Tell your heart to beat again

I have been the recipient of so many wonderful acts of kindness in the past few weeks. People have been so overwhelmingly generous towards our family. They have sacrificed their time, treasures and talents to help our family get through this difficult time and begin this journey towards renewed health. We will forever be grateful for the support we have received. You read in books and people who’ve had cancer talk about how once you have cancer, you are a different person, almost as if there’s this line in our lives that appears one day. Some idea of a pre-cancer version of ourselves and a post-cancer version of ourselves. I don’t know if I’m far enough on this journey to be able to say if this is true or not, but I think that the appreciation of kindness is one of the ways it is true. Once you have received such remarkable support, you cannot help but appreciate what others have done and find yourself looking for ways to return the kindness that has been so helpful to you, when you were in need.

So many people have been so generous towards us, we have received an overwhelming amount of support; financially, in the form of food, prayers, cards, a kind word, support bands, bringing gifts and coloring books to the girls, offering to watch the girls, visiting us, the list goes on and on. The school/day care we send the girls to has been remarkably supportive and have reflected the values of a true family. Both our employers have been so overwhelmingly supportive, flexible, and helpful to us, their values of family shine through as well. Our family and friends have been amazing! We are truly blessed to have such a great network of support. I have received gifts as well that are priceless, gifts that seems to arrive just when they are needed most. imageA shield of faith necklace, a clutching cross, 5 stones from the valley of Elah where David defeated Goliath…these gifts are so meaningful to me, simple thank you’s don’t do them justice. How do you thank someone for a gift, a card, a kind word so timely that it changes your mindset? How do you thank someone for prayers of support or a card or a kind word that arrives right on time to remind you that there are so many people that are behind you, supporting you in this journey? Please know that these gifts are appreciated and they have made a difference in my attitude, my mindset and my life. I read a quote that summarizes it well “Never underestimate the power of kindness, a single act may be the difference that adds lift that someone needs to go from falling to flying”. Gifts come in all forms, shapes and sizes. Gifts come in the form of kind words, thoughts of support, even likes on Facebook. All of these signs of support are gifts to me, and for them I am truly thankful.

Another gift I received recently was that of a song. The song below was sent to Heather and I recently by a family member that said they were thinking of us. We watched this together and of course it spoke to us. The song is called “Tell your heart to beat again” and the lyrics are great, but the story behind the song is just as important. This song, like all of the gifts and support we’ve received, has lifted me up, given me a renewed sense of strength, helped me stay positive, reminded me that I have control in this battle with cancer. This is how cancer fights, I’ve found. It fights in the mental spaces between doctor appointments, tests and physical therapy. It’s a mental giant, a Goliath, so large that the mere word Cancer holds such a powerful grip in our culture. The giant that tries to take you down by making you think you have no power. This song reminded me that we all have a choice, we all have power, because God’s grace is sufficient and God’s grace is enough. We just need to tell our hearts to beat again, to keep fighting, to keep living, to press forward in love, in faith, in hope and in Grace.

Youtube video posted above, story and lyrics written below:

There was a pastor in Ohio, who had a heart surgeon that belonged to his church. One of the things this pastor wanted to do was he wanted to see a heart surgery take place. When the day of the surgery came, they rolled the patient in, and began to cut her chest cavity open, take the heart out and they begin to repair it. One of the things they need to do is they have to restart the heart before they close. As they begin to do the procedures to start the heart, the heart wouldn’t start. Finally, the doctor did something so out of textbook, something not written down, something you really just don’t do. He got down on his knees and he said “Mrs. Johnson, this is your doctor;  we have fixed your heart, we have repaired it, there is nothing wrong with your heart, Mrs. Johnson, if you can hear me, I need you to tell your heart to beat again.” And her heart began to beat again.

