Here We Go Again

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Well, I am just going to cut to the chase, and say that we didn’t hear the news we wanted to today with regards to my daughter’s cancer testing / scans. :-(

The spot found on her spine that was possibly an enlarged blood vessel, wasn’t. It was a tumor, and it had grown. There was another. There was an area of enhancement that we’ll know more about tomorrow.

At this point, we’re just processing everything. The radiologist report will tell a little more.

To those who will ask, what now..? Here is what we know. Janet will go in early next week for a spinal tap. They will be determining if there are tumor cells in her spinal fluid. That will help determine how to proceed.

What are her treatment options? That, we’re also waiting on more details on. Surgery might, MIGHT be an option again, but not as likely. Depending on what we’re looking at overall will tell that. She had some craniospinal radiation with her treatment before, so that form of radiation also might (or might not) be an option. There could be focused / focal radiation as an option – so again, we shall see. Right now, chemo might be an option as well. Presently the thought would be an outpatient chemo regimen…that would follow after radiation or within the week or so if radiation isn’t on the table.

As you can see, there are a lot of unknowns. There are a lot of maybe, maybe not’s….When we were at Children’s today, her neurosurgeon showed me the scans, and talked to me about them, but did not have the radiologist report in yet – so again, not all the facts. But, we know enough. :-(

So, as we know and find out more, I will update everyone. To those who pray, thanks in advance for all the prayers that are, or will be said on her (and our) behalf!

What It Looks Like To Lose Your Identity – From Bipolar To Cancer Mom To…

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As this title might elude to, I’m about to share a little bit about what it looks like inside my head. Buckle up. This is going to be a fun ride.

My blog has not been active in some time. I’m not going to make some promises to post a certain amount a week or month, or anything really. I am going to write from my heart. It may be multiple times a day, and it may be only once in a blue moon. What I can tell you is that I have been struggling – not for words, but to figure out who I am. Let me explain.

As you know, or may not know, my five year old daughter has been fighting cancer. She had a brain tumor removed from her head. She had daily radiation for six weeks, and she then had a high dose chemo therapy regimen. To make a long story short, they threw all they had at it, with the hopes that something was the right answer. You see, the cancer she had growing was literally thought to be one of a kind. Her tumor and info was sent all over the place, in search of second, third or tenth opinions. We’re talking worldwide experts. No name for this unique thing. As such, we held our breath, and above all else, prayed. This past January, she completed treatment! Thank God! In February, her scans showed no evidence of the disease. It showed the cancer didn’t appear to have even ever been there! Again, thanking God!! Then, in May, her scans showed spots on her spine. Those spots were consistent with drop metastasis. In other words, it looked like a cancer that had metastasized and spread to her spine. But, there was a silver lining – it also might NOT be that. It could just be enlarged blood vessel(s) and we had no way of knowing for sure at that point. Even if it WAS cancer, it would have been too small to do anything with, or biopsy, etc. So, we wait. Three months, and we wait. Tomorrow, actually, she will have more scans to look and see what we are dealing with – which, obviously, we hope is nothing. In fact, our prayer is to have the scans, and see NONE of the spots previously seen.

That was the back and lead up explanation to what I am about to share with you. I can pretty much say that I am a picture perfect example of what it looks like to lose your identity.

One more back story. Many of you know, and some of you don’t. However, instead of hiding behind a mask of “everything is okay all the time” I want to be transparent about something. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Okay, fine. Go look it up. No, wait…it’s best you don’t. That said, it’s something – just the diagnosis – that I struggled with for a very long time. Years. Until recent history that I really figured out that it was just a diagnosis. It was not me. It is part of who I am, but not my identity. At least I thought. I do struggle with depression. I have also learned that I’m not alone in that. Depression is a real thing. It affects more people than you’d realize, or even care to think about. It hurts. Again, it became my identity for some time.

So, through these two examples alone, you can see that my life is definitely not boring. There are times, I long for a much more boring time.

