It's been a while since I've written a post here, and that is not for a lack of goings-on but rather that I am aware that our children are getting older and I need to be conscious of their privacy. With that in mind, I asked Victoria if she was okay about me writing this post.
It's okay for me to write about me and my thoughts and struggles, but this story is not just about me, it started with a three year old girl with a tumour in her brain. And it includes three siblings and a father who each continue to process pain and grief in different ways.
It is hard to believe it is almost seven years since Victoria was diagnosed. Here is a video we found the other day, when Victoria was four and on chemotherapy treatment, a reminder of just how young she was.
Now she is 10 years old and full of life, praise God! Her understanding of what has happened, where she is now and what her future holds, is very tricky emotional ground.
After the scan in May, which showed that the tumour was stable, thank you Jesus, Victoria went through an intense period of anxiety for a couple of months. We are so grateful for the support Victoria received during these months, especially from the wonderfully caring teachers at school.
A Redkite Social Worker advised that it was normal for children around her age to re-process their cancer diagnosis, and that she is likely to do more re-processing around the onset of puberty and in her late teens. All I can say to that is praise God we don't do this journey alone!
Alongside that re-processing, there is also the continual need to attend to the physical implications of having one side of the body growing slower than the other side. We continue to pray that God will do a miracle in this area in her life, but in the waiting Victoria is doing all she can (with the support of some great people) to keep the left side of her body functioning well.
Around the end of June, just as the anxiety was starting to subside, Victoria started to experience great pain in her left knee and pain. She was advised not to swim, run and dance until the pain subsided.
In this 'resting' time, she was advised to start working on building up the strength of the muscles on her left side. So under the guidance of a physio Victoria has been going to the gym for the past couple of months.
In October she had some casting on her leg to help re-position her left foot (first photo). Although, even having a leg in a cast doesn't hold her back, as you can see in this video.
So I guess the essence of what is happening now in this journey, is that Victoria is no longer a little child, who easily accepts the re-assurance of her parents, "It's going to be okay". No, she is older, with more understanding. She knows what she has been through physically. She knows what she needs to do each day to keep her body functioning well. She sees her peers dancing in ways that she can't, wearing pretty sandals that she can't wear, and she has to process her anger and disappointment. She has to wrestle with that question of why hasn't God healed me yet? A question that Ken and I don't have the answer for.
She has to find strength to keep living with hope. One morning, during those weeks of anxiety, when it was just too hard to go to school, Victoria found some songs written by Moriah Peters, including Brave; Oh hear my God is near; Stand Strong; Born to be free; Waterfall. We spent the morning together singing these songs, getting their words of truth into our hearts.
Victoria's next scan is drawing nearer, Monday, 18th December (We will get the results on the 19th). A couple of weeks ago I found Victoria at her desk, listening to some of Moriah Peters' songs, stop/starting them and writing down the lyrics...
She asked me to laminate them. It wasn't until a few days later that God opened my eyes to what I had seen - here was our daughter, preparing herself to fight against the anxiety that so often comes prior to the scan. She is learning how to find her strength in Jesus.
We are expecting only good results from this next scan, believing that God continues to hold Victoria, and indeed our whole family in His hands.
Thank you for your continued prayers for Victoria. Thank you for the emotional and practical support that is continually given to her. We are blessed to have you in our lives. Next week I will post the results of the scan
Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9