April 1, 2011, was exactly twelve years after the day Michaela was first diagnosed with her leukemia. My memories of that day are as vivid as ever and I'd like to share with you what it was like and my reaction to it.
I took 4 year old Michaela to daycare that morning and told the provider I made a doctor's appointment for her because I found purple spots in her mouth and that I'd be back in the middle of the afternoon to pick her up and take her. I took her to the doctor about a week and a half prior to this because her nose had been constantly stuffed up, her eyes were dark and puffed up and her skin pale. She had also been running low grade temperatures for the past couple weeks. The Doctor diagnosed her with allergies and also started Michaela on an antibiotic for good measure. We tried the allergy medications and antibiotics but she was not getting better by the time the purple spots developed. The amazing thing was that she had not been sick enough to miss pre-school or daycare. But when the purple spots showed up in the mouth I knew things weren't right. She also began having a yellowish tone to her skin.
I called Holy Family Medical Specialties the day before and insisted that I get in to see our doctor the next day. The receptionist tried to hold me off until the following week because the medical practice was closing early for Holy Thursday, which was April 1rst of that year, and would not reopen until the following Monday after Easter. But I insisted and Michaela's appointment ended up being the final appointment of the day that Holy April Fool's Thursday.
It was a bright and sunny spring day and while at my part time job I had been working on a project that was completely organized in my office for which I showed a co-worker exactly what I was doing and what still needed to be done. It was kind of a strange thing looking back because I was completely planning to come right back to finish the project on my own. But I think the Holy Spirit or an Angel or something gave me the inspiration to go through my project in great detail with a co-worker, just in case...
I left my office, thinking I would be back in a little while, and went and picked up Michaela and took her to the doctor. When the doctor walked into our room I described everything that had been going on with her, this was a different doctor than the one who had previously diagnosed allergies, and he listened and decided to do one thing...order a CBC (complete blood count.) Michaela was very cooperative with the lab tech when she came in to draw the blood and it all went very smoothly, she was a gem of a patient...a precursor of how she would be in the future.
About 10-15 minutes later, Dr. Black, returned with a clear diagnosis from that one blood test....leukemia. A surreal feeling was my first reaction, I really didn't panic, I was just trying to make sense of it and I immediately thought this is cancer we are dealing with but I knew leukemia in children was curable. I remarked to the doctor right away that one time when I was a child some doctors thought I had leukemia but after a bone marrow test they found out I didn't. It was kind of a numb shock type of feeling I experienced and I knew that Michaela would be getting the same test that I once had. I then just felt sad at what Michaela was about to go through. I didn't at all doubt the results of the blood test though, I knew in my heart Michaela indeed had leukemia.
I then started receiving instructions on what to do next. Michaela was whisked away to the receptionist's desk to be entertained so that I could get these instructions and directions and then to make some phone calls. The most important phone call I had to make was to call my husband and give him the news. The trouble of it was that I could not for the life of me reach him. Cell phones were not common place then like they are now. Will was out of his regular office in a training session. The people I contacted at his work couldn't even get a hold of him for me. So I was left to temporarily deal with this situation on my own. When I called my work to inform them of the news it finally sunk in because I could hardly speak through my tears that Michaela had just been diagnosed with leukemia.
After receiving the instructions that I needed to go home and pack bags for a trip to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE, which is an hour away, I scooped Michaela up and headed home to pack. I pulled up to the curb in front of our house and just could not take Michaela in without my husband there. I realized I had to take care of something a hundred times more important than anything else. I had to get Michaela to a priest to get her blessed and to have a prayer chain started on her behalf.
We arrived at the rectory and went in, thankfully Monsigor Nemec was there. We first encountered the Parish secretary who is connected to our family because her daughter is married to my brother. After I told her, I saw the tears well up in her eyes and I realized, wow, this is no small matter.
We were escorted into Monsignor Nemec's office and we told him about the diagnosis and he went to his book shelf and pulled out a prayer book and began praying over Michaela. I think this was the most profound thing, as I look at in now, that I did for Michaela to heal her of her leukemia and to heal me of a lack of faith. And it was the beginning of a whole new phase of my life. Previous to this, my wedding day, my mother's death and the birth of Michaela, were life changing events....but this has truly been a profoundly different type of life changing event. It has become a testimony to my Faith.
My testimony for this post is that I believe God wants me to spread the message of the beauty of the priesthood. It was a priest that began powerful prayers for my daughter on such a profound feast day in the Church...Holy Thursday. I will always remember this day when I think of Michaela's first diagnosis and when I say the rosary and come to the mystery of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Institution of the Priesthood. This was the day that a priest began remembering Michaela's name at the consecration of the Eucharist at every one of his masses for the entire duration of her treatments...4 1/2 years. God Bless Monsignor Nemec and God Bless All Priests!!!!
By the way, very soon after Michaela and I returned home to pack our bags, my husband arrived home and we started a whole new adventurous journey in our lives.
"Joy Battista" stands for the Joy of John the Baptist at the presence of Christ.
"And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, the moment that the sound of thy greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy." Luke 1:43-44
This blog is dedicated to all who seek the Joy of Christ's presence in their own lives.
This blog is also dedicated to the unborn, for John the Baptist was an unborn when he leapt for joy at the presence of Jesus who was also unborn at the time.