The issue and problem is that we often will allow life’s circumstances – those curveballs that life tosses our direction – we often allow those things to define us. They become who we are. They become our identity. Then, when life changes, or circumstances take on a different shape, we tend to lose a part of ourselves. At least, it’s clear that I do. Let me explain.

When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, I became a cancer mom. I became a cancer awareness fighter. I became a voice for children who battle childhood cancer. I became a person who spent more time in the hospital, even during holidays, than at home – at least it seemed at times. I realized that we had almost a second home away from home. Childhood cancer. It was who we became, and the fight we fought. We lived and breathed it (through all the tests, scans, hospital stays) with every breath. Then, THANK GOD, my daughter had clean scans. No evidence of the disease. No more daily / weekly / monthly tests, scans, radiation, chemo, etc. No more hospital stays. No more cancer, right now. Of course, I was elated. Beyond all measure. My daughter was free to live, breathe and run around and just well, be a kid! Yes, she would struggle with the aftermath of having had radiation and chemo, but she was HERE. She is alive!

But, now what!? Now where do I go? Now, who am I? These are all questions I never actually ASKED, but realized were present – asking themselves. I have come to realize that my identity was set in those things. It, rightfully so, consumed my days. Now, though – now that she is not fighting this disease, what’s a girl to do? I have to embrace this “new normal” as life again. I have to figure out what our current “normal” is and go from there. I won’t lie. It’s not easy. It is, however necessary.

I have, just in the past couple of days, sat down. With myself, and with my thoughts. I dug deep, and thought clearly – back to a time where I felt okay, good even. What I came to realize wasn’t shocking, but it was good to remember. I was the happiest when I was reaching out to others. When I took my own time, and gave it to others. When I took time, became a volunteer, and just reached out to others – helping THEM smile, it helped me. My hurting heart was calm again. It would bring me joy to see joy in someone else’s face. To know I had made a difference – that made a difference in ME.

So, two days ago, I went back to one place where I have felt me. I went to the YMCA. We have long since (over a year) not had a membership. Recently, my husband lost his job, and so a YMCA membership was something we couldn’t fathom, let alone afford. Still, though, I had to connect. I asked if I could volunteer again. I asked if I could just reach out, even during times that I might be hurting, because people (myself included) need people. I mentioned that I know God created us as community people, and I need that too. So, I turned in a volunteer application packet, and will soon be able to volunteer. I guess, to some, it may seem odd to be so excited about the ability to donate my time to make a difference in this community, and in other people’s lives. But, it isn’t at all silly. It’s real. I firmly believe that the heart of a hurting person can be brought so much joy from reaching out and serving others in such a way that life becomes about someone other than themselves.

I’ve learned that I may not have a rock solid identity, but I do know that there are things that make a difference. My purpose, through it all, however, remains. My purpose is to share smiles, and to share hope. It is to realize that in my not being alone, NO ONE in the world needs to feel alone. People – every person alive or dead – is or has a story. Every person alive is a living breathing story. Their story matters. Their life matters. THEY matter. That, and their story isn’t finished being written yet! The current chapter is JUST ONE chapter in a much larger – yet to be completed – book.

If you made it this far in reading this blog post, know that you have my gratitude. If you are hurting and not sure what your purpose in life is or where to find your identity, hold on. You’re still there. You’re still you. Don’t give up. YOUR life matters. Your hopes and dreams matter. Your story isn’t finished. Don’t give up! If you are hurting, or just want to chat, please don’t hesitate to seek help. Know, also, that I’m happy to talk it out if you’d like to post below or send me a message via my “contact me” page. I am grateful to not do life alone, and would be honored to walk alongside you in your journey as well!

Learning To Love The Lemonade

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Have you heard the age-old saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” or have you been fortunate enough to not hear that comment at every turn – especially when life isn’t so awesome!? Don’t get me wrong. I believe this statement is a good thing to remember – to look at the bright side, and not always dwell on the “lemons” that life hurls towards you.

