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Friends

Ribbon Tying to Show Support

By | Inspirational, Looking Up, Triumphs, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Today I was woken up by a phone call from a reporter for Fox 13 News Utah.  From 11:45 am to 1 pm Canyonview Elementary School had plans to tie lime green ribbons around the school to show their support for Ashtyn.  The news channel was covering the story and the reporter wanted to interview me before heading to the school.  She hoped that Ashtyn would want to talk but I knew she wouldn’t feel up to it.  She came to Ashtyn’s room, asked me a few questions, and headed to the school.

Ashtyn’s dad was at the school and had this report. “The school staff, students, friends, and family gathered in green shirts to show their support and love for her.  It began with many friends and loved ones tying green ribbons around every tree and pole on the front of the school grounds.  As each grade finished their lunch all of the kids would come out and tie green ribbons on the fence spelling out Ashtyn’s name.  Many of the kids asked how Ashtyn was feeling and when she would be returning to school.  Some of them gave gifts to be delivered to her, many of them wanted to make sure Ashtyn knew how much they love and miss her, and two boys in her grade even took the time to write and sing a guitar duet they had written for her.  A beautiful banner was hung on the front of the school and the school marquee had a message of encouragement as well.  For those people who were there it was overwhelming to see all the love and support people have for Ashtyn and their strong desire for her to overcome this challenge.  But with every person who was there we know there are countless others who would have loved to be there if possible or who support Ashtyn in other ways.  It was an outward expression of love for her that was overwhelming.  For those of you who were there and for all those of you who were unable to attend we want to express our gratitude for everything you are doing to help Ashtyn recover.  It does not go unnoticed.”

Here are more messages from friends and family that I received:

“Happened to drive by Ashtyn’s school today.  Started crying.  So amazing.” Friend Maria

“I thought it was awesome!  The fence with her name in it looks amazing as does the front of the school.  I pointed it all out to my 9th grade daughter on our way home and she was very moved.  For me it was really special since my kids went there and it was such a coming together of various groups of special people in my life.  Parents like me who no longer have kids there, my fellow gym rats, and of course all of the kids! It is beautiful!” Friend Krista

“I took off part of the end of school so that I could make it.  It was worth it.  It was just really special.  She truly has an army behind her.  Her family, friends, and anyone who supports her are amazing.  You could tell that it wasn’t just that the kids got to climb and jump on the fences but that they really cared and want Ashtyn to get better so that she can come back home.  Every day I see kids walking home with big green A’s on their backpacks or ribbons.  There is also green ribbons on mailboxes everywhere.  It’s also great to see the way that she has inspired everyone.  The entire time I was there I overheard conversations talking about the strength your blog gives them, and how Ashtyn lifts the spirit of their children and their families.  I hope she knows how beautiful she is whether her head is shaved or not, it doesn’t make a difference.” Friend Amber

“Wish Ashtyn was feeling better.  She would have liked to have seen the kids at school cheering her on with chants of ‘let’s go Ashtyn!’” Family Jared

“It was really touching to see everyone come to support her. She has some really great classmates. Everyone was very eager to tie a ribbon for her.” Friend Jennifer

“I was so overwhelmed by the army for Ashtyn.  Our school is limed all the way.  There were so many people there.  It was overwhelming and so awesome. The kids were so awesome and excited.  The kids came in and loved the decorations. My heart is so full tonight for a beautiful young lady who is going through a tough battle. I love this amazing family so much.  There was so much love there for you and Ashtyn and your family.  How can someone not feel the compassion and embrace the spirit that is going on?  It makes you burst with the spirit and energy.  You and Ashtyn were there in spirit. I know Ashtyn feels my love.  I know you feel my love.” Staff Roberta

“I had a wonderful experience today. It was so uplifting to be with a group of people who were outwardly showing their support for a very brave young lady. I had an epiphany while I was there. Yesterday, I spent time whining that I had too much to do. Today, I gave gratitude for all my many blessings.”  Staff Shelley

“I was overjoyed by the turn out and support and donations of ribbons.  I loved seeing the kids and their love for Ashtyn.  It truly warmed my heart. I was excited to see friends and family and neighborhoods showing support.  So much talent.  Alone, trials are impossible but together as Ashtyn’s Army we can do hard things.” Family Kristi

“I think everyone felt good being able to be together and see and feel the unity of love and support that we all feel for Ashtyn, you and your family. It seemed to be very worthwhile for the kids. I could see that they care a lot about Ashtyn and it was a good way for them to show that they care.” Neighbor Julie

“I thought it was amazing how all those people came for Ashtyn, and how many caring hearts are out there.  I knew Ashtyn had an awesome army there for her, but honestly the ribbon tying blew my mind!  Ashtyn is an awesome girl and deserved every bit of what we did today.  Seeing all of those people there for her made me so happy for her.  Really it didn’t make you feel bad for her, it made you happy there were so many smiling faces while helping Ashtyn.” Classmate Nikki

