Time Out for Chocolate

24D541B8-D899-48F1-81E2-08274111F221Every now and then I get in the mood to turn my kitchen into a science lab, producing something, hopefully, edible. This is hands-down the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had. I simply had to endorse and share the recipe!



Day 1140

Big bro Michael helped out with physical therapy today. Michael is older by sixteen months, but I am often asked if he and Justin are twins. You can see why. They share clothes and even a big drawer full of socks and underwear. Hopefully it’s all clean.

Justin is also swimming, eating well and getting stronger everyday. I mean we aren’t downing kale smoothies quite yet, but we are making healthy food choices in general.

He will be back in clinic next week for a check-up and CBC. Each time they tell us his blood is still clear of abnormal cell growth, also known as leukemia, my heart soars.

Thank you for continued support and prayer. All glory to God.


From Survivor to Champion

22D22CEC-80BE-4962-B23C-A6E348C7DC95Today, with Jeff as coach and Justin the quarterback, their flag football team took the championship. Justin is on cloud nine.

For an eight-year-old who survived cancer and just finished three years of chemotherapy, this is the greatest success he can imagine at this time in his life. To Justin, this is HUGE.

Even when things are hard and painful and darkness is pushing in, still keep getting up. You just never know what God is going to do.

Thank you for continued support and prayer. Hold fast to hope. Grace be with you, my friends.

Remember my affliction and my    wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
    and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-23


Day 1111

Life After Chemo

150FC72F-4BF6-4C72-A340-ABA9FD454A48Justin continues to go to monthly check-ups where they examine his body for lumps and withdraw blood to analyze.

D6A0BD1B-4B7E-444B-A302-0E3832481491He will also have his heart monitored periodically. Monday we went for an EKG and echocardiogram.


70FD04DF-1A31-4F18-B80C-D517A76C765CWe also met with a nutritionist to make a plan to slowly transition him from steroid-induced-craving-super-salty-junk-foods to more healthy choices. You can see how interested he was in THAT conversation.

But I am allowing him to make some of his own choices and that is huge. We made a list of foods he likes, with nutritional modifications, as well as some healthy foods he is willing to try.

Part of it is clearly behavioral and habitual. He felt terrible and out of his mind on steroids for 3 years, but french fries made it all better for 10 minutes. He wasn’t given any choice about being sick and in pain and having surgeries and taking needle sticks and living in the hospital, but demanding pizza made him feel a little bit in control of the rotten situation.

So I get this and realize it is a process that will take time. It’s about making fundamental changes rather than dieting.

It’s about working really hard to find our “new normal” as an experienced cancer mom and friend shared with me recently.

May God grant us wisdom as well as His continued undeniable strength. Grace be with you, my friends.



Day 1104

8607F836-2CA4-4243-BDB8-71B5082B37B2Still working on strengthening Justin’s chemotherapy-weakened body. But this week, physical  therapy is on hold since strep throat came to town. Two out of three kids are man-down; it’s antibiotics and popsicles all around.

I was diagnosed with reflux and gastritis and told to “get less stress in your life” and “stop drinking soda.” The first suggestion is just laughable and OBVIOUSLY giving up soda would just lead to MORE stress.

I was asked to write an advice-style blog for a childhood cancer foundation in London. Please see my first article below and feel free to share with any cancer parents you might know.

A very special thank you to everyone who was able to attend Justin’s “last chemo” party! You helped create a very special, joyful memory for him. And thank you all for continued support and prayer.

May God be glorified as we continue moving forward in faith. Grace be with you, my friends.


Last Chemo Party

It’s a little windy, but God gave us sunshine! So throw on a hoodie and come hang with us anytime 1-4pm, James Atkinson Memorial Park in Sewell.

We will gather in the pavilion next to main playground around 2pm to briefly say a few words, then plan to collect up your kiddos for a game of kickball at Justin’s request. Feel free to join the game or indulge in various baked goods. I know they will be extra yummy because they are products of friends, fam and the local bakery, not me.

Hope to see you there!


Cancer Mom Confession

When your child is diagnosed with cancer, you just hope and pray they will survive.

Justin did survive. And I am beyond grateful.

But, after three years of chemotherapy, you are handed back a different child. A child with special needs. Emotional, physical, social.

These special needs may not last their entire lives. Or, they may.

And I am okay with that. I’m pretty much thrilled with that. But, it doesn’t make me feel anymore prepared.

As I’m sure any parent of a child with special needs will tell you, we don’t feel more equipped than anyone else. We are not any more qualified or composed.

We just don’t have a choice. And, if you have other children as well…then, there’s that.

So, we do the best we can.

And, sometimes, that may mean I look really together and on top of things.

Other times, it looks like me hiding in the laundry room up to my eyeballs in candy wrappers talking to the walls.

So, there it is.

Day 1084

10920AD6-4C03-4DD8-8996-3C76CEE9D0A4Justin continues to work hard in therapy and wear his leg stretching boots during rest time. His therapist and I also put together a plan for him to wear orthotic inserts.

My goal this summer is to hopefully improve the condition of his legs and feet with therapy and exercise while also getting rid of the extra weight he has gained.

This week, Justin will have an echocardiogram as well as his first CBC and physical exam since stopping chemotherapy.

Justin is looking forward to celebrating the end of chemo with his friends and family this coming Saturday! All are welcome to join us from 1-4pm at James Atkinson Memorial Park.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, 
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.

He has put a new song in my mouth Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3



Day 1072

Justin had a physical therapy evaluation this week. He still suffers from severe chemo-induced heel cord tightening and subsequent leg weakness. His feet have “collapsed” inward to compensate for lack of strength. He is in almost constant pain when walking or running.

It’s a strange and nasty side effect. His therapist again recommended casting his legs. At this, he began to cry. He said, “But, mom, I am just starting to get things normal again.”

I know, baby, I know.

For now, we will continue therapy and wearing leg braces as much as possible.

My doctor took several biopsies of my esophagus and stomach yesterday while I got the best sleep in years. She also prescribed a medication that will hopefully keep the bile I’ve been  vomiting where it’s supposed to be.

These biopsies will be negative. No need for concern.

I am convinced this stomach situation is all stress-related. It is not an easy thing to be a chemo-patient-care-taker and watch your child suffer repeatedly. Also I probably need a few good days on a beach somewhere.

But. That’s not happening. So…I press on in the measure of strength God graciously gives each and every day.

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that Day. 2 Timothy 1:12