Welcome back for part two! Thanks for your patience while waiting on the edge of that cliff. I love Debbie’s honesty. Her emotions bounce everywhere, demonstrating her stages of grief. If you missed the first part, read it here.
When we left our story, Debbie’s daughter was faced with the possibility of death. Remission was looking bleak. Let’s join Debbie and see her trials and triumphs, and her faith unfold.
Time for Transplant
Spawned by the bleak news of Shannon’s unresponsiveness to the only treatment option available, prayer chains were sent out from California to the Carolinas. Odds stacked against her, God carried us through each challenge. He answered our prayers. Shannon was finally in remission, allowing eligibility for a bone marrow transplant. Within days, a donor was found…a 100% match, too.
Bone-marrow transplants require a strict, cumbersome treatment to kill off all blood cells prior to the transplant. This meant heavier and harder chemo and full-body radiation most of the day for several days.
Arriving while Shannon was in radiation one of these evenings, Lee and I sat outside her room in a waiting area. The double doors opened. A young, tall orderly pushed a bald, frail, lifeless older women in a wheelchair through. She was so weak, her chin rested on her chest.
As they were passing by, Lee gulped, and angled his head so his words easily reached my ears. “Honey, that’s Shannon”.
In disbelief, my eyes trailed the figures. Realizing Lee was correct as they continued towards Shannon’s room, my eyes accumulated water like rain clouds gathering for a thunderstorm.
“I can’t give up now. I must walk by faith; not by sight,” I quietly whispered getting up to follow her.
Much more in control for her bone-marrow transplant, we were able to witness this amazing phenomenon. Done in her room that memorable August day, These life-giving stem cells looked like tiny stars gathered in an I.V. bag. Floating through tubing for hours, I became mesmerized as they entered my daughter’s body, knowing new life had entered her.
Shannon and her donor
The Next Step
Upon her hospital release, Shannon would be required to make Hope Lodge her and Kyler’s home for the next 100 days. Hope Lodge was ten minutes from the bone-marrow transplant (BMT) Clinic. Instead of weekend visits by my husband and I, I needed to become full-time caregiver. . .a new role for me. At this critical juncture, I realized my job was to give them strength, energy,encouragement, and just be there. However, inadequacies, incompetency, and insecurities held my thoughts hostage.
During the day I occupied myself cooking many meals with her special diet, took her to the clinic, and assisted with Kyler. I also had brought my laptop to write contracts, and other paperwork while my husband showed property and went to all appointments.
By nightfall, the lack of my normal routine got the best of me. No comfy bed. No husband to lie next to, and I missed my other children. Tired and lonely, I didn’t feel like I was holding it together or doing anything right. But I knew I was all the strength my daughter had, and I was going to be there for her. Needing to draw on my Heavenly Father’s strength, I pulled out my Bible and read to get me through.
Many nights I also called Lee. Although his whole life was also turned upside down, he was there to sort out my thoughts, and encouraged me to continue moving forward and to trust God.
This encouragement soon became vital to my well-being. Only home for a little over a week after being dismissed from Hope Lodge, Shannon contracted pneumonia. Back to KU for another month…the longest month ever. Highly discouraged, believing we had finished our race, only to be forced to return made it one of the hardest times of all. No routine again, sleeping in a hospital recliner chair instead of a bed, and never leaving made Hope Lodge seem like a 5-star hotel. . My heart ached for my home, but even more so for Shannon. I hated seeing my daughter so sick without the ability to take her pain away. I missed my Shannon the way she use to be. I just wanted it all to be over.
One day, I could tell this journey was getting to me. Shannon went in for a simple test. When she didn’t return in a normal time, I panicked. A code blue boomed over the intercom and I about lost it. I never was so relieved to see her return. While she wasn’t the code blue, they did have difficulty waking her up after the procedure.
Six years have now passed. My Shannon is graduating from college in two weeks to become a social worker. During this journey, our whole family grew closer. Lee repeatedly encouraged me, “No matter what happens, we can face this together.”
Looking back, I can see how I learned to lean on Jesus; not my feelings. When I was weak, He was strong. I didn’t have to be perfect, since my Savior was. I’m thankful God heard my cries, and chose to spare my daughter’s life. Every day I give him praise for the blessing of His healing touch in her life.
It’s me again. I hope you’re as inspired as I am by my friend’s testimony. Debbie still sells real estate for Keller-Williams in Joplin, Missouri. In addition, she now is the children’s Pastor at our church, Trinity Worship Center, along with singing on our worship team. She is a true blessing to me. Please share how her story blessed you in the comments below.
Encourage someone else by sharing this story. Victory is ahead no matter what you’re facing, or what the circumstances look like. Let God carry Y-O-U!