Health Update

I know it has been awhile since I have written and I have plans to change that – writing on my blog on a more consistent basis.  But for now I felt it was important to request prayer from my Team AJ peeps. I’ll give you some background and then an update, but as I said to my boys when we updated them, “Repeat after me: Mommy is NOT sick again”.  I want to make that part very clear first!

Back in May I had my annual mammogram.  Every year this causes a small bout of PTSD for me not to mention it is extremely painful (more than the usual boob-smooshing) due to the surgeries I have had.  I had the mammogram and was told to wait.  About 90 minutes later I was told to come back for a sonogram.  I could tell the sonographer kept reviewing the same spot over and over and as much as I tried to block it out – I knew – they had found something.  I went back to the room and another 90 minutes passed until a nurse came in and said that they were still looking over all of the data and that they were going to send Mark back to sit with me.  (Until now we had just been texting back and forth from the waiting room and the exam room). I really was not having a good feeling about all of this.  Another hour went by and the PA came in saying that the doctor would be in soon. Another hour goes by and Dr. Steinhaus came in and told me what I had assumed.  They found something on my left side and it was large and concerning enough that they were ordering a biopsy.  Unfortunately, they did not have a biopsy appointment available for two weeks. So after a 9am appointment lasting until 3pm we left with no more answers and a 14 day waiting period before I might even be able to get answers.

Fast forward two weeks – amazing things happened over these two weeks – I will for sure share about this coming up soon.  I go in for the biopsy – there was an issue with the patient before me so I got to wait another 2 hours.  Then what should have been 3 samples turned into 8 samples which proceeded with me getting light-headed and faintish.  This was the Wednesday after Memorial Day and I was told that the lab was backed up due to the holiday long weekend and that I shouldn’t expect any results until Monday. But due to a small miracle I got a phone call Friday that it came back benign, but that she did want me to make an appointment to talk to her about further options.

This was the Friday before we left for our LightHouse Family Retreat.  It was not lost on me that I was supposed to get a call on Monday whether my cancer had returned when I was serving a family currently battling childhood cancer.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about regarding LightHouse Family Retreat read back on a few previous posts and you will learn what I am referring to.)

I met with Dr. Steinhaus and she let me know that the size of the spot was large enough to recommend surgery; a mastectomy.  It would be up to me – my call – she let me know the risks either way.  I made an appointment with the plastic surgeon, Dr. Mackay and he let me know that he agreed with Dr. Steinhaus.  So Mark and I discussed it, prayed about it, and decided that I would proceed with the mastectomy.

Next Monday, September 9 at 1:30 I will have a left side mastectomy.  December 9, I will have my follow-up reconstruction surgery.  This obviously should be a much easier recovery than 3 years ago.  I shouldn’t have to have lymph nodes removed and I wont be starting chemotherapy 4 weeks later.

I am taking a medical leave of absence from work (yes I’m working full-time again at our church – another update for another time).  My MIL will stay with us the week of the surgery.  Mom and Dad will come in town the week after that.  I’m hoping to be back to work the first week of October and only be out of commission the month of September.

So that’s the health update. You might be asking how I’m doing and/or feeling?  I’m okay – I’ve done this before so I know what to expect.  I’ve had some regret that I didn’t do both sides to begin with, but I can’t change that and I’m making the choice now so I don’t ever have to have a mammogram again – no more short-term PTSD – no more scans.  That part I’m thrilled about.  Emotionally, I am good.  My family and friends and church family are all surrounding me and supporting me so well.  I am blessed.

Please follow along my Team AJ facebook page and I will make sure updates are posted. Thank you for your continued prayers. As always – I serve a God who is never surprised – and with that I am comforted.

Do you Lighthouse?

I’ve been struggling to post about our trip coming to an end because I’m sorta in denial that it is actually over. We met some of the best people over the week.

We got to celebrate Alec’s birthday with him.

We had Italian night which is when we serve a fancy dinner and have the slideshow and talent show. Such a great night.

We had to say our “see you laters” and we all drove home admittedly in a bit of a funk. Jennifer (Alec’s mom) and I texted back and forth most of the ride home. It was just hard to step back into reality. We got back Saturday evening, unpacked, and drove to pick up the boys (& dog) from the Jansen’s and then I was back at work early the next day. Like all was normal – which it wasn’t. It isn’t. I’ll post another time downloading what the week meant to our family and all the ways God showed up.

