Natalie and Chris Hildebrand have been a part of our church family since 2007—back when they were newly graduated Aggies living in Dallas and in their early days of dating. Over a decade later and with two children (Charlie and Hannah), the Hildebrands have traversed the usual mountains and valleys of life, marriage and parenting. And yet, nothing could prepare them for the news they received on Christmas Day 2015, the day they learned their 14-month-old daughter, Hannah, had leukemia. These are Natalie’s words about her family’s journey and how the couple’s Connect Group stepped into the pain with them.
That fateful Christmas divided our family’s history into two parts: before cancer and after cancer.
At just 3 years old, Hannah has spent over 20 nights in the hospital, been poked with a needle nearly 100 times, and had upwards of 500 doses of chemotherapy. She lost her hair, had to re-learn to walk after medication made her weak, and spent almost the entire first year of treatment in isolation due to a compromised immune system. She has experienced more already in three years than most people will in a lifetime.
Chris and I have suffered both as individuals and as a couple. We’ve felt anger, despair, gripping fear, helplessness and utter exhaustion—both physical and emotional. At times, having a child with cancer, and all that goes along with that, has felt like an unbearably heavy burden for our family to carry. Our son, Charlie has dealt with a whole host of other emotions he is too young to process—all the big feelings that go along with having a sibling with cancer. That’s where our church came in.
The members of our Connect Group, The Body, as well as other church members have cared for and loved us from the first day Hannah was admitted to the hospital. They have brought countless meals, gifts, monetary donations, sat with us at the hospital, prayed with us and for us, taken Charlie for play dates, and so much more.
Today, Hannah is in remission and recently completed treatment on March 2, 2018. We celebrate her completion of treatment and praise the Lord for bringing her through this cancer battle victoriously!
First Corinthians describes the Church as the Body of Christ. Verse 26 says about the Body that, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” The Church has done just that. They have wept and mourned with us as we’ve walked this path. They celebrated the little victories with us along the way, and recently rejoiced with us at Hannah’s end of chemo party. They have truly embodied the hands and feet of Jesus, and we have felt the love of Christ extended to us through each person that has served our family.
To those searching for a church home, we can’t tell you if PCBC is right for you. All we can do is share our experience. Our journey would have looked so much different without the support network and love we found at PCBC. We have grown closer in our faith, in our marriage, and in our relationship with our kids. Our faith is not perfect and we will continue to make mistakes and to have questions, doubts, and fears, but our relationship with the Lord has been forever changed. We thank God for that!
- Natalie Hildebrand