Blogging through Cancer

Blogging through Cancer

On the 20th of February in the year of 2019, our world changed with a single phone call. A tumor was located in the center of my husband’s chest.

 

A consistent blogging routine had yet to be established with Knitting Our Story however I chose to continue to write throughout the process even if I wasn’t sharing it publicly. Writing was cathartic and pleasing to my heavy heart. Also, it would be a wonderful legacy to share with family and friends after the chemotherapy was said and done. After the eyebrows grew back. After the scars had faded and the tumor had disappeared. Here is an excerpt from my ramblings in February 2019:

 

In December 2018, my husband started complaining of mild chest pressure, not pain just pressure, that originated in the right side of his chest and moved into his arm. After two primary care and three urgent care visits that involved a strep throat infection it seemed his symptoms were worsening along with a rapid 15 lb weight loss. He struggled to breathe at night that forced him to sleep at an incline. Any strenuous activity, including lifting our six month old son, caused his superior vena cava vein to swell and bulge in his neck. 

 

Finally, we received an answer for all these symptoms on Feb 20th 2019.

 

My husband’s perseverance with medical staff in addition to the persistence of loving family members we did not give up on seeking a prognosis. Eventually, we compiled an entire list of all his symptoms:

 

  1. #1 symptom for us: persistent cough
  2. #2 symptoms for us: unexplained difficulty breathing and pressure in chest
  3. Fevers and strep infection for a normally very healthy person
  4. Unexplained weight loss (15 lbs for my husband)
  5. Lack of energy (sleeping constantly yet never fully rested)
  6. Painless swelling in neck
  7. Superior Vena Cava syndrome (we had no idea why the vein in his neck was bulging)

 

According to Sloan Kettering and Boston Children’s Cancer Blood Disorder Center, Peter presented all the symptoms necessary for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma BUT they were also symptoms of very benign infections as simple as Strep Throat. WHO KNEW?

 

In the span of minutes our world flipped upside down. 

 

Without flinching, we held tight to the promise we have in Christ Jesus. We will both affirm that He carried us through the first 48 hours of this devastating news. 

 

In 48 hours, my husband underwent a chest x-ray, CT scan followed by an ER visit, overnight hospital stay and a thoracic chest biopsy (chest surgery).

 

Then we waited. And waited.

 

What would the results say? Is this really cancer? 

 

Yes.

 

This is day 12. This is fresh. This is new. This is us. This is our story.

 

We are trusting the Lord with cancer. 

 

I am also trusting the Lord with this blog. 

 

Here are three reasons why I am STILL writing during this time.

#1

My blog is titled “Knitting Our Story”. With all my heart, soul and strength I love the Lord and this intricately knitted story HE wrote while I was still in the womb.  It has always been my heart’s desire to share our story. Cancer is just a chapter being woven into a much longer novel.

#2

I am my target market. Again, my heart’s desire is to share knowledge with others by providing them with concise and practical ways to capture their story with today’s technology BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE! The intent has not changed. If anything it has placed a fire in my heart that capturing our story is more than ever paramount. I want to capture every single moment with my family. (OK, not every moment, I want to engage as well) My husband’s diagnosis has fanned the flame in my heart to be better and become obedient. To stop making excuses and run the race marked for me. The Lord is still encouraging me to share. To help. To serve. 

#3

What was once a long term goal has become a short term goal which is to make this blog an investment opportunity through monetization so it can contribute to our family income. I do not know what is to come and it is fully in the Lord’s hands. However, to be a good steward and to have a farmer mentality, I need to start sowing into this passion project, my blog, to reap benefits that will serve my family with financial gains. Here is my full disclosure policy. In advance, thank you for any contribution you make through any of my affiliate links and for just visiting my blog. Thank you.

 

SO WHAT WHO CARES?:

The practical application is that NOBODY is promised tomorrow. What are you doing TODAY to make the most of it? What could you do today to start creating a legacy to leave for loved ones? How would you handle something like this? Are you prepared to withstand a storm of uncertainty?

 

Share your insights below.

