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A recent post I wrote confused a few readers. “Was that happening now or was that when you were sick in 2014?” And even though I blogged and wrote a book about surviving cancer, I haven’t been fully transparent about my life and disease. So here goes a review of life at the Burnses over the past year and a half.

In 2019 November 15th, my husband finally (he had a cough for months) went to his family practitioner and was diagnosed with Stage IV. lung cancer. He didn’t tell me for 3 days. Three days. I think he thought if he didn’t say it out loud it wasn’t so. On Sunday, he looked at me as I was walking into the sunroom and said, “I’m toast. I thought I would have longer.” And then he told me. I was in total disbelief. An appointment at Duke Medical Center confirmed that he had lung cancer. It was adenocarcinoma, advanced, “the best cancer to have, the easiest to treat.”

But everything turned against him. The immunotherapy attacked his neurological system. We kept telling the oncologist to check his nervous system, his legs weren’t working. Finally, they determined that the immunotherapy was indeed attacking his nerves. They had to stop the immunotherapy and pray that the damage reversed. It did reverse but his course was misery. He had never been sick and did not know how to be a patient.. Ten months later he died, working daily until the last two weeks. He was brave and determined to make sure everything in his company and home were buttoned up. He was amazing.

Three months after he was diagnosed, I slipped in the ice and injured my spine, Hoping against hope, that it was not a recurrence of my cancer, I consulted an orthopedic doctor. Things got all jumbled up with Covid. The clinic closed and I was left without a doctor. My second set of orthopedic doctors did not help either, so we started talking about an MRI. I knew that I had to go to my oncologist at that point.

The Dead Sea

They did an MRI, found metastasis on my sacrum and a mass in my left cerebellum. This was in late April and I had surgery 5 days later, April 30, 2020. I never met my surgeon until 5 minutes before the surgery. Andrew just wheeled me to the front door and dropped me off. It was so painless, they discharged me two days later.

I did really well until about a month ago when my balance started deteriorating. Now I am interviewing home health aides for assistance 24/7. They are recommending a treatment that may slow the brain metastasis but also can cause cognitive decline.

This is probably too much information but I need prayer. They gave me two weeks to live after the surgery and I have been given 17 months to live and create. For that I am grateful.

I am also grateful for your loyalty and compassion. Julia


  1. Dear Incredible, brave Julia, You have inspired me with your continuing to engage with life. I will always remember you and your Christlike example. My prayers will be for you daily. Love, Jo Anne W.

  2. Dear Julia,

    Thank you so much for your honesty!
    I am SO sorry that you are having to walk this difficult road! You are doing it with faith and grace. It is my privilege to pray for you. You are also welcome to come for prayer with our Prayer Team if you would like that. We still meet on Wednesdays from 10 til noon, but do so in Building 105, rather than the Library. Just let me know.

    Much love,


  3. Happiness Is such an endorphin. Pull out that bill I gave you in Costa Rica and look at the monkey and remember that morning as I do, a very happy time. Always in my prayers, Dr.

  4. Dear Julia – Thank you for reaching out so faithfully through your blog/books/art/music/poetry to testify of GOD’s miracles through the many challenges you have faced. You use EVERY talent GOD has given you to meaningfully touch and encourage others including me. I am so grateful to know you. Your outlook, your love, and your hope in the LORD have been such special gifts to remind us to keep the faith as we encounter difficult diagnoses that come into our lives. I have been privileged to pray alongside you many times and I will continue storming the gates of heaven in prayer for you and your dear loved ones. He is with you and He is for you!

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