Tag Archives: Christ

“How are you?”

“Hey! How are you?”

Do they just mean in general or, like, cancer-wise? How deep are they looking to go? How long has it been since I’ve seen or talked to this person? Have they heard the latest update that I’m fine? Am I fine? I think I’m fine…

“Fine! How are you?”

This often leaves someone looking a little bewildered that I hadn’t answered them fully.

Crap. They wanted to know more…ok where are we at here….

“Yup, scans have been good so I can’t complain!”

“But how are you feeling?”

Now this is the question that really gets me. How am I feeling? I realize people ask because they care just like that’s why I ask them the same question. I just quite never know how deep to go.

Technically, I’m ok! I’m still here and comparatively, way better than I was a few years ago. But I’ve got some issues.

I get asked about the things that still affect me pretty often so I’ll try to give a full answer here. It’s not complaining or trying to garner sympathy, I think it’s just interesting to see where cancer is still affecting day to day life. These are all things I can adjust to, it’s just that this is life now.

Although cancer is not an immediate looming threat on my life at this moment, that’s not to say I can really ever get away from it. All throughout the day every single day I’m reminded, one way or another, that my life and my body are just different than they were 5 years ago.

So here’s the breakdown:

Brain. My brain just does not work the way it used to. Surely part of it is aging and part of it is having kids (….because they age you…), but most of it is due to my brain tumor, the radiation I had to my tumor, the radiation I had on the right side of my head that hit the lower side of my brain, and part of it is residual effects of oxygen loss during grand mal seizures. These side effects are mostly memory loss, difficulty thinking of the right words for things (very common things, like “cup”), and in general a slower processing time.

Sinuses. I never had sinus issues before all of this, but my oncologist seems to think my chemo amped up my immune system in my sinuses so that any bug I get ends up turning into a sinus infection. I don’t quite understand how that all works but I’ll believe him because I’ve seen the PET scans that always always show my sinuses lit up like a Christmas tree but it’s not cancer. Strange things are afoot…

Hearing. Radiation is not over once it’s over. It continues to degrade the area that was radiated more and more over time. Since I had radiation on the right side of my face and neck, this has affected my hearing on the right side to the point where I have lost probably 80% of the hearing on that side so far (the expectation is complete loss on that side eventually).

Hearing loss has actually affected me way more than I thought it would. It’s extremely disorienting and I cannot make out where sounds are coming from. If I’m in a crowded area, I cannot hold a conversation because I can’t make anything out. It just sounds like a swarm of bees or something. Beyond the hearing, my right ear is always uncomfortable and feels “full”. All the time. I can’t get water in it or I’ll get an ear infection and those aren’t all that fun.

My face. Ohhhh, my face. I know it’s a vast improvement from where it was, but it’s still hard for me to look in the mirror for any longer than absolutely necessary. I despise doing my hair or makeup because I have to look at myself for longer and the huge scar and transplant site in my face are just not what I want to see. So I usually just don’t. I may give off a “low maintenance” vibe, and that’s not completely inaccurate, but it’s really just because I can’t stand to look at myself. It is what it is.

Thyroid. Since radiation went down into my neck, I’ve began to lose thyroid function. This comes with a whole list of not awesome side effects. Weight gain and fatigue mostly. Fuunnnn….

Voice. I love singing, I always have. I used to be able to rock a Mariah song but because of, you guessed it, radiation, I’ve lost my high range.

Port. I still have my port in my chest and as I’ve tried in recent months to get back into great shape, this thing is a pain in the butt. It doesn’t hurt it just is sorta weird feeling and can be uncomfortable especially during physical exercise.

Thigh. In case you didn’t know, I had a large transplant of muscle placed into my face and neck and that muscle came from my left thigh. I have a huge scar down the front of it and it has a huge indent down the middle from where the muscle was taken. This has become really uncomfortable since I’ve started running again and trying to get stronger physically. It really aches as I’m building muscle there and the muscles are trying to figure out how to work properly. There are still some leg exercises that my leg just won’t do.

Emotional. This one is definitely the most sneaky but the hardest to deal with. I struggle now with anxiety which I never had before. It’s unmedicated and undiagnosed but ohhh, it’s there. It’s mostly separation anxiety with the kids and it’s a real struggle most days.

I don’t like to give off the impression that life is back to complete normal after cancer. I can’t imagine that to be true for anyone who has had to deal with it. We just have a new normal and we adjust the sails and move forward regardless.