“It was very inspirational and everyone was supporting her.” Classmate Nicole

“I thought it was really amazing and made me feel really happy that so many people are supporting her and in her army! It was so fun to go and tie the ribbons and see all those bright green shirts! I know Ashtyn will feel so glad that she has everyone in her school supporting her.  I really loved it!” Ashtyn’s friend Kaylee

“I thought it was heart warming to see what the parents put together for Ashtyn, and that so many students were happy to participate.  I was glad to see everyone putting so much effort into showing their support for Ashtyn.” Classmate Abigail

How was Ashtyn’s day?  Simply said, she doesn’t feel well.  She did tell me five reasons why.  The worst thing she’s dealing with is a painful throat that always hurts.  There continues to be sores in her mouth.  Her feet and hands feel hot and prickly.  The rash that covers her body is annoying and itchy.  And her body is so tired.  Ashtyn doesn’t complain much.  She’s pretty quiet throughout the day and keeps herself occupied mostly with sleep and the Disney Channel.

Today she went on another walk in the hall.  Her legs got tired easily and her feet started burning and itching.  Still she walked.  Ashtyn wanted to try eating and drinking.  She tried a couple sips of root beer, one nibble of a Milano cookie, one bite of an animal cookie, and considered a sugar baby.  It’s not much.  Still she ate and drank.

“Today I am grateful for sleep, pain medications, Biotene Mouthwash that keeps my mouth clean, pillows, and soft food.” Ashtyn

Today I am grateful for Canyonview Elementary school, the staff, students, friends, and family members that made the ribbon tying a special and successful event.  I am grateful to be a member of Ashtyn’s Army and numbered among the large group of people known already for their faith, hope, love, goodness, tenderness, and positive perspective.

Classmates

Ethan

Morgan

AshtynsArmyBanner

Chandler

Alisa-and-Millie

The Power of Fasting and Prayer

By | Daily Life, Inspirational, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Today was fast Sunday, the first Sunday of the month.  Across the country I know that there were family, friends, and strangers fasting and praying for Ashtyn.  What effects would that have on the day? And how will it change her future?

I woke up at 8:30 to see my mom walking Ashtyn to the bathroom.  My mom didn’t sleep well last night and felt to come up in the morning.  All day yesterday I was hoping to find time to take a shower. It didn’t happen.  With my mom there I took advantage of the moment and raced to the shower.  What a good way to start the day.  I was also pleased that Ashtyn got the nurse she did.  From the moment the nurse walked into the door I sensed she was a doer.  Good.  I needed someone who had fire in them to get the job done.  What was the job? To get a CT scan and get closer to a diagnosis.

As the morning went on, Ashtyn felt worse and worse.  She became more and more nauseated.  Her headache pounded harder and harder.  Her anxiety grew and grew.  The sight of food made her sick.  Drinking carnation instant breakfast caused her to gag.  Noise was intolerable. Light was too much. Talking to her was out of the question.  Touch was not allowed.  The Elders came to give us the Sacrament.  I kept asking for them to come back until they weren’t able to come back again.  The hospital’s L.D.S branch primary leaders came.  I explained that Ashtyn truly loves church but wouldn’t be able to hear a lesson today.  Her Young Women’s leader and a Laurel came by.  Again, I had to turn them away.  My brother Jared came.  I told him to sit by her but not to talk.  Jared’s brother in law, James, was told the same thing when he had come earlier.

In the midst of her misery there was a crucial CT scan with contrast that needed to be done.  She had to have 800 ml of contrast into her stomach for her to have the CT scan.  How on earth was she going to be able to keep 800 ml of fluid in her stomach when she hadn’t eaten well since Tuesday?  Yesterday she threw up her lime sherbet and Gatorade   Ashtyn knew there would be no way she’d be able to drink that much fluid.  A nasogastric tube needed to be placed into her nose and down into her stomach. What normally could be a fairly non traumatic, quick procedure with lots of breathing and swallowing, turned into a screaming, holding her breath event.  She hated every second of it, but the struggle was not over.  Once the NG tube was secured it was time to start infusing the fluid into her stomach over 1 ½ hours.  Ashtyn was in misery and the only thing I could do was sit quietly at her bedside and plead fervently with the Lord that she would not throw up the contrast.  No contrast in the stomach, no CT scan.  Medications were given to decrease her nausea and anxiety.  In my deepest plea my friend Erin Smith, who has fought A.L.L with her son, came to the bedside.  She knew not to talk but just sat on the couch and rubbed my back as I held Ashtyn’s hand and continued to pray.  Soon Ashtyn fell asleep.  Thank you Heavenly Father for all your tender mercies. I had a moment to whisper with Erin and exchange tears.

At 3 pm it was time to wheelchair Ashtyn to the CT scan room. With hardly any strength or emotion, a mask was placed over her mouth and we headed down. She was placed on the table and the CT scan was done without difficulty.  She did it.  With the strength of God, she did it.

