S: Mother, Daughter, Wife, Sister, Friend
BC: And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God's message without fear. Philippians 4:12-14
FC: Mother Daughter Wife Sister Friend
1: Dusty, We celebrate your Birthday with an even deeper appreciation for the gift that God has given each of us by allowing you to be a part of our life. You are a mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, and a friend. And most of all, you are a child of GOD, the Most High King, who delights in you. We all love you. Contents: Encouragement Day by Day Dear London Memories of London Letters to Dusty
2: What follows are just some of the tens of thousands of words of encouragement that were sent by people who were praying for Dusty. | Oh Jeff, my prayers are coming even stronger to help bring Dusty through this critical time!! My boys are at vacation bible school this week and they told their classes about Dusty and London...tell Dusty many little boys and girls dressed up as Egyptians:-) were sending blessings her way!! Inger Rood July 26th, 2010 Good morning Jeff, You, Dusty & London are in my thoughts and prayers daily. I pray that the Lord will give her all the strength she needs to fight this battle. Lots of love, Katie Swindell July 27th, 2010 | Hi Jeff, I shared your prayer concern with my small group, and they are in Prayer Warrior mode! Please know that we are all praying not just for the three of you, but for the circle of people around you who are loving you through this. God bless you all. Jamie Russell July 27th, 2010 Dusty, we know God is on your side and His armor of protection surrounds you. My prayers are for you each and every day and I thank God for having had the chance to meet you ... you are one special lady. Jeff, it goes without saying, but I love you and there is nothing I wouldn't do for you guys ... just let me know if there is anything you need. Marilyn Patton July 27th, 2010
3: Hi Jeff, We have never met but Dusty has been my counselor the past few months. She is truly one of my heroes in life and God has placed her SO on my heart to pray fervently and encourage her (and your whole family). I originally went to see her bc of fear of cancer. she literally helped to transform my life and I feel like God is calling me to give even a teeny bit back in the form of prayers and encouragement. praying for strength for you as her husband, for wisdom, joy, and peace that surpasses ALL human understanding! you guys are amazing and I cannot wait to hear the day she is healed and whole! love, brenda white July 27th, 2010 Bro, Carrie and I are absolutely inspired by your faith in action. Know that God is certainly using your present trials for His Glory. All our love; John Wyatt August 2nd, 2010 Jeff, Thank you so much for these e-mail updates. Daily, hourly, I lift you all up in prayer. I continually find myself so encouraged and challenged by the way you all are handling this trial. You guys are such a testimony of faith and hope. I am challenged to trust the Lord more in my daily walk as I see you guys walking it out. I look forward to seeing you all reunited together as a family and praising the Lord for all the good miracles he's done in your guys' life. We love you so much! Erika Medders August 4th, 2010 Lord, Carolyn and I just ask that you put your powerful and loving arms around Jeff, Dusty and London during this extremely difficult time in their lives. We also ask that you give Wanda, Lloyd and all of the supporting people the patience, strength, and love to help where they can. From multiple life changing experiences we have had, we often felt that we could not possibly make it Lord, you always took over. When we have gone what seems to be our last possible step, you are there. We know Lord that Jeff and Dusty must be feeling “what else can happen to us”. Please let them know you are right there with them and will hold them in your arms no matter what. Lord we ask that you help little London with all your love until Dusty can be there for her. Dad and other folk are ok, but mom’s arms around her when she needs them, is something special. In Jesus name, Amen Jeff, Dusty and London, This is just one of many prayers we have made to our Lord for you. We will continue to ask for His love every day. Bob and Carolyn Smith August 4th, 2010 Jeff, I am a friend of Mike and Meredith Holmes and a member of the church where they serve. Meredith shared with me the crisis with which you and Dusty are dealing. I wanted to be in touch to assure both of you of my prayers. I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in 1995 and have been in treatment for it ever since. I am76 years old and am taking Gleevec, the target drug developed to treat CML. I began taking that in 2002 and have been in remission since about 2003. I realize that Dusty's situation is much more serious, since the leukemia is acute. I am praying that a bone marrow transplant will be possible and that a donor can be found soon. I know both of you are so grateful to the Lord for your precious baby, and I pray that the Lord will guide in physical, emotional, and spiritual growth and development in the days ahead that will bring glory to Him. "Happy are those who fear the Lord. Yes, happy are those who delight in doing what he commands....They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them" (Ps. 112:1,7 New Living Translation). Ferris Jordan August 5th, 2010 Please keep me posted and anything you need, please just let me know. The prayer circle in Houston continues and grows daily. I love you all and can’t wait to meet my beautiful sister-in-law and my beautiful niece. Every day is one step closer to us overcoming this trial and putting it behind us. Sheri Williams August 5th, 2010
4: Hey Jeff,We are praying and believing for healing right now for Dusty and strength for all of you guys! We know that no matter what the doctors say that GOD is in control! "So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." - 1 Corinthians 2:5. Also, while I am fairly naive about bone marrow transplants I have done a little research and Josh & I talked it over, we would both like to get tested to see if we could be a donor match for Dusty. We would need to be sure that we could make the proper adjustments for Riley's care if needed but other than that we are behind you guys 100%. Please let Dusty know that the Turner house is annoying Heaven on her behalf and we look forward to our COMPLETELY HEALTHY families hanging out in the future.Love you guys! Becca Turner August 5th, 2010 Jeff, We are in NYC today and my family headed straight to St Patrick's Cathedral. We lit a candle for London and Dusty. Lots of love, Inger Rood August 6th, 2010 Jeff, Your strength, courage and faith are an inspiration to all of us, much like Stephanie. Bill and I pray at each meal for you, Dusty and London and each morning and evening in our prayers. You are on many prayer lists and in the hearts of many strangers who care about you as fellow Christians. We will not have our computers on Atlanta but we will have our cell phones. We will be back on Thursday evening. I am praying for good results today. Love, Lynn Van Wagenan De Rosa August 9th, 2010 Jeff, This email made me weep. It was penetrated my heart so deep I couldn't even respond until today. I knew when this was discovered that London's birth was the first miracle, but identifying it at this stage was clearly the second miracle. Your daughter is set apart Jeff. For her to come into this world in the midst of this is clear God has called her to even greater purpose. Even at this age, you can sense her inner strength. She is SO perfect and with you and Dusty as her parents I can only imagine the plans that God has to prosper her and to use her for His glory! Thank you for sharing something so personal. It ministered to me in at so many levels. We continue to pray for Dusty as well as the entire family and we await the good report. I want to encourage you and let you know that you are leading your family with "integrity of heart and skillful hands" like David led. I am sure you have your moments of discouragement and exhaustion, but the world is seeing biblical God-honoring leadership! Tarik and I stand in awe of you and Dusty both and pray that when our trial comes, we will have the grace to walk through as beautifully as the two of you. Victory awaits my friend! Lisa Stewart August 9th, 2010 Jeff, I just read your email to Doug. We both believe after reading your updates each night you should become a writer. I hope you are keeping everything as I believe you could write a book about this experience. Happy Anniversary! Inger Rood August 10th, 2010 Thinking of you two and realize so much about love and acceptance from your beautiful writing. Thanks for sharing. Love, Julie and Larry Cumbo August 10th, 2010 U sure know how to make a girl cry... Happy, sweet, beautiful wedding day to two of the most beautiful people I know- huggs- Steph Owens August 10th, 2010
5: Jeff, I can only imagine how many emails and phone calls you are receiving rightnow, so please do not feel obligated to respond - I mean that. I just wanted to reach out to you and Dusty and let you know I am thinking (and praying) about you both. London is so, sobeautiful - I amthrilled for you and her safe and healthy arrival. I am thankful to have your friendship. I smile and think of you both every time I drive by the Shriners Morrocan Temple! Dusty was the first person who reached out to me when I attended the counseling program at UNF. I was so much older than the rest of the students and felt kind of out of place. She immediately walked over to me the morning of our first class as I arrived to wait by the entrance. She looked me right in theeye with this bigfabulous smile and introduced herself. I've never forgotten that. It really made a difference. I will continue to stay informed/connected through the helping hands website. I miss you both, look forward to meeting London, and hope to have a game of rummy soon! Sincerely, Jen Fortune August 11th, 2010 Jeff, This is Cherisa Murphy, from the Sales Prog Mgmt team at work. I wanted to drop you and Dusty a personal note. I am in awe of how you are allowing God to use you during this season of your lives. Your daily updates are now as much a lifeline to me as they are a way for you to keep us all informed. Jeff, your faith is so surreal...it pulsates from every word...it has affected me in ways that I've never imagined. Please continue to be strong, and have faith. I have been touched deeply by how the two of you are handling this, and I know others are as well. People say this all the time, but please know that if there is anything you need from...I am an email and/or phone call away. Sincerely, Cherisa Murphy August 11th, 2010 Jeff, I can't write much now...too many tears in my eyes...you know me...your words you wrote tonite are powerful...the peace you speak of...only few know..and the pain to know is worth it all...we'll talk soon... peace of Christ... love ya, john brashier August 12th, 2010 Hey man. Still praying...and I'm telling your story to strengthen the body of Christ here in BR. I referred to you guys and read a portion of one of your emails in a sermon I preached at Istrouma last Sunday. Another "job" I'm doing right now is that of a hospice chaplain. I also tell your story when I'm meeting with grieving patients and families. I tell your story to give them a bigger perspective than their own suffering. I also tell them your story as a pathway to the gospel. Being that hospice isn't "Christian", I have to be really careful about directly stating my beliefs. It's easier and very effective to begin by saying, "I have these friends...here's what they are going through...here's why they have peace." We'll never know the extent of how God uses all of these things. Mike Holmes August 17th, 2010
6: jeff, dusty, and london... you guys dont know me but i am brenda white's sister in arkansas and i wanted to first of all thank you forthe impact you are having on so many lives...we can see the power of God working in you and through and know that the peace and strength you are experiencing is because of His strength. my husband and friends here read your emails everyday and are in constant conversation and prayer about your family. its hard for me to put into words, but there are many of us in arkansas that feel like we know you guys!! we will not stop praying for healing and also for His will.... my daughter addison prayed last night for dusty's owies (she is 2) and she said "i want dusty"...i think she wants to meet you cause she has heard a lot about you :) much love and prayers, andrea, ryan, and addison penner august 18th, 2010 Dear Dustyn & Jeff I had planned on paying a visit to see you at BMC today but was told of your transfer to Mayo. I heard that you are not allowed visitors, thus the e-mail. I was given a copy of the up date from today. It not only touched my heart but also my soul. As a Ob/Gyn physician I have seen the happiest and saddest of all occasions. It is easy for me to see why such beautiful events occur, but some times I struggle with the bad. I often wonder if there was some meaning or purpose behind it. I am a Christian, but sometimes I still question. I read your prayerand cried. It is so beautiful and showed me that I should not "demand" an answer or understand the purpose. It is always in God's hands. In a time of adversity, it is people like yourselves that shed light on his mystery. For that, I thank you. Everyone's love and prayers are with you! Paul, Nuni & Siobhan Rebenack August 18th, 2010 Jeff and Dusty,Tarik and I can't even imagine how you must feel right now. What we can say without any hesitation is that as a family we are committed to your family. We are not only committed with daily prayer, but also with our time and the money God has entrusted us with.We are in this for the long haul in every way. Please don't hesitate to call upon us as needs arise. We know this wasn't part of the "plan" but we also know that God is not surprised or confused.We want you to know that daily you inspire us and motivate us to trust God and worship Him in a way we never have before! London is a constant reminder of His faithfulness and His goodness! We pray for His perfect will to be carried out in Jesus name.With all our love dear friends, Tarik, Lisa and Jediah Stewart August 18th, 2010 Just wanted to send you this from a missionary friend in Nepal whom my mom forwarded your story to. People literally all over the world are praying. "This brings tears to my eyes and my knees to the ground in prayer. We will continue to pray with you. Please keep us posted on her status as well as Jeff's and the baby's. Love you guys, Bobbie" August 19th, 2010 I woke up about 2:30 this morning and started praying. I talked some with God and then started to say The Lord's Prayer. Just at that moment, it occurred to me how profound the words truly are......."Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.....For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory for ever and ever". Hugs and Kisses to the both of you. I love you and I miss you very much. Pauline Williams August 20th, 2010 Hello Dusty I just wanted you to know that I think about you every single day. Your husband has been amazing at keeping everyone updated on your status. I know I haven't known you long but your sweet smile and calm spirit always sticks out to me. This makes me think of that series Pastor preached about Suffering Well. I must say, although it may be just the beginning, you have suffered well. I know its hard to not be able to see London, everytime I think of that, I cling to my little girl a little tighter just for you. I just want you to know that the McElroy family is praying for you and that we love you. Also, my husband Davids parents have put you on their church prayer list. So there is a sweet small church in Mayport praying for your remission and recovery. There is power in prayer and I can't wait to hear the testimony and to see you walking around church with little London on your hip. Laura McElroy August 21st, 2010
7: Dusty- You have insipred me from the first time we met. I remember walking into your office feeling broken and defeated, you spoke life and wisdom into me, you gave me great strength and encouragement. I left your office feeling as if there was nothing I couldn't do. Your TRUE love and sisterhood was eminent, our meeting was nothing short of divine. You know "My Story" you know what I have gone through and continue top go through and as I sit here reading Jeff's entries and parts of your journal I feel convicted that I even complain about my situation. I am awestruck by your faith. YOU ARE AMAZING!! At this moment when anyone would understand you questioning God you do the complete opposite you press in and are stronger than ever before. As I write this I can barely see the keyboard because my eyes are so filled up tears, I hurt for you and your family. My heart breaks for the pain you are going through but my tears are also happy tears because you are changing lives. Your "job" allowed you to speak into people's lives and change the few people that had the honor of sitting in your office with you but now through this, through your illness and your writing you are going to change thousands of lives and THIS is why I cry. God knew your faith wouldn't waiver, he knew the impact you would have and how people would rally around you and your family and you probably don't know this but the feedback from this website and your entries are echoing not only throughout Celebration Church and Jacksonville, but throughout the entire country. I have had my family write me from other states saying how you made them re-evaluate their own life. You, my friend, certainly know how to "Suffer Well". I believe God will heal you and London's testimony is already being written, the three of you are going to change the world and show just what the power of prayer and how the belief in God can make even the worst situation a God situation. I love you so much and I am who I am today because of you and because of that I am forever grateful. If there's ever anything I can do all you have to do is ask and I'm right there. Sending Prayers and love your way!! Robin Kitzman August 21st, 2010 | Hey Dusty. You have been CONSTANTLY on my heart and I just wanted to take a moment to encourage you and let you know while you might be isolated in a hospital room in the physical world that in the spiritual you stand with an army of people behind you who love you, who have taken up arms with you and are prayerfully battling along side you for you and your precious family. I can't begin to imagine what your day to day feels like but I do know what it feels like to be removed from normal life and go through trails although supported but very isolated. I wanted to encourage you with Acts 27 because it was a huge comfort to me during a difficult period when my time was completely consumed by doctors, nurses, and the never ending beeps of iv pumps and hospital monitors. I felt like I was on a island - completely isolated and with the feeling that something as simple as walking into starbucks to grab my favorite drink seemed like something from a past life, it was odd to think that "normal life" still happened for other people. And as I prayed about the feeling of "being on an island" my Bible fell open that day to "Paul on the island of Malta" and I knew God was trying to tell me something. In Act 27 Paul is a prisoner on a ship sailing from Adramyttium to Rome where he is to stand trial before Cesar (a crappy enough situation in and of itself). But as they are sailing somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea they get blasted by hurricane force winds for over 2 weeks and then finally shipwreck on the island of Malta. As if this wasn't bad enough, as Paul is gathering firewood and putting it on the fire to get warm and dry off "a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand." (Acts 28:3) I wonder at what point in all of this is Paul thinking "you have got to be kidding me God!". As he is in shackles being boarded onto the ship or during the more than 14 days of the hurricane out at sea as he was throwing up over the side of the boat or maybe as he held onto a piece of driftwood while swimming to shore after the shipwreck. Surely as the poisonous snake dangled from his hand he had to be thinking that his circumstances have become somewhat ridiculous. But I love what comes next . . . as the people of the island sat around "waiting for him to swell up or drop dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god." (Act 28:6) The people of Malta then took Paul (the shipwreck, poison filled prisoner) to met Publius, the chief official of the island and Paul prayed for Pubius' sick father and he was healed. "When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured." (Acts 28:9) I am sure Paul felt like his life was drastically off course at this point but God had him right where He needed Paul to be. Just as Paul eventually left the island I know that you will get off your island in time too but I know that, just like Paul, there is a revival breaking out on your island and I am blown away by the courage, strength and grace you are showing all of those around you! "..the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured" Dusty you are bringing healing to so many people by sharing your faith!!!! A running joke for me and Josh during everything is that we are just adding jewels to our pimp cup (storing up treasure in heaven) and all I can say is I hope we live in the same neighborhood as you guys in heaven cause if we do that will be one sweet mansion. :) I am sorry I can't make the prayer service today but we couldn't find a nurse to watch Riley so just Josh will be there but I am there in spirit. We love you guys and look forward to spending some quality, totally normal, down time with you guys in the near future. Much Love, Becca Turner August 21st, 2010
8: Hello Dusty I just wanted you to know that I think about you every single day. Your husband has been amazing at keeping everyone updated on your status. I know I haven't known you long but your sweet smile and calm spirit always sticks out to me. This makes me think of that series Pastor preached about Suffering Well. I must say, although it may be just the beginning, you have suffered well. I know its hard to not be able to see London, everytime I think of that, I cling to my little girl a little tighter just for you. I just want you to know that the McElroy family is praying for you and that we love you. Also, my husband Davids parents have put you on their church prayer list. So there is a sweet small church in Mayport praying for your remission and recovery. There is power in prayer and I can't wait to hear the testimony and to see you walking around church with little London on your hip. Laura McElroy August 21st, 2010 Hi Dusty, I was a client last year when I was undergoing the IVF cycle that brought me my son. I don't think you'll ever know how much you helped me during that time. Thank you for that. First, let me congratulate you on the birth of your daughter! What a tremendous blessing. I am thrilled for you and your husband! I was saddened yesterday when I received a prayer request through my church (from your friend Katie). I have felt distraught since the moment I realized it was for you. I am so sorry you have to endure this. I am praying for full restoration of your health. For strength and courage and peace for you and your family. I wish I could comfort you now, the way you have comforted so many people through your work. Know that I am thinking of you and yours. All my best, Cory Lek August 21st, 2010 Dusty, Jeff, and London: I work at Williams Sonoma, although very seldom with Dusty as I have a day job, but we are all touched by your family’s faith and strength. I will keep all of you in my prayers daily. I know that God has a plan for each of us, although it’s not one that I always understand, I am confident that he takes care of us and loves us beyond our comprehension. Your family’s faith is a testimony of your love for God and I know he will see Dusty, you and London though this. Jeff: Thank you for taking the time to keep everyone updated. Your life is so complex right now, but it’s a blessing for us to know how Dusty is doing and your e-mails keep us focused on praying for your family. Mary Honeyman August 24th, 2010 Dusty, please know we are praying for you, The strength that you are showing through this trial in your life could only come from God. Many lives are being touched by the incredible faith you are demonstrating. Many people we know are praying for you also. Bruce and Paula Flanigan August 24th, 2010 I am a friend of Dusty's Grandmother Salsbury and have been keeping up with your story through "Booney". When I looked at your photos and read your stories, I was amazed. I was thinking that perhaps I could say something to lift you up, when in fact reading about you and experiencing the amazing strength and faith that are reflected in your words, it was I who was lifted up. Please know that all of you are in my prayers. I know you will make it through this difficult time because in addition to always having one another, you always have God, and you are well aware of that as exhibited by your hope and prayers. God bless you. Judy Voelker August 24th, 2010 Jeff, although we only really know each other enough to say hello in the hallways at work, I have been following Dusty's story since Greg Sutton first told me about her diagnosis right after London's birth. I must thank you and Dusty for allowing us to all walk with you during this time. I am a Christ-follower, and your strength, your faith in Jesus Christ, and your own personal walk with the Lord are so inspirational to me. I pray daily for Dusty, her doctors, and you and your family. There's a piece of paper on the wall just opposite the elevator bay on the 5th floor that simply says "Dusty." The first day I saw it was the day your update said something about putting a sticky note at our desk to remind us to think about and pray for her. When I saw it, I just smiled... and prayed. Please let Dusty know I'm praying for her. Bless you all. In Jesus Christ, Lisa Merriman August 24th, 2010
9: Jeff & Dusty, I want you both to know how truly inspiring your journal entries are to Katie and I. Each one we read brings tears to our eyes. Your deep rooted faith in our lord and savior and the role he plays in all of our lives leaves us in awe. As does your love for each other which is evident in each word typed. I want you to know that we are lifting your family up weekly at church and that the entire congregation of Riverside Park United Methodist Church has been praying for God to work a miracle in Dusty’s body. I have a post-it note with “Dusty” on it at my computer here at work. I think about your family and the struggle that you both are facing daily. I regret that I did not take the opportunity to get to know you both better in the time we were neighbors. Again, I want you to know that you both are in my thoughts and prayers. Please, let us know if there is anything that we can do for you. Thanks, Wade Swindel August 24th, 2010 Dusty & Jeff & London, Where do i begin? First of all i want you to know that you are heavy on my heart and in my prayers everyday...When this first begin with you i was sort of in the middle of my own faith journey, it's nothing compared to the fight for your life that you are engaged in, but i have had to walk through the death of all my dreams and plans...God had already begun to reveal himself to me in a brand new way and as you began sharing your journey i was amazed and encouraged that He was showing you the very same things... What i have learned and come to realize more than ever is that sometimes in life we have to walk through some things and God allows it...this is hard to accept sometimes when we know he has the power to change it but he doesn't, BUT He is ALWAYS THERE! In the midst of some of the hardest moments HE IS THERE! Trusting in God isn't an insurance policy against heartache and suffering but it means that whatever we have to walk through He is right there with us...I have been LOVING Psalm 23 lately, "The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want....even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for YOU ARE WITH ME!" He is with you Dusty and Jeff (and London!) That is a promise that you can rest secure in, no matter what happens or what trails are ahead, He will be with you and never let you go! My prayer for you is that you would feel the presence of Emmanuel, God with us, with you at all times and that He will strengthen you as you fight this fight of faith...I pray that He will also led you beside the still waters and restore your soul...He is a good shepherd, he doesn't just leave us in death's valley! Dusty I pray for you every morning while i'm drying my hair...I think about you at other times during the day but that is your special time ;-)...drying my hair is my least favorite thing to do in the mornings, but one morning as i was dreading the task, i thought about how much you would probably love to be doing that and so i decided to use that time to pray for you...I pray that one day soon you will be once again drying your beautiful long hair...it's funny the things we take for-granted until we loose them...mine is a closet...i have been living out of a suitcase for 4 months now, and I told God that once I have a closet again I will thank him for it every time i get my clothes out! ;-) Keep fighting the fight...Don't give up when you get weary, but know there are hundreds fighting with you! Love y'all! Ansley Souther August 24th, 2010 Dearest Dusty, I wanted you to know how much you have inspired me. You have touched so many people even in your time of suffering. I share the daily updates with friends, family and co-workers. All of who are so overwhelmed by your trust in God. Little did I know when I walked into your hospital room that morning that I would become forever bonded to you, Jeff, Wanda and London. I have always had a good relationship with the Lord but I have never known faith like yours. Jeff'supdates have served as a daily prayer journal for me and many others. I am moved to tears reading every entry. I am sad because it is hard to think about you enduring all the physical and mental pain. I am consoled in the fact that God is with you and that you and Jeff have complete trust in God's will. You are so brave. Wanda loves you both so much and she told me that she thinks of you as a daughter. I will be seeing Wanda and London on Thursday. I can't wait. My daughter Erin will be going with me. Erin(18) and Emily (16) went to the prayer service with me Sat at Mayo. They were very moved. We discussed true relationships with God. What it REALLY means to trust in Him. Thank you for inspiring this conversation with my girls.I just wantyou to know that I am with you through it all. I will pray for you daily. Love and prayers, Myrtis Mikell (St. Luke’s Nurse) August 24th, 2010
10: Hi Jeff, I’ve been praying for your family regularly and have been so inspired by your daily updates. I’ve wanted to send a message, but didn’t feel like you had time to read it. We’ve added Dusty to our prayer list at church, and I’ve also asked our choir to pray for her. God is being glorified through your encouraging daily notes. Thanks for allowing us to be a part of your journey. Marcia Elder August 24th 2010 Jeff and Dusty Jeff we only know each other very little personally. Our paths have crossed due to our work. Dusty, I have never had the pleasure of meeting you - but look forward to meeting you and hugging you some day. But even so, we have one thing in commong - and that is our faith. That makes us sisters/brothers in Christ - so we are family. Reading the daily updates on your journey, leaves me with so many emotions. I cry and at the same time I praise the Lord! I pray for you all the time and have continually asked my church in Puerto Rico and the one that I attend in St. Petersburg to lift you up in prayer. Dusty you are an AMAZING woman of God! Jeff you are also an AMAZING man of God! Little London will have such a strong foundation because of you two. What you share with us strengthens my faith - as I see how your faith is unwaivering! You truly are special - both of you! The trials and tribulations that we go through are meant to strenghten our faith and bring us close to God. You are definitely proving that as you hold on that His word through this hard journey that you are on. I can not say that I know the pain that you are enduring or going through, because I have not walked in your shoes. But know that I pray that the Lord be your the Loard continue to give you strength and peace. That he hold you in His arms andyou always feel His presence...His warmth...His peace...His embrace...as you continue on this journey. He will not foresake you. I pray that He be glorified in you so that you can give Him all the glory and you be testimony of His greatness. As we do not know why we are taken through some trials and tribulations - we have His word that He is with us. We give ourselves to Him so that His will be done. You have many that love you and care about you - and many, many who pray for you. Ones that you have never met or know, or they you. But we are one in Christ. SandyTorres August 24th. 2010 Jeff and Dusty, this last Sunday I read to my Sunday School class Dusty's prayer about submitting to God's will even as Jesus had done in Gethsemane. Your prayer was a perfect illustration for my lesson. Our Associate Pastor and co-teacher with me in the class asked me for a copy of it after the class and plans to use it in some manner. So you need to know, Dusty, that people whom you do not even know are being instructed, inspired, and strengthened by your prayer and submission to the Lord Jesus. Both of you are models of faithfulness in very hard times. God is getting the glory, and I know that that rejoices your hearts. We continue to pray for God's sustaining grace for each of you. My life is being enriched by yours. Ferris Jordan August 24th, 2010 Hi Jeff, My name is Kelly Baxley and I work at Williams-Sonoma with Dusty. I don't know if she remembers me or what I look like, but I have been there about 5 years and work only days and usually no weekends - so I don't run into her much except at holiday meetings and the occasional shift overlap! I first want to let you know that I have been fervently praying for your family. There isn't a time that I don't sit at my computer and think about your struggle, or when I am running or just generally have time to think. I have appreciated your updates about Dusty and pray your verse for that day. The one were you asked us not to forget her struggle, was not taken lightly. I couldn't possibly forget and totally related to people not giving up on prayer for your family. I haven't written you before personally, because I don't know Dusty all that well - I do know she is a joy. I do though understand your struggle of fighting the AML leukemia, you see Dusty has the same typeof leukemia that my mom did. It was a very difficult first month for my mother - very touch and go. A powerful prayer team came and prayed at her bedside on day 28 of her treatment and she was not really even conscious. She began to miraculously rebound in just a few hours. God was good. I cannot imagine adding the joyful of emotion of a new child to the picture. I see the many people that are your friends and family that have helped you on the community board. You are truly blessed - but I realize the burden of this struggle of emotions is mostly yours and Dusty and I pray for peace and healing. My mother did really well fighting her leukemia and was in complete remission after 9 months of treatment. It also was a blessing because she had to give up a 45+ year addiction to smoking, even though forcefully, in the hospital as she under went treatment. She unfortunately died after being smoke free for 3 years - of lung cancer - her lungs too damaged from so many years of abuse, but never again did we see the leukemia. I am writing to you this evening to let you know that God has poked me in the head quite a few times over the last few weeks to not only pray from you, but after a few "well-timed" e-mails from a friend, to also do something to help with this fight of yours. I went to and signed up at an informational meeting this evening to run with the "Team In Training" group, the Women's 1/2 Marathon in St. Petersburg on November 21st that will raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I am sure that you have already met with their patient liaison, Lynette Mills, if not you will at some time in the near future. I am asking you for the privilege to mention your and Dusty's story, as well as my mom's, in my fund raising letter. Their minimum goal to raise funds is $1800 to participate, but I would like to raise $2500, since this is my first year.The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's goal is to alleviate blood cancers by 2015. If not alleviate, then to have a definitive treatment that works for everyone. Since Team In Training's inception, 420,000 participants have raised over 1 Billion dollars for blood cancer. I want you to know that I am 46 years old and have never ran a marathon, once a 15k, but never a 1/2. This particular one is for women only and I am very nervous about the hours and training involved, but I will not complain! I have teared up several times when I have been hot running these last few weeks thinking of your situation and remembering my moms struggle and it has many a time gotten me further. God has really put this on my heart. Because Dusty cannot run - I want to. But mostly I don't want to hear another story like yours. May God bless your family and beautiful new baby, London. Please give Dusty my best and let her know that I am sorry I hadn't written sooner. Also tell her she has an amazing husband who writes beautifully, truly God has gifted you. Also, please tell her every day I will hold her up to God. Looking forward to hearing from you. God Bless, Kelly Baxley August 24th 2010
