Dear family and loved ones, friends and Warriors in Christ,

Our family is being threatened with the fiery furnace. Here’s the story:

On Friday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 23, 2007) Liz found a small bruise (tiny, really) on Lydia’s little bottom near her rectum. Weird but seemed to be no cause for alarm. I left Birmingham and returned home on Sat. afternoon and all was well when I left except that Lydia had not slept soundly through the night for the past 2-3 weeks, and she had already developed a pretty good sleeping routine at around 6-8 weeks. Liz was dead tired because Lydia was restless throughout the nights. Apparently Lydia began coughing Saturday night and through Sunday night, further adding to the sleepless nights. On Monday morning Liz saw that Lydia had a broken blood vessel in her eye, presumably from coughing. Then her little nose had two tiny blood clots appeared after she coughed. It freaked Liz and Sally out so they made a doctor’s appt at 2:45 Monday afternoon. The doctor did blood work, found that her white blood count (WBC) was extremely high: normal is 5,000-10,000 but little Lydia’s was 800,000–yes, eight hundred thousand! The doctor sent them immediately to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham with a possible diagnosis of leukemia, which was confirmed later that night. Since then she has been given blood transfusions which have dropped her WBC to around 140,000. We are waiting on platelets so she can begin moving forward with treatment, and also waiting for a spinal tap. Two spinal tap attempts but they have so far been unable to complete them as blood clots interfere. Monday night she had an EEG for brain activity and EKG for heart and found that both are fine, which was very surprising and amazing to the doctors due to the WBC and low percentage of red blood cells to deliver oxygen to the brain and the heart. Her spleen and liver were enlarged but I have not heard that there is any undue concern regarding that.

The type of leukemia is Acute Lymphoid Leukemia (ALL). The spinal tap will determine (or help determine) what type of ALL, therefore the course of Chemotherapy. The oncologist (Roger Berkow) explained that without therapy Lydia would probably leave us within the month. With therapy (which is expected to be quite long and difficult) she at least has a chance. As a friend who has beaten cancer said tonight, “Statistics are nothing but numbers and have nothing to do with Lydia’s life!” If you want to learn more, Google “Infant Leukemia” but please do not let the numbers cause alarm. The Lord’s arm is not short and His compassion is endless.

Dr. Berkow explained that Lydia is particularly vulnerable because she is so young (3 months) and that we should view every procedure as dangerous, at least at this stage. Thursday morning is her first procedure, the insertion of a ‘permanent’ port for drug delivery so they don’t have to keep sticking her. The procedure will have to be postponed if the platelet donation is not found, though. We are rounding folks up but unfortunately it takes a while to get the blood processed after donation. Sally and I went today but were both turned away because she had been to Burma within the last 12 months and I had been to India. Countries with malaria get the Red Cross folks excited. If anyone wants to donate blood or platelets for her cause, please email or call for the information. It must be coordinated through the system so that the platelets remain fresh–apparently the donor’s platelets go directly to Lydia (or the person in need). Blood donations, on the other hand, are stockpiled and my blood donation would go to wherever the need is, not directly to Lydia.

So there it is in a nutshell. We do covet the prayers of the righteous: and remember, we are made righteous in Christ, not in our own works but in the finished work of the Cross, alone.

Liz and David and the rest of the family are doing amazingly well. The Lord really has upheld us all faithfully. I don’t think anyone is in shock or is in denial, just putting one foot in front of the other, walking the road ahead of us. We are praying that Lydia be healed but like Daniel (in the Bible) said in the book of Daniel 3:17-18 when he and his friends were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace, ‘If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, Oh king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, Oh king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’

We know that He is able to heal her and we implore Him for that healing; but even if He does not, our goal is that we not turn away from Him but remain constant as we are all refined in the fires. We have put our faith in Him, not in miracles, signs and wonders. We don’t know why things like this happen but they do. The rain falls on the believer and the unbeliever equally. It is our place to keep walking the road He lays out for us. Only time will tell where our faith is in a week, a month, a year, six years. But today our goal is to remain faithful to the One Who is Faithful and True.

Blessings to you all,

Maternal Grandmother