Family picture taken 1 week after diagnoses

Family picture taken 1 week after diagnoses

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Franz post

I've had so many blog posts started in my head. Now that I have a quiet house  I don't know what direction to go...
       I'm going to go with the one about my conversation with Pastor Franz the week before he went to be with Jesus.
   Meeting Franz changed Lewie's and my life. I'm sure I'm not alone in that statement, because he was the kind of man who saw what people needed to have spoken to them and wasn't afraid to say it. I left every conversation with Franz hugely encouraged , and that last one was the icing on the cake. When I saw the call from him coming through, I rushed to get things quiet before I answered. When I finally did I couldn't hold the tears in, I just wept while he gave me his typical Franz encouragement  through his strained voice.
   It was like no other conversation I had ever had. It was a conversation from a dying man to a dying woman. Not just that, but from a dying man who had great conviction in his God, that led to a great confidence, which led to a great comfort. Franz had taught us about this, but he was living it. He didn't just  tell you how you should trust God, he showed you.
   That was the tone the conversation took. Two dying souls reflecting on their , with great anticiaipation , eternal reward. It was the most beautiful conversation  and I was so privileged to have been a part of it. I still thank God for that priceless gift He gave me.
   I was glad to be able to share  with Franz how blessed Lewis and I had been by his "Oh Lord" sermon from Psalm 86, where Franz shared about King David's deep conviction in who God is,  which gave David  great confidence in his God, which led to a great comfort. The deep conviction I
have in God, in who He is and who He will faithfully continue to be for me, for Lewis, and our
children.  I have a great confidence that He is for me and He is for them, and this gives me a great comfort.
   That conviction and confidence I have in my Lord,  gives me comfort in that He will be with them
when I cannot. I think that's the hardest part for me, I won't b able to hold them when this saddens
hits their life. But God will. I cling to that because I know it's truth. He can use this very thing that at the beginning,  I worried would turn them away from God, and He can make it the very thing that solidifys their devotion to Him.  When that worry crosses my mind He has been so faithful to replace it with this truth. I don't know how my kids will respond to God when He takes me, but I know I can trust that He is for them. He has also given me 2 years, 9 month and counting to share my convictions
and confidences about the God I serve, with them along, with the comfort that that brings me and can
bring them. The Lord has given us time to say a long good bye.
   Things got pretty bad in June, July, and August,  so much though that I had shared with Franz that I was asking God to please just take me, but would end with, "No Lord, your timing, You're will, not
mine."  And with Gods help,  I meant that. Even though I so wanted to be done with this fight. I wanted His timing more.
    Franz left me with a couple more gifts before we hung up.  he asked me, "what will you be able to do in heaven that you can't do here on earth?"  "You will walk by sight!"   I won't need to ask God allowed

my questions.  The moment I arrive in heaven they will all be answered because I will be walking by
sight . Praise God!   There will be no need to ask God, " why ?" and " what was this for?" I  will already know.
     As the conversation began drawing to a close, Franz quoted from Psalm 116 for me. we were on the phone so he could have read it. but I'm confident that it was one that he had memorized and was holding   to, as I am know.

Psalm 116
1. I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and
   My supplications.
2. Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will upon Him as long as I live.
3. The pains of death encompassed me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
4.  Then I called upon the name of the  Lord:
"O Lord ,  I implore You, deliver my soul!"
5.  Gracious is the Lord, and righteous:
Yes, our Lord is merciful.
6. The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
7.  Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
8.  For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,  and my feet from falling.
9.  I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
10.  I believed, therefore I spoke,
"I am greatly afflicted."
11.  I said in my haste, "All men are liars."
12.  What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits towards me?
13. I will take up the cup of salvation,
And I will call on the name of the Lord.
14.  I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people.
15.  Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.
(At this verse he paused and repeated this part to me several times, slowly, and stressing the "precious" a little more each time he read it. I felt God must have put this verse 15 there just for us dying souls)
16.  O Lord, truly I am your servant; I am Your servant, the son of your maidservant;
You have loosed my bonds.
17.  I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord.
18.  I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people,
19.   In the courts of the Lords,
In the midst of you, O Jeruselem.
Praise the Lord!