So, seriously, I’m fine! 🤗


Prayer for Believers

May Your holy fire burn within us again;

And may Your love boil over in result, forcing us to action in Your name.

May we cast off the rotting corpses of shame, guilt, and regret,

And may we fully come to know that Your blood has washed us clean.

May we be ceaselessly burdened for those who don’t know You,

And may we make discipleship our priority.

May we take the Good News so far that our feet become sore and weary,

And may our arms ache and cry out as we reach farther and farther towards the lost.

May we keep our eyes fixed only on Him, our feet straight in His path,

And our lives set in His will.

May we see suffering and long to ease it,

And may we endure suffering in Your strength only.

May we experience unity as believers,

Recognizing that we all share the same goal.

May our lips speak to praise You,

And our words bring You glory.

May we meet contempt with love.

May our words build each other up in constant encouragement.

May we no longer pursue a world that is ripe with decay,

But let us seek revival in Your word.

May we experience hunger so that others may be fed.

May we serve with intent and selflessness,

Forsaking accolades and meaningless praise.

May our egos dry to dust and float away in the wind of God’s goodness.

And may our icy apathy and cold-hearted complacency towards Christ’s final directive begin to melt,

That we may thirst for the living water above all else to fill us.

Missing Cancer

“I actually miss it.” I said, probably a little too casually.

Her head cocked to the side as her furrowed brows conveyed her confusion.  A tight smile ran across her lips as her mind reeled with the possibilities of how she had misheard me.

“No, really.  I miss it.” I assured her.

They say that after you have a baby you forget about all of the physical agony your body just went through in the wake of basking in the joy of the new life before you.  And although I can’t say this is 100% true, I can say with complete certainty that it’s worth it.  And I would go back in time and do it again, both times, in a heartbeat.  I’ll never forget how much it sucked, but I’ll always remember that it was worth it.

When I look back on my cancer journey, I feel quite the same way.  Because even though there were so many tears and there was so much heartbreak and physical suffering, everything that happened was ultimately good.  Even if not in the moment, it certainly lead to good.  And I miss it.

When I was sick and facing death, I felt God more clearly than I even knew was possible.  My relationship with Him was solid and easy.  His words were clear and His depths seemed to have no end.  I think back and envision our times together as a literal walk side by side in a lush and beautiful garden on a warm, breezy summer evening.  Just the two of us.  The soft, sweet grass squishing gently between my toes as I beamed with pride at the chance to walk with my Father.  Side by side.  Every time I think of it, this is the image in my head and I gasp a little every time I remember this feeling.  So real.  So close.  So much love and intimacy.  

And so fleeting.

And I hate that it’s over and I hate that it’s so hard now.  I have to work so hard to find Him now.  I know He’s here and I will not forget what has done for me.  But I miss it.  I so much miss that intimacy and connection.  I know that even if I don’t get to experience that again in my life, although I yearn for it, that that has been just a glimpse of what is awaiting me when I pass.  And I long for it, as weird as it might sound.

But I thank God for the fact that not only can I, with confidence, assure someone that He really does work for the good of those who love Him, but that I can look back and actually see where that has happened.  

I was willing to die of it meant somehow that more people would find Him through my death than through my living.  And I still mean that.  But I’ve actually gotten to witness first-hand the genuine love of the Lord gripping my children and I get to walk them through tough moments in their lives and I get to see them putting the pieces together of who Jesus is and why we need Him.  I get the great privilege of serving in ministries where I can see Jesus working first hand.  I’m not sure I could have looked at parenting or ministry with such a God-centered urgency without cancer being a pressure on me to do so.  And I thank God for this every day.

Although I’m thrilled to still be here, it was never my goal to survive cancer.  Maybe I was pessimistic or maybe just realistic, but there was a point where, medically, survival wasn’t in the cards and I accepted that.  I wish I could say I had a fighter’s fire within me that just wasn’t going to give up, but that just isn’t true.  Don’t get me wrong, I always appreciate when people say they’ve found strength because of my story.  That to me is such a blessing and I’m so glad for it.  But when it came down to it, I’ve never in my life been someone who people would describe as particularly brave or courageous.  Any strength that I may have projected came only from God.  It was in my illness that I finally understood what God meant when He said that in our weaknesses is where He shows His strength!  I am, and I say this without fishing for compliments, literally as ordinary as they come.  I am awkward and self-conscious and just completely and painfully average.  

But yet somehow through my circumstances, God was able to reach people and draw them to Him.  I’m still in awe that I was able to play any small part in the growth and cultivation of anyone’s faith.  It’s beyond anything I could have dreamed of.

