Monday, April 28, 2008

All Day Long

Decisions, decision...postponed

We still haven't made any decisions yet.

On Friday, Andrew had his feeding tube put into his stomach. Last second, despite giving him all kinds of relaxants and pain meds, they decided given Andrew's history of complications, it would be safer to use anesthesia on him. And since it's not advisable to mix anesthesia with Erbitux, one of the chemo drugs that Andrew was supposed to get a loading dose of afterwards, Erbitux was postponed until tomorrow (Tuesday). Since radiation can't start for a few days after Erbitux, we are not scheduled to start radiation until next Monday, May 5th.

Of course, there were complications during his surgery. So instead of getting out of the operating room at 9am and going to the clinic next door to get his 11am chemo, we got out of the hospital at 5pm without any chemo.

Cancer, cancer, cancer...
Last week was jam-packed with hospital visits. Originally, we only had doctor appointments for Tuesday. But since Andrew is still an out-patient, we find ourselves still subject to the doctor's schedules just like when we were in the hospital. We were at the doctors' all day each day except Thursday, either for additional questions or concerns. Then this weekend was very busy too. I found myself feeling incredibly frustrated and anxious. I kept going to the Lord about it, knowing no one could fix our problems and no one could provide relief or peace except for Him. Throughout this whole situation, I know that I am at the end of myself, but this weekend I felt even past the end of myself.

Today, I was going crazy. Every day we spend so much time talking to doctors, consulting, asking questions, either in person, or making phone calls, attempting to get in touch with people (to no avail) who specialize in young people who get oral cancer, such as at M.D. Anderson in Texas or Sloan Kettering in New York. We usually are on speaker phone when it's a phone call with one of our many doctors so that both of us can hear. I never go over in minutes until nowadays. Cancer cancer cancer. It felt like all that ever came out of my mouth or into my ears was cancer. And I missed my husband. His new pain med for his excruciating feeding tube has made him so tired and distracted by his pain. I can't even hug him because there's nowhere to hug him. All I want is my husband and to be with him, yet, even though he is right in front of me, cancer is in our way.

I called up my friend Sam, who is in our small group at church and also lives a few blocks away. She is my right-hand (wo)man. She anticipates any of our needs before we realize it's a need, or occasionally I will tell her of a need, and she will delegate it to one of her teams for childcare, house-cleaning, or whatever other team she has. In the process of her always inquiring and planning about our needs, I have come to rely upon her as a confidante as well. Any time I'm incredibly discouraged and can't find my way out of it on my own, I feel safe calling her. She lets me cry and doesn't try to find the right words to say to me. She says things like, "I wish there were magical words to say to you to make things better," or "Every day I wake up wondering, 'What must it feel like to be Grace today?' but I know I just can't even begin to imagine." And so instead of trying to give me a pep talk, which would probably feel like a knife in my abdomen, she prays for me. And the Lord always answers and helps me.

This day, when I called her, aside from crying, I wanted to ask her if she could get some coffee with me, but I knew her kids were already home from school, and I didn't want to bother her. So I prayed that if it was the Lord's will that she would ask me instead. While we were on the phone, her daughter wrote a note to her asking if she and her brother could go over their neighbor's house to play. Then, after Sam prayed for me, she asked me if we could meet for coffee.

I think it was just what I needed. I needed to get out of the house and laugh and talk with someone about something other than cancer. I think the reason why Sam is able to minister to me so effectively, even when I feel so raw anything would hurt me, is because she doesn't rely upon herself to do it. I think it's because she answers everything with prayer. I feel like I can breathe again, and I am so thankful that the Lord takes care of us through so many different means. Sometimes, it's just through His Word alone with Him, sometimes it's through a message that's preached, sometimes it's through another sister in the Lord. We need the brethren so much and we can't make it through life, let alone this without them.

For the past few weeks, I juice all day long for Andrew to supplement his liquid feedings, and I absolutely love it. Somehow, God has given me so much enjoyment in all the different aspects of being Andrew's nurse. As I went to the store today to pick up more veggies for Andrew, I was so amazed at all the different vegetables God has made and with so many nutrients and healing properties. Today, the new vegetable I introduced to Andrew's tummy was red chard. It's a really large, green leaf with red veins. It is super-rich in Vitamins K, A, C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamin E, and dietary fiber, among many other things. I stand amazed at the God who made it all so beautiful with such creativity and variety, and such kindness to nourish us with it.

