Doug and Ricki Lea Moore came to my hometown when I was a junior in high school to become the new youth minister at my church. I’ll admit, I was heartbroken when our previous youth minister and wife left, and I felt like no one could even come to fill those shoes – and I wasn’t prepared to like the “new guys” at all. Tolerate, yes. Love, no. That often happens when you’re a teenager.
The person who had the hardest shoes to fill was Ricki Lea. I loved having Kristen in my life, and I thought she was the most amazing person I had ever come across. Ricki Lea was also pregnant when they joined. That’s one of the two things I remember – she could SING and she was pregnant. (haha- sorry for the lack of awesome details, Ricki Lea!)
Through time, I began to love these two people. When their son was born – I was smitten, just like every other girl in the youth group. Xander was the man. (Still is!) He was one of the cutest little babies and he looked just like his daddy! I remember it seemed to take forever for him to get here. Ricki Lea would tell everyone when they saw her, “Yep! Still pregnant!” (I’m sorry now. I realize how annoying it is to have that question thrust at you when you are painfully aware of how pregnant you are!) I also became closer to Ricki Lea than I had ever imagined. She is genuinely one of the nicest people I know, and she is interested in you no matter how crazy her life is. Her heart and faith is absolutely amazing.
When I came home for summer in my sophomore year in college, I walked across the street to Doug and Ricki Lea’s house. I planned to talk to her and to play with Xander and Carter (he came shortly after Xander!) and to catch up on life. Instead I was told that Xander had developed a lump above his ear and they were concerned with what it could be.
It was Stage 4 Neuroblastoma.
This is a summary of Xander’s Story(taken from his CaringBridge site):
Welcome to Xander’s webpage. Xander is 9 years old and has completed treatment for Stage 4 Neuroblastoma at Children’s Medical Center in Oklahoma City. He was diagnosed in June 2004 at the age of 2 1/2. Xander had 8 rounds of chemo, surgery to remove his tumor and a stem cell transplant. Xander is in remission as of 4/4/05 and has completed 6 months of oral chemotherapy . As believers in Christ we know that prayer is powerful and we ask that you join us in praying for continued healing for Xander and strength for the journey ahead.
On February 22, 2007 Xander had a tumor removed from his abdomen. Praise the Lord it was completely ganglioneuroma,dead neuroblastoma.
Xander began 3 weeks of radiation on April 16, 2007.
Xander completed radiation on May 4, 2007 and on June 15, 2007 received news that the radiation was successful. Praise the Lord!!
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
An amazing prayer said by Xander;
“Dear God please don’t let my cancer come back for 200 years”
Xander relapsed with disease in the bone marrow September 21, 2007 and began outpatient chemo on September 25th.Xander participated in a clinical trial at St. Jude. It is an antibody treatment and the opportunity opened up at a perfect time.
“We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.”
In October 2009, Xander began a clinical antibody trial at St. Jude. So far the antibody has been a benefit to Xander. The study is still in an early phase but we are hoping and praying that this will be just what Xander needs.
In February 2010, Xander’s scans were all clear and his bone marrow was negative for Neuroblastoma, remission! Praise the Lord for He has answered our prayers.
In November 2010 Xander relapsed again with Neuroblastoma. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy in preparation to harvest stem cells for further treatment options.
Since then, I have followed Xander’s story and prayed for him the best I know how. What has amazed me has been the sheer faith I have seen. I will be honest with you — I don’t know if I would have the same faith if Annabelle had this. I don’t know if I could survive it. Doug and Ricki Lea and their family have been surviving it for most of Xander’s life.
Earlier in this week, I got this update from their Facebook:
Most of you know that Xander had some testing done last week. Friday afternoon we were told that the cancer in Xander’s body has progressed significantly. At this time we are unsure of what will happen next. Our doctor in Oklahoma City is consulting with a network of doctors across the nation, in effort to decide what is best for Xander. We believe we will need to take aggressive action. As you can see Xander is a healthy growing boy and it’s hard to imagine that his skeleton is covered with cancer. We ask that you continue to pray as you have done so faithfully. We believe that God is still in control and is
using Xander for His glory. As you pray for Xander we ask that you boldly share the message of the cross.
Xander’s response to this news…….I’m not worried because God has a plan for my life and He is going to Dazzle me with it!
Doug and Ricki Lea
I have never asked for this before, but I am asking you to share this story on your blogs and your statuses and twitter and whatever else you can. Cut and paste, link, whatever. I don’t care. I just want every person I know to pray, petition, share, hope, whatever you know how to do. Do it for Xander. He’s a fighter. Let’s help him fight.
This is all I know to do. Thank you for listening.