CANCER...OUR FAMILY'S JOURNEY

ovarian cancer

So two years ago, our lives changed unexpectedly & drastically!  My mom  (Carol's mom) was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer! And yes...that's as awful as it sounds...no, much worse.  We really had very little idea of what that meant but it didn't take long before we did.  It meant immediate radical surgery; it meant putting plans and life on hold; it meant fear; it meant tears and uncertainty...and so much more that can't be expressed in words.   

ovarian cancer

We knew it was going to be tough, but we really were clueless as to how tough it would be.  Thank God for that!!!  There's something to be said for not knowing what lies ahead.  It's scary, but I really wouldn't want to know how hard thing are going to be!  Just taking it one step at a time is enough, right? :-)  We had strength for the moment and that's all that was needed. 

SOME OF MOM'S SUPPORT TEAM...AKA "TEAM NANA" - FAMILY & FRIENDS...EACH WERE A VITAL PART OF THE JOURNEY! IN CASE YOU WEREN'T SURE, "NANA" IS IN THE STRIPED SHIRT.❤

SOME OF MOM'S SUPPORT TEAM...AKA "TEAM NANA" - FAMILY & FRIENDS...EACH WERE A VITAL PART OF THE JOURNEY! IN CASE YOU WEREN'T SURE, "NANA" IS IN THE STRIPED SHIRT.❤

So here's what we did know...we knew it would be crazy hard!  What we didn't know was that our sweet Jesus had pockets of delight and beauty in the midst of our pain and tears.  The most beautiful things unfolded before our eyes.  We got to see what an amazing impact our Mama had made on so many lives throughout the years.  The outpouring of love on her has been absolutely breathtaking! (Keep scrolling to see what I mean...and these photos are just a tiny glimpse of the love poured out).  Friends, Family coworkers and even strangers have been a part of her beautiful journey thus far.  So many moments, mom was completely overwhelmed by all the love poured out on her, and we just kept reminding her that she has poured her life into so many for years, and this was just part of the return on her investment.  She has been so completely humbled by it all.  I would definitely say that she has been more overcome by love and support than by Cancer itself!  Take that, Cancer!!!

ALLEN'S PARENTS - SOME OF MOM'S SWEETEST "BEHIND THE SCENES" SUPPORTERS...SUPPORTING ME AND MY FAMILY WHILE WE TOOK CARE OF NANA. 

ALLEN'S PARENTS - SOME OF MOM'S SWEETEST "BEHIND THE SCENES" SUPPORTERS...SUPPORTING ME AND MY FAMILY WHILE WE TOOK CARE OF NANA. 

MOM'S "CHEMO-SABIES", AS SHE CALLED THEM...AKA THE AMAZING LADIES MOM DID CHEMO WITH - ON THEIR OWN JOURNEY BUT ALL HOLDING EACH OTHER UP. A GIFT INDEED!

MOM'S "CHEMO-SABIES", AS SHE CALLED THEM...AKA THE AMAZING LADIES MOM DID CHEMO WITH - ON THEIR OWN JOURNEY BUT ALL HOLDING EACH OTHER UP. A GIFT INDEED!

Another beautiful part of this journey has been more time together than we ever imagined.  Time spent sitting together while chemo dripped into mom's veins, all the while wondering if it would work; time spent just sitting together during chemo-crash days (yes, chemo-crash is totally a thing); and time spent crying together over exhaustion and laughing together over memories of the past & dreaming of hopes for the future. The most lovely moments were spent reliving God's goodness and mercy on our lives...just being amazed by His love!!!  He has truly been so good to us!  

A SMALL PART OF OUR AMAZINGLY AWESOME AND HUGE FAMILY! SEE THE 2 STANDING 2nd & 3rd ONES IN FROM LEFT? THAT IS MY STEPSISTER AND HER DAUGHTER.  THEY LIVE NEAR MY MOM AND WERE MOM'S RIGHT ARM THRU ALL THIS.  MY TWIN & I COULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN THROUGH  THIS WITHOUT THEM, FOR SURE! 

