When Life Stops: Surviving the Storm

Surviving the Storm

Surviving the Storm

Life is complicated.

Full of out-of-reach dreams and in-your-face commitments. We are busy with bosses and deadlines and spouses and kids and extended family obligations. Even time with friends doesn’t always come baggage-free. Throw in a few hormonal teens, an excess of extra-curricular activities, an aging pet, and piles of laundry and dishes that never deplete, and peace feels far-fetched.

Sometimes I want off the Tilt-a-Wheel.

Sometimes I need to be more careful what I ask for.

Want to know a sure way to find perspective in less than half a second?

Wake up in the storm of serious illness.

Life stops. Everything going on around you fades. Because all those complications just became irrelevant.

My blog has been silent these last few months, minus a post or two. Up until the last few weeks, I’ve been silent too. Now I’m ready to tell you why. Not because I want sympathy or pity or an I’m-praying-for-you comment fest, but because I wrote a challenge a while ago about being transparent.


Here’s an excerpt from my 2012 Christmas Letter:

What doesn’t get put in Christmas letters are the struggles. The events that hit the hardest. The moments that brought life-altering decisions. The impact that forced the most personal change.

I find it interesting that we don’t share our struggles and our triumphs over them. Those stories would inspire instead of defeat. Those stories would bring hope instead of despair. As a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, I know I’ve failed. Now I want to know there is redemption. (If you want to read the entire letter, the link is HERE.)

One word stilled my Tilt-a-Whirl life. You know the proverbial fork in the road? That single word sent it crashing down in front of me. Not in a choice as to which way I would walk, but as a Mt. Everest barricade.

fork in the road

A sick feeling twisted my stomach. “Anything else, Lord.” I dropped to my knees on my bedroom carpet. “I’ll do anything else. But not this.”

 Yes. This. His voice whispered across my heart. Remember your challenge? Are you still willing to be transparent?

“I don’t know.” I crawled to the couch, clicked on Netflix, and got lost in Grey’s Anatomy. For fifty-seven episodes.

I asked if you were willing to be transparent. A gentle poke had me push pause on the remote.

“I don’t know, Lord. Maybe.” I limped from the couch to my comfy bed and curled up under the flannel sheets and read my way through the bestseller list on Kindle.

What about your challenge? The reminder came quietly.

My heart squeezed and I pulled the comforter over my head. “I think I need to clean out the closet under the stairs. I should repaint Maddy’s room and go through all the old photo albums and—”

How long are you going to hide? His words stopped my ramble.

Hiding. I’m not hiding.


You are hiding. Do you want to escape or be real?

As a writing coach, I’ve spent the last three years teaching people how to tell their stories in a way that will effectively impact the lives of others. New writers don’t always know how to structure their thoughts into words and paragraphs and pages. They don’t know how to get across what they’re feeling.

But I do.

Someone once asked me if my blog posts are cathartic. In a way, yes. I’m a writer. When I’m stressed, I write. When I’m excited, I write. Words are my release. But I’ve always believed that we go through hardships for a reason. If I can’t turn around and encourage those behind me, what good is my journey?

Some days I think my story doesn’t matter.

Other days, I’m convinced it does.

Every day I want to be real.

I’m ready. I’m ready to share. I haven’t written The End. Not yet. Because I’m still stuck behind that huge fork. My upcoming blogs may not be the most eloquent, but each post will be transparent. If I can reach out and steady someone else, being transparent will be worth it.

So here it goes. That word that changed our entire lives in half a heartbeat?


I’m a Cancer Mom. I’ve never had cancer. I’ve never had my body turn against me. I’ve never suffered from the poison of chemo and radiation.

But I’ve watched my son suffer.

The first time Kyle battled leukemia, the war lasted three-and-a-half years. That’s 42 months or 168 weeks or 1,176 days of muscle pain and nausea and weight loss and rashes and mouth sores and fatigue and fear.

Not every day was bad. But most days weren’t great.

This time, he’ll have to fight another two years. Two years of putting our lives on hold. He’s had to drop out of nursing school and come home. He’s had to say goodbye to the friends that are moving forward without him. He’s had to revisit that place none of us ever wanted to go.


I am a Cancer Mom. And I’d like to share my journey.

Look for upcoming posts with the tag—Surviving the Storm.




  1. My heart is breaking as I read the update. I knew you were going through this and was already praying for you, but somehow I had missed how long a road this will be.

    Please know you’re not alone. I and many others are praying for God to touch and heal Kyle…quicker than they think possible. Praying for you and your sweet family, for strength, comfort, and peace. Praying for each of you. Hugs from SC…

  2. Beautiful post. I’m crying. It’s so hard to hear that word for anyone. For a mother it must be the hardest of all.

    Crying and praying for you, Lori, and for Kyle.

