Dabney Hedegard calls herself a professional patient for good reason. At the age of 25, Dabney was suffering from an unknown illness that left her itching all over, constantly fatigued, and then other more troubling symptoms appeared. One afternoon, after having served at a ladies’ tea for her foundation, Dabney came home to rest when suddenly the pressure on her chest became unbearable and she couldn’t breathe. She recalls banging her fist to her chest to pound out some relief, yet none came. She called 911, but her husband, Jason, rushed home to take her to the emergency room where they quickly discovered that something was terribly amiss.
"Readers will appreciate how transparent Dabney and Jason are with their emotions, thoughts and lives during this 10-year trial of mammoth proportions. Their stalwart determination not to give up and to keep trusting in God’s promised provision will inspire and bring shouts of joyful celebration, as well it should."
Tests revealed that Dabney had an eight-inch mass in her chest, which was about the size of a football, and her doctor explained that she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The tumor alone took their breath away, but then he grimly reminded both Dabney and Jason that since she was six weeks pregnant, they needed to decide whether or not to keep the baby. With the cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy would begin immediately. Shocked and broken, the couple went home to talk, think and pray.
That evening, Dabney and Jason did weigh their options, and both agreed that she would keep the baby even at the risk of her life. Chemotherapy would be put off as long as possible to give their unborn child the best chance of survival. The following day began a grueling set of tests and procedures that Dabney endured, which were only the beginning of a 10-year-long painful journey as she battled cancer, cardiomyopathy, mitral valve prolapse, pulmonary embolism, acute pneumonia, kidney failure, respiratory failure, and heart failure.
As if battling all of these horrendous physical obstacles weren’t enough, during these 10 years, Dabney gave birth to three children and adopted a fourth. All were healthy, but she paid an enormous price with each pregnancy and went through a total of four near-death experiences. Interestingly, Dabney leaned on Jason, who would remind her during their darkest hours that God had told him at the very outset of Dabney’s first hospitalization that she would be restored but not until things had gotten much worse. That statement proved true, as Dabney’s health did worsen, and around every corner it seemed she developed another life-threatening illness. And yet, through it all, God gave them four beautiful children and their lives have been completely transformed.
The Hedegards believe in the power of prayer and the faithfulness of God to bring healing and restoration even in the most dire and hopeless cases. Not only was Dabney’s life spared and health restored, she credits their experiences as the impetus to revive their dying marriage as well. Readers will appreciate how transparent Dabney and Jason are with their emotions, thoughts and lives during this 10-year trial of mammoth proportions. Their stalwart determination not to give up and to keep trusting in God’s promised provision will inspire and bring shouts of joyful celebration, as well it should.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on July 17, 2013