Closing out 2017

To close out 2017, I did what lots of my friends do and did the “best 9 of 2017” with pictures I’ve posted on social media.  These were my top nine.  

All of them were taken during my treatments with friends and family, those I love so much.  And what a year it has been!  July 12th will always be a day I’ll never forget and it was on that day my life changed forever.  Halfway through the year, and everything turned upside down, sideways, back a rollercoaster.  But the end of the ride was sweet.  God knew what he was doing and by having my chemo end right at Christmas time. Boy was that a blessing and perfect in every way.  
Our Christmas together was wonderful!  Christmas Eve began with a beautiful service at my parents’ church, followed by a fun time with my family and then with Jeremy’s.  
Reindeer food, Santa’s cookies, and Grinch dust was put out and a very happy boy woke up super early to see his goodies from Santa.  He was very excited about what the big guy in red brought, but he was over the moon giddy with his cowboy gear from Mommy and Daddy.  The boy gets it honestly from his dad with his love for all things horse related.  He hasn’t taken his boots and spurs off since he got them and he’s ready to ride in his saddle.  Cold weather and work hasn’t allowed much time for that yet... but it’ll come.  

His zipline from Gramy and Pop was also a favorite and has brought tons of smiles.  I pray constantly for God’s hands to keep him safe from danger.  As many of you know with little boys, there is NO fear.  NONE!  He keeps me on my toes constantly, wanting to try new things and being so adventurous at such a young age.  Ninnie and Papa helped his closet expand a little more with the cutest attire and lots more fun toys.  

We loved seeing lots of our family and feel so blessed that they are all so close by. No traveling for us, which I am super grateful for. Memories were made and each celebration was very special.  

On Christmas night I couldn’t help but sit down to think about the true meaning of Christmas once again and give thanks to our God, who sent his son to be born on this day.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the lights, gifts, meals, and more.  But it’s all about him.  Francesca Battistelli’s new song “You’re Here” says it all.  If you haven’t heard it, it’s beautiful!  
And it makes me cry everytime I listen to it.  “You’re here.  I’m holding you so near.” I’ve felt his hand on me during this journey more than ever.  Our King. Our Creator...flooding the world with joy.
The Thursday after Christmas I had my final MRI to determine how much the chemo shrunk my tumor.  I cannot tell you how hard I prayed over this procedure and these results.  To my sweet prayer warriors ...thank you for your prayers too.  I was at peace the whole time in the machine and when my doctor called to share the results, he talked in “teacher language”, just for me.  Bless!  He said if he were to grade the results, he’d give it an A- and he was pleased.  And to hear that, how could I not be pleased too?  Of course I wanted an A+, and for the tumor to be gone but...The tumor shrunk, it is in three small pea-sized nodules, and it has pulled away from the chest wall.  We won’t know if it is still cancer, or scar tissue, until surgery is done and the path report is read.  I’ll go to visit surgeon early this coming week and hopefully know when the surgery will be.  I’m ready for the next steps.  I’m ready to get this out of my body completely and I’m ready to be cancer free.  That’s it!  I’m so ready!  
So for the next few days...we will be just hanging tight, playing outside, cheering on our Tigers, roping with daddy, and getting ready to go back to school.  I love nothing more than no alarm clocks and sweet snuggle time with my little guy.  Santa brought him the cutest cactus socks and undies that give me all the happiness in the world, especially when he says, “I wear these for you, mommy.”

That sweetheart has a big birthday next Saturday and I can’t wait to help make it the most fun ever. 

We treasure each moment with him and love seeing his excitement for life and new things.
We hope your family has a wonderful New Years celebration.  2017 was a year that we will never forget but also so much love was poured over our family by you all, and we try to remember that over all the pain.  So 2018 will be graciously welcomed in, and we will press on.  Just like Paul...despite the hardships and challenges, he didn’t give up.  He realized he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him.  And that’s where we are.  We will make it through.  Because...

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize.”
  Phillipians 3:14



Ho, Ho, Ho, no more Chemo!!!!

Yesterday was a date that I had marked on every calendar around for months and months.   

When they scheduled my last few infusion, I remember them asking if I’d like to skip that week due to Christmas and come on the 29th for my last one.  That was a quick no for me.  Wouldn’t the best Christmas present be to finish putting poison in my body to kill this cancer and being one step closer on the road to being cancer free?!  And that’s what we did.  When the alarm went off yesterday, we jumped up like it was Christmas morning, got ready, and headed to Mauldin.  

