Sunday, October 31, 2010

sweet ava's first halloween.

ava. she is precious. i made her costume. i am so proud of it. not because it was that fancy or even that much work. but because since i have been sick i have been trying desperately to do everything like i would have had i not gotten sick. somethings i cant help...but i try real hard when i can. so there is she is...our sweet little bumble bee! poor girl is teething and her finger was in her mouth all night. but she never cried. she is a champ. she even stayed up 2 hours past her bedtime. and since she is allergic to eggs and peanuts she did not get any candy. but she did not seem to mind. oh, she also had a little stinger on the back of her tutu. so cute.  justin was real proud of me too. everyone we saw tonight he would say, "libby made it....can you believe it?" and in the car he said, "babe...seriously it is the best costume i have ever seen. i love it." so thankful he appreciates the little things i do.

 happy halloween.

it was a rough weekend. felt pretty sick. laura helped a ton with ava so i could sleep. mostly just nauseous and exhausted. but today i started i feeling better. i was so happy i felt good enough to take ava out for halloween. i hope i always appreciate good health. i never did before cancer. but i will from now. i have some things to say...but they will wait. i want this blog to be about ava and halloween and the joy of tonight. we love our little bumble bee. and our little family. and tonight we decided we want to start family traditions with her for every holiday. we want to make a big deal out of the little things. we want her to know how to party and how to celebrate...just for the sake of celebrating. and to experience real genuine joy. we want to create anticipation and excitement around the big things and the little things. so even in the midst of it all...sweet ava yet again...will not remember that her mommy even had cancer on her first halloween. because tonight the ryder family was about dressing up, eating candy, and being with people we love. who all made such a big a deal about ava costume and how cute she looked. thank you. it meant to much to me. and justin too.

Thank you thank you thank you for Libby's Golf Tournament in Lexington! (From Justin)

For a week I have been trying to write this post! In an incredibly busy couple weeks with Young Life, I flew home to Kentucky to play in Libby's Golf Outing. The memory is still giving me hope and thankfulness. In my life, I cannot remember being so thankful to friends and family for organizing something that so honored Libby. I tried to thank people that day by shooting a video, and telling them, you have NO IDEA how this is going to make her feel. Lib felt so loved, supported, hoped in, and encouraged. This golf Tournament helped her to continue enduring the emotional pain and physical exhaustion. It also blessed us by helping us pay for her treatment, and the Lord has provided. To us, its a miracle, and I think the team would agree! I am so thankful to my friends. The years we have known each other, the years we have battled together, the loyalty they have had to us. I can't help but cry when I think about them saying, "We don't care you moved away, we are going to do this for you." This was such an incredible weekend for me. THANK YOU. Thanks to everyone who sponsored, who put in effort and energy, who drove out to play, who brought food for people, who organized, who networked, who fund-raised themselves separate of the tournament. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I truly thank God for you, and will continue to do so -- you have refreshed our hearts. It is impossible for me to really convey how I feel about this, so I will leave it at that. I will never forget this.
Here is a video of the day!

Friday, October 29, 2010


babe. sorry. i totally forgot to blog about you and your birthday and how much i love you. lets blame it on the fact that i got chemo yesterday and i am currently on medication. but thanks for being the only person i could ever walk through cancer with. or have a baby with. or move to virignia with and barely know anyone but you. thanks for getting me skim chai lattes with only three pumps of chai because it is too sweet if i get four. and you always remember that. thanks for not turning on lots of lights in the morning because it will wake me and and possibly ava up...because if she sees just a glimpse of light under her door she thinks its time to wake up. thanks for being romantic. and for writing letters. and for always coming to each and every appointment with me. no matter what. and thanks for being willing to shave your head even though i would prefer you did not do that. also i am not bald yet so no rush on that. thanks for working less. and for playing so hard with ava and for always praying with her before she goes to sleep. and for chasing her around the upstairs. oh, she loves it. she loves you. i promise she will start calling you da-da before we know it. thanks for texting me throughout the day. and for making me laugh. you are for sure the funniest person i know and i got to marry you. thanks for pointing me to christ more and more. and for caring for me just the way i need to be cared for. and cooking for me a little more. that is real special to me. you just said to me in the car on our way to the outer banks..."can you imagine if you married anyone else? wow that would have been terrible." you are right justin. we are meant for each other. and we both know that now more than ever. what a gift that is. i promise that your next birthday will not revolve so much around cancer. so happy 26th birthday. we are the same age for seventeen days. you are a gift to me and to ava. we love you.

post chemo 5 and my husbands birthday

yesterday went well. my wbc cell count was just over 2,000 so the shot i got on tuesday worked. so that was good. today was the first chemo day where i actually felt prepared. packed my bag with a blanket (chemo room is always cold), some candy to help with yucky saline taste from iv, my nook, and my medicines. i even remembered to eat breakfast. this post might be short because even typing about chemo makes me nauseous. but my dr was super encouraged about my pet scan. so that was great. basically the cancerous spots that showed up in my last pet scan are not here anymore. so the chemo is working. however, i will still have seven more treatments because there are still cancerous cells in my body that the pet scan can not even detect. but either way we are joyful. but just as that appointment ended we headed into chemo. where i proceeded to throw up right before chemo and then did again when she put my iv in. not sure what my deal is. i asked my nurse to give me some drugs to help me sleep during chemo and that was real great. some sweet ladies always bring lunch but yesterday the sandwich i ate made me so sick. so just went to wendy's for me because i wanted a frosty. he returned with eight of them. i asked him what happened and why he had brought so many frosty's and he said he was not sure. it was cute. so he passed out frosty's to the nurses, our p.a, and the sweet old lady sitting next to me at chemo. it was a long day. longer than usual. mostly because we waited an hour to see my doctor. got home and cliff and laura were here. justin and cliff are doing yl program at a camp near us for the weekend. i was exhausted. but i hate being in my bed alone when everyone is hanging out. so we watched the office and then i went to bed. i was tired. not really sick, just tired.

