Friday, June 26, 2009

Hello........ It's Me :0) - Only 2 More Chemo Treatments!!

It's been almost 2 months since I've posted anything on my blog. I apologize - hopefully you've known that I've been doing ok - some setbacks but always knowing God is good!! Fear sets in but I know I'm in His hands.

I'll start with my benefit - what a humbling experience. My friend Sandra did an excellent job - along with the committee - too many people to thank here. As most of you already know, I lost my job in April. That was devastating, to say the least. The proceeds from the benefit have enabled me to keep a roof over my head while I continue to undergo treatment. The outpouring of love and support at the benefit was overwhelming. It's really hard to express in words the feelings of my heart. I'm grateful - beyond words.

Today will be my 15th chemo treatment. My final treatment will be on July 2nd - yippee!! What a journey!! Along with the normal side effects of chemo - nausea, hair loss, short term memory loss, hot flashes, etc., I also had hand and foot syndrome. This condition causes soreness and blisters on your hands and feet. Although my fingertips were extremely sore, I didn't get blisters on my hands. I did get blisters on the bottoms of my feet - not a lot of fun. I had to always remind myself that the poison that caused the blisters is the same poison that is saving my life. I know that sounds kind of "crazy" - but that's the reality of cancer.
I have to get ready to go to treatment - I'll post more before the end of the weekend - this time you have my word. :0)
God's Blessings!
Mary Jo

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's Getting Close to the Benefit - and I'm more humbled every day!!

Hello Everyone

It's hard to think of where to start - life has been quite interesting over the last month - many blessings and a few setbacks. Before I start updating you on my "journey" I want to mention something totally off the subject of my cancer.

My dear friends, Jake and Felisa Stein, have a precious baby boy that has been to Riley Children's Hospital many times since his birth in Feb of 2008 and still doesn't have a definite diagnosis. He is at home with his family - has a feeding tube, oxygen, and can't walk or talk. Those are only a few of the symptoms. He couldn't ask for better parents, a brother who adores him, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and a lot of extended family.

I'm sharing this with you to ask you for your prayers for this beautiful child and his family. They have been selfless in their support and love of me. Felisa created this blog page for me - she took time away from her extremely busy schedule to think of me. So please visit Nicolas' blog - - pray for them, send them a comment. They know the power of God, they have amazing faith, but I know, first hand, how much the love of others gives you strength. Sometimes God's love needs a face - an encouraging word. I've attached some pictures of Jake and Felisa and precious Nicolas. I don't have a picture of his brother Garret - but there are pictures on Nicolas' blog. Thank you - your prayers for them mean a lot to me.

That's my blog for tonight. I'll update you on the details of my recent "journey" tomorrow. The Stein family are an inspiration to me - and very much a part of my journey. I felt moved to right about them tonight. As always, God is good!

Love, Mary Jo

From John Hill - Mary Jo's Lifelong Friend from her Hometown

Below is the text that my pastor preached his message from on Sunday morning. As I read these words, I couldn’t help but think of Greg’s post and Mary Jo’s faith. One of the hardest things for us to deal with is the question of why good people suffer. At some point, we have to have the faith to trust that God is in control and knows what He is doing. We have to accept that when we put our faith in Him, we give Him our permission to use us as tools to bring glory to His name.

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9

Not everyone is able to do this with grace and dignity. Not everybody is able to feel blessed in the midst of their trials. Not everybody recognizes that this life is but a vapor, here for a moment and then gone. Not everybody can cling to the promise of eternity while suffering the pain of our human mortality.

It has been many years since I have seen Mary Jo. I have recently reconnected with her through Facebook. In the few late night chats that we have had, I see Mary Jo in these verses. Greg’s post describes her faith much better than I ever could. Towards the end of his post, these words really caught my attention:

“God has not abandoned my sister, He has appointed her, knowing full well that her faith will see her through this and her love, hope and commitment to that faith will inspire others.”

This speaks to Greg’s trust in God, as well.

So what can we do?

