Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Last night I had the privilege of speaking at the Christmas Eve service at our church.  I thought it would be a little easier than it was....I really don't like getting choked up in front of people, but it did go well.  This post is to share with you what I spoke at the service.  Some of this content you may already know, but some you might not.  Word for word, here's how it went:

Grab a box of tissue, because I'm going to make you cry - Merry Christmas!
:::cue the laughter:::

Hi, my name is Reini.  I’m no stranger to loss.  You’d think after losing four children that would be enough for one person to go through.  But those losses prepared me to go through something bigger.  As some of you may know, I’ve just been through one of the hardest trials life can throw at you.  I’ve watched a loved one die from cancer - My precious husband, Clint.

When we dealt with his first round of aggressive brain cancer at the end of 2010, God gave us peace and told me not to worry about anything because He was going to take care of everything.  And He did!  I chose to trust God through that storm, and believe me, it was a big storm.  Clint underwent two major brain surgeries within a week, followed by chemo and radiation, which was exhausting.  Clint was given only a year to live, even with treatment.  However, we saw God work miracle after miracle, and it really increased our faith and our trust in Him.  Clint lived three solid years with clean MRI’s, a rarity for the type of cancer he had.  God even blessed us with a healthy baby girl during Clint’s remission.  We really saw God move and felt His presence so strongly then.

But what happens when you don’t feel His presence during a storm??  I’m sorry to say that when Clint’s cancer resurfaced in April of this year, that’s exactly what happened.  I felt alone. I began to notice personality changes last year in November, which set off warning bells that we were about to enter another battle with cancer.  I prayed and trusted God with the same fervency I had during round one….only this time, God was silent, and it scared me.

We didn’t have the smooth paths and open doors that we had before.  Everything was a fight and a struggle this last time.  Insurance dug their heels in and refused to cover treatment options.  Nothing was done in a timely manner, which was frustrating given the seriousness and aggressive nature of Clint’s cancer.  I was so stressed out from fighting and persistently advocating for Clint’s right to care, that my chest hurt so bad, I literally thought I was going to have a heart attack.  Nothing went right.  And Clint suffered greatly.
I remember on numerous occasions crying out to God asking, “where are you!??  Why don’t I feel like you’re here with us?  I can’t take much more of this, and you promised not to give us more than we could handle!  I really need you, God.  PLEASE.”

It was hard watching Clint face the same feelings that I was having in regards to feeling like God left us alone.  I think deep down, he knew this was it, and it was very heavy for him.  But one thing I really loved and admired about Clint was that he never waivered in his faith…he trusted God completely.  I did too, but I didn’t understand what God was doing.  (And often times, we don’t!)

When the last option for treatment became approved, it was too late, and the treatment did not work.  It was the hardest thing in the world to realize it was time to let go.  And I was not ready to give up my husband.  I kept hoping for a healing miracle!  However, I got to a point where God finally made His presence known, and asked me to surrender all I had to Him… surrender all I had and still trust Him if He took it all away.  That is a lot to ask of anyone!!  But you know what?  I did.  I surrendered it all to God, knowing full well what was likely to happen.  And it did.  After two months of rapid decline and great losses of functioning, God took my precious husband home.  He died in my arms on September 8th of this year.

I’m pretty sure a lot of people probably thought I was in shock, or just ice cold, but I assure you neither was the case.  I never had a major break down and I wasn’t a mess.  I honestly grieved Clint as we went through his decline, and God has given me the strength and peace I need to walk forward through all of this.  Sure, I miss him a lot, and I cry when I need to, but I made a very conscious choice not to dwell in the depths of my loss.  I have chosen to rejoice with Clint in his gain.  He suffered so much in this life, that going home to Jesus was a great mercy.  I could not be so selfish as to wish him back into his misery here on earth.  I know where he is….he loved Jesus with all his being!  He is home with Jesus, and I will see him again!  He is happy and healthy and whole!

When I rock our little girl to sleep at night, we always talk about daddy and where he is.  I do my best to paint a picture of heaven for her in ways she can understand.  She knows that daddy is with Jesus…anytime she sees a picture of Jesus, she immediately says “daddy!”  I tell her that Jesus made daddy all better, but daddy had to go live with him to get better.  I tell her that we can’t see daddy right now, but we will see him again when Jesus comes to get us!  I don’t know when, but He will because He promised He would!  I want her to grow up knowing that her daddy is ok and that she will see him again, and he is happy in heaven.
A lot of people have asked me if I ever wonder WHY….have I ever asked God WHY?  And the answer is NO.  Because honestly, the answer to the “why” question does not matter.  We may never know WHY, and often times there is no answer.  What matters is what we do with what we’re given.  If I dwell on the “why”, I’m more likely to harbor anger and resentment when no answer comes….and it’s a lot harder to heal when you’re angry.  My grandpa always says “you either get bitter or get better.”  Bad things happen all the time because sin is rampant in the world.  It is NOT God’s fault.  Not everything happens for a reason, sometimes bad things just happen.  But God can use ANYTHING.  He can take this hurtful mess and use it to help others through similar situations.  I do not blame God for my husband’s death.  Even when I felt like He was so silent and absent, I KNEW He was there with me, and I chose to very consciously hold onto that and trust that He was there.  That’s the amazing thing about God….He walks through these valleys WITH us, and helps us navigate through them!  He gets it.  He was no stranger to sorrows and pain and loss.  He can truly identify with it and empathize with us.  He even cries with us when we cry.  What a truly compassionate God!  

Adjusting to being a widow and a single mom has been a challenge.  It’s a whole new identity, and one I’ve had no idea how to prepare for.  It’s a lot of work, and it’s exhausting, but we’ve had tremendous love and support from family and friends, and I’m so grateful for that.  God has provided.