ava got up a little earlier than usual. but i got up with her and we played. well sorta. if me sitting on the couch counts. today is justin's birthday. he is 26. we all ate breakfast together and then all talked in our bed while ava slept. justin and i rested together for a bit...he fed ava and then the boys headed to camp. laura helped a ton with ava today. i have felt sick and just beyond exhausted. but tried to help with ava as much as i could. now just laying on the couch and will sleep until the boys get back later on. i got justin all his favorite things for when he gets home. so we will have a little party on the porch. with our new fancy heater (thanks mom and dad) since it is officially fall here in chesapeake.

its been interesting for justin and i since we got the pet scan results. we are so joyful and thankful. but still struggling. just struggling to continue to walk down this path. but at least...for now...we see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

one more time today...

had to write this down. amazing mail day. it was almost a joke how much came today. perfect timing. justin came to hang with us before he had a meeting tonight but as soon as he walked in the door i asked if he could hang with ava while i ran to the fabric store. i have known for a few weeks what ava was going to be for halloween and i have everything i need for it but i had not made her tutu yet. and i need to today because chemo tomorrow, sick for the weekend, and trick or treating is sunday. so i made her tutu. but needed a little more tulle. i got in the car and backed out and quick checked the mail before i left. it was crazy. so because ava was not in the car i decided to open it all while driving to the store. not safe. i know. a few special things came today. mostly from strangers. which brought the tears. a little dress for ava. lots of gift cards. some very sweet cards. and a check from a church in lexington, ky. and it was crazy because last friday justin got rear ended and the driver is supposed to pay. obviously. but he is being difficult. so we will pay our deductible and then our insurance with reimburse us after they deal with the driver. well when we were coming home obx and talking about it. he said...i pray the lord provides the money. and the check we got was the exact amount of our deductible. crazy. then i got this gift from all the young life ladies in virginia. some on staff and some are wives...its this adorable book entitled...libbys little book of love. full of scripture, songs, and real sweet letters from some women i know real well and others i barely know. i cried as i read each and everyone. so i will never be alone. i got a huge group of women praying for me, justin, and ava. so thank you. then i came home and completed the tutu. fed ava dinner. she is so healthy. she only wanted vegetables tonight. we will see how long this lasts. then she feel asleep in my arms as i rocked her. she rarely does that so when she does its so special. just drinking her bottle and holding her little baby real tight. i am in love. that is for sure. i am in love.

top chef just desserts is on tonight. so if i can stay up until 10pm we will watch that too. i definitely feel a new burst of energy. not really physically as am exhausted. but more in my heart. like my heart feels full.

pet scan results

yesterday we decided to go to the outer banks for the night. some friends have a place there and offered it to us. so we packed up but before we could leave we went to the doctor to check my wbc. while i was waiting for the results of that to see if i needed a shot or not...we found out that my pet scan results were in...and literally the report said EXCELLENT. there only recommendation was to that next time they give me xanax to ease my anxiety a bit. fine with me. those pet scans make me sick. while we were driving to the appointment we prayed in the car...and justin..."lord i hope we are celebrating tonight in the outer banks..." and we did! we do not know any details beyond the fact that my pet scan looked excellent. we will talk specifics tomorrow when i see my dr before i get chemo. it was shocking to read the report the simply said excellent. i am sure there are more specifics and medical terms, but excellent was enough for us. however, my wbc was just over a 1,000 so i did have to get a shot. which was fine considering we were more concerned with the pet scan this visit anyways. so i got my shot, thanked the Lord for healing me, got some chick-fila, filled up with gas and headed to the beach. where it was sunny and 80 degrees. we got there and ava took a nap and justin and i sat on the porch, which was right on the ocean and celebrated! it was nice to experience real joy together. we have not felt that a ton lately. we really love each other. on monday while we were talking in bed i told him i thought he should slow down a bit and that things are getting a little busy. and without even defending himself he said...yup you are right. i have decided that marriage is a bit of a dance. when things are good..its because you are in sync with one another. he loves me so i love him. i serve him and he serves me. the second you lose that...or the dance gets mixed up. its tough. i am short with me so he short with me. he is annoyed with me so i act annoyed with him. it really is dumb. justin and i constantly remind each other that we are for each other.  on the same team. always. and right now we are living that. yesterday was a gift. so after ava's nap we went to dinner and celebrated with all you can eat crab legs. loved it. one bummer is that because we were working so hard to eat to your dinner we thought the conversation was lacking a bit. but we did talk about trips we want to take when i am cancer free and how the pet scan results have given me a ton of strength. i know now that all of this is worth it. because the chemotherapy is working. it was just an easy night. ava took a bath in the giant jacuzzi tub and loved it. i mean loved it. got her to bed and watched the biggest loser. we like this show. its not necessarily our favorite season, but we like it. woke up and packed. got a little starbucks for the drive and ava did well. she does not love her car seat anymore. but never screams. just fake cries sometimes. now she is napping and i am about to do the same. resting for chemo tomorrow. because i am so thankful about the pet results i will not focus on the fact that we still have a long road ahead of 8 treatments, pet scans, injections, etc...but instead...for the first time i am thankful for chemo. its killing my cancer. and God gets the glory.