Every one of us knows or has known somebody with cancer of some type. About 15 years ago, a friend of mine had his five year old daughter diagnosed with leukemia. He told me that there were times when the treatments (chemo) would cause her nose to bleed so badly that they would have to take her to the emergency room for blood and blood platelets. The chemo destroys the platelets that help our blood to clot. At that time, I had never heard of apheresis. It is a process where the platelets are separated from the blood for donation. Most of today’s platelets go to patients that are receiving chemo therapy. The shelf life is only 5 days so there is need of a constant supply. You can contact the American Red Cross or your local blood center for information. I’ve been a donor since that time and am on the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. It takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes to donate a double unit. It’s a small thing, I know...but it is something that I can do when I feel completely helpless to do anything else.

To say that we should pray for our friends seems like stating the obvious. Go one step further-- make sure that they know that you are praying for them. I know that it has to strengthen them knowing that others are bringing their name before God our Father. Call, write, send a card or an e-mail...just let them know that you are thinking of them and praying for them.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

From Greg Wolf, Mary Jo's Brother

Mary Jo is my little sister and I love her dearly. I don’t know how to even start with this blog but I felt compelled to write about faith. Mary Jo is a person of great faith. If you have read her blog she says things like “have a blessed day”, “God is good”, “you are loved” even the blog sight is maryjowolf-ibelieve. I’ll tell you what, I am also a person of faith as many of you who read this may be but do you have questions, do you have doubts about a loving God.

Do you ever think how can the God she believes in so strongly, the God that supposedly loves her so much – how can He allow this to happen, how can He just watch her suffer. He can do anything right? Mr. All Powerful!! So what’s the deal, does He even care? Why her? She does not deserve this? When is enough, ENOUGH!!

Mary Jo has been betrayed by those she loved unconditionally, abandoned by those she needed the most, devastated by the husband she loved, lost her home, lost her job, has been overwhelmed by unexpected disease, horribly mutilated by surgery, poisoned with chemicals that leave her sickened and helpless beyond anything that we can imagine. Left alone, alone in the depths of despair, crying until she has no tears, sleepless, pain filled and left with no ability to even think clearly, barely able to take care of even her most basic needs. And yet, she still believes. She still loves God. She not only remains committed to her faith but is growing in her relationship with God. How can we question her faith? How can we question the God she believes in. I can’t, I won’t - through her faith, my faith has been strengthened.

So when you hear Mary Jo say I believe – what do you think she means. I will speak for her but be assured that these words are from her heart:

I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He came to earth and gave his life for my sins, He is my Savior

I believe that Jesus died, that he rose from the tomb and that He lives today

I believe that the Bible is the Word of God given to us to teach us the way to live our lives

I believe that God knows me personally and listens to my prayers

I believe that only God knows everything, I can not know enough to question His purpose or His love

And now, I know what it means to lose everything, I know what it means to truly suffer. Yet, I still believe that God loves me and that great good can come from great suffering.

If you are reading this blog, maybe YOU are the great good that can come from this. Maybe this is the one thing that will wake you up and make you realize that your time is very limited and this life is your only opportunity. Do you know where you are with God? If you know my sister you know what a kind and loving person she is. You know how smart and talented, how generous and giving she is. You know that she always sees the best in every person and truly believes in their goodness. She sees people as God sees them with the ability to love without bias, prejudice or judgment. You also know that she believes with all that she is, in a loving God. She believes that Jesus Christ is her personal Savior and that even through her suffering God is with her and that somehow her ordeal is serving His purpose. If she can believe in the midst of this horrible trial, can you believe? Can you find your faith? God has not abandoned my sister, He has appointed her, knowing full well that her faith will see her through this and her love, hope and commitment to that faith will inspire others. Will you be inspired? Will you take this opportunity to start or grow your relationship with God? If you want to do something for my sister, if you want to give her suffering meaning – all you need to do is BELIEVE.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Blog From Sandra Fouty - Mary Jo Faces More Setbacks

Hi folks. Mary Jo has been wanting to update her blog for a while, but hasn't had the chance because she needs to focus on other things right now. So, I volunteered to fill you in. She'll get you a personal note out as soon as things lighten up for her.

