Chemo Round Nine included a visit from college roommates, lemon drop candy, and tears from a nurse. With permission from my 22 year-old son battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I’m sharing our #danielkickscancer journey, desiring to educate, ease fears, make you more comfortable in conversations about cancer, know ways to help others, and mostly…  to proclaim firsthand that as we trust God, peace and joy are available no matter the circumstances. #heisworthytobetrusted

Friends visit daniel during chemoi

Just two weeks shy of graduating from the University of Florida, Daniel went into the infirmary with chest pains and the next day was told he had cancer. He immediately began one doctor’s visit after the next, graduated, and then chemo began that same month. #UFgrad  Today he’s 2/3rd of the way through his chemo treatment plan. Following the completion of chemo, he’ll have 22 rounds of proton therapy (radiation).

#danielkickscancer #UFgrad 2015

As is the routine prior to each chemo, Daniel’s blood is drawn and then at a later appointment the oncologist reports the results from the bloodwork.

I’ve shared that with you before, but here’s something I haven’t shared... Daniel pays for these appointments from his own account. This is made possible by a fundraiser begun by Dave Sullivan, a business/ leadership mentor at UF and supported by Daniel’s peers in the Heavener Leadership Challenge. You can read about it and donate as well at www.danielkickscancer.com. I’ll share more on medical costs in another post. I think you’ll find it interesting and helpful to know. I had no idea…and think I still don’t know the full scope. Just wait. But, for this post, I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to Dave Sullivan and the UF students who have played a role in this fundraiser. He is using the funds entirely for medical expenses. 🙂

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While we waited for the oncologist, a lady asked if our last name was Ellis. She had read a #danielkickscancer blogpost that a friend had shared on Facebook and recognized a photo of her oncologist… and now recognized Daniel.

two cancer patients

We had a sweet visit with her and were introduced to two of her support crew- her mother and daughter. She has continued to homeschool three children throughout chemo, radiation, and the side effects. She was an encouragement to both of us. It blessed my heart to be able to pray for her as we hugged goodbye. Would you pray for her right now?

chemo patients meet

Dr. Zaiden and Daniel talked for a little while. He examined Daniel, answered questions, and also gave the disappointing news of a low white blood cell count. Chemo would go on as scheduled, but Neulasta would be given the day after chemo, to boost his numbers. Most likely this will happen every other chemo now.

Dr. Zaiden talking with Daniel about hodgkins lymphomaoncology appointment

 

On the way to Chemo Round Nine, Daniel, his fiancée Gabi, and I stopped by Chick Fil A where they once again have given generously. We picked up 40 warm, delicious chocolate chip cookies to share with those on the chemo floor.

Chick Fil A cookies for cancer patients

The cookie-sharing began in the waiting room. I mean, who can resist the tempting aroma of Chick Fil A chocolate chip cookies? #mamalike

chemo waiting room #danielkickscancer

Prior to Daniel’s first chemo treatment, a port was surgically implanted. The port is the direct access to chemo entering his body, rather than through an IV in his arm. His chemotherapy infusion regimen consists of three anti-nausea medicines followed by four chemotherapy prescriptions known collectively as ABVD.

The smell of rubbing alcohol associated with cleaning the port brings on nausea. This time Daniel tried to combat it with a lemon drop candy in his mouth. He still gagged.

the port for chemo lemon drop to help nausea at chemo

 

His port had a clot which required flushing it out prior to beginning the chemo. Once the IV dripping has begun, Daniel sits or lays there for about five hours while one prescription bag after another flows into his port.

port accessed for chemo Nurse accesses port for chemo

 

This time a carload of Daniel’s former housemates from the University of Florida drove a few hours to spend time with him during chemo. This meant a lot to Daniel, and I think it’s wonderful for these guys to experience what this is like as well as know the valuable principles in life of being there for friends – even in what many would view as an uncomfortable situation, not knowing what to say. They just sat and talked and laughed… just like normal.

college housemates visit during chemo

During Daniel’s years at UF, he lived in a “scholarship” house with sixteen guys. Students had to apply, be interviewed, have character and academic references, meet GPA and other criteria in order to be accepted into the Southern Scholarship Foundation (SSF) and receive the incredible opportunity to have room/board/food covered for just $1900 for the entire school year. (What what? I know. Amazing!) These housemates shared in the responsibilities of cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, budgeting, and managing. Daniel served as a Vice President one year and President the next. Close friendships were formed among these guys. #SSF

college roommates during chemo college roommates visit #danielkickscancer

 

college roommates visit during chemo college roommates visit daniel

 

With just a few guests allowed in the room with him at one time, we also had lovely visits in the waiting room. One of the guys is considering medical school, and who knows what impact time spent here may have had on decision-making for his career. I’ve been intentional to visit these guys and cook dinner for them at least once each semester, and through that have gotten to know them and love them. On a different note…Isn’t this a beautiful view of Jacksonville.

