Saturday, October 30, 2010

Celebrating Birthdays--Fighting for Life

Jenn here. For the past couple of years we have spent this weekend in the mountains with my father and mother-in-law. We celebrate my birthday on the 30th and Winston's birthday on the 31st. He's my father-in-law. The photo on the left is of him eating his favorite food--hotdogs--on his birthday in 2008. This year we didn't go on our mountain trip, where he is from, Bryson City, NC. You see, he's in a fight for his life. Instead, we and the rest of our extended family will take him out to eat and we'll all share in his special day this Sunday when he turns 73.

Winston has survived pancreas cancer several years ago, lung cancer two years ago, and several blockages in his heart that forced them to do triple-heart by-pass surgery. For the past year he has lived with an heart aneurysm and now the lung cancer is back--stage 4. Through it all, he has stayed strong, his faith has never wavered, and he continues to serve so many others. In the photo to the right he is at Myrtle Beach marveling at the fish aquarium as my husband points out a shark to him.

I love this man! He is so kind-hearted--and I mean tenderhearted. I watched him cry and pray over my baby when she was born with her seizures and in the hospital for almost a month. Years later I've watched him look at her and wipe his eyes in awe of what she overcame. "My eyes are watering," he'd tell me. But I knew better. He was thanking God for her. Winston is stubborn, too. In the photo to the left, he is eating ice cream with my husband. He stubbornly sat through a great meal, refusing to eat any lunch at the beach and held out for a meal of coffee and ice cream.

He is always at the hospital visiting other church members, still serves as a deacon, and goes on church trips inspiring others and spending time with them. There isn't anything he wouldn't do for my mother-in-law. Winston has never let his fight or his diagnosis change or alter his life. If someone in the family or church would offer him a beach trip tomorrow, I daresay, he'd pack up and take off. They were just there 2 weeks ago with church family. Yes, he thinks of his Christian brothers and sisters as family. Of course, we worried about him, but knew better than to try and stop him. In the photo to the right, my in-laws on Blowing Rock, NC.

This past week he started radiation again. He will have the radiation almost every day for 3 weeks and then he will begin chemo for 3 more weeks. Please pray for him. They are asking for prayer and I have permission to share his story. They believe in the mighty power of prayer. That is why I believe he has already overcame so much. In the photo to the left, Winston is at his favorite place--the beach.

My daughter is the youngest grandchild in the family. The rest of their grandchildren are grown and have children of their own with the exception of one. The rest of the children in the family are great-grandchildren. She is aware of Pawpaw's fight and she's been praying for him. In the photo to the right, my husband and his father at a mountain waterfall.

This year I am reflecting on the wonderful birthday parties he and I have shared over the years--all the great memories. I'm sharing a few of those photos with you this morning. I'm looking forward to new memories as we celebrate his birthday this Sunday.

Here we all are at the Biltmore Estate on the weekend of our birthdays in 2009. 

Thank you for your prayers!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this, Jennifer. Several family members and friends of mine right now are fighting for their life and your story is so inspiring. So beautiful. May you enjoy your birthdays this weekend and cherish the time you have together.

  2. Jenn,
    Thanks for sharing this story. Your family is truly strong and loving. I like the pictures. I will be praying.
    Enjoy your day and his day!!

  3. What a beautiful family tradition to share! Happy Birthday to both of you. I hope *PawPaw* has an easy and restful day filled with love and all the other children, grands and great-grands who can attend his special day!

  4. Jennifer,
    Winston is truly an inspiration. Thank you for sharing such intimate details of your life to help others. I unfortunately had two family members die of pancreatic cancer in the last few years, so I am happy to hear of someone pulling through that. Winston is a great fighter and I'm sure you know how blessed you are to be part of such a loving family.
    Enjoy your birthdays!
    God Bless you all!!

  5. Betty, I pray strength, wisdom, and peace for your family during this time. Be encouraged. None of us walk our journeys alone. I had a wonderful birthday, thank you.

  6. Anonymous, Thank you for the happy birthday wishes for Winston.

  7. Eva, I've debated about sharing intimate details of my life in such a public manner--including my daughter's story. I've prayed about it, and I've come to the conclusion that I'm not giving God my all if I hold back my testimony or that of my family's when they give me permission to share. A person's testimony can be more powerful than they realize when they hand it back over to God. He brought us through the trials that created the testimony, and He will show us how best to share it and use it for His glory.

    I'm sorry for those you lost, but stay inspired to know that people do heal and survive that illness if anyone else in your family or among your friends develop cancer.

    Blessings to you and your family,

  8. Thanks for sharing your sweet memories with us, Jenn. What great photos.

    I pray today's celebration goes just as well. I'll also be praying for Winston's treatments and recovery.

  9. Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement Jennifer!

    Praying for you!