But now, O Jacob{Jessica}, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3

Saturday, May 30, 2015

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

This morning, Jessica finished her fight here on Earth.  She was at home, and surrounded by family and friends.

Thank you all for your love and support these past two years.  Please continue to keep Jason, Savannah, and Ella in your prayers.

Arrangements are as follows:

Visitation will be Sunday, May 31, 2015 from 4pm-8pm at Mountville United Methodist Church
Funeral will be Monday, June 1, 2015 at 3pm at Mountville United Methodist Church.

Mountville United Methodist Church is located at 4563 Greenville Road, LaGrange, GA 30241.

Flowers may be sent to the Newsome home.

As a memorial for Jessica, a college tuition fund has been set up for the girls.  For more information, please contact the family.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Choosing Not To Be Average

"Choose to not be the average.  Choose to let your faith lead you.  Believe that you will be healed.  Keep the faith.  Keep looking for treatments and trials, and new medicines with us; because, there is only one who knows the time frame of our lives."  These are the words that Jessica's oncologist shared with her shortly after she and Jason returned from MD Anderson in June of 2013.

Life is priceless.  Time is precious.  But, it isn't a matter of seconds, minutes, hours, or even years.  It is a matter of moments.  The moments that we choose to create and hold precious.  When Jessica was diagnosed in April of 2013 we were told we had less than 18 months.  What do doctors know!  We have had 25 months of treasurable moments.

Unfortunately, Jessica's times here on earth is no longer a matter of months or even weeks.  It is now just a matter of time before she leaves for heaven.  Jessica returned home under the care of hospice at the beginning of May.

Jessica loves people.  Having people visiting her brings her great joy.  We want nothing less for her, even now.  We want to make the most of the time she has left.

Thank you to those of you who have come to visit with her and sit beside her.  Please know that you have made her time here on earth a treasure trove of moments.  And, we, her family, thank you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Checking In...


Checking In - That was the purpose of my appointment on Friday with my oncologist Dr. V. Assikis.  I began a new chemotherapy after discovering that Votrient, my previous chemotherapy was no longer providing the results I needed. 
The past two weeks have been a challenge and after meeting with Dr. A, I realized that I was experiencing a crazy amount of side effects and he was concerned.  The greatest concern he had was the weight loss that occurred in a two week period.  (oh, all those times I wanted to lose weight and I couldn't and now I can't keep it on!) Additionally, there were other small concerns, like; mouth sores, chemotherapy mouth, and my ability to hold down my food (or lack there of!). So, the plan is to stop the chemo for 3-5 days to hopefully stop the side effects. Doing so will allow my body the ability to rest, recuperate, and gain some strength. Then I will start back with one chemotherapy pill dose a day as opposed to the 2 pill dose I was receiving. Ultimately, Dr. Assikis reminded Jason and I that with the new medication he wanted to be able to give me the highest dose possible. To see side effects allows him to make adjustments on the therapy so that it is helping me the most. The most exciting news from our visit was that my blood level was still up - 9.8 and my blood pressure was 125/80. Both good numbers!

But...the saga continues!...The diagnoses this time is an enflamed wisdom tooth! Secondly,Trismus (Sounds a lot like Christmas but it really is just a case of the lock jaw). Combine that with chemo mouth, and mouth sores and things have been a challenge. However, Good ole' Dr. B (and my sweet, sweet Aunt Lisa) have been addressing all of these issues and I am making positive steps in the right direction. We hope that soon my mouth is healthy and well and I will be eating lots! That's the prayer at least! 

And speaking of prayer --- prayers are needed: I need to gain healthy weight. I need to be able to hold down food. Mouth sores need to be completely gone. I would like to be able to open my jaw. I need to consistently consume at least one Ensure a day! And the new chemotherapy WILL be the next solution for this walk. To be honest I could use prayers for physical strength, emotional encouragement, and my family (none of this is easy on them.)

(Side Note) Know that I do not want only to be the recipient of prayers, let me pray for you. I know that prayer works so message me, text, call, comment and l would be honored to bring a prayer before God on YOUR behalf.  We all need prayer and we all need each other, "For God heard the cries of the people and he delivers them from their trouble." - Psalm 34:17

AND --- let me never fail to say: THANK YOU! Thank you for ALL you are each doing to walk with us, help us, and encourage us! We wouldn't make it without you! 

So, thanks for checking in on my Check-Ins and thank you for loving me and mine through the ups and downs. I love you! 

*** I need to leave you with a verse that both encouraged me and made me snicker just a little this week! ***
"Worship the Lord your God and His blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you."
Exodus 23:25 

Well, there you have it -- I am gonna worship the Lord my God and he is gonna bless my food and water and sickness will be taken away. (and they knew that truth back in Exodus!) Thanks be to God! 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I will take that on the side please...

