Posted on 05/26/2014
In early May, we were finally able to take a moment to exhale and count our blessings. After 8 long hours at the hospital, Nathaniel’s scans showed no change, and appeared normal. It’s nerve-racking to sit at a hospital for 8 hours, when his scans were scheduled at 8AM (arriving at 7AM) and didn’t learn of the results until 3PM. You wonder if they are taking so long to reveal what they find because they see something that gives them pause, or if they are just too busy reviewing scans that day. At the end of the day, regardless how long it takes, you somehow forget about the number of hours you’ve been sitting once the doctor walks in to tell you that his scans look great. What a relief. While we’ve been down this road before, there is nothing that prepares you for the day of scans. Nathaniel will be checked again in 3 months. If we get through the next set of scans with happy results, I will feel a great sense of relief as we’ve never gotten that far before. Last year, Nathaniel’s 6 months scans revealed that the cancer had returned. As you can imagine, August will be a critical milestone in our lives. For now, we plan to enjoy the summer as best we can. As Nathaniel’s hair starts to make its debut, we are optimistic of our son’s future.
Unfortunately because Nathaniel’s leg didn’t heal properly from a fracture he’d sustained months ago, he will now have to endure one more surgery. The surgery will replace the existing hardware that is currently attached to his bone because the plate inside has shifted and one of the screws has broken off. His surgery is scheduled this Wednesday, May 28. The recovery time will be about 6-8 weeks. While none of us are excited with the idea, we’ve had to keep things positive for Nathaniel. To look on the bright side, we’ve emphasized that he will recover sooner since he will no longer be undergoing chemo. We are optimistic that by mid-late summer, he will be able to start using his prosthetic leg again and can begin building and strengthening his muscle on his “robot leg.” If this is the last time our son has to have surgery, then we can get through this unscathed
Friday was Nathaniel’s last day of school. We arranged for a small party in his classroom so Nathaniel can say goodbye to his friends for the summer. I can’t even begin to tell you the level of love my son is shown at his school. I love the sincerity and innocence that is often displayed toward my son by his classmates. It gives me great comfort in knowing that he is well taken care of while at school. I believe a big part of the reason he gets the love he does is because many of these children have lived through this with Nathaniel. They’ve known him since they were in ECE together, when he still had two legs and ten toes, and before cancer ever entered our lives. I think they understand how quickly a life can be changed. As for everyone else at Columbian Elementary, we will always be grateful for the support our family has received over the past 2 years. Not to mention the fact that they held a “Nathaniel Contreras Spirit Day” this year. It’s overwhelming to know how much my son’s tragedy has impacted so many.
I’m happy to report that even while missing an incredible amount of school, Nathaniel completed second grade at and in some cases, above grade level. While receiving chemo at Children’s, we arranged for a tutor to come and do class work with Nathaniel for a few hours so he could keep up with the instruction happening in the classroom. Needless to say, we are elated, and I am quite frankly, impressed that he refuses to let cancer bring him down. He’s still going to learn, he’s still going to play, he’s still going to love and he’s still going to smile. He is one heck of a hero in my book.
Speaking of heroes, I would be remiss if I didn’t share this story. When you’re young and hear the word “hero”, we probably think of someone big and strong with super powers. As we get older, we realize the definition of hero can mean many things. While my son is certainly a hero in my eyes, we’ve been blessed with coming to know another little hero who just turned 6. Her name is Emilie Jensen. Emilie is the daughter of a high school friend. Emilie decided what she wanted for her birthday wasn’t to be showered with gifts, but rather, she asked her friends and family to join team Nathaniel by making a donation to Nathaniel (www.youcaring/jointeamnathaniel). We were touched beyond words. Our amazing little hero Emilie helped to raise nearly $300. To know that there are people out there who can still take the time for others leaves my heart in a good place.
On that note, we ask that you continue to pray for Nathaniel as he goes into surgery on Wednesday, and that God’s grace is with the hands of the surgeon and nurses who will be operating on our son. We will post an update post-surgery.