Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Another fighter who was sponsored in January, meet Dilon

Dilon and his brothers on transplant day

Dilon and Emily (Spouse)

"We cannot thank you enough for your generosity! Dilon has been out of work for treatment for two years so this is an incredible blessing! Dilon was initially diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma at the age of 17 years old.  It has been an ongoing battle with a few relapses over the course of his early adulthood.  On January 8th 2015, he received the most incredible gift of his identical twin brother's stem cells.  He is currently in remission and is being discharged from the hospital this week! Dilon has been such a fighter and now looks forward to many years of health and happiness thanks to his loving brother.  I have attached a few photos of Dilon, his twin brother, and family throughout the stem cell transplant process over the past month."

Dilon and Emily, we are so excited to be able to help and are celebrating fantastic, CANCER FREE days ahead for him!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Meet Franchesska, one of our January Wallet of Love recipients!

"My name is Franchesska.  I am 39 years old. I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast cancer on July 11, 2014. After being diagnosed my world turned upside down.  I had a whirl wind of medical appointments and a lumpectomy in September.  Unfortunately, I lost mobility in my arm and had to stay out of work an additional two weeks. I'm sad to say that in October my company felt that it did not make good business sense to keep me on because I had missed so many days with medical appointments and they knew that more than likely I would miss more, so they stated it was better to lay me off. I found myself unemployed on top of having to deal with cancer.  I filed unemployment, but they denied my claim based on the fact that the state of Georgia requires that you are able to work full time without illness to collect. So I was a cancer patient and unemployed with no income.  I was the only income in my home because my mother had previously lost her job due to her own medical issues.  

My time as a cancer patient has been very difficult.  I have experienced horrible side effects so my doctor told me I would not be able to work anyway. I am sick for 9.5 days after chemo. My mother was ignoring her own pain to care for me. She recently was in the hospital December 30th and was diagnosed with stomach and ovarian cancer. Her pain is so severe that she can no longer help me. So now we have two cancer patients in the home and zero income. 

God is teaching me to walk by faith and not by sight. This journey is truly a faith walk. Being without income since September (I used all of my medical leave on doctors appointments so I had to go out on leave without pay for surgery), God has provided for my house through the kindness of many. Though this journey is extremely difficult,  I thank God for people or organizations such as Love is Louder than Cancer to help me continue the fight.  I look forward to see what the Lord has in store for me. This battle cannot be for nothing.  I feel the journey God has my mother and I on is for a greater purpose."

What a beautiful, strong woman, who is putting her faith in God to lead her path.  Franchesska, we are all here, praying for you and your mother and do believe God most certainly has a plan for this trial in your lives.  Love is always louder than cancer and we are certainly sending a lot of love your way today!  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Celebrating a lifetime of love

I’m writing with a heavy heart tonight, as my Mamaw, that I introduced many of you to a while back on her 100th birthday, is about to be on her way to her heavenly home.  Of course, we’ve known this day was coming for some time, but as my mom said, “It doesn’t matter how old you are and how old they are, you never want to lose your mom.”  She’s surrounded by her children and medicated to try and make the transition easier, she’s been quiet today.  I’ve had a range of emotions lately, memories from my childhood about growing up on her old farm, sleeping upstairs with her handmade quilts piled on top of me and remembering stories my mom told me about my mamaw’s childhood.  She grew up in Martin County, in rural Kentucky, the eastern coal field region.  She had two brothers and six sisters, growing up and working on the farm where her family raised tobacco, vegetables and her Pa boarded horses.  My mamaw was quite the looker in her day and honestly is still a beautiful woman today.  They had pie dinners back then in her small country community where single girls baked a pie and the young men bid on the pies just to get a chance to sit and eat pie with the girl.  My mamaw said she always had plenty of bidders on her pies J.

She married at 26 and went on to give birth to 10 children, yup, I said TEN y’all.  She has outlived four of them, which is incomprehensible to me, to think of losing one of my children, let alone four.  She taught herself to play guitar and played in the evening on the front porch of the old farmhouse when my mom was growing up, singing Jesus Loves Me, Clementine and other songs.  She was a very hard worker, raising her children on a farm and was a wonderful southern cook, her fried chicken and biscuits were the best.  She was what we would call very “resourceful” in today’s world, which really meant that she somehow fed all of her children with little to no money, living off of the land.  She has always been kind, loving and generous to us all.  I asked her one time how in the world she could have raised all those kids, when I felt overwhelmed with just two.  She said that at some point the older ones started helping take care of the younger ones and they just figured it out.  My mamaw grew up in a time where you didn’t give up, you didn’t expect somebody else to take care of your family and times were very hard, but you made the best out of it.  Without a doubt, that’s where I get my resilience from. 

