Praise the Lord!

We just got the news that Kevin’s PET/CT scan came back clear!  Yesterday was a particularly rough day and I didn’t even have the chance to post about it.  It was his birthday, and I had spent the night before up with abdominal pains.  By the morning they were bad enough that we needed to go in to the ER.  After the babysitter came (thanks again Tanisha!) we headed to Emory Midtown Hospital, since his PET/CT scans were scheduled for there at 12:45.  We hoped I’d be through the ER by then, but just in case, we wanted to be in the right building.  Turns out they couldn’t find the cause of my pain, and 5 hours later I was discharged.  This was too late for me to go with Kevin to his scan and pray with him beforehand (he had to leave while I was having an ultrasound test done on my gallbladder and appendix).  I was waiting for him when he got out, and we drove home, hungry, exhausted, and me still in pain, albeit not as bad.  It was such a rough day, we honestly didn’t have a minute to really think and worry about his scan.  Maybe that was God’s plan, who knows.  The gravity of it all only hit us after we got home.  We tried not to think about it for the rest of the night and this morning.

So after such a rough day, which was the tail end (hopefully) of many many rough days we’ve been having, to get such amazing news is nothing short of a miracle!  Praise the Lord for His miraculous healing!  You see, we had found out that this melanoma seemed particularly aggressive, and since we’d heard it had spread to one of his lymph nodes, we were definitely getting scared.  This truly is an amazing miracle from God!

I got a video baby monitor in the mail today (I feel so yuppy!) because the kids are on the other end of the house and a different story than we are.  I had set it up before naptime, and this thing is sweet!  Anyway, naptime is over, and the kiddos just woke up minutes after I’d received the news.  They must have already heard, because they’re laughing and giggling up a storm!  I just love it!

Watch on Posterous


Follow up appointment and update

Today Kevin had a second follow-up appointment with Dr. C, who did his wide local excision and sentinel node biopsy.  As we mentioned before, we had heard the results of the biopsy that the cancer has spread to one of the three lymph nodes that were tested.  As this appointment today, we went over the complete pathology report with Dr. C and found out that the Breslow’s thickness of Kevin’s melanoma tumor was 7.2mm.  Generally, anything thicker than 4mm = no bueno.  In addition to the fact that the cancer had spread to a lymph node and that there was one small additional tumor found in the excision area, we were told that Kevin would have to have radiation treatment at the surgery site.  We don’t know a whole lot about it yet, but it will begin the first of the year, and likely go for 4-6 weeks.  It shouldn’t hurt or make him sick, so we are encouraged about that.

His second surgery, which will be to remove all of the lymph nodes in the area where the cancer had spread has been scheduled for December 1st.  His wonderful Aunties will be flying in to help out with childcare, etc. and we are so grateful and excited to see them.

He will have a PET/CT scan tomorrow, quite the birthday present, don’t you think?  As best we understand, the PET scan can find areas of cancer in the body that are larger than about 5mm, but can’t find small individual cells. The results of this scan will determine some of his next treatment steps, so please be praying that the spread is limited to that one lymph node alone.

We are so encouraged that he is in such good care at Emory and that there is a whole melanoma board looking at his case!  We trust that he is in good hands and that we continue to rest in the knowledge that he is in the hands of the Ultimate Healer who loves and wants good things for him.

A break from our regularly scheduled programming… house update!

It seems that life kind of “happened” and I haven’t had a spare moment to sit down and share about some of the many other exciting things happening in our lives!  I’m going to try to get things written down a little at a time, and things may be out of order here and there, but that’s the way my ADHD brain works.  I hope you will all enjoy seeing a few other tidbits of life around the Hill homestead.

Two weeks ago, less than a week before Kevin’s surgery, we FINALLY moved into our new house!  This was after delays with the contractors by four weeks, rescheduling the move twice, and ending up moving in before things were completely finished.  Have I mentioned that life hasn’t been really going according to “plan” lately?

We hired movers for the first time in our life, and can I say that that was the best $400 we have EVER spent.  SO worth every penny.  They literally came in at 9AM and had every piece of furniture set up and in the right room by 1PM.  They moved the piano, the washer and dryer, the upright freezer.  They put our king size bed in our master bedroom on the second floor and even set it up.  Why did I spend my twenties moving myself and all my friends in the back of my parent’s van?

After the move, Lila helped me whip the house into shape and we had our first party just one week and a day after moving in.  We got to host our church’s monthly potluck and it was such a blast!  Kevin had just had surgery a few days earlier, but we were both eager to have something joyful to focus on and a reason to get the house sorted out.  I’m so glad we did, because we hosted somewhere between 30 and 40 people and the house didn’t even feel crowded!  I can not tell you what a blessing this house already is, and even though we didn’t search out a huge house, the size has made it oh so comfortable.  It’s 2800 square feet, which is huge for intown standards.  Downstairs we have the living/dining/kitchen area and three bedrooms, and upstairs we have the master suite.  My goal is to take you through the house a little at a time (and also because I probably can’t manage to keep the whole place clean all at once for pictures!) so this week will be the master suite.  We’ll start with the office!

Now, if you remember, the attic had already been built out with a master bathroom and one long room that kind of resembled a bonus room.  And did I mention the entire thing had been painted blood red?  Not exactly the look I was going for!  Here’s a reminder of what things looked like before…


After a little brainstorming, I came up with the idea to subdivide the big space, with a master bedroom at the front part of the house and the middle part to be sort of an office/loft.  We opened up the wall to the stairway, so that it no longer felt like you were coming up to an attic.  We added skylights.  We added hardwood flooring.  We put a wall with french doors to divide the bedroom from the office.  We painted the whole thing a light, airy color called Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams.  I call it the magical chameleon color because it changes between a blueish gray and a greenish gray depending on the light and what’s around it.  This makes it go with everything!  Love!


