In his final chemo, friends were asked to be groomsmen. But wait, there’s more. I’m sharing a thankfulness list, lessons gleaned, a sneak peek of how we chose to celebrate the conclusion of his six-month chemotherapy infusion treatment plan, and what’s next in this #danielkickscancer journey.


THANKFUL FOR COMPANY DURING CHEMO: In Daniel’s own words from a Facebook post, he has loved being surrounded by friends and family at chemo. Note: each chemo patient is different. Some prefer quiet by being alone, others enjoy the company of one, and others prefer a roomful. If in doubt, just ask. “I’d love to take you, drive you, be there.. Would you like that? or do you prefer being alone?”


TAKEAWAY: Your friend may very well like your accompaniment. Share the journey somehow… even if your friend prefers being alone DURING chemo, you can demonstrate your care with a call, card, or text.

Friends support hodgkins lymphoma patient, #danielkickscancer, chemo


Daniel chose this final chemo to be the place to ask his in-town friends to be GROOMSMEN. (left to right)

  • Colin -roommate at UF. Fun, adventurous, outdoorsy.
  • Joel – childhood friend from church. Charismatic, loyal, respectful, magnetic.
  • Nick – roommate at UF. Compassionate, smart, supportive, wise.
  • Chris – childhood friend from church. Intentional, devoted, outdoorsman, enterprising.
  • (There are three others he will be asking that I’ll tell you more about later.)

Chemo Round 12, Twelve


TAKEAWAY: Daniel ASKED these guys to come here today. How good are you and I at expressing our desires to our family and friends and actually asking them to be apart of something special to us? Do you just WISH they would know how to support or to you ASK. Hmmm. I needed that myself.

Lasts Chemo, asking friends to be his groomsmen


THANKFUL FOR ENCOURAGEMENT FROM OTHERS: His friend Chris gave us an envelope right before leaving. Not gonna lie…I love handwritten notes, so I read it when I got in the car… and then I cried. He wrote the sweetest note thanking us for his college graduation gift, but then added another letter inside sharing about hearing Daniel had cancer, his observations, what he’d learned through it, and how he was intentional to take Daniel golfing so that he’d look back on cancer as a time of learning the game of golf. #mamalike


TAKEAWAY: Do you see any lessons from this 22 year-old young man who is sharing the journey with Daniel? expressing thoughts, power of written words, intentional friendship. #mamalike.  No matter your age, YOU can encourage someone by sharing your thoughts. “If you think something nice, say it.”

Letter from son's friend, hearing Daniel has cancer, #danielkickscancer


THANKFUL FOR FAMILY SUPPORT: Daniel’s five siblings have been able to experience with him, to varying degrees, what chemo is like. I write this blog post, in part, to keep the out of town family up to date. Grandparents and aunts, uncles… they’ve visited, brought fresh fruits and vegetables to us, and prayed faithfully for him.


TAKEAWAY: I really believe that being open and sharing the journey, updates, and even technical information has paved the way for all to feel included and super comfortable asking how he’s doing, talking about cancer and even using that word that many talk around. #mamalike

Dad and sister visit #danielkickscancer on his last chemo


THANKFUL FOR THE SUPPORT OF HIS FIANCEE: Gabi has been at each chemo. We’ve had the sweetest times together driving, sitting with Daniel, and just doing life. Daniel is getting one loyal, loving companion as a wife. #mamalike.  Here’s a snippet of making memories and laughing together. I’ve got this little side gig going on… called #rhopunzel, where jokes and puns are videod. Rhopunzel Youtube channel coming soon where you’ll find hundreds of these short videos. Come on, let down your hair. Laugh a little today…


THANKFUL FOR TIME IN THE WAITING ROOM: That’s right. Even though I would have preferred to be next to Daniel during the entire treatment, there were amazing memories made in the waiting room. Pouting would have prevented conversations, hearing others’ stories, discussing wedding ideas (below between Kelsey and Gabi), and deepening friendships.

Talking in the waiting room


TAKEAWAY: In God’s sovereignty, he provides opportunities to connect with others. We only need to have this mindset that he has us right where he wants us.

waiting room conversations


THANKFUL FOR DR. ZAIDEN. A medical oncologist who specializes, is up on research, explains things well, listens, and has good bedside manners. Daniel felt very comfortable with him, even having soccer discussions. And, let me tell you, I asked him lots of questions and he was patient with me. On this last appointment related to chemo, Daniel gets the news that his counts are low and that he’ll need a shot of Neulasta.

Oncologist Dr Zaiden with #danielkickscancer

THANKFUL FOR NEULASTA. Yes, he needed one more injection to boost his super low white blood cell count.

