Cancer Updates

Throughout my cancer journey, our family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from our community – including dear people from near and far who have prayed for us! For updates on my cancer journey, please “like” the Facebook page “Brooke Turner’s Cancer Journey”  

Below are archived updates, copied from the Facebook page:

May 23, 2018

Health Update: I’ve been living with cancer for over 3 years now… Stage IV cancer for 18 months.
I’m so grateful that I’m feeling great these days, despite my Stage IV Cancer Diagnosis. I am so encouraged with how I’m able to live my life to the fullest, make very special memories with my family, continue in ministry work, have energy most days, and function well in my daily life. Most days I forget about the cancer, until I have to take the 3 pink pills (Xeloda) in the morning and evening.

I continue on Xeloda, an oral chemo, for 2 weeks on, 1 week off. The side effects are definitely present, but manageable.

My next scans are Tuesday, July 17 at MD Anderson. It’s been six months since I’ve seen the care team at MD Anderson (I’ve been seen by Lexington Oncology in the meantime), and I want to stay connected to my oncologist there (Dr. Layman) in addition to my oncologist here (Dr. Stillwell). I pray that Xeloda continues to be effective to hold back the cancer, but I am thankful for the options MD Anderson can offer me if that is not the case. I have many more treatment options available, not to mention clinical trials, so I’m encouraged.
My last scan was very good and thankfully I’m responding well to chemo.

I thank God that I am feeling so good these days. I’m meeting more and more women who are surviving…even thriving… with Stage IV cancer. Women with careers, busy families, and full lives. I think as time goes on you will begin to notice there is a “new face” of Stage IV Cancer. There are many of us that are living with the disease as a chronic illness we will manage the rest of our lives. The reality is at any time the chemo could stop working and we are on to the next treatment…and eventually options could run out, but in the meantime there are new cancer developments.

Ultimately I know where my hope lies. Psalm 139:16: “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them”
God has already written every one of my days…HE alone numbers my days. What peace this brings me!

Great hope floods my soul when I look back and see God’s faithfulness along every step of this journey (and my entire life). He provides and His mercies are new every morning! His grace is sufficient for today, and will be more than enough for each day ahead, whatever it brings!

One truth I’ve discovered through this journey is that most of my fear/anxiety/worry comes when I imagine difficult days ahead (for me AND for my family)…but I realized that when I imagine the difficulty, most of the time I imagine it without the grace to match it. That’s not reality, as the grace God grants always matches the difficulty of that day. I would prefer to “store up” the grace before the difficulty, but it doesn’t work that way. The grace is there when I need it, not necessarily on the day when I envision all the worrisome possibilities. My job: trust that the future grace will be there, and be encouraged by looking back and seeing how He’s always been faithful to provide it in the past. #Godisfaithful

April 13, 2018

Great scans!!!!! To quote my oncologist: “Better than stable… better than I expected”!!
To God be the glory! The journey is not over, I’ll continue to take oral chemo at the lower dose (3,000 mg/day) and be scanned again in 2-3 months!! today I celebrate and praise the Lord for the good news THIS DAY!!

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭30:11-12‬ ‭

So grateful for your prayers!

April 12, 2018

Hello praying friends, please forgive my lack of update! I’m finishing my 4th cycle of the oral chemo, Xeloda.

The first two cycles were at 4000mg/ day and as it accumulated the side effects got to be absolutely horrible and I could barely function. The Lord would allow me about 4 good hours a day which happened to be in the middle of the day so I was able to continue fulfilling my responsibilities but it was very rough. My oncologist was not surprised as she predicted I could not tolerate that doseage. The third and fourth cycles I’ve been at 3000 mg/ day and I feel great! My hemoglobin (red blood count) continues to drop which affects my energy so a transfusion may be in my future. Also I have burning / peeling issues with my hands and feet which is common. Otherwise I feel great! 

Yesterday I had a CT scan. Thankfully for now my scans are able to be completed in Columbia. I’ll return to Houston if there is anything suspicious or something needs to change with treatment.

I’ll get results tomorrow- my oncologists would be pleased to see no progression / growth of the disease. My prayer has been for the results to be so remarkably good that the doctors are astounded, and the only explanation is that God did it. Would you join me in praying this?

I’m grateful for each and every one of you who re following my journey , praying for me, and encouraging me!! You’ll never know how much your love has meant to our family.

“To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!””
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭30:8-10‬ ‭

March 9, 2018

I need some extra prayers tonight- on my “off week” of Xeloda but still struggling a lot with side effects. My doctor is lowering my dose next cycle (starting Monday) from 8 pills a day to 6 pills a day. Please pray for a reduction of muscular pain and that my appetite comes back. I’m supposed to take Sam on a mommy son date tomorrow and really would love to be able to have this time with him. Thank you so much for praying for me!! I’m so grateful for each of you. 

March 2, 2018

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living” Psalm 27:3 NLT

Each time I go to update you all, I feel the tension between sharing a straight up medical update and sharing the ways I’m seeing the “goodness in the land of the living”. The paralysis of perfection often is an obstacle for me to overcome; its difficult- really impossible to express how hard this is, but how GOOD God continues to be

This will be a mostly medical update but know there is so much more of the “good stuff” I could share, and will share as God provides the time.

I have been on 4000mg a day of Xeloda, an oral chemo. Each cycle is 21 days- 14 days on (where I take the meds) and 7 days off. The side effects of Xeloda accumulate and worsen throughout the cycle. Out of 21 days I typically have about 11-12 days of feeling pretty good and then 9 or 10 of feeling pretty rough. The side effects are extreme fatigue (imagine the flu without a fever), nausea (yes I’ve tried everything to help), and hand/foot pain (burning from the inside out).

Today I’m on day 12 out of 14 of the second cycle. After the fourth cycle, ending in April, I’ll have scans and my medical team will assess where we go from here. If the scans come back stable I’ll likely remain on this cycle of Xeloda for the foreseeable future. Some people have successfully been on Xeloda for years and I pray I’m one of those people.

Please pray that the scans in April come back stable with no progression! I’m praying no evidence of disease! Pray that the Xeloda continues to be effective at holding the cancer back.

Even in the midst of feeling yuck today there is so much to be grateful for. I am surrounded with people who love me- at home, my family, at church/work, my friends, sorority sisters, and each of you who take the time to read my FB updates and pray for me- whether you know me in real life or not. I’m exceedingly grateful for the beautiful expressions of love!

More to come – time to pick the children up from school. (My favorite part of each day!)

January 31, 2018

Thank you for praying for me while I was in Houston last week The results from the lung and sternum biopsy are in, and unfortunately there is cancer in both the lung and sternum. This is not the news we were praying for so of course we are processing through a range of emotions.

The detailed pathology report from the biopsies (including lymph node biopsy) will be back in a couple weeks but that will not drastically change the course of treatment. I have started an oral chemo, Xeloda. I’m thankful to be able to take it at home and a long day at the infusion clinic is not necessary. 

