Ver Beek Blog

Our young family battling stage IV breast cancer one day at a time
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We are back from an amazing trip to Florida.  As you know, this trip was possible because of Inheritance of Hope (IOH).  They’re a non profit organization founded by Kristen and Deric Milligan.  Kristen is terminally ill.

To be honest, we went into this trip a little skeptical and not knowing what to expect.  We knew they had a tight schedule for our family of five, but we were going to try our best to work with it.  We were excited to go to Disney World and see all the characters and ride the rides, but this trip turned out to be so much more.

We were there with 12 other families (four pulled out at the last minute) from all over the country.  One of the parents from each family suffered from a terminal illness.  IOH is so warm, caring and incredibly detailed we could tell from the moment the volunteers picked us up at the airport hotel that this was going to be a great trip.

When we walked into our hotel room we had a bag of goodies from IOH and T-Shirts.  Then we noticed a BIG pile of mail.  We were so surprised and touched by the letters and cards you sent us.  Thank you Jill and Papa Dale for contacting so many people to do that.  We had over 60 cards and letters.

The first night we had a welcoming dinner where all the families ate in a banquet room.  Dinner was delicious.  At the end of dinner they had announcements and then said there was one more guest that was coming.  In walked Mickey Mouse!  The kids were so excited.  They were calling the families up to meet him in alphabetical order.  Being the Dutchies that we are, we were last.  Max ran up to Mickey and gave him a HUGE hug.  We had many pictures taken with Mickey.  We couldn’t believe it.  

The next morning the kids went to playgroup and the parents went to parent groups where we met everyone.  When we met up with the kids again, Brooklyn said to me “Mom!  I met some kids who have sick parents too.”  That was her “ah ha” moment.  Then we ate lunch, matched up with the best volunteers in the world and went to the Magic Kingdom.

We had two volunteers for the weekend.  They were Angie from Atlanta, GA and Mike (Golden Boy) from Mississippi who lives in NYC.  Let me say all the volunteers and staff for IOH have the light of Jesus shining in them.  They are amazing.  Angie and Mike pushed me in a wheelchair, carried water in their backpacks, took pictures, got us a medical pass so we could walk up to any ride or character and be next in line, helped with the kids anytime and anywhere.  We were incredibly blessed on this trip.  The kids even got to be part of the Lion King show!  

The day we left we had closing ceremonies and on the agenda, there was my verse – Jeremiah 25:11.  Kristen and Deric were there and had explained how they are usually on all the retreats, but couldn’t make it to this entire retreat.  After a very moving message from Kristen, she said when they get home it was time for her to contact Hospice.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

When we left, Brooklyn was full of tears because she was going to miss Angie and Michael so much.  She has already emailed Angie and wrote Mike a letter.  She also declared she’s going someday as a volunteer. 

This trip was way more than Disney.  I learned so much and will be forever blessed by the IOH volunteers and staff. Thank you to everyone for your prayers, cards, letters and love.

On Saturday I’m going to U of M for an MRI of my brain and CT scans of my chest (lungs) and pelvis.  Please pray that they go well for me.  I tend to get sick after the CT scan. 

Next Tuesday (Valentine’s Day) we go back to U of M for the results and decide what chemo to try next.

Thank you for the kindness and love you’ve shown our family.  If you run in marathons and want to run for a non profit, join the IOH marathon team.   



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My parents and our family went to Florida.   

After a four hour delay, we flew out of Lansing and said good bye to Michigan!


We arrived in Orlando and drove to our house by Cinnamon Beach.  By the time we got in bed, it was 2:30 a.m.

The next morning we woke up to the sun.  We ventured to the beach find sea shells.  Samantha and I were walking the beach together when, right in front of me, was a star fish!  It was beautiful.  It was missing a small section of its leg, but I didn’t care.  I took it back with me. 


