Friday, December 20, 2013

Amazing God


     The last few days have been nothing short of miraculous and remarkable.  Our little Hazel is finally back! She is talking and signing like her old self and has made such extreme progress in all her therapies. She has even been walking across the room with her walker! God has worked such a miracle and has given us the best Christmas present of all: WE ARE GOING HOME BY NEXT FRIDAY AND POSSIBLY EVEN ON CHRISTMAS EVE!!!!!!!!!!!  We never dared to hope for this after hearing Hazel's initial assessment of needing to stay 4-6 weeks, but God knows the deepest desires of our hearts and gave such strength to our little girl that He is making it happen! We are beyond elated and hope you all will celebrate with us!
     One more thing I would like to share is about many messages I have received over the last eight months. Many people have commented or asked how a loving and good God could have done something like this to our daughter.  This very question is something we have asked ourselves as well. And honestly, I truly dislike that cookie cutter answer of "It's all in the plan". As Christian's, yes, we do believe that God has a bigger plan and that whatever happens in our short lives while on earth, it plays a small role in the bigger picture. But I also believe there is something else at play here. I truly believe that cancer is not something that God inflicts on His people, but it is a product of living in a broken, sinful world where Satan is allowed to do his worst. Our family has been inflicted with this calamity, sure, but so many unexpected things have come out of it. It says in the Bible that God uses our suffering and pulls out the good from it. I have seen God more vividly than I ever dreamed possible, and so have my children. Any doubts that I had in my belief in Him have been dispelled and I would not change that for anything. Also, He has shown me the amazing intricacies and power of the human body which have only led me to believe more and more that He divinely created us. Its doesn't make any sense to me that Hazel's body, fighting the way it has, could be an accident. Also, we have seen THOUSANDS of people affected for good because of our family's journey. We have been given the ability to change the world of childhood cancer at a global scale and we feel so thankful for that as well. We also have all grown so close together as a family in a way that we would never have otherwise. We take NOTHING for granted anymore. We also have seen that without this suffering, our family would not understand compassion the way that we have. Our kids and family are helping & caring for others and we have seen so much compassion for our family as well.  And lastly, I have come to understand God's long suffering in such a tangible way and have been able to learn more from that than any other thing in my life. He suffered in the most horrific way. Not only did Jesus (God incarnate) have to die and suffer in the most horrific way imaginable, but His Father had to watch His son go through it. I feel, in some small way, we have been able to understand that suffering and are able to learn so much from Him in how He handled it. He has given us so much strength, peace, courage and understanding. And I absolutely know that is GRIEVES HIS HEART to watch his children go through this kind of suffering, but ultimately we know that it will only make all of eternity with no suffering that much sweeter!
     I will let you all know what day we get to go home, but I may not post for a little while because I wanted to enjoy EVERY SECOND we get a home! Have a wonderful Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013



     First, I want to thank you all so much for your comments, messages, thoughts and prayers over these last 10 days.  It has been so busy, and quite overwhelming at times, so knowing how many people are behind us and rooting for our little family helps keep us going.  Now our little Hazelnut has been moved to the inpatient rehabilitation floor and has been there since Monday.  We knew she had a long road of recovery ahead of her and were hoping so much that she could do it from home, but this was not the case.  Dr. Craig, the head rehab doctor told us she is a very complex patient and may need anywhere from 4-6 weeks of inpatient therapy.  Of course we will do whatever it takes to get our daughter back to where she needs to be, but this news was so heartbreaking for us.  We wanted so badly to be home for Christmas and to finally be all together as a family once again, and now we have to wait so much longer!  They did tell us, however, that in all likelihood, she can get a 12-hour leave pass to come home on Christmas day! So we will take it!  
     Her days on this unit are intense and long.  She goes through three hours of therapies, consisting of: speech, occupational and physical.  These are usually broken up into half-hour or hour sessions spread throughout the day with breaks for meals and nap time.  As part of her physical therapy she has had two casts put on her legs.  Her heels, calves and hamstrings are so tight after being in bed as long as she was, and the casts are being used to helps stretch them out so we can get her standing and walking again. Upon arrival here, Hazel was very weary and untrusting of everyone around her.  The huge strides she made before seemed to disappear overnight.  She clammed up and seemed almost defeated.  This of course took quite a toll on me (which everyone seemed to notice).  But as time has gone on, she has warmed up and become comfortable with her routine and her therapists, which is making all of our jobs much easier.  Another thing that has lifted her spirits is the fact that we are finally allowed to go downstairs and outside!!!  This has done wonders for all of us!!  She even had her siblings come for a visit and many tears were shed by all of us.  
     Now on top of rehab, we have also had to move forward with her cancer treatment, which means we began radiation on Thursday.  I think I will save all the details of this for another post, because it is a complex process.  But I do want to share something else that has been truly remarkable.  Over this last week, I have been praying, and asking others to pray very specifically that we could finally see a glimmer of our little Hazelnut come through.  It has been about a month and a half since we have really seen our daughter and Aaron and I have had hearts full of anguish.  Well I am happy to report that our God is a faithful God!  He knows when our hearts are weary and how to lift us up.  For He promises in Isaiah 40:31: "but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." His answer to prayer came Thursday afternoon.  It was as if something was plugged in and Hazel just showed up!  She has been talking so much and has used so many words and phrases that are so very specific to her and it has been unbelievable!  She also has sang the lyrics to entire songs, is playing with toys the way they should be played with, is staying on task and is being playful and goofy!  It has been a wondrous few days so thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers!!!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Best Days In Weeks!


     I came back to the hospital on Tuesday after a much needed break at home and a quick weekend getaway with Aaron (something we absolutely needed much more than we realized), and our little Hazelnut has made some huge strides!  She has been saying words and even took a few steps!  When she walked yesterday, she was so proud of herself and started smiling halfway through.  She walked back and forth from the couch the the bed about three or four time and that tired her out for the rest of the day and after seemed to shut down.  When she woke up this morning, she still seemed to be in a bad mood and quite tired, so we didn't push her at all.  But then, as we watched the movie "Brave", she started laughing and perked right up.  After this mood change things started happening!  She spent the whole afternoon and evening saying so many different words (mostly just one at a time, but a few two-word phrases), smiling and giggling, and answering simple questions!  She would also complete song lyrics by filling in words.  For example, I would sing "Twinkle, twinkle, little:" and she would say "star"!  While watching her favorite movie "Tangled" she would say words just before a line was spoken.  And, most preciously, she said "AMEN" after we finished praying before bedtime! She hasn't done any of this in weeks, and today I felt like we had the small first glimpse of our little Hazelnut, so I am absolutely elated! THANK YOU GOD FOR GIVING US A MIRACLE!!!
     Another wonderful thing that happened today was that we were moved out of the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit to the regular Oncology Unit.  This means Hazel is out of isolation and we can get her out and about.  I know this will do wonders for her!  It also means I don't have to leave the room every time I need to use the restroom or eat; I don't have to wear blue shoe covers at all times; and I can see more of my family while here at the hospital.  So this is great news for me as well.  
     Hazel still has quite a bit of recovery ahead of her, and tomorrow she will be evaluated by the rehabilitation team to determine if she will need be moved upstairs for inpatient rehab, and for how long.  Please pray that if she needs it, it will only be for a short while, and that God will aid her little body in a speedy recovery so we can get home!  Physically, her body is showing small improvements every day and we are so much more hopeful that it is being healed the way that it needs to be, so it is clear to us that God has been hearing all of our cries!