Thursday, October 21, 2010


One year ago today I was playing with my sweet daughter and our lives forever changed. While I was playing with her I felt something on her back that didn't seem right. After looking further I discovered the lump on her back. I immediately called Ryan to see what we should do. Within minutes I made an appointment with our pediatrician for the following morning. An hour later I discovered that I was pregnant.

After Ryan arrived home we discussed the possibilities of what we were facing with Audrey I was overcome with emotion. I could hear myself tell him that we were never going to have more children because of this uncertainty; yet, I knew I needed to tell Ryan about the baby we were expecting. It was too much information for one night. Too much to think about. I couldn't be excited about being pregnant though we had been hoping for another baby for over eighteen months. I convinced myself that if I had to loose a child it couldn't be a child that I already had and loved. For the longest time I could not let myself love this new baby as I never expected to hold it.

That night my mind raced. Sleep was not a possibility. I thought of the worst possibilities. I kept thinking of my faith the knowledge that I have that families are eternal. I know that we have a Father in Heaven that loves us and knows us individually and that he has an eternal plan so we can return to Him and live in His presence again - but at that point, I didn't care. I didn't want my sweet little girl to leave me. I kept saying over and over that I want her to grow and experience all of the wonderful things this life has to offer. My heart hurt and not knowing what we were dealing with was suffocating.

The following day we were told by the radiologist that the mass had characteristics that were not typically benign. At that moment I knew we were dealing with cancer. Cancer in a little innocent girl, my little innocent girl.

The next three weeks was a living nightmare. In that time we met with a pediatric surgeon, had the tumor removed, were introduced to Dr. Beaty a pediatric oncologist and had a port placed under Audrey's skin to make her more easily accessible for chemotherapy.

Now, a year later she has survived chemotherapy and proton radiation. She is a stronger, healthier girl because of the experiences she has had over the past year. We, as a family, have learned together, struggled together and grown together. Our family came together and helped in so many ways. Our friends whom we already thought were great were able to truly astound us with their love and willingness to help. We have made many new friends. We have met three of the most incredible doctors and entire staff of nurses that we have grown to love and care about. We have been included in a fantastic group of pediatric cancer patients. And that little baby we found out about the same day Audrey's mass was discovered has entered our family and has our love and affection.

Our lives will forever be changed. Though we will never be glad for our experiences regarding Audrey's health, we have taken what she was dealt and have grown from it. Our baby girl is a fighter. She has gained so much knowledge and compassion from what she has gone through it will shape her for the rest of her life. Many people have said that due to her young age she will probably forget most of it. I hope for her sake she doesn't. I hope she remembers her family holding her tight. I hope she remembers the care that she had in the clinic and hospital. I hope she remembers the friends we have made. I hope she remembers the nurses who love her. I hope she remembers her strength and courage. I know that due to these trials she will make a difference in someone else's' life the way she has mine.

Tomorrow, the anniversary of her first MRI, we go in for her second set of scans (MRI and CT scans) post chemotherapy. If all of the information is favorable and the tumor bed is still clear and there is no more growth of cancer cells we will schedule the removal of her port, another step closer to a healthy life.


Carrie said...

I am in tears. This is a post that your family will look back on in 20 years and remember all those feelings like it was yesterday. I am so happy your sweet family made it through such a trying year and came out stronger than before. You are an inspiration.

I miss our chats. :) Any girls nights happening any time soon? I need one...If so let me know. I would make a trip up to make more awesome memories and giggle about HD TV awesomeness for sure. Jake asked me today when we could go to Asheville to see his church friends. He asked if I thought anyone would remember him. :) said...

I am so glad you can look back on that year and not be in the midst of it. Prayers that the port can come out soon too!!!

Funny, while I was reading your blog you commented on mine. :)

Rachel said...

What a crazy ride! It has been inspiring to follow your family's journey through it all. I've definitely learned some along the way as well. I hope and pray that everything goes well at the appt. Love ya!

Ruth said...

I love you Tonya, and your cute family. :) I'm so glad you're one of my bestest friends.

Bryan and Emily said...

What a year you have a had. I can only imagine what you've said here is a sampling of the feeling and emotions you must have. While it is easy for me to say, "You are so blessed." I know you must feel that 100 fold. I am so happy that things have worked out the way they have and you now have THREE beautiful children. Isn't it interesting the timing of things. We can't explain it, just have to trust that Heavenly Father has a plan. Miss you guys!

tempppo said...

Hey Tonya,
Your posts are always so inspiring. Thank you. I just wanted to share something about young children, traumatic experiences and forgetting.

My little sister was hospitalized quite a bit as a very young child and underwent several surgeries. I do not think her hospitalization was as long as Audreys, but I do know that she was about 2 years old when it happened.

Today she is one of the people I most admire in the world. I know she remembers some of being in the hospital, but I don't think what she consciously remembers is as important as what she became as a result of that experience.

I hope that you and Audrey find the same to be true of your experiences together.
(P.S. We were in Asheville one weekend and were hoping to see you, but it didn't work out. I hope we can see you next time.)