Hope Has A Name

January 8, 2014

The first few weeks of January are important days for our family because they mark the anniversary of the days leading up to Sarah’s bone marrow transplant and the transplant itself.  (She was in the hospital a total of twenty-eight days during January 2003 with her actual transplant day on January 10.)

Since my mind was on her transplant when I woke up this morning, I’ve decided to feature an older post today as a way of honoring Sarah’s cancer experience and her journey. It was first published in 2007 and is called . . .

Hope Has A Name

Last week, Sarah and I stopped by for a “social visit” at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem. This is the hospital where she was diagnosed and where she had several surgeries. She had all of her chemo and radiation done at Baptist and during one four-month period in 2002, she and I spent one out of every two days inpatient there.  

While we were at the hospital, we got to visit with some of the nurses who we had gotten to know during her treatment and we also got to see Dr. McLean, who was her primary doctor leading up to her transplant.

Toward the end of our visit, Dr. McLean said to me, “Would you mind if I introduced you and Sarah to someone?”

He took us into a quiet room where we saw a mom, a dad, a grandma, an older boy and a 4-year old girl asleep on her mother’s lap. Dr. McLean told them our names and then said, “Sarah, would you mind telling this family what kind of cancer you had?”

She replied, “Neuroblastoma.”

And then Dr. McLean  asked, “And what stage was it?”

Sarah said,  “It was Stage IV.”

As I looked into those parents’ grief-filled faces, I suddenly understood why Dr. McLean had wanted to introduce us. Their little girl had just recently been diagnosed with the same cancer that Sarah had and they were just starting the same journey that Sarah is just finishing.

I remember that time after her diagnosis so well. For me at least, it was the most difficult season of all because at the very beginning of treatment, all you see is no hope. All you see is a grim prognosis. All you see is death and horror, the kind of horror that fills your dreams and haunts your days. You find it hard to believe you will survive the difficult journey and you find it even harder to believe your child will survive to see another birthday.

I saw tears come to the eyes of the mom and grandma as they fastened their eyes on Sarah like they were fastening their faith on Hope itself. And I watched Sarah standing straight and strong and happy and I knew that it gave her great joy to not only be the bearer of good news, but to actually BE the good news, to personify the good news, to say by her very presence in that room, “There is hope!”

When Sarah and I finally headed for home, we left behind a mom holding her bald, sick daughter on her lap. That part of the scene hadn’t changed. What had changed, however, was that the expression on the mom’s face showed the realization that hope wasn’t lost after all.

That family knew Sarah as Hope. We know her as our own precious daughter.

Same girl. Different name. Same sweet miracle who lives among us.

Such a long journey . . . such a brave, beloved traveler.



 In Other News. . .

I ended up not going to Greenville yesterday for my Remicade infusion; I just wasn’t quite up to such a long day on the road.  I’m out of work again today, just taking it easy, sleeping a lot . . . hoping to be back in the swing of things soon. 

19 responses to Hope Has A Name

  1. I am so thankful you reposted this – what a deeply beautiful moment. It’s amazing what God can do through our stories, and the Smith’s story is one of my favorites. Love you guys!

    • Amanda,

      How nice to see your lovely name pop up here! Thanks for your comment on the story; it is absolutely true that God does amazing things through our stories.

  2. Aaah yes, Sarah’s story is such an inspiring one! I started following her CB page when I was still in high school! and here I am now, announcing myself a NB diagnosis to a family just today, again. Unfortunately, not my first time… but Sarah’s story is always, always at the back of my mind. Your family has truly touched me in so many ways, and continues to do so. Thank you for sharing bits of your life with us.

    Hope you feel better soon, Becky.

    • Renee,

      Wow. Hard to believe you were in High School when you started reading and now you’re a doctor! We’ve taken quite the journey together!

      So glad that when you do have to announce a NB diagnosis, you have a little bit of hope tucked into the back of your mind. A good thing, indeed.

      Thanks for being a faithful, long time reader.

  3. Hope that you feel better soon. What a precious gift it must be for Sarah and your entire family that she is here, loving life and living well. She has touched many lives- so have you, Becky. Sarah is the survivor, but you have walked beside her every step of her journey. How blessed she is to be in your family.