The good news- My cancer has always responded very well to chemo so I’m hopeful this will shrink it and the prayer is when I’m praying when I’m scanned in 3 months no cancer will be seen.

The difficult news is that although I respond to chemo very well, when i get off chemo the cancer seems to grow, so for the foreseeable future I’ll be on chemo indefinititely and tweaking the dosage to find that balance of holding cancer back but keeping side effects minimal for quality of life.

The oral chemo does have side effects but in the past it has been more manageable than the infusion chemo. … and Xeloda doesn’t usually cause hair loss! Dr Layman has seen stage IV patients who have successfully been on Xeloda for years and that is my prayer.

I’ll have scans every three months or so to monitor progress. We appreciate your continued prayers for the Lord to pour out His grace on our family. This is very difficult. We are heartbroken with this news but not without hope.

I cannot begin to understand why the Lord is not removing this “thorn” but my soul floods with hope as I consider the truth of 2 Cor 12:9

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I would have never chosen this journey but I know that God isn’t going to waste this.

We are so grateful for you love, support and prayers. God uses this Facebook community- my friends, family, church family, acquaintances, and even strangers to encourage me. I read every message although I am unable to respond to each one please know I am so grateful to be so surrounded by live and uplifted by prayer. #Godisfaithful #hisgracestillabounds

January 16, 2018

Quick update:
I have the flu. The trip to Houston is postponed to next week. With the wintry weather in houston many flights have been cancelled; Im thanking God that I did not get stranded in an airport with the flu symptoms. I’ve been in bed all day and feel horrible- started tamiflu today. I appreciate your prayers! Also thank you for your sweet and encouraging words on my “novel” I wrote last night.

January 15, 2018

What we are going through is indescribably difficult. I do not ever want to sugar-coat that fact. If you talk to me in real life, and we “go deep” enough, tears come quickly….and that’s ok.

But what I’ve learned, and I’m learning is that although this cancer was not a choice, how I respond to it IS a choice.

Each morning I wake up with a familiar “pit in my stomach”. I know each of you know this feeling – it’s the moment shortly after you open your eyes when you remember that horrible circumstance that is distressing you. Sleep is a relief because in those moments, at least in my dreams, cancer does not exist. When I wake, it does.

In this morning moment each day, I have a decision to make (and this decision many times throughout the day). The decision is: am I going to let this circumstance steal joy from my day? Unfortunately, sometimes I do (I’m human), when I sit too long in the “pity party” of what cancer has stolen from our family. But by God’s grace and strength, most of the day I choose joy. So in the mornings, I choose to open the Word, and saturate my mind with it until I believe the truth of what I’m reading.

But lest you start thinking “oh what a faithful and strong person she is” – let me tell you it is not my strength that enables me to make that choice each day. It is not my strong faith, but the strength of the One who my faith is in.

Cancer is not the worst that this life can bring — a life, and ultimately a death withOUT faith in Jesus is the worst. This life is but a blink – like one grain of sand on the seashore of eternity. Through faith in Jesus, I have full assurance that nothing that happens this side of heaven will change the 100, 500, 1 million year plan for me. That is where my ultimate hope lies – although it is a continual process and preaching this Gospel to myself to believe it day after day and let if impact my actions.

Have you ever seen the most gorgeous sunset, or stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon, or stared in awe at the ocean, feet on the shore while waves lap at your ankles…or the moment your firstborn child is placed in your arms?

An experience that is common to all mankind is AWE. We were created for it…we cannot deny it. In that moment, something blows through our soul to remind us “there is more than this”.. often it is a quiet whisper that we can drown out with our smartphones (we attempt to photograph this moment and in no way can our tiny screen do it justice). This is because our hearts were created for eternity. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “God has set eternity in the hearts of man”.

The worst that life can bring is living a life where you’re not connected with the One who created You for a purpose. The worst that life can bring is to live distracted – pushing that feeling down. The worst is to ignore the still, small voice of the One who is pursuing you…even now.

Many who read this will say “yes! I agree!”! We might say “faith is an important part of my life” , yet we live like this world is all there is. (I regretfully put myself in this category at times). We allow our children’s activities, our material possessions, our career advancement, others opinions of us, (fill in the blank) to crowd out the most important reason we are here.

This incredible God, who made this beautiful world, put awe in our hearts, created you and created me for a dual purpose. We were made to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

To enjoy Him forever starts today – not when we get to heaven. Jesus came so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

And as WE enjoy Him as our greatest desire – as our true treasure, our lives bring Him glory – and others can “taste and see that He is good” (Psalm 34:8) as we shine our light for His glory!

I did not intend to write this “novel” – and I applaud you if you got to the end of this. I sat down to write a medical update and share prayers for the week ahead (which I will do soon)…God had other plans for me this day. I have an urgency to share this, so that maybe even one person who may not be walking with God might come to know Him, through faith in Jesus, or walk more closely hand in hand with Jesus – enjoying Him, glorifying Him. It’s why we are here. That is the only way I can have joy in my days. It’s Jesus.

If this is you and you would like to talk more, please email me at bturnersc@gmail.com. I am slow responding to Facebook messages because I’m not on Facebook as much these days so email is a better way to reach me.

“those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you”
Psalm 9:10

“The better God is known, the more He is trusted.” – Matthew Henry

January 10, 2018

Tears in my eyes as I opened my Facebook and read all of your encouraging words to me in response to my update from last night. I have very little margin in my days to spend online (and try desperately not to be on my phone around my children)… I wish I could respond to each of you, hug you, and tell you how much you mean to me. Please know how appreciative I am for each of you taking the time to write a word of encouragement to me. It means more than you know!! For all of the negatives of social media – today I’m remembering that God can use ALL things for the building up of HIs kingdom and His people!

Thank you for living this out~ 1 Thess 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

January 8, 2018

Still waiting and trusting…

Justin and I will be heading back to Houston next week on Wednesday for further testing and biopsies. A critical part of the pathology study came back indeterminate (the Her2neu status). After Dr. Layman did some digging with the pathologists, it was determined that there was not enough tissue. I will have a core biopsy (instead of fine needle) of the lymph nodes. While in Houston I’ll also have a biopsy of the sternum and right lung to get clear answer on those suspicious spots (which may or may not be radiation inflammation).

The past few weeks have been a roller coaster. I’m weary of this whole process in addition to the daily demands of life. I’m thankful to have had a “Selah Day” this past Saturday. (Selah means “pause and reflect”). I was renewed while spending a chunk of the day in solitude and quiet reflection/prayer – looking back at 2017 and praising God for His faithfulness and looking ahead to 2018. It has been my tradition to ask the Lord for a “word for the year”.

