Monday, February 28, 2011

some morning reading for you

back in september our story was shared in the virginia pilot. our local newspaper. on thursday vicki came back for a follow up story...check it out HERE

Sunday, February 27, 2011

off to louisville.

justin is in colorado for young life so ava and i are heading to kentucky to see family. i hope she does okay on the plane. thank goodness for dvd players. i would prefer not to be alone for a week so we are off to celebrate. celebrate no more cancer. my mothers birthday. my father in laws birthday. my nephews birthday. my sister sara is prego. yay! (she is the one who takes all our fabulous family pictures and changes our blog header every so often. check out her website HERE. and if i forgot any other reasons to celebrate i am sorry. although i clearly wish justin could be with will still be nice to be with family and celebrate life. and how thankful we are that i am healthy. that my family is healthy. we will never take health for granted again. i promise. 

also thank you for the emails and cards lately. so many emails starts with..."you don't know me but..." and i love it. i love that people are sharing their hearts and its been such a huge source of encouragement to me. it really has made all the difference. 

not having cancer anymore is a miracle. its a miracle that cancerous cells were in my body and because of some horrible and life saving poisonous drugs the cancer is gone. its unreal to me. its not how all cancer stories end. but ours ended in life and i get chocked up writing that. 

i never really asked why me when i was diagnosed but now i find myself asking why me for being cancer free. its a game you can not really play with yourself. there is no answer really. it goes back to trusting God with your life. whatever that looks like or how it ends up. He is in control and we are not. so i will remain thankful and rejoice! but will mourn with those whose stories end differently. but either way its the same God. He gives and He takes away. but i trust He knows what is best even when i do not understand. even for a second. and i guess i have to be okay with that. lately we have heard of a few people close to us and some not so close to us who have just been diagnosed with cancer. and it hits much deeper now. no matter what your pain is or was if you have gone through something you know the reality of that pain in a different way. that is how we feel about cancer now. i hurts much deeper now because i know what the road ahead looks like and feels like. but you are not alone. i promise. my dr. asked me if i would be interested in talking with a young women at his office who was just diagnosed with lymphoma and i hope it happens. i want to listen to people. i want to hear their hearts. i want to share our story and our experience. although everyone is different and no two experiences are exactly the same...i feel like God has done so much through cancer for us that i want to talk to anyone who will listen. so please keep emailing and reading and sharing our story. we sense something bigger is going on here...

change of subject. angie told me that right now over 30 people are running in nashville on "team libby." i am blown away. thank you for training and for running. i have never run more than a few miles in my life so i really admire all you runners. it is awesome.

and sorry about the tabs at the top. they are still under construction. we will try and finish them up real soon.

Friday, February 25, 2011

one week.

its our one week anniversary. it's true. its been one week since we heard my doctor say..."yup, you are cancer free." its still crazy. last night at cliff's little surprise birthday party someone said, "hey congratulations" as they walked out the door and i stopped for a second and thought...congrats for what? and then remembered...oh, right because i don't have cancer anymore. how funny is that? and also awesome that i forgot. even if only for a second. i love how a few people have said things like..."its good to have you back" is good. i never knew it would be like this. different in every way now that the cancer is gone. but still so much the same. its still me. its still us. just hoping we are a bit stronger and wiser now. i am not worried about the discomfort in my hip. i am not thinking about what if it comes back. i am done. for now i am done with cancer. at least until may 25 when we see the doctor again. or until tomorrow when i may feel entirely different about all things cancer. who knows. but for today i am done. and its friday. and its warm. and i can't wait to go outside with ava when she wakes up. what a foreign feeling. as i had become so used to just making it to bedtime so i could finally be done for day. its nice to not feel like that. 

ava loves dogs. we do not own one and we do not really want to. we like animals just fine but not really interested in having any pets right now. but you might think we did own a dog because ava is not the least bit scared of them. she likes when then lick her face and she has no problem putting her entire hand into a dogs mouth (we are watching her. do not worry). not necessarily a good thing. i was telling justin as we were driving home today we need to some how teach her to have maybe a healthy fear of dogs. nah. not ava. as far as we can tell she is pretty fearless. which is great since we live on the water. we need to some how create a healthy fear of that too.

when we say to ava..."what does the doggy say?" she responds with  "woof woof." its adorable. we then proceed to say "what does the ducky say?" she responds with "woof woof." perfect. now all animals are dogs. we are working on that. but regardless we love it.
our blog is getting a little makeover. so bare with us until its ready to go. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

great news and a little trip

the good news is: the MRI showed nothing...totally clear! praise God.
the ryders are out of town celebrating cliff's birthday.  
let's take a little trip down header lane, shall we?
do you have a favorite? tell us in the comments. 