I was a weeping mess after this. Being terminally sick, the tears and sadness over leaving those He had given us to love was  constant, but so was our victory. He finished with a "Franz prayer". those of you that have experienced  this know exactly what I'm talking about. You feel brought into the closeness and  intimacy he and the Lord share.  It's very special, very humbling, very precious.
    I didn't know it would be the last time we would speak here on earth. I  was counting on seeing him at our kids first days of school the following week, and had been praying we would both feel up to being there. The  Lord had other plans. Franz is now living by sight. With tears,  I am looking forward to our heavenly reunion, where there won't be any. Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Still Battling

   It's definitly time for a current picture. I just love looking at this one though. It marks the beginning of our hard battle and reminds how devastated I was at the "terminal" news, and yet we are still battling.
    It's been a rough couple of weeks. Immunotherepy knocked me off of my feet pretty hard. after dealing with quite bit of pain (and a lot of narcotics) for about a week I ended with some strange neurological symptoms and ended up in the Stanford ER. They kept me overnight and got me an emergency MRI which revealed new spots on the brain. The verdict: Full Brain radiation.
   They were trying to put that off for as long as possible but the time for it has come.  The good news is that from here on out, I have a great excuse for forgetting dates and names, and talking like I don't have a brain in my head. It's perfect! If all my cognitive skills come back I'm totally going to fake it so no one knows. :)  
 Radiation is suppossed to start next week. I don't have it all scheduled yet which makes me a bit anxious,but it gives me some practice in my trusting God skills. He has ALWAYS worked out the details and so far, He is still right on the money. He shows me again and again that the worry was for nothing because He's holding every detail in His capable hands.
   We are postponing the immunotherapy until after radiation. my Dr. decided to have mercy on me, and I'm so grateful.
   Thank you so much for the many ways many of you have shown us love. We are so grateful for the prayers and the ways you let us know that you are praying for us. Every card is precious to me and brings me quiet smiles and tears. My prayer has been asking for God's will to be done in our life, and someday my death. also asking for His help in trully wanting that, no mater what His will is. It's a hard prayer but also brings me to a beautiful and intimate place with the LORD. It helps give me great conviction in God's love and plan for me, and great confidence that no matter the outcome, He will walk with us along the way, and that gives me great comfort.

Thursday, June 30, 2016


We weren't able to get a good reading on my blood biopsy and I no longer have a tumor large enough to biopsy for a tissue biopsy so the next EGFR inhibitor is a no go for now. It was news to me that we had shrunk everything so much, so that part was fun info., but even with that I was starting to feel some pain and getting more off balance so my drs. decided to move on a new treatment. Immunotherapy . I've been excited to try this option and the timing seems good for it, so here we go. I'm having my first, of hopefully many, infusions now. If all go well the side effects should be minimal. His will be done!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Treatment Changes for 2016

