Finding Light in the Dark

I splashed cold water on my face and buried my face in the hospital grade paper towel. I hesitated to remove the stiff towel. Maybe if I wait long enough this nightmare will be over. None of this will have happened. I will remove the paper towel and look up to see my bathroom and my baby girl happy and healthy, kicking in her bouncy seat.

No luck. I looked up to see my tired reflection staring back at me in the sterile bathroom. We were still in the hospital. My Marjorie was still in her hospital crib hooked up to IVs and wires. I was still a mom whose child has cancer.

The past five days have been a blur, an emotional avalanche, a nightmare that won’t stop. But in the midst of this dark, I have also experienced the most amazing outpouring of prayers, love and support. It has all been absolutely overwhelming.

To see the ripple effect of prayer and love on social media is truly astounding. I have received this incredible reminder that in this world where so much is pain, there is also so much good in the human spirit. To witness people come together and rally behind us and our daughter is the most indescribable feeling.

No parent ever dreams their child will be diagnosed with cancer. After a 68-day stay in the NICU, I thought we were done with hospitals. Here we are once again at Wolfson. And to be honest, Wolfson Hospital is another shining light in this dark diagnosis. The nurses and doctors on the Pediatric Oncology floor have proven to be earth angels just like every other staff member here. And we’ve also been inundated with visits from our past nurses and doctors, making us feel like the most loved patient in the hospital.

Many of you have reached out offering connections to other hospitals, St. Jude in particular. I can’t thank you enough for the offers and help! We did look in to our options and decided to stay here because we are in excellent hands. Neuroblastoma is one of the most common pediatric cancers, which mean it is one of the most studied. We are a part of a worldwide study that follows a specific standardized chemo care for all patients with this specific type of Neuroblastoma. So we would be receiving the same treatment if we were at St. Jude, CHOP in Philadelphia, Boston Children’s or anywhere. Being close to our support system is half the battle so we are beyond thankful Wolfson gives us the best treatment in our backyard.

Marjorie began her chemo last night. After a day of celebrating #nobonefriday, things got real again when that chemo bag was hung on my baby’s IV pole. I began to cry as I laid eyes on the bags decorated with bright “Biohazard” stickers and other warning labels.

Why my baby? Why? It is the million dollar question that I know will never have an answer. In those first few hours after the diagnosis, I couldn’t help but be crippled by that question playing on repeat in my head. I would bang my fists into the chair screaming, “Why, God, Why?” But as we received more answers and put a treatment plan together, I find myself slowly coming to kind of accept it all, even though this is not a situation I can ever fully accept. I just can’t. Why my baby?

I don’t believe God does these things to me or Marjorie. I don’t believe God makes bad things happen. But I do believe He gives us the strength to overcome whatever the outcome of the situation might be. Someone reminded me Thursday morning that my girl will ‘catch a break’ and we will return to normal one day, something she said when we were in the NICU. I desperately needed that reminder because right now my mind is filled with medical jargon and IV drips. There is NOTHING normal about this and once again I felt as though I would never find normal again.

My mind is exhausted. My body feels weak, like my legs could crumble at any time. I collapsed on the couch today sobbing after a slew of doctors left. The constant questions of ‘has this or that changed’ and ‘by how much’ and other tiny details that matter so much seem to run together. I feel tremendous pressure to try and remember and notice everything, but it is impossible and exhausting.

Sweet Marjorie is finally resting after having a rough day. Her belly has filled with so much fluid, it literally looks as though it is going to burst. She had a rough night with just being very uncomfortable and today was much of the same. We’ve had a brigade of doctors come through our revolving door asking questions trying to determine the best solution to the rapidly growing fluid problem.

Late this afternoon she was given a round of Albumin followed by Lasix. It worked quickly and gave her a bit of relief. Two hours later she woke up alert and hungry! I cried tears of joy seeing my girl eat and then look around with her big blue eyes. We even Face Timed with her daddy and big brother and her legs started kicking away when she heard big brother talk to her. Melt.My.Heart.

The room is quiet now except for the pecking of my fingers on the keyboard and the nurse hanging Marjorie’s chemo bag. Round One, Day Two of ‘Mission: SMASH Cancer’ is officially on.

