Rebekah

“As a teenager I use to drive by a Hematology Oncology treatment center in Medford, Oregon, dreaming of becoming a nurse there so I could help the people that were being treated with cancer. At the age of 23 I applied to Grand Canyon University (Arizona) for nursing and I was accepted. Before going though, I prayed that if it was not God’s will for me, He would make it clear to me by somehow letting me miss my plane. I got to the airport over an hour early. When I went to board, they told me I had missed boarding and the doors were closed. It was so bizarre, but needless to say I missed my plane. That was the second time that God had closed the door for me to go to college.
The end of June 2011 (still 23) I got out of the shower and looked in the mirror. In my reflection I saw a bruise. The bruise was above my right breast and looked like it had been there for a while because it was already a yellow-green color as if healing. I thought it was odd since I’d never seen it before and so I touched it. Underneath the bruise was a lump that felt about the size of a bouncy ball. The first thing that came to mind was my grandma. She’d had breast cancer and I remembered her leaning over me to kiss my forehead and seeing that she only had one breast. That terrified me but at the same time I thought I was too young. I’d never heard of someone my age having breast cancer, so naturally I had no idea what to do. I was too afraid to tell my family, especially my mom because my grandma had passed away from cancer. I ended up telling my sisters who went with me to the first doctor’s appointment.
The doctor looked at my chest and said she didn’t see any bruising. I got chills. I knew then God placed that bruise on my body for me to find. I never did self-exams and would have never known there was a lump. She told me it was likely just a cyst because of my age. Sounded good to me! But she suggested an ultrasound to be sure. At that point it seemed rather harmless, so I went to the ultrasound by myself. Within minutes of starting the ultrasound the tech left to find a doctor. That was when I knew. The doctor came in. He sat down and began drawing the differences between a benign tumor and malignant tumor. I looked at the ultrasound and back at his drawing. From what it looked like, he was telling me I had a malignant tumor. I started crying and just kept thinking why didn’t I bring someone with me?!
After that I had my first and last mammogram. They couldn’t “officially” say it was cancer until I had a biopsy, which they scheduled two days later. I still hadn’t told my mom. Looking back, I was trying to protect her. I needed to know for sure it was the “big C” before telling her. So I took my two sisters with me instead. They held my hands while I had the biopsy and I remember my older sister asking the doctor if she had ever done a biopsy on a tumor that looked like mine and have it come back benign. Her answer was simple, all she said was “no”. That was on a Friday.
The weekend to follow was the longest weekend of my life. I knew it was cancer but felt that maybe if I heard a doctor say it, that would actually make it real. When Tuesday came along I got a phone call telling me to come in as soon as possible and they suggested that I bring someone with me. I thought to myself: “this is just like the movies.” That’s when I fell apart and all I wanted was my mom, so I told her and asked her to come with me. I had one request. I asked her not to cry for me. Not yet, and she didn’t. The doctor came in, looked at me, and said, “my dear this is not the cyst that we thought it was. You have breast cancer.”
Immediately an appointment was set up with a surgeon. I was told that in my case, because of my age and my particular diagnosis, a double mastectomy would be best. They also said this was the best course because they “didn’t want to see me back in five years with stage four cancer.” I got three opinions and my case was brought before a board of many oncologists and surgeons who all agreed. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. I was finally just beginning to be comfortable with my chest and they were going to take it from me. I Googled pictures of mastectomies and thought, how would a man ever find me attractive?  Then realized if they took my chest, when I had kids I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. I’ve had women, even friends tell me, “Well you don’t know if you would even want to breast feed so don’t worry about it.” Maybe true but it really hurt. I wasn’t going to be able to decide that, it was being decided for me.
Eventually I consented to the double mastectomy. The hardest part was waking up and looking in the mirror with the hospital gown off. I looked like a little boy before hitting puberty. I closed the door to the bathroom and cried and cried.
