“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. ” Phil 4:13
as i sit here and try to find the words to type, my heart is thumping out of my chest, my stomach is in knots, a lump in my throat, and tears
filling my eyes. i’ve been dreading this blog entry for quite some time. about 42 days to be exact. 42 days ago, i was joining my brother in law
in the hospital for lunch. my sister had already been admitted for 5 days waiting for a diagnosis. a diagnosis we were praying our hearts
out to avoid. i will never forget Ben’s words. “the results came back. IT’S CANCER. ALI HAS CANCER.” ::gulp::
she’s so beautiful, isn’t she?
as you know i’ve been helping rachel through her chemotherapy for the last 9 mths. wouldn’t you know that the very last day of rachel’s chemo, was the
same day ali was going under the knife to have her cancer removed?! how was this possible? my THIRTY yr old healthy as can be sister, has lung cancer?
the same sister who is active, eats veggies for snacks (gross!) with the occassional a ball of cotton candy , hates redmeat, and has never smoked…
HAS LUNG CANCER?? what. the. hell. better yet, the type of lung cancer most commonly found in 70yr old chain smokin’ men. it’s been a whirlwind
since early march, feelings i can hardly articulate.
so how did she find out? after mths of feeling sick from various illnesses, she swore there was something underlying, keeping her immunity down. after
steriods and prescription after prescription, she was feeling sicker each day, dropping weight like crazy. she had sharp pains in her back and side leaving her
breathless and hunched over. being poked and prodded by various doctors, something was still being overlooked. finally a trip to the ER in the middle of my
mom’s birthday dinner, landed her checked in for 2+weeks. during this time she had a biopsy and a lobectomy. they removed her bottom right lobe, a large
tumor (which was growing fingers around middle lobe and pulmonary vein), and a part of a rib for access to spread her chest open. this surgery was intense.
so intense that she didn’t sleep for the first few days but a couple hours total. she couldn’t move, talk, even lift her own head, she hurt so bad. i sat
next to my sister as she struggled with each breath, tears falling down her cheeks, with such frustration that no meds were relieving her. sitting there
knowing nothing i could do would help but for maybe 30 seconds of relief. coaching her to breathe as if she was in labor, reminding her how to cough to
relieve the congestion in her lungs, and guiding her through hours and hours of meditation just to try and relax. it was absolutely heartbreaking. i had no
idea what it was like to witness such pain and be so helpless. to hear your sister ask you “would you tell me if i was dying?” her health is on my mind
24/7. it’s what i think about as i fall asleep, it’s what keeps me up in the middle of the night and literally my first thought every morning.
after the pathology came back, ali was told that sarcomatoid carcinoma cells were also found. this is a very rare, soft tissue cancer like sarcoma. a
type of cancer that hides in your muscle, bones, tissues, going completely undetected by any scans. because of this, the treatment options are limited.
less than 1% of lung cancers are these two types combined. which obviously means, the research to cure it quickly isn’t there yet. she has since
seen a specialist in michigan that has given doctors here at UC a treatment plan. chemo will be one of the most toxic, thus very damaging to her
kidneys and organs. we are very hopeful this treatment will work. it has to work. this is my sister, she is way too young with too many wonderful
things left to experience in her life, like watching her little baby grow! olivia is always a ball of smiles, and just the right medicine ali needs 24 hrs a day.
she is 7.5mths old now and THE NUMBER ONE thing keeping my sister happy and worry free each day, quite a blessing. i’m also thankful olivia is
so young and resilient as shes spent many nights away from her parents, because it’s so terribly hard on them. we are blessed to have parents who
drop everything to take care of us and our kids. they’ve been so helpful at all hours of the day, even when ali just needs to talk at 3am. it’s been
especially hard on them to watch their baby suffer. as a parent is completely different to watch your child agonize then it is anyone else in your life.
what’s next? she starts treatment in a couple weeks, as her body has to be strong, 8 wks out from her lobectomy. doctors have prepared her
about the intensity of this type of chemo, and that she will indeed lose her hair. our friend recently cut off a few inches helping ali get used
to shorter hair, and yesterday she purchased her wig. we are in the midst of planning fundraisers. i know her friends band will be playing at stanleys
pub on july 9th, ben’s family is planning a big event in their hometown, and we will have a HUGE happy hour in the summer. we are already in
the works of designing these badass tshirts, that anyone can buy. its graphic, hip and far from a typical ‘support’ tshirt. i will post a pre order blog
about those once it’s all nailed down. so for now i’m asking all you faithful blog readers to pray for my sister. pray like you’d pray if it was your very
own sibling dealing with this. pray for ben that he can stay ali’s rock as she suffers, has meltdowns, has to keep working through the exhaustion, and
have the strength to fully care for olivia for months to come. pray for olivia that she may continue to shine God’s grace on her mommy. pray for our family
as we watch our sister/daughter/grandaughter/niece fight through months of fatigue and sickness knowing there is nothing we can to relieve
her discomfort. thank you for your continued support, as the comfort from our community eases the stress and anxieties of it all. God bless you all.
i love you big sis. we have years of tree decorating, cookie dough eating, tea parties, thursday night lineups and celebrating in tutus ahead of us.
continue to be strong and keep your faith. we know God is carrying you through this journey that will soon be a faint memory. i’m certain you’ll
beat this. as you know i’m just a few minutes away and will drop anything to help.
heart, smelli (as ali would say)
“But i will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the LORD.” jeremiah 30:17