Why and How you should film a first time event

Why and How you should film a first time event

The day had come. 

We recently experienced a first in our household. Our firstborn daughter had the joy of attending her FIRST Daddy Daughter dance! I am sharing why and how YOU should also capture the “firsts” in your family with the technology at your fingertips.

Prep:

How wonderful it was to see the joy in my little girl’s eyes over a special evening with her father.

She instantly understood that a date with her father meant that she would be the center of attention. As an avid capture the moment momographer (mom who films or takes videos of her family so frequently she is given an imagined made-up title/role), one might think that I initially planned on filming this night.

NOPE!

I could have just went through the motions and the significance of the event would have slipped through our fingers which would potentially lead to a missed memory.

Now, it is all on screen! Her eyes lighting up as her special request for “make-up” was granted. It was so apparent that she too needed something to cement the evening.

It was a first and firsts always hold a special place in everyone’s heart.

Her first date with Daddy.

Her first time preparing herself for an adventure focused on deepening a relationship with someone else while loving on herself with dignity and integrity.

It was a proud Mama moment watching her pick out the clothes, shoes, and finishing touches to prepare for her father.

(Filming it allows us to treasure these memories long after it’s gone.)

For us personally, it is the beginning of many opportunities to show our children the love of Jesus through the love of their earthy father.

The bar will be set high for whomever her potential suitor will be because it is our job to build up her confidence – in the Lord – and accept nothing less in a husband.

As she grows up this video will become a memoir of her innocence and venture into becoming a lady.

Build up her confidence-in the Lord.

 Execution:

I recommend that you make the decision to make a “film” or a “highlight” video ahead of time. It will dictate what you will need to capture. When it comes to events like this you can put a little more effort into styling the scenes and setting up the environment.

Now, if you have chosen to make a film you will want to capture the details like the intricacies of the clothing, shoes, flowers and the invitation. I approached this film as though it was a wedding prep ceremonial film.

Get multiple angles. It is recommended to get three different types.

Full, Mid, Close-Up [check out this post to learn more about these terms]

Add voice. SOUND can make a film come to life! I added a small interview and placed it over some of the scenes using L- and J- cuts [here is another post to explain these terms]. 

FOUR Reasons to Capture Your Story NOW

FOUR Reasons to Capture Your Story NOW

Four Reasons to Capture Your Story

 

This video passion project has been a work in progress since I first picked up a camera as a high school yearbook photographer.  Then (and still now), I knew that capturing a story was something worthwhile. There was something about being behind the lens of a camera that opened my eyes to the beauty around me while making my heart flutter with excitement. On Friday evenings during football games, I would run around the stadium capturing the intensity of football players, the joyfulness of the band and the school rallying around our school. It was exhilarating and my movements flowed effortlessly  maneuvering into crazy positions always trying to capture the perfect shot!

Over ten years later I am still trying to capture “the shot”! Though the players and settings have changed the desire to capture the moments has not! The passion has transcended from photo to video since it also flows vs freezes the moment. I enjoy how it gives life and movement to an event and evokes emotion.

Reason No. 1: Legacy

For my wedding day, we purchased a budget friendly handheld camcorder.

WHY? Because there is this deep desire in us to preserve our story, our history so that we may pass it on to others. We used that camcorder to capture our ceremony, dances and special messages from our guests. It also captured the moment we found out we were expecting our first child!

One day, our children will be able to look back on our younger days to reconnect to our youth to better understand their own unique history.

So now that we have several children, the following passage is constantly tugging at my heartstrings because the old adage is true… “the days are long but the years are short”.

“For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together

in my mother’s womb.”

Psalm 139:13

God knitted together each of my babies in the womb and their story was already written before they arrived. I can’t help but capture each and every delicate moment of their first years with us.

Reason No. 2: Connection

As the years started to roll by and the miles between my family grew I knew that sending photos sporadically wasn’t enough to convey the full sense of our growing family. AND when my 80 year old grandmother said that she felt like she didn’t know her great-grandchildren it started a fire within me. I created a 15 minute slideshow for each of my three young children just for her and burned them onto DVDs to send through snail mail!

