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Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado

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A Brother's Lesson...
By Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
Monday, February 16, 2004

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A young preteen learns life lessons from watching her oldest brother, Anh, who is battling cancer--for the second time in his life.

My brother, Anh, is a really amazing kid. He has had to face challenges that would make any normal person want to scream or give up; but Anh has fought each battle with the tenacity of a prize-winning fighter and the courage of a man facing certain death.

Anh is going to be sixteen; but for ten of those nearly sixteen years he has had to fight a battle of his life, a battle called Cancer. He has had radiation treatments that left him weak, pale, bald, and extremely nauseated, and he had surgery to amputate his one leg when the cancer had spread to his bone below his knee. The cancer he had was an aggressive, rapidly spreading form, and the only chance he was to have at surviving the illness was to have his leg amputated.

He was all of six years old then, just a tiny little boy.

He eventually won his battle with cancer; but not before he had to learn how to walk again with the aid of crutches and then an artificial leg, and he soon returned to his formerly active lifestyle when he was well enough. He fought this battle for three years; and at the age of ten, right after he first joined our family from Vietnam, he was pronounced "cured" of the cancer. It was a day of celebration and renewed hope for all of us, and it was a very happy day indeed. It seemed that the cancer days of the past were finally behind Anh for good; but then, when he was eleven, nearly a year later, he started feeling weakened, and he kept spiking fevers and started having bruises appear on his arms. He felt awful; and at first, we thought he had some sort of virus or some weird flu bug; but then one day, he collapsed at school, and he was rushed to the hospital, suffering from a high fever. When he had tests, it was found that he had cancer again, but this time he had leukemia--cancer of the blood, which could be just as bad as the bone cancer. The leukemia he had was also the type that spread rapidly, and the future for him suddenly again looked very dark; they (the medical people) didn't give him much of a chance of surviving this latest bout of cancer.

Again, Anh had to endure painful needle pokes for blood draws, long sessions in chemotherapy, with an I.V. attached to his pale, skinny arm, and also had to endure hours of painful vomiting and severe stomach cramps and uncontrollable diarrhea. He was a very sick young boy, and we were all very worried about him. He lost the weight he had worked so hard to gain from his first bout of cancer (and he was never very heavy in the first place; he was always slight in size and in build), and he looked like a pale shell of his former self. He was awfully pale, with dark circles surrounding his slanted eyes, he had thin, wispy hair, and he looked like a skeleton. He had mouth sores that bled, and he couldn't eat much of anything without being in excruciating pain. He eventually had to have a tube inserted into his chest for feedings or medicine; and he couldn't get out of bed without gasping for breath due to the exertion from doing simple things like walking a few feet or getting dressed. He looked like he was about to die; and many times we would hear him at night, questioning God, and raging at this enemy called Cancer. He was very frustrated, and often he would blame himself for his illness, which greatly aggrieved all of us; this wasn't like the spunky, happy-go-lucky Anh we knew when he joined our family, and it scared the living hell out of all of us, especially me. Anh and I had always been very close, so his illness really had a profound effect on me.

I would lie there in the dark many a night, and I would cry for Anh; I loved him with all my heart, and even though we were both adopted (him being from Vietnam, and I, from Korea), he was still my brother, and I loved him almost as fiercely as I did my own two biological sisters, Camey and Tammi. He was funny, outgoing, extremely serious when involved in tasks, a hard, dedicated worker (he delivered the evening paper seven days a week, and the walk proved to be quite challenging, as he often had to negotiate stairs on his crutches and remaining leg), and loved cars. He was also a talented artist, and he also loved to play his guitar and try to write songs. He had a nice singing voice, and when he was sick, I missed hearing his voice; and it made me very sad. It was like he was giving up on himself and on life; and I fretted and worried constantly about my brother.

Yet desite the grim outlook concerning his leukemia, Anh thrived between treatments and hospitalizations; and the old, laughing Anh of old slowly started coming back. He is now in remission of his illness, I am happy to say (he has been in remission since November, nearly three months now; but he still goes to the hospital monthly to have his blood checked; and he also gets one round of chemo as a precaution; and so far, things have seemed to settle down), and he is getting his appetite back again, and the mouth sores have all but disappeared. They are still there, but they are no longer bleeding, and Anh is able to nibble again (soft foods only; hard foods still irritate what is left of his mouth sores). He is also no longer in pain, and he is returning to his former self, albeit rather slowly. He is also just starting to gain lost weight back; and he no longer looks quite like a skeleton. His color is much better too, and so is his attitude.

