take two

April 20, 2012

Never did I think my life would ever be intriguing enough for someone to actually want to film it. But then again, never did I think I would ever have cancer. A couple of years ago I had what was probably the best summer of my life, interning under the Graphic Designers at Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. In the creative department at Elevation, I had the opportunity to meet an extremely talented filmmaker, Jared Hogan. Little did I know, a couple of years down the road I would receive an email from Jared asking if he could capture my story on video. It’s funny how God uses connections with certain people in your life you’d never suspect in ways you’d never imagined.

There was really no question. I felt like this is something that I couldn’t say no to, something that I absolutely had to do. I am beyond excited to work on this documentary-type film with Jared over the next few months to create something that is close to my heart on a personal level, but more importantly, to create a powerful tool to reach and inspire others with what God is doing through my experience with cancer at a young age. Even though Jared is basically filming my life, I do not want to come off as the star or the main character in this story simply because I’m not—God is. Since I have to talk about myself so much, it is easy for me to bask in my own glory when the spotlight is on me. But if the spotlight is on me, and not Jesus, put down the camera because there is really no point at all in filming this story. If anyone believes that I got this far on my own, they are greatly mistaken. I’m not the hero here, He is. So I am praying for humility as we continue this video journey so that the film will become less and less about me and more and more about Him.

Today was my second dose of the new chemo. Thanks to Jared, I have to say that today was probably my favorite treatment experience out of the 14 times I’ve had to get chemo. With my little “film posse” (consisting of Jared on video and his partner Jeremiah on audio) following me around Vanderbilt hospital to each appointment, I was really excited to share my experience of what exactly I go through on a typical day of chemo. I think my excitement counteracted any usual anxiety I would’ve experienced today because it took 3 tries to get a good IV in my arm and I didn’t panic, and also the familiarly unpleasant smells of the infusion center didn’t make me as sick to my stomach!

Though I have the “rough stuff” coming up this summer, making this film gives me a reason to actually look forward to going through all of this again. Instead of just going through the motions of treatment to make it to the finish line, I want to really embrace this time in my life in such a way that I can extract all the good stuff I can from it, to drain it for all its worth so that I don’t “waste my cancer”.

Three weeks from today, I have the PET scan to see if I am in remission in order to move on to the stem cell transplant, and I will also be getting what will most likely be my last dose of this chemo (Brentuximab). Fortunately, I haven’t had any side effects from this chemo and have just been catching up with all of my school work this semester so that I can finish it out.

Another really amazing thing I am looking forward to is Chops for Cheslie! My friends in my eGroup (Elevation Bible Study) in Boone started this event to cut their hair short in my honor since I will be losing mine again soon. I was just ecstatic that these girls would all sacrifice their gorgeous long hair for me, but they are also going as far as making a fundraiser out of it by getting people to sponsor them by the inch of what they are cutting off and other donations!

And the blessings just keep flowing! My home town of Kingston Springs is having an event in May called Harpeth Springaroo in which there will be food, live music, and more to raise support for all the people in our community battling cancer.

I honestly have no idea how I ended up with such incredible, selfless people in my life. I have been so touched and empowered by everyone’s contributions and compassion. I am so blessed and thankful for all the people who continue to inspire me and show me a perfect picture of God’s love.

IN A NUTSHELL

  • Round two of chemo today was a success! All has been well because I haven’t had any side effects from the chemo and have been able to be a fairly normal college student for the past few weeks. Praise the Lord!
  • I have the great honor and privilege to work with my friend and gifted filmmaker Jared Hogan on a film with the purpose of capturing my story and how the Lord is working through my experience with cancer.
  • My friends in North Carolina are cutting their hair to support me through an event they created called Chops for Cheslie  and friends in Tennessee are hosting another event called Harpeth Springaroo to support me and others with cancer. If you are interested in getting involved with either of these events, you can click on the links and send a message to those hosting the events.
  • I couldn’t ask for better people in my life or a better support system. Thank you for keeping up with my blog, encouraging me, praying for me, and ultimately making this time in my life so much easier on me.
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3 Responses to “take two”

  1. Nancy DeMaio said

    CHes,
    Everytime I read your entry I get so blessed, makes me cry, but it also makes me realize how God is growing you in all this. He is faithfull and shows His glory thru this journey He has chosen for you. Just know that you are constantly in my thoughts and prayers. I love you and Mark so much and know that this will bless you more than you can ever imagine. Blessings!! “For all the promises of God in Christ are Yes, and in Him Amen,to the Glory of God through us.”2 Corith.1:20

  2. “I honestly have no idea how I ended up with such incredible, selfless people in my life.”

    I don’t know you that well, but from what I have heard about you, I think it’s safe to say you reap what you sow.

  3. I agree with John. What we put out comes back to us in spades. You obvious deep faith keeps you moving forward and is a beautiful thing to have witnessed through your words. I think of all the people that have really no worries in their life who are constantly complaining and miserable. Here you are, a young woman with cancer, and you are so positive and uplifting! You are a gift of inspiration to us all. I know you will come out of this well and that you my nephew Mark will have a wonderful long life together. Love, hugs and prayers to you and yours.

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