In Sickness and in Health

Battling cancer with love, medicine, and the Giver of both.

Good Days

We are praising the Lord this week for relatively good results from my second round of chemo.  It is hard to believe the difference between this round and the first.  I am on a half dosage of steroids and taking Benadryl at night.  Which means I’m not waking up at 3:00 a.m. and starving hungry.  Been sleeping like a baby–not a very good simile.  I think you mothers might agree.

A slightly sore mouth is much more manageable than one that aches whenever I put food in it.  Last time around I had thrush by this time and a very miserable jaw/mouth.  Food still tastes funny.  It’s often either less tasty or it tastes like other food.  Like yesterday I declare my water tasted like cottage cheese.  Weird!  I’m grateful I’m not dealing with the common complaint of metallic tasting food.

GI problems are much more controllable as well.  Not many tummy aches so far.  A bit more heartburn than last time but that is being helped by Reglan (my “just in case” nausea med).

My dear mother drove down to be with me this week which is helping matters tremendously.  Nothing like a mamma around to cook and clean and care for you.  It’s been marvelous.

We want to thank all of you that have sent up so many prayers on our behalf.  We feel humbled and sobered when we hear how we are being held up to the Great Physician.  He is answering your prayers!  Also, we are greatly encouraged by all the blog comments and cards sent our way.  We cannot respond to them all but we drink them all in.  May God bless each of you for your love and care!



Apparently Jean rallied quite a bit since last Monday because her blood counts were well within range, and the treatment happened without incident. We thank God for success, a good medical team, prayers, and pray-ers!

Elation about a chemotherapy infusion is one of life’s ironies, but sometimes you just have to laugh at the incongruity of it all. Especially if you have the Author-Redeemer of life on your side.


Jean here.  I just had to say that every time we go into the Infusion Center my dear husband gets quite the volley of praise and adoration.  Today he was admired for his shaved head.  My main nurse, Lois, is a riot.  She keeps making comments about how cute Josh is. I’d be worried except that she could be our mom.  She’s been working at the hospital for 39 years.  Incredible lady.  So she’s made comments before, but today we were in there and Josh stepped out to go make an appointment.  She turned to me and said, “He’s so cute!  I’ll bet he’s as sweet as he is cute.”  An opportunity to brag on my husband?  I won’t turn that down.  She got an earful. 😉  As I write he’s cleaning up our supper dishes.  I am a blessed woman!


Hair goes, love remains

Jean’s hair loss has been increasingly worse over the last several days, so tonight we faced the inevitable. It was a desperate time–devastating, hilarious, and gut-wrenching all at the same time. We’re still sorting through it all.

Despite everything, she is having fun with her burgeoning hat collection. Her hair is being sent to Wigs For Kids. Earth has not known a more gracious, courageous woman!

This is our testament to change.

Jean’s Note: What can I say?  This has been a hard day!  I think my toughest moments actually happened before we did anything.  Sunday morning was the first I noticed a significant change.  I would run my brush through my hair several times and end up with an alarming amount of hair in it.  It was significant that this was the day things started happening because I had asked the Lord for one more Sunday with my hair and that was that Sunday.  By Monday it was worse.  So we decided to take it off today (Tuesday).  I had been advised to just take it all off as soon as it starts coming out since the in-between stage is the hardest.  I know now what they mean.  Also, I wanted to donate my hair, and I knew that if I waited till it was coming out in very large clumps it may be too late. 

May God bless the heart of my husband!  Not only is he showing solidarity with me by shaving his own head, but he agreed to go first in the process.  I was so scared.  And he bravely led on. 

One of my weakest moments with all this was this morning as I washed my hair.  I was weeping.  It seemed like so much of it was coming out.  I didn’t want to face it all.  I didn’t want to lose my glory.  I didn’t want so many things.  But in the midst of all that, God brought a beautiful picture to my mind.  It was of a child receiving their wig for the first time.  And I imagined that she would be smiling.  Because now she had an answer to the horrible things that were happening to her body (and how devastating this must be for a CHILD).  Now she had a covering for her shame.  I want my glory to be used to cover a little girl’s shame.



Upon reviewing the pre-chemo blood tests this morning, Dr. Ali decided to postpone Jean’s second chemo treatment until next week because of her low neutrophil count. Despite dreading the inevitable effects of another treatment, we were ready to keep moving forward, so the delay is discouraging. I guess with cancer, life can’t exactly be lived in six month sections.

But on the bright side we should be having a normal week, all things considered. Normality is still sweet even after six days of it.


This is Jean

Well, the time has come for the patient to speak her piece.

The last week of my life has been one of the roughest.  Prior to this I thought my ideas of mortality and humanity were held loosely enough.  I’ve had to rethink some of that.  Somehow having to suffer physically day in and day out makes a body realize it is not invincible. Don’t think I’m very okay with that yet.

Consequently, I had some very depressing moments in the last few days.  One in particular was Easter Sunday.  The night before I had had maybe 3-4 hours of sleep total.  Was wide awake most of the night keeping the stars company and sipping tea.  Why?  Such questions aren’t asked when on chemo.  Sometimes it doesn’t make sense.  By morning I was exhausted and frustrated but was not willing to give up going to church.  I endured most of it with a sort of buzzing in the head.  Unfortunately, I could not sleep that afternoon due to some very uncomfortable GI problems.  Yes, these are side effects of powerful anti-nausea meds.  The afternoon and evening were endured.  By night I was emotionally and physically probably at my lowest so far.  I knew God would need to step in.  In my Benadryl-drugged condition, I kept hearing Josh say to me, “Jean, we are in God’s hands.”  And somehow I fell asleep in Those hands!*

Our visit with the doctor on Monday was very encouraging.  We are planning to cut back on the anti-nausea steroids the next time around due to the bad side effects I was experiencing.  I am happy about that.  Just hope the nausea stays away.  My counts showed my neutrophils (white cells that kill germs) a little low.  (1.3 for you nurses).  So I am needing to be extra careful about germs during this time.

Tuesday was a day set aside for sleep.  Well, not exactly planned.  But exhaustion was definitely the word of the day.  This was another low moment for me.  That evening I pleaded with the Lord to please let Wednesday be a good day.

Today was that day!  I could actually be up and around and doing laundry and cooking and enjoying life in general.  Cannot believe the difference.  Don’t know if it will last, but I have this day!

*All Is Well

(Song by Johnny Parks and Claire Hamilton)

He lowers us to raise us; So we might sing His praises

Whatever is His way, all is well.

He makes us rich and poor; that we might trust Him more

Whatever is His way, all is well.

All my changes come from Him; He who never changes

I’m held firm in the grasp of the Rock of all the Ages.

All is well with my soul

He is God, in control

I know not all His plans

But I know I’m in His hands.



After a rough, post-chemo week we are thanking God for what looks like a return to normality, however relative that normal may be. For Jean the week  involved significant fatigue, abdominal pain, heartburn, jaw pain, thrush, and other more delicate ailments. Fortunately, she hasn’t been dealing with nausea, thanks to a significant regimen of steroids. But even steroids have their side effects. Frankly, we were discouraged.

While today was still far from pre-chemo, she at least had enough energy to do some housework and actually enjoy it. Until today the next six months looked impossible. We are praying for things to just get better from here. At least until the next regimen. After a week of bleakness, it feels risky to hope even for this. But what is life without hope? Regardless, we had today, and that is what matters in a day-by-day battle.

Thanks for caring, and remember that Christ has risen!


First chemo

First chemo treatment is finished. Jean is doing fairly well considering the amount of toxins in her body. We are worn out but at peace.

We weren’t quite this alert six hours later.