Please pray:

- That Andrew wouldn't have any side-effects from the Erbitux, long or short-term

- Complete healing

Friday, April 25, 2008

I just don't know...

Our family is faced with the toughest decision yet. The docs at Mayo and my radiation oncologists think that my best chances of survival are to do another surgery and remove everything - remaining part of tongue, voice box, epiglotis, etc. That would mean that I would not be able to talk, eat, or smell, and I would breathe out of a hole in my neck. The radiation oncologists at Mayo and UMN think that this cancer is radiation resistant because it didn't die with last year's radiation so they don't think radiation will work this year.

It is believed that a massive surgery would increase my chances of cure, but not by very much. We had asked Dr. Yueh to do whatever it took during my surgery in March to remove the cancer, even if I could never eat or talk again but he opted not to cut it all out at that time because seeing the aggressiveness if my tumor and how it was scattered rather than in a single mass, it was unlikely that removing everything would get it all anyways. Dr. Moore at the Mayo Clinic thinks there might be a slightly better chance of survival if I was willing to do the surgery. The only thing is that Dr. Moore at Mayo wasn't the one who operated on me, so he didn't see how the tumor was behaving firsthand. On the other hand Dr. Yueh was able to see exactly how the tumor was behaving and made a decision in the operating room based on his extensive experience.

So I have 3 options:
1) A second course of radiation and chemotherapy
2) A third surgery plus a second course of radiation and chemo
3) Seek alternative therapies such a immunotherapy, nutrition, etc.

At this time there is not enough evidence that shows that a major surgery will greatly increase my chances of survival. If it was clear that I would survive, or perhaps have a decent chance at survival, then I would definately do it. Otherwise, I'm not so sure it is worth it because of is would greatly affect the quality of life that I have left. Besides, after having 2 surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy, a third surgery could have life threatening complications.

Please pray for claritiy in this decision, and that God would heal me of this disease and allow me to be a husband to my wife and a father to my children for years to come.

I am going to start chemotherapy tomorrow anyways, and radiation starts next Monday. So I have until the end of this week to decide. I am trying to get an opinion from Sloan Kettering and MD Anderson, and asking more questions of Dr. Yueh and Dr. Moore this week. Pray that those meetings will bring clarity to the decision.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What I Haven't Told You

I praise God everyday that Andrew has a voicebox.

On the day of the surgery, in the evening the nurse said we were free to leave and have dinner.

Nonetheless, while we were at dinner, the doctor called me, unsure if he should remove Andrew’s voicebox. The music was playing loud in the restaurant and I was having trouble hearing him. They hadn't originally anticipated the cancer being this far down his throat. He said he didn’t want to do it without Andrew knowing it.

I was trying to convince the doctor that he must remove Andrew’s voicebox if it meant saving his life. I was breathing hard. I said, “I know that Andrew would rather lose his voicebox than his life.”

The doctor was trying to explain how based on what he could see, it didn't appear to him that it was the right thing to do.

“Andrew told me when he was trying to think of possible scenarios of decisions I might have to make that if it turns out the tumor is actually encasing his carotid artery,” I could feel my breath getting colder with each inhale; its coldness reaching deeper and deeper into my throat. I wasn’t sure if the doctor would care to hear this, since the carotid, a major artery, had nothing to do with the voicebox. “He said. He said,” I was trying to breath.

“Yes, he said…?” the doctor asked.

I took another breath. “He said if there is a chance of him dying on the table if they try to remove it, or if he will only live a month afterwards if they don’t remove it, then he wanted them to try to remove the cancer.”

“He said that?”

“Yes,” I said. I was on the verge of hyperventilating. I was scanning the room, looking for an answer to the question of how to keep myself from fainting. “Listen, I can’t make this decision right now. I brought my father-in-law with me to help me make any major decisions. Can I have a few minutes to talk with him and I’ll tell you back at the hospital?”

“Yes,” he said.

As my sister and my father-in-law and I rushed around the corner to the hospital, I had my sister call the church to get everyone to pray. Then, the three of us prayed that God would make clear to us what decision to make and that the doctors would be able to clearly explain to us the actual situation. We prayed that God would save Andrew’s voicebox but most of all his life.