Lately, I’ve really been pondering the saying “To whom much is given, much is required.” I always thought of that statement as referring to people with money, position, influence, gifts and talents.  I never thought of it as anything else until I faced various trials.  It never says what “much” it’s talking about!  I’ve come to realize it doesn’t always mean good and tangible things.  It also can refer to the amount of temptation and trials a person faces….the greater the temptation and trial, the greater strength and effort is required to conquer, overcome, and be victorious.  Once a person comes through that successfully, they are responsible for sharing the amount of learning, wisdom, and understanding gained to help others.  To whom much is given, much is required.

This makes me think about Mary and what God asked of her.  Much was required of her because of what was given to her.  She was mother to our savior, a wonderful thing. It was a scary challenge as well, since her child was being hunted by those seeking to harm him, and she also faced judgment and condemnation for carrying a child that did not belong to Joseph.  But the greatest thing asked of her by far was to surrender her son for the world’s greatest sacrifice.  The amazing thing about Mary was her willingness to bend to God’s will, regardless of the cost to her.  Are we willing to make ourselves vulnerable to God’s plan when He asks the most from us?  I guarantee that when we do, He is faithful to give us the strength and peace we need to get through it, and He is with us every step of the way.

All my love,

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I was thinking about Clint today while I was driving to work.  A song came on the radio by Third Day (Your Love oh Lord) that he used to really like, and it was one we played at his service during the picture reel.  I've been doing really well, but I lost it in the car when that song came on.  I haven't really been able to cry much (too busy!) - and I do sometimes when I miss him.  But this morning, I REALLY MISSED HIM.

I thought about how grateful I am to have had him as a husband, and even more grateful that he loved the Lord.  He was a faithful man of God.  I'm so thankful he will never experience suffering anymore.  I'm thankful (and jealous) he gets to be with Jesus.  But I still miss him.  A new friend of mine, who is also a widow, told me to prepare for the grief to come in waves...and she was right.

After that song ended in the car, I then began to think of all that God has asked of me.  He had asked me to surrender all I had to Him.  I held on for a while, but I felt Him say that He wanted me to surrender all I had....and still trust Him if He took it all from me.  That is a lot to ask!!!  But you know what?  I did.  I let go, and said, "Ok, God.  Your plan is greater than I can understand, but I know that you will take care of me and be with me anyways, even if you take it all."  And then God took Clint home to heaven.  It hurt.  But God has sustained me and given me strength.  God has used this experience and this new identity to open doors in connecting with people I never would have before - and He is making a difference in lives.  I am thankful that God can use all of this to reach others!

So, tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Tomorrow will be Felicity's and my first Thanksgiving without her daddy.  While that makes me sad, I know we will be surrounded with wonderful loving family members and very close friends - and I am thankful for that.  Regardless of our losses, God still blesses us, especially when we trust Him.  I have a lot to be thankful for.

Thank you for all your prayers and love and support - thank you that they have continued, even after the dust has begun to settle.

May each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and may God pour out His rich blessings on you and your families.

Much Love,

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Controversial Question

You might be surprised how many times I’ve been asked what I think about Brittany Maynard’s decision to use the ‘Death With Dignity Act’ to end her life after discovering she had an inoperable Glioblastoma brain tumor.  So….what do I think about it??  It’s a very controversial subject…but one I do not hesitate to answer, and I hope my answer will bring some perspective to those without experience with this kind of situation.

(As a note, I know people tread carefully to be sensitive with my loss, and I appreciate that.  But I am doing well, thanks to Jesus.  I am very open to answering questions, and it takes a lot to offend me, so please….ask away!)

As you know, I’ve seen the process of someone dying from a Glioblastoma.  One word to describe it?  Horrific.  When Clint’s surgeon told me it was going to be a long difficult road, I had no idea how right he was.

Knowing we were going to lose Clint to this horrible disease was really difficult to process.  Living out his last days knowing that he was only going to get worse and experience more pain was hard to swallow.  We chose to use Providence Hospice to keep him comfortable, and they were magnificent.  Hospice was designed for a reason, and they were such advocates for us.  I appreciated the open access to whatever pain medications (and other medications) were needed, and the lack of roadblocks to keep Clint’s pain managed.

Even with Hospice, however, I remember getting to a point where I looked at my crippled husband, who was no longer capable of moving or expressing himself, and thinking, “I can totally understand why someone would choose Death with Dignity.”

Here is why I thought that:   (****WARNING****GRAPHIC CONTENT*****)

Have you ever witnessed someone having a seizure?  I have….and it gave me nightmares.  Imagine seeing someone in full conversation suddenly start to stutter.  Imagine their voice getting so loud and uncontrollable in the noises it was making.  Now imagine the terrified look on their face as they cannot control their movements.  Imagine watching your loved one falling to the ground and sustaining a head injury while convulsing.  Their mouth is foaming.  They sound like they are in pain.  Seizures ARE painful.  Seizures can also cause brain damage.  It’s ignorant to think anyone could live with them and be fine.  Often times, seizures will wipe a person out for an entire day, and it takes a long time to recover speech and clear thought afterwards.  Thank God for seizure medications, but with Glioblastoma ravaging the brain, they are not guaranteed to work.  My husband had seizures despite the medications.

Now, imagine watching the process of someone losing their mind – literally going insane. My precious husband could not think logically after a while, and it got continually worse.  The sad part was watching him do something that he understood did not make sense, and it shamed him.  For example, Clint knew that the kitchen cupboards were not the toilet, yet he could not help but urinate there.  It was humiliating for him, and it broke my heart.  (I have so much respect for my husband….he really finished his race with dignity, despite all the embarrassing details).  We realized we could not drive him anywhere anymore when he tried to get out of the car while we were driving on the freeway.  He could not understand my panic in trying to keep him in the car, and his laugh of insanity really frightened me. (I’m not being dramatic here – that is literally what happened.)

Imagine dealing with the rage that Glioblastoma causes.  People get violent as this disease eats away their brain.  This is especially difficult to deal with when there is a child in the house (our daughter stayed with my mom during this time).  Clint was so frustrated with every day changes and he could not control his anger.  We had to keep him very sedated.