I’d like to share somewhat of a life update, and give you a very practical update on how you can enjoy the tasty lemonade, even in the middle of sour lemons!

For those unaware of our family situation, my daughter has battled a rare and aggressive brain cancer. She had a brain tumor that was surgically removed, and then followed through with six weeks of daily radiation. After the completion of radiation, she underwent a high dose chemo therapy regimen. We’re ecstatic to say that our five year old daughter has completed treatment. At the end of treatment, her MRI/scans showed no evidence of the disease. She was deemed “cancer free” and we celebrate! We have scans coming up in two weeks to verify that she remains cancer free, and no recurrence.

Watching my child fight cancer has been the single most difficult thing I have ever walked through. As such, I have also learned to CHOOSE to see the good in things…to see a bright side in a dark room. So, let me share a little story with you.

As a “cancer kid,” my daughter was connected with Make A Wish. She was given the opportunity to make a wish. She could dream big. Her wish, like so many other little kiddos, was to go to Disney World, and to get the opportunity to meet the “real” princesses. We actually just went out of town last week for Janet’s wish trip. We did not post openly, or share online until our return. We were not trying to hide anything, but rather security conscious. We opted to not share openly so our house wasn’t a target for those who would seek to do harm. We are back now, and updates – we have plenty! This post, in fact, will be a summary of how things, even amazing things like a wish trip, can sometimes not go as planned — and how you can make a conscious decisions to make the lemonade instead of sulking and drowning in the sorrows of what could have been.

I would like to take you back to the day we left. That day started off magically. Our family was picked up and escorted to the airport in a limo! The awe of it all was precious to watch. The amazement in the children’s eyes was priceless. As we were whisked away, we just enjoyed the moment. We were all together as a family, and were at the beginning of what was pegged to be a magical vacation. As we got to the airport, but before boarding the plane, we noticed a small rash on one of our son’s wrists. Nothing big, but we kept an eye on it. We thought perhaps there was a couple of bug bites. That’s all it looked like. By the time we arrived in Orlando, it had spread a bit. As we checked into our magical village, Give Kids The World, we noticed it had continued to spread. The only troubling factor was that it spread all over his entire body, the palms of his hands and soles of his feet included. That evening, we contacted his pediatrician, and were urged to go to the local emergency room. So, we went to Arnold Palmer hospital for Children. Thankfully, we met some amazing and kind people. But, true to form as it seems to go with our family and medical “issues” – they were a little bit baffled by what was going on. His lymph nodes were a bit swollen, but that was chalked up to a recent strep throat infection. He’d been on antibiotics, and initially they thought a possible medication reaction, but that seemed to be also incorrect. They made mention of leukemia and also Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but said both were extremely unlikely, as there wasn’t other tell tale symptoms accompanying his rash. They also said it would be pointless to test at that point, as he’d so recently had the strep infection. We had four different doctors, and three separate nurses come by to check him out. They were baffled, but weren’t overly concerned. That said, there wasn’t much they could do, but did give us benedryl and send us on our merry way. We were told not to go out in a whole lot of public places for at least the next day or so, and until his rash started getting better not worse. So, that is what we did. We kept him home while his sister and brother went out and about and did a few things. We had some good time to bond, and just rest and relax together. While that started our trip, that would not bring us down.

The weather. We anticipated Florida being hot and sunny. We definitely got the first half of that equation. From the moment we got off the plane, we noted how muggy and hot it was. We also surmised it would likely rain or storm soon. What we didn’t know was just how much of our trip would be covered by this kind of weather! That first evening, we had a severe thunderstorm warning, along with a flood warning. We remained safe, but that was not the most fun time ever. When there was a break, I took the munchkin (Janet’s brother) to the hospital. That next morning, she and her brother went with their daddy to have some fun. There was a playground that is a life sized Candy Land play area. They were very excited to go there, but unfortunately it was closed due to inclement weather – previous, and evidently what was to come. So, they had a variety of other mostly indoor fun.