It has helped that Anh has accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour; and he has learned to pray and rely on Him when things aren't going well. He has learned that no matter what he may be facing as a result of his cancer, Jesus is always there for him, and He will never, EVER leave him. He has been attending church since December, which was when he accepted Christ as his Saviour (what a wonderful Christmas present that was; we are STILL rejoicing about THAT one!), and he has been getting a lot out of church; and especially since he has found out that he has been on our church prayer list ever since this leukemia mess started.

I have learned that God is there, always, even in the midst of our worst trials; and Anh's battles with cancer and now leukemia (his second bout of cancer) suddenly don't seem as scary because God is watching out for him, and for us, too. He knows the pain and hurt we have been feeling as a result of my oldest brother's illnesses; and He knows the fear and uncertainty that severe illness or impending death can often bring. He has been very good to Anh, and He has helped him withstand many hell-filled days and has let him emerge from his darkened world with a sense of hope and wonder. Anh is no longer scared of dying, and he is bound and determined to beat this illness, no matter what happens or what battles he may face. He isn't scared like he was once, and he is thanking God for letting him live yet another day, another month, another year. He has already passed the timeline when doctors thought that he would die; and now he is facing yet another birthday, something we didn't think he would when he first became ill with the leukemia. His courage is nothing short of incredible, and we feel that he may have been healed of his leukemia because it's been several months since he had his last abnormal blood test, and even though he still gets preventative chemotherapy, he is feeling better now than he has in months; and he is starting to enjoy life again. Only time will tell if he HAS been healed of the leukemia; but for now, the future for my oldest brother looks very bright indeed, and we are very hopeful that he WILL emerge from this battle with a Miracle Healing from God.

What a testimony THAT would be! :)

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Reviewed by Cynthia Buhain-Baello 3/25/2009

Although I'm late reading this, the lessons from it are still the same, and we learn to trust God in all things, and like Anh did. Thank you Karen, this is well-written and very inspiring.

Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain 10/16/2008
Dear Karen,

A powerful and stirring write . . . well-done!!


Reviewed by Victoria Willame 4/12/2008
Excellent article. We could all learn a lesson from him. I dont know that I could be that strong. God Bless him.
Victoria Willame
Reviewed by Stevie McHugh 8/17/2007
This moving story is rich with interesting details and human drama. It also made me aware of how much I have to be thankful for. It also speaks the truth that Jesus is the answer for all of life's questions! A very worthwhile read. Well done!
Reviewed by Debra Baker 3/27/2007
Those who face devistating illnesses have a long road to battle. This write touched my soul, leaving a prayer in my heart. For a few years ago, I was diagnoised with Cancer. I been fighting the battle, now in remission for a 2nd time. Only I loss almost all of my eye sight. Believe me, I can relate to this write with courage.
Reviewed by J. Pajot 2/20/2006
It is a shame that life and fate often causes us great challenge, and yet perhaps it those most challenged that are most loved by the divine? For if we are not noticed, then we are not challenged? Life is a strange walk trough a strange land...very uplifting story, Karen.
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 2/17/2004
Powerful and Uplifting write Karen!!

Love Tinka
Reviewed by Michelle Kidwell Power In The Pen 2/16/2004
As always an Amazing write, yes what a testimony that would be...
God Bless

P.S sorry about the telephone tag, for the past couple of weeks I dont think I knew the meaning of the word home, I hope things slow down a bit...
Reviewed by Kate Clifford 2/16/2004
The power of thought and God is very strong. Wonderful uplifting write about the struggles of Cancer. Some people do get attacked by it several times but they live to tell others you can survive. Others die, but I figure that is when God needs extra angels.
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 2/16/2004

God is in the midst of trials and tribulation. all we have to do is learn to trust in Him for the strength to endure.

a beautifully written, shining example of having faith. truly inspirational! well done! *applause*

((((HUGS)))) and love, karla. :)

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