Imagine watching your loved one losing functions every day.  Clint was a strong and active young man.  He became weaker and weaker as the weeks went on.  He started needing the use of a walker, then eventually a wheelchair.  At the end, he could not be moved from the hospital bed that Hospice brought in - he was paralyzed.  Clint was always loud and expressive, and deteriorated with the inability to speak or express himself, which I know was very frustrating for him.

Imagine having to help your loved one with incontinence issues and bathing.  Enough said.

The pain at the end was excruciating, and even with the meds from hospice, we had a hard time keeping on top of pain management.  His neck muscles eventually locked up with his head leaning to his right side.  He could not move it.  His jaw became clenched shut and he developed thrush in his mouth.  The only way I could tell he was in pain was when his face turned red (and that was pain experienced despite the morphine and methadone).  Clint suffered greatly.

Now imagine watching your loved one die, gasping for air because their body is too weak to keep breathing.


The Controversial Question can provoke a lot of judgment from both sides, but here’s something to think about:

Would anyone judge the poor people who jumped from the twin towers on 9/11, as it was the only escape from dying in the massive fires?  They were faced with two options for death:  Burning vs. Falling.  What would you choose?  Is it much different when someone is faced with a disease as deadly and horrific as a Glioblastoma – when all options for treatment are off the table?  I’ve read some comments online claiming that no one should play God and take a life – and for the most part, I agree.  However, Cancer was never God’s plan for us!  When a Glioblastoma becomes inoperable and untreatable, it is like being in the burning tower on 9/11.  I do not know how God will judge this situation in the end, but I know my God is merciful, and He understands all that we face, and He walks through it with us.  He even weeps with us when we weep!

So what do I think about assisted suicide?  From a religious standpoint, I do not agree with it, and I do not condone it.  I think it can be a very slippery slope.  Life is sacred from conception to death.  However, I can certainly understand why someone would choose it, and I am not their Judge.

With that being said, I want to acknowledge the bravery of surrender that Brittany Maynard’s family has shown.  I am so sorry they had to walk through that nightmare, and I offer them my sincerest prayers for healing as they grieve the loss of someone so precious.

With much love,

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Identity

It’s already been seven weeks since Clint’s passing, though it feels much longer than that.  Life has been very full these last several weeks, as you can imagine.  Being a single mom is a lot of work, and a whole new identity!  I used to pity single mothers…and then I became one.  Now I have a whole new level of respect for them.  They have to be mom AND dad, full time caretaker, total decision maker, full time housekeeper and meal planner, amongst many other responsibilities.  I thank God for giving me the strength and energy to do all these things, as well as surrounding me with the family and friends I need for support.  God has been good, as well as thorough in His covering.

There is a weird phenomenon that typically happens during tragedies, and that is when tragedies strike, a lot of times friends will scatter and are nowhere to be found.  I had the opposite thing happen during ours, and I am so grateful.  I had friends I never knew I had coming out of the woodworks and they stuck by my side through the caretaking and loss of my husband – and they are still here!  I feel so blessed, and I hope I am trying hard enough to be as good of a friend to them as they have been to me.  I think it is important to always be the kind of friend that you would like to have.

I am happy to say that Clint’s memorial service went well last month. So many people pulled together to make it happen, from the programs, music, and photos/videotaping to the organization of the reception – it was a really honoring tribute to Clint. God gave me the words and the courage to speak and share about Clint’s life – something I didn’t know I could do until I did.  When I receive the DVD of the service, I am hoping to find a way to post it on here for people to see who couldn’t attend.

Here is the display we have at home to honor Clint (I'm sorry the picture resolution isn't that great):

It’s really interesting how we grow and change through many of life’s experiences.  I honestly never felt “grown up” until we faced Clint’s first battle with cancer.  After his passing, I now truly feel like an adult.  I think it was the enormity of responsibility on my plate that made me have to mature into an adult.  With that, it seems I have a new identity now.  I have also discovered that I am no longer shy or afraid of what people think of me.  When only a year ago, I would have been afraid to speak in front of a group, I am no longer afraid of public speaking.  I can identify with many more groups of people now than I ever have before.  I identify with mothers who have lost children, the homeless, the abandoned, the lonely, people who have made poor life choices, single mothers, and widows (this one I had the hardest time accepting).  But I also identify with the conquerers and the overcomers.  I have given ALL of those to the Lord and have surrendered them for His use and purposes.  If He wants to use me to reach and comfort those groups of people, I AM OPEN AND WILLING.  He does not waste experiences, whether good or bad.  He can use them all!

Felicity and I have gotten used to our new routine – our new normal.  It wasn’t the easiest transition, but I am thankful that my daughter is resilient.  She is one happy kid!  It was sad when she asked for daddy all the time after he passed, but even sadder when she quit asking.  We keep pictures of him everywhere and keep him in the conversation.  We even send secret messages to him in our bedtime prayers, as well as blow him goodnight kisses.  She must dream about daddy because she woke up a few mornings ago crying and calling for daddy.  It broke my heart.  (She got lots of extra snuggles that morning).

So now we are moving forward and seeing what God has planned for us.

I want to again thank everyone for being here with us, whether in person or in prayer.  Please don’t forget to keep us in your prayers, as we thrive on them – we see and feel them working.  Please don’t be afraid to text or call or ask if we need help – it’s not a bother.  Yes, life is busy, but sometimes it’s really refreshing to have company, and even someone to just come alongside and help with some household chores (it is a struggle to keep on top of everything).

Thank you to each person who has blessed us, prayed for us, donated to us, cooked and cleaned, did yard work, wrote me cards and letters, sent books, called, walked the dogs and spent time with them, among SO many other things!!  Also, thank you to Michelle from Uncork & Unwind for blessing us on so many occasions, and thank you to Allan from the Robert Allan Salon for covering my hair appointment before Clint’s memorial service.  I cannot fully express how grateful I am!  God bless all of you.

