Cancer Journey

A Different Kind of Christmas - The Beginning
Originally posted: December 19, 2009

This Christmas finds me and my family in a much different place than any other Christmas in the past. If things were going along with "our" plans then I would be in Wisconsin at this very moment hanging out with my sisters and enjoying the comfort of being home. Instead, I am lying on the couch at home in Florida recovering from surgery to fix my broken hip. Not "my" plan obviously, but this Christmas God had/has a different plan for me.

For months now I have been in such severe pain and it got to the point that I actually lost my ability to walk without assistance from a cane. The biggest part of my battle was getting to a Dr. finding someone who would take me seriously and treat me. After much prayer and finally just asking God for a miracle, He came through. He immediately gave me a Dr. to see and upon the first visit to that Dr. I was made aware that I had actually been walking around with a broken hip. No, I have NO IDEA how that even happened. So I had to have an emergency surgery to stabilize my broken hip so that it can heal. But after it is all said and done I find myself with such a heart full of gratitude that the Lord allowed this to happen. I'm very thankful of course that I *will* be able to walk again. That this is just temporary. But even more, I am thankful that He gave me this infirmity to show me how to be more compassionate to others that are hurting. And that He has truly shown me that through my weakness He is made strong.

I have always been pretty independent. I didn't realize until I had that stripped from me that it was in the way of my living for God. When you are independent you end up making decisions and doing things on your own because that is just the way that you are used to doing it. Never even to stop and consult God on the little things. The bible says "In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths." Well, I knew that, but I had totally missed out on the blessing of actually doing it in all things. As it stands I can barely stand or walk on my own. I am on crutches for the next 6 weeks, so there is not a whole lot I can do myself. I have been almost completely dependent on others to help me. But in this I have learned to just stop and ask for help from God in the little things. Like taking a shower, giving myself a shot, making phone calls, or other things that I just need to work out. I have seen that worrying truly isn't going to get anything done at all. That I just have to commit it to God and allow Him to work it out.

I have learned that faith is not doing all that you can do and allowing God to do the rest, but allowing God to go before you and do it all. That's what He wants anyway, right? I have realized that I am not capable at all of making things work out. I don't even know what's best for me. But when I just give it all to God. WOW. He works things out better than I could ever even hope to. In this last week I have seen miracle after miracle in my life because I have let Him have control and just do what He does best. Take care of me. It is so hard to let go of the control that we think that we have over our lives, but God is there waiting for us to give it to Him and when we do, WOW, what amazing things wait beyond that.

So, this Christmas is quite a bit different than any other Christmas. I'm not focusing on decorations, cooking, shopping, or any of the other worldly trappings. This Christmas my focus is on CHRIST and His mighty works. I am so thankful that the Lord saw fit to clip my wings this Christmas and take me THROUGH this valley.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

"Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice." Psalms 51:8

Christmas Eve
Originally Posted: December 24, 2009

Today I went to the Dr to have my post-op check-up and have the staples removed from my incision. I was really dreading getting out of the house period. It all just sounded so exhausting, but I was especially dreading the staple removing part. That incision was so large and yucky looking to me. It felt Frankenstein-ish!! And the mere thought of them removing those staples just gave me the hebe-jeebies!! Anyway, it wasn't so bad. Just the fear of the unknown I suppose. The dr. said that I am doing well and that I just have to be patient and keep all weight off of my left leg for the next month to allow myself to heal properly. Please pray that I will heal properly. I don't want to have this surgery again. I am sure everything will be fine though. I know that the good Lord has seen me this far and will continue to take care of me through the rest of this. I just have to learn to be patient. Dr's orders!!

Happy New Year
Originally Posted - January 3, 2010

I'm still recovering from surgery. This is a slow and long process apparently. I somehow thought prior to the surgery that once out of the hospital I would be up and back to normal. Not so much the case. Not even close to the case actually. Although, I am quite pleased to say that I can now shower on my own - small victories here people!! I have, after much prayer and thought, decided to wait until I am off the crutches to return to work and am also not taking classes for the rest of the school year. The college re-opens tomorrow though. The Lord has been so good that He has made it possible for me to take the time off that I need and I am trusting Him to provide for me in the meantime. He does so very well I might add. My next Dr. appt is Jan 21. I hope that by then I will be able to come off of the crutches. I may have to go through a little PT. Lord willing, I will be -dare I say- skipping my way through Spring before long!!

There's So Much To Be Thankful For - This was my first post after being diagnosed
Originally Posted: March 13, 2010

I'd like to give those of you that have been praying and wanting to know how I'm doing an update from me. First of all, THANK YOU for your prayers and support. It is GOD, prayers and the support of my friends and family that are getting me THROUGH this time. I still covet your prayers desperately!

I am still processing most of the news from the surgery. Here is what I know.... I have osteosarcoma which is a bone cancer that is very rare in someone my age. It usually affects 10-20 year olds. This is why my bones have been breaking. The plate put into my leg on Thursday stabilized my fracture, but I may be facing future surgery in that leg. I had a bone scan which showed that the OA is only in my left hip area (PRAISE THE LORD). The next step is to begin chemo which will be discussed with doctors on Monday.

Again, I am still processing this news. The Lord has been tremendously merciful with me and has provided to me an immeasurable amount of grace. There is so much more to be said and so much that I don't know how to put into words. I know from my own life and how God saved me and transformed me in my Christian walk that I serve a BIG GOD and He can do anything. I am pleading His blood and trusting Him alone to heal my body and all for HIS glory.

Right now I'm not sure what I need or what people can do for me. I know that I don't want to be alone. Although I have a heavenly Father who is always beside me, I need my friends and family as well to encourage me and lift me up when I don't have the strength. I also know that I want to protect my son as much as possible from hearing words like "Cancer" and "Chemo."

I want to walk THROUGH this valley with the Lord by my side and I want to grow and become a stronger and more dedicated Christian in the process. I don't want to miss His blessings and what He wants me to learn in the process of wading THROUGH this valley.

The Lord put these things on my heart to share with you today. As I can and am ready I may be able to share more. Although I think that I will be doing so on my blog, not on FB when the time comes.

I have SO MUCH to be thankful for. I am thankful for all of you that have been placed in my life and genuinely care. I am VERY thankful for my Salvation without which I know I would not have the strength or the ability to face this disease alone. My friends, as you look around you daily please think on "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Phil 4:8 Life is far too short and your entire world can change in a second but there is comfort in knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ is eternal and unchanging. If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus please, I urge you to think on that. It truly is life changing and if you have any questions please contact me.

In Christ,

Getting a little closer to a game plan
 Originally Posted: Monday, March 15, 2010

Today I met with both my Orthopedic Oncologist and the Pediatric Oncologist (she will accept patients up to age 30. I have to see a pediatric oncologist b/c this type of disease is more common in 10-20 year olds). I decided that I do want to continue receiving my treatments at Shands in Gainsville. The hospital is one of the best in the country and my Dr's are also the best in their respective fields. I just really feel that I will not only receive the best care here but that my Dr.'s genuinely care about me and helping me to get well. I entertained choosing a place to receive chemo closer to home to make it easier on those that would be helping me get there, but I felt in my heart that I needed to choose Shands and trust the Lord with the getting here part.

Tomorrow I will have surgery in the morning to install a port in my chest that will be primarily used for chemo. It can also be used for drawing blood and giving me IV meds. It's basically like a permanent IV. That will make life much easier. As it stands I've been poked up and down my arms so many times that my arms resemble pin cushions, lol!!!

I have been doing PT since Friday. The epidural that I have to manage the pain has made it very difficult to do the PT, so after the surgery tomorrow they will be removing it. The PT that I'm doing this time is much different that when I had the first surgery back in December. Which leads us to another big decision that was made today. Sometime soon (this week hopefully) I will be going to a rehab facility where I will do more intense PT three hours a day. It will be broken up throughout the day though, lol. Otherwise it would be like boot camp lol. I'm very relieved that they are sending me to rehab and think that it will make getting around and doing for myself (even if it's only little things) much easier when I return home. I will be in the rehab facility for approximately seven days. It's also located here in Gainsville. Once I am done in rehab I will be admitted back to the hospital to receive my first round of chemo. Then I get to come home for a little while :) YAY!!!

Whew...... that's a lot of information isn't it. I'm still absorbing all of it. After discussing all these things with the doctors today I think the reality of it all started hitting me. Today was my first hard day. I know it won't be the last, but I am praying and hoping for more good days than bad!

I have a few specific prayer requests:
Total and complete healing
The swelling in my left leg to go away
Successful surgery in the morning
The Lord's continued strength & peace
My son's comfort
To be a good testimony and a light to those around me in the hospital and in rehab

The Last Couple of Days...... 
Originally Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The port surgery did go successfully, thank you for your prayers! They sedated me and put me in "twilight" as they call it. Supposedly that is supposed to make me groggy, drowsy, or just plain doze off. Not me of course, lol. I just looked around the room while they explained to me what they were doing. Thank heavens that they had a large drape between my head and the area they were working on because I would not have liked seeing whatever it was they were doing in there. It took all of about 20 minutes I believe. I'm loving this port already :) They took all the iv's out of my arms and I am now able to receive my fluids, meds that I use the push button for and any additional meds that they would give intravenously through the port. They also have taken blood through it today. So I think Porty and I will be new best friends :)

Yesterday I also had my epidural removed. I have mixed feeling about this. I am feeling pain now, a lot of pain in my leg. As well as everything else waist down. Removing the epidural was an important step in getting me out of here and on to rehab as well as finding oral meds that will be able to control my pain. I did not particularly enjoy the numbing effect, but in some ways I'm missing it as you can imagine.

Yesterday was the first day that I actually stood (again, with much assistance and a walker) in almost two weeks. The physical therapist helped me get out of bed, stand using the walker, and then move around the room a bit. She let me sit up in a recliner chair for several hours which was so nice. Although I'm thankful that God led me to a wonderful hospital, I will be very glad when I am not in the bed the majority of the day. I also slept really well last night.

As for today 3/17/10......
I worked with PT again and did a bit of walking w/ the walker and was able, with their assistance, to take my first shower in a while. PRAISE THE LORD for that. I was beginning to fear the hospital would give me the boot for being so stinky, lol. That one small thing made me feel so much better.

I did talk again with my pediatric oncologist regarding my chemo treatments and received a binder full of information and a treatment schedule. She seems to be quite concerned about the spots that were seen on my lungs during a CT scan (however my other dr. said that he was not worried about them and would do another scan at 12 weeks to see if they are still there) and she has her pathologists still looking into that. Unless they can tell her with 100% certainty that those spots have not metastasized then she will want to do an aggressive chemo treatment that will involve using five different types of chemotherapy drugs and possibly 10-10 1/2 months of chemo. If though they can tell her that those spots are not metastasized (THIS IS WHAT WE ARE PRAYING FOR. PLEASE PRAY WITH ME THAT THEY ARE NOT!), then she will approach my treatment a bit more gently using only three types of chemotherapy drugs with an overall treatment time of 7-8 months.

After speaking with the oncologist I had several tests that are required before any chemotherapy treatment commences. I was pretty tired and worn out after all of this and have been in a great deal of pain since, so I have been trying to relax as best as possible.

I'm not sure if I have mentioned in my previous posts that I will be heading to rehab in the next few days. The rehab hospital is operated by Shands as well and is just a few minutes away. I hope to be transferred there by Friday. My stay in rehab will be seven days long. I am really excited that I will be going to the rehab and think that they will certainly help me regain the ability to perform some of my day-to-day tasks. After my seven days in rehab I will be admitted back to Shands to begin my chemo. After three days of that I will get to come home for about two weeks before having to return to Shands again for another three day chemo treatment.

Ok, so these are the facts of what is going on with me right now. The last two days have indeed been harder for me. However, I am reminded that I serve a big God. A God who created this body and if He wills to do so can heal it completely. Please pray for me to have a greater faith and a deeper trust in the One who made me. No one knows me better than my Lord, and He alone knows what I need right now. I want to fight this battle with cancer to win it. I desire for the Lord to heal me in such a miraculous way that the Dr.'s will be left astounded and amazed. I look forward to the day that happens so that I can shout with honor and praise to the Lord who redeemed me and carries me in the very palm of His hand. I want these things for His Glory.

In the meantime I will continue daily committing myself unto Him......

I love you friends and family and thank the Lord for allowing me to be a part of your lives.

Originally Posted: Friday, March 26, 2010

I can't believe that March is nearly over!! With me not being well and having to stay at home a lot then being in the hospital for three weeks you would think that the time would be passing by extremely slow. But alas, it is not!

So last Friday, the 26th, I was released from Shands hospital and sent to Shands Rehabilitation center. Friday afternoon and most of Saturday were spent visiting with family and friends. Saturday I was evaluated to see what abilities I had and which ones needed to be worked on. The plan was to stay in rehab until Thursday (yesterday) and then to be readmitted to the hospital to begin my treatments. Well........ apparently my heart had a different idea. Heart you say. Oh yes, heart. I've never in my life had a day of heart trouble. On Sunday I started feeling out of sorts and called the nurse in and asked her to take my vitals. I don't exactly remember what my temp or blood pressure was, but I do know that my heart rate was at 166 and I was resting. The Dr. at rehab was concerned that I might have a blood clot seeing as how I was so close to surgery, so they called to have an ambulance come pick me up. I think that was when my heart REALLY started going crazy. My friend was walking into the rehab with an iced coffee and I was so disappointed, but I figured that with my heart acting all crazy caffeine was the last thing I needed. So to make a very long story short I went to the ER and was admitted to the hospital that night. Thank the Lord that the rehab saw it fit to send me because in the ambulance my heart rate was up to 217!

After several days of trial and error and minor procedures my heart has been stabilized using medicines. They did have to remove the port that was placed in my chest for the Chemo, but today I had a PIC line put in my arm and it will work practically the same way as the port. I have to be cleared by the Cardio Dr.'s before I can begin Chemo. They came in today to check on me and are in the process of weaning me off the IV drugs so that I can begin taking oral drugs for my heart. Since everything seems to be stable they are going to clear me and I should start Chemo tonight. Thinking it will start at 7pm (that's 6pm CST). Please pray that everything goes well tonight. I have been a little nervous about all that is going on. I just need to calm down, remember that God is in control and sit back and allow Him to work.

If all goes well and my heart continues to act right then I'll get to come home on Monday or Tuesday :)

Take Care,
<3 Jillian

Getting Settled in @ Home..... 
Originally Posted: Sunday, April 4, 2010

I was discharged from Shands on Wednesday and sent home for a few weeks before the next chemo treatment. I have to say that the very first day home was really hard. It was the day when reality came running and hit me smack in the face. It was hard. Very Hard. Very Scary. It's not like before I left when I had energy to do what needed to be done just not the abilities to actually do them. My time in the hospital was such a whirlwind that you can't even imagine. I mean basically I went to the ER in Destin and before I knew it was transported in the wee hours of the night to Gainesville by Ambulance. I've had to recap many times everything that happened to others just to make sure that I understand what's going on. So I think that I have gotten it all figured out now and all the pieces put together. I have Cancer. Osteosarcoma to be exact. *sigh*

The good news is that I serve a God who is bigger than this little cancer. He is bigger than any disease that comes my way and He is ready to bear this burden for me. So, as hard as it is, I'm constantly giving it to Him. I've never felt more the need to take up my cross and follow daily. When I think of the Lord and all he has done in my life I know that He can get me through this as well. This may be a little bigger and a little harder to endure. This may be a rare cancer for someone my age, but you know what I say to that??? It just gives God the ability to do a mightier work and astound the medical field. I want this battle to be of and for the Lord. I want to commit myself daily to him and allow Him to transform me and work in me in such a real way that was never possible before. Am I scared? Yes, I'm terrified. Is this going to be hard? Yes, it is. But I know that my God is bigger than all of this and that He has given me this disease for either my good or His glory.