The next day we went to an alligator Farm in St. Augustine.  For five bucks we could hold a baby alligator.  Later that week, the kids ate Fried Gator Tail.  After her first bite, Brooke exclaimed “It tastes like chicken!”




Every morning Beez and Papa (my parents) cooked breakfast.  It was always Orange Juice and Turkey Bacon.



We had a lot of time at the pool and the beach.  Nice jump Samantha!






We spent a cloudy day in Daytona Beach.  I drove on the beach!  It was so cool.  Another one I can check off my bucket list.


We went to Marine Land and we let Brooklyn pet and feed a dolphin. 

Brooklyn’s in the white shirt holding the dolphin’s tale. 

The dolphin jumping out of the water is the dolphin she just got done feeding.  Unfortunately, Brooklyn had her back turned at that very moment and missed the whole thing. 



On Friday, the day before we were leaving, Papa and Max went to the beach to find shells.  My dad found a starfish.  Only his was complete!  It looked just like mine, but it wasn’t missing part of its leg.  Later that morning, Brooklyn and I were sitting on the front porch going through the shells and deciding which ones to give back to the ocean and which ones to take home.  She said to me, “are you sad that Papa’s star fish is better than yours?”  I said “Why?  Because my star fish is missing part of its leg?”  She said “yeah.”  I said “No.  That’s my star fish.  My body isn’t complete anymore either and I think God put that starfish right in front of me because it’s meant to be mine.  Papa’s star fish is complete because Papa isn’t missing anything.  That’s Papa’s starfish.  Papa is complete.”  That seemed to be okay with her.  🙂

Then Saturday came and it was time to kick the tires and light the fires.  We were going wheels up!  


Soon we’ll be off on our next great adventure.  Thank you for your prayers.  I could feel them during this trip.  I had renewed energy.  I was able to keep up with my busy kids and have a lot of fun with Dusty and my parents.


Hello 35

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It’s been a while since I’ve updated, but we’ve had a few things we were celebrating. 

First it was Thanksgiving.  The kids were going to have a Thanksgiving camp-out in the basement.  It never happened.  They got scared and slept in their own beds.  Oh well.  Maybe next year..


We made cinnamon ornaments with my mom.  They smell SO good!


We celebrated Dale Ver Beek’s (my father-in-law) birthday.  Happy Birthday again Dad!

This picture is from Christmas, but it’s the most recent one I have of him.  Besides, he’s holding a really cute kid.


The kids saw Santa.  Yep, his beard is real.


We had a lot of nice Christmas parties with our extended families and our own family.


Overall, we had a good Christmas and New Year.  I’m so happy I was able to do it off chemo. 

About a month ago, we booked a trip to Florida.  So we’ll take off for that soon.  We can’t wait!  The kids can’t wait and Brooklyn is counting down the days.  I look forward to the warm air, warm sun and the salt water ocean breeze.  We were planning on going to Disney for a day while we were there too. 

For those of you who know me.  I’m a kind of a control freak.  I’m a planner.  I like to have my ducks in a row.  I like to know what to expect. 

When I realized our plane doesn’t assign seats.  I bought them.  I bought row 6.  Why row 6 you ask?  Because I don’t want my family in the back of the plane.  Why?  Because they board back to front.  I would prefer our three-year-old twins to board last.  The less time they spend sitting on the plane while it’s not moving, the better.  The quicker they can get off the plane, the better.  Was it worth $80.00 round trip?  I don’t know.  We’ll have to wait and see. 

So for Disney, we weren’t going to buy tickets at the gate.  Oh no, I was going to buy the tickets on line so I can have them in my hand when we get to the gate.  But each time I went to click on the “check out” button something interrupted me from buying the tickets.  My phone rang, one of my children started crying, there was a knock at the door or I wanted to ask Dusty if he wanted me to book a meal plan with them. 

As you can see, I have a bit of a control/planner problem.

I have everything prepurchased, planned and we are starting to pack.  Except we don’t have Disney tickets.

