Tag Archives: Prayers

Jude’s Dudes and more…..God’s Love

Jude’s Dudes and more…..God’s Love

The support we have seen from family, friends and even strangers is mind blowing! Sunday before surgery, the Jude’s Dudes group left The Players Championship final round to come to Mayo and show their support. We had 42 Dudes’ show up! Fr. Frank was making his daily visit to my hospital room when everyone showed up. He could not believe it! They wore their shirts on “pink out” day at the tournament to show support for our family. This truly touched our hearts.

Our support group Jude's Dudes....family and friends.

Our support group Jude’s Dudes….family and friends.

More information: http://www.pgatour.com/news/2014/05/11/Outside-the-ropes-players.html
From WWP: Thank you everyone for wearing your purple today to show your support for everyone who has been affected by Pancreatic Cancer. We hope that those who have personally been affected know that they have teammates who truly care and love them. Like Adam Silva, WWP

From WWP:
Thank you everyone for wearing your purple today to show your support for everyone who has been affected by Pancreatic Cancer. We hope that those who have personally been affected know that they have teammates who truly care and love them.
Adam Silva, WWP

WWP Director, Adam Silva stopped by our hospital room a few days post surgery to tell us WWP is showing it’s support by wearing their purple shirts each Friday. They also sent flowers and had a special bracelet made for me with charms for PC, WWP and Hope. Lindsay’s Marketing Team filled a clear jug with pieces of purple and silver paper with prayers and wishes to us as we endure this trial. We love our WWP family.

In October, 2013 I attended a life-changing retreat at our Church…Our Lady Star of the Sea. This weekend is called “Christ Renews His Parish” CHRP for short. We quickly formed a strong bond with the attendees and the sisters who put on the weekend. When they heard about my diagnosis they gathered the day of my surgery after morning mass to pray the rosary. It is wonderful to have a church family.

My Christ Renews His Parish Sisters from the October, 2013 Retreat. These girls

My Christ Renews His Parish Sisters from the October, 2013 Retreat. These girls

My Bible Study group organized a prayer vigil of about 30 girls. They all came together to pray the morning of my surgery. Some of my Bible Study girls have been meeting for over 15 years. I am thankful for each one of them. We pray each other up through every trial and blessing that befalls our sisters. They are Godly women who know the power of prayer. I know when we ask them to pray they are faithful. They are my “prayer warriors” and I love each and every one of them.

Many of my friends told me they lit a candle for me as they visited churches all over the world!

My sweet friend Kelly Winer lights a candle at beautiful Cathedral de San Juan

My sweet friend Kelly Winer lights a candle at beautiful Cathedral de San Juan

Many other friends, business associates and family prayed and asked their prayer warriors to pray as well. I know that God heard those prayers and answered them that day.

Family members dropped by the hospital.

My Grand Nephews, Tate, Isaiah and Mac popped in to visit Aunt Judi

My Grand Nephews, Tate, Isaiah and Mac popped in to visit Aunt Judi

My Grand-daughter Taylor graduated from Ponte Vedra High School while I was recovering in the hospital. I watched the graduation live from my daughter in laws cell phone. After the ceremony, Taylor came to the hospital to get her kiss from her Grandma! I was so happy to see her in her cap and gown and give her that big congratulatory hug and kiss.

Taylor's Graduation surprise

Taylor’s Graduation surprise

Once we came home from the hospital the love continued. Two of my friends planted bright and colorful flowers and huge balloons on the mailbox to greet me when I drove in.

Our family was not accustomed to being on the receiving end of this generosity of giving. Complete meals arrived each day. Through the help of my sweet daughter Lindsay, a “Caring Bridge” site was organized and meals were planned. It was amazing.

God showed me His love for me through each set of hands that prepared a meal, rubbed my feet with lotion, changed our bedsheets and ran the vacuum! All of these tasks done with love by my angel friends. Thank you all!

The birth…….

The birth…….


“Our baby is having a baby! Lindsay, our youngest and only daughter is due to deliver our angel baby on May 5th.”

