’s Day, and the end of the school year all happen in May! And then we added diagnosis day to that. That’s been on my mind a lot lately but, I really wanted to have fun today and then face Mother’s Day next week. But my brain had different plans. Most of the day was great! Then I just hit my limit-and anyone who has experienced profound grief knows what limit I mean. I hit the ‘being around a bunch of happy people’ limit. We can do it for awhile and genuinely have fun but, once the limit is reached, there’s no recovering…it’s just time to go home.

I know I’m at that limit when I tear up and can’t blink it away. When the big crocodile tears just fall from my eyeballs out of nowhere and nothing can stop them. It’s just-oh hey you’re sad now, sorry about ruining your day. So, I hid behind my sunglasses, told Jonathan it was time to go, and started power walking to the car. Once in the car, I felt better. I had space to breathe. Now we are home, under blankets, watching basketball and that’s ok. I listened to my limit.

At least we looked cute in public for a few hours.

Another example of being blindsided by grief: a few weeks ago I scheduled a long overdue dentist appointment. Why was it overdue? Because my last cleaning was in February before Sophie was diagnosed. I had to explain to the dentist (who was super kind by the way) that the reason I missed my August appointment is because I was in Dallas with my daughter trying to get her rehabbed for a stem cell transplant. And then the whole story spilled out. He was so sweet and listened and teared up as he said he was so sorry and he patted my arm and asked if he could do anything extra for me today. I appreciated that so much.

As if that experience wasn’t enough, as I’m sitting in the waiting room waiting for my hygienist, a song comes on. Not just a song that makes me sentimental and not just a sad song. Oh no, THE song that was playing in that hospital room on January 4th at 2:11pm when my baby took her last breath. The song that I had been actively avoiding until I was ready to listen to it on my own terms. That right there-was my limit for that day and had nowhere to retreat to so I just cried in the full dentist waiting room. People stared, I sobbed, and a sweet employee came and took me to an empty exam room.

Sometimes I cry grocery shopping. Birthday candles, applesauce, mac-n-cheese, the baby aisle, bananas, oatmeal, yogurt….they were all her favorites and they all make me cry. The store by our house probably thinks I’m either famous or crazy because I shop with sunglasses on fairly often.

Butterflies, Disney characters, little girls with brown hair……she’s everywhere. It makes me so mad but at the same time I’m so thankful for the reminders. I’m thankful for the blindside hit and the slap in the face. I’m thankful for my limits. They are reminders that she was real. She was important. And she was mine. So, I’ll keep trying to fit into my new normal-even though that normal changes weekly. And I’ll keep reminding myself that when I can’t do it-when I hit the limit-that I have a BIG God to hand it all to. I don’t have to force a smile or tie a pretty bow around it. I don’t have to apologize for being sad or worry if I make others uncomfortable. I’ll keep giving myself the grace to just feel what I feel, when I feel it. Joy, sadness, rage, fear, guilt, love, loneliness, hope, gratitude…..she’s worth it all.

Mimosas and Kindness

A few weeks ago ( 4 Days after Sophie’s birthday to be exact) I took my first solo trip to see my sweet friend and mentor in Pensacola while my husband was on his brother’s bachelor party trip. I tackled security, airport crowds, eating alone, terminal waiting, and flights alone. I’ve historically not been great at being alone so I wanted to make the most of my time. I ate a nice lunch with a mimosa in Dallas while listening to our church’s sermon Podcast.( Bethel Bible Church on the Podcast app….you should listen to it!) While eating and taking notes I of course started thinking of my girl and of #DoMoreForSoph. Anyways, my waitress at lunch was super sweet and I decided to start my trip by telling someone about my girl and encouraging her with a big tip and a note! It was something small but, I hope it made her day as much as it made mine!

Then I boarded my first flight and we ended up with a delay on the runway because the airport we were flying into was experiencing a lot of incoming flights. People moaned and groaned and the flight attendants were kind and smiling. I just ate my free pretzels, had mimosa #2, and watched another episode of ER. We landed in Houston an hour late and then our connecting flight on the same plane was delayed due to an unruly passenger having to be removed by TSA-it was exciting.

Anyways, people are just rude on planes sometimes especially when there’s delays. The flight attendants and pilots were so kind and positive and kept smiles on their faces even though I know those days are so stressful for them. I decided it was a good time to spread a little more Soph love and handed the head attendant a note and some Sophie The Brave on my way off of the plane.

