Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Shaky Update...

Hello,it’s me.  My fingers are weak and shaky.  I haven’t been around in a while and have to thank my sister Robin and friend Donna for updating all of you.  My breathing is deep and this will be brief.  I cannot thank you enough for your prayers.  They have sustained me at times I thought I wouldn’t see.  Again, i,m overwhelmed. i love you all and look forward to strength to share more. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Hi, Everyone.

Just a quick update.  I was in UCLA for two weeks with another obstructed bowel.  This one was so bad, that they chose to insert a g-tube into my stomach before I could go home.  I've been home since Monday and definitely have to adjust to this new life.  Some days are filled with pain meds, other meds, dressing changes and things that are utterly disturbing to me.  My Mom has been AMAZING.  Nothing grosses her out (unlike me) and she's working around the clock to make sure I'm comfortable.  I'm definitely not up for visitors and just ask for your prayers.  And please, no more gifts!  I know I have OCD when I feel yucky and I still worry about where my Mom will put another cute vintage accessory from one of you thoughtful people.  Prayers only, please.

Feel free to email my sister Robin at or Donna at for further updates should it take me awhile to post another one.

Friday, September 13, 2013

No Couch...

Too happy not to share this with you.  As I've said before, it usually takes me about five days to come out of my chemo funk.  I came out of this one on Wednesday afternoon -- just hours before my prayer warriors came over.  One night earlier, and I probably would have been on lots of meds and couldn't have even sat up.  Today, I'm thrilled to report that this is the BEST I have felt in such a very long time.  Not perfect (tummy still looks like I've had a little too much cheesecake), but I have WELL BEING!!!  I now know again what it feels like!

I was hoping it wasn't going to be short lived as I headed back to the doctor today.  My chemo schedule is either weekly or every other week on Fridays.  When I saw my doctor and he asked me how I was feeling, I said, "best I've felt in a long time."  

He asked a few more questions and said, "Well, you know you're not getting treatment today.  I just wanted to see you."  I immediately did that arm thing where you make a fist, extend your arm out and then pull it back by your side real quickly.  A move that screams, "Yes!!!"  Visualize that one?  

Then he shocked me by saying, "If you're feeling good, just call me next Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and we'll start up again."  Come again?  I asked him, "Isn't chemo suppose to be regimented so that you stay on your schedule?  I get when I'm feeling yucky, you may choose to give me a break.  But when I'm feeling good?  Really?"  He winked and said, "I want you to enjoy the Jewish New Year." (Knowing full well I'm not Jewish).   I like this guy!

After the nurse drew my blood and got the results, she said, "So are you here for a blood transfusion?  Your numbers are really low."

"Uh, no."  I said.

She checked with the doctor and said that she'll just give me a shot to boost my red blood cell count.  Right about the time she was to give me the shot, Ed and my former UCLA boss (who came by to say hi) came back to see me.  Good, I thought.  They can take my mind off of the big, bad shot.  

Well, let me tell you something.  That shot was the shot of all shots.  The nurse warned me that it would burn going in.  Uh, that was a gross understatement.  I did everything I could not to cry.  It made a tetanus shot feel like a trip to an all-you-can-eat brownie bar.  Next time, I'll opt for the blood transfusion, thank you.

Upon our arrival home, two friends stopped by to deliver a special gift to me.  One of them was Sherry, a pastor's wife, I met when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Remember the story I blogged about of the woman who was told she would never have children?  And then had three of them seventeen years later!  Well, she came by to present me with a hand-made quilt tied with forty knots.

 The corner of the quilt is embroidered and reads, "This prayer quilt is given to Ruthie Marek with love from the Maple Springs Missionary Baptist Church.  The people in the church tied the knots and prayed for you, so each knot represents a prayer offered up to the Lord for you.  Maple Springs, AR 2013."

OK, really?  Not only do I love it, but I LOVE that these women are using their gift to bless others living with cancer.  And you know that stuff is right up my alley.  

Sherry leaned over to me and said, "Isn't it great knowing these women in Arkansas are praying for you?"  

Absolutely.  Can't wait to write that thank-you note.

So that was my day.  A good day!  I was reminded by everyone I live with how good I look.  And I don't mean in that way, but in the way that I'm up and walking and have good color in my face again.  Didn't even have to lay on my couch today.  A good day!

So thank you all for sharing in my good news.  And again, thank you all for your continued prayers.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Anniversary Gift...

Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of God's words of healing to me.  It was at 11:55 pm on September 11th that the Holy Spirit filled my soul with God's promise.  

As I woke up yesterday morning, I thought it would be special to get myself to the little chapel inside of our big church and thank Him for those words.  Just me and God.  And to enjoy the silence that is within that room that offers no distractions.  But it wasn't going to happen.  I came out of my chemo funk yesterday morning, but that didn't mean I hit the ground running.  It just meant that I could talk without gagging.  And eat a couple of mini pretzels.  But I'll take it!

A few hours later, I received a text from my sweet friend and neighbor.  

