Sunday, February 8, 2015

Losing HOPE

Losing HOPE

Brad and I went to college in Georgia where the state lottery funds a very generous scholarship program to in-state high school graduates. With some pretty basic requirements met, you can get your full tuition paid for, to any in-state school, through the HOPE scholarship program. The only catch is you have to maintain a certain GPA to continue receiving the money.

At the North Avenue Trade School (where we attended), the general consensus was that it was easy to get in but it was difficult to stay in. The classes, especially the introductory ones that everyone had to take (I'm looking at you, Physics 2), were ridiculously hard. I can remember not leaving the dorm for a whole weekend just to study for a biology mid-term. There was one class where I had a 32/100 grade but that constituted one of the few A's in the class.  There was a class Brad took where the curve was constructed so that you could be in the top quartile of the class with a D (don't think too hard about how he knows that).

Needless to say, there was a significant percentage of students that couldn't maintain the GPA standard and lost their scholarship. Folks around Tech would call that, "Losing HOPE"- hilariously tragic for its double meaning.

Reality

I've been having a difficult time recently, grappling with the non-insignificant statistics around my diagnosis and (limited) response to (now six) different chemotherapy drugs. The first drugs they give you are the strongest and most likely to be effective, then they move to other well-proven drugs, but with less potential effect. There is a finite list of drugs the FDA has approved for triple-negative metastatic disease, each with varying side effects and efficacy.

The goal of chemotherapy is to mess with the cancerous cells' ability to replicate thru screwing with the cells' DNA, RNA, or other biochem mumbojumbo I don't really understand. For me, because my cancer cells have such a high proliferation rate (aka they multiple very quickly), my cells can adapt to the destructive mechanisms being thrown at them thru the chemo. What I have experienced so far is a lot of benefit at the beginning of the chemo regimen, but by the end, I can feel the tumors/lymph nodes growing again.

I read today that the median survival for someone with triple negative metastatic disease is 13 months. That means half of the women live longer than 13 months, and half pass away before 13 months. And I'm seven months into that number with six of the best, highest-potential drugs down.

Hope

This week, a Bible study I have attended off-and-on over the last five years, held a session specially for me and one of my friends who is also facing a tough cancer situation. We went over scripture that involved the "testing of our faith". The timing could not have been more perfect as I wrestle with my "impending doom".

There is this immense tension inside me at the moment. There is part of me that absolutely hopes and wants and believes for a miracle of healing and many years spent with my family. But there is the realist in me as well that says, set your expectations low and you'll never be disappointed. At the beginning of this journey I had this crazy peace that everything was going to be fine. That beyond a shadow of a doubt I was going to make it to the other side of this, beat all the odds, and go on a speaking circuit. But more and more recently, I feel like there is no realistic way to get to that happy ending. That I shouldn't be so foolish as to think that history won't repeat itself; that I'll somehow be different than the many patients before me with less aggressive cancer.

Today

With all that being said, I know what God wants of me right now, today. I know that it actually doesn't matter what the outcome of this journey is- life or death. He calls me to be faithful, today. He will give me grace for today. I am supposed to reflect Christ, give Him glory, and be faithful in the little things of life, today. So for me, that means getting up when the baby cries at night, feeding my toddler breakfast, and changing lots of stinky diapers.

So while I may be "losing hope" (as we used to say in college) for a total and complete recovery and a cure from cancer, I'm not losing the hope required to living today well and to its fullest.

"Each time he said,"My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."
-2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

Lord, I trust you with my life- no matter what the outcome. I know you work all things together for good to those who love you and who are called according to your purpose. Today I make a choice to trust you in every detail of my life including the outcome of my cancer treatments.

20 comments:

  1. Your faith is overwhelmingly beautiful. I thank God for your testimony. -Nicki Hubbard

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  2. I've followed you Ashleigh since this journey for you and Brad began 7 months ago. I've known you're father and mother in law since jr high. My heart aches that all of you are hurting- you physically and all of you emotionally. I have never known such a young lady that writes so eloquently from her heart for the love of her Lord and her family. I've always prayed healing and peace for you. May you all continue to feel God's hand and powerful love as he directs your path. Your testimony is a blessing for all that read and hear it. -- Melissa Van Houten

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  3. Hi Ashleigh - I am a fellow Sloanie and have followed your journey for a while now. I am here to tell you that miracles happen! I have experienced miracles in my life and I can testify that we serve a living God! His solution might not be the same as what you want but rest assured that he has a solution. I will keep praying for grace and healing for you and your family. When you feel low in spirit always remember that God cannot give us trials that we cannot handle! Thank you so much for your encouraging words - there is no way I can explain the effect they have had on my life in the past few weeks. All that I know is that God is on the throne.

