stage three Hodgkin lymphoma (HL)
Julia is an eleven-year-old volleyball player, and when she started to experience digestive issues that we couldn't equate to anything, we were afraid that her physical symptoms would keep her off the court for a prolonged period of time. With the advocacy of a dedicated pediatrician, we soon had scans to determine if there was any reason for her to be experiencing her symptoms of constant nausea, unprovoked vomiting, and sudden fatigue.
Several weeks later, while my her father and I were waiting to board a plane to Florida, her oncologist called to deliver her diagnosis: Julia had stage three Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), with one malignant tumor, and swollen lymph nodes throughout her neck, abdomen, and pelvic region. We took deep breaths and attempted to comprehend what this would mean for her, as they wanted to implant her port and begin the first of four rounds of chemotherapy by the week's end. When we told her what the doctor had told us, she looked at her father and I and asked, "Am I going to die?" We all three sat together and prayed through our tears and we told her with confidence, "No, Julia, you are not going to die from this cancer." We could see the worry visibly lift from her small shoulders, as she had placed her trust in us, as we had placed our trust in her oncology/hematology team, and placed our faith in our great Lord.
Each round of chemo brought with it a predictable fever that followed. Julia appreciated the schedule that we posted on the calendar so she knew which days she would be in the hospital hooked onto her "pole" and which days she could enjoy the sunshine and sleepovers of summer vacation. Throughout each round of chemo, and any follow-up stays to monitor her blood counts and oxygen levels, Julia never once asked, "Why me?" The only aspect of Julia's treatment that she says was unbearable was having to learn to swallow her oral medicines. A child of her age had never taken capsulated medicine; she had only ever had liquid pain relief. To remedy this, our Children's Hospital introduced us to their incredible Child Life workers, who spend quality time with patients and help them to contend with what they're battling, both physically and mentally. Julia overcame her fear of swallowing pills, and she made some wonderful friends, both humans, and canines, while learning to adapt to what her body needed from her.
Today we are six months from Julia's last chemo treatment. Her last two full-body scans showed that while her tumor is still visible, it has diminished significantly in diameter and all of her lymph nodes are of normal size. Julia began the first day of fifth grade with her identical twin sister, Jenna. At that time, they were drastically different in appearance, as Julia was hairless, pale, and very slim. Now, as we approach the end of the school year, she and her sister and preparing to enter middle school next year, and they share the same interests and concerns as all typical pre-teen girls: fashion, sports, hip music, and make-up techniques. To see Julia now, an outsider would never know what she endured throughout 2022. She is a valuable player on the volleyball court again, a reader with impressive retention and comprehension skills, and a follower of Jesus who spreads faith and love to everyone she encounters.
While each member of our family was affected differently throughout Julia's treatments, we all know it was our faith that Jesus that cured our child and provided us all with a wonderful life that is worth cherishing. God is so good, and He continues to bless us with hope for the future of all children battling cancer so that they may be cured and returned to health. We share that hope with all parents who are turning their children over to medical professionals during uncertain times. Julia is an excellent example of the resilience of children and the power of prayer and faith. This experience has solidified that God is in control and that He can- and will- see you through anything that you can't tackle alone. If He is for us, who can be against us? Not even cancer!
Written by parent