Here’s where God comes in.

Around the same time we were planning a trip to Florida, we also filled out an application to Inheritance of Hope.  We sent it in and forgot about it. 

On Christmas Eve, I got a message from Jill at I.O.H.  When we connected again, she told me our family was chosen for their next retreat….drum roll please….to…….. Disney World in February!  I was shocked.  Completely speechless.  Mouth gaping open.  Never in a million years did I think we would have been chosen so soon.  Still sitting there with my jaw on the floor, she went on to say it’s all expenses paid, airfare included with four day Disney park hopper passes for everyone in our family.  Then she said to talk to my husband about it and let her know.  I picked my jaw up off the floor and said I would call her back in the morning. 

Dusty and I talked about it.  We decided that it’s doable with his vacation time.  Herman Miller has been wonderful to us.  They’re a great company.  The timing works well with my next scheduled appointments at U of M and it’s a long weekend so Brooklyn won’t miss a lot of school.  Then with me being a woman and needing extra support, I called Jill and my mom who both, without hesitation, said “GO!  Do it!”.  So….We’re going.  We’re doing it. 

Now here we are.  I’m packing the family to leave on what I thought would be our last great family trip.  I could lay eyes on the ocean at least one more time.  Pick up shells with the kids.  Watch the sunrise.  Who knows.  But God had something up his big giant sleeve.  A second trip to Disney!  Back-to-back Florida trips!  We are blessed.   

I think God made my phone ring.  He had someone come to the door.  And yes, had one of my kids cry.  It was His way of saying “slow down My little control freak, planner girl.  I have something better for you and your family.”  

Maybe you think that sounds a little crazy.  That God doesn’t work through Disney.  Even I think that sounds a little silly.  I know He worked through Inheritance of Hope.  Being able to do two Florida trips with my family before the next round of chemo is amazing.  I think that has God written all over it. 

P.S.  It’s my birthday on Saturday.  Happy Birthday to me.  Hello 35.



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We spent the last two days in Ann Arbor at U of M.  Monday was my scan day.  Tuesday we saw Dr. Schott. We were anxious to see how the cancer reacted to the Clinical Trial/Chemo I was on for the last nine weeks.  The results were disappointing.

The spots in my lungs shrunk slightly and the spot in my brain didn’t shrink at all.  With those findings and the side effects I was having from the chemo, Dr. Schott, Dusty and I decided to stop the clinical trial.  She said to take the holidays and January off from treatment.  Two months of freedom!  I will have scans again at the end of January and we will decide then what chemo to do next.

I am so thankful to spend the holidays out of a chemo haze and feeling better than what I did the past nine weeks.  

We’re going to try and squeeze in a family trip too.  It makes sense to do that now while I’m not on chemo and feeling as good as possible.

Thank you for your prayers, cards and continued support.  We love all of you and couldn’t do it without you.   


Snap Back to Reality

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A few months ago when I found out I had more cancer, I had an epiphany.  For two and a half years we’ve been praying that God will take my cancer away.  I’ve been prayed over.  Prayed on.  Hands have been put on me in prayer.  Prayed beside of.  Annointed.  We’ve begged God to heal me.  People I don’t know and have never met pray for me.  Beautiful little children pray for me.  Congregations pray for me.  People in other cities, states and countries are praying for me.  All of these people have said a prayer on my behalf! 

I know God hears these prayers.  Yet He is choosing not to answer them.  That hurts.  It’s confusing.  It’s personal.  I know He loves me and He can heal me, but He won’t. He’s choosing to let the cancer win. 

I was tired of begging for healing.  So I took a new approach.  Complete submission.  His will is perfect.  If His will is for me to have cancer, so be it.  I don’t understand it.  I don’t think I have to.  What I do understand is that He loves me.  He loves my family.  He will take care of my family.  His will is perfect.   So that is where I rest.  I’ve had so much peace since that epiphany.  No more wrestling with Him.  Simply submitting to His will.  He is in control.  

