Thursday, June 26, 2008

For Those Who Pray...

I have a friend who now lives in Illinois, but grew up living next door to me. We became immediate friends when they moved from Kansas to the house beside us. The day we met, our moms were introducing themselves and we were being shy and hiding behind our moms. Naturally, a friendship was made. We became fast friends, riding bikes in the neighborhood, playing Barbies together, climbing on dirt and gravel piles, wondering through half-built houses in our fast-growing subdivision, hiking through the woods to what we all called "Death Valley", swimming in our pool (even when we weren't supposed to), picking on our little brothers and then deciding they were okay enough to play with....You know, all the typical things kids do when they're growing up. Not long after her family moved in, her dad passed away. Seeing as how my dad passed away when I was seven, I easily related to what she was going through, and have always hoped that in some way I was able to help her cope through the situation. A couple of years later, her family packed their belongings once more and headed North to Illinois where most of their family lived. It was extremely sad to lose my best friend and next door neighbor. The day they left, we took polaroids that I still have and always will. Since she moved, we've seen each other once, but kept in touch in our younger days through many, many letters. The older we got, the more we lost touch. Somehow, she found my email address during college and our correspondence picked right back up. But unfortunately, we somehow managed to lose touch once again. Now in the days of modern technology (MySpace to be specific), she found me once again! I cannot tell you how happy I was, as I have thought about her and her family often over the years. We have since kept in touch with each other very well, but under somewhat different circumstances. You see, the email she wrote me "catching up" on her life over the last few years was not your typical email. She informed me that over the last year, she has been battling a rare form of cancer. Cancer. My 26 year old friend is battling cancer. Does that strike you as heartbreaking as it did me? Her rare type of cancer is called "non-gestational choriocarcinoma". It began in June 2007 as a blood clot in her left jugular led doctors to a tumor that had been growing in her chest, right above her heart. They also found some smaller tumors in her lungs. She has had numerous surgeries and chemo treatments since then, and is constantly in and out of the hospital. At the same time she has continued school, and has recently started planning her wedding for next year. Her last "chemo camp", as she calls it, was over the last few weeks, and she was able to go home over the weekend. She had a check up Tuesday with her doc, and received some extremely upsetting and disappointing news. Her tumor marker has actually gone up since it was last checked BEFORE she went into the hospital for her chemo treatment. They expected the number to be non-existent, so you can imagine how hard this news was to hear. She has another check-up next week that will tell her a little more, and hopefully she will get an explanation on what's going on. I cannot even begin to imagine how tough this journey has been for her. I don't think anyone really can unless you've been there before. I am asking for your prayers for Nikki. She has a beautiful life that needs to be lived, and that can still be accomplished. Please pray for Nikki to be strong and to think positive. You can imagine that she has moments where she gets down and discouraged...I honestly don't know how she's handled it so positively thus far. I can't say that I would have handled it the same way she has, although I like to hope and think that I would. Please pray for her doctors, her family and friends. She needs all the prayer we can give her. She has a blog that she updates us on, and I don't think that she would mind me posting her link on my blog. You can read more about her journey, and she loves getting words of encouragement! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers at this time...I know that Nikki would appreciate them more than you could ever know.

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