One Year Ago Today

It is so hard to think that just a year ago today, at this very time, we were packing up and heading to a small diagnosic procedure to see why Carl was having a stomach ache. Asymptomatic, and coming off his weekend of Hogs for the Cause Competition, I assummed it was an ulcer. Many of you know, the life of chef consists of an average 60 hour week, stress to put out perfection, an attention to detail, and unrelenting passion.  I know that stress to take whatever restaurant he has to the next level is something that will always be in my husband and he is not content until he has produced the best. Therefore needless to say, I put my scrubs on planning on heading to work right after, Bjorned Catherine who was 10 months old and assumed this would be a quick fix. I will never be able to explain the look in Dr. Awetrey’s eyes as he walked towards me post procedure. I had seen that look many times, and I knew something was beyond wrong. His gentle nature hugged us as he broke the news. I ran into room with a nurse, a perfect stranger, and she watched my world literally fall apart. I wanted to be strong for Carl. At that moment not knowing who to call or what to do. I dreaded the idea of calling Carl’s mother. I dreaded calling my own mother knowing that saying it would make it so real. I called my work and cried as I conveyed the nightmare I was living to the wonderful physician I was working for.  She sounded as shocked as I felt. The idea that Carl had cancer is still not something I have totally wrapped my head around, even a year later it seems so impossible that we have been through this. I remember just a week earlier hearing about a lady who lost her husband to an illness.  Hearing this, I said to a friend of mine, if that ever happened to me I would just die. Well I am still standing, we both are! More than that, I feel that we have come on the other side with tons of scars and emotions but stronger in faith, stronger in our identity, and more love then I ever knew possible. For the first time I feel like I really know myself.

Monday we had to have another EGD, and we held hands not saying much about the fact that it was exactly a year ago that this all started. Thankfully the EGD revealed a stricture, and an ulcer which gave great explanation to his symptoms. Again another sigh of relief, we are still okay. This life post cancer, is one that is like riding an emotional farris wheel, up and down you go. The hightest highs, and the lowest lows. It is hard to get back to normal after living on adrenaline for a year. Part of you yearns for the simplicity of life to return, but at the same time making sure that you are living with purpose is something you feel that you owe to all of those whom are not able to say the word remission, who are not strong enough to return to work, who are alone raising their children without their partner due to loss in life. Cancer is real, it is absolutely like a wrecking ball crashing your former life in a quick second. It steals strong, beautiful people.  Character and strength are absolutely no indicator of your winning path. I have seen many strong people lose this fight. Your ears and eyes begin to seek the stories of cancer once you are in it, especially as the caretaker, or the spouce. You are dying to hear how others made it through to validate your feelings, someone who can understand how you feel through this uncontrolled illness. It is like a ghost hiding in the shadows, it can disappear or reappear at anytime. Living life in low-level fear is my new constant. Trying to use my energy in a real way to help others, to reach out letting people know the trials of cancer. The fear of its return is something that often I feel people assume is my negativity, and that can truly anger me, because I am a positive person. What often is misunderstood about preparing for its return is just that, it’s preparation. Young cancer wives and mother’s do not have the option to lay down and cry in bed all day when the worst times are upon you. You become the bread-winner, the father, the consult to all those who worry, the organizer of health, the nurse, the therapist. This role requires so many hats, and so much energy, to be taken down with shock is not possible. Remember this to those of you supporting someone with cancer, thinking about its return or preparing for it is not negaitivity, it is their way of standing strong getting ready for another fight.

Thankfully today we are on the otherside of cancer, more tests revealing that we are still cancer free. I wonder how many years it will take before we are finally be able to relax in the idea that remission could be permanent. I know if there is one person who can kick cancer it is my husband.

I want to honor his life today. This day brings up all kinds of mixed emotions for us, it becomes like a very serious birthday where you evaluate your life and take stock in all the good and wonder how to make the not so good things have purpose or meaning. I woke up to my husband this morning, and what is crazy is that is my thankful prayer today. That he is alive, well, able to exercise, able to eat off of a feeding tube, able to throw our children in the air…because there was a time when he was only alive and unable to do any of these things. There were times when we gripped eachother in tears unable to know if we were strong enough to make it through this. Yet, with God’s grace, we have!