I don’t share this for any pats on the back-I’ve had my fair share of eye rolling and sighs when I get inconvenienced but, I really have tried to not sweat the small stuff after what we experienced with Sophie. I know I’ve written about feeling rage a lot and there are days that I fail at being positive and i sweat ALL the small stuff. Overwhelmingly though, I really do try to just smile at negative stuff. Life is just too short to complain all the time-my goal moving forward is to try to spread joy more than complain and sharing my girl’s story is the perfect way to do that!

So, next time you’re delayed at an airport, stuck in traffic, at the DMV, experiencing rude people, having a stressful work day, exasperated with your kids, irritated with your spouse or any number of other inconveniences that come up….stop, take a breath, and remember that life is short and you can change your whole day or someone else’s by just choosing kindness.

#SophieTheBrave #DoMoreForSoph #GodisstillBIGGER

Sophie the Brave Day

Monday, March 19th is Sophie’s 3rd birthday. We want to celebrate her memory by affecting as many people as we can in a positive way! We invite anyone and everyone to #DoMoreForSoph on her birthday! You can go BIG or small, spend a bunch of money, or give away free smiles! Whatever you can do to make someone’s day better because Sophie made everyday she was alive better just by being herself.

Kindness is everywhere around the holidays but, falls off after a bit. So many of the organizations and places that are packed with volunteers and donations from October to January are empty and lonely by March.

Some ideas of examples:

-Collect items to donate to hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters, etc.

-Pay for someone’s meal in line behind you

-Take water and snacks to people working outside in construction crews, lawn services, etc.

-Send someone flowers or an encouraging note

-Take your kids on a special date

-Do someone nice for your spouse or household that you wouldn’t normally do

– Find a local volunteer opportunity

-Donate school supplies to your kid’s teachers

-Take a meal to someone that might be struggling

-Let someone know you’re praying for them

-Sign up for monthly donations to a worthwhile organization OR make a one time donation.

Some good organizations to look into are Gold Network of East Texas, St. Baldrick’s, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Samaritan’s Purse, Layla’s Legacy, Sadie Keller Foundation, YoungLife, Refuge of Light

-Sponsor a needy child through Compassion

-Make cards for hospitals, police stations, nursing homes, etc.

-Send snacks to nurses stations at the hospital or doctor’s offices

-start collecting items for Operation Christmas Child in December

Feel free to share any ideas you have in the comments and PLEASE share how you #DoMoreForSoph on her birthday and any day between now and then!

We, as Sophie’s family will be celebrating her by taking a load of items to Children’s! We will have things for the parents of inpatient kids as well as supplies for Child Life to give to kiddos needing encouragement! Although this day will be so hard without her here with us, it brings me such JOY to know that she will be remembered and celebrated all over!

We miss her so dearly but, find comfort in the huge support we have found throughout her journey. Thank you for keeping the memory of our brave Sophie alive by sharing her story and bringing more JOY and KINDNESS to the world in her name!

I have created a Sophie the Brave Day Event on our Facebook page and I will be sharing different ideas for acts of kindness each day leading up to Sophie’s Day. Feel free to join that event and share it with others! Sophie deserves the world celebrating her!

A heart that is Broken, yet full

Last week, I wrote about visiting our four sweet friends that were all inpatient at Children’s. We used that as an opportunity to visit the hospital together for the first time since Sophie died. (It’s still SO weird to write that word.) I have an update on two of our friends and they are VASTLY different updates. One of them is full of joy and celebration and the other is buried in grief and loss. These two stories, along with my own current story, and a pretty difficult bible study week on suffering have made for a very hard yet, thought provoking week for me.

On Sunday, February 18th, our friend Kaylynn took her last breath in her mother’s arms. She has been terminal since October but, she’s been very stable recently so her sudden passing was a shock to her family. My heart shattered when my sweet friend text me that she was gone. I wanted to jump through the phone and grab her and hold her tight. I also was struck with very weird emotions. I was obviously just crushed that my friend has to feel what I feel. That she has to have the image of holding her child as she died and all of the horrible things that the hours afterward contain. Those are memories that NO ONE should have to endure. At the same time though, I was slightly and very selfishly relieved because now, I’m not ‘alone’. That’s not something that I’m proud of thinking….obviously I would NEVER wish losing a child on anyone. But I’ve vowed to be completely transparent throughout the last 9 months and this is part of that transparency-being broken for my friend but finding small comfort in someone else knowing how I feel. I shared last week that I felt a huge pull to become Lindsey’s friend and now I fully believe we were meant to become friends to walk this very long and hard road together. That makes me thankful. Not thankful that our sweet girls had to suffer and leave us way too soon but, thankful that we have each other to lean on.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The Word of God has been such a comfort to me in the last 9 months but, especially in the past 7 weeks and it calls me to comfort others.

