Sunday, February 27, 2011


My first week of “maintenance chemo” has been lived out, and I am happy to say that we can easily live with the side effects. I was more nauseated than before, but not enough to lose my appetite. The chemo-brain fog was barely noticeable, and for only a couple of days. I was never completely “out of it” as I was with the full-on chemotherapy. So praise God that this course of treatment was the right choice for me. Thank you so much for praying about it!

Sam surprised us last night with a phone call saying he was on his way home for an overnight. Not that he needed to see the ol’ folks so much as he needed a haircut from mom (I cannot get that young man to trust a barber… no way, no how). It was easy to say goodbye today since he will be home in 12 days for his spring break!

Ron and Joyce, see the Christmas amaryllis below!! The full blooms were so beautiful. Thanks again. It was so fun watching the new life spring up from the dead-looking bulb!


We are so thrilled that our niece Rachel had her 18-week ultrasound, and after losing their daughter Lucy’s twin in the first trimester, 2 more miscarriages (including twins), and an ectopic pregnancy, we know now she is carrying a perfect and healthy baby girl due in July. A sweet little sister for Asher and Lucy. It is not easy when loss has pervaded your family planning. Rach and Scott have walked this heart-wrenching journey with such sorrow, but it was always trumped with strength and resilience, and I respect them so much for having the courage to try it one more time. Please keep our new great-niece in your prayers!!

Dick and I did demo in our bathroom this weekend. Chiseling off 45-year-old tile from the dry wall is, to say the least, muscle aching and highly messy work. I am not a weekend warrior. All my neck and arm muscles ache. The really good news is….we only put 5 bad holes through the drywall!! One was so big that we can stick our hands on the outside insulation of the house!!  Moral of this story…. Doing your own demo to save money may backfire. We now will need to have the drywall replaced before putting up the new tile. Here is where cancer gives you an edge, folks. You simply don’t flippin’ care about holes in walls!! It is sort of like, “Oh, well, time to call someone who knows what they are doing. No problem.” With cancer, home rehab angst vaporizes before your very eyes!!

Congrats to my niece Maddie’s Fargo North hockey team who claimed the North Dakota State Girls Hockey championship on Saturday. A great way to go out in your senior year after a long hockey career. She is a rock star hockey player and has done the Hieb name proud in ice arenas around the upper Midwest. Way to go, Mads!!

Again, I can’t tell you all how much your prayers continue to mean to me. I am walking daily with a steady faith that my healing is happening right now based on God’s promises, and I will not waver. Thank you all for walking this journey with me and for caring so much. It means everything!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


When we first got my CA diagnosis, we were thrust into total despair and depression and all-consuming fear. When we were able to accept the knowledge that our God COULD heal me, the despair left. Not to say that I did not have my moments of fear…..satan loves to get us fearful and doubting whenever he can. When we decided to stand on God’s promises from Scripture about healing, our faith was strengthened immeasurably. I felt that we had arrived at the place where we needed to stay for the duration, safe in God’s promises.

That’s not what has happened. God has once again swooped in and challenged us to a higher level of faith than we have ever aspired to or thought we would need this side of eternity.

The wonderful old classic devotional Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman is one of my favorites for tough times. Every single day holds a pearl for those who are hurting. Well, when I opened to my reading one day last week, the Holy Spirit stirred in my heart in a very real way, and I got the clear message, “Mary, pay attention to this. This is for you.”

Here are a few excerpts:
            AS LONG AS YOU ARE WAITING, HOPING, OR LOOKING, you are NOT BELIEVING, (Mary)!! You may have hope or an earnest desire, but THAT IS NOT FAITH, for “faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Punch in the gut. And I immediately knew its truth. While standing on God’s promises, I have continued to WISH FOR healing and LOOK FOR RESULTS OF healing. While I haven’t been wringing my hands saying, “Oh, I hope I will be healed. I hope I will be healed,” I have done plenty of keeping my faith in the future.  “Thank you, God, that I WILL BE healed.”

          The command regarding BELIEVING PRAYER is: “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you HAVE RECEIVED it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24). We are to believe that we have received----this present moment. True faith relies on God and BELIEVES BEFORE SEEING. Naturally, we want some evidence that our petition is granted before we believe, but we NEED NO EVIDENCE other than God’s Word!!! He has spoken and in harmony with our faith it will be done.

