Fingerprints of God

Little providences, not coincidences we have seen along the way:
I am amazed when I think of how Anthony even happened to have the painless, small, un-ulcerated tumor looked at in the 1st place.

~ My sister (who I hadn't seen in almost a year) flew to SC for a visit just 2 days before Anthony's diagnosis. She was available to watch the boys during that 1st visit to the oral surgeon, and has been able to help during the whirlwind of chaos that followed in the days thereafter.J

~ My brother, Drue, coming over to be with us the day Anthony got the really bad news. Anthony had to still go in to work that day/night and I was beside myself………Drue bought pizza for the boys and I and played Catch Phrase to help get our minds off things.

~ Our Pastor being available to pray with us after receiving daunting news at the oral surgeon's office.

~ Anthony's diagnosis just happened to come at the exact time of year when we sign up for a new Insurance plan. Needless to say, we didn't go with the HOA (no prescription drug coverage) plan that we usually get. We had already met our LARGE deductible this year, thanks to Yours Truly, so we are at 80/20 until the end of Dec. and surgery is supposed to happen a month before then.

~ We are thankful for a powerful prayer time at the altar of our church. That time of prayer helped immensely to calm our fears and greatly decrease my anxiety level.

~ My parents quickly volunteered to relocate for a time to come out to help with everything. They have just bought a camper to park at our house. I am grateful for their willingness to help with transportation, caring for our home and even homeschooling the boys, if necessary. I could never express in words what their support means to the boys, Anthony & I.

~ My just turned 15 yr. old brother, Dyllon and 17 yr. old brother, Saunders – who did not complain when they were told that they would have to leave friends/activities in NH for a while. I understand that it is is hard for a teenager to leave his "life" and appreciate their readiness to pack up and come down here!

~ Favor with HOA. Board members have been extremely gracious! They quickly approved allowing my parents camper to be parked along side of our house (thank you neighbors – especially ones across the street trying to sell their house! They also approved the removal of a large Sugar Gum tree that would allow for more space for the camper.

~ Guys from our church are coming over today to take down that Sugar Gum tree – what a blessing to know that it will be down just in time for my parents arrival tomorrow!

~ The doctor we were led to in Charlotte, Dr. Villeret, we like and feel comfortable with. We are relieved Anthony will be to be able to have surgery take place 2 hrs. from home and not more.

~ I received a settlement for a car accident 3 yrs. ago, when we 1st moved to SC. This $ will allow me to have continued chiropractic car when I need it. My neck, back and right shoulder/arm are a mess because I have been in 9 car accidents.

~ On that same note, when I threw my back out last week, a dear friend (and very patient son) drove me to an appt. with a massage therapist. The massage really helped ease the pain (so it was at least tolerable) and the massage therapist just happened to be a homeschooling mom, whom I didn't know, but whose name I recognized from our home school support group e-mail loop! When my friend arrived to pick me back up, she had Chic-Fil-A waiting for me! She and her family also gave us a gift card from there and an adorable cow calendar. That really made my families and my day!

~ Favor with Anthony's workplace. His Personal Manager even went out of his way to come by our house with all the medical leave of absence paperwork – while a nasty stomach bug was hitting our boys hard.

~ A close friend, who has a cousin who is an oral surgeon, put us in contact with him. I was able to discuss details with him about Anthony's situation over the phone. He gave me reassurance and told me he would be praying for our family. After Anthony's appt. with the Ears, Nose, Throat Doctor (Villeret) Anthony was able to call his cell and run through things with him……….kind of like a 2cd opinion on the direction we were moving.

~ The boys co-op semester ended Nov. 11th and doesn't start back up for the 2cd session until the 1st week of Jan. This will ensure that they can still be a part of our co-op. Plus, it is close by to where my parents can easily drop/pick them off, if need be. It is a blessing to have the flexibility that comes with homeschooling J

~ I was able to schedule an appt. very quickly to have our family portraits done (busy season, as you know.) They had the exact day/time slot open that I had requested and our photographer was great.