This year the word He gave me is “through”. I wouldn’t have chosen this word – to be honest I don’t really like it. I realized that often we pray for the Lord to take us AROUND affliction and trouble, but sometimes in His perfect plan He walks with us THROUGH it. My verse for the year is Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

Trusting Him to walk with us through the waters; to provide sustaining strength through the rivers; protection through the fire and renewal through the flames.

Continually grateful for your love and support. Your messages here are such an encouragement to me — I read every one!

I will post specific prayers in another post —

———–
This devotional below is from John Piper’s “Solid Joys”. It was of great encouragement to me. I’m learning in these days to delight in the grace SUPPLIED, not despair in the grace DENIED.

below written by John Piper
“Grace Denied and Supplied”

Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)

The need for inner strength arises not just from the depletions of everyday stress, but from the suffering and afflictions that come from time to time. And they do come.

Suffering is inevitably added to heart-weariness on the way to heaven. When it comes, the heart may waver and the narrow way that leads to life may look impossibly hard. It’s hard enough to have a narrow road and steep hills that test the old jalopy’s strength to the limit. But what shall we do when the car breaks down?

Paul cried out three times with this question because of some affliction in his life. He asked for relief from his thorn in the flesh. But God’s grace did not come in the form he asked. It came in another form. Christ answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Here we see grace given in the form of Christ’s sustaining power in unrelieved affliction — one grace given, we could say, within the circle of another grace denied. And Paul responded with faith in the sufficiency of this future grace: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

God often blesses us with a “grace given” in the circle of “grace denied.”

For example, on a beastly hot day in July, the water pump on our car stopped working, and twenty miles from any town we were stranded on the interstate in Tennessee.

I had prayed that morning that the car would work well and that we would come to our destination safely. Now the car had died. The grace of trouble-free travel had been denied. No one was stopping as we stood around our car. Then my son Abraham (about eleven at the time) said, “Daddy, we should pray.” So we bowed behind the car and asked God for some future grace — a help in time of need. When we looked up, a pickup truck had pulled over.

The driver was a mechanic who worked about twenty miles away. He said he would be willing to go get the parts and come back and fix the car. I rode with him to town and was able to share the gospel with him. We were on our way in about five hours.

Now the remarkable thing about that answer to our prayer is that it came inside the circle of a prayer denied. We asked for a trouble-free trip. God gave us trouble. But in the midst of a grace denied, we got a grace supplied. And I am learning to trust God’s wisdom in giving the grace that is best for me and for unbelieving mechanics and for the watching faith of eleven-year-old boys.

We should not be surprised that God gives us wonderful graces in the midst of suffering that we had asked him to spare us. He knows best how to apportion his grace for our good and for his glory.

 

December 30, 2017

Dear Friends,

Justin and I continue to be so grateful for your prayers and love shown to our family!

My oncologist is out of the office so we will not know anything more definitely until next week. We had a lovely Christmas where we made many special memories with those we love. This recent news is difficult but Justin and I are not allowing it to consume us. We are heartbroken but not without hope. We know nothing is impossible with God and that He will provide sufficient grace for each day ahead, no matter what it holds. The Lord renews my strength each day through His Word, and I’m mentally preaching His promises to myself throughout the day! This morning I wrote out some comforting truths in my journal.

To name a few: His grace is sufficient for each day, God is writing His perfect story in my life and in the lives of my children and Justin (for God’s glory and our joy!), His presence is always with me, this is not a surprise to God, He will provide all that I need, only the Lord numbers my days, nothing is impossible with God! You, Oh Lord, are enough for me.

I’m meditating on these truths as we take down Christmas decorations. Thank you for continuing to lift up our family!

God also led me to this passage today ~ a familiar passage that meant much to me in 2015. Reading today with fresh eyes! It is amazing that nothing ~ NOT ONE THING on earth can take away the renewing work that God is doing within me through this! Praise His name!
I pray it is an encouragement to you also.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Much love to you!

Seeking Him,
Brooke

December 21, 2017

Dear praying friends,

The journey continues…The PET scan showed cancerous activity in my left lymph nodes and a biopsy confirmed. Thankfully the left breast and right side are all clear. (Right breast and all right nodes were surgically removed in June 2017). A small spot in my right lung lit up and a small spot in my sternum. Doctors suspect the sternum and lung spots are inflammation from radiation which is common (and not cancer). To confirm the sternum and lung are not cancer I had a CT scan which will get a more accurate look at these areas. I’ll get results next week. 

The first way to attack this will be chemo, once the detailed pathology report comes back with the specific markers which will determine the best treatment plan.

Justin and I are shocked, disappointed, devastated. Specifically the thought of chemo again is difficult news! But God is holding us fast. By His grace, we do not lose heart! Although circumstances are not at all what we would have chosen, we have confidence that God will continue to provide ALL that we need even through the valley of suffering…Especially through the valley of suffering. It brings me great comfort to know that although this is a surprise to us, it is not a surprise to our unchanging God. Although we do not understand, we are called to trust Him; not to lean on our own understanding but in all our ways acknowledge Him and He will make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6). We are confident in God’s goodness, even through tears.

The words of the song in the video have ministered to me deeply- especially John Piper’s spoken word in the middle of the song.
I’m sure there will be more words from me as we process this news, but for now please know how grateful we are to have your love and prayers with us on this journey.

Praises- no distant disease; that I was able to get a CT scan Thursday afternoon so we can still get home for Christmas celebrations with family

Pray- that the CT scan reveals that the spots on sternum and lung are not cancer! Pray for the Lord to be near to me and my family as we process this news. Pray for a joy filled Christmas overflowing with the hope of Christ: Emmanuel, God with us

https://youtu.be/qyUPz6_TciY

December 19, 2017

Dear friends,

I’ve been intentionally quiet on my blog the last three months. Life has been overflowing with the beautifully regular bits of life, and each spare moment I’ve chosen to press into those closest to my heart.

I’ve been writing just as much as ever, but instead of my blog, the medium has been private journals the world may ever see….And that’s ok. What I’m learning is that quite often the deepest, richest work of the Lord is done in the quiet places that the world will never see. It’s in these dark places that the Lord deepens our roots of faith- and it’s this deep root system which allows us to withstand the storms of this life, and not topple over! The prayer I pray most over myself and my family comes from Isaiah 61:3b- that we would be deeply rooted oaks of righteousness for the display of God’s glory. We cannot be sturdy oaks without deep roots. And roots grow in the dark, unseen places.

A short update:

On September 15 I experienced one of the most joy filled moments of my life as we surprised the children with my homecoming one day earlier than they expected. Remembering the squeals and happy tears in the carpool line after school when they saw Mommy in the van at pickup can still bring tears to my eyes!

I’m feeling SO GOOD, exercising more and fueling my body with {mostly} healthy food!

The last three months have been overflowing with family life, children’s activities, ministry work, catching up with friends and family, and lots of cherishing each day!

