One year ago, while the east coast was buried under 30"+ of snow, Jordan and I found ourselves at Children's National Medical Center, trying to wrap our minds around the news we have been given a few hours prior. Our son had cancer. We sat in our room, trying to figure out how to tell our families, who to call first, what the next steps where, and how to be strong for our scared little boy. It was a blur of emotions and many many conversations with staff, in information overload, emotional overdrive.
The way all of this unfolded was just a whirlwind. As I said in the previous post, we had just been snowed in with some friends, during the biggest snow storm we had ever had. Our pediatrician is just amazing. And he knew a second storm was heading our way, and as soon as he could get to his office, he called me to see if we could come in before the second storm hit, just to see how the second antibiotics were affecting Jack. When we got there, what the Dr. saw concerned him. He told me we needed to get Jack to the ER to have specialist look at him. He was convinced that if Jack had Lyme disease, then we should have seen some improvement by then.
I drove over to where Jordan was studying, he was in a school of ministry at the time, and walked in the class full of fear. Jordan and his classmates talked to us, and prayed for us. The Lord really met me in those moments. I took Jack home, packed a bag, and got a plan going for what to do with our other kids. My dear friend Sandy, who has 6 kids of her own, joyfully took Tyler on, even without knowing how long we would be gone. Tyler could not have been in better hands.
Jordan and I discussed whether I should come or not, since we had Dylan with us who was only 10 weeks old and still nursing. I almost didn't go to the hospital. We thought that Jack might just get stronger IV antibiotics for the Lyme disease and come home the next day, never thinking he might have something more serious. Jordan had an overnight bag packed for him and Jack, and I grabbed a few things in my diaper bag for the baby. And we left, with the plan for me to head home once the snow started picking up.
Well, after a whole bunch of tests, several hours later, and about 4 inches of snow fall, the Dr's in the local ER sent us to Children's Hospital downtown. Still unclear as to what his diagnosis was, they said he needed to see some specialists. The info they gave us was vague, but the seriousness of what was going on became quiet clear. I googled what the symptoms I had heard were... which is never a good idea. I found Lymphoma, and was shocked. We packed up the car, and we headed to Bethesda, to trade cars with my dad, who had an SUV. Finally, around 11 pm, after driving in pretty rough weather we arrived at the ER in DC.
Unfortunately, upon arrival they said Jack needed another IV put in his other arm (he had one in already and it was covered with a diaper, so he wouldn't touch it). Again, another battery of tests began. My dear friend Lisa drove in the snow (and got quite lost on her way home) to be with us. Jack was amazing through it all. He snacked on the only food I had, a bag of Apple Jacks! He watched the movie Cars at least 4 times.
As the night wore on, i started feeling more and more nauseous. My stomach was churning. We were doing a lot of comforting each other and Jack. Jordan read me Psalm 46 several times. It was finally at 3 am, that the Dr, two nurses, and a social worker came into our room and said they had some news to share with us. We stood around Jack, Lisa holding Dylan, and braced ourselves.
They were kind, they were very sorry, but they had found that Jack had Leukemia. I don't even remember much of what they said after those words were said. My mind filled with questions. They told us we would be getting a room upstairs in the Oncology floor, and they asked us if we were ok. We asked to be left alone. Everyone left us alone with Jack. And then we wept. Hard. I don't think I can say more than that. Our hearts were broken.
So, how do you move on from that? We were moved upstairs, into a room with a crib (which is more akin to a cage) and knew that Jack would never sleep in that, he was already so scared and exhausted. So Jordan and Jack snuggled on the "couch" and I tried to sleep in the arm chair. Sleep was hard to come by, even though I was exhausted. The Dr.'s came to explain things to me at 6:30 am in a separate conference room while Jordan and Jack kept sleeping, and in a haze, I was given a plan for the next few days of what Jack would undergo.
It was a lot to process. I just remember going back to the room after that conversation with the Dr.'s, getting Jack's shirt he had been wearing the previous day, smelling his sweet smell, and crying out to God. How could this be? My heart's cry was one of true desperation. It was in those moments, alone in the bathroom with Jack's shirt, that I emptied my soul out to God. I cried harder than I thought I could, curled into a ball grieving for my baby. This time, alone and weeping, when one would think you would feel utterly alone and abandoned, I felt a glimmer of hope. And I found, in those moments, my God to be there, in my grief with me. His presence was tangible, his comfort real. In my despair, I knew that I was not abandoned, that Jack had not been forgotten by God. I knew in my heart, that if God would send his own son to die in my place, then he would surely be with Jack and our whole family. I walked out if the bathroom, grieving and uncertain of what was coming, but eager to be with Jordan and Jack and face what came with faith that God was there.
Jordan and I both say, that in those first days, it was amazing to see, that all the things we have read and studied in the Bible and believed about the Lord, were proven true. He IS faithful, he DOES sustain. Our lives were forever changed that day. But, I now see that it was this path the Lord has called us to. And he has been near to us every step of the way. Each day has had various challenges, but there has been grace for each of them, one day at a time. We have walked through things I never thought I could handle, yet here I am. By grace alone. Our God is bigger to me than ever before.
Thank you to so many hundreds of people who have prayed for us so many times. Thank you for your support, your care, your kindness, gifts, love... we have been carried by it and are undone, that a year has passed and you have been with us in it. Thank you.
I didn't have my camera, so all of these images are from Jordan's iphone... this is all I have of the first days of this journey.