Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas

This holiday season brings good news! Not only good news of the birth of our Lord Jesus but good news that I am still cancer free. The MRI results are good and there are no signs of cancer. No words can express the Joy I feel knowing my journey has almost come to an end. My face has healed and the cancer is gone. This will be the first holiday in almost two years that we will be able to celebrate without fear and worry. What a wonderful feeling!

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my Surgical Oncologist to discuss the options for fixing my face. This will be the last and final step in my journey and it will not be easy. I have a feeling all of my options will be difficult and the recovery will take a long time. I am going to take some time to think about what the best options are that pose the least amount of risk. And I will make sure that I am mentally and physically ready to endure another difficult surgery.

This Christmas I will be counting my blessings and thanking God for getting me through one of the most difficult times in my life. I will be cherishing the moment I get to watch my girls get up Christmas morning with the anticipation of seeing what Santa put under the Christmas tree. And the time I will get to spend with my family on Christmas day and celebrating being cancer free.

One of the traditions Jason, Mackenzie, Kendall and I have on Christmas Eve is to watch the movie the Polar Express. This movie is truly magical and I love the theme it suggests of Believing. Because of experiencing the effects of Santa (the North Pole, toy factories, reindeer etc...) the little boy in the movie overcomes his disbelief, slowly changes his mind and starts to believe in the existence of Santa. With this belief, the boy was finally able to hear the ringing of the bells on Santa's sleigh. Throughout my battle with cancer, I experienced the effect of God's hand in my life: the abundance of love and support from friends and family, messages of hope through God's word, and strength when I needed it most. It is because of this experience I am a true believer in God and his existence. Even though I have had a relationship with God for most of my life, just like the boy in the movie I can finally hear the bells.

Believe in what your heart is saying,
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste,
There so much to celebrate.
Believe in what you feel inside,
And give your dreams the wings to fly.
You have everything you need, if you just Believe.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Believe in the magic and miracles it brings!

With Love,

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It is definitely the most wonderful time of the year! The Karrmann household is embracing the spirit of Christmas more than ever this year. A day does not go by without Christmas music playing on the radio in the house or in the car. The decorations have been up since the week before Thanksgiving. And the Christmas shopping is finally done.

Buttons, the family elf, has visited our house once again. His stay begins on December 1st until December 24th when he goes back to the North Pole to stay and help Santa get ready for next year's Christmas. Each night he flies back to the North Pole to report back to Santa how the girls are behaving and in the morning reappears in a new location in our house. Mackenzie and Kendall look forward to waking up every morning and looking for where Buttons is hiding for that day. Sometimes they find Buttons in the same place as he was the day before and Jason and I need to quickly come up with an explanation as to why he hasn't moved. Yet, Mackenzie and Kendall still believe that Buttons is real. It is amazing how their belief in Santa and Buttons does not waiver and that their existence is never questioned. Somedays I feel so guilty about not telling Mackenzie and Kendall the truth, but I just can't shatter their belief quite yet. Someone told me once that a child's belief in Santa, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy helps to build a solid foundation in their belief in God - it helps them to have faith in what is not seen. And I believe this is true. My prayer for my children is that their belief in God will always be as strong as their belief in Santa.

This type of faith is definitely a challenge as my next MRI looms around the corner. I thought I would be calm and collected, but I am a bundle of nerves. I have to keep reminding myself that God has a plan no matter what the results are. I pray the results are good...but if they are not I am praying for strength to face what is in store for me. My MRI is scheduled for next Wednesday at 11:15. I am hoping I will get the results as quickly as I did last time. Until then, I will go on celebrating the holiday season and enjoying the happiness and joy it is brought to our house.

Love to you all,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I have so much to be thankful this season - most of all my health. I will be counting my blessings this Thanksgiving and thanking God for my life, family and friends. And I am thankful for all of you that have supported me and prayed for me these past couple of years.

I have been spending this past week getting ready for hosting Thanksgiving at our house. We are excited to spend the holiday with Jason's family this year. I will be cooking the turkey, with a little help from my mother-in-law. I love this time of year. I have my Christmas decorations up already and Christmas music has been playing non-stop in the house and in the car. I am ready to celebrate!

MRI is scheduled for December 15. Thankfully the holidays have been keeping my mind occupied, but every now and then I get a wave of anxiety come over me when I remember this date. I will let you know the results as soon as I get them.

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your own family and friends!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Living Openly and Expansively

Ever since the completion of my hyperbaric treatments, I have gone into a "get it done" mode. I have been organizing the things in my life and house that have somewhat been left unkept or untouched for quite sometime. I have accomplished all of the things on my mental list that have been adding up ever since my diagnosis....painting walls and bathrooms, organizing drawers and cupboards, getting rid of clutter and getting back into shape. Most of the things on my to do list are now crossed off. Yet, despite my accomplishments I still have a restlessness inside of myself. I am not satisfied. At first I wasn't sure what it was causing these feelings. But after some reflection I have decided I am tired mentally and physically. I have been through a lot this past year and a half. I have yet to slow down and take time to nurture myself and to invest once again into my friendships and my relationships with Jason and the girls. Yet, most importantly I have decided I need to spend some time reflecting on what God wants me to do with the rest of my life.

Matthew 11:28-30 "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (The Message)

I found this verse as I was reading a book called "One Month to Live" by Kerry and Chris Shook. Our pastor did a series of sermons on this book and encouraged the congregation to purchase it to follow along. When I bought the book, I wasn't at a point in my life where I could start reflecting on the purpose of this book. I was still fighting for my health and life and that was the only focus I had at the time. The purpose of the book is to teach you how to start living a no-regrets life. The book asks you to consider how your perspective would change if you found out you had just thirty days to live. After the initial shock, you'd probably resolve to squeeze all you could from the days that remain. You'd say what you really think. You'd love with abandon. You'd focus on whatever you care about most. You'd stop wasting time and in whatever time you had left, you'd throw yourself into becoming the person God intended to be. I haven't been given 30 days to live, but as a cancer survivor my chances of living a long life are certainly not as high as someone who has not lived with cancer. So learning what it means to make the most of my time on earth and how to live my life without regrets is important to me.

I Corinthians 6:1, 11-13 "Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don't squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given to us. I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn't fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open your lives. Live openly and expansively." (The Message)

I am realizing that I still am not living my life as openly and expansively as I promised to if I were to go into remission and get my life back. Over the next month or so I have decided to be open to God's will for my life and what he wants me to do for the rest of my days, however long it may be. My life is not small and I am excited to see what he has in store for me.

I am happy to report, my skin has stayed in tact and there are no new holes. My next hurdle will be a MRI in December. My surgeon is optimistic it will bring good news that I am still cancer free. Although, I can't help but feel some anxiety as the date of the MRI approaches. After the MRI, we will discuss what options there are to fix my face and teeth. However, I am in no hurry.

We took a big step of faith and decided to book a family vacation in February. This was difficult and scary for us to do, but something that we all needed. Of course, we did buy some travel insurance just in case...but hopefully nothing will hold us back from going. These past few weeks, I have enjoyed volunteering once again at the girls' school, spending time with friends, going on dates with Jason and celebrating Halloween. For the first time, I attempted to make a costume for Kendall instead of purchasing one at the local Halloween superstore. Kendall insisted on being a jelly was a challenge but I made it happen. We had fun with the pumpkins and I was especially touched when Mackenzie decided to make a cancer ribbon on her pumpkin. I am looking forward to spending the upcoming holidays with our families. This year they will be extra special.

Please continue to pray for healing, for good news in December and for wisdom when it comes to making a decision on fixing my face.

With love,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Glitter in the Air

"I am tired of waiting, of being stuck. I need this to be over. Cancer patients and survivors do not have the liberty to waste time. Every second of every day is precious to us. We never know if tomorrow will be our last." These were the very words I said to my surgeon the week of my last surgery. I was desperate to start living my life with nothing holding me back...surgeries, hyperbaric treatments and doctor appointments. Monday was the first over a year and a half, that I was finally able to start living my life again, savoring every moment without treatments or doctor obligations and to start looking forward and not back. It was a GREAT feeling.