Neulasta shot


THANKFUL FOR THE NURSES. We met all of the chemotherapy infusion nurses. In a previous blog post I shared how our family celebrated the nurses. We hold special memories in our hearts for:

  • Dee, the very first nurse who gave us all of the beginning instructions which I recorded and followed to a T. It was in talking with her over the course of Daniel’s treatment that our ideas about a mock wedding using chemo paraphernalia took root and one day said, “I got permission. Let’s really do it.”
  • Rebecca, who personally recorded ending times of each chemo IV so that she would be there at that moment to begin the next bag. Her friendliness and efficiency stand out. She would soon be one of two dancing nurses in the mock wedding video celebrating the conclusion of chemo.
  • Ann, shown below, for her great care, and for jumping on board with the whole wedding video concept and suggesting more materials and then giving us a bag of items to take home to prepare for the filming. She, too, would be making her video debut in tomorrow’s recording as a dancing, celebrating nurse.

Chemo infusion nurse gives daniel chemo


THANKFUL FOR TODD at Live for Today.  One of the needs Daniel had right away was to connect with others his age who had or were going through cancer. Todd, the founder, also had Hodgkins at a young age and when Dee, his initial chemo infusion nurse, told him about Todd, Daniel immediately contacted him. Todd dropped by to see Daniel on numerous occasions.


Todd asked Daniel to be on an advisory board for the construction and design of the new MD Anderson Cancer Center. Daniel offered some very insightful suggestions for the new building and its operation.

Todd Blake, founder of Live for Today, and #danielkickscancer


THANKFUL FOR CHICK FIL A. Once again they donated chicken sandwiches to the patients and their guests.


THANKFUL FOR CHUCK CAMPBELL, owner of Chick Fil A Rivercity Marketplace, in Jacksonville. I finally got a picture of him. That pretty employee is one of my daughters. (Did I mention he was our girls’ basketball coach?) Stop by and tell them you’ve noticed. Say Thanks for investing in the #danielkickscancer journey.



THANKFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITIES: The CFA food was not only delicious, but it opened the door for conversations with patients and their loved ones. Most of the rooms create privacy, which has its advantages, but one thing for sure, patients leave without building relationships with the very ones who understand their journeys.

Chick Fil A for cancer patients and guests


THANKFUL FOR THE “CHILD TRAINING” OPPORTUNITIES TO LIVE OUT CHRIST.  Whenever possible, my kids would be a part of Daniel’s chemo. I wanted them there – not to just sit and be there for Daniel. Not just to see the environment and gain knowledge. But, to see through the lens of encouraging others. They implemented people skills, leadership skills, and even business skills.

  • Rather than saying, “Here’s a chicken sandwich,” often yielding the response, “No thank you,” change opening wording and with a kind smile say, “Hi. We brought these today just to be a blessing to you during chemo…” resulting in nearly 100% accepting, smiling, and engaging in dialogue.
  • Giving others credit. Always saying Chick Fil A wanted to show support to you” rather than us getting the praise.
  • Watching for verbal and nonverbal clues that signal just a smile and pleasantry, a brief conversation, or longer.
  • Making dialogue, directly asking about their cancer, being a good listener, asking follow up questions, not talking about themselves… oh so much good.
  • The key to people skills is to be about others. To show your interest in others. It’s actually that simple.
  • Oh, may each of my kids be more concerned with others than their own relaxation or contentment.


TAKEAWAY: Wherever you are right now, there are those around you to love on. Include your children or grandchildren when possible in the lifestyle of being about others. As you go on your regular route, look left and right. Who is there? You have people all around you. Neighbors, postal worker, grocery store cashier, families within the sports teams, co-workers, kids’ teachers, pastor, the person in front of you at church… or that random person that God just puts on your mind RIGHT NOW.

Chick Fil A given to cancer patients


THANKFUL FOR NEW FRIENDSHIPS.  Without cancer as part of our journeys, we would have not crossed paths with so many amazing people. We’ve shared hearts, laughed, cried, prayed with, and talked about aspects of cancer that only those inside the C circle would understand. This experience impacts life-long.

Chick Fil A for cancer patients

TAKE-AWAY: Take the lead. Don’t wait for others to befriend you. To have many friends, show yourself friendly. And, although the goal is not to have many friends, friendliness IS how you love on others.

Chemo Round 12, Chick Fil A, cancer


THANKFUL FOR MY FRIENDS who, in loving my son, have loved me! My friend Peggy, who also battled cancer, stopped by many times. Her presence showed an interest in my life. On this final day, his treatment was quicker than usual and she drove up while we were heading to our car.


TAKEAWAY: “Sharing the journey” builds friendships.

