Sailing Strong in the Winds of Affliction

Adversity is the diamond dust Heaven polishes its jewels with.

Thomas Carlyle 

On the tender heels of Thanksgiving, my 11-year old, Colby asked to share a bit of his heart from this past year.  I’m overwhelmed posting this … but it’s wonderful to see my 3 beautiful boys holding on and pressing in to the gift of Faith that they have eagerly unwrapped.  I am blessed.

A Year of Cancer through the Eyes of a Child

Colby

Thanksgiving was a really good time for me to look back on my life, including the rocky road of the last year and find all of the blessings that abound.  I truly thank God for my life, my health and SO much more … my family, house, food in my stomach, a free country, my Mom’s health, my education, and the very air I breathe.  I realize that sometimes God throws tough times (tests) at you.   In order to get an A+ on each test, you must remain faithful to Him, and never give up.  Even though this was a struggling time in our family we never gave up on Mom, or God.

So the big test, the journey we never expected to take was this past year.  The test has been the most difficult one I’ve taken so far in my 11 years.  On December 26, 2012 my Mom and Dad called my brothers and me into their room.  As they told us that the call came and a stage III breast cancer diagnosis was confirmed—I felt a sudden pain in my gut.   At that moment I knew it was serious … this was really happening.   My parents were open and honest about everything they knew, and that alone helped to make us feel safe.  Though I know people who have gone through cancer, it’s hard to imagine it happening to my Mom.  It was very hard to believe, and though at first I didn’t want to, I knew that I had to face reality and trust God to take the wheel.

Before that dreaded day, we knew “cancer” was definitely a possibility.  But regardless of that thought lurking days before Christmas, my parents made everything as normal as possible and full of love.  They still showed us the wonder and generosity of the season in the face of such upsetting news.  Shortly after diagnosis, the next challenge was learning that chemotherapy treatment would be the first thing my Mom would experience.  My parents helped to explain chemotherapy and the side effects that would likely happen.  It helped me to know that if and when Mom was sick, it was not because the disease was making her sick, but instead because the medication was attacking the cancer cells with the intent to make her better.

My Mom was strong and worked through treatment.   Every Thursday for 20 weeks starting in January, she would go into Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Though I was not able to go with her every week, my Mom made special arrangements to be sure we went with her at least a few times.   I think my mom wanted my brothers and I to see that chemotherapy wasn’t scary.  The first time I went to Dana-Farber I was a bit nervous, thinking it would be creepy with a lot of very sick people there.  It didn’t take long to learn that my fears were far from the real thing.  Though difficult for the patients experiencing chemo, the people and atmosphere were both warm and welcoming.

Chemo was still sometimes scary for my brothers and me.  It’s awful when you want so much to take away someone’s pain but can’t.  During this time I tried to help in every way possible throughout the house.  Since mom was getting weaker after many treatments, her ability to do all the things she used to do in the house decreased.  I tried to spend time after school doing some simple cleanup and chores around the house.  It felt good to give back to her, especially when she was tired and struggling with a serious illness.  I hated seeing her sick and really loved making her happy. I knew that as tough as chemo was, it was made to help stop the cancer in its tracks.

When my Mom started to lose her hair during chemotherapy, as a family, we gathered and made a family time to shave her head.  I know it was hard for her to lose her beautiful hair, but we helped to lighten the mood with a little “buzz” party.

Chemo was a very difficult time, but we got through it as a family.

Things moved fast.  After Chemo was finally over, Mom was trying to get strong for surgery.  The goal of surgery was to remove any remaining cancer out of her body.   I was very scared for her. Every night I prayed, and prayed that she would be fine. The day of surgery finally came (actually on my younger brother, Logan’s birthday).  My Mom was a brave person on that day.  She was in the hospital for 5 days and we missed her so much.  My grandparents watched us and helped prepare for Mom coming home.  Before she arrived, we made her a big “WELCOME HOME!” sign.   She lit up seeing that and it made us so happy!  When she got home, things were tough for a while.  She was always very sleepy and never felt good.   But, The Lord is good.  He kept her safe through all of this.

Radiation treatment came next.  Mom was a little anxious at first, but then she learned that it wouldn’t be as bad as the other treatments.  I was so thankful that she had gotten through the treatments before. Through the house, all of us were asking questions like “Doesn’t radiation give you cancer?” and “Won’t you get burned?” All of the questions were answered, and we weren’t as anxious as before. The family got together and prayed that mom would get through the last treatment. Mom did get some burns, but she took it in stride … nothing too bad.

I love that my parents have been honest with everything going on.  They always make us know that we can go to them anytime with any question and we trust and believe that they will answer it honestly.

I thank God every day for Moms health. I hope and pray that God will always keep her in his healing hand.

My heart goes out to other kids traveling this same road.  My prayer is that they will have Faith and believe that God has them in the palm of His hand regardless of the situation.  Thieves can’t take you away when you’re resting in the palm of His hand.

–Colby

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”      —Ephesians 2:8-9

24 thoughts on “Sailing Strong in the Winds of Affliction

  1. The tenderness and obedience to Christ continues to grow stronger every year. God has also blessed him with your talent for writing too. He is another world changer. Bless his sweet, strong heart.

    1. Sandra,

      Mr. Colby … Alex P. Keaton (minus the briefcase) LOL A world changer … that gives me goosebumps. You are always a breath of fresh air and make us all feel so good!! So, datebook out … the weather’s cold and you and I need a marathon day of chick flicks. Just sayin.

      Love you, Nicole

  2. What a wonderful young man! Your family certainly is a tribute go God and a wonderful expression of love and faith, you should be very proud. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Holiday Season!