She's had a rough week. She lost her job Tuesday. You can contact her for the details, but she had been in talks with her employer over the last few weeks on coming to some kind of an agreement about her taking a leave of absence. She was hopeful she could take a leave and come back to her job. But her company couldn't make it work on their end - for whatever reason, I'm unsure. They had lots reasons, now that I think about it... She didn't have any sick leave or vacation to use, she didn't qualify for Family Medical Leave Act because she hadn't been with the company a full year, it was against company policy to hold positions for people, she couldn't tell them an exact schedule of when she could work, etc. Lots of reasons to let her go. BUT, MY GOD, THE WOMAN HAS CANCER. Where is the heart of this company who promotes their Christian values. It's beyond my understanding. I don't get it.

The first reaction she gets from people is "are you going to fight it?!" People are outraged over this, as am I. The reality of it is, she's really weak right now and needs her strength to build herself up physically and mentally. She took quite a blow. Unemployment screws with your head - you doubt your value, your self-esteem takes a dive and you are humiliated because you have to "live off the system". On top of the self-esteem issues she's going through with this, she has MOUNTAINS of paperwork to fill out. MOUNTAINS. And, we can't forget about the chemo treatments that caused her to lose all her hair and keep her in a cycle of nausea, headaches, pain and fatigue.

This is my first experience watching a loved one go through this. Cancer is such an ugly, ugly disease. Chemotherapy is equally as devastating.

The silver lining in all of this pain and hassle for Mary Jo is that she is blossoming spiritually and has grown as a person. She's humbled by the support of friends and family and talks regularly about being able to "pay it forward" when she feels better. She attends church regularly and wants to become more involved. She is volunteering with Cancer Services, too. I see her determination grow stronger weekly and she's no push over.

With your encouragement, love and support, she'll soar to new heights.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the benefit. It's only 2 weeks away. Please plan to show your support at Columbia Street West on May 2 from 4-8pm. Dinner starts at 5pm and entertainment starts at 6:30. We've collected many great silent auction items and raffle items. There's something for everyone! Purchase tickets at the door. If you can't make it to the event, please consider sending a donation to Mary Jo at 6833 Point Inverness Way, Fort Wayne, IN 46804. Every little bit helps.

If you are interested in contributing to her blog, email me at


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One of the Many Faces of Cancer

Hi Everyone
First, I hope the picture doesn't disturb you - or - if it does - I hope you recognize the reality of this disease. Second, I need to apologize, once again, for not keeping up with my blog. Believe me I've heard it from a lot of people. One person told me they were going to get my password and make things up so I would be "shamed" into an update. So - here it is. This is for you Mary and
Sue :0).
I've been asked by several people to show the difficult side of cancer. I have great faith but some days my faith is truly tested. As you can see by the picture, I wasn't feeling well that day. That was the day after my head was shaved due to my hair really falling out.

The day my hair fell out was the first day I was really angry about having cancer. I woke up that morning and my pillow was covered with hair. I would rub my head and my hand would be covered with hair. I took a shower and the shower floor was covered with hair

I cried most of the day. I cleaned my whole apartment in anger. I really thought I was prepared for my hair loss. Several weeks before this my daughter shaved my head. I don't know what I was thinking but I thought I wouldn't even notice when all of my hair really fell out. To say I was angry is really an understatement.

My head was on fire. I couldn't wait to shave what little was left on my head. Thanks to Theresa for stepping up to the plate and offering to shave my head. I still don't like being bald - but I'm learning to accept it. Humor seems to get me through most of the time.

Cancer is lonely - especially when you live alone. I haven't been good at letting people in but I need you. I have a lot more to add - but not tonight. I need some rest. God bless you and know that you're loved :0)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

It's Been Too Looooong.......... and now my hair is gone!!

