On October 23, 2017, I was working my normal shift at the local Coffee Shop in my hometown of Gillette, Wyoming. I had gotten a call from my Mother saying I needed to come to the hospital. My heart was racing the whole drive there not knowing who was there or why they were. Our hospital is a decent size and I was lost and panicking looking for my family. My phone rang and my Father told me they were in the radiology department. Being in such a hurry to the radiology department I didn't process what 'radiology' meant. Deep down I knew it somewhat involved cancer but I knew nobody in my family could possibly have cancer. I was wrong. The moment I stepped into the radiology department I saw my Mom and Dad sulking in tears and fear and I knew.
My Mother had spent all day at the hospital with my ten-year-old brother, Joshua (Josh). Josh was having the same leg pain he had earlier that year in May but it had gotten much worse. The hospital pulled them to every department and clinic we had and radiology happened to be the last. We knew what the doctors were going to tell us. Josh was rolled in on the hospital bed and I went back with him while my parents talked to the doctors. We just sat and talked as I held back tears. Showing my fear would not be good for him, it was my job as a big sister to keep him happy. Josh told me all about his day and how bad his pain had gotten and that he was just ready to feel better. When my parents walked back in all I heard was, "They think it's cancer." From that moment on everything was a giant blur. It all happened so fast I can't even recall what order it happened in. One moment we are watching The Amazing World of Gumball together and the next driving to the Children's Hospital in Denver, Colorado.
The hospital in Gillette was unable to confirm what type of cancer he had so we were sent five hours away for testing. Josh didn't fully understand what was going on, none of us really did. Josh would constantly say, "It's just cancer, I will be okay." During Josh's surgery, they removed one of his many overgrown lymph nodes to test it for different types of cancer. I'll never forget how long I sat on the couch outside of the room just waiting for answers while my parents talked to doctors about the surgery, all the 'what-if's' and what was really happening to my brother. My mom walked out and told me it was for sure Hodgkin's Lymphoma Cancer. Most of Josh's lymph nodes were grown to full capacity in his abdomen. I had never heard of this type of cancer before so I did my own research and was far from pleased with what I had read.
Hodgkin's Lymphoma is very curable but it didn't change the fact that MY own little brother got the sick disease it is. I was not prepared for the number of surgeries and medications he would undergo. I was not prepared to see him so sick and in so much pain, or my parents. Watching all these different medications get forced into his body making him weak destroyed me. Chemotherapy was so strong it made him want to stay in bed and not touch a video game. Anger was all I felt throughout my body. I tried to keep strong for my brother but every day ended with mental breakdowns. I was raised Catholic and have always followed God and the Church but this was different. I wanted to scream at God for doing this to not only my brother but my whole family. What did Josh do that made him deserve this? All this ten-year-old did was play video games and excel in school. For some reason, the world chose him to hurt. Every time I heard or saw the words, "Praying for you," or "You're in my thoughts and prayers," I wanted to argue. How will someone's thoughts to God help him? Prayers and thoughts are a spiritual thing that we just believe in. Cancer is a real physical demon destroying my brother's body. I started ignoring people when they told me they would pray and think about our family. God and prayers wouldn't save him, so I thought.
The amount of money raised, and people who reached out was overwhelming. My community supported Josh and my family throughout it all. Josh was overwhelmed with the amount of Lego's he received as get well gifts! I thought it was wonderful for my brother to have such good support but I knew only doctors and medicine could save him. Josh endured countless rounds of chemo and unfortunately had to move to Denver with my Mother for five weeks to do radiation. Radiation was hopefully the last step and he could finally be in remission. Everyone told me radiation was much more aggressive than chemo and I saw how chemo affected Josh, I couldn't imagine him going through worse. So I decided to finally pray. I would beg and beg God to hold Josh's hand when I couldn't. I cried for so long to God about saving my brother. He wasn't allowed to take him from me, nobody was. After praying I became more and more thankful that other people even complete strangers were praying for my brother.
On April 27, 2018, at 2:31 PM my Mom texted me, "Josh is in remission!" My heart and world stopped. Tears poured from my eyes and I knew then and there that God answered my prayers and everyone else's. To this day I will forever thank God for helping Josh in ways no human or medication can. Turning away from God was a mistake but turning back was the exact opposite. Yes, the medications helped save my brother but without the amount of love, thought, and prayers I don't believe he would have made it. This journey was definitely a life changing experience and without faith I'm not sure how I would have been so strong through it all. You'd be amazed at what faith can do not only for you but for anyone. I know I was.