Follow Stacie's Journey from the beginning.
All updates will be here in chronological order so if you think you have missed something, don't worry! The most recent update will be located on the top.
Dear Friends + Family,
I hope this update finds you and your family well, and you had a beautiful Thanksgiving. I was blessed this last week with my sister, brother-in-law, nephews, and husband who got an Airbnb in San Clemente and stayed for the week. It was so wonderful having them close by and I was able to spend the week with them. I ended up having treatment Monday-Friday (with the exception of Thanksgiving) so it was a busy and long week. I had my 3rd chemotherapy treatment on Tuesday which hit me hard. I was unable to complete my radiation due to very low blood levels. Both Doctor V and Doctor Doggett required me to take the week off from radiation.
I have another very busy week ahead. A dear friend (if you went to my StacieStrong event, Jo was our MC/DJ for the event) has offered her home to me to drive, cook, and support me through the week. So, I will be transitioning to their house in Carlsbad. I am very thankful for her and her family's willingness to take me in this week as it will be long and packed full of treatments. The plan is to receive my 5th and final radiation treatment and my 4th and final chemotherapy treatment. We pray my blood levels stay stable so I am able to complete this active round of treatment.
Cody and I were able to meet with Doctor V last Wednesday to discuss next steps. As I mentioned in my last update, we will continue to move forward to prepare for the cancer vaccine and that prep will start after I finish my active treatment this week. We talked to Doctor V about allowing me to go home until my next scan and she has agreed to prepare an at-home treatment protocol with oral medicines to allow me some time in Oregon. Though I am looking forward to returning home for a bit, I am nervous to not receive intravenous immunotherapies until my next scan. But I am trusting in God’s plan and know that I need to return home. I will verify when my next scan will be but I believe it will be mid/end of January. At that time we will evaluate next steps and prayerfully the scans will be clear and we can move forward with the vaccine.
This round of treatment has been very rough. I recently reviewed my chemotherapy history and I’ve had 45 chemotherapy treatments in 3 years. Wednesday will be my 46th. It is evident that my body is getting tired faster, levels drop at a more rapid and aggressive pace, nausea has set in when I’ve never had nausea before, hair loss is already happening again (shave #3 coming?), and the overall feeling of my body being down is overwhelming and discouraging. But through this sadness there have been many blessings. I had my dear friend Ashley here the first week, my dear friend Joyanna here the second week, my sister and hubby here last week, and I’ve been surrounded by all the love and support from my Coto family and friends. It has been beautiful and so humbling to see so many coming together to help support me through this tough chapter. I enjoyed amazing food from my beautiful chef friend, Clare. And have continued to feel supported and loved by so many around me.
We thank you all for your continued love and support. We hope everyone has a beautiful holiday season! Tis the season to see and recognize God’s many blessings in our lives—and you all are huge blessings to Cody and me.
We also have an exciting SAVE THE DATE for the Third Annual StacieStrong Golf Tournament and Afterparty:
Sunday, June 9th, 2024! Mark your calendars—we can’t wait to see you all there!
With lots love,
Stacie + Cody
“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. 3 For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. 4 In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.”
For this segment, I will be highlighting my sister, Hollie. If any of you know her, you know she is the most kind and selfless human on the planet. Her and her family drove all the way from Folsom (Sacramento) to San Clemente, braving the Thanksgiving traffic and additional hours in the car, just to spend the whole week with me. In addition, on their way down, they drove completely out of their way to meet my dear chef friend, Clare, outside of Paso Robles, to pick up more yummy goodness food that Clare prepared for me. Though our typical family tradition for Thanksgiving is spending the week in Bend, OR, everyone made the best of this pivot change and we had a wonderful time together. We were even able to spend time with my Coto adopted family and it was so special. I am so thankful for my beautiful sister, her love, her care, and her constant selflessness. I always feel so spoiled when I am with her—and my heart is so full.
In preparation for returning home, we hope to get our home’s air quality tested and a mold assessment completed. Due to the climate and moisture in Oregon, there is a high chance of mold and not great air quality. We would like to have this professionally tested and iraticated prior to my return home. (Cost: $1,900) In addition, we would like to get 2 high quality air purifiers for the home. (Cost: $500) Thank you so much for considering helping in this manner.
Venmo: @Stacie-Athon (Stacie: (805) 535-3109); @Cody-Willis (Cody: (805) 423-3436)
Dear Friends + Family,
I hope this update finds you well.
There has been a lot that has happened in the last few weeks and I have found it challenging to determine where to start. As most of you know, I have been preparing for the dendritic cell cancer vaccine since the beginning of this year. In order to have the highest level of efficacy of the vaccine, my body has to be in a “perfect” state; meaning, 0 active tumors, blood levels in normal range (WBC’s + RBC’s), viral load low, circulating tumor counts low, and an upregulated immune system. Every time I have chemo sessions, all of these parameters go wacky and we start from scratch each time. I was finally to the point that my body had recovered from the last bit of chemo and I felt very strong. It was time for scans and we knew if the scans were clear, we would be ready to order the vaccine (all other levels were exactly where they needed to be). First was the brain scan—it came back CLEAR! Hallelujah! Next was the body PET CT scan. This scan had been clear since January so we were anxiously excited to hear the news of another clear scan and then it would be GAME ON with the ordering and administering the vaccine—allowing me months at home between treatments. However, God had a different plan. I received news last Thursday that my body PET CT was not clear and I had two new tumor spots; one on my liver and one on my lower vertebrae. This was very hard news to receive. We were extremely optimist that this would be IT and we could finally breathe a sigh of relief. But God’s plans are bigger than ours and though at times it doesn’t make sense, we continue to trust Him through this storm.
I am blessed to have an extremely proactive team and we jumped back into active treatment immediately. I will have 4 rounds of chemotherapy every Wednesday for the next 4 weeks and 5 rounds of radiation in each tumor location. I will be adding high dose vitamin C and UVBI Ozone therapy on Mondays and Fridays with a dear friend who owns an IV Clinic and will remain at Doctor V’s Tuesday-Thursday. Radiation will be Monday, Wednesdays, Fridays until complete.
In just one week, my dream of returning home for 2-3 months at a time came crashing down. With the news, we are faced with starting back at square 1 of the vaccine prep. So, what’s next? I will complete all the chemotherapy/radiation treatments then wait for another scan (90 days). After active treatment I will once again start building my immune system and body with daily systemic treatments until my next scan. We will evaluate and go from there.
I am working with a few dear friends that are assisting us in trying to find ways I can start receiving some of my treatments in Oregon. The difficulty is the rarity of these treatments and that the medical world does not recognize them. My doctor orders most of my systemic treatments from overseas. So, we are looking at different options and praying God opens doors so I can continue to receive this treatment but be able to be home. This month marks 15 months since I have been gone and Cody and I truly need to be together again. My heart breaks being so far from my boys.
Though the burden is heavy, I choose to seek joy through this storm. I am surrounded by so many beautiful people who continue to show up and continue to support. Please continue to pray for Cody and I—we need God’s peace as we navigate yet another battle. Through HIM all things are possible.
Love you all,
Stacie + Cody
Last weekend, Cody and I had the honor of participating in this year’s SabesWings annual fundraiser. SabesWings has been an intricate part of our journey since finding out about my reoccurrence last august. They are a non-profit based in Paso Robles that supports cancer patients financially and are huge advocates for bringing awareness to Medical Financial Toxicity. Bret and Kandace Saberhagen are truly angels on earth. The first time Cody spoke to Kandace over the phone he felt a huge sense of hope; something he had not experienced since the new diagnosis. Fast forward to 15 months later and we were invited to participate in this beautiful weekend of events. The Saberhagen’s sure know how to have a weekend event. Cody and I felt like guests of honor as they highlighted our story to bring awareness to our cancer journey. We can not thank Saberhagen enough for the love, support, care and overall family embrace that they have shown us. Please check out www.sabeswings.org and see what they are doing for our community! It is truly a beautiful organization and we are abundantly blessed to be a part of the Sabes Family.
