Tag Archives: God

The Struggle

Life has never been a struggle for Carrie and Travis.  They have always lived with no regrets.  Decisions came easy and time was never wasted looking backwards…only forwards.  Don’t get me wrong…Travis is one of the hardest working people I have ever known. Carrie…the strongest.  Travis has put countless hours into Hemma Concrete and made countless sacrifices.  So when I say life was never a struggle…I don’t mean things have been handed to them.  It just wasn’t…well…a struggle.

People have long said that Travis has a lucky horseshoe up his proverbial you-know-what.  Part of that is true.  I have witnessed it first hand.  But. For the most part. Travis has made his luck and things were just never a struggle.

Carrie is the epitome of laid back…she always has been.  She just never sweats the small stuff.  And to Carrie…everything is the small stuff.  When things go wrong.  She doesn’t notice.  She just…makes it work.  She doesn’t stress about decisions. Life wasn’t always easy but it was never a struggle either.

Carrie and Travis grew up in Christian homes where they were taught the Bible from young ages.  Faith was always just there.  It was what they were taught.  It’s what they have always known.  It was never a struggle to believe.  Prior to the recent months, Travis did not have a close walk with the Lord.  However, despite that, he would place his hand on a Bible and tell you, “I believe everything in this book.  I may not know what’s in it…but if it is in here…I believe it.”  Faith was just never a struggle.

But these past two months have been a struggle.  And so now they are learning to navigate a new way of life.  A life struggling…

Thoughts…have been a struggle.

Laundry…has been a struggle.

Connecting to the Internet…has been a struggle.

Getting through the dayshave been a struggle.

Relaxing…has become a struggle.

One of Travis’ and Carrie’s favorite past times is a weekend at the lake….relaxing.  Wakeboarding…surfing…wind in their face as they fly across the lake in their Nautique.  The warm sun kissing their skin.  Hoops and hollars as Travis not only masters surfing the wake but shows others…how. it’s. done.  Pure…relaxation.

But now. Even time at the lake is…a struggle.  We know Trav is struggling when he wakes up on a sunny, warm day at the lake and says, “let’s pack up the boat and just head home.”  We know Carrie is struggling when we have to convince her to go on the boat.  Relaxing has just become a struggle.

Days are becoming a struggle.  A good day is always followed by a bad day.  If you think about it, it makes sense.  As Travis awakens after a “good day” he lays there and thinks.  He thinks about the fun from the previous day.  The laughs. The smiles. Friends….Family….

His children….

Carrie.

And then the thoughts get dark.

What if…

I don’t want to miss…

Will I get to….

And once the thoughts start.  It’s hard to turn them off.  It’s a struggle.

Last week, as they read the Bible together, something suddenly occurred to them.  They were struggling to get through it….

Let’s face it.  The Bible is tough.  There are some tough topics in it.  Some tough things to swallow.  As Carrie and Travis read more and more they found themselves looking at each other thinking the same thing until finally Travis broke the silence….

“You know what’s crazy?  People actually believe this stuff!?!?”

Travis actually believes this stuff.  But suddenly…it’s a struggle to believe it.   It’s easy to believe in something when you have been taught to believe it. Told your entire life to believe it.  But what happens when you start reading it for yourself?  It becomes a struggle.

There was a garden.  A man and a woman.  They ate an apple and all hell broke loose?  Really!?!

God got fed up.  He picked one guy and his family to save and He had him build a boat.  Then he sent every living creature onto the boat before flooding the Earth and destroying everything on it.  Lions, gazelles, kangaroos, monkeys, etc.  All on one boat.  Really!?!?

There were thousands of slaves escaping captivity.  Their captors on one side and a sea on the other.  No. Way. Out. And God parted the Red Sea and an entire nation walked through?  Really!?!?

A man was swallowed by a fish.  Lived in its stomach for three nights and spit him up on the shore when God told it to.  Really!?!?!

God became man. Lived a sinless life. Never one hateful thought or word. Not a single lie. No lustful thoughts. For three years He healed the sick.  Gave sight to the blind.  Made the deaf hear. And then He died.  In our place.  And three days later…rose from the dead.  Really!?!?!

When you think about it like that…it’s kind of a…struggle.  Isn’t it?

And when you are facing the possibility of death.  There is one thing you don’t want to struggle with…faith.  There is one thing you want solidified…the afterlife.  And so what do you do when you struggle?

You think.  You contemplate.  You pray.

And so Carrie and Travis have come to this.  As unbelievable as the stories are….  As “out there” as the Bible seems….

Believing anything else is crazier. 

When they look at the beauty of the world.  The trees. Lake Blue Ridge.  A single flower. To them…it is impossible not to believe.   To believe that it all came from “nothing”.  That it just “happened”. That the details of a human body were not created.  That…is more unbelievable.

His creation speaks for itself and makes the unbelievable…believable.  But it’s more than that.  It’s deeper.  It’s…

Personal.