A week later my mom and I drove to Portland and started a process to have my eggs frozen in hopes to be able to carry my own kids one day. It was a three-week process and every three days or so we would drive back to Ashland (Oregon) for a night only to turn around and go back to Portland. Knowing that my hair was going to fall out, I cut my hair short and donated it.
A few days after finishing in Portland I started chemotherapy. The plan was to have six rounds of “THC” and five years of the hormone maintenance drug, Tamoxifen. Before beginning I had an echocardiogram (a 3D image of my heart) to have a baseline of my heart function. One of the therapies I was doing called Herceptin, could cause my heart function to weaken and I needed to do that one for a year. I got through chemo relatively well and had another echocardiogram to see how my heart was doing with Herceptin. It appeared that the therapy was having an effect on my heart so I stopped it but continued having regular echocardiograms. During one of the “echos” the tech decided to check the unaffected side of my heart, which was not typical. Afterwards said she was going to talk to my cardiologist.
Later that week I got a phone call from my doctor who said I needed to have a transesophageal echocardiogram because it appeared that I had two holes in my atrium. After waking up from the echo my doctor said, “Well, it looks like you need open heart surgery.” I think I actually laughed. I had something called atrial septal defect, a congenital heart defect that had gone completely undetected my entire life. It had gotten to the point that I was having symptoms of heart failure but had no idea because I attributed them to having just gone through chemotherapy.
When I saw the heart surgeon, he said that if I had not found this and treated it, I would have most likely had a stroke or died in my sleep. Had I never had cancer, I would most likely never have found this defect. It is strange to think, but cancer actually saved my life!
I had open heart surgery through one of my breast implants. It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. Afterward, I remember now holding my breath for as long as possible so I wouldn’t feel the pain of breathing in. I recovered from that, finished Herceptin and started college at Southern Oregon University. I knew something was wrong when I found myself crying about any remembrance of what I’d just gone through. I later learned that I suffered with PTSD. When I was going through all the treatments and surgery, it all seemed to happen so fast that I did not have time to process it all and adequately grieve it all. I just kept pushing forward and fighting, but also pushing it all down inside me. When I finally seemed to reach a place of relative safety and slow down, all those feelings and all the grieving would come up and overwhelm me. Still now even writing this my eyes are watering. I sought out counseling to help learn that I was grieving and it was going to be a process I had to go through. The counseling was more helpful than I could have imagined and I am grateful for that.
During that time my dearest friend passed away from breast cancer. We met thru a mutual friend after my first surgery. One of the last things she told me was: “Never forget to live.” Before being sick I was quite adventurous moving from Baja, Mexico to Mazatlán, MX and then on to Germany and finally, Ireland. I felt encouraged by my friend’s words to go on another adventure but I didn’t want to be too far from my family so I opted for Southern CA, Orange County. I thought San Clemente looked relaxed and close enough to my little sister, so I packed my tiny car and drove myself down to OC in faith that God was going to provide. I prayed again that if it wasn’t meant to be He would close the door, and this time He did not.
I found a little studio for rent near the beach and had a new job lined up as a nanny. But after a week of being all alone in a foreign place, I decided it was too hard and considered moving back to Oregon. The night I was contemplating driving back home I received an email from a guy who had seen my profile on a local Christian meetup site (sounds sketchy but it wasn’t). That guy is now my husband. I fell quite head over heels for Joel and we married two years ago. Needless to say I did not drive back to Oregon that night!
I still did not have an oncologist in California, and I would fly back to Oregon every three months to see my oncologist. I was still taking Tamoxifen which was basically supposed to keep me in menopause because the cancer I had seemed to love my hormones…A LOT. About 7 months into our marriage I started having intense lower back pain. I was at that time working as a barista, on my feet for eight or more hours every day. On my breaks I wouldGoogle “lower back pain after cancer.” Much of what I read said that it could be from chemotherapy, so thanks to “Dr. Google” I self-diagnosed the pain as either chemo induced neuropathy or sciatica pain.
