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Kindness | Ambient Light in a Cancer Journey

“Mom, what do you really want for Mother’s Day?”

My oldest son asked me, as I was giving him a haircut out in our driveway in the early AM before the day got going. 

“Buddy, I’m honestly just happy to be here with my babies. You know this whole thing started this time last year.” I said it in a cheerful voice trying not to turn into a puddle of tears.

“I just know that you are going to put this whole thing behind you, you are doing so well and are this close to the finish line.” he held his hands showing me about 6 inches between them. 

This momma was behind him with the clippers choking back tears. I couldn't talk so I hugged him big and said “I love you so much.” That's probably why his haircut was so bad for those of you who saw his buzz cut at the ballpark later that day.


It has been a whole year of walking through this sudden medical mess. It doesn’t just affect me. It affects everyone around me, especially those I am closest to. I think that’s what makes it so difficult. From the beginning I was not worried about myself - I was concerned about breaking the hearts of those who love me. What trauma it may cause them? I know what it is like to feel helpless when someone you love is hurting, and I know what it is like to lose a parent.


There was a small knock on the door.

“Hello Mrs. Ashley - how are you?” Mrs. B my nurse peeked through the crack in the door and slipped inside the room I was waiting in to meet with my doctor.

“I suck today..” I muttered as I looked down at my swinging feet with a pile of used tissues beside me. I brought my own box because the ones in offices are like sandpaper. You would think they could splurge on some good tissues, right?! Add that to my list of things that need to be improved upon in the healthcare system. 


This nurse is the one who administers my drug to me. We have only had a few treatments together - I was assigned to her initially when I got moved to “gen pop” with all the others for my infusions after I graduated from the hospitalization portion of the trial. But that same day she was moved to the other room so I never had her until recently when I got moved to that room. These nurses don’t normally stop in and chat with me before I meet with my doctor so I wasn’t expecting this little interaction. I think God sent her to talk to me because I was at a very low point. How kind of her to take that extra step despite the other happenings, patients, and responsibilities - to be so bold in her faith to share her story. To encourage, to uplift, to tell of Him. To not run from the uncomfortable conversation - what a beautiful person. That’s real beauty. She serves every day people who are angry, sick, confused, scared, uncertain, grateful, hopeful, stubborn, and heartbroken, both believers and non.

Before she stopped by I had glanced at the updated bloodwork on MyChart, the same app that told me my scans were bad the night before. The same app has helped me speed up these processes in dire times, but also that is how I found out I had cancer in the first place. I love/hate that app. The radiologist's notes were brutal and read by an entirely different one than the priors. We were waiting to meet with the doctor to go over and find out from a human for sure what was happening and what would happen now. The scans were scary again - similar to the first set. The bloodwork didn’t match much like the first time this happened. We are clinging to the hope that that is happening again, that it is looking worse before better. As I type this the song playing is God Turn it Around.


“I know,” she said, “Whatever you decide we’re here - but you need to know you have a light about you, and you need to keep shining it as bright as you can, for as long as you can. Until you can’t shine it anymore.” 


She has no idea I have a blog about light.


She then proceeded to ask me if she had shared her story with me, to which I replied no. She is an oncology nurse, and she was the last of a large family - her mother was diagnosed with cancer shortly after finding out she was pregnant with her. Back then they didn't treat during pregnancy so you had to choose. The family took a vote and everyone said to abort and get treatment. Her mother said no, she delivered and passed when she was just a few months old. She shared more about her relationship with God, and how he has spoken to her. And my husband and I sat there just listening in awe with tears streaming down our cheeks. 


We proceeded with treatment that day, when we were leaving she came over as I stood to leave and hugged me gently swaying and sang “This little light of mine….I’m gonna let it shine!” I gave her a hug and a smile through tears and thanked her saying see you next time. My youngest son sings that song very loudly in his bedroom sometimes. 


Back at home focusing on what I could do, yet again. Lots of walks, seeing a butterfly as big as my hand on the first one I took once I was back home and feeling up for it was beautiful. Every single lyric to this song hits me like a brick because I feel it to my core, My God Can by Katy Nicole.


