14 February 2016

DebbieLynne Costello -- When Husband Diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma


My life was turned upside down this past April when my husband was diagnosed with a rare form of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma called Mantle Cell. He wasn’t even seeing the doctor because he was sick. The man is never sick. And I mean never!

My life since April has been living in Houston more than South Carolina. But God has been here with us in amazing ways!
The first thing I did as a Christian, I fell to my knees and cried out to God. I don’t mean just pray I cried out—out loud—pleading with God. I contacted every person I knew who would pray and asked them for prayers. And God moved. First He guided us to MD Anderson. A dear friend and nurse practitioner from Dallas called when she heard about Joe. She convinced us to come to Houston to MD Anderson for a second opinion. She then called her best friend in Houston and got us a place to stay when we came.


Then I got an email from a lady who had called me weeks earlier about getting a sheltie puppy from me. This woman knows nothing about Joe. Her email goes something like this. “I don’t know what is going on but God told me to tell you that He’s got this.” I cried. I responded and told her what WAS going on. She told me that she didn’t want me to think she was weird or anything but that she’d been driving down the road and God told her to pray for me. She said I thought to myself okay God I’ll pray when I get home, but she felt like God was yelling at her in her head saying pray now! She said she almost pulled her car over. Then people started telling me they were praying and they really felt like God told them He’s got this! I probably heard that at least 6 times. And no one knew what this other woman had told me.

It seemed every time my faith got low, God sent someone else to remind me He had this! It was so amazing. I’m a person who believes in ‘bugging’ God. I remind Him of His promises. I am like the man in the bible who has company come in the middle of the night and so he goes to his neighbors and won’t quit knocking on his door until he gets up. God wants us to cry out to Him.

In the lowest valley we’ve ever walked, God has been there every step of the way. We never said why us? Things like this can bring a person closer to God. I know I want God to use me through this. It has been amazing to watch God move. I’ll quick give you some ways He blessed us.

Friends, neighbors, and family stepped up to the plate to help. It was unbelievable. You see I have 3 shelties, 1 German Shepherd, 1 cat, 5 horses (one is a young colt), and a miniature donkey. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Friends and family take care of our animals when we are gone.
We went to the hospital and Joe was put with Doctor Wang. People ask us, How did you get in with Dr. Wang? You see he is one of the 2 top doctors for Mantle Cell Lymphoma in the World! 


Joe has probably had MCL for 2 to 4 years. But God wanted us at MDA at this time. Because it just so happened that Dr. Wang was starting a clinical trial for MCL patients and Joe was immediately accepted into the study! Had his Mantle Cell been discovered earlier we would have missed the trial.
We fell in love with the woman we were staying with. She’s like family. She offered her home to us every time we come down and even when we have to stay for 5 months!

God has been so good to us and I am so thankful for all His blessings. That’s not to say we never have hard days. We do! We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. But keeping our eyes on the Lord is the key to keeping a good attitude. I don’t think God is disappointed with us for hurting sometimes or getting discouraged. But what He does want is for us to know where to turn when that happens. He wants us to look up and run into His open arms.

CFP: DebbieLynne told me about this picture: “This is a really cool paper Lockness. Each piece of paper was colored and then the papers were cut randomly by hand making this beautiful piece of art. This picture really doesn't do it justice. It is displayed in MDAnderson.” This is DebbieLynne’s daughter, Kacie.

Giveaway: Winner's choice of either of DebbieLynne's novels winner's choice of paperback or ebook (USA only paperback). Answer this question: Have you had a loved one battle cancer? What helped in coping?  


64 comments:

  1. When you see a pattern of tender mercies in your life it is so humbling and so faith affirming. I am glad you received these blessings and miraculous "coincidences" to put the wind beneath your wings when you most needed it. May His love continue to clear the path for you and your family during this challenging pilgrimage of healing.

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    1. Thank you, Debbie. God is so faithful to carry us through our darkest hours.He shows us His light and He gives us what we need to put one foot in front of another.

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  2. DEBBIELYNNE reading this brings back so many memories. Those exact same words "GOD'S GOT THIS" was the words that first came out of my mouth when my hubby was diagnosed with cancer. What powerful words they are! Words that come from the depth of our soul, words spoken by children who know their Father has their best interest at heart.