Memorial Day weekend 2015, the pain was so bad I was in tears. I couldn’t move and asked Joel to take me to the ER. I had mentioned the pain to my Oregon doctor a month or so earlier and he asked me to get a CT scan to which I decided wasn’t that important. Upon being admitted to the ER Joel requested I get a CT scan. He and I were laughing in my ER room waiting for the doctor to come in and tell me it was my sciatica. Instead she walked in and told us that the CT had revealed masses in my kidneys, liver, bones, maybe lungs. She suggested I see my oncologist as soon as possible. I glanced at Joel and begged God for it to not be true. I kept thinking there was still hope. The masses could all be benign right? I asked Joel not to be mad at God. Only two months earlier Joel’s dad had been diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer and hadn’t been given a good prognosis.
The next day I spent calling my doctor in Oregon, putting slides together, and faxing reports. The morning after that Joel and I got in the car and drove straight to Oregon. I didn’t tell anyone except my sister, Liz what was going on. We made it to my mom’s late at night surprising her with our arrival and still not revealing the true intentions of our visit. The next morning we went to see my oncologist. More tests were scheduled and many vials of blood were taken. He asked if I’d had any other pain. I quietly, not thinking much of it said,”I’ve been getting headaches lately.” He added another scan for my brain.
A few days later after all the tests and scans were complete his office called and said my appointment had been moved up. I remember thinking it was odd because I already had an appointment scheduled for the next day and thought maybe they just forgot. Joel and I walked into the exam room silent. I was super fidgety and impatient. My doctor came in and said he had bad news. The cancer we thought we caught before was back and this time with a vengeance. The tests revealed tumors in my kidneys, liver, bones, lungs, chest wall, and at the very least, he said I had nine tumors in my brain. I broke down and cried in anguish. I kept thinking: “how the hell did this happen?” and “Will Joel still love me after ‘doing this to him’”? I knew it had nothing to do with me and I knew he had promised in sickness and in health but I kept looking at him saying, “I am so sorry.” We hadn’t even been married a year.
We spent the night at a hotel near my mom’s, crying with each other, alone, and with my family. The next day we met a radiation oncologist with the worst bedside manner EVER. With my mom and husband next to me, and without being asked, he blurted out “without treatment you have one, maybe two months. With treatment you have maybe six.” I will never forget that. I felt so heavy.
But the next day (still at mom’s in Oregon) I woke up ready to fight. An incredible strength came over me to survive that I can only attribute to my heavenly Father’s doing. We went to church and my pastor anointed me with oil and prayed over me for healing. I remember telling him that I knew in my heart that it wasn’t my time to go home. But I was still scared. Earlier that day I created a Facebook page for my journey because I desperately wanted to be prayed for. I called it “Rebekah’s Unexpected Adventure”.
One of the doctors had told us that Southern California had three of the top cancer treatment centers in the country. We contacted the City of Hope in Duarte, Los Angeles. After some back-and-forth, my insurance was accepted and I had an appointment. Joel and I drove back home to Orange County.
My case was reviewed by their team of doctors and I was chosen by Dr. Lucille Leong. She was amazing. She consulted with some of the top cancer specialists from around the country concerning my case. My case was unique because of the type of cancer I had, my age, and my heart condition. My brain trumped my body in order of importance, and I started three straight weeks of intense full brain radiation. My hair fell out, again. I was told I shouldn’t drive because of the possibility of seizures. My family took turns coming down for the first six weeks taking turns bringing me to appointments, which are 1-1 ½ hours away. Surprisingly, the radiation did not have too many ill side effects on me. We would have to wait several months to check my brain and see if it did anything. My family went back home and Joel was at work every day.
I would spend my days crying on the couch. I had been left to my own thoughts and they were not always happy, positive, strong, ”I can do this” thoughts. They were thoughts like am I going to get to watch my littlest niece and nephew grow up? Who’s going to be Liz’s best friend? Who is my mom going to laugh hysterically with? Who is Joel going to come home to? Who is he going to grow old with? I felt like I needed to be a strong Christian who thought, “well if God takes me home, he takes me home and that’s his will.” But I just couldn’t and I felt like a bad Christian for feeling that way.
