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Highs and Lows - Life stops for life-threatening illnesses

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Please forgive my wandering mind, but as I sit in my little girl's hospital room tonight, I felt compelled to type a bit.


The last couple of months have been a real gut check. Gabi got her Kaibab doe on October 13. That was a good day--really the last good day I had before today. See here for photos: http://www.coueswhitetail.com/forums/topic/76019-little-girl


After taking her doe, she couldn't wait to chase javelina and use her late season cow tag in the coming months. On the drive home the next day, however, she got horribly nauseous, feverish, and felt intense pain. We had to stop at the gas station at The Gap for a while because she couldn't handle riding in the truck. We eventually made it home and after 24 hours her symptoms went away.


Over the next two weeks she had a couple similar episodes with one on November 2nd putting her in the ER. That evening they did an ultra sound on her abdomen to rule out appendicitis. At one point, the technician got really quiet and then quickly left the room. She returned with the head radiologist and they huddled together over the screen quietly whispering to each other.


I'll never forget the feeling I had when the radiologist turned to us and said "we see a solid mass thst appears to be coming from her pancreas." I was standing at the time and I instantly got sick to my stomach. I nearly passed out and somehow found my way to a chair.


(Photo of MRI below)


She spent the next 10 days in the hospital on fluid nutrients as they tried to figure out what the grapefruit sized mass inside he might be. We went on a rollercoaster of theories...cyst, tumor, cyst, "we don't know," cyst, to "let's just let her rest at home for two weeks and we will see what happens." Luckily, I had a friend who knows the chief of surgery at Phoenix Children's who fit us in his schedule a few days later for a second opinion. Once again, they went back and forth on what they thought it might be. Finally, they felt like it was worth the risk to take a sample and we leaned that the mass was actually a large, cancerous, pancreatic tumor.


This morning they removed the tumor along with half of her pancreas. The doctor had a nurse record the actual removal with his phone. It was the size of a softball.


They have confirmed the diagnosis of cancer, but they are hopeful that it was confined to the single malignant tumor. We will know in a few days if they will recommend chemotherapy.


She didn't grt to use her javelina tag, and there is still time to donate her elk tag, but the last two months have been a solemn reminder of what is important: On October 27th she weighed 62 pounds--she's now down to 49 pounds. She will miss 90% of the school days in the Fall quarter. At one point, she slept for three days straight, waking only to use the bathroom and force down some water. When she was awake, the tumor compressed her stomach so much that she couldn't eat more than a spoonful of mashed food every hour or so. After learning she had cancer, and that her cancer is so rare that most oncologists will never see it in their career, we spent another 10 days waiting for the right specialist to be available to perform the procedure. When we came to the hospital this morning they told us to prepare for the possibility that that they would have to take her entire pancreas (instant diabetes) and spleen (ultimately they only took half the pancreas and left the spleen). Now we await the decision on chemotherapy. Each time we think we are near the end of this we get smacked down and learn that it has only begun. It's been heck.


But we have also had opportunities to see how many people love Gabi and our family. We have seen both small and large miracles as we have been guided to the right professionals, been in the right place at the right time, and had people say the precise words we needed to hear in that particular moment. Just 25 years ago my kid would have been given a death sentence, but we live in a time where the odds are now heavily in her favor (all except for contracting a one in two million form of cancer, of course).


Today was a good day, and we have faith that we will have another good day when they give us the verdict on chemotherapy. At some point, she will get to hunt elk like she wants (and that will be a good day too), but for now I am hopeful that we will get a Christmas present of a chemo-free holiday, at home away from hospitals and needles. If that happens, then I'm going to kick back and soak it in because I've learned that I have been taking those simple pleasures for granted for far too long. post-645-0-00316900-1512534529_thumb.jpg

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You made me cry as I have a little girl your daughters age. I can't even imagine what you are going through. You and your family will have prayers every night from us to you that your daughter recovers 100%. Stay strong and pray my friend he does hear you.

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Wow. Stay strong and best wishes to you, your daughter, and your family.

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May Gabi, you, her mother and all those whose heart Gabi has touched find courage, strength and serenity during these difficult times......


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