By Anne Roe
Many of you know me; but for those who may not, I want to share a little about myself.The Lord has blessed Christopher and me with two beautiful children.
Our lovely daughter, Chelsea, is 34 years old. She is a wife, a new mother to sweet Linus,a daughter, a sister and a friend. She is a business owner, and a creative designer. She iscaring and compassionate. She loves deeply, and is wise beyond her years. She isthoughtful and kind. The Lord has gifted her and I with a very special bond and she is trulymy best friend.
Our son, Aaron, is 32 years old. He is a husband and a father, a brother and a friend. Heis a talented architect, who has known what he wanted to do with his life since he was 7years old! He is also an incredibly gifted artist. He is focused and committed, and hastruly worked harder than anyone I know to achieve his dreams. But more than anything heis a loving, patient, gentle father to two precious little boys. And since the day Aaron wasborn, he has held my heart in his hands.
Life hands each of us burdens to bear and battles to fight. Oftentimes these arestruggles that others cannot see. Sometimes they are hardships that last only for aseason, while others last a lifetime. We are tremendously grateful that both of ourchildren are walking with the Lord and both are living lives of which we are tremendouslyproud. However, we have had, and continue to have, burdens to bear.
It is my hope in sharing this that I might be a blessing to other parents who may face asimilar struggle.
When Chelsea was 10 years old, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. For those whomay not know, this is an autoimmune disease that attacks the pancreas so that it can nolonger make insulin. This is a lifelong disease for which there is no cure. On the day wewere told this devastating news we learned that for the rest of her life our daughterwould need daily insulin to survive. It has been 24 years since our world turned upsidedown on that March day when we were told we needed to get our precious daughter tothe hospital immediately. Chelsea has handled this disease with grace and strength. Butit is an ongoing battle that presents many frightening challenges. There are untold fearsand worries, and the constant battle to maintain her blood sugar. Though she has neverlet this disease slow her down, it is something that she must manage every single day,and it never takes a vacation.
Aaron was about 6 months old when he had his first very serious asthma attack. Through theyears, whenever his asthma would flare up, our routine consisted of nebulizer treatments,numerous inhalers, steroids and an occasional hospital stay. I spent many nights sleeping onthe floor of his room because he was having such a difficult time breathing. Then, when hewas a sophomore in high school we learned that our athletic, otherwise healthy son had adilated aorta in his heart. We faced more fears and uncertainty as we started a routine ofyearly visits to Johns Hopkins where he was seen by a specialist.
Though these were very difficult years, we felt blessed that the diabetes, the asthma andthe dilated aorta were all things that could be managed
Then, the day after his 26thbirthday, Aaron (who was newly married) suffered a devastating seizure. I received a callfrom our daughter-in-law who called us from the ambulance. With the siren wailing in thebackground, she explained what had happened and told us to get there as quickly as wecould. About ten days later, after numerous tests, we learned that Aaron had a braintumor. He was sent to a neurosurgeon at Duke where we were told he would need surgeryto remove the tumor. This is, of course, a parent’s worst nightmare. And I can truly say itwas by far the most difficult, painful, terrifying time of our lives. But the Lord sent me twoprecious friends, each of whom had sons who had battled cancer. These friends were agift to me when I needed them most. And throughout this trial I felt the presence of Godmore than I ever have. To hold my son’s hand and kiss him before he was wheeled away tohave surgery on his brain was truly more than I could bear. But God carried me throughwhat I honestly thought I could not survive. And, more importantly, God carried our son.Aaron came through the surgery remarkably well. Though the tumor was cancerous, it wasless aggressive than other tumors. The surgeon was able to remove it entirely, and Aaron isnow monitored yearly. In so many ways Aaron’s story is a testimony to God’s faithfulness.He recovered quickly and even completed a marathon just a few months later!!
But then, eight months after his brain surgery, we were again handed crushing news whenwe learned that Aaron now had thyroid cancer. He faced another major surgery andtreatment, during which he had to be isolated. Again, we were amazed at God’s goodnessand Aaron recovered quickly. However, a couple of years later he started having seizuresas a result of the scar tissue on his brain. He and his wife struggled through two years ofbattling seizures, having to sell their house because Aaron was not able to drive andneeded to move closer to his office, and then enduring a miscarriage. There werefrightening phone calls from strangers after Aaron collapsed in the middle of a busy roadin Charlotte, and again while jogging alone on a trail in the woods. At this point we all trulyfelt that Aaron and Gracie could not take any more, nor could we. After months of visitingspecialists and having his medications adjusted, the doctors were finally able to get theseizures under control and Aaron was seizure free for over three years. However, in April ofthis year Aaron suffered another seizure while he was out running. Again the Lord wasfaithful, and Aaron was found by a doctor who was running on the same trail. Aaron is doing well now and has recovered from this setback. But this was a reminder to all of us that this will be an ongoing struggle.
I don’t know why we have faced these challenges. I don’t know why we have had to watchour children suffer through such hardships. I do know, however, that we are blessed. I knowthat God is faithful. And I know that I could not have walked this journey without the gift offriendships, the listening ear and strong shoulders of women who had walked this samedifficult road. I wish that no other parent would ever have to face this kind of fear and watchtheir child suffer. But it is my prayer that if anyone ever does receive a frightening diagnosis, Imight be able to be a blessing to them and help them walk through … the same way myprecious friends helped me. I also hope that reading this might be a reminder to those whoare struggling that we all go through seasons in our lives and that, even if we cannot see it,others have fought the same battles you may be facing today.