With the required treatments, drive time will range from 3-4 hours per day. Southern California gas prices are extremely high and we would be absolutely blessed with gas cards or Venmo (@stacie-athon) (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). There is also an amazon Wishlist for items: Amazon Gift List
Any and all items are greatly appreciated.
Thank you, team StacieStrong.
We love you all.
Dear friends + family,
And just like that, another month has gone by since my last update. I write to you today from a plane, once again leaving my Oregon home and my boys.
Though most of my updates are riddled with positivity, today I’m not feeling it— so here’s the raw.. the not so happy thoughts.. and the realness of the day.
Some days just simply don’t make sense. It was hard going home. My Sherwood home holds a lot of gut-wrenching memories all wrapped up with the diagnosis. Oregon haunts me mentally and my brain spirals in ways I can’t control. Memories of the diagnoses take my breath away— and as soon as I’ve worked through the mental trauma, I have to go back to Southern California. And I know I will have to go through it again next time.. over and over until I’m able to stay longer than 2-3 days and truly work through the trauma and emotions.
I love being with Cody and Bodie— my heart physically hurts when I say goodbye. I don’t want to say goodbye anymore. I don’t want to come and go like a wanderer with no permanent home. Last month was a year away. It’s almost too much for one person to handle.
Cody continues to be a wonderful support to me. I am still getting systemic treatment 2-3 days per week at VVS MD in San Clemente. I ended up having 5 rounds of brain radiation and 1 round of chemotherapy that I finished a couple of weeks ago. Since that “sandwich” treatment is very hard on my body, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks recovering and trying to get my levels back in range.
I met with Doctor last week and asked for next steps in working towards receiving the cancer vaccine. My body has to be in a very specific state in order to qualify. So Doctor V will be creating a plan to assist in getting my body ready to have the vaccine administered. Unfortunately, each time we’ve been close, my scans have shown something in need of treating and each time we start back at square one. We’ve been attempting to prep for the vaccine since January. You can imagine the frustration of starting over now 4 times..
With the continued buggers that have popped up, the financial need has continued to increase. When I have chemo/radiation, our weekly bills range from $10,000-$15,000. It’s a huge weight.
As exciting as the potential vaccine is, the cost is $40,000. At this time we are unable to cover that cost.
The fact that money is hindering us from moving forward in my treatment makes me sick. If I had the option to do standard care and have it covered by insurance I would do that in a heartbeat. But if I had gone with standard care, I wouldn’t be here today.
So, we choose life but the medical financial toxicity is destroying everything we have worked so hard to maintain. It’s hard to put it into words- but this stress and anxiety clings to me day in and day out.
What are next steps? I am supposed to meet with my doctor next week to talk about what options I have. Wanting to go home but knowing the treatment is still necessary (until I’m ready for the vaccine) is an impossible decision. I don’t want to do anything that will make my progress go backwards (like stopping treatment) but I also miss my husband and pup so badly it hurts.
It’s a very hard situation and one I would not wish on my worst enemy. I will update you all after I meet with my doctor and hopefully have a mapped out plan that can incorporate continuing to heal and the ability to come home more frequently.
Lastly, our StacieStrong Golf Tournament + Afterparty is coming up on September 30th at Hunter Ranch Golf Course. We are still hoping to have more golfers and if you don’t golf, please join us for the afterparty (same location). This fundraiser means everything to us and without it, we would not be able to continue treatment. Please share the event with your family and friends. We hope to have a beautiful big huge group of people joining us! Cody and I look forward to seeing you there and thank you for your support.
In a nutshell, this life is hard. We thank God for providing for us through this journey and we trust Him daily. We ask that you continue to pray.
Thank you, team StacieStrong. We love you.
-Stacie + Cody
“My Coto Tribe”
When I arrived at René and Steve’s over a year ago, I was a bottle of emotions. I was scared, defeated, anxious, and completely overwhelmed. René and Steve were on a trip when I arrived. Walking up to the front door, there was a beautiful bouquet of welcome flowers. That was my first introduction to the “Coto Tribe”. This neighborhood of women are like nothing I’ve ever experienced- their love, their support, their endless gracious deeds, their selflessness is unmatched. These ladies pick me up when I am down, allow me to partake in any and all their activities (our book club is my favorite) and welcomed me with big hearts and open arms! Even now, they have rallied and put together many beautiful baskets for our upcoming silent auction! These women are beautiful inside and out— I am eternally grateful for each and every one of them! René, Pauline, Kristen, and Wendy— I love you ladies! 🤍
Dear friends + family,
I come to you during another sleepless night. I welcome these night as it’s a time for me to pray and focus on God’s promises. It’s the best time for reflection and focus with 0 interruptions or distractions. Tonight (or early morning— whatever is it) after my prayer time, I thought I would give you all an update!
I was blessed to be able to go home to Oregon last weekend and it was very special. I’ve been feeling really good and strong which makes all the difference in the world! Cody and I were able to go on a small nature hike at the base of Mount Hood and it felt so good to get out into nature! And of course Bodie had the best time which always makes this pup-mom’s heart full. Cody and I cherish these moments together and continue to pray they happen much more often.
Upon returning to SoCal, I had two major scans facing me. Tuesday, I had my PET CT which requires me to receive radioactive dye then wait in a small room for an hour while it “simmers” in my body. It’s always a trip to know that people are not allowed to be around you because you are a hazard and yet they are putting this into my blood stream— yikes! The scan went well and we moved on to Wednesday.
Mom arrived Tuesday night to provide additional support which I greatly appreciate and on Wednesday, we drove to Carlsbad for an early Brain MRI appointment. Though the sweet gal was “training” and had to poke me multiple times, she finally got a good stick and the contrast and scan went well.
I felt a lot of peace about these scans. I prayed, listened to sermons on fear and anxiety, listened to praise and worship music every chance I could get.. and I really felt God telling me to trust Him and to calm my heart. I leaned into this and was feeling really good— after the scans I struggled with anxiety but prayed my way through it.
We finally got the results yesterday.
Brain MRI: a teeny tiny legion at the base of my scull, where the others were. This legion is half the size of a bebe gun bullet and Doctor Doggett believes he can eradicate it with as little as 3-4 radiation sessions! All the other legions in my brain are completely gone. Not even a scar tissue trace.
PET CT: (from the neck down) completely clear! No tumor activity and my lungs look clearer than ever!
Praise the Lord! This is great news! Doctor V does not believe this will interrupt our progress in getting me back to Oregon and we plan to just get rid of that tiny baby legion in the next couple of weeks. The fact that my body (from the neck down) has been clear for a year is a miracle and a huge blessing! Doctor Doggett was ecstatic reassuring me that the systemic treatment that I receive from Doctor V is working well and my body has responded quite successfully.
We continue to pray for smooth sailing as I transition back to Oregon. I will meet with Doctor V on Monday to discuss next steps and to create a plan. We remain hopeful and I truly look forward to going home to my boys (for longer than a weekend).
Thank you for all your prayers! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again— there is power in prayer, friends! “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Lastly, Cody and I are extremely excited for this year’s StacieStrong Golf Tournament + Afterparty happening on September 30th at Hunter Ranch Golf Course in Paso Robles! Golf starts at 8:30 and the afterparty starts at 1:00! We will have a live band, lunch served, beer and wine available, silent auction, raffles, bounce house for the kiddos, StacieStrong merch and more! We are also still hoping to receive silent auction donations so if you or anyone you know may be willing to donate, we would so greatly appreciate it! Check out the tab on our website “StacieStrong Golf Tournament” for more information and to sign up today! We can’t wait to see you there!
With all our love and appreciation,
Stacie + Cody
For this story, we need to go back to the early 1960’s— when lava lamps were first invented, a rock band by the name The Beatles was formed in Liverpool, bell bottoms + tie dye + gogo boots were the fashion of choice and two young girls became best friends. These two were inseparable through the first years of school! They recall endless hours of exploring, walking to and from school, and Friday special treats of ice-cream and French fries!
