Happy Birthday, Maddy!

When Maddy turned seven, our family celebrated by beginning a new chapter that was be life changing, helped to raise awareness for those suffering from food allergy, and helped educate people about OIT. Now, as Maddy turns 8, and will begin the 3rd grade, so many possibilities are open to her as a child that doesn't have food allergies standing in her way!

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Check out my other blog, The Best Medicine, about my husband's battle against cancer.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Gotta Have Faith

2009 Gooley Family
It is difficult to ignore when a child, teenager or most recently, an adult, is lost to a food allergy related accident and it hits the news. Events like these should be prevented one way or another through education, better training, or quicker response time - whatever the case may be. These incidents become lodged in your mind when your child or you yourself are anaphylactic to food allergies. Even now, since Maddy has become desensitized, even beyond ‘bite-proof,’ to peanuts when big news like an allergy related death breaks; I can’t help but think, “That could have been my child!” How fortunate we are to have found OIT and what a miracle it is that OIT has worked so well!

Every day since Maddy graduated from peanut OIT a little something special happens for us that makes us realize just how amazing this scientific miracle is and every day we count this as an extra special blessing in our life. This goes for our life with cancer. We count our blessing and we live on, everyday our faith growing greater – it has to when faced with these two beautiful miracles!

Not surprisingly, for the last number of years, our role in our church community has grown tremendously. Faith in our life has grown tremendously and we've grown with it. Our church came to us, almost literally, at a time when we needed it most, during Jason’s first bout with cancer and so, in return, we went to them. And they have been an incredible force in our lives.

Maddy & Hayden raise funds for pastor's sabbatical fund.
As a young adult, I didn't know what I believed or where I belonged. I had been raised in a different church than the one I attend now and my views, not so much strayed, but were challenged, as I entered adulthood. When we had Maddy we did not attend church unless we were attending a family function - I always felt that as long as I raised my own child well - to tell right from wrong, good from evil, modeled good decisions and goodness to other people - I would lead her down the right path. And I still don’t disagree with that; and certainly I would never disrespect anyone’s faith choice – as long as their moral & civil obligations hold up – but the community that we find at church is like no other. I never regret going, I love those we know there, and we've been very active members - participants in boards, helpful in Sunday school, we love the fellowship activities and do what we can when we can! The messages our pastor sends out to us always seems to hit home and we take those messages and to heart. 

When we first began attending church more regularly, when our family was first in need, Maddy was unable to eat at many of the coffee hours during fellowship following service due to her peanut allergy. Maddy was certainly the star of the Gooley show, though and was present regularly – her Grandma Linda and Nanny Lou, Jason’s Godmother, took her weekly to service in order to give me a break during chemo. Slowly, as we became more visible, more frequent attendees at church, Maddy’s presence and her peanut allergy became very well known. There was hardly a Sunday that Madeline couldn't eat at least something after service, even if it was only sliced fruit and cheese & crackers – every item checked and rechecked. There were some people that even sought us out to let us know that special preparations were made specifically for us, for her – the kitchen was washed, the utensils prepared, and all the ingredients were kindly checked, and often brought with them. What care they took.

Trunk or Treat - 2012 Gooley Family theme - Can you guess? 
As Jason is in his third round of chemo, and Maddy has completed OIT, our church continues to care for us. Each week, either one or two meals have been prepped for us. This time, though there is no concern for peanuts, no worry of cross-contamination and no bother that she will get ill from a peanut issue. It has been extremely helpful to have the help as Jason works extra hours the time he is not on chemo – he is an amazing man! When he is on chemo, he is ill for about six days straight. The man does not catch a break! 

We don’t just get coffee hour and meals from our fellow church members, though. As members of such a beautiful community, we have always belonged, always felt welcome - whether we can get there regularly or not. There are thoughts and prayers going in and out for us and people constantly asking about Jason and Maddy and lifting us up in their devotions. When I am there I am hardly left alone because everyone wants updates on my family - it is wonderful that everyone cares. We are a part of something special there.
2011 - Annual FCUCC baseball trip! 

 We have been battling this horrific disease, cancer, for four years now, and Maddy had been avoiding peanuts due to the threat of anaphylaxis for seven years before undergoing peanut desensitization treatment. In that time we'd spoken with so many folks in and out of church – face to face, on-line, and over the phone that use faith as a way to connect. It’s always both comforting and interesting. There are so many different perspectives on how faith carries a person through difficult times. I think I have the beginnings of a thesis! Every view, every word is delivered with good intentions – to make us each feel better - and it does, EVERY TIME. Every word of hope, prayer, and courage sent our way strengthens us and empowers us to keep living life positively. I thank you all for those words.

When life throws us lemons – we all hope God will throw us a miracle, but it helps to have wonderful people waiting with you! 

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