Funny how God drives His points home to me. I took my hit-and-run car into Mart’s Auto Body to get it fixed. Mr. Mart took a look, assured me that the car would look as good as new and gave me the estimate. With utter confidence in Mr. Mart’s word alone, I left my car with him, KNOWING it would look great. I did not HOPE the car would be done well. I did not WISH for a second that the repair would be acceptable. He gave me his promise, I took him at his word, and I left with complete assurance. I had evidence of what I did not see, simply through Mr. Mart’s promise to me.

Yes, Lord, I GET IT!! I had believing faith over a car repair and yet I did not have total believing faith in the promises of the Creator of the Universe, the great I AM, the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. The God who heals in 2011 as he healed in the New Testament. Yes, Lord, I GET IT!

God is calling Dick and Sam and me to the next level of believing prayer. We are going to take God at his Word, as we have been doing, but we will be praising and thanking Him for the healing THAT HAS ALREADY BEGUN, even though we do not see the results of it. The ASSURANCE of things hoped for…the EVIDENCE of what is now unseen. This is where we must go. To the top layer of what faith is meant to be. No more wishing or hoping. We must go “all in.” We must leave nothing on the faith table.

          Faith THAT BELIEVES IT WILL SEE will keep us from becoming discouraged. We will laugh at seemingly impossible situations while we watch with delight to see how God is going to open a path through our Red Sea. It is in these places of severe testing with no human way out of our difficulty, that our faith grows and is strengthened. Lift up your head and PRAISE HIM RIGHT NOW for the deliverance that is on its way to you!!!!

Lord Jesus, I thank you for pushing me. I thank you for wanting me to put every ounce of believing prayer inside of me into the present. I thank you right now for the deliverance from cancer that has already begun inside of me, though I do not see its evidence, and may not for some time. I thank you for preparing me to share this with others. I serve a mighty and faithful God.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I just got home from chemo. I ended up needing my 1 primary chemo drug and 3 secondary drugs plus a B-12 injection. The infusion nurse had a vein collapse on the first try, but got in on the second, so with blood work and B-12, I, who really hate needles, had 4 stabs today. Sigh. 

We went over my digital scans of the PET, and after Dr. V spoke with the radiologist here about them, there is some thought now that what they saw as a new nodule on the lower lung could be infection or inflammation instead of a tumor. It really changes nothing, whether it is cancerous or infectious. I refuse to have another CT scan to determine that because my treatment choice is not going to change, and it makes no difference in the long haul. They will keep an eye on it over the next months.

Dick came with me today, which was SO nice (and doubly sweet that he did because today is a holiday for him and he could have spent it doing what he wanted at home). He has had a really heavy teaching load since my very first treatment and hasn’t been able to come, but it was great having him sit there. We didn’t even talk much, but his presence covers me like a warm blanket. He was busy studying his Spanish for his upcoming trip to Dominican Republic in 5 weeks.

Had a fun road trip with Sam to Minneapolis. The Wild gave him a great game and they put up a W. He and Billy had excellent seats and he said it really is so different than watching it on TV… person you actually know who has the puck at all times.

I had a wonderful visit with Gretchen and got to meet precious Jack. It sure transports me back 19 years to those first days and weeks of falling more deeply in love by the hour with this tiny life you are now responsible for. When I looked into Gretchen’s eyes, shimmering with awe and sleeplessness and unspeakable love, and watched the tenderness and devotion in how she cares for him, I know that even though she is on the new-parent learning curve right now, she’s all over this mothering job, and in a few short weeks, she’ll have it all down. It is so special to see her as a mom!

Please pray that I might avoid or have minimal side effects from this chemo round!

Amanda, thank you, my friend, for the cards you have sent that always, always, instinctively arrive on pivotal days for me. You have been in my shoes and I know you “get” all of what this journey holds. Your thoughtfulness touches me so much.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


The next step in my treatment is maintenance chemotherapy to try to keep the disease from progressing. I will have only 1 primary chemo drug (2 secondary drugs) instead of 2, which should even lessen the side effects I currently have. If I have nothing worse than the chemo-brain, I will be grateful. As it is, I am so thankful that God protected my body with all of the first line chemo. Dick and I had visions of vomiting, not eating, becoming emaciated, hair loss, etc. and none of that materialized. Considering my drug sensitivity makes me sick from Tylenol, this seems like a total God-thing. I will start this regime on Monday. Please pray that my immune system stays strong and that I tolerate the new protocol well.

We have also decided that we will seek out a lung CA specialist at some major cancer institute and consult to make sure that all of our options are known. We don’t want to miss out on some new development. You could pray that we are led to the right place and the right oncologist.