Yesterday I met with my doctor at U of M before chemo.  It was a wake up call.  Apparently I was living in an alternate universe where I thought I could still beat cancer.  I thought with the right concoction of drugs we could kill every last cancer cell and I would get my life back.  That is not the case.  There is nothing, short of a miracle, that will get rid of my cancer.  My disease is too progressed.  They’re giving me chemo to give me a longer life.  The Clinical Trial I’m on will not cure my cancer.  Nothing will.  We’re biding time.  They want to keep me alive and comfortable.   

I was told I am going to die from metastatic breast cancer.  That I should do things that I’ve wanted to do.  I’m only going to get worse.  That I should talk to my kids if I haven’t already.  No time limit was given.  All of that was hard to hear, especially before getting poisoned.   

It’s so unfair to Dusty and my kids.  That’s the worst part of all.  They have to suffer because of this disease. Thank you for your prayers. 

Please don’t stop praying.  Please be bold and ask for a miracle.  Please pray for my family and friends.  Prayer Requests:

    • My Family

    • Peace

    • A Miracle

    • A Cure


No Offense

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On Tuesday I started another 21 day cycle of chemo.  The infusion went as it did the first time.  I feel so sick.  Like a really bad flu that won’t go away.  My hair is falling out, but not drastically.   I’m not going to shave it off like I did the first time.  I’m going to wait and see what happens.  Maybe it’s just thinning.  That was a possibility.

Last night Brooklyn came home from church.  I was laying on the couch and she came over to give me a hug and kiss good night.  She said “I just really want your cancer to go away.”  I said “Thanks hon.  I do too.”  She said “I want your hair to keep growing.  You know, like it used to be?”  I said “I do too.  That’s what I’m shooting for.”  She said “Remember when you were normal and we used to run around and kick the soccer ball?  I just want your cancer to go away so you can be a normal mom…no offense.”  As she darted down the steps to her room I said “none taken.”  Those were the days.  God willing I’ll have them again.

The birthday party was fantastic.  The twins are three.  They had their 3-year check up on Monday and they healthy little buggers. 

You can do it Max!  Blow!


Samantha in her tutu


The kids and their presents





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Chemo and the Clinical Trial Drug is given to me in 21 day cycles.  Two weeks on, one week off.  Start again.  Two weeks on, one week off.  Again and again and again.  My life will be lived in 21 day cycles.  Strange thought.  Right now I’m in my first “week off” and it’s not how I thought it would be.  While it’s not as horrible as A/C and Taxol, it’s not a walk in the park either.  So far I’ve had terrible stomach aches, migraines, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and chills.  On Sunday when it was 80 degrees outside, I was under three blankets and couldn’t get warm.  I wanted to turn on the fireplace and lay in front of it.  I was so tired I laid on the couch or bed all day.

I’d like to say THANK YOU for all the freezer meals.  They are being used faster than what I thought.  They’ve been such a blessing.  Dusty has his hands full with the kids so it’s one less thing for him to do.  We’re fine with them eating mac and cheese or spaghettios, but not at every meal.  So this gives both of us peace of mind that they’re getting a good meal too.  God bless you.

On a brighter note, it’s birthday season in our household.  Believe it or not, but Max and Samantha turn three on Saturday.  It’s been so fun watching them grow.  Kind of sad because I feel like I’ve been doing it from the sidelines, but blessed that I’ve been here nonetheless.  Max loves wearing his Detroit Tigers hat and his sunglasses.  He loves riding the tractor with Papa Mel and going to “Donald’s” (McDonalds) for nuggets and “hot fries” with Papa Dale.  Samantha calls everyone in the family “honey pie” and jumps all around.  She loves watching Mickey Mouse and it’s what she asks for from sun up to sun down.  She also follows her big sister wherever she goes. cialis online

My dad and Jill both have their birthdays next week Tuesday, October 18.  I will not divulge their ages, but if you see them, give them a big hug and wish them happy birthday.

