The Trip That Changed Our Life

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On December 6, 2015, our family set out on an adventure. We left Grass Valley, California to spend a week in southern California on a work trip. On December 11, we started our trek across the country to visit many family members over the course of a month. We hash-tagged our way across as #4MooresInAVan.

The trip was not easy, but we made it to Shannon, Illinois in four 8-hour(ish) days. From there we ventured to Cincinnati, Ohio for a couple days, and then on to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for a week with Jon’s family over Christmas. Our last stop would be in Chattanooga, Tennessee for a week with my family.

The day after we arrived in Chattanooga, Ellie was acting very unlike herself – extremely fussy and lethargic. She also appeared to be running a fever as she was an extra furnace on anyone she cuddled with throughout the day. On Monday morning she woke up very early and I got to enjoy some extra cuddles with her – she even fell asleep while I was holding her, which is something she never does anymore. She still wasn’t herself, though, and I was suspecting something like constipation based on her firm tummy.

We celebrated a late Christmas that day with my folks in the morning, and then Jon and I headed in to a local urgent care clinic due to her fever returning. After being unsatisfied with their care, we went back to my parents’ house. We called the children’s hospital (T.C. Thompson’s) to check if they would take our insurance which is a state insurance through California. They said they would, so we ate dinner and then headed that way.

After a blood panel, we were told more blood tests were requested. We were then told we needed to get a chest x-ray, and, “Has the doctor talked with you yet?” All of this was done with care for us, but we were in a double room. The ER doctor came to talk the moment the family beside us was discharged. “It’s not good news. Ellie has a very serious problem. The blood tests are showing it’s leukemia. The oncologist is on her way to talk with you now.” A lot more was said, but not much of it was remembered.

Ellie has been diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). ALL is the more common type of leukemia. Her type of ALL is T-Cell, which is the more aggressive of the two types of ALL. (I believe it is referred to as T-ALL.) It is treated with steroids and chemotherapy. Our complete treatment time will probably last 2 years, with the first 6 months being the most intense and the last 18 months being maintenance to make sure the disease doesn’t return. The first month of treatment will be in Chattanooga and after that we will reassess to see if we can take her back home to finish the first 6 months.

Read our journey from the beginning.

Our specific prayers through this time:

  • For Ellie’s body to deal well with the chemotherapy. It will kill all of the abnormal (leukemia) white blood cells and that could be a lot for her kidneys to deal with. We are praying that we can avoid dialysis. Answered!
  • For the leukemia to stay gone FOREVER.
  • For Jon and I to be able to be good parents to both of our girls during this time and for our marriage to become sweeter due to this crisis.
  • For wisdom as we decide what is best for our family about where to finish treatment. Our family support base is wonderful in Tennessee, and Jon’s family is within driving distance, but it could mean many miles of travel and a bit of separation for our family.
  • For God to be glorified through our interactions and in our thoughts. We are trying to soak up God’s truths so that we leave no room for the “what-ifs” or “whys.”
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12 thoughts on “The Trip That Changed Our Life

  1. I am so sorry to hear what your family is going through. I will try to encourage you and remember when alot of people were praying from me when I was in the Hospital when I had a benign Brainturmor at 11 years old and I was in the Hospital for 4 and half months and 2 months of that time I was in a coma. The power of people praying will change things.

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  2. So very, very sorry to hear about your daughter! What terrifying news to hear when you least expect it! I will be keeping your family, the doctors and nurses in my prayers! Praying God is your rock through this most difficult challenge and that your daughters body fights this as easily on her as possible!

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  3. I don’t know you all personally but apparently we have some common friends. I know in the beginning i did not want to hear anyone else’s stories – especially if I didn’t know them. It felt like it was taking away from MY kid’s experience. But because people I know sent me your link I wanted to touch base and let you know if you need anything, have any questions, or just want to see someone else’s experience, I’m happy to talk, text, Facebook, whatever. My little girl kylei was 5 when we were told she either had acute lymphoblastic leukemia or acute lymphoblastic lymphoma. Hers turned out to be lymphoma – also T-cell. We were also on a trip – back from Disney world – when she stopped breathing the minute we pulled in the driveway due to a large cancerous mass blocking her windpipe. We had 2 years and 3 months of chemo and just had our last treatment 2 weeks ago. If you need or want anything, to talk, to know about resources and great charitable organizations for kids with cancer, let me know. We’ve found a great deal of support we’d love to pass on. Again – feel free to ignore this. I know that’s what I did in the beginning. But when you come out of the fog of diagnosis and want support, I’m here. coachchambless@yahoo.com or on FB leahfrostchambless caring bridge site caringbridge.com, search kylei chambless

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  4. I was your Flight Attendant today (2-3-16) from Nashville to Las Vegas and I wanted to tell you guys how great your two beautiful girls were and that we appreciated you all sharing your story with us on the flight. We are told that “every seat has a story” because everyone is traveling for a different reason- some good, some bad and many passengers have tough things going on outside of travel as well. Your story was such a great reminder of this concept and it helps keep me grounded in my job and provide hospitality and comfort in every situation, even the tough ones. Jon, thank you for mentioning your blog to us so that we can keep up with you all. I wish you all lots of love, strength, and healing and I will keep the prayers coming. LUV, Mindy

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    1. Thank you! You and Chrissy were both such a blessing to us. Traveling with 2 littles is typically hard but you both helped alleviate stress. Thanks for checking out our story and thanks for praying for Ellie! Maybe we can fly again together sometime! 🙂

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  5. My wife and I learned of Eliie and your family several months ago. We have a 23 month old daughter and can’t imagine what you are going through… we pray for you daily, that God’s grace, peace, and strength would be exceedingly abundant as you walk through this valley.

    Zack, Lindsey, & Ila

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  6. Your Aunt, Barbara Eldridge,shared with our Sunday School Class months ago her prayer request for your daughter and family. We have and will continue to pray.

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  7. I live down the street from Ellie’s grandma, Linda. She stopped me last week when I was walking my dog, Ruby, and told me your story. I just want you to know that I am praying for your family and for little Ellie today. God bless.

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  8. “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27 Bill and I just read your story, and want you to know we are praying that His everlasting arms will enfold you throughout this trial. Sending hugs as well…

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