But a few months ago I began to feel like a hypocrite trying to comfort people in the depths of their pain when I was no longer at a place of physically suffering on that level.  And I had something, at least for the time being, that I couldn’t assure them they would have.  I had life.  I had clear scans and improving health.  I had a second chance and I knew that wasn’t anything I could in good conscience give people hope for.  That wouldn’t be fair or honest.  So I stopped writing for the time being and focused on the relationships right in front of me and how to best serve Jesus in a more hands-on way.  Not  I’ve ever been hands-off in ministry, this is just where I felt God leading.

This is something I’ve said from the beginning with this blogging stuff: I don’t want to give people false hope.  There is no hope in medicine, doctors, treatments, holistic stuff, any of that.  All of that can and will, at one point, fail us.  There is hope only in the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ.  That will never change and His grace will never fail us.  I never wanted to give people false hope and I felt that as a stage 4 melanoma survivor who is doing, well, fine, my continued blogging would do just that.  Do I want that for them?  More than anything!  But I can’t give false hope.

I don’t say this to be coldhearted but honest.  I pray for people to be healed and I desperately want that for people who are suffering but I just never found hope in that.  Hope comes from knowing Jesus is who He says He is and did for us what He said He’s done.  God doesn’t change or fail us or leave us.  He may allow suffering but if we embrace it and try to use it, it will be used for good.

I’m just lucky enough somehow to be able to have been around long enough to see some of this good happening.  I’m so appreciative of people who have shared with me how my story has helped them or a loved one.  And because of that I am much more conscious about telling people how much I appreciate them and how much their stories have helped me.

It was just so beautiful.  It was simple.  It was clear and fresh and everything good.

And I miss that.

But wow am I glad to still be here.


I Want My Brain Back!

Some may argue that I didn’t have much up there to begin with haha but I definitely miss what I had! I’m learning a lot these days. More than I ever wanted to or felt the need to, but I’m grateful for the lessons anyway. It’s been a very challenging few days physically as my brain is still trying to make normal connections after the seizures I experienced the other day seemed to really mess things up. But, just like the nurses in the Neuro ICU promised, every day gets a little better and I am able to do more and feel more normal with each passing day. Today (Sunday) is the first day that I feel like I can walk almost normally, so that’s really cool. Up til now, it’s been a huge, slow, agonizing struggle. I feel like with every step my brain is literally telling each foot to go as it needs to. It is not automatic at this point and has been a major source of frustration. I still have a feeling of detachment, almost, and fogginess mentally where connections just aren’t being made right, but again, every day this seems to be getting better.

Some of the particular difficulties have been feeling helpless and confused, taking more drugs than I ever have in my whole life (going from zero pills a day to about 20 a day is a big change, especially when some of them are super high doses of steroids), and an overwhelming fear of having more seizures. I’m scared to go to sleep quite honestly for fear of having these episodes again. I am on a very high dose of anti-seizure meds so it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever have them again, but it’s still a hard fear to shake.

One of the oddest side effects of all this (not sure if it’s the tumor itself or an effect of the seizures yet) is that there is some familiarity part of my brain that is working over time. I kid you not, every person I have seen since this happened, I have known. Everyone seems familiar. I “knew” every nurse, every doctor, every valet person at the hospital. And I’ve “known” everyone I’ve seen since. And I mean everyone. Every person I see, although logically I know I don’t know them,  I can’t shake the feeling that I do know them from somewhere and my brain is constantly trying to place where I know them from. It’s really, really weird. It’s so real that I’m still not convinced that I don’t know them! Even though I know I don’t. Haha, hard to explain, sorry! But just goes to show ya how important your brain really is! When something is wrong with it, it affects everything.

The hardest part about all this though, is definitely the lack of normal life. I crave my old, boring life in the biggest way. I know things are just different now, and I am definitely on the road to acceptance there, but that doesn’t mean I don’t mourn the loss of just taking care of my family and doing just normal things without thinking about it. But we have the most amazing people in our lives who are helping make this transition as seamless as possible. Our families and friends are truly endlessly supportive and we are so grateful for all the help and love we’ve been getting. I must admit though, it’s hard to accept this kind of attention. It’s kind of impossible to not be noticed at this point. But I know that if the tables were turned and it was someone else going through it, I would want to do all the same things for them that people are doing for us. So we want to again thank everyone for everything. Thank you for your texts, calls, visits, cards, scriptures, just letting us know that your praying for us, donations, meals, it’s all so appreciated. We feel so loved and taken care of!!

