“Sometimes God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” Joni Eareckson Tada shared these words inand I’ve had them ringing through my ears as I have prayed for dear Sonia. It reminds me that He is in the business of redeeming and raising up beauty from the ashes of our lives.
Sonia’s story that brings her here to my blog started in 2010 when she lost her mom to ovarian cancer. It was decided then that Sonia should always have extra mammograms and ultrasounds for early detection should an issue ever arise. In May of 2018 all scans were clear, but her CA125 numbers (screening test for ovarian cancer) were elevated. A month later numbers continued to climb. It was recommended that Sonia should have a full hysterectomy immediately. As a busy mom, Sonia was hoping to delay the surgery till the end of the summer, but her surgeon was insistent they move forward immediately.
The surgery appeared to be a great success. The surgeon reported everything looked great and he saw no evidence of cancer. Cause for celebration for all who loved Sonia–and that’s a LOT of people! Then a week later, Sonia received a call requesting she come to her doctor’s office. This was 30 minutes before her kids were to get off the elementary school bus. She reminded the doctor she could not come to the office because she wasn’t released to drive from her surgery yet.
So her news was shared over the phone, news that would rock her to her core. Metastatic breast cancer was found in both ovaries. Yes, you read that right, breast cancer in ovaries! Her mammogram had revealed nothing. Ultrasound revealed three suspicious areas, consequently a need for a biopsy.
This was the start of weathering a tumultuous storm that’s rolled in heart break, joy, exhaustion, elation, despair and hope like nothing the Davis’s have ever known. “Heartache forces us to embrace God out of desperate, urgent need. God is never closer than when your heart is aching.” -Joni Eareckson Tada.
Tests continued and the news placed a boa constrictor’s choke hold on their lives. A PET scan revealed cancer in Sonia’s spine, pelvis, ribs, adrenal glands and neck. The whirlwind of activity, tests, explanations, unanswered questions, conflicting ideologies and best/worse case scenarios drawn out ran the family through the ringer. As they progressed in treatment, Sonia would have good scans that showed improvement, then bad ones that showed the liver had spread to her liver and brain. They literally never knew what each day was going to hold. It was a faith walk on very unfamiliar grounds.
The fear was loud and consuming. Sonia asked, ‘was God really real? Where was He in all this?’ Natural question to ask when you understand that Sonia is literally one of the kindest, gentlest, sincere souls you’ll ever meet in this life. She had to ask herself if what she believed in the light was still true while she was surrounded by this new cloud of dark. What Sonia found was that, step by step, God became very real to her as she watched Him show up in the midst of her storms. Intimacy with the Lord grew on a level she had never known before.
In God’s Word we are pointed to the story of Peter in a ship being tossed by a storm, full of fear and panic, assuming death is imminent. He sees the Lord in the water and walks to him, right on top of the water. He can hardly believe it–he is walking on water! Until, that is, he takes his eyes off the Lord and places them on the tumult of the storm…then he begins to sink, until he reaches out for the Lord’s hand. Sonia has found that as she reaches for Jesus, eyes on Him and not the confusion of circumstances, He is restoring in her a faith and joy that defies her circumstances.
What accounts for Sonia’s renewed faith? She has seen the Lord show up, time and time again through her cancer journey. He has placed in her a conviction that she will be healed in this life. Sonia’s care regimen has included surgery, chemo, trips to Colorado for holistic approaches combined with mistletoe treatments. She follows the Believe Big approach of treating the whole body for maximized health while fighting her cancer, so her diet is free from the toxicity that most of us are pouring in daily. She exercises regularly, fasts, eats clean and stays more active than the average healthy person. When we sent her her initial sneak peek from her portrait time, scores of people commented how she looked just like iconic beauty Princess Di! She sent me a video of her in a tiara after the fact spoofing herself as Diana…we may be sharing in our monthly newsletter!;)
Recently Sonia’s care specialist believed her cancer was mostly gone, aside from some areas proving stubborn in her pelvis and spine. However, more recently a hip biopsy has revealed cancer is back to the original HER2 negative. This new news had Sonia feeling pretty defeated since she thought she had received the “wrong” treatment for 2 years. She has since learned that it is possible to have more than one type of cancer in your body and apparently HER2 negative has been hanging around since the initial diagnosis.