When we returned to the hospital and Dr. Yueh came out of the operating room to talk to me, I was prepared with a vengeance to convince him to remove my husband’s voicebox. It was no use saving it if we were going to lose it along with the rest of him a short time later. But in the time that we had between talking on the phone and talking in person, Dr. Yueh had continued working in the operating room. He had removed the hyoid bone, the bone on top of the voice box. When they examined the bone, they found that the tumor had gone right up against the hyoid bone, but it had not reached the other side of it that touched the voice box. There was no decision to be made. There was no tumor on the voicebox.

Now that I have been able to hear Andrew's voice again - I wasn't sure if I ever would - I have been savoring it for the past few weeks. It is hard for me to imagine ever being so desperate to get his voice box out of him now that he is not on an operating table with only moments to make a decision.

Nonetheless, the surgeon explained to me that while they had removed the cancerous mass, the gross tumor, from Andrew’s body, when they put it under the microscope, they saw that there were scattered cancerous cells in the margin around the cancer. I will do my best to explain what he said, but it's extremely confusing and even perplexing for the doctors, so I'm not sure you'll understand it. The cancer was jumping around in an abnormal, unpredictable way, which can happen if a tumor returns to an area that's already been treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. They felt that there was no way to tell how far the cells had scattered, and for all they knew there could be a random cancer cell in Andrew’s big toe. They couldn’t keep cutting because they may never stop. Yet, because the cells were not in a mass, they could not be picked up in scans (scans only pick up things larger than a centimeter) and could only be seen when cut out of the body and put under a microscope. For this reason, our only option for treatment is radiation and chemotherapy. If this doesn’t work, the surgeon doesn’t think there is anything else he can do for him, as Andrew had an incredibly extensive surgery that they do not do for most people. They say this surgery is probably around the top three most extensive surgeries, open heart surgery being first.


Early next week Andrew will be starting his 6 weeks of radiation and cancer treatments at either the University of Minnesota or the Mayo Clinic. He will do radiation 5 days a week, which takes about a half hour each time, and chemotherapy, which is given through an IV, once a week.

Short-term side-effects include a weak immune system, nausea, incredible exhaustion, severe burns and blistering in mouth and neck, acne, an ichy rash... Long-term there is a chance of destroying Andrew’s vocal chords, risk of radiation-induced cancer in 5 to 10 years, burning out any of the saliva glands Andrew has left, and destroying any chances Andrew has of swallowing again to name a few. We really don’t even know if we are doing more harm than good, but we don’t have any treatment options left.

As far as radiation goes, you’re only supposed to have it done once in the same area. This is Andrew’s second time. They will radiate the mouth and neck, all the areas that Andrew was operated on. They will not be treating his spinal chord, which is in that vicinity and had been radiated last time, because if you over-radiate it and destroy it, then he will be paralyzed from the neck down.

As for chemotherapy, in general, it cannot destroy a tumor for this type of cancer by itself. It is only used to enhance the effects of the radiation. We are still deciding whether to use two chemotherapy drugs or three – carboplatin, taxol, and maybe erbitux.

To sum up, this session of radiation and chemotherapy is the last chance the doctors have at saving Andrew’s life. A couple of our doctors slip that this is a “last ditch effort.”

All we know is that God is good and that He is in control, not the doctors, not us, not anything else.

Please pray for:

- That the treatments would be effective and that God would completely eradicate the cancer in

Andrew’s body.
- That Andrew would be able to swallow and taste one day again.

2. Wisdom and skill for the doctors and us as we finalize our treatment plans.

3. That there would be minimal to no side-effects while Andrew is in treatment nor long-term


1. Praise that Andrew has been feeling physically better and more encouraged each day. Andrew says he has been encouraged by the Word, the brethren, and the preaching on Sundays.

2. That God answered Diane Dailey’s prayer that the kids would still be able to be children yet understand way beyond anything we could expect so that they could be a help to us rather than an additional difficulty. Since she prayed that at our weekly prayer for Andrew’s healing in our house, A.J. says all the time: “I will take care of you and Papa. And the way I will take care of you is to obey you. I love to obey you. I love to take care of you.” And he has been trying with all of his might to do so. He really has been such a blessing and a help in that way.

