They say third times a charm, but what do they call the fourth?
Seventeen years ago our lives changed. Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. After surgery, radiation, many 5Ks in honor of our mom, and over a decade later, as quickly as cancer came, cancer was again in the past. For our mom, this was not her first time having cancer though, it was just our family's first time. Let me back up to the beginning.
Julie Van Handel was beautiful, healthy, and full of life. It was December 1973 when she received the devastating news... she had cancer. I cannot imagine being twenty years old and trying to begin to comprehend this information. As if this news wasn't bad enough, she had another hurdle to cross: during surgery to remove her thyroid cancer they spilled the cancer cells into her blood stream sending the cancer throughout her entire body. Literally due to a miracle, since that could be the only explanation, the cancer cells disappeared. She was saved. We often think about this time in our mother's life because not only could that have been traumatic for someone so young to hear, but we wouldn't be here, our family wouldn't be here, our life IS because the life of this woman was saved that day.
Alright so that brings us to now. Our mother is the strongest woman we know, she has survived cancer twice, wife of 45 years, the most selflessly loving mother to my brother and me, "Lulie" to six grandchildren, and my best friend. We have so many memories, so many trips, so many things that we need to be thankful for in those seventeen years since her lung cancer diagnosis that we wouldn't change any of it. Unfortunately at the end of 2018 we found out that the radiation to cure my mom's lung cancer had now unfortunately brought on a new beast to conquer called Osteosarcoma. This bone cancer is a rare, aggressive type of cancer and commonly reoccurring. In January she went under a major surgery which removed several bones in her chest cavity. The reconstruction was invasive and her recovery was hard. They removed the cancer but recovery included several trips back to the hospital to drain fluid from her lungs and yet another surgery to repair her lung this last July. Since July she has been working hard to get her life back to "normal" and emotionally recover from her third and hopefully final bout of cancer.
Yesterday, on November 11th we received more devastating news that my mom's osteosarcoma has returned in a fast growing tumor right on the outside of the chest cavity, near the same place where the cancer was before, and it has spread to her lungs. How could this be? In the two months since her last scan, which showed her still clear of cancer it has grown to this extent?! It has been less than a year and this is the FOURTH time?! So many thoughts have crossed our minds but the only one that makes sense is that God only gives us as much as we can handle and per my mom's life to prove it, if anyone can beat this a fourth time, it IS her.
Our mom will undergo her third surgery this year, next week, to remove the tumor. I have avoided making a Caring Bridge site up until this point but am now hopeful that using this avenue can help start an even further network of prayer and hope. Please pray for our family, that this surgery is once again successful and gives our mom even more time to create even more memories in our lives and in her grandchildren's lives. Please pray that this cancer does not return. Please pray that cancer, although a part of our mom's entire life, can be absent for the remainder of it. Please pray that the incredible strength of this woman physically and emotionally continues.
We have also set up a go-fund me for our parents. If you feel helpless like we do, maybe this can help alleviate some of their stresses- whether it be to help with the bills, or send them on a trip once she recovers, or even contribute to that walk-in closet Lulie has wanted her entire life.
On behalf of our family, whether you believe in the incredible power of prayer or feel you want to help monetarily, we want to say thank you and we appreciate you all so much. Alright Lulie, Mommy, Wife, and my best friend....you got this, and we've got you. https://www.gofundme.com/f/1t5zosiomo?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1