It’s been ten weeks so far, she still has eight more weeks to go. The doctors say she’s responding well to chemo and that it is stopping the further growth of new cancerous cells and destroying the old ones. Although most times she feels much worse than better and feels like she is in another persons body and not hers. She is weak most of the time and hardly ever have appetite for food but that’s probably due to the fact that she has mouth sores, any type of food she eats tastes metallic and she gets easily nauseated. To top it all she has lost almost all of her hair that she decided to just shave it off and now she has to wear wigs most of the time.
She had eventually resumed schooling but it was home schooling. She didn’t want to walk around school like a freak with a Port-A-Cath inserted in her collar bone plus the fact that she was weak most of the time.
The doctors said the minor harm to her bone marrow is gradually increasing with the chemo, hence her constant weakness, paleness and fatigue due to anemia but that it was expected to stop and normalize in no time. They also said that all these would soon be past tense and she wil get better after chemo. Well, she can only hope so.
These days she only feels safe and a little amount of comfort and hope when she reads her bible, she has been doing so very often and most times she just opens it and reads the first place she turns to.
Picking up her bible right now, she opened it and as she turned it, it opened to Romans 8 and as she glanced through she was captivated by verses 24/25 which said “for we are saved by hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth why doth he hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it”.
She felt like the verse was speaking to her, telling her to hope for the best and also to have patience and never doubt God.
8 weeks later, her 18 weeks of chemo and medication cycle was complete. Physically she was extremely weak and felt unlike herself that she doubted if she could move a muscle but spiritually she was so happy and elated and that gave her the strength she needed to get up.
Her mum helped her bathe and get ready for the hospital. Annie said she would meet her there.
After she was ready and her mum too, they held hands and said a silent prayer before leaving for the hospital. On getting to the hospital, she was wheeled to the oncology unit and they were waiting for Dr Kester when Annie walked in.
“Ashley! I’ve missed you”. She said hugging her.
One would think they haven’t seen each other in a long while, but that’s Annie for you.
She smiled as she hugged her back, although she wanted to jump and laugh but she really couldn’t do that because she was weak.
“I’ve missed you too”. Ashley said as Annie sat down beside her and held her hand.
We were summoned into Dr Kester’s office and after the usual greetings her face turned serious.
“Your tests are in Ashley”. She said quietly with a poor attempt to smile.
“Tell me. Is it all gone?” She asked eagerly barely noticing the look on Dr Kester’s face.
“I really don’t know how to say this”. She said as she turned towards Margo.
“Just say it”. Margo said quietly as she reached out and held Ashley’s hands.
“I’m sorry, but it seems the chemo did more damage than good. Your RBC’s are seriously depleted, the cancerous cells seem to be growing back at a higher rate and most of your organs are failing especially your kidney. You will need a kidney transplant as soon as possible and even then we can’t guarantee you will walk free because the chemo has already weakened you body and damaged more cells”. She said sadly.
Ashley sat frozen, she couldn’t even move her body. She thought God was fighting for her? She was expecting to her that she was all good now and that the nightmare was over. She was sad, very sad and angry too. Why her??
“How long before she gets a matching kidney?” She heard her mum ask.
“It will take a few days and hopefully by then she will be strong enough to undergo surgery. For now, no chemo till after the surgery”.
“Thanks”. Margo said as she wheeled her out of the office.
“How can you be so calm?” Annie asked beside me between sobs.
“I don’t know Annie. I’m just too angry to be sad or to cry. Moreover I want to believe God will help me pull through”. She said quietly not looking at Annie. I didn’t want to see her tears.
“God? Why is He letting you suffer through all this? Why not save you now?” She asked still sobbing.
Her mother consoled Annie and led her away quietly.
She closed her eyes and leaned back into the wheelchair and thought of what Annie said. Why is God letting her suffer? Why isn’t He doing something now?
She whispered a prayer to God “don’t let me die Lord, guide me through this ordeal”.
A week later she had gotten a donor and Dr Kester said they were done with the preparations for the surgery. They were finally ready.
As she was being wheeled into the theater in a stretcher, her mum held her hand and prayed for her.
“See you in a bit”. Margo said with tears in her eyes.
“I love you mum”.
“I love you too”. She said as she kissed her on her forehead.
Five hours later she was wheeled back into the surgical ward and after Dr Kester assured my mum that the surgery was successful Margo sat down beside her and waited for her to wake up.
2 hours later Ashley woke up and her mother summoned the doctors, after the customary check up, they were satisfied that her vitals and blood count were stable and they left.
“How are you feeling?” Her mum asked.
Margo gave her water to drink and after a while she fell asleep again.
The next morning she woke up stronger and better looking. After the tests carried out that morning, it was confirmed that her body was not rejecting the kidney so the surgery was a real success.
A week later she was discharged from the surgical unit and transferred back to oncology. Dr Kester sent her to radiology for her MRI (Magnetic Resonant Imaging) scan and few hours later we were summoned back to her office.
“How are you feeling Ashley?”. Dr Kester asked.
“Much better”. She replied smiling.
My mum must have noticed that Dr Kester looked sad and almost heart broken because she soon asked “what is it Dr Kester?”.
“The results were a little worse than expected.” She said quietly.
“Worse? How?” Ashley asked holding her breath.
“Your kidney is in perfect shape now but with the rapid proliferation of the cells, it is in danger of being damaged again”.
“What should we do?”. Ashley asked calmly, shocked by her own amount of composure.
“I would say chemo but the cells are entirely mixed together with your normal cells and chemo would also speed up more organ failure which would undoubtedly do more harm than good. At this point, the choice is all yours”. Dr Kester said with a sad face.
“How long do I have?” Ashley asked. She felt as if she was in the room watching this conversation, she couldn’t believe she was the one having this conversation. Her world was crumbling and she couldn’t do anything about it.
“With chemo, you have at least 6 months, without chemo you have 4 months”. Dr Kester said looking crestfallen.
Ashley thought back to the 18 weeks of chemo, all the side effects and all the times she’d just felt like dying to end it all and dreaded having to go thorough all that again. If she was going to die, then she’d rather have 4 months of a normal life than 6 months of constant fatigue, nausea, light headedness and many more.
“What do you want to do Ashley?” My mum asked with tears in her eyes.
“I’ll take the four months without chemo”. She said looking at her mom.
Margo broke into uncontrollable tears as she held her.
She couldn’t even move or cry, she just let her mom hold her.