Childhood Leukemia – Jessica’s Story
I have a grown daughter named Jessica, who is a childhood leukemia survivor. Diagnosed with the terrible disease at age three, she seemed unable to put even one foot in front of the other for lack of strength. With each new day, her complexion became increasingly pale. Our first visit to the doctor to find out what was wrong was the first time we saw God’s hand in the situation. The doctor was a Christian, who attended our church. That night when we returned home from the appointment, Jess was doing much worse, not even able to ascertain my presence as I stood before her. I immediately called the doctor who stated he was just about to call me! He had re-run her lab work and discovered there had been an error; her hemoglobin was 2.5 and life threatening!
He stated that we needed to go immediately to the hospital. I believe it was God’s prompting that caused him to re-run the labs, for what doctor does that? Upon our arrival, they spent 2 hours attempting to establish an IV without success. An ambulance transferred her to a larger hospital, and it took another hour to get an IV line into her. When they had finally settled her in bed in the ICU, the doctor took us aside and ran down the list of possibilities for what could be wrong.
Leukemia was on the list; for that reason, they intended to do a bone marrow test the following day. Not wanting to interfere with the results, they chose to hold off on the much-needed blood transfusion. The doctors stated that even though she was at risk for a heart attack because her blood count was so low, they felt it was necessary to wait.
The following day we learned that she did indeed have leukemia. We also found that God had worked, once again, in saving Jessica’s life. Not only had she made it through the long night, but the doctor also said that if an IV had been established at the smaller hospital, they most likely would have given her a regular transfusion which in taxing her heart may have caused a heart attack. At the larger hospital, they gave her what was called an exchange transfusion where they removed her sickly blood, and exchanged it with healthy blood.
We had a long road ahead! A three-year protocol to return Jess to the healthy little girl she had once been. Memories of that day still haunt me, but I learned valuable lessons that have carried me through the many years that followed. I had just turned my life over to Christ the year before Jessica fell ill. Going through such a trial put me on the fast track for growth in my relationship with Him. I found that even during the most challenging times, God is always there. My heart breaks for people who choose to turn away from God during difficult trials because they bypass the greatest source of strength there is.
If I were to offer any advice to parent facing similar trials, it would be not to try and go it alone. First and foremost, lean on God. Also, let your needs be known to your family and church. They are most likely more than willing to help.
Today,Jessica is in nursing school and co-writing with me. Even though she struggles with other health issues, she knows where her strength comes from.
A scripture that helped me through is Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him….” (NIV).
This story was submitted by Cathy Lynn Bryant, author of The Doctor Said I Have Leukemia and several historical fiction books.