In this past year we have learned so much about life, and have been able to let go of the frivilocities that once had us racing to have more money, cooler cars, better this, better that. I honestly was the one who cared about this, not Carl he has always been a grounded man. It has been so humbling to have hundreds of people help us through prayers and donations. It was hard to accept at first, having to lay our pride aside and realize that this diagnosis was beyond anything most prepared 30 year olds could afford.

Two rounds of chemotherapy, one round of radiation, a partial gastrectomy, and total esophagectomy and we are cancer free. There are so many angels who have held us up along the way. Our parents who have tended to our children in times of sheer exhaustion. Our dearest friends who helped raise thousands of dollars and saved us from financial ruin and were there for us at all times. It is Godly to realize that the exact amount that was raised covered the exact cost of all of our medical expenses. Our co-workers and employers who were so kind during this stressful time, thank you for all that you did for our families. You will always hold a special place in our hearts. Our prayer warriors, and my bible study group who continually keep me grounded in my faith. Our amazing team of physicians, PA’s, nurses, and everyone who cared for us along the way! A special shout out to Dr. Bolton and his team, Dr. Satti and Jill Fitzpatrick and their staff, and Kristen Koehl. A special thank you to my mother who literally lived on and off at my house, and took a leave from work to care for my children and helped us with everything from laundry to discipline. She gave me hugs and wiped the tears from my eyes on countless occasions. She has been my rock, and my surrogate husband when Carl was unable to get out of bed. I only hope that I am able to convey to all of you how special my mother is. She has given her life to her children and now grandchildren. I pray that I have her strength and her gift of selfless care-taking. As boring as this is to read this oscar-style list of people to thank, this does not even begin to express our gratitude. Cancer, in our eyes, was God’s way of opening us up to all the blessings in our life. We were able to grasp the fragility of life. We struggle with the thought of its return, and the idea that esophageal cancer is still so understudied. The fear of the return is something that is so real for us, and we pray to live each moment with full purpose. The aftermath of cancer is quite difficult and we are still trying to get our bearings, to rebuild our new life. The wife role is scary, learning how to let go, and not micromanage is so hard. The emotions anger, sadness, fear, joy, pain, and exhaustion are still very present. The shock still there, but the joy and hope of survival starting to creep in, and become more real. We are thankfully, joyfully exhausted.

I want to take a moment to speak about my husband, my hero. Despite the many times I truthfully cursed him as he slept off all the medications (I would be lying if I said otherwise), in the depths of my soul I have never been more proud of someone I love. He is such an honorable and good man. Despite cancer, he always kept his promises (sometimes that meant not making any). This journey forced him to face his fears, and instead of blaming others, or turning away from these emotions, he faced them head on. Anxiety and fear, something he generally does not admit to, became very real. He faced it, chin up, and for that I am so proud. This was not easy. It has been hard to write about our journey through the emotional rollercoaster of cancer. I decided to document the reality of our love and the reality of cancer. I wanted to leave a legacy of how strong Carl is, God forbid if anything ever happens to him. I want our children to know just how hard he fought for them. I want them to know his integrity, his big heart, his endless love for them and me.  I want them to know how lucky they are to have such a special Daddy.  Our constant prayer is to be holding hands at their weddings. I pray that they will grow to know the amazing man who their father is, that he is able to keep them forever at the center of his energy and promises. Carr innately is so much like his father, and I pray that he is able to continue to grow watching his  daddy as his role model. That he will be just like his daddy! My feelings of worry seem to be worse in regards to my children, I wonder if they will ever dull to the background, and that “normal” life will be able to take center stage again. Part of me longs to be normal again, just to silence the worry. The other part of me could never go back to the frivilocity and mind-set we had before. The things that we placed importance on, like house, cars, material things all seem silly if you no longer are able to share them with the one you built your life with. Living a simple life is all that we desire these days. A year ago today I loved my husband, but I had no idea the depths of our love until we took this journey. We made it on the other side, and I have never loved him more. I am so proud of him, I am so lucky to be his wife, and that we had our babies when we did. Not sure that anymore children will be in our future, and it makes me so sad to think that i will never carry anymore of his babies. That being said, God has blessed us with this beautiful family, and we are alive, cancer free, and able to celebrate life together, and for that I am eternally grateful. Happy One Year my love, may this day always be a reminder to follow your big dreams, and live to the fullest. The fight continues as we always walk this path together in love.


