Chemo Round Ten involved handing out ice cream, rejoicing over final chemos, touching conversations, receiving gifts, and reflecting on some note-worthy parenting.
I’m Rhonda, inviting you to peer inside our #danielkickscancer journey, shared with permission by Daniel, my 22 year-old, soccer-loving, Hodgkins Lymphoma-battling son. (logo and photo credit to his sister Alexis)
Today was the tenth chemo. Two more to complete the chemotherapy infusion treatment plan and then onto radiation. Our first stop was at Chick Fil A to pick up 40 donated containers of ice cream to share with fellow chemo patients and their guests. Travis, a team leader, carried the box to the car, shook Daniel’s hand, and asked how he was doing.
Thank you, MeiChing at Chick Fil A for the handwritten sign inside the box of ice creams.
“The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
Daniel’s port had no clotting and all went very smoothly. This chemo was the fastest ever. Under 5 hours.
While his port was being cleaned and accessed, Jim came in our room to check on Daniel. He had great news to share. This would be his wife’s final chemo. Yahoo! And.. drumroll… his own recent CT scan for cancer came back clear. Yaaadoublehooo!!
I thought this news was most certainly worthy of a crazy photo. He wholeheartedly agreed.
Daniel’s fianćee Gabi and I were the lone guests, making it for a quiet day of chemo, Daniel mostly watched sports and rested…
He occasionally talked and laughed. #mamalike
This patient had completed her chemo treatments for breast cancer and made sure to say goodbye. We stood at the checkout desk, and through tears and laughter, shared cancer stories. The receptionist was listening from behind her desk, but when she saw tears begin to flow, she got up to embrace this cancer survivor, standing face to face, listening to her emotional journey. Wow. #peopleskills
Strong Woman Alert. Her transparency was beautiful, yet gut-wrenching. Knowing her story is a common battle for many cancer-fighting women and desiring her story be helpful to others, she gave permission for me to share. She had gained 60 pounds during chemo, lost all of her hair, and often locked herself in her room, feeling like a “monster.” Her husband was 100% supportive and loving, gentle and kind, and routinely told her she was beautiful. But reality for her was, when stripped of her outward covering and identity, the effects of cancer wreaked havoc on her emotions. She was embarrassed. She was ashamed to go anywhere and felt alone – even though the reality was she was surrounded by loved ones.
Some tears were from remorse. She shook her head, disappointed in how her self-focus had spiraled out of control, resulting in such a distorted view of herself and the situation. She now desires to help other women avoid this common path of self-lies and the pitfall resulting in depression. She snapped out of this self-pity in one clear moment – when her husband fell and was injured and her focus was put on caring for him – and she recognized the unconditional love and support that had been right in front of her the whole time.
I just love her heart, transparency, desire to encourage others, and I rejoice with her in the completion of chemo. Please pray for Lisa.
Handing out ice cream, patient to patient, is a great way to be a blessing to others. But, a far greater benefit is the doors of communication that are opened, giving opportunity to build community, ease fears, and converse in a safe place where others understand.
It also provides an avenue to check up on those with whom we’ve shared this cancer-battling journey. This is one such friend. He and his wife have been such encouragers, so upbeat, faithful to ask about Daniel and Gabi. Please pray for our friend Bob.
Talking with others allows us to see needs, to encourage those who are receiving chemo for the first time. This man has cancer, and both his wife and daughter are here to support him. His wife was telling us that she is usually super detailed and organized, but when she heard the C word, she didn’t hear a thing past that. Their daughter goes to all appointments with them just to be a second set of ears and to record the details accurately. Please pray for their journey ahead.
We have the opportunity to stop and pray with those who are scared. For those whose pain and heartache go beyond cancer. For those who sit alone, and not by choice….having chemo while…signing divorce papers.
We are encouraged by others whose stories are much more challenging. This adorable couple radiated with joy, their story moving us to laughter and tears. The wife, in the bright pink shirt, just won her battle with breast cancer. But then… boom… right after that, the husband found out he has testicular cancer. So, here they go again. Isn’t he sweet to let his wife and their friend sit in the big comfy chair intended for those receiving chemo. They said their faith in God is unwavering. What a joy to meet them. Please pray for Tony and Sarah.
He showed me a precious video from this morning of one of his two young children, showing how he’s affected by cancer as well. He gave me permission to share it with you.
On social media Tony writes: “Our poor little Cole, seeing His mommy go through cancer and now me. I found him in his bathroom this morning getting ready for school and my first day of chemo, talking to himself and crying. We forget how these types of things affect our kids, God is in control ! Love our sweet boy !!”