Also, if you have a moment, please read this beautiful tribute my friend Matt Peppley wrote about Clint on his blog:
I will continue posting entries, so please check back in.

So much love and appreciation,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Last Battle

In C.S. Lewis' book 'The Last Battle' from the Chronicles of Narnia, there are a few descriptions of heaven that remind me of what Clint is experiencing right now.  Here are three specific quotations from the book that I love very much:

"Listen, Peter. When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here: just as our own world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan's real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream."

"I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!"

"And for us this is the end of all stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

Clint Jason Side was born April 27, 1984, and died September 8, 2014.  He was 30 years old.  Clint was the bravest man I knew and he lived bravely to the end.  He was born and raised in Jordan, NY, with his father (Clifford), mother (Diana), and brother (Clifford Jr.).  After graduating high school, Clint joined the Army and served for 6 years as military police, which included 4 tours to Iraq.

I met Clint in September of 2006, 8 months before his last tour to Iraq.  We married one month before his last deployment.  Clint was an amazing husband, and I cherish every moment God gave us together.  He was faithful, trustworthy, lively, humorous, hard working, selfless, and a man of great honor and principle.  He had my full respect and admiration, as well as my love and affection.

After Clint's first battle with brain cancer in 2010, Clint continued to fight bravely and enjoyed just over three years of remission.  During that time, God blessed us with a healthy and beautiful baby girl in 2013.  I thank God Clint was able to be in her life for the first year and a half.  We created some wonderful memories, and Felicity will always know her Daddy and how much he loved her.

Clint fought his last battle with brain cancer this year.  It was the last battle he would ever have to fight, and he fought it with great strength, positivity, and dignity.  It was NOT easy, and it was painful in the end.  I thank God for his great mercy in taking Clint home last week, for he no longer suffers and he is made whole....healthier than he's ever been in his life, and with great clarity of mind (something he has not had in years!).  There is no more pain, no more sadness.  Clint went was met by Jesus and our deceased daughter Victoria at 12:40 p.m. in the afternoon a week ago Monday.  He was surrounded by family and friends.  His passing was peaceful, and not without some Clint-style humor.  (That is something I am so thankful for....Clint never lost his humor. Even when he was paralyzed, couldn't speak, or make any facial expressions, he still found ways to communicate his humor.)

When I woke the day after Clint's passing, rather than feeling a heavy sadness, I felt joy because I knew that Clint was happy at that very moment.  While I miss my precious husband VERY much, I am choosing not to reside in the depth of my loss.  Clint would not want that.  I choose to rejoice in Clint's gain instead.  He has never felt better or happier in his life, and this is only the beginning!!  I will see him again, and I look forward to that wonderful reunion.  I know I could not realistically walk forward in an attitude of joy in the midst of mourning without Jesus....I love the verse that says the joy of the Lord is our strength....and it truly is.  I choose to hold onto Jesus.

We are having a memorial service in celebration of Clint's life on Saturday, September 20, at 1 p.m. It is being held at Evergreen Christian Community in Olympia.  Please join us in honoring Clint.

Much love

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


We have arrived at a very difficult point in this whole process, and that is the surrender part.  It appears the Avastin treatment did not work, and Clint's functioning declines daily.  He remains positive and strong inside, and I applaud him for that.  We are at the point where there is nothing more man or medicine can do, and we have called Hospice in to keep him comfortable (and they have been wonderful).  Clint is in our Heavenly Father's hands, and I surrender him to the Lord.

I realize that Clint was God's to begin with, and I was entrusted with Clint's care as his wife and caregiver.  I meant my wedding vows when I said "In sickness and in health" and "For better or for worse" - and unfortunately, we faced sickness and worse.  But Clint is worth it all.  I have done my best to be a good steward with my husband and our marriage, and as his overall caretaker.  I love him dearly, and I will always love him.  I don't know what God plans to do or why all this has happened, but ultimately the answers don't matter...what matters is what I do with what I'm given.  And I choose to trust God.  His ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts higher than my own.  HE knows what He is doing.  And I surrender all to Him and praise Him through it all, regardless of what happens.

In preparing for the worst, it's really hard to continue hoping for the best, but I do continue to hold out that hope.  When man and medicine can do nothing, it's a perfect time for a miracle...and it would be a miracle that no one but God could take credit for.  We still ask God for it while surrendering all to Him.

I had a conversation with Clint a while ago.  I told him that sometimes people have a "Jesus" moment where they stand on the edge of life and death with the Lord, and they have a they stay or go?  If Clint ever has that moment, I told him to choose Jesus.  I never want to hold him here in suffering when he could have a full restoration with Jesus.  I never want to be a selfish wife.  I love him too much for that.  I know Jesus will be with me and Felicity always, and He will continue to provide for all our needs.  We will see Clint again in heaven, and I know it will come at the right time.

One Last Date:

I decided to take Clint out on a date last night; it was probably our last and final date.  We went to Uncork & Unwind in Tumwater.  It is an amazing place with unparalleled service.  Michelle Pierce, the owner, set up a table for us with a beautiful vase full of flowers (which she sent home with us, along with a bottle of the white port we each had a glass of - thank you!)  Michelle really made that final date special for us.  THANK YOU MICHELLE.  Here are pictures of our date night:

Delicious white coffee port with Creme Brulee Cheesecake (Clint) and Uninterrupted Chocolate (me, of course!)

The dessert menu - AMAZING...I recommend the Coffee Port

We used the cards in the flowers to seal up little love notes for each other.

This was such a special and very romantic date for Clint and me.  Uncork & Unwind made it possible and unforgettable.

I would like to add that Michelle is hosting a benefit auction on Clint's behalf at Uncork & Unwind on September 7th at 4:00 p.m.  There will be food, wine, and many donated items up for silent auction, and it will be a beautiful event celebrating Clint's life, and our life together as a family.  I plan to be there, and I invite you to join us.  For anyone wishing to donate an item for auction, please contact my sister Stephanie Lund at

Much Love

Visits and Blessings

During this difficult time, we have had such an outpouring of support and help, which has meant the world to us.  I want to start by saying THANK YOU to each person who has been praying, visited, brought a meal, donated shared leave, donated money, helped with house and yard work, and SO MUCH MORE.  The overwhelming response from all of you has helped keep our spirits up and let us know that we are not walking through this alone...far from it.

