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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Ball is Rolling......









Joe and Jennifer at Sunday's Drive at Calvary;-)










Andrew and his army!
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Thank you for all for helping make Sunday's bone marrow drive a huge success! I believe that we got 200 or so to register and get swabbed!  The hand of God was definitely felt in the whole process in getting the drive together.  The drive was put together in 8 days!
God raised up over 30 volunteers from Calvary when only 5 or 6 were needed.  God new exactly how many volunteers we needed because we sure needed every single one of them.  

Jennifer and I were so touched at the masses that came by!  I was touched to see senior citizens coming to see if they could register, although they couldn't because of their age. I was tickled to see so many of my classmates, whom many I have not seen in over 25 years,  from Deerfield High School to Kipling Elementary! The whole process had God's handprint on it as there were so many things that came about in perfect timing!  
I was told that there were around 200 kits that were completed and there would have been more, but some were turned away because of preexisting medical conditions.  

This is just the beginning!  I know that our church leadership is trying to get more drives going and that there is works for drives across the country and internationally.  I know that there are many that can't physically attend marrow drives, but there is a simple way to register nonetheless.  As most of you know, www.bethematch.org (click on website) is a simple way to get registered and get a kit by mail to send back.  Many of you have told me how easy it was to get a kit and send back.  So with that being said, I implore you all to keep spreading the word however you can. Whether it's word of mouth, social media, email or whatever, please tell Andrew's story and make an appeal to all for them to get tested.  A few minutes out of the day can possibly save my son's life or another person's life who is waiting for that life saving transplant!  Time is ticking and we need a match for Andrew now!
***If you would like to set up a drive, please contact me and I will get you to the right people to help get one started! Time is of the essence!

ATTENTION!  THERE WILL BE A BONE MARROW DRIVE THIS SATURDAY FEBRUARY 4TH FROM 9AM TO 12PM AT:

THE LANE SCHOOL
500 N. ELM ST.
HINSDALE, IL 60521
SPREAD THE WORD!!!!


If you have ANY IDEAS in raising bone marrow donation awareness or want to start a drive in you local/anywhere, please email me at josephp102@me.com.  


After 10 days of non stop chemo, Andrew got back home late yesterday.  He is extremely tired but looks good.  He will be getting weekly spinal taps to deliver chemo to his spinal fluid, where they found cancer, visiting the hospital for guaranteed fever and infection, and blood and platelets. 

Andrew will be 17 this Saturday! Pray that he will be healthy enough to celebrate it!  In the hospital he simple asked that we gather some friends for the occasion.  That's all he wanted! I want my boy to be around for many years to come!

PRAYER LIST:

-PRAY FOR REMISSION!  Andrew will be going in on February 16th for a bone marrow biopsy to see if the cancer is in remission.  If so, he will be eligible for a transplant. 

-If he is healthy enough for a transplant, HE WILL NEED A MATCH!  PLEASE PRAY THAT WE CAN FIND A MATCH IMMEDIATELY! If not, the more time goes by the likelihood of relapse will be greater and 

-Pray for wisdom, guidance and God's help to organize as many bone marrow drives as possible immediately to help find a match.  God is is already moving people all over the world!

-Pray for my family!  Pray for Jenn and I for physical (we haven't gotten a good nights rest in a month) and mental strength to help guide our family in this time of need. Pray for the girls who are taking it hard this time.



I have often wondered why my life has transpired as it has with it's many trials and sufferings, but I know one thing...God has never left my side, he has never left me alone, even if I felt otherwise!!! I leave you with one of my favorite songs that speaks volumes of how I feel:


God bless you all and please spread the word!!!! Let's keep things going so we can save my son's life and others!!! KEEP MARCHING ANDREW'S ARMY!!!






www.bethematch.org

Monday, January 23, 2012

WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!!

