Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Legitimate Son


I've had 3 weeks of radiation and 4 weeks of chemo. The first week of radiation was not terrible, but after that things went downhill quickly. I really look forward to the weekends because I have no doctors appointments, no radiation, and my chemotherapy usually wears off by Saturday so I can enjoy a quick break before I poison myself again the following Monday morning.

The chemo side effects surprisingly are not as bad as last year, but it just makes me much more tired. The radiation, on the other hand is much much worse than last year. The blistering and soreness and discomfort of my mouth and throat after the last 3 weeks of treatments is already worse than the worst I ever experienced last year. My muscles have really tightened up and it is just so difficult to do exercises when each movement causes pain and bleeding. My voice is raspy and my mouth cannot articulate clear speech anymore. Please pray for endurance for me and that I would not let my mind dwell on the future pain and suffering, but that I would stay focused on making it through today. Please also pray for relief from the pain, and that my speech would return in the future. The pain medications work to a certain degree, but there is only so much you can take.

On the bright side I've been able to maintain some of my swallowing abilities that I got back before radiation started. As you know, I was able to get a few bites of food down with lots of water flushes before radiation. Now, I can't get food down, but I can still drink some water! I practice swallowing a few times a day with an ice cold glass of water mixed with a few table spoons of apple juice (too much juice burns my mouth from the acid). Although I cough and gag quite a bit, the water is so satisfying to my burning mouth and throat and my hungry stomach.

Anyhow, praise God for ice cold water, and that the effects of chemo have not been as bad last week. Other than being extremely tired, I felt pretty good. I think I only threw up once.

So, physically I'm having a hard time, but spiritually I'm feeling more encouraged this week. I have made some breakthroughs in my understanding of trails and God's character this week after meditating on the scriptures and listening to our worship pastor, David Ward's, sermon yesterday. David's sermon reminded me of the difference between God's punitive discipline verses his formative discipline (click here to download). Sometimes I think of trials as being punitive discipline as if I'm being punished for what I've done in the past. We often think of discipline that way, even with our kids. The thing is, God's discipline is not that way towards me as a christian. If I was actually getting what I deserved, it would be much worse than cancer, in fact infinitely worse than the worst pain imaginable. God's punitive discipline would be the full force of His wrath against me as a punishment for my sins.

Instead, God's discipline is formative, meaning it is meant to shape me or train me (and others) to be more complete. This is an act of love, not punishment. Praise God for His Son Jesus, who took that punitive discipline to the cross in my place! As a result of Christ's work, I am a legitimate son of the living God and instead of being punished I am being trained in holiness and virtue through my trails. This is reason to rejoice in our sufferings!

Heb 12:5-11
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Isaac Romeo!

Praise God that little Isaac Romeo Glenn was born tonight! He is just under 2 lbs. My sister was able to deliver the baby normally without a C-section. Mom and baby seem to be doing well. Please pray for continued health for the both of them, especially Isaac, who will be in the hospital until he is 34 weeks old, which is eight weeks from now.

Update on Prayer for My Sister

Gayle is still experiencing labor and the doctors have said that she will have the baby today. My sister typically has ridiculously short labors like me, but since the baby is so premature, they said she would probably have a long labor.

Gayle has been having contractions every 4 minutes since 6:00 am but her cervix is not dilating. The doctors have said that if it does not dilate by 5pm then she will have to take the baby out by performing a c-section. Please pray that Gayle's cervix will dilate so that she can have the baby vaginally.

Pray that she and Bob would really have God's peace and comfort through this day.


Gayle went into labor around 8am this morning. Please pray for the Lord to stop the labor and keep their baby in the womb for at least two more weeks or if His plan is to allow the baby to come today that there would be no complications and that neither he/she nor Gayle would be in any danger. Also pray that God would give Bob and Gayle faith to trust Him in this trial.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Please Pray for My Sister


On Saturday night in the late evening I went to my sister's, because my cousin, Amanda, was visiting from Wisconsin. The next morning at church I found out that right after I left, my sister's water broke. She is 25 weeks pregnant. She has 15 weeks until she is full-term.