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

doctor appointment.

we had my doctor appointment today at 10am. it went great. it was full of hugs and congratulations. not trying to be cheesy but it really was exciting. to tell my nurse when i was in the lab that i was cancer free. she gave me a high five. then Andi our p.a came in and she gave us hugs and we talked about how my scan was GREAT and there was nothing...not even a small speck of cancer. then dr. lee came in and we hugged. he and justin did too. since the beginning justin has been trying to become dr. lee's best friend ever since we began seeing him, but dr. lee does not seem interested he is all business. sad for justin.

so here is the game plan post cancer: a ct scan every six months for the first two years and then blood work in between. and we have to wait at least one maybe two years until we try for another little baby. basically because the small percentage of people whose cancer does come back it tends to happen in the first two years. so we will wait until next year until we discuss baby number two. then we talked about a little bit of pain i have been having in my left hip (where some of the cancer was). i have not said much about it because it was more discomfort than actual severe pain like before i was diagnosed. so when the scan came back so so so clear i was not real worried. but i mentioned it to my dr. today just so he was aware of it. i had not told justin before he was a little surprised to say the least. i just did not want to worry anyone but did want my dr. to be aware of it. so just be sure i have an MRI tomorrow at 6:45am. dr. lee said he is not looking for anything in particular and does not seem concerned he just wants to be sure and the MRI should detect something if there is something there at all. so if you think of it...pray for a healthy clear scan. we will get the results on friday. i am not worried about it. justin is more than i am. i do not think it is anything at all...but i am glad my dr. is just being safe and making sure it's nothing we need to do anything about. so that is it. i am tired. my wbc was real low today so i am going to bed.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 5. a video our friends made.

we have good friends. the video speaks for itself. but if you are interested in running in nashville or anything else please check out  this blog  for further details. 
or email angie  here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

day 4.

so i have decided i am putting a lot of pressure on myself to blog everyday since justin mentioned to me writing for seven days straight post cancer to document my thoughts and emotions. i love the idea. and i know his heart in it was not for me to feel pressure. so we will see what i end up doing. maybe it will feel more natural if i ease up a little bit and just write when i want to. and right now i want to.

ava is in the bath and i am sitting on the floor and i am watching her. i promise.

today things are settling in a little more because i was alone a lot today and therefore i could really process and think. this weekend was such a blessing and we were so thankful we were able to celebrate with a thousand people who love us and have prayed us through this. so so many we do not even know personally. but thank you so much those of you that came up and introduced yourself. i love lovd that. when we went up to share a little on friday night and i said..."the cancer is gone. i am cancer free..." everyone stood up, clapped, and cheered. it was the first standing ovation of my life. it was overwhelming. i thought in those moments...that many people love us? that many people prayed for us? that many people actually care? i stood there a little awkward because its just awkward when people are cheering and you are up there on a stage. thankfully i was not alone and both justin and i were able to share our hearts that night. i walked off the stage thinking...oh, why did i not say that and oh, i wish i had not forgotten that part? its hard to sum up cancer and God in five minutes. but we both felt confident that we shared exactly what the Lord wanted us to so we will rest in that.

for two days i could not sing. we had a time of worship before the speaker on both friday and saturday night and i could not sing. not because i did not want to but because the words we were singing held an entirely new meaning and i was overcome with emotion. and i could not hold the tears back. so i would wipe them away and try to hide them. but singing about a God that heals takes on a whole new meaning when you have experienced real healing. it was a powerful time for me.

on saturday night i felt like the speaker was speaking directly to me. about before we have a testimony and before we have a story to share we are tested. and what that looks like is different for all us. but i know now that my story, our story would not be the one it is had the past seven months never happened. i do not mean that you need cancer or divorce or infidelity or death to happen before you have a story. we are all different. our struggles may look different and impact us differently but we all have one. my testimony and who God is in my life is entirely different than anything i would have imagined. but its better. i know God in a new way now and as much as i try i feel like i will never be able to explain the depths of it to anyone. but i will try. i feel like we have a story to we will keep sharing it. i guess if i could sum it up at this moment its that God loves us more than we will ever understand. i feel like God gave justin and i this incredible peace from the moment we walked out of the office when i was diagnosed. we both felt it. what a gift that was. it clearly could have looked so so different. but He kept justin and i on the same team. in the same place. we were not always the same physically or emotionally or spiritually. and our good and bad days were often at different times. but the peace we both shared was constant. how thankful we are.

a women who i respect very much told me this weekend that she has never seen anyone walk through what we walked through with such grace and trust. it was such a huge compliment. something that i will never forget. we did not mean to...we just knew that God knew what He was doing.

when i was driving to richmond on friday. i was alone. i wanted some type to be alone with my thoughts and process things a little bit. i thought about the few times i told ava that she might grow up without a mommy and that her daddy would take such good care of her. i never told justin about that. or the passing thoughts i had about death and what that would mean for him and for ava and for our family and friends. i had these thoughts but i never entertained them enough to even tell them to justin or to anyone really. it just took me to a dark bad place that i had no reason to go. and when i was driving thinking about this i began to cry because i do not have to face those thoughts anymore and it felt so freeing.

when i got to our room on friday night there were flowers, balloons, and champagne. i was blown away. my dear friend casey even gave me some sunflowers, my favorite and reeses

later on that night we hung out with a couple who is really wise. we look up to them very much and value their hearts and what they have to say. we talked until 2am and i can not possibly write about everything we talked about...but thank you for empowering us and sharing your hearts for Christ with us. although our stories are very different all four us have experienced deep pain and suffering and came out stronger and more in love with Jesus and each other.  we would never trade walking through the valley of the shadow of death... we will fear no evil for You are with me (psalm 23). done and done. that pretty much sums it up. life is hard and ugly and dark sometimes. but we are never alone. we are never alone.

great weekend. great time in richmond. and before i headed home i met three sweet women for lunch. they are a part of a book club i have mentioned before and they read the blog. one of the women, katie makes and sells jewelry on etsy and she has donated a significant amount of money to our family as half her proceeds have gone to us (so awesome. thank you). check it out HERE. it was so great. made me wish they lived here in cheasapeake so we could hang out more. it was great to talk about life, work, husbands, books, and share a little bit more about our story with them. hope to be at one of your book clubs soon.

