The last words that any parent expects to hear about their seemingly healthy toddler are “your daughter has cancer.” Words that are overwhelming. Words that leave you with questions that you don’t even know you have. Words that change your life. Words that we heard the morning of November 12, 1994.
Amber’s pediatrician, Dr. John Rhodes, was not on call the weekend he hospitalized Amber. He came in that Saturday morning just to see her test results. He was the one who broke the news to us. He was the first to speak the words “Wilms’ Tumor” to us. Not many doctors go that extra mile but Dr. Rhodes did. Even though we had no clue what we were dealing with, knowing that Dr. Rhodes was with us on this journey was somehow comforting.
In 1994, we did not have the luxury of the internet to be able to research what a Wilms’ Tumor was. Dr. Rhodes provided us all of the information that we had at the time. Amber had a tumor on her right kidney. She was born with this and her right kidney had probably never functioned. She would need to be transferred to a larger location to be treated. What that treatment would be was not something we had access to that weekend. Looking back, I don’t know if the lack of knowledge was a hindrance or a blessing. We weren’t able to get more information but we also weren’t overwhelmed with information that made us worry even more.
Dr. Rhodes gave us the option of transferring Amber to Tulane in New Orleans or St. Jude Childrens’ Research Hospital in Memphis. We had no clue where to go so I asked Dr. Rhodes what was his suggestion. His response was, “If it were my child, I would go to St. Jude.” That was enough for me. St. Jude it would be. A decision we have never regretted. Thank you Dr. Rhodes for all you did for Amber.