    It's so encouraging to read your testimony of how GOD has taken care of your every need.

    Please know I will continue lift you both up in prayer. I also pray that Joe will continue to see GOD's hand at work as He leads him on the road to recovery. (((HUGS)))

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    1. Thank you, Teresa. I know how well you understand that hour when the doctor says the words you don't want to hear. We serve an amazing God that is always there for us, wrapping His arms around us and whispering, "I've got this." No matter what the circumstances or outcome. I pray you continue to feel His comforting arms. God Bless! ((Hugs))

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story here with us, DEBBIELYNNE. It's always so encouraging to see and hear about God moving miraculously in people's lives when they're going through such tough trials. And it's wonderful to see you passing on helpful advice for those in similar situations.
    I have known a few people who have fought cancer now. Some have beaten it, others sadly haven't. And DebbieLynne, I'm the same as you as in bugging God like the widow before the judge! That's how I cope... By frequently praying. And by giving encouragement and love to those affected when I can. I'll add Joe's name to my prayer list along with some others I know that are still battling. God bless you.

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    1. Yes! It's what gets me through. Knowing I can plead with the Heavenly Father and He does hear my cries. Thank you, so much for adding Joe to your prayer list! I don't say that lightly!! I know that every voice added on Joe's account is another reason for God to answer! God bless you for your sweet spirit and obedience of prayer. ((Hugs))

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  4. Now, this post has brought me to tears. My 26 year old niece has been recently diagnosed with Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Her and her husband have a beautiful one year old boy. The type she has, the doctors never seen it in someone at her age. We have been doing a lot of praying for her and family. It is amazing how much support she has received. The community has even planned a benefit for her. She has started treatments as of last Thursday and all we have is pray pray pray that she will be ok.
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

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    1. Amy, It is frightening at the rate these cancers are hitting younger and younger. Cancers that were "old" people cancers are being developed by young people. But let me encourage you with something. We have talked with many research doctors and nurses and they are making great strides in Non-Hodgkins Lymphomia here at MDA. They are talking cures in our lifetime for NHL's that at one time were incurable. And never be afraid to ask people to pray. When people ask what they can do I tell them pray. We serve an awesome God who answers prayers.

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  5. Awesome!!! God is good. Continuing to pray for you both. Love you.

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    1. Thank you for all your prayers, dear Susan. You have been so faithful lifting Joe up. God bless you!

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  6. Many people I know and love have been touched by cancer. Probably the one that hit me the hardest was my best friend, who was mid-30's at the time, with 2 teenage boys. While she was sick I prayed so hard for God not to take her. I got pretty depressed when she passed, because her family fell apart. Then my pastor sort of rebuked me, by saying, "Why are you so sad? She's in the best place she could be, in Heaven with the Father." Though it was hard to hear those words, it was a wakeup that I needed. He was right, her pain was over. So I would say that what helped was the knowledge that she was the Lord's.

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    1. Yes, and I think most people want to stay here on earth with their family and loved ones but once they are in heaven with our Lord and Savior they would not want to come home. But those left without our love ones are sad because we miss them. Just like when someone we love moves far away we are sad. But I do understand what your pastor is saying. We can't give up the joy we live in as Christians. We can't let the sadness of missing our love ones overcome our joy in the Lord.

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  7. Debbie Lynne, what an awesome testimony of God's timing, blessings, love, provision and God-incidences! Thank you for sharing with us, your testimony brings tears as I read. I will continue to pray for Joe and you.

    I am a retired Oncology RN and have cared for many, many patients with cancer (and their families) at our local hospital and the out patient IV Therapy Cancer Center, which also do clinical trials. What a difference placing everything in God's hands made for those patients (and their families) who focused on Him and those who did not.

    On a personal level, I have many, oh so many, family members who have had (most have relocated to our Father's Presence in heaven) or have cancer. Most recently my sister-in-law with breast cancer, she had surgery this past Wednesday. They caught it very early, stage 0! so, it looks like she will not be needing chemo or radiation treatments. Her comment: "God's got this, it's in His hands!". My cousin had breast cancer about 20 years ago and is doing wonderful and remains cancer free!