Gayle is in the hospital right now in Minneapolis. Both she and baby are stable and she and her family are in good spirits. This will be their fourth child and the one everyone has been praying for for the past seven years. Gayle has always gone early with her children, but not this early. She was at very high risk for this happening but they said they would monitor her to prevent this from happening. The last time they had checked her, she had looked fine.

Right now they have her on anti-labor drugs, and they don't want her to deliver at least until 28 weeks. So Gayle could go into labor anytime between now or who knows how long. Either way the baby has to stay in the hospital until 34 weeks, nine weeks from now. Please pray that Gayle and the baby would continue to be healthy.

As you can imagine, I was really worried about my sister when I first heard about this. But I was able to go with her family to see her after church. Even though they were telling me she was fine and doing well, I knew I wouldn't believe it until I saw her myself. But she was smiling and sweet and happy. She said today that she's not even bored. She enjoyed sleeping in, has always loved hospital food and their big breakfasts, and when people aren't visiting, she gets to read.

She will be taken off the anti-labor drugs at 4:00 am Wednesday; pray that she won’t go into labor.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What's at the End of the Rope


Sometimes I feel like Frodo in the Lord of the Rings. Andrew is the ring, only rather than being evil, he is simply, "the Precious." And rather than deliver the ring to the Chambers of Fire, our pursuit is Andrew's health. Oh, the journey persists on and on, discouragement, exhaustion, feelings of wanting to give up, and the ever black cancer always pursuing us. Like Frodo, we have a team of warriors to help us safely to our goal. There are Andrew's parents, who are with us most of the time, his mom taking up residency in our house more than in her own home. There is Sam, my right-hand (wo)man, who organizes the church to meet all our needs for childcare, research help, food, any way she can think of to lighten the burden and free us up to focus on fighting the cancer, there's Bob, who accompanies us to decisive appointments and is shepherding us along with our whole church through this overwhelming quest, and there is my sister, who's doorstep I sometimes slump onto late at night, weak, having lost my appetite for all food. Gayle is the beautiful Erowyn who gathers me onto her horse half-dead and brings me back to her people. She and her daughters tend to me like Cinderella's mice and feed me and feed me and feed me. She and Bob speak gentle words of life, while pouring hot tea into my cup to drink. This close team of warriors are the ones who keep carrying us towards the destination when we have no more strength to walk ourselves and are not sure we can make it to the Chambers of Restored Health.

As this trial has worn on and on and on, I keep thinking I'm at the end of my rope, but the next day arrives and off to the doctor's again. How does one get further and further at the end of a rope if there is no more rope? I wonder if any of you saw me during the day to day if you would think I was anything but a waif of a little girl who lost her way in the forest and just wants to find her way back to the familiarity of home, where a warm fire is burning and nothing ever goes wrong.

Yesterday, after a full night of sleep, I woke up still tired. It was an end of my rope morning where I was like a bubbling cauldron about to explode at any moment. Just-(grunt) need-(grunt)-to-get-alone-at-the-park - (grunt) and-have-my-grapple-with-God-time (grunt).

But I had already overslept and it was time to juice for Andrew. And then the kids were up. Since we didn't need to consult with any doctors for questions, I got to take care of the kids, while my mom took Andrew to radiation. I miss the kids so much. Many weeks of meeting with doctor after doctor trying to make informed decisions, sometimes leaving the house at 8am and not returning until after 6 in the evening, it's as if I have a full-time job that the kids did not sign up for.

If what was going on on the inside were going on outside, I imagine it would look like my hand falling off on Monday. Then by Tuesday, my arm had fallen off. Wednesday my foot fell off. Thursday my leg was gone. And by Friday my neck along with my head stayed in bed while the rest of what was left of me hobbled out and made juice for Andrew.

After Andrew and my mom returned from radiation, I said I really needed some caffeine. (I know, I know. Andrew really wants me to get off caffeine and so I go on and off it, but occasions like cancer keep coming back into my life necessitating it. Yes, it is necessary). My mom and the kids came to Caribou Coffee. There is a little table, chalk board, and a little nook with a box full of toys for kids to play at. I can't remember what it was but for some reason Gracie started throwing a fit. And she has such a loud voice she could be a professional singer. Then the two ladies at the table behind us left, of course. Now Gracie kept wanting to sit on my lap. Finally, I found an American Idol toy that sang some song and made Gracie happy. A.J. showed her how it worked. I tried to take a few deep breaths and relax a little. I spilled the scaulding coffee on my hand. "Ahhhhh!!!!" Grumble, grumble, grumble.

