In Christ Alone: My Journey through Breast Cancer

a 35-year old, christian, mother of four, missionary/pastor's wife's story

Get Set July 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 9:43 AM

Thank you all for your prayers! God has been working in each area we asked you to pray with us about this week! I’m so thankful God hears our prayers and answers!

Health-wise, I was able to have my CT scan done this week, and it only shows one of my lumps that we already knew about. This is very good news! The cancer has NOT spread anywhere else! And most of the new lumps are still superficial enough that they do not show on the scan. We have adjusted my chemo: I went back to Herceptin to attack any of the HER2 positive cancer, and also added a new weekly chemotherapy called Navelbine. It does have a long list of possible side effects, including my blood counts being affected, so we will have to wait and see how it affects me this week. I received my first dose on Friday, and so far I’ve been feeling pretty good! The wheels are now set in motion, so we will wait to see how the cancer responds to this treatment.

It was neat to see how God worked this week in making the next step clear to us. We had different possibilities we were pondering, but God had the week’s events planned to help us Trust Him and He directed our path. Why is it so hard for us to claim His promise in Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Financially, God is putting some new opportunities before us! Some we have been working toward for a while, others came out of the blue just this week. If nothing else, we have the confidence that God will provide. He is over all His works! He owns the cattle on a thousand hills! Please pray that we will continue to have wisdom from above in discerning what God’s will is for our family financially.

Ministry-wise, God is shedding some light on possibilities, so please continue to pray as we seek to follow and honor God in our church planting ministry in Bennington, NE. I am so thankful for God using my hubby’s sermons in my life, especially the past two weeks. You’ll notice my last blog was entitled Get Ready from the title of Eric’s sermon that week. God is going to do great things! Are you Ready?

This past week’s sermon, He’s Here, reminded me why we can Trust God and His Word. If we have accepted Christ as our Savior and made Him Lord of our lives, He sends us the Holy Spirit to live in us. We have God living in us, with us wherever we go! He will give us whatever power we need to stand, no matter what comes. Trust in Him and Trust in His promises from His word.

God has put a couple of older songs in my heart this week. From my Patch the Pirate Club days, Rejoice in the Lord reminds me that God never moves without purpose or plan and He knows best. He Giveth More Grace reminds me that He will provide whatever I need as the needs arise. His power has no boundary! His riches are infinite! His love has no limit! As we rest in Him and cry out to Him, He gives us His grace, mercy, strength, and unexplainable peace for our journey.

God is at work; please keep praying with us as we Get Set for what He will do!

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

Get Ready July 12, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 10:29 AM

God is always at work and preparing us for what is coming. For a while now, I’ve felt God preparing me for something big that was on the horizon. I’m so very thankful He prompted me to lead a Bible study on Beth Moore’s book Get Out of That Pit. It was a wonderful time of getting to know these dear women and sharing our struggles in life and seeing God’s faithfulness in all situations. Through God’s power, we don’t have to stay in the pits of life. We are able to live this life out of the pit, standing firm on our Solid Rock no matter what challenges or storms this life may bring! Whether we were thrown into a pit by something that happened to us, slid into a pit, or jumped into a pit, God’s power can lift us out:

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord.”
Psalm 40:1-3

We are sometimes tempted to try to stand by our own power, and that may work for a time. But other times there is no way we can stand firm without God’s power. We are facing three big challenges in our lives right now that we crave your prayers and support as we look to God for guidance and strength.

Healthwise, my cancer treatments these last couple months have not been as effective as desired. Radiation did shrink my recurring tumor on the right side some and chemo seems to be keeping it from growing too much for now. Meanwhile, I have had five new tumors develop in the last three weeks in the middle, left, and now right sides. These tumors seem to be unaffected by my current treatment, so we are seeking what course of action is the best. Please pray for wisdom and clear direction for our medical team and for Eric and I as we seek what course to take. I am scheduled for scans on Wednesday and we will go from there.

