I HATE that word and all that it entails!!!! It is back, for the third time. Nodules in her lungs. She has less than a five percent chance of beating it this time. She is only seven, the oldest of three children. The daughter of Brian and Melissa, wonderful people. It seems so unfair. I can not even begin to imagine the pain of losing a child. I felt guilty talking about my woes....stitches and snake bites. They were given three options, all of them will lead to the same outcome. One is to treat with a different kind of chemo, which has a very high mortality rate. This particular drug has only been tried on 25 children and of those only two percent survived. The second option is to not do chemo, but give her an experimental drug that might prolong her life (the quality of which is unknown). The third option is to just do nothing and let her live until she dies, with no medical intervention. Brian and Melissa are struggling to make a decision, as would any parent. They told Savannah that her cancer was back and her attitude was "bring on the chemo. I got better two times, I will get better a third time. What she doesn't understand is that the cancer never really went away, it was only stunted. When they told her that she will probably die, she cried. She was very sad. She was worried that she wouldn't be with Mommy and Daddy any more....for a while. She is afraid that she will be alone. They are trying to be prayerful so that the Lords will may be done. But how does one remain objective in a situation like this? It would be so difficult for me to let my will be swallowed up in the Lords will. For the last two years we have prayed for Savannah, hoping that she would live. We will now pray that we might all be able to accept the Lords will, as the outcome is inevitable. It sounds so grim and sad, and it is. It seems so unfair. As mortals we hate the thought of losing a loved one. We wonder how our lives will ever be "normal" without a particular person in our life. Life on earth seems so long for the ones left behind. We often only think of the here and now, instead of looking at things from an eternal perspective. It's only natural, we can't see beyond the veil. It is only by faith that we know that there is life after death and that Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us. I want to demonstrate to you, dear reader, the strength of the parents of children with a terminal illness, as I have witnessed it many times through visits to Savannah during her many hospital stays. More particularly, I want to talk about Melissa. Two years ago when Savannah was first diagnosed, I was visiting with Melissa right after Savannah's surgery when they took out her kidney (which is where the original tumor was first found). We were talking about her prognosis, and even then the odds were not in her favor. So after we cried together for a few minutes, she said to me...."No matter what happens, I know that my family is forever and we will be with Savannah again." In my mind I thought..."Wow, she has alot of faith. I want to emulate her. I don't know if I could say that and mean it." But I knew she did. And you know what? On Tuesday night we had a meeting at the Church. She was there. That day they had been to the hospital and Savannah had a CT scan, which was a second step that became necessary after a routine ultrasound when they saw something suspicious (six month check-up). Anyway, Melissa, being the strong and faithful one repeated those words! She said, "I know that she is ours forever and the Lord will see to it that we are reunited." HUH??? I thought. It was one thing to say it two years ago when her chance of survival was more likely. But Now? Oh my my my my. The Lord is good, my friends. The Lord is blessing these sweet parents with the sure knowledge of eternal families. His tender mercies are resting upon their hearts. He is preparing them for greater things beyond the veil. He is increasing their faith, building their testimonies and strengthening their family bond. YES, cancer is ugly, brutal, vicious, relentless, painful, deadly and stubborn. But you know what? The Lord is merciful. He is going to take Savannah. That is clear. But with every trial comes a blessing. And often times the bigger the trial, the bigger the blessing. I have seen the Lords hand in all of this and I am grateful for the way He is blessing the Hurley family and their ability to recognize it. Melissa has been a great example to many. This whole trial has touched countless lives. Savannah is a precious spirit and the Lord is using her as his instrument to bring many into the fold. It comes at a very high price, nobody wants to lose a child. But the Lord has a Divine purpose to fulfill. Our finite understanding can be overcome through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Atonement is real. It has become more real to me lately. He knows the pain of a grieving Mothers heart. He knows the pain of chemo. He understands Savannah's fear of death. He understands Brian's pain that he was not able to heal his daughter through the Priesthood. It was not the Lords will. The Savior understands how difficult it is to accept the Lords will. He even understands my feelings of helplessness as I watch Melissa cry when President Monson mentioned the word CANCER in his talk tonight. He understands (and experienced) physical, emotional, psychological pain. He even understands the pain of sin, though he was perfect. We often speak of the Saviors suffering in the Garden in generalities. But each pain was personal. The Atonement is personal, it is for each individual child of our Father in Heaven. He would have done it all for ME, even if I was the only one who needed the price to be paid. That makes it personal. He became what we are so that we may become what He is. I love my Savior. I thank my Father for the health of my family. But I still hate cancer.
P.S. The above picture was taken in between fight one and fight two. Melissa took it, she is a photographer.