Easter and spring have always meant “rebirth” to me. Watching the flowers come out of the ground and then bloom…watching the dead-looking branches sprout leaves and blossoms…hearing the birds chirping again…and then to have Easter to remind us of Jesus and everlasting life…it’s such a special time.
Three years ago, something else was added to our “spring routine”…cancer. On April 6, 2010, we received the cancer diagnosis for Nicole. It happened 2 days after Easter that year. That holiday and the diagnosis became intertwined since a special Bible verse (John 3:16) was sent to Nicole by her Young Life leader on that Easter Sunday, and then that verse on Nicole’s piece of paper was then shown to me again 2 days later on the evening of the diagnosis when I sat at my desk and thought “what next?” I was so overwhelmed and knew that God would guide us…but seeing that verse was a shock to the system…a positive shock. I felt God telling me “this is the big picture” and now I had to “walk the talk.” I honestly felt like I was reminded that Nicole belonged to God and that I was her caretaker…that I wasn’t in control but I could do my job and take care of her as best I could…that’s God’s will would be done…and that everlasting life was the gift at the end of the journey.
It’s sometimes mind boggling to me how far we’ve come in 3 years. Nicole is extremely happy at college, living away from home and experiencing life on her terms. She’s learning so much about herself. We’ve got this amazing Bite Me Cancer foundation and have met so many people on this part of our journey who have inspired us and helped us feel like we can help some others dealing with cancer.
I do worry about the medical future for Nicole. I wonder if cancer will be a major or minor part of her world. I try to think more in the now and “let go and let God.” I try to move forward and let the blessings flow. I’m certainly grateful for so much!
As I look to the rest of spring and summer, I do wonder what Nicole’s June scans will show…BUT this summer I feel more in control of my emotions and have less worry. We are planning vacations and activities for summer and hope we can do it all. If we can’t do something due to medical issues, then we “recalculate” and just keep going forward.
Happy Easter…happy spring…happy blessings.
The first few months of 2013 have been a whirlwind for us with Bite Me Cancer! On January 3, we had our annual kick-off event, where interested people and supporters came to hear an update about the foundation. Nicole was still home on winter break, so she spoke about her goals. We also had a few other very special speakers to share their stories and perspectives about the foundation. It was so heartwarming to have so many people feel connected to Bite Me Cancer! We received some great press around here which then got picked up near Nicole’s college. That resulted in a TV interview and an interview with the university’s magazine. She loved sharing her story, although at one point she said to me “My story sounds so boring now.” I reminded her that it may sound that way to her because she has to share it often, but it’s not boring to new listeners and readers.
We also released a video that Nicole produced that started from an idea I had. With so many saying that thyroid cancer is the “good cancer”, we felt like we could make an impact on people with a video where thyroid cancer survivors share some of their emotions and struggles regarding their challenges with thyroid cancer. Personally, it was so surreal watching my daughter watch the full videos that were sent to us and just put the new video together without getting depressed about what was being said. I was worried that when she watched all the emotional videos, she would be hit with the seriousness of her own cancer – but she didn’t. She looked at their clips as their personal journeys and not hers, and she put together a very powerful message. I am so proud of her – and am amazed at her talents. The video has received over 3200 hits so far on YouTube…you can check it out at www.youtube.com/bitemecancerorg.
Nicole had a bone scan on January 4 to make sure the other scans weren’t missing anything since her calcitonin count has been rising and the scans are showing no new growth. Thank God the bone scan also came back good with no cancer in the bones.
On winter break, Nicole had decided to apply for a Bite Me Cancer Club at her college, with the encouragement of a friend. It worked! As of mid-February, there is an official club, and Nicole is excited to figure out what the club can do to help her foundation. I am so impressed with her ability to share her story, continue to grow and to think positively all the time. God has definitely been giving her strength! I know that Michael and I have been positive with her but I have to acknowledge that God is certainly within her and around her.
She is home now on spring break…day one…sleeping. I am at peace. I continue to pray for her but I feel like many times I’m praying for strength to conduct God’s will and to understand his will…instead of begging for things.
Merry Christmas 2012! Nicole’s scans are stable with no new cancer growing! The suspicious spots that have been there from the start haven’t really changed either. I am so very grateful and relieved! We see the doctor on 12/28 for the full report.
I’m feeling amazed this morning – amazed that our cancer journey has been 2.5 years with no additional treatment since the first surgery/radiation – amazed that our lives have gone on with such normality – amazed that we have a foundation that is truly helping others – amazed that we have met some very special people who are sharing in our journey – amazed that our “real” business has been able to keep going with Michael and I doing so much with the foundation – amazed that we have such a truly inspiring daughter who is showing us how to live with cancer in the most positive way.
I do feel truly blessed and thank God every day for all that we have experienced. I have given up wishing the cancer had never come because I can’t imagine not knowing the people we have met and not experiencing so much inspiration. I do pray for a miracle that Nicole is healed completely from the cancer. I do pray that God uses her to show his love and power. I do pray to let us be an example for his love and miracles even though I don’t know if that means the cancer will leave.
On this 3rd Christmas with cancer, I thank Jesus for all the love; and I thank God for all the power and strength to get through this. I thank all our family and friends who are praying for us and supporting us. Sometimes we just need a “How are you” or “I’m praying for you” or “How’s Nicole” because we do need our friends and family to get through this. Thank you all.
