34 Lessons Learned From Thinking My Son Had Leukemia

Opinion   |   Rick Smith   |   Jul 6, 2012   |   4:28PM   |   Washington, DC

Today was one of those days that keep parents up at night. One of those days you hope you don’t have to soon repeat. One of those days that makes a parent feel like a ton of bricks are on their back.

Today we went into Noah’s pediatrician for his 18 month check up and after talking to her about some of Noah’s recent symptoms decided that we needed to take him to Children’s Medical Center to have a CBC (complete blood count.)

Children that are born with Down syndrome (like our son) are at a higher risk to develop leukemia than typical kids. This usually just means having a complete blood count (CBC) preformed on a regular basis to make sure his white blood cells, and platelet count is all good.

Normally a pediatrician wouldn’t run a CBC at the 18 month visit, but Noah had some symptoms which caused some concern. He’s had a few fevers lately that seem to have occurred for no reason. He’s had a few bloody noses that have also seemed to occur for no reason. And the most concerning symptom, petechia.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, it turns out Noah is fine, and cancer free. I could go on and on about how scared we were today, how my wife and I both cried, and how fearful we were, but to be honest I’m physically and mentally exhausted after today. However, I will say that this day is a runner up to the scariest week of my life.

I wanted to share just a few things I learned today, in no particular order.

I apologize in advance if this list seems like sort of a ramble. Today was just so emotional and raw that I just wanted to have a record of what I learned. I certainly don’t want to forget anything. I’m also not going to to go into detail about any of these, so if you’d like me to explain any of them, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to (although I think most will be self explanatory.)

  1. Being a parent is scary.
  2. Cancer is scary.
  3. Holding your child down as they are screaming and wondering why some lady is sticking needles in their arm is heart breaking to me.
  4. God holds the whole world in His hands.
  5. There are things in life that as a parent you have no control over.
  6. Sometimes as a parent you simply can’t kiss it and make it all better.
  7. You truly, really, without a doubt never know how long you (or your child) as on this Earth.
  8. Enjoy every second you can with your family.
  9. Hug a lot.
  10. Play a lot.
  11. Laugh a lot.
  12. It’s ok to cry. Yes, even for guys.
  13. Even pediatricians worry about their children.
  14. Thinking your child could die as a result of a “disease” is sheer terror.
  15. Thinking something is seriously wrong with your child puts everything else going on in your life on pause. It’s as if nothing else in the world is happening.
  16. Our mind is capable of coming up with all sorts of scenarios that probably won’t ever happen.
  17. Learning to control our mind (and our imagination) is hard.
  18. You either believe that God is FULLY in control of everything on this planet, or you don’t. What you can’t do is believe He is only partly in control. It’s all or nothing. Not both.
  19. You have to believe that God loves your children even more than you do.
  20. You have to FULLY trust God. Both in your life, and in the life of your children.
  21. Number 20 is hard to do sometimes.
  22. The tears a parent cry for their children are some of the most hurtful tears a person can cry.
  23. Seeing your child play and be happy and not realizing that something could be horribly wrong with them is heartbreaking.
  24. I love being a dad, and a husband. A lot. (I already knew this, but was reminded again today.)
  25. Prayer is powerful.
  26. God cares.
  27. God doesn’t abandon us.
  28. God gives peace and joy even when there doesn’t seem to be any in sight.
  29. I hate, yes hate, cancer.
  30. Waiting on test results is one of the worst feelings in the world.
  31. Getting a call from a doctor that things aren’t what you thought (in a good way) makes you very happy.
  32. Sometimes you cry weep when your happy. (Those tears are wonderful.)
  33. Being a parent is scary.
  34. God is bigger than our fear.

Ok, sorry for the ramble, but I wanted to get that stuff off my heart. I am so thankful that things turned out ok today. I want to add that there was a good possibility today that things didn’t turn out so good. That our son actually ended up having leukemia. My wife and I had more than a few conversations today as we waited on the blood tests about this, just to prepare our hearts and minds.

And we both said (multiple times) if that was the case, we’d trust God just as we have every since Noah was born. God hadn’t let us down yet, and He isn’t going to let us down. He is God, we aren’t. Humans don’t make very good Gods.

God would have been just as faithful, and just as good no matter what the results of those blood tests were.

And so we prayed (a lot) and we said “God we really want this test to come back negative, but more than that, we want you to prepare our heart for whatever happens.”  And I know it’s easy to say this now, but if Noah’s test results would have come back positive for leukemia we would have a) wept like no other, b) grabbed our little boy and hugged him, c) Asked God to heal our little boy of cancer, d) praised God for being sovereign and in control, and e) asked God to help us bring glory to Him in this. Somehow, someway. (All of this would have been done through a lot of tears.)

If you are out there, and your child is battling something serious we want you to know that God is in control. He cares. He loves you and your family. And He really can bring you joy and peace. No matter what the “test results” come back to be.

Now it’s time for me to head to bed with a grateful and joyful heart. We made it through another day. It may not be this way forever, but for today, I’m thankful my son was born with just Down syndrome.

Thank you to everyone you prayed for our son and our family today. We appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

LifeNews Note: Rick Smith is Noah’s Dad and he’s creating an online story about his son who was born with Down syndrome on his blog. In addition he manages Noah’s Dad’s Facebook community; one of the largest online communities that’s helping the world see that children born with Down syndrome are worthy of life.