Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NoMo Chemo - A Celebration of Life

Today was a day of celebration of life in my family. My great-niece, Kaelyn, had her NoMo Chemo party at St. Jude Hospital today. It's been a long road for her. Let me tell you a little of her story.

Kaelyn is my husband's brother's granddaughter. My brother-in-law, Bobby, married young the same as my husband and I did. He and his wife, Joy, had three beautiful daughters and a little boy on the way when tragedy struck. On the way to the doctor when Joy was almost nine months along, the back gate of a horse trailer came loose, flew into a pickup truck, instantly killing the driver. That truck veered across the road and ran head-on into the truck my sister-in-law was riding in. A friend who was taking her to the doctor was not injured. Joy and her little baby boy died at the scene. A very sad day in the life of our family. 

But life does go on. In time, Bobby met another beautiful woman who had also suffered some hard times. She'd married a man who made her feel worthless and had treated her badly. Soon she was expecting a baby. She says that baby saved her life because although she didn't love herself enough to get out of the bad situation, she did love her unborn baby enough to remove her from danger. When that baby was around three, Kathy and Bobby fell in love and married. That little girl became Bobby's fourth daughter and eventually grew up to be a lovely young woman with a heart for Jesus. The church where they were members called a young pastor who was swept off his feet by my beautiful niece. And so the love circle continued as the two of them vowed their love to one another in a touching wedding ceremony. 

Before long, my niece was expecting their first child, a little boy she lost because of an undiagnosed problem with her ability to carry a baby full term without special precautions. She and her husband grieved, but continued to trust in the Lord. Soon she was expecting again, but this time with foreknowledge of the problem, steps were taken to allow her to carry the child to term and a beautiful little girl named Kaelyn came into our family. She was a happy baby and grew into a delightful toddler with long wavy hair.

Her father heard the call to go back to Louisiana where he had once served a church and take a church there. The people loved him and the church grew. Another child, a cute little boy, was born into their family. A couple more years and with another baby on the way, Kaelyn kept being sick. The flu, the doctors said. A virus that kept hanging on. Maybe mono. They were packed up to come home to Kentucky for Christmas when Kaelyn's father took her to the doctor before they got on the road since she still seemed so ill. That doctor saw what the others had not imagined. Instead of heading to Kentucky for a family Christmas, they were racing for St. Jude Hospital with only hours before the tumor growing in Kaelyn's chest might be so big it stopped her heart. St. Jude's slammed the chemo at her to save her life. Then when her condition stabilized, the doctors outlined the treatment for ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Nearly three years of chemo treatments. She was five years old

She had always been a very intelligent child, precocious in her social skills and even at five, aware of the love of Jesus in her heart. But for several weeks she wouldn't talk as she looked the enemy, cancer, in the face and didn't like what she saw. But in time she came out of her shell of sorrow and took hold of Jesus' hand and began walking the road to recovery. Her mother and father did the same. When her little sister had a stroke during birth a few months later, they kept trusting God, kept believing in miracles of healing, kept praying. The baby sister recovered completely. 

Kaelyn kept getting treatments. She lost all her beautiful hair. Her father let her shave his head when they shaved hers. She got better and went into remission. She still had chemo. The enemy had to be defeated completely. And she and her parents began making appearances to support St. Jude Hospital and help in fundraising. Kaelyn appeared in St. Jude commercials. She was on the Today Show talking about her cancer and her treatments at St. Jude. She turned six, but couldn't go to school. Not while she was getting treatments. Her mother became her teacher. She had to wear a mask when she went to church. Her hair would start growing in and then fall out again with the next major treatment. She had to take steroids that made life miserable for her and the whole family. 

And then 969 days later, she got to have a NoMo Chemo party at St. Jude Hospital today. It's celebration time in our family. Kaelyn faced down the enemy cancer and won. A major part of that victory and the victory of every child who is healed goes to Danny Thomas who believed every child deserved the very best treatment to give them a chance to live their lives. He had a vision of all children healed and he worked tirelessly to make that vision true at St. Jude's Hospital. These two facts (from St Jude) show the success of his vision.
  • St. Jude has developed protocols that have helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to 80 percent today.
  • In 1962, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, was 4 percent. Today, the survival rate for this once deadly disease is 94 percent, thanks to research and treatment protocols developed at St. Jude.
Thank you, Danny Thomas, and thank you all the doctors and nurses at St. Jude's. And thank you to all those who contribute to St. Jude's to make this possible. I'll be taking part in the St. Jude Give Thanks. Walk in November. Here's my Personal Page in regard to that. Kaelyn may have had her NoMo Chemo party, but there are many more children who need to have theirs.

This post is longer than most I do, but I wanted to tell Kaelyn's story and the story of her parents who have trusted the Lord and never been discouraged. Their witness has touched thousands of people and thousands of people have prayed for them. I put Kaelyn's photo on my author Facebook page and it has been viewed over 35,000 times with over 200 comments and thousands of likes. As many of the comments say, God is good.  

