If you want to know the secret of getting my attention, it’s simple – tell me a story. But not just any story. It’s the stories of hope in the midst of pain and loss that hold me captive. It’s picturing the moments when lives are changed – whether good or bad.
As a mother myself, hearing the accounts of parent’s watching their child go through the pain of disease breaks my heart. I consider the gift I have been given often – the gift of Monday mornings at home preparing to tackle Mt. Laundry. Or the gift of unending meals needing to be prepared – followed by smeared spaghetti on the bar stools and the feel of cold green beans getting smushed beneath my feet as I load the dishwasher. The gift of uneventful normality.
Do I always see those moments for the gifts that they are? Absolutely not – and I say that to my shame. But it is in those moments that I strive to remember to thank God for my life – and offer prayer for strength and hope for those whose lives are filled with long, lonely hospital stays - nights of worry, wondering if their little one will survive tomorrow’s surgery or the days filled with keeping their child comfortable and content as they lie in their beds.
That’s why Impact of Hope is so close to my heart. This organization tells the stories of families battling with cancer, heart conditions, and all other types of medical situations most of us are blessed to know nothing about. Not only that, they go in to these families and support them by offering them hope, prayer and finances.
Recently, IOH met with two different families – the Hixon’s from Oxford, Mi and the Hackett’s from Sturgis, Mi. Meet Dylan and Bailey! Two precious little miracles that deserve all the love and hope we can offer!
When you look at Dylan, you see a happy-go-lucky 4 year old little boy. He has a twin brother, David, and you wouldn’t be able to tell many differences by looking at them, but it’s what you can’t see that makes Dylan so unique.
Dylan was born with a condition called L-Transposition of the Great Arteries, causing the right and left lower chambers of his heart to be reversed and reversing the blood flow pattern. Doctor’s discovered complications with one of the twins at just 20 weeks gestation, but they had no idea what all that might entail. Dylan's main diagnosis is L-TGA, where both his 2 ventricles and 2 main arteries (pulmonary artery & aorta) were reversed.
Some people can live that way if that is their only issue, but Dylan had a large VSD or hole between the ventricles, and an underdeveloped aortic arch which required immediate surgery. The twins were born on March 24, 2007. Just 5 days later, Dylan had his first surgery at the Children's Hospital of Michigan to repair his aortic arch and add a PA band. His second surgery occurred shortly after his 1st birthday at the University of Michigan Motts Children’s Hospital, where he underwent the double switch.
He had many obstacles to overcome after his second surgery, requiring 5 days of life-support shortly after surgery, a pacemaker, and 2 cardiac arrests in early 2010 before going on a transplant list. Because of his young age and rare blood type, it was highly unlikely to find a compatible heart for Dylan; therefore, he was removed from the list.
Dylan had his third open-heart surgery to repair his baffle leak and mitral valve September 20, 2010. The third surgery was a success and drastically improved from that of a year ago, but unfortunately the repair on the mitral valve did not last.
On April 15th of this year, Dylan underwent a fourth open-heart surgery to replace his mitral valve with a mechanical one. He is currently doing very well. In his 4 years of life he has had four major heart surgeries and there are still more surgeries in his future.
Dylan is a precious little boy with the sweetest smile. He is a walking miracle!
You can find more of his miraculous encounter with Impact of Hope here. It's AWESOME!
Bailey was born in August of 2009. On September 26th, at 6 weeks of age, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This ALL form of leukemia is the most aggressive in children. Her first surgery and chemo treatment would come just a few days later on September 29th.
Their only option was very aggressive chemo treatment. If they didn’t treat her she wouldn’t survive, and even with the chemo treatment, doctors said her chance of survival was 20%.
This was such scary news for her family, but they stood firm in their faith in God. He has been so faithful to them, even in the midst of these trials. Her diagnosis coming at such an early age was very rare, and it was a blessing to catch this leukemia so early.
Bailey has spent most of her life in and out of the hospital with spinal taps and multiple chemo treatments. She has three older siblings, two sisters and one brother. The first year of her life was a big adjustment for the whole family, as they quickly jumped from a two-income to a one-income family so her mother could care for her. Her 1st birthday was a huge milestone! When she reached age 1, her survival chance increased to 75-90%!
Today, she is almost 2 years old and is currently in remission. Even now, she will continue to go monthly to the doctor in Kalamazoo.
Bailey’s future has lots of uncertainties. Because of all of the strong steroids and other medications she has been on her whole life, they are not quite sure how she will develop and what her “norm” will be. Even with all of the unknowns in her future, we know every step of Bailey’s life has been ordained by God!
I invite you to get involved in these precious little lives. Impact of Hope is planning a fundraiser for both families on September 10, 2011 at Lake Area Christian School in Sturgis, MI. Instead of selling tickets, T-shirts are being sold for $10, and all you need to do is wear the T-shirt to the event to gain entry where you will enjoy fun night including a concert, spaghetti dinner and an auction.
If you are interested in helping sponsor this event, please contact me for more information! I am also looking for items to donate to the auction and will be happy to come pick up whatever you have to offer... well, within reasonable travel distance! :)
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org