“Tell Your Heart To Beat Again”

You’re shattered, like you’ve never been before

The life you knew in a thousand pieces on the floor

And words fall short in times like these, when this world drives you to your knees

You think you’re never gonna get back to the you that used to be

 

Tell your heart to beat again

Close your eyes and breathe it in

Let the shadows fall away

Step into the light of grace

Yesterday’s a closing door

You don’t live there anymore

Say goodbye to where you’ve been

And tell your heart to beat again

 

Beginning, just let that word wash over you

It’s alright now’ love’s healing hands have pulled you through

So get back up, take step one, leave the darkness, feel the sun

Cause your story’s far from over, and your journey’s just begun

 

Tell your heart to beat again

Close your eyes and breathe it in

Let the shadows fall away

Step into the light of grace

Yesterday’s a closing door

You don’t live there anymore

Say goodbye to where you’ve been

And tell your heart to beat again

 

Let every heartbreak, and every scar

Be a picture that reminds you who has carried you this far

‘Cause love sees farther than you ever could

In this moment heaven’s working

Everything for your good

 

Tell your heart to beat again

Close your eyes and breathe it in

Let the shadows fall away

Step into the light of grace

Yesterday’s a closing door

You don’t live there anymore

Say goodbye to where you’ve been

And tell your heart to beat again

Your heart to beat again

 

The speed of life…

Today marks 3 weeks since surgery!!! 21 days out and I think I’m doing pretty darn good. I feel stronger and more back to normal with each day that passes. I got my staples removed on Monday, my CT scans look good, the brain swelling is down and returning to normal function (and the tumor is still not there anymore, which is a great thing). The doctors have me taking it pretty easy, I still am not able to drive, lift much, return to work, or do many other functions. There’s a lot to recover from when they cut open your brain and remove a tumor, and one of the hardest lessons to learn in this whole process has been slowing down. It’s also been one of the best lessons I’ve learned.

It was one month ago today, on January 17th that I learned I had a tumor. Today, I am reminded of how time stood still that day. How in a single sentence, all of the sudden everything was different, and there was no going back to the way things were before. The pace of life changed in an instant. Everything stopped, the 4 hours we were in the ER now seem like seconds, the next three days in the ICU seemed like minutes and the 10 days spent preparing for surgery now seem like they passed in the blink of an eye. Since that moment the speed of our life has been so different than it was before. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the fast paced world which I had grown accustomed to; the world where we were always going, always doing something, always working on something.

I have gained, from being forced to slow down, a true spirit of thankfulness and respect for life and for the moments that make it. Slowing down to stop and take a look around to truly appreciate what life is all about. I think that’s normal for someone going through any difficult medical situation, but I think it’s not a mindset reserved for an exclusive club of health-afflicted people.

Here’s what I mean…just one of many great moments I have been able to savor while recovering, but our most recent gem of a family moment. Our three year old Avery has learned to write her name, so she did on her magnetic board last night. Sure the E is a little goofy, but I am so proud of her to be able to do this at 3 years old.image More than this accomplishment, the excitement she had with her own ability was truly remarkable and something that was so special to be a part of. As a parent we always look for these great moments, and it’s not that pre-tumor Ryan would have missed this moment, but pre-tumor Ryan would not have had the appreciation for what this moment is, something to cherish and something to celebrate. And then, in true sisterly fashion, Hadley refuses to be upstaged. imageShe too wants to show off her work. She made sure to show us that she can write and wanted a picture taken of her efforts as well. This is life in slow motion, life paid attention to. There’s a unique mix of a lot going on for me these days and at the same time there’s not much going on these days. There’s all kinds of information, questions and plans running through my head, but at the same time recovery is a slow process, and allowing recovery to take place takes effort to slow yourself down. I am so thankful for my daughters for showing me how important it is to allow myself to slow down and rather than be frustrated with the pace of life, to instead enjoy the perks of life in the slow lane. I will be back to fast paced life soon enough, that is a fact I am confident in, and something I look forward to; but I am also confident that life is not the same as it was before, that now the appreciation I have for each day as the gift it is will shape how I see the world, to slow down just enough to really take in the view and love what we have been given.

