Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Another year gone

It has been a little while since my last post. I have been on a blogging break. I just could not put what I was feeling into words. Then there was also the busyness that threatened to consume me. That did not create a very good recipe for my blog.

Christmas is done. I managed fine. We actually had a nice and quiet day. That was exactly what I needed. I got through Christmas by giving myself permission not to decorate or kill myself trying to make everything into MY idea of a perfect Christmas. For 13 years, Christmas time has been a struggle. For 5 years, Christmas time has been one of the hardest times of the year for me. Thanks to my counselor, I realized why I have tried to come up with this "ideal" Christmas each year. I have been trying to make up for the bad ones, make up for the bad news that has come during the holiday season, make up for the Christmases that might not happen. My counselor helped me to realize that it was okay for me to be tired and to not have the energy to decorate. It was okay to not do everything that we have always done. Just because we left something off or left something out, it didn't mean that this Christmas would be any less. It was actually more enjoyable for me to simply be able to rest. I don't think the kids noticed what we didn't have or didn't do this season. I know that I really enjoyed the fact that taking down the Christmas tree (the only Christmas decoration) only took about an hour...maybe less.

I sit here with just under an hour and a half until 2009. I can hardly believe that another year has gone by. I would like to ask where it went, but I know. A large majority of our year was spent in doctors offices, waiting rooms, and treatment areas. I am ready for 2008 to be over, but I'm not sure that I'm quite ready for what 2009 might have in store. I know that it's coming no matter what. I am trying to place all of my doubts and fears about the new year in God's hands.

I don't like making New Year's resolutions. Most of the time I don't. I'm not making any this year either, but I do want to share a couple of things that I am thinking about. One thing is trying to be better at placing things in God's hands and LEAVING THEM ALONE. That's a BIG problem for me. Another thing is that I want to be able to accept my limitations. I want to try to accept the fact that I can't be Superwoman, Supermom, and Superwife all the time. I probably can't even be that part of the time. The fact is I'm too tired. Having a husband and a son with cancer is exhausting at times. I want to accept that I am doing the best that I can. There will be time some day for me to do other things. I want to be satisfied that this is God's plan for me right now.

All of these some what random thoughts might not make sense, but they are what's circling around inside my head tonight.

I hope that as one year ends and a new one begins, that everyone will be able to find lots of blessings, love, and happiness.

Happy New Year!

God Bless You,

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas is here!

Christmas is here and I'm not ready. I'm not ready in the physical sense. There seems to be so much to do and I just don't have the time or the energy to do it! I'm not ready in the spiritual sense either. I know I should really give myself a break. It isn't like I'm sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I just want to be able to love Christmas again. This time of year is difficult. I've mentioned it before, but the closer it gets the harder it is for me to enjoy it. I have to force myself. When I'm in church or able to take the time to just listen to some Christmas hymns, I'm good. I can feel the excitement, the awe, the joy that is Christmas. However, when I'm away from church or turn off the hymns, the good seems to vanish and the exhaustion creeps back in.

I know that I'm not alone in feeling this way about the holidays. I know of several people who are having to go through this Christmas as "the first" without their child or spouse. I can remember the first Christmas after my dad died. It was hard, harder than I ever imagined it could be. Looking back, I realized if it was that hard when it was my dad and I was already an adult, how hard it must be when it is your spouse or your child.

That is one aspect of living with cancer or some other life threatening disease that is so hard. We don't know how many more Christmases we will have together. I know that no one really knows how much time they have. When you are dealing with something that you KNOW has a time limit, like terminal cancer, time becomes tangible. Time becomes more than the ticking of the clock. Time becomes a living and breathing thing. It becomes something that you want to hold onto desperately and never let go of. Time is something that you don't want to waste. It is something that you hold so precious. No matter how hard you try there never seems to be enough of it. Time continues to slip away.

I've started and stopped this post several times. I can't seem to put my thoughts into the right words. I guess the bottom line is that I'm having a tough time this season. It is tough to have to remind yourself why we are celebrating Christmas. It is tough to try to keep from focusing on all of the bad. It is tough when you are too tired to decorate the way you used to. Right now life seems tougher than I am.

I'm in "get through it" mode. That is one thing that I am really good at. The last 13 years, for certain the last 5, have given me lots of practice.

I would love to enjoy Christmas again.

Maybe someday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Instructions for Giving Thanks

I love instructions. I am one of those weird people that actually reads the instructions before I do something. I drive my husband nuts, because I insist on reading AND following the instructions when we are putting something together. He drives me nuts on an equal level, because he insists on not reading the directions. (Shhh! Don't tell him, but I'm usually right! 9 times out of 10 he ends up going back and reading the directions.)

We have found a system that works for both of us. I read the instructions out loud while he is doing the building. It works!

There are also instructions for giving thanks. In God's Word, a beautiful passage in Psalms contains the exact recipe for giving thanks.

Psalm 100
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

I realized today that I needed this recipe. Those closest to me know how difficult this time of year is for me. Thanksgiving is the kickoff and it doesn't end until after Christmas. It isn't the usual holiday depression that plagues many people. For me, it's anniversaries. Thanksgiving 1995 marks the anniversary of when Nick was diagnosed with cancer as a 15 month old baby. He had subsequent surgeries and chemo in the weeks in between the two holidays. Christmas 2003 marks the anniversary of when Keith was diagnosed with cancer. December 2006 also marks when we were told that Keith's cancer is terminal. December is when Nick almost died from an infection in 1997, and my Grandpa died that very same day. So, it starts at Thanksgiving and ends after Christmas.

I need the instructions on how to give thanks. Each year I try to be very determined and not let the past rear it's ugly head. Sometimes I win; sometimes it wins. The last couple of years have been especially difficult, mainly because I can't quite shut out the thoughts that this might be Keith's last holiday with us.

These instructions have given me a tangible way to stop and give thanks for what I have and for what God has given me. As I listened to the sermon about this passage this morning, I began to think about exactly what I was thankful for.

Here's my top 10 list of things I am thankful for:
1. Jesus Christ is MY Lord and Savior. I could NOT do this that is my every day life without HIM. Thank you Lord!
2. My extended family. They aren't perfect, but they're mine. I love each and every one of them. They are a blessing to me daily. Thank you Lord!
3. Keith. I am thankful that I still have him with me today. There isn't any reason that he is still on this earth, except that God wants him to be! Thank you Lord!
4. Nick. A repeat of #3. I am thankful that I still have him with me today. Only God knows why. Nick has survived only by divine intervention. Thank you Lord!
5. Kacie. She is the sweet blessing at the end of a hard time. Her birthday is January 3. God blessed me with this sweet child at the perfect time. I HAVE to put aside all of the difficult junk and focus on her, celebrate her. Thank you Lord!
6. My friends. I don't have tons, but I do have a few that are my heart friends. They are the ones that I can call anytime, day or night. They are the ones that I can cry with, scream with, laugh with, or be quiet with. Thank you Lord!
7. Freedom. I am thankful that I have the freedom to be or do anything. So many places in the world don't allow women the freedom to even walk down the street, much less worship. Thank you Lord that You allowed me to be born in America.
8. My church. I am thankful that God has provided us with a place to worship and learn about Him. Thank you Lord!
9. My house. It isn't huge. Right now it isn't perfectly clean, but it's mine. We have shelter over our heads. We are warm and dry. Lots of people don't have that. Thank you Lord!
10. Heaven. I am thankful that God has prepared a place where cancer doesn't live, finances aren't a worry, cars don't break down, cats don't need expensive surgeries, children don't struggle with school, and life doesn't wear you down. Thank you Lord!

