Sometimes during times of suffering, well meaning people will misquote the Bible. For instance, I often hear folks say, "God will not give you more than you can handle." That's not a Biblical statement and, honestly, I don't think it's true at all. They are misquoting 1 Corinthians 10:13 when Paul says we won't be tempted beyond what we can bear. It has nothing to do with trials and suffering in our lives.
I say this because watching my child battle cancer is more than I can handle most days. There's nothing super about me that makes me able to bear this. Nothing that makes me any different in my emotional and physical response than any other human parent.
Sometimes I just sit and cry. Sometimes I put my hands on my chest to hold my heart as it breaks. Sometimes I feel like fighting. At times I am mad, sad, frustrated, joyful, hurt, blessed, tired. I have more than I am able to bear right now.
However, the Bible does say that His grace is sufficient for me today. When I am weak, He is strong. His power becomes a lot more real at my point of greatest weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
This point. The point when I don't think I can spend another night in the hospital. The point where I can't stand to see her in pain one more time. The point where I hug the nurse standing closest to me because I can't even support my own weight. The point where the steps are so small and the road is so long.
That's the point where His grace is enough and His strength is made perfect. And though I feel defeated, it is His grace that picks me up again.
Katie is making small steps forward every day. She is eating more, moving more and getting stronger. She is off all extra oxygen now and the infection and fluid in her lungs are both improving. The cultures have helped to narrow down the antibiotics, and her doctors feel they have the right medications on board. We are hopeful that the chest tube will be removed early in the coming week. Also, she will have a PET scan on Monday to stage her disease and a new chemo med will likely be started shortly thereafter. We will be here until the infection resolves, but we hope to return home in a couple weeks to recover in between chemo blocks.
Please pray specifically for
Thanks for praying and loving us!
Sarah and Chad and the Cobb 7
My time with the Lord this morning took me to John 9, an account of Jesus healing the blind man.
When Jesus and his disciples came up to the blind man, there was some conversation about why this man was blind. The disciples thought that maybe it was the result of judgment for this man's sin. But, Jesus corrected them and said this man had nothing to do with the cause of his blindness; it was a result of living in a broken and dying world.
I know that we've asked the question a thousand times, "Why? Why Katie? Why cancer ... again?" And the short answer is we live in a world that is upside down and not as it's supposed to be, and the wake and devastation of the world's brokenness doesn't discriminate. And that's precisely why Jesus had to come - to heal and restore that which is broken.
For the blind man, his miracle came when Jesus sent him to the Pool of Siloam to wash and be healed. And afterwards, he declared, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.
For us, we feel God sent us to our own Pool of Siloam at Cincinnati Children's for our miracle. I love how the devotional writer put it this morning: Miracles are moments when God breaks into our dying world and sets things right. They give us hope for belief and fresh eyes with which to see the world. When we encounter miracles, no matter how big or how small, they are moments for us to declare again, “I believe, Lord! I believe.”
We are thankful for the ways in which God has intervened thus far. It has given us hope and encouragement and an opportunity to worship our loving God even if the storm has not completely passed. We're grateful for that!
Yesterday was a low key day for Katie (and us) to get some rest and recover a little. She is continuing to get a little stronger each day and we haven't had any fevers for several days now, so we're hopeful that we're making headway on the infection. We're anxious to hear from the oncology team about a more definitive treatment plan moving forward and hope to have more answers in the next few days.
Thank you for persisting in prayer with us, and for the encouragement on this journey!
The Cobb 7 (the Jackson 5 has nothing on us!)
The last 24 hours have been very big for Katie. She has made several steps forward on this long road to healing. She is no longer requiring support for her breathing other than a little bit of oxygen in her nose. That's a HUGE change from where she was! Her heart rate and blood pressure have stabilized as well. Several of her medications have been stopped, and even some of the IV lines and tubings have been removed. After several days of being sedated, we were so grateful yesterday to just sit and watch her weakly scroll through her iPad and to hear her ask for water. Earlier this evening, they were able to move her out of ICU and onto the oncology floor. We are so thankful for each and every win along the way.
