Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A little Peace

Grace and I hate going to the doctors nowadays because the news we get is usually unfavorable. Today, we had two appointments. The first was with our radiation doctor, Dr. Lee, and the second was with my surgeon, Dr. Yueh. Dr. Lee didn't have much to say other than that things seem to be healing slowly, and the tissue is very sensitive still so I can expect it to bleed easily. So coughing and spitting blood still shouldn't alarm me too much.

When we visited Dr. Yueh we told him that we've been having trouble getting an appointment with an oral surgeon to look at my jaw. It has been almost 3 weeks and they finally called us back yesterday to schedule an appointment with some other new doctor, because the experienced doctor we were referred to happens to be the University's director of oral surgery and was too busy. So Dr. Yueh said he would call the oral surgeons and take care of things for us. We just received a phone call from Dr. Yueh and he told us that he called the oral surgeons and the doctor that we were originally referred to is now going to make time to see me on Monday! Grace and I were just commenting on how we feel so taken care of by Dr. Yueh and his team, even though he is extremely busy as well being the director of the University's head and neck department. All the other doctors just kind of brush by us and aren't compassionate or very helpful. But Dr. Yueh and his team always bend over backwards, and they make everybody else bend over backwards as well to help us. It's so comforting to be under his care. It's not like his compassion and help are going to change my prognosis or make things less painful or difficult. It's just that there is something so comforting about knowing that somebody is looking out for you. So in the midst of difficulty one can find some peace.

This example today reminds me of how our heavenly father cares for us. In fact, one of the ways God is taking care of us and giving us peace amidst a storm is directly through Dr. Yueh. I always get worried and think of all the possiblities of things that could go wrong and worst possible scenarios. My worrying isn't going to change a thing. But then I think about how God has always taken care of us when we trust Him. Never has God said no to us and kicked us to the curb. Sometimes we have to wait, sometimes God answers in ways we didn't expect, but never have I felt like He doesn't care. Last year when I had cancer things were hard and not everything worked out the way we wanted it to, but in the end of that period of time things did work out well and I was good as new, and we even got to move to Minnesota! God placed it on our hearts to pray and beg for those very things and He answered. The fact that I know God is compassionate and looking out for my best interest is not necessarily going to change my prognosis, or make things less painful or difficult either, but there is peace knowing that God is watching out for me. Nothing can separate me from His love.

Romans 8:28, 38, 39

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose...

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Esther update

Esther went to be with the Lord on Saturday. She's not suffering anymore. Perhaps she's dancing at the feet of Jesus right now. If you can handle it, you must read their blog ( Please pray for those whom she left behind who are mourning, especially Rupert, her husband. I feel like I got to know them through the blog though we've never met before. Perhaps now I know how some of you feel who don't know us and are reading our blog. As you know, blogs are usually highlight reels of people's lives. If you read Rupert's blog you'll see that it only takes him a few hours to come up with a highlight wereas it takes 3-7 days before something decent pops out of me =)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rupert and Esther

Esther has a very advanced brain tumor. I was greatly encouraged by their blog, and their love for the same Jesus that I love. Rupert, Esther's husband, has been lovingly caring for his wife for years now. I'm amazed at his selfless, tender devotion to his bride.

They go to the same church that I went to as a child in NJ (RCCC). Please please pray for them. Read more here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Some pictures

I'm gaining strength each day. The pain in my mouth, neck and throat area has gotten a little worse and is taking a very long time to heal. Part of it is my jaw, and perhaps part of it is that some nerves were numbed from surgery and radiation, but are now starting to rejuvenate. Also, my rehab exercises cause me plenty of pain and some bleeding, but I have to do them. It is encouraging to see progress in a positive direction again and it gives me hope. Below are some pictures from the past few months that a never had the strength to upload and post.

The big Tomotherapy machine. They scoot me inside this thing for about 25 mins 5 days per week for 7 weeks. That plastic mask is very tight and uncomfortable.

The kids and I a few weeks after surgery.

The kids and I the day before my surgery. This was my last meal that I ate which was a Horseradish encrusted filet mignon at Wildfire in Eden Prairie.
Grace's 28th Birthday Party (May 10, 2008)

More of Grace's Birthday

My right arm. This is where they took skin, muscles and blood vessels to reconstruct my mouth. My leg has similar wounds as well.

