Day Plus 75: Oliver Has Relapsed

by Bill & Jana

Yesterday we learned that Oliver's AML has returned.  He now has leukemic blasts in his blood as well as his bone marrow.  To say that it feels as if someone drilled a hole in our foreheads and then our hearts would not be an exaggeration.

AML is aggressive and, if left untreated, Oliver will have only weeks to live.  Even with treatment for his AML, his prognosis is grim.  He has Graft vs. Host Disease ("GVHD") of the GI tract, which is being managed with high-dose steroids and Tacro, an immune suppressant.  This type of GVHD is a significant cause of mortality following bone marrow transplants.  We have been told that any treatment for his AML is off the table unless he is completely off steroids and Tacro.  When we tried to taper down his steroids just slightly two weeks ago, his GVHD symptoms re-emerged and his dose had to be fully restored.  We are in the process of giving it another try.   

We are basically just holding our breaths and holding each other tight right now.  Oliver is currently home, but we don't know for how long.  We don't even know what the next step will be.  The list of what we don't know is long.  We do know, though, that our family has an incredible amount of support and that we will do whatever we need to do to do support our son the best we possibly can.

We also know that what we wrote this summer is still true.

With respect to our God and our faith, here is what we know:

We have personal confirmation that He is real and that He loves Oliver and the rest of us to a degree we cannot even begin to imagine. He has plans for us that are a million times more amazing than the ones we have for ourselves. Even when Bill and I have consciously or unconsciously turned away from Him out of fear, distraction, self-doubt and a bunch of other sins, He has never abandoned us. He has been right here next to Oliver and the rest us throughout this entire struggle and every single moment of every single day of our lives.

He has also never let any of us down, not even once. We feel pretty confident that He is not about to start doing so now.

Our lives have been jam-packed with countless blessing and miracles. Some have been asked for and gratefully acknowledged, most have not. They still have come. We are praying our hearts and guts out and asking that Oliver's life be spared. We know that hundreds of others are doing the same. We don't know if that specific miracle will come. Our hearts are aching constantly in a way that makes it hard for us to breath at times. But, because of what we do know about God and His plans for Oliver and the rest of us, we know that everything is going to be okay.

This past year has made it very clear to us that if we focus on ourselves and rely on our own strength we will not be able to do the things we need to do. It has also made it very clear that we are never on our own because the most pervasively enduring reality in this world is the love of God. We can close our eyes to that love but if we open our eyes again it will still be there.

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