 this great weekend was supposed to end with me meeting justin after he picked up ava at the mall to shop a little grab dinner...but instead i ran into a curb and busted two tires. it was a serious bummer. i hate spending money on cars. i would far rather re-decorate the guest room and ava's room. so now we might wait a bit.

thank you for those of you who thought about us and prayed for us. we literally felt carried by all of you in these past months. a new season is waiting to begin...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

day 3 of life without cancer.

oops i did it again today. i never sat down to write. it was too too busy. today was non stop that i am finally getting into my bed at nearly one am after we fell asleep watching top chef upstairs. i am really tired...but i wanted to write because i said i would. however, i do get annoyed when people simply post on their blog because they feel like they are supposed to and then the post is lame. so i will not do that. tomorrow i will write. i need to and i want to. i will write a lot. about this past weekend and how huge it was for me. lunch today with some sweet women in richmond. hitting a curb and blowing out two of my tires. and no i was not on my phone. so instead of going home and resting and playing with ava after justin picked her up from our dear friends house we sat for like an hour and half and waited for the tow truck. we got home fed her dinner, took a quick bath, and put our dear baby to bed. who by the way did fabulous this weekend without her mommy and daddy.

sorry if this post wasted your time a little bit. i warned you. 

good night. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

day 2 of life without cancer. and its good.

i wanted to sit down and write so many times today but the time just never came. we are in richmond, va with all the staff, volunteer leaders, and committee for Young Life. its been huge. we shared our story last night and it was amazing. really. i love telling God's story for our lives. i have been emotional. i am seeing so many people i love for the first time since i got sick. i prayed that i would not feel overwhelmed and it has totally been answered. its all been a gift. i love talking to people here who read the blog or who have been praying for us...its so so so encouraging. this has been the best place to be to celebrate life without cancer. so many people are so excited and genuinely care about our family. its humbling and God is being glorified. which is all we want. we trusted God with my live and He took care of us.

i just left a hotel room that was filled with so many women i love so deeply and for four hours we shared our hearts. our insecurities. our doubts. our pain. our love. our hope. our desires. it was good. so good. i love this. oh how i have missed this. i love being with people. i love sharing my heart. i love telling our story.  i feel chosen. more than ever i feel with so much confidence that God allowed cancer in my body because He wanted to be glorified through it. and i hope He has.

there is so so so much more going on inside me. but i am tired. i have cried too many tears. all of joy. and i need to rest.

for the first time in nearly seven months i feel real genuine deep joy. someone told me today that i have a little skip in my step that they have not seen in months. and its true. even on my good days during cancer chemo was also lurking around the corner. so it was hard to really experience joy. i was happy during cancer but not really joyful. and now i can not stop smiling and rejoicing with the thousand people here that we are cancer free. its true. my body that once was filled with cancerous cells is gone. i can not stop crying. i have known joy until this moment. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Rejoice. I say again Rejoice!

i woke up early this morning. i could not sleep. i emailed my doctor and within minutes he called me. he said immediately, "I am calling with good news, Libby!" that was all i needed to hear. but then i asked to be sure, "So i am cancer free?" and he said, "yes, congratulations Libby!"

i hung up and just sat in my bed. i did not react. almost like when we heard i had cancer. i know i have emotion but for some reason i felt nothing. so i text justin asking him to call me asap and that it was good news. he asked, "how do you feel?" and i thought for a second and said, "good. i mean i knew it. i knew it inside that it was gone but this is the confirmation i needed. i feel relieved." he said me too. but i know myself and the emotion will come. its not usually immediate. its like i need a second. well its been over an hour and its sinking in. ava woke up and we got her dressed and justin made breakfast and we really did not talk. we ate on the porch and then my heart began to open up. not with tears but i am beginning to process that i do not have cancer anymore. I DO NOT HAVE CANCER ANYMORE. after we ate we moved inside and go out our computers and our bibles. we read through philippians 1: 12-14. ava played. and my thoughts started racing. i will try and write some of them down. justin is much for articulate than me and a way better writer (see below). i have never wanted pity or to feel sorry for myself or say..."look at me i have cancer." i hope that has been clear through our story. its all i wanted. and God is good. i kept thinking about how thankful i am that He allowed me to get cancer and that through us He has been glorified. He promises He will love us. It is simple. He did not promise me a husband or ava or lots of money or nice stuff or that i would always be healthy and not experience pain. Instead He said He will love me and never leave me. and that has been enough. i may not think that and feel that all the time but i know its true. He allowed cancer at 26 years old, newly married, and with a six month old baby. okay the tears are here now. But in the midst of cancer He carried us through with family, friends, strangers, meals, babysitters, money, cleaning ladies, a house on the water, an easy baby, cards, emails, texts, and a whole ton of people praying. He never left us. not even for a second. I thought this morning that He loves us so much that He trusted us with cancer. That if we gave Him all the glory He would take care of the rest. and did He take care of us! I often think that our story is not that unique or special. people get cancer all the time. and people live and people die. and i found myself feeling guilty that our story of cancer was maybe not as tough as other people's. justin said that was dumb and not to think that. so i will try not too. but we changed. forever we are changed. and i would not trade that for the world. my heart is new. and i am still broken and sinful and clearly imperfect but cancer did something big to me. and to justin. and even though ava is so young i know our family's story will change her too. oh, i pray it does. i just read this post to justin and i sobbed. he said, "yes babe this is so emotional."it sure is. much more to come in the following days as justin encouraged me to write everyday for the next seven days. so we never forget. 