AJ and Gracie playing in the sand box in our backyard. They're best friends!

AJ and Gracie picking wild flowers at the park near our house.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The context

Take courage, life isn't all about fighting cancer. I know many people have begun reading our blogs recently and may not know about our life before cancer. If you havn't already taken the time to read our life stories and the previous blog posts, please do. The past several months is only a chapter within the context of a much more interesting story - God's story. We praise Him for each and every day that He has given me, and each day that He will give me. God has already "written" my story, and I pray that I will be excited to see what God reveals to me each day. His mercies are new every morning.

Psalm 139:14-16
"I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

Our life stories ( click "Our Life Stories")

Our other blog entries (2005 2006 2007 2008)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Motorola's stock price is so low because I haven't been working for the past few months. When I get back to work we'll all see a jump in the price.

A bunch of people from my Motorola office here in MN came to visit me Monday. It was so nice to see them and how much they care about our family. They even brought be a big card with a check from a fundraiser BBQ they had at the office. That money will definately go to good use since I'm on a reduced monthly income with disability insurance. Praise God for insurance, I don't know what we would do without it!

Anyhow, after my friends from Motorola came over I was wondering why there was such a sense of warmth of relationship when they were here. It was weird. Almost like family, but not quite. I havn't lived here or worked here for that long, so I don't know many of them very well. Perhaps it was a combination of things. For one I've been starved for human interactions outside of my family since I don't go to work each day so it was nice to have a group of people from work visit. Additionally, I don't expect people to really care that much about me and I'm always surprised when they do. I am so amazed at the kindness that people express to our family. It puts me to shame because when I'm healthy and even most of the time when I'm sick all I can think about is myself, and caring for others falls by the wayside. God is continuing to teach me to be more selfless each day.

Anyhow, thank you all so much for all the ways many of you have cared for my family. From praying, to babysitting and meals, to sending gift cards and money, to notes of encouragement and more. The Lord really provides for us one day at a time. It is such an exercise to trust Him and not get ahead of ourselves and start worrying about tomorrow. I went out for a short bike ride the other day around the lake near our house and I noticed all the birds and the flowers and was reminded of Matthew 6:25-34

25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Please keep leaving comments or send me an email (address is at top of page). We love to hear from all of you.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rough night

I was so tired last night that just laid down and fell asleep as Grace was putting the kids to bed. I didn't have energy to eat my last meal through my feeding tube, take my medications or do anything for my wounds. When I woke up a little before midnight i just felt so unmotivated, and cringed at the thought of dragging myself out of bed to do a whole list a things in my nighttime routine. I thought to myself, is this what life if going to be like? Constantly fighting pain and infections, and being hungry but dreading feeding yourself because it is so unsatisfying to eat through a tube in your stomach.

It didn't take long for my mind to spiral into a hellish cycle of worthless thoughts. Whats the point of fighting to live? Will life be satisfying ever again? Will I ever feel better? Will I ever eat or taste again? I'm a terrible, useless, husband and father...I just want to give up.

Thankfully Grace entered the room shortly after and I told her what I was thinking. She cried and said, "You can't give up, I need you. I need you! I married you so that we could grow old together. I need you, Andrew!" Grace then read to me from Romans 8 and I was reminded that this suffering is not about me, but about glorifying God. God has chosen me to suffer for His sake.

Rom 8:16-18
16The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
17and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Grace then started going down the list of comments of our blog and reading them to me. I'm so amazed that our readers are encouraged by what we write. When others are edified through our suffering it gives me a sense of purpose. If we can help others be happier, especially happier in God then it is worth it. It doesn't make it easier, but it encourages me to fight on.

Please keep praying that there will be no more cancer in my body, that my jaw would miraculously heal and God would restore my speech and swallowing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Turning the corner

It's Andrew again. During treatments I was too sick and unmotivated to blog, but now I'm doing a little better. Last week and the week before were my worst ever. I threw up every day and felt so sick and tired that I didn't eat much either. I ended up losing at least 5 lbs, maybe 9 depending on which scale you believe in just 1 week. Anyhow, praise God that I'm feeling much better this week, I gained back a few lbs!

