Valuable Treasure

Easter Sunday is the day to remember and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection to life from death in the grave. So what a fitting celebration that we got to have Jas home for Easter! She made a miraculous recovery from her infections and pneumonia, making it possible for her to be home for a few days before round 4.

Sunday afternoon Jas hid eggs throughout the yard for her little cousins to find. The little girls were elated and overjoyed, running throughout the yard gathering eggs into their giant Easter baskets, while their older cousin made sure every last egg was found.

Hiding the eggs.

Seventy eggs later, everyone gathered in the house to see what goodies the little girls had accumulated. There were so many colourful plastic eggs to open up! And yet these brightly enticing plastic eggs didn’t compare to the real treasure found inside – gold and silver coins! Since dairy allergies prevent the usual chocolate eggs, receiving coins has been a highly anticipated consolation.

That pocket change seemed like a million bucks to those delighted kids. And not just the goodies, but the whole experience of being with their beloved cousin contributed to “the best Easter ever”, according to the five year-old. The whole day was a treasure and we are grateful.

Out for a walk with Mom and Dad.

The few days after Easter were treasures as well. Jasmine was able to rest and relax at home with her parents while her brother Eli is enjoying his Easter break in the States at Granny’s.

On Wednesday she was back at the hospital early in the morning for some procedures in preparation for round 4. She received a lumbar puncture, bone marrow biopsy, and a new central line put into her chest for the chemo and medications.

And chemo round 4 began on Thursday. This round is six days of chemo, and the treatments seem to be getting more and more difficult. We are so thankful for the love and prayers from the army marching with us.

And we praise God for the truth of this verse:

“Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but now in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Early Wednesday morning before the procedures.

Continue praying:
1. For maximum effect of chemo on the cancer cells and minimal effect on Jasmine’s body
2. That God would protect her from infection and for her counts to rise quickly after the chemo is done
3. For hope and encouragement in the middle of the struggles
4. That they would be anchored to God who is the Rock

When Life is a Roller Coaster

If you have been along for even part of this wild ride, you will know that it resembles a roller coaster to some degree. The highs have been miraculously high and the lows have been discouragingly low. One day we are celebrating all the good and the next we are battling in prayer because there is so much suffering.

This journey reminds me of a roller coaster at Canada’s Wonderland, in Toronto, called the Behemoth. It is known for its (literal) breathtaking first drop, reaching speeds of 125 km/hour, and the thrilling ups and downs that follow. The one-two hours waiting in line are spent wondering why this was ever a good idea, and seeking distractions from the anticipation of what is about to come. Every glance at the track towering in front of you causes your heart to pound and each time the coaster thunders by you tremble a little bit.


Once on the ride, as the car click-click-clicks up higher and higher, your awareness grows that you have zero control over anything that happens. The only thing holding you in your seat is a lap bar – no upper body restraints, and all you can do is hold on.

These past few months have been like riding the Behemoth over and over and over. With each round of chemo, the anticipation builds, the loss of control overwhelms, and the ups and downs are so unpredictable. But unlike a roller coaster, this ride has a whole lot more pain and suffering.

I am not trying to minimize what Jasmine is going through, nor put it on the same level as a simple amusement park ride. But the unpredictability and the speed of ups-and-downs help paint a picture of what she is facing.

This week Jasmine got a bacterial infection in her central line, the same as round 2. Yet this time the infection was worse so they removed the line and now she receives everything through IV. The antibiotics were slow to work, Jas was put on oxygen, and her blood counts were still at zero, meaning her body couldn’t fight. This week was full of suffering: low blood pressure, loss of appetite, blood transfusions, exhaustion, tears, and hopelessness.

From yesterday, the biggest smile all week!

Sunday night was a particularly low point. A chest x-ray revealed that Jasmine has pneumonia on top of everything else. Helplessness reminded us that we were completely at the mercy of God and that the only thing to do was hold onto Him and pray.