Brooklyn turns eight on Sunday, October 23!  Can you believe that?!  EIGHT!  I look at her little life and realize she’s been through so much.  The past three years haven’t been easy or normal for her.  Whatever normal is.  I remember when Max and Samantha were born she was nine days away from turning five.  She was so confused as to where her sister was and why she couldn’t see her.  She would come to the hospital and hold Max and then wonder about Samantha.  Nine days later, on Brooklyn’s 5th birthday – October 23, 2008, the doctors at DeVos released Samantha from the hospital.  Brooklyn still talks about that being the best birthday present.

So in a nutshell, life is tiring and busy right now.  I am greatly blessed by having the husband, kids, family and friends that I do.  I couldn’t do this without them.



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September 4

My dear, sweet, loving, ever-by-my-side husband celebrated his 37th birthday.  On Saturday, the day before his birthday, we enjoyed a Tiger’s game in Detroit with Dale and Jana (Dusty’s dad and sister).  It was sweltering in the stadium, but thanks to Jana who froze water bottles, all was well.   We hadn’t been to the new stadium before and I was so impressed.  I had been to the old stadium as a kid and this one is so much better.  Oh and the guy I sat next to in the stadium is from Zeeland and delivered mail over 40 years!?  Not only that, but he used to play ball with Dusty’s dad.  Small world.

This picture was taken with my cell phone.


Don’t you love the look on the kids faces.  I read their faces as saying  “Mom!  Take the picture already! Did you see this cake?”


September 24

Race For the Cure!  Thank you to everyone who participated on my team, but also to those who participated on someone else’s team.  Thank you Jen Dykens and Jill Graves for organizing the team again this year.  

Brooklyn walked the whole 5k!  Go Brooklyn!

92411-brooke-at-race.JPG  92411-brooke-and-jen-at-the-race.JPG


September 27

First Day of Chemo at U of M.  Jill was my chemo buddy the first time around and she demanded to be my Tuesday chemo buddy this time too.  She really did demand it.  I told her I could drive myself to U of M, but she wasn’t having it.  Good thing too…more about that later.

Instead of showing up in comfy lounge pants and a T-shirt like a normal person I wanted to look good.  Why not right?  So I did my hair, put on make up and wore earrings.  

We are ready to go!


Here are a few sights we see on the way to U of M.  I’d like to thank Jill for her photo taking ability and please keep in mind that I was going around 75 to 80 mph when these pictures were taken.

Here is the gas station and restaurant in Fowlerville that made me think of the word gastaurant:



Now this always makes me laugh.  If you look close it says DADS INN.  Not DAYS INN.  It used to be a Days Inn, but some poor person bought it.  I’m guessing they didn’t want to buy into the franchise and couldn’t afford a whole new sign so they bought one new letter.  You can still see where the “Y” once was and at night the new D shines orange instead of yellow, but so what, right?  It’s funny and it makes me laugh.


We finally arrive at U of M.



Jill’s most favorite thing at U of M isn’t the grandness of their campus.  Not all the learnin’ that’s going on inside those buildings.  Not the cool artwork displayed in their corridors.  Not even the cafeteria food.  Jill’s most favorite things are the buses.


So we go inside and after a while they start my chemo.  Here I am getting my first infusion at U of M.


We watched a movie while I was getting my drip.  My thumbs were up because I was feeling good.  The last hour of chemo didn’t go as well as hoped.  I started feeling very nauseous and wound up vomiting and being sent home with a puke bucket and some ginger ale.  Oh well…such is life with chemo.

Today I feel very tired and for everything else I have a prescription.  I can tell it’s going to be a long road ahead.  Going to U of M twice a week isn’t going to be easy, especially not feeling well.  It is what it is.

Thank you for the prayers and support you give our family.  We are blessed by you.