This past weekend we decided to go to Grace's cousin Amanda's wedding in Wisconsin. I thought I would be too sick to attend the wedding, so I was just going to stay in the hotel room and rest. But on Saturday I felt so much better and was able to make it to the wedding and part of the reception! And praise God that I've been feeling a little better each day since then.

Just as I started to get some energy back and stopped throwing up all the time, the Lord provided a new challenge for us all.

It turns out that the radiation destroyed some of my teeth and most likely part of my jaw bone. This is called radio-osteonecrosis. They said I would have to do hyperbaric oxygen treatments and then pull some teeth. Most likely I'll additionally have to remove a portion of my jaw bone that we tried so hard to save during my last surgery.

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is used to stimulate healing and increasing blood vessels. You sit in a high pressure chamber breathing pure oxygen for 1.5 hours five days a week for 6-8 weeks. You have to do a regimen before and after the teeth and/or jaw bone are removed.

If we do not remove the rotten tooth and anything else that might be infected, the infection will spread to the rest of my body and be another thing distracting my body from healing.

Some people question that if you stimulate blood vessle growth this close to cancer treatments, if there is still some cancer that hasn't finished dying yet, the blood vessels could provide more blood to the cancer, thus feeding it. Statistics do not show, though, that hyperbaric oxygen stimulates cancer growth and instead seems to only be beneficial.

If we end up doing all the treatments it would mean 12-16 weeks of hyperbaric oxygen and another major jaw/reconstructive surgery similar to what I did in March.

Currently, the doctor has given me penicillin and some antibiotic rinses to keep the infection at bay.

Please pray that God would heal my jaw and that the next scan will show that the bone has rejuvinated on its own (which may be a possibility) and that there are no infections. Please also pray for wisdom as to what treatments to do if any.

The good news:
- This new rotten tooth/possible dying-jaw condition is not life-threatening.
- Also, hyperbaric oxygen should not be toxic the way his previous treatments have been. There is a slight possibility that the hyperbaric treatment itself would heal his tooth and he wouldn't have to have anything else removed.

The bad news:
- We thought we were done with treatments and are very disappointed and totally burnt out to a crisp.
- If Andrew's jaw is dying, which we don't know yet, they would either have to replace it with a bone in his leg and some muscle in his chest. If we didn't want to do such a major surgery and just replaced his jaw with a metal one, he would be disfigured.

It would be horrible for him to go through another major surgery like that again and would be a major obstacle to his recovery. I feel like in order to get ahead of his cancer, we need to stop doing additional damage to his body.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


About eight days ago, Andrew's mom left and returned to her home in New Jersey. It was our first week without her in a month and our first week after treatments ended. At first it seemed to be going well by God's grace. It felt like I was riding a wave, trying to breathe, and keep calm. Each day was a mad competition to stay ahead of the game, lest I fall one step behind and an avalanche collapse on me. Essentially, I function like a single mom of two toddlers/24-7 nurse.

Then Saturday Andrew took another dip into misery and utter exhaustion, and thus needed me even more. As a result, this week everything is clearly beyond me and everyone is a little neglected including Andrew.

One of the things that made a big difference when Andrew's mom was here was that if Andrew needed me, I could suddenly leave the kids and attend to him. Andrew had a special knock on the wall that he would do whenever he was calling me.

Now, if I suddenly need to attend to Andrew, the kids always happen to be eating one of their meals, and toddlers really can't be left alone while they are eating. If I run up to Andrew, something always happens so that Gracie always ends up screaming at the top of her lungs, which even from upstairs is ear-shattering and impossible to ignore. I am running up and down the stairs and nobody's getting the help they really need.

The worse off Andrew is, the more he sleeps, and thus the less he communicates. He is too exhausted to think about his needs, and so what he really needs me to do is constantly be contemplating what possibly could be his needs and how I can meet them. But anyone who has two toddlers knows that they are a totally distracting job from life, let alone distracting from someone who actually needs your 100% attention. I have always wished I could just sit at Andrew's bedside all day and just stare at him trying to scheme of ways I can not only help along his recovery, but be a comfort to him as well.

Please pray the Lord would provide the grace to take good care of Andrew. To have the wisdom and presence of mind to be able to keep track of what his constantly changing and fluctuating needs are, as well as the strength to stay on top of all the labor to meet his needs and the essential needs of our family.