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's not fair!


One of the hardest parts of the day is to sit with my family and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with them. An abundance of my favorite foods are strewn out across the table and my nostrils are filled with rich aromas of garlic, and breads, and pasta and sauces. I suddenly feel envious of others who get to taste and eat rather than having to inject medical formula directly into their stomach with a syringe. My mouth waters as I cherish vivid memories of being satisfied with a hearty meal after a long workout at the gym. Then I cringe in fear of not being able to experience that ever again. To be hungry for the rest of my life.

Can there be anything on God's good earth that is more satisfying than my wife's lentil soup or my mom's chinese cooking? Food is a wonderful thing and it used to bring me so much joy and satisfaction, but can I still have joy without it?

I struggle all day long to answer yes to that question. People often express their deep sympathy to me and say, "its just not fair that you would have to go through this. That really sucks". I often struggle in my mind thinking the same thing. The truth is that it isn't fair. My life just isn't fair.

Lets look at just a few of the facts of my unfair life.

1) Born 9/11/81 to loving parents, David and Joyce Mark.
2) My parents loved me.
3) My parents loved me so much that they never gave up on me despite my disrespect and rebellion. They always supported me.
4) I got to go to UCLA for college and experience so many things in life.
5) I became a Christian at the age of 20 and got to go to John Macarthur's church and learn so much about God through the bible.
6) I miraculously landed a job at Motorola, which I absolutely love. Going to work for me was exciting and fun.
7) I married the most amazing, beautiful, bright, caring person, aka Grace Uriarte.
8) We had AJ - the coolest kid on the block.
9) Then we got to have Gracie, sweet little Gracie.
10) Then I had cancer, but God restored me to complete health after that.
11) We got to move to Minnesota and we absolutely love it here.
12) I got cancer again and survived a very complicated surgery.

Its just not fair that I got to live richly for this long, while others die young. Its just not fair that God would sacrifice His only Son so that I could be forgiven of my sins and receive life everlasting rather than perish in hell where there will be weeping and knashing of teeth forever. What is fair is that sinners be punished for their sin. God is the perfect and Holy Creator of the universe. Offending Him is no small thing to be overlooked. What isn't fair is that God would punish His own Son instead of me and instead consider me sinless.

2 Cor 5:21 "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

My life is unfair, because I have much more than I deserve.

Deut 8:3 says about the Israelites, "He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD."

When God rained manna down on the Israelites when they were starving they could only collect enough for the given day. God satisfied their hunger for a day, but He didn't provide for tomorrow's hunger until tomorrow. Its true that cancer sucks because it could rob me of tomorrow. But it sure can't take away today. Joy is not found in tomorrow, it's found in today. Today I can find my nourishment in God who is my daily bread. God is making me hungry so that I might look to Him to satisfy me. Today I can rejoice because knowing God is so much more satisfying than the finest of foods.

Psalm 63:1 says, "O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water."

The true hunger of a human being is not for food, it is for God. And only God can satisfy the hungry soul.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Our Little Blessings

Last night a bunch of people from church came over to sing and pray for Andrew, while all the children went outside and played. Diane prayed that A.J., our 3 year-old, and Gracie, our two year-old, would still be able to be children, yet at the same time, understand way beyond anything we could ever expect, so that they could make this situation easier for us rather than more difficult.

This morning when we awoke, I told A.J. and Gracie that Mama and Papa had to leave for the doctor's and would be gone all day, but we would see them at dinner time. I expected them to get upset, as they often do before our numerous doctor's visits, but A.J. said happily, "Okay, Mama, so I have to obey grandma."

I knelt to his eye-level and squeezed him. "Yes, A.J.! That's right!" I usually have to make a big emphasis about that before we leave, but instead, A.J. surprised me by initiating it.

At six in the evening that night, upon hearing us enter through the door, A.J. and Gracie screamed in excitement, running to us, hugging and kissing us as their normal greeting, Gracie so strong, always almost knocking me over.

"Shoe off. Shoe off," Gracie said, grabbing at my heels as I was taking too long to put down all my bags.

"Thank you, Gracie," I said. "Yes, I will take my shoes off. I'm not leaving you. I'm staying."