Monday, October 25, 2010

i love this weather.

today is mild and overcast. we actually have a thunderstorm watch and i love it. i like days like these. it tells me i should nap, lay in bed, and read. i will do all those things right now because little ava is sleeping. my grandma is here. she drove from mi with her friend and they arrived last night. she brought ava this new book with babies faces and she loves it. like she wanted to sleep with it type of love. its precious. we just went out for lunch and ava attempted to talk to anyone in the restaurant that would listen. thankfully everyone around seemed to love her so it worked out. now we are back home and all three of us are resting. i will as soon as i blog. i was not planning on it because i am seriously tired. but i could not keep it inside. all that i am feeling. i am overwhelmed. nearly speechless about the emails i have received in the past few days. so many strangers. i know i just blogged about this and i will give it a rest in a second. but for now thank you. it is such a source of encouragement to us. i just got an email from a women who was coming home from Busch Gardens yesterday and when she stopped at Burger King on the way home she saw a sticky note on the bathroom door which my blog address and underneath that it said. life changing. she thought it was a joke but because she was curious so went home and started reading. the whole thing. that is crazy to me. not because i care about the attention...but because people are reading about jesus and cancer and how you can have cancer and not hate God. it is leaving me speechless. all of it. a little book club in richmond, va was talking about the blog last week and this woman emailed me today because she had come home from her meeting and started reading. because the women talking about it were captivated by it she said. wanna know why they were captivated...jesus. because i have no idea what i am doing. either does justin. cancer is crazy and life is changing. daily. but we know one thing. that jesus is with us. in our suffering. in our pain. when i hate cancer so bad i could cry. he is in it. in our pain he is being glorified. i love that because it does not make sense. how through all of this pain i feel more loved than i ever have in my life. i also love it because jesus does not work in the ways you would you think. but instead he allowed me to get cancer because he knew. he knew he was going to use for his goodness. and its more than clear to me when i get email after email from people who see jesus differently now. love him differently. desire to know him more. or maybe for the first time are thinking about God and what that means for their life. early on i said to i would have cancer for the rest of my life it meant that people who would come to know jesus in a real way. well its happening. and hopefully i wont really have to have cancer for the rest of my life. and i am thankful because we are in the midst of cancer and we are already seeing the Lord work. often times in life we do not know why certain things happen until later...but what a gift it is to be a part of something he is doing now.

saturday, sunday, and today are good days. i wanted to write that down so when i forget what normal feels like i can read this post. feeling normal for me = energy to play with ava, food tastes good and i do not feel the need to throw it up, i have the desire to clean my house, do laundry, and organize areas i have been putting off for weeks, and overall i just feel good. so when normal begins to slip away i need days like today to remind that it wont always be so hard and i wont always feel so sick. three more days until chemo and thus the cycle begins again.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

emails, etc.

its always interesting to see how people respond to a particular post. i did not mean for the last post to be so sad. but it was a sad day so i wanted to remember that for later on. i sometimes sit down to write and i am not sure where it all comes from. but its inside me so i write it down. i continue to be so amazed as i receive emails and facebook messages from people after they read the blog or a certain entry. i often think...what is the big deal? not to undermine what is going on, but because its just our life and i sometimes do not understand why people care so much. but wow i am thankful they do. often speechless. particularly strangers who take the time to read this blog. in its entirety. in one sitting. i had a women in sweden email me this morning after she had spent nearly 3 plus hours reading the blog. 3 hours. who does that? wonderful people do that. and then people email me and share parts they loved and how they love jesus more now and how they are praying for me and justin and little ava. i get so overwhelmed with emotion. like when you feel something is in your throat. choked up i guess. but i do. and i cry. sometimes i weep. but sometimes its just one or two simple tears down my cheek. but really its overwhelming. the out pour of love and support. last week i thought for the first time in a while...i do not have anything more to say. i think i may stop blogging. the emails had slowed down and so had the mail. which is normal. i expected that. well actually there was one day this past week that for the first since i had gotten sick there was no mail for me (minus one medical bill). so in my denial i left the mail in the mailbox. strange huh. i guess i realized for the first time really how much it means to me to that people write us and care for us. not in a selfish way. but i began to see how much i draw on others to find my strengthn. i do not think that is all the way wrong. but a little. i think the lord is doing huge things in my life, justin's, our families, and our friends. which is increidble. but i do not want to depend on people. i want to depend only on christ. my dear friend britt sent me a link to a sermon from her church about 10 days ago and i finally found the time this morning to listen. it was about God's love. how vast it is. long. deep. wide. its more than we will ever know or understand. and in many ways its so simple. we know God loves us. i have been told that my whole life. but i am beginning to understand his love in a deeper way. you have to when you suffer. and when life looks different than you thought. and you have cancer. and you honestly never in your life even thought about getting cancer. not once. other people get cancer. but now its in our story. and right now it is our story. not all of it, as i am not defined by cancer. maybe cancer will forever be our story or maybe its just for now. but the gift in all this is that because of cancer i see christ different. i experience him differently. i respond to him differently. i love him differently. his love has always been the same for me. i just did not realize the depth of it. until now. so because today is a good day. that started off with ava sleeping in until 7:30am, a dear young life girl coming over whose heart is different since i last saw her in july, and eating dunkin donuts (i am not actually eating donuts, its just the name of the establishment, as i am getting lots of emails about my nutrition needs) for breakfast...because not everyday will be as hard as wednesday was...i am beginning to feel and experience this deep love that only jesus can offer. his love has always been the same, but because i am not the same i can see him in a new way. and i will cling to this truth not only on the good days but the real bad days too. so thank you for taking the time to read our story. and pray for us. and cry for us. and write me an email. or a letter. i am honestly not sure what to write because everything i try and type sounds stupid. so i will just end it now and ava just woke crying a little.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

