Chinny: The Force of Prayers

February 20, 2012

Miracles & Blessings, Uncategorized

Chinny Hackley

Christian “Chinny” Hackley is the youngest son of Tara and Chip Hackley.  What boy doesn’t love Star Wars.  Whether in school or at home, he is active, smart and funny.  Chinny loves tennis and to scooter around.  It is hard to believe just 15 short months ago Chinny at the age of 2 ½ began a 7-month odyssey to fight for his life.

It all started by chance.  Some could say it was the beginning of a miracle, possibly more than three.

Raised a catholic, Tara Hackey found a spiritual home in Bel Air Presbyterian Church.  When she married and had two young boys, it was, unfortunately, too far to drive.  She was not particularly spiritual or even “religious” even though she was raised a catholic.  Her husband, Chip, was a CEO (church on Christmas, Easter Only).  But Tara had a deep longing to find a church in her community.

Prayer #1:  We need a local church.

A friend told her that Bel Air Presbyterian Church started a satellite place of worship in the South Bay (Southern California).  With a spiritual place to call home, Tara and Chip experience the gift of having their two sons baptized.  Tara considers it “a miracle;” little did she know her mother’s instinct and longing in finding a spiritual home would be the bountiful foundation of love, support and prayers that she and her family would need.

Tara and Chinny Hackley

In December 2010 the day before the family was to leave for Mammoth Mountain, Chinny hit his head on the refrigerator while playing.  He “seemed” just fine in despite of the concussion.  The “just in case” CT scan showed a shadow.   A family trip cancelled, medical tests performed, brain cancer diagnosed!  A nightmare bloomed on the deepest emotional, physical and spiritual levels for his parents.  During Chinny’s craniotomy to biopsy the tumor, doctors found the tumor attached to the brain stem making it too risky of a surgery to remove.

Prayer #2:  A prayer of guidance, internal wisdom and faith to find the best doctors, the best hospital, and to choose the best options to save Chinny.

With the support of the Hackley’s church, family and friends, a ripple became a tsunami of prayers that flew over the country via the internet, emails and Facebook.   The Hackleys found two doctor’s at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).  One doctor said the tumor was “inoperable” and the second doctor said it was too risky as there was a high probability Chinny would spend the rest of his life on a ventilator.  The Hackleys only hope was to shrink the tumor with chemotherapy.  One of Tara’s heart dropping moments came when internet research suggested sweet Chinny would have between 6 weeks to two years to live.  The tsunami of prayers continued.

“Faith is not without worry or care, but faith is fear that has said a prayer”  – Unknown Author

The Oncologist later told Tara the brain stem tumor was low-grade and slow-growing providing a tiny ray of hope.  Even though there has been a lot of progress with various forms of cancer, Tara learned chemotherapy used for children with brain tumors is 30 years old.

In January 2011, Chinny had surgery to place a “port”  under his skin to allow chemotherapy two times a week for five months.  It was devastating for Tara and Chip to see their son poisoned with the drug.

Tara and Chip continued research on the best doctors for brain stem cancer, and they sent Chinny’s scans and tests around the country.  They finally found a  “brain stem surgeon” in New York.  Five months of chemo resulted in a 15% shrinkage, killing the tumor from inside out.  And Chinny was different:  his balance was off; he would trip over his feet; he didn’t talk much, and he didn’t scooter.  The tumor expanded, and doctors recommended surgery.

Miracle - Surgery on the Brain Stem

The Hackleys flew to New York to the one doctor they found who could do the surgery on the brain stem.  The doctor successfully removed 90-95% of the tumor.  Tara and Chip’s spirits lifted when Chinny was talking that night, breathing on his own, and moving his hands.  He ate the following day.  The doctor did not see any growth on the follow-up scan.  With full and grateful hearts, Chinny and his parents flew back to California feeling they got 100% – another miracle.

When the Hackleys got home, Chinny started bleeding rectally.  He was hemorrhaging and had bleeding ulcers in his stomach.  Tara and Chip rushed Chinny to CHLA.

“Dear God, let this be just a bad nightmare” – Roy Horn

Prayer 3:  Proper Diagnosis and Healing for Chinny

Sixty friends donated blood for Chinny.  Due to the severe bleeding he went through all of it.  After an agonizing 10 days, a new surgeon to the hospital found the bleeding, an ulcer on an artery.  A very weak Chinny needed immediate surgery, and Tara and Chip had to keep faith in stranger’s blood.  Tara recalled, “After surgery, I saw the two doctor’s hug; something felt like a miracle.  When I asked the nurse later about the doctors hugging, she confirmed it was because they saved Chinny’s life,” miracle three.

After three days of sedation, Chinny’s ventilator came off.  But to add to their journey, pancreatitis developed; it took two more weeks for Chinny to heal.

Chinny was in CHLA for 25 days and for 22 of those days he couldn’t eat.  Tara said, “It was so heart wrenching to hear Chinny beg for food from everyone.”  Chinny went home on July 24, 2011.

And I said to the one who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the Unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’ – Minnie Haskins

Tara believes Chinny is alive because of the power of prayer.  People were praying for him all over the country.  She received a note from a church in Indiana;  a New York City cab driver had prayers said at his church; a friend’s nanny had prayers said in El Salvador; and a local South Bay Catholic church included Chinny in the prayers of the sick.  As a follow-up to the brain stem surgery, Chinny had only a few physical therapy sessions, “that too feels like a miracle” according to Tara.

Today, Chinny is perfect.  He has a MRI every three months.  All signs show a healthy, vibrant, funny and active boy.  The Hackleys are grateful and have a deep understanding that Prayers Work.

Lovingratitude to the Hackleys for sharing their story with me.  Please join me in keeping sweet Chinny in your personal prayers for his continued good health.


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Mary Ann L. Smith

About Mary Ann L. Smith

Called to shine the great light on the living beauty of faith through prayer

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