Since then, I have been been waking up every morning with excitement wondering how I am going to live out my day. What am I going to accomplish? It is all up to me and nobody else to decide what I am going to do. I am able to start saying "yes" to opportunities that I have said "no" to for many months. I am gratefully reassuming my role as mom, wife and friend and no longer being defined as a cancer patient. I cherish small moments like having a cup of coffee in the morning, taking in the beauty of Fall, listening to my kids laugh and play and holding hands with longer will I take these moments for granted like I did in the past.

This is what life is all about. Appreciating every moment and every experience given to you. Understanding that life's ups and downs define who you are and make you glad to be alive. It is about loving others and being loved back. And most important, it is knowing that God is in control and to trust him wholeheartedly with your life.

So far the surgery was a success. My skin has stayed in tact and no new holes seem to be forming. The infections are almost gone. I have an appointment with my Surgical Oncologist on Monday. I most likely will be discussing options, if there are any, on how to fix my face. This includes getting my teeth fixed. In the meantime, I am taking time to heal and learning to accept my face and the way I look. It gets easier every day.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. You have all touched my life in more ways than you will every know.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Can I Have The Bandage Back?

I never thought I would say this...I miss the bandage on my face. Yes, I do. It did draw attention to my face and as a result I got a lot of stares. But at the same time, it hid the deformities in my face. People only saw my bandage...they did not see the scars and disfigurement as a result of my surgeries. Unfortunately, the stares are still there. I am having a hard time dealing with the way my face is looking. I am not sure if it is something my surgeons can or will fix in the future. Right now I just need to wait and see how I heal. All I know is that I am not sure I can live like this the rest of my life. When out in public, I often walk looking down at floor. If I am outside, I am quick to put on sunglasses which provide a great cover for my face. I look at other peoples' faces with envy...never before have I noticed how many beautiful people are out there. What I wouldn't give to have my face back.

I know I should not let my face bother me. I should be thankful that I am cancer free. However, this is easier said than done. It is not easy to look different in today's try and fit in and feel normal when there is something wrong with the way you look. I am trying hard to remind myself that what is most important is inner beauty and not outer beauty. A lesson I often teach my girls...and now I need to teach it to myself.

So far, my face is staying in tact and there are no signs of any more holes...for this I am thankful. My lower eyelid is drooping a little more than it used to, but it doesn't seem to be getting any worse. My face is a little more caved in under my eye since the bone was removed. This makes the bone that was transplanted in my cheek to be more prominent. I am hoping that some day the surgeons will either be able to shave the transplanted bone down or add some tissue underneath the skin under my eye to even my face out.

One thing I am most thankful for is the love and acceptance from family and close friends. It is in my circle of friends and family that I feel the most comfortable, accepted and have no need to hide my face. I have a wonderful husband that reminds me every day that I am still beautiful.

Please continue to pray for healing. Pray that my face will not cave in any further and that my lower eye lid will stay in tact. And pray that the shame I feel of the way I look will go away soon.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Good news, Bad news

I am writing this blog for the first time in a long time without a big bandage and flap of skin across my nose. It is a wonderful feeling and I am so happy it has finally been removed. Surgery went well. Good news: the flap removal was a success and my surgeon was able to stitch the hole closed. Bad news: my surgeons discovered the bone underneath (about 3/4 inches long) my eye was dead and it had broken off therefore it had to be removed. Good news: this gives us a lot of answers as to why I was having so many problems with the skin breaking open in my face. Bad news: over time my eye lid and skin may begin to start to cave in without the support of the bone. If this should happen they will do some reconstruction using tissue or a bone in another part of my body. Good news: my surgeon thinks I am in the best place that I have been in in a long time. He was all smiles after the surgery. Good news: I should be able to have a much needed break for awhile. I am not quite sure if it will be the break I was looking for as I will constantly be worried about my face caving in. Something I want to talk with my surgeon more about during my post-op appointment on Monday. If it is inevitable that my face will cave in, I would rather have it fixed now than later. I would like to get it over with so that I can truly have a break and move on.

I am feeling pretty tired today, and will be taking it easy for the next few days. Hyperbaric treatment will resume again on Monday and will be completed after 10 more treatments.

I can't thank all of you enough for your prayers. I felt at peace before the surgery and I am feeling peaceful about the results of the surgery. Hope is starting to reemerge and things are looking up. Please continue to pray for healing and that the hole will remained closed and that should my face cave in that it will easily be fixed.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Searching for Hope

Yesterday I met with my surgeon who will be performing the surgery on Friday. It was a difficult meeting for both me and my surgeon. We are both equally frustrated with my situation. During the meeting I was able to communicate, with many tears, the frustration, hurt and pain I have been experiencing these past few months. At the same time, he expressed how he wishes he could give me what I want, but he too has limits on what he can do to help me heal. Most importantly, I wanted him to know that I have lost hope and unfortunately we are at a point where he can give me very little. There are a lot of risks going into surgery on Friday. The biggest risk being the fragile bone in my face. My surgeon cannot guarantee what will happen when he burrs down the bone. And I did not sense a lot of confidence in his voice that it would not break. I am feeling very shaken and overwhelmed with anxiety. I so desperately need an end to my story. I am trying so hard to find it, but it just isn't there.

Since I have this week off of hyperbaric treatment, I have spent a lot of time desperately searching for hope. I have been looking for it in everything I do, everywhere I go and everyone I talk to. I am just not finding it. Throughout this journey I have always had was there through the chemo, through radiation and even through the big surgery. There were always positive results I could cling to knowing these treatments were working giving me much needed hope. This time is different. Nothing seems to be working. I am faced with disappointment after disappointment after each surgery and hyperbaric treatment. What I wouldn't give to have a few months before my next MRI free from worry, fear and surgeries. I would give anything to have time to live my life with all of this behind me.

My prayers this week are not only consumed with pleading for mercy and for healing but also pleas for hope and encouragement to get through this. Without hope, it is hard to feel at peace. I know it is out there and this week I am learning and trying really hard to be patient to wait for it.

"I will have reached the point of greatest strength once I have learned to wait for hope." George Matheson


Saturday, September 25, 2010

January 19 - A date to remember

I was lying in my bed longing for answers. I just finished crying my heart out to God asking him WHY? Up until now I prayed fervently for healing...for the hole to close. But my prayers were not being answered. I was beginning to question the purpose of prayer. If prayers don't get answered...why even bother? I felt like giving up on the one thing that has carried me through this long journey.

I looked over on my bedside table and as I was looking at the book of devotions I had read throughout our journey with Mackenzie and my battle with cancer, the date JANUARY 19 came to mind. I picked up the book and immediately turned to the devotion for January 19. It was clearly a message that God wanted me to read...

"Then Jesus told his disciples...that they should always pray and not give up." Luke 18:1

"Prayer that uses previously unanswered prayers as an excuse for laziness has already ceased to be a prayer of faith. To someone who prays in faith, unanswered prayers are simply the evidence that the answer is that much closer." Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman

I am still extremely frustrated and have a lot of anxiety of things to come. Prayer is the one and only thing I can do take matters into my own hands and do something about my situation. As a control freak, I need prayer especially when I cannot control my circumstances. And when I am done praying, it is the ONLY time I feel truly at peace. It allows me to pour my heart out to God and to get my feelings off my chest. Prayer is the one and only way to get help from the one who is in control. This message was clearly meant for me on the day that I read it. It pushed me to re-evaluate my feelings on the effectiveness of my own prayers.

Surgery has been scheduled for Friday, October 1st. No more hyperbaric treatments until surgery is completed. For this I am so thankful. I needed a break. The goal of the surgery on Friday is to remove my flap and stitch up the hole that has not closed. Before the hole is closed, the bone will need to be shaved down. This will be extremely risky and may cause my bone to break. This is my biggest fear. If the bone breaks, there will be more surgeries to come. If it does not break and the surgery is a success, I may finally be at the end of my journey.

Please pray for my upcoming surgery. Pray for wisdom for the surgeon. Pray my bone will be strong and not break. Please continue to pray for the infection in the bone. Pray the hole will be able to be stitched closed. And pray for strength and peace for me as I am anticipating the upcoming surgery.