A Birthday Wish

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Today began like any other day in our house. We were racing around, such an average morning in a house full of toddlers. Exhaustion that no amount of coffee could resolve painted all over our faces. We are convinced that somehow our children have been plotting against us in the night, and have taken over our bed yet again. Once the chaos of my morning came to pass, a quiet gratitude in my heart surfaced. It was in this moment that my heart whispered a prayer of thanks that our life has somehow suddenly returned to normal. I can’t even count the amount of prayers that were whispered to return Carl back to “normal.” Words cannot express to all of our prayer warriors our gratitude for all their dedication, and just how much being in this new normal state means to Carr, Cate, Layla, and I.

Thirty-three years ago today my sweet husband was born into this big world. I was thinking back about his birthday last year, and how we were just weeks away from the most devastating news of his cancer. Life can change in an instant, any mother or father has been witness to this. The life of Carl, in just thirty-three years, has impacted so many. It was a blessing of cancer, to witnessed just how much impact one life can have on the world. It is a blessing that I am able to celebrate Carl’s life… today, and everyday as we go forward. Happy Birthday Heart. May we be hand in hand for many more birthdays. My wish today is the same as the very first birthday we shared together, and that is that we grow old together.

Today I want to share with our bloggers a little story about a big love. Two lost hearts found each other, and realized that together they were complete. Life made sense. Together they created a simple and beautiful life, with so much love and laughter. Together they were stronger than all of their weaknesses, and anything seemed possible. Kindness and respect, growth and change, hand in hand we traveled along. Weathering the storms, your heart always bigger than mine, protected me through it all. Baby feet, and little curls, life took on new meaning. Love grew, and created more love than we ever dreamed possible. Quietly, I thank God for you, my heart. For I know that the kind of love we share is special, and not often found in this world. On your birthday candles a silent wish whispered that our hearts forever stay as one. The gift of life is yours, and I pray that you are able to show the world all the talent, passion, and spirit that I am witness to every single day that we share together.  My heart, which is your heart, is thankful for your life, for our life, and for the two little lives we created together.


Happy Birthday Carl,  

Love Always


Happiest New Year of All

3,2,1…..Happy New Year! Could it be true, that this is finally coming to end? It appears that our prayers have been answered, we are medically in remission!!!!! A clean MRI of the brain, two clean CT scans, and a PET scan that our physicians are positive is clear (results pending). All a day before the rest of the world begins their resolutions, we have but just one, FAITHFULLY LIVE EACH DAY with MEANING and PURPOSE!!!!!

Our eyes wide open with the reality that life is a gift, one that was threatened so gravely this year. I will never lose the images of Carl fighting that endotracheal tube post surgery. I will never be able to describe the fear in my heart as I waited for 12 hours as he lost his organs. It was more than that, these were the parts that make up much of the man that I love, the person that so many if you love! His stomach is his world, his passion, his career, his life, and most of it has been lost. After stepping away from professional cooking to fight cancer, Carl learned the joys of stay-at-home parenting, and how to slow way down!!!

There have been more recent days where I cried those tears of relief, finally finding some peace as I realize that we actually won this fight! Tears because there are so many people who are not as lucky! I cannot begin to tell you how much I have learned, but most of it amounts to little things in life. The important ones are
Counting our blessings, and slowing down to see all the beauty in our life. For me, remembering to never take for granted the magic of a hug from my husband, because there were months where it was too painful for him to be touched. Or to feel the joy while watching him toss our children, because it too was something that was once taken from him. The sheer magic in praying together as a married couple, knowing and believing that God has you in his arms, and through him all things are possible. I am especially grateful to all of the angels God sent us throughout our journey. Big and small reminders that God’s love is all around us and never-ending! I will think about all of the patients in the Chemo unit, and how their lives are consumed with the fight, praying that they too feel the same love and support that we have been blessed with. I am writing this as Carl is getting his last PET scan. We have one more holiday together before his big return into the working world, where yet again his stomach ( a much smaller version of itself) will be in charge!!! The best is yet to come. A New Year, A New Life, A New Us! The more grateful and faithful us!!!!! Cheers to good health, family, and life!


Life is a gift! It is not to be taken for granted! Today, I proudly announce, is our last day of Chemotherapy!!!!!! This will technically end Thursday with the removal of the pump of the 5FU that runs two days after they administer the chemotherapy.