"Are you OK with me having a friend of a friend with the gift of healing come over and pray for you?"

"Sure," I wrote back.

She had mentioned that they would come by around 7 pm.  So my Mom and sister cleaned up after dinner and removed all of the wonderful items that often sit on our coffee table.  You know the stuff: packets of morphine, anti-nausea and gag medication, stool softener.  TMI?  Doesn't your coffee table hold such items?  No?  Lucky!  

As I lay on the couch, I heard a knock on the door.  My Mom answered it.  The first prayer warrior had arrived.  Within minutes, another knock on the door.  As my Mom let her in and went to close the door, two more arrived.  As she hugged them and went to close the door, three more arrived. It was just like a scene out of a movie -- you know the one when the parents go away for the weekend and the kid invites a few friends over for a party, and within seconds, the whole high school has showed up?  Well, within minutes, I had twelve prayer warriors packed into our family room eagerly awaiting to pray over me.  Two of whom I didn't even know as they were a married couple from England who just arrived at LAX yesterday.  (Just to clarify -- it's not like they were this random couple who, by chance, just happened to show up at our door.  They had recently met my friends while in Africa on a missions trip and just arrived here as missionaries.)

As I saw each face, my tears started to already flow.  The Mom in me was thinking, "It's a school night!  All of you are Moms -- who knows if your kids have even had dinner yet -- but you care enough to come over and pray for me!"  By the time I hugged them, I had already gone through a dozen Kleenex.  

I started off by sharing that this was the two-year anniversary of God's promise of healing to me.  They didn't know that.   Is God's timing amazing?  Yep.

I then read to them the words in Psalm 21 that God had given to me late that night.  I cried even more.

By then, each one had surrounded me as I sat on the couch.  Hands touching my knees, shoulders, top of my head.  As they prayed and thanked God for my healing, I just sobbed.  

These women we call "prayer warriors" are a breed all unto themselves.   They are sold out for God.  They know scripture like they know the path to and from their kids' schools.  They have mighty faith.  They've seen God do mighty things.  They turn out in numbers to pray for God to do the impossible.  Because they know His track record.

For two hours, they prayed, sang, laughed, and cried with me.  The only word that could describe my feelings last night was "overwhelmed."  I WAS OVERWHELMED!!! 

Was I healed instantly?   Nope.  Did I jump up and down on my couch like Tom Cruise and say, "My abdominal bloat is gone!  I feel amazing!"  Nope.  But I can tell you this -- we thanked Him for his healing that, in His time, will be made clear for all to see.

I had told my family this week that if my cancer journey had started out this rough (pretty sick for the past two months), I don't know if my testimony would be what it is.  But as I write this to you right now, I actually do believe that it would be.  Because I know this diagnosis was an answer to prayer.  
"Use me God.  Use me!"  Uh, He is.  Through treatments that have had no side effects to this treatment that is knocking me to the ground five days a week, I am being used.  And I am still grateful.   And I still have peace. 

Just a real note of honesty:  Donna came by to see me earlier this week.  After throwing up and laying back down on the couch, I looked at her and said, "I'm done."  But I knew as I said it, it was frustration.  I've been on our couch for two months.  I don't even remember what it's like to have a sense of real well-being anymore.  To wake up at 6 am, jump in the shower, and go until midnight.  But we all have our seasons.  And this is mine right now.  I say to God, "I know, I know -- in Your perfect timing.  But could you really hurry it up already?"   

So thank you, Lord, for your anniversary gift.
  And for all the gifts you continue to lavish on me.
And to everyone who filled our family room last night, you OVERWHELMED me with your love for me and for our Lord.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


OK, by now I think you know that I only write when I'm inspired.  And though I have a tad more energy than the days before, I must really be inspired to blog again so soon.  Many of you don't know that I posted an update on my blog just a few days ago.  That's because I only had enough oomph to write it.  Didn't have enough oomph to send it.

But yesterday it hit me.  I am overwhelmed.
By you.

Yesterday morning I opened an email from a stranger.  She told me she had been reading some decorating blogs and eventually landed on mine for the first time.  She read a few posts and decided to write to me.  This beautiful stranger told me she was praying for me.  She told her Bible study group about me.  They lifted me up in prayer.

A few hours later, a knock at my front door.  A friend delivering muffins for my family.

A few hours later, my son tells me, "Mom, someone left a gift for you on the front porch."

A few hours later, I listen to my voicemail.  A sweet friend from my daughter's old school leaves me a message telling me she and another friend of mine decided to run to some thrift stores.  They had asked the Lord to direct them to items they thought I would buy for myself.  They each made up "wacky gift baskets" for me.  

I am overwhelmed.

For the last three plus years, this has become "normal" in my life.  Surrounded by kindness.  Thoughtfulness.  Selflessness.  Love.

But it really hit me yesterday.  As I listened to my friend's voicemail message, tears burned my eyes.  I replayed it for my Mom and Donna.  They had tears in their eyes.  I read every email I receive from  friends and strangers who remind me they are praying for me.  My Mom chokes up every time.  She said yesterday, "I never knew there was this much kindness in the world."  Neither did I.

