Life is raw. Life is bold.
Life is scary. Life is miraculous.
Life is empty. Life is full.
Life is…full of blessings.
I’ll never forget that day two years ago, sitting with my husband in the oncology department waiting for the dreaded words from the doctor, “You have cancer.” Holding his hand and talking it out, knowing God is watching over us and whatever path He is taking us on has a purpose. “It’s cancer, a rare form. It’s called Subcutaneous B-Cell Lymphoma, a cancer of the skin…and it’s treatable.” Those words, those very words, I never knew would lead us down the path that takes us to today and the blessings of the life we are continuing to build.
Within that same month of March 2012, we also got hit with some more news. I remember driving to my sons’ after school care at the YMCA, on my way to pick up my 5 year-old Jesse from yet another “incident”, this time his impulsive behavior going just too far and being officially expelled from daycare.
Since October of 2011 Jesse had been diagnosed with ADHD, after being sent to the principal’s office in Kindergarten 3 times in the first week of school. He had been started on ADHD medicine shorty after that, because his focus and impulsive behaviors needed to be put in check. A few months went by and he still continued to struggle. Math was just a bunch of jumbled numbers, words made no sense, and sitting in a classroom was like sitting in a crowded hall with music blaring.
Reading the teacher’s evaluation, that something still “was not right” about Jesse, had both Johnny and I in denial. But we knew, from the pit our hearts, that something was in fact wrong. “Jesse just sits and rocks back and forth.” “Jesse doesn’t focus; he just looks off as if he daydreaming.” “Jesse doesn’t play with the other kids; he just shows them HIS things, and they look at him funny.”
“Jesse has Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Those were the doctor’s words after having Jesse evaluated after concern from the school, and questions in our minds. Had his Kindergarten teacher not been his first advocate, we may have struggled endlessly with him.
March 2012, the month that changed our lives. That day, driving to my sons’ after school care at the YMCA, God told my childhood friend Stacy to call me. She needs you, He told her. The same moment I was picking up Jesse from daycare for the last time. The waterworks came out and I cried to my friend until I was spent. My husband has cancer. My baby has ADHD and now may possibly have autism. How can I keep my family together when I can’t keep myself together?
Because the entire time, God had our back. And we were facing this new trial for a reason. We went on to have Jesse tested further, throughout the next year he went through testings and state program evaluations. We found a new church and fell in love. We found daycares accepting of autistic children. We found our old private Christian school for preschool and 4th grade for our other boys. We found Him again. God was always working in our lives.
My husband went through 3 and then 6 month treatments of local steroid injections. Each time his CTs coming up clear, his blood work free of cancer.
And Jesse continued on trial runs of ADHD medication, Special Day Classes and Summer School and my husband and I always being his advocate. He improved immensely in school. His grades picked up. He was READING! He was getting the help he needed with the public school system.
And through this all, I wanted another baby. We had our 8 year-old, our 6 year-old and our 2 year-old. My husband was scared. Scared he would pass his cancer on to the child. Scared the next child would be born with autism. Scared I would have a hard pregnancy, as our last son was born 5 1/2 weeks premature due to a water leak.
In my heart I felt it was still there, but in respect for my husband, I let it go.
I continued to live each day strong, being there for my family and my babies. Working full time, exercising for health, squeezing in doctor appointments, going to my husband’s doctor appointments, holding his hand with each one.
And we continued seeking support for our autistic son. And just as we began the process for ABA therapy for Jesse, just before Christmas of 2013, my husband found a lump in his abdomen. Two days before Christmas. He had blood work done on the 23rd of December. But we didn’t tell anyone; we couldn’t give anyone else the worry we were already feeling.
And we went to another CT together the following month. And I remember telling my husband that night, in all rawness and emotion I could convey, “Honey, I want another baby. I FEEL like it’s time. Everything is telling me it’s time. I KNOW everything will be alright!” His blood work was clear, as the doctor didn’t call us in right away. His CT was precautionary, in case any biopsies needed to be done. And the next week as we went in for consultation with the surgeon, we had a moment of relief. Johnny has a Lypoma, a small fatty benign tumor under the surface of his skin. The doctor said they may or may not be because he already has the Lymphoma, but it is nothing to worry about, and he will be okay.
That month, January 2014, a new year, Johnny was in the clear of new worry. And Jesse was beginning ABA therapy. And at some point last year, through all of this, Johnny was laid off from work and decreased to part time hours of weekends and on-call fabrication and painting work. God did this. He did this so my husband could take the boys to their doctor appointments. So I could continue to work hard in the accounting office of my dad’s expanding medical imaging company. So God could show Johnny that this is life. And show me how amazing my family is.
And that month, I saw the pink line. And our lives changed.
We had just taken our now 9 year-old out of private school and transferred him to home studies, for financial reasons. Which is working out great.
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. A week later we found out the state was going to assist in our payments to Easter Seals for Jesse’s ABA therapy. And then we decided to take Jesse off of ADHD medication. He had developed a tic as a long term side effect from the medication. One night it caused him so much agony and anxiety, he was literally hyperventilating. We took him off the meds cold turkey. This was two weeks ago. His doctor prescribed another medication for his anger and impulsivity in the mean time, that is “FDA approved for children with autism”. So far it is amazing. Our boy is energetic and full of life, no longer taken over by the hypnosis of his Adderall. He is eating again, and gaining weight. His studies have taken a hard hit for now, but through his ABA therapy, we are seeking answers. He fell asleep in my arms again for the first time since he was 4 years old-and I wept.
We are praying he can find a way to defeat his ADHD and learn to focus. His mind runs so many directions, he struggles to concentrate. We may have to try another medication as we ride this one out, but only time will tell.
But for now-he is playing with his brothers, being a kid and we are counting all of our blessings, including our newest one, our newest joy, and our newest hope.
So in case you were wondering where all of my new food posts have been, I’ve been a little afraid of the kitchen and cooking with all this new morning sickness (or in this case-all day sickness). I haven’t forgotten about my Famished Fish <3
My little pink line, this baby, will remind me everyday that lives change. My little pink line will remind that God is working in our lives. My little pink line will remind me that through all things through Him and our prayers, anything is possible.
We never knew life until we knew our children. And God is blessing us every day!
What life trials have made you find your blessings?