I want to share pictures of the visits and wonderful moments we've captured so far (not in any specific order):

Troy and Clint (served together in the Army)
Saturday's work party that blessed us with massive weeding, moss removal, and other yard work (thank you!)
Aunt Amber and Uncle Dan visited and helped with tree planting (thank you!)

Clint and long-time friend Jill

Lindsey (did I spell that right?), Clint with Owl (it was Felicity's) and Jenn (my Ginger)

Lisa and Jeff (adopted family)

Felicity giving Daddy a kiss

Felicity giving Jenn a kiss

Mike, Amanda, and baby Caleb out for a visit and dinner delivery (thank you!)

Cindy, Kevin, and Clint having way too much fun - thank you for all the food!!!

Auntie Laurie visiting with Jianna, Jayden, and Jonessa (love you guys!)

Mickey, Clint, and Kat (you guys rock)

Alisa and Taylor cheating at cards (ok, maybe it was Clint)

Daddy, Felicity, and Grandma

Felicity chilling with Daddy

Felicity telling Daddy he needs to shave

Felicity giggling because she has a secret (most likely)

Clint and Amy - they served in the Army together.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Devastating News

So much has happened in the last few days.  I don't think I have the energy to write every detail.  After many miscommunications, hold ups, and frustrations, it has been determined that Seattle treatments are off the table.  Clint's MRI on Saturday was not good news.

Clint's MRI revealed a massive butterfly shaped tumor reaching into both halves of his brain. Without treatment, he has about a month to live. We are pursuing local treatment with Avastin (it works to kill the blood vessels in tumors, making it impossible for them to grow) and regular radiation.  It is unknown if Clint's tumor will respond, given how aggressive it is.  Doing this treatment will hopefully buy us some time.  I pray it works.  I pray for much more time and a recovery of function.  Even so, it is really hard preparing to let go of the love of my life.  I am not ready.  I will never be ready.

Clint's function is declining every day, and he has a really hard time responding and getting the words out he wants to say.  I reassure him that I know he's still in there and I know what he wants to say.  He has much confusion and has a hard time getting things in the right order, including simple everyday processes.  It breaks my heart seeing his hands shake so hard he can't take his medications without assistance.  His life must literally be monitored 24/7.  I know this is very frustrating for him because he is such an independent soul!  But he knows he is loved.  Felicity had fun bringing him all the kitchen utensils she could find today, and it made him smile.  I am so glad he has not lost the ability to smile, and I pray that never goes away.

Clint's mom is with us, and she plans to stay for the duration.  We hope his dad and brother can make it out as well.  We are planning to make some good memories in the next couple weeks.  From the day we found out we were pregnant with Felicity, Clint has always said he wanted to take his child to the zoo, so we plan to take that trip on Sunday.  We also got some bears from Build-A-Bear, one for Clint, one for Felicity.  Felicity recorded a message for Clint on the voice recorder that goes in the bears paw when you squeeze her cute little voice, she said "Da-EE!" (which is how she says daddy, her favorite person in the world).  Clint's message for Felicity was "Daddy loves you, Felicity."  I am so glad we recorded this quite a few days ago while he was able to speak well.  I know she will cherish that bear for life.  I really want to take him to Uncork and Unwind in Tumwater, they are an amazing place with the best service....unparalleled.  (They have many beverages of choice on the menu, and have already offered to serve coffee in a wine glass so he can blend in).  I hope we can make it over there, he would really love it.

With all that being said, my sweet sweet sister set up a fundraising site to help with expenses that will be arising. Please don't feel like I'm begging for donations. I'm not.  But if you wish to help, please know that it is appreciated and does help tremendously.

I will keep posting updates and pictures of the memories we create.  For friends who are able and wanting to see Clint now, I strongly urge you to make a visit before things progress.

Thank you for all your prayers and support, please don't stop.

Much Love

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Please pray, my dear friends and family.  Clint had more seizure activity this morning and is having a hard time communicating.  He has an MRI at 4 p.m.

Thank you.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Latest News

Clint's referral to get proton therapy is being reviewed, though I was hoping to hear something today from the review panel.  It was an expedited referral, meaning an emergency, but nothing yet.  I have a hard time sitting still waiting for others when my husband is rapidly declining (his confusion is getting worse each day), so I called Clint's surgeon, Dr. Lee, and left a detailed message as to what was going on, and asked if he would talk to the review panel to let them know HE NEEDS THIS NOW!!  Dr. Lee is a fantastic surgeon who really advocates for his patients, so I have no doubt he will talk to them and make a huge difference.

In the meantime, Clint has an MRI tomorrow in the afternoon, and the proton place already called this evening to set up his preliminary preparation appointment for Monday morning at 8:15 a.m.!!  YIKES!!  At this point, I don't care if we have the authorization or not.  We are showing up for the appointment, and if Group Health denies coverage, we will appeal until they change their mind and are forced to cover it (not to mention we will be launching a pretty big fight with contacting the Insurance Commissioner and Congressman Danny Heck, who offered to investigate Group Health's review panel.)  WE WILL WIN THIS BATTLE.  PERIOD.  My husband's life is not a is personal to us, and his life matters!  He is worth fighting for.  And I am so grateful to have the God of the universe on our side waging war for Clint.

Clint's mom, Diana, is flying in on Sunday, and I am so glad she is coming.  We really need her.  She will be here for just over two weeks, which is perfect because she'll be able to stay with Clint in Seattle while he undergoes treatment.  Dr. Rockhill, the radiologist, does not want Clint traveling back and forth from home and will help find nearby housing for him.  I will be home with Felicity, trying to keep things as normal as possible in her life.  Poor little peanut, she is sensing the stress and says "Daddy sick" a lot.  It breaks my heart knowing she feels the stress but doesn't know how to process it.  I am doing my best to help her through it.  We are going to Build a Bear tomorrow and making a Daddy Bear for Felicity with daddy's voice on a recording device.  We will probably make one for Clint with a recording of Felicity's voice as well.  I think it will help them both get through the next three weeks apart.