That's my Top 10 List. You may think it's a self centered or hokey, but it truly is what I am thankful for.

I'd love to hear what you are thankful for this week. If you're led to, please share.

Have a blessed week this week.


Monday, November 17, 2008


We are still adjusting to the new chemo routine. Keith has been on a chemo schedule where he has had to go every week before, but one week was the hard chemo and the next week was lighter. It is taking some adjustment for me to get used to Keith feeling bad every Monday of every week.

Today at the clinic, we learned of another way that we are both having to adjust. Keith's blood counts are lower than we have ever seen. The platelet count is fine. It is at 93. Praise God! Keith's white blood cell count (WBC) is extremely low. There are several different lab results that the docs look at the make up the WBC. One of the levels basically measures how many infection fighting blood cells Keith has. This morning's labs showed he has almost none. Yes, you read that right. His level is 0.6. The normal level ranges from 1.78-5.38. Keith's WBC count as a whole is only 1.5. The normal range is 4.23-9.07. His red blood cell count is also low. As a result of the levels being so low, Keith had to get two shots today. One shot will boost his white blood cell production. The second shot will boost his red blood cell production.

These low blood counts almost suspended Keith's treatment today. The doctor decided to go ahead and give Keith the chemo. I'm hoping that by the time the chemo starts attacking Keith's good blood cells, the shots will have kicked in and Keith will be okay. The hard chemo for next week is on hold for now. We will meet with the doctor on Monday. Things might change, but they are pretty certain that Keith will only get the antibody treatment and have the pump hooked back up next Monday.

Speaking of the pump, Keith made it to today without any mouth sore problems. Praise God! Thank you for covering Keith with prayer during this last week. On Saturday morning, he noticed that there were a couple of tender spots in his mouth that acted like they might become mouth sores. Keith decided to try taking an antacid just on the hunch that the pizza he ate the night before might have been too acidic. That seemed to do the trick. The tender spots weren't tender anymore by that evening. Keith is off of the chemo pump this week. That was already planned. I'm glad that Keith will have a break from it this week, especially since his counts are so low.

Finding out that Keith's counts are as low as they are was startling. Keith became very down when the nurse told us of the doctor's decision. I tried to encourage him. I told him that in the five years we have been doing this, we have never seen how low his counts actually get in the 7-10 day down time. We saw that today. Today's levels may be what Keith's levels have always been at, and we just didn't know it! He asked me later if I was concerned about the levels being so low. I'm not really. I'm more concerned about the effects of his counts being that low. He'll need to wear a mask for the first part of this week at least. I'll watch him to make sure he isn't getting sick. Other than that, I really am not worried. I was surprised, but once I thought it through, I was okay with it. I am okay with it.

Thank you for the prayers last week. Please continue to lift Keith up. He's feeling kind of puny today. Hopefully, he will feel better as the week goes on.

Have a blessed week!


Monday, November 10, 2008

It doesn't take much

This morning I realized that it isn't a huge leap to go from having faith that God WILL to thinking that God WON'T. I'll try to explain.

We found out some really hard news about Keith this morning. His cancer has grown significantly. He has started back on the hard chemo. The treatment protocol has changed. We will be coming into the clinic every week for chemo. Keith will also have to come home wearing a pump filled with chemo. Yes, he's back on chemo 24/7. Right now, the 24/7 stuff will be every other week. It may change. Every Monday for three weeks, Keith will be getting the hard chemo. The fourth week will be an off week for the hard stuff. Hopefully, that will coincide with the off week for the 24/7 chemo. That would give Keith a complete week totally off of chemo.

Okay, with that out of the way, here it goes. I realized that it wouldn't take very much for me to lose faith in God and His power over this situation. It would be very easy for me to become angry, bitter, and turn away from God. I realized that there was a point that I had to make a decision about how I CHOSE to react to today's news. I realized that it would be VERY EASY to let the hurt and the anger consume me.

I chose not to let it. I chose to turn it and all of its ugliness over to God. Instead of becoming angry, I tried to find something to thank God for. Now, granted my heart is still full of hurt, sadness, and pain, but I KNOW that God has not changed. He is STILL right here with us. The same way He was right there with us when we were sitting in the exam room this morning, listening as our world crumbled just a little more. It is frightening to come to the realization of how easy it would be to just turn away. However, I think that knowing is better than not knowing.

I don't know what is going to happen now. I do know that Keith is very sick, and he has been for a long time. I worry the same worry I've had for the last three years...that this will be our last Christmas with Keith. I worry how I am going to be able to take care of it all without Keith. I also know that I can't let those worries consume me either. I'm a confessed worrywart, and I always have been. I have to fight against worrying ALL THE TIME.

Please keep praying for us. We are in a tough place right now. It certainly doesn't look like it is going to let up any time soon.

Have a blessed day today!


Friday, November 7, 2008

Today is a better day

Today is a better day. I'm still sad, but I'm not crying right now anyway. I'm more rested after a full night's sleep and not getting up at 0:chicken:30.

Yesterday with Nick was tough, especially when we didn't get the scan results until about 2:30/3:00. That made for a long day. The delay was nothing major on our part, but my imagination took hold. My imagination went from the doctor being delayed with another patient (which is what happened), to the doctor waiting for a surgeon to come talk to us about the results and what surgical options we needed to look at (has happened before). It turned out okay.

I wish the results were better, but I can see God's hands at work here. Nick isn't cancer free, but he is stable. Nick is still healed from the masses in his digestive tract. Nick's immune system issues aren't resolved, but we are able to give him some medicine to help. All of these are miracles within themselves, and I am thankful.

We saw Nick's GI doctor yesterday while Nick was trying to choke down the "motor oil" tasting stuff for his scans. He wants us to schedule Nick for another scope procedure...soon. I don't know when we'll be doing it. I know this is something Nick will have to do FOREVER, but I still have trouble with it. I hate for Nick to go through something else. We have watched him go through things that would make adults cringe. It's hard.

That's about it for right now. Keith has a doctor's appointment to check his blood sugar issues this morning. 5 years of almost nonstop chemo has made him a diabetic. The doctor changed him over to insulin shots about 6 weeks ago. We find out today how well the shots are working. There's a little blood test they do that tells the doctor what your blood sugar has been running over the last three months. Can't cheat on that one!

Thank you again for the thoughts and prayers.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Some days are harder than others

Today is one of those days. I am sad. I am feeling the weight of what I bear. Tomorrow is such a HUGE day! Tonight all I can do is cry. I should be in bed trying to sleep, especially since I have to be up in 7 hours. I can't. I'm exhausted, but I just can't.

I'm sorry if I'm not making a lot of sense. I think it just speaks to my state of mind right now.