The next day was pretty much a repeat of that first day, weather wise. There were severe storms, and lots of lightening/thunder. At this point though, we were determined to not allow the weather to get the best of us. Jeremy’s rash was looking better as well, and so we made the trip to the Disney parks. We went to Epcot to start our adventure. Unfortunately, a decent amount was closed due to the weather. This, however, would not stop us from having fun and making those special memories. We had a blast, and got to experience some pretty cool Disney magic. Again, the weather prevented some of the attractions from working. A show or two were cancelled because they were solar powered, and there just was too much cloud cover to allow for enough energy and such. No worries, we’d still keep on keeping on! That evening, we made the decision to stay until the park closed, and watch the light / fireworks show. That was spectacular. Thankfully, the weather held off long enough to really enjoy that, and to get back to the vehicle. The light show mixed with the beautiful fireworks were awesome – and just the perfect mixture of fun to put a kid TO SLEEP!! Janet was out like a light – for the majority of the show. She was exhausted. Her little body isn’t used to so much activity. She was okay, just tired. We did take lots and lots of pictures, and video recorded the entire thing. We will watch it with her later. She seemed just fine with that idea!

The next day, and for the three days that would follow, we had more storms and rain. Lots and lots of rain. In fact, the first day we saw the sun peeking out of the clouds was the day before our departure. Not to worry. We learned to sing and dance in the rain – literally and figuratively. We went to Downtown Disney. Janet went to the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique, where she had her makeup and nails done, and was transformed into a little princess. Her princess makeover also included having her hair done. Well, she was concerned because she has virtually no hair. That was not a worry, however. The fairy helpers were so kind and had the perfect wig to complete her beautiful new look. She got to be princess Aurora as Sleeping Beauty. To watch her excitement through the process brought (happy) tears to my eyes. She knows without even the shadow of a doubt that she is beautiful, inside and out — and that hair isn’t the make or break point in being beautiful. She did, however, quite enjoy the wig and new look. She enjoyed the glamour and excitement of being a princess. She got to wear her wig, new dress and wand around for all to see. She even perfected the princess wave. That lasted for approximately ten minutes – until the wig was scratchy, and she wanted it off. No worries. She was beautiful beyond words, and was having fun. From there, we got to go run through the rain for a Disney princess photo shoot! We could have complained because of the crazy amount of rain, but we opted to have a good time, despite the stormy weather. She had her pictures taken without the wig, and was so happy to do so! After all, it captured HER right now…at this moment…with the fuzzy new hair she’s currently sporting.

From there, we went to a glamorous lunch. Well, that was the theory at least. In reality, it was overpriced, overcooked and not worth it. However, it was Disney, and we weren’t going to let over-priced less than exciting food ruin the rainy day. Instead, we let the kids get special drinks (Italian sodas for one, chocolate milk for one, and cranberry juice for the princess) and just enjoyed each other’s company.

The next day, we went to Universal Studios. We figured that would be a great place when the weather was still supposed to be rainy. We were told most of the attractions were either inside or under cover. And they were. It was the distance BETWEEN them that made us realize that it may or may not have been the best option. It was fine, however. We got to go on several rides and saw several attractions. There will be lots of pictures and videos to come. There were only a few rides that we took that Janet could not ride, due to being little. With this said, it was likely for the best because she’s too young to enjoy or not be scared by some of them anyway. We were able to just relax and spend time together as a family.

