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


Cancer Mom Confession

I admit an affinity to Italian opera. Maybe because I remember my grandfather listening to it, at a very high decibel, while he made stuff in the garage He fashioned a jewelry box and doll house for me in that garage.

Last night, my friend and I were listening  to opera and maybe eating chocolate pie and doing a really bad version of living room ballet. Or really awesome depending how you look at it.


It brought to mind this song and I just can’t help but share.

For my cancer families and everyone reading, really. I dare you to listen and try not to be moved.

You’re All Invited…

0D0332B0-8EFA-4D94-9596-8F8AEFB5F4E1Come celebrate with treats and fun for Justin’s last chemo!

Saturday, April 27th, 1-4pm at James Atkinson Memorial Park. 138 Bethel Mill Road Sewell, NJ. Look for us in pavilion next to the playground.

Anyone is welcome. Hope to see you there!


Day 1053

Tomorrow I will hold Justin’s hands and play his favorite song and rub his back while they place an IV and inject chemotherapy drugs into his little veins for the last time (barring relapse).

The drug he will be given causes heart inflammation, so he will, subsequently, take another round of steroids for the last time.

Justin’s body is tired, out of shape and swollen with extra weight due to the effects of steroids and chemo-mouth-induced salt cravings.

He does not remember what a “normal” life is like, and, now, he is expected to live one.

But, we will take it one step at a time, and we will get there. Justin is a survivor. The rest can be slowly fixed. He is here. He is a survivor.

I have never been so grateful.

I have not been a perfect cancer mom. I have made mistakes and I have failed. I am tired, burnt out, down twenty pounds  and still vomiting a good amount of my daily food intake. But I am still getting up. I am still doing the best I can. And I think maybe that’s enough. Maybe it’s enough that I am still standing by his side.

God gave us a 9 lb. 13 oz. baby Justin on August 26, 2010. He was strong, funny, smart and loved to play with his Little Tykes t-ball set.

And then he left us for a while. He was here, physically, but too traumatized by pain and strung out on toxic drugs to be recognized.

Now God is giving him back to us. Scarred and changed, but the light has returned to his blue eyes and he is able to be funny again. Really funny, actually. He makes me laugh every day. And he knows things that other kids don’t know. He understands things about people and life and God that are well beyond his years.

May we never, ever get over this miracle. To God alone be all the glory and praise.

Stick around for pictures of Justin’s last chemo coming soon!