The peace they have experienced…they are experiencing, for the past two months, has been nothing less than…miraculous. One that surpasses all understanding.  Even in their darkest days.  Their darkest hours. Their darkest thoughts.  There is still a peace. One they can’t describe. One they don’t understand. One they are not capable of. One they know is not of them.

The strength through the impossible.  They both know…the strength…is not of them.

They wish they could put it into words.  Explain it in a way that makes others experience it.  But it’s just not possible.

Because it is not of them. 

And so the peace is there. The strength. It’s all just…there.

God has shown up for them and so the unbelievable is believable.

But even so.

Even with the Creator of the heavens and Earth on their side. Walking them through this.  Giving them strength. Providing them peace.

For the first time…

Life is a struggle.


Cancer Kicks.

ImageIf you know Travis you know his style. And you know he is known for his style. His clothes are as wild as his personality and his shoes…as loud. Kind of like these little gems. His recent purchase. His new “cancer kicks”.

And you love him for it. Love him to the point that you take the fashion RISK of buying them in his honor. Wearing them in his honor. Friends like Steve Matheson and Charlie Cogen (aka The Chuckster) buy crazy shoes like this and send Travis pictures of them wearing them…just to make him feel better. Just to make him smile. Because that’s how much Travis is loved.

IMG_0139Loved by his precious wife, who is walking this journey along side him…in her own new pair of “cancer kicks.”

So Travis just wants to say thanks. Thanks for all the love. The support. And introduce you to his new “cancer kicking” shoes. He bought them for this trip. For this FIGHT. And he is ready to fight. He now has…a plan.

God has been so faithful in answering our prayers. Perhaps not always in the way we would want but His ways are so much greater than ours. So even when we may not agree I guess we just have to trust. After yesterday’s post, Disneyland for Dead People, our dear friend Kelly emailed me and said:

I am a faith person – I will believe to the point of people thinking I am an idiot!!! But I tell u this, I DO believe he will be healed!!! Having the lab tech read the results wrong isn’t much of a miracle….and I know God is gonna give us all a KABOOM miracle that forces the blind to see!!!! Not unto death….I believe it!

Guess I’ve got a lot to learn about being a faith person. Anybody else?

Yesterday, Carrie and Travis received confirmation that it is, in fact, Cholangiocarcinoma. They met with an expert, Dr. Shroff, (and I mean expert) in Cholangiocarcinoma. Cholangiocarcinoma and Pancreatic Cancer are the only things she works on. They could not have been in better hands so there is no more questioning if this is what Travis has.

And yet. Travis and Carrie feel peace. Prayer Answered.

Yesterday, Dr. Shroff sat and discussed treatment options with them in depth. There are so many treatment options. More than Travis and Carrie first realized. More than our “Google research” ever showed. Despite that, her suggestion aligned with the original suggestion that Dr. Hamrick, aka Dr. Rockstar, gave initially. She feels the best course of treatment, initially, would be to attack this cancer with two chemotherapies at once – Gemcitabine and Cysplatnum. Travis will be given chemo every two weeks for six hours. After two months they will reassess and determine their next course of action. Their next line of defense. It could be some kind of localized radiation such as Y-90 or Proton Therapy or another type of chemo treatment.

So the treatment course is clear. There is no worry about making the “wrong decision”. There really is no decision to make. Prayer Answered.

Dr. Shroff felt strongly about using the Gemcitabine and Cysplatnum together. She explained that their studies have shown that the Gemcitabine is far more effective when it is used in combination with Cysplatnum. So are you ready for the exciting part?

They have only been using this combination for THREE years. So who knows if the scary stats on the Internet are even close to being accurate anymore! There seems to be advancements in treatment pointing to possible…survivors????? For the first time ever. MD Anderson is giving them options, and, there’s a little bit of tangible hope. Prayer Answered.

And…the treatment prescribed.  Can be done in Atlanta.  Home.  Travis getting treatment and sleeping in his own bed.  With his family.

Prayer Answered.

Additionally, Carrie and Travis found out that MD Anderson would push for him to have Foundation 1 testing. Foundation 1 testing is an expensive, genetic testing that will show doctors which chemotherapy treatments your body is susceptible to. Scientists look at your DNA and look at where the gene is mutated and that tells them which specific chemo can attack it best. Sadly, many patients don’t get this. Either their doctor does not push for it, their insurance company won’t pay for it, or they cannot afford it. Your body can literally reject the chemotherapy and it will not fight the cancer. This test helps avoid that. What’s more is that Dr. Shroff stated that, because Travis’ cancer is so rare the Foundation will want it. So…if they can’t get it covered by insurance the Foundation will likely eat the cost.

Prayer Answered.

But what about all those scary statistics? What about those percentages? Don’t get me wrong. Cholangio is still a scary thing. And the percentages and numbers and expectancy doesn’t change. But. Dr. Shroff doesn’t see Travis as a number. Dr. Shroff sees him as an individual. And within just 30 minutes of meeting with Travis she was able to see him for who he is…a fighter. And SHE SAID….”I think you are an outlier.” Just. Like. Dr. Hamrick.