How you can join with us in prayer:

As I write this I sit in a waiting room at MD Anderson. Today Justin and I are back in Houston for routine follow up visits and scans. We have been so grateful for your prayers along this journey!

We would appreciate so much if you could pray specifically for us over the next couple of days while we are in Houston.

Please pray:

*for all to go smoothly with the PET scan on 12/19 at 3:45pm, that doctors are able to read the images clearly

*pray for my follow up with Dr Layman on 12/20 at 11:30 where I will get results from the PET scan. Please pray BOLDLY for “NED” – “no evidence of disease!!!”

*pray for a followup with surgeon Dr Ross on 12/22 at 3:45 and that he is pleased with healing from my surgery

*Praise the Lord for my mom and mother-in-love who are watching the children.

Thank you for praying for us!! I will keep you posted as I hear results!

A time to pause and reflect:

The word Selah in Hebrew means “pause and reflect”.

Each year when December rolls around I get reflective. I intentionally STOP and consider God’s faithfulness over the prior year. This year I’ve been especially reflective, because it was a year ago that doctors told us that the cancer had returned and that it was stage IV. Here are a few words I wrote on 12/8/17. I’m posting here so you can hear how God is moving in my heart! He is faithful!

(Written 12/8/17)

A year ago I wrote the words to Psalm 18 in my journal. I woke very early that morning; my mind and heart were a humbled knot of despair and hope and uncertainty and faith. The day prior, 12/7/16, I heard the dreaded three words “You have cancer”. I was seven months out of treatment from my first cancer diagnosis, my hair was finally to my shoulders again, I was starting to run again, I had started to envision a life without the cloud of cancer. I thought I had crossed the finish line of the most difficult marathon I’d ever run, And then at once I was set back on the starting line again. This second marathon I was told would be a much tougher race- the diagnosis so serious that my Columbia physicians suggested I be seen elsewhere. On December 8, 2016 I wondered how would I get through this?
….

Today, a year later, I am here to raise my Ebenezer and say “here by Thy great help I’ve come”. In the Old Testament an Ebenezer is a “stone of help”. We see this in 1 Samuel 7:12 after God helped the Israelites defeat the mighty Philistines. Samuel “took a stone and set it up… and called its name Ebenezer; for he said “till now the Lord has helped us”

When I reflect on the last year and the deep, rich work the Lord has done in and through my life, the only answer to how I made it through is by the Lord’s help. Please do not look at me and see strength or faith. I pray you see the strong and faithful God. Friends it is ALL HIM, and He gets the glory.

Today I went on a field trip with Samuel and Selah. I’m enjoying simple joys like drinking coffee in a room lit only by the white lights of the Christmas tree and the fire. A year later, I’m still here and proclaiming God’s faithfulness in all things.

Your prayers have meant the world to me. I’m sitting in joy, and the faithfulness of my great God who never lets me go.

Thank you for being on the journey with us. I pray that you sense the peace of Emmanuel, (God with us) as we do.

With gratitude and joy,
Brooke

November 20, 2017

It’s been just over two months since I’ve been finished with radiation treatments. Life has been full and overflowing with the children; school, activities, work and ministry and family / friends. I’m so thankful to be feeling great most days, and my energy is returning!

Justin and I will travel to Houston 12/19. I’ll have a PET scan that afternoon and get the results 12/20. Please pray there is no evidence of disease. These are my first scans after completing radiation. Thank you in advance for your prayers!

I pray a joyful Thanksgiving for each of you. We have so much to be grateful for.

September 25, 2017

It’s difficult to believe I’ve only been home a little over a week. I’m grateful that in many ways it feels like I never left! Life is joyfully full of the trappings of regular life….and I LOVE IT! I’ve jumped straight back into all of the school, extra-curricular, work, social, and ministry activities that I missed while I was in Houston for seven weeks. I have a renewed gratitude for the ordinary: I GET to pack lunches, I GET to pick up the children from school, I GET to cook healthy dinners for my family. What a joy!

I have been feeling SO great. For the past 4 weeks I’ve been eating an entirely whole food, plant based diet after much research on how to keep my body as healthy as I can. (Balancing with the knowledge that only God is in control of whether the cancer comes back, but I can make healthy choices). There are many benefits of eating this way – trying new recipes, getting creative in the kitchen, extra energy! I am also attempting to exercise 6 out of 7 days a week — just brisk walking now with short jogging intervals.

I pray daily that the Lord would heal me completely, and that the cancer is gone forever. My children pray this aloud nearly every night at the dinner table. There have been countless prayers offered by you all – my army of prayer warriors. God hears every prayer, and I’m deeply grateful for how you’ve cried out to the Lord on my behalf.

So what’s next? I have scans in December in Houston. (I thought I would have to return in October, but those appointments will be rescheduled for December so I only have to make one visit). I’ll also have followup appointments with the surgeon and radiation oncologist, and get scan results from my oncologist. In the meantime, I’m praying daily for God to heal me completely. I’ll also have one more surgery but it won’t be for another year or 18 months from now (at least).

Often when I pray, in my mind’s eye, I see a vision of being present, sitting on a church pew somewhere 15-20 years in the future…sitting next to Justin, holding hands, wiping tears, as we witness our children marry a life- parter that loves the Lord. I pray God would allow me this grace one day. With Stage IV Cancer, this feels like such a wild dream. But God is in the business of answering our prayers “beyond what we could ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). He is able. So I cannot wait to see all that He has in store. No doubt, no matter what, it’s going to be good, because He holds my future, and HE is good.

September 14, 2017

Yesterday was a great day! In addition to blessing Marilyn with donations from #operationfloodMarilynwithlove , I rang the bell to signify the end of radiation treatments! Justin and I are driving home and expect to arrive tomorrow. I am so thankful for your prayers over the past seven weeks. Words cannot describe how excited I am to be headed HOME! #hisgraceaboundsthroughcancer

August 30, 2017

Praying a blanket of peace over the state of Texas.
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Update: Yesterday I got a call from a Dr that works with my radiation oncologist (from her cell phone!). She was checking on me and then said that they are trying to restart treatments as early as tomorrow morning. She said if there was any way for me to safely make it back to Houston by Thursday I need to make every effort. They are trying to get enough staff to come in Saturday and Monday so that the patients like me can make up some of the treatments too. Apparently roads around the med center are currently passable. All that to say, Justin and I are on a plane in Atlanta, headed to Austin, renting a car and tomorrow attempting to make our way to Houston to MD Anderson. It’s very important that I restart treatments as soon as they are up and running. I’m thankful Justin is going with me; navigating all of this on my own would be overwhelming.
.
Please continue to pray God’s mercy for the people of Houston and surrounding areas. Please pray that the (now 4) missed treatments would not hinder my healing. Please pray for my children’s hearts as they are away from Mommy once again for 2-3 more weeks. #mdanderson has been very proactive with their patients. Most areas of MDA are closed till next week but radiation oncology is working hard to get enough staff there to resume treatments asap.

