In an instantI started to write a post getting caught up on the last 2 weeks including my relaxing stay-cation night at the Omni Hotel downtown Austin followed by my family coming into town for a week...and then life took over.
In an instant, the lives of our very good friends and neighbors, the Pickels, were turned upside down.
When we moved to Texas, we worried we wouldn't meet people quickly. We were excited to learn that there were a ton of kids on our street and, even more, most were boys. A couple weeks after moving in we felt at ease in our new surroundings. Neighbors brought over freshly baked cookies and 'welcome to the neighborhood' goodies. The kids began playing outside together as if they'd known one another for ages - which in turn, brought the adults together to chat on a regular basis. Before long, we were swapping babysitting duty and having each other over for dinner.
A month or so after moving in, we had purchased a new piece of furniture and while I like to give myself credit for being strong, Ricky needed a bit more muscle to help him get the piece upstairs so he called our neighbor Jeff. Even though they were on their way to get family photos taken for their church directory, Jeff and his wife Kelly and their two boys - Braden and Dustin - came down to lend a hand.
While the guys effortlessly carried the furniture upstairs, Kelly and I chatted and got to know each other a bit more. Braden is Ethan's age - in fact, their birthdays are just 2 days apart - so they of course became fast friends. And Dustin, who Aiden lovingly dubbed "baby Dustin" from the time he met him, was just 6 months old at the time. Aiden just adores him.
Fast forward almost 2 years and numerous bbqs, birthday parties and new babies later, the family who has become part of our close-knit neighborhood group of friends was hit with some devastating news.
Last week, the Pickels found out that "baby Dustin", who turned 2 in April, has stage 3 neuroblastoma, a solid tumor cancer that arises in immature nerve cells primarily in infants and children.
The diagnosis came as a huge surprise when a simple visit to the pediatrician turned into a week-long battery of blood tests and appointments.
Kelly had noticed Dustin seemed a little sluggish, wasn't eating very much and that combined with a long string of low-grade fever prompted her to take him in for a check up. At the appointment, the doctor determined Dustin was severely anemic and referred them to a hematologist.
Still not too worried at this point, Kelly figured he would be put on an iron supplement and they'd be on their way.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. One test led to another and they were given the news...every parents worst nightmare.
Their baby boy has cancer.
They are still waiting on some answers that will determine how his treatment will unfold over the course of the next year or so, however a small port has already been surgically implanted in his chest to begin chemotherapy. The tumor is attached to his kidney and is the size of a grapefruit. Both the tumor and his kidney will need to be removed but because of its size, the tumor first needs to be shrunk with chemo.
Our hearts are breaking for them.
In many ways, Ricky and I can empathize with our friends as they begin this difficult journey, and even though having Aiden changed our life in an instant too, we will never know the exact pain they are feeling. We just have to remain positive that through the power of prayer, God will heal Dustin of this disease and allow them to move on with their life without the fear and worry they are experiencing now.
Please keep the Pickel family in your hearts and prayers as they continue to learn more about Dustin's particular type of cancer and his prognosis.