Most Recent Update:
MAR 12 • 2019
Video 5 • How we’re honoring the miracle // It's been 3 months / 12 weeks since my cancerous tumor was removed. Here are 3 reasons I've been quiet and how you can be praying over our next steps.
See all updates in the timeline below…
timeline from the beginning:
NOV 15 - NOV 26 • 2018
A growth developed on my neck // Toward the end of my pregnancy with Milly (mid-April), I noticed a slightly swollen lymph node on the left side of my neck (barely noticeable to others). With wacky hormones at that time, we chalked it up to a lymph node doing its lymph node duties. It didn’t grow or cause pain.
The slew of appointments began // Seven months later (11/15/18), I had an appointment with a General Practitioner as soon as it started bulging out (noticeable by others). It was only slightly tender, like a bruise. The GP took a blood test and ordered a CT scan, just to shed light on what was going on in there. Within days, I had additional blood tests, a CT scan, a consult with an Ears Nose Throat Specialist, and a needle biopsy taken (11/26/18) from what was now being called a “neck mass.”
Nov 30 • 2018
I got the “you have cancer” phone call // The ENT must have thought I was in total denial due to my positive response… He had actually said, “they think it’s cancer” to ease the blow to me, and I clung to that, thinking “they” were still considering options to be further tested. Plus, I knew God had unfulfilled promises over my life and He’s WAY BIGGER than any diagnosis, so I was confident and calm immediately. (We had a few days before this to consider responses to good news or bad news after the biopsy, and knew I’d need surgery either way.)
First prayer for healing // A couple hours after the call though, emotions started to set in a little more and my husband and I definitely needed a faith boost in our wandering thoughts. Our friend Chris (and greatest prayer warrior we know) prayed SO powerfully over us, speaking life and healing into me, protection over my body and declaration & dominion over every disobedient cell. Chris claimed healing in the name of Jesus, encouraging us to continue to do so on our own.
We began sharing with our families // With every text message and phone call, the story felt more “real” (especially with those who had brushes with cancer in their past).
DEC 3 • 2018
“Now what?” conversations with ENT // As the ENT began to shed more light on the serious nature of my situation, we spoke about possible causes to the “cancer spread cells” they found in my neck. Since it couldn’t have originated there, he had lots of questions. We were then reminded of a mole on my left ear I had during Milly’s pregnancy (late February) that got bigger and then went completely back down. He took a look at it and knew right away it had to be melanoma—likely the cause of the neck mass, especially in such close proximity. A mole biopsy was taken to verify with the lab.
DEC 4 • 2018
Tears & prayers with our small group // We’ve had a small group from our church meeting at our home every week for over a year. They are family to us! We shared my diagnosis with them, and upon noticing how teary & concerned they were for us, we assured them we were not scared or sad! We told them we were praising the Lord for this assignment that would bring Him glory and were confident it was just a set-up for a miracle, meant to show off God’s power and love to many. We all cried a little together and they prayed over our entire family, kids and all. Their support felt like a rally; the assembling of a wall of protection around us.
DEC 7 - DEC 11 • 2018
Video 1 • God will use any platform He sees fit // At the last-minute, before heading out the door for my MRI brain scan (12/7/18), I had a gut-feeling I couldn’t ignore to record my first ever video to be posted online. I did not rehearse it and had no idea what I was going to say, but I’m SO GLAD I went through with it! I was flabbergasted when it got almost 3K views in 3 days and the engagement, comments and direct messages/conversations from it were astounding. I heard from people I’ll never meet in my life who were touched by my response, inspired in their faith, and prompted to pray. God was certainly using it! Plus, the encouragement I received propelled me confidently through both the MRI brain scan and full-body PET scan (which would be checking for cancer spread and origination anywhere in my body).
An army of prayer warriors fighting // By 12/11/18, I had word from well over a thousand people (conservative estimate) who were praying and even fasting for me from around the world! There were whole churches, prayer gatherings, healing prayer centers, work places, social media communities, kids, strangers, neighbors, family members and best friends all praying for my healing. I was a puddle of joyful tears every day; I had indescribable peace and strength.
