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…