Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Blessings Through Cancer

Blessing through cancer. Seems like an odd title, but I'll tell you why it is true in my life.

When I was a senior in high school my mom, Michele, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 47. It was life changing for me. In more ways than I could ever explain, but ultimately brought me closer to her and through the grieving process I found peace with myself and ultimately with God.

In 2008 my mom had just finished her third round of chemo and radiation on tumors that had spread to her brain. Life was somewhat normal, I had graduated college and working as a nurse. My mom was still working full time and was just still my "normal mom". That spring I met Kyle whom I had seen out and about before due to us having mutual friends. We all went out one night and after talking to him for a little bit he mentioned that he couldn't stay out long because he was doing Race for the Cure early the next morning with his mom, who too had breast cancer. We had an instant connection talking about our mothers and it was from that moment on that we were inseparable.

Fast forward one blissful year of dating to May 2009 when we got engaged. My mom was increasingly getting ill and the cancer was really taking a toll on her body. I desperately wanted to get married as soon as possible so she could be in good spirits for it, never imagining or accepting that she would not be in attendance. That July of 2009 she lost her 7 year battle with cancer. A few months later Kyle's mom got word that cancer was back, and she would not be going forward with treatment. That December, only 4 short months later, Kyle's mom lost her battle with cancer as well.

It was a pretty devastating time in our life. I was only 24, a kid, and couldn't imagine life with out my mommy. Kyle, even younger than me, had to deal with same heart breaking issues. We couldn't help but wonder where God was in this time of darkness. How He could not let our mom's be a part of our marriage, our future together. Grieving was extremely difficult for me during the wedding planning process was so many family dynamics were changing.

After we got married Kyle and I settled in to a new church, Christ Community Midtown, and were quickly taken in as family there. We were discipled and led by loving friends who embraced us instantly. We no longer felt like "orphans" in our city and had a loving family, body of believers, to rally around us. Not only that but they truly became our friends. During that time Kyle and I, in our own time, came to trust this loving God and knew that everything He had planned in our lives was all good. We submitted to Christ, letting go of ourselves as being our own leaders. God was now the center of our marriage, and we took comfort in the arms of our Father.

Fast forward now to this past weekend, the Race for the Cure. Each year now Kyle and I, along with our close family and friends, take the time to celebrate the memories of our mothers and the lives they left behind. As the race was approaching I sat down and reflected on how cancer has affected me. Cancer has brought many blessings in to my life even though it is such a nasty disease that also brings so much heart break.

My blessings through cancer:

-Cancer brought me my husband. Had we not had that instant connection of our mother's cancer diagnosis who knows if we would have ever talked all night long the first night we met. Who knows if we would have fallen in love, gotten married and had a sweet baby girl together.
-Cancer showed me my mom was a hero. Even with stage 4 cancer, with 20+ tumors in her brain, my mom, a VP of private banking, still went to work every single day. Still did yard work, still made amazing meals every night. I think part of my shock with her death is because she never let us know how bad things really were. She was fully there as a mom, wife, worker.
-Cancer taught me that ANYTHING is possible. After watching the way my mom handled life, despite her cancer diagnosis, showed that I can do anything I put my mind to. I CAN be a nurse, pursue my dream career of being an nurse practitioner, have a family, take care of myself. I can do it all! If she could do it all with cancer, I can certainly do it all healthy.
-Cancer taught me that life is but a breath (Job 7:7). Life on earth is short. I can't take any moment for granted. Even my health. Every moment I have here with my loved ones is a blessing. 
-Cancer taught me that the ultimate sweetness is ahead of me. My mom sat me down before she died and told me to reevaluate my relationship with Jesus. She said she wanted to make sure that all her children would make it to heaven one day, so that she could see them again. Ultimately, this life is short, but heaven is sweet. If I want to live eternally, I must die to myself (Luke 9:24). 
-Cancer is why I am here, this exact spot in my life. I decided to go to school in Indianapolis because I did not want to be far from my mom after her diagnosis. If I had not done that I wouldn't have met my best friends, my husband, I wouldn't have the job I have now. It has shaped almost every decision I have made about my life since her diagnosis in 2002. And I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Here in Indy, as a nurse, with my loving husband and baby girl, with my amazing friends, and my awesome church I get to call home.

Ultimately, I know that God is good. Even through heartbreak and sadness, God is good. All the time. And I like to remember that as much as possible. The recent Race for the Cure was no better time to sit down and remember my blessings through cancer.

And here are some pics from our awesome race!

Some of the girls! Cassy, Hadley, Macy, Carol and Amy
A group shot of our team, "Thanks for the Mammeries"
Kyle with his brother, Alan. He and his wife, Hadley, came in town for the celebration!

Sweet Macy girl. It was a cold morning this year!

2 of my most precious blessings!

About 2.5 miles in to the race. I saw this view and couldn't help but capture it! Loved sharing this moment with my family.

We did it!


  1. I love this, Ashley.
    You are so very right, sometimes things fall apart so they can fall together again.
    Through heartbreak we learn so many lessons.
    Not only in life, but in death, too.

    You are a strong woman and I know the bond you and Kyle have found through this will only strengthen you and help Macy in the years to come.

  2. Great post. So amazing that you and your husband share such similar experiences and that God hand placed you in each others' lives. Also, what a wonderful gift your mother gave you- to make sure your relationship with Jesus was in tact. What an example of what our number one priority should be for our children- to know Jesus.