Friday, March 9, 2012

REMISSION


Christian showing me how much he loves me!

This past week as we near the culmination of our journey I have found myself in constant reflection. Excited about the future, a little scared to leave behind what we know so well and a tad apprehensive about what could possibly lay ahead. As much as I promised myself I would not think about it, I don’t think I would be human, or at least a mother if I didn’t have some anxiety about Christian’s future. Every three months for the next three years he will have a CT scan. A scan looking for the regression of his cancer. A scan, as one doctor put it, which would show signs of the beginning of the end. This is a dark thought and one that rarely occupies my mind. But late at night when I can’t sleep or when I lay beside him in bed at night and watch him sleep I wonder for how much long do we get to keep him – forever? Thankfully I have the words of a good friend that roam in my head, “who said we were guaranteed another day with any of our kids, or family members for that matter?” So even though Christian will forever be at risk I know that life is short for all of us and the risk of losing somebody before their time is always there. So I am going to try my best not to dwell on the future but enjoy the present. I refer to some of my favorite bible passages to guide my head with my anxiety and worry, to provide some peace and reassurance in my heart.

Matthew 6:34
So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own


Philippians 4:6-7
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Day before cancer diagnosis
So here we are ready to hit the road, say our goodbyes in the unit and jump in our van and make the trek back to Airdrie to live in our house together as a family – finally. I think about the day Christian was diagnosed. I remember that night like it was yesterday. Taking him into the ER and not even getting the chance to sit down in the waiting room as they whisked him back to be seen. Sleeping in the lazy boy chair in his room while we waited till morning for his ultrasound. Hearing some random doctor tell me that “I am sorry but it looks like cancer”. I can hear the fear in Chris’ voice when I had to call and tell him to come to the hospital, “Megan, please tell me what it is”. Making the move over to unit 1 (that I didn’t actually understand was the oncology ward for some time!) and meeting the soft and caring faces of the staff there. I remember spending some dark nights with nurse Courtney who was so reassuring, I remember her the question…is he going to die? I will never forget her face or her words. I remember the morning we waited for the results of his bone marrow biopsy – Chris was standing outside in rounds and I was trying to lip read to hear if his cancer had metastasized. So many intense moments in those first weeks.

One week after diagnosis
I distinctly remember watching the chemotherapy drip down into his lines for his first round of chemotherapy. I was thinking ok here we go this is it. I wondered how long before he would get sick and how long before his hair falls out? Thinking it was so surreal that we were doing this.  It was like I was playing a part on TV of a mother with her sick child. This couldn’t possibly be real. I remember when his hair started to fall out when we were at our radiation scan. The first few strands left on a pillow made cancer that much more of a reality. There is no hiding the meaning behind his bald head. I remember that Christian didn’t want to cut his hair when it started to fall out so I made a deal with him so that hair wouldn’t end up everywhere! I cut a few pieces of his hair then he cut a few pieces of mine.
Radiation was scary
Then things smoothed out, his tumor shrunk and life got a bit easier to deal with. Then radiation started and it was like we were starting all over again. Every morning from Monday to Friday we went to the Tom Baker where Christian was put to sleep so he could receive his dose of radiation. The day I went in to see the machine and look at his body cast – the room was so dark and he was so limp in his cast. His arms and legs splayed out and his abdomen completely exposed and vulnerable. Like we were playing a trick on him while he was sleeping. I remember it rained many of the days we were there and Christian would often complain he was cold. He would eat banana muffins and strawberry filled Timbits after he woke up. He was such a sweetie he won the hearts of all the staff there at the radiation department. 

Halifax Harbour
I remember how amazing it was to go to Nova Scotia for a few weeks in the summer time. I would run through Victoria park and think to myself that this was what normal life used to feel like. Being outdoors, letting kids play together, not running to the hospital every second day. But shortly after we got home his ability to eat and his tummy pains progressed until they decided to do a CT scan to see what was going on. Sure enough his tumor had regressed. We were only 9 weeks from finishing his whole treatment. When first diagnosed percentages and numbers are thrown around for odds of survival. 70% they said….and at the time I wondered who where going to be the unlucky ones? Which of the three kids of out 10 were not going to make it? And now the nightmare had come true. We had moved down into the 30% category.
Chemo in the clinic