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Andrew sleeping with his new army of stuffed animals!
Andrew as many of you know will need a life saving bone marrow transplant, when he gets into remission.  We need to start the search now, because, unfortunately, Andrew's sister Emily was not a match.  Many of you constantly have asked what they can do for Andrew and for our family, other than prayers, meals and visitations.  One very practical thing that I am asking all my friends, family and community is to get tested to see if you are a potential bone marrow donor for Andrew or any of the ten thousand plus patients that are on the national waiting list, whether it is at a bone marrow drive or getting a simple test that can be sent back to Be The Match foundation.

So with that being said, there will be a bone marrow drive this Sunday January 29th from 11am to 1pm at Calvary Presbyterian Church.  THE CHURCH IS IN THE NORTHERN SUBURBS AND NOT FAR FROM CHICAGO. The church address:


Calvary Presbyterian Church
704 Mchenry Rd.
Wheeling, Il 60090

There is a typo: it should read 11AM, not 11pm.

Some may of heard that a better chance is had if the potential donor is of the same race.  While there is some truth to that, as our doctor said, Andrew's match may come from a man or woman from Liverpool, England or Baton Rouge, Lousiana;-)

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND IF YOU COULD SPREAD THIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA (I.E. FACEBOOK/TWITTER) AND GIVE OUT ANDREW'S BLOG ADDRESS THAT WOULD BE GREAT!

http://andrewsfightonestepatatime.blogspot.com/

YOU COMING THIS SUNDAY AND GETTING TESTED, MAY VERY WELL SAVE ANDREW'S LIFE!

***If the parking lot is full, there is overflow parking next door at the AMVET parking lot. 


If you are not able to make it to the bone marrow drive, please go to BetheMatch.org or marrow.org.  At the site, the process of getting tested is explained thoroughly.  On the Be the Match site, there is an in depth explanation of the whole process, it's painless figuratively and physically. American Express for the month has a grant for the month of January that is paying for the kits.  So, make sure you go to the site and get tested!  The registration takes a few minutes and the kit is easy a swabbing the inside of your mouth with 4 "q-tip" type swabs.


***A Special Message to the Asian Community:
Asians in the National Bone Marrow Registry are a paltry 7% of all registered.  And even more disconcerting, Koreans only compromise  1%!  To those in the Korean and Asian community, this is a call to rise up and do something proactive.  Make a difference.  I don't want cultural excuses, fear or any other issue to deter you.  Again, goto bethematch.org and watch and read the literature.  It enlightened me to many things.  Again, are you going to make a difference?  I challenge you.  Andrew challenges you!


Thanks for everything!  Andrew's Army is strong and going forward to kick cancer's ass, tuckus (for my Jewish friends), goog-daang-ee (for my Korean friends)!  Thanks!





Our Champ!
And FIGHTER AND SURVIVOR!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Remission First....

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Hello, everyone.  Andrew has been doing surprisingly well!  Even though the chemo drugs are double the dosage compared to his first round of chemo three years, Andrew's nausea has been at a minimum.  And he even has eaten regularly. I know it is because of the prayers of many that Andrew is doing so well!  We really feel the presence of God throughout the day.

I know there is great movement to have as many people tested in order to help find a bone marrow donor match for Andrew and perhaps one of ten thousand on the national registry waiting for a life saving transplant. But the reality is this:
WE NEED TO GET ANDREW INTO REMISSION FIRST!  IF NOT HE WILL DIE.  Not to be so morbid or straight forward, but that is the reality.
THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PRAYER REQUEST THAT I WILL MAKE AT THIS MOMENT IS THAT CHEMOTHERAPY WILL GO WELL AND THAT ANDREW WILL BE IN REMISSION SO THAT HE MAY GET A BONE MARROW TRANSPLANT TO POSSIBLY CURE HIM.

Andrew had many visitors today and they asked about his condition.  I told them Andrew needs to get healthy first and right away, to have any shot of getting a bone marrow transplant or he will die. Again, I had no remission data or survival rates to give to due to the rarity of Andrew's case.  I wish there were some odds, but all we can do is ask everyday that our Lord and Savior have mercy on this poor child and cure him.