Financially, our reserves are quickly dwindling. Our current missionary support level is about 50% of what we need now with our increased healthcare costs this year. We are seeking God’s will and direction. We either need to raise the rest of our needed support through churches and individuals giving, or Eric will have to take on another job to meet the needs. Either option will be a challenge with the needs of the church here, my changing medical treatment, and the demands of daily life for our family. Will you pray with us for guidance and clear direction in our financial challenge?

Ministrywise, we have felt the strain of needing some fellow laborers in our church planting ministry. Our Assistant Pastor and his wife have been away from our church to serve as interim pastor at another Nebraska church in need since March. I am struggling with fatigue from my cancer treatments, causing Eric to have to take on more of our household and family responsibilities. This in turn makes it difficult to keep up with the needs of a church plant, let alone be able to effectively plan for the future. Please pray with us that God will raise up strong families or individuals in the area to serve as part of our core church planting team.

We have some big challenges ahead, but we know that God is bigger and will make a way for us to stand firm no matter what circumstances we may face. We are so thankful for the continued support of all our prayer warriors, family, friends, and community. We truly could not do this without each of you!

2 Corinthians 1:10-11 – “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”
God has put this song in my heart-In Christ Alone
You can read our latest wilmeth.org missionary update here-The Wilmeth Wire

 

Remembering May 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 1:56 AM

Sorry it has been so long since my last update. April and May have been very busy for our family, as is probably the case for most of you as well! Here are a few highlights:

Asher loves his birthday cake!

Asher loves his birthday cake!

Asher’s 1st Birthday-Our little miracle reached the milestone

Asher is 1 year old!

Asher is 1 year old!

of his 1st birthday! Asher is now walking around and starting to say some words. He is very social and loves to go out to various activities. May 27th will mark 1 year since we brought Asher home from the NICU! It has been amazing to see his growth in the past year from being totally dependent, even to breath in the beginning, to becoming an active little boy who now wants to do many things independently. “Every good and every perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17) We are truly blessed to have been entrusted with our perfect gift of Asher James.

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

In the stocks!

In the stocks!

Washington DC Trip-I was so blessed to be able to go on the 5th grade field trip to Washington DC with Faith! It was an amazing experience to see the monuments and buildings and to experience so many things that our country was founded on. It was neat to see how God was part of the foundation of our country in so many ways.

 

 

Girls' Trip!

Girls Trip!

It was truly an answer to prayer that I was even able to take this trip and keep up with our group while under the fatigue of my chemo treatments. Most days we walked about 9 miles in our sightseeing endeavors! Thank you so much to all who were praying. I know it was because of your prayers and the supernatural energy I received that I could experience this once in a lifetime trip. It was a wonderful experience for Faith and I to share together. No matter what the future holds, we’ll always be able to look back on this fun girls trip we took together with fond memories.

IMG_1742

Ready for graduations from K, 1st, & 5th Grades!

End of School Year Activities-Concerts,  Field Trips, Field Day, American Cancer Society Relay for Life Recess at our Elementary School, Awards Days-Kindergarten, 1st, & 5th Grade Graduations & more!

Church Activities-Spring Conference, began weekly Ladies Bible Study, hosting college team visits, Bennington Daze & Vacation Bible School planning, and the “normal” weekly ministries of a church planter.

As we remember the many who have given their lives to give our country the freedom we have today, I can’t help but think of the verse, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) I have been blessed to teach my Jr Church kids how Jesus is the Good Shepherd. “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) It is amazing to think about the love that someone must have to lay down their life for someone else. I am so thankful for the love God has for me, even to the point of dying for me. I urge you to meditate on Psalm 23 and see how the Lord acts as our Shepherd and gives us all that we need.

Medical Appointments-My scans once again came back clear! It is good to know that my cancer has not spread to other parts of my body! Once again, the spots we have been watching on the right chest area that keep growing, then shrinking after my chemo treatments, and then growing again did not show up on my scans. We decided to do a biopsy to confirm this was cancer again. I underwent a small punch biopsy 2 weeks ago on the new spot that developed since my last chemo treatment and the results show that it is cancer.