What is amazing to me is that you keep loving on me.  Your love never ends.  It hasn't ended in three years.  No one forgets about me.  Your actions and words continue to remind me that God is love.  He is showing me His love through each and every one of you.

A girl who reads my blog is sending me weekly large puzzle pieces with words on them that read, "Hope you feel joy all the way down to your toes.  The joy of God is your strength!"  I've never met her.


Another girl who reads my blog is on her knees for me in prayer.  She is my prayer warrior in New Mexico.  She emails me the most lovely words I've ever read.  I've never met her either.


My friend who opened her home with me on the spring tour this year took one of my blogs with her to Uganda.  She wanted to read it to the women she was ministering to.   She sent me pictures of the women listening to my words.  One woman even asked her how to spell my name so she could keep me in her prayers.  


One friend of mine often wakes up at 3 a.m.  That's her "Ruthie" time of prayer.


How much time do you have?  I could go on and on.  And on.

I am overwhelmed.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ground Hog Day...

Hi, everyone.

I've received many emails wondering how I'm doing.   So I think it's time for a quick update.

My doctor is "very pleased" with how things are going.  My tumor marker is stable and since being put on a 24-hour feeding infusion, I've gained about seven pounds.  I've always had a love-hate relationship with food, so being fed intravenously is kind of up my alley.   

I titled this post "Ground Hog Day" because for the last month or so, that's been my life.  (Remember the movie in which every day was the same?)  Well, that's what it's been like over here.  

I wake up, feel yucky, my mom tries to entice me to eat, I usually say I can't, I watch lots of tv with our new cat Smeow by my side, usually can't talk to anyone because I have this gag reflex in my mouth for some strange reason, watch my mom bring my kids home from school, listen to everyone having dinner in the kitchen and then fall asleep.  My doctor gave me one week off of chemo and I have another break from it this Friday.  I thought during the break I would want to run to Disneyland.  Yeah, no.  I still stayed on the couch trying to rebound.  Guessing that may happen again next week.

I can get pretty upset about how I'm spending my days.  And believe me, I have.  I allow myself to feel sorry for myself and then I do my best to remember my blessings.  Oh, so many!!!  

If you are so inclined to pray for me, you can ask the Lord to restore my appetite.  A new found love for food and the ability to eat it.  Also, for this "chemo fog" to lift from my brain.  It feels as if I'm depressed.  Not a fun feeling to experience.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tootsie Pop Knees...

Well, have you ever heard of the old saying, "You can never be too rich or too thin?"  Well, I can't vouch for being too rich, but I can vouch for being too thin.  In just five days after starting this new treatment with this new doctor, my abdominal bloat almost completely vanished.  "God is at work!" was my response.  Only a week earlier, I was so distended I could hardly breathe.  Now, the pain pills that accompanied me home from the hospital are tucked away in the drawer and I could enter a bathing suit contest.  Albeit, for blind men, but still.

Unfortunately, after two partially obstructed bowels, too many soft food diets, a few hospitalizations, a brand new chemo regimen that knocked me to the ground, I've eaten very little.  And it shows.  My knees look like two Tootsie Pops with the wrappers off.  I only wish they were that brown as I didn't find the time or energy to tan this summer.  My bum looks like two paper plates taped to my protruding, sharp tailbone.   And now there's no question where my blush goes -- on my cheek bones, of course.  Somebody needs a Big Mac!  Or twelve.

Though I came home on a 24-hour continuous chemo pump (with no side effects), I'm also treated with two big-boy chemos every Thursday -- with big-boy side effects.  The first week, I was terribly sick and the shade of a sand dollar.  Thus the doctor had ordered a daily five-hour hydration drip that would infuse me with anti-nausea meds and fluids.  I slowly turned back into the girl I remembered looking like in the mirror.  Well, minus the eyelashes and the hair, although they are beginning to grow back.  But just in time to fall out again as one of the new big-boy chemos doesn't like hair either.  Oh, well.   

This second week of treatment also proved to be somewhat of a nightmare.  I realized that not only did these drugs take away my physical well being, they take my emotional well being away too.  When this "chemo funk" comes over me, I just want to be put into the trunk of a car with an air hole.  I don't want to think, talk, listen, eat, drink, or be.   (I felt the same way three years ago with my very first treatment).  By day 4 or maybe 6, I can begin feeling the chemo funk fading away.  And to think each week, it starts all over again -- that's a tough one.

So imagine my delight this morning, when I saw my doctor and he told me he wanted to give me the week off.  Already!  I had told him what I had just told you, and he said, "So let's take a break.  Focus on eating, getting out of the house, and enjoying life.  What do you like to do?  Then go antique shopping!"  

So, doctor's orders:  I need to go antique shopping while eating a sandwich.  All with the help of my Tootsie Pop knees!  

