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Beyond the Cross.

Growing up, I would attend a local Baptist church with my Mamaw and Aunt. My fondest memories at church were sitting in the large, open sanctuary and staring up at the baptismal waterfall while eating my Mamaw's mints. I would struggle to stay awake and maintain my focus, but I still loved being in God's house.

Like most kids, I had childlike faith, but not much of a deep understanding of Jesus beyond the cross. I did know, though, that I wanted the Holy Spirit living inside of me, so I asked Jesus into my heart in 1989 on Mother's Day. Looking back, I'm not sure I knew what the Holy Spirit was going to do once taking up residence in my tiny little body, but I invited Him on in anyway. I was so excited to get baptized way up by the waterfall I had been gazing at for years! I don't recall feeling much different after that day, although I don't expect most kids do at 8-years-old, but I was still so very proud of that moment.

Now that I'm older, my understanding of Jesus, His ultimate sacrifice, and His deep love for us has grown immensely. Especially within the last year of my life. With each passing day my desire to know God more grows. It's like I can't get enough! I've been gathering all of these glimpses of God beyond the cross--the blessings and the trials-- and building a strong spiritual foundation from them.

Recently, I became very ill, quickly. I was admitted to Moffitt for headaches, stiff neck, high fever, chills, nausea and vomiting, etc. After a battery of tests, I was diagnosed with immune-mediated meningitis. Essentially, the cancer treatment--immunotherapy--was causing dangerously high levels of inflammation within my spinal fluid. At the time of my spinal tap, my pressure was 27 and when they were done, it was 9.5. Whoa! Within a few hours, I was already feeling some relief. Thank God!

During the duration of my hospital bid, I could feel God with me. I experienced moments of confusion, fear, and doubt, as I awaited to find out what was wrong with me, but I didn't face it alone. As I laid there barely able to open my eyes due to my headaches, I could feel God all around me. As I endured a 2. 5 hour long MRI, non-stop, at 1:00 AM, God met me there. As I laid there homesick and alone, God kept me company.

Once we found out what was going on, I felt at ease, but then discovered my fantastic team of doctor's wanted to rule out possible metastasis to my neck and spine and possibly my spinal fluid. Say what!? I didn't even consider that this was being considered a possible cause. The fear returned, but so did God.

By the grace of God, I received nothing short of miraculous news--no metastasis to my neck or spine, and my spinal fluid was free from cancer cells. I give all the glory to God for such amazing news! News I didn't even know was on the table, but was oh so sweet to hear! I'm learning that cancer metastasis will most likely always be considered when experiencing side effects and/or new symptoms. It just comes with the territory.

As my journey continues, which is proving to be full of surprises, I look forward to continuously diving deep into my spirituality and knowing God more. Everyday He shows me something new and beautiful--how deep, long, and wide His love is.

May we all strive to get to know God more. After all, He's right there with us--loving us beyond the cross.

Love & Sunblock

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Amanda, I just discovered your blog via ABCnews. I want to tell you my Melanoma story, because it's full of HOPE! I had a mole removed from my back in 2005, which turned out to be Melanoma. Six years later, I discovered a huge lump on my back, just behind my arm. It turned out to be Metastatic Melanoma, Stage III. I had the lump removed and was given "about 2 months" by my Oncologist. He was able to get me into a research study, where I got the "good" drug (Yervoy/ipilimumab.) I was only able to get 3 out of the 8 infusions because of side-effects (colitis,) but those three infusions were hard at work inside my…

13 Tem 2021
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Glory to God! Thank you so much for sharing your hope-filled story. I truly appreciate it. 🧡☀️

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