Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Thank you for your continued prayers despite my absence from the blog!  Last week was a whirlwind, including a memorable and delicious Thanksgiving Monday with family, being surprised (and overjoyed!) with the news of my brother's engagement, two full days of doctors appointments in Toronto and maid of honour preparations for my dear friend's beautiful wedding on Saturday. It's been a week of so much thankfulness, joy and peace. Thank you, Lord!

Recovery continues to be an extremely slow and unpredictable experience, but we are thankful for the improvements we can see since leaving the hospital. While I have adjusted to moving around with my numb leg and walker, my energy levels have been very low. Having lost the majority of my digestive system in surgery, I proceeded to lose thirty pounds and was continuing to lose weight until only a few days ago. This was frustrating as I wanted to be diving into physio with gumption but instead had to lay off the exercises. I'm relieved to be maintaining my weight now thanks to medications, and hopefully I'll start to gaining weight and energy soon!

Last Tuesday we had our follow-up appointment with my Gynecological Surgeon from Princess Margaret Hospital. He is my hero, having coordinated and successfully completed my extensive and high-risk surgery on September 9th. Every health professional who reads my file is in awe of what was accomplished in that surgery. Praise God for hearing our many prayers for a miracle! The biopsies from all the surgically-removed tumours and organs show that my cancer is low-grade. This means that my cancer is slow growing (a good thing, no major rush to do my chest surgery despite my slow recovery), however it also means that my cancer does not respond to chemotherapy (not a great thing, as it means my treatment plan lies solely on successful surgeries).

On Friday we met the Thoracic Surgeon at Toronto General Hospital who will be performing surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes and possible cancer around my lungs. The CT scan revealed that the cancer in my chest had not grown in the last two months. Because the cancer is slow growing, what is most important is that I'm well recovered and strong for another extensive surgery. This surgery will likely be scheduled for January 2016. 

In the meantime, the Thoracic Surgeons were quite concerned about the large amount of fluid in my lungs again and have scheduled me for a minor surgery this Wednesday, October 21st at 8 a.m. The goals of this operation are to remove the fluid from my lungs, do a procedure to prevent fluid from entering again and learn more about the cancer in my chest in preparation for the January surgery. I will need to stay a minimum of three nights in the hospital to be monitored and start recovery. Although this surgery is not at all as risky as the last, there are always many risks when going in for surgery. I was not thrilled at the prospect of another surgery and hospital stay, but we are thankful for the top care we are receiving and trust this is the right next step. Please pray for an excellent surgery, careful decision-making, skilled surgeons and nurses, peace for Andy/family/friends and for joy to fill our hearts and faces as we fix our eyes on Jesus!

As Andy and I drove home in good ol' Toronto commuter traffic after both long days of appointments, we felt thankful. To me, this was a rather bizarre reaction. We had just spent both days sitting in hospital waiting rooms and discussing the reality of my cancer. We had been reminded that this is a tough cancer to beat and that if beat, 80% of ovarian cancer survivors have a relapse after a few years of remission. Eek those are depressing stats to consider! So why were we thankful? Why were we filled with joy as we drove home together?  

The answer is HOPE. "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." Hebrews 6:19. While we pray desperately for miraculous healing, believing God can heal me completely if it is His will, our ultimate hope is not anchored in me being cancer free. Instead of rooting our hope in favourable outcomes, our hope must be anchored in something bigger than our circumstances, something that is unchanging and something all can take hold of. So our hope is anchored in the accomplished work of Jesus' death and resurrection and in the promises of the Bible. True joy is rooted in a firm and secure hope. On those drives home, we were experiencing a taste of what it means to truly be "joyful in hope." Romans 12:12. Praise God for that beautiful gift!

In light of this living hope and by God's incredible grace and presence, we were liberated from fears of the future and invigorated to embrace each moment. We were struck by the beauty and blessing to be found in each day. Life is so precious. Time with loved ones is so precious. Andy and I got to spend two full week days together, yes in hospitals, but when do we get to have all that extra time to ourselves? While recovery is painstakingly slow and full of frustrations, it's such a gift to be able to live at my parents beautiful house, spend every day with my caring Mom, chat with my encouraging Dad, live vicariously through my sister's hilarious stories, spend relaxing evenings in with Andy, have visits from dear friends, enjoy delicious meals from our church families, read uplifting messages from those following our story, find truth in the Bible that resonates with my heart, know many people are praying, etc. We are blessed. If I spend my time wallowing in my circumstances, I miss seeing the incredible blessings all around me. It's impossible to hold this perspective daily as broken humans, but because of the secure hope found in Christ alone, I can be filled with true joy and be thankful.