Nowadays, the ever innovating technology field is changing the game on how to share our memories with family. Are you familiar with FaceTime? Google Photos? Facebook? Snapfish? Bound photobooks printed and delivered to your door? Giant canvas prints at reasonable prices?

You see? There is a gap in digital literacy and our children and grandchildren only know screens! Not print. So we need to catch up to stay connected BUT I also feel that there is something to the tangible and want to teach people the new techniques on how to get photos back in your hands and on your walls.

Reason No. 3: Life is Short

I am not done yet. This is the most sobering reason and the hardest to discuss.

Tragedy can strike anyone at anytime. We are no exception. [Read about our very personal battle with cancer here.]

First it was my Uncle.

He had a stomach ache and begrudgingly went into the hospital. He came out with a diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer. The next two years flew by as the cancer did what it is so infamous for…. It slowly took away another loved one from the embrace of a family – a wife and daughter.

During this same time period, my teenage cousin also went to the doctor complaining of a “pain” in his leg. Once again, a loved one walked out with the diagnosis of cancer – Osteosarcoma.

 “Nick Widner fought a courageous battle with osteosarcoma.

Cancer didn’t define him. He lived free & easy.

His spirit will live forever in our hearts.”

Things moved so rapidly after these initial diagnoses.

Within a year, I received a call (about my Uncle) that hospice was on the premises. I desperately placed an order for a digital voice recorder for him to record a few conversations for his precious daughter (i.e. words for right before she graduated, first dance, first boyfriend, first breakup, marriage, etc). My heart ached at the realization that he would no longer be here but I clung to the fact that technology could somewhat ease the pain.

If she couldn’t have him there physically then maybe having his voice would bring some solace during those pivotal moments in a young girl’s life. He fought a good fight and went peacefully to the Lord.

Within the year, my 17 year old cousin lost his battle with Osteosarcoma.

His family continues to fight the battle against childhood cancer through fundraisers for other families still in the fight. His legacy will live on through the heartwork and hard work that his mother does in his honor.

I have learned that cancer does not discriminate; young, old, married, single, rich, or poor it is not prejudiced with its victims nor does it relent. We must be the ones preserving our memories and proactively capturing them to share with others.

But to fully grasp the gravity of this “life is short” I have to share the next story. It also happened during this timeframe and rocked a small town and countless families with aftershocks still being felt today. Here it is from one of the victim’s mother:

“On Wednesday, December 7, 2016, exactly 4 years after Jody and Nick graduated from the police academy, they responded to a domestic disturbance call, and were murdered by a career criminal with a 32-page rap sheet.”

The Jody and Nick from the above statement were my brother’s dearest friends. The day this all happened, our wedding anniversary, is still burnt into my memory.

You can read more about both young men and how the community continues to love and support the thin blue line through the The Smarr and Smith Foundation.

[Yes, I bleed black and blue for ALL our law enforcement, first responders and military personnel who put their lives on the line every day to serve US. I recommend following Kyle Reyes and his new venture Whiskey Patriots.]

 Life is short.

I don’t want it to pass me by. SO, I pick up my phone, camera, or recorder to capture, document, and treasure each fleeting moment we have here, just in case…

How about you?

 Reason No. 4: To Glorify the Lord

To Glorify God and love others sacrificially.

The Lord has equipped us all with talents, gifts and passions.

Mine happens to be creating heartfelt films, photography, constantly exploring user-friendly technology and teaching. All of these talents allow me to find joy in the number one role of my life which is being a dutiful wife and mom. By no means am I perfect. The dishes and laundry constantly gets overlooked plus my organizational style isn’t the best – just being real [ask my hubby].

Now how does this serve the Lord and you?

By creating this blog and using my talents, I am pleasing my Lord and Savior with the talents He blessed me with by being fruitful while giving HIM the glory. At no point, now or even later, will I take up the boasting in my own strength. Dear Reader, Let me serve you. I want to share all the tips and tricks I have learned and much much more as I continue to learn myself.

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