It has been so hard this week to relive Sophie’s death and the days after as I try to comfort my friend but, having friends that walked this road before me was such a blessing, I can’t sit by and not try to help another mom. Because of my tragedy it has given me a greater sense of oneness with others who experience tragedy in any form but, especially in the loss of their child. Granted, it’s only been 7 weeks and I am definitely not ‘doing grief right’ every day but, I can feel for them in a very unique way that most if not all of their friends just cannot feel. (PS-Just to clarify there is no right or wrong way to do grief.)

Yesterday, there was a light shining on this dark and rainy week in the form of another of our friends. Abigail went back to the hospital for a post-op check up after her lung biopsy last Thursday. They were absolutely SHOCKED to find out that she is NED (no evidence of disease) and was receiving her LAST CHEMO EVER yesterday! Our sweet friends were floored! Not only is their baby cancer free but, she is finishing treatment only 6 months in…way sooner than they ever anticipated! My heart was completely bursting with joy for them! I wanted to get in the car and drive to Dallas and jump up and down and cry with them! I still might just show up at their house for my own impromptu party so, Jessica get ready ha! My immediate response was oh Thank you Father for this gift but then, again, the selfishness reared its ugly head with jealousy in the midst of my joy. SO incredibly thrilled for my friends but, so very jealous of their good news and so sad that we didn’t have the same outcome. But how sweet of the Lord to remind me that even in the middle of a hard week, He’s still so good and grief is not all there is for me. The light of my friends’ joy gets to shine into my darkness and speak life to me. How good He is to give me a friend that I can be completely honest with and say-I’m truly happy for you but so jealous and for her to say-in my joy I thought of you too. How GOOD He is to provide this kind of friendship for both of us to be so fully engrossed in our own different situations but also so aware of the other person too. It’s just incredible to me that I’d never have met these amazing people if it wasn’t for cancer. Good things can come even here.

That’s the Gospel at work. Creating beauty from ashes and shining light in the darkness. Finding hope where there seemingly is none and realizing that suffering isn’t forever. God doesn’t enjoy the suffering of His creation, nor does He cause that suffering. Our God heals (Jeremiah 30:17). He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23). Even in eternity He wears the scars of Jesus’ suffering as a constant reminder that our suffering matters to Him. God did not cause it, but God will ultimately heal it. He calls us in so many different places in the Bible to FEAR NOT.

Now, all of that doesn’t answer the lingering question that’s on my heart after a roller coaster week like this one…Why do some kids have amazing outcomes and others (like mine) don’t? It’s a natural question that I’m sure every single person is thinking that’s reading this. I don’t have the answer but, I have the divine peace that helps me say… I’m ok not knowing. It doesn’t make my grief easier, it doesn’t bring Sophie or Kaylynn or any of the other lost ones back. It doesn’t cure cancer or make any of this make sense. But there’s comfort in eternity, there’s light in the darkness, there’s healing….. on earth as it is in heaven.

Please be praying for:

1. Kaylynn’s family as they celebrate her life this weekend and start the journey that no one wants to take.

2. Praise the Lord for the healing of Abigail and pray for continued health for her as she recovers and goes on to what’s next.

3. Continuing praying for Jase and Addie as they both are still inpatient at Children’s waiting for their immune systems to bounce back.

4. Pray for us as we grieve with Kaylynn’s family while a,so celebrating with other families. Pray that we can navigate ALL of the emotions that come with that.

5. Pray for our weekly counseling sessions that we started this week. We are hopeful that we will be able to talk through our grief and grow closer to each other.

Thanks friends.

6 weeks

Today my heart is heavy. It has been 6 weeks since my sweet one went to Jesus. Today is also International Childhood Cancer Day. Today ALSO happens to be the day that I will step back into the halls of Children’s Medical for the first time since I left my baby there 6 weeks ago. Today is heavy but, today also has purpose.

When we were at the hospital, I was very hesitant to make friends. While I know having a strong network of other cancer families is very important, it’s also incredibly hard to take on the grief and worry of other people while you’re right in the middle of fighting for your own child’s life. At least, that’s how it was for me. I didn’t really put myself out there to make friends because it just felt like too much. Too much worry, too manny tears, and just…too much CANCER! Sure, I followed the Children’s Cancer Family Page on Facebook, knew several names and faces, even had some good conversations but, as far as like exchanging numbers and becoming true friends…I just couldn’t do it. Self protection I guess.

