Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Another Echo and Life Moving Forward

Yesterday I had another echo that showed no tumor growth!!

This is the best news we could have hoped for other than hearing that the tumor had regressed on its own.  It is astounding to me that a tumor in such a strange place has remained virtually the same size over a 6 month period (except for that little blip where it grew and then regressed!).  What a blessing and sigh of relief.  Our prayer has been that God would grant us more of the normalcy that we have been experiencing the last few weeks, and he has responded with a resounding "YES!"

Now we will go to monitoring the tumor with echoes every 3 months- so my next test is in August.  I will also have some more body scans to make sure it hasn't spread to the chest, abdomen, or pelvis.  3 month follow ups, can you believe it?!?  6 months ago I was a pregnant 24 year old with a scary tumor in my heart (a scary place) with little certainty of what the future would hold.  I prayed constantly for my life and for my teeny tiny baby's life, just that we would make it.  I wondered so many times if that little 15 week old fetus would live, or if I would live to see her. 

Well look at us now!!!  Same ol tumor, healthy baby, healthy me, and follow ups every 3 months- all without being on any cancer treatment.  THAT is amazing you guys.  

And to add to the good news, I graduated last week!

We drove down to Searcy, AR so I could take my last practical exam.  Little miss Carley Jean did reasonably well on her first road trip.  As well as an infant who is still eating every three hours can do.  We were in town for less than 48 hours, but were so encouraged to see friends and our church family there.  We left with our cups completely full from so many having poured joy into us all weekend.  And what a relief to be done with my masters degree!!  That's right, this girl is officially a Physician Assistant!!  A few weeks ago someone asked me how much school I had left, and a friend quickly replied "She has about 5 minutes left!"  I thought that was pretty accurate since one test stood between me and a degree.  And now- DONE!  I still have to take my board exam within the next 6 months to practice.  I plan on studying for that through the summer and taking it whenever I feel prepared.  I am still functioning in the "one step at a time" mentality, so there you have it: the first step will be to take my boards and then we will figure out the next step after that.  For me the 100% type A planner and dreamer that mentality does not come easily, but The Lord has granted me this day-by-day mindset so that I don't try to live in any moment other than the one I am currently living in.  I am so thankful for that blessing, because I could NOT have developed that skill on my own.

Since my last post my spirits have been soaring.  My body is healed from the c section and biopsy and I have more energy and joy than in the previous weeks.  I have slowly been understanding my new reality.  It was difficult for me to immediately wrap my mind around what the next step was going to be since it looked like it wasn't a step at all, but just normal life.  It just wasn't sinking in that I would be able to live life with my husband and new baby as freely as we wanted.  It seemed like there should be some restriction holding us back from doing what we wanted, some obstacle or maybe handicap that would impede our daily lives.  But we are able to live our lives normally now!  I still feel perfectly fine and have no symptoms (actually I feel a million times better than when I was pregnant) and am able to do any of the things I enjoy doing.  In fact, the newborn schedule interferes with plans way more than any health concern of mine.  (Who, speaking of the little newborn, weighs 10 lbs now!  That's over double her birthweight!)  I am feeling more and more that God truly does have a plan for us.  Not just like he is holding our futures, but that he has an actual plan of how he is going to use all three of us to show the world that he is working in his kingdom here among us.  I believe so strongly that he is paving the way for us to witness great miracles, more than we have already seen.  I am still praying for God to heal me. I pray for him to use whatever means he wants, and I pray for the tumor to be gone.  Yet when I hear reports like today's, I am not disappointed at all.  To me, any stability is a miracle as well.  I have had 4 other tumors- 2 grew fast and 2 grew slow.  We expect that all ASPS tumors will grow slowly over time, but really you just never know.  So any stability in size is truly miraculous.  And who am I to be disappointed to receive a miracle??!

