Grace for Grant | Life During Chemo

Time is an interesting thing. It never changes, yet this summer I feel like it’s sped up and slowed down both at the same time. Didn’t school just get out and suddenly August is right around the corner?! I’m sure I don’t stand alone when I admit that I have multiple to-do lists from the past months and have yet to accomplish the majority of it as planned or even at all. It can be frustrating. As I am learning over and over again though, life does not stick to your plan. And honestly, what a relief! Looking back, I’m glad that everything in my life has not gone as I had planned because if it had – I would not be where I am right now. And I know I am exactly where I should be right now. When it comes to time and life, there is a plan – but it’s not mine. Today I am feeling especially grateful to know that God, who is the author and creator of life, steps in and adjusts my priorities as He sees fit. He has a plan far greater than any of ours and when it takes over, just wait because you will never be disappointed in the end.

So what am I getting at? I have a lot going on in my head these days. As I sat down to gather my thoughts on the last couple of weeks, it hit me – – has it really been only a month since this “cancer” word came into our lives so personally?? And at the same time – – Wow, it’s only been a month. Back in June I would have thought I’d be complete tunnel vision right now and journaling strictly about pregnancy, my fat ankles & all of my worries about becoming a first time mom in only a couple of weeks. But life happens, and I am glad that this last month’s events have realigned my priorities and perspective to better prepare me for whatever lie ahead in my soon-to-be life as a mother. Unexpected bumps in the road often do that.

We were blessed as a family to be able to have ALL of the Gossling’s together on the 4th of July (See prior 4th of July post). Grant, June and Michael had spent two long weeks in the hospital and finally made it home the night of July 3rd. In just two weeks, Grant had undergone more surgeries and painful tests than any child his age should have to endure. Though answers were found and he was also able to begin the road to recovery and started round one of chemotherapy. Seeing little Grant after that first chemo cycle broke my heart. He was just that – little. He looked drained and tired. It was another eye-opener of the reality of the road ahead when Grant had to be admitted back into the hospital the very next day because of a fever. His blood counts were too low, so the next four days were spent at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

As soon as Grant made it back home, it was decided that a final family picture before his hair fell out was a must. The morning of the photos, Grant’s hair had already started the process. If I touched his head, it would come off on my hand. Our little guy was not in the best of moods for family pictures – which he has every right to be cranky! – but I’m satisfied with the morning’s captures. I prefer photos that speak truth instead of overly forced. There were frowns as well as smiles & it’s good to remember both.

grace for grant

grace for grant

grace for grant

grace for grant

grace for grant

grace for grant

grace for grant

^Little Sydney. Uncle James is always giving kisses (which she secretly LOVES!)^

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

^…and a Big Sis Grant Cheeser!^

 Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

^Stick fights with little James were fun for a while. Grant tries to still monkey around the best he can^

Grace for Grant

grace for Grant

^He even bonked Mommy on the head!^

Grace for Grant

^When tears come, Spidey and Mommy to the rescue^ (James & I laugh at the picture on the left because it requires a double take)

Grace for Grant

^Grant really wasn’t thrilled with the picture taking that morning. Thank heavens for dum-dums though! The right shows his efforts at a cheeser for me^

Right after family pictures, Brenda arrived. She has been cutting Grant’s hair for a while, but this time was much more emotional. The reality is that everybody relates cancer with a bald head. At least I do. Seeing little 2 year old Grant already so frail and now lose his hair brought tears to my eyes. For me, it was another humbling moment of “this is really happening.”

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

^Brenda put on a superhero cape to make him more brave^

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

I’ve tried to put myself in June and Michael’s shoes. Accepting that your child has cancer is one thing, but with that comes the extended hospital stays, sleepless nights, managing three other children, trying to be there for them & help them understand, keeping up with work and your home, and trying to maintain a state of normalcy and find peace in the situation. It’s no wonder the phrase “One step at a time. One prayer at a time.” has become their motto.

