This is Brian's mom, Sara. I have never been known as a woman of FEW words, but as I sit at the screen trying to formulate what I want to say to the people who have become so dear to me and my family, I can hardly decide where to start. I guess I will start with thanks be to God for His steadfast love and grace throughout this very difficult time. He truly is the rock and we continue to face each day only with His help.
For so long I have wanted and needed to send out a message to all of you. I know that you have followed Brian's progress on a daily basis for months now. For most of that time, things have been difficult at best, with an occasional positive note here and there. I have never understood what a cancer patient goes through, until now, and I have come to have great respect for anyone who has faced this disease. You see, cancer isn't like one of the diseases where once a diagnosis is made, you have some treatment and start to feel better until you are well. For Brian, days of agony turned into months and I very often didn't know what day of the week it was. Our experience has been that you don't see improvement UNTIL the treatment is over. As you all know, Brian has just begun his "Maintenence" phase. Although we have anticipated the worst, it seems that Brian may come through this without extensive hospital stays in between treatments. I can't tell you how encouraged and hopeful Stan and I felt on Easter Sunday past and at our Easter egg hunt. For the first time since December 7th, we saw glimpses of our Brian before cancer. It was an incredible blessing to know that our happy little guy was still in there. We have been so concerned over how all of this was going to effect him. To date, April 19th, he has completed the first of four maintenance treatments. Oh, some of you have written to ask, if he's cancer- free, why are we still doing chemo! Brian is clinically cancer-free. The doctors can see no tumors anywhere! However, on a microscopic basis, they can not tell what may still be inside his body. Maintenence treatments are essential to ensuring his 80%+ survival rate. Don't be upset by 80% - we can not say with 100% certainty that his cancer will not return - we are grateful that he is alive and we don't believe God is a God of percentages anyway. Brian's life is in His hands and we don't question what God has in store for him. But don't you think it's got to be something incredible?!
Most recently, we enjoyed being home for almost 2 1/2 weeks. That is by far the longest we have been home since checking into UCSF back in December. Prior to that we had come home for 1 or 2 days on three separate occasions. Now, I want you all to picture this. As you may imagine, Brian has received an INCREDIBLE amount of cards, letters, gifts, toys, books, etc. from all over the country and beyond. Each is special and dear to me and I have saved everything, because I know that one day down the road Brian will want to look back on this part of his life and he will be able to see without a doubt the vastness of God's love poured on him through so many loving, caring people -- YOU!! ( You just can't know how you have sustained us all throughout this ordeal - God Bless each one of you.) Ok, on each visit home, I have thought, Ok, I will be able to sort through this stuff and send thank you notes and correspond with people on the E-mail, etc. I DON'T THINK SO! Oh my goodness, everytime we'd get home, we'd have to turn right around and go back to the hospital. Well, I have an extra bedroom that I began putting everything in, so that I would know where it was, waiting for the eventual day that I would be able to respond with sincere thanks and love to all of you who have sent your love and prayers and thoughts our way. (One of you even brought my parents from NC to CA to visit Brian - Bless you Aggie!) I now find myself in that room, filled with so much love, and no way to even begin to show my appreciation to each one of you. Please, please, forgive me for taking the simpler way out and using our E-mail technology to thank you all. Every card and letter, every E-mail, I have cherished. Your sympathy, prayers, jokes and loving thoughts have brought our family comfort and laughter, and blessings beyond measure. Your selfless acts of giving to my family have shown me how precious are the hearts of God's people that the suffering of one little boy could have such a profound affect on the lives of many. I pray for special blessings for each one of you for there are no words that can describe the peace that fills my soul when I think of what you have done for the sake of my family. I believe this must be what it is like in Heaven, where there is abundant joy and love for all and no more tears.
Alas, I told you I am rarely at a loss for words!
There are a few people that, if I could, I would shout from the mountain tops, how much I love them--since I can't, I'll just shout it from the internet!! (That reaches more people anyway, right.)
To Pastor Hahn and our church family (Sebastopol Christian Church),
My heart nearly bursts with pride when I think on the countless ways you have stood in the gap for us. Your unending prayers. The many meals prepared for us so I didn't have to think about food, and cleaning my house from top to bottom. The dozens of pillows you donated to Family House down at the hospital. Every time I lay my head down at Family House I think of every other person staying there. They are sleeping on a new pillow lovingly given by my church. Your generous financial support. Your emotional and spiritual support. All have gone to ease our burden and I thank God that He brought us to Sebastopol Christian to worship. You have truly demonstrated what it is like to be part of the family of God.
Little Mr. Gareth
Thank you so much for coming over to play with Brian whenever he was home from the hospital. You are a very special and patient little boy. I like how you are so loving, gentle and kind to Brian. I'm glad that you are best friends and that you love each other so much.
Diane, Jim, Megan and John,
I am so glad to have you back in my life. You have spent countless hours and many sleepless nights caring for both me and Brian. Diane, I love our talks about -- everything! I'm thankful that you put up with my lunacy and that you allow me to be who I am and don't roll your eyes when I talk about Jesus! I love you!
Rick, Charlene, Kristin and Kimmy,
Oh my gosh! In a world where disfunctional families abound, I am so thankful Rick that YOU are my husband's brother. It is not every family that would just drop everything and BE THERE like you and Charlene have been there for us. You have taken such good care of Steven when Stan and I needed to be with Brian. You have loved him like he was your own son and done whatever was needed to see that his life continued as normal as possible. Rick, I am grateful for the love and support only a brother could give to a brother. It is impossible to say how people would react in a situation like ours, but oh, you are a wonderful, strong and loving man and I know without a doubt that there isn't anything you wouldn't do for us. There is great comfort in knowing that the bond within our family is as strong as it is! God bless you for your faithfulness to us.
David and Sara,
My dearest niece and nephew. You have shown such grace and courage at a time in your lives when things should be full of promise and excitement. It isn't everyone who has to watch their four year old cousin go through such pain. But I believe that both your lives will be forever changed and shaped in a way that, though unexpected, will be enriching and rewarding. You have gained a wisdom in your young lives that some people go a lifetime never experiencing. We can not always know what God has in store for us, but whatever it is, how we handle it will determine the impact we make on the lives of others.
God bless you for putting aside everything and allowing your wife to minister to me and to Brian. I could not have endured without the strength of my sister. Thank you for sharing her with me. I love you!
My sweet sister, the tears flow so freely when I think of how you have demonstrated such unconditional love to me, Stan, Steven and Brian. How many countless hours on the E-mail keeping Brian's status updated and asking for prayer support. Making sure I ate and slept and got time with my husband. Helping Steven with school work. Staying up all night with Brian when he was so ill. You truly have lived this dreadful illness with me. You have made sure that every one of my family's needs were met even before your own family. How can I say thank you? How can I express all that you have meant to Brian, Stan, Steven and me? There is a special bond that exist between you and me that can never be broken. We are bound together by blood, by love and by our Heavenly Father in whom we both believe. I love you so much!
Dear friends forgive the length of this letter but I have had so much to say to you all. I will close with a scripture from Psalms 40:1-5. It has brought us strength when we were weak and courage when we were afraid and hope when we had none.
Love, Brian's mom