Chemo waiting room conversations college roommates

Our time on the chemo floor has provided opportunities to meet new people. Each person has a journey with cancer and outside of cancer that makes her unique. This precious lady shared about her husband’s sudden death, the emotions experienced with losing her hair, a supportive group of friends, and she enthusiastically relayed the significance of her choosing a red turban headband. “Even though red’s not my favorite color, red means strong, powerful and bold, so I knew I wanted red.” #loveit  Would you pray for her as well. And, maybe send a text or call someone you know battling something… to encourage or to be a listening ear.Chemo waiting room conversations

One of my favorite friends, who has also battled cancer, came to show support to both Daniel and me. Can I just tell you that this woman has made a tremendous impact on my life. She and her family opened their home weekly, for fourteen (maybe more?) years for families to homeschool together. We called it Legacy Co-op, desiring that our kids choose to carry on the legacy of living for Christ. Get this…some years there were over 50 kids doing school with moms teaching in nearly every room of her home. Now, nearly twenty years later, the “Legacy” still goes on. Her generosity and hospitality have influenced more families than she’ll ever know! If you know her, I’d love for you to leave a comment about her so everyone reading can also benefit from what you’ve learned from her.

peggy visits daniel at chemo

Daniel and our beautiful friend Peggy. Look at the IV bags collectively known as chemotherapy.

 

Daniel took photos of each of his visiting friends. Uh.. well… except Chris. He Snapchatted this photo during his chemo. I thought it would show you he’s still got a fun sense of humor. Plus, I wanted Chris to laugh. lol

Chemo humor

 

After his friends left, Gabi, her mother Paula, and I sat in the room while he rested. We had a grand time discussing wedding plans, venues, decorations, the dance routine Paula and I have for walking down the aisle, and more. (I was joking about dancing down the aisle.) A wedding date of October 22 has now been set. Wootothedoublehoo!

wedding planning at chemo

Have I ever told you that Daniel and Gabi “liked” each other since the eighth grade? Well, both of us moms – who are also neighbors -did our best to help navigate them through focusing on cultivating a deep friendship. The four of us went out for breakfast when Daniel and Gabi wanted to begin officially dating, when they were seniors in high school. That’s for another blog post, but suffice it to say for today, how beautiful is it that here we sit – the four of us together yet again- navigating through cancer.

mother and mother in law of chemo patient

 

Probably THE most memorable moment of this day for Daniel, Gabi, and I will be what happened when a nurse watched the #danielkickscancer video that his sister Kelsey, a student at Liberty University had produced using footage captured during chemo while she was home on Spring Break a few weeks earlier.

 

As the nurse watched, she teared up, and then suddenly walked out to compose herself. We paused the four-minute video and waited. When she returned, she hugged me, got choked up again and whispered, “He’s just so strong.” 

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I’ve been told by some of the nursing staff that caring for younger patients can be especially emotional. Nurses play such a vital role in caring for the patients as well as easing their fears. Would you pray for the nurses you know?

 

On the way home from chemo it’s predictable that Daniel will crave something random and specific to eat. We’re in to fresh, organic eating… but… today, he wanted a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy’s. 

 

Here’s the scene upon arriving home after chemo. I’m preparing dinner. Daniel’s chilaxing. And Gabi’s writing a paper for a college class. Her professors have been very kind and accommodating, allowing her to travel back and forth to be a part of each chemo. Thank you!

chilaxing after chemo

The next morning we went back to MD Anderson Cancer Center for Daniel to get Neulasta to help boost his white blood cell count.

Neulasta shot

 

While there, a few other nurses asked to see the video that had made their friend cry the day before. They gathered around to watch via a phone.

Watching #danielkickscancer video Nurses watching video #danielkickscancer

 

This time the Neulasta side effects of aches and pains in his joints and muscles weren’t nearly as bad thanks to Claritin Clear. 

Daniel with his fianćee and mother.

 

This ends Chemo Round Nine. Thank you for journeying with us. Thank you for your prayers. And thank you for sharing this post with your friends. May others see that God is enough. He is worthy to be praised and worthy to be trusted… no matter.

 

Share your thoughts. I’d love to share with my family how God can use one story to touch others in ways we can’t imagine. Love you.

 

Rhonda prayingformanyothersbattlingcancer ellis

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18 Comments
  1. Allison Cass

    Thank you for taking the time to write this, share your heart and your family’s journey.

    I may not comment every time – but each one is always read with a tear-stained face.

    Not because it’s sad – but because I’m in awe of Christ’s love visible and the power of hope and joy we have only because of Him. This is always apparent in you & your family and I’m just so thankful to God that He has placed y’all in my life.

    • Rhonda

      Allison, thanks for sharing how Daniel’s story is received. That’s exactly our prayer – for people to be in awe of Christ and drawn to him. I truly cannot imagine going through this (or anything out of my power to fix and control) without him. Love you, friend.

  2. Jennifer Sutton

    Wow! What a testimony you all are living out in a very difficult time. You are daily walking in the Truth that God is enough. Thank you for your posts, they always encourage and challenge. We love you guys and we are praying for Daniel and your family.