11: Hey Jeff, It's always so good to get your messages and to hear about Dusty's progress. You both are such an inspiration to me, you'll never know. I want to ask you and Dusty for a favor. I've seen many people sick, and I've known people who have died. But nothing, no one, has touched me or moved me to want to do something to better this world than the situation you are going through right now. So, tonight, I went to a meeting for Team In Training, which is the sports training program with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I signed up to walk/run (probably more walking for me, though) the Women's Half Marathon in St. Pete in November. The funds raised through the walk go towards research to cure blood cancers. I have to do some fund raising for this event. As my basis for doing this is to never see anyone go through what you guys, so gracefully, are attacking head-on, I'd like to use part of your story in my letter to ask people to donate. I've attached a copy of the letter I hope to send out (it's in WordPerfect, I hope you can open it!). Would you please look it over & let me know if it's okay for me to include the information about you all? The letters will only be going to people that I know, many of whom I've already gone to and asked for them to pray for you. I hope things are still going well, and continue to go well. Although my pups are my kids, I have really enjoyed seeing London, she's so beautiful, and growing and changing every day! Take care & may God continue to Bless you all! Gwen Goodrich August 24th, 2010 | Hey Jeff, My name is Caroline Fortner. Dusty is my second cousin. She may not remember me as Caroline Fortner because I recently got married in May. She will know me by Caroline Hartley. We haven't seen each other in a long time, but she still shares a huge spot in my heart. Please let her know that I am praying for her every day as well as the rest of the family. I have read every update you have written on Dusty's website. I am so impressed and thankful for how strong you are being through this situation. Everything you write is so positive and strong. I love how spiritual you and Dusty are towards this whole situation. I believe everything you say and you encourage me to turn to the lord more often then I do. Everytime I read your messages, I put God more and more in my life and it makes me stronger. I believe Dusty is in great hands and that God will keep her safe. I feel like I already know you, yet we have never met. Please give Dusty a big hug for me and please tell her I love her so much and I pray for her, you and London daily. Keep hanging in there, you are doing a greatjoband being an amazing husband to Dusty. God Bless, Caroline Fortner August 25th, 2010 Thoughts and prayers are with you at all times. Hopefully you know how much I love you . Love and kisses to you, London and Jeff.... "Boo-Boo" August 25th, 2010 We are so happy that you are almost finished with this second round of treatments. We listened to the song Jeff posted and we can see why it helps to keep you positive and strong through each wretched hour. (Atti and Finn, the budding musicians, also appreciated the bass in the song. They danced and bopped happily in your honor, the purest kind of prayer). You are truly an amazing family. We hope that tomorrow marks the turning point in your battle and that the darkest days will soon be behind you. Much love, The Moes Family August 25th, 2010 Dear Dusty, You have to be one of the strongest women I know right now. You are probably one of the most inspiring right now as well. I can relate to you in someways. I am currently 3 months pregnant and I probably have everything I could possibly want at this point in my life. I am building my private practice, teaching at a local career college and been blessed with love and financial freedom. I look at your family, your miracle baby, your own success in the counseling field and think "Boy, just another favored child of God." When I shared your story with my mother the other day, she asked me if all I do each day and the daily nuisances I get frustrated about would even matter, if I was where you are today... I know that it wouldn't because for once in my life I'd have no choice to give up my dreams and aspirations and give EVERYTHING up to God. Reading about your journey every other morning when I wake up or at night before I go bed humbles me. I want so bad for you to get better. I shed tears when I think of you, knowing none of us at even the youngest age are immune from pain, fear, suffering and run ins with death. I can't image the pain you experience being away from London and how your heart must ache for Jeff. God is going to reveal the greater good through all this. Keep fighting, and stay faithful. You are touching the lives of so many and I can't help but believe good things will come to you and your family. You are in my heart, every minute of every day.. Love, Lynn Beksha
12: Jeff, We are so thankful for your updates; your family's testimony is already so powerful - I love being able to share with our friends and other people who don't know y'all personally the amazing work God is doing in your lives and in those you are in such close contact with right now. Your daily updates are like little uplifting devotionals in the middle of my day - I know it might sound strange that in the midst of your pain YOU are the ones lifting others up - but it seems to me, that's just what is happening. So, then I realized, even though I am praying, I haven't shared any words of encouragement, and I set out straight away to do that. :) We are praying for you every day over here in China - what I love about that is when most of the U.S. is sleeping, Dusty is still being covered in prayer on the other side of the world. Of course when we return next week, you and Dusty and London will still be on our hearts and minds. We will make the commitment to not let up the prayer even as the weeks and months pass. You and Dusty's response to your seemingly impossible trial reminds me of Job's. While other people around you may not be telling you to curse God and die, I'm sure there are those who wonder at your joy despite the pain, wonder how you can be away from your baby and not be bitter, wonder how you can look at this as an opportunity to accomplish God's work, wonder how you halt the "it's not fair" attitude right in it's tracks. And I think Job's words come alive and right out of your mouths circa 2010: "Should we only accept good things from God and never anything bad?" and "The Lord gave me what I had and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!" Job grieved and mourned, as I know your family has and will continue to do, for Dusty's health, for the precious time that's been taken from baby London's early days, for the rough road ahead - but Job never doubted God's faithfulness and I know y'all take comfort in the same promises. We are anxious to see/hear how God is continuing his good work as the days of Dusty's treatment pass. Much love and prayers, Jen & Bryan Blew August 25th, 2010 Dear Dusty and Jeff, I have been following your difficult journey online. I'm been so blessed to see your love for each other and for the Lord. Prayers are said each day for both of you and for little London. My wish is that God will see fit to give you good news at the end of this cycle of chemo and from the bone marrow testing. I will continue to pray for all of you. Thanks for letting us be a part of your journey with the emails to our Sunday School class. Faith Pfrimmer August 25th, 2010 Thank you for hoping in Christ and fighting to hear truth from God. He is speaking through you. The story is tragic, but oh, so beautiful. Your email seem to beam a presence of light and life and truth when they come on my screen. He will make all things new. Jenni Smith August 25th, 2010
13: Jeff, Dusty and London, I have hesitated to email you b/c I dont want to "be in your business", bother you...assume I can...BUT I just had to break thru all of those doubts and tell you... I know its going to sound weird to say "I look forward to your posts each day" because I would certainly rather not have to see them in my inbox for that would mean you all are not where you are--fighting leukemia/missing your daughter/suffering TREMENDOUS physical and mental pain/fill-in-the-blank. That being said, what I look forward to is the immediate growth of my own faith from having the privilege of seeing yours walked out with such strength, rawness, complete abandon and with an amazing amount of tenacity and grace--all at the same time. I am honored to have this window into your lives/your walk with our Jesus and I want you to know that I am being changed--God is using it to change me! You are special people-- I KNEW that BEFORE this all happened. I know that our friendship is still in its "baby stages" but that connection is strong because we all love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. I think of you all quite often, and pray for you too. While sitting on the couch, or waiting in the carpool line at school, or standing at the kitchen sink-the Lord brings His daughter to my mind and i pray! I pray for Dusty, for Jeff and for London. From the start, I have been "mad" about the leukemia but FURIOUS about the separation from London and I have prayed that the Lord will give back to you what the cancer worm has stolen! That there is a SUPERNATURAL bonding that is taking place between Dusty and London and Jeff that like David and Jonathan in the Bible, "their souls were knit together." My precious and warrior friends, you are in my thoughts and prayers and I love you dearly. Thank you for being so willing to share your "walking out of your faith" with me. It has challenged me, encouraged me and has been used by our Jesus to mature me in my faith in Him. Love to you all...and if there is ANYTHING I can do please let me know... Kristi Shores August 26th, 2010 Cami just txt us the news about Dusty's sister and the 100% bone marrow match. I can't stop crying! We are SO happy for you all! Jill & Charlie LeBlanc August 26th. 2010 I'm in tears at the news of the 100% match. That is a miracle in and of itself. I wish i was with you to give you a hug. I'm sooo thankful!! I will continue to pass the news on to all those who are praying up here. There are 4 churches praying for her. they will be estactic. and there are churches praying in atlanta and south carolina. i've passed on her story to those i know in those states and towns. She and Jeff aren't alone. I will stand; my friends will stand; her brothers and sisters in Christ whom she doesn't know will continue stand with her until she is fully healed and restored. Sarah Jones (in a note to Brenda White) August 26th, 2010 Jeff and Dusty, I just wanted to take a minute to tell you how blessed I feel to know you! You both are an inspiration to me. I also feel honored that you trust me to help take care of your precious daughter :) I can only imaging how difficult this situation has been for you both. You truly are an example of a God-first family and God is definitely glorified by you response to this trial. Dusty, I can remember when I first met you at Shine 2009...you were so sweet and kind! I got a good feeling about you. Then, as I got to know you, I knew we would become better friends! I look up to you in so many ways and hope that, someday, I can be a fraction of the woman you are! I will continue to pray for you each and every day! Your story has touched so many people and will continue to do so. I have people (who don't even know you) ask me everyday "how is your friend Dusty doing?". I always take that opportunity to include how much your faith has sustained you in the hopes that it will stir up something in their hearts about having a relationship with God! Please continue to remember that your suffering is not in vain. I love you! It was great to spend time with you today. Kim Havlik August 26th, 2010 Jeff, My name is Carmen and I am Jimmy Kelly's wife. He shared your story with me from the very beginning because he knows I am a strong believer in prayer and PRAYINGwe have been! We were thrilled to learn that Dusty's sister is a bone marrow match and that Dusty has completed her last chemo treatment. Both, Jimmy and I, are registered bone marrow donors and we were standing by although we know how difficult it is to find a match if a family member is not available. God is definetely answering prayers! So we continue to pray and to learn and to be humbled by your unfailing faith and incredible journey and we thank you for sharing it with us. This story that God is telling is going to have a happy ending. I feel it strongly in my heart. Hugs to you all. Carmen Kelly August 27th, 2010
14: Dear Dusty, I just want you to know that Neil and I have been praying for your total healing and for strengthfor your family.Also, Your brother in law (Jeff's brother?) has been attending my dads weekly bible study and I know they have been praying for you too.You are going to be an incredible mother to your precious baby, London. I still have the sweet letter that you wrote me at the end of the year when I taught you. I keep it in a special memory book.....you are a sweet memory form the few years that I taught school :) When I heard the news that the leukemia was only in 12% of the cells I just sat at my computer and cried tears of Joy...thanking God for such wonderful news. And now the news that Taylor will be a donor for you is so encouraging. We will continue to pray for you and look forward to the emails from Jeff reporting of your recovery. Love you, Darla Jackson August 27th, 2010 Good Morning Jeff and Dusty! Just wanted to say hello and that we're thinking and praying hard for all three of you back in Baton Rouge! I can't wait to go to mass today to celebrate the answered prayers regarding Taylor being a match! I thought Dusty would like to know about a conversation I had with Aunt Booney this morning. It was sweet. I talked to Aunt Booney this morning about 8:00 a.m. She is in Diamondhead. She said she wanted to stay in Diamondhead right now because she felt so close to Dusty there and enjoyed all the memories she had of taking care of "the girls" when they were little. I remember when Taylor and Dusty were always in Diamondhead with "Boo Boo." I know sometimes Aunt Booney doesn't show her feelings and emotions, and I was touched about our conversation today. You could tell that she was smiling ear to ear as she went on and on about how much she enjoyed keeping "the girls" and hanging out in Diamondhead. I feel so helpless not being able to help more. I told Aunt Booney that I'd try coordinating me, her and Leah to take Taylor out to dinner to provide support for her. Give Dusty a big hug for me and tell her we love her! Love, Angie Denham August 29th, 2010 Dusty, Congratulations to you and Jeff on the wonderful blessing of London! You are constantly on my mind! I'm have been praying for you throughout the day, each and every day since learning of your diagnosis! To ensure I don't forget, I have programmed my daily cell phone alarm to go off @ 11am - "Pray for Dusty". I have also informed/updated those people in my life whom I can always depend on for prayer, to pray for you. I know you have so many wonderful people praying for you, but there is never too much! Jeff has done an extraordinary job of keeping the website updated and articulating the details he shares in the most eloquent way possible. Although I have never had the privilege of meeting Jeff (my Jeff has told me about him), it is clear to me that you are very blessed to have such an amazing husband who loves you and London with every fiber of his being. I feel privileged to be able to read your husbands posts, bible versus, and quotes from you. Your faith is amazing and I know you it gives you great peace in knowing "God's will be done" (as my mother always adds "thy will be none"). This alone is a wonderful testimony to your faith in God! I know you have inspired others in so many ways throughout your journey and certainly will continue to do so in more ways than we can fathom. As you know, Jeff and I welcomed our daughter, Grace, into this world 11 months ago. We were blind-sided with the news that she has Downs Syndrome. Once the initial shock wore off, I quickly understood that God blessed us by choosing us to be her parents. This only strengthened my relationship with God more than I could ever have imagined was possible. Yet I am still in awe because through you, my faith has grown even deeper! I thank you for that! Understanding that He uses His children (including you) to teach others is a very profound realization! One I thank Him for each and every day! I wanted to include the following that was given to be the day my daughter was born... The Beauty of Holland by Emily Pearl Kingsley I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability -- to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this... When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful vacation plans. The coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very, very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The flight attendant comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." “Holland?!?", you say." What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy. " But there's been a change in the flight plan. They landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for awhile and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, 'Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned.' And the pain of that will never, ever, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland. ...I realize that you do not have a special needs child, but the concept of this can be translated into so many aspects of life. You may have seen this before, but I just love sharing it! I love what Jeff wrote a few days ago...”and it is Dusty’s story, as tragic as it may now seem, that we trust He will one day reveal to be a thing of magnificent beauty”. Please know I am here to help in any way possible. I look forward to seeing more updates, pictures of that sweet baby, and of course the news that you are in remission very soon! Once you get your appetite back I would LOVE to make some meals for you. Let me know. Love, Amanda Lipp August 31st, 2010
15: Hi Jeff, Last night at Phil Wickham concert, we all joined hands and prayed for Dusty and your family. There were over 800 of us there. We will continue to pray!! Thanks for the upd Dan Dodge August 31st, 2010 Dusty – I do not know if you remember me, but you and I cheered together on the Pink Panther All Star squad when we were about 15 years old. I found out through Sarah Rogers Carls (your sister Taylor’s friend) about your struggles. I have worked with Sarah for about 3 years now, and we were just talking casually this morning about how one of my friend’s had just gotten diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and he and his wife just had a baby girl 8 weeks ago, and then she began to tell me about her friend’s sister named “Dusty” and what she was going through. Just out of curiosity, because Dusty isn’t that common of a name, I asked what the last name was. When she said Salsbury-Williams, I just covered my face and said “oh no.” I told Sarah that I remembered you from years ago. She gave me the link to the Lotsa Helping Hands site, and I have been crying at my desk reading your story It has really opened my eyes and is very inspirational for me and I want to thank you for sharing your awesome faith. My husband, Josh, and I have been trying to have a baby for two years now and have gone through four miscarriages. We’ve had tests run, been to specialists, etc, and, it was determined that I have what’s called a balanced translocation on my chromosomes 4 and 13. Long explanation if you don’t know what that is, but the gist of it is my husband and I have a 50% chance of delivering a healthy, normal baby, and a 50% chance of losing the baby each time we get pregnant. Difficult, but not impossible! And, I know that you can relate somewhat, because of what you went through to have sweet London (she’s so beautiful by the way!). Even though we are having trouble having a baby of our own, I do have a step-daughter, who turned 4 in April. She is a light in my life and I cannot express the love that I have for her (she was 14 months when we met). For the past two years of "trying," I have been so selfish. I have questioned “why” so many times. A few months ago, I realized that I just needed to quit stressing so much and lift it all up to God. Prior to my revelation, I prayed often and tried to go to church as much as I could, but it just didn't seem like it was enough to comfort the hurt that I felt. The problem was, I hadn't surrendered completely...so, I decided that things needed to change. I realized that I am not in control and whatever God's will is, is what it is. I cannot and should not question His plan for my life. I now have more peace with my situation. When I read your story and what you have been going through, all I could do is cry and smile at the same time – how crazy is that! Through all of this, your faith and your spirit have stayed strong and are absolutely amazing. You and your husband are such an inspiration and I just wanted to tell you, thank you. This has touched my heart so much, like nothing I’ve ever read before, and, at a time when I need it the most. Thank you so much for putting things more into perspective for me. Your testimony is beautiful and I wish that more people had the outlook that you do. God is definitely working through you to touch others. I feel so blessed to have experienced the love and POWER of God through your story on this website. You, your husband, London, and your family are in my prayers and my thoughts and will continue to beMay God bless you all and hold you in His almighty hands. Kimberly (Cifreo) Vaughan August 31st, 2010 Dear Jeff and Dusty, Paula Flanigan has been sending me your emails about the trip to Mayo and and Dusty's progress. I teach a Sunday school class at Logan Street in Mt. Vernon and this weeks lesson was on "navigating thru a crisis"....like a ship we don't just deal with the circumstances of life but learn to navigate thru them. Your email about Mayo and what you are experiencing left me in such awe of....well God just has to be proud of you two. Most people would have been curled in the fetal position by now but you have remained strong, not angry with God and still have encouragement to spare for the rest of us. I used that email to finish up in my class this Sunday. Now understand, there are 10-13 talky women that I dearly love. We never lack for conversation and responses. After I finished with your note the silence was stunning!! And it just lingered on and on, so I asked one of my more mature ladies to end us in prayer and she could hardly get thru it for the lump in her throat. Her pray for you was so beautiful and we lift you both as examples of what we want to be able to do. You are a true inspiration of God's mercy and grace. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We will continue to pray for you until you don't need us.....which I pray is Donna Keen August 30th, 2010 Praise Jesus! I'm a childhood friend of Taylor and Dusty's and went to middle school with them. You all have been on my heart for weeks and in my prayers. Dusty's faith and courage have been such an inspiration to me. Her name is on a post-it note on my mirror to remind me to pray for you all daily. Praying for continued healing, strength, courage and blessings. So happy for the news. Love in Christ, Casey Rayborn Hicks September 2nd, 2010 Jeff Dusty and Baby London, I want to let youboth know that I am so happy to report to the team at WS the great news that you are in remission. I am so proud of you Dusty. You are such an inspiration tomeand I am proud to say I know you. The whole team is praying and thinking about your family. London is so beautiful and I am looking forward to seeing new pictures of her. Dusty we continue to keep you and your whole family in our prayers. KellyBaxley is running in honorof her mom and for you in November.She wanted to make sure that youknew she is doing that for you. Stay strong Dusty and knowthat your second family is looking forward to you coming back. We miss you and we are pulling for you. Take care and get better!! Much Love Kyllie Scalia September 2nd, 2010
16: Dusty and Jeff, We are in awe of your strength which comes from your strong faith in God. We've been praying for you and your family daily and we are over the moon to hear the good news! We will continue to pray for you as you start the next steps toward being completely cured. Hoping and praying that you will be able to spend some time with your precious daughter soon. You two are amazing parents and amazing people. God Bless. Take Care, Heather, Mason, Reed & Wyatt Shearon September 3rd, 2010 Dear Jeff, Dusty, and London, Thanks for your note earlier, and for the continuing updates from Mayo. Erika sent us a text that Dusty is in remission, so we all join you in rejoicing! We’ll keep praying for the bone marrow donation by Taylor, for Eddie, and that all things work to good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). In a chapel message at our school (Bellevue Christian), I shared your story of joy and faith through this difficult trial with our elementary students, staff, and parents on Thursday. I read aloud Dusty’s prayer that you had sent previously. In last month’s Christianity Today, there was a moving article about the “The Call to Joy and Pain” that carries a similar message. Sharing your story – and how you are impacting, blessing, and learning about other who are in the midst of that too – is very important in expanding His Kingdom everywhere. In Jesus’ Name, Steve Kennedy September 4th, 2010 Dear Jeff and Dusty, You don't know us, but we have followed your story since the birth of London. We are good friends of Baird and Alice Fulghum. They're in our Home Group at Christ Church. She has forwarded us your emails. I just wanted to say how thankful we are to the Lord for all He has done in your lives in the past 6 weeks or so. How we praise Him for His mercy on Dusty's life and all the many ways you've both grown in Him and have leaned on Him. What a wonderful testimony of the Lord's strength in you both! Also, Jeff you are a beautiful writer ~ your words, straight from your heart, have touched so many people and our lives have been impacted by what you and Dusty have experienced. God has answered the prayers of many people and to Him be the glory. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of her progress and we will continue to pray for her complete healing and for God to continue to use you both for His glory. In His love, Phil and Carol Penland September 4th, 2010 Some folks at Catholic High and a Prairieville Baptist church and a prayer group in Kerrville, Texas, (led by Linda, who is having chemo for ovarian cancer,) are praying for Dusty too. You will probably never know how many people are praying for you all. Thank Jeff for his emails and sharing their faith. I pray you can feel God's presence walking with you through this time. Susan Bush September 7th, 2010 Hi Jeff, I just requested to become a friend so I can receive updates on Dusty, but I did not put how I know of you. I work with Johnette Thompson Childers at Blue Cross in Baton Rouge, LA. She asked me to pray for you, Dusty and London when Dusty was first diagnosed. I also attend Healing Place Church and just last night in service Pastor Jason Laird spoke of Dusty (with permission) and how he went to visit you and Dusty to encourage y'all and he left encouraged!!! When Pastor Laird mentioned Dusty's name, before he said anything, my youngest son, Brady (age10) looked up at me and smiled so big, because he knew her name and that we have been praying for her. I have Dusty's name on a pink post-it note my computer at work and I pray for her (and you and London) everytime I see her name. My husband and children now pray for y'all too. We are all believing for her healing and we will continue to give God all the glory! God is so good and He is so faithful. I am a breas t cancer survior (2years) and I know that He never fails us. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and He is able. I will continue to pray for y'all. If you need anything, please let me know. Sherry Strain September 9th, 2010 Floyd and I have been praying for you and Jeff. I was so excited to see this site where I could follow your story as it unfolds. I ask Floyd everyday when he comes home if he's heard from Jeff. It's been great to see the emails from Jeff that have been sent to the guys at Blue Cross and to hear how much your story has impacted them and challenged them in their own personal walk. I love our God that He continues to use each of us for HIS glory and not ours. I can only tell you that your faith and Jeff's faith and Jeff's ability to write about your journey has touched us so personally. We keep you in prayer and wanted you all to know that as you continue to be such a witness of someone trusting in God no matter what! London is beautiful! Congratulations on all the blessings that continue to pour on you and your family! In Christian Love, myra and floyd manny September 13th, 2010
17: Hello Jeff & Dusty, I've been meaning to write this post for a while now. Allan and I have been praying for you, and we have been inspired by your beautiful testimony of faith in so many ways... To Dusty: When I first heard of your trial, and especially of how you had to be separated from your newborn daughter, the Lord immediately brought back to my memory a sermon I heard from Joel Osteen. He talked about when his daughter was born, it was a time when he was super consumed by ministry and he didn't have much time to spend with her. He felt as though he lost some of those precious early years of his daughter's life. But now, he can see how the Lord has restored those lost years for him, because he is absolutely the favorite person she likes to spend time with, and she will not leave him alone :) He quoted from Joel 2:25 "I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten..." When I had my first daughter, I was not able to enjoy her first few months as much as I had hoped. Breastfeeding was a struggle, I had the blues, and I had a fussy baby. I too felt as though I lost that time. Then, I had my second baby and it was completely the opposite. It was blissful and precious, with the added bonus of watching sweet interactions between her and her big sister. God restored to me the precious newborn stage that I did not get to enjoy the first time. I know that his story or mine cannot be compared to yours, but I also know that God restores what's been lost or stolen. I am excited to hear of how He will restore to you the time that you had to be apart from London. I believe that you and London will share such a strong, extraordinary mother-daughter bond like no other. To Jeff: Allan and I agree that you are a ridiculously talented writer. Every single one of your posts has touched my heart to the point of tears. Your letter to London that I just read topped them all off. What a beautiful treasure this will be for Dusty (and London) to read and reread in the future - a story of her unwavering faith in midst of her biggest trial, a story of how God continued to be her hope and strength, a story of God's unending FAITHFULNESS, and a story of the VICTORY God has brought through this trial. All this and more, so exceptionally written. We have no doubt God will continue to use your writing talent to touch the hearts of many, many more...and to bring Him much glory. Lastly (sorry, I'm always long-winded), I cannot even list all the ways your stories have inspired me. For one, I no longer take any moment with my daughters for granted...no matter how mundane or challenging at times. I also am passionate more than ever to fulfill the PURPOSE God has for my life, with everything I've got. Not just live my life day to day, but really seek and carry out God's purpose. Like you, I desire to be a living testimony of God's message of hope, restoration, and love. I can't thank you enough. You and your family are continually in our prayers. I KNOW that God has a sweet, sweet victory in store for you, with many more to come. To Him be all the glory and praise. Maria Parry September 17th, 2010 So many times I have thought about sending you a message, Dusty, London and Jeff but have never felt that I had the right words. After reading your most recent email about your "Terrible Opportunity", I was moved to write to you. I attend Celebration Church, am a nurse at Mayo clinic and also a new mother (my daughter Kaila was born May 4, 2010). I have only been to church once in the last 9 months. Since following learning of your painful journey, I have renewed my relationship with God. I have been sharing your messages with several of the nurses and patient care techs in my department and we have all been praying for you. Please know that your suffering is changing lives and bringing people closer to God. I think most Christians pray for a significant life and you definitely have one! God bless all of you! London is beautiful. We love seeing the pictures of her. Sherri Boothby September 19th, 2010 | Well, my friend and I are going to get together on Tuesday to talk. She was moved by Dusty's story and prayer, but also is very angry and hurt. She wanted to argue the science versus faith thing...but she keeps asking questions. she said she would be willing to listen but didn't understand if there was a God why he allowed bad things to happen to people. She said is angry, but willing to listen. Which is HUGE. We are meeting face-to-face on Tuesday. She said to plan for several hours cause she's brining a list of questions about "this god and jesus thing." This could either turn into a science versus faith and creation debate and move to salvation or it could turn into God just moving and her accepting Christ. Please let Dusty and Jeff know that this is the first time EVER that she has even been willing to LISTEN just listen to the story of Christ. It's all because of Dusty's story and especially Dusty's prayer. My friend keeps reading it she says and cries everytime. She's mad that she cries and doesn't understand why she cries while reading the prayer and especially the scripture Dusty put at the bottom. I told her it was because God was speaking to her and loving her and she was feeling his love come through the words. She got flustered and hung up. BUT....she keeps emailing and texting. I will let you know when she becomes a believer. I'm guessing Tuesday evening around....9pm central time. I hope that Dusty can take comfort in the midst of the terrible emotional and physical pain in knowing that right now because of what she is enduring and the faith she is showing and the openness with her faith and struggles that a hurt, abandoned, angry, confused woman in the cornfields of central Illinois is going to receive Christ because of how Dusty is allowing Him to use her and Jeff and London. Their reward will be great in heaven and I'm so thankful for them. I pray that today for dusty that her weeping may endure for the evening, but joy will come in the morning and that joy will come sooner than later.... Sarah Jones (In an email to Brenda White) September 17th, 2010 Dusty, Jeff, and London's story has brought salvation to one soul today! And, it isn't even Tuesday. One of my fb friends read it, called me, asked my all they why questions and of course I couldn't answer except to say that Jesus died for Dusty's healing and she will be healed. She asked if Jesus could heal her? I was like, "Can he? Honey, he already has....he is just waiting for you to accept Him as your Lord and Savior.". She asked if I could show her how- I told her just to pray what was on her heart and tell Him she accepted Him. And...... One soul is saved on September 19, 2010. The angels are rejoicing and I pray for God to comfort and be near to the Williams family. They are touching lives and I just pray God allows them peace and joy and comfort in this painful, dark valley. I love u!!! Sarah Jones (In an email to Brenda White) September 20th, 2010
