Monday, March 31, 2014


I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.   Psalms 34:4

Paige has never been one to be afraid of trying something new--in fact, she usually dives right in.  First day in a new school?  No problem--see ya later, Mom!  Church camp, several states away?  It's gonna be awesome!  See you in a week!  The independence that sometimes can be a little too present is the same trait that pushes my daughter to step out and find new adventures.  

This past weekend she attended a two-night retreat with about 20 teen oncology patients and a small team of hospital staff members.  Held at a camp just outside of Houston, it was a time for these kids to connect with others facing similar challenges.  More importantly, it was a time for them to just hang out and be kids.  Recreation.  Team-building. Fun & fellowship.  It was Paige's first time away since her diagnosis, and though we both experienced a slight amount of separation anxiety, it was wonderful hearing the excitement in her voice as she relayed the events of the weekend.

The timing of the retreat couldn't have been better.  Beautiful weather and her last week in the consolidation phase of treatment made it a time of celebration, a time to recharge before moving ahead.  This phase involved intense chemotherapy, and Paige's physical strength has not yet returned to match the levels of her inner strength.  That said, she was unable to climb a rock wall to do a zip line--one of her favorite things to do.  In her own words, "I knew my limits and didn't want to hurt myself."  She wasn't the only one who had to forgo the zip line--but they all participated in a team-building challenge that ended in a water attack on their counselors! 

The connections made were perhaps the most important times of the weekend.  They shared stories and thoughts, conquered fears and celebrated hope, and even recorded a song.  Each camper spoke or sang a few lines about what being fearless means to them.  Everyone sang the chorus, which was written by one of the staff members.

     Take a dive, take a chance.
     Shake the fear from your hands.
     Take a breath, another try.
     Just close your eyes and be fearless.

Paige was so excited to play the song for me that she immediately dug it out of her bag when we stopped for drinks on the way home.  Listening to these amazingly strong people express thoughts and feelings about their own journeys brought tears to my eyes.  They are experiencing things most of us could never imagine and are all the stronger for it!  Being fearless doesn't mean you are never afraid--it is instead a way of overcoming fear and replacing it with victory.

I end this post with Paige's contribution to the song.  I may be a bit biased, but I think she hit the nail on the head!       

"My faith in God has helped me be fearless because I put all my faith in Him, knowing that He will take care of me and I will be okay."  -  Paige Lejeune, March 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Father's Love

It's no secret I'm in absolute awe of Paige's amazing strength, endurance, and all-around spirit as we journey toward her healing.  I'm also touched by the genuine compassion her younger brother has shown along the way.  It's time to recognize another person integral in Paige's story: her daddy.

From the first breath she took, Paige has been a daddy's girl.  She would have held that title even earlier had I agreed to find out whether God was blessing us with a girl or a boy.  I maintain it was the best surprise either of us ever received (I gave in the second time around--a 'being prepared' kinda thing).  Sharing excitement over first steps and first words.  Sharing every major event in her life, good and bad.  Boyce is her champion, her knight in shining armor--every single day.

As you might imagine, the three of us are not lacking in time together. :)  Clinic days are quite long, and Boyce's work schedule can usually flex enough for him to accompany us.  To pass the time, we take puzzle books, novels, iPads, snacks--and just about anything else that we can stuff into our bags.  Like most of the other families, we head into clinic with bags and blankets, ready to settle in for the day.  Paige lovingly refers to her dad as our 'pack mule.'   Call me crazy, but I think he's okay with that. :)

Not only does he try to work around Paige's appointments, Boyce works late almost every Saturday so Jeremy can participate in his youth bowling league.  If school events or other clinic times warrant more flexing, he doesn't hesitate to switch shifts when needed.  This man works to provide for our family in every way he can--and we love and appreciate him more than we could ever fully put into words.

Commitment.  Dedication.  Love.  I have known this man for almost 20 years (holy cow--has it been that long?!?) and have never questioned his devotion to the life we have made together.  From the births of our beautiful babies to what has become our new way of 'doing life,' I am so very thankful for this husband and father who loves God and our family with all his heart.  

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.   Psalm 103:13

Sunday, March 23, 2014

We're Going to Boston (in spirit, anyway)!!!

Shortly after Paige's diagnosis, I connected with a fellow teacher in the district.  She, too, is a runner--though my running resume pales in comparison to hers.  You see, she's a marathon runner.  A Boston Marathon runner.  A 2013 Boston Marathon survivor.  Yep, God has put some pretty special people along our path! :)

Ruth shared her story with me, from the thrill of the run to the traumatic events that cut the day short. At one point she wasn't sure she wanted to take part in that race again, but something led her to give qualifying a try.  Even after qualifying, she wrestled with the decision of participating--until she heard Paige's story.

