In August of 2016, the Orchard family was flipped upside down when their 5 year old daughter, Lorelai was diagnosed with Leukemia. Her mom, Kayla, has openly shared her story in a Facebook grouped called 'Lorelai's Journey' and the number of people who have come together to lift up this beautiful girl, is almost as great as the number of pokes, transfusions, fevers, hospital stays and chemo treatments Lorelai has endured.
There isn't a person who knows Lorelai that isn't completely captured by her contagious smile, bubbling joy and exhilarating outlook on life.
Spending time with Lorelai's family makes perfect sense of this little girls heart—family members from near and far have turned their eyes to God and have continued to trust the one who has the world in His hands, to hold Lorelai close and carry them through every parents worst nightmare.
Here is a glimpse into just some of what Lorelai and her family have encountered in the past year and a half.
'I brought Lorelai in to see a doctor for the fourth time in two weeks. She had been having a very sore stomach, some fevers, and vomiting. There had been various explanations for her symptoms-constipation, simple cold, croup, UTI...the list goes on. On August 10 Lorelai woke up and said to me, "I need to go to the hospital." We waited for hours. The air conditioning in emerge that day was broken. We stuck it out and I thank God we did.
While there, they found free-floating fluid in Lorelai's abdomen. Her blood counts were unremarkable, other than a bit of an elevated white blood count.
They decided to keep her for observation for a couple days and possibly do a surgical consult to try to get some answers. While we were waiting to be admitted, Lorelai began to cough. She hadn't been coughing since the week before, when she had been diagnosed with croup. It was an awful cough. Not normal at all. Someone (a nurse or doctor) heard it and Lorelai was sent for a chest X-ray.
Although the minutes and hours that followed this escape me most of the time, I will never forget the first few minutes we were up there. The paediatrician who was admitting us, a family friend, came in to talk to us about Lorelai's chest X-ray. He said that Lorelai had a mass inside of her chest that was pushing against her airway, making it difficult for her to breathe. I think I asked what it could be caused by. He told us it was most likely...cancer.
There are no words to describe the next few minutes...hours. He said that we were going to be transferred via ambulance to LHSC. He had been in contact with the oncologist at LHSC and told us that we were getting the best of the best with Dr. Cairney.
I went home in a complete daze and grabbed some things. I remember that I was thinking about how this couldn't be possible; there was no way that I was packing a hospital bag because my baby has cancer. When I got back to the hospital, the stretcher was waiting to take us. We got to London within 10-15 minutes.
With both sets of our parents and us surrounding our girl, I asked her if this could be anything else. She said, "No, this is leukaemia or lymphoma, we just don't know which one yet."
August 12, 2016—'We have some news. Lorelai has leukemia. They were able to tell by her blood vs surgical methods. She has a biopsy at 2pm. The doctor here keeps repeating that this is so treatable. They will start treatment today. Lorelai is in the best hands. We serve a God that heals.'
From that day, what feels like the whole world came together to love on the Orchard Family. Lorelai received the best medical care, there were fundraisers, meals made, support from organizations like childcan, prayers lifted up non stop and Lorelai showed us again and again that she was a fighter.
'I have never seen strength like I have in Lorelai.'
We all held our breath until the best day—December 2, 2016, when Kayla shared the news that Lorelai was in remission. That meant that she had no detectable leukemia cells. We celebrated, we rejoiced and watched Lorelai become more and more like herself. She had entered the maintenance phase and the end was in sight—our girl was getting better! She went back to school. she played with her friends and she sparkled once again.
This beautiful reality came crashing down with a post from Kayla on November 30, 2017.
'Words I never ever wanted to type. Never mind wanted to think about. My worst nightmare. Unfortunately, this is our reality. No matter how much we want to wake up, this is happening.
Lorelai has relapsed. The leukaemia has come back in her cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). It was found in the sample they tested from her LP. We don’t know how much there is. It doesn’t matter. It’s back.
I don’t have any answers. For now, we enjoy this weekend. We live minute by minute. We pray. We pray hard and we ask you to pray hard. We pray that it has not invaded her bone marrow. Then we go back Monday to start this process all over and get our sweet little girl back into remission again.'
Back to square one. The pain that this brought was indescribable. The first diagnosis brought fear of the unknown. This diagnosis was fear of the known. Lorelai had been through the treatments already. They watched her get sick, lose her hair, shed tears, endure chemo, blood transfusions, tests, needles and to many nights in a hospital to count. They knew that a relapse meant going through all of that once again.
As I write this, Lorelai is in the very middle of this fight and though her battle is far from over, we serve a God who has already won! She spends most of her time now as an inpatient at LHSC and is awaiting a transplant to save her life. Please pray for Lorelai and stay tuned because this fighter has a whole lot of life left to live, and a lot of love left to give.
'Mom, I gotta tell you something, I don’t care about being in the hospital, ya know why? I want to get better.'
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