Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pain in the Neck


Andrew hasn't been feeling well, so he hasn't been able to blog. So sorry for keeping all of you in such suspense.

Since Andrew's previous blog, Andrew's parents, brother, sister, and her husband were able to come out for the holidays and stay with us at the treatment center. The Stillings here at the treatment center let us have the whole place to ourselves, while they continued to perform the treatment for us. It was such a blessing and provision from God. Andrew was so happy to spend that time with his family. Andrew's voice slowly gave out while his family was here, but was at least understandable to me and the kids, so that I could interpret for him, if his family couldn't understand. Now, he can only whisper, and it is hard even for me to understand.

As soon as Andrew's family left, he became completely exhausted and spent most of the next eight days asleep in bed. Part of that was from him quickly increasing his narcotics dosages, especially the fentenyl, and part of it was just exhaustion from him being so active with his family. I have never seen him this exhausted before. I am so thankful that I can give him his juices and meals through his tube, because he truly could not have been awake enough to eat it himself if he had to do it through his mouth. Since Monday, he gradually has had a little more energy to get up during the day to at least go outside and take a nap, or nap in the living room.

Andrew has not been feeling well. He feels it is best for us to go home now. He was doing so well, but then a giant hole opened up in his neck towards the end of December, and has flung him back onto pain, narcotics, and misery. We are actually returning to MN on this Friday, via San Diego Airport (only direct flight on Sun Country Airlines available for that date). A couple from our church will drive the RV back.

Andrew says: "I'm in tons of pain and soreness which continues to slowly get worse. The pain meds unfortunately don't work that well for this type of pain. The best I can describe it is it's like my nerves ache from the inside and the pain meds numb the outside. So it's like this deep set pain in the core of my muscles and bones that I cant get rid of."

I do not know which will win out - the Gerson therapy or over-radiation, which is likely the main cause of his neck falling apart. The Gerson Therapy is most successful on people who have never done conventional treatments. So far, all of the patients that we have met over the past two months have never done radiation or chemotherapy.

Andrew says he feels like he is at a crossroads. Either this is the "getting worse before the getting better" part that Dr. Stillings kept warning about or this is the decline.

Dr. Stillings thinks that Andrew's analysis makes sense, and he continues not to give us false guarantees, but at the same time he still thinks that this all could very well be his body gearing up and fighting the tumors with all its got. He's always an encouragement to us, and helps us to keep on fighting day after day.

Dr. Stillings thinks the hole in Andrew's neck is the body's natural way of debriding the skin that does not have enough blood circulation from all the radiation, and that the hole will stop getting bigger once it hits viable skin. The hole opened up real fast in a week and a half. Since then, it has slowly gotten a little bigger. It is now about the size of his thumb in all three dimensions. It's awful, and I can't imagine how a person can be alive with a huge hole in his body, let alone in his neck.

I am praying that the Lord would provide a way to do hyperbaric oxygen therapy, what they use for burn victims and diabetics, who get huge holes in their bodies. There is research that shows that cancer cannot survive in an hyper-oxygenated environment. So in fact, hyperbaric oxygen is great for cancer patients in general. Some doctors, however think that stimulating blood vessel growth and circulation could cause the cancer to grow faster but in Andrew's case I think dealing with this horrific wound is worth that risk. I have been looking for alternative treatment centers that do hyperbaric oxygen in the Minneapolis area, as it is unlikely that a medical doctor will allow it for a cancer patient, but Google searches are never successful for me.

The narcotics, which tend to shut down autonomic functions and the swelling from tumors or the wound in his neck, causes andrew to wake up gasping for air at night. He does fine when he's sitting up, but if he's reclined at all, it bothers him. But he says he can't sleep sitting up because he gags on his own saliva. So sleep has been really hard for him.

As for me, my eczema has flared up 50 times worse than ever before in my life. It's possible that my body is doing the getting worse before it gets better thing that they say happens in holistic medicine, as I have been doing the Gerson diet with Andrew, only with less juices, or simply it's related to stress. I imagine it may be both. If one could die of eczema, I sometimes feel like it could be me. PLEASE pray that the Lord would relieve me of my leprosy.