My dad greeted us with breakfast sandwiches, I raced up the stairs, got my port accessed, and met my nurse.  When she came back to tell me about my blood work, my overall white blood cell count was on the low end and the lowest it has ever been.  1500....she said that if it had of been 1499, they would’ve had to call the doctor and possible move my chemo to another day.  

You can imagine the lump I had in my throat when she told me this and how overjoyed I was when she hung the bags and said that we were moving forward and going on with #16.  I had a party to attend and a big one at that so I could’ve hugged her neck.  I thanked God right then and there.  Totally His moment.  As He’s been with me every step of the way, throughout this entire journey.  Just this morning, I opened my favorite devotion app...Our Daily Bread.  Read the first quote in the middle. 
He’s with me.  He’s with you.  And boy was he at the Cancer Center yesterday.  It was a happy day but also a little sad. As I said goodbye to the ladies in the infusion center that have loved on me for 16 weeks, I hugged them a little tighter.  They truly helped to take away the nervousness each week, with their calm and smiling faces.  They always kept us comfortable and like we were home.  One of my favorite volunteers came by, told us her testimony of being cancer free for 25 years, and prayed with us.  

Many others came to say goodbye and then another visitor entered the pod.  Y’all know I’m a huge clemson fan so when Tajh Boyd came in, I was speechless.  He must’ve hugged me 20 times, told me about his aunt who lost her fight with breast cancer, but gave me such hope with his positive atttitde and spirit.  He lit up the room and made the end of this treatment truly fly by with his conversation.  My dad was thrilled to say the least.  And Jett loved visiting with him outside as they waited for my treatment to be done.  My best friend Erica coordinated that and wow!  What a treat!  

So next on the agenda was to celebrate even more with my tribe.  Everyone was gathered out by the Jesus statue and as soon as we walked out, the the sound of jingle bells rang and shouts of congratulations were yelled.  This moment was super emotional, with J literally holding me by his side.  

I cannot even describe the feelings I felt to see my tribe, together, celebrating this part being done.  Celebrating life.  Celebrating hope.  The sun was shining so brightly at that moment and I had to take a second, close my eyes and thank Him for His grace, His mercy, and His unconditional love.  Seeing Jett scramble from the crowd and wrap his little arms around my neck brought even more joy to the moment.  

We’ve talked about this day briefly with him and he was thrilled to see us walk about of that building, ready to party because mommy didn’t have to take any more bad medicine.
I tried my best to hug every single person that came and if I missed you, I’ll see you soon.  So many of my students, past and present, came with their families.  

My family was there along with tons of friends.  My fellow breast cancer warrior friends came.  That bond is strong.  Continue to pray for them and their journey along this road.  

We opened with a very special prayer led by my friend Rob White, and then sang three of my favorite Christmas songs.   Joy.  That’s the word that stands out as I heard nearly 100 sweet voices sing the precious words, giving honor and glory to our Jesus.  
Santa’s sleigh was next and that brought so much happiness to many of my little friends.  Who doesn’t love a ride around the block with Santa??  

Look at those faces!!??  My heart was full.  Every second of this day was amazing.  And it ended like this.  
Flashback to my first chemo, fellow breast cancer survivor and dear friend Brandi, sent me a balloon to release.  

So what better way to end the chemo treatment regimen than with another release.  And that’s what we did. From summer to winter...from sick to wellness!  

I cannot even begin to thank you all for everything you all have done for our family.  Last night a sweet family dropped off  a Christmas jar of change.  

Y’all...Your love is so evident and words cannot even express our gratitude.  We wish you the merriest Christmas.  Enjoy every second with you family.  As you open each gift, do something for me.  Pause.  Breathe.  Thank God for the gift of life.  He sent His son to be born on this day for us.  Give him the glory. “Glory to the newborn king.” Those Christmas Carol words will forever be etched in my heart, along with the beautiful sound of jingle bells.  Also hug every member of your family.  We are not promised tomorrow.    

We love you all and appreciate every prayer you’ve lifted up over the last 6 months.  The countdown is on for Christmas Day.  2 more sleeps and Santa comes.  I’ve got a happy little boy that absolutely can’t wait to see what will be under the tree.  And his mommy is just as excited to celebrate this year, and hopefully many more too.  