From Justin...

Today I ran out of a Wyld Life club to answer my phone…Libby said, “It’s good news.” I came straight home. “I’m cancer free”. I went out to our porch and it’s so warm. It feels like Spring. She is cancer free.

I looked at the water and thought about my Dad’s houseboat and the peace of it, and the last 6 months. Tears filled my eyes. God has done it. I really didn’t know what to say. I made us breakfast. I don’t know what to say but it all wells up inside me. My stomach is twisting. Nothing has changed – we live by God’s love and his purpose – and everything has changed – because prayers have been answered! She is well. But we will let nothing change. We are brand new people because of this, and that we welcome.

Even though so many mistakes have been made – we have not been perfect - I can say with integrity: It was all FOR HIM. And Libby wanted it to be. She did not want attention. We just wanted this to be NOT IN VAIN. We didn’t want to waste it. And God has not wasted it. I think about the 1,000’s of messages we have gotten about people being built up and encouraged, and much more bold to speak the Word without fear! All Glory to God -- He met our needs and then some. And then some. And then some.

This would have been worth it – even if it took 25 years to see the fruit. But O how it has COME DAILY ! That is GRACE that we didn’t deserve, but received.

I will speak the Word without fear – never stopping. I don’t ever want to stop, because of fear, or because of anything. It’s a life that we are seeking that’s based on ONE idea.

“It is our eager expectation and hope that we will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage, now as always Christ will be honored in our bodies, whether by life or by death.” Because of God’s healing hand now, I pray He would continued to be honored in more LIFE. Thank you Lord.

God Bless you for praying for us, and thank you. They have been answered in more ways than you can imagine in Libby’s body and in our hearts. 

ps...we will be meeting with our doctor next wednesday the 23rd to talk about what is next...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

tomorrow is the big day.

wont it be such a bummer if for some reason we do not get the results tomorrow. i think it will be real sad. but sometimes things like happen. especially with doctor type things. but i will email my nurse and doctor first thing in the morning. or i might right now when i get done typing so its in their inbox already. thank you for the emails, texts, calls, thoughts and prayers. we feel so very loved. i can not even tell you. when i was driving home from walmart tonight...i needed some spray paint for a few of my decorating projects tomorrow...i was overcome with emotion. just thinking about how big the news of tomorrow is for our family. and for those of you who love us and care for us. whether you know us or not you have walked this road with us both near and far. and we feel it. so thank you. my mom called me today and asked how i was feeling about getting the results from my scan and said..."oh, i had not really thought about it." which is good i guess. but i think its more like i happened to not be thinking about it that very second when she asked me because i have for sure been thinking about it. although we have every reason to believe i will good to go...i have a titch of anxiety about it all. which is normal i think. it's just going to be huge to know that based on what medical technology can tell us my body is cancer free. how far we have come. how ready we are.

today was a big day for ava. she technically played outside for the first time. please don't judge. we have not done a ton the past few months. and she was not real mobile when it was warm out a few months back and since its been cold she has learned to walk and move around a lot now this girl is ready to explore a world she barely new existed. for example, bubbles...we blew bubbles together this afternoon and she laughed at them. it was precious. she likes to suck on the wand so we will work on maybe not going that. also sidewalk chalk and rocks (we have them in our landscaping and she likes them. she likes to put them in her mouth. so we will work on not doing that too. wagon rides (justin put her wagon together tonight and she loves it). we went to the park today and she went in the swing for the first time and is obsessed with that too. i let her crawl around at the park in the wood chips. but i was worried about her getting a sliver (i guess most people saw splinter, but i was taught it was a sliver. so ava will too. i am not that mom. but i am a little bit. her leggings got dirty today too from crawling around outside. she can walk but crawls when she wants to get somewhere quickly. she has never really gotten dirty besides from food or whatever and i can't wait for everything that is ahead as the weather gets warmer and she discoveries so many new things. it was a good ava day and a good husband day. i got home tonight from painting pottery with some women from church and to my surprise the house was spotless. seriously so neat. it was such a gift. he redeemed himself because this morning when i woke up i realized he had not taken the trash to the curb. instead he walked past it at least four times and simply forgot. so the house cleaning was a serious bonus.

my husband...we are so close to putting all this behind us. although cancer is apart of who we are now i am praying we are about to enter into a new chapter of life and all that it brings.

my ava...thank you for the joy you bring to our lives. it is not always easy but you have been the greatest gift in all of this...well besides seeing how much the Lord loves us. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

post pet scan and a little decorating.

