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Three years


Today marks three years to the day that Peyton was diagnosed with Leukemia.

Our most craptastic anniversary.

Over the past 36 months, I’ve kept a Bible verse in the header of this site.

It was three years ago TODAY that verse came into my life.

I was curled up in one of those awesomely comfortable hospital chairs *snort*, just looking at Peyton.  All curled up in her large hospital bed, looking small and vulnerable in a way I’d never seen before. I remember tracking all the lines and IV’s that tethered her to the bed…whispering which was antibiotic, which one was fluids, which one was platelets…learning the words, memorizing the order, my mind holding tight to one of the few things I could understand.

Peter had gone home to be with the older two kids, Peyton was firmly in a drug-induced sleep, the room quiet and dark….and I let go.

I had cried off and on all day.

In the house, crumpled on the floor of our bedroom after telling Peter what the pediatrician had said.

In the oncologists office, watching them probe a needle deep into Peyton’s bone and hearing her pained cries.

On a bench outside of the clinic, absorbing the words that confirmed what everyone knew to be true.

Explaining to my family and friends that she had cancer..no, there was no mistake…it was true…I don’t know…I don’t know….I don’t know anything…but she has cancer.

The first night alone in that hospital room, in the kind of quiet that allows you to hear the beeps of every machine, the muted shuffles of footsteps just outside the door, voices murmuring foreign words…I cried.

I cried the tears of a mother begging God to not take her child. In all my years, I have never cried in such a way. I hope never to again.

There have been so many crying bouts, tears for Peyton, tears for myself, tears for my family, tears for the other children and families battling cancer and especially the ones that lost the fight.

But nothing compares to that first night in the hospital.

And God answered me.

Not in the way I wanted. I can be real honest in the fact that I begged and pleaded and demanded that He fix it. Take it away. Make it GONE.  There was nothing humble or respectful about the conversation I had with God that night. It was angry and full of my resentment for what he was doing to me baby girl.

He answered anyway.

When the nurse came in later to check on us, I asked for a Bible.

It was the sorriest Bible I’d ever seen.

It was a beaten up, wrecked book with tear-stained pages…torn in places…ripped in others…it was a well-used Bible. It was a Bible that belonged on a pediatric oncology floor.

I didn’t have anything in particular I was looking for, I wasn’t even sure why I’d asked. I had no intentions of really getting into any reading at that point.  I think I just wanted to hold it, to clutch it like a drowning man would swear to never let go of that last plank of floating wood.

And the Bible fell apart.

It freaking fell apart.

A whole chunk of it just FELL.OUT.ONTO.THE.FLOOR.

I remember thinking “Wonderful, the Bible fell apart, that’s got to be a GREAT sign.”

And I bent over to retrieve the scattered pages and my eyes caught one verse on one page.

Romans 12:12.

Rejoice in hope,

Be patient in tribulation,

Be constant in prayer.

I can’t say that it comforted me, that it filled me with the knowledge that everything would be OK and confidence that we could do this.

But that verse spoke to me and clarified that although there was nothing I could do for my daughter’s body, I could do these things….and God would handle the rest.

The years that followed have seen many conversations with God that reverted back to demands and anger….confusion at HOW this could possibly be what He wants spilling out more time than I can count.

But, always, that voice that lets me know that there’s power infinitely beyond mine that’s calling the shots and understanding what seems incredibly wrong to my narrow thinking.

Even though we’re on this side of that day…remission, good-health, survivorship…the 13th still holds incredible power over my heart.

It reminds me how fragile our lives are.

How large the lie that we control anything.

How quickly it can all change.

But my verse? It’s power is strong as well.

How big faith can be.

How powerful God is.

Although I will never tell you that my faith keeps the fear at bay or my anger under control, it’s what has kept me from giving up and allowed me to get out of bed every morning (well, most mornings).

It’s been what allows us to keep laughing, keep living thought it.

It always will be.

66 Comments on “Three years”

  1. #1 Maria
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Anissa, it is very early in the day for me to be crying at my computer!