Brittany, loving caregiver to her mother Ruth, came into our room sharing the good news that this was her mother’s final chemo. YAHOOO!!! Rejoicing!! She asked if we like chocolate. What what? Next thing we knew, she handed us a basket of assorted Peterbrooke chocolate covered yumminess. #mamalike. Caring friendships have been made here on the third floor at MD Anderson. Next stop for them – a much needed vacation to visit family. Please pray for them.
The chemo floor has a few fridges, coffee stations, and even a snack cart with sandwiches, drinks, and chips for cancer patients and their guests. mmmm.
We labeled containers of ice cream for the oncology nurses and the staff and stored them in the freezer.
Once again, as Daniel was finishing his chemo, he grabbed a cup of coffee – not to drink- but to counteract the alcohol smell that triggers the onset of nausea.
I took the traditional photos. One of D and G.. and then one of the three of us. Then we left to go home.
But we were stopped in the hall. A precious lady who has been reading the blog felt prompted that very morning to come visit us and offer her home as a place for out-of-town family to stay during chemo treatments. Get this. Because I desperately want you to see how YOU can be used to bless others whom God puts on your heart. Simply expect to hear his voice. Trust the person/idea was from him. Obey – do it.
I knew OF her. I had served alongside her at an Apples of Gold event. (If you’re looking for a Bible study that mentors ladies in practical ways while building friendships, check it out.) I had great respect for her, knew she oozed with hospitality, but did not KNOW her. That was the only time we met, though. And here she was, at chemo, responding to that nudge of the Holy Spirit, generously giving to us. WOW!!
We haven’t had out of town visitors for chemo, but I was able to say we would LOVE to take her up on the offer for out-of-town wedding guests. She was more than pleased to share her home for that event.
I was so thrilled for Gabi to be able to experience first hand this outpouring of provisions. Do you recall the post I just did on her wedding prayer journal? You can read it HERE, but if you’re short on time – she has written down needs and desires of her heart for their wedding and is watching as God provides. This unexpected, random gift was another faith-builder.
I’m so grateful to be able to trust God and depend on him for all things in life – for the #danielkickscancer journey as well as in wedding planning.
What can you bless someone with today? There are needs all around and God wants to use his people to meet the needs in others.
I hope you’re still reading because this is a big lesson for all parents out there..
Daniel’s friend Chris stopped by when we were on our way out. Today I reflected back on something BIG! Really, a lesson for all of us parents. Wait for it…
I reflected back to the year 2004, when Daniel was in fourth grade and had been in a motocross racing accident. He was life-flighted to a hospital where he spent a few weeks recovering.
He got a visit from a boy in his Sunday school class and his mother. They brought a gift bag and a few motocross magazines.
I was choked up thinking about how this boy named Chris had been taught by his mother the importance of being there for friends. To be there. To just be.
To be there in fourth grade. To be there during cancer. To be there at graduations. To be comfortable in different situations. To be there for a friend. To just be. (photo above: Sherri and Chris around 4th grade)
Reflecting on the importance of teaching our kids to be there for friends. Thanks Sherry, for being a mother intentional to teach your son to be there for his friends.
When we arrived home, Daniel was exhausted. But before snoozing, he had to take his antibiotic for STREP THROAT, crushed in applesauce. He gags on pills.
And I wanted to read to them the Q and A from our local newspaper North Jax Monthly, where a reader had asked for a follow-up from a feature article written on the #danielkickscancer journey.
We continue to be amazed at the opportunities given to proclaim God’s faithfulness through cancer and beyond. (Here’s a close up of the Q and A, written by Kandace Lankford.)
And, just like that, he was out… with chocolate gift bag and spit bag close by.
But, Gabi and I kept talking. We were so excited about what we see God doing in our lives through this #danielkickscancer journey. Gifts all around. A gift to know him more. Beautiful gifts we would have missed had we not embraced cancer as the tool he chose to refine and grow us. GIfts of hearing you all share specific ways this journey has impacted you. GIfts of time. Gifts of prayer. Gifts galore. We’ll be sharing about these gifts in an upcoming blog post.
Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. Thank you for praying for Daniel and those you know battling cancer or facing difficulties. I’d love to hear how this story has touched you, encouraged you, helped you in your walk with Christ, or helped you to just be…
Be there for someone. Be used in someone’s life today.
Next week is Nurse Appreciation Week. Got ideas?
Rhonda thankyouforyourprayers ellis
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