An additional scan was ordered which was not helpful, it didn't show anything different and is more sensitive so it can pick up activity, inflammation, and regeneration of the liver. Therefore still not telling us anything more. At the next infusion, I went a few days early to get a biopsy of my liver. This I had never had before, and the procedure went well. The results showed that it was cancer but that it was also responding to the treatment. This is good, this is what we wanted. But it will now be sent off to test for mutation. Sometimes cancers do that to survive when treated. We are keeping a close eye on my liver enzymes since they should be horrible when looking at the imaging but remain slightly elevated. My next trip will be a big one, we will have other blood test results, biopsy mutation results, and more scans.


I don't understand it, and I have days where I fall apart believe me. I had an evening where I was experiencing quite a bit of pain, and that isn’t something I have had to experience yet in this process so on top of the uncertain time and being told to “watch for symptoms” this sent me into instant dread and worry. And I became extremely fed up. I smeared an essential oil roller ball over the area and I laid down to go to sleep closing my eyes and started to pray. With tears streaming down my cheeks in frustration I told God how angry I was, how it's not fair and it doesn’t make sense and why would you drag me through all of this hurt. I have people who depend on me…I gave Him the what for. Eventually, I fell asleep I don't think I ever ended the conversation I must have dozed off in the middle of it. I have never had a conversation like that with God. I always thought it was wrong. I am calm, patient, and laid back. My outlet is tears whether sad or angry, that's about all you will get out of me besides a smart comment or two if I am irritated. I apologized to Him the next morning, I woke up and realized I had relaxed and fallen asleep and slept through the night. He isn’t mad at us when we think that, question, or give him the big stuff we're feeling - that's a part of any relationship we have especially with Him, he gave us all those emotions for a reason. He’s got all of this. 


 I am so darn thankful for all that God has already done in my life. 

“So I can face tomorrow 

For tomorrow’s in Your hands

All I need You will provide

Just like you always have..” You've Already Won - Shan & Shane


A friend reached out to me asking if she and some other women could gather to pray with me not knowing there was another curveball thrown into my path, to which I replied of course. I do not know her that well, and I showed up at her home alongside 12 women who I did not know and who did not know me. They surrounded me talked with me and encouraged me. They are so STRONG in their faith and God’s promises and they prayed, sang, cried, and prayed again on my behalf for complete healing. This was so powerful and full of love - I have never experienced anything like it. Not to mention these sweet wives, mothers, and wonderful humans took time away from their families and busy lives to meet and pray with me a stranger. Where have they been all my life and why am I just now finding them?! Blessed is an understatement. When it comes to kindness - don’t wait to belong, bring belonging. God's track record gives me the faith to keep stepping out. So, I will lace up my sneakers and do my best to support this mind and body every day -equipping it with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) and hopefully bringing a bit of light to everyone I come in contact with.


keep going

One more thing, if you get the chance go see the movie Unsung Hero. It's a true story, you won't be disappointed and it is family-friendly.


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Jennie Donohue
Jennie Donohue
6 days ago

Praying for you daily! Thanking God in advance for the miracle he’s doing in your body. Thanking Him for the way He is using you in this time to shine His light to the world. I thank you for your honesty about what you’re experiencing.

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I am praying for you this morning. Our lives are like a race and there are some parts of that race on uneven terrain with turns we don’t anticipate and scenery we don’t recognize. But you are not alone! Your Heavenly Father is always present, and you have such an amazing cheering section, on earth and in the spiritual realm. Hebrews 12:1 says that we are surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses. I am praying that you throw off everything that hinders you in this race and fix your eyes on Jesus. We can’t possibly know the burden you’re carrying, but he does. Run your race, friend! It’s a beautiful race, and we’re all cheering you on. Y…

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Oh, how I love you. Your faith, strong will, KINDNESS, attention to detail (including details to each and every of your relationships) unmatchable!

I thank Jesus daily for your friendship.


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I continue to stand in awe of you and how strong you are, and how brave you have been throughout this entire journey and sharing your story in such a generous and beautifully written way! You know I’m always bending Gods ear and praying for your complete healing! Love you my friend❤️

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I truly believe it is okay to tell God exactly how we feel. He knows wether we tell him anyway, right? You have been through so much. So much out of your control. So much uncertainty. So much fear. Ugggggg

You hold on tight. Always here to pray with, lean on or cry to. We can also scream really loud if we want.


I keep the good tissues in my car :)

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