Wow. It is so hard to believe that we have been traveling down the road called cancer for a year and a half. Tears spring forth into my eyes as I sit here and take a stroll down memory lane, remembering the journey that God graciously has brought us through. Learning to lean on Him like we've never done before. Learning that life really is a vapor and none of us know just how long our vapor may be. We had to learn to let go, not knowing what the future held. It was scary. It was heavy. And yet, He was faithful. He was our Comforter. We went forward considering this as a new and temporary mission field and yet God used it as a time of healing in our hearts. He used it to bring ministers of His grace to us. This was the hardest thing we have ever had to go through, and yet this was the best thing we could ever have gone through. Sounds weird, I know. But we are a different people because of it, I feel closer to my Lord because of it, I cherish my family more because of it. Life is beautiful.
|Arriving at Seattle Children's |
|Standing in the hall of Seattle Children's,|
about to embark on a journey like no other
This weekend marks a very significant part of the picture. One year ago, a 14 year old brother would willingly go into surgery to give a part of himself for his big sister that she might have life. I am so blessed to have had so many children that were willing and yet Daniel was chosen. I am so proud of you, my son! You were brave, dare I say excited? Yes, indeed he was excited! You would have thought he had won the Superbowl! It was such an exciting day...transplant day. A day where new life was given to one who would die without it. We prayed together before Daniel headed down for surgery. Then he was off. The anticipation was almost overwhelming. As the day wore on, the children all came to be there for the big moment. We gathered, we waited. Anna was so sick from the chemo, she was exhausted, but she was excited. It was the moment we had all been waiting for. After months of debilitating medications, work ups for this moment, the disappointment of having to wait even longer because her liver had suffered from the meds, and then the green light to move forward, finally we were here, it was time.
|A prayer for Daniel and Anna, as Daniel prepares to give|
his bone marrow and Anna prepares to receive it
The air was filled with excitement. This was much like a new birth day! The nurses all gathered in her room to sing, "Happy Transplant Day to You!" And then the bags of cells were hooked up....
|Happy Transplant Day to You!|
|Three bags of bone marrow given |
Again, Craig led in prayer over these cells, that they may bring life to our dear Anna-Renee. This was an emotionally charged moment that carried on to the next day, giving Anna two day zeros. It was a moment filled with gratitude. A brother who loves his sister so much that he counted it an honor to give of himself for her. The thought of how God created our bodies and what He has allowed mankind to learn about them and how to heal them amazes me. It is a thought that goes beyond what my finite mind can imagine. How you can kill a body's ability to make blood, and then add blood from someone with matching DNA and then watch as the body accepts it, and then starts making new blood from the donated cells. It truly is something only God can do!!!
|Let the transplant begin!|
|Very grateful for the gift of life from her brother|
|The nurse encouraging baby Selah that it's ok to touch Anna, even with tubes and wires|
|Most of the family once Daniel came up from surgery|
In the days following, Anna continued to battle sickness, her hair eventually did fall out. She had much to over come. But God allowed those cells to take. He brought forth life on day +12 into her blood. Anna grew stronger, eventually graduating to pills rather than iv meds and oral food rather than iv bags of nourishment. Through it all, we had encouragement from around the globe.
|A banner of encouragement|
Anna even celebrated her 17th birthday in the hospital, just one week after the transplant. Not a birthday filled with fun things to do, but one filled with a new outlook on life. There would be tough days and good days. Her body went through so much and yet her spirit soared! Her testimony of the goodness of her God was abundantly flowing from her countenance. She was a favorite amongst the staff. The doctors shared this with her as they confessed that they always saved her for last on their list during rounds so they could linger and enjoy a time of good conversation. She was an inspiration as she fought hard for health. She exercised through some of the most difficult times knowing this would help her to recover. She drank water like it was going out of style, also knowing this would help in her recovery and help her gvhd to heal.
|Anna's 17th birthday celebrated in the hospital|
|Princess Anna wanted a tiara for her birthday so Grandma sent one|
|A supportive brother|
|Showing off a new hat|
It was an extremely happy day when Anna got to leave the hospital for just a couple of hours! It would be the first time she had breathed in fresh air and got to feel the warmth of the sun on her skin in over a month.
|Excited about getting to leave the hospital for a few hours.|
Her first time outside in weeks!
And then the day came when she got to say goodbye. Goodbye to the nurses, the PAs, the doctors, her room, the hospital. The day she could go "home" to our Seattle house. It would still be months of appointments at SCCA, but she was free to enter back into family life again. Free to enjoy the beautiful sunny days of summer.
|One of Anna's favorite nurses!!!|
|Leaving the hospital to go "home" to the Seattle house|
|Anna's new wig, so adorable!|
On day +100 Anna was released with smiles from the care of SCCA. She was now free to go home. Our real home. The home she has spent most of her growing up in. She also was soon allowed to start coming back to church. Her immune system got stronger.
|Anna as a bride's maid|
On November 27, 2013, we received the news we'd been waiting for......the results of her 6 month bone marrow aspirate. Daddy got to share with Anna that there were 0.00000% cancer cells found in her bone marrow! Oh the joy that filled the room that day!
|Daddy telling her the test results...0.0000% cancer cells!!|
|Anna today...One Year Later! And Cancer Free!|
Today, Anna is healthy. We praise the Lord for His grace and His mercy! We praise Him that He has allowed our Anna to live! We know He has a purpose in all things we are allowed to go through and we pray that we will not waste the precious lessons learned along the way.
Happy one year anniversary Anna!!!