After consulting with my medical team, we have decided to pursue radiation and chemotherapy treatments. I will begin daily radiation treatments on Tuesday, May 27th for the next 3 weeks, while continuing on my current chemotherapy once every 3 weeks. I have not had any radiation on my right side before. I have had radiation on the left side 2 times now with excellent results: no cancer has returned to any radiated areas! We are praying this will be the treatment that will work on the right side now.

Please pray with us that this treatment will successfully kill the cancer, that the radiation burns will be tolerable and heal quickly, that I will have opportunities to share God’s faithfulness to me with others around me.

The month of May also marks another milestone in my life-my birthday! I am so thankful that God has blessed me with another year to experience the ups and downs of life here on earth with my family and friends. I am thankful God has taught me over this past year and is still teaching me that I can find joy in any circumstance I am in. I am thankful for the many opportunities to serve and help others, share Christ’s love, and tell of God’s faithfulness to me.

My journey has shown me how precious and fragile life really is. This past year, I have seen too many friends lose their battles with cancer, knowing that could be me before my next birthday. This life is but a vapor, and I know that each day is a gift from my precious Savior! I am so thankful that I have the assurance that this life is not all there is, and I will go to heaven when I leave this earth! Do you have that assurance? If not, please read this page! If you do have this assurance, are you living each day in light of your eternal salvation? Don’t miss out on the opportunities God places before you to live out your salvation so others may be pointed to God as well. Thank you all for your love, support, and prayers!

 

Time for More Scans April 12, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 5:00 AM

It has been 6 months since my last scans. And just in time, a couple of my recurring spots on the right side decided to pop up again. This tumor first made it’s appearance a little over a year ago during my pregnancy with Asher. Since then, we have seen it respond to 2 different chemotherapy regimens and go completely away each time, only to return again. This time I noticed it again the day before my last treatment. I had my treatment and again saw it shrink, but it has not gone away completely yet.
Since this spot keeps coming back, we are exploring other options of treatment. My oncologist set me up for a PET scan and CT scan. I also saw my Radiation Oncologist and radiation looks to be a good option. I’ve had great results from radiation on my left side, but have not had any radiation on the right side. So for now I continue my current chemotherapy treatment every 3 weeks, wait for results on the scans, and will most likely begin radiation in May.
At the beginning of May, I have the wonderful opportunity to go with my daughter Faith on her 5th Grade Class Field Trip to Washington D.C.!!! I have never been there before, and I am so excited to share this special experience with Faith! We have been fundraising throughout the school year to offset the cost of the trip. As May approaches, we have begun to research some of our destinations, and we are eager to see some of the examples around our Capitol that show the Christian Heritage of our nation! Please pray that I will have the energy needed to enjoy this amazing trip with Faith! Thankfully it will fall on the good week in my chemo cycle, but my energy has definitely been down again these past couple weeks.
Lately, as my prayer list has been growing with so many that are facing such difficult circumstances, I believe God has been working in my heart and showing me some ways that I can help and encourage those around me. I began a Bible study in our home this week with some dear ladies and am very excited to see how God will work through it in our lives in the coming weeks! I am also pursuing some other opportunities and will see if God continues to open doors. Please pray for me to have wisdom in using my energy and knowing what God’s will is for me right now.

As many cancer patients know, the time leading up to and waiting for results from scans can be a very anxious time. Fear of cancer spreading or recurring can run rampant if not held in check. When I struggle with worry, I always end up going back to my first round of testing to see if I had cancer. God brought me to the book of Philippians. Right in chapter 1:18-20:
“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”
This will turn out for my deliverance. No matter what the outcome, God is in control and will work this out for my deliverance and His glory! So I am to exalt Christ through my current situation.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” God has a purpose and can work any situation out for my good when I turn to Him and seek His will.
So, practically, what do we do when worry and anxiety creep in? Philippians 4:4-9 has the answer:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
1)Rejoice in the Lord, 2)Think of others, 3)Pray, 4)Give thanks, and 5)Control what you think about. (If it’s not on the list, change your train of thought to something that is on the list of things to dwell on.) Then the Peace of God which passes all understanding will be with you. Much, much easier said than done, I know! ;) It’s not easy, but it does work.
I’ll leave you with one last verse that I memorized under the tag “Assurance of Victory”:
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) No matter what the future holds in this life, God will provide a way of escape for you to endure it. And we always have the future hope of eternity in heaven with our Savior!