I again thank so many of you who have reached out to me over these past two weeks.  Just yesterday, (the beginning of one of my good days), a friend came over and rubbed my feet after not showering for two days (me, not her!) and another friend blessed us with homemade meatballs and sauce.  I was thrilled to be the recipient of their gifts -- caring hands and caring hearts.  

And before I close, a big shout out to my Mom who's been living with us for about two months now.  If it were't for her, I'd be down to 70 pounds by now.  Guaranteed. 

"Here, try a little of this.  Here, just drink a sip of this. Here, I thought you might like this."   She's doing her best to get calories into this resistant body.  Like only a mother can.

And while at the doctor today, he asked me a few questions to go along with all the others.
"Feel any anxiety?" 
"Do you feel peaceful?"  

I have the right prescription for those questions.

"Be still and know that I am God."  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A New Plan...

First off, thank you so very much for all of your prayers for me and my family.  You continue to lift us up and we feel it.  

I posted less than a week ago while I was again hospitalized, but I didn't email it out to you guys.  Why?  Well, primarily because I can't send my blog out from my laptop (I usually post from my home computer), but it wasn't really that great of news either.'s one of my most favorite posts I've ever written.  I've read it a dozen times since I wrote it and I cry every time.  But don't fear -- it's not sad.  It's just another amazing story of how God continues to comfort and assure me of His healing.  Read it!  It's a good one!

So the bottom line is that my Cedars oncologist felt doing another regimen of chemo would be futile.  She said she had nothing left in her arsenal for me.  However, we were lead to a new doctor at UCLA this afternoon who felt differently .  Funny, actually, because he's never had one ovarian cancer patient.  Until me.  After explaining to us why he thought a daily regimen of a chemo that ovarian cancer patients never receive may work, we booked my appointment for tomorrow afternoon.    I reminded him, that if my chart didn't reflect it, I do believe God will heal me.  Whether He uses his hands or God's hand.  I shared that as well with the doctor's sweet receptionist who lit up when she saw my "can't do cancer without God" necklace.  She gave me a huge smile and a high five.  What a way to end the appointment.

So as it stands, I'll start tomorrow on a daily regimen of a drug that ovarian cancer patients never receive.  This doctor is brilliant (I couldn't follow a thing the guy said, but Ed could) and thinks outside the box.   My husband fell in love with him right away.  And he doesn't do that very often.  So the fun begins.  Again.  And let me tell you, I am grateful for an Again.

The drag, at this point, is that the chemo has to be administered down at UCLA.  Every day.  But I'm pushing for a change of venue.  I'm going to bat my fake eyelashes and see if I can receive it back at my Westlake Village office again.  Regardless, I'm grateful for another option.  No matter where it is.

As my wise girlfriend reminded me tonight, 
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, and in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."

Proverbs 3:5-6

Thursday, July 18, 2013

An Amazing Performance...

I ended up back in the ER a few nights ago with the same pain that lead me there last week.  Except this time, my oncologist wanted me transferred from Los Robles to Cedars-Sinai.  So I arrived here on Monday night.   

Upon reviewing the cat scan, my lead oncologist’s opinion was to step away from the chemo as the likelihood of another regimen being successful was not very promising.  Tough news to hear, but I think I knew it was coming.

After I reached for the Kleenex, I closed my eyes and again recounted the many promises and words of comfort the Lord has blessed me with while on this road.  There were just so many to recall.   I remembered each and every one of them.  And as I lay there, His peace flooded my soul.  Again.  Just as it did the day I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer three and a half years ago.  And again, I had a touch of excitement stirring in me too.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience peace that surpasses all understanding.”  Phillipians 4:6-7.

Oh, how I do.

I just laid in bed and praised Him.  No sound of tv, no outside chatter from other patients, no nurses discussing their charts.  Just me and God.  My door was closed. I hated to open my eyes as I was just basking in my love for Him.

A few hours later, Ed and my Mom arrived.  Just as they sat down, my cell phone rang and it was a pastor friend of mine from Dallas who was calling to pray over me.  I put him on speaker phone and we all heard his words of prayer for healing. 

More Kleenex was used.

In the midst of all this, something else was bothering me.  Don’t laugh, but we had six tickets last night for the Pageant of the Masters.  We had changed the date from August 18th to last night, and due to me being laid up in a hospital bed, no one wanted to go without me.  I begged them.  We had bought the tickets as a birthday present for my Dad.  

“Go!”  I told them over and over again.  I tried to pull the cancer card and everything, but nothing worked.  And not only did they not go, but we couldn’t even give the tickets  away!  It broke my heart.  Because if you remember from last year, I blogged about how utterly amazing that performance was.    And I wanted them to see what I had seen.

“Lord, what could be better tonight than Pageant of the Masters?” I grumbled to myself.

At around 7 o’clock at night, the nursing staff changed.  As my new nurse walked in, she looked like an angel to me.  Just something about her.  I noticed a large cross she wore around her neck and it caught my eye.  Her name badge read, “Esther.”

At about 10 o’clock, my Mom and sister decided to go home.  Right as they were leaving, Esther walked in.  As she was looking over my chart, I told her I had noticed her beautiful cross around her neck.  I asked her what church she went to.  I asked her how long she had been a Christian.  

