Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Yesterday, Andy and I were told the cancer has returned to my abdomen. I had a chest and abdomen CT scan last week to investigate a bump on my pelvis. When we met with my oncologist from Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton yesterday, our concern was confirmed.

There are multiple tumours in my abdomen and maybe more hidden by post-surgery inflammation. We see my oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto next Tuesday afternoon to continue discussing the CT scan and options, but this is the information we have now.

Surgery is not recommended for multiple reasons. First of all, cancer’s fast return since the incredible September abdomen surgery only seven months ago is concerning. While I do have low-grade (typically slow-growing, no response to chemo) epithelial ovarian cancer, the young cases like mine show it behaves differently and can be fast-growing, which we’ve seen. Secondly, my body is not strong enough to endure another major surgery this soon. Having undergone two major surgeries in the past seven months, my new body has had trouble catching up to strengthen and heal. Lastly, with the uncertainty of just how far the disease has spread, there would be major surgical decisions with consequences that’d greatly affect my quality of life. At this point, we are not considering surgery.

As most of you are aware, any form of chemotherapy or radiation are not options. Chemo was ineffective in my case and radiation would destroy the few organs and limited digestive system I have left. At this point, we can consider clinical trials or oral drugs.

Throughout my cancer treatment, there has been this ongoing trial taking place in Toronto and Hamilton. At each surgery decision in my journey, we’ve considered joining this trial instead. Well it turns out that this particular trial was cancelled on Monday of this week, just a day before we got the CT scan results! Crazy timing. The trial was ended because the drug was ineffective. To Andy and I this is such clear evidence of God’s grace being poured out on us, protecting us and revealing Himself to us. I’m so thankful to avoid going through this trial, experiencing all of the horrible side effects, only to have it not work! Thank you Lord for your grace.

The option Juravinski Hospital can offer me at this time is an oral drug. This is not a trial, has a 15-20% success rate in fighting cancer, is taken twice daily at home and has very minimal side effects. Next week, we’ll meet with my Princess Margaret oncologist to see if there are any clinical trial options for my medical profile in Toronto. After that appointment, we’ll have a decision to make. Please pray for wisdom in these conversations and peace in the decision moving forward.

While we wait to make a decision, we take in this news. Andy and I, our tight-knit families and our close friends are digesting this new reality. From being at a place where my treatment plan had come to an end and we were wrestling with what it’d look like to start a new normal, cancer returning was not our hope. My reaction to yesterday’s news won’t make sense unless you read how I’ve processed this and understand who my God is.

I’ve had time to process this possibility for the past two weeks when we learned about the concerning bump. In that time, I’ve cried out to God; asking why it would return so fast, begging for healing and long life, pleading with Him to see that I don’t deserve this, etc. It’s been so important for me to embrace these raw feelings and express them. Rather than pushing aside doubts, fears and complaints, bring them before God. Rather than drawing on theories and philosophies, just come broken before God. He longs to be in relationship with us. It’s the whole reason Jesus died in our place, so that we could be freely connected to God. Although He knows the depths of our hearts already, He loves when we choose to share it with Him. You won’t be the first human to express your raw emotions to the Almighty God (see Struck by Reality). I know from experience that unleashing these emotions to God is a healthy and freeing way of dealing with pain.

Then it hit me. I didn’t know what to expect from the CT scan results, but I DID know what to expect from God amidst hard times. Andy and I have seen and experienced the incredible ways God works through suffering and pain. While we will never understand why these things happen, we KNOW who has sustained us all along. Since that day in June when we were given the awful diagnosis, we have discovered more of who God is.

While a cancer relapse is not what we expected or hoped for, I have more confidence than ever. I realize it might seem unbelievable that my reaction to yesterday’s news would be confidence, but it is. We have this quiet, underlying confidence in our God. “My hope comes from Him.” Psalm 62:5. We now know what He is capable of. Although “shit happens,” He chooses to walk with us in the pain of this world. We’ve seen the ways in which He equips our far-reaching church family to care for us tangibly. And in moments of fear, doubt and frustration, we know He patiently listens, graciously waiting for our hearts to rest in His love. Ultimately, our hope is rooted in His promise and gift of eternity.