Prayer requests:
Pray for all to stay healthy 
Pray for my fingers as the Taxol has killed my nailbeds and fingernails (trying not to complain because if it’s doing that to my fingers, I’m hoping it’s attacking the cancer like no other!)
Final MRI on December 28
Visit with surgeon January 2
Pray for my doctors and nurses
Back to school on January 3

“If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone; the new is here.”  2 Corinthians 5:17



The White Flag

Last Monday night, a precious former student of mine organized a “go-kart race” fundraiser to help our family during this time.  I remember sweet Will vividly in my class about 10 years ago.  He was such a hard worker then and to see him now, helping others in such a kind way as a senior in high school, truly warms my heart.  The best part about that night was when everyone was loaded in their karts,  except for me as I was just going to watch and cheer from the side, he came over and said, “can I take you for a ride, Mrs. Gault?”  He assured me that he would go slow and be safe.  That right there says it all.  The compassion for others at such a young age is hard to find.  And he truly has it.  He did just as he said, slow and safe.  Afterwards, he gave the leftover token cards to Jett so that he could have some fun around the arcade.  Talk about a happy boy?  Our best little friend, Carter, helped him play lots of games and together they won the cutest tigers.  It was such a fun night with friends, family, and students from years past and present. 

So speaking of racing, I guess I could’ve waved a white flag today when I walked in the Cancer Center, as they wave it for the next to last lap at a race. My daddy has always been a huge race fan and I loved it as a kid.  I remember him picking me up from school early to go meet Bobby Allison at the Summerville Motor Speedway.  I was a Davey Allison fan, as was my dad, and so meeting his dad was pretty cool.  I think part of my love for him was his race car was my lucky number (28) and he was pretty cute.  I’ll never forget when Davey died.  I remember where I was when my mom told me the news.  I remember the craziest things sometimes.  I even had the air brushed tshirt with his name and picture that I got on a trip to the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  He was the next upcoming star of NASCAR.  

I’ll always remember spending many Sunday afternoons on our trips home from visiting family here in Simpsonville, back to Summerville, where we lived growing up, listening to the race.  Loud!  My dad had hearing loss and before he got hearing aids, the radio was jacked up.  It didn’t bother me.  I think I slept majority of the trip, but my daddy loved it, and so did I.  Racing isn’t my favorite thing now.  I love to see the wives and children kiss their driver before the race starts and I like to see them start and finish.  I don’t have a favorite driver really but this childhood memory will forever stick with me and I was super excited to take that next to last lap today, killing this “cactus” that pricked me.  
The best part of today’s trip was passing out Christmas goodies to all of the staff at the hospital.  Simple, homemade treats that my sweet momma helped me make,  made them smile really big.  Paper product bundles also won their hearts.  They’ve been so kind along this journey, that I wanted to thank them for their hardwork and compassion for others that are going through big battles each day.  

I saw my oncologist, Dr. Dyar today for the last time until after surgery.  He’s been awesome and I truly thank God for the doctors in the world who take such good care of their patients.  He and his nurses are one in a million in my eyes.   I’m grateful for the knowledge they all have to help cure those with cancer.  
So now for the final infusion. #16! Next Friday!  Woohoo!  Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!  I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to take that last round of poison.  I’ve taken the stairs at the center almost every single time.  My parents enjoy the elevator, so I ride that with them
some too.  But next week, it’ll be the stairs going up
and coming down for us all!   Whoever my nurse is...bless her!  I’m going to try super hard to stay calm and not do a little happy dance while this one takes place.  Slow and steady has been our motto since the scary reactions at the beginning of the Taxol rounds and I want a safe infusion next week again for sure.  But!  I want that poison to go in that one last time a little slower to KILL every single morsel of Cancer it can find.  And when it’s over, I’ll be so excited to love on my tribe of people who have loved me through this.  I’m ready to feel good ALL the time and resume with life, one healthy, cancer free girl.  So join us next Friday around 11ish.  We will gather around the statue of our Savior to sing Christmas carols, ring jingle bells, visit with Santa and ride his sleigh, and celebrate the gift of life.  I’ll be the one in the Santa hat cheering “Ho Ho “mo” chemo!”  I’ll also be the one in tears praising Jesus for being so much more than a hero.  So as we reflect on Christmas time and His arrival, many thought that the Messiah would come as a political or military hero, but instead He came as a precious baby boy.  He was sent here to bring God’s light into the darkness and to give His  life so that others could receive him.  What a gift!  I pray that if you don’t know him, seek Him.  
Read His word.  Lean on the promises.  And know that He loves you.  He is good.  He is powerful like a Hero.  Being on that race track the other night helped me see that life is like a race, fast paced and full of curves. Crossing the finish line is a wonderful feeling.  I’m crossing that line soon..and I plan on doing that a little slower and embracing each moment to the fullest.  Do that this Christmas season too and remember the reason we celebrate. Life’s a big, big gift.  Unwrap it and give God all the glory.   Love to all!  

