A Miracle in the Making

Cancer…..stinks.  Pure and simple.  There’s hardly a good connotation that derives from hearing the word.  It’s a word that people hate to hear.  And yet, it seems  so commonplace these days.  I know plenty of people who’ve been diagnosed with cancer.  Some have survived.  Some have not.

In March of 2016, Ned (my dad) was diagnosed with Stage 4 Atypical Non-small cell adenocarcinoma in his right lung.  It was found in the fluid of his right lung.   There were no tumors, nothing to pinpoint the source.  It was just there.  His oncologist described it like this, “Imagine an island has fallen off into the ocean and you have no idea where the island came from.”

The prognosis: four months with no treatment. Nine to fifteen months with treatment. It wasn’t lengthy either way! However, if you know Ned, then you know he’s tenacious and determined. His determination wasn’t just for himself. It was also for my Mom. He didn’t want her to have to bury another husband. He felt like she was getting the raw end of the deal. He felt responsible and wanted to fight for her and for himself.

During his first visit with his oncologist, Dr. Navin Anthony, he asked the following question, after formal introductions. “I have one question before we get started. Do you believe in God?”

His response, “Yes, I do.”

To which Ned responded, “Good! I believe that God is going to use you to heal me!”

Ned decided to bring chemotherapy. First, he would need to have a PluerX catheter inserted into his right lung and a port.

About a week after his surgery, he began chemo! The initial treatment began with a three drug round-up. Avastin, Alimta and Carboplatin. These were administered every three weeks.

In May, he began having problems with his vision. A few weeks later, discovered he had a stroke. A stroke caused from Avastin. Therefore, it was dropped from his regimen.

Around the end of June, as we prayed diligently, the fluid production in the ling, stopped. Air began moving completely through his lung. CT scans began showing no visible signs of cancer. It was miracle.

After about six weeks, the PluerX tube was removed. Life was normal, except for every three weeks of treatment, with the chief complaint of tiredness.

On September 28, he had his last round of chemo. From September through April, he enjoyed life. He had some tiredness. Got winded more easily but really began living again.

In April, the CT Chest scan revealed swollen lymph nodes in the mediastinum. A bronchoscopy would reveal the cancer had returned. Ned was not surprised. He hadn’t been feeling up to par. However, it was disappointing and discouraging.

His PD-L1 was a 90% efficiency rate, meaning that made him a perfect candidate for Keytruda. The immunotherapy drug. The rating at 90% indicated that his cancer would most likely respond favorably.

He decided to proceed. He knew the risks and side effects associated with the drug. What we didn’t know is how his body would respond. His body didn’t like Keytruda. He was hyper-sensitive and for him it caused an adrenal insufficiency. After only three treatments, the drug had to be discontinued.

Thus began the downward spiral. It would take hours to write about what happened from August 8 until October 29 and maybe someday I will. Suffice to say, beginning on or around September 6, Ned was in the ER four times in less than six weeks. Three out of the four, he was admitted for hospital stays.

The final admittance was on October 15. For several days, he was unable to keep anything on his stomach, including medicine. His pain and nausea were unbearable. He was pitiful.

By Wednesday, we had already consulted with Dr. Sawyer, the Palliative Care Doctor. She showed great empathy and concern for us, as we talked over events from the past two months. At the end of the conversation, she said she wanted to talk with Ned, alone and also confer with Dr. Anthony.

On Wednesday evening, one of the few times, I wasn’t physically in the room when a doctor was present, Dr Anthony came to talk to Ned. I was privy to hearing the conversation via phone.

On that evening, Ned made it clear that he no longer desired treatment. Dr Anthony told him that he would respect and honor his decision.

In typical Ned fashion he said, “Well, if it’s my time to go. It’s my time to go.”

As Dr Anthony left the room, tears began to flow. I could audibly hear Ned. Then my sister, Kristi, walks out into the hallway, through broken sobs herself and says, “It’s so pitiful watching mom and Ned cry.”

I think Ned knew for awhile that his healing wasn’t going to be here and that he was going to receive the ultimate healing. His body had just worn out. He was tired. He was ready to go home.

I believe, with all of my heart, that Dr Anthony was greatly used by God to bring healing to Ned’s body for almost 19 months. I also believe that Dr Anthony was greatly used by God when he told Ned that he would support any decision he made. He released Ned to the Ultimate Healer. Now, Ned is whole again!

You see, we pray for miracles. They don’t always come packaged the way we want them. But if you believe in God, you are a miracle because He has set your soul free.

I believe in miracles. I believe we see them everyday. I believe sometimes our jaded sense of what a miracle actually is limits us from seeing the whole miracle.

Where I Belong

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139:1-6


We often find ourselves trying vicariously to live our lives through our children. I suppose that’s why God gave me children who have strong wills and independent spirits.  I learned very early on that I would be rearing children, not living my life and dreams through them, helping and guiding them to make wise and sometimes difficult choices.

