Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Rainbow's in Sight

It's hard to see but it's there--a double rainbow--photo taken outside of our home a few years ago

Rainbows have always had a very special meaning to me. They almost always come after a storm, when it's still cloudy and sprinkling but the sun shines through. It was the sign God sent to Noah as a promise that He would never again flood the Earth, and every time I see one, I am reminded of how God keeps His promises to us today.

When I was about 6 months pregnant in April, we got some news from Ross’s endocrinologist that she found a tiny nodule on his thyroid. It was almost too small to even detect, but she felt like it should be biopsied as a precaution. He went in for the biopsy, and the results came back: Ross had thyroid cancer. This diagnosis was met with a mix of slight panic, fear, and disbelief—Ross takes such good care of himself, eats all the right things, and exercises daily (almost too much sometimes in my opinion). It also has no known cause. Thankfully, our fears were settled some when we were told by his doctor that this was not a death sentence, what it entailed was having his thyroid removed followed by life-long thyroid medication to replace the ‘hormones’ which kept his body regulated. She also advised that thyroid cancer was one of the most treatable forms of cancer, and the “best” one to be diagnosed with (is there really a best?). From that point on, I had peace.

Ross had his thyroid removed on May 1st in an outpatient procedure. His surgeon (who was wonderful) discovered during the surgery that the cancer had metastasized into a few of his lymph nodes, so they were removed as well. This of course was unnerving because it means that the tiny nodule was actually more than we had anticipated or been prepared for. Afterwards, the doctors recommended that Ross undergo one dose of radioactive iodine therapy in order to ‘kill’ any possible remaining cancer cells which could still be around to cause trouble.
This meant that during the 2 weeks leading up to the treatment, Ross had to eat a very restricted diet—no butter, milk, other dairy products, seafood, sea salt, iodized salt, soy products, or anything that came from the sea (did you know carrageenan comes from seaweed?). Since Ross is not a cook, this became my job to scan labels and come up with foods he would enjoy during this time. He was really upset about it, but perked up a bit when he realized he would not have to give up McAlister’s sweet tea! I also learned that it was not as hard as it could have been to substitute rice milk for regular and olive oil for butter in baked goods, and was able to adapt a few of his favorite recipes into ones that would follow the new dietary guidelines (like chili and cornbread).

At my job, we had several employees to either quit or be let go, which meant that I needed to fill in more than normal. My usual work days are Thursdays & Fridays only, but I went in for part of the day on Mondays and worked Wednesday through Friday to help. This was harder being in the third trimester of my pregnancy, but I enjoy the coworkers who are left and the extra income will definitely help when our baby girl is born (I don’t get maternity pay since I’m part-time).

How did I not fall apart? Believe me, I had my moments, but when I took some time to pray (which became constant and much more than normal), I realized very clearly that these events, though difficult to go through at times, could not have been planned more perfectly—this is the way my God works. Ross sees his endocrinologist every 4 months to monitor his diabetes, and had he not gone regularly, this cancer would not have been caught in such an early stage. It was discovered when it was almost too small to even be measured, and his surgery was scheduled shortly thereafter. The prognosis was always very good also. Thyroid cancer is not a death sentence when caught early. Also, we had Ross’s mom close by who was always at the ready anytime we needed help with Avery’s care. She was such a blessing! One day while I was working, I was on my lunch hour and listening to 91.9. The song “Praise You in this Storm” came on the radio and the lyrics touched my heart and I cried, and praised God that things were not worse, that they were actually okay. Inconvenient, yes, but He told me we were going to be just fine in the end. He has been so good to us, and this was no exception.

I like to believe this happened while I was pregnant in order to give us a happier goal to focus on. There were many praises sprinkled amongst the prayers. We knew that Harper would be born in late July, and that in itself gave us hope and joy of what was to come. Plus, we were busy planning for her arrival which kept our minds off of things.

