Emily’s surgery was Monday, March 19. Here is an update through some photos.
Warning: the nature of some of these photos is rather graphic:
Surgery and Recovery:
A final kiss before being wheeled off to surgery. The surgery went well. They took out her knee joint and 11 centimeters of her femur. And, as so many had prayed, the margins were clear. That is a good sign that cancer has not spread up the bone. One of the surgeons said it was “picture perfect.”
Each hospital week, I give Emily a verse or a quote to help fix her mind on Truth. This was the one for this week.
This is cancer. This is her femur, cut in half. The white toward the bottom left and the black spot above it is the cancer. Also included in the photo is her ACL, miniscus, and all that fun stuff. The reason they cut it in half is they will begin to dissect it piece by piece and cell by cell to see how dead the cancer is.
Here is a view before they got rid of the tissue and cut it into pieces. The cancer is not visible in this photo. I just thought it was really cool.
Here is an X-ray for the tumor after they took the bone out. The cancer is the white at the bottom of the photos.
Then they cut it into pieces, to better examine it piece by piece. Again, the goal is that 90% of the cancer has been killed by the chemotherapy.
This is an Xray of her leg. The surgeon called it a “knee replacement on steroids.” The bottom part is what a normal knee replacement is like. The top part is 11 centimeters of a steel “bone” and then 15 centimeters of a rod that was inserted into the remainder of the femur. And it was cemented in place.
The morphine “button” was her best friend for the first couple of days. Every 15 minutes, it would light up and it would allow another dose of morphine to enter her body. If she was sleeping, we’d push it for her. We were told over and over to “stay ahead of the pain.” So we did our best.
We weren’t the only ones stressed. Daisy (our dog) was left alone for about 7 hours and managed to find some trouble.
Here is an X-ray after surgery. The tube you see is a drain they kept in her leg for a few days to drain the blood and fluid from surgery.
Morgan was on spring break and her boyfriend, Cory, came for the week. He also had sarcoma, a similar form of cancer that Emily has. He had Ewing Sacroma, while Emily has Oesteosarcoma. He is a great source of encouragement to Emily. One night in the hospital, they had bingo. So Morgan, Cory, and Sue won some prizes. Cory tried to give the Legos to a young cancer patient, but he wasn’t interested.
They had her on her feet the morning after surgery.
I did a Facebook Live video the day after Emily’s surgery. If you wanted to see that, you can watch it here: https://www.facebook.com/david.whiting.710/videos/10155553525013379/
Within a couple of days, she was taking some good laps around the floor. Her goal was to only need crutches by the time she went home and not the walker. She met that goal when she went home on Monday.
The coolest scar ever.
Morgan had to head back to school. I left on Saturday (3/24) for meetings in Dallas, so Morgan took Daisy to a friend’s house before heading to the airport early Sunday AM (3/25).
Saturday through Monday after surgery (March 24-26), I had a weekend full of meetings at The Village Church in Dallas, TX. Our family has a deep appreciation for Matt Chandler: his theology, his teaching and his battle with brain cancer. So during a meeting on Monday morning, as we were talking about Emily, he asked if he could text her. It resulted in this FaceTime discussion of morphine, food to eat during chemo, and what TV shows they each binged watched while in the hospital.
Matt went from admired status in our house to hero status as I watched him chat with, care for, and pray with Emily. Since then, he’s texted us to keep updated on her progress. That was a great way to end her hospital week. It was Monday morning and she was released a few hours later.
- Rehab happens at the hospital three days a week for the next six months or so.
- On Tuesday and Wednesday there will be meetings with the oncologist and surgeon. They will then make a decision as to when the next round of chemo begins.
- In the next week or so, we expect the pathology results. Although our hope is not in medical statistics, they are statistics based on historic realities. So the results of this report are important. If the cancer they removed was 90% dead as a result of the chemo, Emily has a 70% chance of long-term survival. If it is less than 90%, her chances drop significantly. In fact, Emily asked for a number and they simply said, “We aren’t going to talk about that.” So we will wait to think about that once the results are back.
- Emily has been through six weeks of chemo. She has twelve more weeks to go. It will go until August or September, depending on how healthy she stays through the next few months between chemo weeks.
What you could pray for:
Here are some long-term and short-term prayers for this week:
Our long-term requests are the same:
- That God would be glorified in and through Emily and her Osteosarcoma, and that we all would submit to His glory being our priority.
- That Emily and our entire family would grow through this (we believe God is always out for our good – which ultimately is to become more like Jesus).
- That God would heal Emily and she would live a full, long life serving and pleasing Him.
- That Emily (and all of us) would have peace and joy. This did not take God by surprise and He is for us.
- That we would be sensitive to how God wants to use this in all of our lives.
- That the cancer has not spread at all.
Our short-term requests include the following:
- Pray that the pathology report will come back with the cancer at least 90% dead.
- Please pray for peace for all of us. Whatever comes, God is sovereign. He is good, and He can be trusted.
- Pray for Emily’s strength in the coming weeks. Going through chemo is hard. Going through surgery and rehab is hard. Doing both at the same time is beyond my imagination. Pray that God gives her special grace as she faces that in the coming weeks.
- Emily has a longing to help children in the pediatric cancer center. She feels like she is on the other side of the big moments – since she’s experienced both chemo and surgery. She wants to be a source of information, comfort and hope to others. Pray she has those opportunities.
Wow! I will be praying as you have asked. Emily has become a hero of faith for me! I love that she is still thinking of how to love and help others even when she is in a deep valley herself! Pleasing God as a beautiful example to us all!
Many prayers heading her way. Always keep fighting!
Amazing to see Emily’s desire to help other patients in the middle of her own treatment. We are inspired by her faith in Christ and her smile through so much pain. So cool to see her interaction with Matt!
Always keeping Emily in prayer! Was thinking of her sweetness during the week of her surgery and also praying through the attributes of God that we learned at NBCS – God is Almighty…Blessing Giver…Creator…Deliver… 🙂
Continuing to pray for all of you. Thank you so much for all the updates…What I find incredible is that she is always smiling….God Bless you all and you navigate these waters….Pastor Dave…you still have that “baby face” you always have had….you just don’t age! God’s continued blessings on all of you.
Praying for you and your family, David.
No words just tears of joy and praise mixed with burden of what still lies ahead for Emily. I send my love and assurance that I continue to uphold you all (including dearest Daisy) before the Throne of Grace. May God be glorified as His plan continues to unfold on Emily’s precious life. God bless you all. Miss you, David. So good to see pictures of Mary. Let her know I miss her as well. Hugs to all!
We will be praying. Thanks for the photos.
Thanks for keeping us up to date on how she is doing and how to pray! I will be praying and please tell Emily she is one of my heroes of FAITH as she longs to help others when she’s still in the thick of the battle!! Love her!
Wow! I have no doubt God will provide Emily the desires of her heart. Please let her know she is already such an inspiration to so many. Her courage and strength are beyond imagination. Pastor Whiting, your way of capturing words and bringing us all along this journey is so humbling and brings me to a place of remembering what is important in this world. Your desire of bringing God glory through all of this is truly happening when watching how you react to the hardest thing a parent could ever endure. God bless.
I attended Northridge for just a short time before God called us elsewhere, but have been following Emily’s journey through friends that attend. We are praying for her and your whole family. We are encouraged by her smile, the family’s ability to put faith and trust in God especially when it’s difficult, and the love you have for each other. May God receive all the glory and heal this sweet girl!