I haven't done a very good job keeping up with my blog the last few weeks. I'm doing this for those of you who check my blog every day :0). Thank you for caring enough to check my progress. I won't go day by day - because the dates really don't matter and my memory is faltering :0). It's been an interesting journey the last few weeks.
I started chemo on Friday, Feb. 20th. Amanda and I fell apart when they first "hooked me up" -because it was all very "real" - but it wasn't long before we were making jokes. My daughter and her boyfriend sat with me through the entire four hour procedure. They administered three different drugs during my treatment. Everything went very well. We went out to dinner after chemo- I felt "strange" but pretty good considering all of the poison that was pumped in my system.
Approximately 2 hours after we returned home everything changed. My body turned on me. It was like a combination of a horrible flu and a terrible hangover -it's hard to describe. My daughter, her boyfriend, Amanda's friend Robin, Becki, and Sandra were all there to take care of me throughout the evening. It was very difficult for me to let anyone see me that way -especially my child. I tried to make jokes but it just wasn't funny. This was the real deal - that night made me realize what everyone meant by their "battle"with cancer. It's definitely a battle but one I know I can win - especially with all of the people who've shown me their love and concern.
On Monday, Feb. 23rd I had to go back to the oncologist for a shot to help elevate my white blood cell count. That shot made my bones ache - but I knew it would eventually help me feel better. I met with the plastic surgeon that day. He released me to go back to work and said everything looked really good. I won't see him again until I finish chemo and have the last of my reconstruction surgery. Once again I can't say enough about both of my surgeons - Dr. Grabowski (my regular surgeon) and Dr. Morrison (my plastic surgeon). God blessed me with the best!!
I went back to work at The Fort on Wed., Feb. 25th. I still didn't feel 100% physically - but being among my coworkers helped me immensely mentally. It was nice just be in the building and among some of the funniest people I've ever known. They bring me joy!
As you can see from the pictures above, my head is now shaved. Amanda came from college on Wednesday night to shave my head. I had a couple of bald spots and didn't relish the idea of "slowly" losing my hair. So, she drove 2 hours -we went to dinner, she shaved my head, and then she drove back that night because she had an early lab in the morning. I didn't have to ask - she wanted to be the one to shave my head. At first it was emotional for me - but we tried to have fun with it. What do you think of the Mary Johawk? I promised Amanda I would do that for her. :0)
I decided to try to have a little fun this weekend since I was feeling pretty good. I met my dear friends for happy hour at Columbia Street - Sandra, Karen, Mike, Greg. Then I went to the Komets game with MJ. I ran into some other friends at the game and had an enjoyable night.
My dad and stepmom came to town from St. Louis on Saturday (see pictures above). My dad, stepmom, my friend Art, and I went to Bourbon Street Hideaway for dinner. We had a wonderful time- great atmosphere, great company and great food. After that we went to Snickerz Comedy Club and laughed. Laughing is great for the soul! I was with some of the people I love the most so my heart was full!!
I cooked a big breakfast this morning for my parents, Art, and his son Andrew (we missed you Ashton). That is when I'm really in my element. I love to cook and especially a big breakfast on the weekend. I'm so glad I was feeling good enough to do that before my dad and stepmom had to go back to St. Louis. It was wonderful for the soul to visit, cook, and eat.
I have a lot on my mind right now and can't sleep. It's the start of a new week and I'll have chemo again this Friday - every other week for the first 8 weeks and then every week for 12 weeks. This will be my second treatment. It'll be one more out of the way - but I do have some anxiety about it. I'm better prepared -but I don't like the "out of control" feeling that comes with having treatment.
I also have a friend that's going through a difficult time and want to do everything I can to help. It helps to keep my mind off me. Everything is in God's hands - but sometimes it's hard not to meddle - lol.
Well - time to try to get some sleep. As always, thank you for your love and know you're loved in return by me. God is soooo good - cancer - or any temporary obstacle - doesn't have a chance in the light of His goodness!!
oooxxx mj