Thank you to those of you that have been sending wonderful gifts, cards and messages to help keep me going this past week. They meant so much to me and uplifted my spirits.

With love,

Monday, September 20, 2010


I am sitting at my laptop right now trying to find words to convey how I feel. I think I have erased the first sentence I typed several times now. All I know is that any hope for a miracle is quickly fading.

On Friday, I will be reaching 30 treatments at the hyperbaric chamber. By now, there should be some signs of healing, unfortunately there are none. The hole is still there and now my eyelid is starting to fall behind the bone that is exposed in the hole. This causes my eye to not close completely when I blink or when I sleep so I am experiencing a lot of dryness and discomfort. I can't leave home without lubricating eye drops. In order for the hole on my face to close, the bone needs to be burred down, however this does not come without risk. The bone is already thin and fragile as a result of my maxillactomy. So there is a chance if they burr the bone down it will break.

Next week I will be scheduled for surgery. I will finally have the flap removed and the surgeon will make an attempt to burr down the bone. If he does so successfully without the bone breaking, he will then stitch the hole shut which should also correct the drooping of my eyelid. Should the bone break, it will be removed through my nose. Then the surgeons will watch carefully to see if my face with start to cave in or if my eyelid will droop down even more. If this happens, I will be required to have an extensive surgery again to replace the bone under my eyelid with the bone from wrist and the radiated skin completely removed from my face and replaced with skin from my leg. After surgery, I will have to complete 10 more hyperbaric treatments.



Sunday, September 12, 2010


Have you ever felt like you have prayed so much that you can't pray anymore? I have been feeling like this lately. I have spent almost every moment of every day spending time in prayer....praying and pleading for God to heal my face. The hole in my face. I am beginning to feel frustrated and depleted. I am tired of the stares. I am tired of going to hyperbaric treatment. I am tired of waiting and watching for some sign of healing, seeing no change and having fear of another hole starting. There have been no signs of the hole closing. Panic is starting to set in. These next couple of weeks are crucial. I have come to the point in my hyperbaric treatment when things should start to heal. Should the hole not close or show signs of closing in the next couple of weeks, I am facing yet another surgery. More disfigurement to my face.

What I wouldn't give to be able to move on in my life. To leave this all behind. I feel as if life continues to go on all around me and yet I am stuck in the same place. Trying to heal, going to doctor appointments and having surgery after surgery. School has started for the girls and the change of seasons has begun. Yet I am finding myself stuck and it feels like nothing has changed since this time last year.

So my purpose for my blog today is to ask for your prayers. Please pray that this hole will close and that no more surgery will be required. Pray that I will soon see an end in sight. A wise person told me once that when you feel like you can pray no more to rest in peace knowing that others are praying on your behalf. This has helped me throughout my battle with cancer and will help me today knowing there are many of you out there still praying for me.

My hope is that the next time I update my blog I will be able to share with you good news of healing!

Blessings to you all,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Inside the Chamber

There are about 5 of us that undergo hyperbaric treatment at the same time. One of my chamber companions is Bill. Bill has severe diabetes. He suffers from foot and leg ulcers, one of the many side effects of extreme diabetes. He has already lost one leg due to the ulcers and is undergoing hyperbaric treatment to treat the ulcers in his other leg. He has been in the hospital for the past few months, and has battled this illness for years. Every day I am greeted by Bill with a smile and a friendly hello. He is always positive and is rarely in a bad mood despite being confined to a wheelchair and a hospital room every day. One thing I have learned about Bill is that his faith remains steady despite his suffering. Today, I arrived at the hyperbaric chamber early so I sat in the waiting room. Bill was also in the waiting room as he was just dropped off by the transport services that take him to the chamber from the hospital. Another chamber companion of ours was also in the waiting room and he was intently listening to Bill talking about the point in his life where he had to completely give everything to God. Soon the other patient was called into the back to be examined by the doctor, but before he left the room, he put his hand on Bill's shoulder to let him know how much he needed to hear Bill's words of encouragement. Soon, Bill's attention was soon directed to me and he began to tell me a that I have been carrying with me throughout the day. Here is the story:

There was a group of men carrying their crosses, plodding along and dragging crosses on the ground after them. One of the men suddenly stood up from his trudging and asked, "Lord, can I make my cross smaller?" Despite God's silence, the man decided to hew off the end of his cross with a little hacksaw. Throughout his journey, he continued to ask God to make his cross even smaller. After the cross had been whittled down to a manageable size, the man picked up his modified cross and fairly skipped along with it, praising God saying "Thank you! This is so much better!" The group of men reached a canyon. Everybody laid their crosses over the crevasse and walked upon the crossbeam to reach over the other side. The man with the smaller cross did the same. Alas! It was too short. He couldn't make it across and watched the others move on without him.

After Bill finished telling me this story, the chamber staff came into wheel Bill to the back to prepare him for treatment. As he was wheeling in, he was telling me that we need to be patient while carrying our heavy loads and to accept the load that God has given us. I was left to ponder the meaning of this story and I felt like I was just given a lesson I needed to learn. There have been many times I have asked God to help take away the cross I carried and continue carry as a result of battling cancer. Bill's story gave me a completely different point of view of my suffering: carrying my cross, the cross God has given me, is something I should do with pride and purpose. My cross will help me to someday cross an seemingly impossible obstacle or to help me get where I need to go. My cross will also allow me to help others carrying their own cross that aren't quite long enough to cross over their own obstacles.

This has been my experience in the hyperbaric chamber. I have encountered some amazing people, all with a strong faith and positive attitude despite their own sufferings. I feel like I have been put into that chamber for a reason, and at the right time. I am so blessed to have met my chamber companions.

Treatment has been going well. It is too soon to tell if the treatments will work, but my doctor is confident the hole will close. At 30 treatments, I will FINALLY be able to have the flap of skin across my face removed and I will then finish the remaining 10 treatments. If all goes well, and the hole closes, I should be done with treatments and surgery and be able to move on with life.

Please continue to pray that hole will close as well as this chapter in my life. It will be a glorious day when I can start looking towards the future and leave this all behind.

Luke 9:23-26 (The Message) "Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat - I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it be to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?

Monday, August 23, 2010


(Please watch movie clip above before reading. It is a clip from a movie titled "Letters to God". The main character, Tyler, has a rare form of cancer and may not live much longer. He and his best friend, Sam, are at her grandfather’s house, and her grandfather is trying to give Tyler some much needed encouragement.)

I finally mustard up the courage to watch a movie about cancer. For me, this was not an easy task. Up until now, I have avoided any book, movie or TV show that approached the subject of cancer. I had to stop watching some of my favorite TV shows like Grey's Anatomy or Brothers & Sisters because the subject matter included cancer. But I came across this movie on Netflix titled "Letters to God" and I felt compelled to watch it. Inspired by a true story, the movie is about a young boy fighting cancer who writes letters to God, touching lives in his neighborhood and community and inspiring hope in everyone he comes in contact. He learns that God can receive Glory by how he dealt with his suffering. I have been thinking a lot about this movie for quite sometime. Especially about the clip I included above. I was nearly in tears as I watched the boy being told by a neighborhood friend that he was chosen by God to receive the honor of being chosen as one of God's warriors. This boy chose to proudly accept the role as God's warrior and as a result his life's story of battling cancer he impacted many of those in his community.

I have decided that anyone faced with an illness or difficulty in life has been chosen by God to be his warrior. After being diagnosed with cancer, I have become more and more aware of how many people in this world are hurting or battling an illness. Never before have I had this awareness. I lived in a bubble and did not pay attention to the many people in my life, stranger or no stranger, that were facing cancer, health issues, financial difficulty or were part of a broken family. As I have become more and more aware of these people in my life, I am in awe of the strength, faith and positive attitudes that they demonstrate in the midst of their suffering. These people are warriors, chosen by God. Their suffering has become a testimony to me and to many others of the power of God's healing and grace. After watching the movie, I too considered myself one of God's warriors and at times felt that the reason for my cancer was to reveal God's truth and glory. I am not sure of how good of a job I did or am doing, but if I impacted at least one life through this journey, it was worth it. To this day, I am still amazed at the strength and resilience of the human spirit including my own. I continue to meet survivors, or warriors, that inspire me to have faith and ride forth victoriously in truth, humility and righteousness. From this day on, I am going to open myself to learning from other warriors and will not hesitate to offer a helping hand in any way I can.