    • Jenna,

      This has definitely been a journey that does not need to be taken alone. We were with Sarah during her journey and when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was me on my journey.

  4. You are an inspiration Sarah,
    Becky I think the entry is older than 2004 and I think it was written when Sarah wass like 13 or 12 years old?? 🙂

    • Yes I checked . 2007 🙂 You published it the first time. You know, why I know? I checked, but also because I remember I have read it myself and I know Sarah’s hair did not look like that in 2004. I can always tell her teen-years apart from looking at her hairstyle 🙂
      Sorry for nitpicking, but .. well long-time-reader syndrome.
      Thanks for sharing it once again I hope the little girl today is doing better

      • Trine,

        How right you are and how fortunate I am to have long time readers who pay attention! 🙂

        I’ll have to chalk it up to blogging while not feeling well but while my brain was thinking 2007, my fingers were thinking 2004. I’ll go in and fix it.

        Thanks again!

  5. I am sure there is NOTHING that could have given them more hope that day than seeing Sarah and the power of prayer that healed her. W O W !

    • Angela,

      Sometimes all someone needs is that smallest glimpse of hope to propel them through what’s ahead. So glad Sarah was able to offer it that day.

  6. I, too, have been a follower since the early days and have always been so impressed with Sarah. She is truly a special person and it has been my pleasure to watch her grow and blossom into the remarkable young woman she is today! (if only via the internet). I am sure God has special plans and great things in mind for Sarah! Hugs to the entire Snmith Family
    Linda in Pittsburgh

    • Linda,

      Always good to hear from you and many thanks for sticking with us down through the years. I actually started blogging 11 years ago this month–can’t believe it’s been that long!

  7. That story brought tears again – grateful tears, miracle tears and hopeful tears. My friend’s son has just very recently been told he is in remission from his Luekemia! He is finishing another round of chemo but this is truly a blessing from Heaven and from his grandma and grandpa who can touch God’s sleeve and have God’s ear. He was being readied for a transplant in March (his sister is a perfect match). Now, Thank GOD, they will re-visit the idea of a transplant in a few months instead of perform one! God is Good, there is Hope – I see it in Gregory and I see it in Sarah.

    Becky, you are in my fervent prayers for improved health and strength. Take all the time you need to recover. I hope Summer is snuggling you.

    I also hope your weather is improving as ours is – however there are a few more inches of snow in the forecast tonight but it will seem “measly” compared to last weekend.


    • Mary,

      How wonderful to hear the news about Gregory I am thrilled–especially about the fact that a transplant may not have to be done.

      And I loved your line about “touch God’s sleeve and have God’s ear.” How beautiful and evocative.

  8. Becky,

    Since I’ve been w/ your family since your first CB post, I have to wonder how many newer people are now reading here? I just have to wonder how many know how remarkable Sarah’s cancer cure really is?

    Dates & cancer seem to go hand & hand don’t they? For me, the 15th (date of my brother’s diagnosis) & the 8th (date of his death) are incredibly more difficult! I wake up those mornings feeling infinitely sadder especially when I don’t “realize” the night before that it’s that “date” tomorrow!

    We had hope so much so that if love, hope & positive attitudes could cure my brother’s cancer, he’d still be w/us, in the physical sense!

    I hope you start to feel better soon! It’s no fun being sick on top of all the other medical maladies you deal w/ on a day to day basis!

    Take care!


    • Jodi,

      It shows an amazing maturity of character when you (and other readers who have lost loved ones to cancer) are still able to be happy with us about Sarah’s survival.

      Sometimes I feel guilty posting her story because I know so many other families experienced different outcomes. But thank you for your gracious words and again, I am so very sorry about the loss of your brother. I pray that his memories comfort you today.

  9. Since I have been part of Sarah’s journey since almost the beginning, she truly received her miracle healing touch from God. She is one of the few children I know of with Neuroblastoma that have survived. You are right – she is the face of hope, courage, love & grace. God has great plans for Sarah and I am loving seeing them unfold. Hope you are feeling better today. Becky

    • Becky, thank you for your kind words. I truly can’t wait to see what Sarah will do in the months and years go to come.

      I am feeling slightly better today–well enough to get out of bed and put on real clothes for the first time in 6 days. Baby steps!