Day after day I would scour the internet for stories of survival in women with stage 4 breast cancer. I found encouragement in stories of women living five years after a stage 4 BC diagnosis. I later found other stories of women living even 10 and 15 years. Eventually days would go by and I wouldn’t think about death. Then weeks passed by and I didn’t think about it. I had started oral chemotherapy and it was making me terribly sick. It was a good day if I only threw up two or three times. I figured this stuff must be working. Then I had my first checkup to review new scans. The results weren’t good. My tumor markers had shot up and tumors were growing and spreading all over the place. I was devastated but determined to keep fighting.
I started Intravenous (I.V.) chemo and after only two rounds my tumor markers dropped dramatically. This was exciting and gave us a renewed hope. During this time Joel’s dad turned his life over to the Lord and went home to meet his Father in heaven. I am excited that we will see him again one day.
A couple months passed and my tumor markers went back to normal levels, pre-cancer. The chemo was working! I still had pain in my hip and I had to have more radiation on that. But overall I had a near complete response and recently was told I was basically in remission! I was in shock and complete awe of the healing hands of my Father. He had heard my prayers, and the prayers of hundreds of other people, most whom I have never met before.
I now do what is called maintenance therapy to keep it all at bay. I have to go to the City of Hope several times a month for I.V. treatments and shots. My hip still constantly hurts without pain medication. The doctors say they want to do surgery on it to stabilize it from the damage caused by the cancer.
It will never be completely gone, but with regular treatment it will stay away for a good long time. Initially, I was given 4-6 months to live (from that one rude doctor), but I just passed one year and the cancer is almost entirely gone. I’m living my life and enjoying every day of it. My thoughts are not dominated by thoughts of cancer and fears of death as in the beginning. My thoughts are of life—family, friends, love, and hope. I still don’t have hair yet, but it’s coming back slowly…in patches. I’m enjoying the journey day by day.
I have learned so much about God’s grace and mercy through the healing He has allowed, and I know that it was all Him. I’m not a nurse at the treatment center in Oregon like I dreamed years ago but Joel and I are now helping our church start a cancer care ministry to help others in our community going through similar journeys. The City of Hope, the place I get treatment at has a saying that is spread all over their campus: “There is always hope.” So true.”

 

 

My dear friend Rebekah is so beyond beautiful, I’m so thankful I know her. Please please be lifting her up in prayer. To continue following along her journey go HERE ♥

Love to you all!

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Addi

“First off, I want to thank Hannah for asking me to share my story on her wonderful platform she created to encourage others. I’m so happy to know someone who has a huge heart for people going through trials and wants to encourage people by sharing their stories. Thanks Hannah! You’re awesome!
Okay, here we go. To better describe my journey, I need to give a little background. Basically, around the time I started puberty I had become very aware of my changing body and didn’t like it. I hated how quickly I grew out of my new pants because my hips were growing, and I very quickly started to feel self-conscious and uncomfortable in my own skin. I’ve always been prone to immersing myself in media (aka movies, magazines, shows, books) and that didn’t help my self-criticism and analysis. I found myself comparing my looks to other people, whether it be friends or actress or models, and more and more I became dissatisfied by my appearance and as a result felt ugly constantly. I remember sitting down and looking down at my legs and how they spread out on the seat and felt disgusted with myself and wish I could cut them in half. This physical self-hatred lasted from puberty (so around age 13) to age 17 borderline 18 when I finally had enough. I remember one night when I was getting ready to go to youth group at our church with my sister Chelsea I had a total meltdown. Every outfit I was trying on felt unflattering and ugly and I felt so gross and “chubby.” Mind you, looking back I now realize I wasn’t even close to chubby. I was healthy and normal looking. But that night I felt huge. I started crying and my mom ran to my side trying to comfort me. I decided right then and there to start dieting and eating healthier. Now, this would be a good plan if I actually wanted to cut out crap from my diet for my health, but this was purely a vain endeavor.