  3. Oh, Lori, I’d wondered. I’m so very sorry for you and your family. I don’t think the “why me?” or “why us?” questions can be answered. It’s just that this life is tough, and sometimes that affects even the young. Which is heartbreaking. My heart indeed breaks for you.

    Know that you will be in my thoughts and prayers. May God guide the physicians, strengthen your family, and give you courage and peace each day of this journey. Hugs.

  4. Hugs and prayers. I will be thinking of you and your son through this. Your spirit, your strength is inspirational. God bless you both.

  5. Susi MItchell |

    Lori, I would have never known you and Kyle if it had not been for Marcus Smith asking us in his Bible class to pray for Kyle and for you. Once I entered your lives, I opened my heart to love you and to feel the pain with you. Lori, your willingness to share your life’s reality with anyone who will listen is more than brave. I believe it is generous! Your words, your transparency, your journey are a rare gift enriching lives each time you share. How many reading this post will stop and think about what is really important in their lives? How many will give more hugs, and more praise, and more thanks to God? How many will stop and pray? You and Kyle will never know how many lives you will touch. I’m thankful that you have touched my life already. Thank you for sharing. It’s a privilege and a blessing to know you and Kyle, to share your journey, and to pray for you both. Praying every day, believing that God is healing Kyle! Hugs and more hugs!

  6. Sweet friend, your pain and relief sharing this journey is nothing short of courageous obedience. Like you I believe everything in our lives happens for a reason and that God is in control of even the miniscule details.

    You may never know this side of heaven the hearts and lives that your family’s story will touch and change. I love the scripture that says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (II Corinthians 1:3-4 NAS)
    What encouragement to all of us that God is answering your prayers and our prayers by giving you all comfort, because you could not write what you’ve written unless God had wrapped each one of you in the warmth of His blanket of love.
    Thousands are storming heaven with prayers for Kyle, You, Pat, Alex, and Mattie. And God will turn all this for Kyle’s good and His glory.


  7. Writing is cathartic. Putting the words out there takes them from those corners in your mind and gives those of us who know and care about you a chance to tell you aren’t alone.

    No. I can’t make it better. No. I can’t feel the pain you and Kyle and your family will feel as you go through this. But, your gift of sharing will help me put my own life in perspective and prepare me for any similar struggles I might face in my journey.

    The only thing I can do is reach out and let you know I care.

    When we first met in DiAne’s fiction clinic for NTCWA, you were working on a retrospective of the impact on you, on Kyle, and on the family during Kyle’s first bout with leukemia. Now, your blog and Caring Bridge entries give me a look at the daily journal of your journey. The raw emotion. The celebration of small victories. The pain of a mother’s love when she can’t take on the burden God chose for her son.

    This time, with the memories and emotions in-the-now, your and Kyle’s story may very well help others who face this same challenge. I have faith that it will end with an epilog of Kyle’s life in remission after this second body slam.

    You said your post wasn’t meant to garner prayers. You’re already on my prayer list and will stay there. I send hugs and hope and faith that one day you’ll be able to look forward with relief.

  8. I can’t even imagine. My prayers are with you. Stay strong.

  9. You are a brave and powerful and amazing woman. You can do anything and everything. You and Kyle’s courage is inspiring. Love and hugs to you both!

  10. Your transparancy and love will bring glory to God, an d comfort to many. However this turns out, you have something to share that many need.

    My wife had cancer, but was spared. My mother died of cancer. My best friends wife just died of cancer. I loved her as much as I love him, and I am crushed by this. He is ministering to another couple where the wife is dying of cancer (and has asked me to pray for them).

    My prayers will go to heave for you, your son, and the rest of your family. God will be with you, no matter how hard it is.

  11. I’m not a cancer Mom but I like to write. My story is different but pain, heartache the same. My story started with the broken ankle to the ankle replacement, three years later, then my husband left, the next year I’m in IRS debt, now four years later still fighting the same battle. No relief in sight.
    I’m spiritually, emotionally broken waiting for something positive to happen in my life.

    • Lori Freeland |

      The broken ankle is horrible and yours is so much worse than mine! I’m so sorry. I have a hard time praying for me, but I will pray for something good for you :) Thanks for reaching out to me.

  12. i am crying as i read your stories…I am going through an endless struggle and feel the same way about faith. I have nothing really to be thankful for. Just have to do what I have to do and suffer everyday, with no help, I have to take care of my father with cancer, my disabled husband, an ungrateful boss and take care of my 2 small kids.

  13. Normalu Cooper |

    You and Kyle are so in my thoughts and in my prayers. You and he and God will make it through this. You are both strong and courageous and faithful, and God is great. God bless you both!

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