The Macs

Sunday, January 25, 2009

a new journey

This is not a journey we ever imagined that we would be traveling. Especially not with our precious little girl. But here we are, trying to take it one step at a time.

It is hard to know where to begin. Here is a glimpse into the past few days:

Thursday afternoon we went to an appointment to make sure Cora's ear infections had cleared up. Joel decided to come along because we were frustrated that she kept getting sick. I felt like she just wasn't herself and we had noticed a few things we were concerned about. Cora's stomach seemed very tight, she had gotten two "mystery" black eyes recently, and she wasn't eating very much. Our pediatrician decided to do some blood work and x-ray her abdomen. After lots of waiting he came back into our room with tears in his eyes. He told us that from the x-ray he could tell that Cora's liver was enlarged. He said there is a chance it could be nothing, but in his experience it is usually related to cancer. We left his office in shock and headed straight to Wesley. I don't think Joel and I hardly said a word to each other the whole way to Wichita. We just cried.

We checked Cora into Wesley. She was so tired and hungry, but such a trooper. By this point she started crying every time she saw a nurse. She knew they were going to poke her and she didn't like it! She had a CT scan late that evening. By 11:30 that night we knew that she had a "mass" by her kidney and spots on her liver. They told us that they would go ahead and give her an IV at 6:00 the next morning in case of surgeory. We had to go to bed not knowing much else until we could talk to the specialists the next morning. We didn't sleep much!

Cora got to eat at 5:30am Friday morning and then got her IV at 6:00am. We tried to keep her busy the rest of the morning. The surgeon and oncologist came to talk to us around 9:30am. From the CT scan they could see a tumor next to her kidney and spots on her liver. Cora would need surgery to remove the tumor, take a bone marrow sample, and put a cath in for chemo treatments.

Cora was SO tired. Right before the surgery we pulled her around the hospital in a wagon. Joel and I took Cora back to the "holding room" before surgery around 12:30 that afternoon. That was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Everything had happened so fast and now we were waiting to hand our sweet little girl off to be cut open. We were so scared.

Waiting for Cora to get out of surgery was the LONGEST four hours of our lives, but she came out great. It was hard to hear the surgeon say that it did look like Neuroblastoma (a form of cancer). They had removed the tumor and some lymphnodes. The cancer was a stage 4 (it had spread all over) and she had over 100 spots on her liver. You can see her incesion across her abdomen in the picture above.

They took Cora back to Pediatric ICU. It is horrible seeing your baby hooked up to so many tubes and in pain. She has been so brave! We keep telling her she has to keep fighting hard.

Sunday morning Cora had another small surgery to put tubes in her ears. Our pediatrician recommended that we do that while we were here at the hospital. Cora's immune system will be compromised whe she starts chemo and he didn't want her dealing with more ear infections on top of the cancer. The surgeons are very happy with how she is recovering from surgery.

Today Cora got all her tubes taken off. Yeah! And she was doing so well they moved her back to the Pediactrics Unit. Her face is still pretty swollen from surgeory, but she peeks out her one little eye to look at us. She is starting to be more responsive which is so nice.

This is our room in Pediatrics and Cora is in her "jail crib" as we call it. Our families have been incredible through all of this. They met us at the hospital on Thursday when we checked in and someone has been with us every minute since. Our moms stayed with Cora during the night while she was still in PICU so that Joel and I could get some sleep. We are so thankful for them!

This afternoon Cora got to start eating again. She was hungry and seems to be keeping the milk down fine.
So now we wait. We know Cora has neroblastoma and will start chemo early this week. We don't know all the results as far as how treatable her cancer is. We don't know what chemo is going to look like for her. We will meet with the pediatric oncologist Monday morning and hopefully have some more answers.
This is SO hard. Joel and I would do anything to make this go away, but we can't. It is out of our control and that is hard when you are used to being able to make things better for your little girl. Even with all the unknowns of this journey we do know that we serve a mighty God and he has little Cora right in his hands. Joel and I can't make it through this on our own, but we know we can with the Lord walking with us each step of the way.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1
God's presence has been so evident to us. We have been SO overwhelmed by the love of our friends and family. We have had so many visitors, calls, gifts and prayers. We will never be able to express our gratitude to you all. We keep saying over and over how blessed we are with such a great support system. Thank you!
Praise God For:
-Joel being at the doctor's appointment with me on Thursday when we found out
-The ear infections that brought us to the doctor in the first place
-Our pediatrician who knew the seriousness of an enlarged liver and got us to the hospital so fast
-Incredible doctor's and nurses who have been so helpful and supportive
-How well Cora is recovering from surgeory
-The outpouring of love we have felt from our friends and family
-Our precious Cora who we love so much
Prayer Requests:
-The nurses would be able to stay on top of Cora's pain so that she won't be uncomfortable
-Understanding and wisdom for Joel and I as we are so overwhelmed with all of this new information
-Patience as we have to wait 10-14 days for the full test results to come back
-That Cora's cancer would be very treatable with chemo
-That we would know how to comfort Cora and meet her needs
-That God would give us strength to get through this journey how ever long it might be
We will try to keep you updated as we learn more. We know our baby is covered in your prayers. Thanks for being on this journey with us!