From the outside, my dieting started off somewhat healthy and relatively safe. I cut out sugar and white carbs completely and didn’t let myself go crazy with portions. I started snacking on things like carrots (which I still to this day don’t really like) and grapefruit. I cut down my portions but not too drastically. Before I knew it I was losing weight and feeling so much better about myself. I died my hair blonde and cut it and actually started feeling pretty. For the first time I was actually excited to shop and wasn’t terrified to (gasp) wear swimsuits in public. I remember getting more compliments and remarks about my “willpower” and “discipline.” One very distinctive memory I have was in the car with Chelsea and our best friend Brittnee. I was talking about eating healthy snacks and trying to “shrink my stomach” meaning get it to the point where I don’t need to eat as much to get full. I remember Brittnee getting concerned by that remark and saying “Please don’t become anorexic.” I remember laughing in her face in response. I told her to rest assured that it would be impossible for me to become anorexic because I love food too much and that it would never happen. That remark sticks with me to this day. We always think we’re stronger than we actually are.
Before I knew it I was cutting out a meal every day. Once I saw the progress I was making I decided it would be easy to cut a little more out of my daily diet by just skipping a meal (most of the time lunch). I remember my stomach grumbling but I remained determined to ignore it and focus on the satisfaction of feeling pretty and looking good in my clothes to push through the hunger. I think my family and friends started noticing a little when I’d say I’m “not that hungry” during dinner and either sit with everyone and not eat anything or only eating a few bites of something before calling it good. I was so obvious about it it’s ridiculous, but no one ever expressed any real concern at that point though because I was still eating during other times of the day and I didn’t look too thin. (Guys, these are the early signs you need to start looking for as the start of an ED).
At age 18 I got knee surgery and I was determined not to let my sedentary recovery phase be an excuse to gain weight, so I was even more hard on myself then. Shortly after, I moved into an apartment with my other best friend Sara and I think that in the back of my head I felt a sick relief that I could eat however I wanted without my whole family watching me. I started cutting out more food and before I knew it I was down to one meal a day with maybe some very low calorie snacks on the side. My family was planning to go to South Africa with our friends the Wrights and I remember actually feeling stressed out beforehand not knowing how I was going to hide my very limited eating from everyone. The trip proved to be a struggle in that area and I remember sitting down with everyone and completely skipping entire meals regularly. I would always say that I wasn’t hungry or that my stomach felt weird blah blah blah. All the while my stomach was screaming for food. I felt weak waking up because I was so hungry from skipping dinner the night before. That trip still proved to be the best trip of my entire life so I’m glad my developing eating disorder didn’t entirely ruin my whole experience there.
After the trip, I got back into school full time and work part time. I got a boyfriend who made me feel pretty all the time and actually told me to eat more multiple times, but it didn’t matter. I was already sucked into my own delusional self-destructive vortex that I didn’t know my way out of. I remember planning out my days when I knew I was hanging out with my boyfriend at the end of the day, knowing we would eat together. I actually got stressed thinking about being basically “forced” into eating an actual dinner. And mind you, our dinners were usually salads. At that point I was down to only a few hundred calories a day when I was on my own. My “meals” would consist of either an apple and a rice cake, a grapefruit, or a can of string beans. I lived off of diet soda. I loved how the bubbles would temporarily fill my deeply hungry stomach and distract me from how hungry I truly was, constantly. The only times I actually felt full was when I would go on a full-on bender food binge while at some sort of social gathering where I was surrounded with food. Now, after talking to multiple people who have had ED’s and reading up on them, I realize that this is a totally common reaction to intentional food depravation. I would find myself losing all control and eating myself sick. I never threw up, thankfully. That would have opened up a whole new door. But my poor stomach could barely handle any food and I would end up cramming it SO full that it would get distended like a malnourished kid in a third world country and I would feel so full and sick and bloated for a solid two days after. Those following days I remember being so disgusted with myself that I would lose all control like that and, as a punishment and also because I still felt so full, I would not eat anything at all for a day or two and then start over in my regular depravation pattern.
