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.”
I do not know if I could be as strong as you are. God please bless you.
Love your first blog
As always you amaze me. What a beautiful beginning to your blog. You have no idea how many lives you have touched. Everyone that meets you is drawn to you. Some folks light burns stronger than others….you have the brightest light of anyone I know. So proud to be your aunt.
I LOVE YOU!!!!!
OH my, I’m so blessed to know you, love you and meet your sweet Mom and aunt. It was such fun and inspiration to be with you this month at BlueSKIES. You are just the BEST. Hope to see you soon 💓💓💓
I love you!!!
You are a true warrior. God has great plans for you.
Oh thank you!!
Ansley I have only met you once, but have been praying for you daily for probably 10 years. Your Aunt Phyl is my best work friend. You are an amazing girl and she loves you more than life. You keep sharing your story. You are a blessing to many. I will continue to keep you and your family in my prayers. With God and your Aunt Phyl on your side you can’t be beat!
Thank you so much!
Beautifully said Ansley. I remember the day that picture was taken(Rob’s birthday party) and think I even took it. Thank you for always being such an inspiration to me. Love you lots!!
Thank you! Love you too!
There is so much wisdom, strength, courage, and selflessness in your testimony. You have blessed me today, and you have blessed so many others throughout your life. I will be following your blog posts, and I will continue to pray for you as you pray for me. You ARE in a missionary for our Lord. Don’t ever doubt that. Sending much love your way. – Pastor Steve
This brought tears to my eyes!! Thank you for that
This is beautiful, Ansley. So blessed that God, through Blue Skies, brought you into our lives! Can’t wait to read more – and to see you again soon. Love to you and your beautiful family. ❤
Thank you! I love y’all too!
Beautiful beginning to what I am SURE will be a wonderful Story! We are all on our own journey and it warms my heart to hear yours. So many people are faced with much less and cave in. It is so uplifting to see you embrace your situation and make the most of it. You are such an inspiration and I can’t wait to see where you go next.
Thank you so much!
Beautiful, Ansley. I love your heart, strength and zest to live your life to the fullest! Truly enjoyed reading the first of many posts and was reminded of Jer 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Like you said, the very same God that created the universe and calls the stars by name has a specific plan just for your life. Thank you for sharing your story. I love you & your family!
Oh I love love love you!!!!
You are an inspiration to me, and I’m thankful I met you at Brady’ birthday dinner. I now have a face to a name I’ve prayed for. I loved reading your first blog and look forward to reading many more. I can only imagine how many lives you have touched.
Thank you so much! It was such a pleasure to meet you & I’m so grateful for the prayers! Brady is a great friend to me so thank you for raising such an incredible guy!
I love following your story with your mother’s updates. Now I can read your own story through your inspiring words. I pray for you, and know you are changing lives from young people to old. Stay strong girl, and keep fighting! 💪🏻❤️
Thank you so much!!
Ansley, you are already an inspiration to so many people. I am so proud of you and thankful that you are so selflessly giving to others! We can all learn a thing or two from you! 😘
Thank you Chantelle!
A beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your story and your testimony. My son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma 3 months before his 2nd birthday in 2015. It started the same way, we noticed a lump in his neck. We are grateful for fighters like you that have paved the way, braved a multitude of treatments, suffered, and fought. Your experience and battle has provided insights and research that have helped change and better the path for children like mine. Though we wish no child had to take the cancer journey, your sacrifices have not gone unnoticed. I will be praying for you and look forward to more posts!
Thank you so much!! I hope your son is doing well
Absolutely beautiful words! !
Inspiring story! Stay strong and keep fighting! <3
Beautiful and inspiring first post. Sending prayers and best wishes. Looking forward to your next post.
Beautifully written. I hope you do write a book and share your journey with the world. You are amazing!
Wow’d again by you! Young lady, just know that God has definitely made no mistake in you. You have been designed in his perfect image.
He has blessed my world by placing you so close to me that I am able to feel your breath, hug you, listen to you, even poke and nag at another, and share our worlds.
Ansley, you were my hero yesterday, my hero today and my hero always. Your triumphs over the battles you fight are an inspiration to many. Know that you have blessed my life and my entire families life by just being you. I know nothing about being “Tuff” like you do. You teach me a lot in all you do. I sure do love my Flamingo Princess!
I love you too Tuff!