The Blues ended up winning the Stanley Cup (#blueswinforalec) which was a special birthday present for Alec. I ask you say a special prayer for him because tomorrow (Friday) because he is having lots of scans and tests. Those days are always nerve racking and full of more unknowns and answers.

This sweet family made such an impact on me. We learned that lighthouse is more than a large building. It’s more than a retreat. It’s a verb. It’s a frame of mind. It’s your heart in action. This week we learned how to use lighthouse as a verb!!

And if you were still hoping to give financially to our trip it’s not too late – here is the information to do so.  We are only about $900 short of being fully funded which is so close!  Thank you for your generosity!!

  • Online:
  • Mobile Phone: Text LFR2019456 to 71777
  • Mail a check to: Lighthouse Family Retreat, 4470 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Ste. 200, Atlanta, GA 30338.  Please make sure you put on the memo line: Ashley Jansen – Retreat #5

Today I Became A Blues Fan

So if you aren’t following hockey than you may not know that the St. Louis Blues are playing in the Stanley Cup Final. Alec and his family are HUGE Blues fans and thus we have become Blues fans this week. We watched them win last night all together.

I even changed my bitmoji for Alec 😉

As I mentioned in the previous post we had a big birthday party for all the kids. We played a lot of board games with Alec – Uno, Dos, Clue, & Life.

It’s been raining off and on but it’s been nice because it has forced us to cool off inside. Today the sun popped out just enough for us to take our kids to the pool for FlipFlop time. I am with the 3-4 year olds. Here are our 9 kiddos for the week. A couple of these were staff kids, a couple siblings, and a couple cancer children.

Tonight is sadly our last night. It’s Italian night and we dress up in tuxedo shirts and serve our families “high class” style. Tomorrow we say our “see you laters” and are on the road by 9 in the morning.

Keep praying for Alec. Pray for safe travels home for everyone. Thank you for your continued support.

Beach Time

Yesterday was such a fun kick-off to our week together. Alec got to get in the ocean and went deeper than he has ever before. (His backpack and heart machine is not able to get wet). This is from L-R is Harrison, Alec and Hamilton.

We had a dinner picnic on the beach and dressed in our Hawaiian best. Unfortunately Alec got sick and couldn’t join us but we went up to his room and played Dos (think Uno, but two).

We ended the day with the dads having a Texas Hold’em tournament and the moms and kids hanging out together.

Today brought the clouds and a bit cooler weather. Tonight is the Unbirthday party event. The parents get a date night and we hang with kids for pizza, cake, ice cream, and a full on birthday celebration. (Ironically Alec turns 14 on Saturday so it’s not so much an “un” birthday for him.)

Thanks for your continued prayers. Don’t forget to follow along with Alec on his FB page – CLICK HERE.

Our Family Has Arrived


Our family has arrived and we have just taken them to their room.  We have an hour before we meet up for dinner which is a low-country-broil tonight.  It’s an early night with not much activity to allow the families to get settled and rest after a long day of travel.  We have families coming from VA, TX, MO, GA, AL, WI, & IL!!!

Before our family arrived we received a list of some of their favorite snacks and drinks.  We went shopping and had lunch on our own.  We went to their room and turned on the lights, turned down the air conditioning, baked some chocolate chip cookies to have warm and out for them, put out their retreat t-shirts and bags on their bed, and put all their ‘favorite’ goodies in a welcome box.

They were the second family to arrive (there are 12 retreat families this week) so once they got checked in we took them to their room and helped them carry up their luggage.

If you are interested in learning more about this amazing family he has a facebook page that you can go to read more of his story and more specifically details on how you can be praying for him.  CLICK HERE.

We Made It!

We are here. Just had dinner and are about to kick-off our volunteer meetings.

Mark was assigned to the “Jellyfish” flip flop group which is 9-11 aged boys.

I am with the “Goldfish” flip flop group which is 3-4 year olds.

And Hamilton will be with the “Silverfish” which are boys his age 12-14 year olds.

Our retreat family that we have been assigned is the Ingram Family who are from Missouri. Jennifer and Chris have Alec who is 13 and you can follow his story here:

Your prayers are appreciated as we prepare to love and serve this family as best possible this week.


Mark, Ashley, & Hamilton

What will we be doing?