A friend told me he wasn't surprised by the dishwasher miracle. It seems God does that a lot in my life. I've not been able to see it from that perspective, but he's right. I think how can I be so sad when God makes His presence known in such tangible ways? I don't know how, but I do know that I am sad.

I am sad that I feel like my husband and son are NEVER going to be free from the bonds of cancer. I don't let myself dwell on the "gory details" of my family's daily life. I don't spend near as much time crying over it as I did say two years ago. There are days though, when it gets heavy and oppressive. Today is one of those days.

Sometimes I can't even believe that I have walked as far as I have in my own shoes. I know it's really been God who has carried me, but today I feel every single step of the last 5 years. It's scary going into a day like tomorrow already feeling defeated. Do I expect bad news tomorrow? No, not really. We've been there done that so many times, it won't surprise me either way. What will be, will be! I can't change it. I can't control it. God already knows what we will be finding out tomorrow. I hope and pray that everything turns out well, more Nick's sake than mine. I hate watching him go through so much. It's terrible.

I hate watching Keith fight so hard when the battle seems endless. I hate feeling helpless. I guess I'm just full of it tonight.

I know that I'll be fine eventually. I just needed to vent some tonight, and that's why I created this site. So that I would have a place to vent.

I'm crying so hard now I'm having trouble typing. Thank goodness for spell check.

I'll update again soon.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

God's Umbrella

Okay. I give up! God has certainly made it clear to me that while I have been feeling overwhelmed, He has had it ALL under control.

Bear with me while I try to explain.

1. Our accident: We knew that God was with us during that accident. We were hit very hard by a drunk driver. The fact that we were pretty much uninjured is the work of God. How many people have been terribly injured or killed by a drunk driver?

2. Our accident: We knew our van had some damage, but initial inspections showed that the damage was not believed to be disabling. We were able to drive it back home from the beach without any problems. We think we might have put 500 miles on it post-accident. We found out today that the rear suspension was knocked out of place when we were hit. WE DROVE HOME WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS! The what-ifs are circling.

3. Dishwasher: Our dishwasher went out Sunday night. The weekend was hectic. Monday was hectic. The last thing I needed was to deal with a broken dishwasher full of dirty dishes. I finally got them all done. I don't have a problem washing dishes by hand. I've done before, I'll do it again. It was simply the hassle of it all. On days like the last few that we have had, normal things ( like dishwashers breaking or kids getting sick) tend to send me over the edge. The dishwasher issue has been taken care of. We will have a new one delivered and installed on Friday. Someone (you know who you are) has been very generous to provide us with one. To the Special Someone: Rest assured your instructions were followed to the letter. Karen was very helpful and kind. We can not thank you enough.

So, God has once again shown me that He is still in charge. My worries are for nothing. He is indeed holding the umbrella. It was my choice to step out from His shelter. I do admit that He probably had to fold up the umbrella and hit me over the head with it before I got a clue!

Keith is feeling okay. His cough has gotten worse, but he called the oncologist this morning and got some antibiotics. He also got some strict instructions to follow (check temperature, monitor breathing, call if anything changes). Please pray for him. He has coughed to the point his stomach hurts. Please pray that he will find relief soon.

I'm still anxious about next week, but I am trying to let God's peace take over.

Thank you for all of the prayers!


Monday, October 27, 2008


I mentioned in my email update about Keith that it feels like it is raining and we don't have an umbrella. The bottom line of it all is that everything is on the verge of feeling overwhelming right now. The issues created by the accident are still there. My back is better thanks to a fantastic massage "terrorist". It hurt a lot during, but the following day my back was 100% better. My back will twinge occasionally, but I can function without pain. My van is still in the shop. Maybe we'll have it back tomorrow.

Another big frustration is that our dishwasher died last night...full of dishes. I have to go face the dishes in a few minutes. I'm putting it off. I hate washing dishes. I am going to be washing dishes by hand for a while. With Christmas right around the corner, the out of pocket money for the accident, and a few other costly items, the dishwasher is low on the list right now. To be honest, the dishwasher isn't even on the list. As long as my hands work, the dishwasher can probably stay off the list for a while. I already miss it though.

That's all I have time for today. I'll try to get back later. The kids have homework, and we have revival at church tonight. That means I've got to get moving!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Catching up

We are slowly getting back into the swing of things after fall break. We were able to go to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach again this year with Keith's parents. Other than a couple of rainy days, a couple of really windy days (One day the sand was blowing so hard, we couldn't bear to be out in it!), the beach was wonderful.

The trip wasn't as relaxing as we had hoped it would be. We were involved in a traffic accident in Bay Minette, which is about an hour away from the Gulf. A drunk driver rear-ended us while we were sitting at a traffic light. We are mostly uninjured. My lower back is giving me some problems. I'll have that checked out sometime this week. Our van is another story though. The guy was driving one of the bigger pickup trucks. The speed limit on the road is 55 MPH. There wasn't any screeching of tires, so we figure he was doing at least 50MPH when he hit us. Our van is pretty banged up. After getting it checked out at a collision shop, we were able to drive it home.

Now we begin the process of getting the van fixed. We've got to contact the guy's insurance company so they can reimburse us for the cost of the rental, and other costs. Sometimes I just feel like trouble follows us around. Keith and I are so thankful that everyone was safe. I shudder to think about how different the outcome would have been if we had been in a smaller vehicle. God was truly watching over us.

I have been struggling with a lot of anger and hostility toward the guy that hit us. I am praying that God will help me to forgive this man. Please pray for me as I struggle with this.

Keith and I met with his oncologist this morning. Keith's blood counts are the best they've been in a very long time. His platelets are 74! Praise God! His white blood cell count is 4.0. That is great! What a blessing it was when the doctor told us this morning! Keith seems to be responding well to the time off from the hard chemo.

We also discussed the plans for the short term with the doctor. Keith will have another chemo treatment in two weeks and then CT scans will follow on November 6. We will get the results on Monday, November 10. If the scans show continued improvement or stable disease, then Keith will continue on this lighter chemo for a while longer. If there is some slight increase, then Keith may have to go back to wearing the chemo pump for several days again. If there is a significant increase, the heavy duty chemo will be started back up again.

Keith is doing well. He looks good. His hair is growing and thickening. I am worried, because he seems to tire more easily. I was really surprised this morning that his counts were good, because he has been that tired. His being tired could be a number of things. I am going to try not to dwell on it, and leave it in God's hands.

Please continue to pray for us during the coming weeks. We have a lot going on. Nick's checkup and scans will be in November as well. The PET scans will be Monday, November 3. The special CT scans and checkup will be on Thursday, November 6. That is the same day that Keith's scans are scheduled. That is going to be a tough day.

Kacie is doing good. She is still having coughing from her bout with bronchitis. She'll probably have to go back to the doctor if it doesn't get better soon. She loved swimming in the pool at the condo last week. Kacie has grown from a child who was afraid to get her face wet into a little fish. She reminds me so much of myself when I was a child. She and Nick are such a blessing to us.

I think that pretty much catches us up. I'll update more as time allows.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

The life that is normal

Things have been so blessedly calm. We have really enjoyed the lessened chemo schedule for Keith. Other than a case of bronchitis for Kacie and an ear infection for Nick, everyone has been mostly well.