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  4. I know a lot of people who lost HOPE and took another path to find their way in life. Most learned a lot about themselves, potentially more than those of us who experienced success early on. But of all people, you already are so self aware and successful, so there must be some incredible other reason God has in mind. You are amazing, and all of you are in my prayers every day!

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  5. Ashleigh & Brad our prayers are with you daily. I thank God daily for your faith & testimony to the goodness of God in all things. May His peace and grace continue to be your strength in the days ahead. We are still praying for God to move and bring complete healing.

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  6. Praying for you. You are an inspiration to so many through your displayed faith amidst extreme adversity. Thank you for strengthening my faith. Matt Pietsch

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  7. Praying for you sister

    Ephesians 6:10-18English Standard Version (ESV)
    The Whole Armor of God

    10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance,

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  8. Praying for you that you will continue to find peace and answers in God. I pray for strength that you may endure whatever comes your way. I am very touched by your life journey. I would like to leave this with you.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTbBMHeHYtI

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  9. Ashleigh, you are truly doing God's work! Sharing your unwavering faith and trust in Him through everyone you've met on your journey, through your family, your friends and all the people you've never met that are reading this blog. Your strength and spirit are inspiring. I continue to pray for your healing and peace with God's plan.

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  10. Going to pray for your right now

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  11. I love you Ashleigh, and I will continue to pray for you, Brad and your precious children. You inspire us all, with your faith and courage.

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  12. Ashleigh,
    We pray for you daily. You are such a beautiful gift from God to this earth that is so broken. After dealing with cancer myself and having my mom die in a car accident, life just gets a different perspective. We are always so concerned about the future, that we don't truly live in today. And today is all we really have. Praying that your day is beautiful today in all God's glory amidst the poopy diapers and sadness of the world. Looking for the gifts God gives us each day is such a special treat. I pray you see the gifts he has for you today. Love you lots...

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  13. Ashleigh,
    Thank you for sharing your journey and for being so transparent about the realities of your highs and your lows. I have shared your blog with so many people, and I appreciate your ability to speak truth and share Christ with so many people you don't even know. I love the comments I hear from unbelievers. They adore your candidness, which makes this blog a ministry. God is using you, and you are being faithful. For that, you will be blessed.

    You don't know me, but my mom was a college roommate of your MIL. I've watched Brad grow up through Christmas cards. ;)

    Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for your honesty. I pray for miraculous healing, and I pray that you will continue focusing on today. ;) Today is a gift- for all of us!

    Christy Culli, San Antonio, TX

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  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  15. افضل شركة تنظيف خزانات ومنازل وشقق بالمدينة المنورة شركة غسيل خزانات ومكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة ونقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة مؤسسة صفوة المدينة
    شركة غسيل خزانات بالمدينة المنورة

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  16. الشرق الاوسط من اهم شركات نقل العفش بالدمام متحصصه فى نقل عفش واثاث بالدمام ونقل العفش بالخبر كما انها توفر شركة نقل عفش بالجبيل والخبر وشركة نقل عفش بالقطيف والاحساء وجميع خدمات نقل العفش والاثاث بالمنطقة الشرقية بارخص اسعار نقل عفش بالدمام وتقدم ايضا شركة تخزين عفش بالدمام والخبر
    شركة الشرق الاوسط
    شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالخبر
    شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل
    شركة نقل عفش بالخبر
    شركة نقل عفش بالقطيف
    شركة نقل اثاث بالاحساء
    شركة نقل عفش الجبيل
    شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل
    شركة نقل عفش بالخبر
    شركات النقل البري بالدمام
    شركات نقل العفش بالدمام
    ارقام شركات نقل العفش بالدمام
    ارخص شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
    شركة تخزين عفش بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالخبر

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