Friday, August 15, 2014

MRI, TV Filming and Stretches

First things first, the MRI indicated the tumour is stable! Praise God. Thank you to everyone who prayed for this result, and that Victoria could again to the MRI without the General Anesthetic. This result means another three months treatment free. It means that Victoria will be able to complete an entire year of school without being on treatment. The next MRI is scheduled for 3rd November 2014.

Such is the diversity in Victoria's life, an MRI in the morning, and then filming at Swansea Library for a segment on the Today Show, about the BaRK reading program in the afternoon! The library phoned a couple of weeks ago, wondering if Victoria would be part of the promotion for the program. Of course she said yes, as BaRK is such a great program.
We were so proud of Victoria as she read so clearly and with so much expression! With the help of extra reading support at school and the BaRK program, Victoria's reading has improved by almost 10 levels since the beginning of the year.

Being able to complete the year of schooling with minimal interruptions will position her so well for next year.  We are so grateful that this prayer has been answered.

Alexandra and I had the privilege of attending the book launch of 'Dogs that make a difference'. A book published by the Delta Society Australia. It is a collection of stories from the volunteers about "the people they have come to know, lessons they have learned and the ways they have seen firsthand how a bundle of soft fur, a wagging tail, and a wet nose can make a difference to someone's life." The dogs that Victoria has had interactions with both in hospital and through the BaRK program, all did an autograph dog style (paw print) in the book! Alexandra enjoyed catching up with Zac.

In my last blog post I asked for prayer for Victoria's left leg, as the plantar fascia muscle, calf muscle and hamstring muscles had all tightened substantially, giving Victoria considerable pain when she walked. Anyone who has suffered from plantar fasciitis will know exactly what I mean. Speaking from personal experience, it is painful! 

Victoria's physiotherapist gave her some stretches to do each day; a 20 minute sustained stretch of the hamstring combined with a foot massage, followed by a 20 minute sustained stretch of the calf muscle. The photo above is Victoria standing on a 'wedge' which helps to give a better stretch of the calf. 

Thankfully a combination of iPad games and home-reading helped to pass the time. Also, a lovely teenage girl has come to help out with the stretches for a couple of afternoons, which has made a huge difference to me and given Victoria a bit of variety. We are so blessed by the community we live in.

The prayers and stretches have worked, another Praise God! When we visited the physiotherapist this week, she advised that the muscles were just in the acceptable range, so casting would not be required. However, we do have to continue with the daily stretching routine for at least another month. We have now set up a reward chart for both Victoria and myself! I have already chosen my reward.

We are very grateful for these excellent results regarding the tumour and Victoria's leg muscles. The 'havoc' of the two weeks leading up to the scan has once again been proven to be nothing other than mind-games and an attempt to steal our peace. Thank you again for your prayers and support as we continue on and Victoria Grace continues to live out her name - Victorious, Conqueror, Favour and Blessing.

Finally, as for me, the mother who feels so deeply for all her daughter has overcome and will have to overcome in the future, this scripture sums up my heart and mind:

But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God and made Him my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works. Psalm 73:28 AMP

Friday, August 1, 2014

Exams, Anxiety and Truth

What a blessing to have three daughters who love to dress up, sing, dance and laugh! They certainly help to put a smile on my face. This photo booth was just some of the fun we had at a recent Camp Quality family camp.

As usual life has continued to be very full. On Wednesday Victoria helped out with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians clinical examinations for paediatric specialists. Victoria played the role of patient for three candidates. It was fascinating to see them go through the diagnosis process, combined with their nerves and learning experiences to date. Victoria was the model patient, and thankfully didn't tell the candidates what tests they should be doing (eg do you want me to do the walking test now, or do you want to hit my knee with that hammer thing?). When the examinations were completed Victoria said to me, 'Mum I understood most of what they said, except for some of the really big words!'

This whole experience could have been very confronting, listening four times over, in the space of 4 hours, to people describing Victoria's disability and possible causes for it, . However we chose to view the experience as an great opportunity to give back to the medical profession that has done so much for Victoria. 

As we were waiting for the various candidates to come in, I continued to read some of the book 'Parenting your powerful child' by Dr Kevin Leman. Here is what I read in the section about 'special children'...

'Don't ever let a diagnosis - whether Down syndrome, Tourette's syndrome, Asperger's syndrome, ADD/ADHD, or anything else - define your child. And don't let that diagnosis be an excuse for you as a parent to allow inappropriate behaviour either. Neither one does your child any favour. But encouraging their talents and unique contributions not only rewards them with positive self-worth but allows them to contribute to more people's lives than you could ever imagine'. (p84)

So indeed that is what happened for Victoria on Wednesday morning, given her unique circumstances, she was able to make a unique contribution to the paediatric specialists of the future.

As Victoria's next MRI draws closer, next Wednesday 6th August, the devil has been up to his old tricks again. Thankfully we are getting wiser to them, in Jesus Name. We know this truth..

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12 NIV

And we know this truth...

[God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross]. Colossians 2:15 AMP

In light of this spiritual battle, today I thought I would give you a picture of just some of the tricks he tries to use to increase our anxiety, 2 or 3 weeks out from a scan. These tricks are all symptoms that could be interpreted as there being growth of the tumour, or they could be just normal problems any child would experience. They include things such as, during the first week back at school, falling over every day, with both knees being continually having to be bandaged; waking up with headaches at night and bedwetting.

With being confronted with these symptoms our anxiety levels do increase. Here is what I have learnt to do to combat the anxiety. I am sharing this in the hope that it might help someone reading this who is struggling with anxiety in some area in their life.

1. Write down the symptoms that are manifesting. 
2. Write down all the possible causes for the symptoms, other than tumour growth
3. Confess my anxiety to prayer partners and ask for specific prayer covering.
4. Re-read the promises God has given me for Victoria's life, and proclaim them out aloud. Here is one of the scriptures God has specifically given me for Victoria.

Because Victoria loves me, says the LORD, I will rescue Victoria; I will protect Victoria, for Victoria acknowledges my name. Victoria will call upon me, and I will answer her; I will be with Victoria in trouble, I will deliver Victoria and honour her. With long life I will satisfy Victoria and show her my salvation. Psalm 91:14-16 NIV

Thank you for your prayers at this time for Victoria and our family. We know that God has Victoria and us covered. Please pray that she can again stay so marvelously still for the MRI next Wednesday, and that the left side of her body continues to be healed in Jesus Name.

One last scripture for today, the truth shall set us free ...

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all you concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in the faith [against his onset - rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favour], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:7-10 AMP