"What would you want to tell other people who had cancer?", I asked my youngest sister this week..."Hmmm, I would tell them my story and to be brave." So, here it is!
I'll never forget the phone call from my parents New Year's Eve, 2009 telling me the little 7 year old ballerina with sandy blond waves and big brown eyes had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Whilms Tumor Cancer that had spread to her kidney, abdomen, and lungs. It just didn't fit and it certainly wasn't fair.
(feeding the ducks)
They lived in Portland, OR and I lived in Austin, TX but the night I got that phone call my husband said, "just go!". So the next day I was on a plane. Jolene quickly started her treatment with chemo, radiation, and surgeries to try to romove the largest tumors. She's got some pretty amazing battle scars!
(walking with the physical therapist post-surgery)
"Having mom and dad and family nearby", is what helped when she was feeling crummy from the medication. Also, weekly visits from the "Thursday hospital cat", having a funny Dr. like Dr. Todd, laughing a lot, watching other people get their heads shaved, and painting fingernails also helped :).
(Joanna, Joel, Jolene, and Mom at the Tulip Gardens)
(Jolene and Joanna - sisters and bff's)
(Thursday cat at the hospital)
(Jolene and Dad, after he shaved his head for St. Baldrick's Day!)
(Jolene and me...making Chicken and Dumplings)
With eight brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, in-laws, cousins, aunts - uncles, and countless friends there was no shortage of prayers and support during treatment! Jolene received so many sweet cards and gifts just letting her (and the whole family) know she was loved and not alone. One very special gift was a visit from Make A Wish Foundation!
(Learning she was selected for Make A Wish)
After tossing around a few ideas she decided on a trip to Austin, TX so the whole family could be together and go to Six Flags and Sea World! We made some incredible memories on that trip!
(The Clan at Six Flags :)
It's been almost two years now since Jolene was diagnosed and I know my parents would say, "God is faithful!". The last several scans have come back clear and Jolene is doing great! She's back in ballet, her curls are growing back, cooking a ton, quoting "Julie and Julia", and dreaming about becoming a Scientist and traveling to Japan :).
This is her story. Be brave.
(Recital - Jolene is 2nd from the left...cute!)