Nick and I were in Birmingham week before last. That was an uneventful trip as well. Praise be to God! Nick isn't scheduled to go back for another checkup in Birmingham until November 6. That will be a hard day. Nick is scheduled for some special CT scans that will allow the doctors to look at the lining of Nick's small intestine. About 18 months ago, a large mass was found in Nick's small intestine that indicated that the cancer causing genetic condition he shares with his dad was actually a worse case than we realized. God healed Nick of that mass. The doctor went in to remove this mass. We had a big team of surgeons on standby because the surgery was pretty risky. When the doctor got the scope to the spot where the mass was located, the mass was gone. There was evidence that the mass had been there, but THE MASS WAS GONE! The doctors all wanted to come up with their own solution, but WE KNEW! GOD HEALED THIS CHILD!

The doctors insist that we continually check Nick for more polyps/masses. It can be a dangerous condition. I just feel like we are casting doubt upon the miracle that God has done. So, I struggle with worry about what they'll find. I struggle with the thought that I may be having doubt about God's ability to heal. Yet, I KNOW without a shadow of a DOUBT that God HEALED Nick that day. Anyway, November 6 will be a difficult day for me. It won't be fun for Nick either. He hates drinking that chalky stuff he has to drink for this particular scan.

I have begun doing something that I haven't done in nearly 14 years. I began working last week as a substitute teacher. I have not worked for money since Nick was 6 months old.

We needed for me to go to work. Our finances are getting tighter the longer Keith is sick. I have realized that this life that we have been living for the last 57 months could likely continue on for months or years longer. We can't keep going without one of us working. Keith doesn't need to work. His body can't tolerate it. It really doesn't take much for him to get tired. He is finally beginning to realize what his limitations are.

I have always wanted to be a teacher. When I was in college, my major was education. Subbing should give me an idea of whether I will like teaching or not. This job choice also gives me some freedom over when I work. That will allow me to continue doing the things for my family that I have always done. So far, it has been a positive experience. I'm hoping that it will continue to be that way. I hope to someday finish what I started so many years ago.

My time in college seems like a lifetime ago. I guess in a way it has been a lifetime ago. I'm certainly not the naive young woman I was when Keith and I married, or a few years later when Nick was born. I've certainly had experiences that I wish no one here on earth had to endure.

I have learned several valuable lessons along the way. The big one is that through it all God is right there, right by my side. Every tear I shed, every time my heart aches, every time I've had to let go of my child or my husband as he is wheeled away from me into the OR, every sleepless night, every never ending hospital stay, every early morning drive to Birmingham, every time I've waited for the doctor to give me news that no mother or spouse wants to hear, ...every minute, every time, in every way, He is there. He IS there. God IS here. For some reason I have been compelled to share this tonight. I hope that this post finds it's way to whoever needs it. There are days I have to remind myself of these very things.

Thanks for bearing with me through this long post. I hope and pray that things will remain quiet for a little while longer. I like the way this version of normal feels.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

I am sorry it has been so long since I have updated. There have been so many things going on. Nick turned 14. Keith had his scans and we met with his oncologist. Kacie accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior, and was baptized yesterday. Whew!

Keith is doing well. His scans showed the cancer is stable and there was a small amount of improvement. We were/are thrilled beyond measure. We were surprised that we received good news. We were expecting bad news. We have been watching Keith fight so hard for so long. Every time he had scans, it seemed like he was fighting a losing battle. To finally have confirmation that this isn't a losing battle meant the world to both of us. The doctor reduced Keith's chemo in order to give his bone marrow a break. He had his first reduced treatment last week. When it was finished, Keith commented that he didn't feel like he'd had chemo. I wanted to shout I was so happy. He felt well all week long. The fact the he felt well meant that we were able to do more "normal" things last week. It was one of the best "chemo" weeks I can remember having in a long time.

Nick had a wonderful birthday. It is hard to imagine that sweet boy of mine being that old! It is a testimony to God that Nick is here with us today. We can already see that this year of being 14 will be a year of firsts with Nick. I've got the feeling we better hang on. It's libel to be a bumpy ride!

Kacie prayed to accept Christ on August 25. She has always been very inquisitive, so we weren't surprised when she began to ask questions about salvation. We've gone through this many times before, and once her curiosity was satisfied, she moved onto something else. This time was different though. It was an amazingly beautiful moment that I am so glad Keith and I were able to share with her. We were there with Nick when he prayed two years ago. One of my fears was that Keith wouldn't be around to share that special moment with Kacie. Her baptism took place at our church yesterday morning. Grandparents from both sides were able to be there. It was a wonderful time of celebration for our family.

I'll try to update again sooner. It has been nice to be busy doing "normal" things.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

News on Nick

Last week was one of the busiest weeks we have had in a long time. Nick's scans and trip to Birmingham were mostly uneventful. There were little glitches along the way, but certainly nothing major.

Nick's scans showed that the cancer is stable. We are thankful for that good news. Nick has three suspicious areas that the oncologist has been watching. One of the areas is in the same location as the large mass we dealt with two years ago. The best news was that particular mass, although still there, has decreased in metabolic activity on the PET scans. That is some of the best news we could have gotten. PET scans measure metabolic activity. Cancer cells are highly metabolic, so the PET scans are able to measure the "heat" that the cancer cells put off. The fact that the scan didn't measure any "heat" from this mass is a huge answer to prayer. The other two masses were still referred to as "hot" on the scans, which means there are active cancer cells in the masses. We are still praying for complete healing for Nick.

This is his third battle with cancer. So far, this battle has been the easiest. The other two times Nick has had cancer, he has had to endure surgeries and chemotherapy. We aren't there yet this time. Although every time Nick has to have these tests run, I do find myself wondering if this is when it starts up again.

When I think of how long we have been dealing with cancer, I am amazed. The power of God is truly awesome. Here's a history lesson. Nick will be 14 next week. He was 15 months old (December 1995) when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. He went through chemo from December 1995 until his liver transplant in September 1996. Nick got his new liver 1 week after his second birthday. The doctors told us when Nick was initially diagnosed that there was NOT a cure for his liver cancer. The best we could hope for was that the chemo would slow down the growth of the cancer. The transplant was truly a God thing. They didn't come up with that option until ALL other options had been rejected. Everything else was rejected because Nick would not have survived any of the surgeries to try to remove the tumors from his liver. The transplant was our only hope of curing Nick's cancer.

Fast forward to December 2003. Keith is admitted to the hospital for tests because he is having severe stomach pain. After scans and scopes, it is determined that Keith not only has a genetic condition that we knew nothing about, but he also has colon cancer at 33 years old. Keith's battle with cancer caused us to have some tests done on Nick and Kacie. Nick's tests reveal that he also has the genetic condition and that alone predisposes him to various forms of cancer. Nick had some pretty major surgeries to reduce his risk for developing colon cancer. We were advised to go ahead with this because of Nick's earlier cancer diagnosis and he was already developing early signs of the disease. After a long ordeal, Nick was finally well. Six months into his recovery(January 2006), Nick was diagnosed with PTLD/lymphoma. That is a type of cancer that is a rare side effect of taking anti-rejection medication for a transplant.

