Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Retrospective and Some Explanations

Celebration- A Retrospective

The problem with having a blog is that you have to write in it pretty consistently in order for it to fulfill its purpose, something which I apparently really struggle with doing.  But I do want to tell you about the 2 weeks we had between the last 2 blog entries, because they were amazing!  We had a few baby showers with various groups of people- family, friends, coworkers, church family, and a combination of all of the above.  About 3 weeks ago we had almost nothing for the baby except some Tennessee outfits, a Harding onesie, and a stuffed animal or two courtesy of our parents and kind friends.  Today I am happy to tell you that we are 98% ready for sweet little baby girl to be here thanks to the outpouring of love and support from our friends and family.  I really can't tell you what it means to me for people to provide for us the things that we need... I feel so often like I am overwhelmed to the breaking point with what all is happening in our lives, and to not have to worry about gathering the supplies we will need (and researching all the supplies we will need, because that's part of who I am thanks to my dear old dad) is an amazing blessing.  So for all the support we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  And to all of our friends and family who organized such amazing showers for us- you're really awesome :)

Great friends and shower hostesses!!

At our Ezell-Harding shower

We had 4 showers in the course of about 3 weeks.  Of course I was excited leading up to these events, but I did not realize how much good it would do me to spend so much time in celebration.  Just celebrating the amazing and countless blessings that God has already given us gave me a renewed spirit of thankfulness and gratitude.  Daily I make an effort to realize and appreciate the ways that God had blessed my life, but through the time of celebration that was my constant mindset- overwhelming gratitude!!  Not sadness or despair or worry, simply thankfulness.  And what a blessing it was to be able to wake up feeling showered in new mercies and not having to search for them.  It was a wonderful reminder to me that God is bigger than what I see in my everyday.  And most of all it was an excellent reminder to me of how The Lord works in his people to show who he is. Amazing.  May I not ever forget the value of celebrating the blessings I have already been given.

We also had a "prayer shower" where a few people from our church and small group put together a cryptic evening of unknown events in our honor.  I did not know what a prayer shower was and was honestly sliiiightly concerned that it would be one of those times like a Wednesday night home Bible study in college where 60 people are packed into a room and it gets really warm and you know you would get a lot out of the study if you would listen but all the people in there make it so warm that you can't help but sleep through the whole thing... it was NOT like that.  Andrew Peterson was there to play us some of our favorite songs in a night of music and celebration with 10 of our small group friends.  Andrew Peterson is a Christian folky singer that John and I have each been listening to for the last 10+ years, and there he was sitting in our friends' living room telling us the stories behind the songs and singing with/for us.  If I could go back and tell my 8th grade self that would happen, my 8th grade self would think my 25 year old self was the coolest individual on the planet.  Apparently he has read the blog, so shout out to you Andrew Peterson for giving us another reason to celebrate.  Check out his music here.  And for any other celebrities reading this blog, I ask you to please reveal yourselves.  Shout out to Amy Poehler if you are reading, you're hilarious.  Big thanks to our friends who arranged the best "prayer shower" ever.

With Andrew Peterson at our "prayer shower"

Sweet Little Baby Girl News

We still haven't picked a name, so she remains sweet little baby girl until she gets here... in 2 weeks.  That's right, we have a date!  March 14 we will welcome our little girl.  I will be exactly 34 weeks pregnant.  Which is 2 weeks earlier than I guessed she would be coming, and 6 weeks earlier than most babies (40 weeks is total length of pregnancy usually).  My team of doctors moved the date up after the last echo as a precaution and so I can get started with treatment sooner.  So we will have a baby here with us in just a few short days.  And we could not be happier :)  The nursery is not done yet, but it is on its way.  I will put pictures up as soon as we've finished.  34 weeks is late enough in the pregnancy that we will hopefully avoid many of the problems that can arise due to prematurity.  I think back to a time in this journey when doctors were speculating whether or not the baby would make it, and 34 weeks sounds like a marvelous blessing straight from the hand of God.  Please be praying that our early baby will have a safe delivery and will be healthy and developed enough to thrive once she is here.  