i had my pet scan this morning. hopefully my last one for a while. the last iv. the last medications. the last time i will enter that building (my pet scans are done at the same place i get chemo). i was a little anxious because yesterday i was terribly sick and throwing up. not sure why. may have been a migraine. and i have also decided since getting cancer that my go to side effect for whatever my aliment might be is throwing up. gross huh. i know. can't help it. nausea is my thing. no one is allowed in the room with me so my friend ally drove me and justin picked me. i am going to tell you about what happens at a pet scan. i never knew before i had one so i thought maybe readers would like to know. i am going to blog about chemo too. like the details. what goes down. how i feel. how justin feels. and how noura my nurse feels too. she gives chemo to people everyday. i am dying to know to her heart and how/if that impacts her. but every time i try to write about it i literally get sick to my stomach. but one day i will. so at my scan...basically the nurse takes me into a room with a two leather recliners. i was in one and an older women was in the other. i sit in it and they hook me up to an iv. not sure what was going into me but i have to sit there for about an hour. my left arm has gotten a lot of attention over the past seven months but i still can not watch when they draw my blood or put in an iv. i hate it. and it does not even really hurt so i am not sure what my deal is. but either way i hate it. i do it because i clearly have no choice. so then i recline my chair. put on a blanket. music is playing. need you now by lady antebellum played and i cried. not sure why...but i cried. i would say i am pretty emotional right now. i do like that song. but mostly i was just happy and sad at the same time about everything going on. i have a lot moving around inside my heart and head. and its hard to explain any of it but i am trying. then i am asked to drink this rather large radioactive white drink. its sick. i guess it helps them to see things inside me while they are taking pictures during the scan. i drink about 3/4 of it. and i also had to take a major drug to help "chill me out" since last time on my report they said i was a little anxious and recommended i take some heavy medication in the future. so i did. not too heavy though. then i read my nook. i am reading the book hunger games. its crazy and intriguing and i love it. i text a little too. thanks for those of you sent me a little shot out this morning. i appreciate it. after about 45 minutes they take out my iv and then suggest i go to the bathroom. better pictures with an empty bladder the technician tells me. so i do. then i lay down and they put a blanket over me (where i get my scan does is in this mobile trailer. it moves to all different hospitals to provide pet scans and its cold inside there). and then they raise me up and i go in and out of this large donut. my arms are above my head. i just have to lay still and breath normal. it does not feel claustrophobic or anything to me. pretty harmless. they have music playing so i listen to that and think about my ideas for redecorating the guestroom and sprucing up ava's nursery a little bit. grey and white for guestroom and adding a little more pink and some fun fabric to ava's. in case you care. then after about twenty minutes i am done. they lower me down and i feel good. a little funny because of the ativan i took. but not sick this time. yay! justin meets me and we head home. but first stop at dunkin donuts. fyi i am not eating donuts anymore (stopped a few months back in an attempt to eat a little healthier). now its still a skim iced mocha but i eat a turkey sausage flat bread instead. all in all the pet went fine. thank goodness. we will know the results on friday. CANNOT WAIT. i do not use capitals you know i am excited about friday.

today is a good day. the end is near. and we are ready for it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

valentines day night.

tonight we celebrated with dinner on the porch. we turned on the big heater to make it nice and toasty. roses. gift cards. and daddy's first valentines day card from ava. she made it herself. it was a great night. we are more in love than ever. cancer will do that. life will do that. we knew we were meant for one another from day one. but this past six months simply confirmed it. its nice to eat dinner and talk about the future and how i literally feel different. like that dark greyish cloud we had over us is lifting. and that constant titch of anxiety that regardless of how good i felt there was always another chemo treatment right around the corner. and life looks and feels different now that its gone. i thought a lot about what it would be like after chemo. what life would be like i mean. and i still do not really know. but i do know that today was a gift. maybe just for me. it was warm. the river was stunning. the sun was so so bright. and to be honest i needed today. something felt different about today. and i can not explain it. but i will never forget it. my husband and i sat down for dinner with our daughter and things felt right. for the first time in months and months life felt a little easier. funny how in the matter of a few hours i will take back what i wrote earlier today about vday not being a big deal in our family. starting now valentines day will always be a big deal for this family. maybe the biggest. not because of flowers or cards or having real high expectations for justin that he may or may not meet. but today i felt more alive than i have ever felt in my life. we have always tried to have a good attitude with this whole cancer thing. but today i experienced one more reason why i was given cancer. to feel more free than i knew was possible. and cancer did this? God does really move in crazy ways. we just have to trust Him. and there is something magical about living on the water and the peace that it brings to my soul and to justin's. he sat across from me tonight and said..let's be best friends. i agreed and then we proceed to each read our cards and smile because we basically each wrote the exact same thing to one another. its nice knowing that i picked the right guy to marry. even when its hard. i still would only want to do the hard stuff with him. 

ava's first time using markers. and her first of many homemade cards.

p.s. then shortly after i wrote this justin and i got in a disagreement. that is a relationship for you. its great one second and then not so great the next. we worked it out. but just thought i would add that. 

valentines day.

i often wake up in the middle night or in the early morning with all these things i want to write about it. then i wake up for the day and forget them. not all the time but sometimes. and it always sounds so much better in my head.

its valentines day. our family does not really go all out for this holiday. we celebrate but not over the top.
ava and i do have some tricks up our sleeve for justin tonight at dinner when we exchange gifts. we are thinking we will go crafty this year. our first valentines day we were married justin went all out with a surprise scavenger hunt for me when i got home from work. he had thought of all my favorites. a gift card for the exact amount for a peanut butter cup blizzard from dairy queen. a pedicure. flowers. and a massage. perfect. all things i love. he set the standards high during that first year and now its hit or miss. just kidding he always remembers and does something special. whether big or small. i reminded him that he has two girls to celebrate today.

