1. a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship
2. an earnest hope or wish
3. a communion
My dearest friends,
I have been absent from writing for a little while. My heart has been busy in another place. I am putting pen to paper now, to ask for your help.
2016 has been a difficult one for our family. My older sister Kate, has been off work for the past year dealing with complications of Crohn’s Disease. This past summer, her wonderful husband, Shane, underwent successful, but frightening, heart surgery. Two weeks after he returned home, their eldest daughter, my beautiful 9 year old niece, Neave, was diagnosed with bone cancer.
It is not a secret, though we have been somewhat private about this journey. Mostly because we were in shock. Treatment began quickly and we were thrust into survival mode. Neave is a shy girl and all the attention that comes with a diagnosis like this is overwhelming and anxiety producing for her. But the quiet around this is also because… we’ve been here before. More than once. We’re war weary soldiers who are being sent back into battle on the front lines once again. And sometimes, that can only be faced in silence, surrounded by your familiar platoon.
But I’m sharing this with you now because we need you.
Neave is the eldest of 3 girls. Her sisters, Tily (7) and Poppy (4), are spaced out exactly as my sisters and I. And they’re very similar to the 3 of us. It’s like watching old home movies of your own life play out in 3D! Neave is smart, beautiful, incredibly creative, empathetic and misses nothing. Her kindness, tenacity and mama bear spirit, remind me of my sister. Her focus, organization and desire to make others happy, remind me of my brother-in-law. She’s a delightful mix of both of them, with a little something all her own thrown in for good measure. I’m her godmother, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
The back story; this past spring she complained of a pain in her right leg. It persisted and finally at the end of July, a tumor was found in her right femur. This cancer is called Ewing’s Sarcoma. The good news is that it hasn’t spread and it’s treatable. The bad news is that it’s there in the first place.
Neave has been undergoing chemo treatments and it is responding in a positive way, meaning; it’s shrinking. The next step is surgery. They will remove the portion of her right femur where the cancer has taken up residence. If you look at your own leg right now, picture the section of the bone above the knee and below the hip. Now picture it gone. They will then remove a bone from her left lower leg, (don’t panic, we have 2 bones there and apparently we only need 1 to keep moving! It’s like God designed us with spare parts, just in case). They will replace the portion of her right femur with the bone from her left leg, along with some other manufactured bits to add support. The expectation is that she will walk and swim and live a long, happy, independently mobile life with both of her miraculous legs. Following her recovery from surgery, about 10 days later, she will begin another round of chemotherapy. These cycles will continue until next spring. The intention is to make sure they obliterate any little cells that may have stayed behind. She will be working through some intense rehab, but she comes from a stubborn lot, so we know she’s got it in her!
Her surgery is on Thursday November 3rd. Tomorrow. One scary sleepless sleep away.
Here’s where we need you. We need your love. We need your prayers. We need your meditations and your positive vibes. Initially when this happened, among the multitude of thoughts that looped through my head was this one, “No! Not again! Our family can’t be at the forefront again! I can’t ask for help again”. But here I am. And I’m asking. Because we need it. We need your love.
I believe in the power of love. I believe that positivity and prayer, in whatever form that takes for you, sends ripples through the universe. So I ask you to send strength to Neave’s body and spirit. Send her courage to face the journey ahead. Send strength and love to her exceptional parents. They will be pacing around a surgical waiting room for the duration of the 12 hour procedure. Carry them in your hearts so that their steps may be lighter. Wrap Tily and Poppy in virtual hugs so they feel the absence in their home less profoundly. Send focus and knowledge and steadiness to her team of surgeons, so that their hands may be guided as though they were the hands of God himself. Send love now, into the eye of the storm. And when it has passed, and the journey of rebuilding begins, when you think of them, from time to time, I ask you to bring them all into your heart again, and send them more. I read this quote somewhere, maybe on a card while wandering the hospital gift shop, I can’t remember….it said, “There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved: It is God’s finger on man’s shoulder”. Please put your hand on our shoulder now and walk with us.
I will keep you updated as things move forward. It is sometimes difficult for Kate and Shane to respond to your correspondence in a timely manner only because energy stores are so low and everything they’ve got is being poured into healing and battling. But please know that every message and act of kindness buoys our spirits and keeps our lifeboat from sinking. If you pass messages through me, I will ensure the entire family receives them.
One realization during this particular odyssey with Neave, has been the importance of available blood for transfusions. Especially for these little ones, often blood transfusions mean the difference between getting their blood counts high enough to receive their very necessary chemotherapy or having to miss a treatment. So far, Neave has had to receive three blood transfusions and we are not yet half way through her required chemo cycles. So, thank you to any of you who have ever given blood. The Red Cross motto rings very true for us right now – it’s in you to give!
And so, onward we march. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. Armed with optimism and gratitude. Keep us in your hearts. You remain in ours.