In April, 2010, when Andrew was 2 1/2, a tumor was discovered behind his eye. The tumor was removed, but it was found to be an aggressive cancer. He endured seven months of chemo and six weeks radiation. In December of 2010, the day after his last treatment, he was rushed to the ER with an almost fatal bacterial infection. He survived.

He is now seven-years-old!! I don't visit here much, because during the ordeal, this is where I dumped everything--my rage, my fear, my sadness, my ugly, my hope, my everything. But I want all of you who supported and prayed for us to hear his updates. You helped me survive, and I am deeply thankful. Every once in awhile, I will check in to let you know how he's doing. Please continue to pray that cancer will never return to his body. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Today was the day. The day I have been dreading for three months.  The day that needed to happen before I could commit to flying to New York with John (him for work, me for fun).  The day that needed to happen before I signed Andrew up for preschool.  The day which has been giving me nightmares for more than a week.

Today was the day Andrew got his three month scans.  Scans which will be repeated every three months, hopefully for four years.  And then every six months for one year.  And then once a year for the rest of his life.  If all goes well.

At six a.m, I woke up before my alarm went off.  It was one of those restless nights that made me wonder if I slept at all.  I ate my breakfast, dragged Andrew out of bed, put him in his carseat (still dressed in his jammies) and broke the news:  "We have to go to the doctors' this morning.  They don't want you to eat anything until you are done, but I have a purse full of granola bars and juice boxes. I have your clothes and shoes in my bag."  He protested and cried a bit, but then fell silent for the rest of the drive.

Carrying Andrew in my arms, I made my way to the MRI waiting room.  The nurse walked in, almost immediately, and warned me, "The last MRI was found to be positive, so the radiologist is still talking with the parents.  We are running late."  I felt my whole body jerk back in shock.  Horrible memories flooded in.  My thoughts flew to the parents sitting on the other side of the door.

I wanted out of there. Now. My lungs started to tighten and take in smaller, stunted breaths.

I tried not to let my mind wander into the dangerous jungles of  "what if," but I was not very successful.  "If" this went bad, I pictured myself hiding in my bedroom under the covers in my room, loaded up on prescription drugs and oblivious to the world.  Yes, that is what I would do.

But WAIT.  I couldn't.  I have three boys and a husband.  I have to be there for Andrew.  It could not be that easy.  It would have to be a vivisection.  I would be ripped apart, while still breathing, and still awake.  My heart, soul and body would be dissected, and I would have to be awake and alive for all of it. 

My chest was pounding.

As my mind wandered, I noticed a little girl (about 8) across from me in a chair similar to mine, with light blue cushions.   Her mom was on the phone, several seats away, with her back turned, chatting to someone about how her husband "has been flirting on Facebook and she just won't take it anymore" and on and on.  The little girl's brother, about 2, was sitting in a stroller across from his sister.  The little girl smirked as she poked, teased, and made him cry.  I started to move forward in my seat, feeling like I might need to intervene (because her mother was oblivious to her son's cries and her daughter's bullying), and then I noticed the other side of the little girl's face.  A huge skin graft extended from the middle of her face all the way down her neck.  Her jaw was disfigured, and the scar across her cheek extended from her mouth to her ear.  Where are you God! My heart screamed.  I had to remind myself to breathe.

At this point, the nurse sent us upstairs for a chest x-ray.   After taking the elevator, and "following the lizard tiles," I entered another waiting room, and found another blue-cushioned seat.  My eyes quickly scanned my surroundings and discovered a little girl, no more than two, standing in the opposite corner of the room.  Pink and frilly and bald.  In my own corner, I heard the cry of a newborn baby and watched the concern on his mother's face as she held him close.

I thought of Japan and the holocaust and places worse than this and I felt food in my belly and clothes on my back and I saw people smile and I tried to convince myself that I was not in hell.

A nurse arrived to take us to the chest x-ray and Andrew cooperated, beautifully.  We headed back downstairs to the MRI room.   

During the last set of scans, the anesthesiologist wouldn't let me come with Andrew and as I handed him off to a strange woman in a white coat, Andrew screeched, all the way down the hall, "Where are you Mommy?! Where are you Mommy?!"   He spent the rest of the day asking me, "Why did you leave me?  Where did you go?" So this time, I let them know that I was coming in.  There was no option. They let me (and were actually very sweet).

While I held him, the doctor gave him medicine through his port-a-cath. He fell asleep, and I retreated to the waiting room, where I managed to read bits of my book, keep my eyes focused downward, and wait, again.

"How do these nurses do it?" I wondered to myself.  "Come to this hell everyday.  How do they do it?" And I found myself understanding and resenting the callousness that HAS to build up in order to do this work.

Andrew woke up, eventually.  He ate three granola bars and two juice boxes and held me tight as we made our way out into the wonderful, beautiful fresh air, where the ducks were sitting in the grass and the sky was a brilliant blue.

We drove home together, talking every so often, thankful to be able to escape from that place of pain and horror. 

And then we got home, to the worst waiting of all.  I expected to agonize all night and partly into tomorrow.

But around five p.m this evening, my nurse called to say that everything was clear.  All clear.