    You know, a lot of times I enjoy your blog posts for a grin or a giggle, or just for a dose of Anissa cause you are WAY OFF IN STUPID GEORGIA NOW.

    Then you post things like this and I remember the strength that drew me to you in the first place. You are a FORCE OF NATURE. The joy and love and faith in you absolute radiate from your very being. And it’s pretty awesome. I can joke about bewbies and bad words and all, but beyond those things I absolutely admire you and I’m so blessed to be able to call you friend.

    I’m so glad you’ve shared your story. Faith is a hard thing to have and you remind me, often, to leave a little channel of communication open with mine.

    Marias last blog post..I wish I had a funnier story to tell about this.

  2. #2 DesignHER Momma
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 9:38 am

    powerful post anissa! Thanks for sharing, I rejoice with you today because of how far you all have come.

    DesignHER Mommas last blog post.."I" is for Introvert

  3. #3 shauna
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I’m crying now. I HOPE you’re happy.

    Big hugs from Texas.

    (thanks for sharing this–stay strong–Peyton is lucky to have you as her momma)

    shaunas last blog post..it’s not you, it’s me

  4. #4 Jewels
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Wow… you have been through so much. I am amazed at your strength and faith. <3 <3

    Jewelss last blog post..Unicorn, now with (some) color

  5. #5 Dawn
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 9:48 am


  6. #6 Jenny, Bloggess
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 9:50 am
  7. #7 Ashley @ mrs007.com
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 9:53 am

    and I believe that is exactly what faith is for…to help us remember that God is bigger than anything. There is something very relieving about the fact that Somebody else is in control. It’s like God is saying “Hey you…yeah you. I’ve got this…just relax.”

    But when it comes to our children that is just easier said than done. It’s not how we are wired as mothers. But you have done a beautiful job and are continuing to do so. Wonderful post Anissa :)

    Ashley @ mrs007.coms last blog post..I wish I was a little bit taller

  8. #8 Geeky Tai-Tai
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Anissa, this tore me up, but it is so inspiring to me! Thank you, my dear.

    Geeky Tai-Tais last blog post..A Scare

  9. #9 Karl
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Well, I’M certainly not crying.

    It’s my allergies, damn you.

    Karls last blog post..Things Not to Yell Out During a UFC Match

  10. #10 Christi
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Oh, Anissa! That is absolutely beautiful. I hate that you have had to learn through this trial, but you are so right–God will do the rest. You are a very strong woman, and I feel blessed to count you among my friends!

    Christis last blog post..How ya doin’?

  11. #11 Tyler Freriks
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:09 am

    That was beautiful, Anissa. We all miss you and wish you the best in GA (wish I was there too!). Please hug Peyton, Rachael & Nathaniel (“Zachary”, haha) for me.

    P.S.- You should really consider writing a book. You have a very intruiging writing style, especially when coupled with your passion and experience.

  12. #12 Kim
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Amazing post.

    Kims last blog post..Solitary Sunday….

  13. #13 melissa
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:15 am

    You are so strong and your family has come so far. This post is lovely and has such a strong positive message. I needed that today and could use energy like yours around me more often. Right now, it’s ok that people are looking at me like I’m crazy crying at my desk. It’s ok. Thank you.

    melissas last blog post..bostonmama79: @irishsamom aww, hugs. She’ll be ok. I know how you feel though.

  14. #14 Adventures In Babywearing
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Oh, you are so precious and I do hope your heart is at ease today. It’s funny how going thru things like this often make other people think you have to be the most strong and faith-full person, but it’s true that we fall back again and that fear is always there… I think once you go thru that, you never forget where you came from. It’s so good to be on this side, but the other side is still not far from our minds.

    Loving you today.


    Adventures In Babywearings last blog post..My Own Private Perfection

  15. #15 Queen of the Mayhem
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Your story is a testament to faith. Sometimes…in the wake of tragedy….that is all you have. I am so glad you found it….and that Peyton is doing so well!

  16. #16 lucille
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Well said!

  17. #17 Adventures In Babywearing
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:19 am

    PS When going through Noah’s seizures, all I had to cling to at some moments were a few certain verses that I taped all over the house.


