Exploring new territory.

Let me begin with a huge ‘THANK YOU’ to all who have continued to inquire on Joey’s well being despite my lack of updates. We are blessed with a life full of people who genuinely care and desire to help us navigate this journey successfully. Our family, friends, church, and coworkers have done such an amazing job lifting our spirits and encouraging us every single day. Our hearts are so full it sometimes flows out of my eyes. Thank you.

Picking up where I left off on my last post:

As you know, Joey’s chemo was delayed two times; it left us grasping for answers that no one could give. Our hearts were hurting and heads spinning trying to comprehend why insurance would not approve chemotherapy for a twenty five year old cancer patient. (As it turns out, this happens often without bias: old or young. Sometimes insurance does not want to approve until they know you for sure have cancer. Just typing that sentence makes my heart race thinking of the people who are denied proper care by a stranger thousands of miles away from the problem…a whole other topic for another day…) However, we received a call early Thursday morning telling us to come in as soon as possible to start his chemo treatments. The cancer was growing too quickly to delay. As quickly as we could, we showered, got dressed, threw together the chemo bag, and were out the door. On April 14th, we were let off the plane.

Without the approval of insurance, we began to explore this new territory of chemotherapy, lab work, pulmonary tests, days of nausea, beeping machines, and things that are, even now, unknown to us. Some days are rough, some days are a little less rough, but I am just thankful for the days. The days we have to spend together loving each other more than the day before. The days we are in the chemo room planning our future and eating Subway. The days Joey goes to work, even if only a few hours. The days we (mostly me, if I’m being honest..) have spent crying and confused and scared of what is happening and trying to rationalize it. The days we are given to glorify Christ in what we do and say. The days we are given to just continue being.

We received a call yesterday saying the insurance had FINALLY approved the chemotherapy; oddly enough that has not been a large worry of mine, but nevertheless, I am thankful for that bump in the road to be smoothed over. Joey has now received two chemo treatments, and he will go for a third next Thursday. He is doing so great with it all. It takes him about 5 days to get back to ‘normal,’ but I am so grateful the worst of it has been nausea and fatigue. We will also be going for a pulmonary function test this Friday to check his lungs. Normally, they perform a PFT before, during, and after chemo, but his lung tissue doesn’t diffuse oxygen as well as the doctor would like, so we will be keeping a close watch on that due to the Bleomycin drug that causes lung toxicity which can lead to pulmonary fibrosis. This will happen once a month.

Many people ask me how I am handling this; I am never sure how to answer. My heart is breaking watching my husband of only six months sit in a chair to have poison pumped in him for hours and sleep it off for the next week. I often stay awake listening to his breathing just to make sure he is still going. I have watched Joey go from running miles a day to not being able to run at all. Honestly, I am not okay. There, I said it. I’m just not. But you know what? I will be. Despite this temporary trial, I am being strengthened. We have been given the opportunity to either grow together or grow apart. We can sit down and quit, or we can stand up and fight in the full armor of the Lord. Most couples don’t get the opportunity to face this type of trial so early in marriage (Laura, if you are reading this, I hope that made you laugh haha), so we will be taking advantage of it.

Psalm 16:5-11 ‘The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’

At the end of the day, we are both blessed. Regardless of how the day went, we go to bed knowing we are loved by those in our lives, but more so by a God who loves more deeply than we will ever comprehend. For some reason Joey has cancer; we may never know why, but we do know that there is joy to be found in heartache, and you better believe that is what the Stracener’s are going to do. IMAG1670_1

Getting Joey out for a walk with his mom while his dad and I train for the Tennessee State Park Tours!




Please feel free to move about the cabin…

We have been on this airplane for hours on end, squished between our neighbors and anxious to set our eyes on what lies outside the plane. The pilot comes over the loudspeaker ‘Attention all passengers: we have arrived in beautiful Holland. Unfortunately, we will not be able to exit the plane for a few more hours due to complications on the runway. Please feel free to move about the cabin, and we thank you for your patience. Again, welcome to Holland.’

Tuesday was the day. The day our journey back to full health was to begin. The day Joey’s cancer would begin to be killed off by chemo. The day we could start looking towards the end of the tunnel. However, on Monday afternoon (in true Monday fashion) we received a phone call from the hospital saying his chemo would be delayed until Thursday due to an insurance conflict. The day suddenly became Thursday…and today it became Monday.

After so many conversations between the hospital and insurance company, I am still not 100% sure why my husband isn’t being allowed to begin chemo when promised. I have no idea why some man in Utah gets to decide what medicine codes will be covered and which won’t. I have no idea why we can’t start without the insurance company’s go ahead; quite frankly, that irritates me to no end. But, what I do know is that God cares. He cares that we are frustrated and scared and angry and hurt. He cares that my heart breaks watching my husband deal with this sickness. He cares that Joey has to go another week hurting and uncomfortable because something didn’t go exactly right. He cares for us more than we will ever know or understand, and that is what will bring peace to our hearts. That is, in fact, the only thing that brings peace.

‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?’ Matthew 6:25-27

So, it currently looks as if Joey will begin chemo Monday. Joey and I are continuously thankful for every single prayer and word of encouragement we receive. Thank you all for the support you show and love you share; we could never thank enough. Please continue to be in prayer for us as we wait patiently for God’s timing and seek peace during a time of chaos.

-Jacquelyn Stracener


We found this nifty sign at my nephew’s ballgame this weekend. It is encouraging to know we are in charitable hands.


Welcome to Holland!

In my class Tuesday night, we read a story about life throwing us curve balls. It was explained as planning a trip to Italy, but ending up in Holland. Now, Holland is not a bad place, but it certainly is not Italy, my friends. It seems as though we have been on a month long flight to Italy, and we landed in Holland last Tuesday.

On March 4, 2016, our lives changed forever. I was running late to the hospital with a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. After racing through the parking garage and up the elevator, I found my husband sitting in the examination room. The doctor came in and got straight to the point: ‘It isn’t good…you have Lymphoma.’ I, of course, fell apart knowing what this disease was and what it is capable of while my sweet, laid back husband tried to understand why it was so hard for me to hear. We have learned so so much from that day to now.

After many scans, tests, doctor’s visits, surgeries, phone calls, tiring days, and weeks of waiting, we finally have our answer: Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (the most common kind, praise the Lord). This is the cancer that has been picking a fight with Joey since before we even saw the bumps, but it is the same cancer that hasn’t put a stop to my husband’s life. Joey has worked at Chick Fil A, volunteered at the Aquarium, pushed through the holidays, worked out regularly, and even began a marriage all while dealing with this not so great disease. He is my hero, my husband, and the man who is going to beat this with all that he has! We do, however, have a tough road ahead of us filled with both good and bad days. Regardless of the type of day, we have a Father who cares for us much deeper than we can ever imagine or know.

‘Bless the LORD, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.’ Psalm 103:1-5

Since Joey will be limited in what he can physically do and the amount of people he can be around at a time during chemo, this blog will be a resource to all who care to keep updated on our journey. We love you all, and we selfishly ask that you keep us in your prayers.

-Jacquelyn Stracener




Blithely unaware of reality; willing to fight whatever came our way.