I must say that God has me up early this morning counting my blessing and honestly making me giggle at the irony of life. My sweet baby sister has had a little boy early this morning, reminding me that the gift of life is something to be celebrated. I am up (PROUD NEW AUNTIE) and off to train clients, and empower their health. I am feeling more alive then ever in my life. Carl is sleeping with Catherine all tucked in next to him. Our life still here. This statement is so relieving to say! Our life still together!!!  We have come through so much on this journey together. I told my mother that to sum up this last year, this has been our worst best year.

Carl and I want to thank so many of you it may take a lifetime. There have been prayers daily said in his name, that have worked. We cannot technically say remission, until we do a full body scan in 6 weeks, but it appears to be just that.

We have learned so much through this journey. It has strengthened our faith, family, marriage, and our love for New Orleans and all of our beautiful support team. I am tearing up as I write this because there was a time when I was not sure if we were going to make it through this, well actually a few times. Yet here we are, life still intact, and somehow better than before!!!! It seems nearly impossible.

If you learn to look at what matters in your day-to-day, and look at those people who are close to you, and somehow imagine life without them, it changes your whole way of thinking. I am blessed that God made us stop and learn this at 32.  Life is gift, it is to be taken care of, and to be cherished. I have never been more proud, excited, and relieved to say WE KICKED CHEMO IN THE GUT!!!!!!! The future is unknown, but I (with much help from my therapist and many of Carl’s doctors) have finally learned how to live one day at a time. Today my friends is the most beautiful day!!!! Merry Christmas and  CELEBRATE YOUR LIFE!

longer post to follow soon!


Love Carl and Alix

Feeling God’s warmth.

I am feeling so blessed tonight. Although exhaustion has taken on a whole new meaning, a recent ladies event has recharged my spirit and my heart. I feel compelled to write about my experience, because as crazy as it sounds, I think God wants me to.

When you are faced with tragedy and loss, you often feel as though you just got the wind knocked out of you, and down you go. I have realized through this journey, that when you are this far down, you are forced to look up. This total loss of control in your life, somehow allows you the freedom to fall right into the arms of God. It is there that you spend many hours talking, praying, and waiting for answers. I feel that I heard some answers for the first time.

A dear friend of mine invited me on a bible study outing, where a group of women pray and study to prepare for the Christmas season. I honestly had very little energy, and considered not going. It was only a few hours, so I put on makeup for the first time in months, and off I went. Although, I like to consider myself a good Catholic, I have never been to a bible study. I had no idea what to expect, and Carl laughed at me as I fussed over what to wear to the prayer group.

I arrived and found myself surrounded by women from all walks of life. As the day unfolded I felt as though God was speaking to me through these women! There was a lady who approached me and knew that Carl was sick. She told me that doctors told her she had 6 months to live, and that she went back a month later to discuss a plan for her care, and was spontaneously cured. 16 years later she was cancer free and telling me of her faith in God. We talked about fear, and how it can consume you. She eased my fears in a way that I will never be able to explain.

Not knowing what the future brings for your husband is the hardest part of this cancer journey for me. I have to rely on medicine and my faith in God so that I won’t have to raise my two children without the only other person in the world that will love them the way that I do. The only other person that I want to spend the rest of my life with. He is it for me, in terms of love❤️. So there you have it, faith in his plan is what I cling on to. 🙏

Yet another women heard me speaking of Dr. Richard Awtrey, and how wonderful he has been to my family, and what an incredible G.I. Specialist he has been ( going above and beyond by calling and checking on us ever since the diagnosis). This woman tearfully hugged me and said her husband has been really sick and that she was praying for an answer and was calling this doctor as soon as possible. It was so strange to connect with these perfect strangers, and to become aware of all the prayers answered.

As word got around about Carl, this room full of 25 women, that I just met, held hands and prayed for his healing. It was so humbling, and brought me to tears in an instant.

Over the course of a year, I have seen the power of prayer unfold, and I know that God is with me no matter what. I have held hands with Carl many times and prayed for God to keep our small little family together. So far these prayers seem to be working!

I felt the need to write about this because after leaving this spiritual day, I realized that we are all struggling in one way or another, carrying our own cross. This was visible as different women’s tearful intensions were said aloud that day. Suffering is something that makes us human, and we all experience it. It is through suffering that we are able to find God. So I continue to look up from our down, and feel God’s love shining on me through the smallest miracles. We have one more chemotherapy treatment to go. The Schaubhut Family is celebrating the Christmas season and thanking God for all of our blessing.