On a happy note, we had a wonderful visit today from our friend Steve Mansfield, Lewis County Sheriff.  It was so nice seeing him and catching up, and it meant the world to Clint to have him come over.  It lifted his spirits today, which were definitely in need of lifting.  Thank you, Steve!!

A BIG thanks for everyone's prayers and support.  I am so grateful for all of you.  May our Lord God bless you thoroughly!  I have had a really hard week and have been completely drained and discouraged, but God renewed my strength today and I know He is on our side!  And if He is for us, who can be against us??

More updates VERY SOON!
Much love,

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Race Against the Clock

Clint had a major decline this last week, which continually got worse over the weekend.  He couldn't stop vomiting, his mental capacity was entirely diminished, he was unresponsive, and in a high state of confusion.  I took him into urgent care on Saturday, and they ran a CT scan, which showed some swelling in the brain.  I emailed the oncology team at Group Health and asked if they would want to put him back on steroids (they help reduce swelling).  Fortunately, they did put him on the steroids right away, and we saw instant improvement.  He was responsive, present, and even had his sense of humor back for a couple of days.

Today was our appointment at the University of Washington in Seattle, and my good friend and coworker Amanda drove us up there and helped us take some really good notes.  Clint's functioning today was starting to diminish again, and his balance was slightly off.  The news we heard was not what I was expecting.

Upon reviewing recent scans and MRIs, the radiation oncologist determined that Clint was NOT a good candidate for Gamma Knife because his remaining cancer is too big, and recent swelling indicates regrowth and spreading.  His best recommendation was starting proton radiation therapy right away.

The way I understood it, there are two types:  Proton and Photon.  Photon is used in standard radiation (which is what Clint had before), but it damages surrounding tissue.  Proton is a different specialized type that does not damage surrounding tissue, and considering Clint's decline and current mental disabilities, the doctor felt this was the most ideal treatment.  He wants to get to work starting Friday.  PLEASE PRAY GROUP HEALTH APPROVES TREATMENT FOR PROTON THERAPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I do not have the energy for another battle, and I could really use something going right at this time.

We see the oncologist tomorrow to go over this treatment plan, find out if it's approved, and set up an MRI.

Clint's Mom is going to try flying out on Saturday, which I am most grateful for, and I know Clint really needs her right now.

In the meantime, we could use massive prayer.
We could also use some practical help, if anyone has time or energy:

- Taking the dogs for walks once in a while.
- Helping me with keeping on top of weeding and putting down weed barrier to make the yard/garden low maintenance.
- Keeping up on mowing (the grass is dead right now, so it's mostly just mowing down weeds, so it's not needed super often).
- Transforming the cat room/sewing room into a living space for my brother so he can move in with us to help out (we have to move everything out, re-carpet, repaint).
- Grocery/necessity shopping, and maybe some food prep (I have a strict diet for Clint, so contact us first on this please).

So much love to you all, and thank you.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Battles, Victories, and Thanks

Clint started his regimen of Temodar chemotherapy (in pill form) Saturday, July 26, but not before having a final HUZZAH! at the Scottish Highland Games in Enumclaw, WA!  Here is a picture of Clint dressed in his Army kilt, and Felicity and me sporting our Strahan Tartans:

Clint did really well during this first week of chemo.  He was up sick the first night, but was able to sleep through the nasty side effects the rest of the days he took it.  I am so proud of him.

We do have a prayer request - Clint is having a decline in brain function, and we need some healing and further treatment ASAP.  He is unable to concentrate, complete thoughts and tasks, register emotion, respond promptly, and verbally communicate easily.  This tells me that the cancer is likely spreading, so please join me in prayer warfare.

In my last post, I listed Gamma Knife Radiosurgery as being one of the recommended courses of action for Clint, and all his doctors agreed on this option.  We were referred to the University of Washington/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for this consult and procedure.  After a long delay, I discovered Group Health denied this referral and was refusing to cover this option, citing that standard radiation has the same benefits as Gamma Knife, and therefore they were not open to covering Gamma Knife.

First of all, Clint already had standard radiation three and a half years ago during his first battle with this aggressive cancer.  Second, he is not eligible for further standard radiation (there is a lifetime limit)!  Thirdly, ALL Clint's specialists agree that Gamma Knife would be the most effective treatment at this point!!!

OH boy, you better believe that lit a wildfire.  Clint is worth fighting for, he cannot fight for himself, and many of us stepped up to battle this outrageous decision to deny care.  With the help of several people, including an amazing attorney I work with (Jennifer Arnold), my aunt Debbie (a physical therapist), and RN Kat in Oncology (she totally rocks), we filed an expedited appeal on the decision.  My wonderful mom, upon the advice of her sister-in-law Beth, created a CHANGE petition at this link:
 (This link has been disconnected because we were able to claim Victory status!)

So far, we have had over 350 signatures on the petition.  To my understanding, each signature sends an email to the Group Health system with a prompt to change their initial decision.  This got someone's attention in the system, because I had a phone call today from Clint's amazing surgeon, who saw the petition and wanted to know what was going on!  He asked me to call him next time something like this happens so he can help sway the decisions with his medical advice.

I am happy to say that after working with Clint's superb oncologist Dr. Sui and RN Kat (did I mention she totally rocks?), we had immediate results, and the appeal was APPROVED!!!!!  They had 4 other specialists that have worked with Clint put in their recommendation for Gamma Knife Radiosurgery, and we have an appointment next week with UW specialists to form his treatment plan for Gamma Knife.

Two words:  PRAISE GOD!!!