Chemo Round 12, Twelve, Friends


THANKFUL FOR THOSE WHO STOPPED US to say hi. Turns out many of you are sharing these posts. People have recognized us and taken the time to introduce themselves. #mamalike. How sweet it’s been to meet others, hear their stories, hug, pray with, and share in this experience. This sweet lady is the secretary for my friend Melody’s company. I’d been praying for her… and actually got to meet her!

Chemo Round Twelve

INSTANT CONNECTION WHEN YOU ENTER THE C CLUB.  No matter the age, gender, race, background, or type of cancer.


TAKEAWAY: if you have had or have cancer – or someone you know has – KNOW that God has gifted you with a new understanding, compassion, empathy, and the ability to converse and relate and listen to others. Don’t waste the journey you’ve had by being inward focused.

The C Club, Chemo Round 12


THANKFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A CELEBRATORY VIDEO: We come back tomorrow for his sister to film on location a one-song musical that includes chemo paraphernalia, a few nurses, siblings, and friends. It’s a mock wedding – even though Daniel and Gabi’s real wedding is in October… but it will all make sense in the next post. In this photo below, I spy a spit bag, iv tubing, face mask… lol.

Mock wedding video to celebrate final chemo

daniel kicks cancer signs


THANKFUL FOR THE PRAYERS: It is quite humbling to hear “I’m praying for your son.” Wow. And, to hear, “I pray every day for your son.” I just can’t take it in. Thank you all so much.


THANKFUL FOR THE SUPPORT: This card and cupcakes were lovingly made and delivered by a friend of Daniel who played soccer together in high school. Even though our families don’t see each other very often, just the picture in my mind of his little siblings gathered around the kitchen counter baking and decorating these cupcakes is so very precious.

Supporting a friend who has cancer

TAKEAWAY: This ^^ mom of six was intentional to include her children in #lovingotherswell. She was more concerned with teaching them to be thoughtful and giving than she was with perfection. And, you know what, it meant something to Daniel… and it meant something to me. #mamalike

Cupcakes made by a family to show support to Daniel


THANKFUL FOR YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT: I can’t even tell you how your comments, texts, cards, and conversations mean to us. You may not realize that a 22 year-old male is moved by this, but he is. And, so is his mama!! Really, if you know someone going through cancer, stop and pray for them right now. Then, simply text and say, “I’m praying for you.” Or, drop a card in the mail. Or… even better…


TAKEAWAY: I hope a message that I’ve conveyed loudly and clearly through my writings at and Facebook has been one you’ve begun to incorporate into your everyday life. Pause right now. ASK the Holy Spirit, “Show me WHO to reach out to today.” Followed by, “Show me WHAT to do.” Then, DO IT. Operate this way every day. #expecttrustobey 


WHAT’S NEXT in the #danielkickscancer journey: Two weeks break and then 20 rounds of “Proton Therapy” at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville. I’ll be writing more about this and sharing incredible photos that you will not want to miss. It looks like scenes from sci fi, but I want you to KNOW about this amazing technology!!! And then help me spread the word, too!!


IN THE MEANTIME: while waiting for proton to begin, this guy.. he is all excited to kick it back up again and play some soccer. He’s already called his former coach and she’s said, “COME ON!”

chemo round 12, can't wait to play soccer

Oh dear one reading this, if you don’t have Christ in your heart as Lord of your life, I want you to! He is THE reason we have had joy, peace, calm, and even laughter during this. He is worthy to be trusted and praised… in all things. No matter the outcome. He is sovereign.


Rhonda withagratefulhearttoeachofyoureadingthis ellis

  1. Victoria Lewis

    We ARE and will continue to lift Daniel to the heavenly THRONE ROOM with a thankful heart that He invites us to approach it and HIM, with a gentle “come.” Love to you in the name of JESUS, which is the BEST kind! (Remember the donkey in Shrek!).

  2. Greg Carroll

    Praise the Lord for all that He has done and for the way that He lovingly leads us through trials and tribulations when we rest in Him. Thank you for being intentional and for making this journey about God’s goodness and perfect love!

  3. Valerie Thigpen

    Oh the opportunities that Daniel and you guys have had to share the Gospel in a place that is in need of Comfort and Hope. Daniel and your family have been such an example of how we as Christian’s should be during a difficult trial. Thank you most for giving God glory in ALL He has done in your lives as well as others. Thank you guys for your transparency about your journey of Cancer. Can not wait to see how God is going to use Danie
    l and Gabi as they begin their new journey of marriage.

  4. Wow.. so many good takeaways.Watching Daniel and all of you walk this has opened up the journey and taught me so much about how to pray and how to help. Xoxoxo to you all on this the final day of treatment!

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