As she came around to the other side of my bed, she began telling me her testimony.  Before long, she was singing, “Trust and Obey” with a beautiful, beautiful voice.   (How many nurses have you ever had who sing worship songs beside your bed?)  Yeah, I thought so.

She continued to tell me how God speaks to her and how she knows that He is alive.   As I nodded my head, she began singing,  “Be still and know that I am God.”   Tears immediately flooded my eyes and I began to sob.  I laid there, tears streaming down the sides of my eyes, listening to this angelic voice sing “my verse” over me in my hospital bed.  (It’s not even a song!) I looked up to her in amazement.  Amazed that God would use this nurse to again bring me words of comfort -- to bring a stranger into my room who would know how to minister to my soul.   As she was singing, I cried, “This is for me!  This is for me!”  

I had told her with tears blurring my vision that the Lord had promised me healing and despite what the doctors and reports are telling me, I still claim His victory over this cancer.   Her sweet face looked down at me and said, “It is His confirmation.  His Word never returns void.” 

Well, she continued to tell me that she wasn’t even supposed to be on this side of the hospital as she is a floater nurse and is rarely on the same floor twice.  She was supposed to be on the other side tonight.  They gave her all odd numbered rooms and one even.  Mine.  But then she figured, “Well, God must want me to meet someone tonight.”  

And what you don’t know is that after my doctor had left my room hours earlier, I had asked God to give me more words of comfort. More.  I laid there, praised Him and listened.  I never felt led to open my Bible.  I felt in His time, He would reveal His words to me.  Well, did He ever.

Ed walked into my room as Esther was still there.  I could tell when he looked at me he knew I had been crying.  I introduced Esther as the angel God had sent me tonight.  I told him that she sang over me, “Be still and know that I am God.”  His eyes widened and said, “That’s your verse.”  

It’s amazing to me how God orchestrates the details of our lives.  How He shows His love to us.  How He does it in ways I could never dream of.   

A few hours later, I couldn’t help but laugh.  Remember how irritated I was that those tickets went to waste?  I had said, “God, what could be better than us going to Pageant of the Masters?”  Uh, how about an angel singing over me, “Be still and know that I am God” as confirmation of the wondrous work He is about to do.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Comfort and Corn Flakes...

Anyone ever see a human soup can?  Well, come on down to Los Robles Hospital and I’ll lift up my hospital gown so you can say, “Now I’ve seen a human soup can!”

Ed brought me into the ER late Friday night because my abdomen was so distended I could hardly breathe.  Literally.  If a Q-Tip fell on my stomach, I would have screamed.  If memory serves, I look pretty much like I did the day I was diagnosed.   Bloating from side to side, and top to bottom.  All the way around to my back.  Waist?  What waist?  It looks like someone unzipped my torso, shoved a huge tortoise shell in there and zipped it back up.  So sexy.

Found out last night that the chemo needs to be changed again as the lesions continue to grow and are obstructing my intestines.   My first thought was, “Good - now maybe I’ll be put on a treatment that will let my eyelashes grow back.”  (I really miss those things!) My second thought was, “How long until I can eat cheese ravioli with marina sauce?”  (I’m on a liquid diet and hopefully graduating soon to a soft foods diet).  Funny the things that pop into one's mind at a time like this.

It takes a while for my head to get around each new change in treatment.  This is my sixth regimen in three and a half years.  I should be used to it.  Cat scan results take a while to digest, especially when they’re not the ones you had hoped for.  But after some time, I will recall all of the promises God has showered me with.  My soul is again filled with comfort.  And with peace.  And if I didn’t have these trials, I wouldn’t know the amazing beauty of His comfort and His peace.  And I'm telling you, it's amazing.  Utterly amazing.

I woke up this morning at 4 a.m.   I had one of my favorite songs playing in my head.  So I grabbed my iphone in search of it.  To my delight, I found it on video.  Lots of them.  My room was dark as I put my headphones in.  I laid in bed and just wept listening to the lyrics.  If my nurse had walked in, she would have walked right back out.

“With all creation I sing, praise to the King of kings.  You are my everything, and I will adore you.”

If you have a second, pull up The Revelation Song and watch Kari Jobe sing it live.  She is unbelievable.  What talent God put into that girl.  And she gives it all back.  To Him.

(Had to stop writing and talk to the surgeon who just walked in.)  Good news!   I can begin eating soft foods!  If I don’t throw them up, I can go home.  I immediately called Ed and said, “Bring me Corn Flakes!”  (I don't even like Corn Flakes!  Hey, are we sure there's not a baby in there?)  And whoever calls me at lunch and says, “I’m on my way, do you need anything?”  My answer will be, “Heck yeah -- some cheese ravioli with marinara sauce!”   That qualifies as a soft food, right?  Maybe I’ll go a little easy on the sauce.