The chemo treatments are not so bad at first, but a couple days later they just take every ounce of my energy. I dislike that the most. I feel completely wiped out and no matter how much I sleep I'm still just exhausted. My Dr. said that I will loose my hair, but I say hey, maybe we'll finally figure out what my natural color is, lol. Also my mom's knitting group is making me a bunch of cute little caps. I'm trying to come up with a top 10 list for having no hair. I'll let you know once I do. If you have any suggestions let me know :)

I've been thinking so much about how the Lord has worked in my life since I've been saved. How he brought me here to Niceville, how He put me in a wonderful loving church that truly exemplifies the meaning of church family, how He has provided for me over and over again. God put me here in this place for this time. I just hope that I can honor and glorify Him throughout this fight and remember no matter how bad things may get physically that God still loves me and this is all part of His plan.

Some Days You Just Know
Originally Posted: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This morning when I woke up I just knew it was gonna be a good day. I had the blessing of getting up and having breakfast with my son. Just sitting at the table with him and thinking on what a blessing that actually is, settled in my heart that it was just gonna be a good day. Nothing special or out of the ordinary has happened today. It's been beautiful outside though. As usual the birds on my street are singing their little hearts out. Other than that it's been quiet and calm.

An old friend visited today. As we sat talking on the couch and discussing this battle that I face I told him that I know in my heart that God is going to heal me. Then I said and thought something that I haven't had cross my mind before. I said you know... God didn't save me out of that awful, sinful life that I was involved in before to just lead me to this point and let me die. My testimony is just too powerful and has the potential to reach too many. This is just another step in refining me and making me more useful for Him. I've thought on that today an awful lot. The life I lived prior to becoming saved is so far from the person that most of you know today. Isn't that the case for us all though? Isn't that the point? That HE makes us new creatures when He saves us? I suppose I needed to think on that life I lived though and just how horrible, sad, and hopeless it was to realize that there HAS to be more than this being the culmination of my life for the Lord. I don't know His thoughts and His ways are surely not my own because I would certainly choose the easy way out every time. Anyway these are just my thoughts and musings.......

Prayer Request
Originally Posted: April 7, 2010

I have been breaking down little bits of information to my son daily regarding my treatment and disease. Yesterday I told him that I will loose all of my hair (which is starting to fall out not a lot yet though) and he was very disturbed about that. He did not like the idea of having a bald mom at all. He thought that was really embarrassing. Bless his heart. I hadn't considered buying a wig previously because I just don't care that much. I figured I would just wear caps or hats. I suppose I'll need to buy one now though for his sake. Other than that he seems to be taking the information well. I have yet to tell him that I have cancer. He knows I have a disease called osteosarcoma and cancer is just another word. But it is a scary word for kids. A very scary word for a little boy who has only known life with his mother. We know that cancer is small and God is big. I know that God is going to heal me. I have great confidence in what the Lord is allowing in my life right now and what He will do through this. However, it still breaks my heart to think of looking into Jarred's big brown eyes and say to him that I have cancer. So, will you please pray with me about how to do this? I know that I want to tell him before I go back to Shands for my next round of chemo on the 19th. I just need the Lord's wisdom and the right words. I know that He alone can give them to me.

*****Update to prayer request****** The Lord's grace was more than sufficient for this task.

It's Not An Easy Road....
Originally Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

There are times in this life when you feel like you're on a mountain top. Everything is good. Life is smooth and easy. Happy times. Times of pure joy. I've had so many of these times in the past four years (since I've been saved). I feel so blessed to have enjoyed so much. To have lived so fully. To have known what's it's like to be on the mountain top with God.

When the Dr. first told me I had cancer I was alone in the recovery room. After he spoke with me my mind raced back to the past and the regrets that I have because I was saved so late in life (when I was 26). Then my mind grazed over all the goodness that I have experienced because of being saved and living my life for the Lord. In those few seconds I determined not to ever think on the past again. I knew all I had was that day and each day following that the Lord grants me. I knew that I wanted to LIVE every day of my life that the Lord gives me and live it to the fullest for Him. I knew that I wanted to share His word, His work, and His love with all that I come in contact with. By myself, without any family or friends near, alone in that recovery room, I knew that I was not alone at all but that my Savior, my Redeemer, my Friend was right there with me. Comforting me, loving me, letting me know that I didn't HAVE to walk this road alone.

In the hospital I was so sure of these things. So confident that the Lord was there and I knew with all my heart that He was taking care of me. Taking care of things before I even knew I needed them. Then I came home. Then I started loosing my hair. Then the reality of living with cancer came. Then the realization that my life and everything is different presented its self. And I took my eyes off of what I knew to be true. I took my eyes off of the Lord's goodness. Like Peter when he walked on water to Jesus and took his eyes off of Him, I too sank because of my doubt.

Thankfully I serve a God that is good. A God that in spite of myself and my doubt He still reminds me that He is here. I just need to call on Him. He hasn't left me alone in this valley. I just have to reach out. I just have to keep my eyes set on Him. I just need to continue storing His word in my heart and holding to His love. The bible says "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39. So from that verse alone I know that cancer isn't getting in the way of God's love for me. The bible also says "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18. I can't imagine what that will be like. To have glory revealed in me? Wow, that's pretty amazing isn't it?!? I could go on and on with what the bible says about God's love for me and the fact that I don't have to travel this road alone. What a comfort that is. Knowing that when life gets tough, at it's worst, the Lord is there. Refining me and loving me.

I'll be honest, this is hard. It's not easy looking cancer in the face. This is surely a valley in my life. However, if God was good to me in the good times then He is surely good to me now. God hasn't changed. My circumstances in life have, but God will never change. It is His very nature to be good. For that I am thankful. Knowing that God is constant brings me peace. That is something I can rest in. He says "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30. Even though this road is hard all I have to do is come unto Him. He alone will be my source of peace, rest, love, and comfort. The valley may not be easy, but I know God is doing a work in me. I know that He is refining me. This is where my sanctification is taking place.

I'm so glad I'm saved. I can't even fathom facing this without the Lord.

God's Grace
Originally Posted:Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I just want to share publicly how amazing the God that I serve is. This post is about my hair loss. It is really quite detailed and ugly in parts. I only want to share the worst of my battle thus far to show just how good God is and the unbelievable amount of grace that only He can give. There are two pictures as well, so if you are reading this and these things bother you, you may want to skip over this post. Ok, so that's my disclaimer.

This morning when I woke up I combed through my hair and a great deal (maybe half of what was left-which wasn't much) fell out. I've been dealing with the hair loss for several days. I didn't realize that it would start so soon. I expected it to start happening maybe after two or three chemo treatments. It actually starts about two weeks after the first treatment. The first bit began to fall out last Tuesday. At first it was just maybe a small lock of hair when I ran my fingers through it. It progressively got worse every day. That's when reality started setting in and I started having a really hard time. I would just randomly cry every time I thought about it or mentioned it. It's good that I finally started to cry because I hadn't cried much since the diagnoses. Tears are a healing thing and I realized that as I was progressing through acceptance of what was happening. It was still so hard though. It's really a very ugly part of the process, you know? As if it wasn't bad enough to be dealing with it on an emotional level it was very aggravating because my hair is so long that it was EVERYWHERE. I mean I was starting to feel like Cousin It because when I got up I would leave a path of hair in my wake.

Prior to any of this taking place I thought that I would be perfectly Ok with loosing my hair and that once it started happening I would immediately want to shave it all off. Well that wasn't the case and that was really surprising to me. As I said though, I think the emotional difficulty was a necessary step in accepting what is happening in my life. A step that God allowed. A hard step that He knew was necessary to work together for good in my Christian walk. The bible says "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28. I've never truly felt that verse hit home, or seen it's fruition in my life more clearly than today.

So basically the past couple of days had been very emotional. Since Sunday my hair started falling out in large amounts. Every night and every morning Carrie and I would sit and slowly and patiently comb through my hair so as not to pull too much out. I would sit on my bed and cry as she combed my hair and clumps of it would come out in her hands. She would hug me and let me cry and I would say that I just wasn't ready to have it all gone yet. I just wasn't ready for this step. I wasn't ready to be bald. I wasn't ready to see myself bald. I didn't want to look like a cancer patient. Every night for the past few nights I cried out to God for comfort. I knew only He knew my heart and the feelings I felt. Then this morning when I woke up and combed my hair and watched it fall to my lap I had peace. A peace that passes any understanding I could ever have. A peace that only comes from trusting in the Lord.

After my son left for school I told Carrie that I thought maybe I wanted to shave all my hair off today (or what was left-it wasn't patchy yet, but was so thin). I finally felt that I was "there." At that point where I was just ready to be past dealing with loosing hair. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I was definitely ready. Carrie asked if I wanted her to sit and comb it. We figured it would all come out from combing it really good. I told her yes, that's what I wanted to do but first I wanted to pray. In those precious moments that I asked the Lord to come meet with us and to give me peace and be with me in the way that only He can be, I felt Him here. I knew that it would be OK. It took combing my hair for about an hour, gently pulling it out, then taking a shower to wash it and pull out more. By then it was patchy and needed to be shaved off. I called my dear friend, Shauna, who was a hairdresser and has given me all of my haircuts, styles, and colors for the past three years, and I asked if she could come over and use the clippers to shave the rest off. She gladly obliged. As we sat in my kitchen and the little bit of hair I had left was cut and shaved down to the skin we talked about the Lord, about how my hair would grow back , and just talked about life. In all of today's events I felt no sadness, no sorrow, no pain. I wasn't afraid and I had no doubt of the Lord's goodness or love for me. All day today I've had a smile on my face. I've laughed so much today. More than I have in a long time.

After Shauna finished I put a cute little bandanna on my head and tied it up. I didn't look in the mirror right away. I hadn't looked in the mirror at all this day. That was the part I was most hesitant about. Although I was not fearful, I still took the time and prayed until I felt ready to look at myself. After dinner I quietly went to the bathroom alone and prayed. I knew that was the time. I took off my headdress and was amazed that I could look at myself without cringing, crying, sadness or any negative feelings whatsoever. When I looked in the mirror I could feel the hand of Jesus and know in my heart that I will never have to walk this road alone. He will never leave me or forsake me.

The only tears that I have shed today have been tears of happiness, tears of joy. I've taken the time to detail all of this to share just how amazing the grace of God in one's life can be. Today could have been such a hard day. It could have been awful. There is no way that I can explain to you just how astounding it has been to walk in my shoes today. There's no way that I can express the fullness I have felt in Christ today. I have never in my life been happier to be saved and living for the Lord than I am today. To really and truly see God work all these things that I have experienced over the past week together for good in my life right now leaves me in awe.

This picture was taken last week when my hair began falling out

This picture was taken tonight

Update from the Hospital
Originally Posted: Monday, April 19, 2010 

I'm learning that more often than not we will NOT be sticking to the "schedule" of treatment that has been given to me. There are so many variables that come into play. This week is a prime example of what can go wrong.

Monday morning I had a follow-up appointment with the cardiologist. When I got there the nurse needed to take my vitals. I had been quite anxious all morning. Considering this was the first time I've gone back to the hospital since the last stay where I was diagnosed with cancer and stayed a whole month I don't think it was out of the norm for me to be a bit anxious. When the nurse took my vitals my heart rate was at 140. She wanted me to go ahead and go to Shands, get admitted, and once on the floor request the Cardiac Dr's to be called. They were supposed to come by to see about putting me on some type of meds. We waited all day Monday to no avail. The cardiac Dr's also had to clear me to start my chemo. So basically we didn't get much accomplished on Monday.

Bright and early Tuesday one of the Dr's that is in charge of this floor came in and said that things were moving right along. They were ordering the bags for me to be hydrated for four hours prior to chemo. Then we would start the chemo. YAY! Now it looked like things were really moving along. This particular type of chemo drug is called Methotrexate. After giving me this in IV form they must pump large amounts of fluids throughout my body. Yes, this sounds counterproductive! According to the Dr's and scientists that have set up this protocol this is the way it must be done. So anyway, they have to check the levels of Methotrexate in my system at 24 hours (must be <10), 48 hours (<1), and 72hours (<0.1). I cleared on the first two and the last one I was still a little high.

All week I've been pretty adamant about going home on Friday. When it comes down to it though, I don't want to do something that could likely jeopardize my health. It surely doesn't seem very wise for me to be running my mouth about wanting to go home when we are going so far out of the way just to get treatment. I knew that this week would be different for a lot of reasons. This new found perspective was certainly not something I saw happening.

As I began to get myself packed up and ready to go today with the realization dawning on me that I wasn't going anywhere I became very emotional and had a great deal of anxiety. Even this was a good thing though because now the Dr's had a chance to look closer at what my heart was/is doing and put me on some beta-blockers to try and help with it's beating so fast. I feel much better now that I have just accepted that this is the way it is. I can't change this plan and don't need to either. Lord only knows what He could be protecting us from out there on the road at night had we left at 5pm.

I still don't know what's wrong with my heart. It is very concerning to me, so please pray about that specifically. It's so scary because I never would have thought that my hip pain would end in a cancer diagnoses. But I also can't live every day wondering about the "what if''s!" My heart already belongs to Jesus and I need to just trust Him with it (and remind myself of that a million times a day!).

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

Rather than allowing myself to get anxious and try to figure out things in my own little pea brain, I need to just sit back and watch the Lord's plan unfold. This is a lesson I'm learning over and over again and in all different types of circumstances. The natural "planner" in me wants to have a plan and stick to it, but in a way doesn't that remove the Holy Spirit's leading in my life if I'm always trying to carry all the burdens and take on the weight of the world? I'm pretty sure that Jesus would rather carry these burdens and many more for me! "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." So, I can't promise I won't try to take control of things again, but I am going to try to take a step back and remember who is really taking care of me!

It's encouraging to me that I still have so much to learn as I walk with Christ. Surely He's not done with me here yet :)

A few of you have asked me about my son. Yes, I did tell him that I have cancer. In the past several weeks the grace of God has been an almost tangible presence in our home. Praise the Lord that His grace is spilling over onto my son as well. He handled the news much better than I had anticipated and I just can't stop praising God for that. However, my son does tend to hold everything in. He's your typical boy and doesn't open up much or talk too much about his feelings. It's really hard for me to get him to open up and talk about my disease. When I left Sunday to drive to Gainesville He came up to me with big crocodile tears streaming down his face. It just broke my heart. I told him I would be home by Thursday or Friday (no you see why I was so anxious when I found out I wasn't going home today :( ) He's just having a really hard time right now. He needs every prayer just as much if not more than me.

There are days that It breaks my heart that we are having to go through this. Then there are other days when I know that all is right in the world and this is my path that the Lord has set before me. Please pray for me to continually grow closer to Him during this valley. Pray for me to have a better testimony and a sweeter spirit.

