Tag Archives: Anna Marie Maxwell's Cancer Journey

Home and Reunited

Tonight we’re sharing an update from Anna Marie. Love, Sarah

My blood count started multiplying quickly, and I was discharged from the hospital yesterday at 10 AM! It was such a joy to see Simon Peter in his car seat when he rode along with my mom to pick me up! Needless to say we have enjoyed some good snuggles.

And then this morning, an even more joyful reunion when Christopher arrived! We are so delighted to be together, and so grateful for Maxwell grandparents and aunts taking care of the five children in his absence.

Tomorrow I will go to the cancer clinic, and they will begin the usual routine of drawing labs and then giving me a Vitamin C IV. Once lab results are back (within an hour) my oncologist will decide if I can tolerate another round of chemo or if we need to delay. While I am hopeful we won’t have further setbacks, we also don’t want to push ahead before I’m ready.

I read Psalm 145 today and one of the themes that stood out to me was praising God for his mighty acts and wondrous works. My time in the hospital afforded so many opportunities to share with doctors, nurses, and other staff how the Lord has led and blessed us throughout this cancer journey. He is good, always good—whether we can see it or not—but there have been so many examples and little stories of His faithfulness that we have seen! 

Being in quarantine with no outside visitors meant that I could give undivided attention to conversations with nurses and I truly enjoyed getting to know them. I never would have guessed that I would be so excited by middle-of-the-night fellowship with precious sisters in Christ, while they were checking vital signs and drawing labs. It was a reminder that it is the same God at work in all His people conforming us to the image of His dear Son… “for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). In a way, I hope I don’t have to return to their care; but if I do, I know I will see many friendly and familiar faces!

This is a hymn I was thinking about while in the hospital. Our “little spaces” will all look different at different seasons. But whether it is homeschooling a passel of little ones or sharing Christ from a hospital bed, may we each be content to fill our little space in a way that brings glory to God!

Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me;
The changes that are sure to come,
I do not fear to see:
I ask thee for a present mind,
Intent on pleasing thee.

I would not have the restless will
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do,
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child,
And guided where I go.

I ask thee for the daily strength,
To none that ask denied,
A mind to blend with outward life,
While keeping at thy side,
Content to fill a little space,
If thou be glorified.

In service which thy will appoints
There are no bonds for me;
My secret heart is taught the truth
That makes thy children free;
A life of self-renouncing love
Is one of liberty.
    -Anna Waring, 1850

Love,
Anna Marie

“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that
in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always,
so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether
it be by life, or by death.” Philippians 1:20

Extended Stay

Thank you all for praying for Anna Marie! Here is another update. Love, Sarah

A photo session before I left Kansas

Hi All! This is a kind of long update, so summary up front.

Disappointing news: it looks like I’ll be here for a few more days.

Happy news: Christopher is coming for a visit!!!

Now the details.

It looks like I will be here for a few more days. My ANC (a type of white blood cell count) was not 400 like I thought it was yesterday; it was 192. Today it is 247. And it needs to be 1,000 or above for two days before they will discharge me.

For some reason, my body doesn’t seem to be very responsive to the shots that usually rapidly boost white blood cell counts. The doctor did say though, she’s encouraged that production of blood cells IS starting to go up, because this is the first day my platelet count has also gone up. She said usually the two counts go somewhat hand-in-hand. And she said it can happen like this with sitting and waiting for a while, and then all of a sudden they start multiplying exponentially.

The doctor also put in an “order” to the hospital pharmacy for a few of the blood-boosting natural supplements recommended by my oncologist, so I was able to start taking those again this evening.

Obviously, I was hoping to hear that I could go home tomorrow, so this was a little disappointing. But I know God has a plan in all this and is using it for good. I guess it’s really not very often that a mom of six young children has a week in absolute quiet solitude—except for hospital staff in and out, but I enjoy chatting with them. And FaceTime, texting, etc. help me stay in touch and keep me from getting lonely. 

The part I’m really excited about, though, is that Christopher is currently planning to fly out on Monday, May 25th (which happens to be the ten-year anniversary of the morning my parents told me he wanted to come out to meet me and pursue a possible courtship)! I am SO excited to have him coming—a big ‘thank you’ to Aunt Anna and Aunt Mary for enabling this! Please pray I am home from the hospital by Monday, since no visitors are allowed into the hospital.

Since a number of you have enjoyed the hymns I have shared, I’m including one that my sister-in-law shared with me yesterday. These words, penned by a man who knew hardship and suffering, have been a great encouragement to my spirit.