My days are now filled with hyperbaric treatments. I wish I could say that the monotony of going to treatment every day is nice for a change. But I am already for these treatments to be done with. I have about 30 more treatments to go. The new flap that was taken from my cheek is healing really well. However, I still have the hole that doesn't seem to want to heal. My doctor still hopes that with hyperbaric treatment it will close on its own. It takes about 20 treatments before a patients starts to see results. I am happy the hole has not gotten any bigger.

Please continue to pray for healing...especially for the hole that needs to close!

Much love,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


This past week has been CRAZY! The days have involved visiting new doctors and preparing for hyperbaric treatment. In addition, Mackenzie is having surgery on Friday so between her and me we are keeping the calendar filled. My first appointment was with the Infectious Disease doctor. It was at this appointment that I started to get answers and solutions as to what is going on with my skin. I learned that my bone had a staph and fungal infection in it. A possible cause of the skin breakdown on my face and the reason there was a chip in my bone. The doctor placed me on a course of antibiotics for 6 weeks and will be following me closely to ensure the infections go away. This discovery started to give me some much needed hope and a change in course of action that seemed to be better than the course I was on.

The next day I visited with Dr. Adkinson, the Medical Director of Hyberbaric Treatment at Hennepin County Medical Center, which is the location of the hyperbaric chamber. It was at this appointment that we learned about the positive results after going through hyperbaric treatment, especially on radiated skin. Many of you have been asking about the hyperbaric treatment so to better describe the treatment, here is an article that was given to me on the principle of hyperbaric treatment. The author interviewed my doctor and featured the Department of Hyperbaric Treatment at the Hennepin County Medical Center:

The principle behind hyperbaric medicine is simple. Treatment provides one common benefit for all patients: It loads up blood with more oxygen that patients can get in any other setting. "Hemoglobin is fully loaded up by breathing 100% oxygen at normal pressure," Adkinson explains. "Hyperbaric oxygen treatment dissolves additional oxygen in blood plasma. At 3 atmospheres of pressure on 100% oxygen, the partial pressure of oxygen is about 2,300 millimeters of mercury. This allows oxygen to actually diffuse from the capillaries into tissues rather than being released by hemoglobin. Even if you don't have any hemoglobin, hyperbaric treatment will provide oxygen to tissue." One area where hyperbaric treatment makes a significant difference is in preparing for surgical flaps and grafts or saving flaps and grafts, in an irradiated field. Early treatment is also critical when a graft or flap is not healing properly. "Whether or not the tissue is irradiated and whether or not it's vascularized, the sooner we can begin treatment, the more helpful we can be," Adkinson stresses. "In order to salvage a graft or flap, we need to treat when it looks like it's getting into trouble and not after it's already necrosing."

Today, I had my first treatment. The best way to describe the chamber is that it looks like a nuclear fallout shelter or a large submarine. I almost felt like I was getting on the 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea ride at DisneyWorld. There are four chairs inside so there are other patients undergoing treatment at the same time. A nurse or tech is also inside the chamber during treatment to monitor our vitals and assist in case of an emergency. Upon looking around the room you see lots of hoses, fire extinguishers and valves. Once treatment begins, the first 10 minutes are called "going down" similar to being in a submarine. This is when the chamber is put under pressure and the room gets extremely warm. My chair is located by one of the gauges so I was able to watch the temperature reach over 90 degrees while going down. This was the time that all of the pain I experienced while they placed tubes in my ears was forgotten. I had no problems with equalizing the pressure in my ears and had no discomfort so I was thankful. Once going down is finished, I am placed inside a sealed "hood" which is attached to a hose sending oxygen into the hood. The treatment takes about 1 hour and 50 minutes total and during this time I need to take two 5 minute breaks from the oxygen hood to prevent seizures. Once treatment is done, going back up is a lot quicker and the room gets extremely cool. Fortunately, we are able to read or play cards during treatment to help pass the time. Below is a picture of the chamber and one of the patients is inside a hood similar to the one I wear during treatment.

I met a man today that was inside the hyperbaric chamber at the same time. The first time I saw him, I knew immediately that he had the same kind of cancer I had and has gone through a similar experience. After seeing his face, I realized how fortunate I was. My defects were not as noticeable and as severe as the ones he had in his face. It had been a year since his maxillectomy and he was still battling holes in his skin. He was a sweet and dear old man. We had a chance to speak to one another after treatment. We had a common bond and understanding between one another. When our conversation was done he said to me, "We are survivors." After a stressful and anxiety filled day, he made my day a little brighter.

This has been a common theme for me this past week. Not only has the week been filled with appointment after appointment, but it has also been filled with encounters with cancer survivors like this old man. The other day I was at Pier One, a store I have been frequently visiting as I am attempting to decorate our newly finished basement. I was at the checkout counter getting ready to pay for some pillows I had purchased to put on the spare bedroom bed. One of the workers looked at my face and asked what happened. I quickly explained (I have an explanation I typically use for situations like this to avoid going into much detail) about my cancer and surgeries. Soon after she began telling me about her own battle with Melanoma over 30 years ago. She was 22 when diagnosed and it was so advanced she was given only 6 months to live. Her Dad bought her a ticket to travel around the world so that she could live the rest of her life to its fullest. Six months turned into 2 years into 30 years and she survived. She defeated the odds that were given to her many years ago. She credited it to having a positive attitude. Hearing her success story gave me hope. While we were exchanging stories, the customer that was standing next to me was intently listening to our conversation. She was amazed at the battles we had fought and empathized with my current situation. She immediately asked what my name was and with sincerity said to my face, "I am going to pray for you." I was so touched by her compassion and I simply said "thank you." But what I really wanted to do was give her a big hug.

As I look back over the past year, I have had many encounters with cancer survivors. Each and every one of them have been very special to me and much needed at that moment in time. I will never forget the woman at my oncology clinic that saw me sitting in a wheel chair deathly sick and barely able to sit up as a result of chemo and radiation. She came up to me and looked me in the eyes and said "You WILL get through this". And I am so grateful for the neighbor God put into my life that went through her own battle with cancer years ago. She helped me to believe. I valued the messages that a fellow cancer survivor wrote on my blog faithfully validating my feelings and frustrations. And most of all, I am so thankful for a Dad that had battled cancer himself years ago and was able to be there for me in ways no one else could. These cancer survivors were angels God put into my life to help me get through this experience. I hope to some day be an angel for someone else, whether it be a friend, family, or stranger at the store, battling cancer.

Please continue to pray. Pray the infection will go away. Pray the hyperbaric treatments will work. Pray no more surgeries will be required and that my skin will heal! Pray for strength to get through these next 6-7 weeks. They will be tough on me and my family.

Blessings to you all!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fix Me

What I wouldn't give to be fixed...I feel so broken, unrepairable. I feel stuck in reverse...especially when it comes to my face. The surgeons are doing all they can to fix me. But there is only so much they can do.

Another surgery done and over of many attempts to fix my face. I wish I could tell you this surgery was one step closer towards healing. Unfortunately, during surgery the surgeon made a discovery...the bone in my face had a chip in it. It was alarming enough for him to pull in my surgical oncologist to take a look. The bone fragment is either from cancer, an infection or simply from radiation. We are still waiting for the biopsy results. While this may be answer as to why the skin on my face continue to break open, I am feeling very discouraged and overwhelmed knowing I have a long way to go before this problem is fixed. In the meantime, next week I am meeting with an Infectious Disease doctor to find the best way to treat the bone if it is infected. I will also start undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is the breathing of high concentrations of oxygen in an environment with greater than normal atmospheric pressure. The effect of this is a greater amount of oxygen dissolved in the blood than can be achieved normally. This increased amount of dissolved oxygen has a variety of effects that result in an improved ability to heal. We have discussed this option at length for the past few months. Finding the chip in my bone helped the surgeons come to the conclusion that now was the time to start the hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments. In order to be prepared for the HBOT treatments, I had to have tubes put in my ears. I will not be able to relieve the pressure in my ears that normally takes place during the treatments as it may blow a hole in my face again. My surgeon put the tubes in during my post-op appointment on Friday. This was NOT a pleasant experience. I now understand why this is normally done while a patient is under anesthesia.
Please continue to pray for healing. Pray that this will be the last surgery. Pray that the hyperbaric treatments will work. Pray that whatever it is that is causing my bone to break down will be resolved. Pray that God will give my surgeons the solution to fix me.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Get Up And Dance!