Inspired by my daughter's strength and determination, Ruth plans to run this year's Boston Marathon in celebration of Paige's amazing spirit.  This wonderful woman chose to join the ranks of Paige's supporters and honor her in a most unique way!  **Ruth has asked those wishing to sponsor this endeavor make a donation to Paige's Go Fund Me account set up by a family friend. 

Strength.  Determination.  Courage.  These traits abound in runners and patients alike.  Though they differ in obstacles faced, the goal is the same:  Finish STRONG!

...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.   Hebrews 12:1

Friday, March 21, 2014

We Press On

Faith.  Peace.  Joy.  Hope.  These are not simply words to me--they're a way of life!  In case you're wondering, here's how:

* Unwavering faith in God's healing power and amazing grace.
Indescribable peace in the face of a storm (aka leukemia).
Unspeakable joy in learning Paige is cancer-free and in remission!
Rejoicing in the hope of restored health for our daughter.

I have smiled so much the last 24 hours my face hurts.  I feel like I have to keep catching my breath--or pinching myself--to make sure I'm not dreaming.  Paige's remission is an amazing gift, one for which I give God every bit of the glory!

The journey doesn't end here, however.  We have cleared the first few miles in this marathon of hope and healing--again, God gets the glory.  In order to prevent cancer cells from returning and reclaiming Paige's body, several more months of intense chemotherapy are necessary.  Depending on the phase and medications administered, these treatments will take the rest of her hair (yes, she's still hanging on to a few strands), lower blood counts (requiring occasional transfusions), and just plain zap my girl of her energy.

It's a long road we're facing, but we will press on and take it one mile at a time.  When Paige's strength is down, mine must be multiplied.  Hebrews 12:1 reminds us to "run with endurance the race that is set before us."  God gave us this journey for a reason, and we intend to get to the finish line with even more faith and hope than we had at the start!


This song has really been speaking to me lately.  It's all about hope, faith, and peace that passes understanding...My Hope is in You  by Aaron Shust.  Click on the linked song title to give it a listen--maybe it'll bring something to you as well! :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ten Weeks, Ten Feet Off the Ground

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.   Philippians 4:4

You would think our family hit the jackpot today--well, we kinda did. :)

Paige was informed by her doctors that her bone marrow, blood, and spinal fluid show zero signs of cancer cells!  Oh--and that monstrosity of a 16 cm mass that started all of this?  It's GONE!

Ten weeks of chemotherapy treatments, lumbar punctures, bone marrow biopsies, and blood transfusions.  Ten weeks that involved nausea, dizziness, and hair loss.  Ten weeks of continuous praying and unwavering faith.  Paige's body is officially cancer-free, and she is now in remission.  There was just a bit of rejoicing going on in our family today. :)

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.   Matthew 21:22 

We cleared yet another hurdle on this journey, but we still have quite a way to go.  Leukemia isn't a "find it--destroy it--be done with it" kind of cancer.  Because it affects blood and bone marrow found throughout the body, a longer period of treatment is necessary.  Paige will undergo another four to six months of intense chemotherapy before she enters the two-year maintenance phase of treatment--all to prevent the cancer cells from returning.  To think I view her strength as inspiring'll be through the roof when this is all said and done!

Ten weeks ago we hit our knees, completely broken and asking for God's power, grace, and mercy like never before.  Friends and family joined us in prayer for Paige's body to be healed and her health to be restored.  These prayers were (and still are) needed, appreciated, and definitely heard!

Today brought such wonderful news--I felt like I was ten feet off the ground!  I had few words other than "Thank you, God"--which is really all I needed to say anyway.  We rejoice in God's goodness and amazing grace.  He holds the future, and it is GOOD.

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you...   
2 Thessalonians 3:3

Monday, March 17, 2014

Staying on Track

Over the course of the last seven days, we have experienced one stressor after another.  Nausea worsened.  Bone marrow biopsy.  Fever leading to an ER visit.  Add that to the mix of everything else we've got going on--and it was bound to happen.

I was tired.  I was frustrated.  And I unloaded.  Confession time--I am human.  :)  The last nine weeks have been a whirlwind, physically and emotionally.  It took the smallest thing to unleash an impressive overreaction on my part.  Let's just say that last week's events dialed up my hovering madness about tenfold, and it was time to get everyone on the same page--myself included. :) Thankfully, rational thinking and speaking returned, restoring peace once again.  It's times like that we remind ourselves that we are here to work together for Paige while God does His work in Paige (and all of us).

I know with all my heart God is going to restore my daughter's health.  We have good days and not-so-good days.  This journey sometimes puts us on a roller coaster--with lots of twists and turns.  I'm so thankful my God already knows what's coming and exactly how to keep us on track!

