Fortifying and Gathering Reinforcements

We Can Do Hard THings
These cancer bugs with X’s over them are from Ashtyn’s Grandma Poulsen. They are hung in front of Ashtyn’s bed to remind her that she can do hard things and destroy her cancer.

OK Ashtyn’s Army, we are all fortifying our battlefields and preparing for war!  I can feel it! Ashtyn’s Army is increasing in number, strengthening in faith, and rallying in service.  Comments are being heard, prayers are being offered, hearts are being touched, love is being poured out, visits are adding strength, efforts are gathering, children are being taught, adults are growing, friends and family are uniting, and together we are going to kick this cancer’s butt!

Ashtyn’s Army is doing all they can to strengthen her by utilizing their own strengths.  All efforts are empowering and uplifting.

Ashtyn will continue to have visitors come daily to help strengthen her.  One visitor will help guide Ashtyn to her happy place to find peace and hope.  Another will provide music therapy to sing out anger and joy.  Others will come for girl talk.  She will have those who will massage her and provide essential oils.  Pictures will be taken of milestones, dark times, and triumphs.  There will be times for the calm spirited visitors to sit beside her, providing comfort and not requiring anything from her.  Other times she will have visitors that bring laughter.  Words of encouragement and purpose will come.  There are those who will bring in food that she can tolerate.  Already there has been tranquil music, inspiring talks, funny stories, letters written, and uplifting gifts brought.  She’ll continue to read comments and see support on Facebook and her website.  Purpose has been given to Ashtyn knowing that this trial is not a waste of time.  She will know that her pain, struggles, and sacrifice will not be in vain because of the stories being shared of lives already being changed.

Family Army
Laughing with Kristi and Natalie
Family Army
Opening Letters From School - Friend and Community Army
Opening Letters From School
Friend and Community Army
Nurse Entertaining Ashtyn
Nurse Entertaining Ashtyn
Medical Army

Ashtyn is doing her part in preparing and fortifying too.  She is putting on her armor of strength, determination, independence, confidence, perspective, acceptance, and is starting to take charge.  She is being raised up by your prayers and is getting ready to rock this thing.

HER DETERMINATION:  For 12 hours today she forced herself to eat. Every bite was a bite she didn’t want to take, but she did it.  No way was she going to let some stupid NG tube win.  Every day she will tolerate different food.  A great deal of effort was made to provide her with food she could handle.  After much trial and error, this is what she ate today:  cheesecake for breakfast, a cup of homemade creamy potato soup from my friend Angie, a few bites of Ice Cream, one Trader Joe’s yogurt, 32 ounces of rootbeer, a bowl of Top Ramen, one entire cup of noodle soup, a small Red Mango, and ½ can of Sprite.  She did not throw up once! I am guessing close to 1500  calories again.  Way to go Ashtyn!!!!

HER INDEPENDENCE:  She doesn’t get nervous when I leave the room.  When an aide came to weigh her today she made sure to remind me that she needed to wear the mask to go in the hall.  Ashtyn informed me when she needed to brush her teeth. (The appearance of her tongue is changing however no mucositis yet.  Keep praying that she won’t have to deal with the pain that mucositis causes.)  Though there was no desire for a shower tonight, Ashtyn pushed through her fatigue and showered because she knew that showering every other night is important.  She makes sure that the food she eats is correctly written on the dry erase board.  She does her own eye drops and walks with her awkward IV pole on her own to the restroom.

HER CONFIDENCE:  Ashtyn is now able to talk about the future of when she loses her hair without crying.  She is going to pray and ask, since she’ll suffer the loss of her hair, if He would bless her that her hair will grow back straight instead of curly.  Ashtyn has accepted as best she can that she does have cancer.  She now can hear the words “cancer” and “chemotherapy” without falling into a depression.

HER PERSPECTIVE:  Contemplating cancer and the support she has received she said “At the end of this, I will know how many people care.  If I hear that someone else has cancer, I’ll know how they feel and can help them.  I don’t want to work here because I don’t want to see kids in pain, but I’ll volunteer.”

HER ACCEPTANCE:  Last night she asked, “Am I going to be here for a month?”   I paused and admitted, “Yes you will be.”  The tears came, but only for a brief moment as I explained why she has to stay.  “The doctors are trying to get you home for good as soon as possible.  They figured out the best way to accomplish that goal is to put you on different chemotherapy drugs that I can’t give you at home.  You’ll get the chemo for 10 days.  After 10 days you will be done with the chemo but will have to stay in the hospital 20 more days just to make sure you don’t get sick.  You won’t have any ability to fight infection so you’ll need to stay in your clean hospital room to stay safe.”  Miraculously she was quite calm and accepted it.  I remember only a few days ago how distressed she was at the thought of staying for more than a few days.

After only eight days of being in the hospital, Ashtyn has become noticeably stronger mentally and emotionally, preparing for when she becomes physically weaker.  She has done remarkably well during her first four days of chemotherapy, giving her time to build determination and confidence in herself that she can fight this. Only because of your prayers and support could she have done so well. Thank you.

We Can Do Hard Things
My friend Lisa made one of these posters for Ashtyn and one for my other kids

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  Philipians 4:13

7 responses to “Fortifying and Gathering Reinforcements”

  1. Love every post but I especially LOVED the part about Ashtyn praying that her hair will grow back straight! I’ll pray for that for her too because I’ve always wished that I had straight hair (us natural curly haired girls have to stick together)! Love you guys!

  2. Way to go, I will continue to pray for that, and every thing else, you need. Love Uncle Gary P. S Screw Cancer.

  3. Go Ashtyn…you can beat this and you’ll be stronger for it! And don’t hate those curls…they give you character! I used to hate my curls but now I love them…it makes us curly haired girls unique!

  4. Suzanne and Ashtyn! I am in the Butler 1st ward with both of your grandparents. I just want you to know I wake every morning and go directly to your blog to hear of your progress and be inspired. Ashtyn you are so lucky to have a mother who is so in tune with the spirit that she can help you to be strong. She is an amazing person. You, Ashtyn, are an amazing person as well because our Heavenly Father only gives this kind of challenge to His strongest. You are an absolute inspiration to me. There is love in my heart for both of you. I pray for you daily and wish there was something I could do for you. Stay strong!!

  5. Man I love that girl so much! So proud of her and grateful for both of you and your family! I am proud to be a part of Ashtyn’s Army!

  6. So proud of you Ashtyn for being so brave! I have really short hair that is really fun to style. When you hair starts growing back (straight) we’ll come up with fun sassy ways to make you look stunning! Deal?!

  7. You probably don’t remember me but I was in the Wasatch 9th ward a couple of years ago. I had the great pleasure of getting to know Ashtyn while serving in the primary (with Stefanie Jones and Camille Merkley). She is a remarkable young lady with sweet testimony. I pray that she may always feel the spirit of our Heavenly Father and know that he will never leave her side. Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with her. Amy Winward
    P.S. I think our sons are in the same kindergarten class

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