Around this time I started noticing how truly thin I had gotten. People started commenting on it and my lack of eating habits, but no one actually confronted me about it in a serious way except my sister Chelsea. I remember her bringing it up with me several times saying she thought I had a problem and that I needed help. I ignored her pleas but I do remember at one point realizing that maybe I had developed a real eating disorder without ever realizing it. I started to acknowledge it inwardly, but felt completely trapped. I remember at one point actually saying to myself that there was no way out of this, and that I would just have to live like this for the rest of my life and deal with it. I was in my own mental prison that I knew no way out of. I started going to the gym every day, on top of not eating anything. The gym became an obsession—a religion. I couldn’t skip a session, even if it meant going super late at night or canceling other plans. I started noticing that my gym compulsion got in the way of my relationships. I remember my family was visiting from LA for only a few days and I full-on ditched out on them multiple times to get my gym time in. Chelsea was completely offended by it and I don’t blame her. She made a comment about it but I didn’t really let it affect me.
The turning point happened when I was in my car one night and saw that Chelsea was calling me. I picked up only to realize that she had butt dialed me and was talking to Brittnee (our mutual best friend who she lived with at the time). I heard their conversation clearly, and they were talking about me. Chelsea was venting to Brittnee about how frustrating her visit had been, and that I had basically ignored everyone to live at the gym. She was frustrated and concerned about me and didn’t know what to do. I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I listened to everything she was saying. She was saying a lot of harsh things about me, but I don’t blame her. I hung up and called her back, telling her that I heard everything. It was at that point that she broke down in tears telling me how concerned she was about me and didn’t know what to do. I started crying too and promised her I would get help. There was no turning back at that point.
After acknowledging that I had a problem and talking to my mom about it, she insisted I find an eating disorder counselor to talk to. After shopping around, I settled on one. Honestly, those sessions didn’t do anything because my mindset was so messed up. As much as I wanted to get better and to be freed from the illness I had created, I wanted full control still and wasn’t ready for someone to tell me what to do or how to eat. Even though I was starting to eat again, it was not in a healthy way. I started binging on snacks and never actually sat down and enjoyed real meals. I remember going through a phase where I would eat an entire bag of craisins for lunch, or I would binge on a huge container of mixed nuts and feel horrible afterward. I wasn’t actually allowing myself to get healthier physically or mentally. I gained weight quickly. Deprived for so long, my body clung onto every calorie it took in. I felt horrible all the time, physically and emotionally. But hey, I was “eating again.”
I don’t even necessarily need to get into the several years following this because I went through so many phases in my recovery process before I actually got healthy. My dad getting diagnosed with cancer affected things, a second trip to Africa affected things, and most importantly, I wasn’t giving my eating disorder entirely up to God. Isn’t it funny that the things we’re most fearful to let go of are the things we need to let go of the most? It wasn’t until another breakdown with my mom comforting me and praying over me that I really gave the reins over to God. I was so tired of trying to get better and plateauing at a spot I didn’t want to be in, even though I was healthier than before. At that point I was so grateful to have people in my life who knew and understood my struggles, so I texted a couple friends that night asking for prayer. After that, God brought me back to South Africa, this time on my own and I became healthier than ever before on that trip, mentally and spiritually. I loved not even having it be an option to focus on, because there were obviously so many more important things surrounding me than my own selfish vanity. I came back from that trip in a healthier place than I had ever been in. I remember meeting and getting to know my now best friend Kate and hearing her say that she was baffled that I even struggled with it before, because it was so not apparent now. I can’t even tell you how encouraging that was to hear. God had actually healed me.
