We sought 2nd, 3rd and 4th opinions on Sara's treatment plan and the overwhelming medical advice was to immediately terminate the pregnancy and begin very aggressive cancer treatment. There was a lot of uncertainty if Sara would live long enough without aggressive radiation and chemotherapy to bring the baby to term.
After much prayer, we committed to do whatever we could for the unborn baby even if it placed Sara at additional risk. We were blessed to find a doctor who understood this vision and he helped us shape a treatment protocol that would not injure the baby but could offer some help for Sara during the pregnancy as well.
During the 2nd trimester, Sara had a bowel resection surgery. A doctor from our OB/GYN team literally moved the uterus and fetus aside by hands while the Gastroenterology surgeon removed over a foot of intestine from beneath it. The womb was then reseated, Sara was closed up and the surgery was successful.
During the 3rd trimester, Sara had a kind of chemotherapy that wouldn't cross the umbilical to the baby. It was a very scary time and much of what we did was not common medical practice. Alice was born on May 9th, 2012. She was (and still is) perfectly healthy.
I know for a fact God protected Alice in the womb. We were surrounded by a great cloud of prayers from believers all over the world.
With the baby safely delivered, Sara was finally able to have a CT scan to check the progression of the disease. It was at this time that it was discovered to have metastasized to the liver into a large centrally located tumor. So the intensity of Sara's treatment was turned up to 11! In the last 6 years we have had over 50 chemo treatments, many radiation treatments and a about a dozen surgeries.
Sara’s latest CT scan showed tumor growth in the liver, lungs, lymph nodes and growth in a new area as well. The goal of the past two years has been maintenance, meaning it isn’t likely the treatments available to us now will lead to full remission but we can try to limit the growth of the tumors.
We are currently pursuing new clinical trials that might offer the hope of full healing but there are a lot risks involved with experimental treatment, and we have had difficulty being admitted due to Sara’s liver function test (bilirubin) being so variable because of disease around the bile ducts.
Despite the limitations of the cancer treatments available to us, I still believe full healing is possible with God. I’ve learned a lot of about patience, faith and hope over the last years.
It is very humbling to have to ask for financial assistance but there has been a great outpouring of generosity to us. Our home church, Saturn Road Church of Christ, has been amazingly generous and supportive to us over the past 6 years. The leaders and individual members have always been there when I’ve asked for help. Many meals have been prepared with love for us, many baked good mysteriously appear on our doorstep, leaves have been raked and during the first year of treatment some amazing people organized a fundraiser for us that erased the first year of medical debt and left us enough saved to cover another year of expenses with less financial anxiety.
There are literally too many examples of the generosity from Saturn Road Church of Christ and from our friends and family in other places to mention. We will be forever indebted to them for their love and sacrifice for us.
After I reached out online for prayers, multiple Christian Champions I know reached back to me and recommended I start a Go Fund Me page so that people could easily help us. This has been a common suggestion from people close to me but I hesitated. But with the fact that so many people I know and love are all giving me the same advice I’m forced to see this a prodding from the Holy Spirit to accept more help. I am grateful for the believers from all over the world who have reached out and offered to help us.
I recently heard at a Ray Vander Laan Bible Seminar that a Jewish Rabbi believes that turning down an offer to help is tantamount to breaking the 8th Commandment. When you deny someone the chance to help you are stealing from them an opportunity to serve God. These words have haunted me. Even though I have accepted a lot of help over the years there is a still a prideful part of me that wants to think I can do this alone.
For years I’ve gotten messages from people at dozens of churches who tell me they are praying for Sara. This cloud of prayers is what has fueled us on this marathon journey.
I have no expectation (and you should feel no obligation) to meet the amount we have asked for on this website but we had to put in something. Even a few hundred dollars would help us our as right now our financial situation is more stressed than it has been even over the last few years. In October, our kitchen had a flood and the additional costs have been trying, we were already living paycheck to paycheck. Both of our cars have trouble. One is on its last legs and isn’t reliable and the newer car runs well but currently has no AC or heating which makes for some chilly drives to school in the morning.
To speak plainly, when we did our last major accounting of our medical debts they were around $37,000 but this doesn’t account for new treatments surgeries accrued in the latter half of 2017, which we have to run through the insurance to be sure that everything was properly billed. Some of our debts is on a credit card we had to use to cover travel expenses back and forth to MD Anderson in Houston, we usually make 8 or more trips there a year.
Please join us in praying for healing for Sara. I pray for her daily and pray thanksgiving to God for all the blessings he’s given to us even during this trying time. We still have good times as a family, the girls still laugh, we make memories. Our church family has always taken care of us and our friends have always been there when we needed help watching the girls whether its a day of chemo or a week for surgery.
No matter what happens we will follow where God leads us. Even in some of the worse moments we have found a way to praise God and lean not on our own understanding. I don’t know why this is happening to us or what God has in store for us but God has already proven to the world how much he loves us by sending his Son to die for our sins. That battle is already won and is the center of our lives as a family. Even so, God told us to ask, seek and knock so join me in asking for healing in prayer.
Please share this link with compassionate people you know who may perhap help out with a donation.
Above all pray.
On behalf of Sara, Clara and Alice
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion;
5 Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
- Virginia Presnell
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