    Adventures In Babywearings last blog post..My Own Private Perfection

  18. #18 Kellee
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Hi there. This has been my first visit to your blog. Karl posted a link on Twitter, and since I can only imagine he is not prone to crying, I had to check it out. I am not a person of faith. At all. Yet I still found this very profound and moving and deeply stiring. And I can’t say that I’ve been through anything even remotely comparable to your situation, because I haven’t. I can only imagine what reaches out to us in those moment of quiet (and not so quiet) desperation. I am so glad to hear that she is doing better. <3


  19. #19 Amo
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Jenny said my exact thoughts.

    It’s a road that I cannot imagine surviving the journey, but you not only traveled it, you owned it. You paved that road with tears and those tears enabled the gorgeous wild flowers to grow all along the sides.

    Thank you for allowing us to take this journey with you.

    Amos last blog post..Weekly Winners – Beach Edition

  20. #20 Heather @ Domestic Extraordinaire
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:30 am

    So thankful that Peyton is doing well. I know there are a couple of verses that I have found at just the “right” time and have taken me through things that I needed to get to. I love that no matter what, I am never alone.


    Heather @ Domestic Extraordinaires last blog post..On My Way

  21. #21 Amber@theRunaMuck
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Oh, Anissa, thank you. This is the gorgeous and needed grit of faith.

    Amber@theRunaMucks last blog post..my Author, my Reader

  22. #22 tena
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:31 am

    beautiful, sad, heartbreaking, profound- you got all those emotions stirring with the goose bumps and the ugly cry, too.

    tenas last blog post..Dear Kathy Griffin- ummm…

  23. #23 Faiqa
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Perfect post.

    Faiqas last blog post..If Michael Jackson Were Punjabi…

  24. #24 punkinmama
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Powerful post. Thanks for sharing. God is good.
    Enjoy every second of today.

    punkinmamas last blog post..wordless wednesday: pool time surprise

  25. #25 Miss Britt
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 11:00 am

    You embody strength and grace and faith, my friend.

    Miss Britts last blog post..The Hard Part.

  26. #26 Leigh
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 11:07 am


  27. #27 fidget
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 11:11 am


    fidgets last blog post..Things you should read

  28. #28 AmazingGreis
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Beautiful. Just beautiful!!!

    AmazingGreiss last blog post..I &hearts Faces – Week 27

  29. #29 Karen Sugarpants
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Perfect perfect post. xoxo

    Karen Sugarpantss last blog post..Coming to Americus

  30. #30 Erica@ButterflyKisses
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Oh Anissa, what a beautiful and powerful post!! I am glad that today you are on the other side. I rejoice with you in that. Thank you for sharing this with us. Thank you for encouraging me today.

  31. #31 Shash
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Perfect post for this day. You and your family are amazing. I love you guys. xoxo

    Shashs last blog post..A Magical Weekend For So Many Reasons

  32. #32 Cindi Seidel
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Anissa,

    I am so glad you shared that testimony. Faith can move mountains and get families through the really tough times. Your family completed an incredible journey and your faith and strength are abig part of that. Peyton had an incredible amount of fight in her little body too (I have the muscles form holding her down to prove it) and that fight and determination got her through. God bless and you continue in my prayers.


  33. #33 Aunt Becky
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Wow. Powerful, powerful. Wow.

    Aunt Beckys last blog post..Preamble. (Part I)

  34. #34 Cherie
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    You are who you because God is who God is. What an amazing story of triumph and beauty, struggle and sadness. This truly is one of the most beautiful piece of writing I’ve read in quite some time.

    Cheries last blog post..Mochas, Energy Drinks, and Free Portrait Package from Picture People, oh my!

  35. #35 Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing]
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    You are a stronger woman than I. Peyton is blessed to have you.

    Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing]s last blog post..Nervous poops

  36. #36 Heidi
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us. For reminding us, no matter what our tribulation is at the moment, that we really don’t control much of anything, except our decision to keep on.

