I am a daughter; a life update

I wrote this sometime in January. I got the okay to publish, today. Thank you for patiently waiting for more details.

Today, I held my mom as she vomited at 2AM. I held back my own tears so that I could repeat the mantras I pray to be true: You are strong. You will heal. This is temporary.

I rubbed eucalyptus oil on her temples and sang a lullaby. I logged meds. I made bone broth for sipping. I set up transport and delegated meals and assistance. I made a med list, I sent medical history to new practitioners, I set up appointments, I provided updates on the group text of care takers. I packed my bag. 

And then I cried. On a plane. While writing this blog post. My phone full of supportive texts. An overflowing to-do list. And, my heart full of both anger and the Shoreline City worship song, “How Great Thou Art”. 

2022 has been a nightmare. It rolled in like a storm. And not the type of storm that resolves itself. One that will take active, intentional work, and has no end in sight.

My mom has cancer.

To be clear, Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. A tumor 4×6 cm in diameter decided to become symptomatic in December and by the grace of a spontaneous trip to the emergency room on January 28th, we had an answer.

If you have any past experience or insight or ability to provide expertise on Integrative Cancer experiences with pancreatic cancer, pearls of wisdom, cooking meals, or getting involved locally – please email me. This was my main reason for sharing. I believe so strongly in the power of community and connection.

It wasn’t diverticulitis or pancreatitis, after all. But a, likely, 10 year growth that has begun to finally shut down appetite, cause nausea, vomiting, and most of all – debilitating pain. Pain, that apparently, feels like labor pains, and makes me question my future as a mother, entirely.

(Side note: This is the only type of cancer that I have ever, professionally, worked with. First, in the hospital, and again, in outpatient endocrinology. A cancer I didn’t want to understand. One that still haunts me.)

Thanks to the urgency from a myriad of colleagues within the healthcare field, treatment started just 4 weeks after diagnosis. She had a MRI, CT, biopsy and port placement in less than 3 weeks. God moves, despite, my anger. He moves as:

  • A cousin who happened to be charge nurse the night of emergency room admission, holding her hand every step of the way. 
  • A hospital who dropped their “no visitor” policy so she could have someone holding her hand through each treatment.
  • A chemo nurse who grew up on the same street, a familiar face amongst the unknown.
  • A surgeon who prayed with my mom before port placement.
  • A surgeon who is in my family member’s own bible study.
  • A nurse who told the story of her own son’s miracle – without prompting – and her faith.
  • A chemo nurse liaison who happens to be the mom of my friend, walking my mom through the unknown. 
  • A family friend who just completed treatment with the same MD.

Almost every conversation I have had with potential care teams have italicized the importance of faith. Of prayer. Of a healing mindset.

It is really, very easy, to have faith and hope when you have a new house, bank thousands into savings, make six figures, live debt-free, have an amazing Christian friend group, and a loving marriage. That was my 2021.

It is another thing completely to have faith amongst the unknown. During a sudden and frankly, unfair, prognosis.

  • It is very difficult to have faith when you learn that your only parent left may be lost to you, too.
  • That your time as a daughter, may be much shorter than you realized.
  • That your road, may actually, quite possibly, include the title of orphan before age 35.
  • Before my first born.
  • Before so many “firsts” that may now, never, come to fruition. A reminder that my plan is not His plan. 

Faith, amongst the fire, is an entirely other type of story. Another type of strength.

I realize that my capacity to have faith at this time is only possible, and powered, by others who literally hand it to me daily. In a hug. In a text. In a daily scripture. In a curated prayer playlist. In a “yes Jesus” as I pray for healing. In a voice text from my prayer partner. In the red rims of my husband’s eyes. In the wet pages of my late father’s bible.

Faith, without community, seems entirely impossible right now. I stand here, broken, but hopeful,  thanks to the hundreds of individuals who continue to say, “but, God”. Who continue to remind me of his ability to make all things possible.

As life moves forward, I have done all I can to strip down my life, my own needs, my priorities to the basics. My hours at Bitewell have been reduced. I am not teaching group fitness. My hours in private practice are less. I had turned away patients. I have increased the hours of my employees. My projects are almost non-existent. My self-care is short burst of 25 minute exercise. My travel plans are zero. My social life is mostly through text. My life is her life. I have no timeline.

My priority is her life. And for now, that is the only thing that matters. Because before I was an RD, a nutrition expert, a lead dietitian, a wife, or a friend – I was a daughter.

That is my update, for now. I lead with transparency, always. And, although it is not the role I wanted, I feel equipped for it. His strength has allowed me to do more this week than I ever thought possible. To pray over groups, prayers that were not mine, but His. I, er, we, have so much hope for the future. I refuse to let the staggering statistics be her prognosis. Because, she isn’t a statistic. My little mama has a great fight within her and an incredible team on board. Will will not stop with conventional medicine, alone. Nutrition matters. Mindset matters. New research matters. And we are doing it all.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it John 1:5

The exact verse, sent to my mama in a text, just a week before this shit storm all started. 

Stay tuned. Watch Him move. 

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  1. Heidi Rose wrote:

    Whitney my heart aches for you and all that are touched my your Moms life . We know God works in mysterious ways, and know his love is all around . Continue prayers is one of the best medicines ,to help one coupe .
    Please let me know if there is anything I can do . Danise is such an amazing beautiful sister in law to me and you are such a strong , beautiful, caring niece . Thank you for sharing . Love you
    Aunt Heidi

    Posted 4.4.22 Reply
    • Whitney wrote:

      God is so powerful! Thank you for all the support.

      Posted 4.4.22 Reply
  2. Randy wrote:

    Know how much you both are loved!

    Posted 4.4.22 Reply
    • Whitney wrote:

      I am, so thankful for you!

      Posted 4.4.22 Reply
  3. Sarah wrote:

    Praying for y’all now!

    Posted 4.4.22 Reply
  4. Grandma wrote:

    So well documented, Whitney and could feel your pain, love, compassion and dependence on God . You truly are a blessing and so thankful for your knowledge as we walk through this together. Love you.

    Posted 4.4.22 Reply
  5. Barb wrote:

    Your “little mama” was the flower girl in our wedding in 1972. We moved from Washington to Indianapolis in 1974, so I’m not not sure if I’ve even seen her since then! But God has a way of uniquely connecting his body together and has called us to the privilege of prayer for each other. He has kept your mom (and you, as well as all of her support team) constantly on my heart and mind…..you are prayed for daily. God is strong and powerful, and just know without a doubt that He is walking every step with you all, and is in control of every detail of this journey. Thank you for sharing….you all are loved from a distance and prayed for constantly.

    Posted 4.4.22 Reply
  6. Marilyn Klinefelter wrote:

    Whitney, Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I know this is extremely hard for you. I have been praying since day one and I also put your mom on our church prayer list. I truly believe in the power of prayer. Praying that God will give you strength to help you with your mother through this dreadful time in her life….Love & God Bless Aunt Marilyn

    Posted 4.4.22 Reply
  7. Chris wrote:

    Whitney, your blog on your Mama has encouraged my faith. Although you must “feel” you have been kicked in the stomach you show the world your faith. Jesus was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. Your faith in him brings glory to His name.
    And that my friend will show your Mama strength when her’s falters. As your day so shall your strength be All ends well with Jesus. Prayers..

    Posted 4.18.22 Reply