A SMALL PART OF OUR AMAZINGLY AWESOME AND HUGE FAMILY! SEE THE 2 STANDING 2nd & 3rd ONES IN FROM LEFT? THAT IS MY STEPSISTER AND HER DAUGHTER.  THEY LIVE NEAR MY MOM AND WERE MOM'S RIGHT ARM THRU ALL THIS.  MY TWIN & I COULDN'T HAVE GOTTEN THROUGH  THIS WITHOUT THEM, FOR SURE! 

A SWEET FRIEND MADE THUS GORGEOUS CAKE FOR MOM'S SURVIVOR PARTY THAT WE THREW!

A SWEET FRIEND MADE THUS GORGEOUS CAKE FOR MOM'S SURVIVOR PARTY THAT WE THREW!

ONE OF OUR SWEET DAUGHTERS AND ADORABLE NEPHEW.

ONE OF OUR SWEET DAUGHTERS AND ADORABLE NEPHEW.

My AMAZING MOM AND HER SISTER IN LAW. CHECK OUT HER GORGEOUS SHIRT SHE MADE IN SUPPORT OF MOM! BY THE WAY, MOM'S SASH SAYS "OVERCOMER" - BASED ON ONE OF HER FAVORITE SONGS BY MANDISA.

My AMAZING MOM AND HER SISTER IN LAW. CHECK OUT HER GORGEOUS SHIRT SHE MADE IN SUPPORT OF MOM! BY THE WAY, MOM'S SASH SAYS "OVERCOMER" - BASED ON ONE OF HER FAVORITE SONGS BY MANDISA.

MAMA AND ONE OF HER "CHEMO-SABIES".  A PRECIOUS MOMENT IN WHICH THEY CHOSE TO TAKE THE HAT AND WIG OFF FOR A PHOTO AND JUST BE PROUD OF BEING SURVIVORS...WITH OR WITHOUT HAIR.  PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING!

MAMA AND ONE OF HER "CHEMO-SABIES".  A PRECIOUS MOMENT IN WHICH THEY CHOSE TO TAKE THE HAT AND WIG OFF FOR A PHOTO AND JUST BE PROUD OF BEING SURVIVORS...WITH OR WITHOUT HAIR.  PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING!

MAMA AND ONE OF HER MOST PRECIOUS FRIENDS- WHO HELPED SANITIZE HER HOUSE, DROVE HER BACK & FORTH TO CHEMO AND LOVED ON HER ANY & EVERY WAY POSSIBLE. THIS WAS TAKEN ON CHRISTMAS DAY...ONLY A FEW DAYS AFTER MOM'S LAST CHEMO OF 2014. PLEASE EXCUSE THE BAD LIGHTING AND COLOR...THE MOMENT WAS TOO TOO PRECIOUS TO BE PERFECT!

MAMA AND ONE OF HER MOST PRECIOUS FRIENDS- WHO HELPED SANITIZE HER HOUSE, DROVE HER BACK & FORTH TO CHEMO AND LOVED ON HER ANY & EVERY WAY POSSIBLE. THIS WAS TAKEN ON CHRISTMAS DAY...ONLY A FEW DAYS AFTER MOM'S LAST CHEMO OF 2014. PLEASE EXCUSE THE BAD LIGHTING AND COLOR...THE MOMENT WAS TOO TOO PRECIOUS TO BE PERFECT!

AND HERE WE ARE...THANKSGIVING 2015 - AFTER A 5K!!! YES, MY MAMA'S A WARRIOR! SHE'S THE 3RD FROM LEFT, STANDING. 

AND HERE WE ARE...THANKSGIVING 2015 - AFTER A 5K!!! YES, MY MAMA'S A WARRIOR! SHE'S THE 3RD FROM LEFT, STANDING. 

MOM AND A SUPPORTIVE CO-WORKER & FRIEND, WHO HAS JOURNEYED WITH HER, IN SPITE OF HER OWN DIFFICULT JOURNEY.

MOM AND A SUPPORTIVE CO-WORKER & FRIEND, WHO HAS JOURNEYED WITH HER, IN SPITE OF HER OWN DIFFICULT JOURNEY.

MY TWIN!!, MC-ING AT MAMA'S PARTY! SHE ROCKS!

MY TWIN!!, MC-ING AT MAMA'S PARTY! SHE ROCKS!

