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Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts

Aug 10, 2020

Grateful Heart (and a giveaway!)

It seems like forever since I last joined up with Emily over at Ember Grey for her Grateful Heart Monday link-up.  These used to be such a staple for me, but busy schedules have meant that I've had a little bit of trouble fitting it in here and there.  

Additionally, I've been a much much worse blogger this summer than I ever intended.  I guess life and planning a wedding does that to you, huh?  Call it poor planning, but it just is what it is.  I do have a packed schedule for you guys while I'm away getting married and laying on a white sandy beach for a week, and hopefully I'll be back in full force once all of that is over!  

Anyway, on the topic of gratefulness (because that's what this post is supposed to be about, after all), I just need to say how grateful I am for all of you!  For your consistent encouragement, prayers, and even just stopping by this space, even when I haven't had anything new to say.  I can't tell you how blessed I was last week after I published my post on wanting to experience joy and received comments and emails and tweets offering up prayers for me and my family!  

I'm also so grateful to be able to share some good news today...my dad's scans were all stable last week, which is like a huge weight lifting off of our shoulders.  He is battling some major fatigue and other side effects from his treatment, but just knowing that the way he is feeling is because of the treatment and not the cancer is really reassuring.  

So thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my grateful heart!  Your prayers and love mean the world to me.  

On a separate note, it's pretty dreary here in PA today, so to bring a little sunshine to Monday, I've partnered with a few other bloggers to offer you a giveaway!

I picked up a Day Designer a few weeks ago and it is literally the best planner I've ever day!  I love it and wish I could just sit around writing in it all day (no joke.  #nerdalert).  So we're giving away a Day Designer and lots of goodies to go along with it, including some of my personal faves...washi tape and PaperMate Flair pens!  Check out the photos below to see what bloggers are involved and what you could win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Aug 5, 2020

I Want Joy.

I feel the need to warn you right off the bat...this may not be my usual cheery, hope-filled post.  Today, this blog's purpose is for processing and working through the things I've been feeling.  It's for finding the hope again and for working towards healing.

Many of you know about my father's battle with cancer.  Lung cancer, to be exact.  The mere diagnosis has always puzzled us...how did a healthy 49-year-old, someone who has always been active and never hesitated to help another, someone who never touched a cigarette, end up with stage IV lung cancer?  I've asked God "why?" so many times, and so many times have been reminded that He is good.  No matter what, He is good.  Even when I don't know the answer to my question, He is good.

This summer has been a difficult one to say the least.  Between the accident involving our pastor at church and my dad's health concerns, it's been hard to find joy in this summer.

You see, joy is difficult to come by when there's an underlying feeling of worry.  When you do find it, it's often fleeting...a brief break from reality until the details of real life creep back in.

With the wedding just over three weeks away, there should be nothing but elation flowing through my mind.  Instead, this week has been filled with stressful worry.  The reality is that my dad hasn't been feeling good.  After having whole brain radiation in June, he felt pretty good for a few weeks, and then his energy levels started to go down.  He's been battling some serious fatigue and dizzy spells since the beginning of July and it's steadily been taking a toll on him.  I guess a year of chemo plus radiation will do that to a person.

And honestly, friends, we're all tired.  Tired of my dad not feeling good, tired of never being able to fully enter into joy.

I've always dreamed that the time spent planning my wedding would be full of joy, but then again I guess life is never fully what we hope or dream.  Sometimes, it's so much more, and sometimes, it just looks different.  That's life, right?

I long for joy that isn't undermined by worry or fear.  I long for time with my family where we aren't anxious about what's to come.  Facing a serious illness has made me, for the first time in probably my entire life, long for Heaven.  Not because I don't have hope that my dad will be fully healed and not because I don't trust in God, but because this world is not our home, and thank goodness for that.

This earth is broken and fallen.  War, disease, accidents that cut a life too short.  All of those things could absolutely leave a person in total despair.  But thank goodness for a God who restores, who redeems, and who brings joy.

There is so much in life to look forward to and find joy in, even when life is hard, joy can still be found.  But nothing will ever compare to the joy we find when praising our King at His throne.  I can't wait to experience that joy someday!

