Tag Archives: health


I’m writing this for several reasons. For one, I know that a few of you have been along for the ride but don’t actually know me. You’ve prayed for me and supported us through this so you definitely deserve an update! But I’m doing this for me as well. Although I don’t go back and read my old blogs, if I ever decided to I would for sure want this chronicled.

Yesterday, I got my port out.

Yes, it’s an awkward pic but I don’t care! Because I’m excited and I’m happy! Let me tell ya, the procedure is done in a very professional way in the OR and all that, but I was also fully awake for it. So all of the tugging and pulling against my scar tissue while I was still awake and aware was gag-worthy. For real. But…good has come from it.

For a while this port was like a security blanket for me. It felt like relief and it felt like comfort. I didn’t want it at first but once I had it, I truly came to rely on it as a source of calming, as weird as that may sound.

But over the years, I’ve needed it less and less. Treatments were stopped over 2 years ago and it became a hassle. Something that was uncomfortable and that needed attending to (in the form of getting flushed) even though it was inconvenient. As my days were spent more at home than at Penn, these visits to have my port flushed felt increasingly intrusive. And so we decided to get it out.

I need to include something here for my own records because I felt that I never had closure on this cancer stuff. As much as I could physically feel healthy and mentally detach from the trauma, there was always the reminder in the form of that uncomfortable port in my chest. Treatments didn’t stop with some triumphant “last chemo” where I ring a bell and get applause. No, I simply didn’t want to do them anymore and my oncologist understood and supported that decision.

Appointments and specialists and scans sort of petered out. There wasn’t an end. But this? This felt like an end to the chapter. This felt like the turning of a page. This port that had ingested so much chemo and has seen me through some of the hardest times of my life was about to go. And symbolically, it was impossible to ignore.

You see, God has been opening my eyes to so much recently.

I wanted to go by myself to Philly to get my port out and as I drove home, I thought I’d listen to my chemo playlist on my phone. This was literally the playlist I would listen to during infusions. I haven’t been able to bring myself to listen to it for over 2 years, but I also haven’t been able to bring myself to delete it. It’s special.

So as the songs played, I felt myself get real honest with God. You see, over the last year and a half, we have been a part of starting a church. This is good! But on the same coin, it’s been the hardest time of my life. I’ll explain.

When God called us to this church plant, it ripped me from the only church home I’ve ever known. It tore me from the comfort of the church family that was truly my family, the people who had loved and supported us through my cancer and the people that I wanted to love and support. It took us away from the teens who loved and trusted us and who we loved so very much. Being a part of this church plant meant willingly giving up a huge piece of my heart. And unbeknownst to us at the time, it meant enduring some cruel and unjust criticisms as well. And I was just not ready for that.

On the drive home from having my port removed and thinking through all of the happenings of the last few years that I had shut off from myself, I came to see a few things.

For one: difficult emotions can coexist. I’ll say it again, difficult emotions can coexist! My grief over the loss of my church family in New Holland did not mean I love my new church any less! I’ve tried to hide my grief because I felt like if I looked sad to leave my other church that it would look like I wasn’t ready or excited to tackle what God had in store for us at the new church. And that’s just not true! I spent almost a year in a deep depression over losing our old church, especially the youth. So much so God had to hit me over the head with the new opportunities we had to spread the gospel this past week as 20 teens came to our house for youth group. Praise God for His goodness!! I will always miss our old church. Always. Especially the teens. But I feel more free to experience that grief alongside the excitement and joy of creating new relationships.

And two: God showed me that I have closed myself off from Him. Ok, actually I already knew this, but I guess He showed me why.

Over the last few years, God has called me to some things that were hard. Things I didn’t want or ask for. Things I didn’t want to do and things I didn’t want to face. I’ve meditated on the verse that says, “draw near to God and He will draw near to you” a LOT over the last few weeks, and there was just a hesitation on my part to draw near to Him but I couldn’t figure out why. I love Him and I want to serve Him only, so why couldn’t I connect?

Then, in the drive home from having my port removed while I was listening to the worship music on my chemo playlist it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I’m terrified of what He’ll ask of me next.

The last few years have been so hard, such a struggle, with so little clarity that I was scared that what He’d ask next would be even more so difficult. I’m a little ashamed to even admit this, but I know I need to as some of you look at me as a Christian who just has it all together and has it all figured out. That’s just not the case.

So why even write this? For one, an update to you amazing folks who have followed this journey with me. And for two, so I can look back someday and see what God was up to in this season. I feel closure on the part of my life that was ruled by cancer and that feels so good! And while I still grieve the loss of the most amazing church family anyone could ask for, I’m thanking God for putting us where He has put us.