In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.   Proverbs 3:6

Thursday, March 13, 2014

We Never Walk Alone

For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.   
Psalm 33:4

We made it over another hurdle in our path.  At the end of her first month of treatment, Paige's bone marrow showed a small percentage of cancer cells still present.  Though there had been a significant decrease, it was not yet at the 0% her doctors wanted entering into the next phase of treatment.  Fast forward one month--a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy were conducted this week to determine whether the goal of 0% had been met.  

Pray for 0%, Pray for Paige...this has been a sort of battle cry for us and our many prayer warriors over the last week.  In order to continue with treatment as planned, she needed that 0%.  Otherwise, there would have been a short detour complete with a 5-day hospitalization.

This prayer was answered in a mighty way.  Results of the procedure were not originally expected until our clinic visit the following day--so we were ready for a bit of nervous energy that evening.  However, God had other plans.  Paige's doctor called that afternoon with the wonderful news that the pathology report had come back early--showing no cancer cells present in her bone marrow!  Never in my wildest dreams could this teacher have imagined getting so excited over a zero on a test!

Treatment can now continue as planned--BIG PRAISES TO GOD!  We still have a long road ahead, but that makes one more hurdle that is now behind us.  The next one involves a chest x-ray, which will show whether that monstrosity of a mass that started all of this has since been vanquished.  Prayer warriors, start your engines...time to get goin' again!

From the start, I have worked to assure Paige she is not in this battle alone.  Our family stands with her.  Our friends and prayer partners stand with her.  Most importantly, God is with her.  That, my friends, is more than enough.

...He will be with you; He will not leave or forsake you...   Deuteronomy 31:8

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Something Special

Last night, I sat with Paige's head resting on my lap, gently stroking what is left of her hair.  Strands come out with the slightest touch now.  As I looked down at her, my hand resting on a patch of peach fuzz-like scalp, I was sent back in time.  It was early 2001, and I was rocking a six-month-old Paige who had some of the same peach fuzz for hair.  I had a few standby songs for her bedtime, but my favorite one--then and now--is "You're Something Special" by The Bill Gaither Trio.  Yes, I've referenced another Gaither song before--must be a brought-up-Southern-Baptist kinda thing. :)

Verse 1
"When Jesus sent you to us, we loved you from the start.
You were just a bit of sunshine from heaven to our hearts.
Not just another baby, for since the world began,
There's been something very special for you in His plan.

That's why He made you special.
You're the only one of your kind.
God gave you a body and a bright, healthy mind.
He had a special purpose that He wanted you to find,
So He made you something special.
You're the only one of your kind."

Those words were full of hope and promise as I rocked that little girl to sleep.  You know what?  They evoke the same feelings today as I stroke my daughter's head, hoping to bring comfort to her on good and not-so-good days.  God has a special purpose for Paige and a plan for our family that will bring Him glory.  He keeps His promises.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever...   Psalm 138:8

**Click here for the song--an oldie but goodie. :) **

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hurdles on Our Path

We're now two months in.  We've experienced good and not-so-good.  The last few days have definitely fallen under the 'not-so-good' column as we've encountered some hurdles on our path.  In a double whammy of sorts, Paige has had to deal with her hair making a rapid exit from her head and an increase in nausea that left her unable to keep food down.

I've written many times about how tough this girl is--and this was no exception.  She only admitted today--under my interrogation--that her anti-nausea meds weren't keeping the 'icky' feelings under control.  That provided a great opportunity for me to remind her she doesn't have to be tough all the time.  A simple call to the doctor provided another medication to add to the mix.  Just a few hours later, Paige was actually asking for food--which she hadn't done in a few days.

It's looking like her hair will be all but gone in just a few days, as more and more of Paige's scalp is making itself known.  She's been struggling with it, albeit quietly--I'd noticed she was avoiding mirrors and watching the eyes of family members as they spoke with her.  This evening, however, I noticed a bit of a change.  She started talking about it more, even guiding my hand to places of 'fuzz' on her head as she moved her pillow and placed her head on my lap.

As I stroked her head, I talked to her about these days being hurdles we will get over together.  That God is still right here with us.  That He is holding her in His mighty hand.  That He will get her through the good and not-so-good.  It's the hurdles--those challenges God helps us overcome--that make victories that much sweeter.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Here we are...eight weeks in on this journey.  It's hard to wrap my head around the fact that my daughter has been battling cancer for almost two months.  Paige continues to show inspiring levels of strength, determination, and an absolute trust in God's healing power.  At the same time, our family strives to support her and lift her up through struggles and challenges along the way.