Then yesterday (Monday) we received some amazing news – an answer to prayer! Jasmine’s blood counts were coming up on their own, meaning her body will be able to start fighting the infections. This was the quickest her counts recovered out of all three chemo rounds (Day 20). Praise the Lord! Jasmine was also more talkative and hopeful!

This ride is far from over. However, through the joy and the suffering, we have an anchor. Like the seat restraints holding a person onto the ride, we have an anchor to hold us firmly through all the craziness. And He’s completely faithful and reliable. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19).

Timely reminder from Neen that the power will be of God and not from us.

He is the one holding us. Even if you let go on the ride, if you lift your hands high above your head, the restraint will still hold you in. You may lift off your seat, but you won’t fall off. When God is holding us, we will be afflicted but not crushed; perplexed but not despaired; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed.

It has never been up to us! God’s got Jasmine, and He’s got all of us. Nothing can separate us from Him.

When you get to the end of the ride, there’s a sense of satisfaction because despite what you just endured, you’re alright. The Behemoth was daunting but you conquered it.

We are not at the end yet. We are just past halfway, with two rounds left. But if we remain anchored to God through everything, no matter what circumstances we face, we will be conquerors.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

We may not all be struggling with the same thing as Jasmine, but all of us face ups and downs. This promise rings true no matter what we are walking through: Do not fear for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

Some things to pray for:
1. That her body and the antibiotics will fight off the infections
2. That Jas will be able to eat and regain her strength
3. For renewed hope and encouragement
4. It is Jasmine’s wish that she get to be home for Easter and do an egg hunt with her cousins

Choose Joy

It is day 12 of the third round of chemo. Jasmine finished receiving chemo treatments on day 5, and has been resting this past week, waiting for her blood to recover. Since the very beginning, cancer has attempted to steal many things from Jasmine: her freedom, community, hope, strength, peace, normalcy – but it has not stolen her joy.

Trying on wigs at the salon.

“For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”
Jeremiah 31:25

This courageous beauty continuously puts a smile on her face. She doesn’t complain, and when she does speak up about not feeling well, you know she’s suffering. She embraces every step of this painful process with gentleness and kindness.

On the first day of this chemo round, Jasmine was able to go on a pass with her mom and aunties to visit a wig salon. The wig made with her own hair is due to arrive in a few weeks, but she was thrilled to have another one, and sooner. This round of chemo was the shortest (5 days), but also the hardest, so having a beautiful wig was a highlight.

Jasmine loves doing hair; before cancer you would find her with hair styled exactly how she intended it, each individual hair in its place. Or she would have an extravagant updo that she did herself, learning new techniques from tutorial videos. Losing her hair was one of the hardest realities of cancer, so it was refreshing for her to have hair to style and play with again.

Ice cream with Dad!

Every picture with Jasmine smiling brings hope to us all. She reminds us that joy is possible even in the worst of circumstances. Cancer can force certain realities (like losing hair), but joylessness is not one of those. Joy is a choice, so nothing can take it away.

Joy is only up for grabs if we let it.

“Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:5

“Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future.”
Psalm 16:5

Worry is a joy stealer. Fear is a joy stealer. These things can occupy the space in our minds if we let them. But thank you dear Jasmine, for being living proof that joy is always possible – that we can choose it. We can choose to let go of the joy stealers and rest in knowing God is with us and He’s taking care of us.

Choosing joy doesn’t change the circumstances, but it changes how we walk through them.

Enjoying time outside at Grammy’s during yesterday’s pass home.

We are praising God this week for:
1. Currently no side effects from the chemo
2. Jasmine’s eyes stopped hurting and an eye exam showed no leukemia in her eyes and 20/20 vision
3. She is able to go home on daily four-hour passes
4. Her new wig
5. Moments of joy

Please pray:
1. With each round, Jasmine’s body grows weaker, meaning she doesn’t feel well and can do less to help pass the time
2. Jasmine and Christine are quite tired and still have a long road ahead
3. For no infections or viruses
4. For her blood and immune system to recover
5. Continued health, stamina and strength for Jasmine’s caregivers
6. For renewed joy, strength and courage as they rest/recover from round three and gear up for round four