Focusing on HOPE

Today, we begin a new week. Early Monday morning we get to choose our outlook for the week. For me, the focus remains on HOPE. We have 7 different appointments scheduled this week, a welcome back to some form of a “busy normal life” that I have missed for the past 4 weeks. Today we begin with a CT Scan to follow up from the surgery, confirming the healing process is taking place, then a follow up with the neurosurgeon to discuss follow-up care, hopefully removing the 28 staples that have held me together since surgery, and learning of future care needs. Then this afternoon its off to the cancer center to have another CT done to map my brain and spine to prepare for the radiation treatment. A busy day, yes, probably a lot of sitting and waiting, sitting and thinking, but today will be a good day, because we have the opportunity to hope for positive outcomes, because we have the opportunity to take the kids to day care, and because Heather and I have the opportunity to spend it together. Later in the week I have physical therapy appointments, and a follow up with the oncologist, so the hope is this week is very helpful in defining the next steps of this journey.

At church the past two weeks, the message has been preparing for Lent, and both weeks the message was very pointed, to me, at the idea of hope. Normally during Lent its about penance, or giving something up, which is ok and good, but the message I heard was slightly different. The message was if you’ve been tossing a net over the same side of the boat for a long time, maybe now is a good time to toss the net off the other side of the boat. What a great time to instead of giving something up, maybe take something on. That’s the message I heard, that’s the message I think I needed, so that is what I will do. I assume, with my current status of being a cancer patient with treatment beginning soon, the next 40 days of Lent will be very impactful to the future of my life; potentially defining what life will look like in the future, so instead of spending time giving something up, I choose to take on Hope headfirst, to fully embrace the Grace that God has given me and my family and will press forward in a positive mindset and focus on hope. I will hope for health, hope for happiness, hope for a bright future. Mondays are great days to set out with a new mindset, a new hope for a great week ahead!

Better than Good

When I was diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease last April, a new saying came to define how I had to live my life. The charge was for me to be “better than good”. This was not necessarily a new concept for me, I have always been the type of person to go for it, not aim for mediocre, and always do what is necessary to exceed any expectations set in front of me. The idea that “better than good” was the new goal simply put a frame around the concept and specifically to focus on my health and living well. The idea was simple enough, you have heart disease, your numbers are good, your weight is good, your health is good, but you have to be better than good. At the hospital after the stent placement, I weighed 210 pounds, my cholesterol was a little high, but within normal range, blood pressure was around 130/90, but nothing incredibly out of the ordinary. The goal set before me was to lose about 15 pounds, aim to be somewhere around 195. I remember the first time they said this to me I thought there was no way that’s going to happen. I had been active, running regularly and eating what I considered to be well for at least two to three years, but I had weighed 205-210 the entire time. I had run 3 half marathons, a full marathon and trained for a 1/3 triathlon at that weight. This was just my build, I thought.

Heather had been dairy free because of milk allergies with each of the girls when they were born, and each time we went down the dairy free path, we did it together. We did the Forks over Knives diet, would focus on fruits and vegetables and most importantly we paid attention to what we ate. In my opinion we ate well before all this happened. Losing weight was never something that happened though, at least not in any significant amount. I just seemed to maintain the same build and fitness levels. I remember thinking there is no way I will be in the 190’s, its a good goal to have but I don’t know that is a very realistic thing to aim at.

The idea of going through cardiac rehab was a key for me to get started along a positive path towards change. I was excited about the possibility of being guided down this healthy path, and starting Cardiac Rehab, a 12 week course that would be the catalyst for my healthy lifestyle improvements. This rehab program focused on cardiac exercise, nutrition, stress relief, and emotional strength. The program was phenomenal and taught me more than I ever anticipated. In addition to the rehab, I adopted a focus on four elements, these being what I would call the key to my success and the key to Living Well.