If you read this to the end, I’m so sorry for making you endure all that and may God bless you for it!! There’s no way I can thank you guys enough for your love, encouragement, and prayers over the years. It’s really mind-boggling to think of all of the support we’ve received and we are beyond thankful! So, thank you!!

And in case you want to know, Eric and the kids are doing great and I found a hobby and passion in cookies!

Love to all of you!! 💕

Cancer, a Birthday, and a Secret Prayer

I was dying.  And I knew it.  I was under no delusions that healing was on the table for me and I had accepted my lot in life.  Or death, I suppose, as it were.  Cancer was “exploding” all over my body, in the words of my oncologist, and I had a few good months left – at best.  My brain tumor was wreaking havoc in the way of grand mal seizures that left me for minutes on end without oxygen, leaving me to try to regain my body functions and memory after each one.  And after each one it got increasingly harder and had more long term effects that didn’t dissipate.  I had tumors in my lungs that were so inflamed that any exertion left me in a coughing fit and I found myself night after night sleeping upright on the couch because laying down in bed next to my husband, where I longed to be, would result in painful coughing fits.  My hip and back ached constantly, crying out in pain, and reminding me that the cancer was eating my bones.  Little by little.

Each day I had to relinquish more and more control of my life and the life of my family over to family and friends.  I thank God endlessly for the selfless love we received, but there is no 30 year old mother on earth who wants this for her family.  And so I struggled mentally with my lack of involvement with my kids at the level I had wanted for myself.

My body and my mind were both betraying me more and more each day.  And there was no hope in healing.  And so we faced each day as we had to.

I watched my kids, then 2 and 4, living a seemingly normal life.  At least, as normal as we could provide in the midst of all my treatments, scans, and appointments.  We tried to build a sense of normalcy around the fact that Mommy was dying and we treated it as a fact of life rather than a scary and sad event.  I bought them a book called “A Kid’s Travel Guide to Heaven” and we read it every day.  And while it’s certainly not scripture based, it did help open the discussion and help the kids to see that that was where Mommy would be.  Waiting for them to come.

I needed them to know that if they understood the gospel of Jesus Christ and that if they accepted the gift of salvation that we would be together again.  And I needed them to know that although Mommy was happy to go to heaven, that it would never be my choice to leave them.  Never.  I was desperate for them to understand this.  And the tears would fall.  Rolling down my cheeks in silent protest.  Just as they are right now as I write this.

A sibling squabble was a reminder that I wouldn’t be there to help them bond as they grew up.   Setting the kids in front of a Veggietales so I could get a break because I was in too much pain was a reminder that I wouldn’t be a spiritual influence for them for very much longer.  A sweet hug goodnight and even the frustration of trying to put young kids to bed were all too painful reminders of all I would be missing out on.  And selfishly, this tore me up inside.  Everything in me longed to be there for them as they grew up, and so the tears fell.

People often ask me how I did it.  How could I face this?  How could I cope?  There is truly no good answer to that.  I know we did what we had to do but looking back it seems so impossible.  It really was too much.  How did we do it?

There was a profound acceptance on my part that this was the end.  Mind you, acceptance certainly did not mean gladness.  I was tired and I was sad.  But I was ready.

I remember one sleepless night very clearly.  I had propped myself up on lots of pillows so that I could stay in bed with Eric, and as was so often the case when I could manage to stay in bed, I would listen to him rhythmically breathing as he slept and I would be soothed by the fact that he, at least for a few hours each day, had calmness and rest.  On this particular night, just like I had on so many others, I would pray.

But tonight would be a little bit different.

I lay there with my eyes closed tight, silent tears falling faster each second, cascading down my cheeks only to puddle up onto the sheets.  And in my desperation I reached my hand up to heaven.  And I begged God with all I had in me, to give me until I was 34.

34 years old.

Please God!  It would be about 3.5 years at that point and I felt like I was asking for the moon.  I felt like I was asking God to turn me into a unicorn or something equally as impossible.  I felt like I knew I was asking for too much, that it wasn’t possible, that it was absolutely ridiculous.  But that for some reason in my head that was the perfect amount of time.  That if He just allowed me that window of time that the kids would be old enough to have some good, solid memories of me.  At that time, this was the number one tug on my heart.  Selfishly, I wanted nothing more than for the kids to remember me.  That’s just the way it was.  Eric and I would have been married 10 years when I was 34, and that was just an astonishing feat to me.  It sounded so glorious.  Perfect.  The perfect amount of time!  I kept apologizing to God because I knew my request was so silly and so selfish.  But as I continued to pray, my desperation simply grew as I begged and begged God to please just give me until I was 34!