  • But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Matthew 10:30
     Eight weeks of chemotherapy, the last four being rather intense in dosage and frequency, have taken a toll on Paige's hair.  Keep in mind--she's 13.  To her, this is almost as traumatic as the diagnosis itself.  First, it was simply the texture changing and losing a few strands here and there.  Now, her thick, lustrous locks have been replaced by thinning hair that seems to jump off her hypersensitive scalp all day long.  From the start, Paige was adamant that she would not cut her hair when she began to lose it--and she remains firm in that decision today.  I have asked--probably a few times more than necessary--about cutting it or trying out other looks so she would be "ready" when the time came.  Seriously--what was I thinking?  What 13-year-old girl is "ready" to lose her hair?  My desire to help conflicted with her need to hold on to something important as long as she could.
     Today was rough--anger and sadness reared their heads.  As she complained about the amount of scalp now visible, I reminded her that I'd rather have a balding Paige than no Paige at all.  As she showed frustration at the clumps of hair all over her clothes, I reminded her that her hair would grow back.  God knows exactly how many hairs Paige had on her head at the beginning of this journey,  and we're on His timeline of when those hairs will come back--but they will come back.

Some days Paige needs encouragement, and other days she is the encourager.
  • A joyful heart is good medicine...  Proverbs 17:22
     This verse brings to mind the importance of a sense of humor, particularly in difficult times.  Paige was blessed with her daddy's quick wit.  I, on the other hand, tend to have great comebacks long after the moments have passed.  Even facing cancer, she hasn't missed a beat:
  1. Static electricity caused me to shock her forehead a couple of times.  I joked that she could be Harriet Potter if I'd left any lightning bolt marks.  Paige's reply: More like Hair-LESS Potter at the rate I'm going--ha!
  2. Somehow one of our conversations mentioned Little Bo Peep.  Paige's take: Hey, mom--I could be Little Bald Paige!  
  3. Referring to one of her doctors who didn't quite 'get' our jubilation over the "no transfusion" news, Paige had this to say: "He needs to take the party pooper train out of the station!"
  • Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you...  James 4:8
     More than anything, the last eight weeks have given me an up close and personal look at my daughter's heart.  Her prayers have become more thoughtful and specific.  The connection she feels with cancer patients, specifically younger children, is evidenced each week at clinic.  "Mom, do you see that baby getting chemo?  He's so young to be going through this."  A commercial from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society made note of the improvement in successful treatments for leukemia--from 3% in 1964 to over 90% today.  "Wow...that really makes you thankful we live in this time. More people can be helped."

The compassion I see in her is not limited to her current situation.  Paige's amazing heart is visible every day and is a source of great beauty, joy, and inspiration--but that's a post for another time. :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Full (and Incredibly Happy) Heart

From day one of this journey, I have felt a peace like no other, a 'peace that passes all understanding,' a peace that comes only from the hope and faith I have in God and His plan for our lives.  I absolutely know Paige is going to be healed and receive an incredible testimony in the process.  Most days it seems like my 'cup runneth over' with that same hope and faith--with strength, patience, and understanding thrown in for good measure.  Most days.

I've got to be honest--some days this cup seems like it has a leak.  Paige has a bad day--drip.  Watching my baby's hair get thinner and thinner--drip, drip.  12-hour day at the hospital with everyone's nerves getting frazzled--drip, drip, drip.  Fortunately, there is always something--or someone--to help fill it up again.  This weekend, it was a 5K fun run.

The Paige Project 5K was a complete labor of love organized by my daughter's classmates and friends.  Planning.  Permits.  Registration.  Race day.  Five girls worked with teachers and administrators to make their vision a reality.  They secured sponsors and volunteers, worked with businesses to promote the race, and even created a website that served as the "go-to" place for all things race-related.  These young ladies were truly the hands and feet of Jesus as they worked to make the day special for their friend.

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love...  1 Timothy 4:12

Though the girls set an original goal of 250 - 300 participants, race day estimates put that number closer to 600!  The turnout was incredible--from the runners and walkers themselves to the volunteers and cheer sections along the route, The Paige Project 5K was an excellent demonstration of community spirit and support.  Thankfully, Paige was healthy enough to be in attendance that morning and was able to see for herself many of the 'soldiers' standing with her in this battle.  It was a wonderful boost for her to see them, but I believe it was just as fulfilling for them to see her there!

Paige and Boyce had a 'primo' location near the start/finish line, giving many people the chance to share kind words and well wishes--and snap a photo or two. :)  I participated in the run, pausing every so often to snap pictures of her teachers and friends along the way.  My mom, sister, uncle, and stepsister participated as well--making it a real family affair!  It was an amazing day that left us all with full and happy hearts!

We are beyond grateful and humbled at the amount of love, prayers, and support our family has received as we set out on this journey.  In less than two months' time, acquaintances have become friends--who have become part of our family.  They lift us up--and refill that cup!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Philippians 4:4