Friday, December 30, 2011


When I first learned of Pete's diagnosis I felt helpless so I cried. It was so difficult being in Idaho when everything went down. I had no idea how I could support him from afar and I didn't know what to say. While on the flight home, I sobbed. I half-expected someone to notice but they didn't. Or else, if they did, they didn't know what to say. I'd like to think that if the roles had been reversed, I would have reached out to a woman in need, but who knows? Our coping skills have come a long way since then. We have hope. We try to keep the mood light-hearted with plenty of of jokes, play time with the kids, and lots of love. The circumstances have caused me to cherish my family both near and far. I've suddenly learned to appreciate each person's quirks and imperfections. The presence of those I love is a blessing. The holidays have come and gone and so have my in-laws. To say their presence here was a blessing would be an understatement. They served us with joyful hearts; cooking, cleaning, and caring for the kids. They even became infected with the family cold and still managed to muster a smile. My mother-in-law also sat patiently through Pete's first infusion and offered support whenever necessary. The days following the infusion were rough for everyone but especially Pete. The neuropathy (nerve sensitivity) was intense and the nausea was almost unbearable. On Christmas eve he ended up in the emergency room but luckily only stayed a few hours and was discharged with orders to drink lots of fluids. It's all a learning process. He's slowly learning what his body can and cannot tolerate. And I'm slowly learning what he needs from me. It's a struggle and as much as I'd like to say I know what he's thinking, I don't. And he's not an easy nut to crack. He keeps his emotions inside and it's difficult to draw them out. Sometimes I feel at a loss for words. After all, everything can't be viewed through rose colored glasses all the time. The reality of it all is sometimes overwhelming and the positivity is, at times, difficult to maintain. Last night we were discussing the news that the young pastor who baptized Izzy is once again struggling with colon cancer. Pete mentioned that even if you think you're out of the woods, there's always a chance of reoccurrence. I told him I wasn't going to think like that and began to make jokes. I don't know if I'd call that positivity or denial but either way, I guess it's working for now. Your thoughts and prayers are still greatly appreciated. We'll take all we can get. With Love, Alysha

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Over the past week the spirit in our home has gone from one of shock and fear to one of hope and perseverance. It has been very helpful to be surrounded by the love of family and friends at this time and your presence has helped us to remain positive.
Last night Pete and I were talking and I asked him if it bothered him when I told people, "worse things have happened," in reference to his diagnosis. He said it didn't and reminded me that we are so blessed and have so much to be thankful for. Just the mere fact that we are not even 3 weeks into this and already have a treatment plan scheduled to start tomorrow with the initiation of chemo, speaks volumes. We are blessed.
I have seen the hand of God working in our situation in more ways than one. Just last night total strangers showed up on our doorstep bearing Christmas goodies. When I answered the door they said, "Someone in Westhampton, MA really loves you." It turns out that they are cousins of some old congregation members of my mother-in-law's church in Westhampton. Wow, this is just one example of how God has demonstrated His love to us during this time. And when supported by a God this marvelous, how can one be in fear?
The Lord commands us, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your god will be with you wherever you may go." Joshua 1:9
This verse reminds us not to be in fear. We have had many stage IV cancer survivors reach out to us during this time and they are living proof that it's possible to overcome this. Pete told me last night that he sees this as a multi-step process yet to be completed. Today we can check one of those steps off our list with the start of chemo.
However, we are still in need of prayers as this journey progresses. Please pray that as Pete starts chemo that he would feel surrounded with love and peace. Please pray for wisdom and knowledge of the doctors and nurses treating him. Please pray for my strength and patience as I care for our family. And lastly, please pray God would be continually molding us into His image through this experience. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Can we Just Bury Our Heads in the Sand??? Just for the day?