If thou but suffer God to guide thee,
And hope in him through all thy ways,
He’ll give thee strength, whatever betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days:
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love
Builds on the rock that naught can move.

What can these anxious cares avail thee,
These never-ceasing moans and sighs?
What can it help, if thou bewail thee
O’er each dark moment as it flies?
Our cross and trials do but press
The heavier for our bitterness.

Only be still, and wait his leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure
And all deserving love hath sent;
Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
To him who chose us for his own.

All are alike before the highest;
‘Tis easy to our God, we know,
To raise thee up though low thou liest,
To make the rich man poor and low;
True wonders still by him are wrought
Who setteth up and brings to naught.

Sing, pray, and keep his ways unswerving,
So do thine own part faithfully,
And trust his word, though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee;
God never yet forsook at need
The soul that trusted him indeed.

    -Georg Neumark, 1641; Tr. Catherine Winkworth

Love,
Anna Marie

“I said unto the LORD, Thou art my God:
hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD.
O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation,
thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.”
Psalm 140:6-7

Anna Marie is in the Hospital

Anna Marie shares her heart and what’s going on currently. Please pray with us for her! Love, Sarah

Hello Everyone,

I’m writing from the hospital this evening…

Yesterday afternoon, I began to develop a fever, chills, aches, swollen glands in my neck, etc. I thought it was a side effect of a medication I was taking to stimulate white blood cell production; however, when I called the oncology office, they said the side effects should never be that severe and I needed to get to an ER to be tested for COVID-19. Dad drove me and I arrived at the ER around 9 and was the only person in the waiting room—which was nice. (Dad, of course, couldn’t come in due to COVID restrictions.)

They soon got me back and ran a battery of tests. My blood counts were extremely low on every count, and I believe they said I had a neutropenic fever/infection. It sounds like my white blood cells are so low (due to chemo) that my immune system is pretty much gone. They started me on antibiotics and admitted me sometime around 2 AM. The doctors here were in contact with my oncologist, and they jointly agreed that it would be best for me to stay until the infection is subsiding.

The hospital staff has been amazing. It has been hard for Christopher to be away from me; but if he were here, he wouldn’t be able to come into the hospital. It’s a blessing to have FaceTime (and cell phones and text messages) so readily available. 

The COVID-19 test came back negative today, which was a praise! 

I’m feeling somewhat better, though still have a low grade fever and some aches, etc. I have no stamina; it’s an odd feeling to get worn out just texting a few people. 

This means that there will be at least a one week delay in my chemo treatment, something we were hoping to avoid. But God knows and isn’t surprised by any of this. Once again, this isn’t a path I would have chosen, but I’m thankful that God is using it for good in ways we might not know now. God is always good and has been so good to us through this—and I’m thankful that my soul can rest in Him.

Whate’er my God ordains is right: 
His holy will abideth; 
I will be still whate’er he doth; 
And follow where he guideth. 
He is my God: though dark my road. 
He holds me that I shall not fall. 
And so to him I leave it all.

Whate’er my God ordains is right: 
He never will deceive me. 
He leads me by the proper path; 
I know he will not leave me. 
I take, content, what he hath sent. 
His hand can turn my griefs away, 
And patiently I wait his day.

Whate’er my God ordains is right, 
Though now this cup, in drinking, 
May bitter seem to my faint heart, 
I take it all, unshrinking. 
My God is true; each morn anew. 
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart, 
And pain and sorrow shall depart.

Whate’er my God ordains is right. 
Here shall my stand be taken. 
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine, 
Yet am I not forsaken. 
My Father’s care is round me there. 
He holds me that I shall not fall, 
And so to him I leave it all.
-Samuel Rodigast, 1675; Tr. Catherine Winkworth

Love,
Anna Marie

“The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me:
thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever:
forsake not the works of thine own hands”
Psalm 138:8

Anna Marie’s Update: Round 5 Done

Thank you for your prayers! I just received my fifth round of chemo out of twelve—good progress! I’m one-third of the way through my time out here now, unless there are slowdowns.

My blood counts are continuing to drop. I received iron infusions the last two weeks, and last week had injections for boosting white blood cells. I’ll have more injections this week and doing more natural supportive supplements to try to boost platelets and red blood cells as well. I was already on the low end of normal when I started (which they said was to be expected three months postpartum), so having them steadily drop got me close to having to delay chemo. I’m very thankful I didn’t have that setback and am praying that these therapies will help boost all those blood counts so it’s not a question next week!

