Chemo #2~ Help me to Sing “Hallelujah”

Today was a great day, other than one major hiccup.  I praised God to learn that my hemoglobin was back up to 11 which meant no blood transfusion!  Hallelujah!

The hiccup we had today was with the first chemo drug they administered called taxotere.   Sometimes it can cause an anaphylactic reaction.   During the first round, I was watched carefully as this drug started to drip, because the reaction occurs during infusion within the first 10 minutes usually.  I felt for a split second last time like it was coming on, but then the feeling went away and I convinced myself it was all in my head because Myra (my nurse) had been talking about what the reaction was like.

This round – round 2- within 6 minutes of starting the taxotere drip, I had that same exact feeling, only it did not go away.  It started with a cough and almost immediately I felt my airway closing up.  I croaked out to Myra, calling her over  and said “Something’s happening!!!” It happened really quickly.  I felt like I could not breathe as my airway closed up.   My entire body felt like it was going into shock. My face felt strange and like it was about to burst open (the only way I know how to describe it).

All of a sudden, there was a whole team of nurses surrounding me~ stopping the infusion, administering benadryl, putting a cold washcloth on my face, taking my vitals.  Dr. Stillwell even magically appeared right away. (she works on all the way on the other side of the office).  My blood pressure was sky high; my heart rate was 140.  My face was beet red (I am told).  They put me on oxygen.

It was seriously the scariest thing I’ve ever been through with my physical health.

After everything stabilized, I had terrible uterine pain.  It literally felt like a nonstop labor contraction.  I jokingly told Myra (my amazing nurse) that I needed an epidural 😉 haha   But seriously it was really painful for about 20 minutes.  Finally that let up, and they let me rest and stabilize for about 30 minutes.  Dr. Stillwell decided to give taxotere one more try but at a slower drip rate to see if my body could handle it.  So they reduced the drip rate from 250 to 40.  Way slower…  I was so scared when they started that drip again because I was terrifyed that my body would go into that reaction again!  But Myra stayed right there beside me, with all of the syringes of medicine drawn in case I needed them quickly again.  I just prayed and prayed, and THANKFULLY by God’s grace I didn’t have a second reaction.  Praise God!!

Because of this hiccup, I was at the infusion clinic from about 8 – 5pm today.

That may be WAY too much detail, but I want to write these things down, not to scare anyone who may go through this in the future, but to get someone prepared for what could happen, and also if it does happen IT’S OK.  I believe God wanted me to walk me through something that scary to show me He would carry me through it. He was right with me. It happened at a time I had a friend visiting who brought me lunch and I emphatically said (hopefully not too harshly!) “PRAY FOR ME!!!” She grabbed my hand and prayed and calmed my heart. That was a gift.

So now, with hair loss…..

I knew eventually the dreaded day would come when it would be best for me to go ahead and shave my hair.  I prayed grace over this day, because I knew how hard it would be.

My hair had been falling out increasingly.  It was becoming a big pain and I knew that very soon the “big day” of head shaving would need to take place.  I did not want to PLAN this day, I just knew that I’d know when it needed to happen, and I’d just do it when I knew.   I wanted it to happen organically and in God’s time.  I wanted God to plan the day and then just reveal it to me.  I trusted He would.  And He did.

First thing this morning, my friend Becky met me briefly at the infusion clinic on her way home from work (she is a nurse at Lexington Medical and works nights and had gotten off at 7:30am).   One of the first things Myra said to me this morning as she was cleaning my port was “darlin, you know you’re hair is about to be gone…probably by the weekend”.  Of course this got me emotional, anticipating that BIG dreaded day that I knew needed to happen soon.  The day of head shaving.

Becky said “why don’t you just come over after your chemo is over and I’ll shave it off”. . Right away I knew this was God’s plan. It felt right. She even bought me the cutest Vera Bradley scarf to celebrate this big day.  Becky is a dear friend, and we have shared many dark and light seasons arm in arm.   I knew I also wanted Justin to be there with me too.  It felt like a very vulnerable time.

So after the extra-long chemo day, Justin took me to Becky’s house.  She put on Pandora worship music, we prayed together – asking the Lord to come and intersect our time together doing this dreaded and hard thing.

We first used the scissors to cut my hair very short.  Justin looked on, and with love in his eyes encouraged me, and provided comic relief.  I have tears in my eyes as I type this because I will NEVER forget that image of my beloved sitting at that table, watching as his wife’s head gets shaved.  He reminded me of the old Randy Travis song “I’m gonna love you forever” and that lyric that says “I aint in love with your hair, if it all falls out, I’d love you anyway”.  This is true love, y’all.  He’s amazing.