18: Hey-OMG!!! LONG LONG STORY that I can't write now. I didn't get home till 2am. Long story short: Molly isn't saved YET, we are meeting again next week at 5:30pm to talk some more. BUT BUT BUT.....a girl who goes to grad school with us (she's in social work as well-duh!) and she is a lesbian came along. SHE GOT SAVED! WHAT?! WHAT?! LALALALALALALALALALA!!!! I can't wait to tell you the entire story. Molly will come...she's so close. So close. But, this other woman Michelle is SAVED and she's trying now to totally turn from homosexuality. WHAT?! How does that happen? Oh wait-I know- WE SERVE A MIGHTY GOD THAT IS USING DUSTY AND JEFF AND LONDON to spread his good news of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, SALVATION, HEALING, FORGIVENESS. More to come!! And thanks for not posting on my wall about Molls. She'd see it and get mad. More tonight. I PROMISE! THe whole amazing story of both ladies. Love you! ANd whoot whoot for Dusty being home!!!! Sarah Jones (In an email to Brenda White) September 22nd, 2010 Jeff, Thank you sooo much for sharing this with me. What a blessing to hear how God is using your struggle for his glory! I will be praying for Molly and Michelle. Want you and Dusty to know how many people have been blessed this week with your "Terrible Opportunity" email - including me! I sent it to our entire ABF class - about 120 email addresses and you would not believe how many comments I got back from it. I am also sharing it tonight with my college girls that I do a Bible study with on Thurs. nights. We are doing Kelly Minter's Ruth study and the email goes PERFECTLY with our study this week. How cool is that - you type this week what God laid on your heart and in His perfect timing it fits beautifully with my Bible study - brings tears to my eyes for the too many to count time this week! Know that you will be talked about and prayed for tonight with my 9 college girls. They already know your story and pray for you. Praying for sweet time @ home together as a family and for protection from infection specifically right now. Let me know if there are other specifics. Love you all and cannot wait to meet London!!! Blessed by you, Meredith Holmes September 23rd, 2010 Hi Jeff, It's been a very long time since we have seen you guys! Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl and your incredibly strong wife going into remission. You could not ask for a more beautiful family. Recently, I have been keeping up on your care page. Not only do I read your updates but also I look at all of the different links available. Two weeks ago, I came across the Team in Training link. I researched organization, attended a meeting, and signed up to run a half marathon in Febuary. To be honest, I'm not much of a runner, but I want to show my support by doing something that seems "impossible" to me. This is why I am asking for your permission to honor Dusty throughout my journey. As one of my honored heros, she will be my inspiration to make it across the finish line. Also,I will keep my followers up to date on her progress and I will wear her name on a bracelet to give me the strenth to keep going when things get hard. There will be no hard feelings if you would rather keep the information private! Hope to hear from you soon! Emily Landry September 27th, 2010 Jeff, Had to share with you and Dusty an email that I got from one of my college girls the day after I shared your email with them. Notice the part I put in bold! How cool that God allowed that to penetrate her heart that way! Thanks for being vulnerable and honest for the glory of God. Meredith, Please pray for my mom. I got a call this morning that she was in the hospital after having another seizure (she has had 2 grand mal seizures in the past and is diagnosed as epileptic). I don't know much about the situation yet, but it looks like she may have a dislocated shoulder. I know that this is disheartening for her, but pray that this will become a terrible opportunity in some way. Thanks, Lindy Love you guys & praying for you! Meredith Holmes September 30th, 2010 Jeff, My small group is doing a 40 day partial fast until oct 30th. We have committed to ask God together for Dustys bone marrow transplant to be successful and for her full recovery.I have forwarded this letter to them. AndI know everyone in the whole group will be delighted at your latest news! You are not alone! Brenda McGee October 1st, 2010 Jeff, Please let Dusty know I am still praying for you all and wish you the best outcome on Tuesday. Your faith has greatly inspired me both personally and professionally. Sometimes we lose track of patients after they leave our care and this has been a great opportunity for me tokeep in touch and to renew my faith. Thank you both so much. Denise Armstrong(nurse at Baptist) October 2nd, 2010
19: Dusty & Jeff, I am so glad to hear this news!!! I have been praying for you guys everyday. Dusty is always on my heart. I know you are going to do great, you are the strongest person I know and am so glad I had the privilege of getting to know your little sweet self :) You have a lot of people praying for you and serve a gracious god! I no longer work at Baptist I recently switched jobs and now work at Borland-Groover Clinic, its a nice change for me, I tend to carry things home and it just got to hard for me to handle emotionally. Though I left I still keep in contact with a couple of the nurses and update them on your progress, every one is thrilled with your progress, I even gave Dr. Naot an update, he was very excited to hear the news. We all miss you and love you! God has allowed for you to be in the best place possible and I am so thankful for that! Keep your head up and stay strong in your faith. Your trust in your faith and your love for our God is amazing and such an inspiration, I have never met anyone like you! You are truly an amazing person. I love you guys and will keep praying for a safe recovery :) Talea Ray (nurse at Baptist) October 13th, 2010 Hi Jeff, I met Dusty in Boston at the Domar Center where we took a training several years ago. Since then, Dusty and I have kept in touch. She was able to make something amazing happen at her fertility clinic and she was able to really help people in the crisis of their lives. Granted, not life or death, but certainly difficult. She was always positive, willing to share what she had tried and what she had learned with me. I appreciated her openness in this, a competitive field. I just wanted to say that I'm thinking about you all every day. I know you have loved ones around you but please know you have people farther away as well sending positive thoughts into the universe for Dusty, for you, and for London. Thank you for these updates and for sharing what has got to be one of, if not the most, painful times. You are strong. If there is anything you all need, anything at all, please just say the word. With love, Elise October 14th, 2010 Dear Jeff and Dusty, Just wanted to let you know again that I am so in awe of your courage and endurance through all this. Dusty, please remember that even though you're alone physically, I believe that a host of angels are surrounding you at this very moment. Then there are also us local yocals here on earth who very much wish we could be with you to cheer you on or just quietly sit by your side. May you be strengthened and comforted in this. Jeff, if I ever find someone dumb enough to marry me, I'm sending him to you for bootcamp training. You are such an amazing husband and partner to my dear friend. I love you both very much and you are in my thoughts and prayers all the time. With love and hugs, Isabel Chung October 20th, 2010 Hi Jeff, Dusty and London, It is hard to believe that just 3 months ago I was part of your life when this shocking diagnoses was discovered. I think about you all the time. I knew from the moment that I met Dusty in Room 8 that she was a special person. A someone that "I could be friends with." I remember her telling me that you were driving back from Daytona on a business meeting. I remember thinking to myself that London is going to be such a lucky baby to have such great parents. You are very special people that have impacted so many lives and will continue to impact those around you. Hang in there and know that I am thinking of you often and keep the staff updated on your journey. All my love, Becky Goldwasser, CRNA (I was the one that did your epidural) :) October 20th, 2010 my thoughts are with you and dusty and london at this time!!!!!! Kate (Dusty's friend from the Domar class in Boston) October 20th, 2010 Jeff, I know you don’t know me but I am one of Celebration’s prayer warriors and I’ve been praying for you, Dusty and London these past months and we have been lifting you up regularly in our Sunday intercession group as well as Thursday night Set Free group. Kristi is my best friend and it meant so much to me that you could take time away from your own trial to mention Kristi and her family and ask people to take care of them just the way you’ve been cared for. You are an amazing family and I am honored to know you all even if it’s from afar. Thank you so much for caring about my Kristi girl! God bless you richly, Heather Watson November 2nd, 2010
20: This is the most beautiful letter I've read in a long time. I'm so humbled to know how the Lord is working in you and Dusty's life. The strength your family has shown through this trying time is such an amazing example of Christs love for His children. Although it has been quite some time since I've seen Dusty(we were acquaintances throughout high school), she was always someone who stuck out in my mind because of her cheerfulness, beauty and friendliness. Please know that you, Dusty, and baby London are in my prayers everyday. Her surrendering to His will is something that moved me to the core. If it is ok with you and Dusty I would like to share this with some of my friends. Some are believers and some are not. I often get asked the question from non believers "why bad things happen to good people?" and "if your God is so loving why does he let us hurt?". I've often spoke of Dusty to many, about her suffering but more importantly her courageous, faithful spirit in Christ. Her story has touched my life so deeply and I think it could impact others as well. If this is a breach of privacy I completely understand. I think God is using Dusty to impact lives in ways unimaginable. May the Lord be by your families side every second of everyday. Grace and Peace, Ashley Anselmo November 9th, 2010 Hey Jeff! Thanks so much for the update. This morning as I was getting ready for work (and on the dawn of the first day of the fast) I couldn’t help but think about the significance of the season we’re in right now and how it has served in your family’s life. To this day, the testimony that stands mind out most in my mind of all the Awakening testimonies is that of Dusty’s healing a couple years ago. Then to think that this time last year she was pregnant with London- a total miracle in and of itself! And then this year the miracle of London’s life and the miracle of London’s life saving Dusty’s. None of these testimonies are deemed “easy” to be sure, but how graciously you all have walked through each door. Thank you to your family for your obedience, for your faith, for your patience, your encouragement, and your testimony. It spurs all of us on to higher living. Thank you. We love you! Erika Medders January 10th, 2011 | Jeff, Dusty and London, WE ARE THRILLED. THANK YOU, GOD!!! Love, Lynn Van Wagenan DeRosa February 8th, 2011 That is ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!!!!!!!.....I am ecstatically happy for Dusty ...and just as much for You and London....God Bless you all for many, many years to come!... Love to you all, Robbin York February 8th, 2011 Hallelujah!!! Praise the Lord!!! To God be the glory!! Amen and Amen! We are so grateful and continue to thank the Lord for the testimony of both of you as you have dealt with this crisis. You will continue to be a blessing to so many. Ferris Jordan February 8th, 2011
21: God is SOOOOO Good! I will carry with me your story and your faith the rest of my life. You guys are absolutely incredible!!!!! Thank you so much for giving us so much!!! With a very rejoicing heart! Wannelle Parvey February 8th, 2011 | THAT IS WONDERFUL NEWS – I have had my family praying for her as well. She and You have been such a great inspiration to me. God Bless you. Sudamys Alfonso February 8th, 2011 | PRAISE GOD!! I cannot wait to write this email in May! Thanks for your encouragement. We are SO happy for your sweet little family. God bless, Kelley Hastings February 8th, 2011 | Sweet Dusty, I was overwhelmed with joy today when I heard that you are in remission and that the transplant was a success! What a huge testament of God's power and grace. You have been a faithful warrior and are a true hero. You look beautiful and healthy and London is absolutely precious! Love you girl, Amy Batholomew February 8th, 2011
22: Day by Day Day by day hundreds (and soon thousands) of people across the country and around the world followed Dusty’s story. So many were touched by what eventually became known as the terrible opportunity. And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. Philippians 1:12-14
23: Chemotherapy Dusty's Story posted by Megan Dillon, Wednesday, July 21, 2010, 1:30 PM In July of 2010 Jeff & Dusty Williams welcomed a beautiful daughter, London, into the world. As part of the routine blood work that the doctors performed at the time of admission, it was determined that Dusty's blood platelets were low. After further tests Dusty was diagnosed with Leukemia (AML type M1). Dusty is currently undergoing chemotherapy and is confined to the hospital for 21 days. Jeff is staying with her. During this time, Jeff's mom and several of Dusty's girlfriends are helping to care for London. This site will be used to allow all of Jeff and Dusty's family and friends to coordinate tasks, meet specific needs, and stay connected. Watch this space for updates. Thank you so very much for helping to care for our family during this time! If you have any questions don't hesistate to contact any of the coordinators. May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 2 Thes 3:16 Thank you, again, for serving our family! Jeff, Dusty & London | Day Four posted by Jeff Williams, Monday, July 26, 2010, 10:30 PM Friends, Dusty has now completed day 4 of the chemotherapy. She is strong and looks great. She has a good appetite and is eating well. (Unfortunately, the food provided by the hospital is not very appetizing, even in the oncology ward where patients are undergoing chemo and desperately need tasty meals to provide good nutrition.) I am very thankful for all of the meals that have been provided for Dusty to help her keep her strength. Today we printed out several pictures of London, as well as some of Dusty's favorite Bible verses. On Tuesday we will put them up on the walls of the hospital room. We also read several of the cards that Dusty has received. London is doing great. She has her dad's appetite and her mom's beauty. We are grateful for everyone who has been involved in caring and providing for her and for Jeff's mom. Thank you for your continued prayers. They really do make a huge difference. We cannot stress this enough. We feel God's love all around us and we are thankful for each of you. Dusty has 3 days left of chemotherapy and we are entering a dangerous time for her, as her white blood cell counts will soon be at zero. Please pray that she would be protected from any kind of infection. Thank you again for all of your prayers, love and support. God is good...all the time:) Jeff, Dusty & London | Immediate Needs for Williams Family posted by Megan Dillon, Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 12:30 PM Friends, Thank you for offering to help the Williams family in this time of need. They truly feel blessed by your generosity. The following are ways you can help: Prepare Meals for Jeff and Dusty while in hospital. Click on a specific day on the calendar to sign up and to read other important details regarding types of meals and drop off locations. Prepare meals for Mrs. Williams (Jeff's mom) and caregiver while taking care of London. Click on a specific day to sign up and to read important details about drop off locations. Gift Card donations to Native Sun or Publix for Dusty's meals in hospital. Gift Card Donations to Babies R Us, Wal Mart or Target to help purchase London's Formula. London uses Enfamil Premium Lipil Ready to Use formula. Please send or drop off any gift cards or formula to Celebration Church front desk. Celebration Church c/o Kassie Fowler P.O. Box 551341 Jacksonville, FL 32255 Do not hesitate to contact any of the coordinators with questions.
24: Day Five posted by Jeff Williams, Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 11:15 PM Friends, Today was another good day for Dusty. She rested a good bit and ate very well at each meal. Thanks to everyone who is helping us to provide her with healthy, delicious meals. This afternoon we posted the pictures and verses on the walls. She also spent some time reading about nutrition and her diet. The nurses and staff have been great and each one quickly falls in love with Dusty. Each of the ladies who has cared for her over the last ten days has been wonderful. Thanks to everyone who is assisting in caring for mom and London. They are both doing great and London slept for four hours in a row last night. During the pregnancy Dusty and I were sometimes apprehensive about what kind of disruptions to life a child might bring. Now we often laugh about how easy it would be just to take care of a newborn. It has been one week since the diagnosis, and we remain in awe of the love and support our family has received. As a husband and a father, I cannot tell you how much it means to watch how you have loved and cared for my wife and for my daughter. "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!' Matt 25:40 (NLT) Tonight we prayed that God would bless all of you, and draw each of you closer to Him. Jeff, Dusty & London | Day Six posted by Jeff Williams, Thursday, July 29, 2010, 12:30 AM Friends, Today was a difficult day for Dusty, especially this evening. Her blood pressure was very high and her spirits were lower than normal, as it has now been over a week since she said goodbye to London. This afternoon I gathered some of London's baby books and we are going to record Dusty reading them. My mom will then play the recordings back to London on a daily basis. We are now in the final 24 hours of the chemotherapy. I am so thankful of how well Dusty has done overall with the treatments. I am also hopeful that once the chemo is done that she will be able to get better rest. Dusty's appetite is still strong. We have a new saying, which is "Protein for Londy." This is how she stays motivated to drink her protein shakes. A lot has changed in our life over the last 12 days. We now have a beautiful, amazing daughter. But we also find ourselves facing huge challenges that we never thought our family would encounter. And yet, there is a peace that surrounds us each day that cannot be described. And though so much of our old world seems to be in peril, we have never felt closer to God. Psalm 73:26 (NLT) "My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever." Thank you for your daily prayers for our family. Jeff, Dusty & London PS: My brother had brain surgery last week to remove a tumor the size of a baseball. If you could say a quick prayer for his recovery, my whole family would be appreciative! | Day Seven posted by Jeff Williams, Thursday, July 29, 2010, 9:00 PM Friends, Today was a good day. Dusty was able to take a nap in the afternoon and overall she was feeling much better. And then we had the highlight of our entire hospital stay so far–Dusty was able to see London! The doctor gave us the approval for Dusty to go down to see London inside the car. Previously we had thought that they would have to be separated the entire 21 days, as hospitals are a dangerous place for newborns because of all the germs. So Dusty and I headed downstairs to see little London. Dusty wore a surgical mask to protect herself against infection and I pushed her wheelchair as fast as I could:) It was an emotional reunion. This was the first time the two of them had been together in eight days. Dusty sat in the car and held London for about 45 minutes. It was awesome. Regarding the treatment, the chemo will be finished tonight around 2 a.m. We are very thankful that Dusty has done so well. Today her appetite was slightly diminished, but overall she is very strong and looks great. I know I say it every day, but thank you so much for your daily prayers for Dusty. We truly believe she is doing so well because of your prayers. On a sadder note, we just heard that another young woman was admitted to the oncology floor today because she was diagnosed with Leukemia after giving birth a few days ago. We don't know any of the details, but we're hoping that we have the opportunity to speak with her and her family and provide some kind of support, as it sounds like they're in the exact same place as we were a week ago. Please remember them in your prayers as well. "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you." Isaiah 43:2 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London
25: Day Eight posted by Jeff Williams, Friday, July 30, 2010, 10:45 PM Friends, Today was Dusty's first day off of the chemo treatment. From here we will be at the hospital for 14 days while Dusty's white blood cells grow back. Dusty was sick most of last night and through early afternoon today. She was feeling somewhat better by this evening and she ate a good portion for supper. Please continue to pray for her appetite and her health. Tonight Dusty received a special treat. My friend Josh Turner, who is the Student Ministries Pastor at Celebration Church, arranged for Dusty to receive a phone call from Phil Wickham. Phil Wickham is singer/songwriter and he is Dusty's favorite musician of all time. She was thrilled by the call and it was great to see her so happy. Phil encouraged her and they spoke for about five minutes. I could tell it made her day. Mission accomplished:) Thanks so much to both Phil and Josh for making this happen!! I was able to hang out with London for a little while this afternoon. We went to the Pediatrician and then we had some Enfamil Premium Lipil. Yum! I want to thank all of you who have done so much in so many ways over the past week and a half. Our family, our church friends, our work friends, our neighborhood friends, our nurse and doctor friends, our many friends all across the country, and so many of you that we hardly even know. God has used each of you in a special way and we remain in awe of your love, your prayers, and your support. "Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God." Phil 1:3 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London PS: I found out today that my brother is now doing much better with his recovery from his surgery. Thank you for your prayers for him! | Days Nine & Ten posted by Jeff Williams, Sunday, August 1, 2010, 10:15 PM Friends, This weekend was relatively quiet for Dusty, which was exactly what she needed. She's continued to struggle off and on with appetite and has had some fever. The doctors believe the fever is neutropenic, and not an infection. Neutropenic fevers are caused when the body's white blood cells (WBC) are very low–it is the body's way of trying to generate more WBC's. For the next week Dusty will be at her highest risk for infection. Please pray for her safety during this critical time. Thanks to all of you who have offered to come and visit Dusty. Unfortunately the medical staff feels it is dangerous for her to have any visitors, as she is just too vulnerable to infection. We still have not received any long term prognosis for Dusty, but we are beginning to receive information about potential next steps once our current hospital stay is over. Based upon what is the norm, it appears that we could be in and out of hospitals for weeks at a time over the next several months. This possibility is difficult for us to fully comprehend. We do feel that as time goes on, London will be able to spend more time with us, and we find great comfort in this. We don't know if the path we are on will be long or short. And while we pray that it is short, we are submitted to the fact that God is in control and that He will provide us the strength that we need to endure. We also believe that God will use this situation to ultimately accomplish many things that otherwise could not be accomplished. Finally, we believe that Dusty will emerge on the other side of this crisis as a healthy mother, as a more empathetic counselor, as a beautiful wife, as a woman of great purpose, and as a powerful witness to the mighty God she serves. "For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." 2 Cor 4:17-18 (NLT) May God bless each of you. Jeff, Dusty, & London | Meals for Jeff & Dusty at Hospital posted by Megan Dillon, Monday, August 2, 2010, 11:15 AM Friends, Meals for Jeff & Dusty at the hospital have been added to the calendar. There are more specific food requests now that Dusty's appetite is changing. Please see the notes section on the calendar to read these specific requests. I have posted a link on the "resource" section of the website that explains what foods are best for a neutropenic diet. This diet is specifically for those with a weakened immune system. Again, thank you for all you are doing for this sweet family. They are overwhelmed by your generosity
26: Days Ten & Eleven posted by Jeff Williams, Tuesday, August 3, 2010, 11:45 PM Friends, The past couple of days have been relatively quiet for Dusty. She has been feeling somewhat better physically and her appetite has been stronger. This is still a very difficult time emotionally. She misses London a great deal–as well as many of the other small comforts of a normal life. We'll work to arrange another visit from London as soon as Dusty's WBC count recovers. We received Dusty's long term prognosis from the Doctor today. I will do my best to explain it... With Acute Myeloid Leukemia the patient undergoes a cytogenetic test upon diagnosis. The cytogenetic test takes into account a number of factors–including the patient's chromosomal profile. The results, which can take a couple of weeks to receive back, help determine the long term outlook/risk for the patient. There are three categories of risk: favorable, intermediate, and unfavorable. Based upon the results of her cytogenetic tests, we learned today that Dusty has intermediate risk factors. Typically, people with intermediate risk factors have a five year survival rate of 50%. While we would have preferred a favorable risk factor, we are very thankful that she was not in the unfavorable category. So what does this mean regarding next steps? Based upon what we know, the ultimate course of treatment will be a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant. In order to move to this step, Dusty must be in remission after her current treatment. Additionally, once Dusty is in remission, we must find a bone marrow donor match. The best chance for a match (25%) is a sibling. Dusty's sister Taylor will be tested soon to find out if she is a match. This is a lot of information, so we want provide three things to ask for your prayers in. That Dusty goes into remission now. That Dusty remains free from infection this week. That we find a bone marrow match for Dusty very quickly. It has been two weeks since we received the diagnosis of Leukemia. However, as we have reflected on our circumstances, we become more and more thankful for how God has prepared us to endure this trial. The more we've learned about our situation, the more we've recognized just how much worse it could be. We have so much to be thankful for: a healthy daughter, a great family, an amazing church, wonderful friends, and hundreds of people who pray for us everyday. Thank you so much for your prayers. "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." James 1:2-4 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London | Prayer Service for Dusty posted by Megan Dillon, Thursday, August 5, 2010, 9:45 PM To family and friends of Dusty, We are organizing a time to gather as many of us as possible to pray for Dusty and Jeff. The prayer service will be this Saturday, August 7th at 3:00 pm. It will be held in the chapel at Baptist downtown. The chapel is located in the main building of the hospital. Once you enter through the main doors, the chapel will be straight ahead. See the information desk if you cannot find the chapel. We know prayer is powerful and miracles happen. We are believing for remission for Dusty, and want to pray for encouragement and strength for her and her family. Dusty has touched so many of our lives and this is one way we can stand in the gap together and fight for her! Dusty is still not able to have any visitors, but we know she will feel lifted up in prayer as we gather together. As Dusty said in a text message while going through this time, "God is enough." | Days Twelve & Thirteen posted by Jeff Williams, Thursday, August 5, 2010, 10:00 PM Friends, The past couple of days have been pretty good for Dusty. She has been in great spirits and we've laughed a lot. It has reminded me of the Thursday two weeks ago when she cut her hair and the chemo treatments began. However, tonight Dusty has been in severe physical pain and she has a fever. For the past six days she has been receiving injections of Neupogen, which is a drug that stimulates the increase of WBC's. One of the side effects of Neupogen is severe bone pain. We are continuing to research what the next steps of Dusty's treatment will look like. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has offered to be tested to be a bone marrow donor. Based upon our initial understanding of the donor process and guidelines, it is unlikely that anyone other than Dusty's sister Taylor will be able to be tested specifically for Dusty. However, this has opened our eyes to a huge need that thousands of people just like Dusty face every year. As I read on www.marrow.org today, "even with a registry of millions, many patients cannot find a match. Donors with diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds are especially needed." If you would like information on joining the National Marrow Donor Program, you can get more details at "http://www.marrow.org/JOIN/Join_Now/join_now. We have also found out more about Dusty's long term prognosis once she has completed the bone marrow transplant. The majority of patients who have success with the transplant and who do not relapse within 5 years, go onto to lead long, healthy lives. What this means to us is that once the bone marrow transplant is successful and Dusty is free of the Leukemia, she will have very little chance of relapse. This is great news! On Friday morning, Dusty will have another bone marrow biopsy. The biopsy results will tell us how well the chemotherapy treatment has gone so far. Please pray that Dusty is not anxious about the procedure and that she is not in pain during the biopsy. Please also continue to pray for remission. Thank you for all of your prayers each day and night. They truly make a difference. "Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the LORD hears my voice." Psalm 55:17 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London
27: Day Fourteen posted by Jeff Williams, Friday, August 6, 2010, 9:30 PM Friends, Dusty's bone marrow biopsy procedure went well today and was much less painful than her previous one. We expect to get the biopsy results by Monday at the latest. Today was a rough day for Dusty as her bone pain from the Neupogen injections has continued. She describes it as the worst pain of her life...which is saying a lot considering some of the previous health challenges Dusty has faced. London is three weeks old today. She had a pediatrician appointment this afternoon which went well. We continue to celebrate the miracle of her birth. As some of you know, Dusty fought through two reproductive disorders (endometriosis & PCOS) before becoming pregnant with London. Dusty was then considered to be high risk throughout her pregnancy. And had London not been born, we would still be unaware of the Leukemia. It could have been many months later before Dusty was diagnosed. London's birth was a miracle on many levels. We just added a new photo of London on the site. In the picture she is listening to one of the bedtime stories that Dusty has recorded for her. Hopefully we will be home as a family by this time next week. Please pray that the doctors continue to have wisdom as we move closer to determining Dusty's path of care. Our doctor's name is Dr. Naot. He is wonderful and all of the staff hold him in high regard. Thank you for remembering us each day. It is because of you, your prayers, your generosity, and your friendships that we are constantly reminded just how much God loves us and is taking caring of us. The hope that we have in the midst of this trial could only come from God. "I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called--his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance." Ephesians 1:18 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London | Purpose posted by Jeff Williams, Sunday, August 8, 2010, 12:15 PM Friends, We’ve all heard the phrase “God has a plan for your life.” Of course, over time this saying has become a bit cliché, to the point that it has lost much of the power it once had. However, God does have a plan for each of our lives. I think a better way to say the same thing is—God has a purpose for each of our lives. And it’s a purpose that He’s created each of us uniquely for. We all want God to use us. Sometimes He uses us because of our actions, other times he uses us in spite of our actions. But to be used by God to accomplish His will is ultimately one of the greatest rewards of life. I look at Dusty and her purpose. She’s a gifted counselor and God’s used her to help bring healing to many individuals and families. Anyone who knows Dusty has no doubt that she is doing exactly what God placed her on this earth to do. She is living a life of purpose. But still, I think most of us struggle with purpose. I constantly ask myself the question, will any of the things I am doing with my life matter in five years? Ten years? One hundred years? Or perhaps the biggest question, will anything I do with my life carry over into eternity? From the very beginning of Dusty’s pregnancy I had two prayers for our child, who we eventually came to know as London. The first was that London would grow up to know and to love God. The second prayer was that God would use London to do great things. This weekend I wrote London a letter. It was my attempt to make sure that one day she has something to look back on to make sense of this time. I have decided to share the last few sentences of the letter with you so that you can understand how amazing our God is. “It has now been three weeks since we first heard the word “Leukemia” in relation to your mom. What a combination of emotions we have felt as we’ve experienced the joy of your birth. And what uncertainty we’ve faced with your mom’s illness. And yet, we have felt a tremendous peace throughout all of this. Your mom has declared that it is an honor that God has trusted her with this suffering, because she knows that ultimately this situation will Glorify Him. We know that God did not cause this disease, but He did allow it. The Leukemia is not a surprise to Him. In fact we already see that He has been preparing us for this situation for years. He has placed us within an amazing church and has given us wonderful friends who have gone the extra mile to help take care of both you and us. These friends bring your mom meals to the hospital every day. They have helped your maw-maw and paw-paw look after you. And they pray for our family day and night. And the miracle in all of this is you, London. Not only are you healthy, but if you had not been born we may have never diagnosed your mom’s illness until it was too late. God used you to help save your mom’s life. As you get older, I want you to fully understand that God has used your life to make a difference in this world from your very first day. And God will continue to use you to do great things for Him and for His Kingdom throughout your life. You will be a young woman of purpose, and you are someone who God will use to impact eternity in a mighty way. London, I take joy in how God has already used you, and I look forward to all that He has in store for your life.” I am amazed that God has already used our daughter to do a great thing—helping to save her mother’s life. Let us all pray that God will use our children to do great things for Him. “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London