My thoughts were all over the place from "He can't have cancer the same time as Keith!" to "He's already had cancer once. He can't have it again!" I could not believe that the thing that saved Nick's life gave him cancer all over again. After almost a year of various treatments, a couple of surgeries, and chemo, the cancer went into remission.

January 2008 we found out the cancer was back. I mentioned earlier that this fight has been easier so far this time. The doctor has been watching it. There hasn't been any surgery or chemo yet. I guess it is safe to say that I expect there to be one day. That may sound like a lack of faith, but it isn't. I have faith that God can and will heal Nick. However, healing may have to come the hard way...the way it has twice before.

Cancer has lived in our house for nearly 13 years. It is only the rare day that goes by that I don't think about cancer at least once. We try to keep the focus of our family off of the fight that Keith and Nick have. We've lived with cancer for so long that we know how strong, how devastating, and how evil it can be. We know how Satan uses it to tear apart families, to wreck havoc on lives, and to turn people away from God. We choose to limit cancer by holding onto our faith in the Almighty Healer. We choose to limit cancer by laughing with our children, finding joy in the simple things, and fighting with a strength that is truly God given. Sometimes when there isn't any fight left in us, we limit cancer by crawling into God's lap and just holding on.

Thanks for sticking with me throughout this long post. This is the time of year that my thoughts and memories of the last 13 years flood back. We only had one birthday with Nick before he was diagnosed. One birthday that I didn't wonder if he would have another one. However, we've had 12 almost 13 that I've been more thankful than the year before!

God is awesome!

Friday, August 8, 2008

It's been a little while.

I realized today that it has been awhile since I've updated here. Things have been incredibly busy around our house. Keith has had another treatment and a visit with his oncologist. The good news there is that his counts have remained high enough for him to tolerate chemo. I have been worried that his counts wouldn't be able to tolerate the treatments much longer. With the help of the platelet shots, Keith has not had to miss a treatment yet. Praise God!

Keith will have another treatment in two weeks. Then the following week he will undergo CT scans that will measure the tumors and check for any other new sites of cancer. The results of these scans will tell the oncologist how well the chemo has been working. If the tumors are smaller (indicative that the chemo is working), then the chemo regimen will most likely be left alone for as long as Keith's body can tolerate it. If things have worsened (chemo is not working), then some adjustments will need to be made. The oncologist said that he would most likely leave Keith on the most of the same medicines. The frequency Keith gets the medicine would change. No major decisions will be made until after the scans are done.

Nick and Kacie have started back to school. Nick is in 8th grade and Kacie is in 3rd grade. Wow! Where did the time go? I don't feel like we had much of a summer break. I am not ready to tackle homework. I imagine the kids aren't either. Nick struggles so much with school and learning that the school year wears on all of us. I am hoping this year will be better. Kacie enjoys school. So far, she says that third grade is her most favorite year ever.

Nick will be having PET and CT scans next week. The PET scans will be here in town on Monday morning. We will take the discs with us to Birmingham for Nick's oncologist to review on Thursday. Nick will also have "neck to knees" CT scans done on Thursday morning. All of these scans will tell us if Nick's cancer has grown or progressed any. If it hasn't, then we might be able to take a break from having these frequent scans for a few months. If it has grown or any new spots have shown up, then the oncologist will have to make a plan for a biopsy and chemotherapy. We are praying that this won't happen. We would love to hear the news that Nick is cancer-free again.

Thank you for praying for us. We are trying to continue to rely on God for His will in our lives. It gets hard though. I find myself worrying and fretting over things that I can't change or control. That is when I have to make myself give things over to God and leave them be.

I wish we could return to a more "normal" lifestyle, but I am realizing with every passing day that this may be how our "normal" will be. I went through some of these same feelings when our life changed so dramatically after Nick's initial cancer diagnosis and liver transplant. After a few really hard years, we were able to settle into a new " normal" that meant we had to go to Birmingham routinely. However, our life was mostly calm with flareups that were bad when they happened, but ultimately didn't last very long. I never thought I would long for those days back, but I do.

I am tired of cancer living in our house. I would like for it to become a distant relative again. We seek to find joy daily, and not in material or earthly type things. A quick side note: One way we have found joy lately is by watching hummingbirds. We noticed that we had one feeding from a basket of petunias I hung on the front porch. We bought a feeder and the nectar began disappearing very quickly. We started watching the feeder and so far have counted three hummingbirds that are feeding from it. Today we're going to hang another feeder to see if it will attract a few more.

Take a few minutes today and find some joy, whether it be in watching hummingbirds or canning tomatoes or jam. (I've learned how to do that in the last two weeks. I have really enjoyed that too!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Spiritual warfare

I am beginning this post while we are sitting in the clinic. Keith is sleeping. Of the five bags of chemo he gets, two have finished. We still have about three and a half hours to go.

Keith has been feeling pretty good. We were able to go on our trip to be with Keith's parents, sisters and their families for his dad's 70th birthday. It was nice for everyone to be able to be together. I think the last time everyone was together was at the wedding for Keith's nephew a couple of years ago.

As I sit, watching over Keith as he gets his chemo, I think a lot. Today my thoughts have centered around spiritual warfare, and how Satan is continually trying to get to us. Everywhere God's people are trying to work, Satan is there trying to tear things down. I have a friend who is need of prayer, because of the spiritual warfare that Satan has launched.

I know there are times when Keith and I feel the oppressive weight of Satan's power. It weighs us down to the point it is difficult to get back up. As Christians, we know all we have to do is ask God for help. The hard part seems to be letting go so that God is able to help. I can't speak for Keith, but I tend to have a harder time letting go and letting God. I am not usually someone who can hear God speak, but there has been the occasion that I have sensed God trying to tell me to let Him handle whatever is bothering me at the time. That is the point that I tend to get into trouble. I can let go of it for a little while, but I have trouble leaving it with God. How I long for the day that will be an easy task!

I know that at one time or another, all Christians will struggle with Satan and spiritual warfare. It is a given at least until the Rapture. I do think that it is important that we not be afraid to admit when we are being attacked and ask for prayer to see us through. God says he will not forsake us. We have to have faith that God is who he says he is!

Until next time!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dancing in the rain

Keith is beginning to feel better after chemo on Monday. He still tires easily, and his appetite isn't completely back to normal. He did feel well enough to meet a friend for breakfast this morning. I think it was good for him to be able to do that.

I think we're doing okay. For the most part, we aren't focusing on what the lab tests in two weeks will say. Keith will have to go back in to have his counts checked on Tuesday. Keith's family is gathering in Georgia to celebrate his dad's 70th birthday. We can't go if Keith's counts are too low. I guess Tuesday will give us a small indication to what the following Monday will bring. I am reminding myself not to focus too much on it.

Inside the lab at the cancer clinic, there are little sayings posted. Keith saw one on Monday that seemed very appropriate, especially for us.

Life is not about waiting until the storm passes. It's learning to dance in the rain.

I think that sums up what we have tried to do during the last 12 1/2 years. If we waited for the storms to pass, we would have missed so much!

I hope that you too can learn to dance in the rain!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Another treatment...

