Saturday, September 29, 2007


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.


Stephanie said...

I hate the word, too.
I could explain it for myself... I would (hopefully) view it as a personal challenge, or maybe something I did wrong.
Whether that be worry, too angry, too pigheaded, too much consumption of pesticides, exposure to nuclear fallout, too this, or too that.
But to see it in my child?
While on one hand I would know it was their choice - that it was not something "done" to them, but something they agreed to before their arrival on this earth, but on another it would be so unbelievably painful, and I pray - prayprayprayprayPray, that I never have to deal with the pain of a terminally ill child.
I don't know that I'd be able to come out the other side.
God willing I don't have to.

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

Oh, how I have missed you. I just love your comments and very much appreciate your insight.
You know, your comment reminded me of an eternal truth that I had forgotten about....Savannah did choose this before she came to earth. She agreed that this would be her mission. Your comment brought tears to my eyes. ...."it was their choice - that it was not something "done" to them, but something they agreed to before their arrival on this earth,..."
I'll tell you why. Savannah is very upset about the concept of dying. She doesn't want to leave her parents side for fear that she will die (at any moment) when they are not with her. She doesn't forsee the process and thinks she could die like in the middle of Church or something. Obviously Brian and Melissa are trying to figure out a way to explain it to her without scaring her any more. Anyway, I have been praying for them that they might be able to comfort Savannah about the future. In your post was an answer to my prayer. It occured to me that perhaps reminding Savannah of this eternal truth might bring her some comfort. And that this is not something that is being done too her, but rather something she agreed to.
Thank you, my dear sister. You have been an answer to my prayers today.

Stephanie said...

I deleted my second post because I wrote it when blogger said I lost the first one.

If it were me, I'd not be doing any reminding "you chose this", or even mention it.
That just seems mean, if the child is frightened.

Although I would certainly share my views of eternal life after this earth.
Also, if my child did not want to be without me in his sight for more than two minutes, than I would have a permanent sidekick for a while.
Trev's going through that right now.
He got lost at Lagoon - though no one knew he was lost but him (opposite of the way it has always worked before) and he is honestly terrefied when I'm in another room and he doesn't know where I am.
It's annoying, but they are his feelings, and I value him.

I'd try to look at it like (as I view my time with my chldren now) I may not have this time forever (children grow up) and I want to look back on my life and know that I lived it well, that I fiercely loved my children, and above all I want them to have a happy, magical childhood.
If that means my child follows me around for a couple of months, or that sometimes I need to follow him, than so be it.
I try to live my life the way I would if I "had it to do over again", if you see what I mean.
People say all the time "i'd do this or that", but if you live authentically, with lots of love and with heart, than you need not worry about how you didn't get it "right".
Living mindfully and with intention can only mean that you did it "right".

Lena said...

Oh that just breaks my heart. It's every parent's worst fear I think. My sister-in-law lost 2 sons- her only sons at separate times and I don't know how she handled it so well. She lifted us up in our sorrow and they were her children. I love what Stephanie said too. I just wish we could keep that eternal perspective or have a peek through that veil once in a while you know?

Kim said...

I didn't mean it a "You made your bed, now you have to lie in it" sort of way. I was just thinking that maybe Savannah could be comforted in knowing that this is all part of Gods plan for her and she has a very special here on earth, all of which she knew before she came. Does that make sense? I don't know, what you said made me think twice about saying anything. I'll pray about it again. Thankks for your advice.
Brian and Melissa are very attentive to her fears and do their best to calm them....often times with tears in their eyes. It is so heart breaking.
You are right, childhood is fleeting. When Caleb turned 10, I said to myself..."I have LESS time left with him than I have already had!" That was a sobering thought.
This whole thing with Savannah has definently reminded me to hold my loved ones a little tighter and more often.
Love you lots,

Love you so much!

Kim said...

The agony of losing a loved one has become real to me several times in my life. Not in my immediate family, but several close friends. It never gets any easier. But I have always been amazed at the strength of those who are immediate family. The Lord truly does lift them up and they in turn comfort others. It is often times those tender mercies that get us through difficult situations like this. The Lord loves us.
Thank you for your comment.

Marie Jones said...

I read your post a little while ago, and was very touched. Really, truly touched. I thought I would let you know, and when I came to the comments section to do so, I read what had been written between you and Steph (your sister?). I truly appreciate what a strong desire we all have to "say the right words" when loss of life is involved. Please, with love and understanding, accept a suggestion. It has been my humbling experience, not only through this but other recent tragedies in our community, that the absolute best thing to say is VERY little, and listen. I have a MARVELOUS book that I will loan to you if you like. I'm afraid I haven't quite finished it, but I also haven't been able to pick it up in awhile. It's called "Help Me Live: 20 Things People With Cancer Want You To Know". Written by Lori Hope, she had studied cancer inside and out, in amazing depths medically, and emotionally as an author. Then she relates how everything changed the day she was dianosed. With Mike entering the medical profession, it might be a good read for the both of you (though I'm sure he has TONS of good reading at the moment). Let me know if you'd like to borrow it, and again, please, lots of listening, and prayer.

Stephanie said...

Oh, honey, I didn't mean to sound accusing.
I know you didn't mean that.
What I meant was that telling a frightened child that "you chose this before you came here" is just not something they would be able to understand and appreciate.
Nor would any adult.

It's sort of like telling someone when they're in the midst of agony "God doesn't give us what we can't handle". It is not for another to say.
One can come to that arrival on their own, but to try to convey that message to another is jsut... almost like judging.

They'll arrive at that point if it suits them.
The best thing -I think- to do is to have compassion and to give them a soft place to feel their anguish and terror.

Love to you.

Kim said...

You are absolutley right. Did you read tonights post? I realized when I came to this on my own, that others had to, too. It IS one of those lessons that you can't teach, but one has to experience it. We are all learning.
Again, no offense taken.