“Hello! My name is Marlena and at 24, I was diagnosed with a rare advanced stage of cancer known as DSRCT. Since January of 2005 my life was changed. I underwent surgery, chemo, matched-sibling bone marrow transplant and radiation. In November of 2006, doctors found disease in my brain and liver so our journey continues. It has been a long and tough road to say the least. When I was initially diagnosed the prognosis was very grim (10%) but our faith in God’s love and healing grace as well as support from our family and friends helped us through this difficult journey. God blessed us in many ways and has worked many miracles.”

Marlena Hodges recently lost her courageous battle with cancer. In the midst of preparing for her memorial service I reread the online journal she maintained throughout her long two and a half year journey. While reading these excerpts you will at various times, laugh, cry and even occasionally be shocked at her directness. But you will also be deeply touched by her struggles and the deep faith in God she developed along the way. All scripture references come from the journal.

“Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.” Romans 12:12

April, 2006: “So, by now I’ve been going absolutely bonkers crazy over the whole “when am I going to transplant” question. I do mean crazy because it has been on my mind almost twenty hours of each day. I’m serious! My poor husband Jeff has had to listen to my pathetic, obsessive like, almost demented ‘what if’ scenarios and let me tell you they were really out there: ‘What if they got the tests mixed up? What if they’ve decided not to do the transplant?’ Yep, just crazy! So yesterday, while I was walking my dog, Chance, I decided to do what I should’ve done a long time ago and just give it to God. I told him, ‘You’re testing me. I know it and I’m the most impatient person in the world. So, here you go. Take it and just please allow this transplant thing to work.’ And would you know that I got a call from the hospital this morning with a more detailed schedule. For crying out loud, if all God wanted to hear was, ‘So here you go.’ He could have just told me that via a ‘sign’ (preferably one with large letters that blinks pretty colors) and I would have done that a very long time ago. I can’t read minds: Least of all Gods!!!”

April, 2006: “Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Does that not say it all? So, I told myself to just leave it to Him, after all, he’s gotten me this far – right? Anytime a worry would come into my head I would remind myself of this verse and think ‘positive.’ Keep the prayers going. Gotta run cuz ‘American Idol’ is on!”

May, 2006: “I’m growing UNDERARM HAIR!!! Oh yeah, and I have fuzz on my head already and all thanks to cyclosporine which in a couple of wonderful weeks will produce lovely bushy eyebrows and ‘man-haired’ arms. Not the most exciting ‘look.’ Maybe I can say, ‘I’m doing the 80’s Brook Shields.’”

“I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

May, 2006: “It’s been a mixed kind of day – some good and some bad. My husband, Jeff left today to go back to work and I won’t see him until Sunday. I guess since this whole thing started I’ve become quite overly attached but that’s not a bad thing; after all, he’s been my rock throughout this entire experience. Jeff is my bud for better or worse. If you can’t tell, I miss him already.”

“For the bad side, I’ve lost my most favorite pair of lounge pants, the purple dragon-fly pants. We think it got caught in the hospital laundry and if that is the case, it’s gone for good. I was so upset that I pouted and cried for a good thirty minutes, yes over a pair of pants but you have to understand that I’ve had those pants since my junior year of High School. I’m three years out of a four year college. So I’m in mourning right now. All in all the day has been pretty rotten.”

“My grace is sufficient for thee.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

You can read Marlena’s journal and learn more about her by clicking on her site: http://www.caringbridge.org/cb/inputSiteName.do?method=search&siteName=marlenahodges

Categories: Devotions