28: Day Seventeen posted by Jeff Williams, Monday, August 9, 2010, 11:30 PM Friends, We received the bone marrow biopsy results for Dusty earlier today. There are still 10-20% of her cells that are "blasts." This could mean a couple of things...It could mean that the leukemia is still present. Or it could be something called the "neupogen effect," which is is a false positive created by the neupogen injections—and Dusty could already be in remission. The doctor is discontinuing the neupogen injections tomorrow and Dusty will have another bone marrow biopsy on Friday morning. We are praying that Dusty is already in remission and that she will still be able to go home to be with London soon. Dusty is doing very well with the news, as uncertain as it may be. Once again, God was not surprised by today's news, and we rest in the peace that He is in complete control of this situation. Regardless of outcomes, we will always have the hope that can only come from our close relationship with Him. We want to thank each of you who pray for Dusty and our family. We pray for each of you too, and we thank God that you are on this journey with us. We have have never felt alone in this trial, and we can never adequately express the comfort that your support brings us. God is using each of you in a special way. "And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." Romans 5:5 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London | Day Eighteen posted by Jeff Williams, Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 9:45 PM Friends, Today was fairly uneventful for Dusty. She rested a lot and her WBC counts are slowly improving. The doctor has moved up her next bone marrow biopsy to Thursday. He hopes this will give us as much information as possible before we go into the weekend. We continue to pray for remission. On another note, eight years ago tonight Dusty and I got married in New Orleans. A few of you were there. (I’ve posted a picture on the site). Dusty and I have learned so much over these eight years... We’ve learned that marriage isn’t always easy. We’ve learned that generosity is the richest way to live. We’ve learned that God is bigger/closer/better/cooler than we could have ever imagined. We’ve learned that God has a purpose for our marriage far beyond the two of us. We’ve learned that giant burritos can make even the worst day a little bit better. And we’ve also learned that this life is fragile. I have also learned so much from Dusty during our marriage I’ve learned that Dusty doesn’t share her problems with me so that I can fix them—mostly I’m just supposed to listen. I’ve learned that Dusty leaves a mark on every individual she meets. And I’ve learned that all of the really good things that have happened to me over the last eight years, without fail, have occurred because God used Dusty as the catalyst. Eight years ago tonight we read our marriage vows, which we had written together. They began “This evening I join my life to yours, beginning a great adventure with you, with Christ as our guide” What an adventure it has been so far, and how thankful we are that we chose the right guide. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.” Romans 8:38 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London | Day Nineteen posted by Jeff Williams, Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 9:30 PM Friends, Just a brief update tonight... Dusty had a good day and she was able to get some great rest. Dr. Naot has decided to move the bone marrow biopsy back to Friday, as he feels that will provide us with the most accurate results. Dusty was able to see London in front of the hospital for about 45 minutes this evening. This was their second time to be together since London went home three weeks ago. As you can imagine, this made Dusty's week! We expect things to be quiet around here tomorrow as we await Friday's biopsy. Your continued prayers for remission are appreciated. So many thanks to those of you who continue to provide meals to Dusty and give care to our family at home. Your generosity keeps our minds at ease. "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:27 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London
29: Day Twenty posted by Jeff Williams, Thursday, August 12, 2010, 9:00 PM Friends, We woke up to some unexpected news this morning. Dusty's routine bloodwork is showing a lack of neutrophils (specific type of WBC that acts as a first responder to disease). Based on this information, Dr. Naot believes strongly that the leukemia is still present within her body. After lunch today we were presented with the option of participating in a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic-Jacksonville that has been set up specifically to treat patients with AML who are resistant to chemotherapy. The clinical trial will test three of the latest treatment protocols for patients who are in Dusty's situation. Dusty will be selected "randomly" for one of the three protocols. Please pray that God places us in the most effective of the three treatments. We spent most of the afternoon packing and we hope to be transferred to Mayo's Hospital by early tomorrow afternoon. As of right now, we are unsure of how long we will be at Mayo. Dusty is obviously very disappointed that she will be unable to go home to be with London in the near future. However, she is incredibly grateful that a clinical trial (for her specific condition, at one of the best facilities in the country) is available within a 15 minute drive of our home. Once we get to Mayo, we will learn more about the specifics of the treatment. We expect there will be at least a few more bone marrow biopsies, as well as another intense round of chemotherapy. At some point she may still need to have a bone marrow transplant. I helped Dusty shave her head today. Her hair has remained completely intact up until the last couple of days, but it has been thinning quite a bit over the last 48 hours. She decided it would just be easier to shave it. No surprise, Dusty looks just as incredibly beautiful with a buzz cut (google 'Natalie Portman buzz cut' and you get the picture). I have said it a hundred times, and will continue to say it...as difficult as our situation is, we know that it could easily be much, much worse. And we thank God for how He has prepared us for this season. We thank God for how healthy and vibrant London is. We thank God that London is in the care of our family and dear friends. We thank God that Dusty is going to be a part of a clinical trial with the latest research available for chemo resistant AML. And ultimately, we thank God for the intimate relationship we have with Him, and the peace that can come only from that relationship. Today was a tough day, but we have cried, we have prayed, we have dealt with the frustration that comes with this territory, and now we are ready to get back to fighting this disease. And we are glad that you are fighting alongside us with your prayers and your support. "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty, & London | A wonderful surprise... posted by Jeff Williams, Saturday, August 14, 2010, 11:45 PM Friends, Friday morning we awoke and began preparing for our transfer to Mayo. We packed our clothes, loaded the refrigerator in a friend's van, and said our goodbye's to the medical staff at Baptist. We expected to make the transfer around 3pm or so. At 4:30pm we received word that Mayo had no beds and would be unable to accept us until Monday at the earliest. We were advised we would need to remain at Baptist through the weekend. Over the last month Dusty and I have learned to be very cautious about attaching ourselves to outcomes, because so much of our world is in flux—sometimes from hour to hour. Dusty was disappointed, but took the news very well. Then we asked the question: Is there any chance that we could go home for the weekend? The initial response was "probably not," but by about 6pm the doctors had agreed to let us leave, and by 8pm we were home. All of last night and throughout today Dusty has been with London. She has also rested a lot. My brother, David, and sister-in-law, Pauline, were also able to come in for the weekend and so we were able to spend the day with them. It was a nice reunion. David is continuing to recover well from his brain surgery. Please keep him in your prayers. On Monday morning Dusty and I will head to Mayo. We ask for your prayers that we are admitted and can begin the right course of treatment as soon as possible. But mostly, we just ask that you pray for God's will. As I mentioned earlier, we are learning to live a life that often seems out-of-control. We have learned to pray for "God's will," and to not get too specific beyond that. For the last eight years Dusty and I have worked hard to be "in control." And my friends all know that I work very hard to be as boring as possible. Of course we've recently learned that control is mostly just an illusion. Still, we've recently experienced an indescribable peace in just praying "God's will." I've learned that when I can pray that prayer and actually mean it, the weight of our world becomes so much lighter. This doesn't mean it is easy. Most days are still a challenge for us. Dusty still struggles with questions about her future, and how that ties into God's purpose for her life. And I can still get extremely frustrated about the day-to-day details involved to keep both Dusty and London taken care of. But ultimately, every day, we do our best to try and release control, and trust that God is our ultimate provider. And on some days, we accept His grace to trust Him enough to just let go... "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." Matthew 11:28-30 Jeff, Dusty & London
30: Mayo Day One posted by Jeff Williams, Monday, August 16, 2010, 11:30 PM Friends, Dusty had a very peaceful weekend at home with London. She was able to get lots of rest as we geared up for the next leg of treatment. We arrived at Mayo today and Dusty spent the day preparing for what lies ahead. We met with the doctors and they will be performing another bone marrow biopsy on Tuesday morning. This biopsy should finally tell us definitively if Dusty is in remission, or if the Leukemia is still present. At this point I ask you again to please pray for wisdom for our Medical Staff. Despite what we were told at the end of last week, we learned today that if the Leukemia is still present in Dusty's body—there is not a clear path regarding next steps. We have options, but it's anyone's guess on which options are the best. We remain somewhat surprised about this, but apparently with Dusty's condition, there is no proven "recipe" for success. Being at one of the premier facilities in the world, and learning that they're not sure which path to take next, forces us to once again face the fragility and uncertainty of this life. This news, along with some other logistical challenges of being in a new environment, left both of us feeling overwhelmed earlier today. Right now I know what at least a few of you are quietly thinking—"Come on, God. It's time to show up on this one. This is Dusty, she's your daughter and she's suffered enough. She loves you so much. And she's served you so faithfully in such a powerful way over the years..." I know this because I've talked to some of you and you've told me this is exactly how you feel. But we don't feel this way at all. God has been with us since before any of this even started and every time the news gets worse, we double down on the promise that He is in control and that ultimately He will use this situation to accomplish what could not have been accomplished otherwise. Our faith is not in outcomes, our faith is only in the truth that God loves us, and nothing, not even disease nor the fear of death, can ever take that away from us. "And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God's message without fear." Philippians 1:12-14 (NLT) Be bold and without fear... Jeff, Dusty & London | Prayer Service at Mayo posted by Jeff Williams, Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 9:45 PM Friends, A prayer service for Jeff and Dusty will be held this Saturday, August 21 at 11:00 am in the Chapel at Mayo (4500 San Pablo Road Jacksonville, FL 32224). This will be a powerful time of prayer for all of us to stand together in faith. Once you have entered the main doors at Mayo go to the information desk where you will be directed to the nearby chapel. If you have any questions please contact Brenda White at 904-887-6053. Dusty is not able to have visitors at Mayo, but our prayer is that she will be encouraged and that God's peace which surpasses all understanding would overcome her. "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20 | Mayo Day Two (and a prayer from Dusty) posted by Jeff Williams, Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 11:45 PM Friends, Dusty had her bone marrow biopsy this morning and we received the results early this afternoon. The Leukemia is still present in 34% of her cells. We have decided to move forward with the clinical trial. She will be randomized into one of the three protocols within the next 24 hours and begin treatment immediately. We are now near the outer limits of man's knowledge and abilities in combating this illness. We now rest solely in God. As Dusty and I were talking this evening, she pointed me to a prayer that she had written in her journal last week—when we first learned that the chemo was failing to bring remission. With her permission, I am sharing a portion of her prayer with you so that you can get a glimpse into the intimate relationship that Dusty has with her Creator, and the level at which she herself now imitates Christ. JW Jesus— You endured the most intense suffering known to man. All for me. All to be in relationship with me. You were scared and "with anguish," as your Word says. You begged your Father to find another way. I now know a small portion of what you must have been feeling. I know you hate to see your daughter in pain and scared. I know you hate that this fallen world causes such suffering. Please be near to me. I need to feel your presence like never before. Please help me to continue to hope in you and for healing. I don't understand these events and why I need to endure them, but I know you are in control and I choose to trust you. Give me your peace that surpasses all understanding! I beg you for that peace! I know even you prayed for any other way to bring salvation, but you ultimately surrendered to your Father's will. I surrender too. If there is any other way, please show me that path, but if not, Your will be done. Dusty "Abba, Father," he cried out, "everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." Mark 14:36 (NLT)
31: Mayo Day Three (and a request) posted by Jeff Williams, Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 10:15 PM Friends, This evening I want to give you an overview of the treatment that Dusty began today, provide you with a picture of what the next several months could look like for us, and ask for your help. We were informed this morning of the protocol that Dusty was 'randomly' selected for as part of the clinical trial. The primary chemo of this protocol will be Flavopiridol, which is a research drug, along with the more standard chemo drugs Cytarabine and Mitoxantrone. The side effects of this treatment are expected to much more intense than Dusty's previous experience. She is already nauseous. The most common are nausea and severe diarrhea. The list of potential side effects for this treatment is actually 4 1/2 pages long, so please pray that Dusty's body receives the chemo well. Dusty began the first dose of chemo today around 5pm, and she will receive it for a total of nine days. From there, she will remain in recovery for 14 days. Throughout our stay, the doctors will be taking bone marrow biopsies to see if Dusty is headed towards remission. Dusty's sister, Taylor, is currently in the process of being tested to see if she is a bone marrow donor match. If she is, AND if Dusty is headed towards remission, Taylor could be called to Jacksonville as early as Labor Day to do final testing and to donate. However, Taylor must be a match and Dusty must be in remission for this to happen. If Taylor is not a match, the bone marrow transplant could be delayed by 3-4 months. Once Dusty begins the transplant, she will be confined to the hospital for an additional 2-3 months straight. Beyond that she will require an additional 3-6 months of 24 hour care at home. To be honest, even discussing what our future holds leaves us very weary. To think that we've only just begun this journey is at times completely overwhelming to both of us. To face the reality that we could spend both this Thanksgiving and our daughter's first Christmas in a hospital room is heartbreaking... I am sharing this with you so that I can ask you for a long term commitment to pray for our family. Much like many of the Natural Disasters that we see on television (Katrina a few years back, Haiti in January, etc.) there will come a time in the near future when Dusty's plight fades into the back of many people's minds. But just like each of the individuals affected by those natural disasters, her struggle will continue far beyond the initial awareness. Because of this I ask you, right now, to make a commitment to pray for Dusty daily until she emerges on the other side of this sickness. So many people ask us what they can do to help, and to be honest what we still need the most is prayer. If you could just take 15 minutes each day (maybe in the car on the way to work with the radio off, or while you are running or exercising, or even a few minutes when you would normally be watching TV.) Or maybe right now you write Dusty's name on a sticky note and attach it to your computer or your bathroom mirror and each time it catches your eye, you just say a quick prayer for her. It would mean so much to us... "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London ps. I posted a new picture of London on the website. She definitely has Dusty's eyes and is so beautiful:) | Mayo Day Four posted by Jeff Williams, Thursday, August 19, 2010, 11:45 PM Friends, Today was the quietest day we've had since we've been at Mayo. The people here are wonderful and the environment is very peaceful. Dusty has already shared her faith with many of the medical staff. She talks about her trust in God and the other night I heard her explaining to the nurse that her ultimate peace is in eternal life. Throughout this process we have met so many wonderful people. Dusty often talks about the nurses and doctors from the previous two hospitals we were at and how much they each meant to her. We are so thankful for the individuals along the way who have taken the extra time to comfort and care for Dusty. The chemotherapy treatments continued today. She is very weak, in a great deal of pain, and her appetite is not very strong. As I mentioned yesterday, the new chemo regiment is much stronger than her previous treatment. This afternoon her nurse was wearing rubber gloves and a smock, and so I asked why they wore so much protective gear. "To keep our skin from being burned if the chemo spills..." And that is what is flowing through Dusty's veins. As you I told you last week, we finally buzzed Dusty's hair because it had begun thinning rapidly. By Monday of this week, about half of what was left had fallen completely out. Today she told a story of when she was drying off from a shower, and as she looked down at the towel—she saw hundreds of her tiny hairs that had fallen out. Dusty said that in that moment God overwhelmed her with His presence, and He comforted her, saying, "Each one of them is numbered." And now I will leave you with the words that Jesus Christ spoke two thousand years ago— "And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid..." Luke 12:7 (NLT) We are not afraid. Jeff, Dusty & London
32: Mayo Day Six (a day of encouragement) posted by Jeff Williams, Saturday, August 21, 2010, 7:30 PM Friends, Today was a day of encouragement for Dusty. This morning her Physician Team informed us that the final results of Tuesday's bone marrow biopsy had arrived, and instead of the Leukemia being present in 34% of her cells—it is actually only present in 12% of her cells. This means that Dusty is much closer to remission than what was originally believed. Despite the fact that Dusty is very weak from the chemo, she was visibly excited by the news. We also had a prayer gathering at the chapel this morning and it was a very special time. It was so encouraging to speak to people (some of whom I had never met before) about how much Dusty means to them. One of our friends, Diana, who serves in the cafe with Dusty at our church, asked me to share Psalm 18:1-19 with Dusty. I read the scripture to Dusty when I returned to her room, and when I had finished reading it, it was evident that she had been very encouraged. Here are the verses. Please read them carefully... "I love you, LORD; you are my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him. He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds. Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him and rained down hail and burning coals. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals. He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; his lightning flashed, and they were greatly confused. Then at your command, O LORD, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the LORD supported me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me." Psalm 18:1-19 (NLT) Dusty loves God, and she knows Him very well. This summer Death laid a trap in her path. The Grave wrapped its ropes around her. But Dusty did not lose hope, instead she called upon her God: her strength, her rock, her fortress, her savior. He is her shield and her place of safety. In a situation that at times has seemed hopeless, Dusty has given us all hope. In a time where many have questioned God, Dusty has simply said, "Your will be done." And in a world where most of us struggle to do anything of purpose in our daily lives, Dusty is impacting thousands of lives around the world—just by lying quietly in a hospital bed. And God is moving in many ways that we cannot yet see... Dusty is His faithful servant. And He is taking what was meant for harm, and He is using it for good—and we are only just beginning to see the foundations He is shaking. And God is supporting Dusty in a time of great distress, and He will rescue Dusty, because our God, the Creator of the Universe, delights in her. Jeff, Dusty & London | Mayo Day Eight posted by Jeff Williams, Monday, August 23, 2010, 11:45 PM Friends, Dusty is about 70% through her second round of chemo. The past couple of days have been very rough for her. She has nausea around the clock and has no appetite. Tonight they gave her an additional I.V. to provide nutrition. The nutritional I.V. will be good, as it will keep her from being too stressed out about not eating. I have never seen anyone endure this much physical and emotional pain for twenty four hours a day, several days in a row, nor can I even begin to imagine what she is going through right now. We ask that you pray for peace in her body and rest for her mind. We found out some more positive news today. Dusty will not be receiving Neupogen shots at the end of this chemo treatment. As you remember, the Neupogen shots she received in the first round caused her to experience severe bone pain. Dusty was excited to hear this news. One of the small reliefs that Dusty receives is when I read her your emails and your comments on the message board of the site. I have tried to help her understand just how many people are praying for her, and how many people love her. If you would like to tell Dusty how much she means to you, or how her story has impacted you—please email me, or post it on the message board. I know it will be a lift to her spirits. We continue to thank God for each of you. For those of you we know very well, and those of you we may never meet. Some of you we knew long ago, and some of you we've just met in the last few weeks. And for those of you who know us best—we look forward to the day when we can all be together again, celebrating all that we have to be thankful for. “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London
33: Mayo Day Nine posted by Jeff Williams, Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 10:00 PM Friends, Dusty is one day closer to completing the chemotherapy (day 7 of 9). She is increasingly lucid, but still struggling with heavy bouts of nausea. I read some of your notes to her tonight and she was touched. We are planning to have London visit Dusty soon. London is growing every day and we love her so much. It is hard to believe she is almost six weeks old already. Dusty's sister, Taylor, had her blood drawn to be tested today to see if she is a bone marrow donor match. There is a 25% chance that she is a match. We should find out the results of the test by the end of this week. Also, I've added two links to the Resource Tab of the site. The first item is the book "A Praying Life" by Paul Miller. I've mentioned several times that God prepared us in hundreds of ways to face this trial. This book was one of those ways. To be honest, prayer has always been tough for me. I get distracted, I fall asleep, I find myself repeating the same thing over and over again, etc. And I know that for me there was always that constant question of why some prayers seemed to be answered instantly— and others just vanished into the atmosphere. Paul Miller reflects on his life and his struggles to understand prayer in the midst of facing financial worries, dealing with family challenges, and raising a large family (including his daughter who was diagnosed with autism.) I've read 21 books so far this year, and "A Praying Life" is my book of the year. The second is a YouTube link to a song called "No Matter What" by Kerrie Roberts. I heard the song on the radio the other day and immediately thought of Dusty and her attitude during the last five weeks. I play the song for Dusty each night and it is always an encouragement to her. I hope you like it. My mom asked me to thank each of you who continue to prepare meals for her and my dad. You are so generous and you've made them feel a part of our community of friends! And thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write a note to Dusty. She is currently enduring the darkest days of her entire life. And God is using your words to bring her a little bit of light... "Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying." Romans 12:12 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London | The Question of "WHY?" posted by Jeff Williams, Wednesday, August 25, 2010, 10:45 PM Friends, And finally, let’s address the question that at some point has haunted each of us... Why? Why did something as tragic as this happen to Dusty? And of all people, why Dusty? Dusty, God’s beautiful daughter and His faithful servant, struck down by Leukemia at what appears to be the height of her purpose in life. On a daily basis she was using this purpose as a counselor to bring emotional healing to many individuals and families throughout our city. Dusty, who fought vigorously through two reproductive disorders to ultimately have a beautiful, healthy daughter—London. And within hours of reaching the most joyful moment of her entire life, she learned the tragic news that everything was in jeopardy. That her life was in grave danger. And that she would soon be separated indefinitely from the daughter she had so desperately fought to have. And Dusty’s response to this tragedy? “Father—Your will be done.” And now...I watch helplessly as she endures a level of emotional and physical pain beyond anything I could have imagined. Why? As I have prayed and read the scriptures over the last few weeks, God has consistently spoken three things to me. He has stated very clearly— I LOVE DUSTY. I AM IN CONTROL. I AM TELLING A STORY. It’s the last thing—the story—that I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around. The Book of Acts tells us that Christ is the Author of Life. So what kinds of stories does He tell? And why (in this case) is God telling such a tragic story? And then I thought of another tragic story. It is of course the story of how the Author of Life wrote himself into the middle of history two thousand years ago. The story of God who “gave up his divine privileges” to take the “humble position” of being “born a human being” only to “die a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Phil 2:6-8) Of course Christ is more than just “a story”He’s THE STORY of human history. And it’s because of Christ’s tragic story that we have hope—hope beyond our health, hope beyond our comforts, and hope beyond this brief life. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) And Christ’s story, which seemed so tragic in that moment of His death, is what we now know as the most beautiful story of all creation and history, through His resurrection. And so as I return to Dusty’s tragic story, it makes me wonder—what is really going on here? Why Dusty? Why so tragic? Why so much pain? Do I ask these questions because I’m only seeing things from a human point of view? Is God using Dusty, who He knew He could trust, to do something far bigger and far more beautiful than this momentary tragedy? Does Dusty’s prayer of “your will be done” (which is a level of faith that only God could give her) serve to point us all to Christ? Some of us so that we would know Him better? And others of us so that we would truly know Him for the very first time? As we have said all along—God is good. And He loves His daughter Dusty more than we could ever know or imagine. And He is in control. And God is telling a story (though now we have only seen the early chapters) that is pointing us all to Him. And it is Dusty’s story, as tragic as it may now seem, that we trust He will one day reveal to be a thing of magnificent beauty. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 Jeff, Dusty, & London
34: Mayo Day Eleven posted by Jeff Williams, Thursday, August 26, 2010, 11:00 PM Friends, By the time most of you read this, Dusty will have completed the treatment. The last of the chemo is scheduled to finish at 4a.m. Friday morning. We pray for remission. This afternoon we were told by the doctors that they received the bone marrow donor results from the blood test that Taylor (Dusty's sister) took earlier this week. As you will remember, they told us that there was a 25% chance that Taylor would be a match. And they've now determined conclusively that Taylor is a match. It was beautiful to watch as Dusty made her first phone call in over a week—to tell Taylor that she was going to be the one that God used to help save her sister's life. It is amazing to me as I watch the purpose that God is pouring out on the women in our life. First London is used to identify that Dusty's life is in danger. Then my mom is used to stand in the gap for Dusty (to care for London) while she undergoes chemotherapy. Next Dusty is used as an example to people around the world as someone who trusts God and suffers well. And now Taylor is being used to help save Dusty's life... Everyday this seemingly tragic story is revealed to be more and more beautiful. And while there are still many difficult days ahead, tonight we rest in the victory that God gave all of us today... "For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God." 1 John 5:4-5 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London | Thursday Night Prayer at Mayo posted by Megan Dillon, Sunday, August 29, 2010, 8:45 PM Friends, This Thursday, September 2 at 7:00 pm we are going to be gathering in the chapel at Mayo for prayer. Enter through the main doors and see the information desk for direction to the chapel. Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support for the Williams' family. Many of you have been consistently praying for Dusty and she feels so encouraged by your love and support. Let's all continue to pray that Dusty is in remission as well as give thanks to God for the awesome news that Taylor is a 100% match for Dusty! Mayo Clinic 4500 San Pablo Road Jacksonville, FL 32224 | Mayo Day Fifteen posted by Jeff Williams, Monday, August 30, 2010, 11:30 PM Friends, The last few days have been up and down for Dusty as she has dealt with the lingering side effects of the chemotherapy. We had a scare on Monday morning when Dusty developed a terrible cough at about 3am and began having difficulty breathing. She received several breathing treatments throughout the day and was feeling much better by this evening. The doctors believe her lungs were weakened due to her nearly 14 days of inactivity. By this evening Dusty was feeling much better and had emerged from the "chemo fog" of the last two weeks. I describe it as a "fog" because she has very little memory of any of it. She knew the experience was terribly painful, but had no idea we had been at Mayo for over two weeks. Dusty was able to see London this weekend for the first time since we arrived at Mayo. On Friday we received permission for London to visit Dusty in her room. We arranged a reunion on both Saturday and Sunday. It was wonderful. On Tuesday morning Dusty will have her first bone marrow biopsy since the treatment. This biopsy will determine if she is now in remission. We are unsure if we will receive preliminary results on Tuesday afternoon, or if we will wait and get final results at the end of the week. Our decision is due to the large swing in data from the last biopsy (34% leukemia initial, 12% final). Please pray for remission. Once Dusty is confirmed to be in remission, Taylor could be in Jacksonville as early next week to begin the bone marrow donor process. We are hopeful that Dusty could then start the bone marrow transplant as early as mid-September. The transplant will require 100 days of inpatient and outpatient supervision. Dusty told me tonight that she is very weary. We've now been living in hospitals for over six weeks and she just wants to be at home—she wants to be with London. Please pray that Dusty would be strengthened and encouraged. Please pray that we would both have the endurance that we need during the weeks and months ahead. Despite the weariness, I am excited. I'm excited at how this experience has given Dusty and I such a deeper appreciation for each other, and such an unspeakable appreciation for London. I'm excited to see how God uses our family in the years ahead. I'm excited that we'll spend the rest of our lives helping other people who are in need. I'm excited about the times we'll spend with our family and friends. I'm excited that we'll never take our church for granted again. And I'm excited to see what God has in store for Dusty in the years to come. We know God did not cause this suffering, but He did allow it. I believe He allowed it to draw all of us closer to Him. And I now believe He also allowed it in order to prepare Dusty for something very special that He has planned for her—whether that "thing" is in two years from now or in twenty. Dusty is already an amazing servant of God with her heart for people and her special gift of counseling. She already carries with her a wisdom that is far beyond her years. So I can only imagine how many more people she will be able to help and comfort—how much more effective she will be—once she is well again and this experience is behind her. And to me, that's very exciting... "He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ." 2 Corinthians 1:4-5 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty, & London | "Megan, did you give me this pretty orange hat?"
