Have you ever met a person that with their smile alone… they light up the room? You know, the kind of person that can lift your Spirit even when you are in the worst mood ever? Life is sweeter when they are around. Life is brighter because they are in it. You find yourself wanting to be around them because you know they will always put a smile on your face and joy in your life. For those of you who have ever had an encounter with the smiling beauty in the photo below… you will certainly agree with me when I say she is nothing short of a bright shining light. She is wise beyond her years… has been through more dark times than most adults could ever fathom… endured more pain than we could ever imagine enduring… and through it all… her light was brightly shining. This sweet one is absolutely a display of God’s beauty for ashes as described in Isaiah 61.
Her mom was so gracious to share her beauty from ashes story with us…
Where do I even begin?!?! Life has certainly not gone the way we planned. We had so many dreams for our little family. I had graduated with my Associates in Pre-Nursing and had just entered the Bachelors Nursing Program at GCSU. All my life, I knew I was going to go into a “helping profession.” I had narrowed it down to teacher, social worker, or nurse. After being a stay at home moma for the first several years, both children were finally in school and I was focused on achieving my dreams — little did I know that God had something much different in mind!
It was January 2005 – at the time, our oldest child, Tyler, had just turned 8 and Hannah was a feisty little 5yr old that was constantly leaping and jumping through the house. Over the course of several weeks, I noticed that our sweet girl was just not herself. She seemed fretful and was complaining of pain in her left elbow area. Following a misdiagnosis of an infected elbow joint, surgery, and several weeks of iv antibiotics, Hannah continued to have unexplained joint pain and swelling. I will never forget the doctor walking into the room accompanied by an oncologist. They both felt strongly that Hannah was battling rheumatoid arthritis, but wanted to rule out the possibility that it was leukemia. And so began our journey into a world that changed us forever and grew our faith in ways that we never imagined!
At first, the thought of 2yrs 3mths of chemotherapy was more than we could fathom. But God, in is infinite power, carried our sweet girl through and enriched our lives through new friendships and a deeper understanding of just much He loves and cares for us! For three years following the completion of treatment, we lived life and enjoyed being free from so many hospital visits and treatment side effects. In March of 2010, I noticed that Hannah had a knot in front of her left ear. She had been battling colds and infections for a couple of months, which made it difficult to get her well long enough to be sedated and have the mass removed. The day finally came where the doctor felt comfortable sedating her and I was completely overwhelmed by the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit as we waited for the procedure that day. While Hannah and I were waiting for her to be taken back, I noticed a book on the table in the room called, “I’m Goin Fishing.” I wish I could find a copy of that book, just for memories sake! Needless to say, each time we flipped a page, it was a promise from God that He was with us and He was going to take care of our baby! That was just one of several “reminders” that day – God is, and always has been, so incredibly faithful!
A few days later, we were informed that the knot in front of Hannah’s ear was actually a leukemic tumor – the cancer was back! I cannot tell you how hard I prayed and sought God during that time, I needed Him to go before us and place just the right people in our path — and He did just that! Each doctor, nurse, and staff member were like “angels” sent straight from heaven just for us! I get emotional just thinking about it – thank you Lord for the constant reminders that you were there in the midst of the storm! Four short weeks into treatment, Hannah had a reaction to one of the chemo drugs and had a stroke! I remember the ICU doctor coming to me and saying, “We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. She has a bleed on her brain and a blood clot — if we treat the bleed, we could make the clot worse — if we treat the clot, we could make the bleed worse!” I have never experienced such horror in my life – the thought of losing my baby was more than I could stand— But God!!! If I have learned nothing else along this journey, it is that He loves our sweet girl soooo much more than I could ever imagine. I have learned to put her into His hands and trust that He will take care of her, no matter the situation!
Hannah survived the stroke and the 2yrs 3mths of treatments. If you were to see her today, you would never know anything ever happened to her! Just this week, she went for her 3mth follow-up with the oncologist and we were thrilled to hear that her next appointment will be at the Survivor Clinic! There is a song that we sing at church that says, “There’s a peace I’ve come to know, though my heart and flesh may fail. There’s an anchor for my soul, I can say it is well!” God most definitely brings Beauty from Ashes — He can take the worst situations you ever face and use them for His glory! Hannah is doing fabulous – she just started her first year of High School and brings a smile to the face of everyone she meets! She has a faith that goes beyond her years and a heart for others that causes me to stand back in awe at times! She will be the first to tell you that, although she hates cancer, she is thankful for the many “good things” that have come out of her journey!
There is a scripture that God kept impressing upon my heart in the weeks leading up to Hannah’s relapse. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go!!!” Joshua 1:9. He is with us in the good times, as well as the bad — and it is our desire to bring Him glory, no matter the situation! I firmly believe that, as a child of God, nothing we go through is in vain — we may not understand it at the time, but one day it will all may sense! “… For you have given me hope! My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life!” (Psalms 119:49)
Thank you Tammy, for blessing us with Hannah’s story. You know the saying “fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree…” well… it is true between you and Hannah. It is very evident where she gets her sweet smile and Spirit. You were her rock through her hospital stays and kept everything peaceful and calm. I know you probably didn’t feel exactly that way at times… but others could easily witness the beauty and love of Christ that you shared even during a difficult and often dark battle of watching your baby girl endure cancer. I know the Lord will continuously bless your faithfulness.
Not only has sweet Hannah blessed so many people through her cancer story… but she also blesses with her beautiful voice. Please click on the link below and be encouraged as you hear her recording with Songs for Kids. http:///www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW0rjOvPeno (disclaimer…happy tears may flow from your eyes when you watch)
Hannah and her family would love to help spread the word about a ministry called Open Hands Overflowing Hearts. Please visit their website to read more about this organization and read about the founder, Kayla, and her cancer story. http://openhandsoverflowinghearts.org/kaylas-story/