August 27, 2017

I’m home in SC; please pray for those in Houston -as you’ve seen on the news, conditions are not good! There is widespread flooding across Houston, and I’ve been in touch with friends who live in the area and they confirm that roads are impassable. MD Anderson main building first floor is flooding. I’m thankful that I left a day early, on Thursday, however my heart is heavy for those who are still there. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to return to Houston. I have completed 18 of the 30 (or maybe 33) treatments. We’re monitoring the conditions and praying for wisdom. I was supposed to fly back to Houston tomorrow (Monday) but of course the flight has been cancelled, and MD Anderson is closed tomorrow. So grateful for your prayers!

August 1, 2017

Hi friends,
I’m getting settled into my new temporary place in Houston. Justin, Sam and I drove here from Columbia and the guys flew home today. I miss them all so much already!
I had a trial run for radiation yesterday and my first treatment today.

1 down, 29 to go!

So many of you have asked how you can be praying for me during these days. We are so grateful for the love and care you’ve shown our family in SO many ways!

~Praising God for bringing me this far on my journey through breast cancer – for His presence and provision, hope, joy and abundant goodness right here in the middle of it. Praise for earthly hope of the possibility of treating my breast cancer curatively. Praise for how we’ve seen His hand of provision and comfort throughout. He is faithful!!

~Praise for smooth and uneventful drive from Columbia to Houston, and sweet time and memories made with Justin and Samuel.

~Pray that my six weeks in Houston would accomplish God’s kingdom purposes in my life, the lives of those in my family, and the lives of others

~Pray that the radiation I receive will eradicate every last cancer cell from my body once and for all!!

~Pray for divine appointments and God opportunities to encourage women here

~Pray for Justin and grandparents with the children – that the burden would feel light and that they would experience God’s presence in taking care of the children and witness His provision. Pray that I could be a support even while away.

~Pray for the Lord would comfort Justin,Samuel, Selah and Hannah’s hearts as they miss me. (And pray for the Lord to be my comfort also as I already miss them terribly!!)

~Pray for special time with friends that are visiting – fun memories made!

~Pray that my skin would stay healthy and that I would not experience burning, especially pray over my right chest area that has been radiated once before and has had surgery. Pray against fatigue.

~Pray that God’s Word would continue to encourage me; Pray for God to use this experience to grow me and deepen my roots in Him

~Over all of Team Turner, pray our family verse: “…that they may be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, for the display of His splendor” Isaiah 61:3

July 14, 2017

Praising the Lord for an encouraging day of appointments! We are seeing all the ways God has gone ahead of us and is working out every detail for our good!

God answered our prayer for clarity – no doubt I need to be in Houston for radiation for many reasons. Dr Stauder (radiation oncologist) will radiate both the sternum and chest wall area (where breast was). It’s a delicate situation because my chest has already been radiated once.

I’ll have 30 treatments .. so 6 weeks not 7! I’ll start on 7/31 and finish 9/8. There is a planning CT scan appointment when they do the mapping for the fields and mark my skin. It must take place at least a week before radiation starts– and they were able to squeeze me in today!! Which is amazing because that saves us an extra trip to Houston. 

My sister found me an amazing apartment that we went and looked at today and booked. It’s 4 miles from the medical complex. I plan to come home two of the weekends to see the kids and Justin which means I’ll never be gone more than 2 weeks at a time.

My heart is encouraged and I’m thanking God! So grateful for your prayers which have been answered!

July 10, 2017

Update 7/10/17:
It’s hard to believe that nearly three weeks have passed since surgery! After being away from our children 6/19 – 6/30 it was so good to be back home and reunited with them! We missed them so much while we were in Texas.

Since I’ve been home, recovery has been much more difficult than I expected. After talking with others who have experienced a mastectomy and lymph node removal, and talking with Dr Ross’s PA today, I think my expectations were not realistic. I’ve had multiple surgeries in my life and bounced back quickly. The pain was improving while in Texas but upon return home seemed to plateau or even get worse. (Could be that life isn’t as restful and maybe I’m trying to do too much). Also I’ve developed a strange pain in my upper inner arm, they say from the lymph node removal, that is a nerve pain that constantly burns, like electric shock. It’s difficult to describe and the pain meds don’t help it. My range of motion is improving as I’m doing exercises daily. 

Thursday 7/13 I will return to Houston for 2 days of appointments. Th/Fri I will have follow ups with Dr. Villa, Dr. Ross (surgeons), Dr. Layman (oncologist), and have a consultation with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Stauder. Please pray for encouraging appointments and that I have a peace and clarity about the radiation process specifically.

About radiation –
I do not know for certain many details yet, but I believe I’ll be returning to Houston for radiation on my sternum around the beginning of August. I’ll share more after Friday.

I am SO THANKFUL for so many things, despite a rough couple weeks back home. I’m so thankful that a flap from my back wasn’t required because my recovery would have been even tougher. I’m so thankful that I was able to get my drains out before coming home. In the tough moments I just thank God that I was even able to get to surgery. That alone is a blessing, as things could have gone so differently.

Thank you so much for your love and support on this journey. We continue to be SO BLESSED by the love shown to our family. Example – just this week we found out about a huge collaborative effort from friends to provide us with a house cleaner!! I’m so blown away!! Every day we experience an act of love or kindness which spurs us on in the journey and reminds us that we don’t fight alone. Thank you all for teaching me what it looks like to love someone well who is suffering.

More updates to come later after my appointments. Thank you for walking this journey with me. Love to each of you!

June 29, 2017

Short update!
after a very stressful drive from San Antonio, where we were glad to have been staying with friends since Saturday,we finally made it to Houston a couple of hours late. We woke up to a flat tire, had to exchange our rental car, then got stopped in bad stand still traffic due to an accident for 2.5 hours! We were thankful Dr Villa still saw us, and everything looks great!

He removed my three drains which was so exciting to me. All 11 lymph nodes that they removed were all totally clear – no cancer! The pain improves every day. We are very encouraged and very ready to get home tomorrow!! Thank you for your prayers! God has been so good to us and showered us with the sweetest blessings on this journey. I continue to process it all and will share more at some point. Love to each of you!!

June 23, 2017

Hi friends!
A LONG update….praise and prayers!

Justin and I are so grateful for how you’ve carried us in prayer this week. We have seen God move in amazing ways, and we are confident it’s because so many are praying for us!

My surgery was Wednesday, 6/21. Dr Ross, the breast surgeon performed a mastectomy of my right breast, and removal of all of the lymph nodes under my right arm. Dr Villa, another surgeon came to close the wound. There was concern of the size of the wound, and he expected that he would need to use some tissue and skin from my back to help close the area. (No reconstruction done at this time because I need to wait until after radiation). I thank God that Dr Villa could close it without the extra tissue! This was such a huge praise because it would have added days to my hospital time and healing time. The surgery was only 3 hours, and they predicted it could be as much as 5!

