I'm gonna start with a cliche, that is no longer a cliche to me; hug your kids everyday, tell them how much you love them, and spend time with them because you are not guaranteed tomorrow.
At the end of this year's soccer season Aunicka had a pain in the muscle in her right thigh. This is a very common place for soccer pain, pulled muscles in cold weather are anything but unheard of. But 8 weeks after the season ended the pain was still there, it should be healed by now.
We took her in for an x-ray figuring there was a tendon or ligament tear that takes longer to heal. The x-ray showed a lesion in her upper thigh bone (femur) that the doctor said should be closer examined. He set an MRI appointment for Monday, January 8th. The MRI ran from about 4-5:30pm and we were told to look for a call from the doctor on Tuesday.
Tuesday, January 9th, 12:50pm - Yes, we know the exact time because our lives will never be the same again. The doctor called and told us that the MRI showed a tumor that looks suspiciously like cancer. He set up an appointment for us to take Aunicka to Oakland Children's Hospital on Thursday the 11th. We began to prepare. Then he called back about 15 minutes later and said, "Nevermind, go now. They are expecting you this afternoon."
We packed up Aunicka, dropped the rest of the kids off with other parents or grand-parents and were on the road within an hour. At this time Aunicka hadn't heard the word "cancer" in regards to her leg. We told her only what we KNEW. She has a mass on her bone and the doctors need to look closer at it to figure out the best way to remove it.
Tuesday, January 9th, 8pm - It was a long, windy, rainy drive over the pass but we got to the hospital. She was checked into the ER for an overnight stay and officially diagnosed with the flu as well. They scheduled a biopsy of the tumor for Wednesday around 2:30pm with a CT scan prior to that in the morning.
Wednesday, January 10th, 9:43am - They took Aunicka for her CT scan to make sure it hasn't spread to her lungs. They have to do this before the biopsy because the surgical anesthesia can show false positives on the CT scan.
Wednesday, January 10th, 12:02pm - A team of six doctors walked into the room with us while Auni was sleeping. They brought us to the family lounge just down the hall to talk. With our hearts caught in our chests we followed them. They introduced themselves and their specialties. They showed us the photos from the MRI and CT scans and proceeded to tell us that Aunicka has cancer in her leg bone, the surrounding muscle and that it has spread to her lungs. The plan for the biopsy is still in place because they need a piece of it to know what they are dealing with.
Wednesday, January 10th, 5:45pm - They moved her into the operating room to perform the biopsy. The papers were signed for the anesthesia and we were informed that because she has lung cancer and influenza B she is at high risk for not coming out of the surgery. I know it shouldn't have taken this long, but this is where the REAL HARD praying began. A side note that will tie back in to the story: a few months ago our home church, Common Ground Carson, arranged a prayer night to seek God's direction for our church in the valley. By His design that prayer meeting took place at this exact same time, 6pm on Wednesday night. We sent out text messages saying, "Pray hard, right now!" And people did. And God showed up. Her surgery was done in 45 minutes. The very skilled surgeon said she retrieved a great sample and that it does not appear to be osteosarcoma or Ewing's sarcoma. But they still don't know what it is. Lab tests will need to be run and that will take until sometime Friday.
Thursday, January 11th, 11:15am - Aunicka slept through the night and woke without pain, so that was a nice blessing. We slept on mattress pads in the room as well and only woke when the nurses came in to check on her. The doctors just stopped by to let us know that they will not be installing the chemo port today, so no surgery today. That means she can eat and relax. They will be doing an EKG and some other non-invasive tests in preparation of the next steps. They also said that the tests to determine what type of cancer this is will likely run into next week. Jon will be spending the night with her tonight so Laura and I are off to find sleeping arrangements for the night.
Well, for those of you keeping track, it has been more than a day since my promised update. I apologize for not writing this sooner but honestly we got busy and I forgot.
Anyway, Auni's recovery is going very well. She was in the hospital for two weeks after surgery and then we got to come home. She is almost 6 weeks since surgery now and will get to start putting a little weight on her leg in the next couple of days with physical therapy as she strengthens her muscles and learns to walk. Follow up trips to the doctors for various scans and routine physical therapy is taking up Aunicka's days unless she is hanging out with friends or her horse.
The next step though will be rapidly upon us. We will be heading to Denver in the next few days to plan the next treatment steps for Aunicka and the simulation mapping phase of her radiation therapy. We will come back home for a week and then Laura and Aunicka will be in Denver for 5-6 weeks for radiation therapy. The outpatient therapy is daily, 5 day a week, for 5-6 weeks. She will also be continuing her physical therapy there. Fortunately Laura has some family in the Denver area which will make the entire process go easier.
Thank you all for your kind and supportive words, and prayers. It means so much to all of us.