my barbie & a brave warrior who needs your prayers

twenty years ago we graduated from nursing school together. to say we were young & carefree would be an understatement. from day one of our nursing training i knew we’d be fast friends. tammy was a slender stunner with long blonde hair. from that day and to present she’s known in my little world as barbie.

we worked our tails off during our training and often times over achieved ( well except for chemistry 101). that first year, when clinicals are basically the most challenging patients & medical situations that would easily scare off anyone not 100% sure of their calling, we thrived. we gently loved on the elderly, fed babies, treated deep flesh eating bed sores, gave meds to “inmate”patients as the police officers sat nearby,  and took care of those near the end of their battles with cancer. our blissful young lives  paradoxical of our calling & how we spent our long days. we formed friendships that would last a lifetime. we laughed driving through downtown atlanta with a sunroof wide open, made late night krystal runs, tanned on the roof and carried the title of bridesmaid.

after graduation barbie went into adult trauma, i went into pediatric oncology. as often times happens, life just rolled on & after a few years we lost touch.  until last saturday when i received an email from her—a caringbridge notification. we were in the car & the link wouldn’t open. i told dan–oh my gosh. surely this isn’t what i think it is. i quickly texted one of our other bff’s from nursing school only to find out what i had feared was certainly true. barbie’s son dylan had just been diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

there are two campuses of the children’s hospital, CHOA, in atlanta.  tammy’s little fella was at a different campus from the one i spent years working, but as i pulled in the parking deck as a friend and supporter, not as a nurse, i prayed the tears would hold off until i pulled out a little later. i wished that i was his nurse that evening- knowing i would have taken good care of him and his mama. sigh. i asked one of the nurses to point me in the direction of dylan’s room. the halls were quiet.

as i walked down that hallway, i thought for a moment how many times since i finished nursing school has one of my close friends dealt with this nasty illness. the boy i married while i was in school passed away from this beast. my bestie from highschool lost her little boy a few years after gregg died. but there are survival stories as well. one of the patients i cared for ( her mama & daddy went to highschool with me) went on to graduate FIRST in her highschool class.

i glanced up at the CURE sign and at the smiling faces framed along side. and i prayed. i prayed that dylan would beat this. that the cancer would go in & kill the bad cells. all of them.

he has a 14 inch tumor along his femur. he’ll go through 10 weeks of chemo before they can perform surgery. that lands sometime in may. at that point barbie will find out her options. amputation may be one. sigh.  they found out dylan is a candidate for femur replacement so that IS awesome. after that re-evaluation, dylan will go through 20 more weeks of intense chemo. well gosh. it’s all intense.

we sat on the sofa side by side. 20 years later. this time we weren’t cramming for an exam or giving report for the evening care of a patient. her little dude was laying in front of us hooked up to a dizzying amount of lines & tubes. his sweet little smile peeking over the covers & saying things like ….”yes ma’am”. we talked about work & insurance & duck dynasty. and dogs. we talked about the sweet therapy dogs that hang out at CHOA. i grabbed the photo below off barbie’s facebook after she told me about zoe. zoe is a golden doodle who visits different departments each day. ( i think i have her name correct). well just before dylan went into surgery zoe came for a visit. she jumped up on the stretcher beside dylan and when her trainer told her it was time to be gentle she laid down beside him & didn’t move for like ten minutes. i think if jesus lived here today, he’d totally have a golden. that’s just my thought.

we hugged before i left. actually a couple times. those long hugs of knowing.  i’ve never seen my friend look so beautiful and so brave. strength wrapped up in the love of a mama bear- preparing for battle.  i thought as i walked down those halls back to my car, how perhaps all those years of training and caring for others prepared both of us to care for our own….many many years later. i think when we look at each other we see those 20 somethings, young & brave, ready to take on any clinical situation. we’re really not so different now. we’re not.

dylan’s home now & dealing with all the side effects of chemo. they’re on the battlefield my friends. would you please pray for him? before i left that evening, i asked dylan if i had his permission to share his story with my friends. he said yes ma’am. please do. please tell everyone you know to pray for me.

barbie wrote this in her journal the other day….”I am normally a neat housekeeper, very organized and generally on top of things.  Well all of the above has gone out the window.  We have feeding bags, feeding machine, Farrell bags, syringes, gauze pads, regular pads, puke bags, cases of enteral feedings, etc.  It takes a lot to wrap your mind around, but I find that even though we have told Dylan everything about his cancer he is always asking more questions.  Which leads me to believe he is finally accepted this and we are gonna beat it.  I was lying in bed last night next to him and I started to cry because he was soooo sick. He said mom don’t cry everything is going to be alright!!  Just broke my heart.”

my barbie, she’s raised a brave warrior. no surprise to me at all. no surprise at all.

dylan’s story can be followed along here.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

psalm 121

March 12, 2014 - 10:14 am

Denise Stevenson - Paige, I will be praying for Dylan every single day!! Cancer sucks….plain and simple. I’ve lost way too many people, including my husband last year (you were so kind to me in an email a few months after and I will never forget), but on the flipside I’ve also seen some miracles and some very determined people fight and overcome. Dylan is a fighter, you can see it in his eyes, and he will beat this!!!