 

11 Months & 3 Years March 17, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 10:22 PM
Asher photo bombing Adam and Ethan's picture!

Asher photo bombing Adam and Ethan’s picture!

Guess who is 11 months old today!?!?! Our sweet little miracle Asher is already 11 months old! Where does the time go? It’s so amazing to watch him learn and grow. He is such a blessing and joy to everyone around him. His smile just lights up his face and you can’t help but smile in your heart when you see it. :) He is truly living up to his name’s meaning of “happiness and joy”. We are so thankful for this sweet blessing from God in the midst of cancer.

Today also marks a big milestone in my cancer journey.3 years ago today, we heard those words that changed the course of our lives: “You do have cancer.” We did not know what this journey would bring. It has been a roller coaster of ups and downs, but God has been our rock through everything. We have heard those words 3 times in 3 years, once right after finding out we were pregnant with our sweet Asher. Each time we had peace that God was in control and had a plan in all of this, even if we didn’t know what that plan was. There was more than one time that we had to face the reality that God may take me home now. I do not know how we have made it through the hard times; it’s only by God’s strength that we have continued to walk each day. We are so thankful for all the support and countless prayers on our behalf. The power of prayer is absolutely amazing! God hears and answers our prayers!

I am still here 3 years later, and I am feeling the best I have in the last 3 years! My new “miracle” chemo Kadcyla is doing it’s job! All of the bumps and lumps we have been watching have completely gone away. We watched them shrink each time I would receive a treatment, and now they are gone! My side effects have been minimal compared to what I have dealt with these last 3 years. And my energy level has been increasing each day! I can have a busy day and not be completely exhausted for the next couple of days. Pray this treatment will continue to work with minimal side effects!

I am excited to see how God will work through this new energy that I have. I am thankful for many opportunities to help and encourage friends and new acquaintances, many on their own cancer journeys. I know so many that are hurting and facing difficult times right now. My prayer list is long and the opportunities are great.I know that God can and does work miracles. I know that He works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, as He tells us in Romans 8:28. Will you pray that God can use us to share this hope with those in need right now?20140317-222200.jpg

 

Video Interview and Update February 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 11:46 PM

I want to thank each of you for your prayers and encouragement! Many of you have never met me, but faithfully pray for me and send me such encouraging messages. I pray that God uses my story of His faithfulness to encourage you in whatever circumstances you may be facing right now.

I now have my video interview and story to share with you! My oncologist had a camera crew come in and interview patients this past Fall. This interview was done a week after I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the third time, so it is mostly about my first two rounds with cancer. They couldn’t put all of the interview in this clip, so they also did a written story entitled God is My Rock using my other comments and information from my oncologist. All of these are posted on my oncologists website: Oncology Associates

I pray you are encouraged and will share this video to encourage others:

I did receive the second dose of my new chemotherapy Kadcyla this past Friday. (I only have this one every three weeks.) This targeted chemo has been sooo much easier on my system than my previous type of chemo. I still have the fatigue, but not as severe and by the third week I am feeling almost “normal” again. The other side effects have been minimal! And even better, we have seen results already! My tumors on the right side are shrinking! And all of the areas on my left side that were radiated away have not come back at all, and my skin has healed up really well from radiation. We are praising the Lord for His answer to so many prayers! Please join us in praying that this new “miracle” chemo will continue to work and kill my cancer. I am so thankful that my God has His sovereign hand over my life.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

 

9 Months Already! January 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 11:22 AM
Asher is 9 months old!

Asher is 9 months old!

