|SUNDAY, JUNE 1, 1997|
Last weekend, my computer crashed (oh, the wonders of modern technology!), and I completely lost my e-mail address book. I did, however, manage to salvage the files where I had archived all the previous e-mails I had received regarding Ashley. I have spent the last week going back through those messages, one at a time, and rebuilding my address book. My update mailing list now includes the e-mail address of everyone who has been kind enough to write to us via e-mail to express concern and offer support regarding Ashley.
It has been about three weeks since my last update, and a LOT has happened during those three weeks! Most importantly, Ashley is through with radiation treatments, forever!!! Monday, May 19 was Ashley's 32nd and final radiation treatment, ending six weeks of driving from Waxahachie to Dallas every day, Monday through Friday. She had a great last day, too. That evening, we all went out to El Chico's Mexican Restaurant to celebrate.
The radiation treatments gave Ashley a pretty dark "suntan", especially on her head. A lot of the dark skin has now peeled away, and the rest is in the process of peeling, so she'll be back to the non-beach-bum look pretty soon. At this point, she is still experiencing double vision, and is therefore still wearing her eye patch constantly. We are still in hopes that her normal vision will return at some point.
Ashley and Justin are both out of school for the summer (as most kids are by now), and both had good years. Ashley ended up with straight A averages for the year, and had all A's during the last 9-weeks reporting period, which included all the time since we discovered her tumor. We don't know for sure how long the tumor had been there, or exactly how it was affecting her physiologically, but during the reporting period just prior to our discovering her tumor, she only got one B and all the rest were A's.
There were several end-of-the-school-year festivities that were especially meaningful. An awards ceremony was held during the last couple of weeks of school, at which students who had excelled in extracurricular reading and math activities were recognized. We knew that Justin was going to receive a "Math Stars" award, and the teacher who was heading up the awards ceremony told us several times, "You need to be sure that you are both at the ceremony." What we weren't aware of, was that Ashley ended up being the top student in her class in "Math Stars", and received a special award for that accomplishment.
But then came the biggest surprise of all. As soon as Mrs. Winn announced that there was a special award they were going to begin giving this year, and began reading the description of the award, I knew what was about to happen. "This award is one that we will be awarding each year to a student who has had to overcome obstacles that most of us will never face, and has done so with faith and courage. It will be called the Ashley O'Rear award, and we are proud to award it this year to the young lady for whom it is named, Ashley O'Rear." Needless to say, Susan and I neither one had a dry eye as they called us up to have a family picture made commemorating the event (in fact, I'm getting all choked up and teary-eyed again, just remembering it). That was a very special moment, and one that we will never forget.
Ashley went to her school's Field Day during the last week of school. She participated in several events, and received one 1st place, one 2nd place, and two 4th place ribbons. One day during that last week of school was designated as Ashley O'Rear Hat Day, and all the students were encouraged to wear a hat in Ashley's honor.
HATS, HATS, EVERYWHERE!
Speaking of hats, Ashley has received several really cool ones. She had been wanting, for some time, one of those Dr. Seuss Cat-in-the-Hat looking hats. You know, the real tall, multi-colored hats like the Cat-in-the-Hat wore. Well, several weeks ago, a family brought her a gift to church on Sunday morning. Ashley opened it, and it was the hat! That afternoon, another family brought a gift by the house. It was the hat! She ended up with two Cat-in-the-Hat hats on the same day, and they were even different colors! She has also received several caps and bonnets, and is becoming a regular connoisseur of fine hats! In a span of five days, she received, as gifts, seven new hats!
We have three more weeks of freedom before Ashley has to start back up with the chemo treatments. Her start date was even pushed back a week so that she can attend summer church camp. Nurses Jillian and Sheryl pulled the necessary strings to make that happen. Thanks, ladies! Please continue to pray for Ashley, that she will not experience any violent side effects to the chemotherapy treatments, and that at the end of her 48-week treatment schedule, she will in fact be CURED of her cancer! That is what we are praying for, and that is what we are expecting!
PLEASE PRAY FOR ERIC
Also, please pray for little Eric. Eric is another Waxahachie child who was recently diagnosed as having a brain tumor. Please pray fervently on his behalf, and for his family.
Ashley really enjoys all the cards, letters, and e-mails she has been receiving. She checks the mail every day with eager anticipation. Those of you who have written to her and e-mailed her (and us) and sent her gifts have provided a very special ray of sunshine in her life, and in ours. Thank you from the depths of our hearts! Several of you have also shown the same kind of special attention to Justin, and for that we are extremely grateful! That has helped him tremendously.
DON'T FEEL SORRY FOR US!
Thank you all for your concern and prayers and love and encouragement. You are an inspiration to our family, and your prayers are providing us with much strength. But please don't feel sorry for us! Our lives are tremendously blessed! We have two beautiful children, many wonderful friends, a loving church family, a roof over our heads, food to eat, clothes to wear; and our lives are filled with MUCH laughter and joy and happiness. Sure, our current struggle is a difficult one, but God never promised us a trouble-free life. He simply promised to help us handle the troubles that do come along.
So please continue to pray for Ashley and for our family, but it would sadden me to know that people are feeling sorry for us. God is blessing our lives in tremendous ways, and we pray His blessings on each of you as well.