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July 24, 2016 the night that changed our lives forever. The night we started on a new journey into uncharted waters. “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” NIV
Before I tell about this new journey, I would like to tell you a little about how I got to where I am today. I am the oldest of 4 daughters born into a loving family. I was very shy and fearful. At the age of 10 I invited Jesus into my heart at the end of VBS. Little happened after that as far as teaching and discipleship, but I knew I had been saved and believed in the power of prayer. I also became less fearful. My mother was expecting my youngest sister and having a very difficult pregnancy. Both mother and baby were not expected to live, I prayed day and night for months and a miracle happened. Both survived!
When I entered Jr. High School I was invited to attend the youth group at 9th St. UMC. That is where I was discipled and taught about Jesus and my walk with the Lord. The saints of the church loved me and accepted me as one of their own. It wasn’t long before I was attending Sunday School and AM church service as well as the evening services. This is where I met my husband Frank and we were married over 51 years ago. We dedicated our 4 children to the Lord there and grew in our walk with the Lord. From the beginning Frank and I have been a team, serving side by side. I thank God daily for this strong Christian man God brought into my life.
Forty years ago God provided Frank with a job in North Carolina and we left our family, church family and friends to go what seemed like around the world. God was good in providing us with good Christian friends and opportunities to serve and continue to grow in our faith. In 1994 we moved our membership to our neighborhood church Baptist Home Baptist Church. Since that time we have answered the call of the Lord to be involved in the Great Commission. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. “ Matthew 28:19-20
We have been blessed to serve in North Carolina, the United States, andaround the world: Cambodia, Vietnam, Russia, Brazil, Peru, Honduras, Israel, Egypt, Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, and Kenya. Each trip has been more of a blessing to us than we have been to the people we have gone to serve. We have a love for the lost of the world. We have developed friendships and family in many of the countries we have gone to serve, as well as mission trip team members. However, Kenya is our second home; we have spent many months, probably more like years in Kenya and have a special love for the Kenyan people; we consider so many our children and grandchildren. Our love is deep and wide. Isn’t it amazing how love works, it just keeps on growing; there is not a limit on our capacity to love.
We have grown in our faith by the Pastors that have taught us the Word and preached Truth. This has taken us out of our comfort zone ( I am still an introvert) and challenged us to step out in faith and follow the plan that God has for our lives. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Another way that the Lord has grown me in the faith is through BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). About 10 years ago I started attending BSF, an International Bible Study that lasts 9 months, from September to May. I have learned so much about the Word and how to study the Word, but most of all the importance of spending quality time with my Lord each day; to just praise and worship Him as a part of my Bible Study. I can see how the studies I have been a part of has prepared me for this new journey. Last year we studied Revelation, my favorite of all the studies we have done. Throughout the study you can see God’s love, mercy, grace and His desire for all to come to Him and not perish, as well as His judgment. He is a God of second chances and even more. This study filled me with the urgency to tell everyone about God’s saving grace, about how much He loves all people. “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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17
I have failed my God so many times within my family and here in the states. It is so much easier to speak boldly on mission trips and that is a shame! I should be bolder with those I love the most!!!
We have experienced some serious health issues with Frank and I have always been the care giver. Isn’t that what mothers and wives do? This new journey is very humbling to be the one being served and cared for.
In June most of our family, our 3 daughters, 2 sons-in-law and seven oldest grandchildren went to Yellowstone National Park for a family vacation. Our son and daughter in law and 3 year old granddaughter and new born granddaughter did not make it. We had a great time hiking and seeing all of God’s beautiful creation. It was so good to spend that time with everyone. I am so thankful that I was not sick and was able to enjoy this trip. I was having some pain and discomfort but Advil every 4 hours, pain patches and massages helped me enjoy my trip.
After returning home I found that I was getting tired very easily and having even more pain in my side and lower abdomen. I finally called my family doctor and asked if I should see him or go to the gastroenterologist. He made me an appointment with the gastroenterologist for the next week. By the time I went for my appointment I was really starting to feel bad. He made an appointment to have a CT the next day which was a Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon he called to say that I had fluid in the abdomen and it was also pressing on my lungs and I needed to have the fluid drained and a biopsy on my stomach. Thursday I went in for the procedure but things had changed so that I could hardly breathe and had a cough. It was decided that I needed the fluid removed from around my lungs first. They drained 1 ½ liters and we were told that was only 1/3 of the fluid. The doctor then made another appointment for Monday to do the biopsy on my stomach. This never happened. I started getting sicker by the day and by Sunday evening I was very sick. A doctor friend told Frank to take me to Forsyth Medical Center. That takes me to the beginning of this new journey we are on.
After spending most of the night in the emergency room my new doctor came in at 4:00 AM to give us the diagnosis that he and the emergency room doctor agreed on. He would need to do some test to confirm the diagnosis. He said that I had peritoneal carcinomatosis and ovarian cancer. My heart never skipped a beat, I was as calm as I could be, it was like OK, Lord, why not me, what is next? “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgement” 2 Timothy 1:7
Frank had a hard time with the word cancer at first, but now sees this as a way to glorify our Lord. (I would have had more trouble if it had been him rather than me.)
This was followed by CT scan, PET scan, 3 times fluid being drawn off my lungs (about 2 liters each time and one time 1 ½ liters off my abdomen, chest x-rays, port for chemo, etc. After several days the diagnosis was confirmed, stage 4 ovarian cancer.
The treatment was to begin as soon as possible. I would have chemo one day a week for 3 weeks then a rest week; this would be one cycle. I would have between 3 and 6 cycles, then be tested to see if the tumors had shrunk enough for surgery. At the proper time I would have surgery to remove all my female parts; this would be followed with more chemo and radiation.
We believe that I am healed but that I do have a journey before seeing the healing completed. God has taken me to 3 verses to confirm this belief. “When Jesus heard that (Lazarus was sick) He said This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4 and “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain …but being confident in this I know that I shall remain and continue with you…” Philippians 1:21,25 It is our hearts' desire that the Lord will be glorified through the journey with cancer. We are concentrating on the Can in cancer. To God be the Glory!