“There You Go and That’s That”

hope in the sand

In my last post I wrote about feeling like I was falling into a “black hole.” Lo and behold, as Terry and I sorted through yet another box of books (I can’t take but one box a week!), I found my childhood copy of the “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland.” As I re-read the book, I could certainly identify with Alice chasing after the White Rabbit and falling into his hole. This clinical trial is a lot like the rabbit hole. Tumbling, tumbling into the dark, not knowing where or when I’ll land.

The last few weeks have certainly been challenging. I’ve become weaker. The side effects of the chemo drugs are increasing. We met with our oncology team on Wednesday to look at the results of the CT scans done last week. Basically we learned two of the tumors they are closely watching have increased in size. One small one has decreased enough to average out the three to a 12 % decrease overall. That is just enough for me to continue the study. The team seemed pleased. But, a hard choice. Continue or stop the treatment? Both rabbit holes with unknown outcomes. Many voices echoing in the decision-making process.

We talked to a friend who is familiar with the drugs. He said that some people quit the drugs before they can see positive results. The team at Duke said it would get worse before it gets better. The length of time for treatment is different for each person. Could be 2 more months, could be a year. We chose to continue the study for 2 more months and re-evaluate. If I stop treatment now, I’d always wonder what one more cycle might have done. Hey! What’s a little more brain fog, GI disturbance, bleeding nose and gums? Just buy more tissues and Gator Ade!

I believe God lets us know in amazing ways that we are summoned to wait, be strong, and take heart (Psalm 27.) A message from a friend on Wednesday morning with the reading for the day from Psalm71—“For you, O LORD, are my HOPE, my trust.” The manager of a store where Terry was shopping on Thursday, someone we don’t know, came up to him and said she felt compelled to speak to him. She said she had never done this before. She wanted to know my name so she could pray for me.

One of my favorite columns in the newspaper, “The God Squad,” is written by Marc Gellman. In one of his recent columns, he wrote about HOPE—“…HOPE endures and grounds my faith and my life…It is the core part of my answer to life’s meaning…HOPE is my spiritual blood…We can’t live without HOPE…God’s compassionate creation of us as moral beings made in God’s image makes my HOPE not just a naïve expectation, but a certain gift…I can’t think of any other Judeo-Christian belief that has transformed our lives and our world more than hope.”

With “a little help from my friends” and family and even people I don’t know, a lot of rest, and reordering of some “priorities,” I can do this!

Well, as a precious little old neighbor lady, Miss Beulah, used to tell me after some of her extended monologues, “There you go and that’s that!”


 “We have this HOPE as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

Hebrews 6: 19 NIV


  1. Tam Larson
    Aug 20, 2016

    Glad to hear of Wednesday’s visit with the team. You know that we will continue to pray and to pass this on to the many friends around the USA who are praying, too! Hang in there – I’ve shared some of your “friend tags” that you gave me in June with others who now cherish them as something tangible from you. Keep the faith, think of sunshine, brighter days and lots of “sunflowers” ❤️♥️

  2. Melissa Henderson
    Aug 20, 2016

    You are an inspiration to all of us. God bless you. We miss you and love you.

  3. Mary Lou McMillin
    Aug 20, 2016

    And so we HOPE & pray that 12% will grow to 24% …and on and on until the tumors are gone! Meanwhile I also pray that you will have the strength to endure & will know the LOVE that surrounds you &!is ‘holding you’ in hearts … In spacious places of healing & yes, hope.
    Thank you for your courage… You are an inspiration to us all & a beautiful witness to Christ’ love & grace.
    Robina Winbush, preacher @ last week’s Conf @ Montreat said,”sometimes we stay in the storm… In the boat…for generations yet unborn” & we do it knowing/ trusting that Jesus is with us …even tho he may be asleep!! (Matt’ Gospel ‘Calming the Storm)
    I love you!!Z7Ru

  4. Jan McGilliard
    Aug 20, 2016

    Oh Donna! What sticks out for me is that hope is our spiritual blood. That is a powerful image, and one that makes a difference in such a courageous decision. It puts a lot of things in proper perspective. Thank you for being just who and whose you are!!! Love you. Jan

  5. Jean Holt
    Aug 20, 2016

    Donna, what a timely message for me and our family! So much Hope and feeling secure in God’s presence has gotten us all through a very difficult time these last couple of weeks–God is awesome and when we can’t “see” his plan, that Hope sustains us! Bless you and Terry for your ongoing trials and for sharing your so very personal/ real feelings. God is at work! Love, Jean

  6. Pat Churchman
    Aug 20, 2016

    I just sent as much of your blog post as I could to Joe Biden and told him to hurry and find a cure cause you’ve had this for a long time. I just can’t imagine the strength it takes for both of you to keep fighting and not be bitter, even with all the prayers swirling around you!!! Much love, Pat

  7. Jean McDonald-Walker
    Aug 20, 2016

    Your messages always touch my soul and this one is no exception. You have been through such a challenging time and it continues. Your courage is amazing and gives the rest of us HOPE.

