In 2012, Becki was a single third-grade teacher living in Ohio and teaching at a private school. At that time, my husband and I were living in Tennessee. In July, a few days before his third birthday, my son had his first of many major back surgeries to correct a congential condition. Becki, always such an amazing aunt, wanted to be there. Some friends of ours who visited Jude in the hospital saw how great Becki was with our son and thought she might be a good match for their friend, Nathan, a widower with a small son who was also a third-grade teacher.
Becki agreed to "meet" him on facebook and before long, they were talking for hours a day on the phone, laughing and sharing their stories. Nathan's wife had passed away in childbirth due to a rare genetic condition they had not been aware of, and Micah, his son, had been quickly delivered via c-section shortly after. Becki and Nathan agreed to meet in person in August in Tennessee. Their huge faith in Jesus, mutual desire to make a difference in the lives of kids, and indomitable humor soon convinced them both that they were right for each other. They were married in June, 2013.
Becki quickly became pregnant and was due May 19, 2014. Everything was going smoothly until around December when Becki started noticing some strange symptoms; but being her first baby, it was chalked up to normal pregnancy. In early February, she was diagnosed with preeclampsia. Graham was born several days later via c-section at just 25 weeks gestation. He only weighed a single pound and 7 ounces. His Daddy's ring fit easily on his tiny wrist. The next several months for Becki were spent commuting back and forth from the hospital an hour away every day, pumping constantly, and trying to get sleep and see her husband and son in-between it all. It is almost unheard of for a baby this tiny to emerge completely unscathed from a birth this premature. But that's exactly what Graham did. People all over the globe were praying constantly for this sweet little boy. And God chose to bless our family with his perfect health. He was sent home after three months in the NICU. Today, he is a normal 3 1/2 year old boy, precocious and full of personality! He truly is our miracle baby! We have seen our God do miracles. We have watched his awesome power at work in the lives of our family. And he wasn't done yet.
Becki and Nathan had both felt the desire to adopt even prior to meeting one another. As they began pursuing that goal, Becki happened upon a list of special medical needs children who were waiting to be adopted in China. And that's where she first saw Ellington. The moment she saw her picture, she felt this was her daughter. Here was her little girl. When she showed Nathan, his response was the same. This was their daughter. And she was waiting for them. Adding to the sense of urgency was the knowledge that Ellie had major heart issues. In fact, there was no real reason why, at nearly two years of age, she should still be alive. Having had almost no real medical care to correct her conditions, she should have died in China. During long months of waiting, trying to get better information about her condition and what was currently being done for her, cutting through moutains of red tape with Homeland Security to even be able to bring her into the country at all, they prayed and believed that God had chosen this little girl to be a part of their family. Their hearts ached for her every day they were forced to wait. But God's timing, as always, was perfect.
In September of this year, they were finally able to go to China and bring her home. Even the flight to bring her to the U.S. was a scary proposition as such a long flight could be a major risk for her little heart. They had made plans to travel from China directly to Boston where the best pediatric cardiologists in the country practice. They knew they were in for a long road of surgeries and treatments to correct her heart, if indeed, it was even correctable at all. After initial tests and meetings with cardiologists in Boston, they were told that Ellie would need many surgeries and they would have to play it by ear. But they were told they could take her home for the time being in order to begin to help her attach to her new parents and siblings. Little did we know, the decision to take Ellie back to Tennessee at this time, would be critical for Becki.
After being home with Ellie for about a week, Becki began to experience some strange medical symptoms and thought she might be coming down with something, perhaps a virus from the plane or China. When the symptoms only worsened, they decided she had better go see her doctor. They quickly determined that her blood work was off, and she was displaying strange numbers on her labs, but she was sent home without any real answers. After calling back the next day with no response from her doctor, she reported to the ER as the symptoms worsened. It was then that she was diagnosed with Leukemia.
Her heart was breaking, most especially for her new daughter. Becki is her whole world. She looks to Becki for everything right now. Ellie has been home for less than 3 weeks at the current time, and it is killing her to be away from not only her two precious boys, but her new little girl who simply can't understand her new world.
As our entire family was drawn into this new reality this past week, we were heartbroken. This family has been through so much. But we were not defeated. God has been with our family and theirs through so many tragedies and miracles. We have seen his mighty hand at work. We are trusting that he has a plan and that he is not surprised by this diagnosis, but is working through it.
Today, they are looking at great debt coming their way due to the many months and years of treatment that Becki will need to battle this cancer. If you would like to donate towards Becki's medical fund, our family would be so humbled and grateful. Our God is big, and this debt is a drop in the bucket to him. But we know it means sacrifice on your part, should you choose to give. And we will be forever grateful.
Thank you for reading Becki's story.
Every blessing, dear friends!
- Mary Bristow
- Mary Bristow
- Catherine Marlett Dreher
- Mary Bristow
- Caledonia Elementary Staff
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