Here we go…Nicole’s blood tests came back with some slight increases in CEA and Calcitonin, which isn’t great news. BUT we aren’t going to react until we have Nicole’s scans on December 17 and have the results of those scans. Nicole is very focused on her college activities and has no time to worry about the cancer right now.
How interesting that we can now compartmentalize the information in this cancer journey, knowing that we can’t obsess about it every day. Our lives go on, doing normal things, praying for good health, love and peace! Our faith in God keeps us going!
Nicole turned 20 a few days ago – happy birthday to my special daughter! It continues to amaze me how much has happened – for the good – over the past 2.5 years since the diagnosis of cancer. We spent her birthday doing such normal things – shopping, laughing, eating treats, gabbing about boys/friends. It was a wonderful morning/afternoon of mommy/daughter time. Then spent the rest of the day celebrating her birthday with her dad included. So normal. Wow. The next day we received a wonderful donation from a fundraising campaign from a local pizza chain, Paisano’s, for over $12,000 for Bite Me Cancer, and we had lunch with a wonderful young woman who has thyroid cancer and is so excited about getting involved with the foundation. So inspiring to me. Later yesterday we received some bloodwork results that weren’t so great with a few counts going up. Another result should be in on Friday. Ah, the emotional rollercoaster ride! As Thanksgiving is here today, I find myself praying ALOT for God to take away the cancer cells. I know it’s not up to me…I know Nicole is in God’s hands…I hope his plan for her is to have her be cured. I know we have to be positive and strong no matter what this journey will bring our way. Thank you, God, for the blessings…
Here I am in the middle of a beautiful fall, with my daughter having a great time at college. Everything seems so normal. Sure, I’m spending alot of time on our Bite Me Cancer foundation activities which means I have to talk to people about Nicole’s cancer journey. Sometimes it’s emotional and draining, but many times it’s inspiring. I feel God’s presence throughout each day, and I know that this is all working out the way it is meant to be. When I feel the worry/stress of the “what if” regarding Nicole’s medical situation, I do pray so hard. Does that mean I don’t trust God’s plan as I beg for a miracle healing? Does it mean I don’t believe as strongly as I say? Shouldn’t God know what I hope for ahead of time; and, if so, then why do I need to pray? Well, I don’t really know the answers, but I know it’s important to pray. God wants a personal relationship with each one of us. So, I go through each day, praying; and I head towards the Nov. 19 blood tests and the Dec. 17 scans for Nicole.
We have so much to celebrate this month! Nikki went back to college to start her sophomore year. I miss her deeply, but I know that she is away because she is healthy. I am grateful that she can have the college journey she wants.
September is the 2-year anniversary of our Bite Me Cancer foundation. So many people have helped us – from the law firm, accounting firm and the website designer doing a huge amount of pro bono work – to the wonderful family and friends and all the new people we have met on our journey. So many volunteers have given their time to us. So many have given financial donations and special prayers. We are so grateful for all the support! We also have been so inspired by the many thyroid cancer survivors we have met (many being teens), as well as all the other cancer survivors who have contacted us.
September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. We have to spread the word that this cancer is the fastest growing in the United States!! We have to help people be aware of the importance of early detection and the symptoms. We have met too many people who had doctors who didn’t jump on this early.
For today, I am so grateful for so many celebrations we can have in September. Thank you God.
We are so relieved to receive good news on Nicole’s scans. Everything is stable. Stable…what an interesting word. Seeing suspicious spots unchanged causes us such delight now, where 2 years ago those spots would be causing hysterical stress in me. Bloodwork is not without representation of cancer cells, but again, we deal with it since no treatment is necessary. I’ve certainly learned to adjust – to RECALCULATE – you move on with news and learn to live with it. It’s certainly not fun to go report to report, wondering what the next 3-6 months will bring each time. But there are no guarantees in life so there is always unknown around us, on a daily basis. I am sure of God, and that is what guides us and keeps us positive.
As I look towards Nicole’s scans tomorrow, I am aware of God’s presence even more so in our life. Praying relieves my worry. Praying gives me strength. Praying gives me a guidepost. Sometimes the prayers focus on asking to understand God’s will, sometimes the prayers are truly begging for Nicole to be saved, sometimes the prayers are of gratitude, and sometimes the prayers are even just a sigh and a desire to
Nicole took this picture over her Young Life camp one day when the kids were laying in the grass and talking about Jesus. What a beautiful heart cloud.
be with God. Reading our favorite Bible verses helps too, like: Joshua 1:9–”Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” John 3:16–”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I believe Jesus is with us and will take care of us no matter what my earthly expectations are.
Here we are, a few weeks away from the June scans (3 MRIs and a CT scan). Nicole is home from college, and we are so grateful for her being home after a successful freshman year. It’s funny how we can adjust our perspective. Looking ahead, I was so happy that that we had another 7 weeks “clear” before those scans. What can we schedule – vacations? meetings? visits? – before those scans in case something is wrong. I have faith that Nicole’s body is still doing good and the scans will be stable, so it’s a mind game…choosing to think positively or negatively. She’s getting a little nervous now that we only have a few weeks to go but that’s normal. We are praying hard and asking for prayers. We are blessed in so many ways. I pray to understand God’s will in our lives. We will continue on this journey with more news to follow after June 25.
We have a variety of Bite Me Cancer activities going on this summer which is very rewarding. It helps to be of service to others, and very heartwarming to meet so many going through their own cancer journeys. Thank you to all who have prayed and supported us.