Cancer Mom Confession

You would think now that I’m no longer juggling Justin’s full-time care and education with work, house, pets, two other children, etc., etc., I would have my act together.


I still roll into the school parking lot at the last minute with wet hair, chugging diet coke and yelling sentiments and/or last minute instructions out the car window. “Have a great day! I love you! Did you remember deodorant? Read test questions BEFORE you answer them. Make good choices.”

And you know what? I’m good with that. One of many things I’ve learned throughout my son’s journey with cancer is that I don’t have to try so hard to be a perfect mom, the best mom or even a mostly-together mom.

Because being the best is just so much dang work, pressure, strife. I could go on and on with unappealing descriptions. And let’s be honest. You can spend all that time trying to be perfect and impressive, and, at the end of the day, no one REALLY cares. Everyone is too busy with their own lives and problems.

So I will just be honestly-flawed-me and I am good with that as long as my kids know they are loved. And they do. Pretty sure anyway. 

Grace be with you, parents and friends.

Day 1229

Just wanted to share that Justin continues to survive and thrive. His teacher reports that he is not only doing well in fourth grade but excelling! He is also having a blast playing flag football. Pictured below is a note Justin wrote to Jeff and I for Back to School night as well as a football action shot.

Justin will visit the clinic this week for a physical exam and CBC. Thank you for continued support and prayer. And a very special thank you to Justin’s teacher, Mrs. Kim Bradway, for her tenderness and understanding as he transitions back to traditional school after three and a half years of chemotherapy, chronic illness and muddling  through homeschool.

We are thrilled and so very grateful for his progress.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Day 1221 – You Make Beautiful Things

4DD8CCA3-05AA-4762-AB79-D84AE4062F3BAfter three and a half years of stifling gasps, gulping down sobs and gagging on snot, I can breathe normally again.

Justin has completed a week and a half of fourth grade, in a classroom, in a building, in a school.

This did not happen without struggle. There were many conversations, tears, battles, fear. His fear about being away from me for seven hours a day.

This was a trial all summer. The impending doom. To Justin, it was. To me, it was freedom.

So it was a combination of desperate prayer, realistic discussions, tough love, and unadulterated bribery that got him in the school doors and out of the nurse’s office trying to call me to pick him up. Okay, that happened twice but I remained firm.

And he isn’t just showing up for school, bawling in the corner all day. He is thriving!

Justin’s teacher reports great listening skills, a desire to please, excellent reading capabilities, even sharing his book with another student and saying encouraging words to another boy who was having a case of first week jitters.

Now that ain’t me. Come on people. I can’t take a sick-crippled-wild-animal-child who screamed at doctors, spit out medication, lost ability to walk, pulled tubes from his throat, kicked me in the face, refused to speak, ripped apart his brother’s bedroom, tore up school papers and couldn’t be away from me for more than five minutes without having a full-blown panic attack. Then turn him into a walking, talking, reading, writing, smiling, caring, compassionate, funny, healthy little boy who just wants to go to school, play flag football and eat cheeseburgers.

I was there for all of it, yes. But God did that. God did all of that.

We won’t be without bumps in the road of course. But I am convinced that Justin has come back to us for good. And he is a beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful boy.



Justin’s 1st day of school – again

I have been Justin’s mom, nurse, teacher, therapist for almost four years.

Driving him to school today felt much like the many times I walked him into surgery. There was no room for fear or nerves in my conscious because my heart was busy absorbing all of his. It is empathy at it’s highest level.

I am nine years old walking into school for the first time and all I know is the person who fixes everything isn’t with me. I know God is with me because my mom said so but I can’t see Him.

I feel his fear.

Just as in surgery, I know he is in very good hands. But those hands are not mine.

These are the days my faith is put to the test.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:1-5


Justin’s 9th Birthday Photo Gallery!

We celebrated with family and friends over this past weekend and crashed my brother’s beach house for some more fun on Justin’s birthday. We are so very grateful that he is here with us. He is doing well. And he is happy.

Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There did we rejoice in him, who rules by his might forever…Psalm 66:5-7a

Day 1181


Justin is still experiencing fatigue and foot/leg issues but is slowly and steadily improving. His latest blood counts show that he is still in remission. We are so very grateful for this.

Justin is pictured below anticipating a blood draw, working out in the CHOP gym and getting in some cuddle time with mom.

We press on. Thank you for continued support and prayer.


Life can be really, really, really hard. Even though Justin is apparently getting better, I understand this. I get it on many personal levels. And I see it all around me. There is death, illness, pain, loneliness, failure, disappointment, loss, poverty, hunger, anxiety, cruelty, anger, fear, evil and on and on and on.

I mean good grief. I have to speak hope into my heart every single day or possibly spiral into despair just at reading the news.

Now that you are completely depressed, let me offer some encouragement.

I have no trite sayings, empty platitudes or unsolicited counsel to offer. All I have is hope and that is this:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Day 1145

Each time I calculate and record the days of Justin’s ordeal, I imagine I am Tom Hanks in Castaway, scratching it out on a cave wall. Except I wouldn’t last two hours living as a primitive. No chapstick? I’m out.


Today, Justin will be seen in clinic for a CBC (complete blood count) and physical exam. There is a term coined “scanziety” in the childhood cancer world, and maybe beyond. Of this, I do not know. But, in our world, it refers to the apprehensive feeling a parent feels as they are placing their child into CT to scan for the possible return of a tumor.

Now, Justin had leukemia, a “liquid tumor” if you will. It flowed throughout his entire body. So he is not placed in a CT scan, rather the blood is checked for abnormalities.

I do believe there is yet to be a term invented for this. Let me try. CBCziety? No. Bloodziety? Dreadful. It just doesn’t seem to work for leukemia.


I decided that I won’t suffer from this disorder, whatever you want to call it. (Clearly, I already have other disorders, let’s be honest). I won’t live in fear of the cancer returning. What will be, will be. I can’t control any of it. So, instead, I choose to embrace each day, with all of their respective flaws, and try to make the very best of it all.


This kid has the idea. Grace be with you, my friends.



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.