Katie still feels pretty crummy, though. In addition to recovering from so many procedures and still having a chest tube in place, her counts are also dropping from the chemo last week. She has received a couple transfusions and is in isolation for her own protection. Of course, she is also still fighting an infection in her lungs. She is starting to eat a little which will help her energy level, and, hopefully, she can start moving around soon.
We are still waiting for oncology to formulate a plan from here. They are reviewing her recent and original pathology slides, along with all the related medical components, before discussing what comes next. She has to take a couple weeks to recover from the first round of chemo anyhow, so we want them to take that time to develop a good plan of treatment. We know this treatment regimen will be much more intense, but we don't have any details on that yet.
Overall, Katie is definitely making improvements and, for that, we are thankful. The road ahead is long but we are taking one day at a time. We came to Cincinnati expecting God to intervene mightily through the physicians and staff here, and I think we are seeing exactly that.
We love this girl, and we believe that God has a plan and a purpose for her life on this earth. Ultimately, though, we know that God loves her more than we do. We believe that God will receive a lot of glory through the physical healing of her body, and we ask that you continue to bombard Heaven with that in mind.
Sarah and Chad (and the whole Cobb crew)
The story of Jehoshaphat feels like mine today. In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah are being attacked by not one but three armies at once. As he cries out to God in verses 6-12, I think I could paraphrase his cry into my own.
O Lord, God of our father, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. ... But now we are being assaulted on multiple fronts. See how they are attacking us and defeating your daughter that you gave to us? O our God, will you not stop them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.
As the enemy bore down upon Judah, God spoke through a man, saying, "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. . . . Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you" (vs. 15, 17). So King Jehoshaphat led the people into battle with men at the head of the army singing to the Lord and praising him for the splendor of his holiness.
And you know what God did? He ambushed the enemies. They destroyed each other. "And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side" (v.30).
Katie is being attacked from multiple angles. Her body is trying to fight a lot of assaults at one time. We have been thrilled with the care and the collaboration of the medical teams since we've been here at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. This morning during rounds, we had physicians from infectious disease, hematology, oncology, pulmonology, and intensive care speaking into the treatment plan for Katie. Evidence that she's still a very sick girl, but also evidence of God's common grace that He is showering on us and a way that He is bringing us peace and rest during this time. We know that this battle is the Lord's in whatever way He wants to win it.
The pediatrics ICU doctors say Katie is stable and in a good position right now. She has completed her first round of chemo for the relapsed cancer and her counts are dropping as it is working. She is receiving multiple antibiotics to act as her immune system and to fight the infection taking up residence in her lungs. The chest tube is also continuing to pull fluid out of her lungs. She will likely be receiving blood and platelet transfusions in coming days as her counts drop. On the upside, she has been without a fever for over 36 hours now and her chest x-rays look a little bit better each day. As she improves, she will require less support for her breathing and nutrition.
We deeply appreciate your prayers and love. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord (v. 4) just as you are doing. We are expecting God to ambush our enemies. We are hopeful now. We are going to take our positions, stand firm and watch for deliverance. We do not know what to do but our eyes are on upon you, Lord.
Specific prayer requests:
- Katie's immune system to be able to fight off this infection
- The oncology team to formulate the perfect plan for her cancer treatment
- The expected weaning of breathing support and her ability to tolerate that
- The myriad of other small attacks on her body through the course of this
- The other kids who struggle to understand and really just want us to be home
Sarah and Chad and Katie and the gang
As I type, we are all en route to Cincinnati. Katie by helicopter, Chad and I in separate cars, accompanied by friends, at different intervals. I should arrive at the same time as Katie and Chad will arrive later. It has already been a difficult day, but I find myself hopeful for the first time in days. I am praying that the team waiting on her at Cincinnati Children's Hospital will see her condition with a fresh set of eyes and a strong plan. Please pray that with me. Maybe just pray that for me because, if I am honest, it is just hard for me to pray right now.