as i look forward to re-entering life. i have been looking into all these fun little things to do with ava. like swimming lessons, kindermusik, music together, etc. all look real great and not real cheap. but we will be doing something for sure this spring. along with things that are free (ish). the zoo, park, botanical gardens, wagon rides, her new swing, and playing outside. its gorgeous outside here today. and its getting me excited for it all. these type of activities are probably normal for most moms but since getting sick and it being winter and all...we have stayed inside a bit more than what we would like. i like thinking ahead to everything we will do and having the energy to do it. i have a little guilt about it all so thankfully she is entering into an age where doing and going are more fun and she can begin to participate that much more.

even though its still february and i am not sure that the warmth of today is going to last. it is still so nice to think that this changing season...both literally and figuratively hold a whole new meaning for us. its going to be a good year and a good spring. i can feel it.

thank you for the packages and cards that arrived this weekend. ava got some love to. thank you for thinking of her and loving her...even though many of you have never even met her. there is something special about people loving your daughter in the way many of you do. so thank you.

happy valentines day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

slowly but surely.

today was a good combination of lots of things i love. hanging out with erinn. playing with ava. eating some good "whole" food. taking a walk. sitting on our porch. taking a little nap. reading. hanging with justin. it was nice. i am for sure feeling better. tired but that is normal. i feel happier too. i think i am beginning to let myself get a little excited about being done with cancer. i even told ava tonight when i was rocking her at bedtime...mommy is not going to be sick anymore and will be able to play with you a lot more. it felt really nice to say. especially because i remember so clearly the night i rocked her to bed and told her how i was sick and that i was so sorry and that i was going to miss out on some things in her life. but would try my hardest to always put her to bed at night. no matter what. and i pretty much did that.

we ran a few errands tonight. they were only supposed to take an hour or so. but they took two and half. bed bath and beyond who is usually so cool about returns (my blender randomly stopped working today) took forever when i went to exchange it. either way i got a new a new blender and i like having new kitchen gadgets. then we went to barnes and noble because my nook was freezing up off and on when i read. which is real annoying. i did not take a stroller with me because i thought we would be in and out. not the case. it was a whole ordeal and i was trying to hold ava on my hip but she wanted to get down but the floor grossed me out. and although she is improving a ton in her walking abilities she still is not real sturdy. its taking so long that at one point i walk to the starbucks area and grab a high chair and strap her into that by the nook help desk with a few random kid valentines day books. but she proceeds to throw them on the ground. of course. so i take her out and my arm is aching. i am not that strong. she is hungry and i am tired and annoyed this is taking so long. i almost leave like four times. then the women helping me asks me to come back in ten minutes so she can call customer service and reset my nook. so i take ava to the play area at barnes. she does not have shoes on so i am hesitant to let her down, but she does have tights on. well a  nice family is sitting in the area by the train set reading books as a family. it was real cute. i loved it. so i let ava down because my arm was breaking. she of course wants to be right up on that family. she does not do well with understanding other people's personal space. but they were nice about it. not sure if its been two minutes or twenty but i go back to the help desk and she thinks my nook is fine. she thinks. great. and told me to maybe come back when i have more time. i am like are you kidding me? but i am not rude. its not her fault. so we leave. thankfully ava never totally lost it. but man...i realize that none of this is really that big of a deal and i am not trying to be dramatic. but it was just more than i could handle today. the second i feel like i am turning a corner i want to get out of the house and do something. but i was just way too exhausted for this. all i needed was a stroller. somewhere to set my little baby. i am ready for her to walk i think. she is getting more and more confident by the day. its adorable.

and tonight in the bath ava laughed harder and longer than i have ever heard her laugh in her life. and i needed that. it rejuvenated my spirit a little bit. this girl brings me life. and i love that. and i need that. but we are turning a corner. slowly but surely we are reentering real life. not that we left it but a little we did. i just noticed that my side of the bed has a deep indent in it. that only occurs if you spend a little more time in bed than a normal person should. like my husband. whose side of the bed has no indent. opps. i guess that is maybe allowed if you have cancer. or should i say had cancer.

Friday, February 11, 2011

its hard to rest. but i am so tired.

in theory resting should be easy. but its hard for me sometimes. its hard to sleep. even when i know i am supposed to or i should i sometimes just can't. i feel sick. nauseous and tired. but i can't seem to sleep. i can sense a bit of anxiety. i thought today for a moment...did we get ahead of ourselves with all this "its done" and "we did it." i mean we do not have the PET scan results yet. but regardless i am done with chemo. even if the cancer is not gone i am still finished with chemo. this is what your mind does when you spend too much time in bed. you ask questions. and think what if. it will be nice to have those results next friday to know for sure for sure that we are cancer-free.  i feel a little stuck. wanting to celebrate but having a hard time letting myself go there until we know what is ahead. but we don't know yet. and that is okay. and that is a part of trusting.

until then we wait and honestly i would rather not. but i will try and wait in confidence that this time of our lives is coming to end and something new and big and exciting is coming next. not sure what. but something. i can feel it. my good friend erinn is here. she was my young life leader in high school and through the years our friendship has changed and grown. as friends, wives, and mothers. she encourages me in the areas where i doubt myself and knows how to ask questions that i sometimes do not want to answer. it's always done in love. its safe. and its real. thank you for being here and caring for ava and for me.

another reason sleeping is hard because i can hear a little girl right outside my bedroom chatting away.  in her own little language. its loud. but nice at the same time.