Though distance with moves and life separated them physically as the years went by, they always remained in contact, whether it was a phone chat, a letter, or a Christmas card. Rene and Cindy had a special bond.
Fast forward to August, 2022. Cindy’s daughter Stacie (hey- that’s me!!) was re-diagnosed and the family had decided to pursue Doctor V for her care. It was a Thursday, Doctor wanted Stacie in-office by the following Tuesday.
Cindy believed Rene lived somewhere in SoCal, reached out to her asking if they could stay for a couple of days until they figured out a longer-term solution. Rene’s response, “You can come, and you will stay for however long you need.”
Fast forward to today, I have been living with Rene and Steve for a year this month. They have showed me unconditional love, hugged me during the pain, cried with me when I felt the defeat of this disease, celebrated when good news came, and completely welcomed me into their entire family (and beautiful neighborhood of the most amazing souls)!
I truly feel as though I have a bonus family and I am eternally grateful for the beautiful relationships I’ve established with not only Rene and Steve, but their tribe as well.
God is SO good! He brings blessing through heartaches! I thank Him every day for this bonus family of mine— I love you, Harwood’s!
Dear friends and family,
I hope this update finds you well!
I have been meaning to write this update for some time and I'm happy to finally share all that’s been going on.
Whew— what a month we’ve had! As most of you know, I completed my radiation + chemo a while back but per usual, this affected my body exponentially. My white blood cells (WBC’s) dropped to a critical level and my body became very tired. Due to the stress on my body, I developed shingles. Shortly after, I developed a skin infection that started in my left nostril and spread across the left side of my face. Unfortunately, due to the mass amounts of treatment my body has received - 60 rounds of radiation + 45 rounds of chemotherapy over the past (almost) 3 years - my body started to shut down. My WBC's dropped to almost 0, unable to fight any infection and leaving me in an extremely vulnerable state to get other infections. I was immediately placed in full quarantine and the fight was on. My fever spiked to a scary high, my body felt more pain than it had felt in months, and I could barely function. But God is good and He knew what I was going to need. Mom had planned on being here for a nice mellow visit and had come down just days before— she was absolutely key in my healing as she cared for me 24 hours a day. My office had a complete quarantine room for me where my nurse was covered in PPE from head to toe— I received mass amounts of hydration, antibiotics + antivirals through my port every single day (my doctor and nurse even came in on Saturday). If I’m being honest, I was not sure I would make it through. Things were not improving and I knew if we ended up in the hospital, it was inevitable I would catch more infections and my body would not be able to fight back. Thankfully, with all the love and constant care, I started to slowly recover after a very scary week. Mom was amazing and was up with me night and day, caring for my every need. My medical team was just as consistent as I communicated with my doctor day and night. I am so blessed to be surrounded by a team that fights alongside me. Praise the Lord!
Three weeks later, I am still recovering but getting stronger. My blood levels are still not back to where they should be but I’m definitely improving every day! My strength is weakened and my body is tired- but we continue to fight and move forward. I’ve been able to walk every day and just yesterday, was able to go up a small hill! 💪🏼 I am so thankful for this beautiful body that God made that continues to give its ALL! Please continue to pray for healing and that my white blood cells (WBC’s), red blood cells (RBC’s), and platelets would soon be “in range” and we can continue to focus on complete healing!
So, what does that mean for treatment? Well, it definitely set us back a bit but I am happy to share that we are finally starting to look ahead again. The goal is to get my body back to healthy blood levels and continue to prepare my body for the dendritic cell cancer vaccine. It’s tricky; my circulating tumor cells need to be in a perfect range, my WBC’s + RBC’s need to be in a perfect range, and my viral load needs to be in a perfect range, so we really have to work hard and meticulously to get me to that “sweet spot.” It takes time but there has been great success with the vaccine and we are confident that through Christ, all things are possible and we will continue to rest in His word and promises for the future.
Right now, I am on a few different immunotherapy treatments to help level my numbers and get me where I need to be. Once my WBC’s and RBC’s level out, I can complete the extensive RGCC blood test that gets sent to Greece to see where the rest of my numbers lie. This will be a HUGE step in the process and we continue to pray for good results.
In the meantime, I am so thankful to not have chemotherapy and radiation— the treatments I am receiving now do not cause me any discomfort and are building my body up, instead of tearing it down.
I hope to be able to go home soon, even if in intervals as I prepare for the vaccine. I have a consultation with my doctor next week to discuss next steps! Prayers welcome and appreciated!
Cody was able to come down for a few days last week and it was so nice to have him here. During the scary time of sickness, he was unable to come down due to my quarantine— this was extremely challenging for us both as we were forced to stay states apart during an extremely scary time. We cherish our time together and though the visits are always too short, we are thankful for the small tidbits of time.
I continue to receive treatment an exhausting five days a week, though I am blessed with beautiful friends at my treatment center that brings light into my life daily. God knew what He was doing when He directed us to VVS MD- I’ve been blessed beyond words through the relationships that have been established with fellow patients.
We continue to trust God’s path for our lives as we move forward. We pray for beautiful transitions in the near future! My hope is to make it home in time to plant a fall garden!
As always, we greatly appreciate all your love and support! We are excited for this year's Second Annual StacieStrong Golf Tournament & After Party on Saturday, September 30th! We hope to see you there! Stay tuned for sponsorship and silent auction donation opportunities soon!
Sending big hugs and loves to you all!
Cody + Stacie
“I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad and my tongue shouts His praises! …
You have shown me the way of life, and You will fill me with the joy of Your presence.”
~• Kindness Abounds •~
Through this journey, there have been SO many beautiful people and blessings that I simply can’t help but share! This life is hard, it’s surrounded by sadness and heartache. But God calls us to choose JOY! And through the trials, we seek joy! These stories are meant to encourage you, as they have for Cody and me! I’ll be adding a little “kindness abounds” tidbit at the end of each update! I hope you enjoy! 🤍
In search of local landscape maintenance (Cody has been exponentially overwhelmed with work and maintaining all the things on his own and it was clear he needed help), I reached out to some friends to ask if they had any recommendations. A girlfriend put a recommendation request on a local Facebook page (with a little background story and our location) and she received a very special response (though we didn’t know it yet). She sent me a gal’s phone number stating she was willing to help. Thinking this gal was a local landscaper, I messaged her and we arranged a time to complete the yard maintenance! Boy, was that needed! As we began to text back and forth, I soon found out that Stephanie was not a landscaper but a beautiful neighbor (whom we had never met) who wanted to bless a couple in need. Since this time, she and her daughters have been to my home multiple times, pulling weeds, mowing, and maintaining— insisting on no payment and wanting to bless us. God is GOOD! He is faithful in fulfilling our needs in ways we could not even imagine! Cody and I are beyond blessed by Stephanie and her family. I can’t wait to get home to meet these beautiful angels and give the biggest squeezes!
Work + Treatment
My Mama being the best caregiver around! She deserves a trophy! 🏆
Icing the face + breathing treatment— we were doing it all! 🙏🏼
So thankful for Tiff, my beautiful nurse that was by my side every step of the way during all the scary moments. 🤍
Dear friends and family,
I write to you as I fly back to Orange County from Oregon. I was blessed to be able to spend the last 6 days with Cody + Bodie- the longest period I’ve been home since August. Though this feels like such a win, my heart breaks as I have to leave once again. The goodbyes never get easier, and we continue to pray that I’ll be able to be home on a more regular basis.
Tomorrow, I continue with treatment. I received my extensive blood work (RGCC from Greece) back and it showed my circulation tumor count (CTC) at 3.1. My CTC continues to go down and Doctor V would like to see this number drop to 2.9 (or below) before she “releases me to the wild”, as she puts it.
My body also shows dormant Epstein- Barr virus (EBV) which can affect the efficacy of the maintenance treatment she will be putting me on when I’m able to go home. My EBV level is still too high so I will be receiving another specialized treatment next week in hopes to lower this level.
