Wednesday, November 4, 2015

And 10 days later...

     October 23 Clayton had his routine follow up scans at Cook Childrens.  It was pouring down rain, but we went through the monsoon, did the tests, and made our way home just as is routine.  This set of scans was different then most.  I didn't feel nervous.  I had a new calm over me the weeks leading up and even during the scans and waiting for the results. I just felt like it was all ok. 
  After weathering the storms and the road closures on the way home that Friday, we got the call we always get from the clinic, except this time was a little different.  Clayton's brain/ear MRI came back perfect, but the doctor suspected something might not be right on his Chest Xray and he'd need to come back for a Chest CT.  I worried, even though Chad, who took the call, tried to convince me not to.  I also knew, and had told the doctor during Clayton's appointment, that Clayton had been coughing really bad and congested.  He was on medicine for that.  The doctor suggested the cough was probably the guilty culprit, but we'd have to be sure. A cancer survivor can't take risks.
   Well, 10 days later... yes, TEN days, the scan happened.  That was yesterday.  After a week of going over the "what ifs",  a flat tire on the way to Cooks, a bunch of slow people both on the highway and in the hospital and a sleepless night waiting on that call, we learned today that apparently Clayton had a bit of a pneumonia, but he is now, in fact. .CANCER FREE.  I'm not sure how many people can be excited and blessed that their child had pneumonia, but I can and AM.
   Surprisingly waiting these last ten days has been interesting.  We didn't place the news on facebook simply because I didn't want my kids fielding 20 questions, and well, you know, sometimes people change the story a bit and I didn't want rumors starting that Clayton wasn't well.  For the sweet friends who noticed that we did not post a follow up and asked me, THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH.  Thank you for praying us through and for understanding when I was just kind of out of it or was not my normal self.  We are so thankful for our prayer partners. 
    As I was praying for Clayton and BEGGING God to keep him cancer free, I could hear the Lord BOLDLY say to me... "Kesleigh.. I have already told you that Clayton is healed.  He has been healed in Jesus name"  It was a reminder that sounded familiar to how I talk to my kiddos after the 5th time they've asked me the same thing. We have many new friends since Clayton's walk with cancer.  If you do not know his story and the several ways that the Lord absolutely healed him, please stop and ask me.  I will ALWAYS share the goodness of the Lord and the blessing He gave me in restoring my son to full health.
    So, today, as I'm walking around crying, or maybe smiling extra big, or if you drive past me in my car and see me singing loudly and boldly, I am in the midst of thanking the Lord for once again carrying us through a hard time, making Clayton new, and keeping His promise to us. 
   Hold your family tight today, friends.  Life is a GIFT.. and one we are not promised.  If you are healthy, or even if you have pneumonia, be thankful. It's all a matter of Perspective. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Why do I do it?

  Two days ago, I changed my profile picture on Facebook.  I found a picture of a bald headed Clayton and followed the steps to change that picture to represent the "Go Gold for Children's Cancer" campaign as September is Childhood Cancer awareness month.  The next day I got a text from my sweet teenager daughter that simply sent a copy of my new picture and read "Why do you do this?"  Now,  I'm going to answer this because I know some of you possibly wonder, just like my daughter why I continue to remember and remind
others of what my three years ago looked like.  Shouldn't I just "move on"... " forget it"  " be thankful for his health" and go on? Here's why I "Do this".....
    On February 8, 2012 I heard "Your child has cancer".  You see, our family is not rich, not poor, not strict healthy eaters, not bad eaters. Our kids play outside. They do sports. Our home is clean.  We don't do drugs, heck, we barely drink alcohol.  We go to church most Sundays, we attend public school.. WE ARE NORMAL.. We are YOU.  That's the thing about cancer.. it doesn't care anything about the kind of person you are or aren't, it just happens.  And, when it happens to your child.. when it happened to MY child, I was forever changed.
   Friends, it is NOT uncommon.  I know that no one wants to hear that because it's easier to just go about life in the comfort of knowing "that kind of thing wouldn't happen to me".  I know that comfort because I once had it.  But, it happens.  I am telling you that at least once a month I am approached, messaged or questioned about a child that recently got diagnosed with cancer.  Whether it be online, in my hometown, in the church I attend or someone I know at the gym, it happens.
   That is why I still take a moment and advocate for more funding and more research to give more kids a chance, even if it is just changing my profile picture and making a donation.  My son lived, is thriving and if you know him, you know that he is NORMAL!  But, you also know that my heart beats a little faster when he says his ear hurts.  My hearts beats a little faster when YOUR child says his ear hurts, or his head hurts, or she can't get over that stomach flu because I have seen the "what ifs" play out right before my eyes.
   The treatment Clayton had was the treatment the children had in the 1970s.  There is just not much research being done for our kids.  Even though my son is completely cancer free, feeling great, acting like a regular 10 year old and has "moved on", I will NOT forget the kids who didn't make it, died too young, or are still fighting.  So, "Why do I do this"..because YOUR kids, YOUR future kids, YOUR grandchildren, and MY SON is counting on it...That's why.  #neverforget