Yes, so I realize that I haven't been particularly clear about what the "treatment" is going to be for the cancer.  There is a new class of anti-cancer drugs that have been approved or are being studied for a variety of different cancers, including the type of sarcoma I have.  It's not classic chemotherapy that kills all the cells that divide rapidly in the body like tumor cells.  This class of medicine blocks certain cell signaling pathways that the tumor relies on to grow and obtain a blood supply, and can halt tumor growth or even shrink the mass.  So it's a targeted tumor-blocking therapy.  There are two drugs in this class being studied with my sarcoma, the more studied of which is called sunitinib or Sutent.  It is a pill that is taken by mouth every day in a 6 week cycle of 4 weeks on, 2 weeks off.  The side effect profile is different than chemotherapy as well, but is still substantial.  This is one of the only medications that has shown to be effective at reducing tumor growth in ASPS, and it is relatively new.  

My mom would tell you that she has been praying for an effective medicine since I was 3.  So we see this as a hopeful option!  Pray that God can work through this medication.  My prayers are often contradictory- in the same breath I ask God "Please Lord heal me by the power of your hand and let there be no tumor on the next echo" and then I ask "God you see all and your plan is better than my own, so use whatever methods you choose to heal me" and then I ask "God please use this medicine to heal me."  This is classic Romans 8:26- I don't know what God wants me to pray for, but the Holy Spirit prays for me in groanings that can't be expressed by words.  My words are inadequate to describe to God what I want to pray for, and even then I am not always sure what I should be praying for, so I just pray for all of it and know the Holy Spirit has my back.  

So anyway, it's not chemotherapy and I won't be in the hospital while taking it, and it's not a multi-drug regimen but just one drug.  It's not your classical idea of cancer therapy, so that's why I just call it "treatment."  It's simpler.


I'm almost done.  I mentioned before that I was supposed to graduate in December from PA school but was unable to since we found the tumor in November.  I finished my clinical in December and am only lacking a 1 credit hour course to complete my graduation requirements.  Thanks to the faculty and administration at my school, I have been working on that course online and am nearly finished.  I completed the "classroom" portion of the course and passed the tests on the material.  Now I have 2 cumulative exams left to take before I will have rightly earned the hood and tassel that are sitting in my closet.  The written exam I will take next week.  The practical exam was scheduled for March 15... so we've postponed for now :)  I am so thankful for Harding's PA program and for the way they have enabled me to complete the degree I have worked so hard for.  Thank you all.


How are we coping with everything that is going on?  Good question, complex answer.  On the one hand we are sad and disappointed and scared when we think about the reality that we are constantly living in.  We have not lost hope, we have not lost faith, we have not stopped praying.  We still believe there is a miracle waiting for us.  So that's one feeling.  At the same time we are living day by day, one step at a time.  Step 1 is having a baby, and we have been spending joyous time preparing for step 1.  One day at a time makes the reality manageable.  One day is accomplishable, two days is possible.  Three days is too much.  So we live each day in the moment we have been given and are thankful for strength enough for that day alone.  So that's the other side of the coin.  We fluctuate between the two, but try to remain fixed on the manageable and hopeful as much as possible.  Make sense?  I hope so, because I think that is about as best as I can explain it.

We've been so blessed by the response to our request for a specific prayer- seeing it on your doors and in your homes is an amazing display of your support and love for us.  You people are just amazing.  We love the encouragement you send us. Please don't stop praying bold prayers for our family.  We serve a great and mighty God who is glorifying himself in our lives everyday.



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  2. Ahhhh a sweet baby girl next week?!?! Yayyy!! Im so happy for you both =) I will continue to pray for you all! love you.

  3. Might be a silly question but will these new treatments allow you to breastfeed? Of course it doesn't matter as long as your sweet baby girl is alive and well, but I was just curious how they would affect that.

    Covering your family in prayer this week!!!

    1. No breast feeding while on the treatment. Disappointing for sure.

      Thank you for the prayers!

    2. I'm currently prepping for a mastectomy and have likewise been disappointed over not being able to continue breastfeeding. My wise mother-in-law has reminded me that while breastfeeding may be the "ideal"... it is far more ideal for her to have her mommy!