In the meantime I'm learning that this time in the hospital can be viewed as a time to get in the bible and mentally prepare for the battle that is all around me. It can be used as a time to rest or catch up. That way when I'm home and feeling well I can devote all my time to loving on my son and being there for him.

Thank you again for your prayers :)

Hoping for Something "Normal"
Originally Posted: Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm still in the hospital, lol. They haven't sent me packing yet and are likely not to do so anytime soon. I was pretty disappointed about not getting to go home on time last week, but as always, God had a plan and was keeping me here for very good reasons. Saturday morning my Methotrexate (chemo) levels were just where they needed to be, but my heart was still beating a little too fast and the Dr's wanted to monitor it for at least another day. Considering that I had to be back in town on Monday they decided to just keep me over the weekend. Praise the Lord for that!! (I never thought I'd be praising God for keeping me here, lol) Saturday night my heart started beating WAY too fast and I was transferred to ICU. I'm so glad that I was in the hospital for that little episode. It was very scary. Once they got me down here and stable it was about 3am before I fell asleep. Considering that it was a weekend not a whole lot could be accomplished.

My oncologist has been pushing for me to get an MRI of my heart since I was admitted last week. Thankfully, the other Dr's now feel that needs to be done as well. I've had just about every other test that can be done on the heart with the exception of the MRI & exploratory open heart surgery (which is not at all an option! Whew!!) The oncologist is concerned that there may be lesions on my heart, which would be VERY rare. However, everything thus far has been rare. On this test I am desperately hoping for something normal, or at least not lesions!! The MRI is scheduled for tomorrow as is the procedure to have another port installed. In the meantime I have been put on another beta-blocker that is meant to slow down my heart. I will need to be closely monitored for about three days. I have to stay in the ICU for this because the nursing staff on my floor (the 8th) is not equipped to give me that kind of attention nor can they administer the IV drug that is being used to keep my heart rate under control.

I seriously need prayer about my heart. We need to get it under control so that we can proceed with my chemo schedule. My oncologist explained to me today that in order for this chemo treatment to be as aggressive as it needs to be we have to stick to the schedule and cannot afford more delays. Having the back to back chemo treatments that I am having makes it extremely important to stick to the schedule. Please, please, please pray about this with me. I'm ready to put these heart problems behind me and continue this fight!

From an emotional standpoint though, I am fine. I'm trying really hard not to lean unto my own understanding in this and acknowledge God in every bit of it. I KNOW that He has a plan even in these little delays. God has been so very good to me and I know that He will continue to be so. Before I was diagnosed I took so much for granted. I complained all the time about trivial circumstances and struggled with learning to be content. I don't want those characteristics to pollute my life now. I'd like to, as much as possible while living in reality, think on all the blessings I have. I can see how it would be so easy to get my eyes off of God and on the negative aspects of this battle. I am determined not to do so!

I thank God that I am saved by the One who is the author and finisher or my faith.

Trusting the Lord with All My Heart & Sharing It With You
Originally Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 

Oh, what a day. Thank you for you prayers in the area of my heart. I met and consulted with Dr's from 9:30am-5pm!! I thought for a moment that they had installed a revolving door in my ICU room, lol!

There were numerous decisions made today and a game plan for tomorrow. YAY!! In the morning I will be having an MRI on my heart to rule out any abnormalities. After that I will be having a TEE (TransEsophageal Echo). This is to make sure there are no blood clots on the back of my heart. Then I will have a cardioversion. This procedure gives the heart a quick shock to pop it back into a normal rhythm/rate. The change is immediate. If all of this goes well and my heart gets back to it's normal rhythm/rate then onward we will march with chemo.

I have prayed a lot about this issue and I know many others are as well. The cardiologist that I am seeing and that will be performing the procedure is the head cardiologist at UF/Shands. She is very confident that this is what I need. I do feel like this is the Lord's answer to our many prayers. However, the procedure itself is quite scary to me. I've been told that it takes maybe five minutes to perform. I just don't quite have peace about it.

Through the many tribulations that I've encountered over the past several months The Lord opened my eyes and I've seen Him become more real to me than ever before. The bible says "
And not only so, but we glory in
tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;" Romans 5:3. The truth is that this journey is hard. There are days, like today, that I feel like it's almost too much. It is an awful lot to take all of this in. God knows it's a lot though. He knows. Simply put. I praise God for bringing me this far. I praise Him for my salvation and I will praise him for this tribulation as well.

All of my life Nanny wrote Proverbs 3:5-6 on any correspondence we had. I believe it was her favorite verse. Tonight I have cried out to the Lord. I have poured out my heart to Him on a few different matters. Yesterday and all day today the verse that continually comes to my heart is Proverbs 3:5-6. I've never before related so closely with that verse. Tomorrow I have to quite literally trust the Lord with my heart. Tonight I'm still a little nervous, but I know that in the morning Jesus will be here comforting me and giving me that peace that passes all understanding. Jesus knows my fears, He understands the emotions toiling inside of me, and only He knows how to speak comfort to them. I desperately want to trust more. I want to be a godly woman that pleases the Lord. My desire is to trust the Lord with ALL of my heart. I suppose that if it takes a few of these physical infirmities to teach me how to really trust Him with all my heart it will be worth it all when we see Jesus.

By The Way.....mri, tee, & cardioversion all start at 7am eastern time.

So, What's Next?
Originally Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2010

That seems to be my continuous question here in ICU. It's many of yours as well. The truth is that although there may be a "plan" in place for later today or even tomorrow at any moment that plan can be tossed out the window and a new one made. Sometime things are so complex that the plan is done away with and it takes time to devise a new one so we're just left wondering, what's next. But isn't that life in general? I like to have a plan. I like to stick to the plan. You can then imagine how difficult it has been for me the last couple of months. Waiting is never an easy thing to do. During this time of waiting I have drawn closer to the Lord though. I'm seeing His work come to fruition. Although I can never see the big picture this side of heaven, I'm learning that life works out better when I wait on Him.

I've never considered myself to be a patient person, but I've noticed that through all of this I am at peace during those times I have to wait. Which reminds me of a bible verse, "By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:" Romans 5:2-4. I could have never imagined myself glorying in tribulations before now. It's amazing what a change in perspective will do. I love that I can so closely identify with the scriptures now. I wish that it didn't take cancer to get me to this place.

As you may already know the cardioversion I had Wednesday afternoon was unsuccessful. The hope was that by shocking my heart it would go back into a normal rhythm/rate. Did you know that when they shock a person with those paddles it leaves a burn! Ouch!! When you see it done on tv you don't really think about the specifics of it. It's not that bad though. It looks like someone dropped a mini iron on my chest. Anyway, I was very disappointed that it didn't work. However when I woke up early this morning my heart was in a sinus rhythm (that's the normal rhythm)!!! YAY!! I think the Lord just wanted to make sure He was the one receiving the glory, not some crazy machine or Dr's! I'm happy to give Him the glory too! As if that wasn't good enough, the Dr's are allowing me to go ahead and start my chemo in the morning!!!! YAY!!! Hopefully by Monday I will clear the chemo and then one of two things will happen. There is a slight possibility that I may need to have another procedure on my heart to fix the rapid heartbeat. This procedure is called a catheter ablation. If the cardiologist decides I need to have this procedure it would be done early next week. They would give me a few days to recover and then would start my 4th round of chemo on May 7th. After a few days of monitoring I would get to go home for a few weeks. The other possibility is not having the ablation and going home on Monday once the chemo has cleared. I would need to be back to Shands on the 10th of May for my 4th round of chemo. After that I would get to go home for a few weeks.

At this point I am at peace with either option. Of course I would like as much time at home as possible. Especially after being here much longer than expected this time. Although, I don't want to have issues with my heart cause future delay's either. If the ablation would truly "fix" this problem with my heart then I am wholeheartedly for it. This is where the whole plan/change of plan concept comes into play. Today my heart looks good and the Dr's feel they can control it with meds; however, tomorrow could be completely different. Also, the Dr's that I met with this morning had not yet consulted with the cardiologist, so she may have a very different opinion as to what needs to be done.

In the meantime, I'm claiming this as my verse: "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." Psalm 27:14

Original Post: Thursday, April 29, 2010 

As soon as I had that last post typed out my Cardiologist walked in. She believes that an ablation would be beneficial for me. There, of course, is no guarantee that it will work, but there is about an 80% chance of success. PLEASE begin praying about the success of this now. We will go ahead with Chemo tomorrow and the ablation will be performed on either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. This also means that I will be staying here through the next round of chemo which will start on the 7th of May.

"Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." Psalm 27:14

What to blog about????
Originally Posted: Saturday, May 22, 2010

After getting out of the hospital (Shands) in the beginning of May I had another brief stint at the hospital at home b/c of my heart. Ugh. I'm still not quite feeling myself yet. I've only been home a few days. But am feeling better and better everyday.

I'm really looking forward to my parents visiting next week, and I hope I have enough energy to make their visit a good one. I'm so glad they're coming. You know, I am so fortunate to have such good family and friends. I think all the time (everyday in fact) that I am so glad I'm saved. I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord placed me in this place for this time in my life. Long before I knew I had cancer He was working to make sure I would be taken care of.

"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Matthew 10:28-30

"But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows." Luke 12:7

How much more then will my Father care for me still? He will. I know it. I have such peace about the outcome of my life through Christ. I hope you have it too. I don't know how anyone gets through the day without Christ. I'm constantly saying it. I'm so glad I'm saved.

No, I don't like cancer. There are days when I HATE it. But that hate for this disease is thankfully bringing me closer to the Lord.

I'm at home till the first of June. Then back to Shands for more chemo. I'm hoping in the next days to be feeling like myself again.

Thank you all for your prayers. I do covet them so. I love each and everyone of you and thank God for you!

A Kiss On The Cheek........
Originally Posted: Monday, May 24, 2010

Sometimes during just an ordinary, mundane day the Lord comes along and gives us a kiss on the cheek. I got to experience this blessing today when my home health nurse came to visit. It's not always the same one. As a matter of fact I've had a different one every time. Today a nice lady came by and she was a believer. She told me about her son who had a rare blood disorder at birth and was sick for many years before going on a trial treatment. Now he's almost 20 and completely cured. She just sat here and talked about how good God is. She said that at one point she just fell on her face before God and cried out to Him. I know and understand those feelings completely. She knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was going to cure her son whether by miracle or medicine.

I pray that I can have that type of faith. I trust God completely, but sometimes it's hard because my future is so uncertain. Everyone's is I suppose. But with such a big, scary disease it makes the uncertainties that much scarier. I think I'll be happy to just celebrate my birthday this year. I suppose that's my problem sometime, I'm thinking on the future too much. The bible teaches us that we are to "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" From that verse I glean that today, this moment, is worth more than worrying about the future. I also know " Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." I have to constantly remind myself of these verses. It's hard you know, trusting but still being afraid. I need to keep my mind on heavenly, eternal thoughts. Like Corinthians 4:17 teaches "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;"

Anyway, the nurse that came by today was an encouragement to me and a blessing. I hope that you have experienced a kiss on the cheek from the Lord lately too :)

The Blessing of Sweet Fellowship
Originally Posted: Friday, May 28, 2010

I sometimes think that my blog is becoming very repetitive because I seem to be focused on the same thoughts. I hope not though. Although the Lord keeps giving me the same verses and thoughts over and over. I think maybe He might be trying to drill them in my head, lol!

I say it all the time, but I AM SO GLAD I'M SAVED! I don't know how one goes through this life, yet alone trials and valley's without God. I had the privilege last night to be able to attend the Secret Prayer Partner meeting at church with the ladies. Every six months all the ladies get together and draw names in secret and pray for one special person. At the end of the six months we meet again and reveal who we've been praying for and draw new names. I hadn't been able to attend the last time or two, so it was certainly a blessing to feel well enough to go this time. Since my mom is here I took her along with me. It was such a tremendous blessing. My church is unlike any place I've ever been. The people really and truly care, love, and pray for one another. It is the epitome of what a church should be and the very picture of how Christians should act towards one another. I can't even begin to detail everything that the church has done for me just in the last couple of months since I've been diagnosed. Among many other things there is a family that takes care of my sweet boy when I leave. It is the perfect place for him to be. The church also voted to pay for my cars transmission which had to be replaced just before the last Gainesville trip. They've cooked meals, sat with me, cleaned for me and so much more. I don't know what I would do without these wonderfully, loving people in my life. Most importantly they pray for me daily. Really pray. The friendships that I've built over my three years there are relationships I will have for eternity. I know that God put me in this place for this time because He knew that I would need a very large support group. My mom said yesterday that she had heard that it takes a village to fight cancer. Well, I surely have a village around me and am so thankful for it!

But back to the prayer partner meeting. It was such a blessing to just be there and fellowship with these amazing, godly, praying women. Women that are truly prayer warriors. I enjoy having someone special to pray for. Although I pray for a lot of people all the time there is just something special about having that one lady that is constantly brought to mind. I've always found that having that special someone to pray for and having their burdens to bear helps me focus more on others and less on myself. Which is something I very much want and need to do now more than ever. I often find myself praying and crying out to the Lord on my behalf and feel so selfish because of that. I know the bible says "we have not because we ask not," so I always try to ask.

I am so thankful that the Lord brought me to a good church family. If you are reading this and you go to Faith then I thank God for you. Thank you for the encouragement that you all are, thank you for loving me, thank you for praying for me, and thank you for being such a blessing to me. I love each and every one of you.

Schedule Update
Original Post: Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I am back in Gainsville now. They should be giving me my chemo any time now. There is a possibility that I may get to go home for two days this weekend. I had my port installed this morning and that went well. My neck and chest are quite sore from where they placed it, but it's not too bad. I got an updated schedule today for the next three weeks. I have to be back in Gainsville by 4:30pm on Monday to have a CT scan of my chest. This is when they will look at those spots they saw in my lungs to determine whether or not the cancer did actually metastasize and if so what the status is now that I have had several rounds of chemo. They will also be doing an MRI of my hip/pelvis area. This will be to determine what type of surgery will need to be performed to remove the tumor. I'm still praying that they will not have to amputate my leg. I'd really like to keep it. I'm afraid of that whole process. Of finding out. Of what life will be like if they do take my leg, etc. But I am also trying to lean not unto my own understanding. I'm trying to trust. Sometimes it's so hard! The surgery is scheduled for June 17th. Please be with me in prayer these next couple of weeks.

I'm doing well right now. I feel good and am in good spirits. I miss home like crazy already. I miss my son even more. The last couple of days have been crazy. The Lord is working in some mighty mysterious ways. I'm really leaning on Romans 8:28 and trusting that all this craziness is somehow working to our good.

I've been thinking a lot on eternal things and have had a positive change in my perspective. I will post more about that later. Just wanted to let you all know that I am here and ok. I love you all and thank you for your prayers.