Firstly, thank you everyone for your faithful prayers that have continued to carry us through and gives us strength. we feel your prayers everyday as we struggle through new challenges on every turn. 2016 brings me into my third year of living with stage 4 cancer. i can hardly believe so much time has passed and I thank God with a grateful heart for the time he has graciously given me.
     We knew a change was coming. To be honest, I was kinda hoping it would. I'm SO very over the whole chemo thing. The hard thing about wanting a change is wondering if I should be careful what I wish for. Is the "new" going to be worse than what I had? Or, will it even work? I'm still wondering these things, but the change wasn't my choice or because I wished for it.
    The future is unknown to me but not to the Lord. His love is perfect and so I don't need to fear the future. I think, "Yeah, but I could still die. My kids could be without a mom. Lewie could be going it alone. How will they recover from the pain of that?" I still go through these questions, almost daily, but I'm also reminded daily of how perfect His love is, and why that love casts out fear, even though our fears can become reality. His love is perfect! We can't understand perfect, but that means that that kind of love is seeking our ultimate best. Which we can have confidence that we will see. It's just hard and painful to wait for that, and while we wait it's tempting to grow discouraged and take our eyes off of the One who's love is so perfect. I've realized how like an Israelite I am; forgetting that I am loved in this way, and having to be reminded again. It doesn't take living with cancer to put one through this cycle. However, for me, it took living with cancer to give me a greater glimpse of how deeply I am loved and held. I have never been more confident of this perfect love as I am now. This knowledge helps in my battle with the fears.
             Okay, but the change. So, I had scans this week and they showed the same gradual progression of the cancer growing that the last few scan have shown. The brain metastases have however been stable, until this scan, so we opted to put off the change in treatment, but my labs started showing a decrease in my kidney function in December as well as some possible spots on my kidneys. In January I started having kidney pain and it has increased over the month. The kidney function issue is probably a combination of the chemo, and a tiny tumor that is pressing on an artery. Time to work on shrinking that, bad boy! So, we are bringing the Tarceva back in and I'm taking that along with Avastin .
      Tarceva is a targeting therepy pill specifically for those with EGFR mutation. I was on it in the
beginning, but it only worked for 7 months. It's likely to work again since I've been off of it for so long. They are keeping me on the Avastin, which is a Chemo I get infused with every 4 weeks, and it doesn't make me sick. The Tarceva made me very tired last time, but the chemo has wiped me out so I'm hoping I wont notice that too much. Also, a rash on my face and back, thinning hair, and anorexia... I'm not looking forward to all this but I'm hoping I'll feel better then I have been on the chemo, and that it works.
    There is a new EGFR inhibitor that has just been FDA approved that I could go on and I think it has less side effects. They took a blood biopsy to see if I qualify for it. This blood biopsy is new thing for them and pretty cool to have avoided the tumor biopsy, for now. We'll have those results in about 2 weeks, and if I test positive they will switch me from the Tarceva to Tagrisso (The NEW lateset and greatest).
    They are still scanning me every 2 month and keeping a close eye on some new shading in the brain that could be new metastases.  Full brain radiation may be getting closer. I hope not but if the brain metastases are eliminated, then I can qualify for a clinical trial. there are also other Chemo's they can try. I still have a few options left and hopefully when they run out there will be new ones available.
     In the mean time, I cling to God's promises, and His faithfulness to keep every single one. I am comforted that heaven is waiting for us at the end of all this struggling. That anticipation is becoming ever sweeter. Until then, we plod on taking one day at a time...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bedtime prayers

     Post chemo I'm always a bit teary.  Today I was "touched" quite a bit. This morning I introduced my kids to the hymn, "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus", We weren't even
through the first verse and Alton had his head down in tears. "Alton, what's wrong?" I asked. "This song reminds me of your cancer" he wailed. We plodded through the song but I almost joined Alton when we hit the last line of the last verse, "...And I know that Thou art with me, wilt be with me to the end." I confessed to Alton that the song reminds me of my cancer too, and especiallly that I can trust Jesus through it. I hope they learn the sweetness of trusting Jesus through suffering. I think they are. I think we are learning it together.
     Carter then asked me if I ever cry about having cancer. He was surprised when I told him I do quite a bit. I was surprised he didn't know that. Alton and I have had several cry fests together. Those sweet little loves completely undo me.
     Tonight was the first night in awhile that I felt well enough, and not to tired, to tuck them in and say prayers with them. Alton, sweet little love, "I love you, mommy. I wish you didn't have cancer. We are praying a lot." I don't deserve these little loves, but I'm so blessed they call ME mommy. His prayer was precious. Of course he prayed for my cancer to go away "and never come back, so that mommy can be on this earth with us for a very long time." He included his two other "regulars" and lovingly prayed that they wouldn't have pain, and for comfort.
     Carter was next. I was a puddle by the end of his prayer. He prayers every angle, for the cancer to go away, never come back, but if it does come back, not for a long time, and if you don't take the cancer away, help Mama to live for a long long time, so she can be with us. He prayed for others he knew were struggling with pain or suffering and then for anyone suffering that he's not aware of to pray for, he then prays. Then he moves on to the kids who don't have a mom or dad, or home, or food, or toys, that God would take care of them.
     This completely touched my heart. The prayer of this little boy for others, hurting others, hurting others that he knew and didn't know. I love his heart. I wonder how God is going to use him. How
will he mold that love for the hurting. Ah, bedtime prayers.... I love them! So yes, it's a predictable
teary time, but today was a doozy. I blame those little loves that call me Mom.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Scan week