Get up and dance and shake that bootie! It is time to celebrate! MRI results...STILL CANCER FREE! Never before have I been given the results of a scan so fast! My MRI was on Monday and later on in the day I received a phone call with the results. I was in the middle of eating dinner when I received the phone call. Needless to say, Jason, Mackenzie, Kendall and I were filled with joy and relief. The celebration involved ice cream sundaes with the works and many thanks being given to God! An end in sight is coming into view.

Unfortunately, the celebration is somewhat bittersweet. My focus is now on the next surgery which has been scheduled for next Wednesday. After much deliberation, my surgeons have not decided to use the fascia from the side of my head to repair my face. The original plan to use the skin from my cheek will be put into action. This surgery HAS to work. We are beginning to run out of options. My surgeon and I are not confident this will work, but it is the least evasive procedure. If this procedure fails, I will be undergoing a massive procedure which involves removing the majority of the skin on the right of my face and replacing it with skin from my leg. Again, no guarantees this procedure would work.

While I am so relieved to still be cancer free, I still need your support and prayers, Pray this surgery is successful and that my face will stay intact. I pray and hope that this surgery will work so that I can move on with my life once and for all.

Love to you all,

Sunday, July 25, 2010


This Summer, I decided to read the Chronicles of Narnia with Mackenzie and Kendall. I don't know who is enjoying it or the girls. It has been fun to journey into the world of Narnia filled with creatures and characters with biblical parallels. I don't think the girls are understanding some of these parallels, but with discussion I am able to explain who represents who and what represents what in the story. The other night, we were reading one of the final chapters of the Magician's Nephew. Narnia had just been created by Aslan the lion (C.S. Lewis uses this character to represent God). If you have seen the movies, you will remember what a magnificent animal Aslan is. Powerful and strong, yet compassionate and loving. He is a protector. He is a friend. Upon meeting Aslan, the boy in the book, Digory, is fearful of Aslan, yet drawn to him. He realizes Aslan has the power to heal his sick and dying mother. He would do anything to save her and Aslan was his answer. Aslan wanted to send Digory on an important mission to help save Narnia from evil, but before he left, Digory felt compelled to ask Aslan for a favor for his Mother.

"I asked, are you ready?" said the Lion. "Yes," said Digory. He had for a second some wild idea of saying "I'll try to help you if you'll promise to help my Mother," but he realized in time that the Lion was not at all the sort of person one could make bargains with. But when he had said "Yes," he thought of his Mother, and he thought of the great hopes he had had, and how they were all dying away, and a lump came in his throat and tears in his eyes and he blurted out: "But please, please-won't you-can't you give me something that will cure my Mother?" Up till then he had been looking at the Lion's great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion's eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory's own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself. - The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

I was now reading the story with tears in my eyes. I chose to read on, but now that I think about it I wish I would have explained to the girls how meaningful this exchange was between Aslan and Digory. If we had the opportunity to see God's face right now, I know we too would see tears in his eyes feeling my pain and my sorrow as a result of my battle of cancer and the issues I am currently facing. God is a compassionate and understanding being...knowing and feeling our sorrows along with us. I want so badly for my children to know and understand this side of God.

The story continues with Aslan sending Digory on a mission to find an apple to plant a tree. The purpose of this tree was to do a great many things including save Narnia. Digory was sent on this journey with no understanding of what its purpose was. Little did he know that Aslan's purpose for Digory's journey was not only to help save Narnia but to also to save his Mother.

In the midst of our trials, God sends us on a long journey to learn something about ourselves, our faith or to serve a greater purpose. Sometimes we have to embarq on this journey without knowledge of whether or not we will get through our trial. But at the end of our journey God will accomplish great things. I look forward to the great things God will accomplish after this journey I am on is over.

"What I give you now will bring joy. It will not, in your world, give endless life, but it will heal. Go. Pluck her (Digory's Mom) an apple from the Tree." -Aslan's words to Digory in The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

This week is an important week. Tomorrow I will have an MRI to determine if the cancer is still gone or if it has come back. The results of this MRI will be life changing. I will also find out when the next surgery is. As of now, I am planning as much as I can before this surgery as I anticipate a long recovery. My Summer will end when this surgery takes place. I hope to make it to the cabin one more time. It all depends on whether or not the surgeons determine if it is safe to wait a couple of weeks to perform the surgery.

Please pray for strength. Pray for good news! Pray for wisdom for my surgeons as they will be making vital decisions to heal my face. Especially pray for peace as I will be feeling a lot of anxiety in the weeks to come.

Blessings to you all,


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Voices in my Head

Voice of Truth
by Casting Crowns

Oh,what I would do to have
the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is,
And he's holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name
and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
time and time again
"Boy, you'll never win,
You you'll never win

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

Oh, what I would do
to have the kind of strength it takes
To stand before a giant
with just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound
of a thousand warriors
shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

But the giant's calling out
my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
time and time again
"Boy you'll never win,
you'll never win."

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

But the stone was just the right size
to put the giant on the ground
and the waves they don't seem so high
from on top of them looking down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
when I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
singing over me

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
The Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
And the Voice of truth says "this is for my glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me (calling out to me)
I will choose to listen and believe (I will choose to listen and believe)
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

I will listen and believe
I will listen and believe the Voice of truth
I will listen and believe
'Cause Jesus you are the Voice of truth
And I will listen to you.. oh you are the Voice of truth

These past couple of weeks I have really been struggling with listening to this voice of truth. Instead, negative thoughts have been consuming my mind. I am watching the hole in my face get bigger causing hopelessness to overcome me. I am really hoping that the flap from my cheek will be big enough to cover the hole. Step two of the procedure is tomorrow. And I am so afraid I am going to walk into the clinic, see my doctor's eyes widen with fear and hear him say this isn't going to work. The hole is too big. Yet, the biggest mind game I have going on right now is about the MRI scheduled for Monday. Voices inside my head are telling me that cancer is back, that I will get bad results. It is a constant battle...ignoring the negative thoughts and concentrating on the positive...on the voice of truth.

Some of the best words of wisdom that were given to me this past year were this: Sue, God is good. He is about life, not death. About peace, not anxiety and fear. He wants you to believe, not doubt. So if you are feeling fearful, uneasy or doubtful start focusing on the voice of truth (God) and all of these feelings will start to go away. I have found this advice to be so true and the best advice a cancer patient could ever receive.

This morning I had another meltdown. As the song says, the crashing waves were calling out my name reminding of all of the times I tried before and failed. Telling me I will never win. Again, I had to start my morning asking God for peace...for encouragement. I had to choose to listen and believe to the voice of truth.

Please continue to pray for healing. Pray for peace as I face this next week and the upcoming MRI. Pray that the hole will simply be fixed and not require massive surgery.

Thank you all for your words of encouragement....sticking with me until the very end...whenever that will be. Your prayers mean so much to me.

All my love,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Ativan Morning

You know it is bad when I resort to Ativan. I just took a pill as I am a bundle of nerves this morning. I am so full of anxiety that I feel like I can't breath. My back is tight and I feel like I am on the verge of breaking down in tears. I am trying hard to hold it together. I don't want my family to catch on and carry the weight of my worry and stress. If I am like this after a simple bone scan, I can't imagine what I am going to be like before and after my upcoming MRI. With that looming over my head as it is quickly approaching, I am starting to freak out. Yesterday's bone scan did not help to alleviate any of my angst. I thought the scan was scheduled to determine the viability of the bone underneath my eye. But something gave me the feeling my doctors are checking to see if the cancer has gone into the bone. I am trying not to let my fears overtake my rational thinking, but today the fear is winning. Thus, the anxiety. Thus, the Ativan.

