My name is Ginger and my husband is Adam. First, I want to thank Hope Abounds for the opportunity to give back but a fraction of the blessings they have given our family. While we are walking through this journey, Hope Abounds has not only rescued us when we were drowning, they continually lift us up to where we need to be. We are a family of nine, six daughters, three sons all single births. Adam and I have been together since we were fifteen years old. We are truly a very strong family unit and are blessed to have had each other during these extreme turbulent times. I cannot leave my faith out of this picture, as God is the glue that held our family together wen we almost fell apart. At this point it is very difficult to share 8 years of our families’ life in a few short minutes. Let me begin by saying our youngest daughter, Sophia Hope has been fighting for her life since she was 8 months old. We have had beautiful short reprieves from the cancer and epilepsy, since relocating to North Carolina. However, as life threatening illnesses do, they can rear their ugly head at any time without warning.
When we moved here, we really knew no one, but developed friendships within our church family and a few neighbors. Other than that we were not aware of any resources for cancer patients and their families’ that Hope Abounds provides. A woman that went through her cancer diagnosis and illness with Hope Abounds by her side every step of the way referred us to this organization and I am proud that she is continues to serve as a volunteer and source of referral. Before moving here, our family endured so much the year prior to Hope’s birth, her cancer diagnosis would be the last thing on our mind much less a thought. Everything we had already been through was like something you only see on TV. Before Hope was born, our darling, perfect infant daughter Malia Faith passed away unexpectedly to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. She was barely six weeks old and is absolutely beautiful. Her life was with purpose as she gave the gift of life and meaning as an organ donor. Today, another sweet child has a beating heart because Faith so selflessly gave hers and this child continues to live on today because of Faith’s most precious gift. God gave her a job to do and she did it well.
When you lose a child, existence doesn’t seem real. It’s a miracle to put one foot in front of the other. I felt I had lost my purpose although my other children saved my life. During this time, my arms were so incredibly empty that longed to have them filled again. After much prayer, we were blessed with Sophia Hope Thomas. During my pregnancy I was under severe depression. It was all I could do to remain calm knowing my well being could very well affect Hope’s life that was within me. However, the day she was born, she was handed directly to me and I wept in a way only God could understand.
Children are a heritage from the Lord, they are a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Psalm 127:3 – 5
After Faith’s tragic death, my husband and our children, didn’t leave each others side. We all slept in the living room together, held tight to one another and grew closer than you can imagine. I remember demanding I would never return to Children’s Hospital, but God had other plans. As Hope’s cancer diagnosis came at 8 months old, God once again encouraged me to trust Him, that He would care for my children and our family. Sophia Hope was unable to be touched or around her brothers or sisters because she was going through bone marrow transplant. The only way they saw each other was through a webcam. It was so difficult to be separated. I was nursing and I could not, nor would I leave her. The other children were dropped off and were cared for by family and friends, to school without any semblance of normalcy. It was devastating for them but we did everything we could to help them through, including counseling and much love and time. A cancer diagnosis truly affects the entire family as well as after effects!
On November 14, 2008, Hope was rushed to Children’s Hospital by ambulance due to a seizure. Little did we know she actually had a stroke which caused her to be diagnosed with epilepsy in March of this year. We were admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit with no answers for seven days. During the next week she was running a low-grade temperature, was in need of blood and platelets and anti-seizure medications. We were finally released with pending test results. I was busily preparing for Thanksgiving the following day when the phone rang. We received news that we never expected….your daughter has leukemia. Instantly, our life changed yet again. We were told to bring her to Children’s Hospital immediately to begin treatments that could save her life. Hope was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia, Pre B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (A.L.L.). So rare is her cancer that her Doctors have counseled with one another from all over the country, developing her protocol that we pray saves her life. I never expected to be living in the hospital for months and months separated from my family. I often tell Hope that her courage and perseverance is going to help other babies in her situation. On those long and lonely nights in the hospital, I reminded myself that her fight can help others in the future. I am humbled that God has entrusted Sophia and our family with this and I pray we do it with grace and honor. I believe that being in this situation we are to reach out to others, to encourage them and give them what has been so graciously been given to us. To help in whatever tangible way we can, including prayers and understanding and most importantly unconditional love and support.
Sophia’s diagnosis was over eight years ago, and at this moment, Hope is closely monitored at Chapel Hill, by a wonderful Doctor, Stuart Gold that I have the utmost respect for. She is also monitored at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio as she is one of the youngest infants diagnosed with this horrific disease. I have since learned of two other such diagnosis’s, one at 3 weeks old and one at 6 months old. We must care for these families during their trials. As always, we pray the continued treatment enables her body to beat this disease once and for all. There are more options available for her in a bone marrow transplant if the chemotherapy is unsuccessful, however, we still continue to pray that it will keep the leukemia from presenting again.
I personally cannot separate my faith from our journey. It has enabled me to face each and every day with hope and with confidence that these trials in our lives has not been in vain. I don’t have the answers to life’s difficult questions, like why must we deal with cancer. But I do know a God that helps me as I put my trust in Him. One passage that has meant the world to me is: For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:1.