Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A first time for everything

Clara's cancer has spawned a number of firsts. A few friends have joined facebook for the first time, presumably to receive the daily updates on Clara's condition. And now, I am making my first blog posting, both to assist Natasha in the daily updates and to share a portion of my experience in our family battle with this awful disease.

I drove up to Spokane this morning with the intention of sending Natasha back home with our car so she could have a day (or two) off and spend some time with the other children in their natural habitat. Our numerous visits with doctors prevented her from going home, but I don't think she could stand to be away from Clara anyway. Clara has been up and down again today. I think it's safe to assume that will be a blanket statement each day for the next year.

The physical therapist came with the wagon to take Clara for 15-20 minutes of PT this afternoon. Once Clara was out of bed, she didn't want to have anything to do with the wagon. She wanted to walk! So down the hall, to the elevator, and down another hall we went. During PT, she played with a number of toys, throwing them around the room and then walking or crawling to pick them up. After she finished her PT, she wanted to walk back to her room. All in all, she probably walked as much today as she has the whole time she's been in the hospital. Later in the afternoon, she went on a wagon ride, rode around in the little car, and went on another short walk. This was followed by a long nap - the poor girl was exhausted.

Since Friday Clara's eyes have not been tracking together. Her right eye has a tendency to cross and she has had a twitching problem when she sleeps. Today we met separately with a neurologist, an ophthalmologist, the surgeon and the oncologist about this issue. They each have their own theories, but this really is minor compared to everything else she's dealing with. In a message to a friend, I compared this to getting a blinker replaced when your transmission goes out. Each time we meet with the oncologist, it seems like Clara is throwing something at him that he's never seen before. Educationally, she's wonderful. Medically, she's a challenge.

During the past two weeks I have been in a state of constant amazement. Amazed at the strength and inspiring words of my wonderful wife through this ordeal, amazed at the resilience of our other four children, amazed at the kindness and generosity of family, friends, neighbors, and complete strangers in bearing this burden with us and helping to brighten what could otherwise be our darkest days. I am amazed by the transformation I've felt within myself - with potentially millions of dollars in hospital bills coming in our near future, I feel a sense of calm and peace that is completely out of character. It is amazing to me that when I think about what is really important in my life - my family, my faith, my friends, relationships, etc., none of the material things that envelop our lives really matter at all. This experience has truly helped me to re-consider my life's list of priorities. Finally, I am amazed to have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who suffered all that he might intimately know our pains, our fears and our agonies. He knows Clara's pain and our pain as we watch her fight this disease.

There is a hymn we sing in church which perfectly describes my emotions during the past few weeks.

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he would extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify

I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.


Whitney said...

So good to hear your perspective and faith, Brian. Hang in there. Hugs to you, Natasha, and Clara.

Anonymous said...

I really don't know what to say other than you are 2 of the most incredibly strong and faithful people I have ever met. My heart and prayers go out to Clara and ALL your precious little family!
It is little wonder why you are having to endure this trial! You are valiant! You are faithful and Heavenly Father knows you will come out of this even stronger than before (if that is possible) He already knows you will SUCCEED! He TRUSTS you!! I plead to Heavenly Father that He will bless your sweet family through this awful trial!!
Thank you both for strengthening my testimony by reading this blog!!

Krista said...

We are so proud of you and Natasha and we know that your strength comes from your faith in a loving Heavenly Father who knows your hearts during this trial. I can't say anything to you that you don't already know. We love you all and will support you in any way we possibly can.

Rachel said...

I love to read your posts...both Natasha,s and yours, Brian. I am inspired everyday by your faith. I feel, like, at a time when I should be helping you, you are actually helping me. Thank you for your inspiring examples of how to completly trust in the Lord and find peace during trials. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers.

Vanessa said...

I love that hymn. I come on here every morning to get an update on Clara, I always leave feeling spiritually uplifted. She is a special girl, thank you for sharing her with us.

Ben said...

Brian, thanks for the eternal perspective. It is wonderful that He has showed us the way to peace and comfort in this world of sorrow.

You and Natasha and Clara are truly following the optimum path and high road in what is an otherwise devastating situation. Hang in there! We pray for Clara daily.

The Mollotte Family said...

Thank you for your post, Brian. I check daily to see how Clara is and how you guys are doing. You and Natasha are both such amazing people. Your faith and attitude is uplifting to everyone who reads your tender words. I marvel at you as parents. . . for your strength, wisdom, unwaivering faith, and love for your children. You all are on my mind constantly and in my prayers always. I'm grateful to know you both, and more grateful to call you friends!

Becky Anderson

kathryn kelly johnston said...

As hard as it may be for you, im so thankful i can read yours and natasha's words about this. it has taught me so much! im always thinking about you guys and especially that sweet little girl! the prayers wont stop!!

LKP said...

brian, that hymn always tears me up anyhow, but coupled with your post, it brings new meaning and brims new tears. all of you have been so strong through everything. its more than admirable the metal you're made of. please hug your wife. and know that the peace you feel is real. once had an institute teacher say that peace is the only thing in this mortal life that lucifer cannot counterfeit. so trust the peace. ::hugs::
-the romms