A Change of Perspective Requires Thinking on Eternal Thoughts...
Originally Posted: Friday, June 4, 2010

I have such a heavy burden in my heart regarding this cancer and all who it touches and consumes. Unfortunately, it's not just my life being disrupted but many, many others. Don't get my wrong, I am so thankful that the Lord put those of you in my life to help walk with me and at times carry me through this battle. I just despise that it is so far reaching. I hate the fact that it brings me so far from home. I just feel like I'm missing everything, you know. This is the first year that I haven't gotten to go to my son's award ceremony on the last day of school and that just breaks my heart. I want so badly to be there for him. I miss my baby boy more than words can say. It seems like my thoughts have been more in the are of self-pity rather than living what life I do have and enjoying it. I feel so limited in this body. All of these thinking patterns always result back to the here and now. In the past couple of months I have not once thought beyond this life or my current sufferings. I think that I must have been so focused on surviving that I lost sight of what I DO have to look forward to.

The endlessness worrying I am doing about keeping my leg or what life will be like in the future will be better spend concentrating on eternity and what awaits for me there. It's not easy. It will require redirection of thoughts. And yes, I am still afraid of what I will find out next week, but I know that the Lord is in control of all of that too and I just have to trust in him with all my heart!

Home For a Few Days...
Originally Posted: Saturday, June 5, 2010

I was so excited last night I could barely sleep. I knew that I would get to come home for a couple of days and I suppose that was too much excitement for me to contain. First thing this morning I was up, packed, dressed, and ready to go. I got my PIC line taken out finally :) The port is doing well. They only leave it accessed while I am in the hospital, so I have nothing dangley and weird hanging off of me at the current moment! I think my Dr's were quite amused with me. Thankfully they had me out of the hospital pretty early. I usually sleep the whole way home, but again I was too excited to sleep much.We came home and dropped my stuff off then went to the church to meet my boy. He didn't know I was coming until the last minute. He isn't as apt to beam from excitement upon my arrival, but I can tell from the time he's spent tinkering around the house that he is happy to be here and happy I am here as well.

I will be staying till Monday morning and will then be heading back to Gainsville. I have several scans and MRI's Monday evening. Then Tuesday morning I will be admitted for another round of chemo. Hopefully I will get to come home next weekend as well seeing as how I won't have to be back until 15th. I will be having the surgery on the 17th. Still a little nervous about this, but I am trying my best to trust the Lord with whatever the outcome may be.

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy this precious and sweet time I have at home with my boy.

Big Decisions This Week
Original Post: Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I got into Gainsville safely last night and started out by having a CT scan of my chest. We then went to have an MRI done of my left hip. Back in November when I had my first MRI it was so painful that after five minutes I couldn't tolerate lying there any longer. I have had such a reduction in my pain levels that I rarely take pain meds any more. It didn't even occur to me to take something prior to this one since I had been doing so well. Low and behold after about 15 minutes of laying on that hard, flat MRI table I was in tears. I tried as hard as I could to lie there and suck it up, but it just put so much pressure on the area where the tumor is. Unfortunately I had to stop the MRI at that point, but I knew once I was admitted to the hospital they would find a way to get me through it.

The MRI should now take place tomorrow around 11am. They will try to sedate me and load me up with pain meds to get through the hour long MRI. This MUST be done, and done as soon as possible. We really need to see how the tumor is responding to be able to make any decisions regarding surgery.

My Orthopedic Oncologist, Dr Gibbs, my Pediatric Oncologist, Dr Lagmay, and both of their nurses came in to meet with me this afternoon. The results from the CT chest scan show that the nodules on my lungs have slightly decreased in size but one of them has also calcified which means that those spots are definitely cancerous. In the long run we will need to look at doing surgery to remove those spots unless more appear then they said it would be pointless. This surgery will have to wait until after the big surgery on my hip.

As far as making decisions regarding the surgery to remove the tumor we are on hold until MRI results come in. The Dr's did briefly discuss with me some different options. They feel that my best luck for a complete cure is to amputate my left leg. Although this is still no guarantee. But the breaks in my hip were very bad for my leg and have most likely spread cancer cells in or around that general area. Ideally they would like to be able to completely remove the tumor along with enough healthy tissue around it to make sure they've not only got it all but hopefully prevent it from coming back. I guess the argument is that if I have no leg then it can't come back there. By doing the surgery to remove only the tumor I am at risk of the cancer not only coming back, but having a leg that may or may not be functional. Ultimately the decision is mine to make. This is a very difficult decision. I obviously don't want to loose my leg, but I want to live also --  very badly! It's not easy any way you look at it. However, I can't worry about this right at the moment because I don't even have the information I need to make an informed decision. All along I have been preparing myself for the possibility of amputation as have the Dr's. When I think about it I'm scared of how life will be different, learning how to get around, what I'll look like, and just being handicap in general. I also feel a peace though that I can't explain. A knowing that if this is the decision I make God will be there holding my hand the whole way. I want to make the right decision and right now I don't know what that is. My Orthopedic Dr. will help me the best that he can by being upfront and helping me to answer any questions I have as well as helping me to make a decision. But again, it's mine to make, they can only suggest what they view as their opinion. I'm very thankful that I have a team of Doctors that I trust and believe to be highly capable.

My Grandma suggested I make a list to weight out the pros and cons. I don't think I want to do that or even know enough about my different options to do so at this moment. When I was talking to Carrie earlier though she reminded me to think on those things that are just, so I've decided to make a list of those things instead :)

My Thinking list on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtue, and praise:

-The Lord is real, He is the author and finisher of my faith
-I know I'm saved
-I have an eternity to look forward to with my Savior
-I have been blessed with the sweetest son
-My boy has had the Lord's grace continuously on him during this valley
-I have had the blessing of renewed relationships with friends and family
-I have the blessing of having several close, sister-like friends
-I am forgiven
-I am blessed to be a part of a wonderful body of believers and couldn't ask for a better church family
-The Lord has provided my every need during this illness. He's taken care of things before I
even knew I had the need
-This trial has drawn my family and friends closer together

****There are so many more things that I could name, but these are just a few. I'm trying to not only keep my mind stayed on the Lord, but also keep in remembrance all that He has done for me and how wonderfully He provides. I know He will see me through these next few days and help me make the right decisions.

I ask that you just please pray for me to make the right decisions and have peace beyond all understanding with them.

Thanks :)
Joshua 1:9 "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

Waiting on The Lord
Originally Posted: Thursday, June 10, 2010

I had hoped today would bring answers and result in decisions being made. Apparently God has another idea in store. My Orthopedic Oncologist went out of town last night and was to call me today to discuss with me surgical options. Instead my pediatric oncologist and her Nurse Practitioner showed up to discuss the MRI findings with me. Apparently they were quite confusing. It doesn't appear that the tumor has shrunk at all. Although it doesn't seem as if it has shrunk it could quite possibly be calcified and dead from all the chemo. It could also have swollen scar tissue around it that was damaged from the first surgery. There are a lot of "ifs" and almost no certainties at this time.

So, the plan is to have a bone scan tomorrow. I already had two xrays done today of my hip and Tuesday morning I will come back to have a PET scan of the area. From my understanding a PET scan will light up any active cancer/tumor cells. IF the tumor is indeed dead and just needs to be scooped out then it will not be "lit up." At this time with so much information needed my Dr's still cannot help me make the best decision and steer me in any general direction. However, once we have all the info that we need we can make an educated, informed decision and proceed. It may be that I need to do a couple of more rounds of chemo to further shrink the tumor before removing it. If that is the case then they will be administering two types of chemo that I have not yet had.

Needless to say no decisions will be made until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Generally I would be a nervous wreck over all of this uncertainty. Friends, I can tell you that I feel the Lord's peace like never before. I am at ease. THE Lord has given me peace about so many things in the last few days. Living, Dying, loosing my leg, and taking the time to make these decisions. The bottom line is that ONLY HE knows the outcome. The doctors cannot tell me with 100% certainty that they can cure me or what my best surgical chances for cure are. But God can cure me. I am reminded of Lazarus, and the woman with the issue of blood. I trust the Lord and whatever He is doing with me right now. It is a constant battle to stay in this place of trust, but I have resolved to wait on Him. Father knows best :)

He has continuously laid on my heart these verses the past few days:
"Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." Psalm 27:14

"Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield." Psalm 33:20

"Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass." Psalm 37:7

"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Joshua 1:9

The Verdict
Originally Posted: Monday, June 14, 2010

Well, this is a hard post to write. An even harder reality to live and face head on. I spoke with my orthopedic Dr. today. He feels that my best chances of cure are going to result in amputating my leg. He reviewed all the scans and also got a second opinion from another surgeon. It's a pretty major surgery. They'll have to remove my entire hip socket because the tumor is so high up. He said I'll only be in the hospital 5-7 days after surgery which was a surprise to me. I would think I'd have to be in a lot longer than that. He also said that if needed I can do rehab close to home. I think I'll really want to be home afterward even though coming home will mean facing the reality of being handicap and learning to live life all over again.

I have peace about the surgery. I'm still scared of what afterward will bring. This is such a huge cost. But it's my life that we're gambling with and I suppose there is no cost too high to try and cure me of this horrible cancer. I never saw my life working out like this. It's so amazing what you take for granted. I don't know what the future holds. I know that this is going to be hard. I don't like it. I don't want to loose my leg. But I do want so badly to live. I want to raise my son and enjoy the sweet fellowship with him that I have with my parents now.

I'm still heading back to Shands tomorrow and will be getting a PET scan done. The results of that aren't going to change the surgery though. Unless of course the Lord miraculously heals me between now and then. I'd love to hope for that, but I feel like He wouldn't have given me the peace He has about the surgery if those were His plans. Although I don't know the mind of God. I can't even begin to understand why He is allowing this to happen to me. It breaks my heart. I know though, that God is good even in the valley's. I see that through the grace that He bestows on me daily. I know that He will get me through this as well. I know that when the time comes His grace will come down so mighty and so powerful that there will be no questions as to where my strength comes from.

Please, please be in prayer for me this week. Tomorrow I have the PET scan, Wednesday I will meet with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist, and Thursday I will have surgery. Please pray for the surgeons and that the Lord will guide their hands and give them wisdom that they didn't learn in medical school. Please pray that I get through the surgery OK and that I don't go into shock or anything after the fact. A lot of my fear is in my reaction to myself after they take my leg. So please, please pray.

I don't know when I'll get to post again, but will try to keep you all updated. In the meantime thank you for your prayers, your concern, and your thoughts.

<3 jill

Glorying in my Infirmity
Originally Posted: Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today I am at peace. It's a surprising peace. Not surprising because I doubt the Lord can give it. Surprising because I just didn't expect to be at such peace the day before I have this major surgery. I thought that I would be a little nervous, or very anxious, but no. I have a peace down in the depths of my soul that can only come from Jesus. I know that this is all going to sound so strange, it's just another testimony to how gracious the Lord is towards his saints. I don't know if you remember my post about the day I lost my hair. That day I experienced grace from the Lord that I never knew, I felt an almost oneness with Him and a closeness to Him that is not something that happens often. It was almost like He had His hand on my shoulder and was sitting, standing, and walking right beside me all day long. The scariest part of my day was looking at my reflection in the mirror. Not because of pride or vanity, but my reflection would represent the very face of cancer. It made me look at my cancer in the face quite literally. When I did look in the mirror though I felt the Lord say "I will never leave you nor forsake you, I'm right here, sweet child and you are still beautiful." What could have been one of the hardest days of my life was transformed into something beautiful and a sweet memory. Because of that grace, the grace that He speaks of in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ("And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.") I look forward to tomorrow. I look forward to feeling that closeness with the Lord. Tomorrow will undoubtedly be the hardest day I have ever faced, but I am expecting it to also be a day when I will be closer to the Lord than ever before.

This surgery will make me permanently handicapped. I say though life, bring what you may. I feel victory in the air so thick that I know good things await me on the other side of this challenge. I have decided that this handicap will not limit me. I'm not going to feel sorry for myself. I choose life instead. That my friends, is the whole purpose of this surgery that I have decided is necessary. Life. My life. Life and a future with my loved ones. With you.

I spoke of victory in the air, I don't know what it is. I just have an overwhelming sense that victory lays ahead. Maybe victory against this cancer, being cured. Maybe victories in souls being saved. Possibly victory over my flesh and fear. Definitely that. Hopefully the leading into a ministry. I don't know what the Lord has ahead for me. I don't know any of the answers to an uncertain future. I do know though that I am saved by the precious blood of Jesus and that He is waiting to spend an eternity with me. Praise the Lord for that. I also know that I trust Him more today than ever before. Each day I pray that trust will grow and grow. So friends, I am glorying in this infirmity and praising my sweet Jesus for allowing it. No matter His reasons. I know that His power, strength and peace are all flowing over and through me. As I type this tears are rolling down my cheeks because I am so overwhelmed with the goodness of God. I'm so overwhelmed that in the face of this awful surgery I can still smile and know that I will be OK.

OK, so you probably want all the details from the appointment too. I took really good notes this time and have a lot of facts to share. Regarding yesterday's PET scan it still showed the tumor to be active and quite large. We already knew it was pretty big which is why amputation is absolutely necessary. Good news is that there is NO CANCER ANYWHERE ELSE in my body (other than the two spots on my lungs which we already knew about) :) That's great news!!! I did have a "moment" in the Dr's office today when I had to sign the consent forms. I felt like I was signing away my leg. I know that sounds silly, but that was one of the only "moments" I had today, thankfully. Along with amputating my leg (and I did forget to write down the technical term for this) **hemipelvectomy** they will be removing my hip socket and cutting my pelvis to the left and right of that. They will remove the entire area. It's pretty major surgery obviously. I will have to spend a night or two in ICU before being transferred to the regular floor (that's the sixth floor for those of you who have been to Shands). They will be giving me a nerve block or epidural. There will be a lot of pain, but hopefully not as bad as when I had the second break. I'm likely to have phantom pain and sensations. There is a medicine they can give me to help with this and hopefully over time the phantom pains/sensations will either decrease or I will adjust to them. It will take about 2-4 weeks for the wound to heal. Once the wound has healed I will start chemo again. A rigorous course of chemo will be needed after for about another seven months. This is to work on those spots on my lungs and to treat any "roaming" cancer cells. Healing time will be about 6-8 weeks. I have pictures of the area and the tumor and it is huge. In order to have a shot at curing me amputation is the ONLY option. Surgery is scheduled for 11:30 EST. So for those of you at home that will be 10:30 central time. The surgery will last about 4-6 hours. Aside from praying for the Dr's, the surgery's success, and for it to go smoothly, please pray that I can go straight to an ICU room and skip the recovery room. Being in the recovery room is a very emotional thing for me because that is where I first found out I had cancer and I would be all alone in there. I want to wake up to see the faces of people that love me. I want to be surrounded by people that will pray with me. I'm gonna need that support very much tomorrow.

Ok, I think that's all for now. Thank you again for your prayers and thoughts. I appreciate every single one of them.

Surgery went well!
Originally Posted: Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hello friends. I don't have a lot of news to share with you today, but thought you'd like a quick post on how I'm doing. Dr. Gibbs (my ortho surgeon) said that the surgery went perfectly. Way better than even he anticipated. He also said the tumor was as big as my head only in an oblong shape, so taking my leg was ABSOLUTELY the best thing to do for me. We have a real fighting chance at curing me now :) I know that all of YOUR prayers are why things went so smoothly.

I have been doing well emotionally. I've only had one "moment," but it didn't last long. I am having phantom sensations and pain which is very strange. I'll go to move and although I feel very "light" I feel shooting sensations down where my leg used to be and into my toes. This is normal and will most likely last for several months if not forever. All in all I feel good. I'm very tired and have hardly been able to keep my eyes open (I've dozed off several times while typing this!)

