Friday, July 11, 2008

Prayer Request for Caroline

Carmen and I have kept in touch over the seventeen years since we graduated from the Masters in English program at University of San Diego. I started having babies while Carmen continued her education, earning a PhD. at UC Riverside and taking a tenure-track position at Cuyamaca College. Keith and I attended her wedding to Jeff, and our children attended each others' birthday parties when they were little ones.

Three years ago, their older daughter, Caroline, was diagnosed with leukemia. They jumped through all the hoops of chemotherapy and treatments and frequent visits at Children's Hospital. Caroline was nearing the close of her treatment; one more test and she would have been declared "cured." But that last test showed that the leukemia was back. The date was March 10 of this year.

Carmen and I were working together this spring semester on one of her classes; she taught the class while I wrote the grammar tutorials that were posted online. She also took me to a wonderful concert at her church for my birthday, just a week before Caroline's results came back.

So Caroline has spent a great deal of time in Children's with frequent fevers requiring hospitalization while the doctors and her parents discussed options. A bone marrow transplant at City of Hope in Pasadena seems the best direction, and, miraculously, a perfect match was found in their registry. An apartment was found near the hospital and furnished with love by friends and family, and they all moved up north last week. July 17 is T-Day - the day of the actual bone marrow transplant.

During Caroline's first round of treatment, Lake Murray made and prayed over a cheerful quilt for her -- every knot tied on it representing a prayer for her complete recovery. Once we found out that her leukemia had returned, Keith took time from his stained glass masterpiece to make a portable window for Caroline of Fred, her own cartoon horse whom she has featured in 25 Fred books. Now Fred can go with her to any hospital room, his bright colors cheering Caroline up wherever she is. Fred is at City of Hope now, a symbol of Caroline's hopes and dreams for wellness.

Today Carmen wrote on their Children's Hospital website:
Caroline has made it through the surgery to remove her port and put in her Hickman line, and through four radiation treatments. The radiation treatments started yesterday and knocked her down right away. I was amazed because she had always withstood really well even the "big gun" chemo they have given her. She has a hard time even getting up out of the wheel chair when they take her to radiation and has been nauseous frequently. In the past three years she has probably been nauseous 3 or 4 times and she has been nauseous that many times just in one day now. She is so strong though. I had a harder time seeing the Hickman in place than she did. She doesn't like it, but I thought I was going to faint. I keep hoping that if she is feeling this tired, the leukemia is feeling it even more. I just keep imagining any remaining leukemia cells getting zapped and evaporating. That is really the only way we can manage to keep taking her to the treatments....

Overall, it has already been more intense than I had imagined it would be at this point, but it is going as planned. All your prayers are helping her deal with it all. I keep telling her that if this is what we need to do to cure her, then we need to do it and put it behind us. Every treatment is another thing we can put in the past. With God's help, we will make it through one step at a time. So for now, Fred is hanging in a City of Hope hospital window.

I don't usually use this blog for prayer requests, but this is a special, special circumstance for a special, special young girl. Please keep Caroline and her family in your prayers as we pray for a successful transplant with no complications and a long life of wellness and serving God for Caroline. We also pray for strength for her in the days preceding he transplant as the radiation she's undergoing is affecting her greatly; we just pray that it's killing every last leukemia cell.

From the Book of Common Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd of the sheep, you gather the lambs into your arms and carry them in your bosom: We commend to they loving care this child Caroline. Relieve her pain, guard her from all danger, restore to her your gifts of gladness and strength, and raise her up to a life of service to you. Hear us, we pray, for your dear Name's sake. Amen.

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