Sorry it has taken us a while to share Elena’s test results with you.
We received the results about two weeks ago. It has taken us about that long to process it all.
Five years ago when we started signing all of those consent papers to authorize Elena’s treatment for leukemia, we were only focused on saving Elena’s life. Yes, we were aware of the harmful effects of the treatment, but we were simply trying to make it to the next day. Then following Elena’s relapse, once again we were signing consent forms and being told what impact treatment could have on Elena’s body. Today, two years after her bone marrow transplant, Elena is officially considered a survivor and we are having to deal with the negative effects from what enabled her to become a survivor.
We shared how we were feeling after Elena’s survivor clinic appointment in our last post. Overwhelmed, a little sad, and empty. Those feelings only got stronger after hearing the news of Elena’s tests.
We celebrated the news that Elena’s heart and lungs are working properly and that her blood counts remain strong. These are definitely big blessings! We were saddened to hear that Elena’s hormone levels and bone density scan were not good. In fact, her body is not one of a 15 year old, but that of a woman in menopause with osteopenia. Not easy words to hear or explain to a beautiful girl who has her whole life in front of her. While we are beyond thankful that Elena is alive, we struggle with the reality that what we did to save Elena’s life came at a cost.
When in the battle of surviving cancer, you look forward to the day you can be finished with everything and live again. You think the storm will end and that there will be no more crashing waves. Hearing the results from Elena’s tests also brought with it the reality that she will never be finished with this fight. Her brain, bones, and endocrine system and reproductive health have all been negatively impacted. She will always have to fight against the harm brought to her body.
She will soon begin physical therapy to help strengthen her body and stretch the ligaments and muscles that were impacted by chemo. This will hopefully improve her walking and physical activity. She has started taking hormones that her body is not producing to help with her bone strength and overall health. On Wednesday, she will see an orthopedist who will determine if she is at further risk for compression fractures in her spine. These were noted in her recent chest x-ray. He will also decide if Elena needs to see an orthotist. Elena will see her oncologist and endocrinologist in four months as they continue to closely monitor her progress.
So now, once again we have a choice and we have chosen once again to stand up. We can’t stay stuck in a place of sorrow of what has been lost. God has not brought us this far for nothing. He has been faithful to walk with us, carry us, and see us through. We are grateful. We know that even though it has been very hard, it could have been so much worse - and we are thankful for His mercy and help.
We continue to ask God for healing of Elena’s endocrine system, for strengthening of her body and bones, and for her brain’s mental processing speed and comprehension to increase. Prayers continue to be lifted asking for His protection from all of the other potential long-term problems childhood cancer patients can face as consequences of the harsh treatment.
When we started this blog to keep everyone updated, we never dreamed we would still be blogging five years later. Thank you for walking with us and making a difference in all our lives!
In Him,The Tates
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18