The Joy of Exhaling

Did you hear about the couple in California back in October that survived one of the wildfires by immersing themselves in their neighbor’s pool? For six hours, John and Jan Pascoe repeatedly submerged themselves to avoid the ash and flames. Luckily, their strategy worked. They walked away relatively unscathed, however their home and both of their vehicles were completely destroyed.

I have a hard time imagining what that experience would be like. I wonder how long they may have had to hold their breath at times, waiting for just the right moment to grab another chestful of air.

My husband, Jason, shared this story with me the same day he received news that his cancer may very well be in remission, and I have to confess that I immediately drew some parallels to our own lives.

Have you ever had a time where you felt like you were figuratively holding your breath? Maybe waiting on news of the results of an interview, final judgments in a competition, willing the pregnancy test to show positive or negative? Waiting can be so hard, and sometimes we are asked to do so for long periods of time.

December 19th, Jason and I made a visit to his oncologist. He’s reached the end of a clinical trial he has been a part of for two years. When his test results came back and one of the doctors told us that his blood work was normal, I felt myself truly exhale for the first time in six years. I’m not exaggerating. It’s like I had been unconsciously holding just part of my breath that entire time.

I think our experience mirrors this couple’s in many ways. For six hours they were up and down waiting and hoping for rescue. They watched things fall apart around them. They were at the mercy of the flames. For six years, we have had to tread the proverbial water. Each visit before the trial as the white cell counts grew we were holding our breath just a little bit more. Then, each visit after the start of the medication it would seep out ever so slightly as the numbers began to go down. We would suck a little more air in when side effects would pop up, or infection reared its ugly head. This sounds way more dramatic than reality, but the feeling is true, nonetheless.

There is so much uncertainty with cancer. Even when operations, treatments, or medications do their job, cancer still steals something from you. Your peace of mind is never the same afterwards. Just as this couple lost treasured possessions, there are things you lose with cancer that cannot be replaced. Peace of mind should not be taken for granted.

Maybe you are familiar with a popular Amy Grant Christmas song called “Breath of Heaven.” It is also known as “Mary’s Song.” Here are some of the lyrics:

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Be with me now

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven

The original lyrics were written by English songwriter Chris Eaton. Amy Grant got permission to rework the song to make it into a Christmas tune. Here is what she had to say about it: “It is a prayer that fits a lot of people’s circumstances, because it is a cry of mercy. Some nights on stage I can hardly get through the song for knowing all of the collective, unspoken pain of the lives in front of me. And so the words become my prayer for the listener and the reader, as well as the singer.”

In Job 33:4, we read, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” In Genesis we read that God formed man from the dust of the ground and “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” In the book of John, the Bible tells us we must be born of the Spirit. The word Spirit can be translated as a current of air, a breath-blast, a breeze. Not only has God given us physical life, but we have the chance for him to breathe life into our very spirits.

It is for this reason that I cling to my belief in a magnificent Creator. There are times I may not be able to physically breathe, but I have something inside of me that gives me hope nonetheless, that keeps my spirit breathing.

God will not always answer my prayers in the affirmative. Through great research, good doctors, ideal circumstances, and a good physical match between the medication and my husband’s body he was healed this time (at least for now). When the breath of life is taken out of our bodies, or those we love, we can cling to the hope of the breath of heaven that can reside within us.

A few days after our good news I purchased this sign as a gift for Jason. We are looking forward to many more years together.

May you find yourself exhaling soon if life is hard or uncertain right now!


Renewed Hope

We are officially one year into Jason’s clinical trial for his CLL. Today is my birthday, and the one gift that I wanted more than anything was a test result of white blood cells within normal range. We didn’t quite make it, but we are SO close. A result within normal range is under 11 and his count was at 11.9. Man, we just missed the target goal. But that’s down from 16 last time which is an enormous improvement.

There is a Panera across from the hospital where we ate lunch. We ate outside, and from our vantage point I could see a sea of something sparkly. I insisted we check it out before we walked over for the appointment. Here’s what we found:


If you can’t read the sign, it says that each pinwheel represents a lifesaving organ transplant performed at OSU. While we may not be here for an organ transplant, we are grateful for the hope we have found through lifesaving research that happens here. There wasn’t a cure when Jason was first diagnosed five years ago, and each day we get closer to an answer that will same as eliminate this disease.

I didn’t get to do my happy dance in the doctor’s office today, but as he left the room with a parting, “God bless,” I certainly offered a silent prayer of gratitude for the doctors, nurses, friends, and family who have been a part of this journey.

“It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.” Robert Schuller



My Big Secret: Kicking Fear in the Teeth

I have been holding onto a secret for a few months now. My husband didn’t even know until a couple of weeks ago. I think he is disturbed I could keep something from him for so long.

Truly, I feel like there needs to be a drum roll, because it is that huge to me. Even more exciting in many ways than finally getting the One Mom book published. Just plopping the information down in words here doesn’t feel sufficient.

Are you ready?  I know you are on the edge of your seat.  I’m going to participate in the Hoosiers Outrun Cancer 5k this Saturday. There. I said it, and those of you who know me best are likely picking yourself up off of the floor right now. They know I’ve always said you won’t find me running unless I’m being chased by something.

I didn’t want to say a word until I knew I could complete three miles. As of yesterday, I accomplished that goal. Now, don’t get too impressed. At this point it is still a combination of jogging and walking really fast, but I finished in about 36 minutes. I may come in dead last, but my goal will be to cross the finish line.


So, part way through my training, another situation happened that added even a little more fuel to my fire. I registered with a small team of ladies from the moms’ group I coordinate. One of those ladies was attacked on a local trail. Luckily, she fought off her attacker, but she had some injuries as a result. This lady has lost over 100 pounds and was running to continue to get healthier. It makes me angry. She has had to stay off of her ankle, but should be able to run on the 17th. I will be running with her to encourage her and to make a statement. Fear can only hold you back if you let it. Enough of those people and diseases that try to steal our peace of mind. I’m over it. I refuse to succumb to the fear.

Unfortunately, I have a lot of people on my list affected by cancer that prompted me to participate in this race. First, of course, my husband. He is amazing in his perseverance with the so-called”good” cancer, CLL.


Waiting for a blood draw.


This was an easy day. Sometimes it’s up to 30 vials of blood.

Then, there is my mama, who has actually used the Olcott Center that the money from the race goes to. She dealt with her breast cancer with grace and such courage. She was up and around in no time, and I was so proud of her.


My lovely mama.

I’ll run for my Uncle Phil who is currently battling lung cancer. We lost his dad, my papaw to lung cancer when I was just 9 years old.


My cousin’s husband, Chuck, passed away two years ago after a long battle with cancer. I’ll run in memory of him while thinking of my cousin and her boys who are still recovering from the effects of this dreaded disease.

There are so many others who have fought cancer in my family…I have cousins, my aunt, another grandpa, my father-in-law, and the list goes on. Most have triumphed, some have not.

If you would be willing, would you consider donating $5 or $10 in honor of one of these special people in my life?

You can donate by clicking here. Every dollar helps. Really! Help me outrun cancer in this small way.

As always, blessings,