The Lord knew better for me though because 5 weeks into our treatment another Tyler family was hit with Leukemia in their 4 year old son, Jase. They were at the hospital with nothing and I knew that feeling all too well so I went yo Walgreens, made a care bag, and left it at the nurse’s desk for them with my phone number. Shauna, Jase’s mom text me that night and my first real cancer friendship was born. They visited us every week when they came for chemo and I just love them so.

6 days later, Sophie’s best friend from church, Addie Leigh and her precious mom Tami showed up with Leukemia as well. Tami and I were pregnant together and friends from church so obviously, God sent us both to Children’s for each other. We also are pretty similar to each other which is great! She has been invaluable to me and I’m so thankful for our growing friendship in the midst of the horrible.

In August, when Sophie relapsed, we sat in the ICU waiting room while she was sedated and intubated. I see a guy walk in with like 23 children! Ok-it was like 8 but it seemed like a ton to my tired brain. I hear his children asking ‘How can mom nurse the baby if the baby can’t go back in the icu room?!’ They were seriously distraught. I immediately interjected-sorry to eavesdrop but you guys need a Ronald McDonald room ASAP!-We quickly found out Dustin and Jessica were the parents of Abigail who had just had her kidney removed with a Whilm’s tumor. They were beginning their cancer journey right there where we did-in ICU. We’ve since formed the most incredible friendship with them!

Then lastly, my sweet friend Lindsey. I had seen her daughter Kaylynn for months but never reached out to them-self protection remember? Then in October (I think), I read on the Children’s page that Kaylynn was considered terminal and my heart just broke. The Lord was telling me to befriend her mom, there’s no other way to describe it. I felt this unexplainable pull to her. So I messaged her on Facebook and we ended up meeting in the hallway and sitting in a side sitting room on the 6th floor for an hour one day while both of our girls slept. I know now, we were meant to walk the ‘terminal’ road together.

These friends of mine mean more to me than I could ever tell them. I pray for their babies every morning and at night when I can’t sleep. I tell Soph about them when I visit her at the cemetery and I ask her to help them be brave like her. I will admit that I some days have a hard time texting them because….well….their kids are still here. But what’s so great about these friends is that-I know they understand and they love me still. I know they pray for me because they tell me every time they do. I HATE the circumstances that formed these friendships but oh how thankful I am for them.

j

Today. 6 weeks after losing Sophie, I will walk down those halls to see ALL FOUR of my friends. They are ALL at the hospital right now. The halls are still full. Cancer doesn’t change and it doesn’t stop. I’m dreading the walk up the skybridge and the ride up that stupid talking Train elevator. But at the same time, I’m SO looking forward to hugging my friends and THE NURSES!!!!!!! Oh I can’t wait to hug me some nurses!!!

I am a purpose driven person. Give me a task and I can make it work. So today, I have a purpose. Today I will hug my friends, pray for their children, bring them food, and bring goodies to make them all smile and feel a little less like cancer. I wish I could do more but, people did SO much for us that I’m so blessed to be able to do anything for my friends.

Today, I ask you to pray for us and for our friends.

1. Pray for Jonathan and I as we walk those halls and hug those necks. Just pray for us.

2. Pray for Abigail. Her surgery is today to remove 2 nodules from her lungs and test them for cancer. This is HUGE for the remainder of her treatment. Pray that she recovers well and is CANCER FREE!!

3. Pray for Addie Leigh. Addie has been inpatient for over 2 weeks now with fever, no immune system, nerve pain, and viruses. Pray big that she will bounce back and be able to go home soon! Pray that PT will work miraculously for her legs and feet!

4. Pray for Jase. He was admitted yesterday for fever, RSV, and 2 viruses. He also has ZERO immune system. Pray that antibiotics will kick these problems and pray protection over him.

5. Pray for Kaylynn. While she is considered terminal, she is getting palliative chemo to give her time with her mama. Pray for a miracle to save Kaylynn but also pray that she feels good and can make the most of her time with her family.

6. Finally, I ask you to pray about how you can help kids like this. Do some research into organizations that fund research for better chemo and cures!

I know its a lot to pray for but, there’s a lot of kids….and a lot of cancer. They deserve so much more. God is still good and He’s still bigger. He’s big enough for this and so much more.

#AbigailtheWarriorPrincess #AddiesArmy #HulkStrong #PrayingforKaylynn #DoMoreForSoph