She has always had an amazing, unshakeable faith in God.  I think it would be hard for most people to have lived her life and still be so bold in their faith, but not my Mamaw.  I have no doubt that the gates of heaven will be wide open to welcome her in, with her children meeting her at the gate.
None of us know what really happens when we die.  Sure, lots of folks have reported about their near death experiences, but nobody really knows.  When you’ve been diagnosed with a life threatening disease, I think it’s only natural to think about dying.  As a Christian though, I am comforted because I have no doubt where I’ll be going and I know this life is only temporary.  Still, your mind wanders when you think about it.  For some reason the movie from the ‘90s, “What Dreams May Come” with Robin Williams comes to mind.  I do think of it that way, “A whole human life is just a heartbeat here in heaven.” It’s a place where anything is possible and you feel overwhelming joy that never ends.  I had this conversation with a good friend recently when I said, “I’m not afraid of dying, I’m only afraid of leaving.”  My fear has always been leaving these sweet baby girls, but never for me, not what I would miss out on, but what I feel THEY would miss out on.  I would never want them to live the rest of their lives without a mommy, without having that person who knows you like nobody else does.  When you’re 16 and you think the world is ending because your boyfriend broke up with you, that one person who can hold your head in their lap, stroke your hair, brush away your tears and tell you stories about when you were a little girl and cried because we took your bunny/lovey away for good, all to just get your mind off of the heartbreak you’re feeling at the moment.  Then, that same one and only person who will tell you stories about when she was a teenager and then follow up with something like, “Who cares about some dumb boy, let’s go shopping, get our hair done and eat ice cream!”  Those are the things I think of and don’t want them to miss out on, I so badly want to be here for all of that.  I also feel pretty solid that I’m not going anywhere anytime soon, but what I know is that I’ve been given a gift by seeing life in this way that many folks never have the opportunity to see.

As I sit here tonight, praying for peace for my Mamaw and our family during this difficult time, I can almost see the preparations that are being made in heaven at this moment for such a bold, life-long servant of God.  I don’t know what happens when you die, but I do absolutely know what happens when you LIVE.  If you truly embrace your family, your friends, your gifts, your struggles, your faith, I think that’s what happens when you really live.  To honor her best, I’m celebrating all of those things today.  What an incredible blessing that we have all been given to have her with us for 100 years.  I feel like I won’t need to wait for the phone call to know that she’s gone, I’ll simply have to listen for the sound of an old guitar with the sweetest voice singing,
“Jesus loves me still today,
Walking with me on my way,
Wanting as a friend to give
Light and love to all who live.

Yes, Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.”

Sunday, January 11, 2015

We're all cheering for Kaitlyn today!

Happy Sunday everyone!  As you're heading out to church this morning, I have a wonderful story about an amazing girl fighting cancer that can use your prayers.  We are so excited that we were able to spread some holiday cheer to brighten Kaitlyn's day this Christmas!!Remember, share our website and story with others so we can continue to raise money to help fighters just like brave Kaitlyn!
From her mom, "My thirteen year old wonderful daughter Katilyn is on the drill team and an AP honor roll student; she started having trouble with headaches to the point of tears. Her pediatrician sent her to a neurologist where she received an MRI of her brain because of these headaches, from there she had a brain biopsy and on July 25, 2014 ironically “the same day in 2001 Katilyn’s father died”, she was diagnosed with an inoperable High Grade Glioma, stage 3 brain tumor “Anaplastic Astrocytoma”. I was told the cancerous tumor is located in the center of the left thalamus, and couldn’t be surgically removed. 
Katilyn was immediately fitted for a radiation mask and began radiation therapy in August 2014. She will be treated with radiation five days a week for a total of 33 visits at UT Southwestern, in conjunction with an oral chemotherapy 3 times a day. The Neuro-oncology team hopes this will shrink the tumor.
Katilyn had a MRI and we found out that her tumor had swollen much more than they had expected, two days later we ended up in the ER and admitted to the hospital for 6 days during that time, she lost feeling in the right side of her body enabling her the use of her hand or to walk without the assistance, and the doctors decided to start her on infusion chemotherapy in October,a month early,in hopes to help with the swelling of the tumor.  
The day after she was released from the hospital her drill team dedicated their performance to her and presented her with flowers. She was so excited and overwhelmed she forgot about the pain and she was so happy. I was so amazed and humbled by the generosity of all of our friends and community, Zahid Arab from FOX4 and even strangers that don't know us. Thank you!"

Kaitlyn, you have an entire community of people praying for you!  We are all asking God to give you and your mom strength, courage and faith to know that He is working in ALL things, even this trial.  We are all most definitely in this together, thank you for continuing to be a light shining brightly for all others to see,so that in you they might see Him.