These past couple of weeks, I am feeling the need to do the things I really want to do before the upcoming MRI. It all started with being able to go up to the cabin for the Fourth of July. It was an amazing weekend and I was thanking God for every day and every moment I was able to be there. I have learned to live my life in segments. I do what I can in a few months and try not to plan anything else beyond the next MRI or surgery until I have learned the results and feel it is safe to move on for the next few months. In the past, when I have planned things in the distant future, they end up getting cancelled due to bad results. I am trying hard not to live this way and I know it is not healthy. But it is my way of protecting myself and preventing myself from being disappointed. So I am finding myself going into panic mode. My next MRI is coming up in a couple of weeks and I am feeling the pressure to experience Summer to its fullest as I fear that it will be taken away all too quickly with bad results...again.

I am not seeing an end in sight. The hole in my face has yet to be resolved. I think I have my surgeons stumped. I am doing the best I can to trust God with this situation. I pray for strength and peace every day. It is something I have to do every morning so I can get through the day. I think I am walking around dazed and confused. I need some encouragement or positive news to come my way soon.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Ancient Words

Last night was the last day of Vacation Bible School for Mackenzie and Kendall. It was an amazing four days of fun and learning about God. There is something magical about is life changing not only for the kids but us parents too. What an experience it is to walk into the sanctuary with hundreds of kids jumping up and down and singing their hearts out to God as they sing the songs they have learned over the past four days. At registration, there is an opportunity to purchase the CD that contains the music the kids learn at VBS. The girls love listening to the CD's and it warms my heart to listen to them sing their hearts out again in the back of our car while at the same time doing the hand motions nearly hitting one another. One of the songs from VBS this year is called Ancient Words and it is about the Bible's words of life and the words of hope that give us strength and give us hope in our lives. As I listened to this song for the first time, I started welling up with tears. I realized how much the Ancient Words have helped me throughout this past year. I am so thankful for the words of hope and the words of life God has given me through reading the Bible. This past year, there were times when I was physically and mentally at my worst...I would just lay in my bed and cling to my Bible. Or when I received bad or discouraging news, I would rush home and immediately open my Bible and start reading. There was no where else to turn for a source of hope and truth but the Bible. I am so thankful for the Ancient Words.

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world,
They resound with God's own heart
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Words of Life, words of Hope
Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e'er we roam
Ancient words will guide us Home.

Ancient words ever true
Changing me, and changing you.
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart

Holy words of our Faith
Handed down to this age.
Came to us through sacrifice
Oh heed the faithful words of Christ.

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world.
They resound with God's own heart
Oh let the ancient words impart.

Ancient Words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the Ancient Words impart.

I will continue to search for answers, hope and strength by reading my Bible. Especially in the next week or so as I am faced with making decisions on how to battle the issues with my skin. I am growing weary of dealing with the condition of my face and the way I look. I am tired of the stares and the questions of "Oh my, what happened to your face." I hate how my kids have to explain to their friends why their mom has a big bandage on her face. I am ready for this to be over.

Thank you for all of your prayers! Please keep them coming.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Refined like silver

Malachi 3:3 "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

This verse puzzled a group in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character of God. One of them offered to find out the process of refining silver and to get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver." She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eye on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it."

Isn't this story awesome? My Aunt sent it to me and I loved learning more about how God uses the trials in life like refining silver. He holds us in a fire (trial) until the impurities are gone and he sees his image in us. And he sits there with us the entire time. Like, silver, I feel like I have been held in a fire. It is quite obvious that God does not intend to take me out of the fire until his plan is finished. I know my life has changed for the better over this past year, and I have a lot more to work on. Specifically letting go of control and completely trusting God with my life. There are times I feel like he has held me in the flames too long to the point of feeling defeated and destroyed but somehow I find the strength to go on.

Today I had the first surgery of 3 to fix the holes in my face. The surgeon made two incisions in my face and then stitched them up again. Little did I ever think this would be a blessing, but because I have very little feeling left in my face I felt no pain when he injected numbing medicine and made the incisions. So the procedure was VERY easy. My face is a little red and swollen, but I feel no pain. Now we have to sit and wait. This end result of this procedure is not going to be pretty so we further discussed the other option of replacing all of the skin with the skin on my forearm. The advantages to this procedure is that my face would look less deformed, my cheekbone could possibly be fixed at the same time and I would no longer have to worry about holes forming again in my face. What I wouldn't give to no longer have to worry about holes. I am seriously considering doing this surgery. We decided to meet again with my Surgical Oncologist who would perform this surgery. We will meet with him on Monday. Should we decide to do this procedure, the incisions that were made today would just be taken off with the other skin that would be removed so there was no harm done with what we did today. It would be a difficult surgery and the recovery will be longer. But in the long run I might be happier.

Thank you for keeping me in your prayers today. Please pray for our meeting on Monday and for wisdom to make the right decision. Pray that the hole in my face does not get any bigger. Another hole started to form under it so pray no other holes form. I also have an eye appointment on Monday. The vision in my right eye is starting to deteriorate so I am getting a little concerned. Having it checked out. Pray it is a minor fix.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Deja Vu

Jason and I were sitting at the hospital late at night...we had been there for months already and it didn't seem like we were going to leave anytime soon. That night, while we were asleep, we got another phone call that her stomach was distended again and discolored. I knew in my gut her bowel had perforated once again. The fragile tissue that has been operated on and stitched up so many times could not repair itself. How many times was this? It was too many to count. We rushed to the hospital and soon I was holding my sweet tiny baby in my arms desperately sobbing. We were filled with disappointment and all hope was gone. Mackenzie had already had so many surgeries to repair the many holes in her intestines. One of the many side effects of being born at 23 weeks. I was begging God for mercy on this sweet child. Had she not been through enough already? Had we not been through enough already? The surgeon entered the room and I quickly contained my emotions so I could hear what he had to say...another surgery. This was our story over and over again. There were many times we thought she would not survive and that there would not be an end to all of the suffering. But there was. After a year of over 20 surgeries, IV nutrition and feeding tubes Mackenzie survived and God got us through it all.

Nine years later...I find myself going through a similar situation. The tissue in my face so fragile from the radiation. It keeps breaking open and so far the surgeries have not been successful. I have that desperate feeling again wondering whether or not this is ever going to end. The other night I was laying in bed having a serious conversation with God. Psalm 77 once again came to my mind as it frequently did since the beginning of this journey. However, this time I read it in my new Bible "The Message" in a different translation. This translation could not better put into words exactly how I had been feeling and what I needed to hear.

Psalm 77:1-12 "I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs (I have done a lot of this lately). He listens. I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord; my life was an open wound that wouldn't heal. When friends said, "Everything will turn out all right," I didn't believe a word they said. I remember God - and shake my head. I bow my head - then wring my hands. I'm awake all night - not a wink of sleep; I can't even say what's bothering me. I go over the days one by one, I ponder the years gone by. I strum my lute all through the night, wondering how to get my life together. Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good? Will he never smile again? Is his love worn threadbare? Has his salvation promise burned out? Has God forgotten his manners? Has he angrily stalked off and left us? "Just my luck," I said. "The High God goes out of business just the moment I need him." Once again I'll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders; I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts. "

The last couple of verses once again reminded me of the miracle of Mackenzie and all that God did to pull her through. But this time, it reminded me of how similar our situations are and the disappointment I felt then and now. It also reminded me that there still is hope...if Mackenzie can survive I can survive.

I finally made my decision. Today, I had another appointment with my Plastic Surgeon. Up until this morning, I had no answers. I had no idea what I was going to do. I had been praying for God to give me the wisdom to make the right choice. I was prepared to tell my doctor that I had no idea what to do and that I needed more time. However, after he further explained the option of using skin from my cheek to repair the hole it became clear to me that this was the best option. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and it would cause the least amount of damage. We also did the test on the existing flap on my face to determine if there was adequate blood flow. The test was a success. This gave me the hope I needed to go on. The best part is that this procedure can be done in his office and I will not need to be given anesthesia. The procedure will take place in two steps. First he will make two incisions and sew them up again. This trains the blood vessels to change direction and begin feeding the portion of the skin that will be used to repair the hole. In another week he will remove the stitches and give the vessels time to continue redirecting the blood flow. The best part of this is that I will be able to go up north for the Fourth of July and be with my family and participate in all of the Fourth of July fun. I was so happy to hear this. After the Fourth, the next step of the procedure will take place opening the incisions again and moving the skin up to repair the hole. There is no guarantee this will be a success, but it is definitely worth a try. THIS NEEDS TO WORK!!!