pet scan. also eggs and peanuts.

ava update. allergic to eggs and peanuts. yup our sweet little ava is "that" girl. that girl who can't have eggs. eggs are in lots of things by the way. no fancy egg sandwiches that her daddy makes or baked goods or reese's peanut butter cups. my favorite. i actually love anything with peanut butter. apples, chocolate, bananas, celery. anything. so sad for ava. we do not know many details. but we are meeting with an allergist next week. for now we are just real careful. we have an epi pen junior just in case.

yesterday was awful. it started good though. i got with ava and for first time since chemo i actually was able to play with her. like really crawl around and play. it was nice. justin had taken the morning off so i made breakfast and we hung out when ava went down for her morning nap. oh, the yl banquet went so great. it really was a success. and nice to see people. because of my pet scan at 4:45 i could not eat anything past 9:45am. which was hard. so because i could not eat anything besides breakfast, i got a horrible headache and was nauseous all day. on the way to the scan i got worst. i closed my eyes the whole way. when we got there i immediately ran to the bathroom to throw-up. just the thought of anything to do with cancer makes me literally sick. we got my pet scan done at a different place than before so justin could not come with me. they took me to this mobile pet scan. it literally is a trailer that moves to different places. it was weird. but nice i guess. so i sat in a chair with an iv with some radioactive stuff and waited. it was just sad. not like oh i am sad...but like this...this so hard and i do not want to do it anymore. i sat in this chair with warm blankets all over me because the trailer was cold and waited for my iv bag to empty. when it was my turn i laid down and they put my body into this machine that was like a donut. it was not that bad. i feel asleep. or at least drifted. and music played. so that was nice. got done and met justin in the waiting room. then procesed to throw-up in the parking lot. glad i held it together for the scan. when i was done i cried. cried to justin because this is too hard. and i do not want to do it anymore. i hate it all. i hate cancer. i hate being sick and having no energy. i hate that i have 8 more chemo treatments. and the thought of that literally makes my stomach turn. and as soon as they put the iv in me for chemo and for the scan they put saline in first. and you can taste it a little bit. just typing that makes me sick. i said to justin in the do people fight cancer for years? i don't think i could do that...he said, libby do not say that. now of course i do not really mean that i would not fight it, but i would rather not. i just want everyone to know that cancer is extremely hard. and that if you know someone who has them and love them well. they need it. and for those of you maybe reading who have been battling cancer for years. thank you. thanks for fighting. because i am sure there are days when it does not seem worth it. one more dr appt. one more chemo. one for scan. one more shot. it just gets daunting. even "good" days are still not normal. i honestly i am not sure what that is. not be dramatic or anything, but because these drugs are inside you trying to kill the cancer you never really feel great. you just are thankful for days where you do not feel bad. so i cry and justin drives. we pull into arby's because i love it. random i know, but so good. i was starving. so i hate. but everything tasted bad. the bread. the cheese. the tomato. i knew i had not made the best choice. but i made it our driveway and then threw-up. got inside and threw up some more. pulled it together and put my sweet ava to bed. we had gotten home early so i was excited that i could put her to bed instead our dear friend gaye who was watching her. i love putting her to bed. so i did it. then i got into my pajamas and threw-up on and off for the next couple hours. ate a few saltines and drank some water and went to bed. last night was the hardest night i have had yet. i guess my body does not respond well to pet scans.

justin took the day off. he got up with ava so i could sleep. and i did sleep. it was nice. after she got up we went to our favorite breakfast place, the broken egg. i like being with my family. ava was a dream. and we got to talk. ran a few errands. now home for ava and my afternoon nap. we are okay. we are making it. justin i think is doing well. i am not doing so well. just run down. its all just a lot. a lot to handle. but we are dealing. because we have to. but in the midst of it all i get angry sometimes, and sad sometimes, and wish it were not happening. but not angry at jesus. he is my only hope. we pray because we believe he can and will take the cancer away. and the nausea away. and the fatigue away. so we will keep praying. and maybe you will too. so thank you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

yl banquet

tonight is our annual yl banquet in chesapeake. justin is speaking at it. please pray it goes well and that jesus is glorified. and that lots of money is raised.

i am finally feeling a little bit better. i went to target today. the most i have done since chemo. but it was good to get out. there is this awesome service out there for people with cancer. a cleaning service. they will clean your house 4 times for free during chemo. its awesome. so three real nice ladies came over today and cleaned. which is perfect because i am exhausted. i sleep whenever i can. so pray ava keeps taking two good naps a day. i need the rest. i also need more help. but i hate to admit it. justin pretty much had ava with him all day yesterday because i was too tired. so glad we have justin.

tomorrow is pet scan. i have barely thought about it. but i am a little nervous. wont know results for a week. which is hard. waiting is hard.

i read a blog last night. one i read a lot since sara introduced me. i have never cried while reading it. but last night i did. hard. she was talking about her love for her little daughter. who is close to ava's age. and i thought about ava and how my love for her is scary. like a good scary. so intense and deep. but sad because what slips into my thoughts is what ava's life would be like without her mommy. now i know i do not need to "go there." but i do sometimes. i think about it. not out of fear. but mostly just sad thinking about it. real sad. so i kissed her a little bit more today. dressed her real cute and hugged her. a lot.