The beginning of June I will have both my CTC and my EBV numbers re-tested and we will pray for lower numbers on both! This will bring me one step closer to going home!
My radiologist oncologist (Doctor Doggett) recently ordered my scans so I should have a PET CT scheduled in the next week or two. Doggett would like me to wait on getting a brain MRI until the beginning of July to allow the radiation to complete its treatment (Did you know radiation continues to treat up to 3 months after? Crazy!). However, the PET CT will show any cancer activity in the rest of my body. Scans bring an immense amount of anxiety so please pray for peace and positive results.
I continue to get stronger and after my blood transfusion a few weeks ago, I am feeling much better. I am not receiving chemo or radiation right now, so my body is getting a chance to heal and rejuvenate. I’m so thankful for this strong body— it continues to fight! With everything it has gone through, it’s a true miracle to feel as good as I feel! I am thankful for Doctor V and her care team for not only treating my cancer but giving my body the goods to fight.
Thank you, tribe, for your continued and devoted prayers— God continues to show me that He has a plan for my life and I’m eternally thankful for those He has placed in my path during this journey. What a loving God we serve. 🤍
Lastly, MARK YOUR CALENDARS! 🗓️ We will be hosting our SECOND annual StacieStrong Golf Tournament & Afterparty on Saturday, September 30th at Hunter Ranch Golf Course in Paso Robles! Much more to come— we are at the beginning stages of planning but keep an eye out for more info soon! We hope to see you all there!
Cody + I love you, appreciate you, are thankful for you. 🤍
-Stacie + Cody
“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, Your justice like the great deep…How precious is Your unfailing Love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”
Psalm 36: 5,6a,7
🤍Here are some avenues for supplying financial needs:
*Prayer for finances to be unlocked somewhere, anywhere! Through insurance, Donor Advised Funds, Grants, and Foundations.
Donate 2 hours of help in researching grant and foundation opportunities.
Assistance in planning annual fundraiser (basic admin, silent auction gathering of donations, calls to restaurants for catering)
Assistance in small fundraiser projects.
Give TAX DEDUCTIBLE contributions to SabesWings: care of Stacie Athon
Consider pledging a monthly tithe or contribution. (Reoccurring donations do a lot for the soul!)
Donate flight miles for travel (Cody and I are trying to see each other every 3-4 weeks)
Rrader Joe's and Whole Foods gift cards
Stacie’s email + contact:
Stacieathon@yahoo.com (805) 538-3109
Cody’s email + contact:
Codywillis.email@example.com (805) 423-3436
Loving these moments with my favorite boys!
My strong and resilient Breastie started as VVS MD— I love sharing our healing journeys together!
My sweet hairdresser, Jan, is helping with the radiation bald spots— Mohawk it is!
My Oregon Breastie group!
Steve helping keep my Mohawk fresh and clean
Mother’s Day loves celebrating these two Mamas:
René and Britty
Dear friends and family,
As this week comes to an end, I want to share the most updated information on my journey + end with what’s been on my heart. As most of you know, a recent brain MRI showed two brain mets on the backside of my brain. A fluke blurred vision incident (which ended up not being related to the tumors due to their location) prompted the MRI and the little buggers were discovered. God works in mysterious ways and even though the blurred vision wasn’t related, I believe He allowed that to happen in order to have an incredibly early detection.
Doctor V and Doctor Doggett jumped into immediate action and I was put on a new treatment plan of radiation, chemotherapy, and my daily infusions. I was driving over three hours 3X a week from radiation to the clinic for treatment. The other two days I was still traveling to the clinic for treatments. 5 days a week, 8-9 hour days. Yes, they were extremely long days but I was determined to get through it so we could move forward. I am happy to say I completed my last radiation (for now) on Tuesday and my last chemotherapy (for now) on Wednesday. This week has been very hard emotionally, physically, and mentally as the intense treatment protocol took effect on my already tired body. But we celebrate that this chapter is over and we can move forward.
I will have scans in 6 weeks to see the progress of the radiation treatment as it takes a bit to have its full effect. I completed another RGCC full blood panel that was sent to Greece on Monday and we await for those results to see my circulation cancer cell count and other pertinent information that will help pave the way for next stages in treatment. The blood test usually takes 3 weeks to receive the results.
Our hope, as it’s been all along, is that I get to start tapering off some of my treatments which will allow me to go home for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, my body has not allowed me to do that quite yet but we continue to pray for healing and full response to treatment. Cancer is big but our God is bigger.
I plan to go home next weekend to Oregon for a weekend trip. This will be the first time I’ve been home in 4 months. Even though it’s only for a few days, it feels like a huge step in the right direction. Cody and I look forward to spending some special time together, in our home, with our fur baby. 🤍
What’s been on my heart…
Friends, I have been posting about ins and outs of treatments, scans, setbacks and progress, but I've recently felt compelled to share more of my heart, and with that, more of our need.
We spend up to $15K a week on treatment that is eradicating my cancer and saving my life. I hate that "the system" will financially support poisoning me to death and giving me up to die, but won't consider funding the alternative treatment that is actually restoring my health. Over $50,000 a month is what it takes to keep me going. It doesn't seem just. I don't like that I've been put in a position to beg from people and promote myself to receive funding for my care. And yet, I take joy in the sacrifices many of you have made in gifting us funds. The relief from carrying the whole burden is momentarily satisfying, but the joy is from the bonds of growing friendship. That when you contribute - in ANY way - our bond grows and I am reminded that we are together in this.
I am displaced. These are the clouds I see everyday. The sky has not been clear for a long time.
And yet, God has kept revealing His love. Though not mine, I am in a home and I am loved there. I have made beautiful friendships in my new community and in my treatment center that share their hearts and pray for and with me. I have found a church where I can finally hear the voices of God's holy choir sing with me.
I am discouraged, yet hopeful
Uncertain, but confident
I think this is a good time to have a refresh for our financial journey as we go into our 8th month of treatment. And because many of you have asked,here are some avenues for supplying financial needs:
-Prayer for finances to be unlocked somewhere, anywhere! Through insurance, Donor Advised Funds, Grants, Foundations.
-Donate 2 hours of help on researching grant and foundation opportunities.
-Assistance in planning annual fundraiser (basic admin, silent auction gathering of donations, calls to restaurants for catering)
-Assistance in small fundraiser projects.
-Give TAX DEDUCTIBLE contributions to SabesWings: care of Stacie Athon
Consider pledging a monthly tithe or contribution. (Reoccurring donations do a lot for the soul!)
-Donate flight miles for travel
-Trader Joe's and Whole Foods gift cards
-Costco Gas cards
If needed, please see our contact information:
Address: 16100 SW Brittany Lane, Sherwood OR 97140
Cody’s Contact: 805-423-3436 Codywillis.firstname.lastname@example.org
Stacie’s Contact: 805-538-3109 Stacieathon@yahoo.com
It truly takes an army. Cody and I would not be where we are today without the love, support and prayers from all of you. On the hardest days, you all are what keep me fighting— moving forward. For that I am eternally grateful.
With all my love,
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him.”
Celebrating being done with radiation!
One of the new infusions I receive sometimes has adverse reactions and the first thing I feel is extreme cold! We call this the babushka wrap!
Still trying to work during treatment. Tough challenge, though it helps keep my brain focused on something other than cancer.
Cody and I getting infusions together. Gotta keep the caregiver healthy, too!
Having some fun in the office!
My new favorite cancer friends. I am so blessed to know these strong warriors! Come follow our silly stories and posts @mynewfavoritecancerfriends on Instagram and TikTok
Dear friends and family,
I come to you on another chemo-insomnia night! Sometimes this happens post chemo, my body gets all excited and has bursts energy all night long— go figure! Good news is, it gives me an opportunity to write updates! My desire is to start writing weekly or bi-weekly updates again. 🤍
Today’s chemo marks number 20-something in the books! I have lost count but I am surrounded by the most fun and silly group of patients and of course my medical team is top notch— so we make our chemo days fun and full of laugher— because what else would we do??
