Yes, it is!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

In Memory of a Very Special Girl

I just received a phone call from my friend Julie (who is also Jackie's physical therapist) with the sad news of her daughter, Abby's, passing.  I am sad, very sad.  Abby was a very special 17 girl.  I am so glad that I had the privilege of getting to know Abby.  And I'll never forget her huge 16th birthday party where Abby was treated like a princess.  It was quite obvious to me how special Abby was to her family and friends.  She touched many lives, including mine.  Abby proved so many medical professionals wrong over the course of her short life.  When Abby was a newborn, her parents were told to expect Abby to die before she turned a year old.  Abby fought several illnesses over the years and each time, she fought back like the survivor that she was.  She surprised so many doctors.  But this time was different.  Unfortunately, Abby contracted Influenza A and just could not fight it.  Her family realized that this time was different from any other time and reassured Abby that it was okay to let go.  She was so tired. I'm not a religious person but I like the idea that Abby was 'ushered into the arms of Jesus'.  It just seems so peaceful and beautiful.  And Abby deserves that peace. 
I can't help but think that if Julie had opted not to carry out her pregnancy with Abby or if Abby had not defied doctors predictions that she would die before she was a year old, Julie would not only be grieving the loss of Abby but also, very possibly, of her youngest daughter Emma.  As you will see from my post below from a year ago, Abby is leaving quite a legacy.  Because of Abby, Julie and her husband have the beauty of two surviving children, instead of one. 
Dear sweet, precious girl Abby, you are very much loved.  You were such an inspiration and I count it a privilege to be able to know you.  May you rest in peace now. 

Keep in mind that the post below is nearly a year old so some of the age information is dated.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another Inspirational Story

This story is about Jackie's physical therapist, Julie. Or rather, it's about her daughter, Abby. Abby is now 16 years old. She is profoundly developmentally disabled but she has accomplished more in this life than many able-bodied people. Abby was born missing part of her corpus callosum. She is unable to walk, talk, eat independently, or anything that most of us take for granted. Abby does have her own way communicating, though. She has her favorite toys and she is very close to her middle sister. Many people who encounter somebody like Abby may not consider that a person like Abby has a quality of life. Abby is proof that ALL persons, whether disabled or not, have a purpose in life. I will get to that in a moment.
Julie has two other daughters, Katelyn and Emma. Katelyn is now 15 years and Emma is almost 12 years old. Right before Emma turned 7 years old, she was diagnosed with Leukemia. Emma had gone for a routine dental visit after which a few days later, Julie noticed a lump on the side of Emma's face. It was soon after that that Emma was diagnosed with Leukemia. Emma immediately started treatment for the cancer and became a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. Family members were tested and it was determined that Abby was the best match for Emma's transplant. Now I realize that there are some people who would be critical and question the ethics of taking marrow from a profoundly disabled child in order to save the life of her sibling. But, one must also remember that although there were risks involved in taking Abby's marrow, they were far outweighed by the benefits. And it isn't as if one life was being intentionally sacrificed for another.
After the bone marrow transplant, Emma was in isolation for 100 days before she was allowed to resume a somewhat "normal" childhood. She is now almost 5 years out from being pronounced NED (no evidence of disease). She is thriving in school, excelling in sports, and is very active in organizations such as Children's Miracle Network. She is a mini-spokesperson for awareness of childhood cancers.
I remember asking Julie once if she would have considered terminating her pregnancy with Abby if she had known that Abby would be so disabled. A resounding "no" was her reply and I have to agree. Julie believed that there was a reason for Abby's life and that point was driven home nearly 5 years ago when not one, but two of her daughters' lives were being severely impacted with life and health issues. By life, I mean quality of life.
Over the years since Julie has been treating Jackie (from age 9 months on), we have become close and Julie regards Jackie as one of her own. Julie has a passion for children, especially for those with special needs. And like me, I'm sure that she never dreamed that when she chose Physical Therapy as a career that she, herself, would be a parent of a special needs daughter. I love to share Julie's story because it is such a reminder that we all have a purpose in life no matter what our individual abilities may be. 

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