    Blessings,Tina

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    1. That is wonderful about your SIL! I think one of the things we have to remember is that God is in control of our lives. He cares and loves us and we have to believe He has His hand on our lives.

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  8. What a blessing that God has called so many to help and pray for you, as you and your husband go through this trial. God is so gracious and merciful.

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    1. It is amazing all the people God has laid on their hearts to pray for my husband. I stand in awe. I truly do. I feel so blessed that people sacrifice their time to pray for a man they don't know.

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  9. Thank you for your beautifully touching and encouraging post, Debbie!! You and Joe have been such a personal help and encouragement to me while going through your own trials - I can't thank you enough!!

    Cancer is no stranger to my family - my mother having had skin cancer, father now in stage 4 cancer, and myself now fighting what could be the 3rd battle with cancer. I absolutely would not have been able to deal with all of this, and other personal and family health issues within the last 2 1/2 years, if I didn't have God to lean on - the strength, comfort, and blessings He has provided, and the prayers of so many brothers and sisters-in-Christ. It's a day-to-day battle, and at times - even an hour-to-hour battle. Satan loves to catch us at our weakest times and try to discourage and turn us away from God. However, it is those trials that can make us even stronger, with an even closer relationship with God. He doesn't choose to heal everyone in the same way - or on earth. It's a comfort to realize this life on earth is just a blink in time compared with the length of time our healed bodies will spend with Him in eternity. I'm promised whatever method He chooses in my case will work to my good!!

    I'm praising the Lord for the way He was worked in Joe's situation and the blessings He has provided each of you during this trial. Continued prayers for you and Joe, Debbie!! Love you!!

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    1. (((Hugs))) Bonnie. I appreciate your prayers and encouragement so much. You have been such a blessing to me. How true that God has our best interest in mind for us. He loves us more than our minds can comprehend! I'm so sorry about your father. I pray they are able to treat him. Praying for you that your news will be GREAT news and you are still cancer free!!

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    2. Thank you for your prayers and sweet comments, Debbie!! My father was beyond chemo when diagnosed - he's had 2 rounds of radiation, has reached the time span predicted by his doctors (2-3 years), and has gotten noticeably weaker the past few weeks. However, God has the final word re: his time span.

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  10. Debbie, such an awesome testimony of what God has been doing in you and your husband's lives. I'm praying for a complete healing in Joe's life. My sister-in-law has been battling inflammatory breast cancer, trying to stay ahead of it, for the last five and a half years, two of which she was cancer free. And then the cancer returned, so her doctor, then, put her on a different chemo regiment to stabilize it. And she did go into remission. She is currently under a new doctor, who has changed her regiment yet again by taking her off chemo and trying a different strategy. So far, she is doing well with it, and if you didn't know her situation, you'd never know she's been dealing with cancer. She has been so upbeat and has SO much prayer support from her family, church family, and friends. It has been a tremendous help to her and all of us. Thank you for sharing your testimony. Hugs!

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    1. Thank for coming by Angi. Its just amazing how many people have been affected by cancer. I would venture to say that no adult has managed to slip by without someone they love being touched with cancer. I pray your SIL is able to beat her cancer. It sounds like she has the right attitude. That is wonderful! What a witness she must be to people.

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  11. Yes my mom has been battling cancer for 4 years this month and my mother in law died from lung cancer and my sister in law is at the moment 5 years cancer free. Knowing God is bigger than cancer and that we are not alone helps. It also helps to know that nothing catches Gid unaware!

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    1. Oh my goodness! That is so true. Nothing is a surprise to God. That's awesome that your sister in law is now 5 years cancer free. Yay!! I hope your mom is able to beat hers too. Thank you so much for coming by and sharing with me.

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  12. God sure knows what He's doing, knowing exactly what and when we need. Thank you for sharing. I have family members that battled cancer, and for us, all we know to do is pray. Sometimes, well, most of the time, I just don't know what to say or do. Thank you for sharing this post with us. God bless you. Annie

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    1. Hey Annie, I'm so glad you said this, "Most of the time I just don't now what to say or do." I went through a short period when I felt almost abandoned for lack of a better word by friends. And what God showed me is that I need to look to Him and not others. It alao made me realize that I have fallen short many times in this area of reaching out to others myself. As soon as I got my attitude right and my focus on God, my phone has flooded with texts and calls. My emails and Im's have been busy. It was like God wanted me to look to Him FIRST and then He opened the floodgates. My best advice to you if you don't now what to say, that's okay. Send her a youtube song that might speak to her that day or find a little picture with a scripture that might touch her heart. Or if you are busy and don't have time to search the web for those just send a text saying, I wanted you to know you were on my heart today and I'm praying for you. I can't tell you how much those little things encourage me. I know I'm going to be better about doing that myself.

