Thursday, 13 September 2012
In honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Day, today, September 13th, I want to post a story about a good friend of mine. Shanda and I went to college together, we were very close. This is her story in her own words.
Calla was born 12 weeks early at just 1 pound, 10 ounces. She was in the NICU for 14 weeks with some scary moments, but overall, minimal complications. At the time, we thought this was the just the most awful, terrible experience that we could ever endure.
On Halloween night 2007, I took Calla (20 months old) to the ER. For over a week, Calla had not eaten, but was throwing up. She had also been stumbling and falling a lot. An inner ear infection was suspected, so she was prescribed antibiotics. I grew very concerned when she became extremely fussy while trick-or-treating and refused to walk or even be put down. She became lethargic. As I drove to the ER, I remember praying "God, just let everything be okay."
To say that I was shocked when the ER doctor told me that the CT revealed a "mass in your daughter's brain" doesn't even cover it. I cried as I held my precious, sleeping Calla in my arms. My husband was at work and had to learn of this terrible thing via his voicemail. I really can't believe he could distinguish anything understandable in the message I left him through the hyperventilating and screams and wails. Our lives were about to be forever changed. Changed in all ways imaginable.
Calla was taken by ambulance to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite that very night. The next morning, she had her very first surgery to place an EVD (External Ventricular Drain) to relieve the immense pressure in her brain.
Four days later, Calla had a 6-hour surgery (craniotomy/laminectomy/resection) to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Entire removal was not expected, but God, with our neurosurgeon, Dr. Boydston, exceeded our expectations! There was one, solitary 4mm bead left of the tumor. It was located on Calla's brainstem, too risky to touch.
Calla was admitted into the CIRU (Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit) about 2 weeks later. She spent another almost-3-weeks, receiving intense Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapies. Calla had another operation to put a PEG-tube in, since the surgery had left her without the ability to swallow without aspirating.
Two weeks later, Calla had an operation to put in a port. Her chemotherapy regimen included 4 cycles of inpatient administration. Since the cycles were very high-risk for side effects, Calla ended up back in the hospital, inpatient, after each time, for infection. The chemo was completed in February 2008.
In March 2008, Calla began focused Radiation Therapy to the tumor bed. After 6 weeks of treatment (30 visits), she completed RT in early May 2008.
Calla's MRIs have been free and clear ever since!
We praise God for all of the many miracles that we have seen in Calla's short life. We trust Him to deliver us through whatever perils lie ahead for us. (We just hope we've seen the end of life-threatening drama!) Whether our future holds happiness or sorrow, we know that He is in control.