Then A.J. threw in: "Mama, I obeyed grandma today! I obeyed grandma today!"

"You did? I'm so proud of you, A.J," I said.

Later, I asked my mother-in-law if the children had obeyed her. After thinking through the day a moment, she agreed that they had. The rest of the night both of the children were exceptionally obedient.

As I put their pajamas on before bed, A.J. said, "Mama, I shouldn't touch this."

I was putting his leg into his sleeper. I looked up to see what he was talking about. He was dangling his hand near the chord of his light.

"No, you probably shouldn't touch the light, A.J." I pulled up the zipper on his sleeper.

He put his hand down. Then, he said as he often has the past few weeks, "Mama, I will take care of you." But what he said afterwards was new: "I will take care of Papa. I will take care of you, Mama. And the way I will take care of you is to obey you."

I put my hand on his soft face. "Thank you, A.J. That's so sweet," I said.

And then he said, "I love to take care of you, Mama. I love to obey you."

I pulled him into my arms. I had never taught him these things or to say any of these things. Since Diane prayed for the children at our house, though the children had not heard her, it is as if A.J. is a new person. I no longer have to compel him to obey us. When we ask him to do something, he is quick to do it and so happy to do as we ask. And if he accidentally displeases us, he breaks into tears, as if he is so broken-hearted that he didn't take care of us. I have never seen A.J. like this before. He is only three years-old. We have always had to give him the motivation to obey us. Now, it as if his heart has changed and he is self-motivated to help us in any way he can by eagerly obeying us.

When they were ready for bed, I put Gracie in her crib and sat next to A.J. on his bed. Andrew came in and sat beside us. Before we could say much, A.J. said, "Dear Lord, I pray you would heal Papa. Please help me to obey Mama and Papa and Grandma. Amen."

Gracie made a sound.

"Mama, let Gracie pray for Papa. Gracie needs to pray for Papa," A.J. said.

I picked Gracie back up out of her crib and placed her on the bed between A.J. and Andrew. Gracie, not very articulate, didn't even want to try to pray.

"Dear Lord," A.J. said again, "Please heal Papa."

We sat silently on the bed for a minute. A.J. was looking over at Andrew. He pointed to Andrew's forearm, where they had taken the chunk to make new tongue, in a splint. "That's Papa's ow-ie?" he said.

"Yes," I said.

"We shouldn't touch it?"

"No," I said. "It hurts him more if we touch it."

He pointed to the top of Andrew's right leg, where they had taken a layer of skin to cover his forearm. The wound was concealed by Andrew's blue running pants, yet somehow A.J. knew this was the leg. A.J. said, "And that's Papa's ow-ie too?"

"Yes," I said.

He walked over to Andrew's other side and embraced his left leg, the way Andrew had showed him he could do when Andrew had been standing up-right one day. A.J. curved his back, hugging only the designated left upper leg, as if cautious not to hit anything else that might be injured.

I showed A.J. how he could sit down next to Andrew and give him a real hug on his left side too. A.J. climbed back onto his bed on Andrew's left side and nestled under Andrew's arm. "Dear Lord," A.J. said again. "Please heal Papa." When he finished praying he said, "Papa will be better tomorrow after you get back from the doctor's."

"We won't be going to the doctor's tomorrow, sweetheart," I said. Then automatically, "We don't know if the Lord will heal Papa or when."

A.J. slid out of Andrew's arm and crawled towards me.

"Let's pray," I said. "Dear Lord, please answer A.J's prayer and all our prayers and heal Papa completely. We love him so much."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A heart of wisdom


Ps. 90:11-14
Who understands the power of Your anger
And Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?
So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
Do return, O LORD; how long will it be?
And be sorry for Your servants.
O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

One of my biggest struggles right now is fearing the future. It is so easy to worry about tomorrow and all the millions of combinations of things that could happen in the future. I guess before I had cancer I didn't worry that much about the future because I just assumed that I was young and everything would work out just fine. Then when I got cancer last year I was crushed because I realized for the first time my life was completely out of my control (you can read the blog "Sideswiped by the news of cancer" from Jan 2007). After consulting with so many doctors and doing all the most aggressive treatments last year we were so hopeful because the doctors were so hopeful. This year, none of the doctors are as hopeful for a cure to my disease. In some ways this is a blessing in disguise. God has shown us from our experiences last year that you can't trust in doctors or technology to save us. We had one of the best surgeons in the world and did all the additional treatments that we were supposed to do, and the cancer still came back. This time we're left with little confidence that surgery, radiation and chemotherapy will work because my cancer has proven resistant to them. So instead, we are forced to cling to the One who can and wants to heal sicknesses, Jesus Christ. Jesus ministry on earth was full of compassion for the sick and dying and He went around healing people everywhere He went. Here is a great sermon that my brother-in-law, Bob, preached the week before my surgery on healing.