When I received the news last night from the oncologist, Donna was with me.  She was going to go home and email our friends to pray for me.  She asked me what I would like them to pray for.  I told her for the next treatment to do its job and shrink those lesions near my intestines so I can have a waist line again.  And so I can breathe again without discomfort.  Within minutes of her sending out that email, I could hear all the “dings” of my inbox being flooded with emails.  All friends lifting me and my family up in prayer.   Thank you to each and every one of you.  And to all of you who continue to walk this journey with me, I thank you too.

I want to share one more thing.  I grabbed my Bible before I went to bed last night and my eyes rested on these words:

"He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes His unfailing love on those who love Him and obey Him."
Deuteronomy 7:9

Aren't we lucky? 

Well, I must clean up my tray table.  I believe my cornflakes are on their way!
(P.S.  I wrote this in the hospital.  Happy to report, I am now home and feeling better.  And I've probably eaten five bowls of Corn Flakes.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Little Update...

Hi, Everyone.  How long has it been since I've blogged?  Guessing a little longer than usual as I'm starting to get a few emails that read, "Just wondering how you are."

Well, back in the old days (upon diagnosis), I would live and breathe by my tumor marker numbers.  Now, not so much.  As long as my doctors know what they are and I feel pretty good, that's good enough for me.  And, I'm now learning, they're not always that reliable anyway.  A cat scan trumps blood work any day.   With that said, my Mother's Day card read, "Congratulations!  Your CA125 was 1/2 of what it was last month!!!"  My husband had called my doctor behind my back to find out my latest blood work.  Sneaky guy.  Then I found out this week that they dropped another 50%.  Let's hope those blood tests are a little reliable, huh?!

I think I just had my 10th or 11th weekly treatment (you do lose count after awhile) and I am still shaving my legs.  And I still have my eyelashes and my eyebrows (hallelujiah!)  Which means, yes you guessed it, I believe I shaved my head a little too soon!  All the signs were there like before (hair falling out like cotton candy, follicles hurting).  So my girlfriend shaved it for me.  I did think about cutting it really short, but feared I would really like it, and then I would be really sad when it did fall out.  But my hair is not falling out!   One of the girls who attended our His Flower Girls class last month is an accomplished photographer.  She asked if she could take my portrait.  Of course, when she showed up, I was wearing my wig (which I love by the way) and my pink paisley bucket hat.  She looked at me and said, "You know I don't want to shoot you with any of that on."  Of course not.  So off it went as we headed into the backyard.  She showed me a photo of a model she had recently shot and told me to strike the same pose.   I was a tad bit uncomfortable, but hey, she did drive all the way from Malibu to shoot me out of the kindness of her heart.   She emailed me the photo that night, and with all of the photo-shopping, wrinkle elimination, soft lighting (the works!) she infused into that photo, I didn't look half bad.  I will never frame it, but I would love to see it on the back of a book jacket one day.  :)

I also met a new cancer buddy.  We actually schedule our Monday morning treatments together.  Never done that before.  But I fell in love with the guy instantly (along with his wife).  His name is John and we had a great lunch yesterday getting to know each other.  He's actually coming to our "can't do cancer without God" monthly group this Friday.  All us girls and John.  Can't wait.
OK, enough cancer talk.   Want to know what this crazy family did two weekends ago?  We got an imposter!  We have been missing Creamy like crazy and we found an imposter all the way  in Palm Springs.  How could we resist this face:

(bad photo quality, came off of my son's phone)

She's three years old and her name was Deseo something-something (a very long name as she was supposed to breed future generations of the Tonkinese line).    Well, one week in this house, and her new name is now Smeow.  Yes, you read that right.  (The S stands for "silky", "sweet" and "soft" all combined, and the meow comes from the worst sounding meow you've ever heard when she finds herself alone).   Hence, Smeow.

She's been here 10 days and is now laying downstairs on the couch with us instead of up on our bed with eyeballs as big as sunflowers.  Which means she's finally making friends with the other two cats in the house and this guy:

(Accidentally "stole" the paper plate the cats eat their dinner off of and then told on himself.)

So with a few animals hanging around this house and a body that feels good most of the week, we head into the summer grateful for every ounce of every day.  (Well, I do anyway.  My kids?  Probably a different story!) 

So here's to a wonderful summer.  Don't let it go by faster than it should.  Stop and smell those gorgeous roses.  Get those toes in the sand (oh, I didn't say that did I?!) and start your day with the One who adores you.


Monday, May 27, 2013


I have met two people in my life that I cannot forget.  Ever.  They're not normal.  They're utterly amazing.  When you're in their presence, you can only marvel at them.  And at God.

I believe I spoke about Nick Vijicic a while back on my blog.  Look, I have a bit of a bad memory, so if I didn't, then do yourself one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself and go to his website at  Amazing!  He was born without limbs.  Without limbs.  OK, picture that for just a moment.  You have no arms.  And no legs.  Can you picture yourself or your child without the basics of hands and feet?  Every day.  I'll wait.  OK.  But guess what Nick's motto is? "No limbs?  No limits!"  Today, he is an international motivational speaker who shares his struggles as well as his passion for the Lord any chance he gets.