Information, Inspiration, Hard work and Dedication. These four words became the cornerstones of my success. As soon as I returned home from the hospital I learned all I could about heart disease. I surrounded myself with Information. I wanted to know what caused this disease, what do people do to combat it, what can I do to get better, etc. I read probably 4 books within two to three weeks on the subject. I read medical books, inspirational books, science based books and most importantly I spent time learning that heart disease can be a preventable, curable, and potentially reversible condition that is affected by our lifestyle and diet. This was great news, because it was something that could be affected, so I set out about the path of being better than good. I had to learn about the disease, nutrition and exercise. I had to learn recipes that were good for you, what was not and how to tell the difference. I spent a lot of time learning.

I spent any free moment being Inspired. I would listen to podcasts on the way to and from work, to and from rehab, to and from the grocery. Any time I was in the car I was listening to stories about people winning. It didn’t matter what they were winning at, if they were inspiring, I wanted to hear their story. From Dave Ramsey, to Zig Ziglar, to watching movies or tv about people transforming their lives, I took any opportunity to learn about people succeeding and funneled that towards my own success. I would constantly surround myself with stories of success and would mentally note the threads common among them.

Success does not come without Hard work. It didn’t feel like hard work at the time, but looking back it was definitely work to change how we ate. It took effort to say no to snacks that were not healthy for us, it took effort to cook meals that were good for us, and it took effort to go through the rehab program. Heather was shouldered with the burden of watching the girls while I spent one hour each evening, three days a week for 12 weeks on the way home from work to get fit and go through the program. Not that she didn’t love doing this, because I truly believe she did. She is a great mother and is the rock of our family, but I do not overlook that there is a level of effort necessary to watch and raise a 1 and 3 year old every day while your husband is running on a treadmill. Her ability to work hard for us, allowed me to work hard for us in the program and together we achieved great success.

Lastly, the key was Dedication. Once this goal was set, there was no option for not succeeding, so no matter the amount of effort, this was something we were doing. I remember talking with Heather about if she was ok with the rehab plan and with all of the changes that would come our way. There was and is no doubt to her level of dedication to our family and to our future. She simply said this is what is best for our family and we will do it together, no questions asked, we are doing this. What an amazing woman! The other element of dedication is fighting through the challenges, because they were everywhere. Constantly tempted with “bad food”, skip that workout, you can catch up on that later, don’t worry about packing your lunch today, you can pick something up on the way. Dedication to the overall goal of being better than good is what kept us going when it would have been easy to slide back into the old patterns of our previous life.

So over the course of 5 months, from April 28, 2015 the day the stent was placed to September I lost a total of 35 pounds, I currently weigh 175 pounds…175! I passed the 190 mark in June and the rehab team was so supportive! Never would I have ever imagined that was a possibility. Once we met that goal, we set the next; let’s aim to be really healthy, not just healthy enough; and so we did, and so I am. My blood pressure, cholesterol, and all other cardiac indicators are in great shape, well below any range of risk. The key was simply eating right and exercise, nothing more, nothing less. There was no special diet plan, no meal plan,  no exercise regimen that is officially licensed and on sale anywhere. I simply ate fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, limited meats to fish (mostly salmon) and occasionally chicken, and exercised regularly. I would run three times a week for about 30-45 minutes at a time. When I was hungry I would eat, when I was energized I would exercise. The key in my opinion was what I was eating and portion control. We stopped using the big plates in the cabinet and did our best to keep portions into their recommended serving sizes. We reduced/eliminated sugars, cheeses, most dairy and processed foods, focusing only on “real food”. I don’t want to minimize the impact of this change in our lives, but it truly was as simple as that. We did not simply stick to the cardiac, low sodium regimen, we instead dove head first into the healthy eating category regardless of marketing label plastered on a package. It wasn’t an overnight transition, and it took a great amount of effort, but over time it worked and the weight has stayed off too. I wasn’t worried about the yo-yo affect of a diet, because I wasn’t on a diet, we simply had changed our lifestyle. We decided that it was time to be better than good, so along with some information, inspiration, hard work and dedication we are a much healthier family. I cannot help but believe that had I not gone through that journey last year, this current battle with cancer would not be as optimistic as it currently is.

