Hope is the Answer!

This e-mail began as a letter to someone I have been meaning to write to for some time and yet I have been searching for the words from heaven to offer this soul hope. This is what I have found.

Oh my!! What a blessing! What a test of faith! What is cross to bear! How can I help? Those were some of the thoughts that I have had over the past several days as I have absorbed the news shared with me regarding your very recent diagnosis. Trust me I would not have had the same thoughts or even understanding only 4 month ago.

You all who have joined us on this journey have been so very supportive of Catie and I while we were down at St. Jude’s . I appreciated all the efforts that you have made to make Catie feel loved and special. You did so many appropriate things, thoughtful, kind and sweet things – to say I love you and you are not alone.

After you hear or see or feel that sentiment (I love you) over and over you change the way you pray. When Catie was first being treated it was a search for the answers. Then once we knew it was a tumor – it was a search for survival and fear of the unknown. When the diagnosis finally was determined what it was – a pleading; “no this can’t be, not this – not for Catie”. At that point I was searching for God. God would take this away. Then I realized that over time so many gave to us. Thoughts, prayers, gifts, time in visits and generosity all came to us along with Catie’s cancer. All of it together lifted us back up toward heaven so we could again be grateful and no longer be searching. Knowing God and the love the He has for us is all the search that I need.

I now see Catie as a part of God’s plan. I have never seen this in my own life. I can actually see God working directly through Catie each and everyday. Each day I awake with excitement, what will today bring? I feel like a child. Everything is new. Each new person I meet and each new story I hear all seems to point to God. Each night before I go to bed I am examining whether I did enough to witness to others that the “only hope is Jesus”. Who sings this song? KC do you know?

Tim McGraw sings a song called Live Like You were Dying. I cried so much the first time I heard it I had to pull over. The other day Kevin and I spent a Saturday with Dr. Scott Hahn’ the Catholic author and gifted speaker. We carved out time while I was home for only four weeks to share time with each other and God. Dr. Scott Hahn mentioned something that made me ask Kevin “what am I preparing Catie for each day? Fighting this disease or eternal life?” Kevin looked at me and replied “both”. Is that not what the first apostles were called to do? They stayed in the upper room for awhile and then they all left and continued Jesus’ teachings – they continued to live in the example of Christ – until they each reached eternal life. It is not a matter of word choice, death is final, the end. Eternal life is the goal, it is the perfect continuation of life. Perfect because you are always in the presence of God.

For each of them, the chosen twelve, lived their life preparing for their eternal life and that is what each of us are called to do by God, not by this world. So that is when I realized that my prayer for Catie and for myself had to change. The last week I was home I prayed in church that I would have the strength to leave so many behind to save my lost sheep. The last week I was home I prayed that I prepared everyone as best as I humanly could for my leaving. I prayed that they knew how much I loved them and that God would never leave them and that while I would physically be gone I would be praying for them. I prayed that each day at St. Jude’s I would follow God’s will for my life and witness, as best I knew how to as many people as I met, God’s love. I smile at St. Jude’s all day. I smile until my face hurts – then each night when I rub my cheeks I know I did one little thing – I smiled. A smile is warm and welcoming. A smile conveys more than words. You can find hope in someone’s smile.

Hope is what we all need. Hope is why Catie is here. Hope is why Catie is infectious. Hope is what we bring to the visit tomorrow. Today happened. The MRI is completed. The LP (lumbar puncture or spinal tap) is completed. Tomorrow we receive the results. Kevin will fly down with M.E. (who will stay through the weekend – when Kevin returns) and together we will listen and we will hope. Today we will pray. I will not only pray for Catie’s results. I will also pray for the rest of our family. I will pray for all of you and your intentions. I will pray for my generous friend who gave so freely to Catie and has just recently realized her own personal need for receiving the love and generosity of others.

With love from St. Jude’s,

Christine and Catie

and the rest of the O’Brien’s – Kevin, Maggie, Max, Mia, Molly and M.E.

All of your prayers have again been answered. Before we had the opportunity to send this out to all of you, we received Catie’s test results. There is no cancer in the spinal tap samples, and the tumor shows no growth. The area around the initial surgery site still looks anomalous, and has not cleared up, but there is no additional growth. There is a small cyst that the doctors cannot identify or classify, but they have decided that it is just something to watch on subsequent tests. So we are in the best diagnostic position to start chemo. The other good news of the day is that Catie and Christine are back at Target House – room 505.(1811 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38104)(Phone 901-545-0505- please call.) The task for the next week is to halt Catie’s weight loss and try to beef her up in preparation for all that her body will be subjected to beginning next week. I am at the airport waiting for my flights back home to begin, and Catie, Christine, and M.E. are picking up a pack and play from the Rheas so that they can get a good night’s rest. Thank you for all of the prayers, know that we have your intentions in mind as we go to God and sit in His presence.

God bless,


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