Guest Post: Celebrate

banner "celebrate"

Sunday, October 8, 2006 was a defining moment in the life of our family. In the ER of a hospital in Arlington, VA, while visiting our youngest daughter and her husband, I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. We were sad.  We were shocked. We were numb. Jim and Jana were by my side, and holding onto each other, we wept our hearts out. We contacted Jill in CA and our son, Jon, in China. We all wept. Jim and I returned to Orlando the next day and I didn’t know if I had days or weeks to live.

In the days, weeks, months, and years that followed I would undergo three surgeries, and numerous rounds of aggressive chemo treatments. There were days when I was so weak Jim didn’t know how he could get me in the car to take me to the hospital. There was the day I lost hope and told him, “I can’t do this; it’s just too hard.” There were the days that I learned the cancer had returned and I would need further treatment. More recently there were teary days when I was growing weary of the journey.

Jim and Jan

And while I would NEVER, EVER have “signed up” for cancer, God has shown me in the midst of the dark, scary, hard, wearisome days, I have SO MUCH TO CELEBRATE!

  • EVERY DAY OF LIFE…5 years, 9 months, and 21 days!
  • God has been with us through each step of the journey…He’s never once left us by ourselves to walk this path alone! That’s HUGE!
  • Our family has been incredibly supportive…coming from CA, TX, and China to help…phoning, skyping, and sending e-mails!
  • I’ve always loved being a Gramma; but the day I was diagnosed I didn’t think I’d ever get to hold Jon and Amy’s baby due 5 months later, or be a Gramma to any babies God might give Jana and Josh. Maddie (Jon and Amy’s) is now 5; Abby (Jana and Josh’s) is 4 ½, and Baby Strecker is due any day! What abundant grace!
  • When I’ve had a break from chemo we’ve traveled to visit all three families, celebrating birthdays and Christmas together!
  • A huge group of family and friends pray regularly for me, sending notes of encouragement, hope, and love, including Scriptures and songs that have touched us deeply.
  • Dr. Bigsby, my oncologist, has not only cared for my medical needs, but he’s become a dear friend of ours! He also prays for us daily!
  • One day in the elevator at the Cancer Institute a cleaning lady with her cleaning cart in tow saw that I was not feeling well. As she got off the elevator she said, “God loves you very much, and He’s going to take care of you.”
  • Chemo nurses, techs, and medical staff could not have been more loving, caring, encouraging, and supportive! ALWAYS CHEERING ME ON…ALWAYS!
  • We’ve had a lot of opportunities to encourage other patients in the chemo suite.
  • Writing daily in my “Thankful Journal.” There’s no better way to turn a dark day into one overflowing with thankfulness than to focus my heart and mind on God’s blessings and start writing!
  • While our medical bills have been enormous, God has abundantly provided!
  • Jim has lovingly cared for me 24/7 throughout this entire journey!

Truly, there is much our family is CELEBRATING in the midst of a scary diagnosis that none of us would have chosen!

Jan and Jill

Jan and Jim Holsclaw (Jill’s parents) live in Orlando, Florida. 


  1. Love this. Love you all!

  2. Beautiful.

  3. So glad to see the family stories coming to light under those great banner words of God. Great job you guys!