A Day in the Playroom

This stay has gone well for us. Izzy triumphed through chemo this round though she now has C DIFF, a bacteria infection in her GI tract. We didn’t get out of here today as we had hoped but we will still have a good two weeks at home before surgery if we leave soon. We’ll have to come back a few times for scans but I’ll take it. Until she got placed in isolation yesterday because of the infection we were spending large portions of our days down in the playroom. Here is a small glimpse of what you’d see down there if you could go.

She reached across the table for the bottles of sand, studying each color closely before choosing. So far in her bottle of sand there were beautiful thick and thin layers of pink, green and blue. Purple. The next layer would be purple because the next layer of Izzy’s bottle was purple. The two girls were copying each other from one project to the next in the playroom. There wasn’t much room around the table with the two girls, their IV poles with chemo running and the other mother and I. But they didn’t mind. They were squeezed in, elbow to elbow, to the mostly boy dominated playroom thankful to have found a companion interested in something other than Legos.

She was around Izzy’s age. She’d just celebrated her fifth birthday in the hospital during her last stay. We had first met her the night before her birthday in this same playroom. She had sat on her mom’s lap with her head fallen on her shoulder, tears streaming down her face. All she wanted was to go home and be with her dog on her birthday. A perfectly reasonable and heart breaking request.

Each time they poured  more sand in they watched in awe as it ran through tiny funnels into their butterfly shaped bottles.The girls continued to create jars of sand each paying close attention to what the other did but not speaking.  I watched the girls thinking back to the first time I had talked to her mother that first night. We had sat at that same brightly colored table with shiny chrome legs chatting about our stories. It’s interesting here, the fine line between idle chitchat and the most intimate details of your life. We talked of how it all began, her story strikingly similar to our own. It was then I found out the girls shared the same diagnosis. Stage IV Neuroblastoma. She told me they were only a month or so ahead of us in treatment. We knew we would be crossing paths a lot in the year or so to come. But we also knew the inevitable, statistically one of our daughters would not survive. Fortunately I know we can both put our hope in something other than statistics. But it’s still hard not to think about it whenever I see the two of them together.

At another table there’s a boy around ten building with Legos with his brother. He angers easily getting bored with one game and wanting to move on to another. At first glance his emotions seem out of proportion for his age. But he and his father have been there three and a half months straight and he’s in a wheel chair his legs too weak from the cancer that’s in his bones. Can you imagine how irritated you would be?

Over by the toy kitchen there’s a little fifteen month playing with pots and pans on the floor. Within five minutes he starts to wander out into the hall and his mom jumps up, just steps behind him. Between naps he runs from one end of the hall to the next looking for anything new to get his hands on. He grins from ear to ear like any other toddler anytime he catches you looking at him. You can see his eyes light up even behind his tiny protective mask. His family comes for thirty five days at a time and then goes home for ten and comes back to do it all over again. His parents are believers and his mother is one of the only parents I’ve really been able to relate to. They have two other children, three and five that are two hours away.

And then sitting alone in the corner in hospital clothes is the child that has won my heart completely. Three years old he sits playing video games his feet swinging from the oversized chair.  With fair skin and remnants of blonde hair he watches the screen intently laughing when the Lego Batman guys fall apart. But there’s no parent nearby to laugh with him.  Ever. He is living here during his treatment, alone. He, too, has the same diagnosis as Izzy, but for reasons I can’t imagine he never gets to go home, whatever home looks like. He started treatment right before us and in all this time I’ve only seen a visitor here once for a little over an hour. Who is this child suffering all alone? I know his name but nothing more. His birthday is coming up just around the corner. I asked him yesterday what he wanted and with bright eyes he told me a semi truck. He always lists a couple other things too, but at the top of the list is always simply a semi truck. They do a fabulous job around here with inpatient birthdays and I’ m sure his will be no exception. And believe me, one way or another that child will have a semi truck on his birthday. But I wonder if anyone will come to see him or stay over. If for a moment someone would come and fill the silence in his room.

