It shapes us. Changes us. This is the story that changed everything for us.
On April 7th 2019 everything about our lives changed. Up to that point, Emily and I had always been healthy and happy. We met at the University of Mobile where she was on the tennis team and I played baseball. Before we knew it, we were married on New Year’s Eve of 2014, just as Emily graduated and I was grinding through engineering school. By God’s immeasurable grace, we have enjoyed an incredible marriage together. And for the first 4 years or so of married life, life was pretty simple and pretty great. Then, out of the blue, everything changed...
One day Emily noticed a little blood in her stool. She was 27 years old, teaching 1st grade, and extremely active and healthy, so we weren’t too concerned. But when it happened again a little while later, she decided to go to the ER to get it checked out. That night they did a CT scan and that’s when we first heard the terrifying words, “it could be cancer.” What happened after that was a bit of a blur. By April 9th Emily had a colonoscopy that showed a “mass” in her colon. On the 11th she had surgery to remove about a foot of her colon and 23 nearby lymph nodes. It took about a week after surgery before we received the full pathology report that officially confirmed our worst fears, Emily had colon cancer. Not only was the mass cancerous, but 13 of the 23 lymph nodes were positive for cancer as well, making her a stage 3 cancer patient.
The journey since that time has been long and, at times, very difficult. Emily has had around a dozen surgeries in all, including when she had to have an ileostomy bag for about 8 months before having it reversed. She started adjuvant chemotherapy shortly after the initial diagnosis and completed those 12 rounds which brought her to a point of “no evidence of disease”. Then, after about 6 months of clean scans, a few lymph nodes were positive for cancer again. So she went for another surgery. By the time she recovered from surgery and she was about to start 11 more rounds of chemotherapy, we were given more bad news. This time the cancer showed up in small spots on her lungs, making her a stage 4 cancer patient…
That second cycle of chemotherapy suppressed the cancerous lung nodules, but a few months off treatment saw them reappear. In July of 2021 Emily finished yet another 12 rounds of chemotherapy aimed at stifling the spots on her lungs. To date, Emily has received 35 rounds of chemotherapy. Needless to say, she has become an expert in what it takes physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to face the challenges cancer throws at you. As we have travelled along this cancer journey, we have learned much about what a cancer patient needs. We have also experienced firsthand how friends and family want to provide love and support, but often just don’t know where to start. That is why we started Fighting With Hope!
This organization is not an abstract idea for us. It is the outworking of a battle tested life, filled with trials and tribulations. A chemo box is not just a box of random goodies picked on a whim. The items are practical and helpful. We started by simply picking the best and most useful things that Emily has received and sending them to other friends we were meeting in the cancer world. Then, as we kept meeting more and more people facing cancer, we kept sending more boxes. Before long others started telling us how perfect and helpful the items were and started offering to sponsor more boxes. As more boxes went out, we realized that God has strategically placed us where we are to serve the cancer community, our community, and make His name great.
Our goal with Fighting With Hope is to provide practical, useful items for cancer patients. But even more important than that, we want every person who opens one of our boxes to receive something so much more, hope. And not just any hope, a true and lasting hope. A hope grounded in the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. A hope that can’t be lost. A hope that fears nothing. Not cancer, not even death, because we rest in the fact that Jesus conquered death itself. Our mission for Fighting With Hope comes from 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” And our prayer is that every person who receives a box or partners with us to send one will know and experience that living hope.