We shared this fact with our surgical team who told us “….this is perfect….go home, take a week and enjoy this miraculous life changing event with your family.” Dr. Asbun explained the tumor had been there growing for probably 15 years. Delaying the surgery one week more would not be a problem. So, we scheduled the surgery for May 12th and began to pray our little angel would arrive during TPC week on schedule…or close to it.

When Lindsay shared our great news last October, we could not have been happier. Louis had moved out so I immediately went to work on transforming his room into a nursery. Both Grandma’s would share daycare for the angel so Lindsay could go back to work. It was so much fun picking the baby furniture and painting a day bed and putting it all together in anticipation of May 5th, the due date.

Both Lindsay’s and our nursery were completed by April. We were all set.

When the news of my diagnosis on April 29th was shared with the family everything changed. It was a very difficult time for everyone, but especially for Lindsay. She was already hormonal and uncomfortable and anxious about giving birth for the first time. She amazed us with her strength. On her next weekly doctor visit she explained the situation. Her doctor agreed she should deliver by the due date and assured her the baby was completely ready to face the outside world. They made plans for inducement and we knew we would have a baby by May 5th.

Grandpa Lugi had arrived a few days before ready to relax and enjoy the golf tournament. This week was our 21st Player Championship week in our home. While I must say this week eclipsed all years prior…it was a roller coaster of emotions. Grandpa handled all of this extremely well.

We had begun a backyard project in October that felt similar to what Lindsay was experiencing in knitting the baby in her womb. The project seemed to go on and on and of course, the deadline was TPC week. The back yard was filled with carpenters, plumbers, stone workers and more. The street in front of the house was lined with trucks and trailers. It was coming together, but we were not really positive it would all come together in time.

So much going on…..

Matt told us they were at the hospital early in the morning hours of May 5th. The inducement was not necessary…little guy was ready and God was in control!

Tom and I rested alongside one another praying for a smooth birth for Lindsay and a perfect little baby boy. We got up early and prepared to spend the day at the hospital. When we arrived at the hospital, we sat in the waiting room. The Garrity’s were there, all of Matt’s sisters, and of course the Zitiello’s. It was a full house!

Lindsay and Matt requested to be alone in the delivery room …..their own family unit. We all honored the decision but waited in anticipation to hear that the baby was delivered and healthy.

Suddenly over the loud speaker was a doorbell sort of sound playing “lullaby and goodnight“. We asked the nurse if that meant a baby had been born…. Could it have been the Garrity baby? “Yes”, she confirmed. Within a few minutes, Matt emerged from the double doors to announce the baby was very healthy in fact almost 9 pounds!

He asked Phyllis and I, the Grandma’s to come in to see him first. We quickly followed Matt to the room and instantly fell in love with our perfect angel. God had blessed us, He had brought us a symbol of life, of hope and of His love. He blessed us all with this perfect child on this day, amidst this uncertain trial, to show us that life is precious and perfectly timed.

Then Lindsay announced…….”Come and meet Jude“…..It might have been the happiest day of my life.

The Diagnosis…..

The Diagnosis…..

Tomm & Judi at Kylies WEddingTom was seated on the sofa as I sat perched on the paper-covered table. The 30 something, very sweet, Sports Medicine Doctor shared my report displayed on the large computer screen. “There is a mass in your pancreas,” she said very cautiously not wanting our eyes to meet. Tom leapt from the sofa to my side on the table as we both tried to absorb the words. My first reaction…”Can you live without a pancreas?, recalling Pancreatic Cancer to be the most deadly form of cancer. “Yes, you can today, with the proper medication.” She continued to relay the medical facts that had been compiled in the short 24 hours since I had met with her. She read the blood test results showing elevated pancreatic enzymes, “…..Lipase, Serum 661, desired level should be between 7 and 60.” “I have scheduled an appointment for tomorrow with a general surgeon who specializes in this area,” she said. We clung in disbelief holding each other as the doctor wept with us. We prayed to God on the way home that He would give us the strength to weather this storm. We gathered our immediate family and told them everything we knew.