Many have asked why I didn’t have a bi-lateral mastectomy. It’s because there is absolutely no risk in my left breast at the moment, and taking it off would present more risks that could delay sternum radiation, which is a top priority of my treatment. Six to twelve months after radiation is complete, the plan is to remove the left breast, and reconstruct both left and right at that time.

We stayed Wednesday night in the hospital and were discharged Thursday around lunch time. We have been in a Houston hotel the past few days, and each day the pain has improved.

I have a follow up appointment next Thursday with the surgeon to make sure I’m healing well and to (hopefully) remove my drains. Justin and I considered the options, and it made more sense for us to stay in Texas until next Thursday, rather than fly back and forth. It was just too cost prohibitive. (We purchased a one way ticket to come out to Texas because we didn’t know how long we would be out here and it is expensive to change airline tickets!) Thankfully, we have a place to stay in San Antonio with friends for several nights which helps in a lot of ways…financially and a change of scenery! We plan to head down to San Antonio tomorrow. (A huge thanks to the Cienski’s and Jordan’s parents!) Ironically, during the months of May and June, the Cienskis had been living with us for three and a half weeks while they were getting ready to move to San Antonio. Now we get to “live” with them again  Which will mean lots of fun cooking together and playing dominoes at night!

Justin will still be able to work from his laptop during the day in San Antonio, and I’ll have a comfortable place to rest and recover (and do some work too!)

We miss our children so much, but have gotten to FaceTime them each day, and they are having a blast with grandparents. We are so grateful for our family support!

So much to praise God for!
~Thank the Lord that my body responded to chemo as well as it did, so that I could be a candidate for surgery
~Thank the Lord that the sternum area looked much improved in the CT Scan and that it only appears to be sclerosis from the old cancer
~Thank the Lord that I was able to get into MD Anderson and have one of the top breast surgeons in the country operate on me
~Thank the Lord that they didn’t have to harvest skin from my back, making healing quicker!
~Praise for our parents who are taking care of our children, and the children are having so much fun
~Praise for my amazing husband, Justin, who’s a great cheerleader and nurse 
~Thank the Lord for Jordan & Caleb and Jordan’s parents who are opening their home to us to stay for a few days!

We appreciate your continued prayers for us
~pain management
~no nausea
~a smooth recovery – no infection, good healing of incisions
~wisdom for how we should return home end of next week (drive or fly)
~pray for the children – that they would be a blessing to their grandparents and make good choices
~pray for Lolli and Pop and MeeMaw and Poppy as they love on our children; pray that they are blessed
~pray for pathology results from breast tissue to be favorable, and nothing surprising
~pray as I get used to the change in my body, and the emotions that come with that. I know that will take some processing. I pray God walks with me through that. (I know He will!)

Psalm 40: 1-3
“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.”

June 21, 2017

Justin here… Brooke wanted me to let everyone know that today’s surgery went very well. The surgeons were able to complete the surgery without having to take skin from her back which was a huge answer to prayer (much shorter recovery & time in hospital). She has had some really bad pain, but seems to be getting better by the hour. Dr’s are hopeful that she can leave hospital tomorrow if her pain is better. Thanks for all of the prayers today.

June 21, 2017

Thank you for covering us in prayer as I have surgery today. The surgery is scheduled for 10am CST. I will be rolled back soon. God has gone before us!

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭57:1-3, 7-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

June 19, 2017

We are sitting on a plane, about to leave for Detroit and then to Houston!
We found out Friday that Surgery is Wednesday 6/21! It’s been a whirlwind couple of days.

I’m deeply grateful for your prayers! We feel covered in prayer and God is using each prayer for us to strengthen our hearts and prepare the way.

My heart is at rest knowing GOD goes ahead of us. We just now get to walk forward in faith, with eyes upward and outward, looking for the grace He has prepared in advance for us to enjoy along the way. He is faithful! I’m grateful for your companionship on the journey. It’s a true honor to share this season with you. If the Lord leads and allows, I plan to share a Facebook live to update you along the way.
Standing Firm by His Grace!

It is the LORD who goes before me. He will be with us, he will not leave us or forsake us. We will not fear or be dismayed
Deuteronomy 31:8

June 17, 2017

It’s been a while since I updated. We have been waiting for news on the surgery from MD Anderson, and just heard yesterday! My surgery is scheduled for next Wednesday, 6/21. I have two pre op appointments on Tuesday, so we will arrive in Houston on Monday night. We purchased a one way airline ticket, because we don’t know specifics of recovery and when I’ll be able to return home. My surgeon, Dr. Ross, said probably three days in the hospital. Thank you so much for lifting us up in prayer. God has been so faithful, and we are so grateful He has brought us this far! The journey continues….

May 22, 2017

Psalm 13:5-6 dated 11/30/16 in my bible. I remember opening my bible and reading Psalm 13 as I listened to “How Long” by Called Worship, a song written by friends based on David’s Psalm of lament.

Justin was already waiting on me inside, but I sensed this was a sacred moment I needed to spend with the Lord.

These were the last words my eyes read that last day of November, from the front seat of my minivan, before we heard “the cancer is back”. It had already been a long journey and I wondered “How Long, O Lord?” I did not know what would lie ahead, my vision was blurry, but I had to trust in God’s clear vision I found in Psalm 13:5-6.

His vision- he has dealt bountifully with me. Not despite cancer, but because of cancer. Whatever I would learn in that waiting room, I had to rest on the TRUTH that He has and would continue to deal bountifully with me. This steadied my soul; establishing me so I could not be shaken…. no matter what news came out of the appointment.

The cancer was indeed back, but in His grace, He had strengthened me by HIS Word. I’m not brave. I’m not strong. It’s He who is in me. It’s by His Word that comforts and nourishes.

Now on the other side, as we rejoice in clear scans I can say again, He has dealt bountifully with me. Either way, He’s faithful. I’m beyond thankful He is choosing to write my story this way but He is faithful no matter what.
….
The journey isn’t over… We head to MD Anderson to discuss surgery and possibly radiation this week. There is always the (in medical terms) “high risk” that the cancer will return once more.

I still have stage IV cancer. Doctors say I’ll have it forever. But today, it seems through the aggressive chemo that we have quieted the dragon. No one numbers my days but the Lord almighty.

The best news; I’m no longer a slave to fear- I am a child of GOD. I’m free. I’m not bound by the wave of circumstance. Thank you God, thank you cancer, for this gift.

