Jacob stayed strong because he knew his sister Lily needed him.
Hi, I would like for you to meet my daughter, her name is Lillian Tarasiewicz. We call her Lily, like the flower because she brings so much beauty and love to our family. Lily has two brothers, her older brother, Joey is 23 and he lives in Charleston. Her younger brother, Jacob is 13. All three of them are close but she and Jacob are very close almost like best friends.
Lily is 16 years old and a junior in high school. She enjoys reading one of her favorite book series is The Pretty Little Liars books, going to the movies, hanging out with friends and, of course, she loves make-up, as do all teenage girls. She played volleyball for her school during her seventh, eighth and ninth grade school years, her school won back-to-back State Championships during her eighth and ninth grade seasons.
Lily was 15 years old when she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma Stage 3B on October 14, 2015. (this is also her Aunt Sonja’s birthday). This was a shock for all of us because she had not been sick. The only symptoms she had were a low grade fever and her legs and back would hurt her at times. I took her to our family physician. The doctor wasn’t too alarmed but did blood work anyway. The tests results came back that Lily was anemic which could be controlled with medication and diet. Two weeks later, Lily continued to have the fever, leg and back pain, and she had started to lose weight, so we made another trip to the doctor, this time a chest x-ray was ordered and that’s when we found out that she had cancer. I can remember when James and I sat Lily down and told her, she said “I’m not worried, I know that God is with me and he is going to heal me”.
We were sent to a local oncologist, he sent us to a surgeon to remove a lymph node under her right arm to be sent off for a biopsy. When the results came back we were called in for an office visit and the doctor explained to us that it was cancer and that he had set up Lily an appointment at MUSC with a pediatric oncologist. That’s when Lily’s journey began.
On her first visit to MUSC, we were told exactly what would happen, Lily would have six rounds of chemo and 14 days of radiation. Lily began her chemo treatments in October 2015 and finished in February 2016. She had radiation in March 2016 and on May 18, 2016, Lily was declared cancer free. It was a long hard road for her, physically, emotionally and mentally. Lily has been through more in her first 16 years of life than some people go through their entire life. Lily returned to school this school year and she received all A’s on her first report card.
Jacob is 13 years old and in the eighth grade. He enjoys playing video games on his PS4, watching tv, going to the movies, reading, football, basketball and hockey. His favorite NFL team is the Oakland Raiders, his favorite NBA team is the Oklahoma City Thunder and his favorite NHL team is the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Lily’s cancer diagnosis was extremely hard for Jacob, emotionally and mentally. He had to continue to go to school, without his sister being there. He had to understand something at the age of 12 that most adults can’t even understand. We tried to keep his everyday life as normal as possible, we also included him in some of the trips that we had to make to MUSC. He was a trooper; he stayed strong because he knew his big sister needed him so she could have some normalcy in her home life.
As Lily’s parents, we felt like we were in a fog or a nightmare when we heard the diagnosis, you never think that one of your children will have to fight cancer in their lifetime, especially in their teenage years. Lily should have been thinking about what the new trends were in clothing, shoes, earrings, hairstyles and make-up, who’s got a crush on who, coordinating what to wear to school with her friends, just everyday teenage girl things, instead of learning how to pronounce the types of chemo drugs that she would be receiving, picking out what type of head bands, hats and wigs that you are going to wear when all of your hair comes out due to the chemo, being self conscience when people would look and stare because of the face mask she had to wear so she wouldn’t catch a virus or the flu.
Our family, like the majority of the families in the world, lives paycheck to paycheck. Lily’s Dad, James, is the only one in our family that works, he is the automotive instructor at the Federal Prison in Bennettsville, SC he is a contracted employee through Northeastern Technical College. I am on disability due to my health, I have Crohn’s Disease, which can go into remission but at this time there is not a cure for this disease.
When Lily was diagnosed with cancer, we struggled financially, we had one car so we had to borrow vehicles and we also had to rent cars in order to get Lily to and from her appointments. We also had additional doctor bills and hospital bills. We continue to struggle financially due to the many trips we continue to have to make to MUSC for Lily’s check-ups, blood work, scans and x-rays.
The latest trip was on October 14, 2016, she had surgery to have the port-a-cath removed. It was an exact year to the date from the time she was diagnosed to the time she had her port removed, so October 14th is a bitter sweet day for us.
Words cannot describe how grateful we are that Our Lord Jesus Christ healed Lily.
As we were adjusting to “normal” life again after cancer, we got news in July 2016, that Lily’s PaPa (my Dad) was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, he is currently taking chemo treatments, but we know that just like with Lily, God will heal her Papa.