My granddaughter has Stage Four Neuroblastoma. It is in her lymphatic system and bone marrow. She has a cluster of tumors in the lymph nodes of her abdominal cavity that are pressing on her intestines. Her name is Laie (pronounced Lay-ya) Harding, but everyone calls her Lulu. We are all devastated. All Lulu knows is that she is in terrible pain and she wants it to stop.
I’ve been by Mom and Dad’s side since Lulu was admitted to the Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham. The hospital is incredible in every way. If you want to give to this beautiful institution, I know they would appreciate it. Children’s of Alabama is 100% dependant on donations – they do not charge for their services. But as every doctor and nurse and aide say, it’s not about them. It’s about Lulu.
Lulu began her first round of chemo Friday. Two doses a day for five days. So far she has tolerated it without side effects, but we all know there will be a time when the chemo starts to ravish her as it fights the cancer. But all that matters to Lulu is Right Now, and she is fighting with every bit of her little self. She had not eaten from the moment she was admitted late Sunday night (9-25-16). The tumors in her abdomen worry the doctors, afraid if she ingests something it won’t go through the whole system, and if an intestine is being blocked by a tumor, it will sit there or come back up, which will compound her problems. So the doctors put her on an IV and gave strict orders not to eat or drink until they could do the proper testing (CT Scan done 9-27-16) to determine the nature of the tumor cluster. Meanwhile, Lulu got hungry, and she was VERY vocal about it. Can you imagine the agony of her parents, unable to ease her hunger and her pain? Thursday, from the moment she woke until the moment she fell to sleep from exhaustion, she wanted nuggets with ranch sauce. This is how she said it over and over: “IIIIIIII!!! WWAAAAAAAANT!!! NUUUGGETS!!! WIIITH!!! RAAAAANCH!!! SSAAAAUCE!!!” at the top of her lungs. We also found out Lulu has the ability to scream in two higher octaves. She couldn’t understand anything except she had this incredible pain in her abdomen (she also constantly cried to us that she wanted her belly rubbed, hoping the pain of the tumors would go away) and had legitimate hunger, so that became her goal, to hopefully get all these grown ups to bring her some FOOOD!!!. And she wanted GUUUUMMMY!!! BEEEAAARRRSSS!!! and CHIIIIPS IIIIN AAA BOOOWWL!!! I pray that you never have to sit through a child’s agony. It shreds the heart.
Finally, Finally, Friday they let her have her two most requested drinks (MMOOOUUNTAAIIN DDEEEWW!!! and CHHOOCOLLAAATE MIIILLLK!!!) and she drank as if she had crossed the desert. Then yesterday the doctors removed Lulu’s nasogastric tube from her nose and okayed her to eat. She isn’t able to stomach much, but you can be sure Dad went to Burger King and got her some nuggets with ranch sauce. Now Lulu is bossy and vocal about other things, but not about food and drink. Now we hope and pray she has a bowel movement. I’ve never had so much joyful and worried anticipation. If she does make a boom-boom I might just have it bronzed.
From the moment Lulu was admitted, and especially after getting the horrible diagnosis on Wednesday, there has been this groundswell of support and prayers for her that has completely overwhelmed us all. There are thousands upon thousands of people around the world praying for her, entire congregations, prayer chains and individual prayers. There is an almost steady stream of family, friends and strangers who have come by her room with toys, stuffed animals, food and money. This has become a movement. Now we just need to keep it moving. Lulu’s parents, Joey and Grace Harding, are behind in all their bills (utility, mortgage payments, ect.) and need all the help they can get. Mom and Dad should only be worried about getting Lulu better, right?
The next time I post here, I’ll get all the links to all the places set up to help her. For now, though, you can go to her Facebook page, Prayers for Laie, and find out about the Go Fund Me site, t-shirts and other resources. Listen, dear reader, if you do nothing else, at least Share it on her Facebook page – Tweet, Snapchat, Instagram the link, raise awareness for Lulu. Please, as a grandfather and fellow human being, I beg, beg, BEG you to do all you can. There is NO expiration date anywhere on Lulu’s body, no sign that says ‘give’ up’, no hopelessness. Lulu’s prognosis is grim, but those who love and care for her are absolutely determined to kick that cancer’s ass (excuse my French). We are pissed off at it. We are as angry as hornets. We are GOING to kill that damned cancer. We are in fight mode, and am going to give our all to remove this scourge from precious Lulu.
Your priorities change quickly when cancer tries to destroy your child. Your world narrows down to a hospital bed, only able to hold her hand and hope beyond hope that she will make it through this horrible trial. You pray more than you ever had in your entire life. Your life’s trajectory shifts, and will never be the same again. Dear reader, put yourself in Lulu’s mom and dad’s shoes, in their hearts. Help them. Help Lulu. Pray. Give. There is no gift greater than prayer, but if you can wing it, donate to Lulu’s Go Fund Me site, visit her Facebook page, offer hope. Offer your love. We need all we can get. Thanks to all who have given and all those who have lifted up their voices in prayer.
Finally, let me share a scripture that speaks directly to this trial:
“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13