Each day we were scheduled to arrive at CHLA for outpatient treatment at 7:30 in the morning. So we decided that Hazel and I would stay the nights at the Ronald McDonald House that is just down the street from the hospital. When I could, I would come home to spend the afternoons with the family, but sleeping out there made it so much easier on the two of us, and ended up being such a blessing! The facility itself was great and had all the amenities needed for us to feel at home. We met several families to support us through the week, including a little baby named Hazel! We were able to sleep longer than we would have been able to at home and then walk over to the hospital. Hazel really liked this place and kept calling it "Old McDonald's House"!
On Monday, Hazel was first scheduled for surgery to remove her PICC line and place a Central Venous Line (a.k.a. a Pheresis Catheter). The procedure went very well, but coming out of anesthesia was tough for her. In fact, she was absolutely pissed! She was screaming in anger in a way I have never heard before, and wanted nothing to do with anyone for a good half hour! Once finally calm, we took a ride on a wheelchair (which she calls a stroller) over to the infusion center to start her Chemo.
Before all of this started, I really didn't know what Chemo was going to be like and how it would affect my daughter. I mean, I had certain preconceived ideas, but really just didn't know what to expect for Hazel specifically. These first two cycles have really surprised me though. While receiving her treatments, I would watch her behave like her normal, spunky self; being playful, walking around, chatting up the nurses and seeming absolutely unaffected. Elizabeth even got to spend one of the days with us! I would think to myself "Is this girl really getting Chemo?" I feel like God has blessed us so tremendously by allowing these cycles to go so smoothly. I think that it has made this difficult transition into the world of cancer a lot easier on everyone. I want to stay mindful, though, that it won't necessarily always be like this. I want to prepare myself for the inevitable struggles that Hazel will face during treatment, so I can be ready to help her and comfort her through it all.
Here are a few pictures of her during treatment:
Even though my little Hazelnut was able to bring joy to all of us around her, Aaron and I felt this constant undercurrent of grief. This is stemming mostly from us still trying to cope with our new reality, our family having to spend so much time apart, and watching our children struggle through this with us (I'm sure there are many other things I just haven't been able to sort through yet, but I'm just facing all of this one moment at a time). It was especially hard on Elizabeth and Micah this week. Please pray for them to feel God's strength rising up within them and to feel His comforting embrace around them. And continue to pray for all of us to remember His promises : Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us all in our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ."
Now this weekend, we have all been together as a family and we have just been savoring every moment. Assuming Hazel does not spike another fever (please pray for that!), we will have a whole week together; until next Tuesday when she will have to go back to CHLA for a few days(outpatient), to have her stem cells collected. These will then be frozen until it is time to give them back to her during a stem cell transplant! So please keep praying fervently, and we will update again soon. Thank you all!
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