I write this today.  On my 34th birthday.  I can honestly say I never thought this day would come.  I know God isn’t a genie up in heaven granting wishes, but I believe He heard my heart on that night.  I’m not sure I’ll ever know for sure how all of this has worked or why it has worked out this way, surviving this long isn’t something I believe I deserve or have earned.  It just simply is.  And as I sit here now with clean scans as of last week, I’ll accept it as the beautiful gift it is.

I didn’t want to tell this story.  In fact, I could count on one hand the number of people I ever told this prayer to.  Why?  Because it felt like a childish prayer.  Like a lack of faith on my part, and maybe it was.

But I wanted to tell it now because God is good and deserves all praise.  Always.  He has given me more than I could ever ask or imagine.  Think about those words, more than I could ask or imagine.  All glory to God!  And I give Him glory for this urgency He has placed in my heart for spreading the gospel.  It can feel like a burden sometimes because it was so much easier to live a lukewarm life, but I pray He never lets this passion for praising Him and spreading the Good News fade.  Christ has reconciled this sinner with a Holy God through His righteousness alone.  I’ll always be grateful and I want to only praise him forever.  Thank you, Jesus!

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen.”  ~Ephesians 3:20-21

Something Worth Sharing!  

So I’ve come to a revelation of sorts: I don’t want to be a Christian cancer blogger anymore!  Cancer is seriously a bummer and Christianity is apparently not a huge seller.  So, I’m trying something different.  I’m going to be a food blogger!  With healthy recipes!

Lol sorry, I almost couldn’t type that without busting out laughing.  Cancer is what I do these days (sad but true) and faith is what I know.  And the thought of being a food blogger!  HA!  My husband can attest that usually my trying to cook looks something like this: 


Yeah.  It’s that bad!

But I am trying very hard to find recipes that are healthy and that my whole family will eat.  It’s not impossible since my kids are open to and willing to eat veggies, but it is, for whatever reason, seemingly impossible to find a recipe that EVERYONE agrees on.  

I’ll cut to the chase.  I found one.  Well, I actually found a banana bread recipe but adapted it to a healthy banana oat muffin recipe that is a HUGE crowd pleaser.  Like I can’t count on a batch of 18 lasting more than 3 days in the house and it’s a breakfast or snack that I feel very, very good about giving the kids.  And, as always, I’m trying to eat healthier.  These muffins make it easy.  They.  Are.  The.  Bomb.

I’ll share the recipe below exactly how I do it and the asterisks will lead you to the bottom where I explain some of my healthy swaps should you so desire to know why I chose what I did.  This recipe only takes one bowl and takes less than 10 minutes before they’re in the oven smelling up your house with deliciousness #win

Super Amazing Banana Oat Muffins

3 very ripe large bananas (mash first before adding other wet ingredients)

1/4 cup plain nonfat organic Greek yogurt

1/4 cup organic coconut oil*

3 tbs whole milk**

1 tbs vanilla

1 organic egg***

Mix all of these ingredients together until smooth(ish)

On top of the wet ingredients, layer:

1/2 cup sugar****

1/2 cup oats

1 1/4 cup organic flour*****

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda (be sure baking soda doesn’t touch the other ingredients until everything is in and ready to mix)

Then stir all ingredients just until combined and scoop into muffin tins lined with cupcake wrappers.  I fill them to a little less than 2/3 full.  They do not rise a ton and are pretty dense, but my kids have little tummies and I’d rather make 18 medium sized muffins with none wasted than 12 huge ones that get half eaten.  But, your muffins, your call. 

Pop those babies in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes and boom.  Amazingness.  

*Warning: they smell super good and are quite hard to wait for 


Like, really hard… 


*Final warning: all domestic species seem on board with these bad boys.  Mater the cat got a hold of one when I wasn’t looking 


I hope your family likes these as much as we do!  No more fights over breakfast and begging for nasty, unhealthy cereals.  These are probably the only healthy thing that all 4 (well 6, if you count the dog and cat) of us can agree on.  Enjoy!

*coconut oil is not as scary and weird as it looks! I was intimidated by it but found if you put some in a measuring cup and place that in a bowl of warm water is melts quite easily and is very versatile.  Vegetable oil can be substituted.