So please keep me in your prayers over the next month. Pray for healing and that this procedure is a success. Pray the hole will not get any bigger. If it does, it may cause problems with this procedure. My next MRI is at the end of July so pray for peace as that date approaches. And most of all, pray the cancer stays away.

Thank you all!
Love, Sue

Monday, June 14, 2010


I am feeling so let down. I have prayed fervently. I have tried to remain optimistic. I have tried to be positive. I don't know what else to do...nothing seems to be helping. I am beginning to wonder when this will all end...when God will finally show me and my family mercy. So much for a fun summer. Not only has it been taken away from me again, but has been taken away from my kids, from my family. I can't do all of the fun things I wanted to do with Mackenzie and Kendall this summer. The stress from it all has finally gotten to Jason. He has been very quiet lately and I know it is because he is having hard time. We have no hope to cling to right now. Our options offer very little of it.

We have some hard decisions to make. There is definitely another hole. There are three options: 1) See if the hole will close on its own. More than likely it won't. 2) Have it surgically repaired with another flap of skin from my cheek. This means more scars, more disfigurement. I will have to live with two flaps on my face for quite sometime. And there is no guarantee this will work. There is a possibility of more holes forming. 3) Surgically removing all of the skin below my eye down to the bottom of my cheekbone and replace it with skin from my forearm. This is a very difficult surgery and recovery will be long and difficult. And again, there is no guarantee it will work. Either option does not seem like a good one.

I am going to take some time over the next couple of days to try and decide what to do. I could really use your prayers right now for wisdom, strength and most of all healing. Please pray for my family...this has been so hard of them. We all need to have a our lives back. Lives without stress, worry or health problems. We need a life of normalcy.

God where are you in all of this? We are feeling so abandoned. You are the almighty healer and have the power to fix this. I am asking you to have mercy on me, heal me and let this all be done. Please show us your love and peace over the next couple of weeks and give us some encouragement and hope. Lord, this is in your hands and I am trusting you to take care of me and my family.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Slow down and enjoy the moments

At the cabin again enjoying listening to the kids playing outside and riding with Grandma on her golf cart. Their favorite thing to do is to cut wildflowers as they ride along. I also sent them on a mission to find some milkweed with hopes of finding a monarch caterpillar. No luck yet, but we are determined to find one. Experiencing its transformation into a butterfly is a miracle to watch. Yesterday was a beautiful day and we spent a lot of time fishing and boating. Mackenzie caught her first rock bass with a piece of hotdog as bait. It was a nice size and she was so excited. Jason and I just finished playing hand and foot with my parents. A favorite card game we like to play while at the cabin. My mom and I were partners this time and we got creamed by my Dad and Jason. That game makes me so mad, but I keep playing it anyways. The girls, my mom and I went to a city wide garage sale in Battle Lake this morning. Found some treasures including a decoration for the Fourth of July boat parade. It is a humungous inflatable Shrek. He must be at least 7 feet tall. Put a couple of flags in his hands and we are bound to win the decorating competition this year. Summer has officially started!

The stitch is holding. However, this morning I woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed some changes at the stitch site. I am a little nervous my skin is breaking open again. I need to watch it closely and hope that it will be OK. Please God let it be OK. Keep the prayers coming!

The other day, a friend sent me this poem written by a teenager with terminal cancer. I hope that I will never lose the feelings I too have experienced like this girl going through cancer. Sometimes I catch myself losing sight of what is important now that things have calmed down a little. I have to remind myself to slow down and never take for granted the little things in life.

Slow Dance

Have you ever watched your kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever follow a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask how are you? Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done do you lie in your bed?
With the next hundred chores running through your head?

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your chlld, we'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die?
Cause you never had time to call and say, "Hi"?

You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift...thrown away.

Life is not a race. Do take it slower.
Hear the music before the song is over.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I spoke too soon.

I spoke too soon...just when I thought we were over the hump I am facing yet another hurdle. Last night I had to rush to the ER because I found another hole in my face with my bone exposed. It was such a blow to both me and Jason and extremely frustrating. My surgeon met me at the hospital and after an hour of discussing the best possible way to fix the hole and lots of tears and anger he stitched it up. The concern is that the new stitch will cause a bigger hole. Now we have to sit and wait and PRAY. If this stitch does not work, then I am facing another surgery. There are many options one of which includes cutting away all of the skin on my cheek and replacing it with skin from my forearm. I get sick to my stomach when I think about this, but I am trying hard to remain hopeful that the stitch will work. I just can't imagine more damage done to my face.

So I am reaching out to you for more prayers. Please pray that this stitch will work and that the hole will heal. Pray no more holes will form. Pray for strength. I am so down in the dumps right now. I was hoping for a Summer of no worries and that doesn't seem to be happening. I am wondering what God is trying to accomplish through this next hurdle. I am doing my best to let go and let God.

I will continue to keep you updated.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It Was A Beautiful Day at the Cabin

We finally made it back to the cabin. It was so great being back and I appreciated being there more than ever. The girls were also so excited to be back. And for the first time in a long time I saw Mackenzie carefree and happy. This year has been hard on her and being back and the cabin was just what she needed. We spent our time fishing, boating, swimming, tubing and cruising around in my Mom's new golf cart. The weekend could not have been more perfect. When we got back home I immediately looked at the calendar to find the next open weekend we could go back. None of us wanted to leave.

Kendall enjoying the water

It was small, but it was a fish.

The Karrmann house is very busy. We are in the midst of finishing our basement. We are so excited to soon have the extra space and it has given me a much needed project to occupy my time. We are also in the midst of the countdown to the end of school. I am looking forward to a break from homework and the hustle and bustle of getting the girls ready in the morning for school. I am really looking forward to this Summer. It isn't going to be quite the Summer I was hoping for, but at least I will not be sick in bed like I was last year.

I had a doctor appointment this morning with my Plastic Surgeon. He removed the rest of the stitches from the flap. Yes, the flap is still there. I have two more weeks until he will test whether or not the part of the flap covering the holes on my face has adequate blood supply. He is anticipating that it probably will take some more time to heal and that the test may not work. We are possibly looking at July until my face can be fixed. I was extremely sad and disappointed to hear this news. I am so tired of looking deformed and wearing a huge bandage on my face. The stares from other people are getting old. I was hoping that this would all be fixed early so that I could enjoy a carefree Summer. It doesn't look like it is going to happen.

The Relay for Life was an amazing experience. The survivor's lap was very emotional. As we walked, the hundreds of participants stood around the track clapping and cheering us on. It was their way of acknowledging the fight we fought and everything we accomplished as survivors. I was so honored to do it with my Dad. I am so blessed to have a group of friends that took the time to walk 24 hours to fight cancer. They walked about 12 miles throughout the night and were exhausted by the morning.

The Clover Ridge Crusaders

Me and my Dad

If you could keep me in your prayers over the next few weeks that would be wonderful. Pray that the flap heals and that the blood supply is adequate. Pray that once the flap is fixed that it heals without any complications. And pray that I will have the patience to live with my face until it can be fixed.

Sorry it has been a long time since I have updated my blog. But look at it as a good thing...Everything is going well!

With much love,

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Uneventful...that describes life this past week. And you know what? I am lovin' it! I haven't felt this feeling in a long time. I almost forgot what it was like to live life without being consumed by fear, sickness and frustration. For once, I am for the most part relaxed and not worried...well mostly. There will always be a little part of me that is scared.

My skin is healing well. No signs of skin breakdown. I think this last surgery was a success. I will have to live with the flap of skin over my nose for 5 more weeks. But I am getting used to it. I don't like all of the stares, but I just keep reminding myself this is only short term. The plus side..the surgery kind of gave me a face lift on my more wrinkles!