Blogger Amanda said...

You have no idea what a blessing it is to hear that your faith is constant and secure. I found your blog through Julie when I heard about Cora. Know that we are praying for you, Joel, and sweet little Cora.

January 26, 2009 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Marie said...

Jess, I don't know if you remember me from K-State but we had a couple of classes together and knew each other from challenge. Devin and Joel were friends. Regardless, we'll be praying for you and for little Cora. What a beautiful little girl. I'm glad you have such a great support system out there.

January 26, 2009 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Aaron and Shannon said...

We are praying for you guys...every day and every time I think of you. I hope things go ok this week and will be praying for Cora as she starts the chemo.

January 26, 2009 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Oh Jess, you are all loved by SO many! I have thought about you guys so much, and prayed every chance I get. We DO serve a mighty God who can do ANYTHING! Give Cora hugs for us...we'll see you soon!

January 26, 2009 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Beki - TheRustedChain said...

I am so sorry that you guys have to deal with this. So sorry.

I hope you don't mind but I swiped a picture of Cora from your blog and put it on mine.

Our church prayed for your family yesterday. I've posted a bit of your story on twitter and people had a tremendous response. There are more people praying for you than you may realize and I pray that God gives you all a peace that passes all understanding.

January 26, 2009 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Kendall Smith said...

Good to hear that Cora is doing well this morning! We are thinking about you guys CONSTANTLY and praying all the time. We'll see you later today!

January 26, 2009 at 9:34 AM  
Blogger Clownis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 26, 2009 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Clownis said...

Thanks for updating--I left you a comment on another blog posting--we are inspired by your courage and are comforted to see what an amazing group of people you have surrounding you. We have also been reading all the blogs and keeping you in our thoughts (Charlie is the best pray-er of the group--we are all grateful to have your list of prayerful needs)
You and Joel have been so strong--know that we think of you and Cora constantly--
Lot of love from California--
Shawn Charlie Maura Simone and Lucas

January 26, 2009 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger The Sieberts said...

we love you guys and are praying so hard for precious Cora. thank you for taking the time to post an update.

January 26, 2009 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Nate M said...

Joel and Jess,
Thanks for the update. Know that many are praying from Kearney.

January 26, 2009 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Alyssa said...

So good to hear that Cora is doing well. I hope to come see you guys on Wednesday. We are praying hard for that little girl, as are SO MANY others. Thank you for the update.

January 26, 2009 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger meg duerksen said...

can't stop thinking of you every minute.
everyone is feeling for you. i pray every time i think of you. love you all and hope for God's strength and peace through everyday.
she is god's precious gift.
i wish i could give you a big hug right now. as much for me as it would be for you. thank you for the update too...nice to hear straight from the source.
love you guys.

January 26, 2009 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger The Bohrer's said...

Joel/Jess - "For I know the plans I have for Cora, declares the Lord, plans to prosper her and not to harm her, plans for hope and a future." Jer 29:11

We love you and are praying for your whole family.

Brice, Heidi, Abigail, Isaac, Ethan and Levi Bohrer

January 26, 2009 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger Joel Smith said...

What an awesome powerful example you guys are. I find myself crying when I think about it. The story you guys will be able to tell after you are through with this will be unbelievable.

Joel Smith

January 26, 2009 at 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jess, Joel and Cora -
We are praying for you.
Thank you for sharing the information on your blog.
Tami and Chris
and family

January 26, 2009 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Jess, I heard about Cora this weekend and have been so burdened by what is going on in her little body. I just want you to know that you are all in my prayers, and I have posted some information about Cora on my blog so that others who don't even know you will be on their knees in prayer also.

January 26, 2009 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Jenae said...