Today we are very grateful to spend a day free of doctor's appointments and consultations. Although the phone calls keep coming and we had an insurance mess to figure out, we feel as though we can return to some sort of normalcy; at least for the day. Pete is off to meet with our pastor for lunch while I stay home with the kiddos. Then later we'll visit Izzy's school for an end of the year family party which we all will attend.
Last night we were overwhelmed. I finally turned to Pete and suggested we get out of the house. He was in agreement. We dropped everything, including our newfound ridiculously rigid diet, and went to our favorite cheap mexican food joint around the corner from the house. After that we took the kids to the Humpty Dumpty park. Despite the near freezing temperatures, we had a great time pushing the kids in the swings and listening to them squeal with delight as we ducked beneath their feet in a high energy game of peekaboo. We even went out for ice cream! For a moment we felt like "normal" people.
And we are still normal people underneath it all. But sometimes it's difficult to not feel like you should be wearing a sign on your forehead with the inscription, "I have cancer," or, "Someone I love has cancer." However, if you don't discuss it, you feel as though you aren't doing "it" justice. The diagnosis somehow changes everything and all of the sudden your life will never be the same. You don't want it to define you, yet all you do is yearn for conversations free of any cancer or chemotherapy references. This is how we feel at the moment and we are very fortunate, that today, we will have the ability to look beyond this situation and enjoy some quality time with real people who know nothing about it.
I know it is difficult for many of you that don't feel you have the "right" words to say. Let me assure you; we understand that. If the roles were reversed, I would have no idea what to say either. Some of you have shared that you don't want to bother us with your calls or concerns. Please know that you are not bothering us in any way shape or form. If for some reason we cannot answer your calls, we will call you back. We truly appreciate all the love, prayers, and support we have received and we will continue to take all we can get.
Let me end by sharing with you what a very wise friend shared with me the other day. Having been through a similar situation, she was able to share some very unique words of wisdom. She explained that this can be a very lonely journey, especially as it progresses. I was in a bit of shock by that, because at that moment I was overwhelmed by the number of you reaching out to us in our time of need. You see, many people do not reach out because they feel they are not needed or that they cannot help, but let me remind you that you can and have. We are in need of people to stand beside us for the long haul. People who will be there through thick and thin. Who can simply love us despite the difficult circumstances. Please remember that God knows your heart, and He knows our struggles. Simple prayers are sufficient for Him.
We want to thank you again for all you have done.

With Love


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love Thy Neighbor

God is teaching us an abundance of lessons through all of this and He is using many of you as his vessels.  Thank you for ALL your support, prayers, and love. It is truly overwhelming.
At church this past sunday our pastor stated, "If someone on the body of Christ has a gift, I believe they should be recognized." So I want you all to know you have specific gifts and God is using YOU to further His kingdom through this experience. I wanted to use this time to share some of the many ways we have been blessed by all of you over the past few weeks.
Online networking has been such a valuable tool in spreading the word about Pete's diagnosis. In addition to your prayers, some of you have then passed on that information to prayer warrior friends and prayer groups. Thank you for that. God is using YOU!
We have also received an abundance of messages and calls filled with encouragement from friends and acquaintances. These words have helped us maintain a positive attitude in the midst of the unknown. Thank you for that. God is using YOU!
Many people have asked what they can do to help. We have had offers of home cooked meals, free child care, house cleaning, doing our errands, bringing coffee over, and hugs, just to name a few. Friends and family have also offered to fly out from all over the US to serve as live-in-nannies as well as just to be near in the event we need additional support. Wow, is all I can say. Thank you for that. God is using YOU!
We were very surprised when God used many of you to bless us with a special gift of relaxation and time together. We will be taking advantage of that next week. If that was you, thank you for that. God is using YOU!
We understand that this is a difficult situation and sometimes it's hard to know what to say. That's okay. Please know that God is still using YOU. We are confident that He has placed each and every one of you in our lives for a specific reason.
I want to end this by sharing with you a small excerpt from an old friend of mine. Keep in mind that this is just one example of how God is using His body to uplift us during this time. She wrote,

"We have been entering into prayer several times a day for you guys and I can't begin to tell you what peace I have been given. I can only imagine the thoughts and emotions you and Pete must be feeling and thinking daily but please know that you dont stand in this battle alone. I have had such a difficult time the past few days trying to figure out exactly what to say to you and I still dont know what to say but I can give you some truths. You are an incredibly strong woman of faith. God never gives us anything more than we can handle and the things he gives us are for HIS glory. We are often pinched, poked and prodded as He is molding us into what HE wants us to be. Out of every crossroad we encounter as Christians, He provides for us, loves us and brings forth a testimony. I have faith that a year from now you and Pete will be singing His praises together and sharing your beautiful testimony of divine healing."