RN Kat has been wonderful in reminding us of our motto:  Faith over Fear.  This was an ultimate test.  And God has granted us VICTORY.

I am so grateful for the amount of support and blessings given during this time, and I want to offer thanks to some specific people (please forgive me if I've missed anyone!).  Thank you to:

- ALL of Clint's doctors and nurses who have helped handle Clint's care (Dr. Lee, Dr. Sui, Dr. Ramneantu, Dr. Mrugula, Dr. Herstein, Dr. Abdulkhader, Dr. Berry, Dr. McNabb, Dr. Nash, RN Kat, RN Kris, RN Renee, just to name a few!)
- The appeals team who compassionately reversed Group Health's referral denial
- Clint's and my family for all their love and support and prayers
- Vic and Rosie for driving us up to Seattle during Clint's surgery
- Auntie Laurie for driving us to the UW for his initial consult on treatment, and for helping us do battle when the referral number hiccup almost caused us to miss the appointment
- My supportive workplace (the Code Reviser's Office) for donated leave, the kind card and generous cash donation, help with the surprise garden, lending of some great movies and TV shows, and overall kindness to us at all times
- Everyone who pitched in (financially and physically) to build Clint's surprise garden
- My mom for taking good care of our daughter Felicity
- My sister Steph for coming over once a week to help me with tasks around the house and yard, and those who watch her kids to make that possible (Joan, Shana, Grandma)
- My Aunt Debbie for helping navigate some of the medical aspects of Clint's case
- Uncle Bret for being such a good friend to Clint and being an advocate for him
- My brother Cameron for mowing our lawn and helping with other tasks
- To my friends (church, work, and other) who have surrounded me with so much love and compassion
- All who are praying - prayers are so needed, and THEY WORK!
- To everyone who signed the Change.Org petition
- The owner of Great Western Supply for the discount on flagstone for Clint's serenity garden
- The owner of the Japanese Garden Nursery on Henderson BLVD in Lacey for helping us with plants and giving us discounts towards Clint's garden
- and last, but most certainly not least, thank you JESUS for proving yourself trustworthy and faithful over and over again.

I'll post more updates soon.

Much love,

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Treatment Options

Yesterday was our BIG meeting in Seattle with one of the top neuro-oncology specialists in our area at the University of Washington.  My aunt Laurie drove us up, which I was very grateful for (she also took great notes, and it was good to have another set of ears in the room).  We almost missed our meeting with the doctor because Group Health did not properly enter the referral in their system, but I got on the phone with the business office and said "We are NOT going home until he's seen, this is important!!!"  We eventually got into the appointment an hour late (we were very thankful the doctor saw us late), and had a fantastic meeting.

We were so thankful to have a host of options for Clint, and even some for future use if needed.  Ultimately, this doctor did NOT want to use Avastin chemotherapy, as was anticipated to be used this time by our other doctors.  He wanted Avastin to be a last resort treatment.  Clinical trials for cancer vaccination was on the table, but we opted NOT to do that, as the vaccination was combined with Avastin, and we did not want to use Avastin at this time.

Here's what we DID decide to do:

1. Clint will be having Gamma Knife Radiosurgery in Seattle - it's only ONE sitting of fine tuned treatment and he's DONE!  He will have a specialized helmet screwed to his head and it does some really awesome radiation with lasers.  This will be very different from the broad radiation treatment he had before, this will highly focus the area of treatment and will minimize the amount of radiation he will be exposed to.

2. Clint is a great candidate for reuse of Temodar, the chemo pills he took the first time.  Temodar is usually only used for a first round type of treatment because the body builds a resistance or a tolerance for it.  Because Clint's cancer stayed away for such a long time (3 times the amount of time reoccurrence usually appears), he has not built up a tolerance and will likely do well on Temodar again!  We are very excited about this; he handled it like a champ last time.  We do not know how they will handle the dosage, but we will find out on Thursday.

3. AND the most exciting part of all, Clint will be using a new tool that's only been on the market for the last couple of years (invented in Israel, which is cool because Clint has been there) - Novocure!  Novocure is a device that consists of electrodes stuck to the head and hooked up to a battery pack that sends electrical waves through the brain and disrupts cells from splitting and spreading.  While it's not actually a cure, it DOES stabilize the condition and prevent it from spreading, which is incredible! This usually does well when paired with chemo.  He can use this device for the rest of his life to try and keep his condition stable.  We are very excited about this!  If this means he can live to see his little girl go to preschool, then who cares if he has electrodes stuck to his head all the time??

So, praise God there's some fantastic options.  Our biggest hurdle will likely be getting insurance to approve the Novocure device.  However, the Novocure company DOES have programs to help fund these devices for people whose insurance companies won't cover it.  So, either way, we will be using the Novocure device.  Thursday will be the day we find out when all of this starts.  Clint will probably have another MRI in the near future to help map out the area for radiosurgery.

Thank you for all prayers and support, they are VERY needed and appreciated.  We serve an amazing God, and we live in amazing times.  I am so thankful for advances in medicine.

Much love

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Radiology in Seattle

Clint and I met with a radiology specialist in Seattle today.  It SOUNDS like if we choose to go the conventional route of chemo and radiation, we could do it close to home in Olympia rather than going to Seattle for treatment (which would be GREAT).  They talked about the possibility of doing Avastin chemotherapy first to help kill and reduce the remaining tumor, which would minimize the amount of radiation exposure needed to complete treatment.

Ultimately, the radiologist wants to confer with the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance specialists after we meet with them on Monday so they can tailor the best possible treatment for Clint.  What was encouraging was hearing the radiologist tell Clint that his amazing attitude, young age, fitness, and positive response to prior treatment really gives him good cause to hope for prolonging his life.  We take that and add it to the greater hope we have with Jesus working on Clint's healing!

Clint had a whimsical moment outside the medical facility....we found a BIG slide for big kids:

There's a KID in each of us, and Clint isn't afraid to live it up!!!

We'll post about our big appointment in Seattle Monday evening.