THANK you, friends, for rejoicing with me. I cherish each and every comment and message you sent me! I love reading every single one. Thank you for sharing in our joy!
#hisgraceaboundsthroughcancer  #joyinthemidst

May 20, 2017

I’m so thankful to share with you that my PET scan from last week showed no cancerous activity!! The cancerous lesion on my sternum has completely resolved and the breast area showed “significant improvement”. My local oncologist feels that the team at MD Anderson will allow me to move forward with surgery (mastectomy- likely double), which is what I’ve been praying for (in order to remove any microscopic cancer cells once and for all)! Today is a day of rejoicing!! 🙌🙌thanks for sharing in my joy!! And thank you for faithfully praying for me!

The journey is far from over, but this is the most positive news I’ve heard all year!

“I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭138:2-3, 7‬ ‭

May 17,2017

I’m having a PET scan today at 3pm. (I thought it would be Saturday but found out yesterday that they were able to get me in sooner.)

This is to get an assessment on how effective the chemo has been to contain and eradicate the cancer. Doctors at MD Anderson and Lexington Oncology will use this scan to determine the plan going forward.

My prayer : no evidence of disease!!! Please join with me in prayer today! I don’t expect results until next week. Thank you so much for carrying this burden with us!!

April 26, 2017

God’s Word breathes such hope!

I was in Psalm 116 today, I just had to share. This is the Amplified version. As I approach my final chemo (Lord willing) May 8 and a PET scan to follow, I can simply rest in His faithfulness. There have been so many hard days, so many tears, so much weakness, so much utter dependence on Him (which is a good place to be)…His grace sustains. Indeed, He has dealt bountifully with me.

“I love the LORD, because He hears [and continues to hear] My voice and my supplications (my pleas, my cries, my specific needs). Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call on Him as long as I live. The cords and sorrows of death encompassed me, And the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, please save my life!” Gracious is the LORD, and [consistently] righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate. The LORD protects the simple (childlike); I was brought low [humbled and discouraged], and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For You have rescued my life from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from stumbling and falling. I will walk [in submissive wonder] before the LORD In the land of the living. I believed [and clung to my God] when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” I said in my alarm, “All men are liars.” What will I give to the LORD [in return] For all His benefits toward me? [How can I repay Him for His precious blessings?] I will lift up the cup of salvation And call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD, Yes, in the presence of all His people. Precious [and of great consequence] in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His godly ones [so He watches over them]. O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your handmaid; You have unfastened my chains. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD, Yes, in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the LORD ’ S house (temple)– In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD! (Hallelujah!)”
‭‭PSALM‬ ‭116:1-19‬ ‭AMP‬‬

April 18, 2017

It’s been a while since I posted an update. (this may be long, and maybe too many details!) My last chemo cycle I started a twice a day oral chemo called Xeloda (2 weeks on, 1 week off) in addition the the every 3 week infusion chemo (Ixempra). The cycle started off alright, but as the oral chemo accumulated in my system, my white and red blood counts got very low and I started feeling poorly. My oncologist took me off of the oral chemo several days early so that I could rebound for our big Spring Break trip to Disney! I also had a blood transfusion the Friday before Spring Break to bring my red blood count back up. I immediately felt better!

Last week we spent time with my sister and her family in Jacksonville, and then made our way to Disney! Our family had a blast and made sweet memories, which we cherish even more these days. Praise the Lord, I felt SO GREAT the entire time, and barely even thought about cancer! The trip was such a blessing!

Yesterday I had my 5th out of 6th chemo. Lord willing, only one more! I’ve resumed the oral chemo as well. The chemo day went well – I had a sweet visit with my friend Courtney Holland Tipping (what a selfless friend to visit on HER birthday!) …and then slept the rest of the time. The pre-meds they give me make me very sleepy. My amazing nurse Myra even got me a private room, so Justin was able to work in peace and I was able to sleep well.

These days are physically unpredictable, especially with the addition of the oral chemo, which accumulates and the side effects kick in about the time the side effects of the infusion chemo are starting to diminish. I’m taking things one day at a time, and rejoicing on the days I feel good! Today was a good day, and I’m so thankful! On the more difficult days I’m leaning into the Lord like never before!

So what is the plan going forward? I wish I knew with certainty, but God is teaching me not to not try to look around the bend, but rather take things one day at a time. With cancer, things can be unpredictable. But God holds my days, and remembering that brings me peace!

The tentative plan: After my final chemo May 8th, I will have a PET scan. Justin and I will travel back to MD Anderson May 18-19 where they will review the results of the PET scan. If there is no new spread of cancer, and the area in my sternum looks stable, we will move forward with surgery in early to mid-June. The appointments on May 18/19 will be a surgery consult where I will learn more about the mastectomy (likely a bi-lateral) and reconstruction. My surgeries will be at MD Anderson. I don’t know how long I’ll be in Texas for surgery and recovery. After surgery there will be a time for recovery, and radiation has been discussed for later in the summer, which would also be at MD Anderson.

We continue to be so blessed by your cards, meals, hugs, comments, gifts, words of encouragement, and most importantly your prayers! THANK YOU for loving our family so well!!

Psalm 108:4
“For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.”

March 28, 2017

Your prayers continue to sustain our family during this time, and we are SO grateful! It has been a while since I updated. I’m on a three week chemo cycle now, and the first week after chemo is pretty rough, and weeks two and three I begin to rebound. This past cycle my red blood count got very low, so I had a blood transfusion which helped me to feel better.

Yesterday I had my 6th round of chemo. I’m currently taking Ixempra through infusion, and they have now added in an oral chemo called Xeloda. The combination of Ixempra and Xeloda is the most aggressive regiment I can be on right now. The worst side effect of the Ixempra last round was severe all over body pain. I pray there are minimal additional side effects from adding Xeloda. Many people have severe hand and foot burning/peeling on Xeloda. The goal right now is to eradicate all cancer and growth so I can have surgery in June. I have 2 more rounds of chemo and then will have a PET scan mid May to determine if we can move forward with surgery, which would be at MD Anderson.

There is so much to be grateful for these days — our family being covered in prayer by all of you, the meals we’ve received, the cards in the mail and generous gifts, mine and Justin’s family helping in selfless ways. And tonight I am thankful to have felt well enough to go see my children’s school performance. I count that a miracle considering I had chemo yesterday!

Here are specifics on how you can pray:
~Pray for minimal side effects from this cycle as doctors are adding an oral chemo; pray that I would keep my appetite and be able to eat
~Pray for my Mom and Mother-in-law who will be helping with the children this week as I am recovering from chemo
~Pray that God’s Presence would be near, especially on the worst of days; and that I would experience the Peace, Joy, and Hope of Christ
~Pray for perseverance for Justin as he balances taking care of me, being a father and working
~Pray that Christ would be glorified through this and that I will grow to know Him and treasure Him more…that He would be enough for me

Psalm 86:10-12
“For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.”