Matthew has always had a mind of his own. He always made friends easily, but he rarely ever allowed those friends to control his thoughts or emotions. Matthew could think for himself and he was always extremely pertinacious. As he grew older, we talked about the possibility of home-schooling him, but he said to me one day, “Mom, if God can use me to make a difference in one person’s life, then I want to stay in public school. One person is worth it all.” Matthew did, over the next few years, make a difference in the lives of several of his friends.

At the end of Matthew’s sophomore year, he said, “Mom, I want to be in the military. I want to join the Marines and be on the front lines. Don’t bother signing me up for the SAT or ACT. I’m not going to college.”

My first through was, “Sure thing, Buddy. You’re only 15 and likely to change your mind in a few months.”  Besides, what 15 year old could possibly know he wants to fight on the frontline for his country?

While he spent the next year talking, I ignored him, until the start of his Senior year and he was still talking about it. I called his dad and told him Matthew’s plan, needless to say, he was not a happy camper. Having served in the Navy and knowing the potential Matthew possessed, he convinced Matthew to talk with a Navy recruiter.  Only after lengthy discussions with the recruiter, did Matthew decide the Nuclear program in the Navy best suited him

After Matthew’s decision was made, I really didn’t think it was what he wanted to do; however, as he focused more on the Navy, his excitement accelerated. His hope was to go in immediately after graduation; however, due to the economy the Navy had a significantly higher number of recruits; so, he would have to wait a year. While he was disappointed, it also gave him more time to spend with friends and family and also take a 3 ½ week trip to Europe. The wait also made him more eager to join. At that point, my reluctance and disbelief in his choice diminished.

If there were any doubt left in me, I definitely had closure, if any doubt remained, when Matthew wrote the following words,  “I just want you to know that joining the Navy was the best decision I have ever made. I have definitely found where I belong.” (Letter from Matthew, dated 11 July 2010) Wow! The words resonated my heart and soul, my precious boy has found his calling. I don’t think there is any greater feeling of accomplishment that a mother can feel when she knows that her children are where they belong.



Just a little more….

When Jason Aldean released, “A little more summertime,” I’ll bet he had no idea that a woman would well up in tears at the thought of her baby girl leaving for college.  The song triggered every emotion in me. Every stinking time I heard that song, I found myself wishing for just a little more.

The previous years had always been in anticipation of the next year.  Excitement about the beginning of tennis season, football games, Yogurt World, track meets and more track meets and more track meets.

Last year, especially around this time, I found myself looking back and wanting more, wishing it would last just a little bit longer.  Wishing it didn’t have to end.  It did have to end and I knew it.  I just didn’t want it to end.

It’s really paradoxical in a way because for years leading up to Amy’s graduation, I always told people how excited I would be to send her off to college.  Not that I was trying to shove her out of the house, I just knew she was ready and I knew we had prepared her to leave.  I was thrilled about it.  Then something very strange and quite unexpected happened, I began to feel sad.

The first time it hit me was during Homecoming.  She was crowned Homecoming Queen and I realized that would be the last time I would see her on the football field in a dress.  I really didn’t think too much about it but then it happened again at the end of tennis season.  I was washing her uniform after the final tennis match and an overwhelming sadness washed over me like a tidal wave.  Again, I brushed it aside.  Time and again, after every thing ended, I found myself with this empty feeling in my gut.  I wanted more.  Just one more.  One more tennis match, one more track meet, one more year…..

Finally, one day over the summer I found myself seeing memories of Amy in everything that belonged to her.  Everything I saw I could associate with some memory and then the longing in the pit of my stomach for just one more.  It was strange.  It wasn’t like I dwelt on these things or even looked for things to trigger memories.  It just happened. Kind of took me by surprise.  I definitely had not planned nor prepared for such crazy feelings.

Right before she left for college, Terry and I were having a conversation.  Our famous morning coffee talk. (I highly recommend these if you don’t already have them with your spouse or significant other)  I was just sharing with him all the crazy I was feeling.  He knew most of it but I kept saying, “I just keep wanting one more.”

He looked at me and said, “You can’t have one more.  Besides, if you had one more it would never be as good as the first time around.  Think about it.  She had a fantastic year this past year.  If you did it all over again, it would never be the same.  The outcome would be different.  Instead of feeling sad that it’s over be happy that you got to be a part of it.”

He was right.  I knew it.  I hate when he’s right.  His nugget of wisdom proved to be the best advice I received.  It’s not really what I wanted to hear.  It’s what I needed to hear. I needed to quit pining for the past, I needed to take joy and delight in my experiences with her and begin to look forward to her new adventure.

For those of you who’ve been there, you may have walked a similar path.  Maybe not.  Some of you are there, right in the thick of it.  Let me encourage you, enjoy every single moment you can.  Relish it.  Cling to it.  Embrace it.  Know soon and very soon, you’ll have to give them wings to fly.  You will be ok and so will they.  For some it will come with ease and others it will take time.  Don’t be hard on yourself if it takes you a little longer.  Just remember:  you can’t turn back the hands of time.  Time marches on and so must we.