Some cancerous areas have seen mutations to Triple positive which is more aggressive, but also has more drugs available to treat. Until recently, Sonia was receiving mistletoe injections 3x a week along with Christmas rose injections. Accompanying these holistic methods is a chemo combo drug 1 time every 3 weeks. This combo had her feeling great. If you asked how how she was feeling, she would smile and say, ‘yes I have stage 4 cancer, at least that’s what they tell me. I feel great!’
Last fall Sonia switched to an integrative oncologist who works with her on supplements to boost her immune system. She fasts in 3 day installments to allow her body to focus its energy on healing, not digesting. Cancer cells divide rapidly, but good cells go into a protective state during fasts. Typically medical oncologist wave off supplements, however, hers credits the supplements for Sonia’s vitality that has been a constant during her cancer treatment. She did cut out any supplements that interfered with the efficacy of the cancer treatment drugs he has prescribed.
With the recent news that HER2 negative is still in her system, Sonia has begun a new oral chemo that is supposed to attack a mutation found in a Foundation One study. This drug blocks glucose feeding the cancer, but increases glucose in your bloodstream. She has had to dial back her diet even further which means most of her carbs come from veggies. She tests her fasting blood sugar every morning and was told that if she can keep her glucose below 100, this drug will make this cancer go dark!!!! Hallelujah!!!
Sonia feels like God it putting in place all of the moving pieces for what needs to be done! Until recently, the only physical discomfort Sonia experienced was some mild tenderness in her back, but lately it has progressed dramatically at night. She is thankful it’s not noticeable when she’s up and on the move; however, the lack of sleep is beginning to take its toll on her. Tomorrow marks 2 weeks on this new drug that’s only been out for 2 years in May. If praying friends could join us in praying it does its job and takes away the bone pain at night, Sonia would be most appreciative!!!
Everyone walking through life with Sonia knows how quickly and effortlessly her beaming smile surfaces when she talks with you. She’s quick to direct conversations to how you are doing, refusing to make every encounter all about her cancer. When that big smile bloomed in our portrait time together, which it did constantly, I labeled it her ‘signature Sonia.’ It was so sweet to capture that for her. I also wanted to capture the quiet, more reflective moments on this journey where she communes with the Lord and He infuses her with strength to continue the fight that is in its third year now. Sonia appreciated seeing this side of herself which I am convinced is a part of every person’s journey, but often goes unrecorded.
Those local in our community may recognize the Soni Sunshine fund raisers that have enabled Sonia to pursue treatment that has taken them to Colorado and an assortment of some of the best doctors in the nation. Sonia characterized much of her journey with the word grateful. The Davis family sits in stunned gratitude for the outpouring of love, gifts, meals, assistance with the children and financial support they have received. Sonia’s so grateful for every single person who has linked arms with her family during this fight. She is also grateful that her hair is growing in beautifully after losing it to one of her rounds of chemo.
(Love that Casey connected into this famous National Geographic cover with his Kenzie’s piercing look above.)
This has been Sonia’s story of dealing with a diagnosis most live in dread of hearing, but what we haven’t touched on is the incredible graciousness of this godly woman. She exudes the fruits of the spirit like few women I have ever met. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control roll from Sonia like the tide. She’s a woman with Stage 4 cancer and yet when you meet her she wants to know all about what’s going on in your life. Her level of compassion for others blows me away at every encounter with her. In the midst of her treatment, she has officially begun a Soni Sunshine cancer support organization to assist others with what has been a help to her. Navigating through the piles of cancer care possibilities is daunting to say the least. She’s hoping the research that her and her husband Casey have done will help others. You can find her newly launched Sonishine.com website by clicking here!
Just one tiny evidence of the incredible graciousness of Sonia is evidenced here in this portrait gallery with her beautiful daughter Kenzie. This portrait session and her accompanying order were gifted anonymously by a dear friend of the family who shad similar portraits created with me in the past. (Sonia has since figured out who it was and tears up when she talks about how this family has been the hands and feet of Jesus to her family, time and time again.) The donor mom wanted Sonia and Kenzie to make the memories that she and her daughter had and she made sure that happened. I say it all the time, the most incredible people grace my door for portraits and I am blessed to lock down what is most precious to them. Sonia, may our Father God is who beyond able to eradicate this cancer show His power through you and His name be proclaimed loudly in your healing! We are all cheering for you and will be there every step of this journey for you!