As I read your post, I have tears rolling down my face. I cannot imagine what you are going through, but want you to know that you are in our prayers each and every day. I am specifically praying that God will remove the cancer from Cora's body and that he will bring comfort to you and Joel as you are taking care of her. Your dependence on Him through this most trying time of your life is definitely an example to me and so many. Rest assured that you, Joel, and Cora are being lifted up in prayer by thousands of people!

January 26, 2009 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Courtney e said...

Praying for you LOTS.

January 26, 2009 at 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel & Jessica- Want you to know that we are lifting you up- got a message saying you all needed prayer and hunted down your blog. I am so sorry. I want you to know that we are going to lift you up. I called Adam and we are praying for Cora, and you two. We are still in Wichita, so if there is anything we can do, Wesley isn't more than 10 min. away. Praying Hard- Adam & Abbe Doll

January 26, 2009 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Although, I don't know you, I feel I do through the beautiful descriptions that Julie gives on her site. I am Ori's "other" babysitter. Since Julie told me about your precious Cora I have continued to pray for her many times daily. I have told many people at church to pray for your family. I have No words that feel right for this situation. Just know many people are praying and the power of prayer is incredible.

January 26, 2009 at 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel, Jess, and Cora-
I can't stop thinking and praying for your little family. I have laid awake nights with thoughts about your situation. Know that you are being prayed for by those who love you, and by those who love those who love you. There are people all around the world praying for you because of your friends and family's concern for you. I know you didn't choose this and we would all choose for it to go away in an instant, but even in the brokenness of cancer, God is using Cora and your response to Him. Thank you for the Praise that you can give to God in the midst of pain. As you know, He loves you so much and has Cora wrapped in His loving arms. We all love you so much and will continue to cover you in prayer.

January 26, 2009 at 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am lifting precious Cora up in prayer whenever she comes to mind...which is all the time. I am praying hard and have the mom's on my online Mother's Group praying for you as well. Huge hugs and prayers to you.

Cristy Harder

January 26, 2009 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Melanie-Pearl said...

My grandma was neighbor to the Macs in Elbing a long time ago---today I got an email from a friend of on of your friends asking me to pray. Dad confirmed that Grandma had told them about it this weekend.

Your daughter is SO captivatingly beautiful!

On my knees for you all. Please let me know if I can do anything to help shoulder the burden.
-Melanie (was Thiessen)

January 26, 2009 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger alethea said...

I am so sorry for the pain in Cora's life and yours. You seem to be facing impossible things with such humility and courage. We are with you.

January 26, 2009 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Tyler and Gillian said...

Hey Jess and Joel,
It breaks my heart to think about what you're going through! Please know that many people in Washington state are praying for you and your gorgeous little girl. Thanks for the update.


January 26, 2009 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger Andy and Katie said...

Joel and Jess,
Thinking about you guys and Cora all the time. She is such a sweet little girl and is soooo blessed to have an awesome mommy and daddy there by her side. We pray for you often and have many in NC praying for you as well. Love to you all!

January 26, 2009 at 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You quoted part of Psalm 46 in your post - we have been praying that Psalm for you since we received the news about Cora. May you feel His ever present help during this time of trouble. May He remove your fear and help you to be still and know that He is God and He will be exalted as a result of this. The Lord of Hosts is with us! The God of Jacob is our fortress!

January 26, 2009 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger kristin said...

I've only seen this sweet baby's pictures on megan's blog...and now i hold this news.

my prayers are sincere and real.

know that there is a community wider than you know holding you all.

may god's peace and calm be close.

January 26, 2009 at 5:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not personally know you but we are praying for you both and your little Cora. She looks so precious and sweet. We pray that God gives you the strength you need in all of this. We also pray that little Cora will be healed. Know that there are many prayers being said for you in this hard time.
In Christ, Mandi and Chris Ridenour

January 26, 2009 at 6:06 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

Joel and Jess--I read Psalm 121 today with tears as I prayed for your little girl. It comforts me to remember that Cora's protector never slumbers, that He is a shelter right by her side (and yours). Thanks for the update.

January 26, 2009 at 7:27 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Jessica and Joel,

Your faith is definantly making you so strong through this! I can totally see Jesus shining through this story of the journey you are on and just in the strength I saw in you yesterday at the hospital! I told me class about Cora today and we prayed for her! My class is so sensitive to the needs of others!

I've been reading this blog and crying for you! May God continue to be your rock.

