Cancer has a face | a personal story

It happens all of the time.  I will be scrolling through facebook reading random posts about people's good fortunes or burnt dinners and looking at selfies of people who clearly love themselves.... when I see a post about someone with cancer. My heart stops for a moment, I feel sorrow for the family and I may say a quick, "Jesus, please be with them during this difficult time" prayer, or even write an encouraging Bible verse on their timeline so they know I was thinking about them.  And then something life goes on.  I continue my day, play with my children, pin another pinterest crock pot recipe that I will never make, and all is well.  Cancer may be something that goes away for me when I log out of facebook, but unfortunately for the lives of those with cancer and their doesn't go away with a swipe of a finger.  Cancer is alive and it has a face....and right now to me, it's the face of my Uncle Rick.

My Uncle found out he had cancer this past September, right before he walked his beautiful daughter down the isle to say "I do".  Just a few days after the wedding, he had one kidney removed and hopes were high that all of the cancer was gone. After some testing, they found it was a rare renal cancer and it had spread to my Uncle's brain. This news would have most people waiving their white flags in surrender, but my Uncle is a fighter...and he is fighting still today. 

(This image was taken on Katie's wedding day after giving her dad a card {it must have been a Hallmark card} was hard to keep my camera steady. What a beautiful, absolutely perfect day....)

If anyone has gone through cancer, you know it's a roller coaster ride of scary twists and turns, good news, bad new...uncertainty. My Uncle's cancer not only affects him...but everyone around him.  He's not only my Uncle, he is a son, a brother, a husband, and a father.  For the last forty years he has been beside my Aunt Janet...he's her best friend. I can't even imagine what she is going through, the thoughts that fill her head when she sits still, the conversations she has had to have with him about the future.  Worrying about the unknown, about waking up in the middle of the night with no one to wrap her cold feet around, about how she will survive a week, let alone a day without him. It makes me want to climb the highest mountain, throw my hands in the air and scream until I'm hoarse, begging God to make every one's pain go away.  

(my kids playing Lego's beside Uncle Rick's temporary bed)

 I think about my cousin she puts on a cheerful face and plays with my daughter, when in the back of her mind she is probably thinking, "What if my dad isn't here to see his own grand babies? Who will read them their favorite story? Who will sneak them treats when I'm not looking, kiss their boo boos and let them stay up late?" 

I think about my cousin Parker and how his heart must be hurting...worrying about if he will have to be the man of the house and take care of his mom.  I think about my Uncle's father and how helpless he must feel, worrying if he will have to say goodbye to his only son. 

(my daughter sporting a Rick Strong hat)

One thing that struck me this weekend as I visited with my family, was that even though they are worried, even though they are scared...they have such an undeniable hope. They are still able to laugh and find the joy in things that would make most people cry. For instance, my Uncle is losing his hair to radiation, so my Aunt thought she would use a lint roller on his head to see if it would help with the shedding....c'mon, you can't help but giggle a little bit. 

Their hope doesn't come from doctors or nurses, their hope comes from the Lord. They trust God is going to walk them through this journey, because although they don't know what the future holds...God does.  It's already been written... Uncle Rick's life has a purpose that God has planned long before he was born.  And as we are still believing and praying that God will heal my Uncle, we also acknowledge that the Lord's healing may not be the same kind of healing we are wanting...because an ultimate healing is to be with God.  As I was sitting staring at the "welcome home" sign in their living room, I couldn't help but realize how temporal this life we know is...this is not our real home. And if you know Christ, just imagine the "welcome home" you will receive when it's finally time to leave this be brought into the glorious gates of Heaven with the loving arms of Jesus wrapped around you. Do you have the hope of Christ?

I love you so much Uncle Rick! #Rickstrong!

Who's face do you see when you hear the word cancer? Is it yours? Is it a loved one or a dear friend? Leave their name in the comment section here or on facebook, and I will pray for each person...because cancer has a face...a name. 