I received my extensive bloodwork and CT scans results back and we have more to celebrate! The CT scans not only show my two tumors in my lungs have continued to shrink, it also showed no residual or new tumor growths anywhere else in my body— woo hoo!! Unfortunately, my doctor did confirm that I overdid it substantially during the Christmas/ New Years holiday and my lungs show proof of pneumonia. Thankfully, I did not end up in the hospital but it was a very scary reminder. He is concerned with residual scar tissue in my lungs so I will need to do a follow up CT in 3 months to see if my lungs are healing. However, my bloodwork showed proof that the treatment is continuing to have a great effect as my circulating tumor counts continue to decrease! We take this opportunity to praise God for the wonderful news and this opportunity for treatment!
I received an updated schedule today that shows a new treatment cycle that I will be starting next week (and continuing through April). An exciting element to this treatment is that I will only have chemo once every 3-4 weeks as opposed to weekly, allowing my body to start to heal and get some of this hair back on my head! I’m addition, I will be receiving treatments 4 days a week as opposed to 5, giving me more flexibility with a Friday and Monday off allowing me to possibly travel home for long weekends if my body allows.
We celebrate the small changes that feel like big wins. Cody was able to spend last weekend with me but it was very limited (Friday night-Monday). We look forward to having more time together and can hopefully share 1-2 weekends together a month! (Anyone have any flight miles they don’t need?? 😉)
Cody and I continue to stay optimistic as all the news we receive is positive. However, we are going on 6 months living a part, in different states, with great demands on both of us. We recognize this is not a sustainable situation and pray for the day that I get to go home for longer periods of time. With the treatment being so specialized and curated towards my body, it’s subject to change at any time. If you know me, you know I’m a planner— like a big time planner. God is teaching me many things through this but one huge aspect is having to put all my trust in Him as I have no control over the planning of my life. He is teaching me a great deal of trust, grace, and patience. Each day I am blessed with signs that I am not alone in this— and with His strength all things are possible.
I’ve also been blessed in connecting with other women who are going through their cancer journeys. Friends, Friends of friends, relatives of friends, co-workers— God has brought them into my life and I’ve been able to share my story and provide my heart and support to them during their difficult journeys. I feel extremely honored to feed into these women’s lives and it has taught me a lot of and fed my soul tremendously. I was recently asked why I thought God chose this cancer life for me. I thought about this and I truly believe there are a myriad of reasons. But ministering to these women and receiving so much encouragement from them stands at the top of that list. I am so blessed to serve a God of love and sees great value in community. So, I’m here to say, if you know of anyone who is going through this cancer journey and could use some love, support, and prayer, please send them my way! I would love to minister and love on them! 🤍
Cody and I are eternally grateful for all of you! I will be updating more frequently so stay tuned! Also, we have a “contact” and “message board” area on our website! We would love to hear from you and if there’s anything you would like me to share in my updates (anything at all— treatment info, Doctor info, hopes, dreams— you name it) please let us know! We appreciate you following our story and want to keep you all in the “loop”!
Sending love from Cody and I. 🤍🤍
Stacie + Cody
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
Dear friends and family,
It’s hard to believe it’s already 2023– where did the rest of the year go? I realize I have not written an update since 11/22- wow! Where to begin…
I was able to take a week off from treatment and flew up to Oregon for Thanksgiving! My family and I spent most of the week in Bend, Oregon where we were able to relax and enjoy each other’s company— it was a beautiful time! I was able to be home for a couple of days and I did not realize how much I truly missed my little Sherwood home. 🤍 I was so thankful for the sliver of time I was able to spend with Cody, Bodie + my family over thanksgiving break!
I faced a huge milestone over Thanksgiving break as Cody shaved my head for the second time in two years— something I could never have imagined having to do twice. He was very strong and courageous as he articulately cut and shaved my little dome. We cried together and grieved the loss and then moved forward. I am so thankful for a strong and gentle man beside me to walk through these challenging times. Back to the beanie life for me!
Then, back to SoCal, I went for more treatments! My schedule has been pretty consistent, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday are general treatment days (I call them the “good goods” because I receive enforcement medicine that builds me up and strengthens my body). Then on Wednesdays, I have chemo.
After receiving treatment for a few more weeks, I was able to take another week off between Christmas and New Year's! I flew to Sacramento, Cody drove down from Oregon to Sacramento, and we had Christmas with my parents and sister’s family. It was, once again, a beautiful time full of love and lots of cuddles with my sweet nephews!
After Christmas, Cody and I drove down to Paso Robles to prepare for our first annual Stacie Strong Fundraiser held on NYE! In true Willis Event fashion, it DUMPED rain the entire day of the event but that did not stand in anyone’s way! Friends, this event was by far the highlight of my year! So many friends and family members from all around gathered to support Cody and me! We are both so incredibly humbled by everyone’s generosity and willingness to take part in this special event— despite the crazy weather!! We had many amazing volunteers that spent hours planning with us to make this day possible! My heart is so full and I just pray that this event continues on an annual basis and that Cody and I are able to give back to others in need in the future. Our hearts are full as we venture into the New Year!
After our amazing event, Cody drove back to Oregon and I returned to SoCal. My body was very tired and I became very sick but with lots of prayer and rest, I am finally recovering. I am so thankful I did not have to go to the hospital and even more thankful I am recovering!
So, what’s next for Stacie and Cody? Cody will remain in Oregon and for now, I will remain in SoCal. I am still living with my adopted parents, René and Steve, and I am thankful each and every day for their love, generosity, and René’s homemade risotto that she is ever-willing to make for me! I am one lucky gal and I thank God for these two special souls that love me and care for me like family.
For now, I am back to my 5 days a week of treatment. I have had recent bloodwork and scans and we are waiting on results to determine next steps in the treatment plan. Though my treatment is going well and we see great improvement, my TNBC is very aggressive and it’s imperative we stay on top of treatment, making it challenging to be home for any extended period of time. Our next big goal is getting to a three-week on, three-week off treatment plan. This will require continued improvement in my bloodwork and scans so this should be determined in the near future! I pray that I can start this rotation in February.
It’s now been 22 weeks since I left Sherwood on this unknown adventure with Doctor V. It has stretched Cody and me in ways we did not think were possible. We feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to be working with Doctor V but it does not come without challenges. I miss my boys—Cody is holding down the fort while caring for Bodie (my fur baby) and keeping the household running in my absence. I am very thankful for his hard work and determination to keep everything running smoothly while I am away.
Cody and I are optimistic as we enter into the New Year. Though we don’t know what this next year holds, we know a few things are definite— we will continue to love without hesitation, look forward with eagerness and delight, cherish each moment and not focus on the silly things, and dream of our future as if there’s nothing holding us back. 🤍
God bless you all this New Year! Our hearts are full and we love you all! Cheers to a new year full of new adventures!
Stacie + Cody 🤍
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thanksgiving cuddles with my boys!
Head Shaving #2
**We can do hard things**
Hello my friends and family!
My heart is full as I send this week’s update from my cozy Oregon home. 🤍 Yes, after 15 weeks in California, I was given a week off of treatment and able to come home! I did not realize how much my heart needed this— but am so thankful I’m here. I’ll spend the next couple of days at my home in Sherwood with Cody, then the rest of the week we will spend in Bend for Thanksgiving with the family! What a blessing this week will be! I pray you all have a beautiful week with family and friends— cherish the time together!! 🤍
Treatment is going well as we continue weekly chemotherapy treatments and systemic treatments. Though I am still feeling well, the chemo has taken its toll on my hair and I’m gathering the strength to shave it again. The second time milestones are so much harder than the first. This time I know what to expect, the time it takes to grow back, the beanie life (though it’s not the worst thing), the looks, the inquiries.. all of it. But this is my journey and I choose to seek joy in all things. Maybe get some new beanies for winter? Who knows!
I had a chest MRI two Fridays ago and received the results last Monday. We are excited to announce that the tumors have continued to shrink and there is no residual growth in the chest area! We are praising with this news! The treatments and radiation seeds are doing work in there and we could not be more thankful!