The following day was spent at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. One thing that I was determined we’d share as a family was “It’s a Small World” ride/attraction. I did that with my family when I was very little, and I wanted to share this magical experience with my own family. So, that was actually the first thing we decided to do at Magic Kingdom. We boarded the boat, and had a thrilling and relaxing little adventure. Janet lit up, and was in awe of every part of the ride. Her brothers even had a great time! When she was looking one direction, and her brothers thought she was in danger of missing something – they’d make sure she turned to look. We have lots of pictures, and also video from that experience as well. From there, we went to the big carousel. She and her brothers all wanted to ride a horsey. On our way to the entrance, we ran into a princess. She met Janet, and learned that we were there for her Make A Wish trip, and she took us just across the patio area to a very special spot – with the Magic Kingdom castle as a backdrop. That was neat. She had an onlooker use my phone to capture the picture, so I could be IN the picture WITH the kiddos. That was so neat. We then rode the merry go round. From there, we went to the Princess autograph and picture taking adventure. Janet got to meet the princess from Frozen, as well as Aurora. It was very neat for her, and for all of us. Pictures, of course, are coming! We went on lots of rides that day, and spent much quality time together. The kids all really enjoyed both Thunder Mountain and then Splash Mountain. After that, and to conclude our fun for the day, we took the train back to Main Street, so as to experience seeing the park from the train as a vantage point. That was also a neat experience.

Walking. Together, we did lots of walking. (We did have a stroller to use for Janet, and she was allowed to have her stroller function as a wheelchair when needed because she lacked enough energy to do a full day of fun, much less walking.) That came in quite handy, truth be told. There were times she wanted to be strolled, and there were times she wanted to be held/carried. There were not that many times that she actually wanted to walk. That was okay though…we took turns holding her, or letting her ride. Through it all, we were grateful to be there, and for the opportunity that had been afforded to our family.

Our final day, we had a flight late in the day, so decided to make one more adventuresome day. We went to Sea World. Though we didn’t have a full day, we got to see dolphins and flamingos. In all honesty, we weren’t able to go on a lot of rides, as Janet was too small for much of it, and we didn’t want to be drenched. So, we just enjoyed the surrounding area of the park, relaxed at an underground cove, and watched dolphins from below ground. That was a really cool experience.

Sadly, it was time to head to our departure. I wish I could tell you that it was an exciting time. The airlines welcomed us as a Make A Wish family, and that was neat. We had help when needed, and finally got to our gate for departure. As soon as we took our bathroom break, and got to our gate, it was time to board. We boarded and got comfortable. One disappointing thing we discovered when we landed was that one of our carry on bags had been misplaced, and likely left at the departure gate in Orlando. So, that was lovely. It was an important carry on, and included the kids and my medications. Thankfully, we have extras, and have filed the report to hopefully be reunited with our missing bag soon. We’re hoping this is a quick process. There were meds, kids toys, and some spare clothing in that mix. After baggage claim, a nice man greeted us, and took us off to the limo. We completed our Make A Wish trip with a limo ride home. It was beautiful, neat, and overall – amazing. We weren’t happy the magical trip had concluded, but were extremely happy to see our home.

That was until we walked inside. It was fine…or at least seemed that way. As we flushed the toilet, and attempted to refill my water bottle. It was at this moment that we discovered that the water had been cut off in our absence. We had made the payment online, and instead of that working, it evidently hadn’t gone through after all. So, yeah – that was a lovely welcome home surprise. Again, it was another opportunity to sip on the freshly squeezed lemonade. First thing this morning, we contacted the water company, and needed to go in person to make the payment. They assured us it would be turned on quickly, and apologized for the welcome home the way that it was! It wasn’t a bad transaction, and connecting with them wasn’t a hard process. It was annoying to have to go through, but hey – now we have water again. As we were trying to get them paid, we noted that the card we were using was denied. It turns out that having fraud protection is a great thing. Since there was questionable activity (we traveled outside our home and adjoining states) our accounts were temporarily frozen. I do say it was good to have this, because we realized that if our stuff had actually been stolen, having that protection in place is priceless. Just not when trying to get life back to normal, and payments processed! Not to worry, we did get that all taken care of. Now we have water again!

What was truly beautiful was watching our kids have fun – together – without the worry or concern of radiation, chemo or a hospital stay. Just watching my little girl, and her brothers be KIDS…kids being kids….that was and is priceless. So, while life gave us lemons, we enjoyed the lemonade.