Monday, October 18, 2010


it was a long weekend. restful. but hard. i was pretty nauseous. actually really nauseous all weekend. i was talking to laura this morning and mentioned that this nausea was worse than baby ava pregnancy nausea. mostly because with ava it was more than worth it to be sick. but with cancer it just gets annoying. but monday it usually when it begins to subside and it has. saturday ava and i hung out with oma and papa. she loves them. i love watching my dad play with her like i know he did when i was a little girl. we watched u of m lose. sad. but caught the end of the uk game which was great. they had a comeback win in the last few minutes. justin was at the game with his dad and tommy and chris (his brother in laws, but more like brothers). justin went to undergrad at uk and i went to graduate school there. justin and i texted through out the game about how we wish we had a team here to follow. a team we actually cared about so we could tailgate and ava could wear a cheerleader outfit.  but our hearts are with ky and mi. so it will be tough to care about a virignia school. we are trying though.
the kentucky golf outing. needless to say the golf outing in lexington was a success. justin said he has never felt more loved. how i wish i could have been there. around 70 or so golfers came out and many more friends and family were there to help and hang out for the day. thank you thank you thank you. not sure how to properly thank people who put together something like this. but we feel loved and supported. we do not feel alone. we know we are not alone in this. what a gift that is. to know its not just our little family of three...but hundreds and maybe thousands of people who are praying for our family. words can not express. thank you to all of you helped out in any way shape or form. i am humbled. truly. its a direct answer to prayer that our medical bills will no longer be an issue. we love you.

ava's hive update. she is ok. we do not have the results of her blood work yet. but praying it was nothing. you would never even know it happened. kids are pretty resilient. oma and papa flew back to wa last night. it was a visit full of playing with ava, a little shopping, projects, a few gifts, and lots of resting (mostly for me). thanks mom and dad.

i have a pet scan wed. that will show how my cancer is reacting to the chemo. yellow spots light up to indicate where the cancer is in my body. i am hopeful. the spots in my neck are already visibly non existent. and the pain in my hip and rib are better much. i do have pain in my bones throughout my body but we think its from my injections. so the pet scan is big. it will impact my course of treatment. for today i am not scared about it. we will see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, October 15, 2010

post chemo 4 and hives

yesterday was pretty eventful at the ryder house. my dad arrived late wednesday night so we all got up in time to eat breakfast before we had to leave at 9:15am for chemo. not sure why but justin and i were moving really slow. but we all had some scrambled eggs and toast and my dr had said at ava's 9 month appointment she could have eggs. so we gave her a few and my dad watched her as we got ready. well at 9:15 (we are supposed to leave) with my hair still in a towel, my mom brings ava to me covered in hives. all over her little face, neck, and hands. it was awful. so i take her in my arms and send my dad to baby benadryl and i call her dr. and they want me to bring her in at 10am for to the dr. we are of course received that she is breathing fine, but just rubbing her eyes with a face full of red bumps. it was so pitiful. it was also her nap time so she was so sleepy. so i got ready. justin made her a bottle and they headed to her pediatrician. i got in the car now very late and drove to chemo alone. was not good. just sad for ava and how i am her mom and i should be there with her. but thankful for my sweet husband who is more than capable of caring for her. which of course he did. and sent me pictures of ava the whole time. so needless to say ava had to get her blood drawn and justin said she was so tough and did not even cry. they will now test her for egg, peanut, banana, and some other common allergies. seriously praying it was nothing or she will grow out of them as being allergic to egg or peanut would be annoying. but had to keep reminding myself while sitting in chemo. she is fine. seriously she is fine.

 sweet baby ava waiting to go see the picture can even capture it

my chemo was fine. my wbc were down to 13,000. and i will get a PET scan next week to see how my body is responding to chemo. someone was sitting in my chemo chair so that threw everything off even more. worried about ava. no husband. and now no chair. but i choose another spot in the room that near windows and it was fine. my sweet chemo nurse and i talked more than usually because i was alone and she was not so so busy. it was nice. she helped remind me how blessed justin and i. she works with patients everyday and sees the vast spectrum of people and who gets help and who does not. how some people react to cancer. not physically but emotionally. she must see such a range. for me. for us. even in the midst of cancer the Lord has provided in the most amazing ways. really its more than enough. following jesus and trusting in God does not mean life always works out the way you want it. tough stuff happens and we do not know why. but he is good. i have never been more sure of that in all my life. we have cancer. and its hard. and today i am laying in bed blogging nauseous and sick. its not fun. but God is good because...i have a family that loves me, we live in our dream house, we get meals brought to our house four times a week, people clean, care for ava, the mail does not stop coming, a golf tournament to help with medical bills...i could go on and on. maybe some day i will post just about that. how good God is. but he is. and i am thankful because there are other parts of cancer that are very hard. i wish i did not have to endure. but i do. and i will. justin and my dad arrived 1pm and we got done around 2pn. the plan was for both my mom and dad to come, but with the egg mishap plans changed. came home and slept for a while. went to bed at 9pm. and praying for two things today. my nausea and little ava's allergy. or lack their of. oh, i sure hope so.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