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  13. I've had grandparents on both sides die from cancer. It's so hard to watch, but I'm very thankful they both knew Jesus. I'll see them again soon!
    Thanks for sharing and for the giveaway!
    kathrynlvoss(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you for sharing, Kate. It's hard to lose our loved ones to cancer but praise GOD they are alive in Christ! What a joyous day that will be when we are reunited with them!

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  14. Thank you for sharing your testimony. Both my paternal grandparents died of cancer. I was just a young child, so shielded from the experience.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Hey Mary, Thank you for sharing. I'm sorry you didn't get to know your grandparents. I didn't get to know mine either. We both missed blessings of their wisdom, but just think about the day when we see them! What a wonderful day that will be.

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  15. I live real near to Houston and thought about Debbie and Joe being there. Yes, I have dealt with cancer in my family many times. My first in our immediate family was my sister just older than me. It was so hard. She was such a good example tho and so many of the people in our town told us later how she had inspired them. Later years I lost another sister to cancer, then another one last May, my baby brother. Lost my husband in April 1977 to prostate cancer. GOD gave us almost 9 years after doctor said he might possibly have 2 years, .And, yes we all had to lean on GOD. I don't know how anyone deals with this without GOD. Debbie, I hope your Joe continues to get well. Cancer free. My Joe didn't but was so thankful for the 20 years we had. My son had surgery for prostate cancer several years ago and so far still clean. Also lost a niece and and two nephews. GOD bless you and all of my OWG friends. Maxie > mac262@me.com <

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    1. Oh my goodness, Maxie! I am so sorry for all the losses you've had to cancer. What a sad post. But what an inspiration to hear your attitude and your sister's attitude! God is good, all the time!!!

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    2. CONGRATS Maxie, you are our winner for choice of Debbie Lynne's book as your prize.

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  16. Debbie Lynne, thank you for sharing your testimony. I know the Lord has your family in His Hands! I love those divine appointments! My grandmother deals with skin cancer and has had several surgeries at MDA. We live about an hour from MDA. It is one of the best hospitals in the country. I daily pray for you, Joe and the family!

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    1. Thank you for your prayers, Caryl. We are staying about 45 minutes from MDA in Missouri City. We're so thankful God has brought us here for treatment. I'm glad your grandmother is close enough to go to MDA! What an awesome hospital. And I have to tell you, Joe just got out of the hospital yesterday and the people/employee's God put across our path while there was amazing. We talked to so many Christians that encouraged us and prayed for us! Love that hospital!

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  17. My step father had cancer back in the 70's. I was in my teens and didn't cope well at all. My step mom had leukemia just a year after she and my dad married. I tried to be a support for my dad and kept her in my prayers. My dad had colon cancer in 2002. They didn't let me help much until 2 years ago. He is doing pretty well right now. My husband had throat cancer in 1995. He has done well until this year. The last year has been a rough one. My dad was put on hospice, step-mom was ill and then my husband have been ill. I have fibromyalgia and coped pretty well I thought until my hubby got sick in December. I wound up in the hospital myself in December and then again in January. I definitely need to work on my coping skills and trying not to be a caregiver for everyone all at the same time. fishingjan[at]aol[dot]com

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    1. Hey Jan, Wow you have really been through it with cancer in your family too. Yes, you need to take care of yourself. That's the only way you will have the strength to take care of them. Thanks for coming by. ((Hugs))

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  18. Thanks so much for sharing, Debbie Lynne. We continue to pray for both of you. Healing happens in so many ways, and we can only be grateful that God DOES have things in control in all our lives. My hubby had a prostate cancer diagnosis in November 2014. He had surgery within a month, and has been clear ever since. We are so grateful for his health and for good medical care. Hugs and prayers...
    bettimace at gmail dot com

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    1. That's great about your hubby, Betti. Thank you for your prayers. It's not a fun road to go down but God is with us and will see us through it!