Katie is requiring extra means to support her breathing right now. Her chest tube was replaced this morning with a larger tube, allowing more fluid to drain. This has already begun to help her breathing. She is fighting multiple issues right now. Cancer, infection, fluid on her lungs, and maybe other disease processes. There are lots of questions right now with not a lot of answers.
Yesterday, I felt incredibly hopeless. Today, for whatever reason, I have hope again. I am leaning into what I know. God will not leave us or forsake us. He is sovereign, and He is still on the throne. I don't feel these things right now, but I remind myself that I know they are true.
Thank you for the abundant ways you love us. Please continue to pray.
Sarah and Chad
A real quick update on Katie. She had a really rough day yesterday, but they were able to get her stabilized and settled down. Such an answer to prayer ... THANK YOU! We're still not sure exactly what the underlying cause of her distress, but we feel like we have her stable enough to transport her. So, we've started the process of getting her transferred to Cincinnati Children's. The two medical teams will coordinate throughout the day today and we hope to get her transported some time tomorrow.
1. Continue lifting up Katie. She's getting stronger and resting much better today which is good, but that was a scary setback yesterday and we don't want another of those.
2. Wisdom for the medical teams to discern the best course of action for Katie's care and a smooth transition between centers.
3. Our other kids. This will be a tough season for them too, and the move to Cincy will complicate our family dynamics. Pray that God would give us some wisdom on how to balance the attention that each of our other kids need and the special care that Katie demands right now.
Thank you for your prayers and thank you for your love and concern. We have felt them.
Blessed by your friendships,
-Chad & the whole Cobb Clan
A tough ending to what's been a tough week. Unfortunately, the testing confirmed our fears - the Hodgkins is back. She deteriorated pretty rapidly this week, so they began chemotherapy immediately. It will be a different, more aggressive regimen this time around in the hopes that we can wipe it out. She'll be in the hospital for at least 5 days for the first round of treatment, and hopefully her lungs improve so that we can get the chest tube out and come back home for a few weeks.
It's been a grueling week, but I am thankful for a few things. I'm thankful that I didn't put off bringing her to the ER. We'd just had her at the doctor the day before, and normally I would have talked myself out of needing to go back so quickly. But I felt a heavy prompting to take her, and I'm glad I did. She got really sick, really fast. I'm also thankful for the medical team. It really is a great group of docs and nurses that we have in our corner.
But, most of all I'm thankful for Easter. It happens that Katie's struggles took place on Holy Week, and that's not lost on me. As we celebrate the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Jesus this weekend, I take comfort in knowing that my Savior is acquainted with times of struggle and hurt, and that through the Cross and the Empty Tomb, He has made a way to ultimately take care of cancer and death and sorrow once and for all. Because of Easter, I know there will be a day when "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away and make all things new” (Revelation 21:4). But until that day comes, He has promised to never leave us, especially in times of trouble.
1. Wisdom for her medical team. There are still some decisions ahead of us on some aspects of her treatment. Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus is going to be consulted next week and we should have fuller picture at that point.
2. Wisdom for us. Her relapse was so quick (only 5 weeks after a clear PET scan) and so aggressive, we felt like we needed to get treatment started, but we want to make sure that we uncover the best options available for Katie.
3. That God would guard Katie's heart. It's a lot harder emotionally this time around to get back in the saddle. She's understandably angry and sad and doubting and questioning if this will really work this time. That's one of the hardest things to see as a dad.
4. Physical strength. Katie handled the last rounds of chemo really well, but it's a different cocktail of medicine this time, so we're praying that she is able to withstand the side effects as well as she did last time.
5. Healing for her lungs. We want to get her back home as quickly as we can, but her lungs need to improve for that to happen.
Thanks in advance for your prayers!