As mentioned we had many visitors today and included in these visitors were the Kim Family which we have known for sixteen years, Joe, Michelle and their kids Joseph, Christina and Ben.  We have gone on my many vacations together and we consider them one of our closest friends.  I was so pleased in seeing Andrew acting somewhat of a normal kid as Joseph and Ben played XBox.  Andrew was smiling and joking around with his friends.  Even as his three chemo drugs were being administered in the midst of this mini party, Andrew was still yucking it up with his friends.  Dan "the man" Sung, my closest friend, his wife Mary and the kids visited as well. I been very humbled at how  Dan has gone out of his way to do whatever he practically can  to help Andrew and our family, from meeting for dinner to just let me be, to taking the time to get my car fixed with the help of Mike Choi!  Moreover, we were pleased to see some Godly man from our church (Calvary), Jerry Kim, Sung Jai Lee and Steve Ha and youth pastor Seichi, Jerry's son Brandon and Steve's son Andrew, earlier today.  I was so appreciative for their visit and the beautiful time of prayer for Andrew.  It was such a blessing to hear not only the men of Calvary pray but also the son's as well.  It was powerful!

The Kim kids and Bry in the backround  Notice Andrew's huge grin?
 As I told you, Andrew has been doing fairly well, but as I have been writing this, Andrew's stomach started hurting.  Yep,that pain!  For those that have followed Andrew's health the past few years know that Andrew has been in the e.r. and subsequent admissions for pancreatitis and other g.i. issues over 40 times!  They have him npo (no food or liquids) and they are drawing blood to see if his pancreatic enzyme levels are too high.  And he is getting a i.v. pain med for relief. If he has pancreatitis, that surely would be adding insult to injury. While playing xbox with his friends and getting chemo at the same time, the staff would check his blood pressure regularly because of the the side effects of a drug is low blood pressure and respiration.  The opposite was going on Drew's bp was climbing high and his face was rather flush.  So he was ordered  to get off his xbox and rest.  That did the trick!
In a more somber note, Andrew's spinal tap earlier came back positive for cancerous cells in his spinal fluid.  According to Dr. Morgan, this is not considered a "spread" of the cancer, but a reality that happens to leukemia/lymphoma patients.  As a result, he will have weekly spinal taps with a chemo drug called cytaribine, which he is also getting through i.v. daily, injected via the tap. Yippy!

***UPDATE: THE DOCTORS JUST GOT LABS BACK SAYING THAT ANDREW HAS PANCREATITIS AND HIS ENZYME LEVELS ARE VERY ELEVATED!
PLEASE PRAY FOR THE LEVELS TO GO DOWN SOON. PRAY THAT THE PANCREATITIS WILL NOT INTERFERE WITH HIS CURRENT CHEMO! 


Here is some info on the bone marrow testing and donation.  I implore you to take a few minutes to check out Bethematch.org and view the steps to become a potential life saving donor to Andrew or any of the ten thousand that are in need of a transplant. 
Please take a brief moment to take a look at this informative video on bone marrow donation, this video is also on the bethematch.com site.


THERE WILL BE A BONE MARROW DRIVE  SUNDAY JANUARY 29TH FROM
11AM TO 1PM (OR BEYOND) AT:

Calvary Presbyterian Church
704 McHenry Road, Wheeling, IL





I will get more specific information to you as soon as possible.  Although the odds of finding a marrow match will be more likely in the asian community, our Dr. explained that Andrew may very well find a caucasian donor in Liverpool England.  Just because you may be a brother or sister of the lesser or greater hue, don't let that deter you from coming out to see if you are a match for Andrew or anyone else.  

As I was watching the Be the Match video on donation, I was overwhelmed with emotions, because I know that there may be a match that comes from this drive and possibly save my son.  WILL YOU PRACTICALLY ACT ON YOUR FAITH TODAY AND GET TESTED? God bless you for your consideration and Andrew thanks you!
PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN!  REPOST AND/OR GIVE THIS LINK ON FACEBOOK, TWEET THIS LINK, EMAIL BLAST! PLEASE DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO SPREAD THE WORD! ANDREW'S LIFE MAY DEPEND ON IT!




