While Dick has to spend the weekend interviewing prospective students for next year, I am catching a ride with Sam to Minneapolis. He is going up there to see a Minnesota WILD game (Sam is hoping the game will be just that) with his cousin Billy, and I will go along to meet Gretchen and Billy’s son, our new great-nephew Jack!  Check out 1-week-old Jack and see why I am excited to love him up!

                     Photography by Jack’s mama, Gretchen Hieb Schuett

So many friends have lifted me up this past difficult week. Angie, Susan, and Rachel, your words were a balm to my soul. Your vigilant faith in my healing continues to stagger me. (Rachel, keep “pouring it on” when I need it. You are a rock star niece and I so depend on you to keep me focused on The Truth).  Julie, you came over when I needed you most and reminded me that the hope and the fight go on. Mary Ruth, your prayers are so powerful. Thank you for being bold before our very big God. Karol, Jill, Cindy and Lee, your support and encouragement with visits and calls and walks and emails continue to mean the world to me. Thank you for standing with me in faith. Cole, your sweet words lift me and inspire me all the time.

And always, always, my family. Richie, Sam, Mom and Dad, Chris, Margie, Lowie, Mike ……thank you for holding me up this week. It was news none of us wanted to hear. Thank you for keepin’ the faith and believing in my healing. Thank you for loving me so much and for staying in the trenches with me. You knew this was not going to be a sprint, and you still choose daily to walk with me through this muck. Keep praying.

I love you all past the moon.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


On my walk yesterday, the Lord pointed me to the 11th chapter of John and last night I finally got a chance to sit down and see what He had for me there. Lazarus. I’ve read the account dozens of times, but never as a woman with cancer.

Mary and Martha, Lazarus’s sisters, were friends with Jesus, and when their brother took sick, they immediately sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard the news, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.
(This was the only Scripture verse about healing I knew by heart and in those first days after my diagnosis, I repeated this over and over again.)

But interestingly enough, Jesus does not make a mad dash to Bethany to get to Lazarus. He waits 2 days. And then, when his disciples question him, Jesus admits that he already knows Lazarus is dead. “For your sakes,” Jesus tells his disciples, “I am glad I was not there so that you may believe.”

Jesus must have procrastinated even more getting to Bethany because we know that Lazarus had been entombed for 4 days when He arrived. The first thing out of Martha’s mouth was, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (I can relate: Lord, if you had been here, my tumors would have shrunk. If you had been here, my cancer counts would be lower. If you had been here, I would not have a new spot on the lung. Oh, yes, I know Martha’s heart here.)

When Mary reaches Jesus, she repeats Martha’s lament, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Jesus went to the tomb and commanded the stone be moved away. Martha is concerned about the odor after 4 days of a dead body in the cave. And Jesus says to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” In a loud voice Jesus tells Lazarus to come out of the tomb, and he does, grave clothes hanging on him.

I received two pearls from the Lord last night through the timeless story of Lazarus. One, JESUS LET THE SITUATION GET MUCH WORSE BEFORE IT GOT BETTER. HE DELAYED HEALING. He did not run to Mary and Martha the instant they called on Him to help. No, he let his friend die and then he lollygagged for 4 days before arriving. Why? He wanted all of them, Mary, Martha, other family, disciples, to believe in His healing ability, even in the face of the worst case scenario…..death. He says he was glad he wasn’t there to handle the situation early on, SO THAT THEY WOULD BELIEVE.

From an earthly point of view, He let the situation GET WORSE!! Hmmm.

Secondly, Jesus is concerned about God getting the glory for the healing. When he first gets word, he already knows that He is going to heal Lazarus, but He wants God to get the glory. He wants people to see God’s power and majesty. IF YOU BELIEVED IN MY HEALING YOU WOULD SEE THE GLORY OF GOD. If Lazarus had not died and been dead for 4 days…..if Jesus had just come when he was sick…..people might have assumed some medicinal herb cured him. I’M GLAD I WASN’T THERE SO THAT YOU WOULD BELIEVE IT WAS ME WHO DID THE HEALING. But for him to be dead 4 days and raised to life, people would be forced to acknowledge God’s glory and majesty in the healing.

Jesus let the situation get worse, and then He blew everyone away with His healing power. He left no doubters standing around that tomb. They saw healing power great enough to raise the dead. Healing power that is unchanged from then to today. Healing power enough to eradicate lung cancer.