35: Mayo Day Seventeen posted by Jeff Williams, Wednesday, September 1, 2010, 11:00 PM Friends, Dusty had her bone marrow biopsy on Tuesday. We are still waiting to hear the results. Dusty continues to recover and we hope that we can go home to London soon, if only for a short while before the transplant. On another note... We found out this week that the son of a friend from my office has been diagnosed with AML, the same type of Leukemia that Dusty has. The son's name is Eddie Hastings and he is about my age, is married, and has a three year old son. Eddie will begin treatment at Mayo this week. Please remember the Hastings family in your prayers. Dusty and I are grateful that our experience has prepared us to be able to provide some guidance and support to Eddie and his family as they enter this very difficult season. It's been a little over six weeks since Dusty was diagnosed with AML, and not a week has gone by that we've not heard of someone else who's been forced to face a tragic interruption to their life. Everyday as I walk through the hospital I see people who've been blindsided by sickness, or by the illness of a loved one. Even today we learned of our cousin's niece, who is only two years old, and has a brain tumor. The reality is that there are people suffering all around us, every single day. Admittedly, I can be a very self absorbed person. It's not that I mean to be that way, but I just get so busy worrying about my stuff, my career, my needs, my goals, my family, etc. that I can become desensitized to anyone and anything beyond my inner circle. I feel so blessed to be able to share Dusty's story with each of you every week. But I've also come to realize that there are thousands of other hurting people whose stories will never be told. Everyday that I'm at the hospital I see people fighting for their lives—many of them completely alone. No friends. No family. No support. Alone. I don't know what the solution is. But the thing that keeps coming back to me over and over is what Jesus said when He spoke of the end of this world... "I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’" (Matthew 25:35-40) I pray that in my own life, I will do a better job of recognizing and helping those people around me who are suffering and in need of help. For those of you who are already there, you have taught me so much by how you have helped us during our time of need. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And on that final day, surely the King will reward you... Jeff, Dusty, & London | Mayo Day Eighteen (Remission) posted by Jeff Williams, Thursday, September 2, 2010, 10:15 PM Friends, Today we learned that Dusty is in remission. One month ago, on August 3rd, we asked you to pray with us for three things: That Dusty would remain free of infections. That Dusty would find a bone marrow match. That Dusty would be in remission. And one month later—Dusty has had no infections, her sister (Taylor) has been confirmed as a match, and she is in remission. We are overwhelmed with gratitude, and we know that these gifts are from God. Taylor will be here next Friday to begin the necessary steps to donate her bone marrow. In the meantime, the doctors are working to determine what the best next steps are for Dusty as she moves towards transplant. There are several options before them, so we ask for your prayers that God would give them the wisdom that they need. It feels as if the first leg of our journey is now complete. We know that God is good. In the midst of great suffering, we were comforted. When we were overwhelmed, we learned to rely solely on Him. He has cared for us the entire time, and He will continue to care for us. And you prayed for us, and He answered those prayers. I think the following scripture says it all... "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through...we were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety." 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London
36: What we believe about Healing... posted by Jeff Williams, Monday, September 6, 2010, 1:30 PM Friends, In the last seven weeks we’ve all prayed for Dusty. We’ve prayed that she would have relief from the pain... We’ve prayed for the remission of her Leukemia... We’ve prayed for a bone marrow match... And we’ve prayed for Dusty to be completely healed. Healed. What does that word really mean in 2010? We know that Jesus healed many sick people. But that was 2000 years ago, right? I’ve been waiting for the right time to share a special story with you. It’s the story of the first miracle I ever saw with my own eyes... In January of 2006 Dusty and I attended a Friday night prayer service at our church. At the beginning of each year our church has 21 days of prayer and fasting. We’d been going to Celebration Church in Jacksonville for about six months, and we really liked it. The prayer service was pretty low key. The chairs were arranged in a circle and there were about 150 people there. It lasted roughly 90 minutes and toward the end, our Pastor said that some people were in need of “healing,” and they needed to come up for prayer. Dusty went forward. Dusty hasn’t had the easiest life, so I assumed she was going up for some kind of “emotional” healing. Later that evening as we headed home Dusty told me that she believed she was going to be healed of her endometriosis. Endometriosis is a dreadful reproductive disorder that causes debilitating pain and can lead to infertility. The disease causes scar tissue to form on the reproductive organs. There are some treatments available for endometriosis, but there is no real cure. Dusty had suffered from this disease for several years and the only real relief she could expect was from surgery every three years to remove the scar tissue. Due to the fact that Dusty was now in agonizing pain 2-3 days of every month because of the disease, she was actually scheduled to have another one of these surgeries about 12 days following the prayer service—and it was at that time that she believed she would find out that she had been healed. As she told me about her expectations, I just nodded and said “okay.” However I was secretly concerned that she might be setting herself up for major disappointment. This kind of healing was a very foreign concept to me. The following Sunday when we were in church our Pastor, Stovall Weems, asked each church member to write down the one big thing they were believing God would do in their life in the coming year. Dusty wrote down, “Healing from Endometriosis.” I looked at her card and thought that she might as well ask for a million dollars too. I thought about what I was hoping for in 2006 and wrote down, “God, show me a way to have more faith.” As the days went by, Dusty kept talking about how Jesus was going to heal her. Honestly, I was a little embarrassed by her childlike pursuit of healing. The Sunday prior to the surgery Pastor Stovall announced that on the upcoming Wednesday he was going to be speaking on Healing. “What is with these people?” I thought. So anyway, the day of the surgery came. It was Wednesday. My mom had flown into town a few days earlier to help with Dusty’s recovery. The three of us headed to the hospital and Dusty went into surgery. I had been with Dusty three years earlier when she had the same procedure, so I knew the surgery would take at least 2-3 hours to remove all of the scar tissue. Within thirty minutes the doctor asked to see me. He was holding photos and explaining that the reproductive organs were all very healthy. I noticed that the white filmy scar tissue that I had seen three years earlier was missing from the photos. I asked him where the endometriosis was... He replied, “There is none. Dusty doesn’t have endometriosis.” It was at that moment that my life changed forever. The doctor went on to explain that he had moved all of the organs around and could find no evidence of any endometrial scar tissue. I had the pleasure of being with Dusty when she woke from the anesthesia. She was overwhelmed at the news and she wept with gratitude.
37: Around 5pm I received a call from Pastor Stovall, who had been informed of Dusty’s healing. He explained to me that he had been planning to speak out of the book of Psalms for that Wednesday night’s service, but the evening before he felt led to speak about the woman from the Gospels who suffered from “an issue of blood.” Most of us know the story “Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment.” (Matthew 9:20-22) Pastor Stovall explained that in doing his research he learned that modern scholars believe that this woman suffered from endometriosis. That night Pastor Stovall shared the story of how the woman in the Gospels had faith in Jesus’ ability to heal, and so she took a chance. At the end of the message he shared with the packed house about how Dusty had also taken a chance on Jesus, and earlier that afternoon, she too had been healed. Our church’s faith was greatly strengthened in that season due to Dusty’s healing. Dusty never suffered from the pain of endometriosis again. And of course, she eventually became pregnant and we now have London, whose birth helped us identify the Leukemia. And remember our prayer card? Dusty asked for healing, I asked for more faith. My faith has never been the same. Since then I’ve seen other miracles that were different, but just as powerful. And I now know that even 2000 years doesn’t separate us from the power and presence of God. However, this event led me to an inaccurate belief about healing. I began to believe that when someone wasn’t healed, it meant they did not have enough faith. This was a terrible mistake on my part. Over the subsequent years I’ve seen some precious children of God, who had far more faith than I could ever imagine, either not be healed of chronic illness, or even lose their lives to sickness and disease. And what I’ve come to realize is, sometimes people aren’t healed—and it has nothing to do with their faith. You see, when a child of God is healed it is often for the benefit of many. And I now believe the same thing can be true about suffering. When a child of God suffers well, it can be for the benefit of the rest of us—that our faith might be strengthened. When Dusty was healed, there were hundreds of people whose lives were impacted in a positive way. Their faith was strengthened. And over the last seven weeks, as Dusty has fought for her life, hundreds of people have once again been impacted as they’ve heard her story of faith in the midst of tragedy. Does Dusty want to be healed? Of course she does. And the sooner the betterbut look at what is going on here. Her first prayer in 2006 was a prayer for rescue. But she has now matured in her faith and she now realizes that it’s not always about rescue. Sometimes it’s about asking God for the grace to endure the trial. In 2006 God used Dusty’s faith to show us His power—that He still performs miracles. In 2010 God is using Dusty’s faith to show us that He loves us, that He is good, and that He can be trusted—regardless of our diagnosis, regardless of our circumstances, regardless of outcomes. And this trust on Dusty’s part comes from her faith that even death cannot separate her from God’s love. Healing is a huge blessing, whether it be suddenly through a miracle, or slowly through the care and wisdom of the medical community. But unfortunately, healing doesn’t always come. It seems that during his time on earth Jesus healed everyone who made the request. He performed these miracles because he had compassion, but also in order to show His power and authority to the masses. But each one of those people that He healed, even if they lived to be one hundred years old, eventually died a physical death. But because Jesus said, “Your will be done,” because He then died, and because He was resurrected—we each have the opportunity to have something far better than temporary physical healing. We each have the choice to know Him, and to trust Him, and to suffer well as we go through difficult times. And ultimately, we each have the choice to one day spend all of Eternity with Him... “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God's home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.’" Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London
38: Mayo Day Twenty Three posted by Jeff Williams, Tuesday, September 7, 2010, 10:30 PM Friends, The doctors have given Dusty the approval to go home as soon as her white blood cell (WBC) counts improve. I'm hopeful this could be as soon as the end of this week. It would be great to have Dusty home while Taylor is in town. Dusty is still suffering from some residual shoulder pain that has lingered since her first hospital stay. The doctors now believe the pain is due to a blood clot in her right arm, as well as from an inflamed tendon. Until Dusty's blood platelet counts improve, they cannot effectively treat her shoulder in the way they would like to. The doctors are also trying to wean Dusty off of her I.V. nutrition, so please pray for her appetite. Once we go home, we will have about a week until we return to Mayo to begin the bone marrow transplant. Dusty is so excited to have the opportunity spend some time at home with London. At this point she is growing weary, as she's been living in hospitals for nearly eight weeks straight. I ask for your prayers of encouragement for both of us. London was able to visit on Monday for about an hour. It was great. One thing that we've (friends & family) noticed while at home is that anytime we change London's diaper, she stares intently at the picture of Dusty that we've posted on the wall. She also babbles at the picture the entire time. I've posted a picture of this on the website. We've also posted an entire gallery of new photos of London that were taken by our friend Steph Owens. Steph is a professional photographer in Jacksonville and she's been gracious enough to take photos of London once a week, each week since Dusty has been separated from London. Steph then provides Dusty with an envelope for each day of the week—each with a new photo of London. We then post the pictures all over the hospital room. What a huge blessing:) Thanks to so many of you who've gone out of your way to help us in so many ways during this challenging time. Every little thing helps—and all of it is so very much appreciated. And while we may never be able to personally thank each of you for your help, we know that one day the Lord will repay you... "Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." Revelation 22:12-13 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London | Mayo Day Twenty Seven posted by Jeff Williams, Saturday, September 11, 2010, 6:15 PM Friends, Dusty is still in the hospital waiting for her white blood cell (WBC) counts to increase. The doctors tell us that it is now just a waiting game. Dusty's shoulder is doing somewhat better. The Medical Staff has finally diagnosed the problem and Dusty is receiving Physical Therapy each day to help rehabilitate the shoulder. Dusty's appetite is returning and she now eats all of her meals on her own without any I.V. nutrition. Overall, she is feeling much better! Please pray for Dusty's WBC counts so that she can go home as soon as possible... Taylor arrived in town on Thursday evening and began appointments at Mayo on Friday. She is receiving Neupogen injections daily to boost her stem cell counts and the Bone Marrow Harvest will occur on Monday. The injections cause bone pain along with flu-like symptoms. Please pray for a successful bone marrow harvest on Monday... It has been great to see Dusty and Taylor back together again. Taylor is so grateful to be able to help save her sister's life—and Dusty told us last night that she feels we are so blessed for all of the good things that have occurred in the midst of the last eight weeks. I am so thankful for Dusty's perspective, that even after all she's been through in the last eight weeks—her faith allows her to say, "we are blessed." This kind of perspective is truly a gift... "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:27 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty, & London ps. Recently we've added a Team in Training link to the site for those who've told us they are participating in TNT events in Dusty's honor. Team in Training raises money for Leukemia research. Check it out, and if you are also participating in an event in Dusty's honor, send me the info and I will add it. | Mayo Day Twenty Nine posted by Jeff Williams, Monday, September 13, 2010, 10:30 PM Friends, Taylor completed the bone marrow harvest today. The doctors were able to collect enough marrow for Dusty's upcoming transplant. Taylor will be able to spend a couple of hours with Dusty tomorrow before heading back to Louisiana. Again we are so thankful that Taylor was a match, and that the harvest was successful. Dusty's white blood cell counts continue to remain suppressed. Dusty wants to be home with London so badly, so as you can imagine, it can be wearying for her to just sit around and wait. We pray for improved WBC counts. London grows everyday and is becoming more and more interactive. She is such a joy for our family. She is so beautiful—like her mother:) We continue to thank God for all of the good things that have taken place so far. Our hope is in Him. Our confidence is in Him. Thank you for your continued prayers for our family—that we may have the endurance that is required. We need your prayers, we feel your prayers, and they make such a difference... "Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying." Romans 12:12 (NLT) God is good—all the time. Jeff, Dusty & London
39: Mayo Day Thirty Two posted by Jeff Williams, Thursday, September 16, 2010, 9:45 PM Friends, Dusty remains in the hospital while she waits for her white blood cells to reach the right level. Her counts have ticked up over the last couple of days, so we are hopeful that she will be released to go home by Monday. London was two months old today and I took her for her Pediatrician check-up this afternoon. She is vibrantly healthy and now weighs almost nine pounds. She had to get a few shots, which as a new dad was difficult for me to watch. And as London began to cry, I held her close and tried to comfort her. Today's two month milestone was very difficult for Dusty, as it is a reminder of just how long she's been in the hospital. When we made London's appointment five weeks ago, Dusty felt sure that she'd be out of the hospital by the time today came. Certainly there are days when I look at Dusty and I wonder how much more suffering can any one person endure—not only intense physical pain, but also the emotional pain of two months of isolation, multiplied by the prolonged separation from London... I am convinced that when we see God face to face one day, He will repay the sacrifices and sufferings of this life many times over. But I am now beginning to believe that even in this life, when God's children suffer well for Him, when their faith brings Him fame, He replaces those things which are lost with something of far greater value—Himself. Yesterday Dusty told me that through this trial, she has now come to a place in her relationship with God that He no longer feels like a "Heavenly Father," but that He now feels more like a "Dad." Imagine that—being so close to God, the creator of the Universe, that you are able to call Him "Dad." She told me that for the last few weeks she's felt His tangible presence in her hospital room holding her closely, loving her, and comforting her... I don't fully understand it. I cannot completely comprehend it. But I do know that in the Gospels we see Jesus refer to His Heavenly Father as "Abba," which literally translates as "Dad" or "Daddy." And if that is where Dusty has arrived in her relationship with God—that she too can say "Dad," then what in this world could ever be better than that? What price is too great to pay for that? I can think of none... And I can't help but reflect on today's visit to the doctor's office, when London began to cry out from the pain of the shots, and when I held her close to comfort her...I cannot help but think of Dusty and her "Dad," who over the past two months has been there to hold His daughter close, to love her, and to comfort her. "And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, "Abba, Father." Galatians 4:6 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London
40: The Terrible Opportunity... posted by Jeff Williams, Sunday, September 19, 2010, 1:30 PM Friends, Recently I was struck by a thought that has left me a bit overwhelmed. What if God had approached Dusty and I in the middle of July to offer us the opportunity of a lifetime—the ability to share our faith with every single person we know, the occasion to tell hundreds of others that we’ve never even met about our relationship with God, and the chance to actually do something with our lives that would carry over into eternity? “Of course,” we would have said, “we’ll take it” But what if He had then shared with us the price to be paid: A life threatening illness. The painful separation of mother and child. The interruption of a comfortable life. In our weakness, we would have never been able to make that choice. With tears in our eyes, we would have explained to God, “We’re so sorry, but we cannot make that choice, we are too weak, and it is just too much for us to bear.” And with that, we would have missed our opportunity to be used by God to do something of eternal significance. As I have said a lot lately, we all like to pray, “God, please use me,” but none of us want to be Job. For the past few years I have often prayed that God would use our family to make an impact. I have asked Him to make our lives count for something. I have begged that we would be different from the crowd. And to be honest, my biggest fear was that we’d look back in thirty or forty years from now and say, “Well, we had a very comfortable life. We had a great house and we always drove nice cars. We even got to visit some nice places along the way. But we never did anything of consequence. I mean, yeah, we gave some money to the church, and we did our best to help out others when we had some margin in our schedule or our checkbook, but what did we ever do that really mattered? When did we ever do something for God that actually hurt? “When were we ever bold in our faith?” You see, I often find myself choked out by the fog of our culture. I want to do the right things, but I mean, have you seen the new Restoration Hardware catalog? There’s some really nice stuff in there. Have you seen the new BMW 7 Series? OMG. Have you ever eaten at the Capital Grille? Yum! And none of that stuff’s cheap. And I want all of it. Wait, I forgot about my 401k. Dang. I have to fund that too. And all this requires me to work—hard—a lot. So this means we’re busy people. We want to take the time to share our faith, but we barely have time to hang out with our closest friends. And we’re private people, so it’s going to be tough to be really honest about what God has done in our lives. And we both work so much that we barely have time to spend with each other. It’s going to be enough of a challenge to figure out how to fit time in for London, so we certainly don’t have time for leukemia. As for me, I tend to be quiet—some might say boring. Most of my conversations are actually with myself. If we’ve crossed paths, I probably really wanted to talk to you about Jesus but I just didn’t have the courage. I mean, who would want to listen to a speech about Jesus from some boring guy who gets excited about Restoration Hardware catalogs? Hey, at least I’m honest. I hope you can appreciate that I’m being somewhat facetious, but is it really that far from the truth of daily life? No, at least not for me. Even if my life doesn’t look exactly like that, I certainly have those thoughts and tendencies. What did Paul say? “I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” Romans 7:19 (NLT) To even consider giving up the comforts of our life—to entertain the interruption of our long-term plan—to face the fact that none of us are guaranteed a long life—to endure the separation of Dusty and London—it would be—Terrible. Even though we realize that material comforts are artificial. Even though we know that our 401k won’t matter one bit after we’re gone. Even though we know that this life is “just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14) Even though we begged God that our lives would count for something we would be too weak to accept the Terrible Opportunity. But our God—He is a good God. And He knows our hearts. And He knows our desire to share our relationship with Him. And He knew that we were too weak to ever choose such a Terrible Opportunity. But because He is good, He never gave us the choice. Instead, He allowed us to be pushed into the deep end of eternal significance. And once that happened, He poured out His grace on our family, and it has been more than sufficient. You see, God wants only the very best for each and every one of us. Of course we all think that we know what is best for ourselves, but He knows that the highest good for any individual’s life is to know and experience Him. Unfortunately we often settle for far less. We settle for counterfeits and imitations. Are Dusty and I saying that we are thankful for the terrible things that have happened this summer? Hardly. Are we thankful for leukemia? No. Are we thankful for the separation from London? Of course not. But if this is the pathway to be able to share our relationship with God with every single person we know—if this is our chance to show the world that there is something far greater than the artificial life that has intoxicated our culture—if this is our opportunity to boldly announce that even death cannot separate us from the love of our God—then we are thankful to endure whatever momentary hardships are required. And so we have come to be thankful for this Terrible Opportunity. Soon enough, the ‘Terrible’ will be behind us, but it is the ‘Opportunity’ that will reach far beyond this temporary life. It will last forever. We are thankful for how good our God is. We are thankful that when we are weak, He is strong. We are thankful that He allowed us to be pushed into the deep end of eternal significance. And we pray that He continues pushing us in—for the rest of our lives. "there will be a time of great persecution But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.” Luke 21:12-13 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty, & London
41: Home posted by Jeff Williams, Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 10:30 PM Friends, We are home. Dusty was released around 1:00pm today and she was holding London in her arms by 1:30. It is wonderful to have them both together again. It looks like we'll be home for about 2 weeks and then we'll head back to Mayo to begin the Bone Marrow Transplant. In the meantime, we're going to enjoy being a family. Please continue to pray for Dusty's white blood cell counts and that she remains safe from infection. She still has a very compromised immune system with a high risk for infection, so unfortunately she'll be unable to have any visitors during this time. We received some wonderful news yesterday. We found out that our friend Eddie Hastings is also now in remission. Many of you were praying for Eddie, who was also recently diagnosed with AML, and who was three doors down from us at Mayo. Please pray that Eddie finds a successful bone marrow donor match, as he will also need a transplant in the near future. Please also pray for endurance for the entire Hastings family. Just like our family, they have a long road still ahead. On another note...I wanted to let all of our friends in Florida know about an upcoming event. It's the "Light The Night Walk" and we hope you'll join us on Thursday, November 4th at 7:30pm downtown at the Jacksonville Landing. Light The Night Walk is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's fall evening walk and fundraising event. It is the nation's night to pay tribute and bring hope to thousands of people battling blood cancers and to commemorate loved ones lost. The wonderful people at my office have formed a team to walk in honor of Dusty and Eddie (I work with Eddie's dad). The name of our team is the Brave Warriors. Dusty's name actually means "Valiant Fighter" or "Brave Warrior." The event will be a great way to raise money for blood cancer research, as well as a way for all of us as a community to come together and celebrate all of the victories that have already been won in Dusty and Eddie in their fight against leukemia. Everyone receiving this update is welcome to join our team:) It was nine weeks ago today that we learned of Dusty's diagnosis. We now have two weeks to catch our breath and then we face 14 more challenging weeks during the bone marrow transplant. But as daunting as the coming months seem, we know that God is using this situation for good, because He is good. And whatever difficulties lie ahead, whatever traps lie in our path—we know that our God, who knows "the end from the beginning," has already gone ahead of us, and He will meet us in that dark place, and He will continue to be our light. "You light a lamp for me. The LORD, my God, lights up my darkness." Psalm 18:28 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London | Home Day Ten posted by Jeff Williams, Thursday, September 30, 2010, 8:15 PM Friends, It's hard to believe that Dusty has already been home for ten days. It's been a wonderful reprieve for us to all be home as a family—to watch Dusty enjoy the simple pleasure of being a mom. Overall the time has been wonderful, although Dusty has sometimes struggled to feel well. She's continued to suffer from regular bouts of intense nausea. And because of this it's been a constant challenge for her to eat. On Friday morning we have a follow-up consultation with our oncologist at Mayo. We expect to find out how soon we'll return to the hospital to begin the bone marrow transplant. We ask for your prayers as the doctors are deciding the next steps of her treatment. The transplant could begin as soon as Monday. We've enjoyed our time of rest, but now we're gearing up for the next phase of this battle—and we expect it to be a tough one. The transplant will be a 100 day process, with about half of those days spent inpatient at Mayo. The thought of another six (or more) weeks at the hospital is daunting. To think that it could be Thanksgiving before Dusty is home again with London is heartbreaking. This is a fight for endurance, and we ask for your prayers... Please pray that we endure. "Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will." Hebrews 10:36a (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London | Home Day Eleven posted by Jeff Williams, Friday, October 1, 2010, 8:00 PM Friends, Today we received some wonderful news... Our initial understanding was that Dusty would require a full Myeloablative Transplant. This type of bone marrow transplant requires high levels of chemotherapy as well as full body irradiation (radiation therapy). Because of the intensity of the treatment, the mortality rate is over 30% and it can take a very long time (sometimes years) for the patient to fully recover. However, we found out today that the doctors would like Dusty to have a "mini" transplant, which requires much less chemo and no radiation. Since this approach is less toxic on the body, our time in the hospital could be shortened to 3-4 weeks. In addition, the "collateral damage" of the transplant should be reduced and Dusty's recovery period is expected to be much shorter. Needless to say we are thrilled at this development. Dusty will have another bone marrow biopsy on Tuesday, and as long as she is still in remission, she will begin the "mini" transplant the following week. This means Dusty will be able to stay home with London for at least another nine days. Please pray for Dusty's bone marrow biopsy on Tuesday—that she is still in remission. We thank God for the gift of this wonderful news. Our hearts were growing heavy as today's appointment approached, but once again, He has provided. We have been reminded that our God is good—all the time. "Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." James 1:17 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London
42: Home Day Twenty-two posted by Jeff Williams, Tuesday, October 12, 2010, 7:15 PM Friends, We had several appointments at Mayo on Monday and Tuesday and we're thrilled to report that Dusty is still in complete remission. This means that we now have the green light to move forward with the "mini" transplant. We will report to Mayo at 8am Wednesday morning to be admitted to the hospital. Dusty will begin six days of chemo on Thursday, and the transplant procedure is scheduled to take place on next Wednesday, October 20th. We ask for your prayers for a successful transplant and for minimal negative side effects. Dusty is in good spirits and she's ready to get this next phase started. And while she's certainly enjoyed our three weeks at home, Dusty shared with me that she's also spent alot of this time grieving the loss of her old life. She misses her friends, she misses her private practice & her clients, she misses the simple privilege of her health, and she misses the thousands of other things that make up a "normal" life. Some of these things will eventually be reclaimed, while others will not. But Dusty knows that God has plans for her new life—whatever that new life may look like. He has plans to use her in a mighty way to accomplish great things for Him. Things that the "old" Dusty could have never been used to accomplish. And whatever sorrow may be attached to those things that have been lost, we know that joy awaits—for there is no greater joy than to be used to accomplish the will of our God, the Creator of the Universe. "And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are." Romans 8:17-19 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London | Home Day Twenty posted by Jeff Williams, Sunday, October 10, 2010, 12:45 PM Friends, We've enjoyed another week at home as a family. Dusty is doing really well overall. She had a bone marrow biopsy on Wednesday and we have some follow-up appointments at Mayo on Monday and Tuesday when we'll hopefully get the biopsy results and find out when the transplant will begin. On Saturday afternoon Dusty and I ventured out on our first date since early July. We had a late lunch at one of our favorite restaurants and then we sat outside afterwards, enjoying the nice weather. Later on we went to Dusty's favorite place for dessert. It was an awesome afternoon and we enjoyed every minute of it. We enjoyed our three hours of just being "normal", and I pray we'll never again take times like that for granted. On another note, Dusty and I ask for your prayers for one of my coworkers, Dawn. Dawn, who is about six months pregnant, was in a very bad car accident last week. Thankfully it appears that both she and her baby will be fine. We ask for your prayers that Dawn has a speedy recovery and that her baby continues to be healthy. Just like in our situation, we know that God can take these bad circumstances and use them for good. Thank you for remembering Dawn and her family in your prayers. "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever." Psalm 118:1 Jeff, Dusty & London
43: Prayer Service on Saturday & Update posted by Megan Dillon, Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 10:30 PM Friends, What awesome news to hear Dusty is still in complete remission! This Saturday we want to gather together with Dusty's friends and family to show our support and to pray for Dusty as she begins the transplant process. We will gather in the chapel at Mayo at 11:00 am this Saturday, October 16th. Once you walk in the main entrance you will see a volunteer at the front desk who will direct you to the chapel. (Mayo Clinic 4500 San Pablo Road Jacksonville, FL 32224) We continue to update the calendar monthly for volunteers to sign up to bring meals for Mr. and Mrs. Williams. Thank you to all those who have signed up. They are extremely grateful for the kindness shown to them. You can check for availability by clicking on the calendar link on the website. For those of you who have inquired about current needs of the family, gift cards to Publix and Babies R Us continue to be helpful. Gift cards can be sent to address below: Celebration Church c/o Kassie Fowler 10302 Deerwood Park Blvd. Suite 104 Jacksonville, FL 32256 As this sweet family continues to minister to us by the way they have handled this trial let us continue to rally around them as they begin the next part of the journey. Please contact any of the coordinators with any questions. | Transplant Day Minus-Six posted by Jeff Williams, Thursday, October 14, 2010, 10:00 PM Friends, We checked Dusty into Mayo on Wednesday morning. All of the nurses were happy to see her again and we've quickly settled back into our old routine. Today was day minus-six until the transplant. Friday is day minus-five and the countdown will continue until we reach day zero, which will be the day of the bone marrow transplant. The schedule looks like this... Day minus-six through day minus-one: Chemotherapy. Day zero: Transplant. Day one through day twenty-one: Recovery. Dusty began the chemotherapy at 10am this morning. The doctors expect this round of chemo to be a little easier than the previous round, based on the drugs that will be used. Dusty had some nausea today, but she is feeling pretty good this evening. The purpose of this round of chemo is to prep Dusty's body for the transplant so that her body is ready to receive her sister's bone marrow cells. Dusty and I thank you for your continued prayers for a successful transplant and a healthy recovery. At this point we have completely released the next month to God. We know that He is in absolute control and this gives us a tremendous amount of peace. We know that He is with us in every way and we remain in awe of all of the good things that He has done. We know that He will continue to provide us with everything we need. And although it may sound crazy for us to say—we feel like the most blessed people we know. "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Psalm 23:6 (NIV) Jeff, Dusty & London
44: Transplant Day Minus-Four (and a reflection on thankfulness) posted by Jeff Williams, Saturday, October 16, 2010, 9:00 PM Friends, Dusty continues to handle the chemo well. She is cheerful, has a healthy appetite, and in good spirits. We had a great prayer service today at Mayo. During the service our friend, Pastor Dennis Heald, talked about the life of Paul and the record that we have of Paul’s life. Paul, who serves as a model follower of Christ, endured a brutal existence. Paul described his own life as follows: “I have been put in prison often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers...I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” (2 Cor 11:23-27) Brutal And Paul, this model follower of Christ, spent his final years in a Roman prison where he was ultimately beheaded. Paul also wrote several letters in the midst of all of this turmoil and these letters make up the majority of the New Testament. But what is amazing, as Dennis pointed out this morning, is that a quick survey of the first few sentences of the thirteen letters that bear Paul’s name reveals his consistent thankfulness to God. Here are the words from the beginning of each of Paul’s letters: “Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world.” (Rom 1:8) “I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor 1:4) “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort..” (2 Cor 1:3-4) “All glory to God forever and ever!” (Gal 1:5) “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.” (Eph 1:3) “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.” (Phil 1:3-5) “we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people” (Col 1:3-4) “We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly.” (1 Thes 1:2) “we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.” (2 Thes 1:3-4) “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him.” (1 Tim 1:12) “I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience” (2 Tim 1:3) “It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him.” (Titus 1:3) “I always thank my God when I pray for you” (Philemon 1:4) Paul’s unwavering attitude of thankfulness to God is even more amazing when you consider what his early life was like prior to his relationship with Christ. By our modern definitions, Paul had it made. He held the privilege of being a Roman Citizen. He was a respected leader within his religious circles. He knew and experienced the comforts of the good life. And Paul had health, wealth, and prosperity. But then he experienced Christ. This led Paul to spend the rest of his life spreading the good news—and the comforts of his old life soon vanished. His new life was a never-ending struggle of persecution, imprisonment, physical pain and betrayal. But despite Paul’s loss, despite his suffering, he remained thankful. Thankful because he knew that God was using him to accomplish good things. Paul knew his “momentary troubles” would soon pass and that God would reward his perseverance. Paul had an eternal perspective. It is both difficult and humbling to fathom an existence as difficult as Paul’s. And yet Paul is the model that God chose to give us. God has used the example of Paul to help Dusty and I learn to be thankful. We can now say that we are thankful for how good God has been to us during the last three months. We are thankful that our struggles are only “momentary.” We are thankful that God is using this situation to accomplish many good things. And ultimately, we are thankful for the promise that God has given to all of His children who endure hardships. “So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him” 2 Timothy 2:10-12 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London Ps. London is three months old today:) We’ve posted a couple of new pictures of our little beauty on the website.
