In January (2015) I was experiencing some odd symptoms, and even before this I was tired a lot. I’ve always been very quiet and reserved at school, so I don’t think anybody could tell how tired I was. Junior year I began procrastinating and my grades began to decline. Instead of getting A’s and B’s, I was getting C’s. I just didn’t feel like doing anything. I didn’t really think much of how tired I was until January.
One morning I woke up and put on my makeup and I noticed the whites of my eyes were a bit yellow. So I told my parents about it and they shrugged it off as me just feeling under the weather and they assured me that I would get better. But, instead of my eyes getting better, they got worse. My skin began to turn a bit yellow and my friends began to notice.
I made an appointment at the doctors to see what was happening. I had my blood drawn and they said that that my liver enzymes were way too high. Liver enzymes are what indicate if you have a healthy liver. Because they were all out of whack my doctors realized something was wrong and they sent me to have a few tests like an MRI, a CAT scan, and an ultrasound. These are imaging devices that can give you very clear pictures of what is happening inside of your body.
On February 24 I had the MRI and ultrasound and afterwards my doctor in Oshkosh called me back to her office. She came into the small examination room where my mom and I were waiting. I was expecting her to say everything was okay and that I just need to drink more water or something very simple. However, she told me something very different. She said that they had found a tumor on my liver, and that they didn’t know exactly what it was, but they had a feeling it was cancer. She said that I would need to go to Milwaukee Children’s hospital to find out exactly what it was. At first, I didn’t cry or say anything. I looked at my mom and she had her mouth wide opened. All she said was,
“This is crazy.”
As soon as she said that I began to cry. And my mom and I sat there and she began to cry with me.
I walked out of there and every single nurse in the office was staring at me with a sympathetic look on their faces. I didn’t want to believe that this was happening to me. I went home and I felt like I couldn’t go to school the next day. I didn’t want anybody to know. I didn’t want any attention or sympathy for it. I wanted to be left alone. My parents told my teachers about it so they knew I would be missing some school for appointments.
The next day, I went to school and my best friend already knew because my mom had called her mom. I was so happy she did so I didn’t have to say anything. I just cried and she cried with me. I remember people walking by and seeing me crying and I remember someone saying,
“Why is she crying?”
And it was not in a kind way at all. That made me so upset. This person didn’t even know what I was facing.
The rest of the day went by and people went on with their lives as if my life wasn’t turned upside down that what I was going through. It frustrated me that they couldn’t be understanding. But how could they? To them I was just another emotional teenage girl who was probably upset about nothing. I was probably such a drag to be around. Many teachers said I was such a godly example, but I didn’t feel like it at all. I felt angry. I didn’t want this to be my new life.
I went to Milwaukee many times. I was put on medicine, I was probed, I was poked, I was examined, and I was talked about. Every single doctor told me that I had cancer because they never see this in children. It is always older people and they almost always have cancer. Time and time again my mom, dad, and I would go away from the hospital feeling so discouraged. We didn’t find out that month if I had cancer, or the next month, or the next month. It was not until May that I found out that I didn’t have cancer.
On May 19th, I was opened up and my doctors found that my bile ducts were scarred and that my liver had non-alcoholic cirrhosis. But my liver is only working 20%, so I will need a liver transplant. My doctors said that they thought it was an autoimmune disease of some sort. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system sends out antibodies, which are supposed to attack harmful substances that invade the body, but instead the antibodies attack healthy cells, tissue, or organs. Doctors do not know why this happens, but there can be a number of factors that can contribute to the disorder, such as: genetic predisposition for the disease, environmental factors, and chemical irritants, or hormones. Also, women seem to be more susceptible to autoimmune diseases.
Since then, I have received so much encouragement and support. I couldn’t go on a long awaited missions trip, but I believe that I’ve learned more than I ever could on a missions trip. I have learned that I have so much. Even now, I know that I am not in pain, that I can walk and talk, and that I have great friends and family who love and support me.
My heart breaks for those who don’t even realize how privileged they are. I see people in worse situations than me and I understand that I am so blessed. There are children dying of cancer, there are parents whose hearts are broken because there little ones won’t live past this year. But no one is promised tomorrow. Anything can happen to anyone at any particular time. A liver transplant is not the worse that can happen. God has blessed me and put me here for a reason, maybe this is the reason. To share my story.
When Esther is scared to go before the king to tell him about the wrong that is being done to her people, Mordecai says something to her that I will always hold onto. This verse has become to mean something completely new to me. Esther 4:14 (ESV)
For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Maybe I was put on this earth to share this time in my life who may be struggling with something like this. There is a reason that Esther was in that place in that time. God knew her strength and what she was capable of. I’d like to think that there is a reason that I am here at this time for a reason.
As I wait for this transplant, I remember what Christ did for me on the cross. Isaiah 53:5 says,
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.