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  19. Thank you for sharing this great story. I have had a loved one and friends who went and go to MDA. I found that it was a fascinating place that never slowed down, rested, or slept. Doctors, nurses, researchers working constantly in their quest for a cure.

    With God watching over us and places like MDA, we can look forward with love and hope.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Amen! God is watching over us and He has given us MDA as one of the avenues to heal so many people. Thanks for coming by.

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  20. Thank you for inviting us into your life by sharing this. I haven't anyone close go through this, our family is partial to heart problems instead. As a teacher I had free medical insurance. As a missionary, I have none. My goAL is to die of the HAPPY disease. I won't know I'm sick, won't have to get checked out, just one day ally oops to heaven! Folks will say...she sure was happy. Wouldn't that be nice?

    missionwife AT hotmail DOT com

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    1. LOL, Yes, Melody that would be a good way to go! And what a wonderful epitaph. I'm glad your family hasn't had to face a lot of cancer. But we all face some come of trials and sickness. Thanks for coming by.

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  21. DebbieLynne, I am SO grateful that you were led to go to MDA and are getting great help. I know how difficult this was for us when my mother had cancer when I was 12, and PTL she beat it, and when she again had cancer at 79 and that was so tough, just so hard. When my hubs is sick, I know how I feel, I cannot even imagine if he was afflicted with this. Praying for you, my friend. Hugs and love!!!

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  22. I appreciate you sharing your story with us. My mother had a brother who died of Hodgkin's disease many years ago and my maternal grandmother died of breast cancer several years ago. Two of my BILs had a kidney removed because of renal cell carcinoma and that took care of it. My husband also developed renal cell carcinoma 10 yrs ago and had a kidney removed. Then it metastasized to his adrenal gland, which the doctors took out. In 2014, it once again metastasized to both lungs. I retired early to care for him. He went Home to be with Jesus a couple months ago. My mom developed lung cancer in both lungs and her Homegoing was in 2012. I have had much to cope with and am still coping, with the loss of my husband. The only way I could have made it is through the prayers of my family, church family, previous coworkers (from a Christian ministry), and other friends. They also called, emailed, texted, messaged on Facebook, took me out to eat, sent cards and did other things to help me cope through the difficult years of caring for my precious husband and losing my mom. To God be all the glory!!

    Thank you for the book giveaway. I will add Joe to my prayer list because so many people prayed for my sweet husband.

    glendadavis828@charter.net

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    1. Oh my goodness, Glenda, what a lot of trials and tests you've been through. I know how much all those prayers and encouraging words, letters, texts, and emails helped you. Isn't it amazing how God knows just what we need exactly when we need it? I'm so glad he was there to see you through and thank you for adding Joe to your prayer list! I really covet the prayers for him. God Bless You!

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  23. I have hd several of my family that I have lost to cance. But I lost my daughter to cancer 7 years ago. It was the bad kind (Melanoma). From the first diagnosis they didn't give us any hope for a cure. She was admitted into a clinical trial at IU Hospital in Indianapolis and she was with us 2 more years. All the time I was believing God to heal her and that was the only way I could handle it. Our church family was so much support for us. In the end God spoke to my heart and told me he was taking her home. Knowing she is with Jesus gives me peace. Thank you so much for the giveaway.

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    1. Stella, my heart broke hearing you had lost a daughter. What a hard thing to have to go through. I am so sorry, but I'm glad that God spoke to you and gave you peace. God Bless you.

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  24. What a beautiful testimony. You and Joe are in my prayers and my thoughts. Hugs!

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  25. Yes, my sister Linda (breast cancer). It's amazing - at some of her worst times, we found things to laugh at and that always made things better. We lost her 4 1/2 years ago, but our family still laughs at Linda memories.