PT has been coming in every day since the surgery and working with me. Each day they push me to do a little more. The first day they got me to sit up on the side of the bed and practice some balancing exercises. Today they got me to sit up on the side of the bed, stand and take a few steps forward and backward using a walker. I didn't think any of this would be possible after surgery, but PT really pushes you to get moving quickly. They say the sooner the better as far as recovery time is considered. How awesome would it be if I could maneuver well enough to be OK when the discharge me? They say the hospital stay is only 5-7 days which doesn't seem like long enough to me for this major surgery, but they know best :/ Since I'm doing so well I wouldn't be surprised if they kicked me out after 5 days! At least then I would get to spend some more time with my mom at home.

Well, the nurses are getting onto me because i took off my pulse-ox thingy from my finger so I could type faster. They're saying I need to get it back on.

I'll type more later when the pulse-ox nazi's aren't after me :) I love you all and thank you again for your prayers. Keep them coming because I know this big adjustment is going to be hard.

Being Real
Originally Posted: Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I've been home since Monday afternoon. It is so nice to be in my own home!!! I'm enjoying the peace and quiet and the solitude of being at home. I'm learning how to get around better in my own surroundings and becoming better acclimated with my new life. It's not easy. I have to be honest that sometimes getting used to this one legged thing is just down right hard. I miss my leg. I have phantom sensations and pain and sometimes think it itches. I have to constantly remind myself that I don't have a leg therefore it can't be itching.

Cancer truly is a battle. I see why people say that now. It's all consuming. I have my good days (like today) and I have my bad days - when it takes all I have just to get through the hours. I feel more like I am in survival mode than actually living my life. I grieve the fact that I can't take care of my son and have to leave him for extended periods of time. I'm so thankful for the Rawles' who take care of him wonderfully in my absence. They've given him a haven of rest, a place without worry. I'm thankful for all that everyone does for me. I can never thank God enough for surrounding me with so many people that love me. I feel so undeserving of it all.

With all my many blessings though I still struggle and miss my old life. It reminds me of a Sara Groves song called "Painting Picture of Egypt." The chorus says "I've been painting pictures of Egypt, leaving out what it lacked, the future feels so hard and I wanna go back. But the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I've learned. And those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned." You can listen to the whole song here.

I know God's giving me the grace I need to get through this rough time and I know that He is giving me strength that I don't even see. However, sometimes I just have to allow myself to cry and mourn my life that was lost and the uncertainties of my future.

Anyway, this is what was on my heart tonight. I'm praying daily for the Lord to increase my faith and help me to trust Him more.

<3 me

I Have Been Blessed
Originally Posted: Monday, July 5, 2010

I've been home for a week now. Everyday I've seemed to get a little better and better. I had a few days where I over exerted myself a bit. I just want some of my independence back and have tried to do too much. I end up paying for it and am just in pain at the end of the day. So I've learned to just take it easy right now and only do a tiny bit as I can. I had a scare when my incision started having some discharge. My discharge papers from the hospital said that if it had that to call the doctor. So I really worried about it until I heard from the doctor that it was OK and there was no worry of infection. I've been taking an antibiotic four times a day, so hopefully that has warded anything nasty off. I guess that I've forgotten that I had a major surgery and it's only been a little over two weeks. I'm so ready to do things for myself, but it's going to be a long road to recovery.

I was so blessed to go to church Sunday morning. The kids were picked up for Sunday school and Carrie and I planned on going to the main service as it's hard for me to sit upright for any length of time. I miss being in church so much. Anyway, we were late getting out of the house because we were trying to get my wheelchair folded up and into the car. We were just running late in general I guess. When we got to the church I decided to use my walker to walk into the church and sit in one of the comfy rockers that they usually pull out of the nursing room for me. Brother JP always gets one for me and puts it next to my pew so I can be comfortable during the service (I think that is so sweet and kind). As I walked into the church towards my pew the congregation was singing the hymn Victory In Jesus (which is one of my favorite hymns from childhood, it's always touched my soul). As I hobbled down the aisle with my walker and one leg they sang the line "I heard about his healing, of his cleansing pow'r revealing how he made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see, and then I cried
dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit and somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory." The tears just fell down my face as soon as I came in and heard them singing that. My heart is just always so tender in church and I'm always so moved by the hymns and can feel the Spirit so strongly. Pastor immediately saw me coming down the aisle and when the congregation finished the song he said something to me about walking in during that exact moment and how it couldn't have been by accident then had the congregation sing just that line over again. It was such a special moment. It was so encouraging to be reminded of the Lord's healing and cleansing power. I may have lost my leg and be facing a huge battle, but I also serve a very big God that can do anything He wants. He can, and I choose to believe that He will cure me of this disease. Needless to say before the preaching even got started, at the beginning of the service I was beyond moved and in tears. I was overwhelmed with the Spirit and the Lord's presence.

Our junior kids just went to church camp this past week where they sang a song called I Have Been Blessed. After we sang hymns in church Pastor wanted the kids to come up and sing that song. My son was happy and chipper and jumped out of his seat to join the rest of the kids and sing right along with them. About the second verse I noticed that He was crying (which if you know him this is very unlike him. He's Mr. Don't show emotions or cry in front of people). He was practically bawling through the whole song and kept wiping his eyes and face and was staring at me to regain strength and reassurance. Carrie's kids were in tears by that time too. I didn't know what set them off. All the kids came back to their seats and Jarred just sat on my lap and held onto me for dear life and sobbed. His little heart was so tender and just wide open. Later he told me that what made him sad and start crying was a line in the song that said "Arms that can raise, a voice that can talk, hands that can touch, and legs that can walk." He said that when he sang the part about legs that can walk he just thought of me and I think it finally hit him and his emotions just boiled over. It was one of the sweetest most tenderest moments we have ever had as mother and son. Since then our time together during this trip has been so sweet. We have really bonded and spent good quality time together. After the song Carrie's daughter came to her and told her that she needed to be saved, so Carrie told her she needed to go to the alter and got someone with her to lead her to the Lord. This all happened BEFORE the preaching even started. The Holy Spirit was just so alive and present during the service that it was overwhelming. We came away feeling renewed, refreshed, thankful and humble. What a morning it was. After church Carrie headed to Pensacola to spend the day with her family and Jarred and I stayed at home. I think it was the first time in a long time that it was just the two of us and we just got to hang out for a long time. It was almost like old times. He said several times how nice it was. That meant a lot to me and reminded me how much I have been blessed.

I head back to Gainsville tomorrow. I have an appointment with the orthopedic Dr. on Wednesday at 10:15 to get my stitches out (which by the way there are 50 on top and three more internal layers of stitches which means I have a total of about 200 stitches!) As long as I am healing well and he gives me the go ahead for chemo I will be admitted to the hospital the same day around noon for the next round. This will be a different chemo than I've had before. It also requires a seven day stay in the hospital. I don't really know what to expect in the way of side effects or if it will make me really sick. Of course I hope not. After I get out of the hospital I will be going to stay with my grandparents for a little while. I'm not really sure how long. They will also arrange for my son to be brought over there. I don't have a schedule for chemo in July yet, but I am sure I will get one while I am there. My sister is coming down to go to music camp in about a week and is staying an extra week after to spend with me. I'm planning on telling the Dr's that I absolutely have to be home for that week. Please pray that it works out that way and that I'm not so sick from chemo that I can't enjoy her visit. She hasn't been down for the summer in a couple of years and I would really like to make it a special time.

That's about all the news and updates from here for now. I will keep you updated as I can in the hospital and once I get to Panama City.

No Chemo This Week.....
Originally Posted: Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We got into Gainesville at a decent hour last night. I went to bed after being here for a couple of hours. This morning I went to see my orthopedic Dr., Dr. Gibbs, to have the stitches taken out and make sure my incision was healing properly. There has been that one three inch area that I have been concerned about, so I was curious to see what he would have to say about it. Well.... everything but that area looks great and has healed perfectly well. At first glance he was concerned that I might have an infection in that area, but after taking a few stitches out there and pressing down around it he decided that there is a lot of fluid trapped underneath there which is also why the area is red and irritated.

So.... I have to go into the OR tomorrow for a small procedure to have that area cut back open and cleaned out. They'll put me out, remove all the stitches then cut that small area back open and clean and wash out the area really well and also make sure it isn't infected. Please lets pray that there is NO infection. All of that taken into consideration, the Dr. felt like I had not healed well enough to start chemo today. The procedure that I am having is outpatient, so as long as all goes well we will head back home tomorrow. I'm praying for a smooth procedure and smooth ride home.

I will have to be back in Gainsville on the 14th to see Dr. Gibbs again and again hopefully obtain his OK for chemo. I don't know if I had previously mentioned that my sister is coming down at the end of July or not. If so, sorry, I'll be repeating myself. My hope is that my chemo schedule will not interfere with her being here so that I can be at home with her the week that she plans on visiting me. She hasn't come to visit me for the summer for over two years now. We are both really looking forward to it. Pushing chemo back a week like this will give me a two week break before I have to be back which means I'll be home for her visit. So maybe God is just trying to work out everything for me before hand. I told the oncologist that I am just not going to be able to come to Gainsville during that time frame. I said it's just not possible. They will have to work around it and I will pray that there are no ill effects for me health-wise.

So no chemo for me this week. I'll head back home tomorrow as long as everything goes well and I'm sure it will. That will give me a couple of days with my son which will be nice. I'll end up going to stay with my grandparents on Sunday and we'll just leave from there for Gainsville next Tuesday. Then I'll re-do today all over again on the 14th. Please be in prayer that the Lord works it out according to His will, that the procedure goes well tomorrow, and that we have safe travels.

Thanks :)

A Lazy Sunday
Originally Posted: Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm here sitting on my couch this Sunday. I woke up this morning with a lot of pain in my hip and feeling like I could just barely move around, so went back to bed for several hours. I sure missed being in the Lord's house today. I miss my fellowship with the wonderful body of believers at the best church in the world!! Now I'm just taking it easy and relaxing on this lazy Sunday.

I'm back at home for two weeks. I can't express how happy I am to be home for a little while. I went to Gainesville Tuesday and spent the night in a hotel and got up the next morning to head off to the orthopedic Dr. hoping to get the OK to start chemo. I had my doubts and fears as to what the Dr. would say because my incision was still draining quite a bit. It just made me so nervous. Well, the Dr. said I needed to be on antibiotics for another few weeks before I could start chemo. The incision just had not healed well enough yet and he didn't want to take any chances. So now I'm taking a different antibiotic four times a day and have been sent home to heal. I had mixed emotions about that at first. A bit of uneasiness and what not, but the more I thought on it I realized that the Lord had worked things out just perfectly for me. I had prayed that I would be home and not sick when my sister came to visit. Now I'll be home and no chemo, so there is no worry of my being sick. This next round of chemo will be a type that I've not had before so I'm not really sure what to expect as far as side effects are concerned. I'm hoping and praying that it doesn't make me sick like the doxorubicion (sp?).

It's interesting to see how the Lord works things out for us. It's certainly never the way that we would prefer it done. Not the easy way for sure, but He works things out in a way that shows us to lean on him and trust him more. In His perfect way that causes us to be even more thankful and grateful. Things that come easy are never appreciated fully.

Well I'm continuing this on Monday. My cousin left yesterday and my Aunt came over to stay with me for a few days. I'll be on my own Wednesday night through Friday night when my sister comes. I'm pretty sure I'll be OK on my own though. As long as there are plenty of leftovers in the fridge and I have my son to help me :) I'll be picking up my sister Friday night from music camp and she will be staying with me for several days. I'm so looking forward to that.

Back on Track
Originally Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Here I am sitting in the hospital in Gainesville again about to receive the next round of chemo. I've been saying to myself over the past several weeks that I need to blog, lol. I spent the last two weeks at home truly enjoying being in my own surroundings, with my son, friends and my sister. It was so nice to have a long break at home and be feeling great most of the time too. I haven't had chemo since early June, so my blood counts were all up and I've been feeling more like myself. My sister came to visit for almost a week and we had such a wonderful time together. I just love getting to spend one-on-one time with my sisters.With my sister as my own personal chauffeur I was able to get A LOT accomplished. We got all of my son's school shopping done. With the exception of picking up a backpack (it's hard to find something sturdy enough for my rough guy) and picking up the shirts that are having the school logo sewn on. I'll get to those things next week when I get home hopefully. I'm hoping to get the OK to drive soon. I think that physically I won't have a problem. The only thing that might keep me from getting the go ahead is that I'm still taking pain meds. We'll see. If not I know plenty of people who are willing to help. The Lord has been so good in the area of providing people to help in so many ways.

I have to tell you that I received a call from the genetic counselor that I have been working with here at Shands and we were talking about what has been going on with me. She was not aware of the amputation, so I told her about that and that I was in the recovery process. She said to me "you must be absolutely devastated!" I've mulled that over in my head so many times since then and have praised the Lord for His grace through all this. I thought to myself I am so far from being devastated and what a blessing that it. Going through an amputation isn't an easy thing, it's a big adjustment, but with God it is possible to get through it without ever feeling an ounce of devastation. I know that many people are praying for me and I just want to thank you and encourage you by letting you know that your prayers are being answered in a mighty way in my life. I am so thankful for every prayer that is sent up for me. I don't know everyone that is praying, but I ask God to heap immeasurable blessings on each of your lives.

I have been working on trying to get my chemo closer to home for a while now. The decision to do so will be made by the doctors in the next few days. I am praying that it works out for me to have my treatments at Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast. That's only about 30 minutes away from home. It would alleviate so many burdens for my family right now. I really, really hope that it works out that way. If so then I will still come back to Shands to have scans every three months and I will come back to have the surgery to remove the spots on my lungs as long as they don't multiply and reduce in size from the chemo. The oncologist at SH is so wonderful. He has a really good bedside manner and is very thorough. I like the hospital there and have always had a good stay there. That's another thing you can pray with me about. As soon as I have news I'll be posting about it!

That's the update for now.


The Spirit's Prodding
Originally Posted: Friday, August 13, 2010

Well, I've been dragging my feet on this blogging thing and not sharing my good news. The Holy Spirit has been prodding me along the last few days by just heaping blessing upon blessing, so I am therefore about to burst with good news and anticipation. I just have to share......

I have to first tell you about my hospital stay and how the Lord surrounded me with His presence over and over. There were a few days that I was by myself in the hospital. It was the first time that has ever happened over in Gainesville, but I was not concerned, I knew I would keep myself busy reading or watching Food TV (which subsequently is not the best idea to do in the hospital when you only have access to icky food). The Lord placed this one specific nurse in my path and through our conversations I found out she was a Christian and a very dedicated one at that. We spent hours just talking about the Lord and how good He is, encouraging one another and sharing testimonies. It reaffirmed for me that although it may seem we are all alone the Lord is always there, and not only that, but He generally will provide someone or something to encourage us when we are down. As it came time for my hospital stay to come to an end my oncologist came to visit me. Now, if you recall, I have been traveling 4 1/2 hours to Gainesville to receive my treatments which usually require a hospital stay of anywhere between 4-7 days. It has been extremely burdensome upon my family. We have been praying that I would be able to receive my chemo at a hospital closer to home in San Destin. My oncologist came with the good news that my request to receive treatment locally had been granted!!!! She has sent all of my information to the oncologist here and he is ready to take me on! YAY!! After she shared that good news with me we talked for a long time and she opened up to me about her own feelings of God, she too is a believer (I hadn't known this before because we hadn't had the chance for such an intimate conversation). She talked to me about my faith in God and how it would see me through this time, how she had to cling to the Lord and that she knows He has a plan in cancer and suffering when dealing with her pediatric patients. It was a sweet talk. I could tell that she opened up her private thoughts to me and felt safe to share with me what others in her medical community might scoff at. It was a true blessing indeed as well as another example of the encouragement that the Lord brings to His children when they need it.