I loved to work out. Well, I longed to be in shape. Menopause and gravity had added about 30 pounds to my medium frame over the years. It seemed like each decade added 10 pounds. So, this kept me walking in the mornings, biking and being active. When my best friend’s daughter was planning her wedding we even went to a personal trainer. However, the impact on my 60 year old bones was too much. I began to suffer extreme knee pain. After a visit to an orthopedic surgeon he recommended he repair a meniscal tear. The surgery was performed January 15th. He kept me off my knee for 6 weeks. Once the knee was healed he released me to normal physical activities. Excited to be back in the gym, the pain returned. I was popping 800 mg ibuprofen twice a day to control the pain. Never having taken any type of pain control, I was reluctant to continue, but the pain was significant. I had read the side effects and wondered about the effect on my liver and kidneys. A few months later I stopped the meds.

The pain continued and I felt sick to my stomach most of the time. I suppressed the urge to throw up. All of a sudden I noticed I had lost weight without really trying. I was avoiding eating and when I did eat it was a small portion. I couldn’t even drink wine! Something must be wrong.

One day I noticed my urine seemed extremely dark. I had started to itch. My body was covered with small red scabs where I had scratched my skin raw. In my mind I felt it was related to the medications and the nausea was caused by the pain. It was time to go to the doctor to find out was was going on.

Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville is located 15 minutes from our home. A dear friend suggested I make an appointment at the Primary Care facility. Mayo is approved by our insurance and they certainly have a wonderful reputation. Monday morning I called for an appointment. After explaining my symptoms, the nurse suggested I see the sports medicine doctor and she happened to be available that afternoon. God was once again behind all of this!

When I arrived for the appointment I explained everything to the doctor. She decided to have blood work and a stool and urine sample. I was escorted into the lab where the samples were drawn. The next morning the nurse called to tell me I needed to come in for a sonogram that afternoon. What could be happening?

As the tech lathered my stomach with gel and guided the probe while watching the monitor intently, I noticed her focusing on one area. She was marking the spot with a red arrow drawing a line from one end to the other. A measurement? I asked her what that was. She began to probe different areas and showed me my kidneys, liver and pancreas. I asked her about the arrows. She said the Radiologist would review the scan and report to my doctor the results. I knew that would be her canned response, but I wanted her to say something more definitive. I sensed something was not right.

We were very familiar with this disease. When Tom and I first met, he lived with his aunt and uncle directly across the street from me. Shortly after we were married, Frank was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 36 when he died just 18 months after receiving the report. We had read the statistics and knew what we were facing.

The next few days were a flurry of consults with the surgical team, blood tests, CT scans and MRIs. The doctors held nothing back. While they shared the worst case scenario, they also encouraged us with the positives. I had no previous serious medical issues. They marveled how at 64 I was not on any prescription medications. With the exception of exercise related problems with knees and ankles, I was in very good physical condition.

We quickly realized God had provided the perfect medical team at a world renowned hospital. Our Mayo Clinic surgeon, Dr. Horatio Asbun, specializes in pancreatic surgery. He is the best in the country. His team was equally impressive. He would perform whipple surgery laparoscopically, removing my small intestine, gallbladder and the head of my pancreas where the tumor had taken hold. He told me he could do his job and remove the tumor from my pancreas. And, he believed I had the ability to do my part. He said I had a strong faith in God and a positive attitude.That was 90% of what was needed to make the surgery successful. We were all a team and we would don our armor and enter this battle together. Most importantly, he asked his surgical team to pray for me between the meeting and the surgery date. We were confident God had placed us in good hands.

We are blessed with a strong faith in God. Tom and I knew we would get thru this and there was a reason why this was happening. Tom began to attend morning mass daily. I attended with him and we advised our Church family about the diagnosis. They immediately called to action. Fr. Frank administered the anointing of the sick. We could face the outcome no matter what it was.My CHRP Sisters and my Bible Study group organized prayer vigils for the surgery date. Our amazingly close family would also use their faith to pull through and we would do it together.