We have had a very nice couple of weeks. Things have been somewhat calm, considering everything. Nick had an appointment in Birmingham last week. Everything seems to be settling down just a little bit. His oncologist has scheduled PET and CT scans for mid-August. If these scans yield good results, the doctor is willing to let us take a step back for a few months. We would dearly love for that to happen. We have certainly traveled to Birmingham more frequently that once a month during the last 12 1/2 years, but it does get monotonous.

Keith had another round of chemo today. He also had a checkup with the nurse practitioner (CRNP) who works with the oncologist. We were surprised by how low Keith's platelets had gotten. Since the beginning of June, Keith has been getting an additional shot to help with his platelet production. Keith has been feeling pretty good and not having any problems with bleeding. We were taken completely by surprise with today's news. Keith was able to receive treatment today, but the CRNP recommended more of the platelet shots as a preventative measure. Keith will be getting a platelet shot everyday for three days this week and repeat the series again in two weeks.

Hopefully, these additional shots will enable Keith's body to tolerate another chemo treatment in two weeks. I fear that we are approaching another stopping point. Keith's bone marrow is tired. He has endured so much and had so many drugs pumped into his body. It's not a surprise that this chemo is hitting him so hard. It is hard to accept when we know that this is one of Keith's last hopes of being cured with medicine.

Today has been a little discouraging. We won't really know much more until two weeks from today. In four weeks, we will meet with the doctor to discuss everything. Please continue praying for Keith and our whole family. We aren't ready to quit, but there may not be a choice one day soon.

Keith is feeling okay from the chemo today. He is tired, but that isn't unusual. From tomorrow on, each day should be better than the one before. It is quiet around our house tonight. The kids have gone to stay with Keith's parents for a couple of days. They love spending time at Nana and Pawpaw's house. I'm trying not to dwell on today.

Monday, June 23, 2008


What a whirlwind summer this has been so far! I think we have been busier this year than in most years. Maybe that is a good thing. I think I can safely use that as an indicator that our life has settled down a bit.

The last couple of weeks have been spent either in preparation for Vacation Bible School or in Vacation Bible School. I taught the 1st & 2nd grade this year. It was a wonderful experience. I am glad it is finished, because I am tired.

Keith began chemo again today. He was feeling pretty wiped out when I got him home. He said he is feeling some better now. I think food and a nap helped. He seemed to have a little bit of a hard time this morning. I think he had a more difficult time getting motivated today. I certainly don't blame him. We are looking at 4 1/2 years of almost nonstop chemo. That is such a long time. Sometimes I wonder how much longer Keith can withstand all this. He is such a strong man.

One of the most difficult things I had to deal with when Keith was diagnosed was the feeling that I was standing alone. Keith had always been my rock when we were dealing with Nick's cancer, various treatments, and surgeries. When Nick was taken away from us in that long, dark walkway the night of his transplant, I completely fell apart. Keith was right there to pick me up and help me put myself back together. Keith's diagnosis made me feel like I no longer had my rock to lean on. How could I get through this without leaning on Keith? Was I strong enough to be his rock?

It took longer than it should have, but I did learn a very valuable lesson. I was never alone! God was with me every step of the way. It's one thing to know it with your head, but it is entirely different with the heart. I do believe that is a lesson I would not have learned in any other way. There have been nights when I couldn't sleep. The heartache was so completely consuming, and I couldn't do anything except cry. On those nights, I have felt so close to God. I wonder if I would have been able to sense that without all of this happening with Keith. Only God knows.

We are doing okay I guess. I think right now we are all tired. Kacie keeps asking if she can sleep late in the morning. I know how she feels. We are planning on doing just that in the morning. Next week will be another week of some busy-ness. Nick will be back in Birmingham on Tuesday, 7/1, for another checkup. The kids want to go do something fun. They're hinting at going to Alabama Adventures. We might do that. We'll need to take a look at the budget and see if there is room. We'll be spending some time with Keith's family over the July 4th weekend.

At least most of our tiredness is from doing a few "normal" things, and NOT being in the hospital or doctor's office all the time.

Until next time, keep praying!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Recital and more

What a busy week last week was! By the time Friday got here, I was so tired. Friday afternoon and evening brought an event that Kacie has been striving for all school year. It was dance recital time!

Kacie dances for a Christian studio called Steps of Faith. Friday and Saturday completed her third year of dance. Dance has been a wonderful outlet for Kacie. I have been given the opportunity to get to know some of the strongest, faith-filled Christian moms through Kacie's dream of dancing.

It was a beautiful recital full of praise in various forms of dance. Kacie danced beautifully. Kacie and I were exhausted when it was over.

Keith started treatment again on Monday, 6/9. He is okay. I'm afraid today was more tiring for him than he needed it to be. Nick had an appointment with his ENT, and I had a bunch of VBS errands to run afterward. Nick's checkup went well. We'll go back in August or sooner if necessary. Keith went with us this morning. Then tonight, we were working at the church getting ready for VBS next week. Keith did rest in between, but it certainly doesn't take much for him to tire out. I just hope that it doesn't catch up with him tomorrow and make him feel worse.

I think we are slowly beginning to settle into a routine. I finally feel like it is summer vacation since we've gotten through our major doctors appointments. I won't go into all that tonight. I'm pretty tired and it's getting late.

Thank you for the prayers yesterday. Keith really handled this treatment well.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Praises To God!

Keith and I feel so full of blessings today. I never thought that the word "stable" would bring such joy and hope to my heart. This week has been a difficult week. I mentioned how stressed I was Sunday, but I really couldn't put into words exactly how anxious I have been since returning from the beach.

Today was a day filled with wonderful news. Nick still has cancer, but he won't have to have surgery or chemo right now. I feel like I have been given a huge present.

We also heard this week that Keith's cancer, while still very serious, is mostly stable. It didn't increase in size very much since February. I was terrified of hearing that Keith would be stopping chemo and it was time to call hospice in.

The last thing I want to face is life without Keith, Nick, or Kacie by my side. We live with the knowledge that Keith or Nick are literally fighting for their lives...daily. Nick has been fighting for 12 1/2 years. I look at the two of them and marvel at the way God has worked in their lives.

We try to take today for today. I still worry. I have to constantly battle with turning things over to God, only to take them back again. I feel like God is constantly telling me to let Him work. I am continually trying to fight that.

Thank you again for all of the prayers. Please join us in giving thanks for the answered prayers this week.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Joy in times of trial

This weekend has been hard on me emotionally. There have been moments where I have felt completely defeated. There have been moments that the heartache is so strong, I don't think I can bear it anymore. I try not to let these negative emotions in very often, but sometimes I can't keep them away.

I walked into church this morning wishing, hoping, praying for God to comfort me in some way. I needed to be able to feel His presence. I needed some kind of reassurance. Reassurance of what? I didn't know this morning. I needed something, and I didn't know what.

The sermon today was on James 1:1-12. If you aren't familiar with this passage, please take the time to do read it. We aren't promised that our lives will be without trials. It says so in verses 2-4. We can't develop endurance/perseverance if we don't go through trials. (I guess Keith and I should have a lot of endurance.) It struck me today that, especially this weekend, I have been like the waves of the sea in verse 6. I needed something, because I have been overcome with doubts. Those doubts make my faith restless like the waves of the sea.