Today, I find myself gearing up for this new battle, again gathering information and inspiration, preparing to do the hard work of radiation and chemotherapy treatment and focusing on the dedication towards the goal of our bright future together!

 

 

The Diagnosis

Yesterday, we ventured out of the house for the first time since being discharged from the hospital. We had two appointments to get to, one to see a Medical Oncologist and another to see a Radiologist. These two, in addition to my Neurosurgeon are making up my current treatment team to battle the next stages of this journey I’m on. I know it’s hard to believe, but I have been ok with the news that I have cancer; the word in and of itself does not scare me nor will I allow it to have any power over my attitude. As I have thought to myself and said to many of you, there is nothing that could have been done about this, this is what I have been dealt, the only thing I can control is how I react to it, and that is where my focus will remain. When you get the news of a brain tumor there is so much that you can think about if you let your mind go, but my focus up to this point has been to simply overcome the news of having a brain tumor, preparing like crazy for surgery, and recovering from surgery so that we can get about the business of going on this journey and getting back to real life again, or at least developing a new version of real life (the most likely result to anticipate).

The concept that what has happened to me has been a blessing is something that’s a little tough to wrestle with, because of course you would never want to actually go through this if you had the choice, but honestly, all things considered I have so much to be thankful for. We were able to find the tumor in an amount of time that did not create large neurological deficits; surgery went better than expected, the tumor was removed; and I am recovering well, at least in my opinion. I am able to walk, talk, think, laugh, smile and enjoy time with friends and family. I am weak from surgery, but strong in spirit. I know that my current condition, prognosis and diagnosis is not always the norm for people that deal with this ugly disease, and it doesn’t escape me for a minute to be thankful for the health and happiness I am able to so blessedly enjoy. So in spite of all that could go wrong, I am confidently focused on all that is going right and celebrating each day as the gift it is to our family!

The official diagnosis is an adult medulloblastoma. This is a cancer that rarely occurs in adults. It is a tumor that originated in the brain and sometimes the cells spread and tumors can be found in other areas of the brain, spinal column or in the cerebral spinal fluid. So far, all other MRI’s, CT’s and tests have shown no signs of other tumors in any other areas, only the one tumor that has since been removed. Again, all information we have received has been as best-case scenario as we could hope for. Medulloblastomas are the most common type of brain tumor found in children, and the treatment for it in children is widely studied and well understood, but according to doctors, these simply do not develop in adults at a frequency that allows for a large clinical knowledgebase to follow. Because of this, the treatment plan often resembles that of children, where the knowledge and understanding exists. The basic plan is to perform radiation therapy and possibly/probably chemotherapy depending on what risk factor and grade I end up falling into. I will be getting an assessment of my cerebral spinal fluid which will indicate how widespread or not the cancer cells could be in the system, which will largely drive how much treatment is required. The best things I have going for me at this point is the amount of the tumor that has been removed and the clean scans I have had. Either way, no matter in which direction the treatment plan becomes finalized, I am ready to tackle the next round of this boxing match.

The radiologist was great yesterday, he spent a lot of time with Heather and I discussing the treatment plan, and more than anything his positive outlook and optimism for the situation was a breath of fresh air at my first visit to a Comprehensive Cancer Center. He said my story is so interesting, a saying I have actually warmed up to, and in an odd way, have come to welcome now to some degree. He said the idea that at 30 years old, you found and fixed a 91% blocked Left Anterior Descending Artery before something catastrophic happened and then at 31 that you found and had removed an adult medulloblastoma is like lighting striking twice. The odds of either of these happening to one person at my age is so small, the odds that both occurred to the same person within a year is simply remarkable. This is another indication of the truth that we cannot control our destiny, we cannot determine where lightning will strike, our only ability is to control our attitude with which we face our particular situation. I continue to be strengthened by the support and prayer of our family, friends and community. I continue to heal stronger each day, I remain confident that we will beat this. I continue to walk down this path on an adventure in Grace!