The Cobb Clan
It's been a while since we've posted anything, and things had been going really well for Katie in her recovery. Unfortunately, we've had a pretty major setback. On Sunday, Katie spiked a fever, which prompted a visit with her doctor on Monday, where they discovered fluid building up around her lungs. Her breathing worsened throughout Tuesday, and we had to admit her last night. This morning they inserted a chest tube to drain the fluid. It's been a rough 24 hours, but Katie seems to be stabilized and recovering from the multiple procedures.
We've had multiple scans and biopsies, and we're awaiting final results from her tests to determine what's causing this and what the treatment plan will entail. We're hoping to know something by Friday.
In the meanwhile, here are some prayer requests:
1. Wisdom for the medical team as they pour over the test results.
2. Healing for Katie's body.
3. Peace and rest for our minds. This is devastating for all of us, and waiting is the hardest.
4. Strength and perseverance for Katie.
Thanks for continuing to walk with us. Your support and prayers through this journey have meant the world to us.
In Christ Alone,
Praise God, we are getting off the merry-go round.
I can't say it's been a lot of fun, and I'm certainly a little dizzy, but we're going to jump off soon.
Katie had a CT scan this week which showed that the tumor in her chest has continued to shrink. What started as the size of a softball is now down to about the size of a walnut. We expect the PET scan next week to show no further active disease, and then she will have her implanted port removed shortly thereafter. Her white counts seem to have stabilized, so she has been released to return to school right away.
I have a lot of emotions whirling inside of me with this report. Certainly, I am so relieved to hear good news. I am so happy to be moving out of this difficult season and back into some semblance of normalcy. I am proud of my girl as she has tolerated so much and kept such a good spirit through it all. I am grateful for the providers and nurses and radiologists and pharmacists and phlebotomists who have stuck, counted, calculated, planned, and cared for her in so many ways. I am anxious that this might not be our last ride. I am angry that cancer takes kids captive like this.
Dealing with cancer really does feel like a merry-go-round. When you are on this nauseating ride with your child, everything else becomes a blur. You can't enjoy all the other activities because you're stuck on one ride, and the only way to keep from upchucking on everyone around you is to concentrate so hard on the one thing in front of you. When it is finally time to get off the merry-go-round, you are so excited to jump off and it happens so quickly that your head keeps spinning and you can hardly stand up straight. The dizziness doesn't go away immediately as you try to get re-acclimated to solid ground. Then you realize that life has kind of stopped for you for some period of time while all these other activities have kept going. And, looking back at the merry-go-round, you see some of your friends still going around and around and around, and you really just want to puke for them.
Yep, we're pretty dizzy from it all. It wasn't a ride we wanted to take. We're thankful to be getting off. We are praying for a completely negative PET scan next week, an easy transition back to school, and that physical adverse effects normalize quickly.
Thank you to those who cheered for Katie. Thank you to those who prayed for us. And I know some of you have a little throw-up on your shirt from standing so close and watching us go around and around. You never walked away from us, and I appreciate that.
Psalm 62:11 - One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.
theiOur courageous Katie finished her last round of chemo this past week! We celebrated with our favorite homemade meal and a trip to Dairy Queen after dinner on Valentine's Day. Of course, it's hard to find closure until we have scans and a final report in a couple weeks. We are believing there will be no further evidence of cancer! Even then, we will continue to follow with her oncologist closely for quite a while, building a relationship we wish we didn't have.
I have realized through these last several months that a mother's heart is both a resilient and a fragile entity. I have been struck by the times I was able to be strong and the times I was broken. The effects of cancer are not just physical but also emotional and spiritual. I sometimes wish there were bandages for the soul, but, then again, sometimes there's toxic stuff in there that needs to come out almost as much as the cancer does. Hurting is often a part of healing.
Katie will have labs done this week and will spend a couple more weeks at home while her counts recover. CT scan is scheduled for 2/28 and PET scan on 3/7. We are planning to transition her back to school after that.
Please be in prayer
- for counts to recover quickly
- for an easy transition back to school
- for peace as we await results
- and, mostly, for 2 other boys (Luke and Luke) who are not improving with their treatment