This is my year of more.
More smiles & laughs, more trials & tribulations, more putting my story out in the world & using it to spread the word about God’s grace. One of my biggest internal battles with myself and something I often pray about is what my “calling” is and why I was given this exact life that faces me with so, SO many challenges. I have to constantly remind myself that this life was hand crafted for me by the same God that hung the stars and calls them all by name. He makes no mistakes and He surely didn’t make one when He made me. The bible says, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) This bible verse has a special place in my heart (I even have it tattooed on me) because when I’m feeling like I can’t carry on any longer or I start to call my strength into question, this verse reminds me that if I put all my faith in God, He will move my mountains I’m facing. He will give me the strength to weather the storm. He will do the impossible.
I was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at almost two years old and this is when our lives changed (I’ll get to that in a minute). For me, I was only two so this is the only way of life I’ve ever known. I don’t know anything other than this. Don’t get me wrong, I had an incredible childhood and my life now is outstanding and I’m honestly amazed everyday at everything I’ve been blessed with. But, my family. My amazing parents, my sweet sister, my perfect aunt, uncle, grandparents, cousins. They all had normal lives before me. Lives that didn’t involve near as many hospital visits, or hours spent taking care of me or trying to cheer me up when I couldn’t take care of myself. I always imagine what their lives would be like if I hadn’t been diagnosed, but I try not to dwell on it. I know that my family loves me in the exact form I’m in and that they’d lasso the moon for me if I asked (I know this because I have watched them do outrageous things and pull off crazy tasks for me). I was blessed with such an amazing support system because God knew I would need them to fall into on the days my weak body just gives in because some days, it does just that.
Recently I’ve gotten an answer to a prayer I’ve prayed so many times before. It normally goes something like this: “Dear Lord, I pray to ask You for guidance and understanding. Guidance to know what I’m meant to do with my life and understanding because I don’t know why I face these awful battles over and over. I’m emotionally and physically exhausting myself trying to understand why this is happening to me. I pray You heal me in Your timing and until then, use my circumstances for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” God answered my prayers through a book I was reading, Radical by David Platt. In the middle of reading this book, I finally understood that God has blessed me with a beautiful family, financial stability and an amazing life story so that I can go out into the world and minister to the lost by telling my own testimony. So, in this very first blog post of mine, I’m going to share with you my personal testimony.
My testimony begins with the term “Neuroblastoma.” Neuroblastoma is, by definition, “a type of cancer that starts in certain very early forms of nerve cells found in an embryo or fetus” (cancer.org). This means that a lot of babies are born with it, but in a lot of cases their immune systems are strong enough to fight it off. In my case, my immune system wasn’t strong enough and it kept growing for the first two years of my life until I started showing symptoms and was diagnosed. It started when my family noticed a large knot on my neck and took me to have it checked out. I was eventually referred to a specialist and this was the beginning of the next eighteen years of my life. The next eighteen years would consist of remissions, relapses, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, four trips all the way to Michigan from Georgia for an MIBG radiation therapy done in isolation, stem cell transplants, stem cell harvesting, surgeries, bone marrow biopsies, countless nights in the hospital and a million needle pokes. The current status of my disease as shown on my most recent scans is “stable to improving.” This is good but it means I still have a long way to go. My treatment right now is five days of outpatient chemo once every three weeks, if my blood counts allow it. I’ve had a hard time with my blood counts getting low and have had to get a lot of blood and platelet infusions to boost my counts and make me feel at least a little better. That’s really the only complaint I have about this treatment because it doesn’t make me nauseous, I keep a good appetite throughout it (thank God because I can’t afford to lose anymore weight), and I get to come home every night and sleep in my own bed. These are the things I’ve learned to cherish the most: my own clean bed, my own shower, and sleeping in the same house as my family and dogs. Such simple things, but this is what you miss the most when you stay in the hospital as often as I do.I used to despise my circumstances and this life I was given because I was sick of treatments and side effects but now I’ve grown to be grateful for it. This walk of life has introduced me to the most inspiring people and opportunities that I otherwise would have never had the chance to reach. My heart has been so changed because of this and I wouldn’t be the Godly young girl that I am had I not had to endure all of this.
With that being said, I have this desire to go to places on mission trips where people are without these things and minister to them. I’ve developed this belief that God has blessed me with so much financially so that I would have the means to give back and go places to minister to people and as soon as my body has the ability, that’s what I plan to do.
But, I plan to start right here. I’m going to use this blog as my way of reaching people. Maybe you’ll read it, maybe you won’t but just maybe I’ll bring someone to Christ by sharing my testimony here. So, this is the beginning of me telling my story. I’m not sure where God will take me with this, perhaps I’ll write a book, perhaps I’ll start a ministry… I’m unsure yet. But, please stick around for “more.”