One day…

Mom and I were snuggling together.

MOM: is that your tongue?

Me: no that is my lump.

Mom: umm, Morgan, can you come look at this?

Daddy: ( on the phone with my dentist) ( hushed) hi, we’re not sure if we should be calling you or Joanna’s pediatrician. We just found a lump in her cheek and think it should be checked out… Oh, that’s great! We’ll head your way right now, see you in less than 10 minutes.

Daddy: ok lets go!


I went to the dentist and he checked it out and said that the parotid gland was blocked. So, I should suck on sour candies and do heat compresses and salt water rinses. I was pretty excited about the candy. If that didn’t work he’d refer me to an oral surgeon.

So, I went to my pediatrician and he referred me to an ENT. The ENT ordered an MRI. When we met after the MRI he described the removal surgery to us. A friend who is a nurse at OU helped us get in to meet the big cheese! I met my surgeon at the Stephenson Cancer Center instead of OU Children’s because of his schedule. He ordered a biopsy -he said that would help him know what to do next. Once the biopsy results were in, he sent me to another doctor at the Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer at OU Children’s.

Dr. McNall and Joanna talking in the exam room.
Joanna visits with Dr. McNall in the exam room during our first meeting.

I met the new doctor yesterday. I really liked her and her staff. She told me I have cancer. I got labs done for the first time ever, her primary nurse, Nathan did a great job! One of the good things about Children’s Hospital is that there are Child Life Specialists, and their job is to comfort you and teach you about what’s going to happen. I had a great one of those! She let me watch a show while I was getting my labs done and she had a disco ball light up toy that we looked at together, and she gave me a squeezy orbeez ball that I got to keep and play with. It hasn’t popped yet.

On Monday I’m going to get my PET/CT Scan. Then I’ll get a bone marrow biopsy and port placed on another day and probably also get my first chemotherapy treatment that day.

My doctor told me to remember 2 things:

1. This is a very curable cancer. 2. I’ll be with you every step of the way.

Dr. McNall

32 comments

  1. Dear Joanna, How are you doing? I am still praying for you and your Mom and Dad. I hope you are feeling 100% better now. I will keep you all in my prayers and thoughts! Love Great Aunt Helen Wilson

  2. Hi sweet girl. You probably don’t remember me but you left quite an impression when we met at one of the WordPress conferences I spoke at. We spent most of the afternoon together while your mom and dad volunteered.

    I could tell you were someone who would do important things one day and I’m so proud of you for sharing your story on this blog. Your enthusiam and smile made everyone around you smile too. Please know we are all sending lots of love your way and hope you feel much better soon. ❤️

  3. Hi Joanna,

    I am sorry to hear about your lump. But it’s gone now thanks to those wonderful doctors and I know Jesus is guiding you every step of this journey. You are so smart and brave and May I say you have been one of my favorites in Geography Journey Land. Yes, it’s true! The room always brightens up when you come in the door! Keep shining, my friend! Praying for you and your mom and dad!

  4. Hi Joanna! I’m sending healing thoughts and energy your way! Your friends at the library are here for you! So are Jack and Annie…and Morgan…and Peanut… Until later!

    Mr. Marc

  5. Hi Joanna!!

    I know that you don’t know me very well, but I’m in the youth group at church, and I have had the pleasure of getting to watch you grow up at church!! I will be praying for you and I plan to write you some letters soon! God is watching over you through it all, never forget that

  6. Your doctor’s words are great to remember. Thank you for writing this to help us understand and follow your journey. You will be in our prayers.

  7. I just finished reading all your posts. You don’t know me, but I know your mom. We were in college together and we made some great memories together.

    I love your doctor’s “two important things to remember” and I love the “third thing” that several people have written (that they and that God are with you). I recently decided that “with” is my favorite word. I can tell you love words from your great writing and storytelling. I wonder what your next post will be, and I’m already praying that you feel the love and hope and strength of all those who are WITH you!

  8. Dear sweet Joanna – all the comments above, I have read and I want to say “AMEN” to all of them. They are so good and encouraging. I am very impressed with your writing skills, too. Clyde and I have been praying for you, and for your Mom and Dad, and we will continue to pray for you and for your doctors. We love you so much!!

  9. Hey Joanna! I can’t wait to see you at the next WordCamp US so you can tell me all about how you are a superhero who beat cancer!!! I still have my scrunchie and tissue holder that I got from you in St Louis. I love how you are blogging and documenting your journey. I bet that later on, you will be helping other kids go down the same road you are on right now. I am so proud of you!

  10. You are amazing to write this blog for all of us to follow along with you and understand. We are praying for you and all of the wonderful doctors and nurses that will help you.

  11. Joanna,
    I used to babysit you a long time ago…we had so much fun when you came to my house! I’m so sorry to hear about your illness…we will be praying for you, your mom and dad, and your doctors and nurses. Sending love to you from Louisiana!!

