As many of you know, Andrew has had a swollen eye since he was three months old. After a number of doctors and several diagnoses crossed off the list, we went in for an MRI and a CT scan this last Monday and were shocked with the news that there is a sizeable tumor covering a large area of his face.
We initially thought he was having an allergic reaction or a blocked tear duct. We were referred from a nurse practitioner to a pediatrician to a pediatric ophthalmologist to another ophthalmologist specializing in ultrasounds and finally to the radiologist who did the scans. For at least a month, we were sure it was a vascular lesion or hemangioma, which is a very treatable condition that usually goes away on its own or can be treated with a laser and/or steroidal injections. Our ophthalmologist told us that an ultrasound on his eye would pretty definitively show us a hemangioma if that was the problem. Andrew was the right age, he had the right presentation, and even the ultrasound seemed to initially point that way. We knew something was wrong when the day after the ultrasound, we got a call from our ophthalmologist's colleague who told me they would schedule the extra scans right away and gave me his pager number.
After the scans, the ophthalmologist told us it looked like one of three things: rhabdomyosarcoma, histiocytosis, or neuroblastoma. We asked him which disease was the most likely candidate. Rhabdomyosarcoma. He gave us his pager number again and told us we should talk to the radiologist. Stew had his computer handy, so he googled 'Rhabdomyosarcoma'. Fast-growing. Highly malignant. 50% 5-year mortality rate. Needless to say, we got pretty emotional after that.
The radiologist showed us the tumor, which extended from near the inside corner of Andrew's eye to the outside corner of his eyebrow and down through his zygomatic (cheek) bone. It reached back into his head past the length of his eye. He also showed us the CT scan showing the bone destruction from the tumor. There was no evidence of it in his brain, and Stew remembers someone saying that the local lymph nodes weren't enlarged. After explaining the extent of the tumor and his observations, he asked where our family was. We told him Ukraine and Indiana, but we had extended family close by. "Do you want to be part of our family?" We thanked him for his kindness. We told him that no matter what happens, Andrew is sealed to us.
Soon after, an Asian man walked in the room followed by a few residents. This was Dr. Kim, the man who was going to do a biopsy to figure out what exactly Andrew has. The radiologist did a quick run-down with this surgeon, who said it would be a simple procedure that he had done before. He took a look at Andrew and told us that the incision would be small, almost unnoticeable, minimal scarring. This was honestly the last thing on our minds. He soon left and we were left with Andrew.
Even a few days later, the details of the next few hours are fuzzy. We did a lot of praying, singing hymns, and Stew began his fast. We started to read in Alma 2 where the sons of Mosiah are teaching King Lamoni's father about God. We came upon one of my very favorite verses where his Father is praying, "O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee." We realized that we had two choices--that we could either curse God, lose our testimonies and become embittered by this experience or we could turn to God and repent and find peace despite our adversity. We would certainly need to repent in this experience by turning our minds and wills toward God.
We know that we as his parents are able to do very little against cancer. We would need to put Andrew into the doctor’s hands, but really, we would need to put him in God’s hands. It was a comforting thought, imagining Andrew being taken care of by much more capable hands, as he is so close to God. We thought a lot about how much God loves Andrew, so much more than we do. After many hours of prayer and a priesthood blessing from the bishop, we both eventually felt and have clinged to the peace that comes only from the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We don’t know what will happen next, but we know that if we put our trust in God, things will work out.