Call if you need anything!1

Much love,

January 26, 2009 at 9:16 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Jessica and Joel,

Your faith is definantly making you so strong through this! I can totally see Jesus shining through this story of the journey you are on and just in the strength I saw in you yesterday at the hospital! I told me class about Cora today and we prayed for her! She will be prayed for faithfully by these kids! My class is so sensitive to the needs of others!

I've been reading this blog and crying for you! May God continue to be your Rock.

Call if you need anything!

Much love,

January 26, 2009 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Kara Janzen said...

Jess, it was so good to see a post from you with news on Cora. I haven't been able to stop thinking of you and your family these past several days and I pray for you often! I wanted you to know, too, that although I am not in KS with you, I have gathered LOTS of people here in NE to be praying for your family as well. Thank goodness for the power of prayer. I plan to see you in a couple weeks when we're in KS. I miss you so much and wish I was there with you! Give Cora a hug and kiss from the Janzen family!

January 26, 2009 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger Erica said...

Hey Guys. You have been heavy on my heart today. I spent some intense time before the Throne today for your family. We will be praying for you as you begin this unexpected journey.

We are in Wichita now and would love to help in any way we can.

January 26, 2009 at 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your blog through pamperingbeki.

I'm praying for Cora, your family, and her caregivers.


January 27, 2009 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Andrea @ Mommy said...

I came here from Angie from Bring the Rain. I will be praying for you as little Cora, and your family as you battle this.

January 28, 2009 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger kelly said...

fervently praying for sweet Cora. Luckily, God's hands are the best hands to be in :)

January 28, 2009 at 10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a friend of your cousin, Andi. I just wanted you to know that I'm praying for you and your sweet girl. I'm so so sorry. May God continue to bless him with his indescribable peace and comfort as you wait on Him.

January 28, 2009 at 11:41 PM  
Blogger erin said...

I found your blog through douglasandmain. Your family is in my daily prayers. I pray that our awesome God overpower you with His peace that surpasses all understanding.

in Him,
Erin Fox

January 29, 2009 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger Michel said...

Best wishes from overseas.
My thoughts go out to you. Many relatives of mine have sadly passed away. My grandfather has been recently diagnosed with lungcancer (stage one) and is in treatment.
Best wishes,
Michel Friedrichs
The Netherlands

January 29, 2009 at 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know another little baby that made this same journey. Her name is Baylee Banning and she is now cancer free. Here is her web page.

I will add little Cora to our prayer list at church. God is AWESOME and can do wonderful things.Stay strong and may God bless little Cora and both of you.

January 31, 2009 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Warm n Wonderful said...

Keep up your amazing strength. I can't imagine the pain you are suffering. I am happy that you have your faith to guide you and your family and friends to support you.

February 1, 2009 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Katarina said...

Praying that the Lord may hold you all in his everlasting arms.
I can't even begin to imagine.

February 4, 2009 at 1:25 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I just found your story on Phoenix's page. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, but when reading your story I noticed that your sweet Cora's symptoms started off similarly to someone else I "know". (I'm only a blog reader, have never met them.) Go to to read their story. Like Cora, their baby, Bree, had mysterious black eyes.

Again, I'm so sorry for your loss. I don't want to be overbearing, as I'm sure you're grieving, but sometimes it helps to know that you're not the only one that has ever battled with something. It breaks my heart. SO sorry.

February 10, 2009 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger SRA said...

So sorry to read of your loss. We pray for God's strength & ultimately his peace for you and your dear family.
Stephen & Sue Aiton & Family in AZ

February 11, 2009 at 2:27 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

You are amazing. I too am touched by your faith in Christ and in His Will for your lives. May God grant you the strength to make it through the next weeks and months in His arms. Love from Michigan ~ The Bleyenberg Family

February 18, 2009 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger Patty @littlebytesnews said...

I came across your site via a twitter link...I'm very sorry to hear of your loss...I can't imagine how you must feel and commend you for going skiing,etc to try and enjoy yourselves together. I pray you will find peace, hope and strength to overcome the emptiness you must feel. Have you seen this site? We're helping parents deal with the death of a child. Help us help them. Every $$ and email count
God bless you...

February 21, 2009 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 24, 2009 at 8:28 AM  
Blogger Whitney said...

You dont know me but I came across your blog and my heart goes out to you. I honestly could not imagine and I am so so sorry that you have to go through this. Your cute family will definetly be in my prayers!

March 7, 2009 at 1:31 PM  

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