To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pictures from the Cancer Battlefield, Part 5 (Christmas!)

Me "breaking mom out" of the stem cell unit for her 5 day break/out-patient stint.

Mom was blessed to have high enough blood levels to have 5 days as an out-patient over Christmas holiday.  It was a much-needed breath of fresh air (literally) for mom.  She really enjoyed being able to sleep in a normal bed and not be hooked up to monitors and IV's.

Vilma, one of mom's fabulous stem cell unit nurses, invited mom, dad, W, Mr. C, and I to her house for Christmas dinner.  Yes, that's right, her HOUSE!  She is such a sweet person, and we were all so grateful to have a place to celebrate the holiday.

When you're in s situation like this where you are away from home for months at a time, you are truly at the mercy of other people's kindness.  I have been humbled to the point of uncontrollable tears by the displays of compassion from those who are often complete strangers.  If you are doubting the state of humanity, just come to the Cancer Treatment Center of America - I see love and hugs shared freely on a daily basis.  Smiles are prevalent, and a helpful hand is usually no more than a shoulder's distance away.

Vilma was not the first person to invite our family into her home, we have been blessed to be given many opportunities fellowship with others in and around the center; but the idea that someone would invite us into their home on what is arguably the biggest family-oriented holiday of the year was mind-boggling to us.  Not only that, but we weren't the only ones Vilma invited.  She also offered her home to Janey (a former patient of Vilma's who was back for her 5-month post-transplant check-up) and her husband Raul.  Along with Vilma's husband, children, and other family members, we made quite the eclectic, little band of merry makers; but as I sat looking around the table of unfamiliar yet oh-so-friendly faces, I could help but think Mandie, you are experiencing the TRUE meaning of Christmas right here, right now.  I know it's true...

Dad and mom in front of the stem cell unit's Christmas tree.

Mom at Guesthouse North with her Christmas present: a new iPad!  Now she can Skype family and friends while in-patient at the hospital (oh and play Angry Birds - ha!).
Christmas flowers I arranged and gave to Vilma.

Vilma's house was decorated to pretty for Christmas.
Some of the Christmas crew at the table, eating Vilma's delicious dinner. :-)
Vilma's husband, Frank, made these terribly tempting Reece's peanut butter cup brownies.  I didn't eat much of mine (because it was sugar overload), but it was awesome!
Mr. C with Vilma's 14-year-old dog, Toby.  He was a sweetie pie!
Vilma's beautiful tree.  Her whole house was bursting with Christmas decorations; it was so lovely.
Mom was so glad to be out of the hospital for Christmas, and for the first time in about almost 2 months ate nearly all the food on her plate - miracle of miracles!

Mom and Vilma at the end of the night.
We feel so honored and blessed to have been able to spend the holiday with Vilma, Frank, and their kiddos Alyssa and Luke as well as the rest of their family and the Garcias.  There will never be enough "thank yous" to make up for giving us a warm welcome during a time that could have been so bleak and depressing.  I pray daily that God will bless Vilma and those like her who are so willing to SHOW God's love and compassion. 

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season - no matter what you were celebrating, or where, or with whom.  I pray you felt warm and loved and happy; and I wish for you a new year to follow that is over-flowing with all of God's greatest blessings and gifts.

All the Love in the World,


  1. What a precious story - Vilma really sounds like a very special person. And I am so glad you managed to break your mom out!
    Happy Christmas!

  2. The pictures were awesome Mandie, thank you for sharing. So glad your mom was able to spend the holiday outside of the hospital! Vilma sounds like a very wonderful & special person :) Tell Kerry she is in our thoughts and prayers as well as all of you. We send you all lots of love!

  3. Awesome!! Your Mom looks beautiful as ever, so glad you were able to celebrate Christmas together and had a wonderful family to share it with!! Good Eats, Special People, Making Memories, The Spirit of Christmas Alive with Love & Blessings!!
    Love to your Mom and to all of You!!! May the New Year bring joy to your hearts and the Blessings of God's Love overflowing and His Miracles multiplying!

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