There is so much that should be said that I too often neglect to say. Going back to my last scan is a good starting off point for this post. It was the first scan that there was not the "struggle" for peace. It seemed just there. I was calm and reading my book while my precious husband sat jiggling his leg up and down.  We both knew that these appointments can be game changers. I kept schooling myself that a bad scan is just a change in course not necessarily bad news. Just a change. Just a change. I was resting in that. And I was comforted by that.
    The nurse came in with little info. But when Dr. Neal came in he was giddy with excitement. And announced that he had good news. Lewis immediely thought, " it's gone!" I was reveling in, "it's not bad news".
     He went on to explain that there seemed to be some minimal shrinking in the main tumor in the lung. Very minimal, but the BRIAN! THE BRAIN! This was the exciting part. Only two of the brain metastases were visible. Only TWO visible. The others seem to gone. That's not supposed to happen. But it did. Looks like full brain radiation is pushed back a little deeper into the future and I'm still praying NEVER. But praise God, I got more than good news. I got a miracle. And my doctor knows it too. Yes, I still have cancer, but all these small victories are answers to my "more time" plea to my Lord.
     I love these lines of JJ Hellers song, "I don't know what you're doing... But I know who YOU are." It always makes me teary. It's truth. I wonder what on earth is going on, everything seems so messed up. But that's when I focus on who HE is. He is the controller, holder, healer, helper, promise keeper, grace giver, and so much more. He is peace. He is the reason I was not afraid of even bad news. Because although I don't always understand what He's doing, I understand who He is and that He
loves me and that He will not stop caring for me.
     There was a lot of prayer wrapped up in that peace. My own and I don't even know how many others. But I know they were praying for peace specifically. And God gave it very specifically. Isn't it amazing that the Lord always does exactly what he says he will do?
      Earlier that day I joined the Lung Cancer Support Group at the urging of my Dr. I rolled my eyes at the thought but when I thought about it some more I had the feeling that it was something I should attend. Maybe I didn't need the group but someone there needed to hear my story. So I went and my sweet husband who wanted to go even less than I did came with. That precious man is always by my side.
     I met some great people and was peppered with questions. Finally this, "so you've been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and you have a young family, but you have a positive attitude, how do you maintain that positive attitude amongst all that?" Well, here we go. I told the group that though my diagnoses rocked my world, it was because of my relationship with Jesus Christ, that my attitude is able to be positive.  I explained the peace He gives me, a peace that I am held, a peace that I have even with tears streaming down my face and my heart breaking into pieces. I told them that I know his heart is breaking too along with mine. But He also is calm because He knows the outcome and He has a plan. I told them I draw great comfort in the promise and anticipation of heaven and that one day, He will set all things right. I may have said more, I can't remember now. But I was surprised by a
few heads nodding in agreement with me. I wondered their stories and look forward to getting to know these people more. Afterwards, I talked to several of them for quite awhile and told the social worker that I would come back when my appointment aligned with group days. And I'm actually looking forward to that. May 6 is the next one I should be able to attend, Lord willing.
     I am praying that God will use me to point other hurting hearts to Him. He is the only comfort and so worthy of our trust.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Be anxious for nothing, but... let your requests be made known to God."

   The topic of "fear" has come up a lot recently; in conversations, in my favorite daily devotion writers, as my kids contemplate which Disneyland rides they like, with old and young.  It's something we all deal with at varying degrees.
    My son, the worrier, will tell me about an ache or pain and ask, "is there such a thing as side cancer? Because my side really hurts." Or foot cancer, or tooth cancer... I'm seeing a trend as to where his mind is spent. Fretting over things he has no control over.  
    I hate that this is such a reality for him. My diagnoses and losing our TJ, has made this very real for him. It seems there is constantly a new person added to our prayer list because of the "C word". I hate this, and I'm grateful for this. Not for the fear but the opportunity it brings to learn, lean, teach, and model.  It gives me the chance to point him back to Christ when fears arise. It also reminds me that how I deal with my fear points him. Where am I pointing? 
   Greg Laurie talked about how we have normal and conditioned reflexes to fear and worry in his daily devotion this week. A conditioned reflex is something you learn or teach yourself to do through repetition until it comes naturally. When fears arise, does it produce worry or send me to the feet of Jesus in prayer? I loved the thought of making this a conditioned reflex in my life. That my natural reaction to fear becomes prayer. I long for my kids to learn this practice at a young age. It reminds of the song, "what a friend we have in Jesus". "...oh what peace we often forfeit. Oh what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer." 
     I can carry the burden of my fear, or I can take it to God and experience the peace that He holds me even when my fears become a reality. I want to choose that! Every time. 
    I've been given a stark reminder that we have no idea how much time we have on earth. With that in mind, may it change my walk, and the way I love my Lord, my husband, and love my children. My time with them is short. Maybe shorter than I had planned. Maybe not, but thank you, God, for the reminder.