The cauldron in my heart was bubbling over.

I went into the bathroom to wash my hands and clean off my pants. When I finished I turned off the water and threw the paper towel out. I found myself not wanting to walk out of the bathroom. I stood in front of the sink.

"Where's mama? Where's mama?" I heard Gracie's voice crying outside the door. Suddenly the door was swinging open and Gracie was making her way in. The one time I had not locked the door.

"No!" I said.

My mom pulled her back out.

"Where's my mama?! Where's my mama!" I hear Gracie crying still outside the door.

"I think she's in there," a man's voice says. Not my mother's.

I swing the door open. My mom is standing a few feet away where she can watch both Gracie and A.J., who is still sitting at his little table. But my cover is blown, and I cannot return to the bathroom.

Later, when we were back home, I found myself escaping to the bathroom again. I had my head in the corner between the two walls. Now, only Andrew and the kids were home. The kids were banging on the door. I began to sob in a way that I had never heard myself do before. It was like an animal in the forest that a tree had fallen on and it couldn't escape to save it's life. I howled long and loud almost like singing, as if every wail were a phrase communicating in some language that I could never articulate in words.

Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.
I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
(psalm 73:21-23)

When I finally opened the door of the bathroom, the kids, who still were waiting at the door, fell at my legs. We all went upstairs, I put on some black pants and buttoned the black cardigan I was already wearing. The four of us got in the van, pulled out into the overcast afternoon, and drove to Ann Sweet, a beloved elder's wife's memorial service. She had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer this past January.

When we turned onto the street leading to the church, it was lined with so many cars, I could hardly drive down it. I turned my face away from everyone, concealed my face with my hand, and quietly began sobbing again. Everyone loved Ann Sweet, even people like us, who hardly knew her. I dropped the children and Andrew off at the church. The three parking lots were full as well as the streets. I had to park two blocks away. She was 73 years old, but like most of the older people at church, I hardly thought of her as old. They are all so vibrant, engaging, and warm, they make you believe the 1950s was only as far away as my own college days (which I am convinced really wasn't that long ago).

I remember when we were at Bob and Gayle's the weekend before Andrew's surgery. Ann and Doug, her husband, sat at the table with us for dinner. They told us how a few days earlier, Doug's mom had taken them out to eat at Wilfire, a steakhouse. It had been raining.

"But Doug got the car and picked you guys up from the restaurant, right?" Bob asked.

"Well of course!" Ann said. "His mom is ninety-five years old and his wife is DIE-ing!"

Somehow she could make you laugh about anything, even if she herself was struggling.

When I arrived at the church, I entered through the downstairs fellowship hall. Bright pink tablecloths covered the tables with friendly, yellow flowers in clear vases. I glanced into the kitchen as I passed. As usual, a bunch of ladies were inside finishing setting up. I found myself half-expecting to see Ann Sweet among them, as she always was one of those ladies bringing food and helping some way. Even though Ann's passing felt real, she still seemed so present through all her works. She and her husband were one of the founding members forty years ago. Her fingerprints were everywhere in our church.

Upstairs, I found myself unwilling to enter the sanctuary, though I could see Andrew sitting at the back with the kids and they had saved a seat for me. Instead, I made my way into the baby cry room where they had a window into the sanctuary. I sat in a seat in the back corner where I was mostly concealed in shadow. I couldn't stop crying. I stood up, went to the bathroom in the same room, found a roll of unopened toilet paper and took it with me back to my seat. I needed a lot of tissues. I cried and cried and cried.

And yet, the memorial service ministered so much to my heart. Each one of her three sons and nine grandchildren were able to get up, talk about how they loved her so much, and made it through their speeches without being overcome with sobbing. There was such a strong sense that though they deeply mourned the loss of their beloved mother and grandmother, they were rejoicing even more that she is with her Savior.