These are a handful of the children that sleep right down the halls from us each night. And in the midst of your prayers for Izzy, I would ask you to pray for God’s presence on this floor completely. These are five stories of the countless here on any given day. All of them are desperate for the love of God to carry them through this season. Some more so than others. We all walk around tired, scared and shell shocked at times seldom prepared for what the day has given us. My prayer is that this season would be a radical season of hope around here like no one has ever seen. Today I have hope for that. I have hope for the love of God to come here in such a passionate and contagious way that it shatters fear. It shatters hopelessness and it shatters whatever other kinds of nonsense the enemy has intended to bring with pediatric cancer.  And thanks for praying for joy for me by the way. I think I got it and a whole lot of other good stuff too.

15 Replies to “A Day in the Playroom”

  1. I will definitely pray for God’s presence!!! And I know someone will get the semi truck!!! I’m so thankful the “joy” prayer was answered!!

  2. First Christian Church of C’ville prayer group meets in a few minutes and you can be sure the heart-felt concerns of your email will be lifted up for Izzy, all in the playroom, and in the hospital.

  3. Molly, you are so amazing. Of course we would love to pray for all the children and siblings and parents. I can’t imagine why that little boy has to be there alone. It’s hard to digest that one. We will pray for all of the above that you have asked, and I thank God that you are there to request prayer for these others. Let’s ALL surround the entire floor with much prayer, and, less and less enemy!!! God has you there, at this time, with those exact people for a reason!! Love you!!!

  4. Prayers for the whole floor. My heart is breaking for the little boy who is alone may God hold him in his plam of his hand and keep him safe. May God bless you all.

  5. Can the little boy who is there all alone have visitors? I would love to come visit if possible. I drove by the hospital earlier today and thought of stopping by…..and now i read this and wish i would have. everyone deserves someone to be there for them.

  6. I started reading your a blog just a few months ago from the suggestion of, I believe, your uncle, Dr. Bob Laurent. I would love to send this little boy some birthday gifts. Whenever you have a chance, could you email me his name and the hospital’s address? Thank you! Also, please know that I am praying for you and your little girl and also for your husband and your son. I check your blog often and am praying for complete healing for Izzy.

    1. Hey Angela! So I’ve gotten so many emails today about the little boy and I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to handle it. Here’s what I’vew decided. I don’t want to give out all his info to everyone just because I want to honor him and his family’s privacy. I’m going to put all the stuff together that everyone sends and just put it in front of his door the morning of his birthday (because I can’t really go in his room :)) and I just don’t want everyone around here knowing I”m the one organizing it. If you’d like to mail something to my house I’d be more than happy to include it! i just need it before Sunday, September 30th! Thanks so much for your willingness to give!


      1. Thank you for replying so quickly as I am sure you are very busy. I will be sure to send his gift to your place within the next few days. Once again, I will continue to pray for you and dear Izzy.

  7. Molly, I have too have been reading your blog from day one. I’m more then amazed at your strength and even more amazed that every picture you post of your beautiful Izzy she always has a smile on her face. I hope some day to meet the both of you. My beautiful daughter is Alex B girlfriend I heard your story from Alex and have continued to follow it along with several of my co-workers. I would like to send a gift to this poor child that isn’t as lucky as Izzy to have such an amazing mother. I also would like to send something to Izzy as well, Could you please let me know what Izzy likes…. I know she loves PINK! also what did this little guy mention other then the semi truck that he would like to have. I’m sure you don’t want to post your address on here so I assume I can get that from the Burks. I will be taking my 75 yr old mother for her 1st Chemo treatment tomorrow… I sure hope we can have half the strength you have. I will continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.


  8. I started reading your blog in August from a friend of mine Kelly Davis. Your daughters and family struggles make me have faith and so much hope. We pray for your family daily and I read your posts weekly! Todays post touched my hear the most about that little boy who is all by himself. I can not imagine why he would have to deal with this all on his own! I know in my heart god is there with him. I would love to send something for him! My name is Stacy and I have a daughter Addison who is 4 and a daughter who is 22 months. My heart truly goes out to all of you and I will keep all of you in my prayers! God Bless

  9. Molly, I learned of your blog from Dr. Bob this past weekend at church. I am touched by Izzy’s struggle and your narrative of life in this new sphere of a family dealing with cancer. I pray that God’s plan for your family includes healing for Izzy.

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