(Melody shaves Grandpa)
(Melody and Beth, her next youngest sister)
After 15 months of treatments and the associated complications, the cancer was under control. We just had to wait and find out if it stayed under control. We didn’t have to wait long. Within two weeks there was evidence of resurgence. The next three months were spent attacking it, but without success. We were encouraged to travel to Minnesota for some experimental treatment. Just after Christmas, the other kids went to live with Grandma and Grandpa for a month. Greg accompanied Melody and I to that frozen state, got us settled, then went back to work.
Its funny what a person remembers about a time of crisis. Not surprisingly, I remember spending long hours every other day in a hospital room while Melody received blood transfusions. All the other days we spent at the clinic for chemotherapy. I also remember the hospital parking garage stairwell and its echoing cement wall. That was my exercise. I can picture myself shopping in the local grocery store in order to prepare meals in the tiny hotel room kitchen. Melody had not lost her appetite, thankfully. She enjoyed using some of the time in the evening to bake cookies and English toffee. I still have the leather gloves that I purchased at a Minnesota Target store because of the hours of driving in the arctic weather. I also bought little stuffed animals for Melody to crochet clothes onto while she sat attached to tubes and machines. I was able to crochet a baby blanket. We spent some time playing card games or singing Veggie Tale songs. As a cancer patient, she found extra humor in songs like “The Hairbrush Song” or “His Cheeseburger.”
(Melody in Minnesota)
Near the end of our stay there was the much anticipated trip to The Mall of America. It had a stressful beginning when Melody tripped on the door frame upon entering the building. She was too weak to get herself up and too large for me to lift. She didn’t have hair and was wearing a hospital mask, but otherwise looked generally stout, partly due to her enlarged liver. The other occupants of that hallway looked on with confusion as Melody crawled to a bench and used it for support to get up. The words that I was trying to get out to request help were stuck in me, threatening to erupt as incomprehensible sobs. The day ended up being fun for her, though. We walked slowly through the tunnels of the huge basement aquarium. She couldn’t go on the rides in Camp Snoopy, but we enjoyed the atmosphere, studied the expansive Lego creations, and bought baseball caps for everyone in our family. She browsed in the bead stores and perfected the art of drinking a strawberry smoothie while wearing a mask. In all, the day was wonderful. We would be traveling home within a couple of days.
I had been sensing that we weren’t making any progress killing the cancer. Her upper abdomen was getting very large due to a stressed liver. Nose bleeds were very difficult to control. Her face was getting an aged look. No one would come right out and say it, but the doctor in Minnesota gave us a guarded opinion of bone marrow transplants followed by orders for Melody to go home. I wasn’t sure she was even going to be stable enough to get on the airplane. The medical staff told me they would schedule one more blood transfusion right before our departure. At the airport, I administered medications into her central venous catheter. The whole time in the boarding area I paced like a crazy woman. I knew she was dying and prayed frantically that we would make it home to be with our family.
In the midst of all that God was asking us to trust Him through, He answered that with a ‘yes.’ We met Greg at home, had a final consultation with her original oncologist, and headed for her grandparents’ home. They lived in a large, lodge-like house we owned jointly with them. It was located in the woods in northern Idaho, on a gorgeous 13 acres, but not far from medical support in the nearby town. Here we could spend some time just being together, punctuated with visits from extended family. The winter weather was cold and crisp, but sunny.
(to be continued)part 4