May 15, 2020

What To Say In The Face of A Cancer Diagnosis (+A Free Cancer Diagnosis Resource)

I've written here and there about my dad's battle with lung cancer, and more recently, my mom's melanoma diagnosis.  I try not to flood my blog with the day-in and day-out of having a loved one battle cancer.  I know that so many of you are praying for both of my parents, and I'm so grateful for that, but it's not something I always like to talk about in such a public forum, and I don't think it's something that my parents would want to see my blog be focused on.

The past two years have been some of the hardest in my life.  I've seen both of my parents come to their knees at the foot of the cross (and I've been with them), praying for healing on a daily basis.  I've seen my dad not feel well, and I've seen him ride 150 miles on his bike in two days.  It's a roller coaster ride and not one that I would wish on anyone.

However, I can tell you two things:  1) your prayers and the prayers of our church family have completely sustained us over these last two years and 2) the support, encouragement, and advice from those who have gone before us in this walk have been invaluable.

I know that talking to someone who has a cancer diagnosis or who is the caretaker of someone with a cancer diagnosis isn't easy.  I can tell that it isn't from the way that some people stumble over their words or just don't reach out at all.  I get it.  It's uncomfortable.  You're probably wondering about the hard things, like prognosis and will he lose his hair with the chemo treatments and well if that last scan looked good, then why isn't he feeling well?  Here's a secret:  we wonder too sometimes.  If you've read any of my posts about my parents' walks with cancer, you know that we wonder, but we believe.  We believe in total and complete healing and a God who has already gone before us.

And we also believe in advocating and educating.  If you know someone with a cancer diagnosis, then here are a few little tips:

1 // Don't ignore it, but don't make it the focus of every conversation.  Knowing that you care enough to ask is touching, but it's important that cancer doesn't become the person's identity.

2 // Watch your words.  I can't tell you how many people have told me stories about so-and-so who had cancer and lost their battle, or who said my dad just needed to repent of his sins or pray harder for healing (um, not how healing works!), or the guy that told my dad that if it was stage IV then that's basically a death sentence.  People either mean well or they just don't think before they speak.  Don't be one of those people.  Put yourself in your friend's shoes and think "would this be an encouraging, life-giving thing to hear if I was going through a cancer diagnosis?"  If the answer is "no", then keep it to yourself.

3 // Ask how you can help, and offer suggestions.  For example:  you don't have to take on every task or chore that the person has, but simply offer to watch their kids or bring them a meal, or maybe even cut their grass.  They might say no at first, but keep asking.

4 // Be there.  It's crazy how people disappear when you are facing a serious illness, so don't disappear.  Even if the person pushes you away or withdraws.  Actually, especially in those two cases.  That's probably a sign that they need you more than they want to admit.

5 // No matter how recently the person has been diagnosed, they are a survivor.  You learn a lot of terminology pretty quickly when facing a cancer diagnosis, but one of my favorite terms has always been "survivor."  No matter where someone is in their fight, whether they were diagnosed yesterday or they've been in remission for a decade, they are a cancer survivor.

Allstate has put together a free companion guide to the book, The Silver Lining.  The companion guide is available as an instant download ebook, which you can get here, and I can't encourage you enough to download it, read it, and share it with anyone who might be facing cancer, but more specifically, breast cancer, as that is what the author was diagnosed with.  With over 250,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year, finding advice and encouragement from other survivors is key to keeping a positive attitude.

Allstate created the Silver Lining Companion Guide as a way to offer practical tips, important information, and inspiration to the person walking through a breast cancer diagnosis.  Personally, I also found much of it to be true of other cancer battles as well.  The guide is available in English and Spanish, as well as in print at select Allstate agencies nationwide.


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Apr 8, 2020

A Quick Update

You may or may not have noticed my absence around the blog this past week.  If you're a member of The Peony Project, or if you follow me on social media, then you might have heard this news already, but if not, I felt like maybe I should catch you up on where I've been.  Because I know that at least for me, if a blogger I follow disappears for a little while, I start to wonder what's going on.  I'm nosy like that.

So here's a quick update on what's been happening lately:

Two weeks ago, my mom went to the eye doctor for a routine eye exam.  She had been experiencing a blind spot in the top of her left eye and figured it was something to do with her contacts, but decided to get her yearly check-up and mentioned it to her doctor.  Her optometrist diagnosed it as a detached retina and sent her directly to an ophthalmologist, who did some tests and then gave us news we weren't ready for:  my mom had a melanoma tumor in her eye.