    1. Heather!

      Thank you so much for your beautiful note. I am so proud of these young men … they inspire me daily. Between the boys and Miles, it’s hard not to have a permanent grin! 🙂 I am so excited to enjoy this season without as much anxiety as last year. Wishing you a beautiful Holiday filled with love and laughter. XOXO ~ Nicole

  3. Can anyone actually read this without tears? I know I couldn’t! 🙂 Please tell Colby thanks for sharing this and inspiring all those who read it. Praying for you and your family and please tell them I said hi!

    1. Matt,

      I needed a box of tissues! Thank you for your ongoing support and prayers. You’ve always been such a positive influence and wonderful example for Colby. He always looks so forward to seeing you. You are indeed a blessing beyond words.

      XO ~ Nicole

  4. No….. No I couldn’t read this without tears! Man….. now we have two Chryssicas writers that can turn their audience into a puddle before their eyes! We love you and your whole family more than words can say!! Thank you for sharing your words and faith!!

    1. My Cathy …

      LOL! I was a complete mess reading this too. Sometimes “seeing” their voice in writing is more heart-wrenching because you really don’t realize (especially with boys) all the thoughts swimming in their little heads. However, I’m glad he is comfortable expressing himself.

      We love you all so much! Praying for a 2014 with a few more silver linings. 😉

      XOXOXOXO Nicole

  5. Oh, Colby! Like the rest, you leave me in tears, speechless and, as a sister in Christ, brimming with pride and gratitude to God for YOU. I pray that my children have the same strong, personal faith and testimony that you do. The Holy Spirit shines SO brightly through you. Undoubtedly, there are great things in store for your life! Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

    1. Rebekah,

      Your note had Colby smiling and me … crying! Thank you for your beautiful words. John and I would love to take credit for Colby’s passion and steadfast faith, but it’s all God. After all, we’re a mere mess! LOL

      Your beautiful family has been such a wonderful, cherished support to us during this crazy year. Thank you for your constant love, prayers and friendship.

      Love,

      Nicole
      XOXO

  6. Nicole, I know you have ALWAYS been so proud of your boys, because your face would always shine when you spoke of them. Colby’s heartfelt words and deep insight are truly amazing, and brought tears to my eyes. He is just like his Mom, a strong and insightful individual and the world could sure use A LOT more like the 2 of you!!

    God Bless,
    xo, Lisa Jermyn

  7. What an incredible, mature, and verbally eloquent son you have! Cancer is so hard on the kids…it has been a tough year for my 3 boys aged 17, 12. & 9. I cried reading your son’s post. What a beautiful, resilient adult he will become.

  8. Colby, I see you also have “the gift” , & your heartfelt words brought tears to my eyes.I see great things in your future & I’m so sure you will be a leader of sorts, giving & inspiring in a great way..I know this has been a difficult journey for you & your family but w/ your your faith & by the grace of God I believe healing & goodness is in your path..Love you all so much & will continue to pray for each of you daily.We are so proud of you for a million and one reasons.. xoxoxoxoxoxox A. Vicki

    1. Colby, I am so proud of you, you have become quite a young man! I would hope that my attitude would be like yours during a strenuous time like you and your family are going through, give my love to your family,ESPECIALLY mom!
      Love and blessings,
      Miss Judy

  9. Wow! This is one example of how our Lord is a God of redemption and how He is able to make the bitter sweet. Jehovah Rophe. Could there possibly be anything more precious than your son’s love for you and the gift of those words from his heart? Would you trade it for anything? A thousand times no. Love, your replyin’ friend, Linda

  10. Nicole,
    Glad that this holiday season will be so much better than the last with so much less hanging over your head. Wow, what a kid you have! Writing is such a great outlet for Colby. It’s funny how notions can get stuck in a child’s mind . You two are to be commended for your handling of this cancer with such an open line of communication and love. I’ll just bet you have 3 Wise little men at home (besides John). Blessings, Peg

  11. All I can say is WOW. Colby you have brought me to tears, as your mother has so many times this past year. Tears of amazement at God’s love for us and His spirit that has shined through your family during this difficult journey. I have seen so many people turn away from God in anger, but you guys have given glory to Him and praised Him through it all. What a great testimony – I am in awe. Thank you for sharing (both of you). Your family will continue to be in our prayers.

  12. Nicole,
    I am so touched by this piece, and reminded of how much our kids are absorbing and learning from this journey. I shared this with my eleven son Henry tonight. So good for him to see that other guys are walking around with the same thoughts/feelings swimming in their heads. Thank you, and Colby, for posting.
    Hope all is well- and that your holidays are off to a good start. xo Liz

  13. Oh my gosh! I just realized today I hadn’t visited the site for a while, and hadn’t known Colby had written for your blog, Nicole! Well SAID, man!! So proud of you, not only for sharing your thoughts and your personal journey, but for sharing your journey of FAITH! Great job, brutha! Continued prayers a-goin’ up for all of you. ❤ Blessings and Joy to you this Christmas season!! ~Michelle/"Meesuz Weellyumz" 🙂

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I feel so good reading on this blog as I have felt a very strong man with a very strong relationship with God and to his family. I hope that your mom can fully recover and that I will also include her to my prayers.

  15. Hi Nicole, I just recently went back to your blog. Your son Colby is an amazing writer, as you are. I’m sure he speaks for all of your boys. They have been so strong for you this past year. Although I think of you often and prayer for you daily, I miss your beautiful face. I hope this Christmas season is an enjoyable one for you and your whole family. I miss you. God bless you. Love, Sheila

    1. Awwwww, Sheila!

      What a blessing you are. Sadly, I’m just seeing this message and you just made my day …
      I hope you and the family are well and I miss you too!

      Please email at some point to catch up … you’re no longer local. 😦
      Love and blessings,

      Nicole

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