IF YOU DON'T KNOW OUR FAMILY, YOU WON'T EVEN BELIEVE WHO THIS IS! THIS IS MY DAD & OUR SON, AT MY MOM'S SURVIVOR PARTY!  SO MY PARENTS GOT DIVORCED WHEN I WAS A TEEN AND BOTH REMARRIED & MY 4 PARENTS HAVE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP YOU CAN EVER IMAGINE! IT HAS INVOLVED FORGIVENESS, GRACE, SACRIFICE AND LOVE...TRULY MIRACULOUS! MY MOM & DAD'S WIFE CALL EACH OTHER WIFE-IN-LAWS. SO SWEET. GOD HAS USED THIS JOURNEY TO JUST DRAW US ALL CLOSER!

IF YOU DON'T KNOW OUR FAMILY, YOU WON'T EVEN BELIEVE WHO THIS IS! THIS IS MY DAD & OUR SON, AT MY MOM'S SURVIVOR PARTY!  SO MY PARENTS GOT DIVORCED WHEN I WAS A TEEN AND BOTH REMARRIED & MY 4 PARENTS HAVE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP YOU CAN EVER IMAGINE! IT HAS INVOLVED FORGIVENESS, GRACE, SACRIFICE AND LOVE...TRULY MIRACULOUS! MY MOM & DAD'S WIFE CALL EACH OTHER WIFE-IN-LAWS. SO SWEET. GOD HAS USED THIS JOURNEY TO JUST DRAW US ALL CLOSER!

OUR PRECIOUS SON WELCOMING GUESTS TO MOM'S PARTY.

OUR PRECIOUS SON WELCOMING GUESTS TO MOM'S PARTY.

MORE "TEAM NANA"... AMAZED THAT WE ALL GET TO CELEBRATE ANOTHER YEAR OF CHRISTMAS TOGETHER. FAR LEFT IS MY PRECIOUS STEP-DAD, WHO HAS LOVED US ALL SO WELL, BUT ESPECIALLY MY MOM THROUGHOUT THIS DIFFICULT JOURNEY.

MORE "TEAM NANA"... AMAZED THAT WE ALL GET TO CELEBRATE ANOTHER YEAR OF CHRISTMAS TOGETHER. FAR LEFT IS MY PRECIOUS STEP-DAD, WHO HAS LOVED US ALL SO WELL, BUT ESPECIALLY MY MOM THROUGHOUT THIS DIFFICULT JOURNEY.

MY BROTHER & HIS FIANCE WITH MY NEPHEW - ANOTHER VITAL PART OF "TEAM NANA".

MY BROTHER & HIS FIANCE WITH MY NEPHEW - ANOTHER VITAL PART OF "TEAM NANA".

MY MOM...AND HER MOM. SERIOUSLY CAN'T TYPE THAT WITHOUT TEARS.  MY GRANDMA HAS BEEN SUCH A PRAYER WARRIOR FOR ALL OF US.

MY MOM...AND HER MOM. SERIOUSLY CAN'T TYPE THAT WITHOUT TEARS.  MY GRANDMA HAS BEEN SUCH A PRAYER WARRIOR FOR ALL OF US.

There's no way we could have predicted what the last 2 years have held for our family - the challenges, the tears, the closeness, the joy.   We had no idea what God had planned for us in the midst of the struggles, but this we know..."Our God is good and we can trust Him".  A beautiful person at our marriage retreat shared those words that she held onto in the middle of her grief and pain. I have since adopted them, because it reminds me that when  life doesn't make sense (as is the case in the word right now), there is a higher power, our almighty God that is still in charge and loves us eternally.

I could go on about God's goodness but will save it for another day.  For now, I will just end by thanking all who have been a part of this crazy journey with us. From encouraging  cards, phone calls, yummy meals, donating sick leave, just coming and sitting with us, and especially praying  for mom & all of us, each little act of love has not gone unnoticed. All of you are part of Team Nana and we are so grateful for you!

