Life since the bad news

So we kind of dropped a bomb here then left you all hanging. That was unintentional. We have had a lot of peace since finding out, which is entirely the holy spirit. I’ve also noticed a very direct correlation with my time with Jesus and my attitude or outlook. When I spend time with him, I’m good and at peace. When I don’t, my patience runs out really quick and I’m more likely to focus on the negative and be upset. Reminds me of the vision we got at Crossroads about keeping our eyes on the harbor  and not on the storm.

So it turns out that when you have cancer and it’s not surgically removed, it hurts and is very uncomfortable. This is a first for me, because in the past they’ve always been able to take it out. I’ve been seeing pain team to keep the pain and discomfort under control, which has been great, but also it has made me exhausted. I could sleep 24 hours a day and still be tired when I woke up. Scott keeps finding me sleeping sitting up. They’ve also given me Ritalin to help me stay awake, so when there is a day I really want to be up and alert for, that has been helpful.

Along with the pain, another struggle has been shortness of breath. It is worst in the morning before my pain meds soak in. I move slowly. I told Scott I wasn’t going to judge slow walkers anymore. Right before we left for vacation they drained 650mL of fluid off my right lung, and that has helped tremendously. It helped with the shortness of breath, and also took away the pain I had when I hiccuped, which was bad enough that I had to yell out in pain.

The past 2 times we’ve had labs drawn, the tumor marker has leveled off an stayed the same, which is good. It was going up by 10 every time we had it drawn (weekly). We get more labs drawn tomorrow along with a CT to check on how much change there has been since the initial scans. We are obviously hoping for complete healing, but at least would like for it to be less or staying the same.

In other news, we are going to visit MD Anderson in Houston to see what options and trials they have available. We will call tomorrow to make an appointment. They have been working closely with our doctors on my case, so we feel good about that, and we can rent a car and go visit Magnolia Market in Waco. So I’m pretty excited about that.

Our friends have started another page to help us out financially with another deductible around the corner, and travel expenses for our consult in Texas. and we are so blown away by everyones generosity. If you gave, know that Scott and I could not thank you more. From the bottom of our hearts it means the world to us. It is one less stressor to worry about. Speaking of that, you all have taken such good care of us as far as meals go. We have not had to worry about dinner for weeks now, and really haven’t had to go to the grocery store. Which is especially great for Scott, because everything is sort of falling on him around here these days. He is the best. He serves me non stop and without complaining. I am so blessed to be married to him.

One thing that repeatedly keeps showing up as a theme around  here is that God has big plans up his sleeve. So many people, including those we know, and those who are just hearing our story for the first time, are telling us that God has pressed it on their hearts that God has healing in store here, and that this isn’t the end. We feel the same way. We are trusting Him for big things over here, and whichever way he chooses to answer our prayers for healing, He is still good. In Daniel when the 3 Israelites were about to be thrown into the furnace they said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Dan 3:17-18). So we are over here, fully confident that God can and will heal. But in the same breath, if He chooses not to, we know He is good and that He loves us, so we can trust his plans, even if we hate that plan. I just finished reading Tim Keller’s book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, and I have to recommend it to anyone who has ever struggled with the idea of suffering, or anyone that is walking through suffering themselves. One of the things he said, and I believe to the core of me is, “Instead he gives us what we would have asked for if we had known everything he knows.” I know it seems like stretch to say I’d ask for this, but it’s also a stretch to say that I understand the unfolding of history better than He does. My favorite example was when he talked about Jesus hanging on the cross, what the people around watching must be thinking.

“But then, there you are at the cross with the few of his disciples who have the stomach to watch. And you hear people say, “I’ve had it with this God. How could he abandon the best man we have ever seen? I don’t see how God could bring any good out of this.” What would you say? You would likely agree. And yet you are standing there looking at the greatest, most brilliant thing God could ever do for the human race.”

So that’s about it for now over here. Please be praying for scans tomorrow, and pray for this coming weekend, we have a friend who is a part of a healing prayer ministry coming to pray over Scott and I. We know without a doubt that Jesus can heal, we are praying that he will. Oh man, I can’t not include this.. Scott and I went to the beach this past week (blog with photos in the near future), and while we were gone two different friends showed up to surprisingly clean our house. The first was such a surprise, Scott didn’t even know it was happening, so when my friend Shannon came getting his approval, she showed up to a pretty clean house:)But how sweet? She also stocked our freezer with meals (Thanks Shannon and Bob and Jeana and Owen!). Then we got back home, and my old bible study from Lexington came to hang out and love on me on Sunday. It was glorious. We just relaxed, talked, they made me delicious smoothies, they prayed for me, we all cried, and they drove all the way back to Lexington. I’ll leave a photo below from that:)Thanks for sticking with this especially long update if you’ve made it this far!

lauren almost due | reagan 18 months

My co-worker Lauren asked me to take some maternity photos before the new baby came, and it just so happened to be near Reagan was 18 months, so it was perfect timing for a little photo session. We went to my new favorite place to take pictures. A little park in Covington KY called George Rogers Clark Park. It was beautiful. Reagan loved exploring, I essentially followed her around as she scoped out the place. Here are my favorites:)


the offills | baby on the way

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to take pregnancy announcement photos for my coworker. So exciting! Annie asked me to take photos to help with their announcement to family and friends. I drove out to their home and took a few sweet photos. I’ve had to keep these to myself until they shared their announcement, so I’m excited to share my favorites with you! Enjoy!