Freezer Meals and Gastaurants

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Thank you to everyone who is bringing us a meal.  As of right now (Monday morning) we are all set with meals.  So if you were going to contact me, but haven’t had a chance yet, we are all set.  Thank you for the thought.  I think my freezer will be so full it may explode. 

Speaking of food.  If you have time and want to read my silly little story read on.  If you’re in a hurry, you can close this now. 

On our trip to U of M last Thursday I was convinced I came up with a new word all by my big bad self.  There is a gas station in Fowlerville with a restaurant attached to it.  It always catches my eye because it has a blue roof and has a Germanesque feel to the building.  So I thought to myself…there should be a name for gas stations that have restaurants attached to them.  Eureka!  Gastaurant!

So in my moment of brilliant glee I blurt out GASTAURANT to Dusty.  He says..”huh?  What?  What are you talking about?”  He has that intense look on his face.  He likes to pretend he’s a race car driver and tends to get road rage with people who go below the speed limit and ride in the left lane.  I say “gas station + restaurant = gastaurant!  I made up a new word!”  A few miles later, after I wouldn’t stop talking about how awesome I am, he had the audacity to challenge my amazing mind and said “google it”.  How dare he?!   

“Google it?” I say.  So I did.  Did you know Gastaurant is in the encyclopedia?  Neither did I.  Here’s the definition:

`Gastaurant`, a portmanteau of gas station and restaurant, refers to a class of fueling stations which also incorporate a franchise-based restaurant (such as McDonald`s or Taco Bell) in the same facility.  

Who knew?  Not me. 


Buckle Up!

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Dusty and I met with Dr. Schott at U of M yesterday and went over our options.  She said that while I do qualify for two of their clinical trials, one of them doesn’t make a lot of sense for me. 

That left either a clinical trial or a standard method of treatment.  She explained the pros and cons of both and the three of us decided to go for the clinical trial.  There are only 40 people in the United States that will do this trial.  U of M has five spaces and one of them has already been used (successfully!).  I will be their second guinea pig. 

I suppose I should feel fortunate that I qualify for a clinical trial.  That it could prove successful in treating cancer and someday be passed by the FDA and given to patients.  At the same time, it shows just how bad my cancer is.  Depressing.

The clinical trial is a parp inhibitor with chemo given through an IV.  The catch to all of this, is that within the next ten days I need to get an MRA (yes A, not I) of my brain, more lab work and a power port put back in.  I’m getting a Power Port put back in next week Thursday – Thank you Dr. Hoberman!  I can check that off the list.  I’m on the “urgent board” at U of M for the MRA.  I will need to leave at a moments notice when they call.  My first treatment/infusion is scheduled for September 27.  Yikes.   

This treatment plan will be a grueling as far as time is concerned.  We don’t know how it’s going to affect me physically yet.  The treatment HAS to take place at U of M in Ann Arbor.  It cannot be done at Metro Health who is affiliated with U of M.  Bummer.  

I will go to U of M twice a week for two weeks then get one week off and start all over again (21 day cycle).  It’s a lot of back and forth.  It will be like losing two days each week between all the traveling and getting the infusions.  This will go on as long as I’m responding to treatment (6 months +) or until I call it quits.  Dusty is going to have his hands full!  So please say a lot of prayers for him.   

Now I need to ask for help.  If you know me, you know I don’t like to ask for help and I don’t like to accept it.  So here it goes.  If anyone is willing to bring a freezer meal, it would be greatly appreciated.  We have a deep freezer in the basement which we emptied when we moved.  It’s still 95% empty.  I will happily accept meals until it’s full.  If you can bring us a meal, please send me an email to let me know when you can drop it off:  We eat anything.  Just not deer or buffalo or horse or frogs, snake or anything crazy.  Just normal stuff.  That would be a tremendous help.  Did I mention we’re Vegans?  Just kidding.

Keep Holding On…   


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