Chapter 14

In March we went to Toronto for a much-needed weekend away with Faye and Terry. We all had a marvelous time and the sun shone all weekend. We took the children on the subway and streetcars. They bought special toys and really enjoyed swimming in the indoor pool. I discovered that eating was even a pleasure that weekend -- something I hadn't enjoyed in a long time. On Saturday evening, we walked from our hotel to China Town and enjoyed a delicious Chinese meal, after which we browsed through the shops. The boys each bought a wooden flute and Jeff couldn't wait to show it to the kids at school.

The next day we took the children to the Toronto Science Centre and Jeff showed a great deal of interest in the cancer display. He explained the radiation treatment to us in great detail. When we got in the car for our return to Brockville, he said, "Isn't God good?" We agreed with him, and he continued, "Out of all the kids at home, I'm the only one I know of that has cancer. God really does take care of His own". That, I think, fully expresses Jeff's attitude concerning his illness. God really was with him in a special way and seemed to give an eight year old boy understanding beyond his years.

School break followed this trip and Jeff seemed really well, better than he had in quite a few months. We had asked for a little break in his treatment schedule, as we felt he needed a rest from the emotional as well as the physical strain. He had a terrific week, riding his bike and enjoying the sunny, mild spring days. We took the boys on our annual trip to the sugar bush at Upper Canada Village and took along a picnic lunch. This was a tradition at our house. We celebrated Jamie's birthday party in March and Jeff joyously entered into all the fun. What a comparison to the party the year before when Jeff had been so ill. Faye's present to Jamie was a Superman poster and Jeff's mouth hung down a little when he saw it because he'd been wanting one for himself. Faye said, "It's O.K. Jeff, I'll get you one for your birthday." Jeff replied, "No Faye, I won't be alive for my next birthday." Faye could not believe her ears, and never told me about their conversation until months later.

The next week, Jeff was to start his five day treatment cycle which meant driving to Ottawa daily. He got through Monday and Tuesday's treatments, announcing each night as he walked in the back door, "Boy, it sure is good to be home!". However, Tuesday evening he developed a very high fever and vomiting. In my journal for Wednesday, March 28th, 1979, I wrote, "It's so hard to take Jeff to Ottawa, knowing they will make him unhappy and sick, when we work so hard to keep him well and happy. I really have to put every shred of faith I have in God".

The following week we again were concerned about the large swelling in Jeff's neck. This was the lump I had been worried about earlier, but the doctors kept checking and saying they didn't feel it was a problem. However, Jerry and I had both remained extremely uneasy about it. Jeff was also complaining of soreness under his arms and around his rib cage. I picked him up one noon hour to hold him on my lap and cuddle him, when he screamed out with the pain as I touched him. It hurt me so to think I had caused his discomfort, and our tears flowed together This happened on April 4th. That same afternoon, we were told Jeff's blood tests were showing more carcinoma and he would have to be admitted to hospital the following day, In fact, they wanted to admit him right that moment, but Jerry asked if we couldn't please bring him home until the next day.

We had a family supper that evening. My mother was with us. Unless a family has gone through a similar situation, one would never know how extremely difficult it is to keep your composure at a time like that. We all sat like robots trying to get the food down, and act normal for the boys' sakes. Later that evening Jeff commented to his dad, "Well Daddy, maybe tonight was kind of like the Last Supper in the Bible, eh?" Jerry simply held him tight and fought back his tears. Words didn't seem to mean much that evening. Our pastor and another couple from our church came to visit and have prayer with us later that evening. The pastor anointed Jeff with oil according to the Holy Scriptures and had special prayer for him. He explained to Jeff that his own brother had had the same type of cancer and had received a healing from God and was now ministering in Nova Scotia. We believed with all our hearts God could do the same thing for our son. All was well, good news or bad news, we had placed our boy in God's hands.

The next morning, we took Jamie to my mother's and left, once again, for Ottawa Children's Hospital. My stomach was very upset and Jerry had to stop the car for me on more than one occasion. I have a tendency at any time to become car sick, but if I'm upset or stressed at all, it hits me really hard. Jeff was so concerned about me and would say, "Mommy are you feeling better now?" He would rub my forehead and put his arms around me. Every time he did it, it was like a knife stabbing into me. There really is a pain that goes deeper than physical pain. It was my little darling who was desperately ill, but he was much more concerned about me than himself. Oh God, how I loved him!

As was the usual procedure, we went to the Admitting Office. We were to sign the usual forms giving our permission for tests and treatment. But today I balked. I told the Admitting Clerk that I refused to sign any more of their forms. I agreed to sign for tests, but no more treatments. Immediately after Jeff was made comfortable in his room, the doctors requested that we join them in yet another conference. How I hated these 'medical meetings'. A person really has no idea how you feel at one of these 'conferences' unless you've been the one to sit on the 'hot seat'. Everyone is watching you closely to see what your reactions will be, and it made me very uncomfortable and I found it hard to even think straight. It would have been much easier for me to discuss things on a one-to-one basis. I guess I should have verbalized my feelings concerning this.

The doctors told us they wished to start Jeff's treatment over again from Day 1, which meant he'd be really sick, have all that intensive chemotherapy which would cause him to lose his hair again, etc., etc., etc. When we asked what his chances were if we agreed, the doctor finally admitted they were less than two percent. At this point we both insisted that the treatments end immediately. It was not the quantity of time Jeff had left, we were much more concerned about the quality of that time. We simply wanted to love him and make him as happy as we could. We wanted him home! No more hospitalizations unless they were absolutely essential. Even with the lovely play room filled with toys and games, Jeff always felt very lonely for Brockville and his own little bed. Also, if we only had a short time now to be with our little one, we planned to treasure every moment and not be separated as a family any more than was absolutely necessary.

The doctors and medical staff have been marvelous, but as much as they tried to form a relationship with Jeff, to them he was always Jeff -- the patient. To us he was so much more than that. He was our everything and we simply wanted to trust God regardless of what the future held for all of us. Jerry returned to Brockville that evening and I had a tremendous opportunity to share Christ's love that night until very, very late. People really listen when they know in the natural you have nothing to rejoice about, but God still puts a song in your heart. His love literally engulfed my life. I felt so at peace!

Jeff was to receive a drug to help alleviate the swelling in his neck. We agreed to that because he had become quite concerned about the appearance of it. He was to have this drug administered once a week for the next three weeks. I contacted our family physician in Brockville to see if he would be willing to help out with Jeff's care, and he was so very kind. He even offered to come to our home to administer the drug if that would make Jeff feel easier about it. We could tell he was hurting for all of us. He knew how much Jeff meant to us. After all, he had been with us through our initial adoption procedures and was the one to rejoice with us at the news we would have our own child. The public health nurse would also pay us regular home visits.

So we returned to Brockville. This particular day was the only bad weather I had ever had to drive in alone with Jeff, and we'd been commuting at this time for over a year. It was a really bad blizzard with the snow drifting heavily across the highway. About halfway home, I recognized the car coming towards us. It was Jerry and Jamie coming to meet us. What a good feeling it was to follow them through that storm. To follow Jerry's car and know he was there to help if we needed him somehow reminded me of the fact that we had been following our Savior's direction as well, through a very stormy time in our lives. One of Jerry's favorite scriptures has always been - "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe", Proverbs 18:10. The holy scriptures became so much more meaningful and we found all of God's promises to be true. Terry had given us a little card from his promise box the first week Jeff had become ill, and the verse was from Isaiah 65:24, "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear". Once again that scripture was proven to us over and over.

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This page was created April 21st 1997. It is maintained by Jonathan McMillan and Joan McMillan