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

I am grateful to be a part of this journey – To be a part of such a close-knit and faithful family. I feel that little Grant’s illness has brought us even closer together and closer to God… Not only our family, but friends and strangers as well. I am a firm believer that God is our Heavenly Father. We are His children. He knows us and watches over us  – – – Though it is usually through other people that he meets our needs and answers our prayers. The support and love shown to June, Michael, Grant & the entire family from people nation wide are a perfect example of this. It is a reminder to me that a huge part of this life is about reaching out, blessing & uplifting those around us.

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Uncle James decided to go under the shears for Grant as well. He doesn’t exactly have the prettiest of heads without hair, but that’s ok. Hairless is in his future, and so we first had to do a tribute to Grandpa Goose…

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

…Like father, like son…

Grace for Grant

^Here’s our remake of the infamous Geezer Cheeser!^

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Only four more of these three week chemo cycles left (trying to stay positive) with round two starting this coming Monday. One step at a time though. After these chemotherapy cycles there’s more chemo and a lengthy & rough stem cell transplant coming. I cannot fathom what it takes for Michael and June to keep their calm when spending so many days and nights in those small hospital rooms. This is a long road, and I admire them for dealing with the situation so well.

The family has been blessed to be able to remain at home since July 9th… so we’re going on a full week now! Grant’s head has lost much more of the few stubbly hairs left. His blood counts have risen and that brings more joy to these days at home. There will be many ups and downs in the future though. Come Monday, the chemo starts again and there will be less smiles from our little Monkey.

Going back to time and plans… Cancer was definitely not in the plan for this summer. Or ever really. Though I will accept it because it has already been an incredible growing experience for me. Hardships mold and shape us into better people even though we may not see the results for a while. This battle isn’t even directly mine, yet my eyes have been opened to a more eternal perspective of God’s plan, to the vitality of faith in my daily life, and the blessings of cultivating a desire to selflessly serve and sacrifice on behalf of others. I’m about to have a baby – technically any day now! –  and I’d say that having this fresh on my mind couldn’t be a better way to prepare for parenthood.

There was a time in my late teen years that the following verse took on a profound and very personal meaning for me…

Joshua 1:9  – –    Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. 

I had a psychologist explain to me that the word “dismayed” meant allowing all of the negative “what if’s” to creep in. It is dwelling on the worst, the glass half empty instead of half full. I have learned that where there is faith, there cannot be fear. Where there is faith, there is peace and comfort.

In the past month I’ve seen tremendous strength, great courage, and unwavering faith that God is present in this fight against cancer. I’ve seen more unity, more prayer, more encouragement, and more smiles than you’d think would accompany such a heavy burden. I’m not saying it’s been easy. I look at Michael and June and see complete exhaustion sometimes. The sadness and frustration exist. They’re expected. But as the quote goes and rings even more true as time passes, “The future is as bright as our faith.”

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

xoxo

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Grace for Grant

About a week ago, James and I were babysitting our nieces and nephews that live next door. The kids LOVE their Uncle James…especially the boys, who spend the majority of their time jumping on, rolling and wrestling with him. I’m always amused by little Baby Grant – who is 2 and a half – and will literally climb up and wrap his legs around James’ neck and come out unscathed when he’s tossed off onto the couch! It supports why his parents and family call him “monkey.” 🙂  The night was filled with giggles and endless energy and, of course, no one got to sleep until way past their bedtime.

A few days later, Father’s Day, the Gossling clan came over to celebrate the day together. The kids played and ran around, Grant included; though it was noticed that Grant would whine and say “ouch” whenever he was picked up. It seemed that maybe he had fallen and hurt a rib, his arm, or maybe his lymph nodes were a little swollen because he had been under the weather the day or so before.

June took Grant to the doctor for an x-ray to see what was wrong on Wednesday. The x-ray led to blood tests – which confirmed that Grant’s platelet count was entirely too low. The doctors informed June and Michael that this was an immediate concern for cancer and they needed to have him sent to the hospital right away for further testing.