Thursday, January 19, 2012

So the Fight Resumes!



Andrew and Jenn, just as the first injections of chemo are being administered.


Andrew was admitted this afternoon, after a "fun"morning which included a spinal tap:-( This marks the start of his ten day intensive cycle of chemotherapy which includes three drugs.  Of the three, Andrew had two of them during his first round of intensive chemo three years ago.  But this time around, the dosages will be much higher and thus more potent. The goal will be to eradicate the bad cancer cells, but the flip side is that the chemotherapy cannot differentiate between the good cells and the bad ones, thus his white blood cell counts will dive to next to nothing.  And as a result, his body will be susceptible to infections which will manifest itself in fevers, needing more blood and platelets and other not so fun side effects.  It is a given that after the ten days of chemo, Andrew will be back in the hospital sooner than later.

This morning we had a chance as a family to talk to Dr. Morgan.  The bottom line is that Andrew's cancer is a cancer that morphed from his original acute lymphoblastic lymphoma (a.l.l.) to a type of acute myeloid leukemia (a.m.l.) or more specifically myeloid proliferative disease, but it's so rare that there is not a clear clinical name like aml or a.l.l.  If there is any silver lining, this case is not a secondary case which is more difficult to treat, but a form of a recurrence from his original diagnosis. Again, this case is so rare, that the data needed to form a chemotherapy protocol just isn't there!  So to form the chemo protocol, they used a protocol from a.m.l.  There is no remission rate or survival rate data.  I asked if there was any literature on the internet I could look up and Dr. Morgan said that if she did, I would not understand it anyway.  She told us when the ten day course of chemo is done, around three weeks later, they will check to see if the cancer is going away or gone by a bone marrow biopsy.  If not, another round of chemo will commence. The whole goal is to get Andrew into remission so he may be able to receive a bone marrow transplant.  
While Andrew was getting his blood drawn for labs, we asked what would happen if the chemo was not effective.  In true strait forward form, Dr. Morgan said that the disease will spread and he will die.  The room got quiet for a few moments. 

We got some other bad news today.  Andrew's sister Emily is not a bone marrow match.  The next step in finding a match is to find a match in the bone marrow national registry.  The percentages are not high, but we don't have choice.  Jennifer and I have brained stormed in ways of getting as many people we know to get tested for a possible match to Andrew.  As Dr. Morgan explained, the one thing that will cure him may be a successful bone marrow transplant.  I will draw on all of you get the word out to as many people as we can, so we can find a match and cure Andrew! I will be posting information on where you can get tested soon.

As I am writing this blog entry, Andrew just mentioned how drained he was and that he hadn't felt this way in quite sometime.  And he just told the nurse that he is getting a little nauseous.  I am getting a little emotional because this is just the beginning of some major suffering that Andrew will have to go through in the months and years ahead.  I just hate seeing him this way!  It's taking everything I have to be strong for him.  It's the least I can do for this courageous young man. I need to step our for a moment.  As I returned, Andrew got really drowsy and went to bed.

On a lighter note, Andrew has been getting Gund brand teddy bears for special hospital admissions the past few years.  Like the one below.

Pancreatitis Bear;-)

He has collected a small army and he sleeps with them back at home. He has named them after the diagnosis of the admission.  So the one above is named "pancreatitis" bear and there is chemo bear, er bear and more.  The other day when we were visiting our friend Kim Cho, who was in the hospital for a just diagnosed case of lymphoma, we were shopping around in the gift shop pondering what to get her.  We came across a product by Ty, of Beanie baby fame. called a Beanie Ball!  Andrew suggested that we get one for Kim, since it might help when she is nauseous and she wants to sit up and just hold onto something. Well, Jennifer and I were pleasantly surprised to see the one below at the Children's gift shop and snatched one up to perhaps start a new collection.  We haven't named this one yet, but may I suggest a name:
"Beat the Crap Out of Cancer Bear"? It's not really a bear, but oh well.