There is one thing through all this though that I am super grateful for: I have completely lost any form of filter I may have had before. It’s gone. I will say anything at this point because, well, what are people gonna do? Yell at me? Haha I don’t think so!! I’m realizing it’s too important and I just don’t care what people think anymore. So, here’s my offer, if you wanna talk, let’s talk. I’m still here and still breathing, so therefore I am still able to proclaim God’s goodness and preach salvation through Jesus Christ. Consider me a judgement-free zone where you can ask blunt questions and I can hopefully give you answers or at least get you thinking. Let’s talk. Come for a visit, Facebook message me, text me, leave a message here, or email me at andrewfamily08@gmail.com

I’m not gone yet and my purpose is still clear, so while I can’t promise when I’ll get back to you, I promise to make it as quick as I can. There’s no way to offend me or shock me at this point, so no worries, and anything you say is confidential. I just want to be a resource for as long as I can, so that’s what I’m going to do!

Have a great day, everyone!

Had a super fun time yesterday at my sister-in-laws bachelorette party where we took her painting! I made this for my baby girl ❤ I think the brain tumor made me a better artist! Lol

Oh the joys….

Wow! So the last few weeks have been a whirlwind! I won’t bore you with all the details, but I will say I’ve been to Penn far too much recently and I’m so glad it’s looking like I won’t have to go back til June! Aww yea! I’ll bore you with some details though, in the past two weeks, I’ve given the sermon at my church (such a cool experience), had 3 cat scans (neck, chest, and pelvis),


had full body photography (every bit as awful as it sounds. Seriously.), had a stage 4 scare (still not quite out of the woods there), got 32 vials of blood drawn today (THIRTY. TWO.), and saw my oncologist today and got a lymph node biopsied. All this in addition to all my normal stuff (kids, work, ministry, physical therapy, etc.).

All this to say, you do not have time for cancer. Seriously, it’s unbelievably time consuming to deal with all this.  Last night was horrible because we saw the results of my chest cat scan before talking to my oncologist today and that result showed two very small lesions on my right lung


I don’t know how to speak oncolog-ese quite yet, so I was very scared and panicked a bit when I saw this. Any recurrence at this point kicks my butt right into stage 4.  This was in addition to the neck scan that said that the lymph node on the left side of my neck is still growing (2.5cm at this point) and still looks suspicious. In the words of my three year old and Handy Manny, “ay yi yi yi yi!!”. My oncologist was not too concerned about the lesions, he will keep an eye on them, but I did get another needle biopsy of the lymph node. I really wish this little turd would stop acting up! My tonsils keep looking suspicious on these stinkin tests too. Guh… Seriously, there’s been other stuff thrown in too, it’s just one thing after another. So I’m glad that (as long as the biopsy comes back ok) I don’t have to go back to Penn for three whole weeks!! Now that’s awesome!

A few random updates: we had “the talk” with our three year old. Long story short, he found a book that someone had given us about talking to kids about a mommy with cancer and he was absolutely insistent that I read it to him. I don’t know how he found it, for real, but he wouldn’t stop begging. So I read it to him. I changed the wording so that it fit my situation and calmly explained to him the child-safe basics. He was very, very interested in hearing about my specific doctors, what their names were, and how they help mommy. After we were done, he looks at me and says, “sometimes I have cancer too, Mommy”. It was the perfect way to explain to him that he wasn’t sick and that he was just fine. And off he went and didn’t talk about it again until today! This morning he said to my husband, “my mommy has cancer.” So I know he heard the discussion, and I’m glad that he didn’t obsess over it but that it got through. We will get there!

Another update: my eating habits have changed for the better! I’m about 60% there. Eating so much more raw, organic, non-gmo food and I’m reading up and learning lots more about food and nutrition every day. And…I feel better! Amazing how that is…

A special thank you to those that have been praying for us and supporting us.  I will be honest, when I read those results last night that said that there were two lesions on my right lung, I really lost it. I cried and cried and cried. Thank God for our supportive family and awesome friends and especially a friend who came and prayed with me. Let me tell you, that was a blessing. It doesn’t matter if you have the “right” words to say (those words don’t exist, so no worries), just being there makes all the difference. Even just a supportive text or prayer means the world. 

I know this post is all over the place, but honestly, that’s how I feel right now so I’m ok with it (:

Here’s a pic of my animals to round out the randomness:

Just giving the people what they want! 😉