I picture the other believers and angels in heaven saying, "Have you seen the new girl, Ann? She is just the sweetest!"

One son told of how during her last day they all were at her bedside in the hospital. They kept asking Doug if he wanted to be alone with her. They had just celebrated their fiftieth anniversary over the winter. He said, "No, no." And then in the late afternoon, all of a sudden, he said he needed to be alone with her. He had the strongest sense that angels were in the room and as if the Lord was letting him know they had come to take her now. Everyone cleared out, he shared his last moment with her, and then, she was gone.

Doug and Ann had insisted many times in the past to Bob that he absolutely must present a bold gospel message at their memorial services. He faithfully did so, despite it taking everything out of him to keep from weeping for the woman who had been as a second mom to him. Tonight, at prayer meeting an older woman at the church praised God for the message and said, "You know, pastor, I would like you to preach the same message at my memorial service." We all laughed. It made me wonder if a lot of people felt like me, that I hope my memorial service one day will be just like hers. She lived a rich and full life serving her beloved Savior.

"A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.

It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man;
the living should take this to heart."
(Ecclessiastes 7:1-2)

Death makes you take life more seriously. It makes you contemplate what you want your life to have meant. It makes you want to not waste it.

I thought, well, in the end, if I want to have lived my life for Jesus, well, trials make you more like Jesus. And being more and more like Jesus is the only way to glorify Him. I felt my heart timidly, softly whispering, what it always comes back to saying, Well, okay then, Lord. I suppose I submit if my life must be one marked by trials. Living for you is the only life worth living, I suppose.

"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish;
You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
That I may declare all Your works."
(Psalm 73:25-28)

One night a couple of weeks ago, when Andrew and I were talking to Bob and Gayle at their house, I said I feel like that Judas character in the Matrix. The one who wanted to go back into the Matrix and return to life within it, even though he knew it wasn't real. Sometimes I wish it were possible to go back to life being carefree and pretending death wasn't the one thing in life that was inevitable.

But you know what this trial has done? It has stripped me of all the things I really really wanted to place my hope in other than God. I remember the Wednesday we went to the Mayo Clinic a few weeks ago, and Dr. Moore said we needed to have surgery again and basically remove Andrew's head. I nearly fainted and the nurse had to bring me to another room and lay down. When we finished our appointment, she asked me if I wanted her to get me a wheelchair. The kids and my mother-in-law were in the waiting room. I thought, Oh great what a sight that'll make. The patient Andrew, walking beside me in a wheelchair! Lot a hope that'll give his mom and the kids. "Uh, I think I just need to walk around and get some fresh air," I said.

The next day we didn't have any appointments at all and someone was already planning on taking the kids for the day. We set aside the morning simply to meet alone with God and pray for wisdom. As I drove down our street to pray at Starbucks, I began talking to God about Andrew, and burst out crying at the thought of losing him. I never made it to Starbucks. Instead, I drove around it looking for an empty parking lot to continue praying and crying in my car. I found myself at Hoolihans. Oh, I didn't know this was where it was. I didn't think I had been there in five years, since Andrew first visited me a month after we started dating. I remembered the picture Bob took in the booth of us while we were waiting for our food. We were sitting awkwardly next to each other. Bob said, "Come on! You can at least put your arm around her for the picture!" After that Andrew kept putting his arm around me every time we sat down.

It was so vivid and felt so recent, I looked at the entrance and could almost see us walking in.

Before I was married, Jesus' presence had been so real to me that this life and the next seemed only to be separated by a thin veil. I had no fear of death and the thought of seeing my Jesus face to face was so exciting to me. I never expected to live a long life and always expected it would be me in the very position Andrew is in right now.

And then beloved showed up. My beloved. The day we were married, suddenly I became so anchored to this earth. I must live and he must live for we must live for each other. My pendulum swung the opposite way. And now I feared death more than anyone and was terrified anytime I stepped into my car.

As I prayed for Andrew in the car at Hoolihans, what came to mind was all the suffering that was going on for so many people. Ann Sweet had terminal lung cancer. All kinds of people were physically suffering as well as in many other ways at our church. It made me long for the day when I would see my Jesus face to face and all the tears would be wiped away and death and misery and fear and pain and suffering would all be done away with and finally we would be free to worship Him as those who love Him long to do and finally be unhindered by that corpse of sin we carry rotting on our back.

