Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Echo #4 Still I will praise- John

3 My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

4 These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.
6 My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.
8 By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

Yesterday, we received the results from Friday's echo. The report is disappointing, but we are trying to remain hopeful. The echo showed some growth on the tumor in Brittany's heart, as well as 2 additional masses in the heart.  This echo was 6 weeks after the previous one, and is the only time we have seen change since we first found the tumor in early November, 3 1/2 months ago.

As I have already mentioned, we are disappointed by the news.  We are sad and frustrated that this is our reality.  It is a hard reality to face, and is certainly not getting easier over time. Our hearts are deeply saddened, but we are still trying to look for the positives in our current situation.

Today we met with our Oncologist (Dr. Keedy at Vanderbilt...she is wonderful) to get a game plan for treatment.  We are still synthesizing information from the various specialists to generate a comprehensive plan, but it does seem like there are a few key pieces that everyone will agree on.  Step #1 will be to deliver our sweet little baby girl. Currently, it looks like we will deliver in 2-3 weeks, at about 34-35 weeks of pregnancy. We have planned all along to deliver by C-section, so this does not change the delivery plan, only the timing. Step #2 will involve more scans and tests to see if the tumor has spread to any other parts of Brittany's body. Those tests will happen a week after delivery once Brittany has had time to begin to recover. Step #3 will be the start of treatments. We are still looking at using a targeted anti-cancer treatment.  The treatments will start after the scans whenever her heart is stable.

We are most at peace when we approach this time of our lives with baby steps, so right now we are only looking at step #1.  And step #1 is incredible. Praise be to our Lord and King for leading us to this point with his rod and staff. Praise be to God that our baby has grown enough that the doctors feel comfortable delivering our baby now. Praise be to God for his timing; we have had 14 weeks of stable/unchanging condition which has allowed us to progress through pregnancy. Praise be to God for continuing to lead us one step at a time through this very dark place. When we allow our minds to rest in His direction and pace, we find peace. We become troubled when we try to think too many steps ahead. So we are learning to be disciplined in our waiting.

So back to step #1. WE ARE HAVING A BABY in 2 WEEKS!!! We have had showers, prayers, concerts, and at least 10 trips to Babies R Us. We have a nursery like 95% ready to go. We have 4 extremely excited grandparents-to-be, and a mom and dad that cannot wait to hold our bundle of joy. She is kicking and stretching every single day. She belongs to two people that are infinitely committed to the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and she will be born into a family where dad and mom are infinitely committed to each other. We are completely joyous at our current situation and soon to be life change. Step #1 is beautiful...don't you think?

We ask that you continue praying for us during this difficult time. Many have asked us for specific things to pray for. We would like to ask everyone to read Luke 18:1-8 and pray this prayer with us. "God we come to you not because of our own righteousness, but because you are Holy and full of love for Your children. Please give Brittany complete healing from this terrible issue that weighs their family down. Please grant them a safe delivery of their daughter. Please halt this tumor in its tracks never to let it return to her body again. Hear our persistent petitions and do not turn away from us. We ask faithfully with every intention of asking again and again. Amen." We would like everyone to be praying for our team of Doctors: Dr. Roy Burch who shepherds our spirits while attending to our OB needs, Dr. Vicky Keedy who coordinates our care and treatment schedule from an Oncology perspective (she told us today that she prays for us--she is tremendous), Drs. Davis and Slosky who are our Cardiologists, and Dr. Graves who we see every two weeks for high-risk OB. Pray that these professionals will receive God's wisdom and guidance as they have very difficult jobs. Pray that the care we receive from them will be effective and of the highest caliber.

Finally, we would like for everyone to pray that God will be glorified in the work He is doing in us. We are trying our best to--as Brittany puts it-- "not make spectacles of ourselves." We realize that the very nature of our condition puts us largely in the limelight (not to mention this blog), but we only want our lives to be reflections of God's larger work in this world. We feel certain that He is not finished with us and that we are just being led through a dark place for this season of life. We are commanded and encouraged to remain faithful in the waiting. And so we do. We do that exactly. We fall on our knees before Him, and we put our hope solely in His power.

Join us in being like the persistent widow that repeatedly asked for a blessing. Cancer is not an injustice from the hand of God, but it is deeply troubling and remains beneath the feet of God's sovereignty in this world. May He give as we have the boldness and faith to ask.



  1. That was just beautifully written. Praise God for your example. Thank you for your faith. You are truly an inspiration. I know God will take care of you. We will continually pray for you.

  2. Brittany, you are loved and prayed for by so many everywhere. You and John are going to be great parents. (Of course I know you had such a great example set by Scott and Sue Ann????) ;-) I am waiting to see beautiful pictures of this baby girl.

  3. John, I am just reading y'all's story for the first time. I will be thinking and praying for you!!! Congrats on such a strong beautiful wife and a daughter that is sure to be like her!

  4. John! Charlie and I have written out this prayer and posted it throughout our house so we will be reminded to pray every chance we get for you and your wonderful family! :) Much Love.

    1. Awesome idea..will do the same. Thanks Erin.

  5. I continually prayer for strengthening of your spirits and healing for Brittany. Thanks for sharing about your team of docs as I will also hold them up in prayer. In this bittersweet moment, I'm giving praise and thanks for the "sweet" baby girl!

  6. I am a parent to a prek-3 student at ehcs and also an ehcs alumnus (class of '93) and just heard of your blog. i've read through each post and caught up on your story. i'm amazed at your strength and faith through these difficult times. i know it must waiver from time to time, but i want you to know of my constant prayers for you both along with the precious baby you are carrying and expecting to deliver soon. have courage in the days ahead, i feel like God is doing an amazing work in your lives!

  7. "i will praise you in this storm" by casting crowns came on the radio this morning as i drove to work; couldn't help but think of both of you. we might not be in the eye of the storm, but believe me --- all of us that love and care about y'all are feeling the effects of that storm. we're battening down the hatches and will ride it out, praising, for as long as it takes.

  8. Thank you for sharing John and Brittany. To share your deepest feelings in print is sacred and holy. Thank you for allowing "us in". I think of you all constantly.

    "The Lord will give strength to His people, the Lord will bless His people with peace." Psalm 29:11

    From Revelation 5: "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.... Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people."

    We will fill the golden bowls full of incense which will be our prayer for you! Love you!

  9. Praying with you for the Lord's testimony through you and His sufficiency in you!
    Jerry Smith

  10. Dear John and Brittany...I used to work with your dad (Brittany) at Forsyth Head and Neck, and knew you when you were just a little girl.
    Our Lord saw you through your first battle and I am praying for all of you he will get you through this one also. You are in my thoughts and prayers each day thanks to my dear friend Monica making us aware of your situation. God Bless all of you. Priscilla

  11. Dear John & Brittany...know that we are all praying (and have been) for all three of you. We love you and wish nothing but the very best for you in the upcoming weeks. God will be watching out over you (he always has and will this time). It sounds like you have a great team of Docs who trust in the Lord, as well. That is a blessing in itself!! We love you and will be praying for a safe delivery of "sweet baby girl" and will stay updated on your treatments (following them with much prayer to our heavenly Father), God Bless and keep you safe,
    Love, Marty, Ron, Cari & Abbi Leffew

  12. John, your steadfastness is a blessing to me. Your courage and strength rebounding time after time of disappointing news gives so many of us hope as we witness it in you and in Brittany. God bless your decisions as you move forward and may he grant you peace, mercy, and love throughout this journey. Blessings await you with the new little one, and may she only remind you of the strong people you and Brittany are in the way that you face your trials. I love ya, man. Hugs for my friend, Brittany!!