Four days after surgery
Fast forward a few weeks to Christians 12 hour resection surgery. Dr. Mary Brindle and a team of about 6 other surgeons saved Christians life that day. Because they didn’t leave any visible cancer cells behind we were ready to fight again. The devil has made so many attempts to take Christian from us but God continues to give us the resources we need to keep him here with us. Resources like chemotherapy, radiation, Dr. Mary Brindle, Dr. Baudry, stem cell transplants and the Alberta Children’s hospital. First he tried cancer but God gave us Dr. Victor Lewis and chemotherapy. Then he tried regression but God gave us Dr. Brindle and donor blood vessels. Then he though he would try to take away his ability to breath with a failed extubation but Dr. Megan Mahoney got him reintubated again. He thought he would try his hand at starvation and a bowel obstruction but God gave us Dr. Baudry who performed an emergency surgery at 2:00am on December 10th. God gave us the infectious disease control who helped Christian battle infection while he was neutropeonic after the emergency surgery. Then he tried to derail our attempts at stem cell transplant but God used the distraction to get Christian to the best weight possible. Satan tried to take out our ability to support Christian while waiting for his engraftment after stem cell transplant with Chris getting sick and not being able to come to the hospital. But all that he did was strengthen my bond with Christian and my ability to communicate with the nurses and doctors on the unit. So it is easy to see that every effort was made to take him from us but God overcame and literally delivered Christian back to us. Just as He promised,  Jesus never took Christian, Chris or I off of his shoulders. Times when I shouldn’t have been able to function he carried both of us.
After emergency surgery

As I write these words I lay in my bed with Christian snuggled beside me for the first time after 36 straight days in the hospital.
After:
60 weeks of treatment
45 rounds of chemotherapy
28 days of radiation
430 needles
One 12 hour tumor resection surgery
One emergency bowel obstruction surgery
26 blood transfusions
9 platelet transfusions
30,606 kilometers driven to and fro the hospital

Today he is cancer free and in remission

Love from nanny and nanny
There is nothing else left to say except we have to give utmost praise and glory to our God in heaven for giving us the strength we needed to get through this trial. Praise to God for keeping us unyielding as a married couple and allowing us to learn and grow through our difficult times. Praise to God for helping us to see the good when things are bad. Praise to God for Christian coming home to be with us. Praise to God.

Today I am thankful for:
1.     Jayden Phaneuf being declared cancer free and in remission
2.     Watching Evelyn, Christian and Ryan all kneeling around the toy bin to play this afternoon
3.     Ginger ale and orange juice mixed together
video

20 comments:

  1. Valerie & Wayne Priest, Onslow Mt., NSMarch 10, 2012 at 4:57 AM

    Praise the Lord! what a marvelous report. Thank you for sharing your journey. We have been praying for Christian just about every day as many others have been. God has blessed you and we pray He continues to bless you and your precious family in the days ahead....our hearts are full after reading your report. You are such an inspiration as to what our Lord can do when we put our trust in Him. <3

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  2. The phone lines are busy in Belmont today, spreading the wonderful news!!! My daughter called me and asked what I was doing, told her I was reading your blog and she said she just read it and we were both crying for joy!!! To wake up each day is a gift and none of us are guaranteed tomorrow so we must enjoy today and be thankful for all God has given us!!! Can't wait for future updates and to see his darling little face grow round and healthy!!! You have such a beautiful family, and I pray you get to enjoy every day to it's fullest!!!! Thank you for sharing your journey ~ Leona from Belmont NS

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  3. Tears of joy running down my face as I read your post turned into the biggest teary smile as I heard Christian's voice declaring himself cancer free!!!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us all, people who know you and people who don't but are inspired by all of you (like myself). No one has any guarantees in life but the spirit of your family and that amazing little boy of yours tells me that he will be around living right beside you for a long time.
    Taira Anten

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  4. Dear Crowell Family

    You have no idea who I am. I am a stranger yet strangly enough I feel I know you so well. I was introduced to you by Naomi Querengesser through a post on Facebook many many months ago. I have followed your story from the beginning, I have anxiously checked for updates on your blog on a daily basis. I have prayed sometimes several times a day, whenever Christian would pop into my mind, which somedays it was many I would pray. Praise be to God that you are home. I cried at the joyous news. I hope that you keep the blog going and let us know over the months and years how he is doing. As you left the family at the hospital I feel strangly sad that we might not hear from you as often anymore. Yes a very good thing if there is nothing left in this cancer story to blog about. To me this story was about a relationship with God, a love story for your entire family. A story of perserverence and being patiently persistent. Thank you for letting us in. I will continue to pray for your family always. Who knows maybe someday we will meet. Joy to you!!!! Prayerfully. Jane McDade

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  5. It has been a journey,I thank you for taking us with you down this winding road with many a mountains to climb; but you did it,the final road trip is taking Christian back home cancer free, I am so happy for you all,enjoy every day,you deserve it:))
    Hugs from Nova Scotia
    Ellie

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  6. What a journey! What a God we serve! What an opportunity to praise Him! What an amazing child! What an incredible family! What a privilege it's been to love you from a distance - to pray for you - and now to rejoice with you! I am moved beyond measure.