Neck mass growth // Between the day of the neck biopsy (11/26/18) and 12/11/18, my neck had bulged even more. It was starting to feel like a golf ball in the palm of my hand. I’m not sure if it was enlarging due to the agitation of the three needle biopsies, focus of my thoughts on it, the stress of the situation, or just due to all the prayers beginning to be answered (God is fully capable of pulling all the problem cells into one, tidy spot, encapsulated by a tumor!).
DEC 12 • 2018
“Good news” before surgery // The ENT checked in with my husband and I in the pre-op room to inform us that not only was my PET scan from the day before completely clear of any cancer (outside the known neck mass), but also that the melanoma on my ear had come back as “not melanoma.” Wait, whatttt??!? That’s AMAZING! But to him, this opened more questions than answers and he was wary about what he’d find during surgery.
Ear and neck surgery // The ENT and his surgical team performed a half dissection of my neck (a 5-inch incision from front center to back center) to remove the tumor and 55 lymph nodes. Extensive scraping was done to remove the mass from my nerve (that controls arm/scapular movement above my shoulder). I was given a neck drain to aid in recovery. They went ahead and preventively removed the rest of the mole area as well and reconstructed my ear. Everything was sent to pathology for testing and analysis. I was in the operating room for almost 6 hours and spent a couple hours in recovery before heading to a hospital room.
Side note: I was able to shrug my shoulders and raise my elbow to my ear on the OR table when coming out of anesthesia and the surgical team clapped & expressed their relief—with the amount of scraping they had to do on the nerve, they weren’t sure that would be possible. PRAISE!
DEC 13 - DEC 14 • 2018
Video 2 • Miracle report // I couldn’t wait to update everyone who had been following my story—surely that amazing news would reassure their faith and prove they had been part of a miracle, or at least given a front row seat to one. In Jesus’s name, I declare, NO MORE CANCER!!! The ENT visited to check on me and remind me that we’re not out of the woods yet—the pathologists would need to confirm and we needed to talk about preventive cancer treatments either way, BUT I’m still confident.
My husband is SuperDad // While I was on the road to surgery recovery at the hospital attached to machines, IVs and drains, my husband was executing the greatest Dad feat of our parenthood journey thus far. He was carting our son Elias (2yrs and 7mos) and exclusively breastfed [and strong-willed, adorable] daughter Milly (almost 7mos) back and forth from Elias’s daycare, through the hospital parking garage, to my room, to his daycare, to home, and back and home again each day + getting them to sleep and managing their emotions & needs on top of his own. It was tough on ALL of us, but I’m so grateful for Chad’s heart and ability and confidence to be the best he could be for our kids.
Healing, but broken // Sure, it was hard for me to sleep, my throat was sore from the breathing tube, and my stiffness, numbness and healing incisions caused discomfort, but my mama heart was broken! Our baby girl refused to drink breastmilk from bottles the entire time I was gone. I’m so thankful I could nurse her the day after surgery in my hospital bed (almost 27 hours after I had last nursed her at the sitter’s house) and each time she visited with Chad after that. Bedtimes were exceptionally challenging—I FaceTimed in the second night. And cried (understatement). Elias was scared, stressed and confused. Milly was teething and not sleeping without nursing. Chad was exhausted. I felt isolated and unable to help. BUT we all survived and will rise stronger from the experience!
DEC 14 - DEC 19 • 2018
Home from the hospital // On 12/14/18, less than 48 hours after surgery, I was released from the hospital! Although I still had my neck drain in and was unable to lift anything over ten pounds (including my 16-pound baby girl), at least I was in the same room as my husband, able to nurse and able to soak in all the toddler cuddles I wanted.
Worship like never before // On 12/16/18, four days after surgery and only 16 days after learning there were cancerous cells in my body, I was able to be in church. There really wasn’t going to be anything that would keep me from being there in the front row—I had just a FEW things to praise the Lord for that day! Ha! I wept as I sang out at the top of my lungs and as my sore throat allowed, with both arms WAY up in the air in praise to God, my Jehovah Rapha (Healer)!