I had the privilege of meeting Nick a few years ago.  If I'm honest, I was terribly scared to meet him as I couldn't  imagine seeing someone like this.  As I stood there before this beautiful man (oh, he's a looker!) and was being introduced to him, I did thee most STUPIDEST thing I could have done.  I reached out to shake his hand.  Who does that?  Me!  I wanted to die!  I immediately pulled my hand back and I'm sure my face said, "I AM SUCH AN IDIOT!"  And what did he say to me with a warm, beautiful smile?  "Give me a hug."    You fall in love with the guy instantly.

Well, I won't say any more about him because you just need to go to his 
website and read his story.  He actually lives in our community as his ministry is across the street from Costco.  He's a local!  We've seen him out at Chipotle (the kids and I took a picture with him while he was eating a burrito -- I'm sure he loved that!) and that was my screen saver for the longest time.  

But I will tell you this.  I have heard him speak several times.  And each time, I am utterly convinced of this one truth:  that God does not make mistakes.  When Nick was born, I can bet you that every single solitary person (including his parents) said, "What was God thinking?  How could anything good ever come of this little boy's life?"  Go listen to Nick's testimony.  You will be utterly convinced of this truth too.

OK, so last month, Donna and I were asked to speak at our church's spring event about our ministry His Flower Girls.  We were not the main guest speakers, but we spoke right after them.  And being guest speakers, they sat us at the very front table closest to the stage.  We were so close to it, in fact, that my weird brain kept thinking, "Boy, I can see up everyone's noses!"  We were that close!  (By the way, in case you were on stage that day and reading this blog, there were no "bats in your cave" as my daughter likes to say!)  

The main guest speakers that day were Linda and Jen Barrick, a mother and daughter from Virginia who, along with Linda's husband and son, were hit head on by a drunk driver just miles from their home after one of Jen's choir performances at church.   They all sustained such terrible injuries that each one of them had to be transported to four different trauma hospitals.  Jen, just 15 at the time, sustained the worst.  She had a severe brain injury and wasn't expected to live through the night.  Her prognosis was pretty horrendous.

OK, six years later, they're standing before us on stage sharing their testimony.  I  have never been more captivated by a story in my life.  Truly.  Jen was unable to speak, eat or see in the hospital, yet she was able to sing praise songs letter perfect and recite scriptures that were tucked away in her heart since before the accident.  Perfectly.  Though she didn't know her name or recognize her own mom in the hospital, she began praying outloud as if she was uninjured.  A miracle.  NOT normal.  The hospital staff was freaked out to say the least.

OK, well I won't tell you their entire story, but I want to tell you that I witnessed Jesus radiate from Jennifer Barrick that afternoon.  And remember, I had a ring-side seat.  Her face literally had a glow come over it that was captivating and when she spoke and prayed, I sobbed.  Can't imagine how many napkins and Kleenex I reached for.    She closed her story by signing the words to the song, Lord You're Holy.  As the spotlight was on her face, her joy was off the charts and she looked as if Jesus was the only one she was performing for.  It was a sight I will never, ever forget.

I remember sitting there at our table thinking, "Lord, thank you for allowing Donna and I the opportunity of speaking here today.  But I don't care if one person liked us or listened to us, for I am just thankful that you arranged this day for me to witness You through them."

When the event was over, I bought their book, "Miracle for Jen."  I waited in line to meet her (which I rarely do -- and then totally kick myself afterward for not waiting in line) and then I knelt before Jen who was sitting in a chair by her table of books.  

With tears flooding my eyes, I said, "Jen, would you write down your most favorite scripture in my book?"   She sat there for a minute, thought about it and then wrote, "God has amazing plans in store for your life.  Jesus is going to use you in ways you never dreamed possible!  God is faithful!  Nahum 1:7.  Love, Jen Barrick, 1 Cor. 2:9.  

As I walked away, I opened the book to see what she had written to me.  It blew me away.  You see, I already know that God is using my cancer and my journey and my faith in ways I never dreamed possible.  Jen's words to me confimed that the Lord is not finished with me yet.  And that excites and humbles me to my core.

In fact, I photocopied Jen's words to me and framed them.  The Lord's promise, through Jen Barrick, is something I will stand on.  Come good news or bad news.  And I know there will be amazing news in His perfect time.

Please visit Linda and Jen Barrick's website Hope Out Loud at  And if I can play Oprah for a moment -- If I had to start a book club this summer, this is the book I would select.  (My dad, who is not a reader, is loving it!)  Barnes and Noble carries it.  Go run out and grab one.  In fact, the first person who emails me and tells me that they want to read it, I will buy you one.  If you live near, I will leave it on my front porch (please knock and say "hi" if I'm home).  If you live far, it will be in the mail to you on Wednesday.  I hope to receive many emails that read, "Barnes and Noble is sold out!"  Good -- let's get them to re-order and re-stock those shelves!