I’d like to personally say thank you for the continued thoughts and prayers surrounding Janet, this trip, and our entire family. We are sincerely grateful for each and every person who connects with this blog and also Janet’s Facebook page. (Found at http://www.facebook.com/prayingforlittlejanet)

Unmerited Grace, Unwarranted Forgiveness, and Undeserved Love

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Grace. Forgiveness. Love.

These are three words that people throw around time and time again. I do, and you may too. The question is – do you believe that they are for everyone? Think about those people who are hard to extend grace to, who just don’t deserve forgiveness, and those who are really hard to love. Do you have a mental picture of someone in your head right now? I know I came up with several examples.

As an example, I will bring up a recent news event. A little ten year old girl was abducted. An amber alert was issued, and hope for her safe return was sent around the nation. We all went to bed that evening, many people nationwide praying for her to be returned home safely. The next morning, however, the news reports were heartbreaking. A man had been found, arrested and charged with her murder. Murder. Seems she wouldn’t be returning home safely after all. I know my heart broke with many, many people about this. My initial response was WHAT THE <insert expletive of your choice here> IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE???? Then, as the news story further unfolded, it was noted that this precious child had been abducted, molested, and then murdered. Harder to think about, this was all allegedly purported by someone many children trust every day – a teacher. This made me angry…and it should. This broke my heart…for what the little girl endured, but also for her family, and for those who loved her, and now will miss her.

Now that I have painted this hard to think about picture, I’d like to offer another scenario that will likely make your stomach turn. It may even make you angry. But, what I’d like, more than anything else, is for it to open a dialog. I’d like to hope you will at least think about it.

Let’s take this man. A man many people have called all sorts of names – many I will not repeat, cause they are not appropriate for general audience. That said, people have also been quick to explain what they’d like to do to this man. What punishment they’d give him, if it was their ability to do so. I bet you could imagine what your punishment for his crimes would be. Torture? Execution? Whatever method chosen, it would likely be very unpleasant, and likely painful.

So, about my scenario regarding the man charged with kidnapping, molestation and murder — Does he deserve grace? What about forgiveness? Surely not love!? Couldn’t be – he doesn’t DESERVE any of those things!! I would like to challenge this line of thinking!! No, he absolutely does NOT deserve grace, forgiveness OR love. The truth is, though, NONE of us do! God hates sin. ALL sin.

*******Prior to my continuing, I would like to insert this little caveat. While I am about to explain my thoughts about grace, forgiveness and love – as it relates to a criminal of his nature, I want to make it known how I also feel. I believe 100% that this man, provided he is found guilty of the aforementioned charges, should be held accountable. I think he should be punished, and every amount of the legal ramifications he is due, SHOULD be afforded him!!*******

Now I’d like to explain my thought process behind what I mentioned earlier. This man needs grace. He needs forgiveness, and he also needs love. As Christians, we are called to love as Jesus loved. What does this REALLY mean though? God’s grace is not earned, and you can never actually earn it. The same rings true about forgiveness. God forgives. Period. At this point, you may be thinking I am off my rocker! That may be, but not for these reasons. You see, every human being alive needs grace, forgiveness and love. Period. EVERY PERSON.

Does this mean we have to love (or even like) what he did? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But, if we are truly going to love as Jesus loved, we are going to dig deep, ask God for help if need be, and offer him love. This doesn’t mean we’d ever want to even look at him. It doesn’t mean you’d run up and give him a bear hug. It doesn’t mean you would ever invite him over for Christmas dinner. What it does mean, is that you’d want to see his heart softened, him come to know Jesus, him turn from his criminal ways, and ultimately end up in Heaven one day. Does he DESERVE it? No! But, I’m back to the same sentiment that NONE OF US DO! Should his crimes be forgiven? Not in the eyes of the law, and not as it relates to justice being served legally. What it DOES mean is that God gave his only son to die on the cross to forgive EVERYONE of their sins. This man’s horrible, despicable choices are no different. Jesus has already paid the price. As I mentioned previously, I absolutely believe he should be held accountable for the choices he made, and for the crimes he committed if he’s convicted. Grace does not erase what he’s done. It doesn’t make it all better. It does, however, give him the opportunity to do the right thing. It makes it possible for him to have a second chance.

