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Let me begin by saying how humbled I am by the outpouring of support, love and encouragement I received after my last post on hope. It felt so heartening to know that my honesty and transparency about my own struggles was something that not only spoke to you and brought about awareness for the lives that families with a child with cancer live, but also brought encouragement to those of you who may struggle with the same things. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Second, I apologize for not posting here sooner, but since our last post, our lives got very overwhelming, with some positive and some more challenging things. We spent time celebrating and savoring Hazel's birthday! We went to Disneyland with our family, hosted a birthday party (combined with her big sister Elizabeth, whose birthday is very close) and were the grateful recipients of a special Unicorn Party put on by the amazing foundation Create A Smile (a product of the love and devotion of a fellow cancer fighting family, The Youssef Family, to other children fighting this disease).
Unfortunately, in the midst of all the blessings and fun, our whole family developed very bad colds, including Hazel. And, for me, it turned into one of the worst flus of my life. We were dealing with illnesses for the better part of two weeks, and boy I was exhausted!
Not long after recovering, and with Hazel and I still affected by a lingering cough, we began her fourth round of chemo. We had to be down at the hospital (45-90 minutes away, depending on traffic), every morning by 8:00am, and stay for several hours while the infusion was completed. We were able to have the weekend at home, but come Monday morning, Hazel was extremely run down and spiked a really high fever. We rushed back to the hospital and were admitted. Her white blood cell counts were absolutely zero, so she was extremely neutropenic and fighting a fever. So antibiotics were begun to protect her from anything life threatening. The challenge with these antibiotics, is they cause her severe diarrhea and cramping, and quite a bit more nausea. The last two inpatient stays, her gut was so upturned, that she developed C-DIFF, which had to be treated with more antibiotics that made her equally nauseous. Thankfully, this stay, she DID NOT DEVELOP C-DIFF!!! We were able to break the vicious cycle, if only for one cycle! So thank you for all of your prayers, because they are clearly working! Thank you God, for giving our daughter a reprieve!
Although she did not develop C-DIFF, she did still have some pretty significant diarrhea. I spent most of those first days helping her through her discomfort and encouraging her as she would tell me, through tears, "I just want to be done feeling like this!" When the urgent diarrhea stopped, she then developed a profuse bloody nose, that lasted throughout much of an afternoon. Not only was this terribly frightening for her, but the clots that developed after, slipped down her throat, making her gag a vomit them back up. She found it increasingly more difficult to cope, and it just broke my heart. Thankfully, over the next several days she felt better and better, and we were able to return home very late Sunday night. To say we are exhausted would be an understatement!
Clearly, these treatments, and subsequent inpatient stays have really begun to take their toll on our little Hazelnut. Because she has been so nauseated and vomiting almost daily (sometimes, several times a day), it has made it difficult for her to keep weight on. As her counts keep getting knocked down to nothing, she barely has time to recover in time for the next round. She is so tired and unsettled from the constant traveling and changing in schedules, and is becoming more and more frustrated with not feeling well. Despite her challenges though, God has blessed her with a spirit of bravery and perseverance that has carried her through each day and each challenge. She faces each treatment and hospital stay without complaint, she breathes deeply through every single poke, and she even spends time reassuring me (for example: "Mom, it's ok if I throw up, because I always feel so much better afterwards").
Her perseverance inspires me every day, and brings me so much hope. I am reminded of the bible verse