Just as the shaving started, God gave me a sweet gift.  On the pandora station (which we had no idea what song would come up next), a VERY special song started playing for me.  It was straight from God’s heart to mine.  As I heard the distinct sound of the electric razor, I also heard the song “Hallelujah” by Bethany Dillon.  This song was one of my infertility anthems, and I played it on repeat as we were going through fertility treatments, and the Lord used it to push out fear that they wouldn’t work.  One of the lyrics of the song says “Whatever’s in front of me, HELP me to sing hallelujah”.  That is SO much my heart…it was then, and it is now.  “Lord, we DON’T know the future. It is unclear. But whatEVER is in front of me, HELP me to sing Hallelujah.  Lord help me to praise You through whatever is ahead.”

There was no guarantee that I would get pregnant back then. Scripture doesn’t promise us that.  Just as there are unknowns ahead in my journey.  But I choose to praise Him through the unknowns.

As that song started playing over the sound of the electric razor, I put my head in my hands and just started crying.  I felt so loved, so cared for by our Great and Mighty GOD!  I knew He had orchestrated every detail of this dreaded night, and wanted to remind me in every way that He was with me.  He saw me.  He cares for me.  It’s simply amazing.  Out of ALL the songs that could have played in that very moment it was one so close to my heart.

The dreaded hard day was really not.that.hard.   It’s all His grace.  It abounds day by day. New mercies I see every morning.  I want to encourage you – if you are facing a hard thing, get real about it, and face it head on.  Beg the Lord to intersect that hard thing, and then have eyes to see the glimpses of His grace and presence in the midst of the hard thing.  Often God calls us not to walk around the difficult parts of the journey, but trust that He will walk with us THROUGH them…sufficiently lavishing us with His grace along the way.  I saw this tonight.

I could continue writing because my heart is so full, but this post is getting too long.

My new looks:


true love. in sickness and in health.



And my wig!


this is not my real hair. although it could probably pass for it!

I’ll post prayers another day.  For now I’ll leave you with this verse.  Its because of Jesus I have HOPE.   Jesus is a sure and steadfast anchor of my soul.  And the anchor holds.


credit: Brightside Studio


Click hear to hear “Hallelujah” by Bethany Dillon

Lyrics to “Hallelujah” by Bethany Dillon

Who can hold the stars and my weary heart?
Who can see everything?
I’ve fallen so hard, sometimes I feel so far
But not beyond your reach

I could climb a mountain
Swim the ocean or do anything
But it’s when you hold me that I start unfolding
And all that I can say is

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Whatever’s in front of me
Help me to sing Hallelujah

Oh, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Whatever’s in front of me
I’ll choose to sing Hallelujah

The same sun, rises over castles
And welcomes the day
Spills over buildings into the streets
Where orphans play

And only you can see the good
In broken things
You took my heart of stone and you made it home
And set this prisoner free

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Whatever’s in front of me
Help me to sing Hallelujah

Oh, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Whatever’s in front of me
I’ll choose to sing Hallelujah

Help me to sing Hallelujah

Ho, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Whatever’s in front of me
Help me to sing Hallelujah

Oh, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Whatever’s in front of me
I’ll choose to sing Hallelujah

Oh, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Whatever’s in front of me
I’ll choose to sing Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Read more: Bethany Dillon – Hallelujah Lyrics | MetroLyrics


  1. Marsha Ward says

    Oh Brooke! That must have been terrifying for you! I am so sorry that happened but glad that there are very attentive people there to help you. I pray that your appetite won’t go away this time and that you will maintain your strength and energy. I will see you soon. Love you 🙂

  2. Shannon Allen says

    As a mother I have been going through a difficult time this week. Nothing like what you are going through, but trying to find that work/mom balance. Also seeing my oldest turning 5 and getting ready to start kindergarten and trying to make it 12 months breast feeding my 9 month old. I have also been trying hard to pray about these things that are weighing heavy on my mind and paying attention to how God wants me to proceed. What you are going through and the way you are handling it is truly an inspiration to me as a mom and a wife. It has opened my eyes to a different perspective of my situation. For that I thank you!!! I will continue to lift you up in prayer through your difficult journey. Be assured your ability to share this journey and what God is doing in you and through you is and will reach others who need him so desperately. Thank you and blessings be to you and your sweet family.