Thank you Lord. Thank you for leading me to John 11. What looks to be a bad report is a means to You getting more of the glory in the end. I stand in hope and faith.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I have been having a party for the last day and a half. I didn’t invite many of you….only a few. It has not been a fun party. No fireworks, but plenty of waterworks. No drinks, no games, no appetizers, no riveting conversation. It has been a pathetic pity party. A desert party. A dry, empty, desert pity party.

The results from my PET scan were not encouraging. The chemotherapy did not reduce the tumors at all, and there is a new spot on the lung. The cancer activity within the tumors is very slightly less, but not significantly. Grief immediately pulled me against its chest and held me tightly. It was not what we wanted to hear. We were so sure that finally, there would be some good news.

Therein lies a large part of the reason for the sadness and despair. As my best friend Susan (who is invited to every pity party I have) told me, I set myself up for disappointment. I was choosing the PET scan as the moment God was going to reveal Himself in my healing. That day, that test, that moment. God had never promised me a healing on Tuesday. I was just expecting Him to move at that time. Susan reminded me that I am not God and that He is not influenced by my expectations. She said, “Mare, you have been walking on top of the water of fear for months now, but you took your eyes off Jesus and you fell in the water. You got wet. Now dry up and get back to walking on that water again. The fear is under you. Stop trying to play God and decide when He is going to do something. Keep walking on that water and keep your eyes on Jesus where they belong.”

My friend and precious prayer partner Julie came over yesterday to pray with me on her lunch break and reassured me that NOTHING is different. This news has changed nothing in our spiritual cancer walk. She reminded me that we continue to stand on God’s word, continue to pray and confess His promises for total healing, continue to believe without wavering in being cancer-free and we Do. Not. Quit. The results of a scan, meant to give an earthly doctor some earthly information, will have no power to dissuade us in our faith in God’s word. Amen.

And my niece Rachel, with wisdom born from heartache far beyond her 32 years, was another person I invited to the party, even though I knew she would verbally kick my butt from here to eternity when she heard me out. I needed her truth. Rachel knows my vulnerabilities and she knows how to get in my face and she knows all too much about fighting for LIFE. And this is part of what she stuffed in my face.

You are not dead. You are still living. Where there is breath, there is life.  THERE IS LIFE IN YOUR BODY, IN YOUR LUNGS, IN YOUR BONES. YOU ARE NOT DEAD. YOU ARE NOT DEAD. DO NOT ACT AS THOUGH YOU ARE. DO NOT CRY AS THOUGH YOU ARE.

Fine, have your moments of disappointment, cry on Dick's shoulder, sob. Let it all out. Then get back up and FIGHT.

I can't tell you how annoying it was, how demoralizing it was, to be told time again by "EXPERTS" that Lucy would die. That her death was imminent. That we would hold her for a few minutes after birth as she slipped away....

even as the ultrasounds confirmed some of their worst fears, we still HAD TO BELIEVE. we had no other choice. and neither do you. YOU STILL HAVE TO BELIEVE.

It doesn't matter what your family says, or what the lady down the street says, or even what your damn doctor says. IT MATTERS WHAT HOPE IS WRITTEN IN YOUR HEART.

what is written in your heart?    what?

And I knew that written in my heart was hope. Beneath the sadness of the scan news, there was hope. God has not changed from who He was 2 days ago. As long as Jesus Christ is my Savior and my Lord, there is always hope. I have to shake all that dry desert sand off of my heart and unearth my hope again. My belief in healing. My unwavering belief that my God still heals and that He is still in the business of miracles. Until the time comes when God speaks to me and tells me that accepting my death is my new path, I will sojourn on my trail of faith. God can do anything. He can excise tumors with a single thought. He can wipe out every cancer cell with a blink of an eye. What is impossible for man is possible for God. And until I am convinced that God wants me to die, I choose to believe that He will heal me.

My brother asked me why I look at it with such a dogmatic view. And all I can say is that it IS black and white to me. I either believe in my dying or I believe in my healing. Only one choice allows me to live my life. There is no gray area for me. There is no gray area for my husband and son and for our spiritual supporters.

The feeling as if I were wandering in the dry desert the past 2 days led me to the book of Exodus and there I found a word from God. It was rain.

When the Israelites were led out of Egypt by Moses, God promised him that He would make a way for them across the Red Sea. “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and he will chase after you. I have planned this SO I WILL RECEIVE GREAT GLORY at the expense of Pharaoh and his armies. After this, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.”

