Jill Costello's Journal
Written Dec 2, 2009 3:59pmHi everyone!
I don't know how else to describe my feelings but to say that I am truly OVERWHELMED by your amazing love and support. I would have to say I had my best birthday yet yesterday. I celebrated with family at my brother Kevin's "swearing in" ceremony to the California Bar in the morning and with friends at a beautiful dinner at T-Rex BBQ last night. I was blown away by EACH AND EVERY donation to my "birthday wish." Together, 111 contributors raised $4019!!!!! YOU ARE AMAZING! I cannot thank you enough.
This video from the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Gala explains exactly how you are helping knock out lung cancer, and I am featured! http://www.stefansargent.com/alcmi.html
In other news, we're done with round #9 and my body is still holding up strong! My liver and kidneys are functioning normally, even though they're being pummeled with toxic drugs. By physical exam, Dr. Grant thinks the "fleck" left in my breast is most likely just scar tissue. Both tumor markers ("CEA" and "CA-125") continue to drop.
Next Monday, December 7th, Team Jill will be in for scans once again. Please help me by visualizing N.E.D. (no evidence of disease)! I believe in miracles.
With all my love and thanks,
Written Nov 25, 2009 1:59amTwo more things!
My new favorite song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUWJ6X21fPk&NR=1
My birthday wish: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/birthdays/222474
Written Nov 25, 2009 1:30amHi everyone!
I'm headed in tomorrow for #9, another long day, but one more step towards PERFECT health. I don't have anything profound to say, but, as usual, my mama does...
Thanksgiving seemed at first to be a rather ironic holiday for us this year. But with further reflection, perhaps it is more meaningful than any other we have experienced. This year, more than any other, we see so clearly that we have so much for which to be so thankful.
To borrow from Eleanor Roosevelt, it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. So while we accept the dark challenge with which we have been presented this year, we celebrate the many blessings with which we have also been presented and which light our world.
Auntie K, aka Joan of Arc, reminds us that we don’t look for a giant miracle, like a cure in the morning, but rather recognize and accept the many little miracles that we are blessed with each day and which help us along on this unexpected journey:
Jill was able to finish her junior year at Cal, complete with a Pac-10 championship and a second place championship at the NCAA Nationals—the diagnosis waited for her return from Philadelphia.
That infamous day, June 5th, came after she had completed her finals and her friends were returning home from college and were able to give her heartwarming support throughout the summer—and she had the summer months to adjust to her “new normal.” While coping with the sudden change in her summer plans, Jill was also able to watch sunsets with friends, share some summer fun at Whispering Pines, and enjoy the beauty of Lake Tahoe. (Of course, Jill being “Jill the Pill”, when the doctor told her to “take it easy” in the high altitude, she went kayaking on the Lake and rafting down the Truckee River!) She went to tea parties, laughed with loving friends, walked on the beach and planted a garden.
The “Daddy Network”, composed of the fathers of her friends who are doctors, replaced our usual “Mommy Network” and gave us awesome support and information and guidance when we were first confronted by this astonishing tsunami—two even stayed with her in the surgical suite when her port surgery was delayed so she wouldn’t be alone—astonishing kindness and thoughtfulness. Many cancer survivors bravely stepped forward to share their stories and successes and reinforce our hope. Perhaps most importantly, they assured us that peace awaits us someday.
In just a few days, family and friends arranged an unbelievable prayer service that filled the church while we were getting our first chemotherapy session in the hospital—we so deeply felt the power of those prayers as we prayed, too, and watched the sunset over the majestic Golden Gate.
Medically speaking, we are thankful for an awesome health care team which facilitated amazingly fast diagnostic tests and initiated immediate treatment. We are also thankful to live in the Bay Area, where many of the country’s leading lung oncologists are available and to whom we were, miraculously, given access. To anyone who ever gave a penny to cancer research—thank you, we are reaping the benefits.
Although Jill has an extraordinary challenge to her health, God also blessed her with an extraordinarily strong body, will and spirit. The doctors are amazed with her strength and her ability to withstand very aggressive chemotherapy—she withstands it and she continues to live her life. As I said before, unbeknownst to all of us, I believe Jillian has been in training for this battle all her life--physically and mentally and spiritually. I am in awe of my daughter.
Jill is blessed with unfailing faith in God, and it sustains her as she knows God has a very special plan for her and holds her in His Hands. Faith is accepting His plan, while not understanding the “why”. Faith is the greatest miracle of all.
We choose to be thankful this Wednesday, when Jill receives Round #9—thankful that this therapy is available, thankful that she can withstand it, and thankful that it is shrinking her tumors. We are thankful that Jill’s liver, kidney and immune system are so strong that after an unprecedented 8 rounds of Cisplatin, Jill will have one more. We hope you will pray for us especially on Wednesday.
We are thankful for the many glorious life lessons we received in the past few months. We learned of the magnificent innate kindness and generosity of so many—some who knew us, many who didn’t—who just wanted to do something, anything, to help us. To anyone who ever whispered a prayer with Jill’s name in it—you helped us. We are thankful that Jill has never known a day when she was not surrounded by love and positive energy. From Bishop George of India to the Virginia crew team to Maureen O’s Aunt Nancy to the Genentech staff—the prayers and support have been many times so unexpected and surprising—and always, so welcome.
We are thankful for the recognition that every day holds joy if we open our hearts to it; that wildflowers bloom where we never planted anything.
We have also been blessed, so wondrously and joyously, with an unbelievable “village” which has stepped forth in countless ways to help us face this inconceivable challenge. We had no idea such a mighty village supported us and so many “warrior angels” surrounded us. From flowers left on the porch, to cookies, dinners, books, holy water, moose slippers!, caringbridge notes, cards, words of encouragement, massages—and most generously, your prayers and faith—we have felt, on every day and on every step of this journey, your love and strength. We are so thankful for all of you—your support has been so amazing, and truly, it holds us up when our legs are wobbly, it pushes against our backs and sends us forward. It gives us hope when despair tries to creep in the door.
In the past six months, all I have tried to be is the mother that Jillian needs me to be. I have tried instinctively and blindly, without a road map or a “how-to” book. From the bottom of my heart, I so gratefully thank all of you for your kind and generous support and guidance in my mission.
Jill’s birthday is December 1st. I remember so clearly holding my beautiful new baby in the hospital and thanking God for this wondrous gift. If I could have looked forward 22 years and seen all that the years would bring, I would have said even more gratefully, “Yes, yes, thank you God for this blessed gift!”
So, we choose to embrace this very special Thanksgiving Day.
We choose to acknowledge and give thanks for our many blessings. We give thanks for all of YOU!
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.
I pray that you all have a joyous day, that you are surrounded by people you love, and that your bounty is great.
(I am uploading some pictures from the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation Gala on Nov 21: Jill, Bryce and Taylor--a new friend, now 23, who at 21 was also diagnosed with lung cancer--her scans now remain clear; Jill and Bonnie Addario, a cancer survivor and a miracle worker; Jill and Dr. Heather Wakelee, our angel at Stanford-don't tell anyone from Cal!)
Thank you for your continued prayers and support!