    Heidis last blog post..July 20, 2008

  37. #37 Ann
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Whew, what a day and what a powerful way to remember it. What a privilege it has been to witness just a little bit of your journey – taken with love, laughter and obviously a whole lot of faith. You all are missed here in FL, but will continue in our throughts and prayers no matter where you are.

  38. #38 Miss Grace
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    You are so very beautiful and strong.

    Miss Graces last blog post..Ink FAQ

  39. #39 MG @ MommyGeekology
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    ..and sobbing.

    I am so, so, so thankful that she is in remission, that your family has some peace.

    MG @ MommyGeekologys last blog post..Cupcake’s Toddler-isms

  40. #40 Issa
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    This was a beautiful post Anissa. For me it’s never been anything religious, but in bad times I tend to find a song verse that gets me through in some small way.

    Issas last blog post..I’ll take a little random with my random, please

  41. #41 Marla
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    What an awesome story! I’m so glad she’s doing good.

    Marlas last blog post..Snowstorm of 2006

  42. #42 Jenni/mom2nji
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Sob. gulp. Sob some more. Incredible post.

    Jenni/mom2njis last blog post..Wordless Wednesday: Sparklers

  43. #43 rachel-asouthernfairytale
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 11:22 pm


    Damn woman.

    Thank you for this.
    God bless you and WOW

    rachel-asouthernfairytales last blog post..Crispy Baked Salsa Chicken

  44. #44 Jackie
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Anissa. You have such a way with words, and when I read what you write I feel like I am going through it with you. I don’t know if you will ever know how powerful a witness this post is. I am rejoicing in hope with you today.

    Jackies last blog post..My Daughter’s 4-H Projects

  45. #45 Beth at I Should Be Folding Laundry
    on Jul 13th, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    So beautifully written. I am rejoicing with you, not only that your prayers were answered, but also rejoicing that YOU are in our lives because of this journey.

    Love you.

    Beth at I Should Be Folding Laundrys last blog post..Hi

  46. #46 PAPA
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 1:57 am

    so glad i read this…i was struggling with faith today which sucks because i was just at a big talk on sunday about faith…this brought it home again.

    we MUST have faith.

    thanks for the beautiful post.

  47. #47 kp
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Amen sister!

  48. #48 Awesome Mom
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 10:32 am

    I think a lot of parents have moments like that when they are trying to breathe after getting kicked in the gut with a horrible diagnosis. I remember one particular night when i was trying to sleep in the PICU family room, praying to God for the strength to make it through this horror, pleading with him to allow my son to stay with me. It is at that moment when you decide to be comforted with God’s love or you give up hope and spiral into depression.

  49. #49 Jodee
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 10:53 am

    This was so heartfelt and encouraging. Thank you for sharing and I am so glad you are on the other side. (hug)

    Jodees last blog post..Kyboo attempts a post…

  50. #50 Kyla
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    This was beautiful, Anissa.

    Kylas last blog post..One thing or another.

  51. #51 brittany
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    I have read this post about 6 times in my reader, and I never seem to have the right thing to say. I want to say that it brought me to tears, but it didn’t. It made me joyous. Joyous for Peyton and for you. Joyous that you can write this post. Joyous that you emerged from that night in the hospital strong and fierce.

    Just joyous. For all of you.

    And wishing more and more people can write a post, just like this, three years later.

    brittanys last blog post..Rhymes with bahsectomy.

  52. #52 To Think Is To Create
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    This was perfection. I relate b/c of our own journey with autism, but I also relate as a mom who sometimes just needs verses to pick me up off the floor again. Especially when I’ve been down there a while.


    To Think Is To Creates last blog post..The Best Me

  53. #53 Jessica
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Three years. What a trooper. What a mom you are anissa!

    Jessicas last blog post..Gobs of Giveaways!

  54. #54 rachel-asouthernfairytale
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    I KEEP reading and reading and reading.
    and I love you love you love you.