I had another extensive blood test that was sent to Greece two weeks ago to gauge my progress. Due to the intricate nature of the test and the time to send to Greece, the results take a few weeks to receive. We await these results as they will determine the next steps in treatment! I will keep you all updated!
I’ve absolutely loved seeing all the beautiful photos of friends and family in their new Stacie Strong Apparel! Thank you again for supporting me with this fun gear! It makes my heart so happy seeing all of you sport my Stacie Strong!! The apparel is still available (with long sleeve shirts added) on the Stacie Strong Website so definitely share the news with those interested! 🤍
We have also been very busy planning, coordinating, and working on our upcoming Stacie Strong Golf Tournament and Silent Auction event! Friends, this event is shaping up to be quite the time! There will be some amazing auction and raffle items, too! Speaking of, we are still accepting donations for our silent auction and raffles! If you or you know of someone that is willing to donate a product, service, or experience, we would be forever thankful! We have a drop-off/mail location in Templeton or we have amazing friends picking up local items! We hope to see you all at the event and give big squeezes! Also, keep an ear out after 12/8– your girl will be featured on a few local radio stations promoting the event! What fun! 🤍
Overall, Cody and I are able to face each day with positivity. Though it’s been very hard being apart, we know that the time together is that much more special because of it. We continue to look ahead and forward to life slowing down (prayerfully) in the near future.
As we look at the meaning of this week, God’s faithfulness in our lives, and the many things to be thankful for I am in awe of all that comes to mind. This journey is rough, to say the least, but He continues to provide for us and put amazing people in our path that have incredibly blessed us through this journey. As we go into this week, let’s not forget all that God has done for us! There is truly much to be thankful for! 🤍
We love you all and are truly blessed by your endless support!
Stacie + Cody
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will anound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Finally home! Cuddles with my favorite boys! 🤍
My sweet mama! She has been working her booty off “Coloring the Central Coast” with tournament flyers! She’s visited countless local stores and everywhere she goes, she takes a flyer! If you see a Stacie Strong Golf Tournament flyer hanging in a local shop window, that is most likely my mama’s work! I am so incredibly thankful for her and her new-found marketing skills! 🤍🤍
Another week of treatment, another week with my sweet friend. Thank you for being my chauffeur and constant last week. 🤍🤍
We celebrated sweet Evin’s birthday last week! Blessed with my beautiful nurses that have become friends! Happy Birthday, Ev! 🥳🤍
Long story short, while coming out of my comatose chemo treatment and attempting to bring my sugar level up, I started choking aggressively on a grape! Of course, I was in the best hands and Evin didn’t skip a beat! She had me out of my recliner and administering the Heimlich within seconds. That action called for special flowers and chocolate delivery the following day to once again share my gratitude for such an amazing staff at VVS MD!
Hello my friends!
It’s been a tough couple of weeks so I needed to take a break from updates but we are back in action now! 💪🏼
Unfortunately, over the last two weeks, my esophagus continued to worsen and became even more painful (I know, I’m tired of talking about it too!). It’s been 5 weeks of pain and after an emotional few days due to extreme pain, our GI Specialist (Doctor Donner) advised we go to the ER and request an emergency scope. We were extremely thankful for Doctor Donner’s advice and went to the ER Tuesday afternoon. We were admitted in the ER quickly and efficiently (hurray!) and we thought we would be in and out in no time! However, God had a different plan! My hemoglobin levels have been flirting with the critical low point for the past few weeks and Doctor V has been watching closely to ensure I stay safe. The hospitals will not administer a blood transfusion until the levels reach 7 or below. I had not reached that level so I continued to be monitored through multiple weekly blood draws! But God works in mysterious ways and He knew I would be in the ER at just the right time. During regular bloodwork after admission, my hemoglobin level came back at 6.2! Yikes! I reached out to Doctor Donner and Doctor V and they both said, “Get the blood transfusion!!”
We were then admitted to overnight care at the hospital in order to receive two units of blood (thank you to all of you that donate, it helped me firsthand and made all the difference in my body and healing!).
Because I was admitted overnight, Doctor Donner was able to schedule my esophageal scope for the next morning! Another huge blessing as we trust Doctor Donner and didn’t feel comfortable having someone else complete the scope!
Overall, the experience was good and we truly feel we were at the right place at the right time. God is good and is always watching out for us and our needs.
The scope showed a few ulcers in my lower esophagus which is what is causing the extreme pain. However, there is not much more we can do but continue to eat soft food and give it a LOT of TLC. The doctor is confident that they will heal on their own, it will just take time. We are thankful there are no tumors growing in that area! Another praise!
We were discharged on Wednesday evening and our beautiful Mama Rene and Steve had a wonderful dinner waiting for us upon arrival! We are truly blessed to be able to come “home” to comfort and love after the hospital stay. 🤍
Then, back to treatments on Thursday! Whew! We don’t skip a beat around here! 💪🏼 Thursday was my last chemo for a bit as we will be taking a break to allow my body to get strong and continue to fight! I am very thankful for a break as my body has been through the wringer the last few weeks! We are eternally thankful for the amazing care from our medical team; Doctor V, Doctor Doggett, and Doctor Donner! We know we are in the best hands! I was actually texting Doctor V as I was in the ER giving her a play-by-play of what was going on— I’ve never experienced such love, care, and attentiveness in ANY medical setting and I continue to thank God for allowing me to be under her care! What an incredible team we have!
So what’s next? Friends, we get a whole week off from treatment next week! Woo hoo!! We could not be more excited to take a week off after 10 weeks, 5 days a week of treatment! Cody and I will drive up north to my parent’s house in Atascadero and spend some much-needed time with friends, family, and our sweet pup! I’ve missed our puppy more than words can express and I know it will feed my soul to see him again!
We continue to stay very optimistic with our treatment plan and trust our team of doctors tremendously! We are so thankful for this upcoming week off and will be ready to hit the grind again the following week!
We are also working on FINAL touches before we go-live on our website with the Stacie Strong Golf Tournament! Info on registration is coming soon for this event happening on December 31st at The Links in Paso Robles! Mark your calendars, friends! This is an event you will not want to miss! Even for those of us that don’t golf, please join in on the fun. We will have music, food, a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle and more! More information on our website should be posted by next week and we will need all the love and support from y’all to make it successful! We can’t wait to see our Stacie Strong Army there! Stay tuned, more to come!!
Thank you again for following our journey and giving us the support and love we need to continue to fight! I count my blessings each and every day and you all are a huge part of that!
Sending all the love from the Willis Family! We love you!
Stacie + Cody
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Admitted into the hospital
Hospital life with hubby
My beautiful nurse celebrating my last chemo for now
This week marks our 8th week of treatments! What an incredible 8 weeks it’s been! We’ve been introduced to a whole new way of medicine while being surrounded by the most amazing people! Though we miss our home and our pup (especially), we are so thankful for the opportunity to be here and be receiving the best care! We are also loving our time with our second family that we’ve been living with for the past 8 weeks! We love the Harwoods!! What a blessing they are!
Cody has been in Oregon all week taking care of business back home. Though we all miss him down here, I am thankful he’s able to get home and regroup for a bit!
My beautiful friend Devin drove down from the Central Coast on Sunday to be with me and take me to my treatments Monday-Wednesday! What a blessing it was having her here supporting and loving on me this week! Then mama René took over Thursday and Friday, taking me to treatments and making sure I’m cared for in the most amazing way! It truly takes a village and I am eternally blessed by these beautiful souls that have come alongside me through this journey!
This week has been a great treatment week and the first full week without radiation treatments! It’s been so nice not having radiation and just focusing on my chemo and systemic treatments! My body is fatigued from the radiation seeding last week but I’ve been able to rest and take it slow! I’ve also been experiencing burnt and cracked skin on my chest where the seeds were placed. Thankfully, I found a skincare combo last year during radiation that worked wonders so I’m hopeful with consistent application, my poor skin will be healed in no time!