Ashtyn getting CT Scan

Ashtyn getting CT Scan

Once Ashtyn was back in bed the only people in the room were Jason and I.  Her emotions came.

With tenderness and sorrow she said, “I haven’t felt the Spirit.  I don’t feel Him and that He is helping me.”

I turned to the back of my scriptures to D&C 121 and read to her Joseph Smith’s plea when he was suffering greatly as a prisoner for months in Liberty Jail. “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place? How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye… O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are… stretch forth thine hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered.”

“Ashtyn, Joseph Smith was in a short dungeon for 4 months with very little light, cold weather, hunger, sickness, and filthy conditions.  He probably didn’t feel God was near because he was in too much physical and emotional pain. You are having similar feelings as he did.  With all you are going through physically and emotionally, it’s difficult to feel God near.  Ash, I know God is here. He has never left and has watched over you every single moment.  I feel it because I’m not suffering like you are.  Remember when we first got to the hospital, your mind was so scared but your heart felt peace? That quiet, calmness is the Spirit. So close your eyes, don’t think about your pain, or the hospital, or your worries, and listen to your heart and see if you can feel that peace while I pray. And so I prayed and by the end of the prayer she was near sleeping.  I laid next to her in bed and cuddled her left side while Jason was close holding her right hand.  Jason put Pandora on and this was the first song it played.  We laid together listening to the song and cried.

Jason and Ashtyn

Jason and Ashtyn

When the song was over I don’t remember grabbing my phone and getting on Facebook, but I did. I must have. Because I started reading:

My, dear, Suzanne —
I occasionally write poetry. As I have been fasting today for Patty and Ashtyn – this one came to me. I asked God’s hand to guide me as I wrote it…and I assure you that He truly did. It was His hand guiding me – it wasn’t me.
Please give Ashtyn my love and share it with her. You are in my prayers constantly and I am here to help in ANY way.
Love,
Caren

Hardly able to maintain my composure, I read out loud to Ashtyn:

For Ashtyn
From Caren Whatcott
2/3/13
When you think of Ashtyn – what do you think of?
Spiritual, happy, adorable, kind, caring – but mostly love.
But now a new word needs to begin to describe her –
BRAVE – for the next weeks or months will be a blur.
What a battle she has on the road ahead,
She needs to know that many a tear will be shed.
She is truly one of God’s most chosen one’s –
Of all His daughters and sons,
Ashtyn, this trial you are about to bear,
Will require from your family and you a lot of prayer.
But always, always remember that the One that came before,
In a very special garden on a very special night, has already bore.
Whatever the destination this path takes you,
Remember that He will get you through.
Through this journey, He will never fail,
Neither will the angels through the veil.
At times, for you, the veil will be very thin,
With all of the angels, friends and kin –
Part of Ashtyn’s Army they become –
So please don’t shrink back from them.
Embrace the tender spirits you will feel all around –
If you quietly concentrate and listen you may hear the sound –
Of God’s tender mercies whisper in your ear –
Ashtyn, I am always with you, my dear.

I am as certain as Caren is that God guided her hand in writing that poem.  There is no way Caren on her own would have known the things she wrote.  Her poem was filled with impressions that I have felt in the last several days.  Caren was an instrument in God’s hand in writing perfect truths pertaining to Ashtyn and showing her that God is near.

Jason, Ashtyn, and I experienced one hour of spiritual healing.  It was a tender and touching moment without one interruption.  The moment naturally ended and the room was busy again with visitors and staff. But something was different.  Astonishingly different.  Ashtyn was talking to visitors with joy and energy.  Where was the pain she had for 2 days? Gone.  What about the nausea? Gone. Anxiety? Gone.  Depression? Gone. She was walking around, texting, facebooking, and talking on the phone.  And she was hungry!  So was I.  After 5 days of no appetite for either of us, we both ate dinner.  She was ready and wanting to socialize.  Two of her friends, Caroline and Kaitlyn, came up to visit.  She walked to the 4th floor lobby with her mask on and enjoyed an hour with her friends.

Ashtyn with her friends

Ashtyn with her friends

She then had her Aunt Trisha and Aunt Brittany come up for movie night until 12:30 a.m. and still had energy afterwards.  I have not seen her better since being in the hospital.  My spiritual, happy, adorable, kind, caring, loving, and BRAVE girl was shining through.

WHAT ABOUT THE DIAGNOSIS?  The CT scan came back negative for any cancer elsewhere in the body other than the bone marrow. The diagnosis is “undifferentiated leukemia” or “poorly differentiated leukemia” because her cancer cells are not any specific type.  It is a high risk leukemia.  The doctors will organize a treatment specific to Ashtyn and likely work towards a bone marrow transplant.

Thank you for your prayers. Thank you to those who fasted.  Today would not have ended so well without the power, strength, and blessings that were poured down from heaven due to your prayers.  Your prayers and the blessings from them are literally surrounding us, and we feel it. We are ready to fight this with earthly angels like you and the angels in heaven.