  12. Oh Sweet Joanna! I’m so sorry to hear you have all kinds of crazy doctor appointments to help you beat cancer but I know you will with your faith in Jesus! I’m also very impressed with your writing. So smart!

  13. Hi Joanna! I was surprised to hear your news. Love your blog! Thank you for sharing your story. Very glad to know your cancer is very curable. Praying for you girl! Marcy

  14. Joanna,
    I’m so sorry to hear that you have cancer, but I know it won’t take your sweet spirit! You have always impressed me with your caring spirit and desire to give and help others. I know the people who will help care for you will do a wonderful job and you will be rid of that lump soon. Keep smiling! I will be praying for you!

  15. Joanna, you don’t know me very well (hopefully we can change that) but I am friends with your mom and dad on Facebook and get to see all the cool things that you have done. You are such a smart and strong young lady. I will be praying for you and your family. Love, Great Aunt Alisa

  16. Joanna, you are a wise, smart and brave young woman. Dr. McNall and your family and so many of your friends- including me- will also be with you every step of the way! You are in my prayers and my heart. Ms Ann

  17. Oh Joanna! I am so sad that you have to deal with something so big while you are still so very young. You write like one much older, and you will soon have the experiences to go with it. Count me amongst your most fervent prayer warriors, as I will join the many friends and family members doing so daily. God is in control, and he will carry you through this, and you will do great things for his kingdom!

    Sincere love for you and your sweet sweet family!

  18. Dearest Joanna,

    I have known you since you were a tiny baby! And I’ve loved watching you grow up. I am sorry that you are going through a very tough time right now. It sounds like you have fabulous doctors to care for you! Plus I know your mom and dad are stellar at taking care of you too! Our whole family will be praying for you on this journey!

    Much love,
    Alyssa McCook

  19. Joanna,
    We are praying for you. We love you and pray the cancer will respond well to treatment. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  20. Joanna you are a fantastic writer! I am so glad you are taking us all along with you as you get rid of that lump. I hope you know that we are all right there with you. We are cheering you on through all scary stuff & eventually the big celebration when the cancer is cured! 🎉 You’ve got this brave girl!!

  21. Hey Joanna, what a great description of your “lump” story. I look forward to reading more about your adventure. Sorry you are having to go through this, but I know you are going to be an inspiration to others. We love you, are praying for you (and your parents), and look forward to seeing you soon.

  22. Hi Joanna!

    Sending all the love your way. What a great idea for this blog!

    Those are great words to remember from your doctor too. I Imagine it will be a speedy treatment and recovery that goes super well.

    P.S – The disco ball and squeezy orbeez sound awesome!

    – Mr. Andrew (your favorite librarian) 🙂

  23. Hi Joanna,
    I had a young friend who was a OU Children’s for awhile and he met a Child Life Specialist that had a therapy dog that was with her all day at her job. He’s a great dog! If you are into dogs, ask about the therapy dogs.
    Anne H.
    Edmond Library

  24. Joanna, You are an amazing young lady! What an incredible story you are sharing. I pray that it helps you to share as you are going through this situation. You are loved and have many, many people praying on your behalf. Thank you for being a bright shining star to so many people. It seems like you have some pretty awesome doctors, nurses, and specialists to help you through everything. We love you!

  25. Hello sweet Joanna,
    I love you so much and I’m sorry that this is happening to you. I’m sure most of this is pretty scary right now, but you are in the best place for treatment! I just wanted to remind you that you are so very loved and so many people are praying for your successful treatment and recovery. I am here if you ever want to talk. Love and hugs, Mandy

  26. It sounds like you are right where you need to be for your treatments. I think your doctor gave you two great things to remember. I’m going to add a third – your family, friends, and God will be there with you every step of the way!! Love you! Aunt Peggy

  27. Joanna, we are very sorry to hear of your diagnosis but we are so glad it’s treatable and that you are being so brave, every step of the way. Keep trusting in God and know he is always with you! You are such a strong girl! We know God has great plans for you! 💖🙏🏻

  28. Joanna, I am so glad you have such good doctors and nurses taking great care of you! And those child life specialists sure have some neat things. I am thinking about you and praying for you. Remember that God loves you and he is with you too. You look very brave in these pictures. I love your Tigger gown! I will be praying for your tests on Monday and Tuesday to go well. Thank you for these updates. ❤️ Stephanie

  29. Joanna, So thankful you have good doctors taking great care of you! And the child life specialists sure have some neat things. I am thinking about you and praying for you. You look so brave in these pictures. I love that Tigger gown! God loves you and remember he is with you too! Thank you for sharing that these updates. I will pray your tests go very well this week. ❤️ Stephanie

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