I couldn't close out this email (a very long one, I'm sorry) without extending our family's deepest gratitude to every person who is or who has served in our military.  We thank you and we thank your families on this special day.  If I lived close to an airport, I would park myself in a terminal every Memorial Day and give hugs out to every military man and woman I saw.  That's the least I could do.

So who's unforgettable in your life?  I'd love to know...

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Special Interview...

So last week I was asked to speak to some moms at my church.  They had a guest speaker series called Trials and Triumphs.  Well, those are just my all-time favorite stories to hear.  Especially when God is involved.  I could listen to those all day long.  Every day.  24/7.  

So I got up on that stage and spoke about my trials.  Oh, I had more than one you know.  Cancer being the obvious one.  An empty, unfulfilled life being the other.  Remember that commercial from years ago with the really handsome guys dressed in those beautiful tuxedos and the song/tag line was, “What a difference a day makes?”  Well, what a difference five and a half years make. 

So I shared how miserable I was.  And then I shared how guilty I was because I had no real obvious reasons for being so miserable.  On the outside. The inside?  A totally different story.

I then shared how I re-dedicated my life to God over five years ago. Re-prioritized my life.  Putting God first, my family second and myself way, way back in the background.  A radically new concept for me.   “How can this bring me joy?” I thought as I went to bed that first night.  Then voila.  My life was flooded with joy.  And peace.  Hmmm.  Why didn’t I do this sooner?  Probably because I was really self-centered.  Thought I knew best.  What a complete idiot.

I also shared a few scriptures that I have leaned on through my trials.  And I’m proud to say that I have memorized them too.  You know, with chemo brain and all, that's a pretty amazing feat.  I’m coming clean though -- they’re only 8 and 11 words each.  A two year old could do that.  But I'm still proud of my chemo brain remembering abilities.

And then I got to the end of my testimony.  And this is where I thought it got good.    

I shared with that room full of moms that I don’t believe God created us just to be moms.  Or even to be happy moms.  He created us to glorify Him.  To bring others to Him.   To live in such a way that others come to know Him because they know us.  And then guess what?  We become joyful moms.

I then told them that I had asked my kids probably six years ago to list Mommy’s five favorite things on a piece of paper.  My seven and five-year-old both agreed on, “chocolate almond ice cream from Baskin Robbins, cats, decorating, flowers and magazines.”  They nailed it.  If we were on a game show, we would have won the grand prize.  But that was not what I wanted them to say.  

I now want to hand them another piece of paper and say, “Now what are Mom's favorite things?”   The problem is I don’t think I have the courage to do it because I’m not 100% sure of what would make the list and what wouldn’t.  Remember, I’m still a work in progress.  

But the night before my speech, Jake had interviewed me for a school project.  He had to interview someone “of great faith.”   And it touched my heart beyond measure that he had chosen me.  Years earlier, he would have chosen my sister.  Hands down.  Because she is the one who had led me to the Lord when I was 10.  She is the one who writes him cards sprinkled with scripture for his birthday and Easter.  She is the one who wants to be in the hospital rooms of those she knows and those she doesn’t know before they pass away.  So she can bring them to Jesus.  She's the one not of great faith, but of tremendous faith.

But Jake had asked me.  In fact, the cherry on top is that last year one of his best friends had interviewed me for the same project and this year, another one of his best friends had asked to interview me too.  This momma was one happy girl!   Guaranteed, a few years earlier, my sister would have been fielding all those questions for those boys.

So my life is changing.  And my kids are taking notice.  Do I still yell at them when they don’t put their stuff away or conveniently forget to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher?  Oh absolutely.  Am I a ray of sunshine that blinds them every morning?  Oh please.  But as Chelsea Cameron says, “new nature vs. old nature.”  I try and always remember that.   "I'm not what I should be.  I'm not what I could be.  But I'm not what I used to be."  Another famous Chelsea saying that I'm trying to live by.

So imagine my delight when my son handed me his written essay last night.  It was his thoughts following our videotaped interview.  I read it with tears in my eyes.   In fact, I continue to read it this morning.  Hands down, it’s thee most special thing I’ve ever received.  (With the exception of God’s promises to me.)

The two best sentences of the whole essay are these: 

"She wants everybody to know that she is a Christian."
(Yes, it's true -- I do!)


"I plan to work at it as hard as I can to become as close to God as possible."

That's my boy.  

Please don’t read this blog post as a vehicle to toot my own horn.  That’s so not the intention.  I share this with you to let you know that God can change hearts.  And I’m talkin’ first off about mine.  And He can change yours too.  To be a mom whose faith is trickling into my children delights me to no end.  My purpose, through this trial, is to deepen my family’s faith.  What better legacy can a mom leave?  Do I want my kids to remember how clean I tried to keep the house, how large my hydrangeas grew in the backyard or how many magazines I could read during a single sitting?  Nope.  I want them to remember that Jesus is there to carry them through the trials of their lives that are sure to come their way.  There’s just no escaping them.   But when they face a trial or two, I pray they will lean on their faith. 

 Just like their Momma does.