|FRIDAY, MARCH 28, 1997|
That's right, Ashley came home from the hospital yesterday! As we left the hospital, the man at the front desk asked me for the last name of the patient. I said, "O'Rear". He responded, "Oh, Ashley. Our phone calls will be cut in half now that she is leaving!" The lady at the admitting desk commented, "She has been a popular little girl while she was here!" One man who has been working at the hospital for about four years said that he has never seen a patient who has received as many phone calls, visitors, and gifts as Ashley! Below is a series of photographs showing a "panaromic" view of Ashley's hospital room, with many of the cards, stuffed animals, balloons, and other gifts that Ashley received during her hospital stay. (You can click on any picture to see it enlarged.)
I mention all that simply to say that the love and support that everyone has shown to Ashley and to our family has been truly overwhelming! We have received over 400 e-mails, and my current "Ashley Update" e-mail list contains 218 e-mail addresses, and is growing every day! What a blessing from God to have so many people shower us with love, and to have literally thousands of people all over the world praying for our little girl! We are being reminded constantly what a special little girl Ashley is, and what a blessing God has entrusted to us in the form of our children.
We stopped at Catfish King on the way home from the hospital to get Ashley some shrimp (her fifth shrimp dinner in the last week, I believe!), and then came to the house. When we got home, there was a banner taped to the sidewalk that said, "Welcome Home, Ashley". There was a balloon bouquet on the porch from some of our friends in Corpus Christi, Texas, and a planter full of beautiful flowers on the porch as well, from some friends here in Waxahachie. Ashley and Justin's beds had new "Looney Tunes" sheets and bedspreads on them, a gift from some of the ladies in the church here. After we got in the house and got settled, Ashley had several visitors.
This morning, a dozen yellow roses arrived from the owners of a local florist shop (they are friends and we go to church with them). A balloon bouquet also arrived, attached to a cute teddy bear. That was sent from some missionaries in Russia. Several people have stopped by today to see how Ashley is doing, and the gift stack has grown even more!
All throughout this ordeal, as people have showered us with love and support, I have stopped and thought several times to myself, "My goodness, we don't deserve all this!" And we don't! But that has served as a poignant reminder to me that Christianity is not about getting what we deserve ... it is all about getting so much better than we can ever hope to deserve. I have been reminded of the wonder of God's grace and mercy. "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!"
ALL THE COMFORTS OF HOME
It was wonderful to sleep in our own bed last night, and to have our whole family back together again! Ashley slept with Susan and me, and Justin slept on his new Looney Tunes bedsheets! We had a wonderfully peaceful night's rest.
THE LONG JOURNEY BEGINS
On Tuesday of next week, April 1, we will travel to St. Paul hospital in Dallas for the doctors to perform a "radiation simulation" on Ashley. They will mark Ashley's head and spine at the spots where the radiation will need to be aimed, and get everything ready for her first treatment.
Then on Thursday, two days later, we will go to Children's Medical Center for Ashley to receive her first dose of chemotherapy (Drug 1, see below), followed by her first radiation treatment at St. Paul. For six weeks, we will travel to Dallas each day, Monday through Friday, for Ashley's radiation treatments. On one day during each of those six weeks, she will also receive Drug 1 of her chemotherapy.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
After the six weeks of radiation and chemo, we will get a one-month break before resuming treatment. Then we will begin a series of eight 6-week cycles.
This six-week cycle will be repeated a total of eight times, so we are looking at a 48-week regimen of chemotherapy after the radiation has been completed.
In order to counter the increased risk of infection which is a common side effect of several of these medications, Ashley will be taking the antibiotic Bactrim. This drug can also cause nausea and vomiting, along with skin rash and itching.
In order to reduce the risk of blood in the urine while being treated with Cyclophosphamide, Ashley will be taking a drug called Mesna.
APPREHENSION AND OPTIMISM
At this point we are apprehensive about the whole year-long process. However, we understand that it is in Ashley's best interest. The doctors seem very optimistic about the hopes of a total cure for Ashley's cancer. We hold an even stronger optimism, because we are trusting is something much more powerful than mere drugs. We are trusting in the healing power of Jehovah Almighty. He is in total control, and we trust Him to do what is best for Ashley.
Thanks again to all of you who have been so supportive. Your encouragement has helped us tremendously. I will continue to update this journal as long as there seems to be a need. May the God of all grace and mercy continue to grant you peace.