It is wild how life changes in the blink of an eye. One week ago tonight, I was trying to get a fussy baby girl to bed, thinking she was gassy or maybe constipated. No big deal, it should work itself out tomorrow. And tonight I find myself watching her receive a second dose of chemotherapy.

My daughter has cancer. And it F&@KING sucks. I am so angry. I wish it was me who had the cancer. I wish I could take it away from her. But I can’t. So I do my best to accept this extremely painful and crappy card that Marjorie was dealt and work to move forward and find the positive.

You all are my positive. My family, friends, followers and everyone in between. We may not know each other by name, but we carry the same love in our hearts. A love for Marjorie, for children, for the good in people. There may be a lot of dark in this world and right now there is so much dark in my life and its name begins with the letter ‘C’. But we are flushing out the C with light and love.

Keep it coming. We feel it…and send it all back to you.

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41 thoughts on “Finding Light in the Dark

  1. shermo says:

    Continuing to pray for y’all. Our lives truly can & do change in just a moment. Grateful for a Savior that isn’t surprised and who loves you all more than we can comprehend. Praying for sweet sleep for you both tonight. From Michigan with love. – Sheryl

  2. Joanne Cowgill says:

    So much I would tell you having been in your place – as a Grandma. The best I can offer is that this WILL be over one day. It will be a horrible memory. And your precious little girl will have no memory of it. My grandson, Patrick, began his treatment at 21 months. The only “memory” he has is the scars on his abdomen. Marjorie will grow up to be a beautiful lady with a wonderful affinity for helping others who are sick. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me and others who have walked your path. Find out if your city has a Cancer Services office. If they do, reach out to them. My daughter tells everyone, “St. Jude saved my son. Cancer Services of Baton Rouge saved my family.” It is a WONDERFUL organization!! God’s blessings on your precious Marjorie, on you, and on your family. Love, Grandma

  3. Eliza says:

    I have followed your journey with Your baby girl since I got out of the NICU with my son a 35 wheeler born at 3Lbs. He was diagnosed with a matrotation at 6 months after we had been home from the NICU for four months. I feel your pain of returning to the hospital that sinking feeling to walk back in again! The only thing that got me through those days was the mantra it can’t last forever! The pain can’t last the terroir can’t last the beeping can’t last oh the beeping I still here that to this day lol. My son is home now and doing better but a premie road is hard and takes it took on you and your husband the germs the worry sometime overwhelms your life. I have to remind myself to enjoy his life not worry it away I’m sure you know the feeling. Your words and your story always make my cry with stark truth of the journey! I truly hope your Marjoie gets better so very soon after all she also share the same name as my grandmother another very strong women.
    Stay strong Mama it can’t last forever!
    Hugs
    Eliza, Adrian and Aaron

  4. Alecia says:

    Prayers for your baby girl, you and your family. Prayers for healing and strength. Prayers for wisdom for the doctors and nurses. Prayers for the shortest battle with cancer ever and a lifetime of worry free health for your baby girl.

  5. Solange Isaac says:

    I came over and over to your blog looking for news from Marjorie many times a day. I can’t imagine the pain and fear and some many others feelings you’re experiencing right now. I wish that I can help you or you little girl in any way, I continue praying for you, and your family, and for Marjorie of course, and for the doctors to be able to do his best. I’m praying for you to have the strength to fight this. This to shall pass and she is going to be healthy again. Big hugs for you

  6. Susan McMullan says:

    Manning,
    I read your blog this morning and just sobbed. Every night I pray for all of the sick and suffering, especially the children. To actually add Marjorie’s name to that list hurt my heart. I have followed your story since before she was born and cheered at every milestone, cried at the setbacks and smiled at the pictures that you post. When I read about the cancer I truly lost my breath. I thankfully never had a child with cancer in my family but I lost my dad at a young age to it. I can’t imagine the heartbreak of being a mom in that position and her to watch her precious baby go through so much. I am however a mom and grandma myself so I relate in that way. I know how life can change in an instant though. I lost my only son at 19 in a tragic snowboarding accident and my life is changed forever! It sucks, but enough about me! I will continue to pray and cheer your sweet angel on. Stay strong. 💗

  7. Jessica R says:

    McCall,
    I’m so sorry for you and your family. As I sit here holding my own baby girl, you and baby Marjorie are in my prayers. I’m sending positive, healing thoughts your way. Know that you have an army behind you, showering you with love and support.

