The words, “Well, she has a mass” that were spoken to me from the Pediatric Radiologist at Germantown Methodist Hospital on August 19th 2014, will forever resound in my mind.
What??? What!! What do you mean a mass? I am looking at this young sympathetic doctor, knowing what he is saying, but OH DEAR GOD!! NO!! NO!! I start to grasp for air, fall into a chair close by, and just sob. Only complete disbelief on my part. This is when time stood still for me. How could my very healthy, spunky, athletic, God-loving, beautiful 9 year old little girl have a tumor in her brain? She rarely got a sniffle and had not missed a day of school for 3 years. The Pediatric Radiologist informed us that a call had already been placed to Lebonheur Children’s Hospital and that they were expecting us. I’m in a panic, yet want to believe this is all just a horrific nightmare. Once in the car, Jayde finally asks me what is wrong with her. I told her that she was sicker than we thought. She asked how sick, and with calmness from my mouth and complete terror running through my body, I told her that she had brain tumor. She didn’t seem to be scared, but later I found out that she thought, she could die. I held her hand in the back seat the whole drive home thinking, I never wanted to let it go. As frazzled as I was, I knew we needed to pack a bag for a few nights.
My husband Chris drove us down to Lebonheur. Once Jayde was admitted to a room, our neurosurgeon, Dr. Paul Klimo, came in to speak with us. Dr. Klimo spoke to Chris and I in the hall way, while Jayde was laughing and joking in her normal jovial way in the room. The realization of it all was such a surreal experience. An agonizing denial that what was coming, was very real. Dr. Klimo calmly told us he believed it was one of two possibilities on tumor type. He would not know for sure until he did the procedure. Chris asked, what is the best and the worst we can expect? Dr. Klimo calmly said, the worst is she doesn’t make it through surgery, but the chances of that were very slight. She may not be able to walk, talk or see depending on the tumor and how it was positioned. These were a reasonable possibility each individually or in a combination. The mass was huge, the size of an orange. I could not fathom something that size in my 9 year old child’s little head. That would fill a majority of her little skull! I told Dr. Klimo I needed to see it to believe it. He proceeded to bring it up on a computer close by to show us the mass. Reality slapped us in the face. We had 9 hours before they were taking her in for a complete MRI, spinal tap and then directly to surgery. We were grateful for family and friends who visited that night and brought smiles to Jayde’s face. We could not help but think, is this the last time we see our daughter? Is this potentially the last time she can talk, walk or see us again??
After a night of restlessness, Chris and I knelt by Jayde in her hospital bed to pray. I prayed that God would give her back to me. I told God that he gave her to me to begin with, and I had to entrust her back to him, but I/we wanted her back. I also felt compelled to relinquish control to the one who loved her, way before she was even a thought to me, but I wanted her back! The next 12 hours were the longest 12 hours of our lives. We prayed continuously with friends and family that surrounded us. Every hour, Chris answered the call from the surgery, and the news was positive each time. The news that Dr. Klimo believed he was able to remove all the tumor, was incredible news. Hallelujah!! Praise be to God in the highest! Thank you Lord for hearing our cries out to you! Thank you for being the ultimate physician and for sending your angels charge over Jayde and guard her. Seeing her after her surgery and hearing her cry out, “Mommy” as I entered the room, was an incredible relief. It was a hard night and it hurt seeing her in so much pain but still, THANK GOD!
Over the next 6 days, Jayde had to learn to walk again and her eyes bounced and fluttered all over the place. We were praying for everything to “reset” and get back to normal quickly. Unfortunately, there was no way to know until the time came. Could be days, could be years. Chris and Jayde just recently were reminiscing about learning to walk again. She could barely make it down the driveway with help, then to the tree across the street. She achieved each goal and on to the next.
I will never forget walking through the doors of St. Jude. Again, surreal. It is overwhelming to lay your eyes on so many sick children in one place. The sweet little souls who were hairless, pale-faced, and had masks on, were the ones that made it hard for me to look at. Hard to look at, because of the compassion I felt for each and everyone of them. The first day was packed full and overwhelming for us all. Life as we knew it, was changed forever. We learned the true meaning of the saying, “St. Jude is the best place you never want to be”. We realized how blessed we were. We had the best neurosurgeon in the world here at Lebonheur and had St. Jude here in our home town as well.
We are happy to say, that a year and a few months later, Jayde is back in school. She is making good grades, carrying her own back pack, and is on her way back to living as normal a life as possible. She still has challenges with her eyes due to the surgery, and still has balance issues, but she continues to make progress. She is our little warrior, rock star and fighter. Proud is an understatement, on our feelings for our precious girl, and her will to survive.
All this said, I find trying to put Jayde’s story into words a challenge, because it requires a book worth of content. We as a family, truly believe that Jayde’s battle with cancer and continuing progress, is all in God’s plan. Seeing prayer warriors around the country, rally and pray together, has been incredible. We have witnessed people, not only from our home town but around the world, inspired by our little girl. Her illness and her fight, continues to bring families closer. Her story puts in prospective what is really important in this life. The fact she has been such an inspiration, is no coincidence, it’s God’s plan to reach others, His way.
In summary, I feel compelled to tell anyone who reads this story and is in any battle, hope is our greatest weapon. No matter how difficult and hopeless the situation you are in may seem, miracles happen every day. Our little miracle is being used for God’s glory. Believe that the days that seem insurmountable, will pass. Understand whatever happens, no matter how tough the fight, your story is a great inspiration to the ones around you. Your story is an inspiration to people whom you will never meet. Faith, Family and Friends, are what matters.. Keep the faith and believe miracles happen. Stay strong, live life, NEVER give up. What ever the circumstance, its all in HIS plan. Embrace that fact and fight the good fight!! Our little fighter is proof positive, miracles do happen!!