Beat the Crap Out of Cancer Bear?

  Okay, while we are on the lighter side of this blog, Andrew just woke up saying that he needed to go pee.  He did his business in the container and promptly held up the clear urinal and said that his pee was reddish/orange just like what his chemo drug, donnarubicin does. He just smirked and went back to bed;-)

Sorry for this long blog, but there are a few very important things I must share.  I truly believe that God's plan is sovereign and perfect for all and there are not coincidences.  And the family and I have been recipients of God's grace in the form of so many needs met.  My sister-in-law came this morning from California just in time to watch Bry who was home from school because of a fever. Jennifer and I had to take Andrew to the hospital to talk to the oncology team and watch Andrew through his first day of chemo and we had no one to watch her.  What a blessing to have her here in the nick of time!  Praise God. The other day when I had mentioned that I was doing poorly, I received so many calls, more calls then I have gotten from friends in a long time, from close Godly friends that really uplifted me.

And there is today's example;

As I have explained before, when my computer got stolen from Children's, a group mostly comprised of high school classmates, spearheaded by my dear friends Mike Cisneros and Kirie Reveron, decided to raise money so I could replace the computer.  Not only did they raise the money for the computer, but they raised quite a bit more. Money to help out our family and take care of Andrew.  That money has sure come in handy.  I have a 2005 Honda Odyssey that had expired plates because I was not able to pass emissions tests which I found out was caused by two new catalytic converters I needed to pass.  The cost of these converters were too much for our financial situation, until, that is we received the money from one of the most amazingly generous group of people I know! This is such a blessing because it was really would have been difficult to manage with one car.
But that's not the end, my close friend Dan Sung arranged to have an amazingly talented mechanic who happens to go to our church, Mike Choi, to come out today, look at the car, drive it home and actually work on it early next week when he is off from his other job.  This act of kindness will help me save me money in the cost of the repair and will allow us to use the money saved to help pay other bills that are outstanding!  That's not all!
I was honored to meet Mike Cisneros, the man who quarterbacked the fundraiser,  today at Children's!  I really didn't know Mike that well in high school, but it's not a coincidence we reconnected.  Mike has a unique angle on Andrew's condition, seeing that Mike was a pediatric cancer patient at Children's when he was eleven years old.  So he can most certainly empathize with Andrew.  He came to drop off the check and what happened next was just so humbling and amazing.  Not only did Mike bring a check from all the donations from my friends, he happened to bring a brand spanking new Ipad for Andrew to keep himself busy at the hospital!  The most amazing component of this story is that last night, Andrew asked Jenn if he could get an Ipad for his birthday.  we told him that we probably couldn't because of our finances. I was a bit down, because I want Andrew to have certain things in the midst of his situation, but the reality is that we couldn't afford it.  It turns out that the classmates decided to get the Ipad for Andrew so he could be more comfortable! I thank God for all my loving and generous friends who pitched in and I praise God for allowing me to have them in my life!  Mike spent a moment with Andrew as he was prepping to go under for a spinal tap.  Those who know Andrew, know that he isn't that demonstrative with his emotions.  But when Mike pulled out that Ipad, I kid you not, Andrew displayed one of the biggest grins I have seen in a long time!  Wow! I spent sometime with Mike, one on one, and I was humbled and so uplifted to talk to him and hear all the love and concern of my fellow classmates for Andrew our family.  He had mentioned how all the classmates had nothing but good to say about me and that fact just lifted me up, considering that I thrive on affirmation!  I felt truly loved.

My dear friend Mike Cisneros!
My dear friend Kirie Reveron
               

I have some prayer requests in which I ask humbly for you all of you to pray about. I am truly humbled as I have found out the shear amount of God's elect praying for Andrew and the Park Family.