March 12, 2014 - 11:11 am

Alison - Paige, thank you for sharing and giving us the privilege of praying for Dylan. I visited his site and left them a message in their guest book. I told them about a boy in Texas (friends of my college friend) who has beaten this disease. I used to work in ChildLife with adolescents and I know that kids that age hate that their disease makes them different from their peers. It’s my hope that if they ever feel like visiting Luke’s page, Dylan will be encouraged and know that others have gone before him and have won the battle!

March 12, 2014 - 11:16 am

Staci - Deep breath…I can’t even get a breath thinking about this as I have two boys and gosh…life can turn on a dime can’t it? I am putting this family on my prayer list and I will faithfully pray for this sweet angel to kick this beast right out of his precious body! Please keep us updated !!!! I shared your your blog post on my Facebook page and I know he will have lots of prayers coming from Oklahoma!!!!!!!! God bless Dylan!!!!!!!!

March 12, 2014 - 11:23 am

JuliaW - Praying for this brave warrior and his family. Blessings to them as they fight.

March 12, 2014 - 2:02 pm

chrissi - prayers for dylan and his family♥

March 12, 2014 - 2:05 pm

Any Avery - Oh Paige, my heart hurts for this family I do not know except through your beautiful account of them here. I am and will be praying for Dylan as well as his family. I will pray that even in this trial of uncertainty that they will know God’s peace and feel his love and comfort through those like you who love and care for them in tangible ways and through the prayers of many. Thank you for sharing your friend and about Dylan and for asking us to pray for them all in this most difficult and scary time.

March 12, 2014 - 2:48 pm

Jennifer - I will be praying. I will tell others here in TN to pray for him. I sat here reading this crying at my desk thinking if I was lying beside one of the girls while they fought something like that. God please be with this family and all the other families that have these sweet little innocent children fighting this horrible disease!

March 12, 2014 - 2:54 pm

Natalie - My momma heart is breaking for your sweet friend. I cannot imagine but am so thankful that God is bigger. Will keep sweet Dylan and his momma in my prayers.

March 12, 2014 - 3:08 pm

Peggy - My dear sweet Paige… i don’t know what to say aside form i’m praying dear sweet one.

March 12, 2014 - 3:51 pm

Judy - my heart is breaking for dylan and his family after reading this. but i also know that God had a plan, we just have to trust him and believe His way is the best way.

my son (now almost 40) lost one of his best friends right after they got out of Marine boot camp to cancer.

please know that i will pray for dylan and his family.

March 12, 2014 - 5:56 pm

Susan W - Prayers for sure!

March 12, 2014 - 7:54 pm

Destiny - Paige: Thank you so much for including a picture of Dylan in this post. It allowed me to study his sweet face as I prepared to pray for him this afternoon.

I am so touched by Dylan’s bravery (and his impeccable manners!)and his tremendous faith. I love that he instinctively believes that everything’s going to be alright, and I am believing, though tears, with him that it will be…

P.S. If the family is accepting cards of encouragement, I would consider it a privilege to send one to Dylan.

P.S.S. From one mama to another, I am praying that Barbie will find moments that she is able to “Be still” The Lord WILL fight for you (Exodus 14:14) Barbie, for you and your boy…

March 12, 2014 - 10:09 pm

D'Nese - Awwwwwww, I really couldn’t even begin to imagine. I just don’t even want to. I don’t get it. Life just isn’t fair. I guess it’s all “part of it”, but that doesn’t make it right. The good ones always get sick. The bad ones always break free. Is it wrong of me to think like that? Maybe! I don’t care. It’s FACT.
Prayers for this precious boy. I know he will fight this battle and win. He looks like he is ready to take it on full force and show this cancer who is boss. I’ve got a good feeling about this one.

All my best.


March 12, 2014 - 11:24 pm

JoyG - My heart breaks for your friend and her family. Many prayers have been lifted heavenward in their name, for strength, perseverance, and healing.
And a perfect verse reminding us that He is with us always.

March 13, 2014 - 12:10 am

Jody - Praying with boldness, because He hears us.

March 13, 2014 - 8:38 am

tara - our help comes from HIM..maker of heaven and earth.
praying for each of them…that they would feel the Lord’s strong, comforting, peaceful presence.
Praying for strength to walk this road together.
Praying for FAITH as they trust the Lord with his life.

crying out to God this morning for them….

March 13, 2014 - 11:06 am

Lemonade Makin Mama - Just this morning God reminded me that He sees the sparrows and not even one of them falls from the sky without His knowledge and how much more precious are WE. I don’t just say this to make a nice comment but I truly do have tears all over my cheeks after reading this. As a mama… I can’t imagine but I have bowed my head and prayed for sweet Dylan and his mama… and also that God would be obviously present in ever moment of this journey and cover them with His peace. Please keep us updated Paige.