MY MOM & HER SISTERS (& THEIR MOM)....THEY WERE AMAZING THROUGHOUT - WATCHING OVER HER, TRANSPORTING HER, AND BEING SUCH A SUPPORT FOR MOM- MOST OF THE TIME IN THE BACKGROUND.  ISN'T THAT JUST LIKE SISTERS? ❤

MY MOM & HER SISTERS (& THEIR MOM)....THEY WERE AMAZING THROUGHOUT - WATCHING OVER HER, TRANSPORTING HER, AND BEING SUCH A SUPPORT FOR MOM- MOST OF THE TIME IN THE BACKGROUND.  ISN'T THAT JUST LIKE SISTERS? ❤

ALLEN'S SIS & FAMILY SHOWING SOME CRAZY LOVE & SUPPORT FOR MOM.  THEY HELPED HOLD THINGS TOGETHER ON THE BACK-END  (FOR ALLEN & I AND KIDS), WHILE I TRAVELED BACK & FORTH TO CARE FOR MOM.  ON A JOURNEY LIKE THIS, SUPPORT FOR THE SUPPORTERS IS CRUCIAL...AND THAT'S JUST WHAT THEY WERE.

ALLEN'S SIS & FAMILY SHOWING SOME CRAZY LOVE & SUPPORT FOR MOM.  THEY HELPED HOLD THINGS TOGETHER ON THE BACK-END  (FOR ALLEN & I AND KIDS), WHILE I TRAVELED BACK & FORTH TO CARE FOR MOM.  ON A JOURNEY LIKE THIS, SUPPORT FOR THE SUPPORTERS IS CRUCIAL...AND THAT'S JUST WHAT THEY WERE.

MOM'S CO-WORKERS...SEE WHAT I MEAN...AN OUTPOURING OF LOVE THAT IS OVERWHELMING!

MOM'S CO-WORKERS...SEE WHAT I MEAN...AN OUTPOURING OF LOVE THAT IS OVERWHELMING!

ONE OF MY FAVS...MY MAMA HOLDING HER YOUNGEST GRANDCHILD- WHO WAS BORN IN EARLY 2014.  WE ALL KEPT SAYING THAT HE WAS THE BEST THING THAT CAME OUT OF 2014! I MEAN, LOOK AT THAT SMILE! GOD KNEW WE WOULD NEED A LITTLE ANGEL TO GET US THROUGH!

ONE OF MY FAVS...MY MAMA HOLDING HER YOUNGEST GRANDCHILD- WHO WAS BORN IN EARLY 2014.  WE ALL KEPT SAYING THAT HE WAS THE BEST THING THAT CAME OUT OF 2014! I MEAN, LOOK AT THAT SMILE! GOD KNEW WE WOULD NEED A LITTLE ANGEL TO GET US THROUGH!

MORE OF MAMA'S SWEET GRANDS...SOME OF THE OLDER ONES....AND MOM'S DAUGHTER-IN-LAW.❤

MORE OF MAMA'S SWEET GRANDS...SOME OF THE OLDER ONES....AND MOM'S DAUGHTER-IN-LAW.❤

THIS WARRIOR WOMEN WITH MY MOM (on right) IS ONE OF HER DEAREST FRIENDS...MORE LIKE A SISTER & HAS BEEN LIKE A MOM TO ME SINCE I WAS A CRAZY TEENAGER. SHE HAS JOURNEYED WITH US THROUGH SOME REALLY TOUGH THINGS- THIS JOURNEY HAS BEEN THE TOUGHEST YET THOUGH.  SHE PRETTY MUCH PUT HER LIFE ON HOLD THROUGHOUT THIS. IN ADDITION, SHE IS MOM'S PERSONAL TRAINER - ALWAYS KNOWING WHEN TO PUSH HER AND WHEN SHE NEEDS TO REST.  SHE IS ONE OF THE REASONS I WAS ABLE TO LEAVE MOM SOMETIMES AND COME HOME TO MY KIDS & HUSBAND. I KNEW SHE WAS IN GREAT HANDS WITH THIS FRIEND.

THIS WARRIOR WOMEN WITH MY MOM (on right) IS ONE OF HER DEAREST FRIENDS...MORE LIKE A SISTER & HAS BEEN LIKE A MOM TO ME SINCE I WAS A CRAZY TEENAGER. SHE HAS JOURNEYED WITH US THROUGH SOME REALLY TOUGH THINGS- THIS JOURNEY HAS BEEN THE TOUGHEST YET THOUGH.  SHE PRETTY MUCH PUT HER LIFE ON HOLD THROUGHOUT THIS. IN ADDITION, SHE IS MOM'S PERSONAL TRAINER - ALWAYS KNOWING WHEN TO PUSH HER AND WHEN SHE NEEDS TO REST.  SHE IS ONE OF THE REASONS I WAS ABLE TO LEAVE MOM SOMETIMES AND COME HOME TO MY KIDS & HUSBAND. I KNEW SHE WAS IN GREAT HANDS WITH THIS FRIEND.