I recognize this isn’t necessarily a popular topic, and I’m okay with that.

It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve done. God loves you, God forgives your sins (if you ask Him to) and He freely gives you grace. Knowing that God’s grace is freely given, that His forgiveness is for the taking, and His love is very real is not a ticket to commit crime. It is, however, the possibility of a second chance. It’s not even living a perfect, or blame free life. It’s knowing that you ARE human, and at some point – you WILL mess up. But, it’s the knowledge that God’s grace is sufficient to cover you, His forgiveness is available simply because you ask and make the choice to change, and His love – it’s yours because you are precious. You may not always feel precious, and you may not understand how anyone could love you – let alone the creator of the entire universe — but it’s true. You are loved.

Not Being Alone – Grateful For Phils Friends

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Something I continue to talk about is not being alone. This journey is so much easier to walk through knowing there are others who love our four year old (and us) and care. From the very beginning, I determined this is nothing I was willing to do alone, or to allow her to do alone.

As such, we were blessed to be able to connect with an organization that reaches out to cancer patients of all ages. This organization, Phil’s Friends has been instrumental in blessing SO many people, or family included. Phil, who started Phils Friends after his own fight with cancer not once, but twice, has a heart of gold. His testimony is such an inspiration to us. God’s love and peace was so much a part of his healing, of his story, he started this organization with the hopes of reaching others who are struggling with this. His faith was strengthened through this process, and he aims to share the same strength and hope with anyone through this organization.

A few weeks ago, Janet received a care package from Phils Friends. I posted pictures at the time. It came at the perfect timing. In the times since, we’ve aligned with this organization to help them share hope in any way possible. They have brought Janet (and countless others) so many smiles. Smiles do a body good!!

Anyway, that said – Phil was in town with his family this past weekend. Janet and I had the honor of meeting him and his family. There were hugs and many smiles. In the picture, you’ll see a semi-funny picture not seemingly related. It just shows Phil’s heart. My air was low in my tire, so he insisted that he help me – as he wanted to make sure we were safe. So, he helped out. So, I had to take a picture. Anyway, Phil actually brought a special care package for Janet to give to one of her special new friends at the hospital. What better time, cause her next inpatient stay starts tomorrow!

I would consider it an honor if you would repost and/or share this with anyone in your sphere of influence. Go to their page, like it, and let them know we sent you! More than that, let others know about them. You can find out more at their website as well.  If you aren’t local, they will mail care packages out. If you know anyone who could use some love and hope, please connect them with the page. If you feel inclined to sponsor or help in any other way, please also connect with them. If absolutely nothing else, please pray for them as they reach out to others.

September Is _______ Awareness Month!!

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If you turn on your computer, do a random search about causes, you’ll find it’s an awareness month for different things. This month, September is known to be a month to bring awareness to two very important things. You see, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.

I wrote the following on Facebook last night:

What’s on my mind. Awareness. As you all know, or have come to read from my cover photo, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Clearly, this is a cause near but not so dear to my heart. It affects so many people, our family included. I never, in a million years, saw myself making that statement. Let’s remember all those affected in some way, shape or form by this. Do what you can to raise awareness, and also to take action on behalf/honor of those who have lost battles, but also for those fighting, and those yet to fight this battle. Each child is precious.

Something else on my mind is awareness for something else. Suicide. As you may know from previous cover photos and many status updates – suicide is also something not unfamiliar to me. Did you know that September is also Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide is something else that holds way too many statistics. As you know, this is another topic that is near but again, not so dear to my heart. What I can tell you is that suicide is a real problem, and is a problem needing to be talked about. We need to do our parts as individuals and as groups to erase the stigma attached to this. Mental illness is very real, and is no laughing matter. Again, something I’m familiar with. If you know someone who is struggling, do NOT let them struggle in silence. Don’t let them tell you they’re okay when you know they’re not. Don’t let that fake smile be enough to say they’re okay. Dig deeper. Grow friendships more than skin deep. Be the friend you need in others.

