Tuesday, January 3, 2017

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One More Hill to Climb

Monday, January 2, 2017
Jared Ward runs marathons, and he's really good at it. He ran in the 2016 Rio Olympics representing the United States.
Jared is also my friend. He is an amazing man from whom I have learned so much.

Jared kindly sent me a copy of his master's thesis titled "Analyzing Split Times for Runners in the 2013 St. George Marathon." He warned me that it was "nerdy" and I admit that I did not understand most (if any) of the mathematical equations, but the part about pacing was still fascinating to me. He understands the science behind something he loves so much, and he implements what he knows.

In the Olympics, he came in 6th place, beating out several hundred world-class competitors. That is amazing! I really admire that he stuck with what he knew about his body and how it reacts at every mile. He paced himself and never gave up when he started to fall back from the lead pack. He just continued the race. Oh, wow! what a race it was for him. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

When he returned to our hometown, he was a hero, Every business had a Jared message on their marquee. The local grocery store had T-shirts that said, "Dream Big -- Your Friends Support You." (I can personally tell you a lot about the support of friends. Thanks to all of you.)

One morning as I was driving to yet another medical appointment, I was stopped at a red light notorious for being a long wait. Then I noticed that Jared, who was out for a run, was also stopped at the light. I rolled down the car window and yelled "Hi, Jared!" He came over and chatted with me for a minute. I will never forget what he said, "I have one more hill to climb and then it is down hill from there." For this amazingly gifted athlete, he just takes one hill at a time. I thought, "I can do that!"

Well, tomorrow is my last chemotherapy treatment, my "one more hill to climb." That is not what scares me though. It is the "what happens next." What happens when I am on the downhill and turn a corner and there is another hill to climb? What if it isn't just a hill, but a huge mountain?

If there is one thing I have learned from Jared, it is to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, put God and your family first, and keep climbing. Jared, all the best to you, my friend. I count it a blessing to have you on my cancer-fighting team. You are an inspiration to me. --Elizabeth

P.S. One day I was walking up our street, and Jared's 4-year-old son comes running out of the house, like an Olympic marathon runner himself, and with hardly slowing down, ran right up to me and called out, "We're praying for you!" and without missing a step ran back into the house. I stood there smiling at his wonderful little self -- full of hope and faith. Well, your prayers worked. Thanks, Paul!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

15 Down -- 1 To Go

Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Today I was accompanied to chemo by my dear friend Kristen, who is also my boss at work. I could not possibly count the tears that we have cried together as I have shared by journey with this most empathetic and Christlike woman. She has gone the extra mile and beyond to insure that my needs are met at work and accommodations have been made for my health and welfare. I can never thank her and our team enough for their compassion, prayers, and assistance. They have eased my burdens in unspeakable ways. How can I ever repay you?
I love having all of you on my side fighting as champion warriors with the purest motives and charity. Together we can conquer so much more than cancer. Love is a most powerful tool. Nowotwor! -- Elizabeth

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 25, 2016, Christmas Day
This year was a little unusual for us--Mark and I were all alone on Christmas morning. Erin has her own family now with Seth and is establishing their own traditions and our sweet Morgan is a full-time missionary.
So, instead of our daughters, it was I who came down the stairs to a precious Christmas surprise. Mark had a made a handmade sign that says it all: "Remission Accomplished!!"
Thank you, Mark, for this comforting reminder that prayers have been heard and answered and given in time to celebrate it at this beautiful season of giving and love. I could not have made this journey without you by my side giving me support and encouragement all along the way. You are a fellow warrior!
Praise be to God and His beloved son as we celebrate the birth of Christ today. Thank you for healing me! I will be forever grateful! I will keep fighting the good fight! -- Elizabeth

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

14 Down -- 2 To Go

Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Today, Shelley, my dear friend of 21 years was my companion during chemotherapy. We both have such busy lives that it was nice to have some dedicated time to catch up on our lives. Sorry that I fell asleep during my treatment, but noticed that you almost finished your book. :) Thank you for your service to me today and your friendship over the years. You are the best! I count you one of my fellow warriors as I have seen you beautifully fight through your own battles. Love you friend! Nowotwor --Elizabeth

