I have a friend that is losing her son.
He is 10 years old and was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma when he was 5. I cannot imagine facing the death of a child. Staring it down, day after day, watching him get sick, having your hopes raised when he feels better, and feeling his pain right along with him when he gets sick again. They have been doing this for FIVE years. Things have been bad before, but now they seem to be going downhill faster than ever. The cancer is gaining momentum. The chemo isn't working, the meds aren't working, and he's in so much pain that he can't walk at times. All she and her husband can do is watch it happen.
God. Can you imagine? My friend is watching her baby suffer, and although he knows exactly what is happening, he doesn't understand why it is happening to him. And you and your husband can't explain to him or his little brother why it is happening to him because you don't understand it either. You are all terrified and no one has answers. You want to fight but you're running out of weapons to use and the doctors are telling you that there isn't anything else that they can do but to "make him comfortable."
Their lives consist of regular visits to St. Jude's, doses of steroids, side effects, mood swings, chemo, experimental drugs, trial applications and rejections, and loss of function of limbs only to regain them the next day.
Sometimes things seem to be going well and you allow yourself to forget the cancer, forget the inevitable that the doctors keep telling you about, and just slip right into a sense of normalcy. But in the back of your mind....in the back of your mind it it ALWAYS there. If your child has a pain or an ache you always wonder if it is the cancer. If his dinner doesn't sit well, you wonder if it is the cancer. You live in a constant state of fear. You exist on the edge of panic.
As a mother, your first thought in the morning is of your kids, and they are your last thoughts as you drift off to sleep at night. The mother of a child with cancer is no different, but her thoughts are clouded with fear, worry, pain, and uncertainty. My friend is an amazing woman. I would have crumbled years ago. My faith would have been shaken, possibly destroyed. Not her. She is literally the STRONGEST person I know. Her faith in God is unwavering. She is a woman of prayer.
Please join me in praying for Melissa Thomason, her husband Andy, their son Adam, and their son Evan, who is fighting this horrible disease. I believe in the power of prayer. Pray for a miracle. Pray for strength to deal what comes. Pray for peace to accept God's will. Just Pray. Please.
**Also, if any of you are (or know) State of Alabama teachers, Melissa is going on catastrophic leave as of September 6th. She has used up her leave caring for her old son and could use any and all leave donations. Her job is NOT something she should have to worry about when she is caring for her son.
I found the following couple of paragraphs that I wrote about Melissa a little more than a year ago for a class I taught at church, and I thought I'd share it here.
"She handles all of this with such an immense beauty of faith and strength -- I am in awe of her resolve and the persistence that she musters daily to be diligent in her walk with God while being EVERYTHING to Evan. She is his chauffeur, his nurse, his activities coordinator, and his mom. She never puts him in harm's way and she never lets him make excuses. She always has the knowledge of what is going on inside his little body in the back of her mind, and yet she still allows him to be a kid and she ENJOYS him. As a mother, I cannot imagine being able to do that -- I would want to keep him safe even if that meant never letting him go. She is someone that I have known for over 20 years and ever since I was 14, there were talents and traits that she had that I WISH I did, and the way that she handles her child in the face of this awful disease has revealed more of her amazing character, and made me want to be more like her than I did as an adolescent.
Faith is something that I strive for in my own life and when I struggle with the day to day, and I remember what her day to day is like, I am humbled by her faith and her strength. I hope that she knows that regardless of how we have moved on in our lives from the intimate friends that we once were, I think of her and Evan every day. I pray for God to heal him, to keep him happy, and to comfort him when he faces all of the things that no child should have to deal with. I pray for her -- I pray for her peace of mind, for her strength, and for her faith to continue to sustain her. And I give God thanks -- I thank Him that Evan has been able to have the quality of life that he has so far, that the disease has been so slow to progress, and that he has her and Andy as parents to help him through this."