i went to the doctor today. and it was good news. so i guess last week they gave me a slight overdose in my injections because my wbc count is now over 20,000. remember it used to be 320. they did not really overdose dr just had no idea that my body would respond like that after three injections. so i did not need a shot today and i will get my fourth chemo treatment this thursday. it was a good visit today at virginia oncology. for me it was good, but justin seemed a little off and when we got in the car he expressed how much he hated cancer and how hard this is. its just interesting to see how we both handle cancer. we handle grief differently. and we may not always have the same "good days" and "bad days." but we are trying to stay connected. and maintain some sort of healthy balance in the midst of it all. but its hard. i am good. real good. its so nice to feel like myself and today i do not even feel sick at all. we will see how long this lasts.

my dad is coming in tomorrow night. it will be nice to be with both my parents. they are going to come visit us at chemo on thursday. that might be sad. just because chemo is sad. justin is flying to ky this weekend for the golf outing. i am so glad he will be there. i wish i could go. he will finally get a break from all this. for three days he wont have to take care of me. take care of ava. or go to work. i hope its a gift for him. i am sure it will be. the sweet state of ky is the home to many of the most important people in our lives. i miss ky. thanks for supporting us with the golf outing. i am looking forward to hearing all about it. we feel loved. so very loved.

little ava is growing up. she is learning how to wave. and today she said "ball." oma gave her this ball and she loves it! she is eating normal food now and its like a new world for her. she seems to like everything we put in front of her. wow she sure is so precious. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

{Libby Ryder Golf outing} - guest post.

hello friends! I'm angie, libby's friend from kentucky. I'm hacking into libby's blog today for good reason! {sorry lib!}

I could sit here all day and write to you about how awesome libby is.  I could write about her and Justin's marriage, and the profound affect it has had on countless high school and college age people in the Kentucky and Virginia area.  I could write about Libby's friendship, and the never-failling encouragement she has been to me on so many levels.  Or I could say that everything you see on this blog, is legit.  To those who don't personally know libby...this is her, every bit of it.  And that is a rarity in this world.  I could write to you about their great hearts and passion for Christ, and their longing for their high school friends to know about Jesus and his Love.  Or that these are FAITHFUL people, and their trip to virginia from kentucky was nothing short of legit, blind faith: leaning on Jesus' strength and calling to a place of unknown, KNOWING Jesus was at work, and was calling them to something great.  I could also tell you that Libby, as a mother, would humble you.  As a mother myself, I got to witness this woman not only endure the trials of motherhood, and the humility and self-giving it brings.... but i got to witness this woman, who goes through chemotherapy, who has beaten her body to not only give her life to the calling Jesus has for her, but also give every bit of loving on and discipling her young daughter all in the midst of cancer.  Or I could write about Justin, a serving, giving husband who in the midst of his wife having cancer, has been so rooted in Jesus, his strength for his wife and daughter could only come from the one who gives LIFE.  His life alone is a walking testament to Colossians 1: In Him ALL things hold together.  In fact, Justin read that at our wedding.  Fitting.  His life fits it.

I could tell you all these things and write for even longer.  Instead, i'll call you to action.

This coming Saturday, October 16, There is a Golf outing being held for the Ryders'.  Our Dear friend Ryan has put together an awesome fundraising Golf Outing to help pay for the medical bills they will accumulate over the next year as Libby undergoes chemotherapy to kill her cancer.

You know what the best part is?  The money you pay to play golf and eat lunch will go directly to the Ryders'.

This is where you come in:  The information is at the bottom for if you would actually like to play in the outing or if you would simply like to sponsor a "hole."  I also understand though that there are people all over the world who are reading this blog, and are unable to make it to Kentucky.

So, if you would like to help in showering the Ryder's with His Unfailing Grace, you are still able to give even if you can't come!  Please email me at if you are interested in helping the Ryders' out monetarily, desiring to play in the golf tournament, or sponsoring a hole!

 I realize it's hard to express feelings through blog-land, but let me express how thankful this family is to the outpour of compassion this community has given them.  And thank you for the way you have been loving and encouraging our dear friends. They drink up your words of love and encouragement.  Keep pouring it, and let's light this thing up, and lift up our friends through this valley in life.

{Because of the LORD's great love we are not CONSUMED, for his compassions never fail. Lametations 3:22}
All to Him be the Glory.