    Jessica Tauriac Rabalais

  8. asarbenz says:

    I have followed your blog since finding out I was pregnant with my third child. Due around the same time as you were with Marjorie. After finally in recovery from my eating disorder after 10 years I was scared to have my body change again. Your blog helped me. I hope that you can find peace with everything that has happened to Marjorie she is such a fighter! I can’t imagine what you are going through. I pray for her daily and think about you guys often! No mom ever wants to hear that there baby has cancer. I pray for your baby that she smashes cancer! I pray for you and your family that you have the strength to get through this terrible time.

  9. k80lady says:

    Have been consistently praying for your family since this began. So thankful for your blog to be able to keep up with your baby girl and her journey. While you’re in this blur of treatments and statistics just remember that somebody has to be the good percentage to even have statistics. I have complete and utter faith that is your Marjorie!

  10. susanbean says:

    I wish I could just wrap my arms around you and give you a big hug. Know there are so many praying for Marjorie and your family. Marjorie and family is on our prayer list at church. I am from Granite Falls, NC. Foothills of Appalachian Mountains. You and your blog has and still does touch my heart in so many ways. Love pouring out to you.

  11. AmyW says:

    Praying for you guys…your posts are so unbelievable…just the way you describe the smell of the hospital paper towels brings chills to my bones. And everyone that writes about how this time will not last forever-they are RiGHT!!!!! Keep on believing that, kept praying and we will keep praying for you guys!!! Know you are loved by all of us!!!! Go Majorie, go!!!!! Sending love and prayers from Chicago,
    AmyW

  12. Miranda says:

    Just sending some love your way. You are right cancer does F$%ing suck. Stay strong momma and keep the faith. Love you all!

  13. Linda Jennings Garrison says:

    Prayers lifted up for you! Praying for God to give you all peace and comfort! Prayers for quick healing of the cancer cells!!
    Deuteronomy 7:17
    “You may say to yourselves , ” these cancer cells are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?” But do not be afraid of them; remember well what your God did to pharaoh and all of Egypt. The great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand outstretched arms. The Lord your God will do the same for you!
    Hang in there!! Mass prayers going up to Heaven!

  14. Chrys says:

    one of my good friends is an oncological phatmacist and I picked her brain last night. I am sure you are WAY more informed than I am, and have been researching away, but a few bright points that stood out to me…
    -at her age, she will not remember this. You will continue to provide a loving, supportive, amazing environment for her to grow up and flourish in, and that is what she will remember.
    – as you mentioned… As one of the most common forms of cancer in children under 5, it is also very well researched.
    – within the two lower risk categories the rate of successful treatment is 95%ish
    – as my friend put it. “Whenever stem cell transplant is an option, that’s a good thing”

    You and your family are in my thoughts, and the strength you have passed on to Marjorie will serve her well during this difficult time.

  15. Connie Ross says:

    To Marjorie’s family, I am Mary Beth Izard’s former sister in law and I just read your post. I want you to know , I will put Marjorie on all our prayer lists at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Kansas City. She will be lifted up as well as your whole family. I know she will get thru this, it seems so impossible, but this little girl is going to show the world she is very, very, special. Be strong.

  16. Kay Calhoun says:

    My Heart Aches for You and Your Family. My Son is 45 Years Old. He is in His 6th Year of Cancer. This Mother Feels Your Pain. Your in My Prayers

  17. Rachel says:

    Praying for comfort and strength for your family through this time and wisdom for the doctor. Marjorie has proven once before she is a fighter and will prove it again by kicking cancer’s a$$! She is small but she is MIGHTY!