Coming home I was so happy that the Lord worked things out for me to have my chemo here locally. The oncologist that will be overseeing my care is a very strong Christian man and very open about it as well. From first meeting him we have all been impressed with his character and bedside manner. I look forward to what this next round of treatments will bring. Although I know that sickness is in my future I also see healing. I truly believe that the Lord will heal me of this infirmity.

Among these blessings that the Lord has brought me, in the last two days I have come to find out that a dear friend is expecting. I'm so happy to be able to share in her joy and see the Lord bless this family!! In addition the family that keeps my son while I am in the hospital has been praying for the father of the family to find a good job close to home. Today we received news that not only did he get a good job close to home, he got an AWESOME job close to home. The circumstances surrounding his hiring were completely orchestrated by the Lord. Also..... the sweet lady that picks my son up from school in the mornings just got a job her heart desired as well!! All these blessings to people around me just make my heart so full. It is so incredibly encouraging to see the Lord work in the lives of those people who love him and are called according to his purpose. It is so wonderful to see Him work things for good.

 So, on this day when all I see around me is God's goodness and His many blessings I knew that everything is going to be OK. God is on His throne smiling down at us today and I'm smiling back at him!

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

"Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts."
Psalms 145:3-4

Happy Birthday to...... ME!
Originally Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Several months back I didn't know if I would be celebrating another birthday. I'm so glad that the Lord has allowed me this time and another year to look forward to. Not only that, but I have been feeling really good lately for the most part. I've had a wonderful birthday so far. I got to go to lunch with some dear friends to celebrate and had such a lovely time. Later on some other friends will stop by to celebrate some more and do the whole cake thing. YES, I'm looking forward to some birthday cake :)

Last year I celebrated my 30th birthday with a large group of friends. I would have never imagined my life to change so much and take so many twists and turns, but I am once again reminded that this is the path that the Lord has set before me and I am more determined than ever to commit my ways unto Him.

I am blessed in so many ways that I couldn't begin to name them all! Today I am so thankful to have another birthday to celebrate and to have so many REAL, loving, caring, praying friends to celebrate it with. The only thing missing is my parents, sisters, and my dear friend Carrie. You know, I have to confess that while Carrie was here I had a certain comfort in knowing that there was always someone around to care for me and help me during the hard times. Secretly I was so afraid of what would happen when she left. I prayed a lot about it and in my heart knew that if the Lord could bring her all the way from Spain He could surely provide people here to continue to care for me. Although it was still a very real fear and worry I had. God is so good though. When I've needed someone I haven't been alone once. My church family has been more than willing and able to be here and help whenever I need it. God continues to provide my needs before I even know that I have them. Sometimes, well a lot of times, it's hard not to worry, but I try to constantly give those worries to the Lord and trust Him with them. I'm not saying that is an easy task because quite often I take them back and find myself having to give them all over again. However, He is good and faithful to receive my worries and being the loving Father that He is, He understands like no other person.

My biggest wish or desire for my birthday is to grow closer to the Lord. To trust Him more daily, be in the word more and develop a better prayer life. If you could please pray about these things with me it would be the best birthday gift I could receive!

I will be heading back to Sacred Heart in Destin tomorrow to receive another round of chemo. This will be the roughest one and it is also the one that makes me very sick afterward. The Dr. will be trying out some new IV anti-nausea medicines while administering the chemo, so I am hoping that it will make a big difference. I'm trying not to worry, but I certainly don't look forward to feeling so horrible. The good news is that I get about a three week break after this one!

I enjoy being at home these days more than you know. Although with my son at school and me left alone most days I've found myself in a bit of a rut. I lack the motivation to really get up and do much. I'd like to get back into some hobbies such as card making, trying my hand at sewing and maybe even knitting! Please also pray that this bit of depression will pass and that I will once again find myself useful and productive.

That's a little update as to what is going on here. I will try not to let so much time elapse between my next posting! I love you all and thank you for your prayers!

Originally Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2010

As you can probably tell I haven't been much in the bloggy-mood lately. I have been so restless, bored, complacent, etc. Sick and tired. Tired of being sick. This last round of chemo really set me back and I am just not bouncing back like I had hoped. I just have no energy to do the things I have to, therefore, I have no energy to do anything really. Top that off with not sleeping and you have a very unhappy Jill. It's been almost a year that I've been sitting on this couch recuperating from surgery and frankly I'm tired of it. The Lord has seen to clip my wings though and the only thing that gets me through the day is that hope within-my hope in Christ alone.

Last week I was at the Dr's office to get a shot and in the waiting room I met another young girl (I'm not sure how old she was but I would say early to mid-twenties) who also has cancer. She struck up a conversation with me and began to tell me how hard it was on her. She didn't seem to have any family close by or anywhere near the support system that I have. She said to me I just don't understand why some people suffer so much and others walk around perfectly happy and healthy. She had no hope whatsoever. I wanted so badly to witness to her. I knew that she just needed to come to know the Lord, but just as I started I was called back. I planned on continuing our conversation when I went back into the waiting room but she was gone. Please pray that the Lord puts me in her path again. I have those same thoughts too at times. Why do I have to suffer like this? Why are there other evil, unsaved people in perfect health? But that's where it stops for me because I know in my heart that as soon as my thinking takes that direction I have to remind myself that the Lord does have a plan and a purpose for this. I can't imagine what it is. It breaks my heart that I have to go through all this, see my son worry and suffer and even if I am cured from cancer I will be handicapped the rest of my life. It's a hard lot to swallow. But it is MY lot. This is the life the Lord has given me. I could dwell all day long on the things I'll never be able to do again because of the loss of my leg, but as soon as I think "I'll never do that again," I have to gently ask the Lord to help me think on "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." I'm reminded that I was confronted with the decision of my leg or my life. I choose life. Maybe that's the big concept that I need to repeatedly be reminded of, that I DID choose life. It's so easy for me to get down when I spend most of my time sick or in the hospital but perhaps I'm not thinking of the fact that the joy that I need is to come from the Lord.

I've been thinking about what the Lord calls us to do. It's often the simple things in life. Like caring for a sick friend, helping her through the tough times, holding her hair and combing it gently as it falls out, showing up on your daughters doorstep to surprise her just because you missed her. Or me just simply trusting the Lord in my darkest hours, casting out doubts and keeping my mind stayed on Him.
I go back in for another round of chemo on the 29th and am then scheduled for another round the week after that. I'll have a three week break then another round. After that I will be heading back to Shands in Gainesville to have scans of my chest and then (as long as the spots haven't increased) surgery to remove the two that are there. Please pray for me in the coming months as you are always faithful to do. I'll try to keep you posted as to my progress along the way!

Breaking the Silence
Originally Posted: Sunday, November 7, 2010

A real blog should be honest at all times to be true to ones self, I believe. Sometimes sharing the honest truth can be a daunting task. It has been so long since I have written and the only reason for that is the despondency that has taken over my life. It seems that I find myself in this pit of depression and am unable to claw my way out. This (cancer) is a fight that I don't want to fight. I hate the way that it has sucked my life away. I long for simpler days when my only worries were rearing my son and if I would ever marry. Pride has kept me from speaking out regarding these feelings. So many say that I have kept a good testimony during my trial/suffering, but I don't feel that way at all. Although I see God's hand daily and know that He alone is taking care of me, providing for me, etc. I am still angry that I am now handicapped and feel as if my life has been stripped away from me. I've come to the point that I am finally seeking help in these areas; however, that has not been easy. My Dr. has prescribed me medication and hopefully in the weeks to come I will see some improvement. I've never felt this way in my life and don't know how to face it. I miss happy days with friends and family. I just have to hope that those days are still ahead and keep pressing on. I know that my God has not forsaken me, yet I feel so alone. I find myself thinking more and more on the Lord's coming and wish that He would just come on. Is that selfish?

So, know that I am here muddling through this fight for my life and my sanity. I'm not giving up on life even though I feel like it. Please pray for me to find my strength again and learn how to live again.

I head to Gainsville on the 16th on November. I will have numerous tests and such on the 17th & 18th then on the 19th I will have surgery to remove the cancerous nodules from my lungs. I don't know how long I will be in the hospital. Maybe 5 days. Hopefully I will be home in time for Thanksgiving and able to enjoy it. Last I counted I have six more rounds of chemo. Hopefully. After the surgery I have the harshest round for the last time PTL!

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Surgery Update 
Originally Posted: Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We arrived in Gainesville yesterday around 5:30. Got all settled into the hotel then went out to find a sushi restaurant. After searching for a little while Amanda spotted one and we were off to satisfy my craving. It was really good! I could eat there everyday! Amanda even tried it for the first time and enjoyed it. We both stayed up way too late and were exhausted and dragging this morning. Thank God for Starbucks! So anyway, I had a CT scan at 8:40 then a bunch of x-rays of my hips and pelvis and met with my orthopedic oncologist at 9:15. Good news is that there are no new nodules on my lungs. The two that were there back in March are still there and surgery is set for Friday to pluck them out. I'm really praising the Lord for this. I was so concerned that more could have possibly grown and that would have been really bad. The Dr. told me that he had a kid in recently that had 100's of nodules on his lungs and there was nothing that could be done for him. I often get asked what my "prognosis" is and never really know how to answer that question. I want to say "they're curing me, duh!" But I've always been hesitant to ask if my situation was terminal and never got the impression that it was. But today I went ahead and asked my Dr. that question and he said well what do you think it is? I said "Well, we are trying to cure me, (duh!)" He said yes, but the odds are not in my favor and we are not out of the woods yet. That no new nodules have grown on my lungs is a very good thing, but we will have to continue to keep a watch on me for a long time. He said that the cure rate is about 25% for people that have metastatic osteosarcoma. I told him I am definitely in that 25%! My Dr. doesn't believe in God, but I do and I know God is going to cure me of this. The future certainly won't be an easy road, but the good news is that I know there is a future. The x-rays of my hips/pelvis were clear and showed no tumors or anything to be concerned about. Praise the Lord for that! I've been having pain on the right side of my pelvis and had been concerned that it may be something, so I am relieved that there is nothing to worry about. The Dr. said that it is probably just because I'm sitting (in his words) "cock-eyed." I've also been a lot more active recently so that could be contributing to it as well. I have an appointment set with my ortho oncologist in three months and then we will discuss prostheses & physical therapy and I will have more scans. It looks like I will have to have scans every three months for a long time.

I will meet with the Dr. that is doing the surgery to remove the nodules from my lungs tomorrow, so I'll have more info about the actual procedure at that point. There is one nodule on each lung and I'm not sure how they are going to go about removing them. Dr. Gibbs said that this is a big deal, but I reminded him that it couldn't be as big of a deal as the amputation, so I'm not to worried or nervous about it.

My pediatric oncologist almost had a cow when I told her I had stopped taking all my medications. I had been taking heart meds for the heart problems I had, but decided to stop taking them and my heart has been just fine. Honestly I am just sick of pumping my body with a bunch of different chemicals and can't keep track of everything anyway. But apparently I am supposed to be taking an antibiotic that is very important and prevents pneumonia and have completely forgotten to take it. She was not too happy with me about that and promptly gave me a prescription for it and told me that I HAVE to take it and will continue to HAVE to take it for about six months after chemo.

I have been in much better spirits lately. I think the combination of bible reading, prayer, talking with my pastor and being honest about my feelings and the meds have helped tremendously. I seemed to have moved to acceptance of this new life (minus my leg) and a future and a hope that without Christ would be impossible.

I have six more rounds of chemo. SIX! That means there is light at the end of the tunnel. The next one, which should be about a week or so after my surgery, is the roughest but it will also be the last time I have to have that one. I'm praying that I will be home and feeling well for Christmas. I'll be begging my Dr at home to make sure I am not in the hospital during Christmas and he's pretty good about that kind of stuff.

So, surgery is set for Friday to remove these nodules from my lungs and then theoretically I will be cancer free. The only place the cancer would go is my pelvis or my lungs and since my pelvis is clear and my lungs will be I'll just be praying that nothing new grows.

In other good news my disability was FINALLY approved, PTL!

I had a great Thanksgiving. My mom and my sisters came down and we got to spend a lot of time together which was a true blessing and just wonderful. I'll tell you, it's hard to top Thanksgiving at the Rawles' house! Good, good food! I carried my camera around in my purse for a week and didn't take any pictures. I take that back, I took one of a sign for Rachel. I'll have to post it when I get home.

Meanwhile, I am exhausted. It is 12pm here in Gainesville and I don't HAVE to do anything for the rest of the day. I know that I will be eating something yummy today (haven't decided where yet), taking a nap (momentarily), watching some movies, reading, and who knows what else. Thankfully my first Dr appt tomorrow isn't until noon, so we can sleep in.

That's all the news I have for now. Thanks for the prayers & keep them coming. God is certainly answering them.

<3 Jillian

Home for Christmas
Originally Posted: Thursday, December 9, 2010

YAY! I WILL be home for Christmas according to my schedule. I saw my oncologist yesterday and found out that I will be going in for chemo on the 16th. I'll be in the hospital for about 4-5 days. This is the "rough round," so I am praying that I don't get so sick I end up back in the hospital during Christmas. Will you please pray with me that this round goes miraculously well? We are going to pull out the tree tonight and put it up. Then we'll work on decorating it tomorrow and Saturday. Hopefully by Sunday It'll actually look like Christmas around here!

We got home from Gainesville on Monday. My hospital stay wasn't nearly as long as I expected, so I was very happy about that. However, the surgery hurt a whole lot more than I expected. That I wasn't so happy about. I'm still really, really sore. The meds that they gave me when discharged didn't work well at all. Yesterday my Dr. wrote me a different prescription and although it is helping a little more, I'm still very sore. The good news is that the nodule that was removed was dead and no longer cancerous!! Which means the nodule on my left lung has likely responded the same way to the chemo. They will not worry about removing that nodule until I am done with my chemo. My oncologist in Gainesville is very pleased with this information. It is a really great thing that the chemo is doing it's job and very encouraging. I have to say that I am so thankful for modern medicines and the advances that the medical community has made in just the last several years. I hope and pray that one day they will find a cure for cancer. It is amazing to me the knowledge that God allows mankind. Even those that refuse to acknowledge Him.

Anyway, the next week of being home will be very enjoyable. I plan on trying to celebrate the season with my son as much as possible. I'll also be doing A LOT of school work with him! 5th grade is really killing us! There is just so much they have to do and know. He's working on a "Nation Notebook" right now. It is a detailed report on a nation of his choice. He choose Russia which I really know nothing about, so it's a learning experience for both of us. Speaking of which, if any of you know of a good, kid friendly Russian recipe, I need it! He has to make and bring a Russian dish to their International Christmas party next Thursday. I'm at a complete loss as to what to make and the internet (for once) is not being very helpful. Everything I find is either very involved, doesn't have a picture or doesn't sound appetizing.

