Thursday evening the home of Julie and David Tidd swelled with the sound of music.
A caravan of carolers had streamed into their rural home to sing praises to God and the message of hope and joy through the birth of Christ.
Julie sang along, delighting in the music.
With a last “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” the carolers left, reaffirming Julie and David’s sentiments of how much love they have witnessed since her illness first took hold.
“It’s been amazing,” David said.
JULIE KNOWS she is on “borrowed time.”
“I don’t how many hours, weeks or months – well, I know I don’t have months – I have, but so far so good,” she said with her typical cheeriness.
In January 2003, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. A year of treatments, including a mastectomy, allowed her to go another eight years cancer-free.
A year ago, last Christmas, was the first signs of the return of the disease, which has since metastasized to several places in her body, most recently the brain and spinal cord.
This time, the cancer has won. She now receives Hospice care. Her medications are only to relieve the pain that grips her legs.
Ever the teacher, Julie still structures her days.
“I have to have enough energy so when the girls come home from school I can bake brownies with Jennifer, if she wants to. Or just listen to how Jessica’s day went. She’s only 8, and her days go by so fast,” Julie said.
“I only have so many good hours in a day. I need to be rested, and that doesn’t happen without planning.”
Now confined to a wheelchair, Julie yields her care to David, her husband of 24 1/2 years. David is using a year’s worth of saved up vacation time from his job with the U.S. Postal Service to care for Julie.
The tumor on her spinal cord has rendered her legs useless. From the waist down she has no feeling, she said, “except for pain.” She’s on a continual regimen of potent medications to help keep the pain in control.
“If I get distracted and forget to take my medication, then it’s very difficult to get it back under control,” she said, of the searing pain that courses through her legs.
As she talked, her husband and six children, Josh, Joel, Jason, Jonathan and the two girls, were never far away. She wore a festive red-stocking hat and was eagerly awaiting carolers whom she had been notified would make the trek out to the rural home north of Iola.
“We live in the best place in the world,” she said.
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