At night is when I often have a sudden flare up into misery where my skin feels like it is on fire and I wish I could unzipper my skin and jump out of it. Medicines and creams that I had from my dermatologist that used to work are completely useless now. I drink over a gallon of liquid a day, and yet still, I wake up looking like I've been stranded in the desert. My skin soaks up lotion like I never put layer upon layer upon layer on. Sometimes, the lotion makes my skin even more itchy and I just want to leave it alone and not touch it. It's not food allergies, because I've already been tested for them, and I had been on this diet for over a month before this ever started.

My only relief has been to flee out into the night, taking A.J. with me as my protector, and to cry out loud to God. It's a quiet neighborhood, and so far no one has been outside to hear me. I pour out all my frustrations to God about everything and to rescue me from my skin. Between that, the cool air, heavy breathing, and the distractions of the cozy lights of the houses, by the time we return home, the burning has relented.

Waking when Andrew wakes and waking up due to my eczema throughout the night, sleep is extremely interrupted for the both of us.

The kids are the same as always. Going with the flow, playing together, and our consistent source of smiles. 16 year-old Grace Lindeman from Canada, who had helped us for a few weeks over the summer, has come to us again. She arrived at the treatment center last night to learn the therapy and so she can assist us on the flight back. Pray that the flight won't over-exhaust Andrew or be too terrible for him or my skin. Grace will be with us for a month to make all of Andrew's juices, foods, and other therapy-related things, while I try to find someone to hire to do the therapy in the mornings. I already have two teenagers who can do the therapy for us in the afternoons. I'm nervous to return to the icebox of America. Pray none of us get sick, because that could mean pneumonia for Andrew, which could be devastating.

It has been sooooo wonderful to be in California. For the first month it was as if God called a time-out in our cancer trial and we forgot about cancer and had the time of our lives. Andrew was on no pain meds, had energy, and felt great. It was so great to see so many old friends. You brought the old laughter and carefreeness back into our lives for a little bit. We will miss you all so much.

Thank you all for your prayers, concern, and concrete expressions of love.

Please pray for:
1. The hole to heal in Andrew's neck and for his body's healing
2. Pain relief
3. Sleep for the both of us at night
4. Healing of my eczema
5. That we won't get sick in MN


  1. Hi, Grace-
    Your post has brought tears to my eyes. My mom went thru the same trial when I was 4 when my father was sick of cancer. I also feel your frustrations about your eczema. My 3 girls and I suffer from it greatly. I will continue to pray for you and your family. May God continue to give you strength and stamina to face your current trials. May you find rest in our Sovereign Lord and love Him more dearly as a result of all of these.


  2. I am SO sorry. As always and more today I am praying for you

  3. Grace,

    Thank you so much for the update. It is good to know what is going on and how we can continue to pray. Thank you also for sharing about your eczema. We will bring it before our Almighty God.

    Jason for the Lewis family

  4. Dear Grace and Andrew:
    So thankful to read your update. We are praying for your safe flight home. Perhaps the cooler weather may in fact help with your eczema. Count on us to be your prayer partners for all your requests to our Lord.
    Abundant blessings for your journey of healing,
    Gloria from NJ.

  5. Grace and Andrew,

    God is with you always. Hold onto that truth and continue to look to Him for all your needs. He will provide. Keep running the race! Karla

    Dearest Yeshua, please be with Grace and Andrew through their journey home. I pray for swift wings on the airplane and safe passage. Please keep both of them comfortable and diminish if not remove their pain. Lord, give them fresh hope today and show them the many blessings all around them. Relief Lord. Please provide. Amen.

  6. We continue to pray for your dear family. Thank you for the update. May the Lord bring you back to MN safely, and may His grace always be sufficient for you. My daughter, Ashley, suffers from eczema all over her body as well. It breaks my heart sometimes to see it, so we understand that. Remember: "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him." Nah.1:7

  7. I have been praying for Andrew regularly, and I will add you to my prayers as well. My heart is breaking for you, but I've been at the end of my rope from illness. I have cried out to God for mercy. I know He will help you through all of this. :-)

  8. Still praying daily for you guys. We're so sorry to hear about Andrew's neck and your eczema. I'll especially be praying you both can get some sleep and will have a safe flight home. We love you guys.

    Julie & Rick & kids

  9. I have been putting Listerine on my eczema and it seems to help!

    Wendi (Boomer Peels cousin)