Saturday, August 13, 2016

Walk In Faith

I realize it has been several weeks since I posted here, but really, not hearing from me IS generally a good thing.  Our family has been busy trying to find a new normal and packing as much fun and being together as we could possibly get during these last few weeks of the summer.  

MacKale has been golfing, camping, attended the Cadillac Viking basketball camp, playing with brothers, catching a Tigers game and has been, most importantly, working towards getting healthy and stronger at physical therapy--three times a week.  Oh and he's also infusing himself again.  Woohoo.  

The physical therapy part is a slow process.  It takes a ton of work.  This leg is not the leg he had and it will never be.  Besides having a 7 inch piece of his tibia replaced with a cadaver bone, he had a big hunk of muscle removed and other muscles moved and 5 inches of his fibula just taken out.  Supposedly that fibula is not 'necessary' and so they don't replace what they take of that.  The problem lies, however, in the the fact that all those parts and pieces that used to be attached to the fibula, now are attached to his new tibia. How will that work out? Well, we don't really know.  It means for now that there is a lot of 'give' in the side to side movement of that knee. It's not stable.  We won't know how much of that 'give' will go away until he builds up more muscle, but most likely, he will wear a knee brace of some kind indefinitely and his AFO for the unforeseeable future.  Has this discouraged him? Not yet!  Somehow, despite crutches and braces, he hasn't let it slow him down.  He assured me that this climbing wall was done 'one legged!' 

We know this is the work that needs to be done to get him mobile and moving.  He gets that, too.  He knows that nothing is going to come easy when it comes to mobility anymore.  But right before MacKale left for his second camp of the summer, Camp Catch A Rainbow, he crutched out of physical therapy and said, 'Mom, I have a goal!'

I was a little confused but anxious to hear what he had to say.  I mean, Teri, his physical therapist and all around miracle worker, generally works him pretty hard during his sessions and, while he doesn't complain about it, he generally isn't so enthusiastic afterward . . . I would say 'beat' is usually the state he is in.  But on this particular day, he said that he 'felt really good' about his therapy.

"My goal is that by August 12th I'm going to walk without my crutches. That's the day I'm suppose to golf with Matt, mom!"

"Ok, well . . . we have some work to do!"

Cadillac's MSU Alumni Association had planned an event for the 12th of August including golfing, dinner and a speaker, Mac's favorite Spartan, Matt Costello.  MacKale and Matt have continued to stay in touch, texting several times a week and had plans to golf together along with their dads.  

It was then that MacKale wanted to show Matt that he could walk . . . a big surprise for Matt!

Well that day was yesterday and here's how it went down . . 

He didn't set this goal for his mom --and he didn't do it for his dad--all that work he did to learn to walk without crutches he did to show Matt!  It's been almost a year since we've been able to see MacKale walk without crutches.  If you think my heart didn't nearly explode . . . well . . . I think it might have a little. 

I know that I've said it before, but I can't say it enough.  My heart had been breaking for MacKale since the day I heard the word 'cancer.'  I knew that his life would never be the same . . . I knew that the activities and things he loved to do the most, would be ripped away from this little boy and I didn't know how to fix it . . . I didn't know how to fill that gap that was tearing a hole in his spirit.  My goal was to keep him alive, but in the process, we needed to feed his spirit and keep that alive as well.   But God, in his infinite wisdom, knew what he was doing when Matt Costello's mom handed her phone to MacKale that night that the Viking Basketball team so graciously invited us to be their special guests.  I often wonder . . . if Coach B hadn't invited us to be there, if Matt's mom, Jennifer, hadn't decided to attend to watch her nephew Keegan play, if Jennifer hadn't had the initiative to connect these two  . . . how would MacKale have made it through all these trials? 

But all of those things did happen, and God gets all the glory for knowing that He needed to put these two in the right place at the right time.  I honestly don't know how we would have gotten through all this without Matt and the bonus of his new bride, Anna!  

There are no words that can adequately describe the gratitude that Mike and I have when it comes to Matt and his entire family.  When someone can give your child something that you can not give them . . . when they provide them with a vacation from the pain and the despair of fighting through cancer just by being a friend --you can not imagine what a gift that is.   And if Matt wasn't busy before, he certainly is even more so now with a new wife and working towards securing a NBA career.  Busy--and yet he found time to hang out and hit some balls with Mac! 

Our children often idolize and admire athletes for all the wrong reasons or despite their bad choices.  Lord knows, there are enough athletes out there that are gifted physically and yet, can't seem to stay out of trouble.  Matt offers MacKale the realization that athletes can be gifted and yet still struggle, they suffer disappointments, and have to work past those disappointments and work even harder to meet their goals, but, it's how they handle themselves in these moments, those moments when things aren't so 'easy'  that really matter.  It's having the ability to be gifted and blessed, and yet still having time to remember their faith, their family and their friends.

What a great role model for any child and what an amazing friend for MacKale.

These last 10 weeks have been such a blessing to our little family.  There are brief moments in the day, when I almost feel like we are back and our lives are normal.  

But the reality is, while we are so grateful for clear scans in July, we know that the fear of relapse is constantly 'there' in the back of our minds--trying to steal our joy.  It is a constant battle to fight those fears and doubts and we need your prayers to that end.  Pray for our ability to 'walk in faith' each day. MacKale will have many obstacles and challenges in the years to come . . . but with friends praying for him and our family, with people who love him in his corner, and by trusting that God will make something good of all this, I know that we will all get through this.

As always, thanks for being part of our journey and continuing to lift us up in prayer.  We pray that the cancer has left MacKale's body and it never returns, that he can continue to move forward in recovering strength and mobility and that we all will find a way pay forward all the kindness we have been so fortunate to receive in these past months.