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A Village of Prayer Revisited

February 9, 2012

It has happened again. That confirmation that so many of us search for our entire lives has hit me full force twice in one short year. That He exists and that He is listening.

I have told you before how the doctors are continuously confused by Mary. I know I have told you also, of last spring and how her neurologist was certain of her diagnosis, we just needed the official confirmation in order to get her into the specialized clinic.

I’ve also told you about my friend’s son, Nick, who has been fighting against his third relapse of stage IV neuroblastoma- a particularly aggressive form of childhood cancer. He just turned 11 in November. He was first diagnosed more than seven years ago. In an earlier post, I asked for prayers for this precious boy and his family as surgeons removed the cancer they had found and treated him with chemotherapy. When he returned to New York for more tests and treatment, they instead discovered even more cancer. The doctors were quick to act, and he went back into surgery to remove what they had found. He was then sent home for more chemotherapy before he could continue with his other treatments.

By then, an army of what my friends have started calling prayer warriors had formed. Everyone who had any connection to Nick and his family was praying and asking everyone they knew to do the same. Our tiny Catholic school mobilized into a fund and prayer raising machine- dress down days and an inspiring spaghetti dinner (that I wrote a little about here) were held in support of Nick and his family. Entire churches of people from all over the world were asked, through these prayer chains, to pray for this boy.

Nick has now been receiving an experimental vaccine for neuroblastoma. When he first got out to New York a few weeks ago, scans showed no evidence of new disease- excellent news, but his parents and doctors were understandably cautious in their celebration, as this is an extremely aggressive cancer, and any disease is still worrisome. The antibody treatment was started two weeks ago. It is not like a typical vaccine, as the antibody attaches to nerve endings as well as to cancer cells and is quite painful for a time, but not toxic, like chemotherapy. The hope is that this treatment will keep the cancer at bay because he has had so many different chemos at this point, he really can’t have any more. He will get a second round of the antibody treatment next week and radiation for the next few weeks, all out in New York.

When Mary’s future was so uncertain, emails, letters and phone calls flew out to family and friends and prayer chains requesting prayers for our daughter. It was overwhelming to know that so many people cared about our baby girl- even people we had never met. I can’t tell you what it felt like when the doctor called, the Friday before Mother’s Day, to tell me that my baby girl did not have this terrible disease. When she told me, that at least for now, I could keep her, here with me. I knew immediately that I owed that completely to the prayer village that had assembled around my daughter. It is an indescribable feeling. The doctors later confessed to me just how certain they had been. The doctors were sure, but God was swayed.

This week, Nick is having multiple scans and bloodwork to monitor the cancer as well as to determine whether or not his body is rejecting the antibody treatment. The amount of support and prayer that has surrounded this family recently has overwhelmed them and those of us blessed enough to be close to them.

This week, those prayer chains have been pushed into overdrive. It would appear that someone has been listening.

This afternoon, as I sat watching my son struggle with his behavioral therapist, I burst into joyful tears, reading the following simple text message from my dear friend:

MIGB scan also clear- no evidence of disease! Thank God- cancer gone again!

The cancer is gone.

Prayer works. It may not always give us the result that we ask for, but it unites us in times like these. It binds us together in hope. It allows us to comfort each other, and find renewed strength in our shared challenges.

And sometimes-just sometimes-He grants us a miracle, just to be sure we know, He really is listening.

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