|SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1999|
The previous update was posted back in October, and quite a bit has happened since then.
Ashley has continued to go to school every day, except when a scheduled appointment has caused her to miss a day. She continues to be an excellent student, making straight "A's" all year long, except for one "B" (an 89) on her last report card. Susan is still going to school with Ashley, and it looks like that will continue for the rest of this school year. However, Susan has begun serving as a substitute teacher; so some days, even when she is at school, she is not with Ashley most of the day.
Ashley's strength is slowly recovering. She is using the wheelchair less and less, and walking more and more. She has now begun physical therapy sessions twice a week, and occupational therapy once a week. We are very pleased with her progress.
Ashley's hair is coming back VERY slowly. When it first started peeking through the scalp, it was quite dark. That was disheartening to Ashley, because she really liked her blonde hair before it all fell out. One of her nurses told her that if it came back in too dark, "Honey, that's why God invented peroxide!" However, as her hair continues to grow, it has become lighter than when it first appeared. So maybe there is hope for a satisfactory color without resorting to peroxide!
On Thursday, February 4, Ashley was admitted to Children's Medical Center in Dallas for what should be her FINAL cancer-related surgeries! We arrived at the hospital a little before 6:30 AM. Ashley was put in a room on the Day Surgery floor. The doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologist all came in to talk to us prior to the surgeries. About 7:30 AM, they wheeled Ashley out of the room and down to the Operating Room.
The first surgery took only about fifteen minutes. Because Ashley's reports have all come back showing no signs of cancer, which means that no further treatments are expected, they removed her port-a-cath. Dr. Renard came up to the room, where Susan and I were waiting, and said the port-a-cath removal went just fine.
As Dr. Renard finished the port-a-cath removal surgery, Dr. Berry (Ashley's eye doctor) was waiting to take over. She performed surgery on Ashley's eyes to correct the double vision which has plagued Ashley for the past two years. The prism glasses temporarily corrected the problem while Ashley was going through chemotherapy treatments, but this surgery was designed to fix the problem permanently.
Ashley had been excited for quite some time about the prospect of seeing normally again, without her glasses. The surgery lasted only about an hour. Dr. Berry "adjusted" the muscles in Ashley's eyes in order to bring the eyes back into proper alignment. Ashley was back in her room by 9:30, and two hours later they sent us home!
Ashley has recovered remarkably from the eye surgery. Her eyes were very sensitive to light the first day, so she kept them covered with a wet rag. The inside half of each eye turned a bright red and stayed that way for several days. Two weeks after the surgery, there is almost no residual sign of bruising, swelling, or blood in the eyes. She sees just fine now, without her glasses. The surgery for which she had waited for almost two years, was a smashing success!
For the past year-and-a-half, every MRI has come back showing no sign of cancer. I am convinced that God answered our prayers to heal Ashley of cancer shortly after this whole ordeal began. Her hair is growing back, she is regaining her strength, and the harsh treatments which she endured for a year-and-a-half seem to have caused no permanent negative effects. Ashley's future looks very bright! For that we are extremely thankful!
Once again, Susan and I want to express our heartfelt thanks to all of you who have been so supportive during Ashley's battle with the cancer monster. Your prayers, your cards, your e-mails, your gifts, your contributions ... everything you have done has been a tremendous source of strength to us. God has blessed us richly, and each of you are a big part of that blessing.
Thank you for your love. We are better people because of the impact you have had on our lives. May God richly bless each of you and your families.