In the Spring of 2011 Israelle (Izzy) began to complain that her tummy hurt. I have read that somewhere around 50% of all trips to the pediatrician are concerning ‘tummy aches‘ so I wasn’t surprised when our pediatrician treated her for heartburn and then constipation. But when none of it worked we were referred to GI. Over the course of several months we did x-rays and ultrasounds, endoscopies and blood work. Everything came back fine.
But Izzy wasn’t fine. She went from whining 3 to 4 times a week to screaming 3 to 4 times a day. She went from holding her tummy to dropping to her knees. She would wake up screaming in the middle of the night curled up in a tiny, helpless ball. They said she was fine but I knew something was wrong. I demanded answers. And on December 23rd I got them.
There is a certain kind of pain that goes so deep into your being that you feel it in places you didn’t know could feel emotion. It’s a kind of pain that doesn’t just leave scars, but takes massive chunks out of you when it finally leaves. It’s a kind of pain that once you’ve felt you can never forget. You remember exactly where you were when it’s waves knocked you down gasping for air.
I was in Izzy’s room when it’s waves hit me for the first time. I remember staring at a little pink clock with yellow hands on the side of her play kitchen. Time stopped as I heard the doctor’s words on the other end of the phone. Innocence ended. They had found a mass. A neuroblastoma.
Because of the holiday they didn’t operate until the 27th. Four days we waited. We stayed home and had a ’normal’ Christmas. They removed the tumor and the left adrenal gland where it had formed as well as the surrounding lymph nodes. It was staged 2B and she didn’t need any treatment. They said 90% of children go on to live healthy vibrant lives, but we weren’t fortunate enough to land in that 90%.
When her 6 month checkup finally rolled around in June, life was finally normal again. My son had just had neurosurgery to correct an issue with his spinal cord three weeks before and it was starting to feel like we might see some victory in 2012 after all. As we walked into the Oncology Clinic it had never crossed my mind that we might get bad news.
I was standing at the doctors desk staring at a computer screen when the waves hit me this time. He was showing us the images from the scan and pointing to the large mass that had formed since our last scan. Just like going under water his words got quieter. This time I was focusing on the large dark mass in front of my eyes. As he zoomed in from different angles I began to no longer hear what he was saying. I was absorbed by the darkness beginning to consume the scream. Days later we were told the neuroblastoma had spread to the bone. It was now Stage 4.
So here we are. I invite you on this journey with us as we begin the fight of our lives. As we cry out daily to the Lord for healing and stand firm in the authority He has given us to declare it.
1 May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.[b]
4 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
6 Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
9 Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!