My doubts are certainly nothing new. They just seem so much closer to the surface this weekend. I am afraid of what we will hear in the morning. I don't doubt that God has the ability to heal Keith. I fully believe that He does. I am afraid that earthly healing will not be what God has planned. That alone is frightening. Add in Nick's health situation, the fact that I haven't worked outside the home in 13 years, raising Kacie and Nick, and the list goes on and on and on. The big black hole of doubt is easy for me to fall into.

This passage reassures me of God's presence. It shows me to focus less on the trial and more on God's purpose of the trial. I need to look at the bigger picture, rather than focus on the here and now. I should also focus on the reward. In verse 12 it states that the reward for persevering through trials is the Crown of Life. Wow! God promises that to those who have persevered under trial and stood the test. I hope I am standing the test in a way that is pleasing to my Heavenly Father.

I'll leave you tonight with one more verse from today's message. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

I certainly don't understand any of this that is happening, but I do trust God. I may get shaken up some along the way, but He loves me. I know that it's okay for me to seek comfort and reassurance from My Father. Maybe that's what He wants me to do. Surrender to Him and stop trying to do it own my own. That way He can have His way!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We're home!

We are home from the beach. We had a wonderful and relaxing time. We weren't able to get into the Gulf water at all due to red flag conditions. However, we spent countless hours down on the beach just soaking up the sights and sounds that are the beach.

No one came home sunburned. That is a major plus for us. A sunburn for Keith and Nick could be pretty bad. Several of their medications make them ultra-sensitive to the sun. We love the beach, but respect the sun. We go armed with major sunscreen, big beach umbrella, t-shirts, and hats.

Keith had CT scans today to check the progress of the cancer. We'll find out the results on Monday morning. We have to wait the weekend, but that doesn't really bother us. It is only two days.

The worst part is the wondering and being plagued by those "what-ifs". It seems like there are a million different thoughts and fears circling through my mind. One of the hardest things for me to deal with right now is the fear that we will be told that Keith will have to stop treatment completely. I struggle with that a lot. I'm not ready to move into the end phase of cancer. I don't guess that anyone is ever ready.

I have had to start and stop this post a few times during the last couple of days. It has been crazy trying to get back into a routine. Then the routine got disrupted again tonight. Kacie is sick with what appears to be a tummy bug. I know that doesn't seem like much, but it just sent my stress level way up. We deal with so much stress on a regular basis that even regular kinds of sick seem hard to handle sometimes. I hope she is well by Monday. I don't know what I'll do if she isn't. I really need to be with Keith on Monday.

I feel like all I'll do if I continue writing is whine. I don't like whining, so I guess this is it for tonight. I am hoping I'll be able to fill in more of the details of our beach trip soon. Thank you for the prayers.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Time has a way of flying by, and I can't seem to catch up.

I am feeling better. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. It took a few days for me to settle down and let God handle everything. Nick has been fine so far.

Keith had his blood counts checked yesterday morning (Monday, 5/19). His counts are rebounding nicely and he did not need any shots to boost him up before we leave on vacation. That was wonderful news to hear. Keith's blood counts have been so abused by the four years of chemo. It doesn't take much to drag him down.

My thoughts are all over the place tonight. We are in the final stages of the vacation packing. I am so looking forward to this trip. We are going to the beach.

The beach is probably my most favorite place in the world. I feel like I can breathe when I'm there. It is also a worshipful experience for me. My favorite thing to do when we are there is to go down to the beach at night. I'll just sit and let the night envelope me. All I hear is the ocean. All I see are the stars. I feel so close to God at that moment. It is almost like my soul takes a big breath of fresh air. I'm excited just in anticipation of it.

I am trying not to worry about what we will come home to. Keith will have CT scans two days after we come home. We will get the results a couple of days later. I am afraid of what we will hear. I know that we are close to hearing that there will be no more treatment, unless God has chosen to intervene with healing. Some days, I'm strong and I know we'll handle it. Other days, I'm weak and want to bury my head. It's hard.

A couple of days after we find out about Keith, Nick will have a bunch of scans to see how his cancer is progressing. So, I guess we'll find out about both of their diagnoses in the same week. Two years ago, Keith was diagnosed with cancer for the third time and Nick was diagnosed with PTLD/lymphoma all in the same week. That was hard too. I don't know how we managed, except that God carried us. I know He will again. I'm just not ready to face it.

Please pray for travel mercies, everyone to stay well, and for rest.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Anxious and afraid

For all of my talk about how I try to overcome anxiety, I am not doing a very good job of it tonight. I have become almost paranoid concerning Nick. There are many symptoms associated with the PTLD/lymphoma that he can have ( low grade fever, back pain, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, tiredness, etc.). This is not the first time we have been told to watch Nick for symptoms. I'm sure it won't be the last.

A few days ago, Nick felt hot to my touch. I checked his temperature and he registered as 99.5. I know that doesn't sound like much, but for Nick that can be considered a fever. The medication he takes not only makes his immune system weak, but it also makes the way his immune system responds to things different. If Nick ever runs a high fever, the probability that he has something serious is very high. So, if he registers a low grade fever, then he is likely sick and we have to take action.

I have to say that my stomach did a flip. Nick is already on antibiotics for a borderline sinus infection. Running a low grade fever points to the cancer becoming active again. That's what happened two summers ago. Nick was fine, and then started running low grade fevers in the evenings. At that time, we knew Nick had PTLD/lymphoma and were watching him for symptoms. The fevers were the main symptoms he had.

It didn't occur to me until a little while later the other day that Nick had been outside riding his bike. Once I thought about him just being hot, I settled down. Nick took a shower and I made sure it wasn't one of the hot kind that he loves. I took his temp after he got out and it had returned to normal. I exhaled. I also checked it again a couple of times before Nick went to bed. This is also procedure for us to make sure we get an accurate read. When Nick was first transplanted, we had to check his temp several times day in order to get a daily average. Anyway, every time I checked, Nick's temp was normal. One would think I would let it go!

Nope! Not me! I have been obsessing about this temp thing for three days now. I am constantly checking his head or sticking the thermometer in his mouth. Nick finally asked me why I keep checking. I told him I was paranoid. Now, he'll say "Mom, are you feeling paranoid again?"

I wish I could say that I am full of faith and I am trusting the Lord with this, but sadly...I can't seem to let this go. I found myself looking at Nick this afternoon and thinking that maybe he looks pale. That was when I realized that I do indeed have a problem. The peace that I long for, I can't find. Fear and anxiety have replaced it. I can't seem to let go of it long enough for the Lord to fill me with His Peace.

I'm asking for prayer for me tonight and through the next several days. Prayer that I will be able to let go of this and allow God to work. We are supposed to go on vacation next week. It has been a long time since we've taken one. I'm afraid that something will happen and we won't be able to take our trip. We could all use some time off. Pray for that too. Also pray that everyone stays well.

Thank you for lifting me up in my time of weakness.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I hope everyone was able to have a wonderful day today. I know that there are many who are experiencing sadness on this day. My prayer is that God will comfort and bring peace that only He can provide.

Today brings back a memory from twelve years ago. It was my second Mother's Day, and I was terrified that it might be my last. Nick had been diagnosed about 6 months earlier with liver cancer at 15 months old. We were told there wasn't a cure, but if the tumors would shrink surgery would help.

