One year ago today, we got the best news possible. The doctors said that Ian’s first evaluations were “remarkable.” The cancer cells were no longer visible on the MRI. It felt like a miracle, and words can’t express how overjoyed we were with the news. I can remember Ian’s large, slow-motion fist pump when we got the news over the speaker of my cell phone! The doc advised that he’d have to continue the 10-month chemo treatment plan to be sure we killed every last cell of the aggressive cancer.
While our prayers were not answered the way we wanted them to be last year, I remind myself this morning that our prayers were likely answered about a dozen years before that…
Below is a post that I made on my personal Facebook page a few months ago (before I started this blog) where I shared about the gift of time that I believe Ian was given.
This post and many of my early FB posts were written directly to Ian…
This is one of my favorite pictures of you. It’s just so … you! You were on a Big Island trip with your classmates – maybe in the 5th or 6th grade. Your extra-large looking forearm makes me think of that funny episode of the King of Queens where Doug and Carrie get that portrait and Carrie’s arm looks enormous and Doug has rabbit-sized front teeth. That was one of your favorite episodes of that sitcom. You would laugh and laugh and laugh, nearly jolting out of your seat.
You had a very sweet childhood filled with lots of laughter. But at around the age of 10 or 11 we had a quite a scare when a quickly growing lump on the front of your right thigh appeared out of nowhere. It doubled in size in about a month and the doctor decided to have it removed, although he expressed no serious concerns about it initially.
It was an outpatient procedure. When the surgeon removed the growth, he looked concerned. The hidden part of the growth under the skin was much bigger than what we saw on the surface. He said he was going to send it out “just to be safe.” My heart dropped. We were told that results would take about 3 days.
Those three days straddled a weekend. You carried on without a care in the world. I prayed constantly.
On Sunday, I dragged you over to the prayer corner after church and asked Diane to pray for you. “What is that?” she asked, looking at the huge bandage on your leg. I explained. We prayed! Then, we got the best news. The growth, they said, was benign. Praise God!
The surgery left a sizable scar on your leg. Now and then someone would ask about the remnant of that large wound. If not for that scar, I think we would have forgotten about that experience.
Fast forward to February 2016 when we found out you had Rhabdomyosarcoma. We learned that the aggressive and rare childhood cancer grows primarily in soft tissues, commonly of the head and neck as well as the arms and legs. I immediately wondered if the lump on your thigh more than a dozen years ago was rhabdo! When I mentioned this to you, you shrugged your shoulders. When we asked the oncologist, he shrugged his shoulders, too.
Deep down inside, I felt certain there was a connection.
Fast forward again to September 2016 when, with no prompting from me, the naturopathic doctor on the Big Island said that the lump on your thigh was, in her opinion, the first manifestation of this rare cancer.
If this is true…then this means we had about a dozen more years with you after cancer first arrived in your precious body.
On a good day, when I can see through the heavy clouds of grief, I can be thankful for this because so much happened in those 12 years! Amazing friendships were made and passions were born. You grew from a sweet little boy who only wanted to play with your action figures at home to a teenager with a black-belt in Taekwondo to a daring young man skating down Haleakala. You had circles of friends who added so much joy to your life and then you found the absolute love of your life.
These were good years!
But on those days when I’m missing you beyond words, I can’t help but wonder what could have been with 12, 24, 36 or 60 more years. But I will continue to be grateful that God gave you to us for 23 solid years.
And for your friends and family who were a part of your life in those last dozen years or so, I hope this story gives them a fresh perspective. I’m glad you had a chance to walk with them, talk with them, ride with them and, no doubt, laugh with them.
Like that lump on your thigh, the time we had with you on earth may appear to be “small” but there is more than what we can see on the surface. And this large scar you’ve left on our hearts means that we will remember you – forever.