45: Transplant Day Minus-One posted by Jeff Williams, Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 6:45 PM Friends, Dusty's Bone Marrow Transplant will take place on Wednesday morning sometime between 10 am and noon. The last two days of chemo have been much more difficult on Dusty as she's struggled with severe nausea. Unfortunately I came down with a fever and a bad cough yesterday and I've been barred from "seeing/visiting/staying with" Dusty until probably Friday or Saturday at the earliest. It is very difficult to be away from her, especially knowing how sick she's been the last two days. I have certainly asked the questions of "why now?" Why, as we enter the most crucial 24 hours of the last three months am I suddenly removed from the picture? But as Dusty and I spoke earlier today, she stated very confidently that God always draws her closer to Him by removing those things which are her external strengths—and I was the last external strength that she had. Now, in this most critical moment, she is truly alone with her Creator. She said she wasn't entirely happy about it, but she was submitted to it. I love her honesty—and her faith. This is hard for me. For the first time since this all began I feel like I'm on the outside of the situation. I can't hold her hand. I can't be there to pray with her. I can't do silly things to try and make her laugh. And so, like each of you over the last few months, the only thing I can do now for Dusty is pray for her. So please join me in praying for Dusty. That her transplant goes perfectly. That there are no negative side-effects. That her recovery is speedy. And that God would fill up that lonely hospital room with His presence like never before. "You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence." Acts 2:28 (NLT) Jeff | Transplant Day Zero posted by Jeff Williams, Wednesday, October 20, 2010, 7:45 PM Friends, Dusty's bone marrow transplant went well today. She had some nausea throughout the procedure, but rested well in the afternoon. This evening she was in pretty good spirits and she even laughed at a lame joke I made about the Mayan calendar. We expect the next four days to be fairly stable and for things to get a little tougher around Day Five. Our understanding is that Dusty's body will begin to react to the "foreign" marrow around the fifth day. Thank you for all of your prayers today. Also thank you for all of the notes, emails, texts, tweets, etc that you sent throughout the day. It's hard to believe it was three months ago today that we received the diagnosis of leukemia. God has been so good to us, and you are a part of that goodness. Thank you. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 Jeff, Dusty, & London | Transplant Day Three (and a Happy Birthday to Dusty) posted by Jeff Williams, Saturday, October 23, 2010, 5:30 PM Friends, Dusty continues to do well post-transplant. She is resting a good bit. We've been told that next week may be a little more of a challenge, but we'll see how that unfolds. Today is Dusty's birthday, and while no one wants to spend a birthday in the hospital, we are celebrating all of the good things that have taken place over the last 3 months (remission, donor match, & transplant) which mean that Dusty has many, many future birthdays to celebrate. This is the tenth year that I get to celebrate Dusty's birthday and I'm overwhelmed at what a privilege it is to be able to spend my life with her. She's my very best friend, and as I told her recently, there are days when I can't believe that God actually trusted me enough to let me be her husband...but I sure am glad He did:) "I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live." Psalm 104:33 (NIV) Jeff, Dusty & London ps. For those of you in Florida, there's still time to sign-up and join us for the "Light The Night Walk" on Thursday, November 4th at 7:30pm downtown at the Jacksonville Landing. The event will be a great way to raise money for blood cancer research, as well as a way for all of Dusty's friends to come together and celebrate and honor both Dusty and Eddie Hastings in their fight against leukemia. We hope you can make it:)
46: Transplant Day Seven posted by Jeff Williams, Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 9:30 PM Friends, I was able to see Dusty tonight for the first time in eight days. It was awesome. She looks wonderful and she was in a great mood. We were able to hang out for about two hours and I'll begin staying at the hospital again on Thursday evening. Dusty has developed some sores on the inside of her mouth and throat due to the recent chemo treatment. These sores make it almost impossible for her to eat anything, so she's currently on I.V. nutrition. She has also begun receiving Neupogen injections which cause severe bone pain. Ultimately the Neupogen will stimulate both the transplant and her white blood cells. When Dusty is eating again and her WBC's are up, she will be able to go home. So, here are the things that we ask your prayers for: That Dusty would be able to eat on her own. That Dusty's WBC counts would increase. That the transplant continues to be successful and that she has no side-effects. Thank you for remembering Dusty and our entire family in your prayers. God is good—victory is close. "Remember my chains..." Col 4:18 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London | Transplant Day Twelve posted by Jeff Williams, Monday, November 1, 2010, 10:15 PM Friends, The last few days have been very difficult for Dusty. She's been suffering from extreme nausea, to the point that even a small sip of water causes her to become violently ill. And on Sunday evening, during a bout of sickness, Dusty moved the wrong way and threw out her back. All of this on top of the bone pain from the Neupogen injections. Dusty told me that she feels oppressed, as if her body is under a physical attack. But there is good news. Overnight Dusty's white blood counts spiked dramatically. This means that her sister's marrow is engrafting and that the bone marrow transplant is working. In fact, the doctors have told us that we can go home as soon as Dusty is eating solid food again. Please pray for Dusty as she endures this final battle before her release from the hospital. Pray that God would help her overcome the grip of this physical pain. As we said the other night, victory is near. We can feel it. And we celebrate it. On another note, with permission, I am sharing the following... We were saddened this weekend to learn that one of Dusty's friends from church, Kristi, has been diagnosed with gastric cancer. She and her husband Ryan have three children. Dusty adores Kristi. I do not know Kristi that well, but I know that she has done some beautiful things for our family over the last three months. The prognosis that the doctors have shared with their family is very uncertain. But do you know how Kristi has responded to this grim news? I saw a communication from her last night where she stated... "It is sad news...I have stomach cancer. But I also have a God that loves me and has given His best for me—His own life!" This is the hope that we have as children of God. Not that life would be pain free—but that when the pain and uncertainty does arrive, we can confidently say, "This is tough, but God is good!" I know that our church will care for Ryan and Kristi in exactly the same way that Dusty and I have been cared for. I have confidence that God is in complete control of this situation. And I know that God will provide this family with everything that they need. Please join us as we pray for this precious family. Watching Dusty suffer these last few days, and imagining what Kristi and her family must be going through, it makes me angry that we live in a world that is filled with so much pain. I am tired of seeing cancer rob people of their health. I am weary of watching people that I love suffer. But I know that one day there will be no more sorrow—there will be no more pain. Because one day all of these things will be made right once and for all... "I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, 'Look, God's home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.'" Rev 21:3-4 (NLT) God is good! Jeff, Dusty & London | Home Again posted by Jeff Williams, Sunday, November 7, 2010, 6:15 PM Friends, Tonight Dusty and I are home again with London. Dusty was released from Mayo this afternoon. The medical team is very pleased with how the transplant has gone. The donor marrow has engrafted and Dusty’s white blood cell counts have risen. On January 28th Dusty will have final tests to confirm that her sister’s marrow has replaced all of the “bad” marrow and that she is still leukemia free. And hopefully, we will never see the inside of a hospital room again. We thank God for everything that has taken place over the last 3 months. He is good. We also thank you for all that you’ve done for us so far, and for your continued prayers for our family over the next three months. “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God” 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 Jeff, Dusty & London ps. Thanks to everyone who participated in the Light the Night walk on Thursday evening. The walk was so much fun and our team raised over $4,300 for blood cancer research. I can’t wait until next year’s event when Dusty and Eddie will be there to walk with us:)
47: 112 days later... posted by Jeff Williams, Monday, November 8, 2010, 8:30 PM “It’s an honor that God has trusted me with this suffering” spoken by Dusty just a few days after being diagnosed with life-threatening Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. "And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God's message without fear." Phil 1:12-14 (NLT) Friends, It has been 112 days since Dusty was diagnosed with leukemia—and over these last few months God has told an amazing story. It is a story of faith, of purpose, and of perspective. It is a story about Dusty and her relationship with her Creator. And it is a story that each of you have been a part of as you’ve prayed for us, loved us, and supported us in so many ways. Dusty and I have learned so much. We’ve learned that God is good regardless of our circumstances. We’ve learned that while "my health may fail, and my spirit may grow weakGod remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever." (Ps 73:26) We’ve learned that physical healing is an awesome gift, but that we should never elevate the gift above the Giver. We’ve learned that our faith is not in outcomes—but that our faith is only in the fact that “nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.” (Rom 8:38) And we’ve learned that sometimes it is those events in our life which seem to be the most terrible—that can actually provide us with the greatest opportunity to share just how good our God is. Over the last 112 days we’ve learned about purpose—that sometimes it’s more about being used by God than about doing stuff for God. We’ve seen God use London (and her birth) to help save Dusty’s life. We’ve seen God use Taylor to be a perfect 100% bone marrow match (against the odds) to help save her sister’s life. And we’ve seen God use Dusty to touch the hearts of so many people around the world—just by lying quietly in a hospital bed. In fact, what appeared to be an interruption of Dusty's purpose was soon revealed to be a magnification of that purpose. And it was during Dusty’s darkest times that His presence was always the greatest. When she watched as all of her hair fell out—He reminded her that “the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid.” (Luke 12:7) When Dusty learned that the first round of chemo did not work and that her life was truly in peril, God gave her the faith to say, “if there is any other way, please show me that path, but if not, Your will be done.” And as Dusty gave up all of the comforts of her former life, He replaced those things that were lost with something of far greater value—Himself. In fact her relationship with God became so intimate that He no longer felt like a "Heavenly Father," but more like a "Dad." His tangible presence in her hospital room—holding her closely, loving her, and comforting her hour by hour. But perhaps the most amazing moment of the entire 112 days was an incident that I’ve not yet shared with you. It was a Thursday in September and London was scheduled for her two-month check-up. The appointment had been made six weeks prior and at the time Dusty had felt sure that she’d be out of the hospital and able to attend. But she wasn’t. The day snuck up on her and it hit her very hard. She felt overwhelmed by the despair of being separated from London, and she spent the entire day in her hospital bed weeping uncontrollably—hours upon hours. And Dusty cried out to God, “Why? I only want to be with London," she said. "I only want to be with my daughter. I only want to be a part of my child’s life.” And in that moment, God spoke back to Dusty in the gentlest way possible, saying: “I feel the same way when I am not allowed to be a part of My children’s lives” He knew. He knew exactly how Dusty felt. Imagine, our God, the Creator of the Universe, heartbroken when we don’t allow Him to be a part of our own lives. He loves each of us more than we know. It is almost too much to comprehend. But then again, so is the work that was done for each of us on the cross. And so God has told us a story. It is a story about Dusty and her relationship with Him. It is a story of hope in the midst of a painful world. It is a story that has pointed us all to a hope beyond this life. And it is a story that at first seemed so tragic, that He has ultimately revealed to be a thing of magnificent beauty. But this story is not over. We will continue to provide updates on Dusty as she recovers over the holidays, the New Year and through the spring. And we still need your prayers. I’m asking that you would continue to pray for Dusty’s health—that at the end of January the transplant would be deemed a complete and total success. And please pray that God would continue to use Dusty’s story to touch the lives of others. And we know that the best is yet to come. In a world where we all crave normal, God has called Dusty to a purpose that is beyond normal. He has great things in store for her—as a thankful mother, as a loving wife, as a healthy sister, as a caring friend, as an empathetic counselor, and as a powerful witness to the mighty God that she serves. Over the last 112 days Dusty and I have seen with our own eyes the true power of Jesus Christ, and the peace and hope that can only come from a relationship with Him. Our lives will never be the same. And we thank God that He has allowed us to share all of these things with you. Pass it on “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16 (ESV) God is good—all the time! Jeff, Dusty & London
48: Thank You for the Meals posted by Jeff Williams, Monday, November 22, 2010, 1:30 PM Our thanks to each of who graciously provided meals for us during the last four months. When we arrived in Jacksonville last July we had no idea what lay ahead for our family. We also had no idea of the wonderful people we would meet and grow to love during our stay. It always amazes us how God can take a situation that seems so hopeless and turn it into a wonderful blessing. The evening meal always comes at such a busy time of the day for everyone yet you each made time to provide for us time and again. And what wonderful meals they have been. We also want to thank you most of all for your love and prayers of encouragement for our family. We ask God’s blessings for each of you and we thank Him for your commitment to His command to love one another. During this season of Thanksgiving, we are especially thankful for each of you. You will always have a special place in our heart. Love, Lloyd and Wanda (Jeff’s dad & mom) | Home Day Sixteen posted by Jeff Williams, Monday, November 22, 2010, 9:00 PM Friends, We've now been home for over two weeks and for the most part Dusty is doing very well. Her appetite is improving and she is getting stronger every day. She is loving her time with London and enjoying the peace and quiet of home. We ask for your continued prayers that Dusty remains safe from infections. We also ask for your prayers that the transplant continues to be a success and the donor marrow continues to engraft. Dusty's neutrophil counts have not been as strong as the doctors would like, so this is something they are watching very closely. Some of you know that this summer my brother, David, had surgery to remove a benign brain tumor on the same day that Dusty was diagnosed with leukemia. David's surgery was a success, but he needs a follow-up surgery to correct some nerve damage from the first procedure. This corrective surgery is taking place tomorrow morning (Tuesday.) We are asking for your prayers—that God would give the medical team both wisdom and success. What a year, right? And yet, this Thanksgiving season all we can talk about is how much we have to be thankful for. So tonight we thank God. Tonight we stand confident that God is in complete control of both Dusty's transplant and David's surgery. Tonight we release both of these situations to Him. "My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!" Psalm 57:7 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London ps. For everyone who has provided meals for our family over the last four months, my parents have posted a thank you note on the website. Thanks again!! | Update on my brother David posted by Jeff Williams, Tuesday, November 23, 2010, 8:15 PM Friends, Thank you for praying for my brother David and his scheduled brain surgery today, which was to correct the nerve damage from a previous procedure. We received a great surprise this morning—the doctors cancelled the surgery at the last minute, based on the fact that medical scans are now detecting activity in the damaged nerve for the first time. The doctors want to give the nerve another 90 days to continue healing. We will continue to pray for increased nerve activity. We are overjoyed at this news, and we give God thanks. Thank you again for all of your prayers for David! "This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him." Psalm 91:2 (NLT) We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving:) Jeff, Dusty, & London
49: Home Day Forty-two posted by Jeff Williams, Saturday, December 18, 2010, 6:15 PM Friends, Things continue to go well for Dusty. She has remained free of infection, has regained much of her strength & energy, and is maintaining a healthy weight. She continues to go to Mayo twice each week for check-ups. Her white blood cell and neutrophil counts are still lower than what the medical team would like to see, but the doctors are not alarmed. We ask for your ongoing prayers—that all continues to go well through the end of January, which is when Dusty will have the final tests to confirm that she is still in remission and that the transplant has been a complete success. Dusty and I are looking forward to our first Christmas with London. We will be celebrating all of the gifts that God has given us this year. And we also thank you for all of your prayers and support over the last five months. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father..." James 1:17 (NLT) Jeff, Dusty & London ps. London is now five months old and she is absolutely adorable. We've posted a new picture of her on the website:) | The Next Three Weeks posted by Jeff Williams, Sunday, January 9, 2011, 9:30 PM Friends, We are in the final three weeks of the critical "100 Days" of Dusty's Bone Marrow Transplant. Dusty has remained free of infection. We are incredibly thankful because the rest of our family (London, my Parents, & me) have also remained healthy, which dramatically cuts down on Dusty's risk of getting sick. We are so thankful for Everyone's prayers to protect Dusty from infection. At the beginning of February Dusty will have another bone marrow biopsy to confirm that she is still in remission. However, one of things that we did not fully realize is that just because we get to Day 100 with a clean biopsy, it doesn't mean that life returns to normal. Dusty's white blood cell counts continue to be lower than where they should be. Until these counts return to normal levels, Dusty will need to continue limiting all contact with the outside world. Dusty has now been quarantined (either in hospitals or at home) for almost six months, so as you can imagine, she's very anxious to be able to visit friends, go to church, eat at a restaurant, etc. Even something as simple as changing London's diaper is a "no-no" because of the infection risk. And these risks will remain until her white blood cell counts rise to normal. Dusty is also battling chronic fatigue and a lack of appetite. We've reinstated the "Protein for Londy" phrase around the house to make sure that Dusty is able to eat the right kinds of foods in order to keep her weight up. Again, these are challenges that could carry on far beyond early February, so we are praying for God to provide us with both the wisdom and resources to deal with these challenges. We're asking for your prayers in three specific areas over the next three weeks: That the transplant continues to be a success and Dusty remains cancer free. That Dusty's white blood cell counts improve to "normal" levels. That Dusty's appetite and energy improve dramatically. We still hear stories of people praying for Dusty every single day and it just blows us away. Please know that we are forever grateful for each of your prayers. God has provided us with so much protection, support, and comfort during these challenging times and we are thankful that you are a part of that. We believe that God is going to restore Dusty's health & strength, and that He will continue to get credit for every good thing in this situation. We remain confident in Him. "He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me..." Psalm 23:3-4 Jeff, Dusty, & London ps: London is amazing. She is now super interactive, laughs constantly, responds to her name, and likes to give her daddy kisses. The other night Dusty was feeding London carrots, but she kept looking at the pizza I was eating. She would look down at the pizza, and then look back up at me and open her mouth. Most people don't realize it, but the ability to choose pizza over carrots at an early age is a sign of high intelligence:) | Update on Dusty posted by Jeff Williams, Sunday, January 30, 2011, 3:30 PM Friends, Dusty has now completed the first "100 Days" of the Bone Marrow Transplant and she has remained free of any infections. Her energy and her white blood cell counts continue to lag, but we remind ourselves that these are minor challenges considering all that we've faced over the last six months. On this Wednesday (2/2) Dusty will have a bone marrow biopsy to confirm that she is still cancer free. We ask for your prayers, as this is a very painful procedure, and—being human—there is a certain amount of anxiety we face around the importance of these tests. Still, we continue to feel a peace that we are right where God wants us to be, and as difficult as that can sometimes be, it ultimately provides us with a lot of confidence in Him. We expect to receive some preliminary results within a few days of the biopsy, and our big consultation meeting with Dusty's doctor is scheduled for Friday 2/11. As always, we thank you for your continued prayers for Dusty's safety, her energy, and her white blood cell counts. Thank you for your perseverance. "The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid..." Psalm 188:6 God is good—all the time. Jeff, Dusty & London
50: Dusty is in complete remission and the transplant was a total success! posted by Jeff Williams, Tuesday, February 8, 2011, 7:15 PM Friends, We received the news today... Dusty is in complete remission and the transplant was a total success! The biopsy results show that 100% of Dusty's bone marrow has been replaced by the donor bone marrow, which she received from her sister, Taylor. As far as the doctors are concerned, Dusty is now cured of leukemia. We give thanks to God for Dusty's healing. And we thank God for each of you who have stood by us, prayed for us, and cared for us over the last six months. God has used each of you in our lives, and we will continue to thank God for you for as long as we live. There is not much else to say. This has truly been the terrible opportunity. We have faced the greatest challenge of our entire lives, and yet God has used this terrible situation to provide us with an opportunity to share our faith and our relationship with Him. Even now the terrible has passed, but it is the opportunity that we believe will last far beyond this temporary life. It will last forever. “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT) With love— Jeff, Dusty & London ps. I've just posted a new picture of Dusty and London on the website. As you can see, I've got two beautiful girls:) | One Year Later posted by Jeff Williams, Sunday, July 17, 2011, 7:30 PM Friends, It's hard to believe. London is now one year old—and it was a year ago this week that Dusty was first diagnosed with leukemia. This weekend we celebrated the miracle of both of their lives. Dusty's progress over the last few months has been amazing. Her energy levels are high, her blood counts have been on target, and she looks very healthy. She loves being a mom and she is enjoying the gift of a "normal" life. We've put some new pictures of Dusty and London on the website. London is a joy. This weekend we were reminded of how God used her in His perfect timing to help save Dusty's life. Had London not been born, we would have never known that Dusty was sick. We know that God will continue to use London to do great things throughout her life. Twice in the past couple of weeks I've heard Dusty say that it has been a great year. Honestly, this surprised me. Dusty explained that it's been a great year because God has been in control the entire time, and ultimately, He's allowed her to see London's first birthday. She said that this alone was enough to make it a great year. We look forward to many more great years ahead. Thanks to each of you who have continued to pray for our family. We remain thankful for you and we thank God that throughout the last twelve months, we were never alone. You were there every step of the way with your prayers, your encouragement, and your support. Thank you. And I thank God for the gift of Dusty in my life. I cannot imagine a world without her. "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever." Psalm 118:1 Jeff, Dusty, & London
51: Come Celebrate With Dusty posted by Jeff Williams, Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 11:03 PM Friends, It has been almost 12 months since Dusty received her Bone Marrow Transplant and last week she underwent a one year bone marrow biopsy to test for any residual leukemia. She then had to wait seven long days for the results. Regardless of where someone is in their faith, there is always the question of "what if?" What if the transplant has faltered? What if the disease has returned? These events are not uncommon in the world of leukemia. I've spent that last year watching Dusty fight her way back to what the rest of us consider "normal." It was not that long ago that she spent more hours sleeping than awake, that even the simplest of meals was a struggle to eat, and that the intrusion of even a common cold could very likely send her back into the hospital. Today Dusty is strong, active, and full of life. And so even the thought of potentially going backwards has been absolute torture for her. For a week it dominated her mind and tho ughts. The other morning I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and Dusty was still wide awake, having been hounded the entire night by the fear of the disease returning. Recently I took several hours to revisit everything that we went through last year. I read through the daily updates we sent out and I reread every single one of the notes of encouragement that had been sent to us. I was reminded of just how much Dusty had lost during what should have been the happiest time of her entire life. But I was also reminded of how God used that time to touch so many people. It amazes me that we still receive notes from people saying that it was because of Dusty's tragedy that they came to understand how much God loves them. Strangely enough, there are things that we both miss about that time. The presence of God in the midst of the calamity was unlike anything either of have ever experienced. Dusty has said that there were times she felt as if God was literally holding her in Hi s arms. And for me, it was an honor to tell Dusty's story. I often joke with Dusty that living with her is like living with a Bible character. Most Bible characters did not lead easy lives, but God always showed up in some amazing, creative way. To be honest, I very much miss sitting down every night to write these updates. Many people go through tragedy in near isolation, and so the ability to share our journey with each of you was truly a gift from God. But as much as I enjoy writing, I'm ready for the ugly parts of the story to be behind us. Tuesday morning before I left for work we called Mayo together to try and get the biopsy results. There was no answer. I had an early client meeting and so I headed off to the office. In the middle of my meeting I received the following text from Dusty. Still in remission!!!!!!!!!!!!No evidence of residual leukemia. I'm not really sure what went on during the rest of my meeting. Dusty said she couldn't stop crying (for joy) and London couldn't quite figure out what was going on. We are thrilled and we thank God for all of this. We also know that not everyone receives good news. We've lost friends to cancer in the last 12 months. On Monday evening we found out that a young boy named Ethan, just three years old, has been diagnosed with leukemia. And so we are reminded to pray for those still fighting the battle. The statistics are sobering. Every year over 40,000 people are diagnosed with Leukemia. And every year over 20,000 people die from Leukemia. Dusty has asked me to invite you to join her in an event that is designed to help fight this horrible disease. On the evening of November 3rd we will be walking to Light the Night in Jacksonville. Last year several of us walked in Dusty's honor while she was still in the hospital recovering. This year Dusty will be walking with us. It will be an evening of celebration and reflection as we carry lighted balloons through the streets of downtown Jacksonville in honor of all of those individuals and families—past, present, and future—who need our support. We hope you will join us: http://pages.lightthenight.org/ncfl/Jacksonv11/BraveWarriors And as we have said so many times before, we thank you so much for all of your prayers and support throughout our experience. We pray that God will bless each of you. "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works." Psalm 73:28 (NASB) Jeff, Dusty & London
52: August 7, 2010 Dear London— It’s a Saturday. According to the doctors, you were supposed to be born two days from today, on August 9th 2010. Of course, you were born on July 16th—three and a half weeks early. And your early arrival may have saved your mom’s life. I’m looking out a fifth floor window of Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville, FL. The sky is a misty grey and the helicopter is resting quietly on its landing pad. The helicopter comes and goes at all times of the day and night—a nice distraction from what’s going on inside. Your mom, her name is Dusty, is lying quietly in a hospital bed next to me. She’s had a rough day. She’s been in a lot of pain all day and she suffered a severe rash earlier this afternoon due to a reaction from some of the antibiotics. Your mom is beautiful. And she’s strong. Her name means “fighter” and it suits her well. Not that she is hard to get along with—everybody loves your mom, everybody. There are people who met her one time five years ago that still ask about her every time I see them. Your mom is probably the strongest woman I’ve ever met. And your mom has a special gift. It’s a gift that God gave her. It’s the gift of healing. Not so much healing in the physical sense, but more in an emotional way. She’s a psychologist (or mental health counselor as she likes to say). And she’s incredibly talented for someone who is only twenty-eight years old. And your mom loves you so much. And she misses you so much. Right now you are at home with your maw-maw and paw-paw (and your furry brothers Simon and Ben). Maw-maw and paw-paw arrived in Jacksonville from Baton Rouge on the night you were born. Your mom had gone into labor that Friday morning, and as soon as maw-maw and paw-paw found out, they began the 10-hour drive so they could see you as soon as possible. That Friday morning was pretty normal. As I was getting ready for work that day your mom told me that she thought she might be getting closer to labor. I had a meeting planned in Daytona that day, but she told me it would be fine if I went ahead and made the trip. So your mom went to the doctor and I headed to Daytona. At 11am, just as I was arriving in Daytona I got the call—“I’m in labor”By 11:30 am your mom was checked into St. Luke’s hospital with the help of her friend Kassie Fowler. I arrived back in town at about 12:35 pm and ten minutes later your mom received something that is considered to be very important to all pregnant women—an epidural. Shortly after 2pm the nurses broke her water. Around that time we also found out that your mom’s blood platelets were abnormally low. The doctors explained that had they known this earlier, your mom would not have been able to get the epidural. “Praise Jesus, “ your mom said. A few hours passed and at around 6:45 it was time to push. So your mom pushed. I positioned myself up by your mom’s head and focused on her face and the wall behind her. To be honest, I could have done without two or three of my five senses during the delivery. Your dad is famously queasy when it comes to the inner (and sometimes outer) workings of the human body. I was doing pretty well into she threw up in a cup about twelve inches from me. Suddenly at 7:00pm everything stopped. “Shift change,” the nurse explained. Apparently nothing happens during shift change. So we just hung out for a few minutes. I always had this picture of babies being born in a big, bright, white room with lots of people and lights and equipment; but not at this hospital. Our room looked more like a hotel room. The floor was dark brown laminate, the furniture was dark wood and the mood was calm. Even after you were born, all three of us stayed in the same room for most of the hospital stay. It was perfect. So anyway, at about 7:15pm, with shift change complete, a rush of medical staff entered the room and two bright lights in the ceiling flashed on—it was very dramatic. We started pushing again. Mainly your mom pushed and I tried not to pass out. And then at 7:27pm you entered the world. As they pulled you out I remember that one of your eyes was open and you looked right at me. Actually you looked sort of pissed off. I totally understand. I’m not very fond of unexpected change either, but it gets easier the older you get. So the nurses cleaned you off and checked you out while I watched intently. You weighed 5 pounds, 11 oz and were 18.5 “ long. At around 7:45pm they wrapped you up and handed you back to me. Within about one second I was head over heals in love with you. You were kind of fussy at first, but as soon as you heard my voice you quieted down. Meanwhile, your mom was dealing with “the shakes.” It’s a condition that many women experience after birth—something to do with hormones switching over after the birth. The “shakes” lasted about two hours, so I just held you, sang to you, and sent text messages to everybody we knew to let them know that London Ryan Williams had been born. At 10:45pm you had your first sponge bath, and thirty minutes after that maw-maw and paw-paw arrived. I headed out to get some food for us and around 1:00 am I went to sleep.
