The rest of January was taken up with radiation on weekday mornings and chemo meds in the evenings. Weekends were still just alot of meds. The steroids were making Bri mean and causing her to eat like crazy. She would wind up gaining about thirty pounds during her time on steroids. As she progressed she began to lose a little more of her muscle tone and her ability to walk without assistance. When Daddy was home he had the job of helping her to the bathroom and getting her on the toilet. I remember watching her skin stretch more and more as her appetite just got bigger and bigger. I could not believe my beautiful little girl that had such a thin figure just weeks ago was getting so big. I remember crying whenever I saw a picture of her before her problems wondering if she would ever get back to her old self, her old looks. She was such a beautiful little girl before steroids. I am not saying that Bri was not beautiful to me during this time but I longed for her to look like before.
Around this time, my cousin Keleigh made Bri a countdown book to count down her radiation treatments. We would take this to the treatments and the radiation techs got into the habit of celebrating each treatment with Bri as they crossed out the number and each one drew a little picture on the date. Below is her countdown book.
Below, Brianna’s favorite radiation tech, Brandon, helps her start on catching up her countdown book. Brandon and the team treated Bri wonderfully.
For those of you that know Bri personally you can see the early effects of the steroids in this picture. She would get bigger than this down the road. She fought harder and harder to not take the treatments. I remember one morning when she had decent balance and mobility we followed her into the room and she did her normal banter with the techs. When they asked her if she was ready to go she started screaming that she was not going to take any more treatments and backed herself into the corner. Angie and I had to drag her to the table and I picked her up and made her lay down. We wanted to let her quit but knew that she had to have the treatments. The techs strapped her in as Angie and I left the room with tears streaming down our faces and her screaming to the top of her voice. We went to the waiting room about 30 feet down the hall and with her behind the door that looks like a vault door we heard her screaming for the entire treatment. A sinking, helpless feeling was upon us as all we could do was hold each other, cry, and pray to our Father.
During this second week of radiation, Bri received a quilt from the ladies at the First United Methodist Church that they had quilted for her. This is the church that Angie worked at as a preschool teacher. They completed the quilt and prayed over it and brought it to our house. This quilt, along with the lion on the finger, would be a necessity to have at every radiation treatment and doctor visit from here on out. The picture below shows Brianna strapped on the table as we walked out of the room prior to a treatment. It gives you and idea of how it looked. Imagine being seven or eight years old and having to go through this.
This picture is almost unbearable to look at. Soon after this picture was taken, out of the blue and for reasons we can not explain to this day, Bri changed the name of the radiation machine from the Devil to the Big Boom Boom. More on that later.