So in the face of uncertainty, we can hold on to an unshakable confidence in God. He has and will continue to be the anchor of our souls in this storm called cancer. And it is only by His power that we are able to be filled with joy, peace and hope. Praise God!
“May the God of hope 
fill you with all joy and peace 
as you trust in Him, 
so that you may overflow with hope 
by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 
– Romans 15:13


  1. “Job answered GOD: “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’

    I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! job.42.1-6.msg

    Julia you are a profound and faithful witness to the great mystery of suffering along side the profound and real presence of God With us. This reflecting of the grace and reality of God is a precious costly gift to all who know you and with whom you have shared your story. Rest in His deep Love for you.

  2. Wow Julia and Andy, your unmovable rock like faith is over flowing with love and trust despite your circumstances, it reminds me of the life of Paul and how he endured great trials and much suffering over and over and yet remained steadfast in bringing glory to Jesus as he always hoped and hung on.
    May great healing take place within you, I will not stop praying and keep shining brightly for Him by His strength and His power! Your honesty of emotions is a tremendous lesson for us all.
    ~Angie Kingswood

  3. You are my inspiration.... Much love and thank you!

  4. Thank you Julia for your continued inspiration to the rest of us despite trials. Continued prayers for you and Andy dear girl. And wisdom for your Dr's. Xoxo

  5. Hi Julia- your journey is incredible! I read your blog but haven't commented before - no words, just tears and prayers. I want to encourage you with this: if you know who Joey and Rory are- great - be encouraged! If you don't look them up. They just journeyed the road you and Andy are on. Every ending is different, but listen to Joey sing. Many of her songs are on YouTube.
    I love the last album they did. Hymns - that are important! I hope this will encourage you today.
    Blessings, Debbie Caforio

  6. I have been blessed reading your blog. I have been challenged and I have been encouraged. May you continue to experience the "God of ALL comfort". My husband and I will continue to pray for you and Andy and for your extended families each and every morning.

  7. Now I'm not a christian but your faith is astounding. I can't even imagine being in your situation and still having 100% confidence in God. It's really incredible. I don't know if it works, or even how to do it but I'll ask God to help.

  8. Dear Julia,
    Praying for you today. Thank you for sharing your trust in Jesus. He is faithful to complete what He has started in you, such a good work, a beacon of hope and trust in the midst of the are a living testimony of His faithfulness. I am praying that He will continue to provide clear direction for you and your husband as to next steps. I am praying that He will continue to renew you day by day, infuse you with the power of His Holy Spirit - which is so obviously at work in your weakness. His grace is sufficient and He will continue to honor your faithfulness. Be strong and very courageous, for the Lord your God will lead you and fight this battle on your behalf. Love, Sue Faber

  9. Thank you, your posts are so inspirational. Each one has forced me to re- examine my relationship with God and to be greatful. All the best Julia

  10. Julia your faith and pointing to Gods is very inspiring. I was sent to your blog from a friend after hearing I have a close family member in a valley of the unknowns of cancer. Thank you for reminding us to acknowledge and cry out to God while in the valley. And how he is our father of restoration. May God continue to use you to bless others and point people to Him! Praying for you...

  11. Sweet Julia. Your unshakable faith is inspirational I have read you blog to my husband and my parents. We are praying for you. We are praying for healing and a full recovery I believe with all my heart that God will heal you. God is working on your behalf. Rest in him

  12. Hi Julia, I don't personally know you but have come across your blog. My heart goes out to you and all you've experienced... your faith in God throughout it all is an amazing thing, inspiring many.
    I don't normally do things like this but I felt I should leave this link to a free documentary series airing starting this Tuesday, called The Truth About Cancer.

    I've watched it all myself and it's powerful information that I believe is really changing the lives of so many affected by cancer... it's too big not to share. I pray it will help you in some way by offering alternative insights and options. As a sister in Christ, may God bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you and give you peace.

  13. My husband and I read your latest blog posts. We are thinking about you and Andy. You're in our prayers!


I'd love to hear from you. Please jump in on the conversation or just say hi!