~ This next one is SO girly – sorry! I just want to remember and record everything that the Lord has provided. The picture appt. that I had scheduled was happened within 2 days of my call and the night before I STILL did not have anything to wear (ok, ok, I had things I could have worn, but nothing that matched!) Anthony and the boys had matching vests that I had purchased ridiculously on sale last winter, but I wanted a dress to match. I looked online and Anthony agreed to chauffer me around on my search. We went to the store where I had seen the dress I liked online and they were sold out. Before leaving, I took a look on the clearance rack of this store I had never been to, and I found some great deals! I had been also looking for some tops and found some incredible deals $3-7 dollars a piece. When I was leaving, I expressed my disappointment that the dress I wanted was not available, because I had to find something for the next day. They offered to call their other location, which I didn't even know existed, to check and see if they had it. They did, and they put it on hold for me. I also found 2 more shirts………

~ A sweet couple, from our church called us Tuesday night to ask us if we would be able to go get away to the beach Fri. – Fri. Amazingly we had nothing scheduled, and said yes! At this news I was SHOCKED to say the least!!!!! I had been praying a silent prayer that our family would somehow be able to spend some precious time together, alone and away from all this mess, along with all the stress that it had brought with it. I, along with Anthony, started to feel ourselves burning out and felt the need to escape. I had no inkling that my prayer would ever be answered in such an extravagant way! As I type this, I am sitting in an adorable living room, in an adorable condo like living space, at a beautiful Hilton Head resort……………God is SO good and the verse that keeps entering my mind is that God is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine! We are devoting this time to growing closer as a family, as we grow closer to God. Again, no words can express the extent of our gratefulness to this couple, in our church family, for this outpouring of love expressed toward our family! We pray God will richly bless them for blessing us!

~ I will close with another gift from God that our family was immensely touched to receive………A friend of mine called Wed. to ask if she could drop off something to us. When she arrived, I opened the gift bag she handed me and inside found a small treasure box. I called the boys over and proceeded to open the box where there was a scroll placed inside. As we unrolled the scroll I read what still brings tears to my eyes! (See pictures below.) It was an invitation to attend a show Fri. morning at Medieval Times. Below the scroll were gold coins, and enough cash to cover the cost mixed with beautiful seashells (I thought it was very symbolic because at the time she put the box together she had no idea we were going to the beach!) It was an educational show to boot - can you say field trip! ;) To go to Medieval Times had been a wish for us, even before kids, while we were still in college! The boys were BEYOND excited, and we found that we were easily able to drive the 2 hrs. to Atlanta to see the show before heading back over to Hilton Head for our beach vacation. They also let us borrow a beach umbrella, beach chairs and gave us a gift bag filled with Anthony's favorite snacks to enjoy before he can't. This gift of giving we have seen working through this family is something that we want to be a way of life for our family too.

We feel so unworthy of all the kindness that this family has showered upon our family. Again, no words are BIG enough to express our gratitude! One more interesting note - we do happen to have a common bond of seeing a family member suffer and cope with a devastating oral medical issue. This is just another thing that binds us together………Thank you God for the friends YOU have put in our path!

~ Anthony's lymph node biopsy came back negative! He will still have to go through radiation to his neck, in addition to his mouth, because of the high false negative result with the test. We were just told that more than likely he will have a feeding tube put into his side because the radiation to the neck area affects ones ability to swallow. We can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us!

*Prayer needs*

* My parents, who are traveling from NH today, and arriving tomorrow. Pray for safety on the road, and renewed strength for my Dad and Mom – they have been sick with flu's and sinus inf. etc….

* Pray for Anthony's Medical Leave of Absence to go through and be processed in time. It has been a pain, to say the least, getting the doctor's office to cooperate and just get it done! They definitely were not feeling the sense urgency we were/are with having this completed. We began this process back a week and a half ago and I had hoped it would be resolved before vacation, but that didn't happen.

* Anthony's tumor, which we had not previously seen growth in since it was discovered, did noticeably increase in size over the past week. PLEASE urgently pray that more growth would be totally be inhibited!!!!

Thank you all for your prayers. God's hand and fingerprints have been ALL over this situation, as you have read. He really does become clearer during times of testing. We are praying God will use this trial to give testimony to the greatness of HIM!

Hide It In Your Heart!

The scripture that really carried me through this long, anxiety filled week, and one I finally had to memorize was Phil. 4:6-7.
Just a note - memorizing scripture is not usually an easy thing for me to do anyway, but this week it took me 4 hrs. (I was blessed with hall duty for 3 hrs. during the boys co-op) to memorize this short passage! I was beginning to wonder what my problem was. I really felt the enemy trying to prevent me from focusing and my mind was cluttered by other thoughts and fears. It really took a lot of perseverance on my part, and it became extremely clear to me that the Devil was trying to prevent me from hiding God's Word in my heart. Satan is aware of the power that lies there (in the Word) and what peace it would ultimately bring to me. Thank you God for your faithfulness to me!
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this you WILL experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 4:6-7
I challenge you to memorize it too!

