After our encouraging news yesterday from the doctor, we have had many questions from people concerning Abbey's treatment and why she would need to be on chemo for 2 1/2 years if the leukemia cells in her bone marrow are already down to 0.2%. That is an excellent question and we had the same question. We spent some time talking with the doctor about just that the other day. The doctor explained to us that there are still cancer cells in her blood and body (and still in her marrow at this point even though it's way down) and from past experience and research they have found that this length of treatment is necessary to make sure each and every cancer cell is gone and that not one is left to quickly multiple and invade her body again. He explained how cells are 'hiding' all over our bodies so although we are thrilled that the cancer cells in her marrow are down to 0.2%, we still have a long journey with chemo and treatments to make sure that down the road this is gone and never comes back. She will continue to have intensive treatment for 6 months (although the medications will change and some new ones will be introduced and others will be stopped for the time being and then re-started at a later date) and then the next two years will be less intensive, but she will still continue to be on medications and have chemo at certain times. Another interesting thing that they mentioned to us is that if Abbey was a boy the treatment would be 3 1/2 years because of the extra boy part. That really put it into perspective for us. They treat with chemo and medications for a whole extra year just for that small part on a boy to be sure there is not one cancer cell left. So, we are thrilled that her bone marrow is looking so much better, but we know we still have a long road ahead of us before we can say she is cancer free. We know we'll get there though and we see God working in miraculous ways.
Jim and I have had some conversations (one yesterday) about what it will be like once she completely beats this and it is over. We have wondered if for the rest of our lives, we will always be thinking that this might come back and if at each blood test that they do on her, if we will be holding our breath in fear that it is going to come back in her body. Last night, Jim got the mail and there was a photocopied paper from a dear friend of mine down the street with a page copied out of her devotional Bible for us. It was a story about a girl who is now a teenager, but when she was three years old just like Abbey (she had a brother who was 5 and an infant sibling... just like Abbey) she had leukemia. She fought leukemia for a few years, but she is now completely free of cancer and it said this exactly "she is at no higher risk than those who've never had it." Those words were a gift from God last night to us. How awesome that my dear friend just happened to be reading exactly that on the day that we needed to hear those words so badly. God is speaking to us through His people and giving us hope as we are on this hard journey. The end of the story talked about how this little girls whole community rallied to pray. They had family and friends standing by them in every way they could. God healed her and in the process many lives were changed. We see that happening with our Abbey and are excited to see how God used this story in many lives when this is said and done. Those are God moments for us. We have had many and it is so awesome for us to remember how much God is with us each step of the way. When we get scared or overwhelmed, we talk with each other about how He is giving us these things to remind us that He is in control of all things and cares for us so intimately... We are so thankful for these reminders and we know they are from Him to give us the strength to persevere.
We heard amazing things about the Church service at our church on Sunday. It was a time of celebration for changed lives and a time to learn about God's healing power. It also was a time as a church body to be unified through caring for some of their own (us). They watched the video from the head shaving night and committed to pray for Abbey by going to the front and getting a bracelet that says 'Praying For Abbey'. After church my sister dropped some of the bracelets off at our house and we got some pictures of the boys with them. We also shaved Jacob and Micah's heads the other night. Jacob told us that he wanted to do his head to make Abbey feel better when she looses her hair. We are expecting her hair to start falling out this week. We have noticed a couple very small bunches coming out and both times that happened, our hearts stopped. Please pray that God will help us through this next difficult time and that He will give Abbey and us a peace about it. Also, please pray that God would continue to protect her from any infections in her body. She was having some bleeding after going potty last night and the doctors are going to be watching it closely. Please pray for healing for her bottom and no infections or complications as a result of it.
Here's a couple pictures of her biggest fans... her brothers, Jacob and Micah. Jacob is wearing his orange bracelet that says 'Praying for Abbey' and Micah is trying to eat his :) They love her dearly and have been amazing as our world has been turned upside down. Please continue to pray for them too. We love you guys... thanks.