  1. I'm crying. I am so glad...about the all clear.

    God is good. Even if there are other children with cancer? Even in hospitals? I tell myself yes. I hate taking Shel to the hospital. When I'm there, my yes is very quiet and whispery. I can't imagine if I had to spend as much time in a children's hospital as you guys have. I can't imagine if I wandered in and had them find something actually wrong with him and had to stay. I don't know where my "yes" would go...and that scares me. I am trying to think about these things, because tsunamis and cancer do happen, and they happen without notice. I don't know if I could do it.
    I really admire you, and your non calloused heart.

    but anyway, I'm just so so glad he has a CLEAR result.

  2. So, so very pleased for all of you.
    I think I was holding my breath the entire time I read your post.
    Yay Andrew, and yay Mum for getting through another tough day.

  3. I'm so so glad you got the "all clear." What a rough day though. I don't know if it will get easier with each successive scan, but I sure hope so.

  4. Clear results sounds wonderful! I don't know how the nurses do it. My heart couldn't take it.

  5. The detail that strikes me most is the lizard tiles. What a contrast of fun, childlike objects in an otherwise scary and very grown-up place. And "all clear" might just be the sweetest words in the entire world.

  6. Tears in my eyes, Julie.
    Wow, it's rough in there. You're an amazingly strong woman, to know what's going to happen, and just be there through it.

  7. Praise the Lord! That's amazing news! I've got tears running down my face for your precious baby boy right now. =)

    (And just so you know--not all of oncology nurses are calloused. I'm sorry yours have been mostly that way--although for one to call you at 5pm to give you good results means that she also isn't quite as calloused as others. I spend many moments in tears and aching for my patients and their families. I do try not to show it to them, but it happens--often. And although I try not to show them my tears or aching--I always show them love.)

  8. You are a beautiful and amazing woman, Julie! I'm so happy Andrew got the all clear!!! I had to skip down to the end before I went back and read your whole post...
    Thank you for reminding my heart to be grateful. :)

  9. I am so excited to hear that. Praying that his scans continue to be clear.

  10. Can you hear me shouting with joy??!!!! Praise GOD, JULIE!!!!!!! This post was difficult to ready, even with it's happy ending. I thank you for that though because it brings me into a world I don't know, but a world that I should be praying for day in and day out.

    All of you enjoy this blessed day and the days to come!!!!

  11. I'm so glad that Andrew is "all clear" and that you were able to go in with him. We can go through so much more when we know we're not alone, right???

  12. so glad to hear that everything is all clear! i hope that now you can breathe deeply and sleep soundly.

  13. So glad to hear that Andrews scans were clear, hoping and praying that the rest of his scans are clear as well. Sounds like a really rough day, hugs to you all.

  14. Congratulations. I am so sorry the nurse told you that the dr. was in with a family that had bad news.

  15. Praise God! So glad to hear this news! I pray that Andrew's scans continue to be clear.

  16. many MANY many tears of JOY for you and your family :D BIG HUGS!!!

  17. Oh, thank heavens...I'm so glad you didn't have to wait longer for the news, and overjoyed that the news was perfect. I'll keep praying for you guys, and for all the other kiddos and parents walking those lizard tiles :(

  18. That boy has a talent for breaking hearts! His story is so hard but he has incredible strength and gentleness. I can't wait for him to grow up, the girls will be all over him. That was amazing news!!!!!!!!! Thank you for sharing it! Love to you and your sweet family! Sleep well tonight!

  19. Congrats on the all clear! There are no better words spoken from medical professionals. Here is to many, many more to come!!

    The last time we were getting our scan I wondered the same thing about how anyone would be able to get up and do this every single day and then while waiting in our oncologist office I saw one of our favorite nurses walk in with her three year old son. Broke my heart. He was diagnosed a couple months after Monkey and we had wondered where she had gone to, now we know. While talking to her she was returning to work the following day after being gone for over six months...I don't know how she does it!

  20. I am indescribably happy for you all. I have followed your journey, holding my breath at times as you lay your heart open. I so clearly remember the first 3 month scan, and how terrified I was, all the while trying not to show it as I walked through the doors of the cancer clinic with my 14 year old daughter. How grateful I am for Dr's and nurses who know how gut wrenching the waiting can be, so they call you that same evening, even if it is at 11:00 p.m.
    Breathe and enjoy the "all clear", the first of many.

  21. Oh. Thank. GOD!!!! ((((hugs))))
    Julie you are so brave and I have you in my prayers so often. Andrew is in my heart thousands of miles away.

  22. Those are two wonderful little words ("All clear")! So very very happy for you and for Andrew and for all of the people out there that love the little guy.

  23. So, so glad that the first set of scans went well and came with wonderful results.

    I am thankful every single day that I was chosen to be on this earth to do this work. I don't have any idea how God equips me to do it every day but what I can tell you is that the calling itself is how I am able to not be calloused. All of the days that I get to call and give good, amazing, great news make up for the few days that are earth-shatteringly sad. Hope does it for me every day, every moment. While my family has to share me with many, many little ones and their families, it is a joy to love my patients as if they were my own children.

  24. I think I already commented on FB, but I'm just getting caught up on my blogs.
    I'm so happy that you got the 'all clear'. Scan days are so hard, but every one is one step further away from the nightmare.


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