Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Count Your Blessings

I had the awesome opportunity to speak with a lady I'll call Ms. Caroline.  Ms. Caroline saw the 'Acts of Kindness' piece on Channel 12.  She contacted my church with the desire to get in touch with us.  Over 40 years ago she was diagnosed at age 7, with Aplastic Anemia.  She 'happened' to catch the 'AOK' segment and was instantly reminded of the time in her life where everything changed for her and her family.  She and her family were on vacation when she began to have unexplainable bruising all over her body and she was experiencing external bleeding.  Her family cut their vacation short to get her to the hospital to figure out what was going on.  Her family was told she had Leukemia and they should take her home and make her comfortable because she would likely die within two weeks.  Aplastic Anemia is not a cancer, but it behaves very much like one.  At the time Ms. Caroline and her family lived in New York, but were referred to a hospital in Boston that had experience with Aplastic Anemia.  This hospital disputed her original diagnosis of Leukemia and they proved to be a lifeline for her.  She and her family had to travel to Boston every week.  At that time a new drug, Cortisone (a steroid) was introduced on the market that literally saved her life. 

Week in and week out they traveled to Boston.  There were times her platelets were extremely low and she required blood tranfusions.  At one point her platelets were continuously dropping and there was mention of possibly needing a bone marrow transplant.  Her platelets began to slowly increase and her family never had to consider or endure a bone marrow transplant. Ms. Caroline remembers the isolation, not being allowed to attend school and being tutored at home.  Miraculously within one year of the initial diagnosis she was declared cured.  Initially they were told she would need at least a five year clearance before she would be considered free and clear of Aplastic Anemia.  She returned the following year for a checkup and was released from care and she never had another issue or incident.

It was very refreshing to speak with Ms. Caroline. It was her desire to reach out to be a encouragement and support to us during this time.  She was much to young to to understand the hard facts and logistics of her illness, but she understands as a child how difficult a diagnosis like this is.  She recognizes as parents the toll it takes and how hard it is to watch your child endure this illness.  When she saw the piece on Channel 12 she called her Mom and her mother was able to recount a lot of the details for her.  I began to share the highlights of our journey thus far and it helped her to connect the dots in some of the unexplained areas of her diagnosis. There is so much information that wasn't known or available about Aplastic Anemia back then. 

In most instances, unless its inherited, Aplastic Anemia is considered a idiopathic disease.  Basically the origin of it is unknown. It is believed when you have a series of illnesses/viruses the body is fighting, coupled with medications the body can get confused and begin to fight off all cells even the necessary ones.  Ms. Caroline recounted prior to being diagnosed that she'd had a terrible case of the Mumps.  At that time there were no vaccinations for it, but it made her wonder during the two weeks her body was battling the Mumps if something similar to this had occurred.  My very intelligent and resourceful husband recalls reading about some strain of a virus or bacteria associated with the Mumps that and other infections that is believed to cause Aplastic Anemia.

Ms. Caroline told me how during her isolation she began to take piano lessons.  Something she could do that didn't require much physically or by way of interaction with others.  She said she enjoyed playing and went on to play with worship groups in her church and she still has the small upright piano her parents bought for her back then. Isolation requires creative ways to keep your child connected and having an activity or something they can look forward to other than visits to the clinic each week is helpful.  Mireya loved taking dance, but unfortunately she will not be able to be in such a closed environment with other little ballerinas.  Piano is one of those things I'd love for all of the children to do, but I know at least one of them will play.  I'll have to look into that.   

I am so happy Ms. Caroline reached out to us.  Her story is incredible.  It's awesome to hear some of her accounts as a 7 year old dealing with a life threatening illness. I don't believe anything 'just' happens.  The fact that Cortisone came out the year she was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia is not by happenstance. Our paths have crossed for a reason.  The Lord has allowed me to see that this could have been a very difference scenario for us. An early diagnosis, a donor, technology and medical support in the city we live in, programs, a plan, and a successful outcome are all reasons to continue to have a hope and a praise in our mouth.  God is so faithful.  The odds with such a illness are great.  The statistics of getting to this point also have odds, but God is greater than all of them.  Mireya is our 'miracle'.  Mireya means 'miracle' and we had no idea when we choose her name all that was to come.  To us it was a 'miracle' after so many losses to have her.  Miracle has taken on yet another meaning for us.  We believe wholeheartedly Ms. Caroline has been connected with us to share her story and to be a blessing and encouragement to us.  She has lived beyond the few weeks of life they gave her.  She overcame the odds.  It is a blessing to us to 'see' Gods hand at work and we know that he will do the very same for Mireya and that she will have the opportunity at some point in her life to share her story.

We are thankful for God's continued hand of protection upon Mireya's life and physical condition.  She gets stronger every day.  Her counts are increasing each week.  I look back to just 60 days ago and all I can say is 'Thank You Jesus'.  Don't let a day go by without having an attitude of gratitude, without being grateful and thankful for where you are.  Personally you may not be where you desire to be, BUT it could be worse or you could be faced with a situation where you literally have no control.  God is a healer.  God is a deliverer and through every challenge, obstacle or issue that comes to rob you of your peace, health, sanity and well being, He is with you.  Continue to believe and trust him.  Mireya is a witness.  Mireya's life is a testiment of his goodness and we know without doubt he will continue to see us through.

Hebrews 12:2 We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God. (Gods Word Translation)


  1. Thank you so much Tracy. Much love and blessings to you!!

  2. What a touching story! I was moved to blot my eyes after reading this. What a great reminder to count our blessings, and remember that everything does indeed happen for a reason, and Trust in the Lord... ALWAYS. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. In life we don't always know why...BUT GOD!!!
    You ALL are awesome and I love reading your updates!