Asher has reached another milestone: his 9 month birthday! He is a happy, social little guy who is always on the go. If anyone gives him a little attention he smiles and smiles. He is definitely living up to the meaning of his name by spreading “happiness and joy” wherever he goes! He is crawling all over now, pulling himself up to standing, and walking with help.He has had 2 haircuts, has 6 teeth, and is loving eating food now! He is our perfect little miracle from God! I can’t help but thank and praise God for this amazing gift as I watch him grow and develop each day.

I haven’t given a medical update for quite some time now. I did finish my 3 weeks of daily radiation to my left chest area at the beginning of December. We saw great results from the radiation! The 2 tumors are completely gone and the skin area is much improved and hasn’t shown any signs of growing again since then. I did have some pretty good radiation burns this time and even had an area that opened up. My radiation oncologist prescribed a burn ointment that worked wonderfully though. The area was completely healed over within 2 weeks after looking pretty nasty! Now my burns are all healed and the skin is looking very good. I am so thankful that the radiation works so well against my cancer!

As I was preparing to begin radiation on my left side, some new bumps popped up on the right side again. I continued my weekly doses of Herceptin chemotherapy while doing radiation. At the end of radiation I added a new daily chemo pill that was very hard on my GI tract. I ended up on it for a week and then off for a week to recover. We kept up this routine for 6 weeks and my symptoms just seemed to get worse each time, so we decided to move on to the next chemo. The pill was just meant to be an interim chemo until I was healed up from radiation. The Herceptin and chemo pill (Tykerb) did seem to work in the respect that my new cancer on the right side did not grow, but also did not shrink while on them.

Asher is hanging with mom,  sporting his new haircut!

Asher is hanging with mom,
sporting his new haircut!

In just the past week I have seen some small growth of these bumps again, so God worked out the timing to move on at just the right time once again. I began Kadcyla chemotherapy Friday. This is a new “miracle” drug that was just approved last year. We are hopeful that it will attack and kill the cancer with minimal side effects! Will you pray with us that this is the case?

Also, please be in prayer for my chemo friends. In the past week we have seen one chemo friend pass away, and 3 others receive news that their cancer is back or has spread. We are thankful for the wonderful testimony of Bonnie Walls at her memorial service. She was always willing to share her experience and kind words to help and encourage me and others in the chemo room. We rejoice that she is

now in heaven with her Savior, but we also sorrow with those loved ones left behind. With many friends hearing “bad” news this week it has been difficult to keep our focus on rejoicing in God and His goodness.

I read a great quote from Lysa TerKeurst and her book Unglued, “I can’t control the things that happen to me each day, but I can control how I think about them. I can say to myself, ‘I have a choice to have destructive thoughts or constructive thoughts right now. I can wallow in what’s wrong and make things worse, or I can ask God for a better perspective to help me see good even when I don’t feel good.'”

I am so thankful for the verse I taught in Jr. Church last Sunday that the Spirit kept bringing back to my mind throughout this week: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18) We know that God loves us and wants the best for His children. This is His will for us. As I try to rejoice, I remember the next part of the verse. If I cannot rejoice, I pray that God will give me joy despite what my circumstances may be. God has given me so many blessings to rejoice in. I have to keep my focus on Him and His blessings!

Wilmeth Family Vacation at Mall of America!

Wilmeth Family Vacation at Mall of America!

We were able to enjoy some wonderful times of blessing over the Christmas Season when I was feeling okay! We spent time with all our family, some college friends, some high school friends, and other dear friends. We celebrated Adam’s 7th birthday at the Science Center in Iowa. We also took our first Wilmeth Family Vacation! Well, the first vacation that wasn’t to visit family or to go to a conference. ;) We left Asher with Eric’s parents and took the other kids to the Mall of America for a few days! We had a great time visiting the Lego store, American Girl store, and exploring the amusement park in the mall! We were able to make many memories that we will remember for years to come. We thank the Lord for this blessed time together!

 

 
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