When I first met Esther, it was at our church’s mission conference in 2006. Her parents were going to be missionaries to India. Esther was three then; Esther wanted to go to India to tell the little girls and boys there about Jesus and ride elephants!
When Esther was around four and a half, we heard that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her type of cancer, neuroblastoma, had a 20% survival rate. We began to pray for her. When we found out that Esther loved horses, we offered to let her ride our gray mare, Graycie. Our barn, gives rides to children with special needs. They allowed Esther to ride their bombproof horse (a horse that’s very, very calm) named Buddy. Esther had a wonderful time riding the horses.
Esther had to go through chemotherapy and was in a lot of pain, but God kept working miracles. The first miracle took place in the spring of 2008. She went into the hospital to have a bone marrow transplant. Her body rejected it, and she went into liver failure. The doctors did not expect her to pull through. She told her mom, “Mom, this life’s just too hard; I just want to go to heaven.” Against all odds, she recovered.
On August 13, 2008, Esther scans came back showing no cancer whatsoever! Esther took a Make-a-Wish trip, and she and her family got to go to Sea World and Disneyland. She had a blast.
They left for India in October; Esther was a happy girl. Unfortunately, in December of 2008 tests showed the cancer was rapidly growing back. The doctors in India thought they could remove the cancer with an operation, but more test’s showed that the cancer had begun growing in her bones. This made the surgery impossible since the cancer wasn’t confined to one place; the doctor in India recommended they take Esther back to the States.
The only possible cure for Esther was to have a stem cell transplant with one of her siblings’ bone marrow, but it would be very risky. Sadly, none of her siblings were a match. They began to give Esther chemotherapy and radiation.
Esther again rode with us a couple of times at the barn. When the people who worked at the barn found out that Esther’s cancer had come back, they decided to give Esther her own pony to ride whenever she wanted to. Esther’s dream of having her own horse finally came true. His name was Gordon. I was so happy for Esther when I heard she was getting a horse! It was just about the best thing that could have happened to her.
Esther had to go to the hospital because she was running a high fever. When they ran a scan it showed that the cancer had doubled in size. Apparently the chemotherapy wasn’t working. They were going to go to Philadelphia to try to have a new kind of radiation treatment.
On March 16th, 2009, the night before Esther went to Philadelphia, my mom and I went to go see Esther. She was just screaming in pain. I felt so sorry for her; no 6 year old should have to go through what she was going through. We left the hospital and I couldn’t stop thinking about Esther. She was in so much pain, and almost nothing was helping take all the pain away.
They arrived in Philadelphia, but Esther’s fever went up and she went into kidney failure. Again, the doctors did not expect her to make it, and they made arrangements to return her home immediately so that her family could be with Esther when God carried her home. With only hours left, Esther was struggling for her life. Esther was at peace, knew that her kidneys were not working right, and that if they didn’t start she would be going home to be with Jesus soon. Esther said "I want to go!" with a smile.
But again, she had another miracle. Esther fooled the Medical Profession for the second time. Her kidneys began to work again and she got stronger and stronger. She and her family got back to the hospital around Midnight on March 19th.
If you looked at Esther, you would think she was a healthy six year old girl, except that she was very thin. You would never guess that she was going through cancer. The MRI in Philadelphia had showed that Esther was now full of tumor. It was in her pelvic area, behind her stomach, her liver, and in her bones. There was nothing the doctors could do for Esther except try to shrink some of the tumors with radiation so that they would not be so painful. She was still in a lot of pain.
For a while Esther wasn’t able to see her pony Gordon because she was in the hospital. Since Esther couldn’t go to Gordon, the people at the barn brought Gordon to Esther! The security blocked off a little section in the hospital parking lot where cars couldn’t go, and Esther was able to ride Gordon right in the hospital parking lot! I was there and I was really happy for Esther. Esther wanted to ride more, but it hurt her to sit in the saddle, so she couldn’t ride for very long. She got to pet him and feed him a whole bunch of carrots. I think Esther was really glad that she got to see Gordon.
Unfortunately, Esther cancer in her liver grew, and it was now also in two places in her lungs. The doctors decided not to do anymore treatments because it was impossible to stop the cancer. They gave her a couple of weeks to live. Esther went home and went on hospice. Her parents tried to make her as comfortable as possible. Esther was able to draw with chalk on the side walk with her brothers and sisters while she lay on pillows.
The last time Esther rode at the barn she was able to jump over a pole on the ground on another pony. Esther was smiling. She could only go over the jump a few times though before she started hurting again. I think Esther really enjoyed getting to jump.
Later, a CT scan showed Esther’s small bowel was almost occluded by tumor. Esther’s mom says that Esther prayed a lot, "Lord, please help me not throw up!" Esther now barely took 1-2 bites a day, but gastric juices continued to fill her stomach so that when it reached its capacity it emptied the wrong way. Esther’s anti-nausea meds couldn’t stop that. An MRI came back showing that Esther’s liver was full of tumor. Where Esther’s lungs on the last scan showed one spot on each, it now looked like pop corn all over each of her lungs. There was also now tumor filling the cavity between her ribs and lungs, and tumor pressing on things in Esther’s pelvis. Esther’s bone marrow was then so invaded that she needed platelets every day and blood every three to four days. Her eye sight was coming and going, and blurry at times. There was now no way that they could stop the cancer. When my mom and I were driving home from the barn on May the 9th, my Dad called us and told us Esther had died at 4:25 P.M. I was so sad and I cried.
On Monday night we went to a viewing for Esther. They had three scrapbooks there, all of Esther. They also had her riding boots, cowgirl hat, crop, pictures, coloring book, and a few stuffed animals. When I looked at Esther, she looked like she was just asleep. Esther’s mom was telling us what happened the last time Esther had seen Gordon. Mrs. Travis said: “The last time we went to the barn Esther was too weak to get out of the car so she was sitting in the car while she gave Gordon treats. Gordon put his nose on Esther’s cheek and very gently rubbed her cheek. Esther very slowly went upward and kissed Gordon on the nose.” I thought that was so cute and precious.
We went to Esther’s funeral the next day. They had seven songs and a little sermon. Everyone walked by the casket on the way out. I looked at her and knew it was the last time I would ever see her. I know right now that Esther is in heaven and probably riding horses. She is pain free. Esther is a miracle girl to me. She had two miracles while she had the cancer. Twice she was hours away from dying, but Esther was a fighter and she pulled through. Esther beat the odds twice. Everyone will miss Esther. Everyone will also miss her smile. Even when she was in pain she was still able to produce a smile. Esther was a Miracle girl and she should never be forgotten.