    • Rhonda

      Hi Jennifer, So good to hear from you. Praying for your beautiful family. You summarized it well…God is enough. No matter.

  3. Kristi

    Your friend you mentioned was one of my high school Sunday school teachers. Because of her testimony The Lord led me to consider an area of ministry I had NEVER imagined he would call me to. Today my family is ministering the way we are as a result. You BOTH were used to shape me as a high schooler and college student. Thank you!!

    • Rhonda

      Hi Kristi, I’m so glad you shared that. I’ll make sure she sees your comment. I’m praying for you as your family serves and loves on others, proclaiming Him.

  4. Natalie Tyre

    I am reading this post as a result of someone posting on their face book page. I am in awe of all that God is doing in and through you as you walk in this journey. I am reminded of a dear friend of mine who lost her battle with cancer at an early age and her sister who lost her battle several years later. I often wonder why God allows these things to happen, but I know he has a greater purpose in mind. I am encouraged by how you are able to minister to others through this difficult journey. Every post makes me tear up and thank God for all that he is able to accomplish. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. I pray for you guys and that his will be done. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Will continue to pray.

    • Rhonda

      Hi Natalie, Oh my. I’m so sorry you’ve had to walk through the loss of friends due to cancer. Thank you for your openness and also for prayers. Are you still working with kids? I know you have a big heart for them.
      Come join me over at thefacebook.com/therhondaellis

  5. Lorene Kamalu

    Ellises, YOU INSPIRE ME! God bless you all! You will be in my prayers. Thank you for sharing, Daniel and Rhonda❤️❤️❤️??

    • Rhonda

      Lorene, HI!!!!Thank you for praying for us. I believe your family had a wedding recently?? Congratulations. 🙂

  6. Amy Bleich

    A mutual friend recently posted this on FB – I think you are living breathing walking example….
    “AS SWEAT IS TO SPORT, SO SEASONS OF SUFFERING ARE TO SERVING CHRIST”
    I am amazed at how you have been able to lay your fears and anxieties at the cross (and leave them there) you see I typically take my fears to the cross then pick them up and carry them back home with me. You are a wonderful teacher! Many blessings…

    • Rhonda

      Amy, I love that quote. I have a friend whose husband passed away, leaving her to raise seven children. She radiates with the joy of the Lord because she KNOWS HE is worthy to be trusted. She said to me, “You know. We’re not guaranteed a quota.” I thought that was so profound… In context, she was saying that even though her husband had died, there will be more suffering. We are to expect it, but a life with the Lord means there is such a beautiful walk with Him available to us.

  7. Kathleen Elliott

    My sweet and dear friend Rhonda, thank you. Your ministry to love others never ceases to amaze me. I love you and your family and continue to pray for Daniel’s healing and for strength for you and your family. As for precious Peggy, I love her too! So many wonderful memories. I could always count on her for a beautiful smile and words of encouragement. Keep on kickin!
    <3 Kathleen

    • Rhonda

      Hi beautiful friend in the midst of wedding plans. 🙂 Thanks for writing and encouraging me. God continues to refine and grow and stretch me… and cancer is yet the next tool He is using to continue his work. I’m thankful for his vast love and how we can trust Him. You’re right. One of the greatest encouragers, observer of needs in others, and servers. Wonder how many people they’ve had in their home over the years. Thousands for sure.

  8. Bobbie Reiter

    Rhonda! I am speechless and in amazement of how God continues to use you through this difficult time to honor and bless Him! What a mighty God we serve! what an encouragement you are to everyone you come in contact with. I am praying for your sweet Daniel!

    • Rhonda

      Hi Bobbie, congratulations on the engagement. 🙂 God is good… no matter. He is using this difficult time to also grow and stretch Daniel and Gabi (and me, and each family member, and…) which is so beautiful. My desire is to look back at “Daniel’s cancer = Growing with Christ. Daniel’s cancer= finding rest in God. Daniel’s Cancer = sealing a wholehearted,unshakeable trust. Daniel’s cancer = … You get the message. It’s he heart and relationship with Christ that is the true journey.

  9. Rhonda, your inspiring posts are amazing! Thank you for sharing all your personal “stuff”. Daniel is such an inspiration that I can only pray that I would be so under similar circumstances! What an amazing man of God you have raised! My thoughts and prayers go out to him, you and your whole family, including Gabi. God bless you all!
    God has some amazing things for Daniel to do, I am quite sure.

    • Rhonda

      Thank you for those kind words, Terry. I agree that God has amazing things in store for both Daniel and Gabi, as this cancer comes as no surprise to Him and is part of the very plan He has to shape their hearts, interests, passions, and relationship with Christ. To God be the glory for what He is up to. … And I feel the same about each Believer, and truly hope this is a BIG TAKE AWAY for all who read this journey. That every encounter we have is part of God’s plan to shape us, grow us, give us opportunity to know him more intimately, AND bring him glory. May all reading – who know Christ – really grab hold of this truth and TRUST God in the journey. 🙂 Thanks for writing and encouraging me, Terry.

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