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

He's always been faithful to me..

 Three years ago today,  our son, Clayton was being wheeled into surgery.  We had just learned days before that he had cancer.  We were at Texas Children's Hospital and were spending each day doing tests and procedures trying to determine how invasive this cancer was, where it was and what was going to be our plan of action. We were all emotionally DONE.  Through all the testing, we learned that Clayton had Hydronephrosis.  This has nothing to do with cancer. He was born with a kidney that just doesn't function as it should.  Most people never know they have this because we work just fine with one kidney, but because Clayton was soon going to endure months and months of chemotherapy, we had to make sure this kidney and it's inability to filter the medicine to come, would not cause life threatening problems as it was.
      After a day of pediatric urology appointments, an intern waltzed into Clayton's hospital room and told us that they would be removing his kidney the following day. I honestly never thought they would even consider removing his kidney! I remember just falling back into the chair behind me, asking the intern to please send the "real doctor" in, and trying to gather in my head what else this little boy could possibly have to go through.  Later that day, the head Pediatric Urologist came in, showed us scans that proved that Clayton's kidney was too weak, worthless and was not going to be okay to endure the medicine.  WE WERE DEVASTATED!  That blow was just one that I will never forget.  We called all of our family, most of which came down to be with us the next day, and we prayed and prepared our son for another invasive surgery and tried to explain what was happening to him next.
   The surgery was scheduled for 12:30 pm.  We were awakened at 6:00 am with a nurse saying, " The surgery has been moved up.  We're taking Clayton down in 15 minutes".  Wow!  Off they went with Clayton, and us following behind, to the surgery where they were removing his kidney.  I remember crying and just feeling devastated and asking God, What in the world?  Why in the world?  What more, God! After about an hour, we were waiting in the waiting room, crying, pacing, greeting our family, when another intern walked out in full surgical scrubs and said, "Castle Family".  Chad and I approached with fear, but ready to hear that it was over and Clayton was ok.  In a strange tone of voice, this doctor said,  "Mr and Mrs Castle,  We can't explain it, but the scans were incorrect.  Dr. Roth got to Clayton's kidney and all that is required to make it viable, is a small repair.  It is functioning and will absolutely not have to be removed,"  We looked at each other.  I remember falling into Chad's arms and saying, " Did I just understand him to say that Clayton is keeping both of his kidneys?"  You betcha he did! In a moment that I can't explain, that will never make sense to me and that I will never ever forget, I witnessed and lived a miracle.  A full blown miracle.  You see, we saw the scans with our own eyes, we understood them, we viewed them.  It was a true miracle and a presence that only God will be able to explain.
    With that little story, I say.. HE IS FAITHFUL to meet our every need.  Tomorrow Clayton has his scans to tell us that he remains cancer free.  I know HE IS FAITHFUL.. He goes before us.. He is holding us even still.  Please pray for us as we go tomorrow.  Pray for Christ to show Himself again and to remind us that He is who He says He is!  Whatever you are facing today, HE IS FAITHFUL.  We are living proof!