I also promised to announce the winners of my blog giveaway tonight, so I hope those of you who entered read this far to find out the winners. Denise and Sue H. won a copy of The Gifted. I also picked a bonus winner, and that's Maxie. Sue, I don't have your e-mail so if you'll get me that info, that will be great. 

Thanks so much for reading and for praying for children like Kaelyn. Tonight we're rejoicing. On the back window of Kaelyn's car, her mama wrote, Honk for NO MORE CHEMO!! A lot of honking is going on!!     

22 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing that story, I do support St Jude, not much but I think if we all gave a little it adds up...
    So happy for your family today -they have been through some hard times and I am thinking they are where they are today because of their faith.
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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    1. Thanks, Paula. You're right. A little can go a long way when we all pitch in our support. Kaelyn's family has shown great faith and I'm thankful the Lord answered their prayers by restoring Kaelyn's health.

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  2. This story is inspiring. My niece is just beginning her road to recovery as she has had her first chemo treatment. We pray everyday! I hope we, too, will celebrate a Nomo Chemo party for her soon. God Bless for Kaelyn's continued restored health and may Jesus' miracle continue to touch the lives of the many children and families fighting cancer.

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    1. Christi, your niece has a long walk through a dark valley in front of her, but we'll pray she'll make it through to celebrate her NoMo chemo party at the end. St Jude helps miracles of healing happen.

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  3. Amazing story, thanks for sharing Ann.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. It's my hope the story can be an encouragement to others. Watching this family and seeing what they've gone through with continual faith has inspired me.

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  4. This is a wonderful family and I'm so glad you posted this. Wouldn't it make a great novel, hint hint... Thanking God for this entire family and their steadfast faith. From Wendy Chesser

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    1. That's a story Kaelyn may end up telling someday, Wendy. They are a wonderful family. Thanks for reading my post.

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  5. Hi Ann, What a cutie & inspiration little Kaelyn is! I have supported St. Jude's over the past few years. When I pass through Memphis on my way to visit my mom in Ark. I always say a prayer for the children & their families behind those pink walls! I have three little great-nephews & just can't imagine our family having to go through something like this. Thanks for sharing such a precious story. Just proves we need to be thankful for each day & always remember God is in control....Have a blessed week. Linda M.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. St. Jude is blessed with many supporters who make their work possible. Such a wonderful vision to work toward healing children. Kaelyn's story is only one of many, but each child is precious.

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  6. Ann, I am so happy for Kaelyn and her family,she is such a cute little girl, and how special she is to be used as a wonderful instrument of how good God is. She is a true survivor, and so is all her family-a very inspiring story!

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    1. Kaelyn's story is inspiring and her family has allowed the Lord to use them as they've lived through this hard time. Thanks for reading and your comment, Janie. Your book's in the mail.

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  7. Ann, I am so happy that your family is being able to celebrate Kaelyn's good news. GOD does answer prayers. Our GOD is an awesome GOD! Could hardly read for the tears. Love to sweet Kaelyn. <3 And, thanks for the book. So anxious to read about the Shakers for the first time. GOD bless. Maxie

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    1. God does answer our prayers - not always the way we want, but we're blessed that He answered with healing for Kaelyn. And that He gave Danny Thomas the vision to start St. Jude's Hospital years ago.

      I'll get your book in the mail tomorrow, Maxie. Enjoy!

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  8. Thank you Ann. That was beautiful! I could barely finish reading it for the tears. Love, Jennifer

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    1. It's a story that has sorrow and joy both. Plenty of reasons for tears, Jennifer. Bad things happen to good people and have in our family a number of times with auto and tractor accidents and Kaelyn's cancer, but the Lord has been with us through it all. So thankful for Danny Thomas who set the wheels in motion to find cures for childhood cancer. He has to be smiling up in heaven every time a child has one of those NoMo Chemo parties and is declared cured.

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  9. It is great that a wonderful author and great aunt to Kaelyn can tell her story. I am a first cousin to Kaelyn's Dad and have prayed for her since this all began! She has been an amazing lil girl with all she has gone through! Their faith has truly got them through this! God is so good!!!

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    1. Hi, Tammy. Good to meet you here. Kaelyn and her parents have been amazing throughout this ordeal for them. So many people have prayed for them and been inspired by their faith. Thanks for your comment.

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    2. It is great to meet you too. I reconized your name -- my sister in law got me reading the Amish books. She has your Shaker's Series. Haven't had a chance to read them yet but she said they are good! Next series will be mine to get since we trade books! lol

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    3. Great, Tammy. Hope you'll enjoy the stories. And that's a fun things about sisters and sisters-in-law - trading books around.

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  10. My 9 year old son LOVES math so he does the Math-a-thon for St. Jude every year at school. He says he is lucky to be healthy and I quote "I do what I love to help other kids get well so that they can do what they love." This is whathe told people a couple of years ago when he was asking for pledges.

    Marliss Aldridge
    Duluth GA

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    1. What a great kid! Tell him thank you, Marliss, from one of the family of a child who has benefited greatly from the gifts to St. Jude. I love his reason for doing the Math-a-thon. I have a grandson who might like doing that. He loves math too.

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