It Is Not a Question of "If" the Storm Will Hit but "When"

My husband was diagnosed with Mucoepidermoidl Carcinoma last Thursday. Some of you know and some of you don’t , but I felt I should fill you all in and give a little background.
Back in August, Anthony noticed a bump on the right side of the roof of his mouth. He didn’t want to go get it checked at the doctors and frankly I wasn’t that concerned either.
In early October I scheduled a dental cleaning for our whole family and it was there that Anthony mentioned it to the dentist. The dentist even had trouble seeing it at first and thought it was probably just a calcium deposit. It was near the main salivary gland though, so he decided to send us to an Oral Surgeon (Dr. Lebedovych) to take a closer look.
Oct. 26 - At our appt. Lebedovych was not too concerned either, but he did mention to us about a rare cancer that it could possibly be and that he would biopsy just in case. He said the chances of it being malignant were 3 -5%. That # was SO low that we were anticipating a benign result.
Nov. 5th - 11 days later I answered my cell phone and it was the Dr. on the other line. I could tell by his voice that all was not well. I will never forget standing in my kitchen while my husband mouthed the words to me, “I have cancer.”
The next day’s visit to the oral surgeon was even more unsettling. As many of you know, I have extreme dental anxiety, so the information I was having to process was VERY hard. I had always imagined myself being strong in such a situation, but I eventually had to leave the room . As I knelt on the bathroom floor (the thought of germs did not enter my mind at that moment) I surrendered my future and fears to God. I cried out to God – I had no other place to go in that moment. He has ALWAYS shown Himself faithful in the past, so I knew where I needed to place my trust.
The Oral Surgeon said that the cancer was in the intermediate stages and that it would be treated as high. Radical surgery (hemi- maxillectomy)that involved removing the upper palate, jaw and teeth on the entire right side would be needed along with radiation. He referred us to a ear, nose, throat doctor (Dr. Villeret) who might be able to do the surgery.
Nov. 12 – We left for Charlotte at 5:30 am and dropped off our boys at a friend’s house. This would end up being the longest period of time that the boys had been away from both of us at once. We are so blessed to have friends who were willing to watch 3 boys for 12 hrs.!
Anthony had a CT SCAN and then an MRI. We had 4 hrs. then until our next appt. We were able to get some breakfast and had time to talk for a while. The rest of the time we spent waiting in the car, and had a LONG time to read and study God’s Word together. It was just the refreshing time we needed.
I had had such a sense of peace up until we were sitting in the waiting room. Anxiety began to kick in again because I was very nervous about hearing the results of the tests he had earlier that morning. When we finally saw the Dr. he gave us news that we were definitely not expecting. He said that during surgery he would try to just core out the tumor and not do the hemi maxillectomy. Even though this surgery would still include removing a portion of the upper palate around the tumor up through the bone and into his sinus cavity this sounded WAY less scary to us! A prosthesis will still be needed but a small one in comparison to the one we were first told of and would be able to be made here locally, instead of traveling down to Gainsville FL.
Some swelling was found in his right sinus though, and the Dr. said the cancer could have spread up to there. He will have no way of knowing if this is the case until he is actually doing the surgery. If cancer is found, then the hemi -maxillectomy will then be a necessity. We are believing that this will not be the case. Anthony will not know until he wakes up from surgery exactly what he will be left with – which is a little daunting!
The scan also revealed some enlarged lymph nodes. The doctor then kindly asked us if we had traveled from the Greenville area. We told him that we did and he offered to see us after his 2 last patients because he would have a block of time to run more tests. Not having to take another trip to Charlotte to have this done was a BIG answer to prayer!
After an ultrasound of his lymph nodes, it was determined that Anthony would need a fine needle aspiration/ biopsy done. This was a longer and more painful process than I had envisioned , but he made it through.
We should get the biopsy results back in a couple days (Mon.?) if they come back positive Anthony will need to have them removed . If it comes back negative he will receive radiation to that area, in addition to his mouth because of a high false negative result.
Even though this is a difficult time for our family the hand of God has been apparent to us in our lives. It is amazing to think of all the little things that have transpired that were definitely NOT coincidences.