What Do Your Children Know?

Our children were ages 1, 3 and 5 when I was originally diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2019. We have been open with them from the beginning that “Mommy has cancer.” Yet their level of comprehension continues to grow as they age.

We aim to create an environment in our home where the children know they can ask questions. While simplified language is used, we want our children to be confident that their parents will always tell them the truth. We give them updates on my health just like we do for our friends.

They hear people talk around them. It is important that they have a level of understanding of what is happening. It is not a secret.

At the moment, they understand my cancer as a type of bad germ in Mommy’s body. We tell them these “bad cells” are fighting in Mommy’s body and she has to take medicine to fight back. Sometimes though the medicine hurts her “good cells” too. That can make Mommy feel sick. If we don’t fight the cancer cells they would take over Mommy’s body and kill her. If things get really bad and it looks like the bad cells are going to win, then Daddy will tell you. But until Daddy tells you, you don’t need to worry.

They are all attune to how Mommy feels. They look for little ways to help me. Our son starts most mornings by asking if he can do anything for me. So even when other people are in our home, I try to ask my children to help me first when they are able. It seems to mean a lot to them when they are taking care of me.

The older two have some memory of life before cancer and wish we could go back to life then. They all speak of wanting Mommy’s cancer to go away. And we pray together as a family for just that every night.

Cancer affects our family. It has changed the way we function. But we try and move forward each day with the same priorities we had before. As much as possible we aim for a sort of “normal” structured routine.

It is our prayer that God will use my cancer to bring all three children to a point of repentance and belief in Jesus. He allowed their mommy to have cancer so it is part of His sovereign plan for their lives as well.

Do You Have A Support System?

We live in a unique age of history with the ability to communicate with friends (and strangers) all over the world about my health journey.  I’m very thankful for the love and support that I feel from all parts of the globe.  Because some of my very dear friends aren’t physically present with me, they worry that I’m suffering alone. And while there are challenges that come from living away from immediate family, I do not think that we are neglected. 

Family and friends have come and stayed in our home many times since my diagnosis.  We love having the help, encouragement, and companionship that these visits bring. Each time is different but usually always what we need in that moment.

We have a wonderful church family at Amissville Baptist Church who meets so many of our needs. With the pandemic there has been times when we have had to be more isolated than we would like, but our church has always been our first source of support in day-to-day matters.  In fact, we try to initially lean on them before reaching out to other friends in the area. 

Still, we have many Virginia friends. I am amazed at the Lord’s blessing in giving us connections to such a variety of people in the area. Many friendships were begun as soon as we moved here and therefore “pre-cancer” relationships. Others have come since. All are precious to us.

Our oldest two children attend Fresta Valley Christian School. This institution is a continual source of benefit to our family. So many wonderful people are investing in our children and our family. This is a gift from God.

God supplies all our needs and many times it is through people. Whether you are local or long distance, a close friend or new acquaintance.  Thank you for your interest in our lives and especially your prayers. You are a blessing.

Why Keep the Faith

Some have wondered why I didn’t abandon my faith after receiving my diagnosis.  On the one hand, I like the Apostle Peter would have to say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). And on the other hand, I have wrestled hard with the truth.  I have cried out to the Lord in anguish asking if He heard me. It is with deep conviction that I hold on to what I believe.

Hebrews 11:1-3 says,

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

I came to saving faith in Jesus before I was seven years old.  I knew the Bible stories but they didn’t yet mean anything to me (at least not more than the ABC’s and 123’s). One Sunday night at church while my father (Ray Gentry) was preaching, I sat listening intently. The Holy Spirit brought conviction to my soul for the sinner that I am. I wanted to be perfect in my own strength. I was always trying to obey the rules so that things would go well for me. Yet I failed time and again. I couldn’t achieve the standard I had already set for myself at an early age. I started crying before I could even understand all the thoughts that were running through my head.  But I knew in that moment that Jesus had died on the cross for me. All the things I had heard about Jesus were real and true. That night I confessed my sins and need for a Savior to God. I prayed for Jesus to forgive me. And He did! I was changed and I knew it. From that point on faith was alive in my soul. It has been slow at times in my life, but God began a work in my life then and He has been faithfully growing me since.  Building truth upon truth, I have desired to live a life pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6).

Since God opened my eyes to the truth, I can’t desert it for a lie. And with every hard season of my life, the same truth proves steadfast and unmovable. It is my strength for today and the hope of what is to come.