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  • Writer's pictureEve M. Harrell

Miracles and Little Sisters

I've waited a while to post this, but I am so thankful for the blessing I have been given in my sisters! We don't get to choose our family, but God always has such a plan for us in the choosing of those who we get to spend our life's journey. And if we are smart, we nurture these relationships, because they are what carry us for the long haul :)

This morning I read a beautiful teaching from Justin Lathrop

It's called "Connecting with People" - and I think it so relates to all relationships, including our siblings:

Learn more than you teach

Listen more than you talk

Add more than you take

Care more than you are cared for

Connect more than you meet

As I ponder these teachings, I am reminded of the miracle in my baby sister. . . .

In 1981, at the age of 30, my mom found out the beautiful news that she was going to have another child. Child #5 of our family and, another girl :) In 1982, a month premature, my sister came into the world and began her journey of changing the lives of everyone around her, even from an incubator.

Bouncing baby girl was an understatement! She always was and always has been such a bright and shining star to everyone around her. Through all of the challenges she has faced I have watched her carry each and every one with a beauty and grace which has been such a blessing in my life.

I had the honor of caring for her for several years in her teens. Such a joy to have a girl in the house! When my father became ill, she decided to return home to be with him in his final days. After my father passed, she married a man almost twice her age.

Needless to say the years that followed were met with challenge, heartache and tragedy. It was so very difficult to watch my sister in a life draining world, but I watched her wither away during this heart-breaking time. In my 40 years, I am finally beginning to learn that you just can't live a person's life for them. No matter how much you think otherwise.

In the lowest period of this time, she became estranged to us, moving to another state. I didn't hear much but I prayed that God would watch over her, which He did.

I remember an afternoon driving home from work, listening to the radio, and I heard an interview with a person who claims to speak with the dead. Now I am not a big believer in this, but I cannot dispute what I do not know / understand. Anyway, the interviewee began sharing that they were hearing from a father of 4 girls, one very different from the other 3. One sister estranged from the others. My ears perked up, that sounded familiar! Then he began to talk about a great angst from the father, he was angry, the sisters needed to work to bring the estranged sister back to the fold! As soon as I heard this, I called my mom. One of my others did the same as she had heard the same story.

Soon after, my mom worked to get into contact with my estranged sister. Over time, she returned home. WHAT A BLESSING! Sparing the details, if she had not left the life she had been living, she would probably not be here today. I don't pretend to think that our efforts saved her life, but I firmly BELIEVE that God's did. He is so GOOD!

Over the course of the years to follow, I watched her become her old self again. It was like the old had washed away, she had become new. Just like Jesus promised! In 2012, I was so blessed to see her baptized. It was a beautiful day!

To dial back one year, my family has a familial neuro-endocrine disease called paraganglioma. In February 2011, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself late at night and decided to search the word "Paraganglioma" on the internet. Now, I have done this several times over the last 9 years since my original diagnosis, but this time I came across a blog called "Adventures with Tomas (the tumah)". I thought this was interesting :) I proceeded to read a funny accounting of a beautiful lady in Washington who had the same disease. Now, please note that I have always been told of the "rarety" of this disease, so I was ecstatic to find another like me! I proceeded to email the author who wrote back the very next morning. She was also glad to hear from me! She gave me very good advice and recommended I contact NIH in Bethesda Maryland, as they had a protocol for this very disease. Now it is also important to know that I have been avoiding this since my surgery in 2007. Through every major surgery I have had, I have lost something. I am not open to losing anything else. After about 5 months, I finally decided to contact NIH and exactly a year after contacting my sweet friend, had an appointment for a full workup. The one question the DR asked of interest was, tell me about your family. I proceeded to tell him about one of my sisters who had been diagnosed and treated previously, but no others that I knew of had been diagnosed. Well, he wanted to see them anyway.

Coming home, I proceeded to give my family the news, that they could prepare to get on the health rollercoaster which I have been traveling for the last 9 years. My sister who had been such a joy to me mentioned that she had noticed her glands seemed to always be swollen. So I felt of her neck and knew right away, she had dual Carotid Body Tumors. I told her, "You need to go to NIH". Within a month, she was in front of Dr Pacak. A month later in surgery.

Now, you may ask me, I see how this blog is about little sisters, but where is the miracle? Well, to finish the story, her surgery went longer than expected. Several hours longer, in fact. I had journeyed to NIH to sit with her husband during surgery. We were both quite anxious of course, there was a complication. After the surgery was over, the surgeon came out and explained that the tumor was much larger than expected and had metasticized into her lymph nodes. OH NO, malignancy, C-A-N-C-E-R, was all I could think. I asked him, did you get it all? The answer was YES! As far as we know, it did not spread, a pathology report will confirm. Wow, I almost fell to my knees when I realized how close my sister could have come to losing her life to cancer had she not come to this wonderful place!

So from the premature birth, to the saving of her life from a difficult marriage and finally to finding cancer when there was no knowledge of such, God has served to remind us that one life is such a blessing. Enjoy each moment you have, seek out the wonderful life He has planned for you and Love those He has placed in your life. The peace, the happiness and the realization of a beautiful life can be yours.

And sisters, I Love you, thank you for being in my life :)

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