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    1. Awe, what sweet memories, Janetta. How wonderful to have those things to hold near and dear to your heart. Thanks for coming by and sharing. :o) ((HUGS))

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  26. Thanks for sharing your story Debbie. I'm a 21 yr cancer survivor (breast cancer) & Carrie gave me the opportunity to share my story on OWG as well. God is the ONE, who gave me Hope in the Shadows title of my memoir I published last year--available on Amazon). Without Him we have nothing. I also have many family members as well as friends who battled cancer--some still with us and some in Heaven. I'm constantly amazed at how God has presented me with others whom I have been able to minister to--even 21 years later. He even gave me an inspiration recently for a story-line in a novel series I'm working on that includes a character 'like me' who shares her 'cancer Journey' with others--I'm really excited about it. God will carry you and your husband, Joe through this journey he has set before your path. Many prayers for the two of you.
    Vicki

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    1. That's wonderful that you've been able to minister to people. I think that is not only healing to the person you're ministering too, but it's a blessing to the person sharing too. It's so neat how God uses our trials to to help other people. I can remember times in my life when someone shared their hardship and it was such blessing to me.

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  27. Debbie, Thank you so much for sharing this. Our family will keep yours in our prayers as well.

    We had a smaller case of cancer with a relative which we watched God take care of, but it was your story of God telling you "I've got this" that touched my heart. Our teenage son tragically passed away a few years ago and, like you said, we just cried out to God. In our grief, God spoke the same to us. "I've got this." Even now, I get choked up that our larger than life God cares so much for us individually, that He spoke that to us. It is only three words, but that got us through and still gets us through it today.

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    1. Lorraine, God bless you. I just can't imagine. What a hard thing to have to go through. But we are so fortunate that God loves us so much that He speaks to us when we are hurting. Thank so much for coming by and sharing. (((Hugs)))

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  28. DEBBIE LYNNE, thank you so much for being with us on OWG and for sharing your marvelous testimony! I got a lot of goose bumps while reading it! I love how you said that you bug God. LOL! I do, too, and I often say to Him, "God I hate to keep bugging you, but..." I really think He loves it when we do. ;) God bless you and your family as you continue to go through this battle. Believing all will be well!

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    1. Thanks you, Diana. God talks about it many times in His word so I think you're right he does want us to keep asking and bugging Him. I'm glad to hear we have that in common.

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  29. Your article is very interesting. We have been fighting mestastzied renal cancer for over 5 years. My husband is on an oral chemo drug that really has broken his body down but he still manages to work every day. The only way we deal with this is we know God doesn't make a mistake. He wants us to go thru this trial so we are depending on him for strength. As you said "He has a plan" so we still depend on Him and worship God in the fullness of His Power.

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    1. Brenda, your attitude is such an encouragement! God bless you and your husband for really trusting God and His plan. It's so hard to see sometimes through our grief, but we can have peace in His perfect will. Thanks so much for coming by and sharing with us today.

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  30. Thank you for that inspiring post Debbie Lynne.Sounds like God is guiding you and your family all the way! Will keep all of you in my prayers!

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    1. Thank you for your prayers, Lynne. God is definitely in the drivers seat! And it's amazing to watch Him. We serve a mighty God! We have grown so much since Joe's diagnoses. I can see it in myself and Joe. God bless.

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  31. Praise God, I haven't lost anyone in my life from cancer, but in a huge family like mine, I have seen many battle cancer and come out the other side. I even had my own scare about 3 years ago. I had a number of seemingly unrelated symptoms, but were ultimately related to a parathyroid tumor that we figured had been slowly making me ill for many years. Thankfully, When they removed it, the tumor was benign. That stress of all the random symptoms and then waiting through test after test, and then surgery, was hard enough. So I can't imagine how my life would have changed all those months later if it wasn't benign. Bless you and your family, Debbie and I'll pray for God's best. Thank you so much for humbly sharing this part of your life. When you mentioned the Sheltie lady and her prompting, I cried and immediately thanked God for being real and tangible in our lives. tlhcoupon(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you Terrill. That really touched me that you cried. I see you have a tender heart for God and His children. Thank you for coming by and sharing your story with me and others. God bless you. ((Hugs))

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  32. God must be answering your prayers I will pray also Thanks for sharing this personal story with us It is very touching I pray the trial works out Great My Father in Law had Prostate Cancer but is in Remission and My Husbands niece had some kind of Childhood Leukemia or something I don't know which kind she has also been in remission for many years Iamabho (at) gmail.com

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