Incredible support and meals for dayyyyys // For real, there was a MealTrain that was set up for us that filled up in only a couple days by the most generous and gracious friends. From December 13 through January 10th (including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day), we had people dropping off hot dinners for our family. Each time we were able to share in-person all that God was doing through this journey, express our gratitude for the part they were playing, and receive their encouragement and hugs, too. During the day times, I had women coming over to sit with me for hours to assist me, allow Chad to catch up on work (and sleep!), lift Milly to me and change/rock her when needed, to go grocery shopping with me, rough-house with Elias and so much more. I now fully understand the phrase, “my cup runneth over.”
DEC 20 • 2018
Post-op with ENT and removal of stitches & drain // We were thrilled to hear that my incisions were healing up well enough to have the stitches and drain out. I was still experiencing lots of normal tingling, full numbness, stiffness, some bruising and limited range of motion. I’ll likely regain most of my function / feeling over the coming year or more as the nerves are remapping and scar tissue forms and reduces. The ENT shared he was confident they successfully removed all they could during surgery, and although the preliminary pathology showed traces of some type of cancer in only one of the 55 lymph nodes, he was still referring me to the oncology, radiology and dermatology teams for consultations regarding my continuing treatment plan.
DEC 22 • 2018 - JAN 6 • 2019
Video 3 • Miracles don’t make sense, medically // In this video (12/22/18), I updated our “army of support” with the ENT’s feedback. “There must be microscopic levels of melanoma somewhere in your body that our scans just can’t pick up. That’s the only medical explanation for why you had cancer spread cells in your neck.” We’ll go to these consults for treatment plans with open minds, but will also be looking into some alternative options.
Relax to enjoy the holidays // The meals, prayers, support and encouragement were still coming strong and consistently. Instead of adding any worry or stress to our lives over research and “what ifs,” we committed to just relax and enjoy the holidays as a family, soaking in the fullness and love of the season. And, huge shoutout to my youngest sister who surprised me by flying to my house in North Carolina from Michigan on Christmas Day! We loved her week long visit (and assistance while Elias’s daycare was closed for Christmas break).
JAN 7 - JAN 16 • 2019
Enjoying the present and planning for the future // It’s been only five short weeks since my cancer diagnosis. I’m reading so much about the power of belief and positive thoughts, as well as meditation for healing your body. All of this has helped me reprioritize what’s most important in my life. So, Chad and I took a much-needed, kid-free date night out and have begun setting goals and plans for the new year. We declare 2019 a year of FREEDOM and LIFE and commit to make it so.
I’ve been in ‘the matrix,’ learning as much as possible // My pathology is still not final; it was sent out to yet another party, this time for genetic testing. Yet, without proof of what we’re actually dealing with, they want our decision to move forward with one year of IV immunotherapy and six weeks of radiation therapy (both of which have terrible, life-long, incredibly destructive side effects). We’re questioning everything… I feel like Neo these days, walking around with my eyes and perspective wide open to a whole new world, plugging in to research, studies, books and online resources I had never heard of before on topics ranging from medicine, holistic treatments, diet, lifestyle, psychology, science, anatomy and more. My motivation? Survival. Wellness. True health. Thriving life, cancer-free.
JAN 17 • 2019
Video 4 • Chad’s thank you // It’s been a “whole family” diagnosis and it will be a “whole family” healing journey, too. We’re so grateful to all who have encouraged, strengthened and inspired us during a hard season. Thank you so much!
JAN 19 • 2019
We launched this website // I have no idea why so many have followed this story of ours, nor will I ever learn why this story is ours to live. I do know, that since it’s introduction, I’ve witnessed lives change for the better (mine included)—many have been pointed to Jesus, many have changed their perspectives, many have been inspired to better health, many have exercised their relationship with God on a new level and thousands have witnessed prayers being answered. Relationships have been restored, lines of communication have been opened and strength has been summoned from the depths. To God be allllll the glory; this sacrifice has been more than worth it. Apparently there is an audience I have been called to speak to, and I will rise to the calling. By God’s grace, may you be blessed by the words, resources and perspective within these pages. To be continued!
MAR 12 • 2019
Video 5 • How we’re honoring the miracle // It's been 3 months / 12 weeks since my cancerous tumor was removed. Here are 3 reasons I've been quiet and how you can be praying over our next steps. (Video can be viewed here »)