53: The next day was fairly quiet, except we still had that blood platelet issue to deal with. They called in a hematologist/oncologist to discuss what the problem could be. He made sure to highlight the worst-case scenario, which was greatly appreciated by all of us. (Not really). Anyway, he thought that the worst case was that your mom had some form of Leukemia. He ordered a bone marrow biopsy to be scheduled for the following Monday morning. I provided our friends and family with text message updates and prayer requests throughout the weekend. I held you from 11pm on Saturday night until 4:30 am on Sunday morning. I was very tired and the room was very dark. That was kind of tough because I was very, very tired just being honest. But I loved holding you and looking at you. I never thought I could love anyone as much as I love you. Your maw-maw returned to the hospital around 6am. Your paw-paw had to go back to Louisiana for your Uncle David’s surgery (to remove a benign brain tumor.) I don’t remember a whole lot else about Sunday except that we had some close friends visit and Meghan Harper (last name now Oliver) brought me some chocolate chip cookies. Yum. On Monday morning your mom had the bone marrow biopsy. She immediately exclaimed that she would prefer to give birth five more times than ever have another bone marrow biopsy. We were told that the results of the biopsy would not be available until Wednesday. On Monday afternoon they did a car seat test on you in which you had to sit in your car seat for 90 minutes. According to the nurses you screamed the entire time. I think you missed me. The nurses informed us on Tuesday morning that we would have to move to a smaller room so that they could make space for more deliveries. As your mom and I were griping to each other about our new, cramped quarters, the OB Doc entered to tell us that your mom had Leukemia. It was about 11:30 am. At that moment the world became very small. We cried. I asked your mom to let me know when she’d like me to pray and she said, “now.” The prayer was this—“Dear God, we know You are a good God and that Dusty is Your daughter and Jesus if You want to heal her right now it is easy for You. But we know that no matter what happens that You will be Glorified in this situation.” And then we went to work. I spent most of the afternoon calling friends and family. We met with the oncologist/hematologist and he explained that your mom had Acute Mylocytic Leukemia, type M1. 50% of her bone marrow cells had Leukemia. He wanted to start chemotherapy immediately and we began making plans to transfer your mom to Baptist Medical Center downtown. We also learned that during her chemo treatment and subsequent recovery, which would be for approximately 21 days, she would be unable to see you. Hospitals are a dangerous place for newborn babies because of all of the germs. Of all the difficulties of the situation, this was by far the most difficult for us—being away from you. The next day, Wednesday July 21st, we spent most of the day hanging out, waiting for the hospital transfer. Some of our friends came to visit and spend time with your mom. At about 3pm your maw-maw and I prepared to take you home from the hospital. It was an emotional moment as your mom told you goodbye. Our dear friend Mindy Kibbey said a prayer for both of you. When we arrived home with you the first thing we did was introduce you to your furry brothers, Simon and Ben. To our delight they loved you immediately. Kassie filmed the introduction and emailed it to your mom, who was thrilled. I took a quick shower and hurried back to the hospital to be with your mom during the transfer. We settled into room 506 of the new hospital that night. I was excited about the great view of the helicopter landing pad. Your mom’s sister, Aunt Taylor, flew in that night from Baton Rouge. She stayed with you and maw-maw at our house that night. She arrived at the hospital around 11am on Thursday morning. At 2 pm your mom got her hair cut short. The doctors had told her that all of her hair would fall out because of the chemotherapy and they advised her to cut her hair so that the loss would be less traumatic. Of course, everyone thought your mom was even more beautiful with short hair. At about midnight that night the chemotherapy began. The treatment plan was seven days of chemotherapy and then fourteen days of recovery. During this time your mom cannot have many visitors because her white blood cell count is very low, which means her immune system is weakened. Aunt Taylor stayed with your mom all weekend while I did lots of work at home and spent time with you and maw-maw. I would also go downtown each day for a few hours to be with your mom. On Sunday evening (July 25th) I moved back into the hospital and I’ve been here ever since.
54: It’s not so bad here. We’ve got lots of pictures of you on the wall, and a couple of Simon and Ben too. We also printed out a lot of your mom’s favorite scripture and taped that to the wall as well. Your mom’s bed is in the center of the room and there is a cot to the right of the bed that I sleep on. To the left of the bed are two chairs and then a window with a ledge. On the ledge are stacked several things including vitamins, some magazines, some bottled water, a lamp, a framed photo of you and your mom, my work computer, our personal computer (usually, but I am writing on it right now), several books and some DVD’s. On the floor is a large stash of breakfast cereals and diet cokes. On the other side of the cot is a chest of drawers. The top drawer and third drawer hold your mom’s clothes. The second drawer is broken and the bottom drawer has my clothes. On top of the chest are paper plates, plastic utensils, a tub of protein powder, Styrofoam cups and snacks. The walls are painted a dark mauve, which was probably a great color choice circa 1995. Around the corner is a small bathroom with a shower and a toilet. There is also a sink and we’ve brought in two small refrigerators. We are currently on day fifteen of the treatment. Your mom did great with the seven days of chemo and she still has all of her hair. She has been in some pain this week and has had some fever, but overall she is doing very well. The highlight of her whole stay so far was the evening of Thursday July 29th. Maw-maw and Mindy Kibbey drove you up to the hospital and your mom and I came downstairs and she got in the car and held you for about 45 minutes. At the end of the visit you cried your very first tears. I am hoping you can visit again soon. Your mom had another bone marrow biopsy yesterday. It was much less painful than the first one. When we get the results back soon and they will tell us if the Leukemia is in remission. If it is, we get to go home in about a week. From there your mom will have subsequent chemo treatments to keep the Leukemia in remission until she can get a bone marrow transplant. We are hoping and praying that your Aunt Taylor is a bone marrow donor match, as siblings have a 25% chance of being a match. You were three weeks old yesterday. Maw-maw and I took you to your third pediatrician appointment. You are very healthy and a good eater. This gives your mom a great peace of mind. I get to see you every day, or every other day, and I always try to hold you for about thirty minutes. You seem to really like my voice. Your mom recorded herself reading a couple of your books and your maw-maw plays the recordings to you each night. You are so beautiful. Everyone thinks you have your mom’s eyes. They think you look like me when you’re asleep. You also have my double chin—you go girl. It has now been three weeks since we first heard the word “Leukemia” in relation to your mom. What a combination of emotions we have felt as we have experienced the joy of your entry into our lives. And what uncertainty we have faced with your mom’s illness. And yet, we have felt a tremendous peace throughout all of this. Your mom has declared that it is an honor that God has trusted her with this suffering, because she knows that ultimately this situation will Glorify Him. We know that God did not cause this disease, but He did allow it. The Leukemia is not a surprise to Him. In fact we already see that He has been preparing us for this situation for years. He has placed us within an amazing church and has given us wonderful friends who have gone the extra mile to help take care of both you and us. These friends bring your mom meals to the hospital every day. They have helped maw-maw and paw-paw look after you. And they pray for our family day and night. And the miracle in all of this is you, London. Not only are you healthy, but if you had not been born we may have never diagnosed your mom’s illness until it was too late. God used you to help save your mom’s life. As you get older, I want you to fully understand that God has used your life to make a difference in this world from your very first day. And God will continue to use you to do great things for Him and for His Kingdom throughout your life. You will be a young woman of purpose, and you are someone who God will use to impact eternity in a mighty way. I take joy in how God has already used you, and I look forward to all that He has in store for your life. I love you forever. Daddy
56: Memories of London | The following women helped Wanda to provide 24/7 care for London in the first few weeks of Dusty's treatment: Anna Fulghum Becca Turner Carolyn Fowler Carrie Wyatt Connie Branker Erika Medders Jenny Huang Joanna Gajewski Kassie Fowler Kim Havlik Lisa Stewart Megan Dillon Meghan Oliver Megan Searls Mercy Lokulutu Michee Seman Mindy Kibbey Olivia Fowler Tami Mason
57: I will never forget first meeting little London Ryan Williams--she was so tiny, so beautiful! She was a miracle in so many ways. I was so honored to be able to help take care of London during those first months of her life. To be honest, I would at times feel guilty holding her, feeding her, changing her... this was supposed to be Dusty's job. She was her mommy. London was such a sweet baby, she adapted so well in the midst of all the change of caregivers. She was strong like her mommy! Some of my favorite memories with London are when I would bring Claire over and they would "play" with each other. Claire felt so special to be London's "safe friend" for that season. I loved to watch them together as they would laugh, play, cry, eat, try to share, all the things babies do. Claire and London will always have a special bond. I will also never forget on one of the hospital visits that we brought London to see Dusty. It was so special--London knew exactly who her mommy was and loved being in her arms (even if mommy was a little loopy at times.) It was truly special to watch and still is special today! ~Megan D. | I remember the day Londy got to go home from the hospital... we were assembling all the baby gear, finishing up her room (since she surprised us 3 weeks early), and cleaning, but the biggest thing we wanted to capture was the first time she got to meet her "big brothers"... they LOVED her from the moment they saw her and wouldn't stop licking her as she made it apparent she didn't really appreciate that type of welcome :) We knew mommy would be so proud of her sons! Londy was such a strong, beautiful baby... What a great memory I have of my future daughter-in-law!:) ~Kassie | Dusty, I was thinking of a funny story about London that I don't think I've shared with you yet. When she first came home from the hospital, the girls were all taking turns with the night shifts to give Wanda a night of sleep. Meghan Oliver did her night before me and I when I asked her how it went she said good but she couldn't get London to eat a lot at one time and she frequently made little noises throughout the night. Of course, me being a NICU nurse, I immediately thought "I'm going to whip Baby London into shape. I'll have her eating every 3 hours and I'll swaddle her in my best swaddle and she'll sleep like an angel!" Boy did London show me! HaHa :) Not only did she continue with her little noises (they were cute!), she ate less for me than she did for Meghan!!! Needless to say, I thought I was losing my touch! In reality, I think it was London letting us all know that she has some spunk and a mind of her own! All kidding aside, it was an honor to help care for her!!! I can't wait to see her personality grow as she gets older. Love ya, Kim
58: Dear London, Your precious life has taught me so much. As one of your aunties with least experience with babies, I learned how to change a diaper for the first time with you. I learned how to feed and burp with you. I also learned how to hold you so you could sleep peacefully. Your grandma is a patient teacher. Beyond these lessons, your life has taught me even more about who God is. Your life has shown me God is faithful. God is merciful, gracious, and kind. God brings joy in the midst of sorrows; peace in times of pain; strength in times of weakness. Above all, God is our heavenly Father who loves His daughters. He loves you and your mom so very much. My prayer for you is that you will never underestimate how God can use you to touch the lives of others. Just as your birth was a testimony of God’s goodness and mercy, I pray your life would continue to be a living story of the same. May God’s richest blessing always be with you. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life” – Psalm 23:6 NKJV This is my prayer for you. Much love always, Auntie Jenny | When I would take care of London, I would always pray that God would use me to take care of her not as I take care of my own children but instead, how her mother would take care of her if she were there. I would pray that even though the two are separated in body, that the Holy Spirit would not allow that physical separation to be felt by London and that supernaturally she would grow closer to her Mommy every single day. There was one afternoon where I had the privilege of spending time with London. There was a children’s book nearby that I picked up to read to London. When I picked it up I realized it was a book that allowed a voice recording. I will never forget how when I pressed the button to allow the recorded voice to read the book to us and London recognized her mommy’s voice; her entire expression changed as though to perk up and become alert. At her age, I would never have expected her to be able to recognize anything, yet on that day I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God had answered our prayers and that Baby London knew her mommy. It was such a sacred moment that brought me to tears and reminded me just how amazing God is and how capable He is of making the impossible; possible. ~Lisa Stewart
59: Sweet Dusty, I am filled with joy when I hear of your continued remission! I often thought of the beginning of your journey and how privileged I felt to be a part of it.How ironic that sounds since we all know that the journey was not a path that any person would choose. When I sat in morning report as I have many, many times before, not quite finished with my second cup of coffee, the charge nurse proceeds to tell ME that I will have "the patient" having the bone marrow aspiration. I think I said "what! we don't do bone marrow aspirations on a labor and delivery floor". Oh but we did! Here I go walking into your room for the first time not quite understanding the magnitude of the whole situation and how much you, Jeff, and the rest of the family would impact my life and my personal journey in my nursing career. I spent the next couple of days with you, Jeff and Wanda. I recall the morning that Dr Rebenack came to the desk and I asked if he knew the diagnosis. When he said leukemia I began to cry. How could this be? Dusty just had a baby! How was I going to go back in her room? What was I going to say? What could I say that even felt relevant? I did go back in the room and I don't think I said much. I recall silence. The power of the Lord was already in motion! We talked about your plan of care in the next few days and your transfer to Baptist. You were surrounded by your friends and family. I kept up with all the updates from Jeff and spoke to Wanda during your time at Mayo. I was in awe at your strength and faith in the Lord. I particularly remember reading a prayer that you had written that touched me so much. I took it to work and shared it with everyone. We shed alot of tears and talked about the impact of faith in our lives. I strive to have that much faith.As nurses we are often reminded how much we impact the health and lives of our patients. In our case Dusty, you were the one that impacted my life. Faith is so powerful. It was amazing how I felt so sorry for the pain you endured but I was also so inspired by you faith, friends and family.It made me strive to be a more faithful servant in the Lord. I will continue to pray for your improving health and happiness.All my love to you, Jeff, London and Wanda!! Sincerely, Myrtis
60: Miss Becky’s Prayer Dear God, I just want to thank you so much for all of your blessings throughout this past year and surrounding us with Your glory. You have been our hope and our strength. It is your plan and your will that was, is and will be done. You have blessed us with sweet baby London who we all love so much. You have used Dusty and Jeff to spread your message that You are our God and that we are your children, that we must have faith in You, and that all things are possible through You, Lord. Your love, grace and mercy shines bright allowing us to walk in your light. You have given us strength when we didn’t think we had anything left. You have given us hope when we thought all was lost. And you kept the light shinning even when it seemed the darkest and scariest. During the storm, we still heard you whisper “I am still here”. And all along we said “I will trust you no matter what”. You, Lord are worth fighting for. Thank you Lord for using Jeff, Dusty and London in this special way to bring us all closer to You. Thank you Lord for giving us the opportunity to fight for You. Thank you for creating us to be courageous. And bringing us all together for Your unfailing love and mercy. Because it is You, Lord that we need in our lives. It is always all about You. You are the truth, the way and the light.
61: A note from the late Mrs. Kristi Shores... a woman whose journey brought her to meet her ultimate Healer in Heaven... Kassie, I know that you are creating a website to manage all needs and help for Dusty and Jeff, and sweet London. I did however, want to let you know that I am willing to do ANYTHING that they might need. I will go stay with Dusty at the hospital, I can cook meals for the family that are at the home and caring for London, I can do laundry, housework...WHATEVER you all need, please know that I would really love to help. My immediate availability--DAY OR NIGHT is really from tomorrow night-Monday morning around 8 a.m. I feel bad for them about the leukemia but mostly saddened at the moments that I feel the enemy has stolen away from Dusty and London to bond together as mama and daughter. HOWEVER, I know that God created that baby, and allowed her to be born at this exact time and He has all that under control. I know that He will give back the time stolen from the enemy and He will be glorified... Thanks for doing all that you already have to help such a precious and sweet friend/family. My prayers are with them!~ ~Kristi (via email@example.com)
62: Letters to Dusty | Letters to Dusty
63: Beauty, I know that sometimes I get into trouble for not writing you enough love notes—so consider this book one giant love note from me. It’s hard to imagine that your story has generated enough words to fill this entire book, but it has. Over the last few weeks I’ve revisited all of the things we experienced over the past fifteen months. I’ve read the words of encouragement from so many people near and far. I’ve looked back on the day to day ups and downs we experienced. And I’ve been moved to tears several times by realizing just how much people love and care about you and our family. Even today, I can hardly believe all of this has happened to us. I don’t tell you enough how sorry I am for what you have had go through. No one should have to endure something like this. And I believe that God probably feels the same way. But I also believe that because you have faithfully endured all of this, there will be those who will not have to endure Hell. I’ve always thought of your story as a beautiful reminder of what Christ did for us—the destruction of something beautiful so that others might not face destruction. God has used you in a powerful way to accomplish His greatest desire—to draw people into a greater relationship with Him. And I believe GOD will continue to use your story to draw others to Him. But what I am most excited for is the reward He has in store for you one day. His promise is that you will be repaid one hundred times over for everything you have lost. As the head of our family, my greatest hope for you and for London is that each of you will allow yourself to be used completely by God to fulfill His will. I am so proud of you and how you have allowed God to use you as you have walked through your own personal hell. But I believe that God still has so much more in store for you. God has great plans for Dusty Williams, because He knows that she can be trusted. I pray that one day God trusts me as much. I want to thank you for being my best friend. I couldn’t imagine my life without you. There have been times when London has been experiencing her “firsts” and I’ve thought, what if Dusty wasn’t here? I just can’t imagine you not being here with me to share all the daily joys of London. Thank you for being such an awesome mom. I hope that you like this book. What else did you expect from your super extreme husband? Other people give cards, I deliver books. Thank you for loving me in all my extremes, and even encouraging some of them. Even if God allows me to write for sixty more years, I don’t know if there will ever be a greater honor than the privilege I’ve had of writing your story. I love you. Jeff
64: Hi Dusty, October 23, 1981, was a very important date for me. I just didn’t realize that until several years later. God mysteriously had His plans in place and you would become a very important part of my life one day. You know He is like that, always planning ahead. As a parent you hope that your children will find that special person to spend their life with. You wish for someone who will love not only your child but the family as well. When you joined our family I was thrilled. Bright, beautiful, and with personality plus, I knew you were a very special young lady. Over the years I felt we became close and we grew to love you and admire you more year by year. We would see one another periodically, Christmas, vacations and other special occasions but for the most part we were separated geographically. As time went on those distances of separation became even greater. Because we were living in different parts of the country I didn’t have the opportunity to spend a lot of time with you. Though we were close I really didn’t know how close we would become, and just how special you are to me. That all changed starting July 16, 2010. Though I didn’t know it at the time, God’s plan was once again intersecting with my life and yours in a very special way. We had a new road to travel, this time together and what a special journey it has been. I will never forget the night you and Jeff called with the news about London. I knew by the excitement in your voices that something very special was ahead for us. Though Wanda and I were very excited about the news almost immediately I had the tinge of dread. I brushed it off as just foolishness but the feeling would not leave me though I had no idea why I felt this way. For the most part I tried not to think about it. When the life of your child is threatened it is a crushing feeling. Nothing seems to help when it comes to dealing with such an ordeal. Each minute, hour, and day seems to just drag on and for me I felt totally ungrounded. Coupling the news of you having AML along with the dread I had been feeling since that phone call was very disconcerting. The only thing I could do was pray for God to heal you. I would pray for you and close my eyes and imagine us at the beach together with you fully restored. I don’t know how but that seemed to help more than anything else. I held on to those thoughts but I still felt that dread deep inside. Then came the news of you completing your treatments at Baptist and still not in remission. Mom and I were standing in front of the bar at your house and Jeff was telling us the options for further treatment. I will never forget the moment when he said they were transferring you to the Mayo clinic for clinical trial treatment. That old fear of dread that had been with me for months instantly left me. Somehow from that time on I knew in my heart that this ordeal would have a very positive outcome. Every time there was a crisis I would say to Jesus, “you can do this, you can heal my little girl”. And you know what? He did!!!! I know this was a terrible ordeal for you to go through but from it will come an eternity of blessings. The way you and Jeff touched so many lives in such a positive way and gave the glory to our Father is remarkable. Through all of this the blessing for me is two fold. First, I got to know you like every father should know his daughter. I will never forget the times I took you to Mayo, and to the grocery store and Toys R Us to shop for London. I enjoyed our talks and our quiet time together. Out times at the beach this summer was just as I had pictured in my mind. You will never know how much I love you and how precious you are to me. And speaking of Princess London, the other part of this blessing. I could not have imagined how much fun it is to be her Paw Paw. I never understood how much God loves me until I held her in my arms. I finally realized that if I can love her that deeply, how much more capable is our Father to love us. All my love, Dad | Dear Dusty, Do you remember nearly ten years ago sitting in the middle of the bed in the guest room at midnight eating a box of Godiva Chocolates as Jeff was in our bedroom telling us he planned to marry you. I screamed so loud with excitement and ran to find and hug you. Later, I found out you had no clue that Jeff was telling us the wonderful news. Yes, you have been a part of our lives for over ten years now, but it seems like I have known you for your entire life. From the first time you visited us a special bond was created and it has continued to grow over the years. I love being with you and doing everyday stuff with you---whether it’s planning a wedding, painting a kitchen RED, hanging out at the beach, shopping, watching movies, going to SHINE or even cooking is fun when we’re doing it together. Of course now our favorite pastime is enjoying London. Very soon in our relationship I learned what a strong person you are physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You have fought quite a few battles in your 30 years and through these trials you have depended on God to guide and sustain you and this has been a tremendous witness for so many who know personally and many more that you do not know. Little did you know how God was preparing you for this last year. Oh how I enjoyed watching you and Jeff prepare for London's arrival. It was such an exciting time and when she arrived and I saw her with her mommy and daddy for the first time my heart was filled with joy. Then your world as you knew it and the dreams you and Jeff shared of your new life with London was shattered, but your foundation in the Lord remained strong. In the depths of your suffering, you remembered how Jesus had suffered and realized how much God loved You and you put on your armor and began to fight. This last year was not part of the dream you once had, but you have persevered and your faith has been made stronger than ever. I saw the brave warrior in you during this time as you fought for your life, fought to regain your strength and energy, fought to eat, and fought to be a wife and a mommy. As you were going through this battle, you entrusted me to care for your most precious baby girl. It took a brave warrior to relinquish control of all those mother feelings and allow others to care and nurture London. Although bittersweet for me, doing this for you was a joy and a time I will always cherish. London and I talked about you constantly and prayed together because I've always believed God hears the prayers of little ones in a special way. London's happy place was her diaper-changing chest where she would look at your picture and smile. If she was upset, we could bring her there and she would calm down. Many nights when she was restless at bedtime you would call and talk to her or sing some song you didn’t even know that you knew and she would fall quietly to sleep. Dusty, You are an amazing mom to London, a natural mom. Remember how anxious you and Jeff were about being parents and look at you both now--- totally in love with doodlebug and totally dedicated parents. Dusty when I hear your voice in the videos I hear the joy you are experiencing as you share all the special moments of each day with London. Thank you for sharing those precious moments with dad and me. Oct 2011 is a tremendous milestone for you and for all of us who love you so much. You will celebrate your 1st birthday, your 30th birthday and participate in the “Light the Night” walk with family and friends. My heart is full just thinking about it and knowing how far you have come during these 15 months. Just like that box of chocolate you ate so long ago, everyday will hold new opportunities to enjoy life to the fullest, but unlike the chocolate, I know you will share each day and your experiences with others who need to know. I look forward to watching you continue your journey as a wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and counselor, and to see how God will use you in the future. I love you with all my heart, Mom
65: Dear Dusty, It is both humbling and inspiring to be part of this incredible journey God has brought you through this past year. At first, I didn't understand how or why something like cancer would enter the life of a close friend like you, but now I continue to see God's redemptive love and faithfulness even more through your journey. You have walked this through with the most inspiring strength, authenticity, and grace. I know it is only from Jesus. :-) There's one conversation we had that I remember most from your journey. It was actually toward the latter end after you were declared in remission. We were chatting together at a party and you were reflecting on your time alone in the hospital. You said something I will always remember - it was something to the effect of "I have never felt so intimate with God during that time." You described how your life has become more busy and filled with other things since you returned from the hospital, but you will always cherish that time. Even in your darkest and loneliest time, you said you felt closest to God. You almost missed that time. When you shared this with me, I was captivated by this experience. So intrigued and thankful that even when we feel alone, God is with us. Even more, that you missed this time. It inspired me to yearn for, hunger after, and truly discover this type of intimacy with God in my own walk with Him. While I may not be in the same situation, I was even more inspired to position myself to hunger after God's presence and become closer to Him. So thank you so much for modeling and sharing how this journey can only progress through complete trust and dependency on God. I read this Bible passage during your time in the hospital and reminded me of you: "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works." -Psalm 73:28 NASB As life becomes more full or colorful for you and the Williams family, this is my prayer for you. That God's presence near you would always be your good. And that you may continue to tell others of His awesome works. So thankful to be part of your life! Love you, Jenny | Happy 30th Birthday Dust! I'm so thankful for your friendship and that we're here to celebrate your 30th year of life. I can't begin to describe how much you mean to me, but here goes anyway :) You've been such a source of strength to me-- encouraging me, bringing out the best in me, believing in me, asking me soul searching questions when I've felt lost or wanted your wisdom. When you got sick there was a huge void in my life-- all of a sudden I couldn't talk to you like we used to. It really made me reevaluate who I was spending my time with because I so badly wanted to talk with you about all the new mommy things. That's when I realized how important you are to me and how friends like you are so rare. You are a gift, Dusty, your life is a precious gift and I'm so thankful for your friendship. Happy 30th Dusty! Love you!! Xoxox Debs
66: Dear Dusty, In light of the upcoming one year anniversary of your bone marrow transplant, I am thankful that Jeff is coordinating this book of letters to you from family and friends. I am thankful for the opportunity to reflect on the amazing work that the Lord has done in your life over the past year and for the opportunity to express my deep appreciation for our friendship. I’m so thankful for your life, your faith that remained steadfast through one of the most difficult of trials, and for the renewal of your health. The Lord obviously wants to continue using your life, Dusty, to bless the lives of so many others – and for this I rejoice! Ever since we became friends in the sixth grade, you have been a loyal and dear friend to me. We have been through so many stages of life together and I truly cannot imagine my life without you. I’ve learned so much from you over the years and the Lord has used you numerous times to speak truth and wisdom into my life. Your faith has always been an encouragement and a demonstration to me of what it means to truly live in light of God’s promises. This type of faithful living is always easier when life is happy and full of blessing, but true faith is demonstrated in times of suffering and despair. Over the past year, your life has been tested beyond what most of us can even imagine and by the Lord’s strength, you have stood strong and been delivered. You were confronted with your own mortality and had to let go of the ownership to your life, your family, and your beautiful new daughter. Most of us cannot even imagine such things, but by your faith, we have seen what it means to truly trust in the Lord’s will. By your faith, the Lord was able to demonstrate His power in great ways and to impact the lives of so many people who heard your story. I know that I am just one of the many people who were deeply affected by the events in your life over the past year. I rejoiced with you & Jeff in the birth of your daughter, then wept with you at the sobering news of the AML diagnosis. It broke my heart that you had to part with London and face dreadful chemotherapy, but I was encouraged by your strength as you faced the battle ahead and moved forward with peace and confidence in the Lord. I wept at the thought of the pain and fear that you were experiencing during chemotherapy and was confronted with the unfairness and brokenness of this fallen world. But in the midst of this suffering, I was encouraged to get daily updates from Jeff that spoke of your deepening faith and complete trust in God’s will. It became apparent that the Lord was very close to you & Jeff in the midst of this difficult trial, providing strength and a peace that surpasses all understanding. Your faith was an encouragement to so many. Jeff wrote it beautifully in one of the updates: “In a situation that at times has seemed hopeless, Dusty has given us all hope. In a time where many have questioned God, Dusty has simply said, "Your will be done." And in a world where most of us struggle to do anything of purpose in our daily lives, Dusty is impacting thousands of lives around the world—just by lying quietly in a hospital bed.” So at a time when many of us felt deeply saddened by the circumstances and helpless, Jeff encouraged everyone receiving the updates to pray fervently. I know that hundreds of people across the nation were praying for you, Dusty, and then we saw the Lord answer these prayers with miracle after miracle. We rejoiced in the amazing news that Taylor was a perfect match for the bone marrow transplant and that the Lord was going to use her to help save your life. We rejoiced again in the victory of your first remission from chemotherapy that made it possible for the bone marrow transplant. As the transplant approached, most of us could not fathom what this meant or how you must be feeling, but we prayed. We saw the Lord continue to work in your circumstances, providing you with a steadfast spirit and the strength for each day. He kept you free from infection or major complication and kept your spirit lifted. He demonstrated that you were part of a much bigger story of His great power and redemption. I believe that He choose your life, Dusty, to share this story of His great power because He knew you & Jeff’s faith could withstand the incredibly difficult trial. It has been amazing that your story has reached and impacted so many lives through Jeff’s writing and artwork. The Lord has used you both in amazing ways and I am honored to know you as one of my oldest and dearest friends. I’m deeply thankful for our friendship and for the renewal of your health by God’s goodness and grace. In light of the one year anniversary of your bone marrow transplant and your ongoing remission from leukemia, we are all reminded of God’s great power and faithfulness. We rejoice that the Lord has turned our mourning into dancing, and that by your story, so many have gained a greater understanding of the Lord and His eternal purposes. “I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night,but joy comes with the morning. I cried out to you, O Lord. I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,“What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness? Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord.” You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!“ Psalm 30 I love you girl and I’m so thankful for your life! Lylasanccbu, Amy