  18. Audrey says:

    Hello,
    I came across your blog from a friend of a friend of a friend. Cancer, especially when it has to do with your child, is such a hard pill to swallow. I was pregnant with twins and on a routine 32 week US, I was told baby B might have cancer. It was the most shocking, devastating, unexpected news I have ever heard. When she was born she went through multiple tests, blood draws, CTs, and surgery to remove her right adrenal gland. It was neuroblastoma. It metastized to her left adrenal gland and liver. She went through port-a-cath placements, chemo, tons and tons of scans….but today….6 years later…..she has finally been cleared to go to the survivor clinic!! She has nothing left of the horrible disease, except scars; her battle wounds, her physical expression of triumph. I know what you are going through, but God’s grace and love will get you through it. He is all I could believe in. He is all I can still believe in! Prayers for you, your family, and sweet Marjorie. She will have one heck of a story one day!!
    Audrey

  19. Linda Olson Laughlin says:

    McCall and Jordan. Joe and I heard about your precious angel and want you to know we are praying for Marjorie and your family. Your blog is so inspirational and I know touches many hearts. In her short life, Marjorie has already shown she is a fighter and I can tell she has strong and loving parents and a fantastic support system. We will continue to pray for you.

  20. Another Mother says:

    God has blessed Marjorie with a fierce advocate–you. God has given you the gift of writing, and you are using it to bring Him glory and share her story. Your faith and strength have witnessed to me.

    I am praying for her. I am praying for you. You are the captain of the team that is battling against this.

    My daughter is close to her in age. I am crying with you. I am checking on you.

    I pray for her. There’s light in her eyes. She’s fighting. She’s got one Heck of a great mom fighting with her.

  21. Angelique Newsom says:

    It is great to know you are getting care for your little one. I know you are hurting! My youngest two are now teens and have conditions that are different but have me spinning almost daily if not multiple times a day. We have meds and see docs also. I am praying that your sweet wee one is in remission soon. I do care. We all do. It doesnt make it any easier I know. But…I truly feel you are in good hands and she is going to get better! My situation is a continuous learn to manage. I too have the feeling many times…why my children? Im not mad at God…I just want answers. Sometimes….we do not get them as fast as we want. But…thank you for keeping us updated! It helps me! May God help you to get a little rest! Hang in there!!! Praying!

  22. Margaret says:

    I am praying for your precious Baby Marjorie and the rest of your family. I don’t know you but saw your story on Facebook. As a mother myself, it’s impossible not to be moved by your story. I’m so so sorry you are having to watch your daughter go through pain. I pray for you all- I pray God holds you all in his hands and provides the strength necessary to get to the other side of this scary journey.

  23. stephanie day says:

    I am so sorry for your pain. i read this and it just devastates me to hear someone, anyone, must bear this on their shoulders and so I send you strength and the knowledge that i will keep you in my thoughts, sending you whatever positive energy I can.

  24. Kaylin says:

    Constantly praying for you and your precious Marjorie every single day. I don’t know you personally but we have mutual friends and I have been following your journey on Instagram for a while now. I am so inspired by your faith, strength and determination. Marjorie is one very lucky lady to have you as her mama. She has proved that she is a fighter and will beat this! My heart aches for what you and your family are going through, as a mother of a 10 month old baby girl I can’t imagine. You are surrounded by so much love and support and I pray you find comfort in that. We will continue to lift you and your Miraculous Marjorie up. Stay strong mama!

  25. Dara Fonseca says:

    McCall, I came across your blog via a mutual friend on Facebook. I have read your posts as I wiped away the tears from my eyes. I am so sorry that your beautiful daughter (and you and your family) are going through this. I have been praying for all of you and will continue to send up many, many prayers for healing and comfort for Marjorie, and for strength and comfort for you. Your quest to remain positive is amazing and inspiring. I know your love with pull Marjorie through this, and I pray there are brighter days ahead for all of you!

  26. Amber says:

    My son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2013. The docs, nurses, and acp’s at Wolfsons are amazing. It was our second home. I’ll keep your sweet baby in my prayers.

  27. Jessica Williams says:

    Your blog on Marjorie fills me with such sadness. You are such a strong mom and so is your little girl. Your family will come out of this on top! Many thoughts and prayers for your family!

  28. rosemary says:

    I am smiling from ear to ear!!! I’m so happy that sweet Marjorie and her momma get to finally go home. Thank God she is doing much better now. I will continue to pray for your princess. Sending lots of love and cyber hugs from CA.

  29. lindsay says:

    My heart aches for you and sweet Marjorie! I have a 1 yr. old and I just can’t fathom. Reading your posts, I’m just bawling. I feel the pain and agony in your words- but I also feel your strength and resilience- for your daughter. I’m praying for Marjorie- each and every day!

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