5 am Hadley Time!

imageOur youngest, Hadley was up at 5am today! Normally, these early mornings are not very welcome in our house, but today was different. She woke up the same way any other 18 month old wakes up at 5am, cranky and yelling. Feeling like I had a renewed sense of purpose, having myself just slept at least 4 hours in a row for the first time in about two weeks, I thought maybe I could handle this little incident. I could try and help out the rest of our family who has been taking care of the two girls every need while I’ve been unable to. I had my plan together, I thought I would sneak into her room and give her a paci, rub her back if need be and she’d fall right back to sleep, the rest of the family none-the-wiser and all the more rested. Needless to say, that particular vision did not become a reality for us today. I am not able to lift the girls up yet, and obviously that’s all she wanted me to do when she saw me, so instead of a peaceful moment we got a little more noise. Heather was quick to assist, as she always is ready to pounce into Mommy mode, and together we were all up at 5am enjoying our morning. Hadley was able to cuddle with me for about 10 minutes in the rocking chair while she rocked in an out of being awake and asleep, we read a book together and counted lady bugs in her counting book. It truly was a great moment of gaining strength for the day (we met with the Oncology team today, which I will post about later).  Iimage really enjoyed today spending time in quiet with her. Then we sat together eating breakfast and enjoyed a fruity snack. Thanks to the Kettering Parks Team for sending the fruit basket! Hadley loved it and this gift made it a great morning for our family!

Today is a New Day

5

Sometimes people speak into your life in a paragraph, sometimes it only takes a sentence. Thursday, January 28 it took only those 5 sweet words: TODAY IS A NEW DAY!

The day prior, I was scheduled to undergo brain surgery on a tumor that was discovered on my 31st birthday, January 17, 2016. The CT scan that had revealed the tumor showed a mass in my left cerebellum approximately 4.0 cm x 3.7 cm x 3.1 cm, which in terms of tumors, is large, I’m told. An MRI was done to confirm the level of swelling around the tumor and hopefully be used to identify what type of tumor we were dealing with. All scans seemed to indicate the tumor was a hemangioblastoma, a typically benign (non-cancerous) tumor that is vascular in nature. The neurosurgeon referred to this as the type of tumor that if you look at it wrong, it bleeds. Because of my heart health and being on blood thinners, this type of tumor was particularly distressing to the surgeon, as bleeding in the brain is a bad thing. So the plan for surgery was simple, we don’t know what it is, so we need to find out. The best way to do that is to start with a biopsy. We take a piece of it, evaluate it, and if it is a hemangioblastoma we stop and close up the wound. If it’s anything other than a hemangioblastoma we see what we can get based on how it looks. If its the hemangio, we would then schedule an angiogram of the brain which would allow us to see where the tumor was being fed from, in terms of blood vessels, and then we could plan a second surgery to remove the tumor and would know in what order to attack the feeder vessels. It was clear this had the potential to be the first of multiple surgeries, it was clear there were intense risks in play, and it was clear that I was in good hands with a knowledgeable surgical team, doctor and staff. I was comfortable with the plan, it met every logical test I could come up with. I had confidence that the outcome would be positive. I had prayed, prepared, planned and was surrounded in support by literally an entire community of family, friends, coworkers, and strangers. Its true though, that despite whatever confidence or calm I had, the plan still had a large amount of unknown remaining in it. The goal was simply to gather information and that had to be enough, we would let go and let God.