My esophagus is still causing extreme pain and is still not healing. We met with a GI doctor last week and have imaging scheduled for Monday. Unfortunately, they are unable to scope at this time as he described by esophagus as a wet piece of toilet paper that would only shred to smithereens with a scope. That doesn’t sound fun at all so I’m happy with the imagining option! Hopefully, they will be able to determine swelling, infection, and inflammation from the imagining that will point them in a direction to assist in the healing process. We pray for relief every day.
Overall, treatments are going well and smoothly! We pray my blood work continues to show improvement and we only have a few more weeks of this initial stage of treatments!
Throughout the last 8 weeks of treatments, I have been flooded with beautiful compliments on how “un-sick” I look. I get asked often what I am doing and when people find out I have treatments five days a week, they don’t believe me! Just yesterday, I shared with a stranger that I have terminal stage 4 cancer, and she looked at me with disbelief! And I’m here to say, cancer doesn’t have to look like death! Cancer doesn’t have to look like your body is deteriorating at a rapid rate!! This is my journey, yes! This is my story, yes! But I refuse to let it define who I am as a person! I choose life— for as long as God allows me on this earth! And not only choosing life but celebrating life!! I love when I get to share my treatment journey and share all the GOOD that I feel and see daily! So, today is a reminder for all! No matter what life throws your way, we have a choice! We have a choice on how we will face it and what to do with our circumstances! I will continue to choose to live, to celebrate the small and big wins, to focus on those around me that bring me life, to love with every ounce of my being, and continue to wake up every morning with hope in my heart for another beautiful day!!
As always, thank you for your prayers and support! We have been completely overwhelmed by the support shown through the purchases of the Stacie Strong apparel! We can’t wait to sport our new merch and we hope you all enjoy yours as well! Thank you, thank you!!
We love you all!
Stacie + Cody
Psalm 121:1-2 - I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
***SAVE THE DATE***
Stacie Strong Golf Tournament
Saturday, December 31st
The Links Golf Course
More Details Coming Soon!
Girls' Night with matching jammies and slippers!
Chemo with my beautiful support!
We all miss Cody! Including G-baby!
Chemotherapy treatment in process!
Dear Friends + Family,
Another treatment week is in the books! We celebrated our last day of radiation on Monday (originally Tuesday but my esophagus is still experiencing the extreme burn). This has changed our daily commute tremendously— cutting out two hours of driving and a 30-minute appointment each day. What a blessing to be past that journey! Though we will greatly miss our amazing radiation techs, Jeff and Liz! They made our time fun and enjoyable and we are so thankful for such an amazing team!
Wednesday we had a successful seeding procedure! Doctor Doggett was ecstatic to share that both my tumors had shrunk by 50% of their original size from the systemic treatments, chemotherapy, and external radiation! Doctor Doggett was able to successfully implant 110 rice-size radiation seeds into the remaining (smaller) tumors. The radiation seeds will release their goodness over the course of the next four months and we continue to pray the tumors will fully dissolve. I will have imagining completed at 2 months, then again at 4 months to monitor the progress. During the procedure, there was the risk of a puncture in my lung but I am happy to announce there were no complications and I’m recovering well! We jumped right back into treatment on Thursday and I received another round of chemotherapy. My body is tired but we continue to fight— seeing progress and celebrating the positive news!
We have a consultation with a GI specialist on Friday (thank you Doctor Doggett for pulling some strings and getting us in asap) in hopes to get answers on my esophagus. The pain continues to worsen and eating is extremely challenging. We have tried multiple medications and every tip and trick in the book— unfortunately, nothing has helped. Weight loss is a huge concern so we are anxious to find answers. We pray our appointment on Friday will provide just that! We could definitely use extra prayer for relief and healing!
We met with Doctor Von Schaefer (Doctor V) this past Thursday to discuss the remainder of this initial phase of treatments. Positive progress is being made and my bi-weekly bloodwork is proof of that! We will continue systemic and chemotherapy treatments for four more weeks and hope to head back to Oregon at the beginning of November. Though this was longer than initially anticipated, we trust Doctor V and her amazing medical team and know this is the best choice for my body. The systemic treatments will continue to strengthen my body and the additional chemotherapy will only lessen the chance of a reoccurring tumor. Once my bloodwork aligns with our expectations, we will be sent home with multiple in-home systemic treatments! Thank you to Doctor V and her medical team for continuing to give us peace of mind and so much positivity! We could not imagine this journey without them and we feel extremely blessed!
Cody will go back to Oregon on Saturday for a week of work and check in on our home. Though it is hard to have him go, we are blessed with his work’s flexibility and willingness to allow him to travel back and forth. He’s been working extra long hours and between our commutes, appointments, and check-ins, he’s working away! I am in constant awe of his dedication, all while caring for me. He is truly an incredible human and I am forever grateful for his heart of gold.
Friday (10/7) marks two years since my initial diagnosis. Two years ago, I received the call that would change our lives forever. I remember that call like it was yesterday. “You have cancer.” Then a myriad of questions and it didn’t take long to realize Triple Negative Breast Cancer was not good news. The highest reoccurrence rate and the least amount of verifiable research or treatment options.
Two years later, here we are. Still fighting. Still taking on each day with a punch. Still counting our blessing and choosing to see the good— and there’s been a whole lot of that! As we reflect on these past two years, I once again can’t help but be proud. Proud of us, proud of our family, proud of our friends and beautiful supporters. We are doing it! We are not giving up and we are not letting cancer win! For there is power in numbers and boy do we have that! Two years later my heart is full— thinking back there are more good memories than bad, more laughter than tears, and more special moments with loved ones than isolated moments alone. We choose to see the good and we will continue as long as this fight demands.
In honor of our two-year diagnosis-anniversary and October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have launched Stacie Strong Apparel! We had a lot of fun designing these items and we hope you like them too!
Sending much love to you all! We appreciate you, we appreciate your love, we appreciate your support! Here’s to two years of seeing the good and never giving up!
Stacie + Cody
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Post radiation seeding procedure— success!
Look at all those radiation seeds!
Breathing treatments twice a day and my snuggle buddy, Roxy!
Chemotherapy treatment in process!
Another Wednesday, another update!
Today was chemo number 5 – done & done! It was a great day and a successful chemo admission day! Doctor Virginia Von Schaefer (aka Doctor V) has a unique technique when administrating chemotherapy. My blood sugar is dropped to an extremely low number as the chemo is feeding into my port. Cancer cells are highly attracted to sugar; therefore, this technique allows for lower doses of chemo, but a much higher efficacy in destroying the cancer cells. It’s been described to us like the Pac-Man game! The lower the blood sugar, the faster the little guy runs around and eats all the nuggets! During my blood sugar “drop”, I am highly monitored by two nurses, a medical assistant, and by Doctor V. It’s a tough process in the moment but it's incredible what our bodies can do! I am in constant awe of how I’m able to become revived and rejuvenated after the chemo treatment is complete and my blood sugar is raised to a normal level. It’s quite fascinating and we are thrilled to be a part of such an amazing and innovative process! I will be receiving systemic goodness treatments the rest of the week to support my body and keep it strong— something my standard care last year cared nothing about. We continue to be extremely optimistic and look forward to getting through this first round of treatments!
As I mentioned last week, my esophagus suffered a severe burn from radiation and I took the remainder of the week off from receiving those sessions. Unfortunately, my throat has not healed and I’ve still been experiencing extreme pain when swallowing, drinking, and eating. Doctor Doggett was amazing and jumped right into option number 2! I was completely re-mapped on Monday so that moving forward, I would be radiated from the throat down. He is confident that the radiation I received in my esophagus was very successful and that this new mapping would not affect the efficacy of the radiation treatments! I am ecstatic with this new protocol and we have started radiation again this week! We have 5 more sessions before next Wednesday, where Doctor Doggett will complete a medical procedure to microscopically enter through my chest wall and insert radiation seeds into what is left of my tumors. The hope is to kill the remainder from the inside out. Doctor Doggett is one of two Radiologist Oncologists that completes this type of medical procedure in the US. We are truly blessed to have Doctor Doggett a part of our team! We could definitely use prayers next week as we will receive our first set of imaging to see treatment progress and I will undergo the seeding procedure on Wednesday!