Much love,

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Clint's Monday

Yesterday was Horse Therapy for Clint through the Rainier Therapeutic Riding program for veterans in Yelm.  What a fantastic program!  Clint was quite a few lessons behind, as his class had started on the day of his surgery.  I had two hours blocked out yesterday morning for him to catch up on as much as he could with the class.

Clint was not able to start therapy with his huge breed stock appaloosa named Root Beer.  Apparently Root Beer likes to knock people around with his head and neck...not a good thing for Clint just yet!!!  So they started him with their two mini horses, Ben and Jerry!  So adorable.  Here are some pictures of Clint grooming Ben.

Becki showing Clint which brush to use.
Clint securing Ben to the post.
Clint giving Ben a good brushing! They got along great!
Doing great, Clint!
 With book and journal in hand, I was really looking forward to sitting in the main office and having some "me" time (what's that?!), when half an hour later Clint walks in and says he's done.  YEP!  He caught up on his classes within fifteen to twenty minutes.  (He's not ambitious or anything...geez!)  And I was thinking, "well, can you teach him anything else!?  I need a few more minutes!"  Ah well, it worked out fine anyhow.

Later in the afternoon, Clint got to have his sutures removed.  So, I have just one tiny question:  Just how many medical professionals does it take to remove sutures??

They were awesome, really, but we did have FOUR people in there to work on the suture removal!  It was a bit humorous.  I guess the stitches were a little tight and some skin had grown over parts of them.  (Nice.) (Not really.)

The lady wearing the butterflies was our champion and removed them all!  The lady on the right in the blue was a very kind student - it was a fascinating experience for her to see this particular suture removal.

Clint is doing great right now, and his happy to have no more stitches.  We go up to Seattle radiology specialists on Thursday, and we see Neurology-Oncology specialists (through the University of Washington and the Cancer Care Alliance) in Seattle on Monday.  We will have our plan of medical action down next week.  I am looking forward to having a plan.  Sometimes waiting is really hard!

Thank you all for your prayers and support - they mean everything to us!

Much love

Friday, July 11, 2014

Faith over Fear

We met with Clint's surgeon on Wednesday.  We were informed that most of what they found was unfortunately Glioblastoma (the aggressive type of brain cancer...most patients rarely survive a year after being diagnosed.  Clint is very blessed to have had 3 1/2 years...but we ask God for more precious years).

After meeting with Clint's oncologist yesterday, our plan is to meet with specialists up in Seattle at the Cancer Care Alliance and the University of Washington.  Our oncologist wants a second opinion to make sure we are getting Clint the best possible treatment - we are even open for clinical trials!!!  Fortunately, Seattle facilities have cutting edge technology when it comes to treating cancer (and most health care, for that matter).  We are looking forward to consulting with the specialists up there.

On another note, Clint is starting horse therapy for war veterans on Monday, and he is really looking forward to meeting his therapy horse "Root Beer."  I think this will be a very good experience for him!

So, I admit, I've been having a roller coaster of emotions during this time - going from being strong to falling apart.  Ultimately, I TRUST GOD.  I have moments where I ask, "God, what's going to happen??"  A couple nights ago while I was reading my Bible, I asked God to give me a piece of hope, for I was desperately sad.  I opened to Matthew 7:7 (not on purpose), and it said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."  That made me smile, and I said, "Ok, God!  I ask you to heal my husband!!  Whether it be through a miracle or modern medicine, let him be HEALED!"  I trust God with my husband.

While Clint and I were chatting with one of our favorite nurses at the oncologist's office yesterday, Clint was asked how he was feeling about all of this "stuff".  His reply was that he had nothing to fear, but he was choosing to hold onto faith.  So our new motto was born:  FAITH OVER FEAR!

Though we may walk through the deep dark death valleys, we have nothing to fear, because God promises to be with us.  We choose to hold onto HIS word and HIS promises.  He is so good to us.

Will post more soon.  We have more appointments next week that will help determine treatment plans.

As always, all our love

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pathology report


I just read Clint's pathology report online...wouldn't you know Clint likes to keep things interesting!?  We won't meet with his oncologist until next week for our official report and plan for treatment, but it looks like Clint decided to have all three possibilities in his head.  So, the mass they removed was a mixture of necrosis, oligodendra tumor, and glioblastoma tumor.  Wow.  I am guessing they will want to do Gamma Knife Radiosurgery fairly soon, if that's the course they still want to go (that's what the surgeon recommended).

Clint is still recovering from surgery very smoothly and is up and about a little bit.

So, please be praying with us over all this stuff.  Life is so precious and crazy.  But God is good no matter what, and we choose to trust Him with everything.

Lots of Love

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Surprise Secret Garden!

So, I told Clint that people were coming over today to celebrate my 32nd birthday (which is tomorrow), but we would be hanging out outside to minimize the amount of germs he would be exposed to.  He didn't guess his surprise, even with all the bark, sand, flagstone, and plants being hauled in. was too easy!

But not the work....that wasn't easy.  Boy was it rewarding though, and what a transformation!  We had a dedicated crew show up just after ten, and most stayed until it was finished around six.  A big thank you and shout out to:  Dick, Lasse, Cameron, Michele, Michael, Trudee, Amanda, Shane, and Grandpa!!!!!!!!! (Grandpa kept Clint distracted in the house).

I want to give a special THANK YOU to Uncle Mike and Aunt Linda in Colorado for purchasing our beauty bark!  It really made the garden look great.

Another special THANK YOU to my friend Matt, who beautifully made the wooden posts surrounding the Boulevard (pom-pom) tree!!  They turned out GREAT!

Also, THANK YOU to Jack, our neighbor, who lent us many tools we needed for the job, as well as him taking ALL day Thursday to help haul in beauty bark, stones, sand, and all the flagstone... that was quite a task, and very appreciated!

Enjoy the progression of pictures:



And we have one very happy and thoroughly blessed Clint.  Thank you for making this special Japanese garden for Clint to relax and recover in!!