After the surgery, as I was recovering from the sedation, I was told I would go for post-op MRI scans of the head, neck, and spine. The tests would be done overnight and would be read by 6am. Dr. Pollack had other surgeries that day, so she was unable to come and give me any preliminary results. Heather and my family were aware of some information, but I couldn’t get a good read how positive or not the results were from them, most of the focus was simply on my being comfortable. Around 8pm I asked Heather to let me know what happened, she indicated that it probably was not the hemangioblastoma, and that she went in and removed more than she expected, but that the surgery took 6.5 hours, which was about 3 hours longer than originally anticipated. We simply were in the position again that we didn’t know what we would be facing. The night was truthfully very rough from there on out, there was a lot of pain, I had never been through any major surgery before and I wasn’t sure how my body would react to the pain. On top of that, I was not allowing myself to relax enough to heal. I would continuously try to think my way through the pain instead of let the body recover.  Around 3am, I was taken to MRI for the scans, and I repeated the mantra that had been my source of strength throughout this entire process. “This is what you need to do for your girls, you be strong, you can do this, they are worth it. This is what you need to do for your girls, you be strong, you can do this, they are worth it.” And so with that warrior cry repeating in my head, calming and relaxing breaths echoing through my lungs and a deep concentration on maintaining a calm heartbeat I made it through the tests with a renewed sense of confidence in what was to come.

The next morning, when Dr. Pollack and her team entered the room, she looked at us, it was Heather and I, the core of our family,  waking up from the long first night after surgery, a large smile on her face, Dr. Pollack simply exclaimed, “it’s all gone”. The only thing I can remember mustering was, “are you serious?”. She said, yep, all gone. In surgery, she had received the initial pathology reports that showed it was not the hemangioblastoma and that it was a cancerous tumor and appeared very cystic, in her words, “I knew this was my shot at it, so I went back in slowly went for it”. She asked if I wanted to see it, I said absolutely, we looked at the scans from the pre and post-op MRI, and sure enough, the tumor was removed. We discussed how this was not the intended outcome of the surgery, but based on the initial results of the pathology and the position, her access to it and everything that makes her a great neurosurgeon, she was able to go for it and removed it all. You could tell she was as genuine about these results as Heather and I were. You cannot fake the care and concern for patients lives in the way she was reacting to this news with us. Not in a way that made her seem any less of a great doctor, but she was reacting in the way that makes her seem more like a great person. She was even so gracious as to say I did amazing yesterday, as if that would play any role in the outcome, but she insisted I did well and because of that “TODAY IS A NEW DAY”.

It was in this life changing series of events, that we again learned about the Grace of God. It was in this simple and life altering way, the words of Dr. Fromke, the 3on-call neurosurgeon we had met a week before when discovering the tumor, told us that God’s Grace was Enough and God’s Grace was Sufficient had come to fruition. The plan and desired outcome of surgery were not what we had anticipated, but God’s plans were made perfect because God’s Grace was Enough, God’s Grace was Sufficient and now, TODAY IS A NEW DAY!

Gymnastics Day

Today was gymnastics day! A Tuesday tradition that allows Avery to get out and exercise a little. I think today was especially important for her because it was the first time she was able to get back to normal, if even for a little bit. She was so excited to come home from school and change into her leotard, Daddy even got to help her get ready. She has really seem to become engaged in this process of letting me help her and knowing that its a little slower than my helping her was before. A few weeks ago, she would have never expressed the patience she did letting me help her get dressed slowly enough that I did not feel like I was overdoing it.

I am hopeful that allowing Heather to take her to gymnastics was a welcome break to reality again as well. One of the hardest parts of this journey so far has been to see the impact it has had on everyone emotionally and physically. People have by far gone above and beyond to do what needs done, but there is no understating how refreshing it is to see normalcy return, even in the smallest doses.

In addition to Avery getting to get her gymnastics on, she was able to come home with a renewed sense of play. She instantly wanted to show me how she can do her handstands and big kicks. And let me tell you, this girl is LEGIT! Toes pointed, arms up, both feet extended and tucked into the finish, she loves to tumble and it comes naturally to her. It is great to see her so happy! Tommorrow is Webby Dance day at school, another great day to look forward to in the Adventures of Avery and Hadley!