**we only ever have whole milk.  I bet other milks would work fine

***we only use organic eggs (expensive yes, but I cut corners elsewhere so that I can get these gems). Normal eggs would be fine

****I have not personally run across a good sugar substitute and refuse to use artificial sweeteners.  I use 1/2 cup in this recipe and the original recipe called for a whole cup!  Yikes.  These babies are sweet enough.  If you know of a good alternative to regular sugar, I’m all ears.  I figure, everything in moderation.

*****I don’t bake.  Much.  So I didn’t find the price difference between organic flour and regular flour to be all that alarming.  Regular flour would be fine in this.  Don’t ask me about whole wheat flour cuz I don’t have a clue!

Survivor’s Guilt?

I got some good news today, my brain MRI came back looking good, still have the one tumor, but no new ones and no alarming changes. This tumor doesn’t really have any effects on me or affect my life at all (as long as I continue my seizure meds), so it’s not concerning that it’s still there. So between this and my near-perfect PET scan that showed my mets are still inactive, this is great…right?

If I had to try to figure this out, I’d say I’m feeling some mix of gratitude, elation, relief, confusion, and, well, guilt.

Honestly, I never thought survivor’s guilt would be something I would have to deal with. First of all, the progression of my cancer earlier in this year didn’t leave a lot of wiggle room in the “survival” area. And second, you’re still alive, so you should be happy, right? And here I am, surviving!

But some people aren’t.

I had heard of the concept of survivor’s guilt before but assumed it was more of a passing feeling of like “Oh, wow, I’m still here and they aren’t, I should count my blessings.” But this is very different than that. It’s not a reassurance, it’s a true feeling of guilt, very much like I did something wrong.

I got great news today, and on the same day I got that great news, my friend’s husband lost his battle with cancer. He was 28. Has 2 kids the exact same ages as mine. It’s just…not fair. It’s not ok. This isn’t ok! I know so much of this life is not trying to understand and just trusting, but I feel so much anger right now. I know that it’s misguided, but I can’t help but look up and question Him. Mike was a believer, so for that we celebrate, but I get angry thinking about the things his family must now face without him.

I don’t know why I’m still here, I’m no more valuable or any more special than anyone else, I don’t deserve it more than anyone else, I just can’t shake this awful feeling.

I’m reminded of Simon Peter, the disciple who denied Jesus three times before his crucifixion. Now, I’m no psychologist, but I imagine that Peter felt a huge sense of guilt there. He had told Jesus he was ready to die for Him! And not only did Jesus tell him that that wasn’t the case, He rightly told Peter that he would deny Him three times. My point is, when Christ comes back and is speaking to Peter, the opportunity is given to make it right, so to speak. Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, to which Peter replies some form of “Yes” and each time Jesus tells him, “then feed my sheep.”

We are here to take care of each other, to encourage each other, to lift each other up. People always do such a great job of that for me, and I’m about to start being a whole lot more intentional with how I do it for others.

I know it’s not really anything I did to make me feel like this, but it is something I can use.


Not What I Wanted to Hear…

Ok, it’s not that bad, seriously. But since I’m a big, whiny scaredy-cat – I don’t wanna get a port!! But alas, it looks as though I must. I’ve been getting IV infusions every three weeks since February and between that, blood draws, and IVs placed for MRIs and PET scans, my veins are full of scar tissue. I met with my oncologist earlier (all good things, all good things) and I mentioned to him how hard it’s been for them to get blood and put in IV’s lately and I ask, “Am I supposed to tell you that?” and he just kinda makes a face and says, “Yeah, you are supposed to tell me that.” Haha, sometimes I wonder what he must think of me! So then he recommended the dreaded port and said I could wait til right after Christmas to get it, so that’s what we will do.

I know, I know, they’re not that bad. But, since that doesn’t fit my narrative of being terrified of it, I will choose to ignore that fact 😉

IMG_0387.JPGI don’t like it.

I also have to go see an endocrinologist as something seems to be killing my thyroid. Is it from the chemo? Maybe. The radiation? Possibly. All of the contrasts and junk pumped into me during scans? Could be. Oh, the joys! But, if they can fix my thyroid levels, I could conceivably shake this permanent tiredness, brain fog, and weight gain. That would be the bomb, for real though. It’s actually a really neat thought that at this point all of my symptoms could be from the treatments and none actually from the cancer itself.

After the chemo (that I’m getting as I type this), I will head downstairs for an MRI of my brain. Yikes. I hate MRIs and I hate what the conceivable bad news could mean, but I feel optimistic. We know I have a brain tumor, just gotta see what that little bugger is up to. Will let you know what I hear!