    • Shannon, your reply blesses me this morning (as do all of these sweet replies! I wish I could respond to each one but I don’t want to be tied to my computer and take precious time away from my children!) But I felt so led to respond directly to you. Girlfriend I know EXACTLY where you’re at. I’ve been there too – with heaviness in motherhood; trying and deeply desiring to be the BEST mom, while balancing work and motherhood. I feel you. Just know, you’re the best mother for these precious children that God has entrusted to you. His grace is enough, and abounds each day in motherhood – in the good, bad, hard, and ugly. He loves your sweet children even more than you do (which I know is impossible to imagine), and He handpicked YOU to mother them. I will be praying for you as you seek God’s face daily for His will for your hours and your days. He delights in you, Shannon! Thank you for being vulnerable and honest!

  3. Oh dear Brooke, I was so looking forward to hearing about today, and now I know why! Praise God for each detail!! I had tears running down my face as I read your words (which I could read more and more of… It’s never too long). I love you dearly! I Am so encouraged through your journey. Thank you for proclaiming His goodness! Hallelujah, indeed. ❤️

  4. So beautiful Brooke! The girls and I were praying for you all day yesterday. May He continue to reveal Himself in these amaIng ways through your journey.

  5. Erin Carroll says

    His grace abounds, indeed. Thank you for continuing to share all the details of this journey. You’re beautiful, Brooke. Continuing to pray for you!

  6. Kathy collins says

    Just beautiful… Like you. God bless you.

  7. Cindy lavender says

    Brooke, I had the same reaction to taxol. It was very scarey, but I jokingly say, “I failed chemo!”. I was so grateful that my husband was right there and responded! And, the hair, it seemed to be a relief when it was finally gone. It wa like, “now we can move on past this and the chemo must be working to kill those fast growing cells!”
    Keep going forward. Our Shephard will lead you to the still waters!

  8. Danielle Verwers says

    Thank you for sharing this very personal journey. What an inspiration for us all.

  9. ann sanders says

    thank you so much brooke for the encouragement to look to Jesus in the midst of life’s hard. it is so good to be reminded that He is indeed a sure anchor that holds fast. so glad that you are able to see the grace upon grace that He has for you-even in this. thank you for helping me to look up today : ) may you continue to know and experience His peace and presence.

  10. Oh Brooke, I am weeping. You are so strong ! Thank you for this blog and the amazing grace that you pour out to all of us that have the honor of walking this road with you. Praying always.

  11. Ann Hamrick says

    Hello Brooke. You don’t know me. I came across your post through a friend’s comment. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2012. Because I was Triple Positive, I had chemo, radiation no Herceptin. My chemo began as carboplatin and taxotere. I had the exact same reaction to the taxotere as you. It was very frightening. Mine continued so I was switched to a different drug for the rest of my treatments. I know your fear. I remember placing my hand on every single bag of chemo and saying a prayer that it would do it’s work with minimum damage not my healthy cells. I did this for every single bag during all 11 of my treatments.
    One of the most important things I learned is God provides what we need when we need it. We don’t always see it, but it’s there. I also learned that food is medicine. What you eat determines how your body handles chemo. I ordered a book call “Eating Through Cancer” from Amazon. It really helped during the different stages.
    I will add you to my prayer list. Stay strong and find joy each day. There is alwAys something to celebrate.

    • Thank you so much, Ann. I love that idea of praying over the bags of chemo – how powerful! Yes, I agree, there is ALWAYS something to celebrate. That is one of the gifts of cancer – the little things are now big things. Like the sparkle in my son’s eye and my daughter’s laughter. Thank you for journeying with me and sharing your story.

  12. Samantha Fisher says

    I have tears in my eyes, Brooke. God Bless you, sweet lady.

  13. Dovie Turner says

    You and Justin are both so blessed to have each other. Glad you were able to make it through the treatment the second time without the problems. Love and prayers for you both and the little ones.p

  14. Brooke, I just joined Facebook 2 days ago and in my newbie perusing of postings, I stumbled onto your most recent photo..after you had your “shave”. I said to myself, “That’s Brooke!” I recognized you by your radiant smile! I am so sorry to hear of your diagnosis…. And I am so glad that yesterday is over and done with for you. It’s been several years since our last contact. I emailed your photography address, but didn’t know if you ever looked at that account anymore. T and J just celebrated their 7th wedding anniversary and they shared their photos/video with their 3 young sons…just as they have every anniversary. You captured their day perfectly! I think of you often and will continue to pray for you and yours. Please contact me when you feel up to it. God’s blessings to you, my friend…