Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Treatment update


We've been back at the treatment center for the last 3 weeks and will remain here at least until the end of December. The last week or so has been a real setback for me. My energy levels have been good, blood work is spot on, appetite is still increasing and my weight is up a few pounds, but my neck is literally falling apart.

Over the past several months I've been developing these very slow growing lumps on the right side of my neck. My doctors didn't know what they were and just left them alone since it was quite obvious that I already had cancer elsewhere in my body. In the past week or two some of those lumps have come to the surface and broken open and are not healing. There is quite a bit of drainage and my oncologist and surgeon in Minnesota don't really know why this is happening. One of the boils started off like a big blister, but after it popped it has grown deeper and wider, and is continuing to grow. I think the area was already quite irritated by tumors deeper in the right thyroid cartilage. I suspect that this is breaking apart so quickly and not healing due to the irritation from tumors combined with the fact that I've had way too much radiation which similarly caused a breakdown in my jaw in August. The radiation compromised the tissue and blood supply so much that things break down very easily and don't heal. In just a few days the wound grew so deep that I could fit the tip of my pinky into it. A few days ago I woke up with much more pain and noticed that it doubled in length and tore open along the scar of my surgical incision. I'd seen some pretty nasty wounds with all that I've been through, and my gut feeling was that this one is big trouble so we went to the ER to get it checked out.

The ER doctor and the wound care specialist on call at the time said that there isn't anything I can do to stop it from progressing at this point. I have a follow up with a wound care specialist next Monday. I wrote an update to our small group last week asking for prayer. At that time the wound was the size of the tip of my pinky. Now, a week later the wound is the size of my pinky, length, depth and height. If I literally took my pinky off my hand I could fit it right into long crater in my neck. I can see muscles in my neck moving around. My knees get weak just looking at it when I clean it.

Please pray that God would heal the wound, heal me of cancer, and relieve some of the pain. I'm back on a decent dose of narcotics to give me some comfort, but the pain breaks through the narcotics every few hours.

Despite this setback in the neck, the rest of my body is holding up ok. Other than being tired from the narcotics, I'm still doing much much better as a whole than I was doing in October when I was on narcotics. So praise God for that. Since the wound in near my voice box I am starting to really lose my voice. I'm not sure if this is from inflamation from the wound, or from cancer taking over things. Despite the pain, I'm amazed that I'm still able to spend lots of quality time with my family from NJ, who came out here to visit for the holidays. I love them so much and I'm so thankful to be together with them. They're even making the sacrifice to eat most of the meals with me here at the treatment center on this special diet!

Please pray:

1) For healing from cancer and from this wound.

2) That I wouldn't continue to be anxious or discouraged about this, that I would just see it as another way to have to trust God through this trial. I'm struggling with fears and anxiety of pain and suffering. I'm also fearful that this will cause my health to spiral down again.

3) That God would relieve my pain and give me rest at night.


  1. The Lord is with you! He will *never* forsake you. He is with you every step of the way. Keep trusting Him! We are praying.

  2. Most definitely praying for you, Andrew. And for you as well, Grace. Thank you so much for your example of perseverance in trials and for your godly responses. May the Lord continue to provide you with all that you need to endure.

    Much love and prayers,

  3. Dear Andrew,
    Thank you for the update. We appreciate knowing how to specifically pray for you.
    Praying continually~
    In Him,
    the Caceres Family

  4. I will pray for you. We will pray for you. :-) I came close to death about a year ago. Sometimes Jesus waits until all seems lost to work His miracles.

  5. This blog may seem discouraging, but it reminds me again of Job who underwent all these and survived.
    I get back reading Andrew's previous blog dated Dec 3, 2008 "Encouraging" & it really gives me comfort to know that the Lord is always there to sustain us ... He will keep us going even up to a year of suffering ... but eventually with healing. Keep trusting Him. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

  6. Your in my thoughts and prayers! Know that you are not alone, God is always with and call out to Him for all your needs. I am struggling currently,too with pain and confusion and awaiting surgery in January. I know what it is like to wonder what God is up? But He is up to something GOOD for us! Dig deep and keep the FAITH!! I am praying fervently for you!
    Mindy from Ohio
    Dennis Jamora's churh

  7. Andrew, we keep praying for you, Grace, AJ & Gracie. As we're going to bed at night, we pray God would provide restful sleep.

    Thanks for being an amazing man of God. You're fighting this fight with more grace and courage than I ever would have.

  8. Andrew and Grace,

    The Lord is watching over you and will continue to take care of things. Praying for peace in your minds and health to your body Andrew. You are secure in Jesus, brother. Keep your eyes on things eternal! Karla :)

  9. Hope everything is okay with your neck, Andrew. Jennifer and I think about you and your family all the time.


  10. Andrew, Stu and I have been thinking about you and your family a lot and we read your entries very regularly. I know you have a lot of offers for help already, but if there is absolutely anything that we can do for you, please don't hesitate to ask!! We will continue to send good vibes your way!!


  11. (My blogger gave me an error message when I tried to submit a comment a minute ago, so if you receive this twice, forgive me.)

    I just wanted to let you know you're on our hearts. May the Lord give you the grace you need moment by moment to face this ongoing trial. As I prepare to deliver our baby in a few weeks, I am struggling with anxiety and fear myself and found the following quote really encouraging: "You don't have wisdom for tomorrow's problems. But you will tomorrow. You don't have resources for tomorrow's needs. But you will tomorrow. You don't have courage for tomorrow's challenges. But you will when tomorrow comes." - Max Lucado

    Love you guys!

  12. I have a friend who went through a similar experience, and survived. A year later they are writing about her in the medical journals. I believe in miracles, she is a walking example. Another friend of mine told me about you, you are in my prayers dear brother in the Lord.

    Terry Z

  13. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Phil 4:5-7

    We are praying for you guys!

    Kim S (RBC)

  14. Hi, Andrew and Grace -

    We're GCC missionaries in Croatia. We've been keeping track of your blog and praying for you. Thank you for your encouraging posts. May you continue to find strength in Christ who knows our sufferings.

    ~Kris and Nina

  15. Grace and Andrew,
    We are praying!

    Love to you all,
    Julie and Todd

  16. Hello Grace and Andrew and AJ and Gracie-what a blessing deciding to do this treatment has been! I know it was a very difficult decision for you, and now it seems there are more difficulties with your neck. We are praying for you and would love to know your travel dates back to MN so we can prepare your home in any way possible. Thankyou for being the family that you are and being such faithful believers. You amaze us. the Tollefsons

  17. We are continuing to pray! Is there an update? I have shared your blog with many in my church family who are following along. I was just asked last week if I knew a new "January update". I said that it was best to just keeeeep praying. We do love you all. We teach the 5/6 Sunday school first hour and to hear those kiddos talk of how great and big the Lord is just encourages us to think "biggger". John Kershinar is our homegroup leader and he shared a quote, something like, "Indeed our problem is not that our expectations(prayer requests, faith) are too large but, far too small..." Not an exact quote but, it really spurred me on to trust God more for each and every day. We think of you often...my children ask me all the time: "How is Mr. Mark!?"

    Much love and continued prayers,
    The Magee Family
    Grace Christian Fellowship
    Spokane, WA

  18. We continue praying daily for you. Please give us another update as soon as you are able. We love you dearly.

  19. Praying that you had a blessed Christmas and that you're wound is healing. Thinking of you and praying for you all daily.

  20. Andrew and Grace, we are still praying for you guys!