My job came to a point where I was needed more in order to help out. With my maternity leave and Ross’s medical bills, adding to my income helped us tremendously during this time, and I think alleviated some of Ross’s fears of how we were going to pay everything off that insurance didn't cover(anyone who knows him knows how he is with money). Thankfully, I had a healthy pregnancy with normal fatigue here at the end, but who wouldn’t get fatigued in the heat when you’re carrying another growing human inside of you?

Ross’s radioactive iodine treatment requires him to stay away from pregnant women (me) and children (our daughter Avery). This may have been the hardest news of all, because we love spending time together and being close to each other. But, it was scheduled during Avery’s week of Summer camp where she spent time from 9-5 each day, I had work, and Ross would be able to stay with his sweet mom, who was very close by. The timing could not have been better, because both Avery & I are busy that week, but I'm a bit worried about Ross feeling isolated. But the end of this saga was in sight, and again, we were thankful.

We also had our senses of humor, and I think God had His as well. About a week before Ross’s final treatment, he received a summons for jury duty—he was being called to serve the week Harper was due! On top of everything else, this shows up, and I found it to be absolutely hysterical. I laughed until I cried when I opened the mail that day, I was at home alone, and it felt so good to get so tickled at a jury summons. We’re hoping he can get out of it. Ross joked that he’ll be audited next………..

Throughout this entire time, some of my amazing friends threw me a surprise baby shower, offered meals and housework, and prayers and support. Thank you, sweet friends. I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.

Ross & I tried to keep life as normal as possible for Avery, especially since we knew he was going to be okay. She finished First Grade with flying colors, and was the #1 reader of her grade level, collecting the most Advanced Reading Points. She also had her dance recital, birthday, and life pretty much stayed the same for her. We did explain to her that Daddy had something in his neck that hurt his body so it had to be removed, then had to take a special pill to get rid of the remaining bad stuff. We didn’t want her to worry, so we never mentioned the “C” word to her. Having her also helped our moods tremendously, it’s hard to not have joy when she’s telling her silly made up jokes, or dressing up like a Judo girl in a lab coat with a pink sequined belt around her waist.

Again, God was faithful to us. Not because we are perfect Christians, but because He is perfect, and he keeps his promises. We know the end of the difficult times is coming near, and we pray that once Harper is here we will be able to relax and enjoy our newest addition, Avery, and each other. Life will always be a series of peaks and valleys, and we know we are climbing to the next peak right now. God is love, and He has proven Himself time and time again, and especially during this time.
Thank you Lord, thank you.

The next blog will be news of Harper Elizabeth’s birth, and we can’t wait.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about the cancer scare, but glad to know that Ross is doing well now. Seems like you both passed the test of faith with flying colors.

    I think about your little family from time to time and I can't wait to see pictures of little Harper when she arrives! She's a very lucky baby to have two very special parents and an adorable big sister.

    Come visit my blog sometime. I've posted pictures from my school graduation. Now I'll be studying for my NCLEX exam and hope to be working by the fall.

    Here's wishing the very best for your dear family...

  2. How beautifully written Jennifer. I hope you print this out so one day you can go back and remember again how God worked through all of this. We are so honored to call you our friends and will always be here to help you if ever needed. Much love!

  3. Wow, you've had a full plate lately! But I;m so happy to hear that your husband is going to be fine - now you can concentrate on the arrival of your new baby! Good luck!

  4. Jennifer, this is beautiful! I cried when I read it. When my Avery was 9 days old, we went through a hard time with Jeremy and illness and hospitals. I remember taking a shower (the only alone time I had!) and crying and pleading with the Lord to save his life. There is no greater comfort than knowing all we have to do is pray and turn it over to our Heavenly Father. Ross and your family will be in our prayers. Congratulations on your beautiful new baby girl!

  5. I'm glad you linked your blog through FB...I always like getting a more detailed account of friend's lives...

    It sounds like the challenges of this year have been great, yet our Great God was faithful throughout. I pray you enjoy Harper's newborn months and that Ross will continue to remain healthy.


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