Thank you for being God's instruments and for reminding us that we do not stand in this alone. You 
have turned a difficult situation into something bearable.

With Love,

Matthew 22:39

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Switch

Pete and I have shared some very "raw"moments over the past week. Time spent with our heads bowed before the Lord in fervent prayer. Time spent wrapped in each other's arms as we weep together at the thought of being prematurely torn away from each other should the unthinkable happen. Time discussing health insurance coverage, life insurance, savings plans, etc... Time discussing treatment plans and options. The list goes on and on.
However an ongoing theme seems to be my desire to save him from this situation. "I wish I could just take it all away," or, "I wish I could trade places with you," I will say. But, he always responds with the same, "I don't." 
My husband, is perhaps, one of the most selfless people I know. That's one of the reasons I was drawn to him when we first began dating; he always put me first. And now that he has a family, he has not changed. He has only become more selfless as time has passed. His desire to help others is incredible. His ability to always see what I need before I even ask him is a real gift. And even in these most terrifying moments he has not wavered in his desire to provide the absolute best for his family. He is my hero. 
He is a caretaker at heart, therefore he has a difficult time when faced with the possibility that in the very near future he will be forced to lean on others for support. 
This is also something I struggle with. While Skyping with my dear friend in Abu Dhabi yesterday she said something that really hit home. She said, "You have done a lot for people and now it's your turn Alysha." Her comment was very humbling. And she's right. Accepting the help of others will be a skill we will both have to learn as time goes by. God is in the process of teaching us a lesson in dependence and love and we must not miss this opportunity to learn from our Master. 
We have been so blessed by the way people have offered to stand beside us during this journey. Thank you all for your continued love and support.

With love,


Saturday, December 10, 2011


I struggle to know where to begin. How do you even begin to describe an event that will forever change your life? How do you react when you are faced with losing the one you love? This is the true test, I guess. The way we react is the key to our success. We must think positively and trust in the Lord. At least, this is the plan.
Not even a week ago Pete went in for a colonoscopy. What I thought was a routine procedure to explore the cause of some intestinal issues turned out to be a nightmare. At the most, I expected a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis; a disease inherited from my mother-in-law. However, the news I received just blew me away. The phone rang, it was Pete. He said, "The doctor wants to talk to you." As I waited anxiously on the line I asked my mom, "Why do you think the doctor would want to talk to me?" She was at a loss. As soon as the doctor came on the line he stated, "We found a mass in his colon; we think it's cancer." CANCER??? The word pierced straight to my heart. How could that be, I thought. He's only 31. I began to sob. "I can't lose him. I just can't lose him," I repeated. 
And therein started the weeklong chain of events that leads us to where we are today. Pete was given a definitive diagnosis of stage 4 colorectal cancer that has spread to his lungs and some lymph-nodes. There you have it, a very active 31 year old mountain climber, father, husband, brother, and son who has CANCER. But where do we go from here? How do we move forward? My answer, we just do. Because we have no other choice. Because there is nothing that is more important to me than saving my husband's life. He is the father of MY children. He has no choice but to be here. 
Our year+ long process will start with chemotherapy and radiation in a few weeks. That will eventually lead to the extraction of the tumor and affected lymph-nodes, more chemo, then the removal of the tumors in the lungs, followed by more chemo. This will not be an easy fix. It will be tough. But I am certain that with our faith in God and our love for one another, we can overcome this. This is sure to be tougher than any mountain he has ever climbed; a metaphorical Everest. We can do this and we WILL do this. 
Thank you for all your prayers and support thus far. Please continue to pray for Pete's emotional and physical wellbeing. Please pray for a sense of continuity for our children as our lives are turned upside down. Please pray that I would have sufficient strength to continue to serve and support Pete as he takes this journey. Please pray that we would maintain our positive outlook. But most of all, pray that our faith in God and His plan would prevail above all. 

With love,