A month or so before Mother's Day, we were told that Nick couldn't have that surgery. His chances of surviving the surgery were slim to none. We were devastated, and didn't know what to do or say. On the evening of the day we were told this, Keith's mom (Kay) was with me and Nick at the hospital. Nick had been admitted for his scheduled three-five days of chemo. Kay and I sat there, while Nick was sleeping, attempting to eat our supper. We both cried so hard we couldn't eat. Nick's nurse came in on rounds and began talking with us about why we were so upset.

Looking back, I can see God's hand at work here. This nurse was the first person to ever mention a transplant to us. We thought that a transplant was impossible. By the time Mother's Day rolled around, Nick's oncologist had been searching high and low for some kind of option (hope) to give us. Eventually he found it, since Nick had a liver transplant.

I can remember telling Keith I was so scared that if Nick died, it meant I wouldn't be a mom anymore. Those were the kinds of thoughts that plagued me on that Mother's Day 12 years ago. I don't remember how I managed to get through it, but I did. I know that God was with me every step of the way. Keith was very understanding, even though I'm sure his heart was breaking as well.

Today, my Mother's Day was spent receiving flowers, cards, and sweet treats from Nick, Kacie, and Keith. We went to church, out to lunch , and bowling. I was asked what I wanted to do for Mother's Day, and I wanted to do something "normal". Bowling was the first thing that came to mind. I had a wonderful day. What a difference from twelve years ago!

I've now had the opportunity to celebrate Mother's Day fourteen times. I just have to pause and thank God for each of these, even the not so good ones. I remind myself that once upon a time, I was afraid I wouldn't have any more Mother's Days at all.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2008


A couple of weeks ago, during Wednesday night prayer meeting, I was struck with the realization that many of the people on our prayer list were waiting. Some were waiting for surgery. Others were waiting for test results. Still others were waiting for God's healing hand. I was overwhelmed with the amount of waiting that some of us have to endure.

Sometimes waiting is worse than anything. I am not a patient person. Patience does not come easily for me, but I have learned the importance of being patient. I think of waiting, patience, and anxiety as siblings. In my world, they all go hand in hand. For example: We are waiting on some test results. The results take time, and time means patience and anxiety. We wait in the doctor's office to receive what will likely be sad news. That leads into more anxiety, and we have to wait patiently until it is our turn with the doctor. The whole thing is made worse, because the entire situation is out of our control. Then we have a need for more waiting, more anxiety, and more patience. It is a nasty, vicious circle.

Sometimes I think about what I have learned about patience over the last several years. Probably one of the most important things I have learned is that God wants us to turn over everything to Him. A friend of mine sent me a wonderful email that had a link to a website that was about having a birth verse. Each day of the year has a specific Bible verse. I looked up my verse. My birthday is May 7. The verse that came up was 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. When I step back and take a look at my life, the life God gave me, that verse speaks volumes.

I have battled with anxiety for many years. The amount of time that I have spent waiting in waiting rooms, exam rooms, treatment rooms, and hospital rooms is simply overwhelming. How do I get through it? It really depends on where I am. Many people recognize me by my sewing. If I'm waiting with Keith or Nick in a treatment room, hospital room, or waiting room, I will usually have some type of hand sewing that I am working on. If my hands are busy, my mind is usually busy and it passes the time in a constructive way. Now, if we are in a exam room or elsewhere and it is test result day, I am just waiting. I am not able to concentrate long enough to get anything done. I am trying to make myself stay in my seat and not pace. Yes, I can be a pacer.

Overcoming that huge amount of stress has been a challenge. I would work myself up into a frenzy in the days preceding "that visit". So, you can imagine the state I would be in by the time we would actually be sitting there. It has taken me a long time to find what works for me. The thing that works best for me is repeatedly praying the Lord's Prayer. While praying, I meditate on the words and their meaning. The part that always strikes me is..."Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." Wow! What a realization I had when I came to terms with the fact that I was sitting where I was, because it was God's will. Then, I am faced with the realization of what God has entrusted me with. He trusted me with the lives of three very special people. I am their caregiver, wife, mother, supporter, advocate, and (as another friend lovingly says) their bulldozer driver.

Talk about a reality check. I realize there may be a hundred other things I would rather be doing, but nothing could keep me away from being right there, right at that moment.

I don't know if any sense can be made out of all this today, but I can say that I felt pressed to write about it. I have made waiting one of my talents. It is one that I do well...most of the time.

I've included the link to the birth verse website. I hope God speaks to you through it as well.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Monday, May 5, 2008

The First Day

For many years, I have been asked why I didn't have a website. I don't really know the answer to that. I've always enjoyed updating everyone via email. I haven't ever found it to be a bother. However, for the last several weeks (maybe months), I have been feeling overwhelmed with the need to write more in depth about what is going on within our family. Most of my email updates consist of the latest medical news about Nick or Keith. There isn't as much about what is going on with us emotionally, spiritually, or physically. I am hoping that I can use this blog as a way to journal thoughts, feelings, worries, etc. that are just too consuming to be contained in an email. Much of the time, I imagine I will be rambling. Hopefully, I will be able to give a small glimpse of our daily walk not only with cancer, but with Christ.

I named this blog the way I did, because so much of the time I feel like I am in the eye of the storm. I have weathered the first wave, but there is another one surely to follow. So many times, I have to refrain from asking "What now, Lord?" If I have learned anything during the last 12 1/2 years, it is don't ask "What else?" It seems like that question gets answered ten-fold.

Keith had his last treatment today. So, I guess his break officially begins tomorrow. I don't know exactly how to feel about this break. Don't get me wrong, I am excited. The prospect of having even one treatment off is thrilling, but it scares me. There, I've said it! I am scared of this break. I guess it isn't the break I'm afraid of, but what comes after. Once again, we are entering the unknown. I feel like God has got something great and wonderful in store for us. I just wish I knew.

I'm not good with the unknown. Right now, one of my greatest fears is living this life without Keith by my side. With his diagnosis, that is a reality that we must face. It is such a comfort and joy to know that even though he isn't with me, he WILL be with the Heavenly Father. WOW! what an amazing thought. My mind will wander at the worst of times and I find myself thinking about "what-if's". One of my "what-if's" is of Keith kneeling at the feet of our Father. The joy that will be radiating from his face. The healing that couldn't be found here on earth will be evident. What a wonderful place for Keith to be! Then, my human side takes over and I am overwhelmed with sadness and grief. Selfishly, I want him here with me and the kids. Nick and Kacie absolutely adore Keith. I hurt so bad to think of them growing up without Keith. If I'm not careful, that sadness and grief can quickly move into anger and resentment. That is usually when I take a few minutes to cry about it, and then release all of it to God.

Several very wise friends over the years have told me that God can handle anything I throw at Him. How foolish I feel, when I remember that God already knows everything I am thinking and feeling.

Many times, Keith and I will receive a note of encouragement from someone. A good portion of the time, the note will contain scripture. One verse that has repeatedly shown up is Jeremiah 29:11. I've included it today, more for me than for you. It always reminds me that God has my best interests at heart. He never guaranteed me that there wouldn't be pain or suffering, but He will see me through to the glorious conclusion.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11