My dad helped me build built this awesome desk for me.  It’s made from an Ikea countertop and two Ikea kitchen cabinets.  The whole thing was a tad pricey at about $450, but considering it’s custom fit to the nook and super durable, we felt it was a worthy investment.  This little nook used to be the master closet, but we took the wall down and then put the master closet in the bathroom.


I had always kept and displayed Kevin’s mom Agnes’ old SLR camera and liked the idea of having a vintage camera display.  So when my Dad pulled out some old family cameras, I jumped at the opportunity to group them all together and show them off.  Being a children’s photographer, I’m all about the light, and I felt like I needed a little bit more lighting when the sun went down and the gorgeous skylights weren’t filling the room with natural light.  I liked the idea of making a lamp out of a vintage camera tripod, but when I found this one for $40 at Target, I thought, “Why DIY when you can buy?”  Done and done.  I love how the cameras pop off the white shelf like an art galery exhibition and the tripod lamp makes me look fancy!


I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t show you Kevin’s desk.  I made a promise to him that I wouldn’t make him keep it looking pretty, but would let it be the functional space he needs it to be.  We will be doing something about the cable clutter on the floor, but that’s about it. I’m grateful for that cable clutter though because it means that my amazing computer nerd hubby put my laser printer on the network so I can print from anywhere in the house, because he’s just that good!


This is the little sitting area for meeting with clients, reading while Kevin’s working, or just relaxing and gazing at my gorgeous skylights.  Did I mention that they’re gorgeous!  Natural light just makes me so happy.  You can also see the french doors and the transom window that lead to the master bedroom.  I got both the transom window and the window above my desk from a lady who had rescued them from an old 19th century house that was being torn down.  I love how they are a shout out to this house’s history, as we believe the original house was built in about 1890 or so.


Here is our library area.  I got this set of furniture from my parents.  Anybody remember the Cargo furniture from the late 80s?  It’s rock solid and still in perfect condition.  I’m thinking of painting it kind of a distressed white, letting some of the wood show through, and then covering the cushions with some fresh fabric to lighten it up a little.  For now, it’s super comfy, looks great, and totally anchors this area of the room.  You’ll see the rest of the furniture from the set when I show you the playroom.


The bookshelves are $15 prefab shelves from Wal-mart.  They do the job for now and help us to keep our book collection in check.  If we have more books than can fit on the shelves, then it’s time to give some away!  Eventually, I want to con my dad into helping me add a large piece of white trim to the top, some molding on the top and bottom edges and along the edges where each shelf joins the next to give it a built in feel and to make the whole piece sturdier and more solid.  But again, I’m so glad they work for me just the way they are!  Not bad for 45 bucks!

I absolutely love our office.  It’s such a sanctuary and a clean, uncluttered workspace.  I’ve never had a space like this to call my own, and I just love every minute of being up here.  It also makes things ten thousand times better to have our new puppy Sadie curled up under my desk warming my toes!



I just heard back from my doctor that tests have shown that my cancer (melanoma) has spread to 1 lymph node in my neck. So the next steps will be another surgery to remove it, and a PET Scan, and likely alpha-interferon treatments.   

Not the news we were hoping for obviously, but somewhat expected based on the initial staging / diagnosis. But we are blessed in many ways!  My boss has been super-supportive in giving me time off for doctor appointments, our church family has been praying and babysitting for us (thanks Jess!), and our extended family (Lila) was here for a long while babysitting, and getting our new home in order.  We are also extremely blessed that I am receiving excellent care from a leading research institution out here in Altanta Emory / Winship, and a family member has even paid our insurance deductible for a full year!  Thanks everyone for the outpouring of love and support for Rachel and I in this time.

And now we wait…


I’ve been sitting in the waiting room at Emory most of the day today.  Kevin had a pre-surgical procedure to identify which lymph nodes would be removed and tested, and then the actual surgery to remove the melanoma and the sentinel lymph nodes.



Dr. C just came out and told me that the surgery went great, he’s in recovery, and I’ll get to see him soon.  He is hopeful that the cancer hasn’t spread because the lymph nodes were so small, but will wait to get the results from the lab next week.  The melanoma had already grown more since Dr. C had last seen Kevin, so it sounds likely that we will next be heading to a medical oncologist named Dr. S (Dr. C is a surgical oncologist).  Dr. S will probably be discussing treatment options with us to prevent a recurrence and to seek out any rogue cancer cells that may have spread through the body (since they can spread through the blood stream in addition to spreading through the lymphatic system).  Based on the aggressive nature of Kevin’s lesion, this is starting to seem likely, so we will brace ourselves for that and lean on friends and family and continue to watch and pray.


I’ll be able to see Kevin in a few minutes hopefully and then will be advised about home care and hopefully hear about when I can bring him home.  We’ve got some great friends coming over tonight to help out with house stuff, and after a few days, Kevin should be feeling okay.  We honestly want to keep ourselves busy so as not to just be alone with our thoughts, so having all the house stuff to focus on is probably a good thing.  I will keep everyone posted.  Thank you all again so much for all your love and prayers and just standing in the gap for us.

Love you all,