{Libby Ryder Charity Golf Outing}

Saturday, October 16, 2010 

Kearney Hills Golf Course 3403 Kearney Rd., Lexington, KY

7:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m. 
     Registration at Golf Course (same day registration, must come with a foursome)

8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Shotgun Start 

1:30 p.m. - ???? p.m. Lunch & Raffles
{Kearney Hills Club House following golf}

Fees: $80 per player.  Foursome Scramble Format.   
*Proceeds go to Justin and Libby Ryder

Includes: Green fees, cart, lunch

{Sponsorship Opportunities:} 
*Proceeds go to Justin and Libby Ryder
Hole Sponsor: $200

a new week

justin and i had a great weekend. ava did too. she was mostly with oma and loved it. we went out on friday night and then went to a hotel on saturday. it was perfect. good to get away and know that ava was more than fine without us. we ate good food, got on the same page, and rested. necessary for both of us. but i really need it. i am constantly exhausted. i could sleep all day and still be tired. its like i can't ever catch up. but i tried to. i was reminded how much i love my husband and how we are so right for each other. as we sat at our favorite restaurant on high street to watch college football and talk about our lives... i would get teary eyed as i talked about friends who had loved me well this week or emails i had received from strangers that meant to much. to those he knew he took out his phone to send them a text to thank them. i have said this often, but thanks for writing me. i am unable to always respond, but i appreciate it. and i saw on saturday how much it means to justin to know that people are caring for me here in chesapeake and all over the country. as we were walking out of the hotel lobby i said to justin we should try and do this once a month while i am getting chemo and he said we should do this once a month for the rest of our lives. so we will see. also snl was hilarious on saturday night.

but now we start a new week. a new week of dr appts and chemo. i get my wbc count checked tomorrow to see if my levels are high enough for chemo on thursday. hopefully they are. although i hate getting chemo i know that i need it and i know that us staying on target is what is best for me. i just love when i get a week off...its like a little gift.

over the past few weeks many of our family and friends from ky and tn have participated in the leukemia and lymphoma society "light the night walk." its a walk to raise awareness about these blood cancers and to raise money for research. it was humbling to see how many people were there walking for "team libby." thanks for loving us and supporting us. we appreciate the support.

Friday, October 8, 2010

a new day

i ended last night with not being able to remember what normal felt like. well...i now want to really appreciate. not just say it. but be so thankful for days when i do feel like myself. and today is one of those days. i got up feeling pretty good. took care of ava, organized our bedroom, made us a hotel reservation for saturday night, ate lunch with justin, spent more time with ava, got ready, we took ava to her 9 month check up (she is right on target), got a dd mocha, and now hanging with ava. prayer works. i have never seen that more clearly in all my life than since i have gotten sick. and for that i am grateful. but cancer is always right around the corner. even on the pretty good days. because a lot of my hair came out today. justin says he can't notice anything yet. so i guess its not too bad. just i notice it. and then at ava's pediatrician's appointment we told the whole story. our cancer story. we thought he knew. but he didn't. first he said...did you cut your hair? and i said yes. he asked me why i had cut my hair since its almost winter time and most girls cut their hair for the summer time. so we told him the story and i kinda laughed because i do that sometimes to make it easier. and as he walked out the door he said, "i thought you guys were going to tell me you were pregnant." ah, yes. if only that were the case. but its not. and cancer does not define me. its just a part of our story. and days like today are special. so i am thankful for today.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

cancer is hard sometimes

i am finally blogging. the past two days have been miserable. i have a headache that will not subside, constant nausea, and lower back pain that has spread to my hips and down both my legs. i called my dr today and spoke with my nurse concerning my symptoms. she stated they are most likely due to the shots i was given this past weekend and should get better soon. so with the help of vicodin and an anti-nausea pill i hope to feel better soon. but not soon enough as i have lost count of how many times i have thrown up today. i am exhausted. although i have pretty much been in bed the past two days i can not sleep due to the pain. and that is frustrating. 

today started at 630am with little ava. so we played (i laid on the couch) until her nap at 9am. ava is a great sleeper but recently we are transitioning to no bottle in bed (she does not take a pacifier or blanket) and after an hour of her standing up at the end of her crib screaming. which i have never heard her do since she was born. i sat in bed and prayed and cried. begging God to simply put my daughter at peace so she could sleep. after an hour of her crying, against my better judgment i gave her a bottle with mostly water and she immediately feel asleep. and i tried to sleep once again with little success. today was hard. thankfully my mom is here and she helped out so much with running errands and taking care of ava (she made ava her first fort, a blanket over the coffee table and ava is obsessed). i sent justin a text at 12:30pm i am real sick please come home. and he did. he rested all day with me. that was important because today was very difficult. not only physically, but also emotionally. today was the first day in a while that i could not care for ava without help. and that is a hard thing for me to accept. my cancer is real now. more real than ever. a friend asked me on tuesday if this (cancer) was harder than i is without a doubt the hardest think i have ever endured in my life. i do not say that to be dramatic. really. i am pretty tough i think. but i do not believe i have ever pleaded and begged the Lord for as much as i have the past two days.

i am trying to remember what normal feels like.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


oma (my mom) is here. she arrived last night. she gave ava her first little baby doll and ava loves her. she crawls around with her in her hand. its so cute. sure is nice to have my mom here. i need it. i need help and that is hard to type and even harder to say out loud.
went to dr today and my wbc count is over 8,000. wow! so i did not need a shot because my count was so high. although the shots were pretty miserable we are glad my wbc is up. we now have a week break from any appointments. i am so thankful. its been a tough five days. i literally become physically sick when i see the chemo machines at the dr office. not sure why but this past weekend was really hard for me. i think this is all become more real. not as surreal anymore. its real. its our life. and we are living it. the more that sets in the easier it is to be depressed, angry, and sad. and although i feel that way at times i continue to cling to jesus. but this is hard. for sure harder than i thought. i am exhausted and very achy. and sometimes wish this was all fake. but its not. i just think its all settling in. i have cancer. even as i write that i i really have cancer. i do not think you ever get used to having cancer. you just begin to accept it more and more everyday. not by choice. but by reality. and because we can't change it we choose to embrace it.

justin and i are trying to get away for the weekend...well just saturday night. i am not ready to leave ava for too long. we need a break. just some time out of the house (although we love our home) to just be together. hope it works out. i love my husband.