I have been singing to Carley Jean a lot because honestly I am just not sure how else to entertain her at this point.  I have explained so many things to her already in attempt to keep her entertained that I am boring myself to talk at this point.  So singing it is!  And I can never remember children's songs and I am not sure what half of them mean anyway.  So I sing worship songs to her and to The Lord.  It is really very neat because I find myself literally praising God all day long!  I have never done that before, and I am so thankful to that little sweet baby for teaching me to constantly praise.  (Reality check: this is between poopsplosions and baby cries and impossible night wakings and failed bedtimes.  When I think of someone constantly praising, I envision a woman perfectly groomed dancing around her home with her sleeping baby in her arms as she is in some sort of dreamlike daze... that's not me.  I am doing my praising in attempt to halt tears or to liven up one of the 7 times she eats in a day.  Just wanted to clarify that I am in fact not waltzing around my home in a dream state, but am tiredly giving the remaining energy I have to sing a song to the Lord as I sit in a rocking chair in my PJs at 12pm.  Or 12am.  End reality check.)  Both as I am singing to Carley Jean and as I have been listening to Christian music over the last several months, I am struck differently by the words to many of the songs I have known for ages.  We ask God so frequently to change our hearts, or confess that our hearts are weak... well my ACTUAL heart needs healing!!  So as I have been singing over the last 6 months and especially the last 2 with CJ, I ask so much more fervently for God to renew my heart- my physical heart as well as my soul/heart.  There are 2 songs that are on my mind all the time these days, the first of which is called "I Will Rise:"

There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say "It is well"
Jesus has overcome and the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won, he is risen from the dead

The first four lines I could just say over and over and over again because it resonates with my journey so perfectly.  Well, with the parts of the journey that I have my head on straight and am not in bed crying all day.  When I am thinking the way way I want myself to be thinking, this is what I think.  Get it?

The other song I sing to Carley Jean most frequently is taken from Psalm 124 and includes the lyric "Had it not been The Lord who was on our side the water would have engulfed us, we would have surely died."  The first time I sung that looking at my little 4.5 pound baby, I just stopped and cried.  Because if The Lord had not been on our side, we both would have surely died.  Isn't that amazing??  That I could rock my tiny little baby and say "Blessed be The Lord who would not give us up, blessed be The Lord for his unfailing love" instead of being engulfed by the waters of death or sorrow or fear.  It is amazing the infinite ways God is talking to us, especially this unique ministry of hearing the Word in songs that get stuck in our heads and put on repeat.

So here we are now with three months to go before I have to see another doctor.  Originally I had started this blog as a way to quickly update friends and family about what was happening with my health as it seemed to all be going down at a rapid fire pace.  Now I am blessed by the network of supporters this blog has provided for us both here in Nashville and across the globe.  What a blessing it is to testify to the goodness of God and to hear such a resounding "AMEN!" from his people.  I'd like to keep writing over the next 3 months.  I know you're thinking "yeah right, she can hardly write once every 2 weeks when there is actually something to write about," and you're totally right.  But just because I am not getting test results every other day does not mean that God is not working very uniquely in our lives.  And I want to keep sharing those experiences with you so that you can draw strength or hope or faith or encouragement or laughter or friendship or whatever it is that makes you keep reading, that you may draw it from our journey.  And so many of you have been praying so fervently for Carley Jean that I want you to kind of know her as she's growing!  I think you may be attached to her :)  Keep sharing what God is doing for us.  Tell your friends and your friends' friends and your families that God is doing miracles for the Sullivans.  When I think about what we have come through and where we are going, I cannot help but see God's provision every step of the way!

Summer is promising to be a time of celebration and joy.  I am going to my hometown in North Carolina for the first time in a year and a half and am taking sweet Carley Jean to meet all her NC friends!  We are going to east TN to see my grandparents, to FL to vacation with John's family and to see more family, to GA for my brother's wedding, to AR and AL for more friends' weddings... We are really banking on Carley Jean liking to travel :)

I will leave you with these words from Psalm 124...
...and some adorable pictures!
Thank you again and again for your continuous prayers, encouragement, and support :)

What if the Lord had not been on our side?
    Let all Israel repeat:
What if the Lord had not been on our side
    when people attacked us?
They would have swallowed us alive
    in their burning anger.
The waters would have engulfed us;
    a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
Yes, the raging waters of their fury
    would have overwhelmed our very lives.
Praise the Lord,
    who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
    The trap is broken, and we are free!
Our help is from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

Jarrod Laine Photography
This was a month ago, but oh goodness its adorable!!

With her aunties at Harding

At the softball game!

Proof that she is turning into a little baby chunk!

My first Mother's Day!!


  1. Praising God with you!!! What wonderful blessings!!!

  2. Great news Brittany! If you're doing all that travel I WILL MISS YOU! : (
    So happy you are able to travel and write and enjoy that baby and sing and be exhausted and, just, everything! yay! yay!
    Those are 2 of my favorite songs also! : )
    Love you and Mr. Perfect Dad. : )