No matter what your battle, or what you are struggling with, please KNOW that you are NOT alone. There is not a human being alive that needs to walk through life alone – through cancer, depression, etc. Don’t do it. Let others in. You are loved. Hope is real.

That is EXACTLY how I feel. This life is full of so many uncertainties. Nothing is guaranteed, and tomorrow isn’t promised. However, no matter WHAT curveballs life throws your way – NEVER lose hope. You are absolutely NOT alone!

If you’d like to connect and discuss either of these topics, you can feel free to contact me directly via “contact me” page, or you can post in comments. I look forward to continued dialog.

With Heartfelt Gratitude – Introducing Shiloh Chiropractic

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Normally,  you won’t find me spotlighting a particular company or business.  The truth of the matter is this – Shiloh Chiropractic is so much more than just a business.  Once you take the time to get to know them, you’ll soon realize they are more like a happy (with a hint of crazy) family. They are so much more than a doctors office or any medical practice. They are real people with lives, families and hearts of gold.  Let me tell you a little but about how we came to know and love these people.

If you have read my blog before, you have undoubtedly heard at some point that I have a for year old daughter who is fighting a rare and aggressive cancer. During our hospital stay after her brain surgery, we were introduced to Make A Wish. That was a defining moment in this journey. Her diagnosis became very real right then and there. Of course, it was already much more real than we card to think about. However, to hear you’re child is qualified for Make A Wish just kinda does something inside you. Without dwelling on that though, I’d like to share a bit about how this process has become so much easier to walk through and deal with.

As our family meet with the team of wish granters, the process unfolded in a way that we were totally at peace. The team explained that one of them had been a part of this one chiropractors office that had recently sponsored a child with Make A Wish. In fact, the office had voice the desire to reach out and share hope in a real way with another child. They were seeking to bless another wish kid. They asked if we’d be interested in meeting the office to see if we wanted them to help with Janet’s wish. Absolutely. The next day we met the office staff that would become very much a part of our lives.

We met them, and instantly felt at ease, and at peace. These were people we could tell cared. They cared not only about Janet, but also about our whole family. They have truly connected with Janet, and with all of our family. They are sponsoring her dream to become a princess and meet princesses at Disney World. They will help that dream become a reality for her. While we are absolutely grateful for that, we have hearts of gratitude for many more reasons. They have not only become Janet’s sponsor, but also chiropractic care as well.

The funny thing is, is I wasn’t actively seeking chiropractic care for me. I had looked around previously, but never really felt comfortable or like it was time to start it again. I say again because I know the value and benefit of chiropractic care – even though it had been over a decade since I’d had that. I now know why I never connected with another office here locally. It was for such a time as this. I have always said that things sometimes just happen in their own timing, in the right timing, and for a purpose. There is always a purpose.

As unsure of a journey we are now walking, there are things in our lives that absolutely make the journey not only bearable, but peaceful. Truth be told, this office is that for us. They are helping Janet’s wish become a reality, but also helping in so many other ways.

I’d like to dive in and take a look at the office staff that makes up Shiloh Chiropractic. From each doctor, down to every single member of the staff, these people are awesome. They operate with care and compassion, and have flexibility as well. (A characteristic we’ve come to value much in recent history!) I mentioned this before, but they absolutely do have hearts of gold. They care about each individual who walks through their doors. I can honestly say – from my own experience, and from talking to other patients while in the office – they have a welcoming atmosphere that promotes the ability to rest, relax and rejuvenate – to be like an oasis. I feel like a welcomed guest, not just a number in some records somewhere that walks in. They seem to genuinely care about what they do, and about people – and it shows. They ask how you are doing, or how your day is going – and they care enough to listen to your reply. They give you the time you need, while also being there for many other patients through the course of the day.

It is with heartfelt gratitude that I say thank you to all of Shiloh Chiropractic for being who they are, and for all they do. We are sincerely grateful.