i wonder what its like to genuinely have energy? i miss that. and i am looking forward to having my body back. it wont have to fight cancerous cells plus try and do everything else i did pre-cancer. not trying to sound like i did a ton, but just normal me stuff. like be a woman and mom and wife and friend. that will be nice. because i go from feeling okay to feeling miserable in seconds. its just exhausting to live like that. but the end is near. and i will cling to that.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

a little something late night.

justin put ava to bed at eight tonight. he came into our room and asked if there was anything i needed. i said no. so he went upstairs to work on some stuff or hang out. not sure. but i needed to sleep as i did not nap today. but i think i finally felt ready to sleep because ava was down for the night and that rests my soul a bit.

i woke up to an OVERWHELMING amount of text messages and emails. about 500 i would guess over from throughout the day. and i just spent the past hour or so reading every word. sometimes twice. every facebook message, post, email, phone call (only had one). i cried. good tears. of how far we have came. and always being so shocked when i read something from someone i either do not know or people i am not even that close with. but you care and you care deeply about our family. i am still awed by it. and i again go back to wondering why we hear from some people and not word from others. and i am not sure the answer. maybe people do not know what to they say nothing. but thank you. from deep inside me for those of you who took the time to walk in this valley with us. in whatever way that looked like for you. cancer is scary. period. but for me it is even more scary when it hits your own family. and you are young. and you have a little baby. and because i seemed healthy and strong we were blindsided. literally had the wind knocked out of us and we did not even know it. we had to keep moving. we had to keep living. we wanted to. but i think there will be a lot of reflection going on this blog in the next months. as i am feeling even more emotional about this entire season than i have yet. maybe because i was in go mode. so i just kept going. often without thinking. just moved through this season of cancer in the best way we knew how. and it was not perfect. not even close. we often failed to even talk about it late at night when justin and i were in bed about to shut it down for the day. it was too deep. or we had talked about it all day with other people. justin often said that not one conversation would start with anyone that did not begin is libby? how are you all doing? so maybe we were too tried. but that bond. that thing inside you that brings two people together when they are is often okay not to talk. we just knew. and that was often enough for us. i knew my own pain so it gave me a glimpse of his. and the same for him with my pain. we were separate in some ways in this because i had to get the tests and endure the treatments. but marriage is not about being separate. we are one. and this whole cancer thing has given us a real look at what oneness is. and that its good. real good. but also hard. and sometimes embarrassing to admit that its ugly and we fail. but we walked a tough road. like many of us do. but the end is in sight. finally.

on feb 16 i will get my pet scan. and because my dr is the best he told me at chemo today when he walked over and gave us each a high five. that we should email him on feb 18 to get the results of my scan. and then we will have an office visit on the 23 to talk about what is next based on the scan results. there really is an ending point. thought it would never come.

love the new header. thanks sara. i miss my hair. and fitting in to my favorite jeans. but the day will come when my hair will be long and i will rock my jeans again. just not for today. and that is alright.

do not miss this video justin made.

just press the words below.
video on the eve before our last chemo

its done. i did it. its over.

we are home. we made it. we made it through 12 chemotherapy treatments. it was joyful and emotional. hard to celebrate because i really do not feel very well at all. but either way its over and i never have to get chemo again. i can not explain what this means to me. i have cried more today than i have since this all began. i had no idea i would feel like this. but i am so thankful its over. and i did it. we did it. we freakin' did it. its done. i could scream. justin did scream in the car when we drove home. i will scream when i feel less exhausted.

thanks for loving us. and for the texts, emails, mail, and flowers that arrived today. it helps that so many people are celebrating right along with us.

i am in bed. ava is sleeping. and we are watching top chef. our favorite. my husband is beside me working on his lap top. its so nice to be together. to celebrate how far we have come together. i thought we were a strong team before...but man...cancer does something crazy and special and deep to a marriage.

in bed but enjoying today.

today is the day. chemo number 12.

my white blood cell count is high enough. so we are good to go. i am sitting in my chemo chair as i type this. i am about to begin my final chemo treatment. i am so emotional. thank you for the encouragement today. be sure to check out the video justin made last night. 

Last Chemo Day! (From Justin)

Dear Libby,

I cannot remember all the chemos individually. I can just remember seeing you suffer and sleep and I hated them more and more each time. I remember taking pictures to send to family and friends and you smiled in the beginning every time! The smile gradually faded, but your faith did not. I am so thankful that you BELIEVE, really believe, that the Lord's good hand has been apparent in this from the beginning. Because of that I am so thankful for you as my wife, our friends and family who prayed through this -- I will not think back to those times and hate them. I will never forget what this has taught us.

I am so proud of you babe! Whether today or tomorrow, you have endured. Having been carried along by the prayers of many, you have made it through. Seriously, all Glory to God for this day! I am so excited to spend it with you. Today, and thank you Lord, the rest of our lives.