  1. Beautiful story, Nicole. Praying for healing, strength and guidance.

  2. Beautiful story sweetie! I know by my own personal experience with Breast Cancer how difficult this diagnosis can be on a family. As if it wasn't a hard enough experience to endure being the one with the actual diagnosis, but to see how difficult it can be to the family of someone who is battling is even much harder. I saw first hand how devastating and heart wrenching it was on my family when I was first diagnosed. Even though all the wonderful encouragement and support I saw how it effected the people in my life I treasured most. I'd even catch myself on some of my worst days, like after a 7 hr treatment of chemo, worrying not about how I was going to feel over the next several days, but how difficult it was going to be and effect my husband while he had to witness all the nasty side effects that I would have to endure. I felt absolutely helpless because I knew God was giving me the strength to face whatever adversities that I may encounter but I didn't know how all of this would effect him or my daughter because she was only 8 yrs old at the time. Nothing prepares you for something like this! Luckily it was at the end of a school yr when I actually had to begin the chemotherapy and my wonderful in - laws were able to keep our daughter during the most difficult parts of my treatment. My biggest fear was to frighten her and for her to see first hand the effects that chemo/radiation was causing and putting on her Mommy's body. So i was very blessed to have all their love and support along with the rest of my family and friends. My husband was also a huge part of my recovery, he stood by my side every step of the way. From when I first got my diagnosis to holding my hair back while I delt with the aftermath of the poison they would pump through my body. He even helped me shave my head when my hair officially started falling out. He was my absolute ROCK!
    But I knew deep down how difficult this truly must have been for him but he never let it show, not one single time! :) He remained extremely positive and encouraging through every moment of my battle despite how he was feeling on the inside. So i desperately feel and continue to pray for anyone who is or has had to battle any form of cancer or witness their loved ones going through such a tragedy.
    I do know that one of the most rewarding aspects of going through an experience like this is that you definitely learn not to take anyone or anything for granted. And that any time we are given another day here on earth with our loved ones, is a true gift from God! Also that we should appreciate every single
    moment that we do have because you never know when God might call you home. So never forget to tell those people in your life how much you love them and how much they mean to you! And on a final note ...When ever the things of this world start bringing you down and u ever feel like losing hope, please just remember that this is only our temporary home...God has a kingdom waiting for us along with an eternity of joy and happiness! So as I and many others may struggle daily with chronic illnesses, we all have that hope that one fine day we will be living with a brand new, pain FREE body with our Lord Jesus Christ. And that's what helps me get through each and every day until I can be reunited
    with my Savior again! ♡♡♡

  3. my mom Mary Alessi, my mom's best friend Vicky Martin just found out she has cancer, and of course Rick. Thank you Nichole for your beautiful words and even more beautiful pictures. Praying for all

  4. Beautifully written....Charlie

  5. Such a heart touching story, thoughts and prayers!

  6. Wow! I was just browsing through your photos after messaging you to check availability for my wedding and stumbled on this post. You took all the words from my heart and put them here. My mom is a fighter too! She was diagnosed several years back with uterine cancer. She had a hysterectomy and everything looked good-our prayers were answered! Almost two years ago, she was diagnosed with a new cancer-primary peritoneal cancer, extremely rare and hard to treat. She started chemo, lost all her hair, her eyebrows, eyelashes and yet she fought on. We cried tears of joy hearing she was in remission last spring. Then this January, her tumor marker started climbing again. Ever faithful, ever full of grace, she began chemo again with a determined smile on her face. She has been undergoing a new drug this time around that gives her mouth sores, blisters on her wrists and ankles and the weirdest bruising/rashes...yet she never complains and always hugs her nurses as she leaves the treatment room. She is so full of laughter and hope and so much love, my amazing mother! Thank you for your story and thank you for letting me share mine. I look forward to talking with you and hopefully sharing my wedding day with you-I'm sure you'll get a hug from my mom;)


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