So, we found out Lizzie had cancer. If it wasn't the very next day, it was the day after that when our first appointment with Texas Children's Hospital was scheduled. I remember how impressed we were with the facilities. We had never seen such a child-friendly space. The fun house mirrors in the elevators entertained us on our ride up to the 14th floor. The bright colors and volunteers greeted us as we entered what would become our new normal. We thought is was so totally awesome that there were people who worked with the kids on art projects, and sang songs, and put on puppet shows. There's a library and even a game room. Then we meet (drum roll, please) Dr. Thompson and Dr. Wendy. Love them both! Both doctors did an excellent job of explaining Lizzie's type of cancer. And they were honest about the survival rate. The ideal situation is to catch it before it spreads. The ideal situation is to cut the tumor out before it has a chance to move to other parts of the body then follow up with chemo. So, we meet with the surgeon. He was very positive about the end results - very reassuring. Lizzie had all of the tests needed in order for the surgeon to do the best possible job......except, those tests revealed that the cancer had spread. Lizzie was Stage 4. So.....the plan changes. The new plan is for Lizzie to go through 4 rounds of chemo to make sure that after the surgery what little cells that might remain are knocked out. Her protocol was 1 week of three different types of chemo, two weeks off with an oral chemo then repeat. Being treated at Texas Children's is different than any other place on the planet. Because the focus is children, every nurse, LVN, CPA, and doctor have the most understanding and accommodating demeanor. No question is out of bounds. No request is too much. And when you are there as much as we were, they become family. The first step was the portocath. This device is surgically implanted under the skin. It allows the IV medicine to enter without having to put an IV line in every time. Lizzie hated it. But, not as much as the chemo. The first medicine was Cisplatin. Side effect = intense nausea and vomitting. The second was Doxorubicin. Side effect = everything turns red from your spit to your urine and mouth sores. The third was PEG- Figratim. Side effect = aching or pain in the bones. The oral chemo was Sorafenib. Side effect = hair loss. But, through all of this, we were still hopeful. Continuing school was not in the cards. Since Lizzie had enough credits, she was allowed to graduate early from school. However, she missed her senior year. She missed doing all the traditional things seniors do. She was in the hospital on her 18th birthday. It broke my heart. It's hard watching your child watch life from the outside. She would get so frustrated that she was unable to enjoy life. We were invited to go to the Faust Ranch in south Texas. Lizzie develops a virus and is taken to the ER. We fly back to Houston were she is admitted into TCH. The night before prom we are back at TCH. She's severely dehydrated. However, everyone from the ER to the 9th floor made it their personal goal to have her out in time to go to her prom. They did. They had the bags of fluid lined up back to back so that when one emptied, the next one was ready to go. At 1:00, she was released. We drive over to the Galleria where she gets her makeup applied. We run home in time for her to change into her prom dress and go. Graduation was the same thing. She ends up in the hospital but through the efforts of all, she made it for her graduation. Thinking back, I guess it was all the times Lizzie was on the outside, missing life, that made the light in her eyes shine extra bright when she was able to participate. I was told that at Project Celebration Lizzie was tireless. She climbed the rock wall and raced coolers. She did it all.