Giving Thanks

I feel incredibly blessed today to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. Chaotic as things are when we travel, there is always a level of excitement that comes along with this many O’Neil’s in one destination. My sister Vicky is hosting, and everything she touches becomes the most beautiful Pinterest board you could find. My mother, with her wisdom, heart, and hands full of grandchildren. My sister Lindsey’s sweet growing belly carrying Cate’s best friend! It’s a GIRL!!!!!

With life all around me, I am able to thank God for opening my eyes this year. I once read an ancient proverb stating, “happiness is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.” Seems simple. Cancer has allowed me to actively live this proverb. I am thankful for what I have today. Waking up with my sweet husband, arms wrapped all around me. Hearing all the giggles as Carr says yucky Daddy as he gives me a morning kiss! Catherine babbling as if she is having a full conversation. This is my life, it is so full of love. Simple, honest, love.

This year I have prayed the hardest for God to change Carl’s condition. It seems as though our prayers will be answered. Fear occasionally creeping in as I watch Carl sleep. Wondering in fear what a holiday would be without him. What would it be like to have had a reveal party for my sister, and not have had him to share all the excitement of the next big thing. I can’t go there too much, because the pain becomes too intense. I pray that God let’s us grow old together.
Despite the fear that comes and goes,
I am so grateful that cancer has embedded in my heart and soul that tomorrow is not guaranteed, and that today is a blessing. I am so thankful for today, for sweet Carl and for my family! Gratitude for what we have today, though it may not be easy, perfect, or even what we planned, we are giving thanks for a life together! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Cheers to health and life!!!!



Scan Results

The results are in, and nothing but good news! It appears the fluid collection is the only thing that is visible on the scan!!!! It is likely that scar tissue within the surgical field is the cause of the abdominal pains. God is good. Thank you for all the prayers, we are so blessed to have all of you on our side!!!! This will truly be the happiest Thanksgiving of our lives!! We are blessed for the continued good news of what appears to be a cancer free husband!!!!


The Re-scan.

I just wanted to write to all our prayer warriors out there and give you an update. Sunday morning Carl was having severe acute belly pains that worried me to the point of calling his doctor. She wanted us to go to the emergency room, but my tough little cookie was determined to wait it out. Understandably so, ER co-pays generally being large sums of money, and likely result in the scheduling of further testing likely done at a later date. So, come Monday, when the belly pains had been on and off through out the night his doctor ordered a new scan to see if there have been any changes. Carl has what appears to be a fluid collection near his pancreas, that is a common result of such a large surgery. It has not changed in size on the previous two scans. This among a few visual markers on CT have lead the doctors to be very sure that it is just a benign fluid collection. These collections can sometimes cause pain. Worse case they may require surgical draining.

I cannot tell you how or why these tests unravel your nerves the way they do, but they surely do for me. Carl is calm as a cucumber. He shared with me his thoughts while laying completely still on the scan table yesterday. It was such a lovely and yet painful thought, that I must share. Carl said he that while he was laying there praying to Mary ( as he always does, sweet catholic boy that he is), a thought entered his mind about all the thousands of people that had previously laid on that very same table. He thought about those people being alone and all their prayers being whispered to save their lives. Much like his very same prayer that day. It was powerful to think about all those prayers being lifted to God!

Hope and prayer have become two very powerful words to our family this past year. The prayers of hundred flooded in on social media, via phone, and in person yesterday. We are as always so humbled by the love of our prayer warriors. Perfect strangers praying for us all morning at the beach!!!! Receiving loving cards from friends old and new praying for our fight! It is amazing to know that all these people care about your life!!! I often think of those close to me that have committed suicide, who were hopeless, and alone. If they could have only seen the outpouring of love that really existed for them in the world, could that have saved them. It is hard to say.
Hope, prayer, and love. Those are things that keep the soul alive. As we wait, I pray for all of you! Your love and prayers have taught us both how good the world really is!!! Thank you!!! As I watched from afar another cancer wife lose her partner this weekend, I realized that life on this earth is not permanent for any of us. That wife in particular, loved everyday like it was her last! It was a lesson I will take from her journey and carry in my heart, as we fight on! No matter what the outcome of the test today and those to come in the future, love, prayers, and hope will always be in our hearts. Keep y’all posted. I have not waited by the phone this much since I first met Carl 😊🙏!