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  2. Hey Julia! This is Erica Mair from good ol' Brock days! I saw your blog because of Sarah Piercey's FB and I just wanted to let you and Andy know that I am praying for you! It has been such a challenge and encouragement to me how you are trusting and looking to God in this situation. May God continue to be your source of strength in this time. Praying for you.

  3. Hi Julia,
    I know I don't know you well, but I just wanted to leave a comment to let you know I've been following your journey for the last couple months and have been praying for you. Your courage and trust in our God is such an encouragement to me, and makes the truths of Gods word come that much more alive. May God continue to strengthen you despite the difficulties and hardships you are encountering. Love, Charity

  4. Julia, it's great to see you are keeping your head up. This whole blog is a story of courage. Your attitude always seems to puzzle me at the beginning of the blog but by the end it seems to make so much sense to feel the way you do. It's great to see that you are enjoying the simple things in life that not many people get to experience every day. Sometimes we are just too busy to enjoy each of our family members. The love that's been brewing over the years can really be seen in the hard times, and can cushion the blow. Continue to be faithful. You've accomplished so much. Peter was able to walk on water because he kept his eyes on Jesus. It didn't matter what was happening around him. Whether there was a huge wave coming, rushing winds, loud crashes of lightning... when we fix our eyes on him, great things happen. You are an example of this.

    We love you lots!

  5. Hey Julia,
    It has been almost 10 years since we have seen each other/last spoke. Good old Pearson days! Your blog caught my eye from Marissa’s facebook and my heart sunk. As teenagers, I always remembered you as being the sweetest, kindest person to anyone and everyone, and of course, I am sure that that has tripled now, as well as being so incredibly strong and brave. You’ve inspired me to always remember not to take little things for granted and to appreciate life every day. I will be praying for you.

    Thinking of you.
    Xo Sarah Hollingworth

  6. I love your words Julia, and your courage. You shine as one who has felt the touch of your savior upon you, a caress like no other. I'm praying that as Jesus anchors your soul, that you feel held and protected by him. Also that the Great Physician would completely heal your body...lots of love and continued prayers for you dear one...xo

  7. Thanks for writing this Julia. Your courage and faith is so encouraging to me. Really, it made my day! But, I'm sure you and Andy have some pretty tough moments. Stuart and I continue to think of you and pray for you every day.
    Esther Waugh

  8. Praying Julia.
    Soooooo appreciate the update.
    What a challenging attitude you guys have. . . challenging to me.!
    Your words and thoughts as you travel this road are so on.
    Love you in Christ Jesus, our Redeemer, Saviour, Friend, Healer, and sooooo much more.
    Bill and Joy White
    North Bay

  9. Dear Julia, There have been so many times that I have awoken in the night or been prompted to pray for you. God is faithful and He gives us strength in our weakness. May you soar with wings like eagles..with a supernatural strength and peace and courage - day by day, moment by moment. I am praying that you will continue to have God-sightings each and every day, and that His angels will minister to you in profound and precious ways. You are so loved, so precious and you are very tenderly held in His hands. Will continue to pray for complete healing and for His grace to be sufficient as you continue this very difficult journey. Love, Sue Burke-Faber

  10. Hi Julia- this is Beth Hunter's sister Linda. My husband used to ride to McGill with your Dad so our families go back a long ways. I have enjoyed your blog and wanted to let you know that Lloyd and I are joining in prayer for you and Andy and your whole family. Keep up the good work!

  11. Hello Julia, I do not know you but your post resonates with my heart of hearts. As a believer, it is easy to see us pleading, crying out to God to change our circumstances but the reality is we have so much to be thankful for, thankful for things of eternal importance not temporary things. I pray that as you cry out to God that your heart would continue to be overwhelmed with thanksgiving because Paul tells us that when we do this the Peace of Christ which goes beyond our rational thinking will Guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. I am encouraged by your posts, keep them coming as your strength permits. Doug (friend of Lydia and Rob Elliott who I think you know)

  12. Hi Julia, I work with your Aunt Barb and wanted you to know I have been praying for you as she was sharing your story with me. I've been following your amazing blog. You are so incredibly brave pouring out your heart and using your journey to draw others closer to the Saviour. Praying for healing for you. My sister is an ovarian cancer survivor as well and she's praying for you too. Bless you as you faithfully follow and trust the Lord in your recovery.

  13. You are continually in my prayers, Julia! Your faith is awe-inspiring and humbling.

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