-Please continue to pray for Andrew's complete remission from this cancer.

-Please pray that the side effects from chemo would be minimal .

-Please pray for not only Andrew's physical well being, but his emotional and spiritual well being as well.

-Please pray that we can find a bone marrow match to donate to Andrew immediately!

-Pray for Emily and Bryanna that they may cope in a healthy way in the this difficult time for their big bro.

-Pray for wisdom and physical, spiritual and mental well being for Jenn and myself as we care for our son.

-Please continue to pray for my friends I have mentioned in my first blog entry called,
"Patiently Waiting"
Kim Cho and her battle with cancer and Brett and Shonda Kaiser's newborn child Taylor, who may have leukemia.

Thank you for reading this long blog! I finish with this most appropriate Bible verse as I think of you all:

"I thank my God every time I remember you" Philippians 1:3

 Until next time....xoxoxox,
Joe 

Andrew and I having some cuddle time while getting chemo;-) Forget the bears and beanie balls, he has me!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

THE BATTLE HAS JUST BEGUN...ROUND TWO......

I will try to make a cogent thought or so in this blog, but it will be very hard because of the news we just received.

About an hour ago, Andrew's oncologist called saying that Andrew has a myeloid leukemia type cancer that is extremely rare!  How rare?  She was only able to pull from 10 cases for information.  Instead of a chronic case, this is an aggressive acute case of cancer.  There is no data on remission rates or survival rates because of the rarity of cases to go on.  Dr. Morgan said that this will be a fight and that if left untreated, he will lose his life. Since this cancer is so rare, the chemo protocol that Andrew will begin was based on what the cancer most resembles.  So it is with great sadness, that Andrew will be going into the hospital for the next 10 days for chemotherapy. We will meet Dr. Morgan tomorrow to go over things, then Andrew will get an echocardiogram to look around his heart, get a spinal tap to see if the cancer has spread to his brain and then be admitted to start his intensive round of chemo.  If all goes right, he will be discharged and then we will wait to see if the cancer has gone into remission or is getting eradicated. When Andrew's is in remission, he will be able to get a bone marrow transplant that will potentially save his life. That's if we find a donor!  Of course, like his intensive chemo 3 years ago, he most probably will be back because of low counts and fever caused by the chemotherapy.  He will have nausea and bouts with vomiting that will be a definite.

As I got off the phone with Dr. Morgan, Jennifer and I just wailed and wept in sadness and grief over our son and held each other.  We made some conference calls to tell my immediate family and our church leadership, because we are just too drained to call individually.  Even in the midst of my aching and grief, there is a space in my heart that has a modicum of peace knowing that God will take care of things.  But there was a lot of doubt and fear that overcame me. I wept in sadness, because Andrew will be bed ridden for quite sometime.  Guys, he looks great right now and he is just being a kid, but we know that there is an insidious disease trying to destroy his body. I am so sad, because he was, ironically, having so much fun the past few weeks.  Now it will come to an abrupt end.

As many of you know, Andrew just got his license yesterday and has taken advantage of this reality by borrowing his mother's car and conveniently chauffeuring his friends around Hinsdale.  It doesn't hurt that he does not have to take finals!  Jenn and I decided that we wouldn't tell Andrew, Emily and Bry until we meet tonight around 8:30 after Emily's cheerleading.  Please pray for comfort and support as we break the news to Andrew and the rest of the kids.  Pastor Michael from our church will be at the meeting to support us and pray for us.

Here are some specific prayer requests:


-Please pray for comfort from all the chemotherapy Andrew will be receiving the next ten days.


-Pray that the chemo would be effective in eradicating the cancer, so Andrew will be healthy 
enough to get a bone marrow transplant which will potentially save his life.


-Pray that his sister Emily, who has the best chance to be a match, will be a COMPLETE BONE MARROW MATCH  so she can donate it to her big bro.


-Pray for our family logistically, as we still have two beautiful girls to attend to and other household duties. Also pray that my car can get fixed as it has failed emission tests and we will need two cars most definitely now.