MY TWIN & HER SMILEY FAMILY.  NEVER HAVE I BEEN MORE GRATEFUL FOR SIBLINGS THAN THIS TIME. TAG-TEAMING WITH WITH HER & MY STEPSIS MADE IT ALL DOABLE. WE LAUGHED TOGETHER, WEPT TOGETHER AND HAVE BONDED MORE THAN  WE EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE. SWEET BLESSINGS. AND OUR HUSBANDS WERE THE MOST AMAZING SUPPORT FOR US DURING THIS TIME - HOLDING US UP WHEN IT WAS TOO MUCH TO BEAR, LETTING US TRAVEL BACK & FORTH ALL YEAR, & HOLDING DOWN THE FORT IN OUR ABSENCE. THEY ARE OUR SWEETEST GIFTS!

MY TWIN & HER SMILEY FAMILY.  NEVER HAVE I BEEN MORE GRATEFUL FOR SIBLINGS THAN THIS TIME. TAG-TEAMING WITH WITH HER & MY STEPSIS MADE IT ALL DOABLE. WE LAUGHED TOGETHER, WEPT TOGETHER AND HAVE BONDED MORE THAN  WE EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE. SWEET BLESSINGS. AND OUR HUSBANDS WERE THE MOST AMAZING SUPPORT FOR US DURING THIS TIME - HOLDING US UP WHEN IT WAS TOO MUCH TO BEAR, LETTING US TRAVEL BACK & FORTH ALL YEAR, & HOLDING DOWN THE FORT IN OUR ABSENCE. THEY ARE OUR SWEETEST GIFTS!

MORE GRANDS!!! SO MAMA HAS 8 TOTAL. AND THEY ALL ADORE HER! THE GIRLS HERE ARE OUR NIECE (front) AND OUR OLDEST...WHO KEPT ME COMPANY DRIVING BACK AND FORTH TO TAKE CARE OF "NANA".  MY HEART COULD HARDLY BEAR LEAVING MOM EACH TIME I DID, AND MY SWEET FIRSTBORN WAS SO PATIENT AND COMPASSIONATE EACH JOURNEY HOME. HOMESCHOOLING ALLOWED US THIS TIME TOGETHER, FOR WHICH I WILL ALWAYS BE SO THANKFUL!

MORE GRANDS!!! SO MAMA HAS 8 TOTAL. AND THEY ALL ADORE HER! THE GIRLS HERE ARE OUR NIECE (front) AND OUR OLDEST...WHO KEPT ME COMPANY DRIVING BACK AND FORTH TO TAKE CARE OF "NANA".  MY HEART COULD HARDLY BEAR LEAVING MOM EACH TIME I DID, AND MY SWEET FIRSTBORN WAS SO PATIENT AND COMPASSIONATE EACH JOURNEY HOME. HOMESCHOOLING ALLOWED US THIS TIME TOGETHER, FOR WHICH I WILL ALWAYS BE SO THANKFUL!

MY MOM IS ALL OF THIS AND MORE. HER LOVE AND FAITH IN GOD HAVE SUSTAINED HER THROUGH ALL THIS, AND HER FAMILY & FRIENDS HAVE BROUGHT HER HOPE, PEACE AND AN ABUNDANT JOY!!!

MY MOM IS ALL OF THIS AND MORE. HER LOVE AND FAITH IN GOD HAVE SUSTAINED HER THROUGH ALL THIS, AND HER FAMILY & FRIENDS HAVE BROUGHT HER HOPE, PEACE AND AN ABUNDANT JOY!!!

Although our battle with cancer continues, we stand firm in believing that "God is good and we can trust Him!"  My adorable 2 year old & 5 year old nephews keep saying this verse to Nana: "Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you, wherever you go" - Joshua 1:9.  That about sums it up.  That's exactly what we will do as we journey on.  Whatever you may be going through, remember to be courageous and do not be afraid. You are never alone.