    Amazing inspirational you.

    rachel-asouthernfairytales last blog post..Crispy Baked Salsa Chicken

  55. #55 Dawn
    on Jul 14th, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Wow Anissa, 3 years eh? Has it really been that long? In all the time I’ve been following Peyton’s journey I’ve got used to the strong, emotional, inspirational posts that you write. You’ve had me in tears many mornings before I head off to work (can’t do that anymore – too busy now!) or late at night before bed. Neither’s perfect!! But it’s been an honour to follow you through this journey and to pray for your whole family along the way. And I’ve gotta say there’s been some classic funny moments as well.

    You’re a brilliant writer and I’m so pleased you now reach a wider audience. Look at how many friends you’ve picked up along the way – they all think your a shining star just like me. Actually, first and foremost I think your just a fantastic Mum. And I’m sure Nathaniel, Rachel and Peyton all do too – well on a good day anyway!!!

    Sending love across the pond!

  56. #56 alayna
    on Jul 15th, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Well said, my friend, well said. Also crying here. That was my theme verse too, but I don’t have a cool story about the Bible falling apart in the hospital and landing on that verse. How cool is that? I’m glad you got it. Praise God for 3 years, and praying for the next 3 to be as fantastic as the last 3 were craptastic!

    alaynas last blog post..Not Speaking the Same Language

  57. #57 Amy @ Bitchin' Wives Club
    on Jul 15th, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I am still wiping away tears and am completely blown away by this post. I know you through twitter, as a follower, and have never meandered over to read your blog. Until today. And what a day it has been. You are incredible and I am so touched by this post. I’ll keep you in prayers and will also pray that my one copy of the bible remains as pristine and shiny new as the day it was given to me.

    Amy @ Bitchin’ Wives Clubs last blog post..Random Tuesday BlogHer Fashion Bits

  58. #58 Stephanie McElroy
    on Jul 15th, 2009 at 8:49 am

    We don’t know eachother. I received your post from Windy Tucker. Unfortunately, the gown your daughter is wearing in the pic. is all too familiar. I’ve seen my youngest daughter in matching ones from All Children’s Hospital, St.Pete. Thanks to God, it appears that those days are now behind us. I was touched and inspired by your tattered Bible story. Romans 12:12 will definitely help me keep the faith in my daily tasks. I want you to know that your family is in my prayers too. Thanks for sharing your story.

  59. #59 Stimey
    on Jul 16th, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    This is an amazing post. I cannot even imagine how terrible that day must have been for you. I am so glad that you have all come out this other side. May you never have to feel that way again.

    Stimeys last blog post..Why Gerbils?

  60. #60 Darryle
    on Jul 16th, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I don’t think I breathed the whole time I was reading this.
    It puts into words what I imagine is in the heart of a parent—every time I hear of a child with cancer. Almost makes me want to become more religious. Beautiful post.

  61. #61 Lucretia
    on Jul 16th, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    What a beautiful and touching post.


    Lucretias last blog post..My New Gig

  62. #62 Tracy S
    on Aug 7th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Oh Anissa, I have so been there done that. I was just turned on to your website and this post took me back 13 years. It was as if this had been written by me, every thought, and emotion and talk with God. DIfferent cancer, but same experience. There are days I sometimes can’t believe it happened to us, like we left Earth and went to some weird parallel universe for awhile. I send hope for you that one day it will 13 yrs down the line for you and this nightmare will be long behind you.

    Tracy S

  63. #63 Eat ice cream = help sick kids. JUST that simple | #FreeAnissa
    on Aug 13th, 2009 at 12:26 am

    [...] kid had cancer. She was only two years old.  She looked like [...]

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  66. #66 When blogging hurts | Darryle Pollack | I never signed up for this...
    on Nov 18th, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    [...] This past summer,  the American Cancer Society formed a Blogger council—made up of women with experience or interest in cancer—to help spread the word of the campaign for more birthdays. On the first conference call, we found out a little about the other bloggers.  One of them, Anissa Mayhew,  began her very popular blog when her youngest child was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006— over the phone, her words about Peyton’s battle and her birthday put the whole universe into perspective.  When I checked her blog later, I discovered her words were even better on the page. [...]