Worst news

I have absolutely no idea how or where to start this. Scott and I got as bad of news as you can get. We had labs and scans this past week. Tumor marker lab was up to 33, MRI showed more evidence of cancer. Not in it’s usual form of small masses, but in sheets lining the peritoneum and that had travelled up past the diaphragm by my lung. In this form, surgery is not an option. We are also looking at a 2 week separation from when the tumor marker was 8, so it’s a very aggressive and fast growing cancer.

We found this out on the last day of oral chemotherapy, and so because of that we knew that those drugs were not working, and because of my past history and the way this tumor keeps evolving, we know that no chemotherapy is probably going to touch it. We also know that radiation did not touch it. So surgery, chemo, and radiation being off the table, we are left with clinical trials and targeted immune therapies. All of this is really hard to swallow, but one thing I love, and I mean this, is that when all of our options are essentially off the table, it sets the perfect stage for God to do his thing. (Can I just say real quick that multiple friends texted me without knowing when this was going down saying God had me heavy on their hearts?)

As of yesterday the plan was to get me into a clinical trial in Columbus. My docs called this morning and said that I don’t qualify for those, but then presented me with alternate plans, and what we’re going to do is essentially do the same thing that the trial would do but at Childrens and starting tomorrow. The only difference is the drug I will get is a cousin of the one the trial is testing. And that combined with the IV “chemo” that I was planning on getting before all of this. The thing we really love is that a trial would necessitate a 3 week treatment break, and this way we can start now. With how fast this thing is growing, I am all about that. And I get to stay at Childrens. So we are all on board with this.

All of these things, the goal is to slow growth and shrink the cancerous areas. There is still a lot of research going on behind the scenes, that hopefully we will learn things from along the way. A tiny mouse somewhere has my tumor and is getting lots of drugs thrown at it to see how it responds. Which sounds sad, but I think is kind of cool (sorry to all my animal loving friends). A doctor in Michigan wants me to take a supplement that is being studied for use in these tumors, when I looked up what it was, turns out frankincense is derived from it, and I am all about the essential oils, so I’m ok with that. You can get it at GNC so that’s also great. I would be the first human test subject, but as it’s a supplement people take anyway, why the heck not?

So back up to yesterday, it was a really hard day. Lots of tears is an understatement. I didn’t even walk around visiting friends in clinic, I actually hid in my room, even asking my doc for a warm blanket instead of venturing out to get one myself. Man, we love our team there. We are so blessed by them. We left the hospital and headed to our church, which thankfully is only 15 min from the hospital. We had a group pray over us, and it was so great. I mean like I used 8,000 tissues, but great. A few things stand out about that. One of the men on the prayer team said he got a vision while we were praying (my favorite when that happens). He said he saw Scott and I on a boat out at sea and we were heading toward the harbor, outrunning a storm behind us. He said that God told him we need to keep our eyes on the harbor, because looking back at the storm leads to danger of hitting rocks on the way in. I love that because it’s saying we need to lock our eyes on Jesus, because he is our safety. It does not help drowning in the sadness and craziness that is this storm.

A few people shared some verses that were super encouraging, and at one point, one of them even looked up the Hebrew meaning of my name. Jenna in Hebrew means “God is gracious”. I mean, come on. That couldn’t be any more perfect. Mom and Dad, you thought I was Jenna because you liked the name. God was thinking other things. They talked about how my life was a banner flying for how gracious our God is. Just. I can’t even.

Scott and I read through the story of the bleeding woman and dying daughter in all 3 accounts in the gospels last night (given to us to read by the crossroads prayer team). Two people with stories we can deeply relate to, and Jesus right in the middle of both of their stories doing his thing, even when it didn’t make sense to the man who wanted to rush home to his daughter.

This morning I opened to Isaiah, which I’ve been reading through. And by reading through, I haven’t read it in like a month, but I had stopped at chapter 38, so when I picked up there today it was clear that God used my procrastination for sure. King Hezekiah was pleading and weeping with God after hearing a death sentence, and 38 flows into 40, which is filled with God’s comfort for his people. Perfect.

So in all of our experience with cancer, we’ve leaned heavily on God for sure, but we also were on familiar ground, where there is a certain amount of floating through easily involved. Not to say we floated through easily, but hopefully you get what I’m saying. This time Jesus is literally our only lifeline. It is a scary place to be, but also what a freaking blessing?

We are still really heartbroken over here, but have peace today. Only Jesus can bring peace in these situations. My peace doesn’t rest in treatment plans, but in the God who put skin on and suffered so that He can live with me and in me and fight for me. He is good.

Healing or not, He is good. If you would pray with us, we are praying for the miraculous that only He can do, the healing only He can give at this point. And whoever is praying peace over us, keep it up. It’s working.

daylan | senior 2016

Last but not least for our senior triplet photo session is Daylan. Poor Daylan, like any boy, did not want his photos taken. He also did not feel good, but he was a trooper. We squeezed him in during the girls photos, so he does not have as many as them, but I’m pretty s sure he is ok with that. I didn’t want to leave him out of the blog posting, so here are my favorite of his! Plus a little extra fun ones from the night. Enjoy! Keep on scrolling for the girls posts!

f a c e b o o k