Grace for Grant

I am astounded and humbled by how quickly a person’s life can change. And, in this case, it is far more than one person’s that has been changed forever.

Grace for Grant

Since the first doctor visit just this last Wednesday, the doctors have found a large mass on little Grant’s adrenal glands and another abnormality on the bone in his arm. At his age, Grant is now only the third case of high risk, stage 4 neuroblastoma admitted to the Aflac Cancer wing at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta this year.

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Our hearts have been broken and constantly poured out in prayer since we’ve received the news. To try and put myself in June and Michael’s shoes is incomprehensible; though they say that the tremendous reaching out from hundreds in just the last couple of days has been a blessing to help lift the burden they now carry.

Grant was supposed to go into surgery for a biopsy this last Friday, but it was postponed until Monday due to a delay in him receiving blood in time. What a blessing that has been because it allowed a break from all of the testing and poking – to just breath… and better soak in all that has happened in such a short period of time. James and I were able to spend our afternoon with Grant, June, and Michael yesterday at the hospital.

I wasn’t sure how I would handle our visit. Walking through the wing to get to Grant’s room had me tearing up as I saw little babies in hospital gowns being pulled around in red wagons in the halls to some puppies that had been brought to cheer them up. Being able to see June and Michael finally since the news was calming and reassuring for me. For being in a more difficult place than I can imagine, they are both so faithful. Though they shared how heart wrenching it was each time they had to hold down their screaming baby for him to be “poked” or sedated for testing – they also spoke very positively and gratefully – – regarding the path that was paved leading up to this event, how they had been prepared, about how God has a plan, and about the flood of support, love, and prayers being offered up on their behalf. Visitors, comments, and love coming from family, friends, and strangers are keeping them strong in this rough time.

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

It really is incredible how little Grant is bringing people together and how good hearted the world is. You can read more details about it and Grant’s story with the daily little miracles/updates on his facebook page: Grace for Grant – it is kept up by his parents, Michael and June.

Grace for Grant

It was hard to see Grant in so much pain. He would cry as soon as June got up from his side in bed. He didn’t want anyone to touch him.

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

His body is weak and sore – they have a “Fall Risk” band around his ankle because even walking is not easy or even possible at this point.

Grace for Grant

I was impressed at how well he did when the nurse came in to check on him and give him more pain medications. He only fussed when they lifted his arm to take his temperature.

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^^ even Spidey got his temperature taken ^^

 

Though the majority of the afternoon Grant was in pain and fussy – He allowed his favorite Uncle James to touch him and was able to get some smiles out of him, if only for a brief minute or two! These photos warm my heart…

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

 

 

Grant will go into surgery tomorrow. They will do a biopsy to confirm whether the stage 4 mass in his abdomen is mature or still immature and prone to rapid spreading. We are hoping it’s mature (which means it won’t be spreading quickly). If the tumor is a solid mass and easily removed, they’ll go ahead and take it out during surgery – but they said not to count on it. Though we already know Grant is high risk – these upcoming tests and biopsy will confirm exactly where all the cancer has spread and what types of treatments will be needed. Soon we will have more answers. Which also means that soon Michael and June will explain to their other three children (9, 7, and 4 years old) Grant’s situation. Up until now, they visit and know that Grant is “sick” but do not know the extent of it. They wanted to wait until more was confirmed. Using the “cancer” word will be hard because their beloved family dog currently has cancer and the kids all know that any day now he may be gone. When it rains – it pours …but God is always there.

Grace for Grant

^^ “hello?!?!” on the foot phone ^^

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Grace for Grant

Neuroblastoma has no known cause – but starts in the nerves (usually around the adrenal glands) and can spread to the bones, skin, liver, etc. It is not very common – but occurs most often in young children/babies.

Prayers and thoughts are needed and appreciated.

For updates: GRACE for GRANT

Grace for GrantGrace for Grant

x’s & o’s

 

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