There is about a 30% chance that it could be malignant. That’s what the doctor told us. Not exactly the words you want to hear from your medical professional, especially when they are being spoken about your child. In this case they were being said to my 15-year-old daughter.
For a few weeks she had noticed a lump on her throat that seemed to be getting larger. A visit to our family doctor confirmed that it was a cystic growth on her thyroid and required further testing. What followed was a series of chaotic weeks of referrals to an endocrinologist (after finding one in our state that worked with pediatric patients) repeated biopsy samples, attempts to drain the cyst (which we had nicknamed Flubber) and finally a surgical consult and removal of the cyst and part of her thyroid during surgery.
Through out this entire ordeal life for my daughter and our family continued. There was still school to go to, soccer practice for her, work for my wife and I and doctor visits to pester the providers for and coordinate work schedules to accommodate. Not to mention that we have two other children who’s lives intersected at every angle. They (whoever they are) say you go through the whole range of emotions as a parent; the worry, the fear, the anger, the insert-your-own-emotions-here and I’d say they are right to some degree but I think they greatly underestimated the power of faith.
The night we learned of the diagnosis and the possible prognosis was a long and tiring one yet my daughter, at just 15-years-old, was the one who reminded her mother and I where our focus really belonged. She posted the following quote to her Facebook page that evening “Keep your head up. God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.” We needed to refocus our frame of reference, we should not be focused on Flubber or the 30% chance of it being “the C word” or even on the upcoming medical care we would be navigating. Rather our focus belonged heavenward. We had to step outside the situation and let faith step in.
“….and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:2a-5 (New American Standard Bible)
The weeks that followed were at times trying and exhausting. My wife made countless phone calls to move provider referrals and appointments along and once the biopsy results dictated that surgery was our only option to get the consult scheduled quickly. Through it all my daughter met Flubber head on with humor, candor and courage. She met it with hope.
When the surgery day arrived and as a parent you have to stand there while complete strangers you just met an hour ago wheel your child down that hallway and through those double doors to the place you can’t follow, that is when you know the meaning of absolute faith and trust. And for me it is when I felt total peace. While I couldn’t go with my daughter into that surgical suite I knew that our God was there. In fact there was no place in that hospital He wasn’t. Unlike so many others in that hospital building my family had hope. When you find yourself in a situation that you literally can’t do anything about, that is when you learn what faith means. Not the abstract notion of faith, but the real gritty and hard reality of in your face faith. Want to test your belief in God real fast? Let something happen to your child.
Post surgery the odds of the “C word” were cut to 15% according to the surgeon and then last week when we finally got that phone call telling us the final results of the post surgery testing of Flubber were negative and the reality of it all began to sink in. Our family had brushed the “C word” but had been spared it directly. We had much to be thankful for.
In typical teenage fashion my daughter anticipated the full release by the doctor at her post op visit last week so she could return to playing soccer, permission he gave her and she returned in a game that very night. A game that the team played in special pink uniforms to raise awareness for breast cancer and my daughter in typical fashion dyed her hair bright pink for. Go big or go home has always been our motto and after facing her own cancer scare down a little pink hair was really minor in the scheme of things.
There is literally an army of people who carried our family through these last few months. Family, friends, co-workers, readers of A Million Points who are connected on Facebook, and more who lifted us up in prayer. Friends who made us part of the nightly dinner prayers, friends who always seemed to send a text or message at the right time. We owe you a debt of gratitude we can never begin to verbalize. A simple Thank You doesn’t seem like enough, but know that it is truly heartfelt.
And so the little girl who inspired A Million Points of Grace to begin with, continues to poke her father along in his spiritual journey, even if she still has the pink hair.