I remember Dr. Steve Lawson preaching on Psalm 90 when I was in college. At the time I really didn't understand it. To a 21 year old college student learning to number my days meant that there were too many to count so why bother. I just assumed that I had a lot of life ahead of me. I didn't really think about the inevitable end, or even the imminent return of Christ. But now that I have had to face the fact that life can end at any time I see life so differently. My days are numbered just as everybody else's is. It is so proud and presumptuous to assume that I am in control of my life, and that I will live for a long time. It is foolish to presume that there will be air for me to breath my next breath. To gain a heart of wisdom is to live today as if it was my last. Jesus commands me not to worry about tomorrow, but to focus on today's trouble in Matthew 6:34. Surely tomorrow will be trouble, but God has not yet provided the grace to handle tomorrow's trouble. So please pray for me that I would not waste any more time worrying about the future, but that I would by God's grace live each individual day to its fullest. Praise God that I am slowly improving in this area but I still have a long way to go. Praise God also that He is healing me even now, as my health is improving and I am getting a little stronger each day.

Here's the update on my treatment:
I'm planning on doing radiation and chemotherapy at the same time just as we did last year. The doctors at the University of MN are planning on giving me about the same amount of radiation as last year, another 6000 rads, which will about put me close to double what is considered a safe lifetime limit. I'll also be taking a cocktail of chemotherapy drugs, Taxol, Carboplatin, and maybe Erbitux as well during radiation treatment which is planned to start around April 30th. We have not found any other clinically proven alternative treatments that are less toxic so far (perhaps the Mayo Clinic will say something different when we meet with them next week). If God can create a universe out of nothing, surely he can spare my body from damage due to radiation and chemotherapy. We're going to go through the treatments, but I'm not banking on them healing me. If God chooses, He will heal me. We beg of God to have mercy on me and my family by healing me and restoring my health, that His name might be vindicated as the all powerful God.

Thursday, April 10, 2008



I'm back at home now. I actually got back last Friday night but we've been so busy that we havn't been able to blog. Plus I didn't pay our internet bill while in the hospital so we got it up and running again today. I can kind of type now. They changed out my cast on my right arm for a splint so I have some motion with my fingers. By the way, for the record... I didn't know I had 4 surgeries. I thought I only had 3. Grace informed the the other day that it was 4. Apparently I was so drugged up that I was in and out of the operating room before I got over the previous surgery. I really only remember surgeries 1 and 4. I do remember bleeding a whole lot somewhere in between. though.

The past few weeks have been the darkest thus far in my life. I've really struggled to believe the goodness that lies in our suffering, and to find hope amidst disappointing news. I woke up this morning crying out to God for help to face the day. It seems as if each day I'm crying out with all of my might for help to face the battle which is today. I am convicted that it takes intense suffering for me to cry out to God to face the daily battle, when this battle always existed but when I was healthy I was numbed to it. Reliant upon myself and my own capabilities. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking ones to devour. He'll devour us when we are not watchful, numbed by the comforts of this world.

The surgeons had to remove much more of my tongue and floor of mouth than we initially thought. Thankfully they saved my vocal cords and a sliver of my tongue so that I can speak some. I cannot swallow anything at all right now, so please pray that I would miraculously be able to swallow and eat again.

Unfortunately, even with such a large removal effort, there is still microscopic cancer in my body. The pathology shows that the cancer was actually skipping around and not just in one solid mass. The doctors say I should do radiation and chemotherapy again even though you are supposed to only be able to radiate a single area of your body once in a lifetime. Radiating twice comes with great risks to the healthy tissue that is left. But I suppose I have no other options.