March 10, 2017

Ixempra has been pretty difficult for me. The past few days I’ve suffered with all over body pain. It’s a combination of all over bone and muscle aches but also shooting pains. I am thankful to be able to eat and that i have not felt nauseous! I’m also counting other blessings today – my mom who helped us all week with the children and that I felt well enough to pick the children up from school today myself. I love being Mommy and one of the hardest parts of this journey are the weeks I am not able to do the regular Mommy things. I’m clinging desperately to God’s promises in His Word; asking them to be real to me in these deep waters. Thank you so much for your prayers and love, we continued to be so overwhelmed with how well we are loved!

Psalm 69:16 “Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.”

March 6, 2017

Dear friends, I continue to be so grateful for your love, prayers and support. I have no doubt that God hears our prayers and is answering in remarkable ways!

Today, Monday March 6, I started a new chemo regiment called Ixempra. This is the chemo that my oncologist at MD Anderson suggested. I will have 4 rounds, every 3 weeks, for a total of 12 more weeks. There is a chance I may have 6 rounds depending on how I tolerate side effects and how my body is responding.

Lexington Oncology rarely administers Ixempra because it is one of the more difficult chemo to handle. Many people suffer from extreme pain at the location of the tumor site during the infusion. I had people praying against that this morning, and PRAISE GOD I did not have any pain at all! Other side effects that are common with this chemo are nausea and neuropathy (extremities feeling like they are tingling and/or losing sensation). 

Today I slept a lot – benadryl and other premeds knocked me out. Right now I’m feeling ok, just tired and still groggy. An extra blessing, I came home to a very clean house, thanks to my mother. She loves and serves us so well!

Here is how you can specifically pray for me in these coming days:
~pray God will protect me from difficult side effects, especially no nausea and that I will be able to eat

~Pray for my Mom and Mother-in-law, who will be helping this week with the children

~Pray for our chidren this week – Samuel, Selah, and Hannah. Opportunities to share about God and His goodness even through suffering

~Pray that I will have joy in the midst of this trial

~Pray for Justin, for perseverance as he balances taking care of me, helping with the children and working

~Pray that the cancer is shrinking and the chemo is eradicating each cancer cell!!!

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

February 24, 2017

Quick update from Houston:
The appointment went well today. Dr Layman was encouraged by how well I’ve responded to chemo based on her physical exam. Thank God she continues to treat me with curative intent, but was realistic about the “high risk” of it returning. We are taking the most aggressive approach. I will begin 4 more rounds of chemo March 6 every 3 weeks… this new chemo cocktail she says is very difficult. I’m resting in the knowledge that God is greater than any high risk and God is able to keep the side effects of the new chemo at bay, if He wills. My sister Elizabeth and friend Courtney are here in Houston with me now and we have some fun things planned over the weekend. More I could say, but just worshipping the Lord for His faithfulness!! Thank you for your prayers today!

February 21, 2017

PRAISE THE LORD!! My CT scan from yesterday was stable. This chemo has stopped the cancer in its tracks, which is exactly what we have hoped it would do. It is difficult to tell exactly how much smaller the cancerous areas are, especially in the breast, due to the post-radiation damage. I’m thankful for an encouraging appointment and no further spread/growth of this very aggressive cancer. Dr. S even prayed with me (!!!), acknowledging the Real Healer of this disease with me which was an incredible blessing. Now looking ahead to my appointment with MD Anderson- headed to Houston tomorrow at 8:30am. Thank you so much for your prayers. Prayer changes things, and I’m grateful you’ve lifted me up!

February 15, 2017

Tomorrow is my fourth chemo this round. As far as I know, it is my last “red devil” treatment. This past cycle was pretty difficult and I struggled with nausea that lingered for almost a week and a half. Also I dealt with fatigue and a near constant metal taste in my mouth. I am thankful that I’ve had a few days to feel normal and do normal things. Even going to the grocery store and cooking dinner is such a treat!

Next Monday I have a CT scan to follow up after the four rounds of chemo. Then Wednesday I head to Houston to follow up with my oncologist at MD Anderson. Likely I’ll start a new regimen of chemo on March 6; probably another 4 rounds of a different cocktail which will be a total of 8-12 weeks. By my estimation I’ll finish early May, then the plan at this time is to do surgery early to mid June. Radiation is still in the plan, but it would be late summer. 

When I fear the future or what awaits me, I must remind myself that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). God is taking me to deeper places with Him, which sometimes means walking through the darkness, believing His promises, seeing only with my eyes of faith and not my eyes of sight. My biggest comfort these past few days has been reading my beloved bible – the bible that has been with me since 2008 , a gift from my parents that Christmas. It’s an ESV Study bible, with excellent study notes. I love the dates and notes I’ve made in the margins. For over 8 years this bible has been my comfort, and has walked with me through joys and sorrows. God uses this bible, and His Word within it to lift up my eyes above my current circumstances and look at His faithfulness over the entirety of my life. In this land that He’s currently brought me to, all I can do is “Dwell in the land and feed on faithfulness.” (Psalm 37:3). So that’s what I’m doing these days…dwelling in this land, and feeding on His faithfulness.

I am so thankful for your continued prayers, love, support, messages, cards, meals, hugs, and words of encouragement.

January 28, 2017

God continues to astound us with His grace along this new cancer journey. This second cycle of chemo has been surprisingly mild; even surprising the nurses and doctors!

So many of you saw the video of my sweet friend Courtney Holland Tipping shaving her head with me. God used her to make what could have been a very sad time into a fun celebration of friendship and solidarity among women. That was one of the sweetest gifts I had ever been given.

I have been getting used to my “new look”. I got fitted for another wig on Friday to wear in public. Until then I will be wearing hats, but they get hot quickly! This whole issue of hair seems so small in the grand scheme of things. 

I have my third cycle of the “red devil” this Thursday, February 2. My fourth cycle will be Feb 16 (my “baby” Hannah’s 5th birthday). I will have a CT Scan on Feb 20 or 21, then Feb 22-27 I will head back to Houston, along with my sister Elizabeth Arnold Fisher and Courtney Holland Tipping. We have some “girly” things planned in addition to my appointments at MD Anderson. This will be such a gift of grace to spend that time with my sister & a friend!

Please continue to specifically pray:
~That the chemo is doing its job and eradicating EVERY SINGLE CANCER CELL from my body!!
~ that the side effects remain tolerable so that I can enjoy life even through chemo
~pray for grace as I continue to get used to not having hair
~pray for a sweet early birthday celebration for Hannah, and wisdom over what exactly we should do (we plan to go out of town the weekend of the 10th to celebrate)
~pray for evidence on the CT scan that the cancer is shrinking
~pray for a fruitful and encouraging visit at MD Anderson Feb 22-27, and sweet bonding time with Elizabeth & Courtney
~pray that even one person would come to know Jesus through this trial
~pray that God would be glorified and that I would stewed this season of suffering well

We are so incredibly blessed by each one of you who is following our journey. Justin and I thank you for your words of support and especially your prayers! We love you!