Upcoming prayer requests: 
MRI on Dec. 28 to see how tumor has shrunk...I cannot feel anything as of now.  Yippee!
Surgeon visit on Jan. 2 to schedule double mastectomy 
Prayers for these last 3 days at school with excited children ready for Christmas
Prayers we all stay healthy over the holidays 
Prayers for all those struggling with sickness and heartache 

“We have seen his glory, the one and only son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14



Fight the fight!

When I found out that my Uncle Freddie had pancreatic cancer shortly after my breast cancer diagnosis this summer, I was devastated to say the least to hear the news. Cancer is my least my favorite word and it’s just heard far too often lately.  After many appointments to the doctor, he decided that he didn't want chemo.  We saw him quickly begin to go downhill, visiting my parents’ house on Saturday mornings less often.  We missed those moments, especially during football season.  We’d often get up and go over to see him when he’d stop by and our conversations always revolved around our Tigers and pretty much Clemson everything.  He knew the stats, the players, and the inside scoop. We loved watching a game with him, as his excitement was infectious. 
Good food was another thing he loved and he was an incredible cook.  Right before he was diagnosed, he offered to make us the best twice baked potatoes to freeze and pull out when in need of a quick dinner.  He asked me how many I wanted and I was quick to say, maybe 6-8, and two days later he showed up with 20.  Talk about a sweet man?  We just finished them off recently and just last night Jett asked me if we had some more.  My heart sunk when I told him we didn’t..  And we won’t.  I’ll try to recreate them but it’ll be impossible.  I’m sure I won’t use enough butter, shrimp, mushrooms, or cheese.  They were mouthwatering.  And to think that even on the brink of being ever so sick, he managed to think of others.  That is the heart of a servant.  
So growing up I was the youngest Knight grandchild for over 10 years until the greats came along.  I got a lot of “extra” love and care from the family.  And Uncle Freddie was always the key baby whisperer and could make things all better.  As long as he didn’t wear a ball cap, I loved him to hold me.

Ball caps weren’t my thing back in the day since my daddy used one to tell me no once.  So Freddie learned to learn to leave the cap at the door if he wanted anything to do with me. 

He was rarely late and never missed a function.  The day Jett was born he was the first visitor that morning.  I’ll never forget him walking through the door smiling the biggest smile and holding our newborn baby with such pride.  

He always came to birthday parties, graduations, weddings, showers, baby dedications.  

He never missed a Christmas Eve of coming over to my parents’ house bringing gifts...always an ornament for me to go on the tree and gifts for my niece and Jett.  

He was quick on the move though, didn’t visit for very long, but you knew he loved you and would give you the shirt off his back.  It was rare to see him in something other than the color orange or a Clemson shirt of some type.  His jeans were always perfectly starched and creased, and he wore cowboy boots most every day. 
He was strong in his opinion, said a few choice words at times, and you always knew where he stood.  He quickly told you what was on his mind and didn’t really have a problem if you didn’t agree.
Seeing him last Sunday and hearing him faintly say “I love you”,  and laying his feeble body over Jett when he hugged him, sealed my heart completely.  
He was real.  He was loved. And he’ll be missed.

We will celebrate him tomorrow with lots of our family and friends at the church he grew up in and one that means so much to us.  

And then on Saturday, we’ll venture to an Insider Event sponsored by Bon Secours in Clemson for the second part of being selected as a  Spirit of the Tiger honoree, where I’ll receive my signed football, take tours of all facilities, and be in THE place he loved dearly.  I can’t think of a better place to be in than the hills of dear ol’ Clemson after laying a die hard fan to rest.  He’d say his blood runneth orange and I’ll say that his memory will live forever. 
So chemo #14 was in his honor.  The infusion time was quiet, peaceful, and calm. Just the way it should be after a sad loss.  My parents came.  My nurse was amazing.  And all went fairly smoothly.  My platelet count was good but my bilirubin numbers were a little off.  They’ll do an ultrasound of my liver soon to be on the safe side.  They think it could be due to the antibiotics I’m on with the crazy fingernails.   During this scary news report I couldn’t help but think that an angel was in the room, sitting beside me, along with the presence of Jesus.  That angel being Freddie.  Cheering me on, telling me to fight the fight.  I could almost hear him say not to worry that everything would be ok.  That made today a little different, knowing that he’s watching down over me.  The ride to the center and home was quiet with my daddy, as the sadness hovers over us all.  He lost a brother and a best friend, and we lost our uncle and a good man.  
Thanks for all the prayers for our family.  

“Tears are prayers too.  They travel to God when we cannot speak.” Psalm 56:8


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