Those who haven’t ever struggled with eating disorders won’t even begin to understand the twisted complexity of them, but let’s just say that they really feel like a mild version of mental insanity. We become so caught up in them that we lose grip of reality and actually start to see and believe things that are so far from true. Our minds drift so far from logic or reason and we become consumed with it to the point where nothing feels as important in comparison, though we would never admit that to ourselves. Honestly, eating disorders are completely selfish because they affect every aspect of our lives and we are entirely self-focused the whole time. I made my ED my world for years, and looking back it saddens me that my world was so small at the time that I would make being skinny my very top priority. And the funny thing is, once I got really thin I still wasn’t happy. If anything, deep down I hated myself even more because I knew what it took to get there. I hate that I spent my late teens/early twenties entirely obsessing over myself and putting my body through hell as a result. Though I am tempted to deeply wish I could go back and re-live those years with a healthy mindset, I really am truly grateful for the experience because it has allowed me to help other people going through the same thing and really have compassion for anyone who is or who has ever struggled with one. A year or so ago I was given the opportunity to share my ED testimony with a rather large group of high school kids and youth leaders. It was terrifying but also one of the best experiences I ever had because I was able to share my heart and my story with kids who could identify or knew someone going through the same thing. Afterward I had girls coming up and hugging me and thanking me, saying they were so blessed by my testimony. I even had a couple of adorable girls pull me aside asking advice about a friend they knew was very anorexic. I was grateful to be able to answer their questions and talk to girls more in depth about it. Experiences like that remind me why God allowed me to struggle with it. God gave me that trial to watch Him pull me through it, and my faith is deeper as a result.
Now looking back, I am grateful for the little steps I took that led to my full recovery. These little milestones may sound so small and meaningless to people on the outside, but they were huge in my journey to full recovery. Little triumphs I remember: sitting down and eating a meal for the first time and not hating myself afterwards (even though it was a tiny one, that was a huge step). Cutting back working out and then re-introducing it into my life in a healthy way. Realizing that I no longer make food or my meals the center of my day that everything revolves around. Finally accepting my body for how it naturally is, and loving it more than I ever did. Realizing that I can basically actually eat full meals three times a day (aka like a normal person) and stay the same size. Actually realizing that I am uniquely and wonderfully made, and that my outward appearance should never be important in the end.
Guys, God brought me through something I would have never gotten though on my own. Don’t ever doubt His abilities and don’t be afraid to lose control by giving something up to Him. It is always worth it and you will always be blown away when you do. I am a living testament that God can pull you through something you might have already accepted that you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life. Through His grace, I am healed and know that whether you are struggling with something similar or something vastly different, know that you can be too.” -Addi Black
To see and hear more of Addi’s inspiring story, and the cutest fashion inspiration,  go to her website, HERE! Tag a friend on her Instagram post who you think would benefit from this story HERE

My friend, Rubes

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It’s been 3 years of my blog being up. I’ve met so many people from it, been encouraged and have encouraged so many people through it. My story has been all over the world, literally. It shows where the views come from and over 100 different countries have read this. I’ve been so blessed to be able to tell my journey. The hope, faith, and even despair has been so good for me to pour out.
It’s been on my heart to get other peoples stories here. So many people have been through hard times in their life, and I want their journey and what they learned from it. To be an encouragement as well. I’ve reached out to many people I know who have been through and are going through hardness, they’ve willingly  joined me in sharing their story. May at least one person be inspired, encouraged, given hope by their story. Once a month a new face and life will be shown here. If you have one or know of anyone who would like to share please contact me 🙂
My first one I have is from my friend Ruby. We’ve been good friends for over 12 years. We’ve been through so so much together. In fact 2 days ago, I was getting so sick and Ruby came with me to the ER. To have a friend by my side in the ER who understands everything, does my heart so much good. Sadly she gets it all. But it blesses me to have her with me. Thank you so much for being there for me, Rubes. Her mom and I used to sit by each other during treatments. There would be so much tears and laughter, and I was always so encouraged by the joy she would bring me during those hard times. I love Shaun, and I can’t wait to laugh with her again someday soon ♥
“I don’t even know where to begin.
I’ve honestly have had such a crazy life.
So crazy that most people don’t believe me, but that’s their choice.
