You may already know that the American Cancer Society is the "Official Sponsor of Birthdays." This week, as we celebrated Steven's 16th birthday, I couldn't help but remember a time six years ago during his treatments when I wondered if he'd ever make it to this age.
Along with the birthday celebrations this week, Steven also had his annual check up. Scans are over, and now the docs just do a chest x-ray and some blood work. Everything looked great--he is the picture of health. A perfect birthday present, but more than that, it feels like another year and most likely a whole life. Is there a better gift?
As we get a little farther out from the experience, I find myself with answers that I couldn't have when we were in the trenches. The puzzle is only sort of coming together, but this week it felt more clear than ever. Here are some of the pieces:
Steven's pediatrician is retiring. As we received the invitation to his retirement party this month, it struck me how lucky we were to have him as our doctor. He found the cancer on our first appointment with him. I have read many osteosarcoma blogs and talked to other moms--a first time diagnosis is not the norm. I thank the Lord for Dr. Schmidt and his knowledge and wisdom and for landing us in his practice.
Because Dr. Schmidt referred us to the Oncology clinic at Primary Children's, and because Dr. Jones was on call, we were then assigned Dr. Jones for Steven's orthopedic surgeon. We have long hailed Dr. Jones as our hero, but when we met with him this week, I started to ask him about how many of these surgeries he has done. After some discussion, we learned that had Steven been referred to the other doctor in the practice, he would not have had the option to do rotationplasty because of the location of the cancer. But Dr. Jones was willing and helpful and experienced.
I don't know what would have happened had we picked something other than rotationplasty. But earlier this year, we were having a family home evening about prayer. I asked the kids if they had ever had a prayer answered. Steven told us a story he never had before. He said that one night after he had prayed about what kind of surgery to have, he had a very clear dream that told him that he was to do the rotationplasty. I hadn't known about his dream. I did know that once he made up his mind, he wouldn't consider any other option or look back. Even during the following year, when he couldn't walk and therapy was painful and I doubted our decision, he never did.
And look at him now! He is thriving and active and happy and has no problem with the fact that he is an amputee--in fact, it is part of him and he (usually) loves the distinction. He loves the group of amputees that he goes to ski camp with every year and loves the people at Shriners where he gets the leg made.
Yesterday morning, as I was reading the Book of Mormon, I was reading about Christ in the Americas, healing the sick and lame. The thought crossed my mind of how nice it would be to have Christ come and heal Steven's leg. And then all these pieces to the story hit my mind at once, and I realized that Christ had a hand in Steven's recovery and healing. He was born in a time of modern medicine and put in a place and time where he got the treatment he did.
And according to the doctors, he is essentially healed. They have no reason to think that cancer could come back at this point. They will continue checking him for a couple more years. But the chances of him getting cancer now are so slim. And that is a lovely feeling, let me tell you.
Six years ago, I could not have foreseen a time when I could lay aside the anxiety and be so thrilled about the future. At the time, I guarded my hopes for what Steven could do and become. This feeling of confidence in the future is a new and welcome feeling. At the same time, I try to make peace with the fact that not all families have such great outcomes.
I'm sorry this is so long. I know--I don't blog for months or years at a time, and now it's too much. But so many of you have followed his story and don't get to see the great strides he has made through the years. I wish I had some video of him walking and running, but I will post some pictures from the last year. You can see that it has been a full year--one we will never forget.
|Here is Steven after he dropped off the blankets that he did with his project about a year ago.|
|For spring break, we went to Arizona with Rob's mom and went to the Grand Canyon.|
|This summer, we went to Europe to visit my parents and see some sights! This is in Switzerland.|
|The kids with my parents in the Alps.|
|A layover in New York--this is at the Statue of Liberty.|
|Steven with his band, the Weakest Link.|