Last year, 5 minutes into 20 August at a little hospital in Neratovice, Czech Republic, a beautiful little girl (actually the largest our doctor had ever delivered) joined our family and stole all of our hearts.
Today, at a big hospital in Prague, she had surgery to replace her infected port, and started her third round of a treatment we believe will mean she gets to have many, many more birthdays.
So today was hard. This was her fifth time going under general anesthesia, and it’s hard to watch every time. It’s hard to see her come back covered in iodine, bandaged up and drugged. It’s hard to see her tethered to the IV rack, reminding us that she’s not well. It’s really hard to look at her, today of all days, and think of how much we love her and how awful this whole thing is.
But today was also special and beautiful. The doctors allowed Sam and Foard to come to E’s room to bring her cupcakes and presents– normally only kids over 10 are allowed on the hall, and the boys have to see her for just a few minutes in the lobby. The nurses brought her a doll as a gift, and one of the other patients brought her some of his Legos. We had a sweet family party with Ooh-La-La, and FaceTime visits with Aunt Kelsey and Pammie and Papa, and a funny JibJab card from Gaffer. An ultrasound this morning confirmed that the tumor is still shrinking, and it’s not tangled up in any blood vessels (there are lots of those in the liver).
So there were tears, because this is not how little girls should celebrate their first birthdays. But we also laughed and were grateful. For overall progress, and for moments of joy in the valley.
It occurred to me yesterday that my grandmother, Eliza’s namesake, was a cancer survivor, defeating breast cancer in late middle age and living decades longer. Eliza is named for a woman who survived cancer, lived to encourage others through it, and died full of years and full of grace. We hope and pray, we believe, that the same will be true for E.
Even down to old age, all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.