When I returned home Andrew and I sat together and talked. I told him I was no longer afraid of death again, and felt a sense of what Paul had said:

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain...But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake."

(Philippians 1:21, 23-24)

Then I said, "And if I'm not afraid of death, then I'm not afraid of death for you. Then if we see death as the Bible sees it, then it's not disappointing if you die at a young age, because it's not your death. It is the beginning of you being able to fully do what we were created for - to worship Jesus with all our hearts and without sin."

I often wonder if life is like an infant in a mother's womb. Maybe she fights and fights coming out, terribly fearful that exiting is her end. But in actuality, it is her birth. But if she realized how much more colorful and real life outside the womb is, she would see how silly it would be for her to remain in the womb forever.

There are other things the Lord settled with me in my heart that morning. There are so many excuses I gave to God about my hope being in other things than Him. Come on, God, who isn't afraid of death? Come on, God, who wants to lose their husband? You're the One who gave Him to me. Come on, God, how can you give me such a sweet gift just to hurt me and take him away? Come on, God, I will die without him. He is my lifeblood. Come on, God, what will happen to the kids if they don't have a father? I can't teach them about You on my own. Oh no, their eternal destiny is at stake, oh, I can't even go there right now. A.J. needs a man to learn how to become a man from. Come on, God, You've allowed us to build a life together sustainable only together. How will I be able to take care of our family without him? But here is the truth I didn't want to hear and I wasn't sure I believed anymore. But He changed my heart and convinced me of it: "My grace is sufficient."

What about our kids, Lord? I don't want them to have to long for a father and be like that kid, Wesley, from Star Trek the Next Generation, who only had a hologram of his father delivering a message, and he seemed so real he could touch him, but then the program ended.

Come on, God, I don't want them to not even remember him or know how much he loved them - My grace is sufficient. You know I will take care of you.

How will I take care of them? You know I will take care of you.

How will I live without him? You know I will take care of you.

After I told Andrew about all the things that came to mind during my prayer time, we prayed together for the next hour. When I didn't have the words to say anymore, I turned to the Psalms and began praying through them.

In the end, I feel in my heart that we are going to get through this and that Andrew is going to live and survive this. Who knows, maybe the Lord will bless our prayers and make Andrew as good as new on this side of eternity. Who knows, maybe he will even grow to old old age.

This morning I woke up after yesterday's end-of-the-rope day. And you know what I found? I found what God has been showing me the past couple of weeks - every day is a new day and his mercies are new every morning. Yesterday I woke up feeling at the end of my rope. This morning I woke up feeling like this isn't that bad. And it was a beautiful sunny day and I got to have my time with the Lord at the park and the children and I got to spend time together outside and moments together feel like a celebration. Andrew wasn't feeling well, but Hale, Sam's husband, dropped by to sit with him during his lunch hour. Then a couple of men came over tonight to clean our gutters and fix some things. Afterwards, since Andrew felt too tired to go to prayer meeting, while we went ahead, these men sang and prayed with Andrew just like they were at church. Yes, God's grace is sufficient. And though I doubted it many times recently, He has shown me that He is truly faithful, just as He said.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Grace!

Today is Grace's 28th birthday. This afternoon we had a surprise party at our house for her and it just so happened that her mom flew in today to help us out for a week so she got to celebrate with us as well. We got Grace an Ipod for her birthday so she can continue to sing and dance around the house without having to change CD's (if anybody wants to get her an I-tunes gift card or anything else I'm sure she would not be opposed)!