67: To my dearest friend Dusty, I’m not sure where to even begin with this letter. I’m having difficulty even finding words adequate enough to express how much I love, admire, and appreciate who you are as my friend and sister in Christ. I remember the first time we really got to know one another, I know you remember too! Poor Adrienne, we were spending the night with her and yet you and I stayed up most of the night talking and laughing and planning our senior year of high school. I knew then that God was knitting our hearts together. Little did I know as a 17 year old that one day my very best friend would teach me the greatest lesson of faith I have learned thus far. Praise be to God, that we have had the blessing to journey together for years, despite distance and life changes. You are such an integral part of my faith journey, teaching me more in your short 29 years than I really have room to write. When you texted me that they were running tests on you for leukemia, my heart sank and the tears poured from my eyes. I remember asking God so many times, why Dusty? Why now? Why? I wish I could tell you that in that moment God spoke to my heart and said, “don’t worry, she will be fine”, but he didn’t. What God did do was walk with you every step of the way, showing me through you that he is ever present and will not abandon his children. As I journeyed with you through this time, all the way in Houston, I remember getting frustrated that there wasn’t more that I could physically do for you. Once again, God showed me that you were in the best care imaginable the arms of your Creator and that God was holding you closer than anyone ever could. Though you were physically weak, the strength of your faith carried not only you, but me, Dusty. So many times during your journey, I would cry in despair and fear for the future and yet Jeff’s updates showed me how strong your faith was and I felt like I was hanging on to your strength. The strength that only comes from Christ. Thank you dear friend for showing and teaching me more about the presence and strength of Christ than I could have imagined. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4, NIV). These words stayed with me during your journey and some days all I could do was meditate on this verse. Once again, God showed me how true this promise is. Dusty you walked that valley, full of trust, hope and strength and I will never be the same from having shared, only partially in this journey with you. Thanks be to God! With a heart full of love and admiration, Krissi | My precious Dusty, Even as i write this, i find it difficult to express what i truly want to say. When i close my eyes and focus on you, an emotion so intense comes flooding over me. You are brave, beautiful,a joy to be around, to everyone who knows you. You are an amazing wife, sister, mother and friend. The impact you have had through your phenomenal story has touched countless lives, and no doubt has won many to Christ. It has been my great privilege to share life with you. So many sweet, silly, sometimes sad bits, that in a whole make up a wondrously rich friendship. Thank you for your resolute devotion, in a time when i truly needed it most. This last year only confirms what I already believed to be true, you are an authentic example of a person utterly sold out to relationship with our Father. It feels strange to be at an age now where we are mothers and have stories to remember and pass on to our children. In telling of Gods faithfulness in our lives, my girls will learn of you and find their example. I cannot begin to tell you how much I love you, and always will. You will forever be my Sam. From every part of my heart, Leah
68: Dusty, I'm not really sure where to begin! What a year it has been for you!!! I guess I can start by saying how privileged I feel to know you and be one of your good friends. I don't know that I have the words to express how much I look up to you and how much you inspire me! Your courage and determination in the midst of tragedy blew my mind. To see you so sick was difficult and heartbreaking, yet you always managed to look for the good that God was doing in your family and in your life. I spoke of you often to friends and family because you were such and inspiration and your story was an amazing testimony on so many levels. I also want you to know that I enjoyed every second of taking care of London (yes, even in the middle of the night when she wanted to eat every 2 hours...haha)! I had so much fun being there for 3 of her baby shoots. I'm glad my baby skills came in hanDy!!! I can only imagine what it's like to relinquish your parenting to others, even when they are people you're close to. It was an honor to help your family and be there to help with London. You know how there are some important moments in life where you can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when they happened? I was driving down Point Meadows Drive headed to the grocery store when I received the text from Jeff that you were in remission!!! I immediately started crying (tears of thankfulness and joy obviously :) A sense of relief and peace overcame me. As you got better, it was so good to hang out and just have some good old girl talk! Even with all you had going on, you were always so supportive and concerned for me and the things going on in my life. I treasure those times and look forward to many more in the future! Other good memories for me this year were you being able to celebrate some special things with me, like my birthday, my bachelorette dinner, and my wedding! It was such an exciting time in my life and I am so thankful that you were a part of it. I look forward to a lot more of those special occasions and celebrations! I also remember being surprised at Easter when I saw you back at church!!! I was so excited for you to be back and I can only imagine how great it felt to be there again :) I know you look at life throUgh a very different lens now and I hope I can continue to learn and grow from knowing you! When I think of a wise, Godly woman that I want to be like...you are one of the first people I think of. I love you with all my heart and there's nothing I wouldn't do for you! I know we don't get to see each other as much with the craziness of life but I always want you to remember that I think of you often and continue to pray for you! You are a one of a kind...an original! I am blessed and honored to call you my friend, Dusty! Happy 30th Birthday!!!! I love you, Kim | My Dear Friend, Happy 30th Birthday! This phrase has so much more meaning now, it is a testimony to God's goodness! You are turning 30, not only a milestone of 3 decades lived, but that you beat cancer, you have come out on the other side and have inspired and given hope to so many! It makes my heart so full of joy to be able to wish you a happy birthday! Life would not be the same without you!! I will never forget the day you told me you were pregnant. It was so fun to share in being pregnant together. I will also never forget the day you had London!! I was so glad to be there to share in the joy of you giving birth to your precious daughter. I will also never forget waiting for test results to come back negative so you could go home and live a normal life with your family. Once I heard of the Leukemia my heart broke for you, Jeff & London. I was so saddened and angry that this was happening. But, then in the midst of finding out such devastating news, you were the one that prayed that this situation would bring glory to God no matter what. This immediately gave me peace about your situation and continued to do so throughout. How incredible that you were able to be so strong in the midst of your greatest pain and allow that to flow onto others! It’s difficult for me to recall all the memories of my visits with you in the hospital. However, there are three visits I will never forget. First, on one of my first visits to Mayo I walked in the room and your nurses were trying to replace your various tubes. You were very upset, crying and cussing at the nurse. You looked so sick, tired, pale, and your hair was gone. I had to leave the room and I immediately started crying. I was overwhelmed with the reality of what you were experiencing. I burst into tears and discussed with Jeff how hard it was to see you like that. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever witnessed—seeing a close friend in the middle of such unbelievable emotional and physical pain. I was brokenhearted, disturbed and felt helpless. Jeff later told me it was one of your worst days—I am not happy about you having a hard day, but was glad to know it didn’t get worse. Second, on another visit to Mayo you were in a completely different mood. You were very “happy” or should I say “high” on your drugs. You wearing a bright orange scarf asking me if I liked it. You also asked me if you were supposed to write thank you notes for all this “junk.” Later, you almost dropped hand sanitizer on London’s face. You were saying things people usually don’t say out loud. Some much needed laughter was brought into the situation. Last, I remember coming to visit you on your 29th birthday. You had just had your transplant and Jeff was sick and couldn’t see you. We watched your slideshow and the nurses brought some cake. It was a such hopeful visit as you had just begun receiving your new bone marrow and on your road to complete recovery. I will never forget these 3 visits. I have never met anyone like you. Your strength and wisdom go far beyond your years. You always know the right thing to say and have the perfect advice. I am beyond grateful that I met you 6 years ago and that our friendship has grown over the years. I treasure our times together--times of joy and times of pain. The trial you endured allowed all of us into your world, allowed us to see a deep and authentic relationship with God. Thank you for your transparency. I am beyond thankful for your friendship--for our laughs, our conversations, our trips, or precious time with our daughters and much more. After watching you endure your trial I never want to take for granted the moments that I am given--ones with my daughter, husband, family, friends. Your story is an inspiration and will live on. A true testament to what life is truly about--loving God and bringing glory to Him. I am so glad your story is where it is today. I love seeing London grow up and watching the bond that you have with her. I love that you were given the chance to be her mommy. That fills my heart with so much joy! I love you my dear friend!!! Happy Birthday! Love, Megan Dillon
69: Dear Dusty, I’ll never forget getting the monkey back for Christmas dressed in baby cloths (just when we thought the monkey was gone forever). It took David a few minutes to “get it” but I knew immediately that I was going to be Auntie Pauline! It was such a blessing to watch you progress through your pregnancy with such beauty and so much grace. The months that followed seemed to fly by. I got to shop for baby stuff for the first time in 14 years and attended my first Skype shower which was great. I helped Jordan to prepare for high school graduation and his college future. It was such an exciting time. Then right in the middle of these wonderful events, David was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I was very worried but felt blessed that the prognosis was good. So we did what we had to do to and scheduled his surgery around your due date as much as we could. I think Mom and Dad were packed for a least a month waiting for “the call” that it was time to head east to Jacksonville. And it was hard not jumping in the car with them when that call finally came. I will always remember talking to you and Jeff for the first time after London was born. David and I were driving to dinner. You sounded so happy and I specifically remember telling Jeff, “Son, life as you knew it is now changed forever”. I could never have imagined how profound those simple words were. I was so worried when we got word that something was detected in your blood. My gut told me that it wasn’t good but I prayed so hard that my gut was wrong. Your diagnosis came on the day that David was in surgery. For 9 hours, I sat in the waiting room at the hospital, surrounded by family and friends, including Dad, while Mom stayed in Jacksonville with you and Jeff. For many of those hours the others knew your diagnosis but protected me from the news. Then we met with David’s surgeon to learn that the tumor, while benign, was “supersized” (the doctor actually used that term) and that he would have residual affects from damage to the nerve. It wasn’t until a few hours after David’s surgery that Dad told me about your diagnosis. Looking back, I probably should have felt that this was one of the darkest hours in my life. But I didn’t feel that at all. I felt the love and the blessing and the strength of prayer that was taking place all over the world for our family. The months that followed were very difficult for everyone yet we had this beautiful baby girl to keep smiles on our faces and hope in our hearts. I was able to spend a week caring for London while you were in the hospital. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity had all of these things not happened the way they did. I was blessed to have that time with her. Oh, and I got to bond with Simon and Ben also. We had so many highs and lows during that time. I knew that this was all in God’s plan but sometimes in my weakness, I would try to understand why these things were happening. It was so hard seeing you so weak and in so much pain. And I worried so much about Jeff. It was going to be so hard on him if it was God’s plan to take you home. I just remember constantly praying for the strength to accept His will and peace from the suffering and pain. Through all of this I’ve always admired your strength of spirit and your spiritual devotion. You truly put it all at the foot of the cross and let God take control. Then the healing began to take place. The telephone calls were giving more positive news than not and we began to see a light at the end of this long dark tunnel. There were so many blessings during that time. Remission came and Taylor was able to give you the gift of her bone marrow. Your body began to strengthen and you arrived on the other end of this journey with greater conviction and more strength and beauty and so many more adjectives than I can fit on this paper, than before. I didn’t think it was possible but you’ve proven me wrong. And now, here we are just 2 years shy of the day that I first saw the monkey dressed in baby cloths. I feel so blessed to have you and Jeff and London in my life. I look forward to sharing the rest of our lives together spoiling London and watching the boys enter into adulthood. I know that we will have more trials and tribulations to face in the future but we will get through it all with faith and family. I look forward to being two old sisters-in-law sitting on the beach, watching the sunset together. With All of my Love and Admiration, Pauline
70: Dusty, Wow-what a year you have had! There have been a lot of ups and downs and through it all you have been absolutely amazing. I didn’t want to write a letter just telling you what an amazing friend, mother, and all around person you are, which you are. I wanted to tell you why you are so amazing... You are an incredible listener. I can’t even count the times you have just sat and listened to me cry, vent, or just talk. You are compassionate and don’t judge. Through all the stuff Jason and I went through, you never once judged my decisions. You supported me no matter what and were there to stand up for me when others questioned me. You can rock short hair. I mean, I would totally still be your friend if you didn’t look good with short hair, but the fact that you can totally pull it off makes you even cooler. You are super smart. I know if I need information or need the facts about something, you are the person to go to. Even if you don’t know the answer, you find out what it is. You don’t make apologies for what you think or believe. You say what you think and people can take it or leave it. You are honest in love. You are very funny. Some of my favorite memories include laughing until I can’t breath with you and Jeff. You are a fighter. You showed unbelievable strength over the last year and a half. You never gave up and demonstrated remarkable faith. These are just a few things that make you one of my favorite people. These aren’t just qualities that make you a great friend, they also make you an amazing mom. You are such an inspiration! My life is better for having been apart of your life and I am a better person for knowing you. I love you tons! Meghan O. | ~ My Dearest Dusty.... From the first time I met you, I knew I wanted to be friends with you. There is something about your spirit that sings of God and anytime I am near you, I can feel His love all around you. Every Sunday I looked forward to seeing you behind the coffee bar. I could be tired from a long wedding the night before but knowing you would be there with your infectious smile and warm heart, I knew (hot cup of coffee in hand) I was ready for the message that God would send that day. After news of your illness was received I remember stopping and being thankful that we were able to get those few images during Joey and Taylor's engagement session of you with your beautiful belly~ and looking at those images you can truly see just how in love with London you already were. As the diagnosis began to settle with all of us, I don't think any of us quite knew what or how to feel. We just knew God was there and that was what all of us had to focus on. We knew He had a plan, but as you very well know, He doesn't always reveal it right away... I think the hardest thing for people when going through things such as this, we don't know the words to say or what to do; we just want to be doing something; we need to be needed. I guess it is our way of expressing how much we care, or maybe it helps us to redirect our pain and uncertainty. I am sure at some point (or at quite a few) Jeff really wanted quiet, but I know deep in his heart he felt how loved you all were and how as we stood our ground in battle with you we would fight as long and as hard as we needed to. There isn't one of us who would not have gone to the ends of the earth to bring you home. I remember praying that God would use me. I didn't care how, but if He would provide it I would do it... something I haven't been so good at if I am really honest. So when He gave me the idea of taking photos every week of London, I thought, "Really God, you are making this too easy. Usually when you give us a task we don't want to do it or it is harder than what we want to work." (if we are honest, that is how we often feel.) But He made it so we were able to carry it out and I couldn't have been more thankful of what He asked of me. I know you can't ever express how happy it made you to open a new photograph every day. And I don't say that with arrogance; I say it because I can never express how happy it made me feel knowing that for a few minutes a day I was able to give you a smile and a glimpse of something to hold on to. I promise you I was blessed everyday beyond measure and am so glad God chose me. There is something so special about your family Dusty, that I can't quite put into words~ and as Jeff has waited so patiently on my letter to you, (and I blame it on my wacky schedule this week) I can't type all night and make him wait any longer. So I will say this: Your faith and your strength gave me courage to continue praying and keeping my faith that God would heal you. Your courage gave me strength to want to be more and to be a better friend, wife, mom and most of all daughter in God. As I watched you fight and saw Jeff always near, I knew that God wanted to show all of us what He sees in us and what He wants to feel from us. And that is Love~ pure undiluted love for Him. Trust in His plans and a peace that only comes from Him. I can't imagine what you went through for a minute. But you maintained grace and focus that doesn't come from just anywhere. You truly are a daughter of the Most High God and His favor and love were poured out for all to see. And I am so glad I had a front row seat. Thank you for honoring Him and being a beautiful light to me and all of us who were there with you. If there is one person I would love to be more like it is you. Thank you for being you and thank you for loving me as your friend. I love you so much my sweet friend.~ Steph. O.
71: Dusty... Where to start Dus... i love you more than words can say. Who would have thought that our high school relationship would bloom into an irreplaceable friendship? You have been a constant for me in so many pivotal moments in my life... you have shown me unconditional love, the best listening ear, wise counsel, a servanthearted example and a God-fearing woman. I'll never forget all those early a.m.'s opening the Annex cafe together...how you served me on my wedding day so selflessly...our trip to Chicago... our girls' trip to Orlando... but this past year came as one of the biggest shocks of my life. I'll never forget the a.m. you called to say you were going to check yourself into the hospital because it looked like you were in labor and Jeff was out of town. I was so honored to be "your backup daddy" ... i remember every moment...trying to help you determine when to get the epidural, the concern on the anesthesiologist's face when they returned with your "abnormal" blood work... Jeff arrived and all was well, so i left but kept praying for the doctors to get down to the bottom of the problem with your bloodwork. I did not in a million years expect to hear Jeff's voice say 4 days later "it's leukemia." Devastating shock. I just remember sitting on the bed with you crying in unbelief... then, we switched gears into how are we going to make this work mode... how are we going to care for your new baby girl, can you pump while going through chemo, how can we get yall healthy food in the hospital, how do we notify your clients, how can we set up a central database to help with the needs... 4 days after i helped get you settled into your labor and delivery room, I was helping to get you settled downtown in the chemo ward. It was surreal. But you handled it with so much grace... i'll never forget your smile on the stretcher as we took pictures knowing we would want to look back on them one day as painful as the current moment was. After you had to say goodbye to your newborn baby girl, I'll never forget your mother-in-law's words describing that moment, "the hardest thing I've ever seen"...I followed the ambulance to Baptist Downtown filled with fear, shock, anger, faith, peace... a mix of emotions. You were amazing... so strong as you faced 21 days in a new hospital. You and Jeff kept thanking me for helping... I felt the opposite.. I was so thankful to be a witness in this incredible testimony. Staying connected and being able to help was like breathing air during that journey... what else was I going to do? After your first stretch of chemo during that long 21 days, we received the devastating news that you were not yet in remission and another round of chemo would be needed. The journey you faced was heartbreakingly difficult for anyone who even heard of it... no one could imagine the pain you were feeling physically and emotionally. Your room at the Mayo felt like a resort compared to Baptist downtown... I'll never forget the smells, foaming in and out, walking fast to your room so we wouldn't get stopped, visiting you on your birthday, trying to be a comfort but not a nuisance. At one of the most difficult times during your treatment, Jeff couldn't be with you because he was sick, and of course, you handled it like a champ. You leaned into God and found strength in Him. I'll never forget on my 27th birthday, right after Dougie and I had an ultrasound and found out that we were having baby boy #2, getting a text from Jeff saying Taylor was a FULL match!!! Best Birthday present EVER!!!!! Then, i'll never forget on September 2, getting a text saying you were in remission. I was in our accounting office and screamed and jumped up and down... we all cheered through the Celebration office... praising God for the wonderful, miraculous news. I'll never forget walking at "Light the Night"... longing for you to be there with us and sending you pics and videos in your hospital room. We all knew that you would be with us the following year. I'll never forget Jeff's text on November 7th that y'all were going home... finally, at last... you would be reunited with Londy for good. You still faced so much readjustment, grief, physical recovery... yet you remained the friend we always knew, the gifted counselor, the empathetic and compassionate Dusty we all loved. It was during this time that I grew closer to so many other girls as we worked to cover care for London.... i realized how you were the glue between so many friendships... the role you played in all of our lives was irreplaceable. Even through all that you went through, you remained that friend who we could all count on. You still cared about our problems at work, financial struggles, marital hiccups, whatever... you were empathetic and offered advice. You were AMAZING. I'll never forget our surprise celebration at your house for the good news after your biopsy, your first salad at the Grape, my 28th birthday and you dancing with the belly dancer... and now, one year later, we are about to walk with you at "Light the Night" and celebrate your birthday in person. Wow... what a year... what a miraculous journey... what an amazingly strong family. You have brought hope and life to so many... your testimony is going to continue to bring healing and hope to thousands. I am privileged and honored to know you and call you friend. Who would have thought the plans that God had for our friendship when we were cheering together in Jacksonville 15 years ago. I am forever thankful and in awe of God's goodness in our lives. Words will never adequately describe my appreciation for you, but i hope this letter and this book show you a glimpse of how special you are to us. I love you bestie, Kassie
72: Dear Dusty, I remember sitting at a park on a Sunday after church so the kids could play for a few minutes when I got a call from you. I will never forget that old wooden bench or the tree that I was staring at when you told me that the doctors found some abnormal cells called “blasts” in your lab results a couple of days after you had London. I had been praying during that time while we were waiting to hear that the low platelets were nothing serious, and to be honest I wasn’t that concerned. When you asked me if blasts could mean something other than cancer, everything in me knew “NO” but I couldn’t tell you that. I remember encouraging you, hanging up the phone, and sobbing uncontrollably there on that bench as Joey tried to console me. I knew you were really sick and I couldn’t tell you. That following week when the final results came back in, I was sitting at my desk and I looked at my caller ID.I didn’t want to pick up because I knew it was Jeff. I could tell that he was crying and I knew without a doubt what he was about to tell me. I held my breath as he proceeded to say, “Hey, Taylor (long pause).. the lab work came back and they confirmed Dusty has leukemia”. He sobbed and then gained control as he went on to explain it was AML and talked a little about what the first steps would be. I don’t remember much after that except the whirlwind that followedunanswered questions, waiting and more waiting, and then my first trip to see you at Baptist as they were going to start you on your first round of chemo. I was on the plane to Jacksonville reading my bible, asking God for peace, asking him to heal you when He gave me what I call “THE PROMISE”. I didn’t search for itI didn’t look for itit was literally one of those “stumble upon it” type of stories that I had truly never read before. Isaiah 38 Hezekiah’s Illness 1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, 3 “Remember, LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.4 Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: 5 “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.7 “‘This is the LORD’s sign to you that the LORD will do what he has promised: 8 I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.’” So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down.9 A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah after his illness and recovery: 10 I said, “In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of death and be robbed of the rest of my years?” 11 I said, “I will not again see the LORD himself in the land of the living; no longer will I look on my fellow man, or be with those who now dwell in this world. 12 Like a shepherd’s tent my house has been pulled down and taken from me. Like a weaver I have rolled up my life, and he has cut me off from the loom; day and night you made an end of me. 13 I waited patiently till dawn, but like a lion he broke all my bones; day and night you made an end of me. 14 I cried like a swift or thrush, I moaned like a mourning dove. My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens. I am being threatened; Lord, come to my aid!” 15 But what can I say? He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this. I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my soul. 16 Lord, by such things people live; and my spirit finds life in them too. You restored me to health and let me live. 17 Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back. 18 For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness. 19 The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness. 20 The LORD will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the LORD. If you were to look at my bible now you would see the entire passage highlighted in pink. Verse 16 immediately gave me peace that you were going to be healed. I prayed over those words daily and still look back occasionally to read it while I thank Him for being so faithful. I arrived in Jacksonville and was dropped off at Baptist. I walked in to find you beautiful, looking healthy, keeping it together as usual, but for someone who knows you like I do, could tell you were absolutely terrified. The following day, you decided to go ahead and cut your hair off to prepare for chemo.I will never forget that.never. I was so glad to be there but it just made it all so real to me. I was watching you prepare for what was to come, months of Hell that you couldn’t even imagine at the time. I thank God for the laughter that day.a moment that you, me and Jeff will always giggle about and that’s all I have to say about thatLOL. You were so incredibly strong as they started the process I was truly amazed. I remember lying on that cot next to your hospital bed as you slept one night in the dimly lit room. I just stared at you through the side railsI prayed and I wept that night as fear crept in and I struggled with thoughts of “what if the chemo doesn’t work.what if this is the last time I get to be with my sister”. I was only there a few days and I didn’t want to go. I would have stayed in that tiny hospital room with you for the months to come, but I couldn’t. It was literally unbearable to leave another moment I will never forget. But our God was there.encouraging me the entire plane ride home.with THE PROMISE. When I got back that following week I received a text from my friend Kristina with this scripture.2 Kings 20: 1-5..I cried with joy as I read the exact same story of Hezekiah’s Illness and received the confirmation that I needed to bear the next few weeks of the unknown. I was so thankful that the first round of chemo didn’t have the side effects that we all expected, but so very distraught that it didn’t even touch the leukemia like we were all hoping and believing for. So what next??? More waiting, unanswered questions, battling with my faith and THE PROMISE He had given and confirmed to me. When you told me you were moving to Mayo and starting a clinical trial I really struggled with that news. Even though I was relieved there was a “Plan B” I still knew the chances of a clinical trial working were low and I knew it would most likely be your last option as far as chemo goes. I had always known that a bone marrow transplant was a possibility but your doctors hadn’t talked much about it at this point. I had done my research and I was anxious to see if that was going to be an option. The minute I found out that I could get tested I just had a new found hope to hang on to! I didn’t care what the doctors were saying about my 25 percent chance of being a match.I knew with every fiber of my being that I was a match. There was no doubt in my mind.
73: As you started the clinical trial, we began talking less and less, then none at all for a couple of weeks. I would call Jeff to get updates but you were so out of it and in so much pain there was no way I could talk to you. This wrecked me emotionallyI needed to talk to you more than everI needed to know you were okay. I desperately wanted to be there to hold your hand, help you to the bathroom, to call the nurse for you. Those weeks as horrible as I know they were for you, were some of the hardest weeks I have ever experienced. I had my hope that there was an end and that you were going to come out of this, but it was unbearable for me to know you were suffering in that room like you were. I am comforted now to know that you don’t remember the worst of it. Those must have been those days I would get “rando” calls from you.like the Sunday night you called and talked to me and the girls and asked if we were about to go to churchyou asked if Sophie was wearing a pretty dress and she gave me this very confused look as she looked down at her pajamas she was wearing at 9pm.or the day I got to work and found a voicemail from you on a Saturday night “just checking in to see how your day was going”.in that sweet little medicated voiceI still laugh about those calls. One day as I was driving into the parking garage from lunch I got a call from you on my cellI started to wonder if this was another “rando” call, but for the first time in weeks I heard YOU. It was my sister and you were lucid. The words that came out of your mouth next changed my life forever. “Taylor.you’re a match”. I slammed my brakes on in the garage on the up ramp. we cried and laughed for a good while until a car came up behind and started honking the horn for me to move. I parked and continued to cry with you just thanking God over and over again. I could breathe again. I will never forget that day. I was scheduled to come to Jacksonville again for the actual bone marrow harvest a couple of weeks later. I didn’t care what I had to go through, I was just ready to be there again with you. Unfortunately, this round of chemo was quite different than the first. When I walked in for the first time to see you at Mayo, you were resting, your hair had completely fallen out, you had lost a lot of weight, and you looked really sick. All I could think of was Dad. I can’t even write about it without sobbing. I will never forget that moment. You sat up for a minute, squinted up at me and it appeared that you didn’t even recognize me or weren’t really coherent enough to know what was going on. It killed me to see you so quickly go from they way I left you at Baptist to what I was seeing then. All I knew was I wanted you to get better and fast. The next day I came back after my first shot of Neupogen and you seemed more alert and we were actually able to talk some.this was the day I almost “threw down” with your nurse who was being a complete jerk to you.I don’t think you remembered that either. This time I stayed at the house to get more rest in between my shots so we didn’t get to spend as much time together. The only plus was I got to spend some time with little Londi Bean. I remember rocking her in her room, kissing her forehead, just praying over her, telling her you would be home soon. I promised her that God was going to heal her Mommy and that you would be there for her always. Another moment I will never forget. On September 11th Mayo did a six hour aphaeresis procedure to obtain the bone marrow, and as I came out of sedation afterwards I found out that I had an abundance of the cells they needed and they all looked extremely healthy! I went home with more peace than even before. Two weeks later I got married and the only regret I have about that day is you weren’t there. I missed you terribly and it wasn’t the same without you, but I was blessed to wear your wedding shoes and that is something I will never forget. The following months are sort of fuzzy for me, as I adjusted to blending our new family all the while praying and worrying that the bone marrow would “take” once they did the transplant in October. I kept holding onto THE PROMISE and living each day in faith believing. I was so relieved to know that you were able to recover at home with your baby girl though, and the fact that I was able to talk to you more and that you were coherent comforted my heart. You spent Thanksgiving and Christmas away from me, but at home with Jeff and London and that’s all that mattered to me. I can’t write this letter without thanking Jeff. I am so very thankful for your husband, for taking care of you the way he did, for his strength and support he is a rock and I will forever be thankful for him and love him dearly. And for Wanda and Lloyd for stepping in and caring for London while you couldn’t, and for your church family, for every prayer, and every thing they did to help you get through this last year. Being so far away has been one of the hardest parts, but knowing you were being taking care of on every level in every way gave me such peace. Several months after the transplant I got a call from you that I had been anxiously awaiting. “Tay.the bone marrow took.I’m in remission”. Again, I could breathe. And I was so thankful to see you face to face a couple of months later in March when you were allowed to travel to Baton Rouge. Out of a hospital bed, hair growing back, smiling, and a sparkle in your eyes. Those days were so special to me, Ava, and Sophie. You looked so good, so healthy, and so strong. I saw my sister again and I knew we were going to have many more days and years together. And now one year out, you are alive, healthy and in complete remission!!! On October 20th 2010, God gave you a new birthday. Our Savior did probably the most amazing miracle we will ever see in our lifetime. What an amazing God He is, to have created me 32 years ago with the very cells He would use to save your life. Only He could have done that.none other than our Almighty God. No doctor, no medicine, no procedure. All the glory goes to Him!!! I thank Him daily that He allowed me to be a part of your healing, that I get to spend the rest of my life with you as my sister, my best friend, my “Sorella”, and now my genetic twin!!! Dusty you are the most amazing woman I know. You have always been there for me, we have gone through years of trials and pain, and I could have never gone through any of it without you. I will never take a day of your life for grantednever. London is the most blessed little girl on this planet to have you as a mother and I love to watch you with herI am so proud of you. I am thankful for all you have done for me, including this experience. Without it I wouldn’t know God the way I do todayforever faithful to THE PROMISE. I love you my sweet sister, Taylor
74: Dusty, Thank you for all that you add to our lives each and every day. We love you.