For those of you who don't know my family's story, two years ago, my dad was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer.  He has never been a smoker and we honestly thought it was either just bronchitis or pneumonia.  He's doing well now, the cancer is stable and he's on a few different medications that we hope will keep it that way for a long time.  But it's still cancer.  So getting a second shocking cancer diagnosis in two years was a bit much and kind of hard to even understand how it was happening.

We immediately scheduled an appointment for the following Monday at WillsEye Hospital in Philadelphia, where my mom was to see Dr. Carol Shields, one of the world's best ocular oncologists.  I spent that weekend in North Carolina visiting Madison (of The Wetherills Say I Do), and then came home on Palm Sunday and on Monday, woke up and drove my parents down to Philly for what turned out to be a 9.5-hour appointment of tests.  When we left Wills on Monday afternoon, we had a definite diagnosis - a pea-sized tumor inside my mom's left eye - and a treatment plan in place.

Last Thursday, we sent my dad to work (he works as an aircraft mechanic at the Philadelphia International Airport), and then my mom, my aunt, and I traveled back to Wills for treatment.  Thursday morning, my mom had surgery to implant a nickel-sized plaque into her eye.  This plaque would deliver radiation to the tumor and stop it's growth, and eventually, kill it.  Because of the way the treatment works, she was required to stay in a hotel in Philly all weekend, before reporting back to Wills on Monday morning to have the plaque removed.  Obviously, this wasn't the way my mom had hoped to spend her Easter weekend.  She's the director of volunteers at our church, and had coordinated over 100 volunteers to help with our 4 weekend services, so she wanted to be there to greet them!

But instead, she was stuck in a hotel she couldn't leave, and my dad stayed down with her all weekend.  On Sunday night, my brother and his fiancé, Natalie, as well as AJ and I went down to visit them and had chinese food and pizza for our Easter dinner.  Needless to say it's an Easter we won't soon forget.

I'm happy to report that my mom is home and the hardest part of this journey is behind us.  She still has to see an oncologist to confirm that the cancer hasn't spread, and she'll need to be followed by that oncologist for life, but her liver enzymes look great and so we're believing that this cancer is done and over with!

Thanks for your prayers for my family over these last two weeks.  It's been a crazy time and frankly, I'm not yet fully recovered from it emotionally or physically, but I do hope to be back to blogging daily soon.  In the meantime, I'll try to post as often as I'm able and I hope that you'll keep coming by this space and saying hi!

Oct 14, 2020

My Parents are Rockstars.

this past weekend, my parents rode the philadelphia ride to conquer cancer.  (if you're new to my blog, you can read a little bit more about my dad's journey with cancer here.)  together with my uncle matt, they raised over $8,500 and each of them rode nearly 150 miles in 2 days.

they joined over 500 other riders and in total, $1.9 million dollars was donated to the abramson cancer center at the university of pennsylvania!  that money will be used to fund research that is seeking a cure and creating new, cutting-edge therapies.

while i so wished i was on a bike with them, i got to lead the cheerleading squad and cheered team gettis at every pit stop.  saturday started off miserably wet and cold, but they rode, so we cheered...and then sunday ended up being a beautiful day, and our crew just kept getting larger at each stop.  it was awesome to see these three push through (you would never know my dad is battling this disease!) and keep pedaling.

here they are crossing the finish line!  i think we all cried...it was such an awesome moment to see them ride through, and i am so so proud of them!

here's my dad and my brother....everyone was decked out in their "team gettis" gear (designed by yours truly!)

a "we did it!" hug!

probably one of the best photos of my parents ever...they are so great!

my  mom had a card with the names of people she was riding in honor of tied to her bike....these are the names of current cancer survivors! (and of course, my dad's name is loud and proud at the top)

team gettis with our friend rachel, the marketing director for abramson!  she's awesome, and she and her husband rode as well!

have you or someone you know ever completed a mega-race like a marathon or a 150-mile+ bike ride?