-Pray for Emily (14) and Bry (9) that God would watch over them mentally and emotionally through this hard time.


-Pray that God's grace would be recognized by my whole family in the midst of some crappy circumstances!


-Pray for Jennifer and myself so we can be strong for Andrew and the girls.  


Jenn and I have a special requests.  If there are any Bible verses or other thoughts and words of encouragement you can share, please make them in the comments section.  I know that we are not alone, but it it's nice to read that you guys are out there.  I feel like our family will be leaning on you all more this time around! 


I am comforted knowing that the prayers of God's elect is on a hotline with our God! Please continue to pray for Andrew in earnest until he is cancer free!


So my dear friends and family I end this post with a verse from the Bible from 2 Corinthians 5:7:

"We live by faith and not by sight."


So that's what the Park Family will do, walk by faith and not by sight, trusting that Christ is in control, whatever the outcome.

Love,
Joe



Patiently Waiting.....


Hi Everyone!!! Forgive me for not posting anything recently and leaving many of you in limbo with Andrew's situation, but Jennifer and I have been so overwhelmed lately with many divergent emotions that have bogged us down.  But by God's grace and prayers of many, we are back in action, so to speak.

Before the scheduled bone marrow biopsy on the January 5th, Andrew went to the oncology clinic at Children's to see if his blood levels (hemoglobin, platelets, white blood cell counts) were still running abnormal.  The blood work showed that all of the aforementioned levels were more abnormal then before.  We sat down with our oncologist of three years, Dr. Elaine Morgan, and she basically said that based on the blood work that there is something definitely wrong and that she thought it was a.m.l. (acute myeloid leukemia) as opposed to a relapse of his first cancer, a.l.l. (acute lymphoblastic leukemia).  I was completely floored that this was possibly happening again.  Andrew got the bone marrow aspirate (taking a sample of the bone marrow) and we went home.  After a long weekend, Dr. Morgan called on Tuesday the 10th to tell us that the aspirate showed that this was not a recurrence of his first cancer, but another form. The aspirate wasn't completely conclusive, so a bone marrow biopsy (a gathering of a sample of the hip bone) was scheduled for this past Thursday and a complete c.t. body scan to see if there was any cancer in the lymph nodes around his heart and unearth any other issues in his body.  Again, after a long weekend, Dr. Morgan called yesterday to say that Andrew may have a rare cancer that there is very little research on.  They think that Andrew has a cancer called Myeloid Proliferative Disease,  which is a blood cancer, like his first diagnosis.  Dr. Morgan wanted to get back to us tomorrow so she could talk to other oncologist and talk to the pathologist more to get a more definitive diagnosis.  As far as chemo protocol, we won't know anything until they iron out what the specific diagnosis is.  And that is the frustrating part, we are not sure what the cancer is and we need to wait again!  The c.t. scan showed some questionable things around his pancreas.  As many of you know that have been following Andrew's health the past few year, the word pancreas creates a lot of angst in our family. Andrew has been hospitalized over 40 times with issues that stemmed from his pancreas.  Also, there were some question with some small masses around his heart.

Whatever the diagnosis is, this being the second case of blood cancer for Drew, Andrew will need a bone marrow transplant after the cancer is in remission. Andrew has been put on a transplant registry donor list and Emily (Drew's 14 year sister), Andrew's mother and I were tested Friday to see if we are a match. As far as a donor, Emily have the highest probability of being a match with his mother and I having a remote chance.  So we ask that as you pray for Andrew, that you would pray that Emily would be a COMPLETE MATCH and that we get a definitive diagnosis!
If not, we have to rely on the transplant registry donor list.  Emily is willing to be a trooper and do whatever it takes to get her big bro back to health.  And I know that our 9 year old Bry would do ANYTHING to help her big bro get back to health if she could, but she is too young.  I know many of you have asked how you could be tested to see if you are a donor match and our family is truly humbled and grateful for these gestures.  I will get to the logistics of who many be a more likely match than others and how you can get tested. In the mean time, please goto this website for more info:

http://marrow.org/Join/Join_Now/Join_Now.aspx

If you look at Andrew, you could not guess that he has a life threatening cancer in his body.  The only issue is that he gets tired easily because of his low blood levels.  He is taking this like a true pro!  The poise and wear with all to ask some many intelligent question to his oncologist and taking such a proactive approach to his care is amazing.  Andrew has come along way from the initial diagnosis 3 years ago! I know that there is some trepidation, but this kids is STRONG!  He is a model of courage and bravery!
He is trying to be a normal teenager these days and with that being said, Andrew finally got his license today!!!  Jennifer and I couldn't contain ourselves as we waited with him in the area where you take your picture.  When they called his name, Jenn and I did our best to embarrass him by shouting hurray and encouraging him to smile for the camera!  He was delayed a year in getting his license because he was too ill to take drivers ed and that is why we are so ecstatic for our Andrew that he finally got it!!!!

Before I end, I would like to share a story that shows how God is working in the midst of our suffering.  Last Thursday, before Andrew's bone marrow biopsy, I ran into a fellow high school classmate in the fourth floor oncology clinic who I have not seen for over 25 years. His name is Brett Kaiser and I was surprised as he was to connect in the most unlikely of places.  Brett and his wife have a newborn that may have leukemia and were at Children's to get consultation for his beautiful newborn daughter (beautiful!) Taylor.  I was pretty down that day and it was good seeing someone from the past.  Brett told me that he had a feeling that he would meet someone he knew and low and behold we met.  Brett had told me that he had read that Andrew had a relapse of his cancer a few days prior and it was weird because he doesn't frequent his facebook page often.  It resonated a bit more to Brett because his oldest son is named Andrew as well.  Brett told me that I inspired to him to stand up tall and lead his family through this difficult time.  There have been many times I wondered why this was happening to Andrew and our family, but I believe that there is a sovereign plan for Andrew and our clan.  If it means that we suffer so others can be encouraged and helped, praise God! Please pray for Brett and his wife Shanda and their newborn daughter Taylor!  Pray for health and wisdom for the doctors so that they may be able to diagnosis what is going on correctly.  Thanks!

Lastly, after Jenn and I took Andrew to get his license, we went to a hospital to visit an old friend, Kim Cho, who was just  diagnosed with Lymphoma.  Those that know Kim, know of her wonderfully gentle and kind spirit, who is a Godly woman and mother of three young children.  Kim taught Emily and Andrew's Sunday school at our church when they were younger.  Kim is the type of person that no one can say a bad word about.  She is an angel and she looks like one too.  It was great seeing Kim and her husband Peter, who is a Godly man, and the encouragement they have given to us by their example in the midst of a very turbulent two week stay in the hospital. I think it was good for Kim to see Andrew and the example he has shown in his battle with cancer.  We had a brief stay, ending with an uplifting time of prayer for one another.  Please pray for Kim that the chemotherapy would eradicate all the cancer from her body and that God would continue to sustain Peter and the rest of the kids.  Specifically, there is fluid build up around her heart so, please pray that this fluid buildup around the heart would dissipate by Friday so that no further surgery or hospital stay is needed. If you would like see more on Kim's condition and more importantly prayer requests, please goto the following site:
http://seeingjesusineverything.blogspot.com/
Thanks!
     






I know this update was rather lengthy and I thank you for reading through it all. I ask that you continue to pray for Andrew and the rest of the families I listed in this post, which is in bold.  I don't know what we would do without you all.  Your prayers have enveloped us and put a hedge of protection around our family and we feel them!  Know that your prayers are not in vain, but God does listen. By God's grace, we press on! Love you all!  Look for an update soon!


THANK YOU FOR BEING A PART OF ANDREW'S ARMY!!!!



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Onward Andrew's Army!

Dear Friends and Family, I have started a new blog to facilitate updates.  Thanks!