Sunday, December 18, 2016

12/13/16 - One of My Favorite Days

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
This day will go down in my life as definitely one of my favorites. I will just start at the beginning. 
1.  I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep. (Thank you, steroids.) So I got up and finished reading the Book of Mormon. Again, I know that this book is the word of God and it brings me joy to live by its teachings.
2.  At 8:45 a.m. Mark and I met with my oncologist who informed us that my cancer is in remission!!! What a wonderful Christmas present! I didn't expect to find out this information just yet, but I am so grateful. I still have to complete all my chemotherapy treatments and 5-10 years of hormone blocker, but I have added strength and courage now to get through everything.
3.  I then had my 13th chemo on December 13th. :) Morgan and Mark accompanied me. Morgan would not leave my side. I am so grateful for their immense support.
4.  After chemo and lunch, we went home and loaded our truck with Morgan's luggage and bicycle in preparation for dropping her off at the mission home in Orem, Utah. We then drove to Erin's work to surprise her with one last chance to say goodbye to Morgan. It was the sweetest experience for me as their mother to watch them run into each other's arms and hug and cry. I'm so glad they love each other. It was a little piece of heaven.
5.  We stopped by Grandma's house so she could say goodbye to Morgan. That too was a sweet experience.
6.  Then we drove to the Utah Orem Mission to drop Sister Pierce off. We were greeted at the door by the mission president's wife who so warmly invited us in. She kindly gave us a tour of their home and showed us where Sister Pierce would be sleeping. Ironically, the quilt on the bed was of  stars and planets. So appropriate since Sister Pierce spent so much time looking at the heavens with her father, an amateur astronomer. We then met the mission president who was so kind. We spent about 30 minutes visiting with him and his wife. I wish every parent could meet their child's mission president and see him interact with their child. He was so full of love and kindness. It really wasn't hard to leave Sister Pierce when she looked so happy. Her smile was huge and she looked so comfortable there. We left her with full confidence in her ability to be an instrument in the Lord's hands to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. No doubt, I will miss her and all her secret acts of kindness during my cancer treatments. God bless you, Sister Pierce!
7.  We then drove to a funeral home to attend the viewing of a dear friend's mother. Dawn, please know that my prayers are with you and your family. I was reminded of how precious every day is with our loved ones. And so grateful for eternal families. God bless you, Dawn!
8.  As if our day was incomplete, we then had an amazing dinner with some of the dearest friends whom we met years ago in a most unique way. About 21 years ago, we started opening our home to young women who were pregnant out of wedlock. Over the years we have had 8 different young women who have touched our lives forever. Well, one of them, Jen, graduated from nursing school today. We were unable to make it to the graduation, but met them for dinner. Not only did we see Jen, but we met the daughter she placed for adoption 17 years ago. I had held that sweet baby several times and even had the sacred experience of placing her in her adoptive mother's arms. So, it was really amazing to meet her as a young adult. She is gorgeous! The adoptive parents were also there which was wonderful. Jen's sister and her parents were there too. What an amazing, beautiful thing to see all these people come together because of Jen and her one sweet baby whom everyone loved. God bless you, Jen! 
9.  Now the icing on the cake -- today is our wedding anniverary!!! Mark, I love you so much! I am so glad that we got to share this amazingly perfect day with each other. I wouldn't have wanted to spend it with anyone else. Thank you for loving me all these years and especially for your love and support during my battle with cancer. You are my greatest warrior! God bless you, Mark!
10. Nowotwor - the battle continues but we are winning! -- Elizabeth

My Visit with Santa

Saturday, December 17, 2016

I wish I had a picture of my encounter with Santa, but unfortunately it wasn't caught on camera.

Anyway, I walked into Smith's grocery store and was offered a cookie and juice. I can't really eat sugar right now, so I graciously declined. Then Santa's helper said, "Santa's over there." All of a sudden, I was a 6-year-old child again and the magic of Santa rushed over me. Luckily, there were no other children that I had to plow over to get to the jolly guy.

I stood there in front of him, looking into his kind and gentle eyes. With my hand on his arm, I simply said, "Thank you! Thank you for the early Christmas gift." Without a word, he quizzically looked at me and I replied "My doctor told me this week that my cancer is in remission. Thank you!"

He never said a word, and I couldn't see a smile behind his beard, but as I turned around to leave, I saw a tear glisten in his eye. Merry Christmas, Santa!

Now, I know that Santa didn't give me the gift of remission but it was a sweet little exchange today. I hope it made him happy.

I am very aware that this amazing gift of remission is from my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. I owe all blessings to Them. It is only through Them that I have been able to endure this trial. The power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ has taken on a whole new meaning for me as I have learned how it applies not only to sin, but to our "pains and afflictions" (Alma 7:11). I am eternally grateful.

I still have to finish three more chemo treatments and 5-10 years of hormone therapy, but at this moment I have received the best Christmas present ever. Thank you for being on this journey with me. We are winning the fight!-- Elizabeth