I will take that on the side please...

A chicken fajita roll-up with an extra cup of the sauce, on the side.
Steak, baked potato, broccoli with several slices of lemon, on the side.
Grilled chicken salad, apples, cranberries, with the vinaigrette dressing on the side
On the side, can be an important place to be. It is often a place set aside for something particular, special or specific. Space designated for your enhancements. The extra chipotle ranch is for dipping my fries in, the lemons make broccoli amazingly great and the salad dressing on the side is something I have always done.  Not really sure as to why this is my habit. Perhaps it began in an effort to use less of the dressing but honestly and truthfully I  really have no good reason for such a request. I just say "on the side, please." So, I guess one can semis that to be "on the side" could be for good or enjoyments and yet again, "on the side" could simply be for no reason or no good reason at the very least.

See for yourself...

Side effects include:  
drowsiness, dizziness;
sleep problems (insomnia);mild nausea, gas, heartburn, upset stomach, constipation;weight changes;dry mouth, yawning, ringing in your ears.very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, overactive reflexes;feeling unsteady, loss of coordination;headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, confusion, hallucinations, fainting, seizure, shallow breathing or breathing that stops;or severe skin reaction -- fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling. 
Less serious side effects may include: (Lesser side effects, HOORAY - are we sure?)Cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat; drowsiness, dizziness, feeling nervous; mild nausea, upset stomach, constipation; increased appetite, weight changes; sleep problems (insomnia); dry mouth.

*Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. 

"Side effects include" is not perhaps a place where anyone wants to be. Because truth be told, being on the side doesn't make everything great. And can you agree with me that it is as if sometimes that the side effects of a prescription sound worse than the condition it is to be managing or even healing. If you want to serve me up a plate of steak with a side of baked potatoes and a caesar salad then bring it on. But if you are serving up some of the side effects above, I can do without. And yet do you know what I get more on the side of...unfortunately...Side Effects.

This is my greatest struggle right now. And if you are one to want to know a "specific request" for prayer - this is my difficulty.   As I have begun both a new medication and a new chemotherapy my body is adjusting.  In my adjusting I am losing calories at a fast pace. I am losing strength and maintain a low blood pressure as just a few of my SIDE effects. Not to mention chemo mouth - which makes eating nearly impossible. And I want everyone to know that I am trying to attack these side effects head on, much like you would attack a good baked potato, or a side of extra dipping sauce. Yet, my body resists.  This is a hard and delicate place to be. According to my General Physician I do not have enough calories in my body to maintain normal functions much less enough calories to do more that just survive and to fight the disease that dictates my sides. 

So when you go out and order anything on the side; when you watch a medical commercial and hear the side effects of a medication that is supposed to help - please think of me! Pray that the side effects of my medication mean a positive increased health and that until I am healed fully of this monster called cancer, may my sides (as in side effects) be small, not difficult or overpowering. Above all may they be fast to be erased! Until that day I pray I can  continue to enjoy all the beautiful things served on the side that  I can and God, He knows he has got the other sides to attend to (mild nausea, upset stomach, decreased appetite, dry mouth, mouth sores, aching muscles, feeling unsteady, low blood pressure!) And with you my friends, we keep praying!  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Emergency Room: UPDATE! We are home!

I once had a sign that hung by my front door that read, "The good thing about living in a small town; is that when you don't know what you're doing someone else does!" And so it is true, as we all know.

However, the town knowing isn't always a bad thing...I want to update everyone ("the town") who has called and text both Jason and myself in the last 24 hours and those who may not already know. We spent some time yesterday at Piedmont Newnan Hospital ER. I have felt tired and weak for over a week as well as battled "chemo mouth" which made it difficult to eat and drink. These side affects seemed normal as I HAVE started the new chemotherapy treatment as well as a new anti-seizure medication.  I simply assumed that I was to have to endure these affects until my body became adjusted to the new regimen.  Wrong!

Yesterday I was quite fatigued and thought an earache might be a culprit to some of my energy loss.   I went to my General Physician for what I thought would be an antibiotics hand out and to my surprise my blood pressure was shockingly very low. Knowing the difficulties I had experienced the past week with side affects the doctor ordered 1 liter of fluids in an attempt to raise my blood pressure and ensure I felt better.  After the fluid was received by blood pressure remained low.  My General Physician determined that I needed to address my antibiotic need (told ya!), could benefit from a mouth wash to aid in battling the chemo mouth, and finally I needed more fluids.

We made it to the Piedmont ER at about 7:00pm last night. Once again, my blood pressure remained low. I received fluids, all my levels were checked and things looked good. Except - I was severely dehydrated. I needed fluids and I needed to eat and drink more. My body is trying hard enough to fight the cancer that it is truly tired. We received last night a restart.