We look forward to celebrating being done with radiation next week and will await the imaging results for Doctor V to review. Upon review, she will determine if more chemo/systemic treatments are needed during this initial treatment stage. Cody will head back to Oregon (he’s needed back at work by 10/10) and I will stay as long as needed. We look forward to hearing what is next for treatment and follow what Doctor V sees best! It’s such a relief knowing we are in the best and most capable medical hands! What a huge blessing!
Last weekend Cody and I were blessed by beautiful friends with a night at a stunning beachfront hotel and our room overlooked the ocean for our second year anniversary! It was such an amazing treat and we are forever thankful for the night away and some wonderful non-cancer-related fun! Cody and I spent much time reflecting on our last two years and what we were most thankful for. We rejoiced in the many blessings we have received through this journey and reflected on the immense amount of support and love that we have received. This has truly been inspiring, humbling, and so incredible during our hard times. And this, my friends, is a testament to YOU!
With that, we want to thank each and every one of you for your continued love, support, and care for us! We love you and appreciate you so much! We’ve made so many beautiful connections with people we would have never met without this journey and we recognize and see you! Thank you, thank you!
Sending much love from the Willis family! Until next week.
Cody + Stacie
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Radiation photo with my beautiful radiation techs!
My beautiful oncology team!
Anni weekend :)
Dear Friends & Family,
Stacie here for another weekly update. Cody and I have gotten into a good groove with our daily commutes to Corona and then Laguna Beach. Cody has been a great support with waking up early, packing my lunch and snacks for the day, preparing my morning breathing treatments, making me breakfast, and ensuring the mornings run smoothly. I am in constant appreciation of his selfless love and care for me each and every day. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: he is the true hero in this story. 🤍
This week marks week 4 of targeted chemotherapy (I receive chemotherapy treatments every Wednesday then systemic treatments Mon/Tues, Thurs/Fri) and Monday marked radiation session 12 out of the 20 they want to administer. Unfortunately, this week has brought many challenges and we would love to ask for extra prayer.🤍
My esophagus has been burned by the intense radiation treatments and it has caused severe pain and discomfort. This is a common side effect of the type of radiation I am receiving. With this, it has been very challenging to eat, drink, and swallow. Weight loss is a huge concern of my doctors so forcing myself to eat has been a great challenge and incredibly painful. This has brought additional complications and we have decided to take the rest of the week off from radiation treatments in hopes my body may be able to start healing.
Our medical team stands behind this decision and we are forever thankful for this amazing team that listens, cares, and supports us through this journey. My Oncology Radiologist called Cody this evening (after hours) just to check in on us, ask how he can support us, and ensured we feel 100% confident in the care we are receiving— what an incredible experience! We are constantly reminded of the love and care our team has for us. 🤍
Cody and I celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary on (9/25)! We hope to spend some special time together and pray these side effects subside so we can enjoy the weekend celebrating our love and these past two years! 🤍
Thank you again for all the love and prayers— please keep them coming! We continue to stay optimistic with our treatment plan and hope to be done with this first phase in 4 weeks. We look forward to returning to Oregon and seeing our sweet pup, Bodie! In the meantime, we are loving our time with René, Steve, and family! We are eternally grateful for their love and generosity! We have been so blessed by our adopted family! 🤍
We love you all and appreciate your support! Thank you for walking alongside us. 🤍
“There’ll be days like this, my Mama said,
When you open your hands to catch,
And wind up with only blisters and bruises. …
When your boots fill with rain,
and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment.
And those are the very days you have all the more reason to say thank you
Because there’s nothing more beautiful
than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline,
no matter how many times it is sent away.”
Cancer is big but our God is bigger. He has me wrapped in His arms and I rest in His promises. This road is not for the faint of heart, and it has pushed us to limits we didn’t even know we had. But we continue to trust in His plan knowing that He is in control. 🤍
Stacie + Cody
Archived update coming soon...
Dearest Friends & Family,
We wanted to take a few moments and share a little bit about our journey up until this point, what brought us to the decision to seek alternative care and to thank everyone for their immense support and love.
As most of you know, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer in October 2020, just days after our wedding. Due to the aggression of the cancer, we jumped in with two feet and started standard treatment care immediately, receiving the best of the best treatment for triple negative. Unfortunately, my tumor proved to be chemo resistant and my tumor continued to grow and spread to my lymph nodes. Even so, we completed all the rounds of chemotherapy, entered into a clinical trial at Cedar Sinai, underwent a double mastectomy, and completed radiation and oral chemo for 6 months. My oncologist used to joke and say “we are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you!”
Cody and I were confident that when they announced I was cancer free in January 2022, we could start living our lives and planning for our future.
Unfortunately, in April of 2022, I started experiencing chest pressure that continued for months. The doctors passed me around and did not seem concerned until finally in July, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Triple Negative Breast Cancer that had metastasized to my left lung. Due to the lack of urgency from my medical team, the tumors grew to a large size.
When we met with my oncologist, she shared there was nothing they could do. She offered to put me back on the chemotherapy that I was on in 2020. We already knew my tumors would not respond. We had been down that road. My oncologist was sympathetic but what more could she do— I was terminal.
Cody and I could not take this as a final answer. As we do, we deep dove into research. Desperately looking for an option to live. We knew standard care would not be able to produce the results we needed so we started looking outside the box.
We were able to locate a clinic in Laguna Beach that offers modern medical care coupled with systemic treatments curated for my body that includes immunotherapies and alternative care treatments. The goal through these treatments is to teach my body to recognize and destroy the cancer cells on its own and through this specialized treatment plan - there has been great success! Doctor Virginia Von Schaefer (my oncologist) also teams up with an amazing radiologist, Doctor Doggett, that we have been lucky enough to see!
Though this journey is trying, we are extremely optimistic about the results. We plan to be down in Southern California for at least 5 more weeks receiving daily treatments. Our dear friends (whom have become family), René and Steve, have graciously opened up their home to us while we are here. We are beyond thankful for their love and generosity!
We are blessed by all your love and support. We are trusting God in this process and know He has the best plan for our lives. Please know all your prayers, messages, cards, and love are seen and felt. This journey is long but we have an army of supporters that pick us up when we are down! Thank you, thank you. We love you all.
Cody + Stacie
An Update On Our Girl
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An Update On Our Girl
As you all know, Stacie’s cancer has returned and has metastasized to her lungs. Here is an update:
Stacie started week three with Dr. Von Schaefer in her Systemic Treatment plan. Stacie will have another chemotherapy administration day on Thursday with pre and post treatments the rest of the days this week.
Today, Monday August 29th, also starts Stacie’s targeted radiation treatments. She is working with Dr. Doggett (Radiologist Oncologist) through 4 weeks of daily treatments.
Each facility is about an hour from each other, making it a very long day for these kids. The commute is substantial but Cody & Stacie are determined to stay focused, positive, hopeful and confident they will get into a routine. A very thoughtful friend and supporter of Cody and Stacie gifted them with a toll road pass which was an unforeseen blessing. Cody & Stacie are forever grateful for the generous gift.
Through everything these kids have been dealt with, and the emotional and mental stress they endure day after day, they continue to get up every morning and face the day. A day all of us take for granted. Cody and Stacie continue to stay positive and optimistic.
Please help us support their journey by sending donations, prayers, thoughts, and lots of love.
We also ask if everyone wouldn’t mind sharing their post.
Let’s all rally together for these two amazing humble kids, Stacie & Cody.
They appreciate and will be forever grateful to each and everyone of you all.
A Note From the Willis'
We want to let everyone know how much we appreciate our community and the support we are receiving. While we aren't personally talking to a lot of people right now, we really want everyone to know how grateful we are for the prayers and support.
The new fight begins and we’re going to tackle this like we have all others: together.