Tomorrow is the Relay for Life. I am so excited to take part in this event. It will be an amazing experience especially taking the survivor's lap with my Dad. I will get to hang out with my team members...all of whom are friends that have been a tremendous support to me this past year. They have brought me meals, gifts, words of encouragement and prayers. I feel honored that they would want to take part in this event. (I have to say it one more time...If you wish to support me in my participation in the Relay and American Cancer Society click on the link on the top of my blog.)

Well, I don't have much to say...isn't that great? Things are quiet and I hope they stay that way for quite sometime.

With thanks and blessings to you all,


Saturday, May 8, 2010

So Far So Good

Surgery went well! My surgeon was able to cover the hole with the existing flap from my forehead. And so far, it looks as if my skin is intact and staying strong. We are all holding our breath, but I think this time we are good. My surgeon will take extra precautions this time and leave the stitches in a little longer to make sure the flap has taken hold of my fragile skin. The flap will have to stay on my face for 6 weeks now to ensure the skin graft will have adequate blood supply. As of now, we are feeling very positive.

Thanks to all of you for sticking with me and continuing to uplift me in your prayers. This is a long journey...and it continues even after a patient has entered into remission. So much healing to do both physically and mentally after all of the treatment. So it is good to know that people are still out there praying for me.

Next Friday, I will be participating in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. This is my last and final request for donations. I am trying to raise as much money as I can to support the fight against cancer. Cancer has not only affected my life, but the lives of many of my friends and family. I never thought it could happen to me. But it has, and I would give anything to prevent it from happening to someone else. Thank you thank you thank you to the many of you that have already donated. If you haven't done so already and wish to donate click on the link on top of my blog.

I will continue to keep you updated on my progress. My hope is that from here on out that everything will be good news.

Much love,

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Better than a Hallelujah

Lord have mercy on me. Why another surgery? I can't do this anymore. It seems as if it will never end. My faith is exhausted. I have no more words. I don't know how or what to pray anymore. What are you trying to show me? What are you trying to teach me? Lord please show me the way. Please heal my fragile skin.

Better than a Hallelujah
by Amy Grant

God loves a lullaby
In a mothers tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
God loves the drunkards cry,
The soldiers plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah.

The woman holding on for life,
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame for what's been done,
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
Better than a church bell ringing,
Better than a choir singing out, singing out.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Better than a church bell ringing
better than a choir singin' loud
singin' loud

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

There will be days like this Part 2

This is part two to my last blog. I had to share with you a couple of events that happened after I wrote it. Just a couple of more examples of God telling me to not give up hope and that he is always there.

A couple of hours after I wrote my blog, I was feeling really down. This is typical for me for the past couple of days. I am just having a hard time. I was watching TV as the girls were coloring at the kitchen table. All of a sudden, Kendall yelled, "Mommy, the blue bird is back!" I didn't believe her, but thought I should get up and look. And there it was, the male blue bird perched on our gazebo looking into our sliding glass door. I couldn't believe it. We were all so excited and watched to see if it would go into Kendall's birdhouse again. It just sat there for awhile and then flew off. After the death of that robin, the appearance of the blue bird could not have come at a better time. Unfortunately, the visit from the blue bird was short lived, and we have not seen it since. The next day we saw a couple of birds on our deck. They were beautiful birds with blue feathers, but they were not the same kind of blue bird that came to us a year ago and the day before. They were a kind of swallow. They have seemed to show an interest in Kendall's bird house and have been hanging out on our deck quite often. I am beginning to wonder if that visit from the blue bird and the appearance of the new birds was God reminding me of his faithfulness this past year, but that I need to move on and start thinking about the future and the newness it brings.

You can call me crazy when it comes to me and these birds. Yes, it may seem like I have lost my marbles and have nothing better to do with my time. But birds have always been very symbolic to my extended family in rough times. If you were to live with us for a long period of time, you would be amazed at what we see and how ironic the appearance of the birds are. They seem to come at just the right time when we are searching for hope and encouragement.

Later on in the day that I wrote my blog and saw the blue bird, I sat down and spent some time reading the new Bible Jason gave me for my birthday and my book titled Streams in the Desert. The passage I began reading was an answer to the many questions I wrote about in my blog. It was about the story in the Bible of Mary Magdalene and Mary sitting in the garden by the tomb grieving after Jesus had been buried. All they could see was that Christ was gone and not the triumph of the next two thousand years. What they regarded as the end of life was actually the preparation for coronation, for Christ remained silent that He might live again with tenfold power. The book goes on to explain that it is the same with us. Each of us sits "opposite of the tomb" in our own garden and initially says, "This tragedy is irreparable. I see no benefit in it and will take no comfort in it." And yet right in the midst of our deepest and worst adversities, our Christ is often just lying there, waiting to be resurrected. Where darkness seems the deepest, the most radiant light is set to emerge. And once the experience is complete, we find our garden is not disfigured by the tomb. This was it...the answer to my questions in my blog. My tomb is this past year and everything I have been through. It has been hard for me to look past it and see the good things that have happened and the good things to come as a result of my cancer....especially these past couple of days as I am feeling down and frustrated. God has been there this whole time and I know he has done amazing things for me this past year. I just need to work harder on not focusing so much on the bad and remember the good that came from it. I think I am just so tired of having to go through this..I have been pushed almost as far as I can go and am desperate for an end. But God continues to give me these reminders...birds and all...that help keep me afloat.

Please continue to pray for healing. My skin is so fragile due to the radiation. This makes healing difficult. I am experiencing some more skin breakdown due to incisions and surgery and we are holding our breath hoping it will heal and not require more surgical intervention. The only thing I can do is continue to apply as much Aquaphor as possible to promote skin cell growth. I think I am going to keep Aquaphor in business. Thank you all for the many birthday blessings, gifts and messages last week. Although my birthday was not what I wanted it to be, I experienced a lot of love from others on that day.

Enjoy the birds!


Saturday, April 24, 2010

There will be days like this

It happened very quickly...all that was left were feathers in a pile on our lawn...just beside the tree it had laid its nest in. It was the robin that laid its nest there last year. Poor thing had no chance. The hawk just swooped down and the robin was gone in just a few seconds. It made me sad as that robin was a gift from heaven during a difficult time last year. She brought hope to our family. We enjoyed watching the eggs hatch and the babies eventually leave the nest. Her return this year was exciting and meaningful. How quickly the meaning of that robin was taken away.

I am in a slump right now...feeling very sorry for myself. I am focusing too much on everything I have been through and wondering if it will ever end. I am desperately searching for the strength to get through this next period of waiting and healing. So hard to do when all I want to do is crawl in a hole and hide. I hate showing my face. I often wonder if this will be the last and final stretch or if there will be another hurdle waiting for me just around the corner. At times, it doesn't seem like this will ever end.

My immediate reaction to the death of the robin was that it was a bad sign. A bird that was so symbolic of good things to come was taken away. Or was the robin's death telling me to stop focusing on the past? Does its death mean it is time to look to the future and the hope it will bring? Do I need to start looking for hope in other things? It is easy to get really angry and frustrated when I dwell on all of the struggles I have been through. So maybe I just need to work harder on looking to the future even though it seems it is unattainable right now. Looking back does me no good. And as always, I need to continue looking up...and keep close to my heart the promise of better days.

When it's not always raining
there'll be days like this
When there's no one complaining
there'll be days like this
Everything falls into phase
like the flick of a switch
Well my momma told me
there'll be days like this

When you don't need to worry
there'll be days like this
When no one's in a hurry
there'll be days like this
When you don't get betrayed
by that old Judas kiss
Oh my momma told me
there'll be days like this

When you don't need an answer
there'll be days like this
When you don't meet a chancer
there'll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle
start to look like they fit
Then I must remember
there'll be days like this

When everyone is upfront
and they're not playing tricks
When you don't have no freeloaders
out to get their kicks in
When it's nobody's business
the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember
there'll be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams
there'll be days like this
When people understand what I mean
there'll be days like this
When you bring out the changes
of how everything is
Well my momma told me
there'll be days like this

Oh my momma told me
there'll be days like this
Well my momma told me
there'll be days like this
Oh my momma told me
there'll be days like this
Oh my momma told me
there'll be days like this