In addition to it being Grace's birthday this is a special day for us because 5 years ago I came and visited Grace here in Eden Prairie just after we had started dating. In April of 2003 Grace came back from her 6 month stay in the Phillipines and visited Los Angeles for 10 days before moving to Minnesota to live with her sister, Gayle, and family. Grace and I had known each other for about 1.5 years and I decided to ask her to date me during her 10 day stay in Los Angeles. About a month later I decided that I wanted to visit her for her birthday and flew to Minnesota for a few days and stayed in Bob and Gayle's basement. Grace and I had such a great time that weekend as always and we would take walks in the rain around Round Lake Park, which was down the street from the Bob and Gayle's house. I couldn't get enough of her dancing around the puddles on the wooded trail telling me everything about everything. I also remember one afternoon we sat on a small bench at the end of the trail that leads into the park right in front of the lake and it just seemed like everything was so perfect. Every time I walk by that bench I think of it as the "love bench". Those memories are still so vivid in my mind. It was that weekend that I knew I wanted to marry Grace.

So this year we have come full circle and we are back in Eden Prairie for Grace's birthday, but now we live 4 houses down from the entrance to Round Lake Park where we shared some of our first memories together.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Thanks for your responses

Grace and I had a blast reading your comments. Thanks for taking part in our blog. We'll have to keep doing this. Sometimes if feels like I write blogs and I'm speaking into outer space. I'd love to hear what you all are learning and feeling in your own lives as well.

It seems like most of the 40 comments so far are from California and Washington. We did grow up in NJ. Perhaps people there don't read blogs on from Saturday to Tuesday.... =)

KEEP posting comments to the blog below. We want to hear from you all. Can we shoot for 150-200 comments??

I can't respond to all the comments, but I wanted to randomly say a few things in response. I will write more as I have time.,..

Bo, Tawny and Kenny - Yes, that big refrigerator. I think I pulled something in my chest that day and I was inexcrutiating pain when I breathed for a few days. Its funny that we both forgot Kenny there, but we remember the weird old man who lived in Africa and roamed the world. Of course, all Kenny remembers is having an ice cold Heineken after working so hard as our cheerleader! =)

Sharon and Stu - I miss you and everybody else at Motorola. I don't think there is a more fun place to work than there. I have tons of memories with Motorola from California, to Seattle, even some here in Minnesota. Thanks for the encouraging words about my life not being irrelevant. I'm so glad to hear that you guys are learning with me!

Jason and Amy Lewis - Its funny how you used to watch us because we used to watch you guys from the window in our apartment across the street. I used to see 5, 6, 7, or 8 kids out playing on the side of your house. I would keep telling Grace, "I want to know those people." They always look so happy. Since we had just moved to Washington we didn't have many friends yet, especially in the tiny farm town of Snohomish so we would take lots of walks around the area and see the beatiful victorian homes. The way you described our entrance into each other's lives was pretty accurate. I stopped in front of your gate and motioned to open it, Grace, being shy that day, kept walking. I grabbed her hand, said we're going to meet them now, and dragged her through the gate. And that day changed our lives. We're so glad to know you guys. We don't spend much time together, but when we do its so rich. I still very clearly remember the day after my first diagnosis when Jason didn't even call first but came over and gave me a huge hug and let me cry on his shoulder. I will cherish that memory for the rest of my life. Love you guys.

Derrick and Paika - Grace and I were just thinking of you and how you sent me that old picture last year of you, Kiley and I dressed alike and posing like models. I think you might be the person who has known me the longest of all the people who posted thus far. I met you I think just before 5th grade which was a few years after moving to NJ. We've drifted in and out of touch since we began high school, but you've seen me change through the years. I'm glad you are still in my life, even from a distance.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Thank you!

Thank you all so much for you for prayers, letters, emails, care packages, and gifts. We have been so busy that we have not been able to respond to hardly any of you, but please know that your care for us is so appreciated!

We are also curious who reads our blogs and thought it would be fun to find out. We'd love it if you could take a moment to leave a comment listing:

- your first/last name (or at least last initial)

- where you're from (city, state, and if different than U.S., country)

- either how you know us or who sent you our blog. Please be as specific as possible.

- a fun detail about yourself, us, a memory with one of us, or some random funny thing you want to say just to get us to laugh

If some of you are shy and only want to email us, take a chance and post anyway! So far, the comments left have been so fun to hear and left us in some much needed laughter. Laughter is the best medicine, so we want to hear from as many of you as possible. (But no pressure to be funny). There's been 100 hits to our website since we first posted this blog and only 4 comments so far. Let's try to get it to 100% =)


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Crap Shoot

On Wednesday, we took my brother-in-law/pastor, Bob, and Jason Dailey, another elder from our church, to see our surgeon, Dr. Yueh, with some more questions. Dr. Yueh was able to clarify a lot of things for us. He said we had almost convinced him last week that we should do surgery, but his best friend, Dr. Futran, our surgeon last year, said, "No way. I absolutely would not do the surgery. No way."