Monday, October 4, 2010

sweet baby ava

just had to mention this...ava slept in until 7am and i brought her bottle to her in bed and she slept until 8:45am. thanks for praying. it worked. we will see if this continues. third injection today at 1:30pm.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

bracelets and shots

i got my second injection today. it was real sad. not sure why. that chemo room in just a sad place. it seemed abnormally sad today. maybe because it was rainy. or because no one should have to get chemotherapy on sunday. but when i walked into the office it was just depressing. so i just sat in a chemo chair waiting for the nurse to get to my name. there was a long list of other cancer patients who were waiting for shots or to get chemo. i struggled to keep the tears inside. i sent a text to justin that said...i am losing my gusto to fight. i just think its been a tough day. the injections are not comfortable and physically i am in pain. as i was driving home from the dr i made five phone calls to family and no one picked up the phone. at first i was annoyed a little, but then it became super clear to me. i was supposed to pray and spend some time with jesus. i need the lord in a real way today, because today has simply been too much for me. too hard. too sad. i have been thinking all day how much i wish i did not have cancer. and how i am sad because this is only the beginning. nine more treatments to go and that seems like an awful lot to me. i think this has been the first day in a while where its been more then just being sad...its more of a overwhelming feeling. like this pain, this fatigue, this aching, this extreme exhaustion is more than i can bare. without jesus i cant do it. so i think today was necessary. yesterday i went shopping with justin's mom and aunt and got some new clothes. which was nice. and although i am more than grateful its crazy how no matter what you buy or do...cancer still exists. so i get it. i get what its like to feel helpless. because i feel it everyday.  but instead of wallowing in that...although i did wallow for a little bit today...its just hard. all of it. and the time i spent in the car driving home...praying...with lots of tears...was very sweet. i did not feel so alone anymore. please keep praying. pray i will not need one more injection. and pray that ava will stop waking up at 5am talking, but instead choose to sleep. so we can both sleep. today i am just tired. we are tired. but we are in this together and justin and i continue to talk through how we are feeling and how we are doing with this whole thing and he keeps pointing me to christ. thank goodness we are not alone in this...

on a good note. team libby bracelets are now available on ebay. thank for joining us on this journey.

Friday, October 1, 2010

post chemo 3

i am home alone sitting in our bed. its a nice break. justin's mom, aunt, and uncle are here and they all just headed to the mall for a little shopping and took little ava. so now its just me and i like that. whenever we have guests here i have such a hard time resting because i hate being left out of anything. i always wonder what i am missing when i am in bed "sleeping." but today is ok. i am very nauseous. i was able to eat breakfast but my stomach hurts. i am exhausted. no mouth sores yet. but i think i am having heartburn or something because my chest hurts. like i cant completely swallow. so that's a new one. but other than that no new chemo side effects. thankful yesterday the road to our house was not flooded and when our babysitter text me that our power was out...which i hate, it only ended up being out for an hour or two. man its the little things. i sure do like electricity.

yesterday was the worst chemo day we have had. not only was it pouring rain so everything seemed dreary, but after i got my blood work done my nurse came out and told me my wbc was back down to 520. it had been 1100 on tuesday and within that time had dropped again. she just wanted to mention it in case my dr decided to not treat me today, just so i could emotionally prepare for that. but when we saw the dr he did decide to treat me, but did tell us that i would begin getting injections to help my wbc count go up. so i will go in on saturday, sunday, monday, and tuesday for these injections. he said they are quick and not painful. but they can cause aches and pain. i am sad about this. i was really beginning to enjoy not having to go to so many dr appointments anymore. i will then go in on tuesday the 12th for more blood work and then see my dr to assess my count and decide if i need injections that day and on wednesday before my chemo number four on the fourteenth of october.

yesterday was hard. it just reminded me that every time i see the dr could result in something new. its just not easy. nothing about treating cancer is easy. and that is just hard to handle. even my kind dr who i respect so much expressed his own worry and concern about having to do these injections, but he just said that we can not keep pushing back treatments. he said if my wbc was randomly low that then it would be alright to push back treatment, but he said not when its almost every time we need to treat you. then he said something that was sad and hard and scary. not sure why it scared me, but it did. he just said that the more complications and more my treatment schedule both those impact my cure rate. i hate that he even mentioned that. he said that twice about my cure rate. that was where a lot of my peace in this whole cancer thing was coming from was that this is a curable cancer. and it still is. i know that. i just hope these injections do there job and my treatment of every other thursday for six months continues to be the plan of action. yesterday just reminded once again how little control we have and even how little control my dr has. it made it even more clear to me that my hope is found in christ. nothing else. and that prayer works and is necessary. lets pray these little wbc bounce back and allow chemo to do its job. because its only been two month, but i am already tried of this. all of this.

but for today i will rest. or at least try to. and also try not to be angry about getting injections the next four days. but i am a little angry for sure. and annoyed.

but thank you to those of you who read this blog, comment, email, send letters, and text...i can not even begin to express my gratitude. but i hope thank you is enough.