    As I have told you before, you are prayed for daily by my prayer partner and I. My heart goes out to you as you “slog” through all of this. Continued blessings, strength and hope!!

    Love, Jean

  8. dick morgan
    Aug 20, 2016

    Donna, If ever a human being epitomized COURAGE it is YOU. prayers ascend for your struggLe. Your tenacious faith is awitness to all of. You have “fought a gfood fight and kept the faith.t.

  9. Linda Koogler
    Aug 20, 2016

    Dear Donna, continuing to hold you and your family in prayer. May the positive response increase and the side effects decrease. I will share your blog with my daughter who was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in June.

  10. Harriet Smith
    Aug 20, 2016

    An inspiration indeed. Hope moves us forward all the time. It sounds like you have sorted through the facts and made a good decision. I hate it that you are weak. Love you lady! Prayers all around.

  11. Beverly Silver
    Aug 20, 2016

    Dear Donna, I hardly know what, how to write. The concept of HOPE really hit me! You and Terry are so Courageous! Mary Lou said it beautifully, May the 12% become 24% and on and on! My prayers are with you and for you all. Love, Bev.

  12. Gerri McDaniel
    Aug 21, 2016

    Thanks for the update. I pray for the one that says all tumors are gone. Yes, HOPE. There IS hope!! I started to say I pray for endurance but like praying for patience- for that prayer to be answered you have to have a reason to have it. SO, I pray for an abundance of love, healing, killing of tumors, restoration of quality of life. We your friends have your back. Go forward walking with God.

  13. Susan Phend
    Aug 21, 2016

    I am going to share with a friend whose god daughter is struggling with leukemia. I can not imagine the struggle, and like Pat, can’t imagine how you continue with such a positive spirit. I’m hoping and praying for the next two months to bring more positive results! I love you and Terry very much.

  14. Sarah Phelps
    Aug 21, 2016

    Much love and hope from me and Steve, Donna. You are an inspiration to everyone who knows you. ❤️

  15. Pam Coffman
    Aug 21, 2016

    Love to you. Thinking of you and praying everyday!

  16. Judy Lee
    Aug 22, 2016

    Dear friend,
    You are such an inspiration and your courage to carry on means much to many. I pray you will find the strength for the next two months and the news of decreased size of the tumors. May you have the needed rest and love from all of your many family and friends. Many have you and Terry in their hearts and prayers.

  17. Marcia Jaureguizar
    Aug 22, 2016

    We are praying for you that your results will turn around. Hold onto hope, my friend. Can’t wait to see you next week and hug you!

  18. Debbie Link
    Aug 23, 2016

    Donna Coffman,

    You are one of the strongest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Thanks for being a role model for me and many, many others whose lives you touch and will continue to touch in some way.

    Love to you and Terry!
    Debbie Link

  19. Kristen Strubinger
    Aug 23, 2016

    Thank you for the update. It’s tough not knowing how things will turn out and what is the best decision. I am sorry you are going through this and for so long. Your strength through your trials is amazing. I am glad I had the chance to witness your strength and others-focus first hand when we were neighbors. I am sending up prayers for you.

  20. Marlene Waymack
    Aug 24, 2016

    Dear Donna, I know that in your wildest dreams you never thought that God would use you in this manner to showcase the power of Hope and Courage! You have been one of his most glorious witnesses. Your unlimited courage is an example of what it really means to be a Christian of powerful faith. While our Lord holds you in his hand and nourishes you with his love, our many Prayers anoint you with the oil of our Hope and Love.

  21. Dan Grandstaff
    Aug 25, 2016

    Dear Donna,
    I know you’d rather be most anything rather than an example of hope and strength, but there you are. We’re hoping and praying that the tumors decrease even more and that you are able to start feeling better.
    Going down that hole with Alice continues to be a wild ride, but thankfully you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself, and you are surrounded with love and care on every side.
    We send our love and prayers,

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