The Israelites were scared and irritated and began to panic and cry out in despair as they saw 600 of Pharaoh’s chariots approaching them.

Moses told them, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. You won’t have to life a finger in your defense.”


We all know the end of this amazing historical event. God kept His promise to His people. He parted the Red Sea, and the Israelites crossed over into the Shur Desert. As soon as all of them were on the other side, the Lord told Moses to raise his staff over the sea again, and the seawater rushed over all the Egyptians (and their 600 chariots) who were hotly pursing the Israelites. All perished.


The chariots of cancer are pursuing me. Has God allowed this so that He can receive great glory (at the expense of the oncological world, fancy steel scanners and the pharmaceutical companies) when he rescues me from the pursuit?? What I really revel in is this: God’s word to me to just stand where I am and watch Him move in His time. THE LORD will fight for me, as He did for His chosen people at the Red Sea ….. I don’t need to do anything but be still and wait on Him. The battle is the Lord’s, not mine!!

My sweet friend and spiritual sister Lee (she came to the party as it was winding down) asked me, “And do you think God allowed you to have an incurable cancer (by earthly standards) so that His glory may be even greater when He heals you?” It very well could be. There will be NO DOUBT on that day that it is God’s power doing the healing, because nothing else is purported to be able to. Radiation can’t, chemo can’t, surgery can’t. Lee, I think you are on to something that has weight.

And so, my blogging friends, I am cleaning myself up, drying myself off and discovering my fight and my faith again today. It may take a day or so, but I am on my way. Rachel told me that I could cry today, but tomorrow we fight and we don’t give up. And so we don’t.

You will all be invited to the victory party. Date and time of the Lord's choosing.

He is my God and I will praise him; he is my father's God and I will exalt Him. Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in power. Your right hand, O Lord, dashes the enemy to pieces. With unfailing love you will lead this people whom you have ransomed You will guide them in your strength to the place where your holiness dwells.

From Moses's Song of Deliverance
Exodus 15:2,6,13

Monday, February 7, 2011


The other day I googled “healed of cancer.” One of the links from a church caught my eye and I went to the website. There was a moving testimony from a pastor of his own healing from cancer as well as the healings of his two children. It left me encouraged, as he stressed how you need to stand on God’s Word for healing, which I have tried to do. In the little comment box, I filled in the required fields (name and phone number), and then I left a one sentence prayer request.

Two days later, I got a phone call from the pastor of this church in Los Angeles! He listened to me, shared his own cancer story with me, encouraged me, talked to me about the passage in John 5 where the sick man was waiting by the pool in Bethsaida, and then he prayed for me. Let me tell you, his prayer was so unbelievably powerful that I was weeping before he was done.  He told me that if I ever get to LA, I need to come and visit their church (which really hones in on healing).

It made me realize just how large the body of Christ is. So many fellow believers who want to lift up their brothers and sisters in Christ. It is humbling. I want to go and do likewise, and be a bold prayer warrior for people who need healing. So many have been doing it for and with me, including a warm and loving Hispanic pastor from half a country away.

I will let you all know of my scan results when they come in. Tomorrow is the test.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I've had a busy week and those are the best kind. Unfortunately, some of the busyness revolved around 3 separate problems with one of our cars, requiring driving it to and from Yankton (in a ground blizzard) for service, to and from our local mechanic for service (twice), and to and from two body shops for estimates (some loser "hit and ran" us while parked and of course left no note with their insurance information). One of the problems is solved, the other 2 are scheduled in. I worked as a Title teacher on Wednesday which I always enjoy. And we've had the happy news of my great-nephew's birth.

JACK, right after birth

Jack Sloane Schuett FINALLY (he was 10 days overdue and making his sweet mama miserable!) arrived on Tuesday night. He is perfect and healthy and already very loved by all of us. We wish he did not live in Minneapolis....too far.

I decided to move up the day of my PET scan to Tuesday (from Thursday). It is hanging over me, and I just want to get it done. The results will determine the next step in my treatment. While I continue to stand strong on God's Word about healing of my cancer, the Scriptures clearly do not speak about God's timing for ANYTHING. I do believe it will happen and I stay in that belief mode. I need to keep that perspective going into the PET.

I so hope the results do not take several days, though that could happen if the radiologists are backed up. Pray that my anxiety over the PET stays reasonable.....I hate these tunnels in these imaging machines. Dick will be able to go with me to Sioux Falls, which is a blessing. He is my rock.