Well, I have a lot to do and need to find the motivation to do it, so I better step away from the computer! Thank you all for your prayers and I hope that you are enjoying the Christmas season as much as we are :)

What's Going on In My New Year?
Originally Posted: Friday, January 7, 2011

Well nothing much actually. It was a blessing to be released from the hospital on Christmas Eve. We accomplished an insane amount of things before heading home and were then able to enjoy an idyllic Christmas Eve.We had a wonderful Christmas here at home. Got up early and did the present thing then I went off to take a nap before going to our sweet friends home for Christmas dinner. It's so lovely to spend the Holidays with family, friends and those you love. I felt so blessed just to be there, you know. To be here. To be. This time isn't promised to us by any means. That is the one lesson that I have learned in 2010. Life changes in the blink of an eye. Lesson learned. Check.

As I've read about peoples New Years resolutions, goals, etc. I don't even know where to begin or what to think. 2010, for me, was about survival. I'm still in survival mode and will be until I have completed my course of treatments. I still have five more chemo rounds. I will be admitted for the next round on Jan 18th, then the following week I will have another round. Then a three week break and the last three rounds will be back to back. Once finished with chemo I will have a follow-up with the Dr's in Gainesville to see where I am at. Scans and the whole bit. I also need to have that other nodule removed from my left lung. So at this point in time I am assuming that I will be finished by sometime in March. It's been a long, difficult year. It's gone by fast though and the light at the end of the tunnel is looking brighter every day.

These days my thoughts aren't so filled with things such as "will I make it through this journey? Will I live?" They are replaced with thoughts such as "When this treatment is over with what will I do? How do I make the transition back to self sufficiency? Where do I go from here?" All big questions. Where does the Lord want to lead me? What would He have me do with my life. All things for me to ponder and explore over these next few months. I do know what I want in some areas. Big breath. Exhale. I do have some...... goals! Mine are kind of broken up into time frames and some require working up to. I hope to be getting my prosthetic leg in the next few months and I know that will require lots of physical therapy. I'm thinking that if I can learn to use that properly that it will make me feel so much more independent.

Ok, this is where I have to digress for a bit. Dependency. I have never been a person that is heavily dependent on others. I've always been very independent. Even since childhood. This last year I've had all of my independence taken from me. Cooking my own meals, cleaning my house, shopping, etc. are all things I've had to depend on others for. Now there are and have been those rare occasions that I've been able to do a little myself here and there, but for the most part I've depended on my church family and friends. I've had constant companions in Carrie, Callie and Amanda. The Lord has provided so gracefully in those areas. I just don't know how we would have gotten by without all the help the Lord has given me in the way of people with hearts to serve. But I know that the time is coming near when I will need to start regaining my independence. So I would like to slowly dive back into doing things for myself. Right now it takes a great deal of effort and wears me out completely, but I do still see little things I can do and need to force myself to do those things. I'd very much like to get my house reorganized while I have Amanda here to help. That's big on my list!

Anyway, sorry for the rant! I would also like to start driving again. I pretty much stopped driving last March. I've been a bit - ok, more than a bit - reluctant about driving. Which if you know me - and my independent streak - this is very unusual. That's an area I definitely need to push myself in. I would also like to take a trip to Wisconsin for the Summer. In my mind this is such a huge and daunting task. Traveling on the plane with the wheelchair and needing the walker too. Getting to the gates. It seems a bit scary to me. I know that they offer handicapped assistance, but I am still nervous about the trip itself. On the other hand I've never been to Wisconsin in the Summer and think that it would be such a lovely time to get away and be with my family there. I hope to also start taking a few classes in the fall towards my BAS degree. I've had to take time off since I've been sick and now that I have the disability coming in, I think it will be the perfect time to jump back into school and finish up my degree quickly.

I just know that I don't want to take life for granted anymore and enjoy it as much as possible. After all that I've been through I've realized that you have to make the most of the time you do have. I don't want to spend my time wishing I had done more. I'd like to take more trips. Visit the places my son and I have talked about going. I'd like to get in my head that these limitations I have are not really limitations but a blessing that has caused me to slow down and evaluate what's really important. They've caused me to not just be "busy" for the point of doing something but to choose my time and activities wisely. Or they will, I should say, when I get past the ill effects of chemo.

Most importantly I need to be a more dedicated Christian. I need to read my bible more, pray more and I need to walk the walk. Or in my case hop the hop, lol :)

So, as this first week of 2011 comes to a close I haven't really done anything. I've been feeling ill and resting as much as possible. I thank God that he allows me the time to rest. To rejuvenate. And you know what? I don't feel guilty that most of the past week has either been spent on my couch or in my bed. So there.

We have revival coming up next week at church and I had prayed and hoped that I would be able to make it. Let's face it, we all need some reviving, right? Well I know that I am in desperate need of revival and can't wait. I'm praying that I'll feel well and be able to go every night. Also praying that some of my family will come too. That would make me so happy. If you are in this area and would like to come please let me know. I would love to have you as my guest. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the Lord will do in our church. How we will get stirred up and what convictions the Lord will raise in our hearts. I pray that this year my son will have an open heart and ears to hear what the Lord has to say to him.

Since I hadn't updated in a while I thought some of you might like to know what's going on with my treatment and in my life. Lets add update blog more frequently to that goal list :) Sometimes I don't feel like I have much interesting to say or that I'm being redundant.
Well, I'll work on that too.

Until later.........

I Have Been Blessed
Originally Posted: Monday, January 10, 2011

Truly an understatement to say the least. As we drove to revival tonight I was filled with anticipation and hope. I'm a weeper. You may want to say that I'm just tenderhearted, but I weep very easily. The smallest things touch my heart and the tears just flow. I blame my father for this. Bless his sweet soul. He is so tenderhearted too. A quality that I love and admire him for deeply. As we were listening to Conversations by Sarah Groves, who seems to be able to speak the words of my heart, on the way to church I was already bubbling over with tears. Thinking back to the trials of years past and how deeply her words touched me in the loss of my Great-Grandmother, who for all practical purposes was like a mother to me, spurred me to think of how God has truly blessed me and carried me through every storm in my life. Even before I was saved He was protecting, guiding and making a way for me to come to Him.

When I got to church I opened my bible. I have several and this particular one, although it is my favorite, I haven't used in a while because the print is so small. As I opened it though I found several things inside. Among these were one of my blog posts that my Mom printed out when she came down for my amputation. It was my "Thinking list on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtue and praise." As I read through it I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with just how good God is. This has been a hard year. The hardest of my life, but I can look back at this list and ponder on these things and realize just how truly blessed that I am. I can know that this is just a little bump in the road to eternity. I stand in awe of just how good and faithful God has been to me in this difficult journey. I am also reminded that the biggest struggle that I face on a day-to-day basis is redirecting my thoughts. I need to keep my mind steadied on the Word. Let it permeate every bit of my heart, soul and mind. Only then will I truly be a conqueror in this battle. I also found in my bible a note that one of my physical therapists had given me two days after my amputation that had one of her favorite bible verses on it James 1:2-4 "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." The Lord has consistently put people in my path at the hospitals that are believers and an encouragement. It's hard to wrap your mind around counting cancer and amputation and the life altering changes that those things bring as joy. Instead of complaining about how difficult the trials that I have faced and continue to face are I need to view them as an opportunity for growth and search for what the Lord wants me to glean from this valley.

So, before the preaching even started at revival Jesus had jump-started my heart into it's own little revival right there in my pew. I was just overwhelmed. I don't really know how else to put it into words. Then the choir, which consisted of the kids, teens and some adults sang the song I Have Been Blessed. I wish that I could find a good video to share with you of this song. It holds very special meaning for me and for my son. As I listened to the sweet voices sing the words of that song I realized that in spite of everything that has happened to me physically and in spite of how the devil has tried his hardest to get me down that I have been blessed in every sense of the word. No, I don't lead a life of extravagance. I may be considered poor by the worlds standards, but I am so rich in love, blessings, fellowship and my Savior. And what peace that truth brings.

The message that Phil Kidd brought tonight was titled "Getting To The Next Level with God." I hope to post the link to that message once it's up on our churches website. It's certainly worth listening to. The message was brought out of Mark 2:1-5 & 11, 12. Those people had a revival going on and it was well known that Jesus was there. God was in the house! These four men wanted to bring a man sick with the palsy to him for healing. They knew if they could just get there that Jesus could no doubt heal him. Once they arrived it was so packed there was no way that they could get inside, so they climbed the roof and lowered him into house where Jesus was. When Jesus saw the four men's faith "he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." Mark 2:5. All those men needed to do was take it to the next level. I was so enthralled with the message that I didn't jot down the points, but the key was just stepping up your walk with the Lord. Taking it to that next level. And that is what I so desire for myself. I want to get there and I know it starts with me being more dedicated and more faithful. It starts with me having an open heart and listening to what the Lord is trying to teach me. I don't really know what my spiritual gifts are, but I want to find them and I want to spend the rest of my life using them to glorify God. Will you please pray with me in this way?

It's late, but I just had to get these thoughts out there. We still have four more days of revival left and I know that the Lord is just going to do some miraculous things this week. I'm so happy that it worked out for me to be able to attend and I'm looking forward to see how the Lord is going to work in my life and the lives of my friends and family. Please pray for our revival services this week. Pray that our church will get fired up and this revival will live on in our hearts long after this week is over but that it will result in life changing decisions and actions on the behalf of our brethren.

God Bless you all and goodnight :)

Ready for the Next Round
Originally Posted: Thursday, February 3, 2011

Well, it's been a while since you've heard from me and you may wonder what's going on and where I am at in my treatment. Unfortunately we haven't made much progress since my last post. I now have four rounds of chemo left. This next round has been postponed twice due to my blood counts or platelets being so low. Which in turn has resulted in me being basically exhausted all the time. Therefore, I haven't been up to very much. Mostly sticking around the house and trying to avoid the numerous germs that seem to be taking over the households of my friends and church family. The last thing I need of course is to be sick!

The Homestretch is Supposed to Be a Happy Time, Right?
Originally Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2011

I had my Dr's appt this morning to discuss with Dr. Johnson the last three courses of my chemo. I knew going in that it is supposed to be three straight weeks of chemo. I didn't expect to go in until next week. And I didn't think about what three straight weeks of chemo meant. I just kept thinking, "ok, we're getting close to the end now, almost done!" I tried to prepare myself in case he wanted me to go in tomorrow or this week. I kept saying to myself, "be happy about this, you're almost done!" So when he said we can either admit you tomorrow or Thursday I don't know why the first thing out of my mouth was "I was thinking it wouldn't be until next week." I suppose I crave the normalcy of being at home. Of sleeping in my own bed. Or seeing my son. Of getting to relax. I hate the hospital. I feel like I have spent more time in the hospital in the last year than out. I think I probably have. I don't know. I hate going to the hospital. That's all there is too it. I had psyched myself up to look at this "homestretch" as the Dr. calls it as a happy time. Imagine my surprise when I'm sitting in the Dr's office trying my best not to cry because I don't want to go to the hospital. This is supposed to be a happy time, right? I'm almost done. The Dr. told me that basically I will be admitted Thursday and discharged Tuesday then admitted the following Thursday (which gives me a day and a half at home) and discharged the following Tuesday and then finally admitted again the following Thursday and discharged the following Tuesday. Basically I am going to be in the hospital for the next three weeks. As long as my blood counts hold up then it will have to drag out even longer which I don't want. Have I mentioned that I hate being in the hospital? So yes, I know that I should be happy that I am in the homestretch, but walking out to the car all I could do was cry. And cry. And cry. I don't know why. I have so many different emotions waring inside of me. I should be feeling relief, but I am not feeling that quite yet. I am so ready for all of this to be over with. I am ready to go to Shands and get the clearance that everything is OK. Have the next lung surgery if they choose to do so and get on with my life. Go away for the summer. I just want to fast-forward my life right now. Really, really bad. I know that I'm at the end of my treatment Lord willing. But you see, I have been getting chemo for almost a year. That's a whole year of my life dedicated to just trying to stay above water. Staying at home. Staying away from sick people. Not really having much of a life. And to be honest it's been even longer than that if you count in the surgery before I was diagnosed and the months of suffering prior to that. I don't mean to whine and I don't want you to feel sorry for me I just have to vent. I'm tired. Sick and tired of being sick and tired. I guess a big part of me is scared too. Scared to see whether or not this is really the end or if I'll have to start more treatments after this. I just want to hurry past the next three weeks to get to Shands and see if I'm cancer free. See if I'm going to live. See if I can have my life back for a while. I'm nervous, scared and anxious. What will it be like once I'm done with chemo and cleared? Will I still instinctively hold onto survival mode? How do I get out of it? Will I be OK to go home for the summer? Oh, so many questions and all the answers have to wait. I guess that is what the Lord means when He tells us to Trust in Him with all our hearts and lean not unto our own understanding or to Be still and know that He is God. He has all of this under control. He has it already worked out for me. But I still can't help but wonder, HOW? Is more suffering in my future? Will I go on to have a happy, healthy, productive life after this? How does one transition from fighting cancer to living again? I suppose by taking it day by day. By forcing myself out of my comfort zones. By trying to get my independence back? Oh, so many questions so few answers.

So with a mindful and crying like a woman full of hormones I decided the best thing to do today was keep myself busy. Not go home. Not dwell. So I called my mom, had some retail therapy, lunch and a mani & pedi instead. I probably wouldn't have come home when I did if my son hadn't been coming home from school. It's nice outside. Really nice. Like summer almost. So I'm going to dig out my summer clothes tonight. Tomorrow I'm going to try to work up the energy to go to the beach and church. Then I'll come home and pack for the hospital and on Thursday I'll be admitted to start the course that will hopefully finish my fight in this battle. My plan today was to enjoy the two days that the Lord gave me before I go back in. To enjoy the time that I'm feeling OK enough to actually get out of the house. Because I know that once this triple round of chemo starts I'm going to be recuperating for quite some time.

So for those of you that were actually interested that was my basket case of a day ;)


One More, Hopefully!
Originally Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011

Well, I had an appt with the Dr. today to discuss my last round of chemo, hopefully. I will go in on Monday for about five days and that is the last treatment in my protocol. It's hard for me to get excited yet and get my hopes up until after I go to Gainesville and get the all-clear from them. Dr. Johnson is going to call my Dr. in Gainesville and set up a time for me to go over there. That's when I will get my many, many scans done and see if the cancer is gone. I suppose we will also talk about removing that nodule in my left lung. When I had a CAT scan a couple of weeks ago to see how my lungs looked there weren't any more nodules besides the one and the Dr. said it was highly calcified and dense which is a great thing for osteosarcoma. I imagine that they will also talk about taking out my port. So, I don't know when all this will talk place and won't have any more information for another week or so. Oh, and I am hopeful that we will talk about a prosthetic leg as well and maybe get me started on some physical therapy. I still really want to go to Wisconsin for the summer, so I feel like I am on a bit of a time crunch here and I pray that things will progress quickly and a lot will be able to be accomplished in my visit to Gainesville.