Prayer Answered.

The only way cholangiocarcinoma is ever cured is with surgery. But stage four patients are not eligible for surgery. Ever. Since first finding this out and seeing the stats between those who had surgery, and those who did not, Travis has been searching for a surgeon who would roll the dice on him. Who would take a chance. Because he knows that is his only chance. Yesterday…he found that surgeon. A conference call with a Piedmont Hospital suregeon at 5:00 gave Travis his first hope for surgery.

Prayer Answered.

But. Currently, Travis’ tumor is so large it is crossing between his right and left lobe in the liver. No surgeon in the world will touch that. He basically wouldn’t have a liver left if they did. So. We have to pray for the impossible. Pray that Travis’ body not only takes the chemotherapy but that it shrinks the tumor. This is a long shot for two reasons. First, cholangiocarcinoma does not usually respond to chemotherapy – which is why it is a “bad one”. Second, on the patients who do respond it typically does not shrink the tumor. It simply eats up the cancer but leaves the tumor “carcus” behind. We need it to get out of the left lobe. We need it to shrink. And then. Despite the odds. Despite the “rules”. The surgeon will consider surgery.

Today, when Travis went back to get the I.V. for his CT scan, the nurse looked at him and bluntly said,” Do you believe in God?”

Travis responded, “Yes. Yes I do.”

“Well keep believing honey…cause I see miracles walk out of here every day.”

I don’t know about you but I see God working in the Roberts life. He is answering prayers. Holding them in His mighty hand. Giving them peace.

Standing with God, Travis and Carrie are ready to take on this beast. In their new “cancer kicks”.


Not a Number…

It’s possible this is going to be my last post because I am breaking the rule I placed on myself when we started this.  I am posting without getting Travis’ approval first.  But I didn’t want his edits this time because everything I am going to say is truth.

As we learn more and more about cancer we are learning that it seems to be all about numbers.  Doctors talk in numbers.  Websites talk in numbers.  We find ourselves talking in numbers.  Averages.  Ratios.  Ages.  Years of life.

Numbers.

My friend’s name is Travis Roberts.  He is a husband. A father. A business owner. A friend. A child of the Living God.

He is not a number.

Travis is a husband.  He is a great husband. An amazing husband.  Don’t get me wrong.  He has, by no means, been a perfect husband but show me a husband who has been – or a wife for that matter.  But he is a great husband.  I have always noticed how Travis looks at his beautiful wife.  With love.  With adoration.  Proud to have the prettiest girl in the room on his arm.  He admires his wife and how she stays home full time, raising their children, and admits he could never do it.  He ensures she lives a comfortable life and, tries his best to spoil her (although anyone who knows her knows she is not impressed with the material things.)  He is.  An amazing husband.

Travis is a father.  A wonderful father.  A father who adores his children and is devastated at the thought of them going even a day of their childhood without him.  Just go two pages over from this post and see the pictures of him with his kids.  Holding Trey.  The look in his eye.  The love in his eyes.  He has always seemed to strike the perfect balance between spoiling and disciplining.  As an outsider looking in…I have always been surprised by this.  I just assumed Travis is all about fun. It was a surprise to me to learn he not only disciplined but knew how to discipline out of love. He is. An amazing father.

Travis is an inspirational business owner.  A 27 year old “boy” who started a small driveway business – Hemma Concrete, just eleven years ago with only a few hundred dollars, and has turned it into the fiftieth largest concrete company in the country.  A 25 million dollar company.  In eleven years.  Starting out as a 27 year old.  Wow.  But sales and growth don’t give the full picture.  There’s the people.  Travis’ employees love and I mean LOVE him as a boss.  My hunch is many would not work there for not Travis as a boss.  He refers to them as “the Hemma family” and he truly means it. He is.  An amazing business owner.

Travis is fantastic friend.  Fantastic.  He has more friends from childhood and high school than most of us have friends total.  There is a reason for that.  Many of you reading this are lucky enough to count yourself as a friend of Travis’.  Whether it is from growing up, business, college, church, or any other means I don’t have to convince you what a great friend Travis is to have.  He is a FUN friend.  Fun to be around.  Fun to have around.  Always a gracious host whether it is on his boat, teaching you how to wakeboard; in his home, for another UGA football party; or on his tailgate trailer.  He is.  An amazing friend.

Travis is a cherished and sought after child of the Living God.  Who knows if Travis was saved when he was eleven years old or just in the recent weeks.  It doesn’t matter.  One thing is undeniable.  God has chased after Travis since he was eleven.  Travis did his best to run.  He is, after all, a fast runner.  But God didn’t give up. God doesn’t give up.  And in these last few scary, FRIGHTFUL weeks Travis has found comfort and even peace in his Father.  His heavenly Father.  Because Travis is a child of the Living God.

Travis is NOT a number.