Leukemia Reflections – Year 3

Yesterday, October 18, marked the 3 year anniversary of our 5-year-old’s diagnosis with leukemia. On the anniversary the previous 2 years, I’ve written a series of reflections from the previous year. In case you want to read them, you can do so here:

Diagnosis Post

Year 1 Reflections

Year 2 Reflections

This year is a little different, because we are now, God willing, approximately 2 months and 3 chemo treatments away from being finished with chemotherapy. So here’s some thoughts 3 years removed from diagnosis day:

1. It’s easy to hide behind your pain. You can use cancer as an excuse for pretty much anything – poor job performance, callousness toward others, financial irresponsibility – you name it. But no good comes from hiding behind. Cowards hide.

2. I thought coming to this point in Joshua’s treatment would mean an end to fear, but we find ourselves grappling with a whole new set of fears. These are about relapse, social development, physical development, and issues later on in life. These fears, too, must be looked squarely in the eye and told the gospel.

3. No man ever collapsed from the pressure of one day. It’s only when we start adding the weight of tomorrow’s worries that it gets too heavy for us to bear.

4. The Lord, I believe, has a special measure of grace reserved for days like the one 3 years ago. You wake up on one of those days not knowing that this grace has been bestowed upon you; and if you did, you might very well want to give it back. Nevertheless, God provides it before we know we need it. And in that moment when the worst happens, we cry, we yell, we moan – but we keep on going.

5. It’s possible for time to pass both slowly and quickly at the same time.

6. I believe God is interested in healing Joshua. I also believe God is interested in healing our whole family. The difference is that we knew what Joshua needed to be healed from. It was only in time that we began to see that we were also sick.

7. Things will never be the same after this. And that’s not all bad.

8. The suffering and pain of children is, in my opinion, the clearest evidence of the devastation from the fall.

9. Our second child has never known a life without cancer. Our third child (God willing) will never know a life with cancer.

10. It’s very, very difficult to be someone’s friend as they walk through pain. To do so requires an enormous emotional investment, and it doesn’t happen by accident. Only by rugged and determined perseverance do people walk the road of pain together.

11. I believe it’s important to the Lord that the last 3 years aren’t something “we put behind us.” It’s important for us to remember, to tell the story, and to help our children remember, too.

12. Understanding is neither promised nor given in whole this side of heaven. The Lord is too wise and has His fingers in too many places to grant our small minds full understanding of the “why” of what He does and allows. However, there’s a difference, I think, between understanding and perspective. And while we don’t get understanding, the little moments when we see Joshua’s cancer being redeemed in a myriad of different ways in our lives and in the lives of others, that brings us perspective.

13. If you would indulge me, I’d just say that one of the greatest reflections I’ve had over the past 3 years is that my boy is unquestionably, absolutely strong and courageous. Like his namesake. He has been stuck with a needle 4 times as much as I have in his short life. He’s lost all his hair and grown it back. He has, without complaining, taken at least 12 pills every week for the last 150 weeks. And he’s done it with a smile.

I’m so proud of my son.

[CORRECTION: I made a calendaring mistake; Joshua’s spinal tap and chemo is a week from today; not today. Sorry, Jana, that you had to be standing at the appointment desk at Children’s Hosptial to find that one out.]

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  • daysindc says:

    This is a beautiful post. I can’t believe it has been 3 years! All of you are inspiring, and I love the way this makes me think about the Kelleys and about God’s promises at the same time.

  • andy p says:

    I love how beautifully simple and profound point #9 is. It brings a tear of pain and joy at the same time thinking on that truth.

    What a warrior Joshua is. And what a caring, tender sister Andi is.

    Your journey and struggle and pain has taught our family much. And there is much that God has redeemed in my heart because I know your family.

  • Michael K. says:

    Thank you guys for those kind and encouraging words.

  • Michelle Acton says:

    I lovelovelove this.

  • lizzy says:

    Hi Kelleys, just knowing your family from afar at church, I can say that you have all, as a family, inspired me in this battle you have fought, even though I don’t even know you….. I love this reflection, and think it is true in whatever battles we are facing, always to remember so that we can look back and see what God has provided and accomplished… and thanks Michelle for posting it on fB so I could read and be more encouraged…. am thinking of you all coming up on this big day… Lizzy

  • Michael K. says:

    Thanks for your encouragement and kind words, Lizzy. Let’s meet soon.

  • emsipro says:

    From 1999 to 2005, the five-year relative survival rates overall were:
    • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL): 66.3 percent overall; 90.9 percent for children under 5
    • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL): 78.8 percent
    • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML): 23.4 percent overall; 60.2 percent for children under 15
    • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML): 53.3 percent

    To get 3-year-survive must be a very difficult time. Main complaint of leukemia patient would be same, the pain. Please be strong and never ever give up!

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