It's really had to believe that I was diagnosed over a year ago and that I have undergone a year of chemotherapy. The Lord has been so good though and has seen my needs through every bit of this. When people ask me what I see for my future I really can't see past these next few months and the outcome of them. It will determine where I go from here. I know that with me having my last round of chemo next week (tentatively, as long as anything else doesn't pop up and God, I hope it doesn't) I should be really excited and relieved, but like I said I don't think I will get there until I have been given a clean bill of health in Gainesville. I'm afraid to get too hopeful yet. So I'm waiting patiently and trying to trust the Lord with the next couple of months. And really praying that I get some time off from all the hospital visits and Dr. visits and get to enjoy my summer.

Other than that I seem to be doing pretty well. I'm tired, but that's to be expected. I am still having pain in the area of my amputation, but nothing like it was. My son is being a great help when I need him to be. I'm still not very independent, but I think that after the chemo it will come.

SO, that's the update from here. I'll keep you posted and let you know when I'll be heading to Gainesville as soon as I hear.

Originally Posted: Friday, April 8, 2011

Well, I finished my last round of chemo and have been back home for a while now. Although I have also been in and out of the hospital several times since then for one reason or another. Currently I am in for a colon infection called C. Diff (I think).

It's so hard to believe that it's been a year since my diagnosis and I am moving onto the next stage. I look back and am overwhelmed with what God has done in my life and how He has carried me through the last year. I know that if I were to look in the sand I would certainly see one set of footprints, His. I look forward and am overwhelmed as well with what lies ahead and moving on to the next stages of life. Don't get me wrong, right now I am a happy overwhelmed. But overwhelmed nonetheless. The fact that this is moving onto the next stage is still quite surreal for me. It's still slowly sinking in. I think that I will be more excited and happy once I get a clean bill of health from Shands. I am set to go there for testing on April 20th & 21st and to have surgery to remove the nodule on my left lung on the 22nd. I am a bit anxious about all of this, especially the surgery and will be much more at ease once it is over with and I can begin recovering.

I am also hoping to be back home in time to make it to Relay for Life. I missed it last year because I was in the hospital and I will still be hurting this year from the surgery, but I figure if I can take some pain meds and sit in my wheelchair and get pushed around for at least a couple of laps that will do a lot to lift my spirits. So pray with me that the surgery goes well and that they are able to do the least invasive surgery possible and that I will be able to make it to Relay for Life.

Well that's about all the news I can think of from here. Thank you for your continued prayers and I will keep you updated on what's to come. I truly appreciate all of your prayers, encouragement and support over the past year. Without the Lord and you, dear friends, I don't know how I would have made it through this rough year. I love you all and thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

<3 Jillian

Update :)
Originally Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011

I am home and happy. I am so excited about the future and seeing what God has in store for me!! I had my lung surgery on April 22nd and it went really well. They got out the last nodule that was on my lungs and I am healing well from that surgery. During my time in Gainesville I found out that there is no cancer in my body!! YAY!!! So that means I am cancer free and no more chemo! It feels so good to be able to say that. I have to give God every bit of glory for healing me. I know that the prayers of many of my friends, family and even those that I do not know have been answered. I never would have made it through this battle for my life if it hadn't been for my faith in the Lord and the prayers of his saints. :) I still have to go in for scans/check-ups every three months. I've been told that if the cancer were to come back it is most likely to come back in the first two years, so the doctors will be keeping a close watch on me for the next two years, but I have faith that this cancer is NOT going to come back and *we* have beaten it once and for all.

I had an appointment with the prosthetics Dr. here in Ft. Walton on Tuesday. His name is Dr. Jack and he came highly recommended. There is a lot more that goes into getting a prosthetic than I ever would have thought! It is quite a long process. The first thing they will do is measure my body/weight for several weeks in a row to make sure that my weight/size are not fluctuating. The Dr. stressed to me how important it is for my body to be stable (meaning my weight and size) because they will make the prosthetic to fit my body and if I gain weight or loose it after it is made then it will result in me not being able to walk well and they would just have to make another one. So the first thing that I need to do before I get started is try to loose some weight. I had hoped that once I got the prosthetic that I would loose weight, but I didn't even think of the fact that it would effect the fit of the prosthetic its self. So for the next several months I am going to try to loose 25 pounds. That is going to be quite challenging considering there's not a whole lot of exercise I can do. My plan is to really watch what I eat and only put healthy things in my mouth and to also try drinking this stuff called Sxinney Water that my friend, Lori, has been telling me about. I also plan to do exercises to strengthen my core muscles (which Dr. Jack recommended I do because that will help me walk better once I get the prosthetic). I will update you more on my weight loss and the Sxinney Water later. So once I loose some weight and am at a stable weight/size I will go back to the prosthetic Dr. and he will measure me several weeks in a row. Then once we have determined that I am stable he will cast my entire pelvis. The part of the prosthetic that fits to my body is known as the "socket." Because I don't have any of my left leg due to how high the amputation is my socket will look kind of like a pair of plastic underwear and the leg will attach to it. Once they cast my pelvis they will begin building the socket and leg and that will only take them about a week! I was really surprised to hear that because I thought it would take a lot longer to build a prosthetic leg. They do it right there at the Dr's office in FWB. When they finish building my leg and it is ready I'll go back in and Dr. Jack will of course show me how to put it on. Then begins the hard work! He said that he will show me various techniques that I will need to master and when combined those techniques will result my being able to walk. Of course it is going to take a lot of hard work, dedication and consistency on my part to be able to walk again and even more so to walk normally. I am prepared though. I want so badly to just be able to walk again!! He said that the people that are the most successful with prosthetics are those that put it on every morning when they wake up - whether they think they will use it or not- and wear it throughout the day. So the biggest thing is using it and not falling back on using my walker. I'm so excited to get started and can't wait to be able to walk again. Walking means I will be completely independent once again and will open up many doors for me. So, the biggest hurdles I have to face now are loosing the weight and keeping it off and praying that my insurance will cover the prosthetic. Now the other thing that I have to keep in mind is that even if I do loose the weight and keep it off I am likely to loose more once I start being active and my body will change a lot just from using the prosthetic and being more active. With that in mind the Dr. said that it is not uncommon to have to have another prosthetic made after the first six months because of all the changes your body goes through. Again, I don't know if or how my insurance will pay for all of this, so I am just trusting the Lord and hoping that it works out. I have to share a funny thing with you though...... When we were at the Dr. he showed me a prosthetic foot that was made so that flip flops can be worn with it!! LOL, isn't that crazy?!!? He said that some people have told him that it was important to them that they be able to wear flip flops so they made a foot that could accommodate that. I just has a space between the toes. I thought that was so funny. I would have never even though that possible. I told him I could care less about wearing flip flops, I just want to walk again! It's nice to know I have that option though.

In a nutshell that is what is going on with me. My son is nearing the end of fifth grade and I am praying hard that he finishes out this year with good grades. He will be so happy when he is out of school and for the record, I will too! I can't wait till this school year is over, it's been a rough one! We are looking forward to this summer. We plan on making a trip to Wisconsin at some point during the summer and I'm SO looking forward to that. I'm also looking forward to lots of beach days! I'll keep you posted on my weight loss journey and what's going on with us. Thank you again for your prayers!

<3 Jillian

It's Been a Year.....
Originally Posted: Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's so hard to believe that a year ago today I was laying in an ICU recovering from a hemi-pelvectomy (left leg amputation). What a difficult, scary and unsure time in my life that was. It was my decision to make and I know that I made the right decision. My leg or my life. Every day that I have been blessed with I am thankful that I made the decision I did. Especially lately when I've felt so great and truly been able to enjoy this life that the Lord has blessed me with. Cancer is truly a horrific disease. Last year was unimaginable for me. Everyday was filled with questions such as: Will I make it through this? Will I live to see another birthday? To see my son grow up? Will I EVER finish with chemo? Now on the other side of the storm I don't exactly have the answers to all of these questions but I do have something better. I have a complete trust in the Lord and how He is working in my life. I know that what He brings my way may not be ideal, but He has a purpose in growing me and drawing me closer to Him.

When my leg was amputated I was unsure of whether I would be able to thrive once I was well. I didn't know if I would be one of those people that are able to still live a full life. I was really worried about that, you know? I didn't want to be bitter and useless. I'm so very thankful to God that He has given me a tender heart and joy in spite of my circumstances. I may be missing a leg, but I still have SO MUCH! I have eyes that can see, ears that can hear, arms and hands that can touch and wrap themselves around my baby boy and loved ones. I have hair that's growing back! And even eyebrows now, lol! Most importantly, I have a Heavenly Father that loves me. I have been blessed with this amazing family that encourages me and challenges me. I have this amazing church family that has enriched my life beyond anything that I could ask for. And I have friends. Friends that are so close and dear to my heart. Friends that I wouldn't have made it through my illness without.

So, a year later what am I up to? Well, after I finished chemo in March and had that last surgery to remove the nodule in my lung at the end of April I was then declared cancer free! After recovering for three weeks from that surgery my son and I took a trip up to Wisconsin. We got here on May 27th and will be here till July 7th. My little sister graduated from high school and we came to surprise her. Which went splendidly! This is my first trip to Wisconsin during the summer and everyday has been filled with fun, adventure and learning. I feel like my old self again. I've been very active running around with the family and back to cooking everyday. I love cooking and didn't do a whole lot of it since I had been sick. It's been so wonderful and enjoyable to cook nearly everyday and also experiment with new recipes while here. I've been spending tons of quality time with my sisters and parents as well. I've gotten to do things that I didn't imagine and quite honestly didn't think I'd be able to do, such as riding a horse! Who would of thought that I'd be riding a horse with one leg. So yeah, my future is pretty bright and I'm looking forward to each day that the Lord brings my way.

I would have to say that the most valuable lesson that I've learned is not to take this life for granted. Every day is truly a blessing and I want to not only be thankful to the Lord for giving me each and every day, but I want to truly live it to the fullest. I don't want to ever limit myself or allow myself to slip into the mindset that I can't do something just because I only have one leg. Yes, things are a little more difficult for me. It takes me longer to do stuff, but it is so rewarding to actually accomplish what I set out to do.

What do I have to look forward to in the near future? Getting my prosthetic leg! I'm so excited about it. It's going to take a lot of hard work to learn how to use it, but I can't wait to walk around on my own. I can't wait to put this walker away and just walk. It looks like it will be late July or August when I get it. In the meantime though I am really enjoying my summer vacation. I have almost three more weeks here in Wisconsin with my family and I plan to savor every single day. Tomorrow is Father's Day and it will be the first Father's Day I have spent with my Dad in well over 15 years. I've planned a big Cuban feast for the day and we are going to spoil my Dad. The girls are also marching in a parade for Lake Martha Days.

I'm off to enjoy this beautiful Saturday! Here's a picture of me riding the horse last weekend :)


I Have Never Been More Thankful, Grateful & Happy Than Now.....
Originally Posted: Sunday, August 21, 2011

There are single moments in life that change you. They make an everlasting impression on your heart and soul. Some for the better, some for the worse. Right now I have a few extremely significant moments on my heart and mind. The first, August 28, 2005. The day that I knew I was nothing without Jesus and I needed Him more than the air I breathe. The years that followed were full of hope, renewal, redemption. Beautiful years filled with love. Like a babe I learned to crawl and walk by my Father's side. Still far from the woman I desired to be - and I still am so far from whom I want to be - my Heavenly Father held my hand and taught me about faith, hope and godly love.

Fast forward five years...... March 11, 2010. I awaken in a recovery room in Gainesville, Fl after having surgery to repair my hip that has broken a second time. Dr. Gibbs informs me gently that I have osteosarcoma. My first thoughts? Life is too short, I need to witness more and be about the Lord's business. Over the next year and a half I held tight to my faith and was hoping against hope. I trusted the Lord. Believed in His perfect will for my life, never truly knowing though whether or not His will for me would be life or death. My amputation was June 17, 2010. The valley just got wider and deeper. Would I be able to overcome this? Would I live? Would anything ever be normal again? The answer? With God ALL things are possible. There would just have to be a new type of normal. I wish that I would have allowed the Lord to use me more during this time of my life. Looking back, I wish I had done more. Most days though, my life was about survival. Just trying to make it through the day. There was one word that I held onto though.... THROUGH. My Pastor preached a message on December 6, 2009 titled "Yea, though I walk THROUGH the valley" taken from
Psalm 23:1-6
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."
You can listen to that message here. I would strongly recommend doing so. If you don't need it now, you will.
God will never leave you nor forsake you. He always makes good on His promises too. Which brings me to July 27, 2011. My first three month check up. Everything was clean and clear. No cancer, ANYWHERE. Next to salvation I think this day has made the most profound impact on my life. My Jesus brought me so far. Through so much. I don't deserve it. Honestly I don't. But on this day I resolved to live, truly live every day of my life. To wake up and praise Him no matter what comes my way. To never complain again. Above all else, to thank Him everyday for this valley He allowed me to go through. My heart has never been more full. It is overflowing with gratitude and awe of His awesome power and love. I don't know how much longer I have here in this mortal body. Every day is a gift though and I desire to treat it as such. These days the thing that fills my heart and mind the most is living for the Lord. I put my life, my heart, my hopes, my desires, wishes and dreams on the alter. I want to sacrifice everything for Him. There is no sacrifice too great. Anything that I could give is minor in comparison to the things He has done for me. I'm praying for guidance everyday and asking the Lord to show me how I can be used for His purposes. I hope that the rest of my life can be about serving and glorifying God. I don't know what the future holds, but I'm so excited.

Tonight I watched Soul Surfer and it has inspired me so deeply. Bethany Hamilton is an amazing woman and I thank God for her testimony and sweet spirit. There was one thing in the book and on the movie that her Dr. said to her and I want to share it with you..... "The things that you're going to have to learn to do differently is extensive. But the good news. Those things that you're not going to be able to do is small." Again, there is nothing impossible with God. I can do all things through Christ.

These days my day to day life is about God, being a mom, desiring to share my testimony and hoping to be a blessing to others. I go to the gym every day. I'm trying to get in really good shape to gear up for getting my prosthetic leg. I'm out in the public a lot needless to say. A lot of people are curious and ask questions and stare. Sometimes it's really awkward and I'll be honest with you that in the beginning at times I got a poor attitude about it. I quickly realized what an awful, sinful way that is to think and that by having a poor attitude I am missing out on a HUGE opportunity to share my testimony and glorify the Lord. I'm praying that the Lord will give me a sweet spirit and help me to use these opportunities for Him. A good friend of mine had this great idea that I should make up little cards/tracts that tell basic information about why I only have one leg and share the gospel as well. I think this is such a wonderful idea and she's going to help me put something together.

Taking all this into consideration I have some prayer requests:
1) Please pray for the Lord's will & leading in my future/life. Specifically that He will show me in what capacities I can best serve and open doors for opportunities to do so.
2) Please pray for me to have a sweet spirit and to always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks in a way that will glorify the Lord not myself.
3) Please pray for us to be able to work up a great card/tract

I thank God for those of you that read this. For your prayers, love and concern over these past years. I pray that everyone that reads this will be blessed and that the Lord will touch you right this very minute. Most importantly, I pray that if you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus that you will come to know Him. If you would like to know more about Jesus and how you can have that relationship with Him, I'd love to tell you!

God bless!