I've been feeling like a little child lately. I could relate to my son who sometimes whines or throws a fit. Thats how I've been feeling about this trial. Like a little child kicking and screaming, not wanting to do what I'm supposed to. I know that this if my service of worship to God, and that I have so much to be thankful for. God spared my life through my teenage years until I became a Christian and received the forgiveness of my sins through the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross. I was watching the news and saw that a bunch of teenagers had been killed in a bus accident. At that moment I felt so ashamed to be complaining in my heart to God. What if that had been me on a bus when I was 17 years old? Not only would I have perished without the forgiveness of my sins and gone to hell forever, which is infinately worse than dying of cancer. But I also would have missed out on the past 9 years which have been so rich and wonderful. Even if I suffer for the rest of my life, and perhaps die at a young age, I am so thankful for the past several years that I got to have. This past year after my first bout with cancer was the richest of them all. Why should I believe that God does not have a rich future ahead of me either on earth or in heaven?

Last night I got to go to church for a night of singing and although I can't sing much I mostly listened. It brought tears to my eyes for the first half hour of the night because I was just so happy to be reminded that this is so much bigger than me. This is about God and His divine purposes. Not about Andrew Mark and his family's comfort. Grace told me today that when she gets to heaven she's going to feel so stupid for leaving earth kicking and screaming trying to hold on to the comforts that we have here.

We used to pray that God would teach us to trust Him fully and that we wouldn't waste our lives. Then we would gulp because we had a feeling that it would be answered through suffering. And it was. This is my service of worship to God. I don't know what the future holds, but I know that today if I don't have the ability to accomplish anything but change my wound dressings, get 8 cans of formula through my feeding tube, take my various medicines, and take a shower I've accomplished much for God. This is how God has called me to serve Him now. Like a child, I fuss about it, but who am I to complain? I have much to be thankful for.

Please pray:
1) That God would heal me of cancer. We are going to do research on treatment options, but ultimately God is that one who can heal me of the remaining cancer.
2) That I would be able to swallow, eat and speak normally again.
3) For courage for my family to face each day through the strength that God provides.

Here is one of my favorite songs that I hope to one day sing again:

Alas, and Did my Savior Bleed
Bob Kauflin / Isaac Watts

Verse 1:
Alas, and did my Savior bleed
and did my Sov'reign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
for such a worm as I?
Was it for sins that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown
and love beyond degree.

My God, why would you shed your blood
so pure and undefiled
To make a sinful one like me
your chosen precious child?

Verse 2:
Well might the sun in darkness hide
and shut his glories in
When Christ, the mighty Maker died
for man the creature's sin.
Thus might I hide my blushing face
while his dear cross appears.
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness
and melt my eyes to tears.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Can It Be?

Today, on my way down to surprise Andrew after I had been at home with a cold all weekend not wanting to give it to him, guess who I got a phone call from?

Andrew Mark.

Yes, my husband.

Now, was it silence on the other end that I was supposed to automatically sing to like this weekend? Oh no. It was my husband talking to me. And it was not just noises he was making with his voice. He was understandable. He was articulating words.

Everyone is shocked, including Dr. Yueh. We will have to get audio up tomorrow on our blog of him.

So what is the difference between today and yesterday? Other than he got out of ICU last night and all his tubes were removed praise the Lord, he was sitting in a chair, can get good rest and is so happy now? Well, they lowered the balloon that was around his trache (plastic tube down his airway that allows him to breathe despite all the swelling). The balloon had blocked his voice box, making sound impossible. When they removed it, they were expecting him to make some sound with his voice and then over a long period of time and speech therapy he might become increasingly understandable. Well, he's quite understandable even now.

Andrew was chattering all evening, making up for the past two weeks. I just stared the whole time, trying to absorb the shocking change. One minute he's laying on a bed, silent, hardly able to move. Now, he's sitting on a chair as energetic as A.J., moving all around. It seemed so abnormal, him moving his arms, legs, reaching here and there for this and that, I almost would have jumped up and told him to stop and rest, if he hadn't looked so comfortable and natural doing it.

What encouragement this brings us. God has answered so many of our prayers, particularly Andrew's silent ones last night, I can't wait till his right arm heals and he can type it all out to tell you himself. Truly God is faithful even when we are faithless (2Tim. 2:13).

Well, please continue to pray for Andrew's complete healing and for no more cancer.