In Sickness and in Health

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

He is Faithful

Well folks!

Tomorrow is treatment #12.

My last one!

I do not feel a “bouncing off the walls” kind of excitement.  It’s more of a quiet hope.  A deep gratitude.  A grace that cannot be spoken.  An unworthiness that I should be healed.  A thankfulness to the God of the Universe for sparing my life.

Some days I seriously questioned whether I’d ever make it to see this day.  AND I figured that if I did, I’d be so weak physically it wouldn’t really matter anyways.  Well, it does matter and I’m not feeling weak.

Yes, it’s true that my body is definitely wearing down towards the end, but God has also given me “bounce back” in-between the rounds.  I’m feeling quite good!

Though I hit a low over the weekend on this last round, God seems to have answered my prayer for a miracle and I was already on the mend by last Monday.  I am grateful.  To enter a round with renewed energy is worth a whole heap!  Specifically, to enter my last round feeling good is something I did not even have the faith to hope for.  Thank-you Jesus!

Nothing is certain…of this I am certain.  Only He is certain.  What am I saying?  Only that I find myself still a mortal, susceptible to all the brokenness of this world.  Cancer can return.  This would most certainly paralyze me were it not that I know Him in whose hands I rest.

Please pray for us this last round!


I am Weary

It’s Jean now.  I just wanted to post a bit too.

Like Josh said we had a marvelous break this last week.  I had fairly good energy tho I tired easily at times.  Our souls were refreshed with friends and family!

Reality was a little harsh in coming back.  Tears are never far from my eyes.  I had to let them out last night and on the way to the hospital this morning.  I am shocked that I’m not more upbeat with only ONE more treatment left.  I am certainly happy to be so nearly done.  But I guess I feel weak and so what I have to go through yet does not look exciting.  Today went well but I was really exhausted by the time I got home.  I wish I could say I’m exuding optimism and cheer, but I can’t tell a lie.

This much I can say: I am waiting on Him and resting in His bigness.  I have found Him still faithful.  I still love Him…fiercely.  He is still my rock and my “strong tower.”  And He is still ministering to my soul (just this morning one of the first thoughts He put into my head was this, “Many people are praying for you today”).  I feel like I’m surviving on the prayers of others right now.  My body and spirit are wearied from the fight, but He knows all that and He has been measuring out my daily strength with infinite care.

My bright spot today was that family Josh mentioned who came to see us in the infusion center.  She was in a wheelchair and was literally leaving the hospital after birthing a baby this weekend, but they took time to encourage us.  I get deep stirrings in my soul when I think of them.  They were just happy Christians expressing their faith openly and giving credit to God for the miracles He’s done in their lives.  (I wrote this paragraph before Anne brought our supper tonight.  So I’ll have to say that my second bright spot was seeing Micah, her 10 month old ? son!  There is something about him that always gives me life).

I must say this yet: My hair is coming back!!!  A smile from God.  A reason for intense gratitude.  It is now probably about ⅜ in. on top of my head.  A little shorter on the sides, but it’s coming.  And it’s soft as baby hair.  Sometimes I just sit and feel and feel it.  When I was home this last weekend my bother Andi kept lifting my hat to rub it. 🙂


Home Stretch

It’s gonna be a stretch.

After our Bonus Week filled with family, marriage, travel, energy, and all things good, we are back in the infusion center. I’m trying to think of appropriate analogies. Seven days in heaven then crashing back to earth, perhaps? It’s amazing how quickly the nightmare fades when goodness breaks in, surrounds, and overwhelms.

