Ashtyn is going home today. She has come so far in five and a half months. I just shake my head at the miraculous course she has had. It is clear to me God’s hand has been in every detail of her life. I have no doubt the power that heavenly and earthly angels have had in helping us. I marvel at the love and support she has received from Ashtyn’s Army. I’m impressed by the blessings we have had and the lessons we’ve learned. If you were to ask if we would give back this trial and never have gone through it, the answer would be no. It hasn’t been easy and will continue to be a fight, however the experience has been life changing for the good.
Ashtyn has lived in the hospital much of the past five months. What has it been like to live in the hospital that long? It has been incredible. There were moments that were difficult, sad, scary, and overwhelming. But more often it was peaceful, calm, and surprisingly enjoyable. We have come to feel comfortable in the hospital environment and appreciate the many people there. Our hearts have grown very close to some of the staff members. Never do we walk the halls without talking to numerous individuals that we have come to love. I have had many uplifting conversations with nurses, as we talk about life, perspective, and love. I have talked with techs about visions and goals. We have interacted with doctors and so many other hospital staff who have known Ashtyn from the beginning and sincerely smile at her progress. There is no place on earth like the cancer floor at Primary Children’s Hospital. It contains a feeling of love and deep perspective that affects all those who spend time there. There is a strong spirit there that I rarely feel anywhere else.
Dave is a nurse who comes to work with heart and soul. He thought outside the box on how to make Ashtyn’s day better whether teaching her the ukulele or being vigilant with her medical needs. He showed sincere love from the moment he took care of Ashtyn months ago. Dave starts his day with a prayer and then works non stop in doing all he can for his patients. When he would take care of Ashtyn, we always got the warmest good morning greeting and then he would serve me, and Ashtyn if she could eat, hot chocolate and cookies for breakfast. Throughout the day, Dave would come in and out of Ashtyn’s room with a calm, upbeat, and positive spirit. On a hot Saturday morning a few weeks ago I was leaving for Millie’s Princess 5K Run to honor Millie, Ashtyn, and all our cancer kid heroes. Before leaving, Dave ran around the hospital floor getting me water bottles and a spray bottle so I wouldn’t get too hot. Always thinking. Always thoughtful.
Cammie, another nurse whom Ashtyn loves, has been brought to tears several times as we talk about life and her love for cancer kids. One evening Cammie promised Ashtyn she would paint her nails the following night when she came back to work. She was called off and didn’t come into work. The next day Cammie came in from home and painted Ashtyn’s nails on her day off.
Dylan is Ashtyn’s home health nurse. Even though she was in the hospital Dylan took time out of his day to visit her once a week. He didn’t just come to say hi and leave, his goal was to make her day better. He wanted her happy. He talked to her about fun things just to make her smile, gave her the best foot and leg massage ever, and played cards to help pass the time. Dylan is a familiar face that we love seeing.
A few nights ago I left the hospital to spend time with my other kids. I received this text from Ashtyn, “I’m in heaven. Sara (her nurse) gave me morphine, got more lotion, and is giving me the best foot rub. She’s the best. Also she is putting warm blankets on my feet. My feet finally feel better.” Other nights I have come back to the hospital to find out that nurses and techs had rubbed her feet and pampered her in any way they could.
I could never write long enough to include all the remarkable things we have experienced from our hospital family. There would be a notebook full of experiences written if I had thought to keep one. I will be forever grateful to have met those who have become so familiar to me while in the hospital. We will truly miss seeing their faces. We will miss being around their uplifting spirits. We will miss our conversations and their care.
During this cancer experience I have also formed relationships with parents who have had children with cancer or other illnesses. The bond with these parents require very little time spent together. Few words need to be spoken to express our support, understanding, and empathy we have for one another. I have learned much from these parents and am so grateful for their strength and example. Amanda and Brady lost their remarkable seven year old daughter to leukemia on June 18th. Millie was the strongest earthly angel you could ever know and I’m sure is one of the most powerful heavenly angels out there. Amanda and Brady faced leukemia for 3 1/2 years with a smile on their face. They never lost their faith and trust in God. They never lost their fun smiles and spirit of optimism. Amanda is known for saying, “happiness is a choice”. She is absolutely right. I look back at my life and am extremely grateful. I’m so happy.
Beginning of transplant
Ready to go home
Room with a view
Doing lung exercises to help get off oxygen
With physical therapy strengthening her arms
Many hours were spent rubbing her sore feet
Volunteer therapy dog