It is a true gift, and I will not waste one second of it. I love you.


check out our video. just press the words below.
We never wanted to forget last night, so I interviewed Libby

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

just a little bummed. but mostly not.

so tomorrow is supposed to be the big day. my last day of chemo. it was changed to wednesday oppose to thursday because noura my favorite chemo nurse. well my only chemo nurse is going to be gone thursday so we set it up for tomorrow. regardless she is my favorite. so i went today and my wbc was the lowest it has ever been. less than 200. so if it does not increase a lot by tomorrow i will not be able to get chemo. which usually i love. but not this time. i am mentally and physically and emotional ready to be done. we decided that if my count is too low tomorrow i will just have to get my final chemo from a different nurse on thursday. which may not seem like a big deal and really it isn't. but noura has been there since number one. so we wanted to go out with a bang together. hoping that tomorrow when i get my labs done they are high enough for chemo. regardless though i will have my final chemo treatment this week. which is good. really good.

after that appointment ava and i headed to her appointment to have her ear infection checked. she has been much better lately. no more cough or congestion so i thought we were good to go. but nope. she still has fluid in her little ears. so we will try yet another antibiotic to get this girl back to normal. its been over a month now and i am over it. its just a little too much for me. i just responded to an email to sara and cancer are hard. i am ready to get rid of the cancer and just keep my kid. ava is much more fun. even when she is sick.

so i was a little down. definitely physically. just so beyond exhausted. but you keep moving because you have to. and this is all just frustrating to me because on off chemo weeks i try and forget i have cancer. and then it sneaks up on me again. i think because the end is so so near i am just over all of it today.

but thankfully i have people who love me. when we got home justin was home for the day. yay love that. and i had 2 bouquets of flowers waiting for me (thanks k family and t & s). really. means so much. you have no idea. i was blogging a bit. kind of feeling sorry for myself and how much cancer sucks and how much i do not want to be sick anymore another bouquet came (thanks k family). and i cried because i was reminded that i am not alone. not even a little bit. but loved. so dearly loved. thanks for helping me not feel alone in this.

i am planning that tomorrow is it. the end. its here. i did it. we did it. eleven chemotherapy treatments down and ONE to go. my mom asked me today if this has been harder or easier than i thought. and i am not totally sure what my answer is. but right off the top of head i thought...easier. so i guess i do have an answer. ha. but i know that was only possible because of everyone around us and those not around us. with meals, cleaning, prayer, babysitting, flowers, gift cards, the river house, money, family, letters, friends, emails, texts, and more support than i ever possibly imagined, really. i am not sure how to express it. but my little family of three only got through this season of life because we trust God with our lives and we were cared for in such a special way. He did that through the immense, deep, genuine love of people who know us so so so well and those we have never met. so thank you. i am getting a little ahead of myself as i wanted to write about this later. but i had to share my heart today. so in the midst of discouragement i feel loved. and you may not know what a difference that makes until you too go through something big and hard and scary and think...i could not imagine if...blank... happened to me.  and then it does happen and in the end realize we are all stronger than we ever thought and we were not meant to go through life alone. we certainly did not go through this alone. so thank you for entering into our cancer in the best way you knew how. it made all the difference.

*finally thanks to all my friends and strangers (soon to be friends when we meet in nashville) for running this half marathon in our honor. i hate to run. so thank you.*

off to carrabbas for dinner to end this thing right. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

hotels. we love them.

its monday. the beginning of a new week. i should feel rested but i am tired. my sister and drake left yesterday after a great visit. my sister helped a lot and we enjoyed watching our babes play together. even though ava is a little too rough sometimes. we are working on it.

justin and i celebrated valentines day a little early. between chemo, work, and pet scans last night seemed to be the best night. so we drove 15 minutes and stayed at a hotel right on the water. we love hotels. especially justin. he hooked us up so we had lots of good food and a few surprises all without having to leave the hotel. i loved it. we rested. we watched the super bowl. he surprised me with chocolate covered strawberries and a champagne toast to one more chemo. i remember writing...chemo number 1,2,3...and honestly feeling like this day would never come. and now it is almost here. on wednesday we will finish my treatments. we spend a little time talking last night about the past the six months, but mostly shared our hearts about the next six months and what we would love to see happen. i kept saying to justin how i have changed so much and i feel like i am different in so many ways and anxious about what that looks likes and what that means. mostly its just about our new view on life. we talked about how we were given a second chance. as individuals. a couple. and a family. its all a gift now. and we want to live like we did the moment we heard the words...its lymphoma. because in that second we changed. we understand now what it feels like to know that you may not have tomorrow. and how justin may have been a widower at 27. and ava may have never known her mommy. but that is not how our story went. and i can not help but cry and feel my heart ache with gratitude that our story did not turn out that way.

so here's to wednesday!

but ava is screaming so i am done writing now. she is sweet but sometimes not. but it really does not matter because to us she is still our precious baby. who is walking by the way. video to come...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

good day.

my other sister is here now. along with her little man drake. he is 18 days older than ava. they do love each other because they are cousins. but sometimes they may not like each other. i have noticed that my little ava is not always so sweet. she is feisty. strong. and determined. and although i am glad my girl is strong like her momma. she can be a little bit of a bully too. we are working on the words be gentle. but we are loving watching our little babes interact and play. its a special time.

i am feeling good. tired but good. went to dr yesterday with ava and she is getting better. but not totally yet.
maybe she just wants to be a little sicky like her mom. but either way we are good and my sister becky is helping a lot. i do not realize how exhausted i am until i have someone here to help me. its nice to be able to relax a little bit and not run after ava all day. and nap time is dream time.

not much going on today. not that my heart is not full of stuff to share today. it is. but i am too tired.

so instead...
picture quality not so good. taken with my phone.

ava in her mommas hat. its precious. she love love loves to wear my hat. and i like that. not when she tries to grab it off my head in public. then i get a little embarrassed. but i do like that she wants to imitate me. because one day she may not want to be seen with me. so i will cherish this.