We’ve been in this hospital for what seems like forever. Aside from two nights at home, tomorrow will be two weeks. Her white count began to rise today and we’re hopeful it will be ready for the harvest on Tuesday. Tomorrow is the surgical placement of the line for that harvest of marrow. Her platelets haven’t been high enough for them to do the surgery safely so she received a transfusion today. She will likely receive another before surgery tomorrow.
This week I’ve begun to meet some of the other families on the hem/onc floor. I am naturally drawn to ask them their stories and they are more than willing to share them. There are just so many children here and so much heartache. Each door along the hall represents another familiy’s painful journey. The children, the children here endure both physical and emotional pain. Btheist doesn’t end with them. The emotional pain goes way beyond their little bodies. This pain hits mothers, it hits fathers and it hits siblings. It’s found it’s way to granparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It’s found it’s way to communities and family friends.
Pediatric cancer does not descrimate. It does not care if it’s victims are black, white or latino, girl or boy, infant, toddler or teen. It just strikes. Our floor is a melting pot of culture and even language. But we share stories with one common thread. Lives broken by a devastating new way of doing life. Lives constantly on the verge of losing hope.
Stage IV High Risk Neuroblastoma. Everytime they read her diagnosis aloud in rounds I am tempted to lose hope. Neuroblastoma is among the hardest pediatric cancers to cure and that’s why once it hits Stage IV it’s considered High Risk. It takes every type of therapy to fight it. I don’t know how I function in the day to day with that knowledge. I block it out I guess. I can’t walk with it hanging it front of my eyes, so I tuck it away in the back of my mind to a little dusty corner. I try not to look at it until the next morning when they read it on her chart like it’s part of her identity, “Israelle Mattocks, age 4, Stage IV High Risk Neuroblastoma.” But I know it’s not part of her identity so I smile kindly and hold my head up high. She is not defined by this disease.
Thursday morning I got a text from a friend who said she had been praying for our family. She said that while she was praying she saw a picture of a boat in the water, but God was holding it still. She also said she saw God touching Izzy’s heart and blessing her. I thanked her for her faithfulness in prayin for us but I have to admit my initial thought was that I was glad God was showing her pictures for our family because He certainly wasn’t showing me any.
Later that day another family friend was at the hospital with us and she asked Izzy if God had been showing her any pictures in her dreams. Izzy just looked at her rather confused and nodded that she hadn’t. Our friend told Izzy that God could show her pictures in her dreams that He could bless her while she was sleeping. Again, I’m thinking to myself, He’s not showing us any pictures here in cancerville. It wasn’t that I didn’t think God could show her a picture, I just seriously doubted he had or that she’d recognize it if He did.
A few hours later Izzy and I were down in the play room. Her favorite thing to do there is paint at the easel. I love her work. Her timeless pieces of rainbows and suns melt my heart. But this time I could tell she was making something different. I watched for a while and still unsure, I asked. “What are you making Iz?”
“A boat. A parked boat.” she replied and then continued with her work. My mind instantly went back to my friend’s picture from earlier that morning of a boat held securely in God’s hands. Chills ran through my body as it seemed that Izzy had been inspired with the same image. I could not believe my eyes. I mean, let’s just say for a minute she doesn’t always stick to rainbows and suns. Let’s pretend she was more random. Who draws a parked boat?
I don’t know if Izzy felt blessed in painting that boat. If a supernatural peace fell on her while she worked. Or if she had or will see pictures of still boats in her dreams. But I know that I was blessed beyond belief. No, God hasn’t been showing me the type of pictures I’m used to. Like a certain pictures that comes to mind while praying or worshipping. Instead He showed me a real live picture on paper. A picture that came flowing through my daughter, whose body remains His vessel no matter what the enemy is trying to do. To me this one is way better.