Sep 29, 2020

Grateful Heart Monday // Today is a Tough One

i'm gonna be really real with you today....finding things to be grateful for is tough this morning.  sure, there's plenty of little things; the arrival of fall, a warm cup of coffee, my puppy's first birthday.  but this weekend was a rough one.

my dad has been battling cancer for the past sixteen months and has been on new chemo treatment for the past nine weeks.  he had some chest pain on thursday night and my mom took him down to penn, where he's being treated, on friday.  after a chest ct scan, they discovered that the tumor in his lung had grown and that the chemo wasn't working.  this blow, this set back, makes me want to scream, "whyyyy???" and just get angry with god.

it's not fair that my dad is going through this.  it's not fair that anyone goes through this.  he was otherwise completely healthy and the diagnosis came as a shock, and now, with every treatment, we hang onto hope that this, this will be the thing to kick it to the curb.  it's weekends like these that make my heart feel less-than grateful, but the only way i've found to deal with this roller coaster has been to find the positive, and lean into jesus.

so i'm grateful today that we discovered this setback.  i'm grateful because it gives my dad's medical team a few days to figure out the next step, the next treatment before he goes for his regularly-scheduled appointment on thursday.  i'm grateful that today, he's feeling a little bit better.  i'm grateful that he's learning to rest and abide and not go, go, go.  i'm grateful for the community of believers and friends who have risen up around us to support us.  and i'm grateful for the hope that's found in christ, because i don't know how anyone walks this road without that hope.

i covet your prayers today, friends.  prayers for peace, for comfort, and most of all, for healing.  i'm grateful for you.

so stop by the grateful heart link-up …i encourage you to go check it out, read some of the other posts, and consider participating!  if posting on a monday doesn't suit your blogging schedule, good news!  the link-up is open all week long!

what are you grateful for today?

Jun 9, 2020

Starting the Week with a Grateful Heart (+ a Giveaway!)

this week, i'm grateful for one thing:  jesus.

because jesus = hope.
jesus = life.
jesus = healing.
jesus = comfort.

we got some not-so-good news about my dad last week.  his cancer has stopped responding to the meds he was on and so that means a little bit of waiting (the worst part of it all), and a trip down to penn tomorrow to figure out what the next step is.  he's in the hands of one of the best thoracic oncologists there is, and of course, more importantly, the hands of jesus, but this ride is still pretty scary.

so today, my heart is particularly grateful for a relationship with the ONE who saves, the one who gave it all so that we may have eternal life in him forever.  i'm grateful that he upholds the weak and broken and gives shelter and refuge to the weary.  i'm grateful that we have a support system of prayer warriors surrounding us, and i'm grateful that HE has the last word.

as usual, i'm linking up with ember grey for grateful heart monday! emily runs the grateful heart link-up every monday, and it's open all week…i encourage you to go check it out, read some of the other posts, and consider participating!

i'm also partnering with rachel at oh simple thoughts and a bunch of other wonderful bloggers to bring you an awesome giveaway!  check out these girls' blogs and enter away below!

the giveaway will be live until this friday, june 13th. all entries will be verified so play fair! good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

what are you grateful for today?

May 1, 2020

What He has Done is Done Forever.

today i'm leaning into the grace of jesus. 
today i'm disregarding the voices of fear & doubt & worry that try to dismantle his promises. 
today i'm resting on the belief that what he has done is done forever. 

today marks one year since the word "cancer" ran across my family's lips in reference to my dad. 

one year since 40 of our closest friends and family gathered in the gt worship center and began praying for healing before we even had an official diagnosis. 
one year since life as we knew it changed forever.

what a year it's been. 

a year of learning to trust, learning to pray, learning to believe. 
a year of fear and uncertainty and anxiety at times.
a year of altering our vocabulary to regularly include words like adenocarcinoma, and mutation, and clinical trial.
a year of regularly using words like healing.
a year of education and educating.

a year of miraculous healing.

will you pray with me today friends?  

jesus is faithful to complete what he has started and we're resting in that.  he has brought my dad, my family, through this last year and repeatedly encouraged us with people and words and blessings.  we're firmly believing that god will use this testimony for his glory.  and we also believe that a huge part of dad's healing has been due to steadfast prayer.  so prayers for completion of his healing (and for this nagging cough that has surfaced in the past few weeks to get kicked to the curb) are appreciated!  
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