We made it home about 3:00am - slept till 7:00am and now I sit. My instructions have been to watch the blood pressure, don't lift a finger (opps - I'm typing!), and drink and eat A LOT.  So my friends here is how it will go from this moment on...God WILL be my strength and help - ever present; you guys WILL keep the prayers up for God hears the prayers of the faithful and we shall ask and it shall be given and I am gonna try to enjoy eating and drinking and rest, allowing my blood pressure to travel to healthy levels.

So, now we all know. And I am ever grateful to live in a small community that does know what is going on in my life AND because they do - they love, serve, pray, encourage, call and care! And for that I am ever grateful!!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Love is louder than cancer

Dear precious blog readers! I am very humbled by the outpouring of your love that is visible in your posts, "likes", calls, cards and phone texts. I want you to know that I have read your posts, seen your shares and your likes. And Jason has filtered phone calls and texts, and shared them with me also. A quote I have saved on my refrigerator door was given to me on an amazing gift and the quote reads, "love is louder than cancer!" And today I have found this to be more true than ever. Your heavenly cries for prayer, your friendly reminders of your presence and helping abilities, your fountains of encouragement and your countless offers to help in anyway: have spoken LOVE LOUDER than Cancer. Thank you. In times when we didn't know what was going on, whether it was 2:00am this morning of 6:30pm this afternoon we knew you all were loving us. We knew you were cheering us on all in the name and will of the Father!

Here then is a medical recap of what is going.
I have had many tests, CAT scan, Chest X-ray, EKG, Urinary Analysis, MRI, and an EEG.  Each of these tests were to seek to answer the questions, and "did I have a seizure?", "and  if so why?" These tests have revealed that there are no cancer metastasis on or in the brain. This is good news! The EEG did reveal seizure activity, but we are still uncertain why.  Further test including a spinal tap will be done this morning in an attempt to give us some answers.  I will receive a second blood transfusion and hope to be discharged this afternoon.  Thank you for the prayers, calls, and text.  I may not be able to respond to each of them but know that I have read each of them and am grateful.  Excited to go home!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Answered Prayers and Latest Developments!

Good Evening Friends,

This past Friday morning, at a bright and early 8:45am, Jason and I met with my oncologist, Dr. Assikis. The purpose of the appointment was to take note of my blood levels, address some significant side effects and hopefully to review results from the bone marrow biopsy done four days prior.

Jason and I have shared with many of you that my most recent CAT and Bone Scans have shown stability with no new cancer growths with the bone or on any other organs. While this is still the case, the bone marrow biopsy did provide additional discoveries that were at best, difficult to hear.  I do have visible growth of cancer cells in my bone marrow. As it stands now 2/3 of my bone marrow is bothered with cancer. That then means that 1/3 is left for all other blood functions. This finding answers why I have not been able to produce red blood cells as well as maintain healthy blood levels. But this finding also challenges a peace I had found in "stable". Now, in the words of Dr. Assikis, "we have lost control of the cancer." And all of you who read this and know me, know I like control. I like stable. I like knowing what is to come. I like to plan for it, what ever it is. And the news of cancer growth was not what I had planned for. Well, really none of this since April 2013 is what I had planned for, envisioned, or even saw coming. But here I am Lord, what is next Lord?

This finding of new cancer in the bone marrow combined with the side effects I have recently been experiencing has led Dr. Assikis to make a change to my chemo regimen. With this change in the  chemo prescription and with the modifications of a few medicines Assikis says that "he remains hopeful that now that we have been shown an area of concern as well as determined how to manage side effects that we have the resources to take back control of the cancer." He remains hopeful. 

 Later in the day, I was sitting down at the kitchen table. The girls had not returned home from school yet, so I was soaking up a few minutes of quiet reflection. Thinking about the day's events, I turned to scripture looking for any kind of affirmation, peace, or guidance.  God blessed me with these words from Philippians.  I have not read them with much attention apparently in the past, but today they were blaring off the page. "I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out of my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as  always Christ will be exalted in my body." (These bold words are for me "feeling" words, they just make me feel what the other words around them are saying.)

And so there you have it...Friday's news was not cool. I am bummed.   BUT -- I will REJOICE for I know that through YOUR prayers and the provision of the Holy Spirit everything that I am going through will one day be made good. I will be physically redeemed. And believe me I eagerly await that happening (some days more than others) and as I wait I will try to be hopeful and never ashamed but instead courageous and bold that Christ may be exalted in my life and the story of my journey. So, here's to today and tomorrow and the many more days to come! And here's to having good days and bad days! And here's to each of you for your faithful companionship, encouragement and love. 

"Now to him, who is able to do immeasurably more than we can think of or imagine, within his will for me..." Ephesians 3:20 

God, come and show off in me!