Last week we had a training conference call that gave us a ton of information regarding the details of what we will be doing.  We also received multiple emails that included our schedule, packing list, team assignments, and even common lingo of a Lighthouse Family Retreat. (If you don’t want to read info. regarding the retreat, please scroll down to the ways you can pray).

We are called a ‘Family Partner’ and the family attending with a child currently undergoing treatment for cancer is called a ‘Retreat Family’.  As a Family Partner we have 4 main assignments:

  • RETREAT FAMILY PAIRING: You will be paired directly with a family living through childhood cancer for the week. 
They will be your main responsibility and they will be in your care throughout the week. You will receive information about your Retreat Family and who you are partnered with upon arrival at the retreat.
  • FLIP FLOP: Each Family Partner will be assigned to lead and or serve in a Flip Flop group for the week.
  • MEAL TEAM: Each Family Partner will be assigned to either a breakfast, lunch or dinner meal team.
  • HOSPITALITY: Each Family Partner will participate in either a morning clean up or afternoon turn down of their Retreat Family’s housing unit.

As most of you know I have a history with Kanakuk and there is a fun Kamp Lingo (F.O.B., Kitchikomo, FUAGNEM, and much more)  that you get used to when you are there.  Whether it is the fun Kamp songs (“I’m a little coconut”) or the certain phrases you don’t want to say (“Okay”) it just makes the experience that much more fun.

LFR is no different.  Here are few definitions of special lingo/phrases that you may read about in my updates next week:

  • Morning Watch:  Time of worship and short devotional each morning
  • Common Ground:  This is the time for the parents to meet together and we take care of the kiddos
  • Flip Flop:  Kiddos are divided by age into their Flip Flop group – this is happening while the parents are at Common Ground
  • Unbirthday Party:  This is Parent’s Night Out while we have a huge birthday party celebration for all the kiddos
  • Conched Out:  This is free family time – Family Partners (Us) & Retreat Families (Them) get to recharge and refuel however they so choose.  If that’s a nap, or beach time, or pool time.  It gives everyone time to just be together as a family.

We are walking into unfamiliar territory, but are excited to be able to serve together as a family.  We so appreciate your prayer support as well as your financial support.

Ways you can pray for us this week:

  • My in-laws as they keep Luke & Garrett for us.
  • Energy, compassion, and servant hearts for the three of us as we serve together.
  • The idea of putting others first and serving be something that becomes deeply rooted in Hamilton’s heart as he experiences this mission work.
  • Health and safety
  • Connection between the three of us
  • Our Retreat Family – that us as their Family Partner we would connect and bond quickly and that our story could encourage them
  • That we let them see and experience the real C word:  Christ!

And if you were still hoping to give financially to our trip here is the information to do so.  We are only about $900 short of being fully funded which is amazing since last week we were double that!  Thank you for your generosity!!

  • Online:
  • Mobile Phone: Text LFR2019456 to 71777
  • Mail a check to: Lighthouse Family Retreat, 4470 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Ste. 200, Atlanta, GA 30338.  Please make sure you put on the memo line: Ashley Jansen – Retreat #5


Lighthouse Family Retreat Countdown

We are only two weeks away from leaving for Florida to serve at Lighthouse Family Retreat (LFR). We are getting so excited as well as preparing our hearts for serving a family walking through childhood cancer.

The mission of LFR is to

“Strengthen families living through childhood cancer by offering restorative retreats and helpful resources.”

We will be serving during Retreat number 5 (they have 18 retreats this summer) and we are still in need of other volunteer families if you’d like to join us.  We would love to have you come with us – CLICK HERE to learn more.


We are $1,800 away of being fully funded – this allows the family we are serving to attend for FREE! If this is something you think you could help with you can give one of the following ways:

  • Online:
  • Mobile Phone: Text LFR2019456 to 71777
  • Mail a check to: Lighthouse Family Retreat, 4470 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Ste. 200, Atlanta, GA 30338.  Please make sure you put on the memo line: Ashley Jansen – Retreat #5

“When you have a kid that’s going through cancer, you are in the fight or flight constantly. And coming into this is like stepping into a different universe. I can’t even explain it. It reconnected us as a family.”


Make sure to follow along by subscribing to this blog. We are attending a training Tuesday afternoon so I’ll be posting an update next week answering the popular question, “What will y’all specifically be doing while you are there?”.

Do you LIGHTHOUSE?  We can’t wait to LIGHTHOUSE!!  Join us!!