I’ve been feeling amazingly well the last couple of weeks, other than some minor digestive disturbances! And the weather has been beautiful so we have been enjoying walks—and a sweet friend loaned me a bicycle so Dad and I enjoyed a ride around the neighborhood Monday.

Simon Peter is doing great, too, and it’s so fun to see him getting more interactive and interested in FaceTime with his siblings and daddy, learning how to put toys in his mouth to chew on, etc. It was really cute when he got the giggles the other day! We’ve been so blessed by some mommies out here in Washington who have given milk for him, and he’s showing his appreciation by gaining some adorable healthy double chins and rolls. 

There are definitely some neat people here at the cancer center that I’ve enjoyed visiting with while we receive our IV meds. The couple I was next to this week have quite the salvation testimonies, have homeschooled, and been involved in mission work in Uganda. Needless to say, we’ve had some delightful conversation … it’s special to discover fellow believers and be able to rejoice in the Lord’s goodness and guidance on this cancer journey!

I’ve been thinking about this hymn by William Cowper lately and thought I’d share it here.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Thank you all for praying!

Love,
Anna Marie

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and
hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto
you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:13

Anna Marie Maxwell’s Update on Her Journey

Today Anna Marie’s sharing the latest on her treatments. Thank you for praying! Sarah


As you can probably tell from the picture, my long hair is gone. I’ll be sharing more about that journey in a forthcoming post. Abigail blessed me by making these sweet matching hats for me and Simon Peter!

Hello everyone! I’m so overwhelmed by God’s goodness as I sit here at my parents’ home, listening to singing birds and looking out at plants and trees decked in their spring finery of abundant blooms, with towering evergreens and beautiful blue sky as a backdrop. The weather has been perfect for walks and time outside on the patio, too. I am so very thankful to have the opportunity to receive this treatment and be here at my family’s home while doing so. They are taking such good care of me and Simon Peter! And I’m so thankful for modern technology that allows communication to span the miles via FaceTime, text, and photo streams

The children are doing great and are enjoying their time with Daddy, as well as Grandma, Aunt Anna, and Aunt Mary who are a tremendous blessing!

I flew here a week ago Monday and received my first chemo that Tuesday. It went well, and I haven’t had much in the way of side effects yet. There has been a little nausea and tiredness (though hard to tell if tiredness is a result of chemo or the whirlwind of the previous week!) but not even to the level of morning sickness yet. 🙂 I got my port placed Monday and had my second round of chemo yesterday. The plan right now is to get chemo each Tuesday. Because of receiving multiple IV medications, some of which have to be administered very slowly, I’ve been at the clinic for 7-8 hours each chemo day.

There are many opportunities to visit with other chemo patients and nurses during that time. I have been encouraged by the faith and hope of many, but there are definitely some hurting people who need the Lord Jesus.

A prayer request going forward is that my blood counts will stay up. I was already on the low end of normal (they said probably because I had a baby not long ago!) and chemo can lower blood counts fairly quickly.

If it gets too low, I might have to delay chemo treatments until it comes back up (which would extend my time out here), or would possibly need blood infusions at the hospital (which we would like to avoid). I’m doing my best to eat lots of foods that help to boost blood cell production, am taking an iron supplement, and will probably be getting some iron infusions to help with that as well.

While cancer isn’t a journey I would have chosen myself, I can honestly say God is so very good and He is showing Himself faithful every step. I woke early last Tuesday morning and as I meditated on Luke 24, which I recently memorized for Resurrection Sunday, it was as if the Lord “stood with me and strengthened me” (2 Timothy 4:17) and “girded me with strength unto the battle” (Psalm 18:39), while I thought of “Jesus Himself” drawing near and going with me, desiring to open my understanding that I might truly KNOW Him, just like He did for those disciples on the road to Emmaus. It was as if I could hear Him tell me, “Peace be unto you… Why are you troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your heart? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself…” And because He lives, I can face tomorrow and every day with the certainty that He has already conquered sin and death itself! Praise the Lord, He is risen indeed, and is come that we might have life more abundantly!

Thank you for praying!
Anna Marie

“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us,
while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened
to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)

Anna Marie Headed to Washington

We want to share an update on Anna Marie’s journey. Plans have fallen into place very quickly, and Anna Marie will write at some point. This morning, she and baby Simon Peter will fly to Seattle. She’ll get her first dose of chemo yet this week and undergo weekly chemo treatments for about 12 weeks.

Please pray for the entire family and please also lift up her health and protection with the pandemic going on.

Back on the home front, Mom, Anna, and Mary will help Christopher with the other kiddos.

Love,
Sarah

In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock
of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” Psalms 62:7