I’ll start with this: I am a Christian & have been for 16 years.
My life was hard before I was a Christian & my life got harder after I become one too, so don’t think that Christians are perfect in any way…they’re just as human as the next person.
I know what it’s like to be raised by my grandparents,
I know what it’s like to be bullied at school,
I know what it’s like to be well off,
I know what it’s like to be completely poor & living off food stamps,
I know what it’s like to be raised by a single mom,
I know what it’s like to feel absolutely amazing,
I know what it’s like to be completely rejected by someone that you love.
If you’ve gone through it, I honestly might understand.
I’ve only been alive for 26 years & I feel like I’ve gone through so much, but feel so young.
Through all the things that I’ve been through I can honestly say that what happened to me 3 years ago had the greatest effect on my life.
3 years ago I lost my mom to cancer.
She wasn’t just my mom, she was more like my big sister. We were the real life Gilmore Girls.
My mom had cancer for 33 years. She had cancer for my whole entire life, but you would have never known that because she never let her cancer get her spirit.
She was, and is still to this day, the strongest person I know. She lived life to the absolute fullest.
I don’t think she was afraid of anything, or at least, she never let me know that.
Its funny to think how someone who was dying right before my eyes taught me how to live my life to the fullest.
She taught me how to cling to Jesus and that if you truly desire to have a full life it can only be found in Him.
In January of 2013 we found out that the cancer had spread to her brain & that she only had 3 to 4 months left.
Still…to this very day…I’ll have flash backs of that very moment in time when I found out, and it still hurts. I think it’ll always hurt. The only thing that has changed is how I’ve reacted to it.
The first time I felt like my heart exploded, the fifth time it had slowly turned into me just crying.
I’m sure that some of you reading this out there know what its like to watch someone you love pass away…whether you believe in Jesus or not it’s always going to feel the exact same way…hellish.
Those next 4 months of my life have forever changed me.
In good ways,
In bad ways,
and in ways I don’t even know about yet.
Change is hard, change is scary, change is good, change is healthy.
In those 4 months I saw, I felt, I endured
I wanted to give up every single day.
I didn’t want to talk,
I didn’t want to eat,
I just didn’t.
I was broken and that’s ok.
I bet you’ve never heard anyone say that before? Our generation is strange…we’re terrified of being broken, but it needs to happen.
My mom’s passing broke me.
But, it was in these 3 years that I’ve experienced Jesus in ways I’ve never known to be possible.
In these 3 years He has truly shown Himself so faithful.
I just recently graduated Bible College in December 2015.
It’s there that He let me go through my grieving process & come to a deeper knowledge of the depth of His love for me.
I never fully understood the depth of His love, I don’t know if I ever fully will, but I got a little bit more of an understanding then before.
It’s at Bible College that I learned of my calling in life and my purpose: to love the unloved, to care for the uncared for, to show kindness to the unkind, to be bold in my faith, and to just simply be an example of Christ.
I know that if I never went through the struggle of losing my mom, or any of the other rough times that have happened, that I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.
Mind you, the moment when everything was happening to me, I was not happy, nor could I understand why in the world everything was happening.
It’s only now that I can look back and see that He made me for this very moment.
I truly believe that we go through hard times so that we can grow closer to Christ, and to be there for someone else in our future.
You know those people that you meet who completely understand you because they’ve gone through the same thing as you? Do you remember that feeling of, “Wow, They totally get me!”
That moment was brought to you by Jesus. He had that happen for a reason.
We go through everything for a reason.
Everything has a purpose.
The real question is this: are you seeing your life as “your own life” or “your life being used for Christ”?
I see my life constantly being used for His glory.
Its truly now my great pleasure to be there for others, to let them know that they aren’t alone, & that they have a sister in Christ that is truly praying for them, & that He is near those who are broken.
I want to encourage you, my friend, to not give up.
You can do it.
I have faith in you! And most importantly, I have faith in Jesus that He won’t ever give up on you because He truly cares for you!”



Written by beautiful, Rubes