Before we went to see Dr. Yueh, we had pretty much concluded that we were not going to go with surgery. So we were very thankful that he was confirming our feelings.

Bob said if chemotherapy was a 1 in terms of helping Andrew, would surgery be another 1, and then 1 + 1 = 2? Dr. Yueh said, "No, if chemotherapy was a 1, then chemotherapy with surgery would be 1.00001." These cancer cells were moving in a wild, unpredictable way when he had looked at them under the microscope after cutting them out. His concern was that it was spreading throughout the body, and surgery would just postpone the chemotherapy, the very thing that has any hope of saving Andrew in his opinion.

Dr. Yueh had cut out all the gross tumor, which chemotherapy cannot take out. Chemotherapy is only effective against cancer still at the cellular level, at least as far as oral cancer goes. So the key is to use it before the cancer grows.

Radiation would be helpful because it enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy. So radiation, though ineffective last time, with this new drug Erbitux (also called Cetuximab), may give the new chemotherapy drug a little helpful punch.

Nonetheless, both Andrew and I are feeling uneasy about doing a second round of radiation. For one thing, you're not supposed to do it more than once to the same area. He will likely lose his ability to swallow, despite the bit of progress he's beginning to make in that area, but will hopefully still be able to speak.

Before Andrew's surgery in March, I used to tell the doctors that "quality of life" was nothing and was nearly offended that they would even bring it up. That Andrew has to stay with us. But after that horrible Mayo visit where their surgeon proposed surgery again, and the image of Andrew having to breathe out of a hole in his neck for the rest of his life flashed through my mind, and after seeing all that Andrew has gone through, I cannot ask him to suffer any more.

I told Andrew that I felt incapable of making any of these decisions and that I do not trust my judgment right now. I know that if I feel strongly about something, it heavily influences Andrew, and so I'm guarding my mouth. I'm researching with him and keeping him aware of all his options, but not trying to sway him one way or any others. I just keep reminding him that no matter what choice he makes, I am going to support him.

This doesn't mean that I'm giving up on him at all. I believe that God can heal him. I just don't necessarily trust hospitals or anything related after all that I've seen. I am willing to fight for his life, but sometimes I feel the options doled out to us may be the very things that could kill him. It's a crap shoot. We want to believe there's a textbook answer, but there isn't. If there were, there would be a cure for cancer.

Andrew had a PET scan today. Dr. Yueh says he's afraid to see what may show up. Pray that the cancer has not spread to other parts of his body.

I'm hoping that the 6-8 cups that I juice for him a day has got to be doing something, if nothing more than making up for all the depletion done to him in the hospital. I mean all the carrots, beets, ginger, garlic, celery, mushrooms, leafy greens, etc. have got to do something good.

If nothing else, it's better than the formula junk they give him. Formula makes your sugar levels shoot through the roof so much that in the hospital they were giving him insulin until his body got used to the sugar. Cancer eats sugar. Why one would feed a cancer patient sugar, I cannot tell you. Sugar also shuts off the immune system, yet the immune system is the very thing one needs to fight off cancer.

The main ingredients in the formula are corn syrup and canola oil. Yes they do add vitamins to it, but synthetic vitamins will never come close to real food. You'd think that if someone didn't already have cancer, he'd certainly have it after several months of eating that junk. Thankfully, Andrew's new tube in his stomach, though excruciating, allows me to Vitamix things. (A Vitamix is a heavy duty blender like the ones you see at Jamba Juice). With his old tube that went through his nose, I juiced, but Andrew still drank his formula for more calories and to make him feel fuller. Now the Vitamix allows me give him more substantial, healthy meals in addition to the juicing.

Please continue to pray:

- for Andrew's complete healing
- for clarity about all of our decisions
- for wisdom for me as I give Andrew his nutrition