There are rare occasions in life when you meet someone and instantly know that you will be friends for life. Nine years ago I was blessed with one of those occasions. By the time I was done having one conversation with my friend Jennifer, I knew that she and her husband Mark and their children were my people. I can’t remember there being any “breaking-in” period with the relationships between our families. From the very beginning it was just easy and comfortable. When we met Jenn and Mark they had two young boys (they now have four). Their baby at that time was the sweetest most charming one and a half-year old that I’ve possibly ever met. It seems like as soon as he could talk he began calling me “MY Calvaresi”. He is four years younger than Sofija and he is one of the only children I know who has never been afraid of her. In fact, as displayed in the picture below, he’s always accepted and loved her like I dream of the rest of the world doing.
Two weeks ago I got a message from Jenn asking me to pray. The night before, Evan had gone to the ER after a bad headache that lasted for a few days and a sudden onset of scary symptoms. He had an MRI that revealed a brain tumor the size of a racquetball and by the following morning was having brain surgery. The surgery was a great success. The tumor was located in an area just under the skull that enabled the surgeons to remove all of it in half the time they had anticipated. A followup MRI twelve hours after surgery showed that the space that had been occupied by the tumor had already been filled with healthy brain tissue. Three days later he was home and ten days after brain surgery he returned to school feeling great.
And then, on Thursday Mark and Jenn received the results of the pathology of the tumor. I have struggled all day to finish writing this post because putting it into words makes it feel like more of a reality. Evan has ATRT, a very rare, very aggressive cancer of the central nervous system. This sweet, charming, brilliant ten-year-boy needs a miracle!
I have been on an emotional roller coaster since I got the call from Jenn. I love living in Florida, but they are in central Pennsylvania and right now the miles between us are unbearable.
In between the dips of my emotional roller coaster ride (where my stomach is in my throat and my breath is taken away), I have had mountaintop moments of realizing all that God has already put in place to equip them for this fight. The details He’s already taken care of are MANY! And… I remember that this is Palm Sunday and we have just entered Holy Week.
Five days before Jesus’ crucifixion and one week before his resurrection, he made a triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem. His entry into the city was a fulfillment of the prophesy in Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, people of Jerusalem! Shout for joy, people of Jerusalem! Your king is coming to you. He does what is right, and he saves…
The early followers of Christ who celebrated his entry to Jerusalem laid palm branches in his path. Palm branches symbolized three things: rejoicing, triumph, and victory.
On this Palm Sunday, I am choosing to rejoice over all the details and pieces of the puzzle that God has already put in place for this battle, and I am claiming triumph and victory for our dear friends.
On a side note… in Luke 19:41, we are told that before Jesus entered Jerusalem, he looked out over the city, and he wept. Before the rejoicing, or the victory, or the triumph, there was crying by our Savior. So, if you’re reading this and just learning of Evan’s diagnosis, you’re crying in good company.
On another side note… Mark and Jenn are the kind of friends that are really more like family. I’ve written before that Mark was kind enough to share his Dad with Chad during the hardest season of our lives. Since our move to Florida, Mark’s parents have driven down from their home in South Carolina to visit us a few times. We have cherished those visits. They were actually just here last month and the week after they returned home Mr. John began infusion chemotherapy for the cancer that he has been fighting for a couple of years. Mr John and Mark have the type of relationship that I hope and pray for my boys to have with Chad. As long as we’ve known their family, they’ve always supported one another. Right now, as Mr John fights his battle and Mark and Jenn fight Evan’s battle, they are separated by more than 500 miles. The distance between them during this difficult season seems unfair right now, but I trust that God is also in the details of that.
I am asking everyone who reads this to PRAY and SHARE! We are claiming healing for both Evan and Mr John. We are also claiming wisdom, peace, and unity in every decision that Mark and Jenn have to make. I also ask that you pray for HOPE to fill the hearts and minds of every single person that comes in contact with anyone in their family. God has already written the miraculous story that we get to watch unfold.
1 Peter 2:24 He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
EVAN is healed.