We decided to take advantage of the Bonus Week by sending Jean home (as in Meadville home) early. My dad provided the flight on Wednesday, and I was left behind to scrounge out a living for a few days. Within hours of her departure, life took on that dreary blue-gray shade of bachelor life. Fortunately, my survival techniques are still in good shape, but so are my habits–late nights, long, rambling drives, odd dinners at odd hours of the night. I played “Homeward Bound” a lot while she was gone. Then Friday after school I aligned my Focus with the North Star and never looked back. Approaching Meadville on I-79 always gives me a sort of melancholy thrill. This time the thrill contained hints of desperation. For the first time since our wedding day I was making this trip with my love waiting “silently for me.” I’m sure the angels smiled and blushed when we finally found each other under the stars on Plank Road.

On Saturday my beautiful sister married her handsome groom, and they are starting the “happily ever after” part. God, bless them…

Then Sunday was church, family, and the long drive back to Virginia–our bittersweet home.


Here she is, ready and waiting to have her body walloped for the eleventh time.








Goodness still surrounds and overwhelms. It just feels different back on earth.


End-note: I wrote that last line in faith. I knew God was with us, but I wasn’t sure how. As I was editing a couple walked in with a brand-new baby and two other children. Our nurse, Lois wanted us to meet them because the lady, Teresa, is a cancer survivor. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma no less. The baby, Philip, is her second post-chemo child. Three year-old Gianna was the first, born exactly a year after her last chemo treatment. They identified with us. They remembered their own story for us. They assured us of their prayers on our behalf. Our interaction lasted only several minutes, but they charged the air with hope. Hope of a normal life beyond this detour. Hope of family. The hope was palpable. Goodness broke in and surrounded and overwhelmed. Sometimes God reveals himself in a flicker or a glimpse, then silence. But sometimes He is as obvious as a freight train. We needed to be bowled over by His grace.


How it Stands

Finally, an update…

Thank-you for praying about our specific requests.  God answered one with a “yes” and the other with a “no.”  The bone pain was virtually non-existent this last round.  Yeah!!  That was such a wonderful relief.  Otherwise, it was about the worse round I’ve had.  (The first one still trumps all)

So…what makes it so bad?  Sometimes I lie there on my couch and ask myself that very thing.  It’s not like I’m in a lot of pain most of the time.  I just feel horrible.  Being on chemo is sorta like having a war going on in your body.  It’s hard to relax.  Sometimes I’m so incredibly exhausted I can’t relax.

Sometimes it’s a combination of little things:

*Soreness behind jaw

*Thickness in throat

*Bloating/burping (femininity is hard these days)

*Sore shoulder and neck muscles

And then…the infamous chemo brain!  That is the one side effect that probably bugs me the most.  I go from happy, talkative, steroid lady on Tuesday to withdrawn, foggy, detached woman on Wednesday.  This time it lasted until Sunday and was by far the worst.  It feels like several million brain cells decide to evaporate and I’m left to stare blankly at the wall and ponder whether my own thoughts even make sense.  At times I feel like I’m gonna go insane.


On Tuesday of my second week we met with my oncologist.  He has a way of encouraging me.  He explained that the reason for the increase in symptom severity is simply an accumulation of the chemo.  It’s very normal.  My body’s had enough now (but of course, he won’t even think of letting me skip the last two).  In his own words: “You just gotta push through them.”  Okay Mr. Dr.!  Whatever you say!

The main thing on my mind at this appointment was asking for a postponement of my next treatment.  Josh’s sister, Andrea, is getting married in PA next weekend and I knew that if I stayed on schedule (had chemo tomorrow), we would most likely not make it to the wedding.  Not with how the last few rounds have been.  That was a most unappealing thought!!  So, as we waited for the doctor to appear, I prepared myself to fight for it tooth and nail (my husband was offering his own sets of teeth and nails).  With all my toes and fingers crossed, I bravely ventured the question.  He barely batted an eye before giving me permission to postpone a week.  WHAT?  All my claws retracted to normal positions and I grinned very largely.  A very happy woman walked out of that office.  Apparently, staying on a two week schedule is not nearly as important towards the end.


My next treatment is not until September 17th and then my last is scheduled for October 1st.  Glory Hallelujah!!