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  7. Wow! So happy for you and your family. Can't even begin to imagine what your journey has been like, but so happy it has come to this place. God is Good. He had this day in his mind right from the start. Congratulations!

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  8. Praise God! Tears of joy for your family! What a beautiful day!! ~Crystal

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  9. Hallelujah!! I can't stop crying - this is HUGE. Congratulations to all of you. With Love and big Hugs, M.

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  10. praise the lord!! so happy for you guys!! The world better watch out because you are all incredible strong warriors in Christ and the World does not know what is about to explode through your family! I am so so happy to hear this news!

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  11. AWESOMENESS!!! Just pure and utter awesomeness!!!! What a journey you have travelled, as one, as a family, as a mother, as a wife. Praying for continued strength for Christian! I can't wait to hear about all the fun and exciting things you do from here on out!!!

    "If you think you can win you can, Faith is necessary for victory!"
    William Hazlitt

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  12. Praise be to God!! I cried at the joyous news and as I write this, tears are still rolling down my face. God bless you all!!!

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  13. I keep writing, then stopping and erasing what I wrote, and starting again. I dont know what to say. Glad to hear Christian is home... my heart is filled with so much hope for him, and your family. I wish I could put to words what I feel in my heart right now.. I send to you all, infinite amounts of Love and gratitude for sharing your journey...
    Thank You
    Christian, you are an immensely strong, courageous, beautifully spirited little boy.
    Tough times never last, tough people do!!!

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  14. So glad to be able to type through my tears! I am sure it has all been said, Hallelejuh! Praise to God! Thank you to ALL who prayed, supported, carried, loved! We will all continue to pray for rest and strength for you all throughtout Christian's recovery. for patience, peace and continued support! Gentler hugs than ever. Enjoy your own beds, your own space and one another! Well done!

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  15. Megan I am so happy for you, Chris and most of all Christian, our hero. I again have tears of joy running down my face but thank the Lord for bringing things to this end. My prayers for a long and happy time ahead for you all. All my love to all of you Edna

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  16. Tell him Darth Vader and the Stormtrooper could not be more happy. It is a good thing we can hide behind our helmets because that way no one can see the tears in our eyes, we're supposed to be tough you know. I knew it as soon as I met you and your family, the force is strong with you.

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  17. I've been trying to come up with the right words to say all weekend...there are no words that express my pure joy and relief for your family.

    Christian, you are an amazing little man. I hope you don't remember all those pokes and the pain you've had this past year.

    Megan and Chris, I can't imagine this journey has been easy on your relationship...maybe one of you expected more of the other or dealt with everything in a way the other didn't...in the end, your wish was the same...to bring Christian home and once again be a family under the same roof. And perhaps as you return to this new normal, there will be bumps. I hope that your love for one another and your family will be strengthened because of this journey and that you'll always remember the fight you had in you, the fight that got you thru this awful year.

    Hold one another tightly, revel in the laughter, enjoy watching your children be together as they should be and remember what brought you together.

    I'm so happy for all of you.

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  18. Amazing. Christian, you and your husband, your family, the strength and fight to get through this, just....amazing!

    Congrats Christian and may you enjoy and love all the best things that life has to offer you!

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  19. WOO HOO!!! I'm so happy for all of you...I will continue to pray for you, that you would find your new normal easily, that Christian would gain weight quickly, that your family would continue to be a light as you share you amazing story of hope, faith, and love...Wishing you all the best in the coming days...

    Love
    (nurse) Christi
    P.S. I had a baby BOY on March 5th (yes he was late!) Calder Jay Pullen weighed 9 lbs 6 oz, 22inches long

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  20. So happy to hear of the great progress!!! Praise our good lord above!! Blessings to all of you..may good health and happiness be the only thing in your lives for years to come.

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