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,

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


  1. Amazing!! Keep trusting Jesus everyday. We're praying and hoping for the best.


  2. Praise God for His provisions! I had a student years ago who had leukemia and found a perfect matching doner in Korea. Would the possibility in finding a match be higher from people who share the same ethnicity? I'm currently here and was wondering if there was anything I could do to help. Please let me know!

    Praying for you and your family, humbled by God's amazing acts and inspired by your faith in our Savior!

  3. Our family, friends of Peter and Kim, is praying for Andrew and the rest of your family. We hav an Andrew as well, our oldest, which somehow makes this more personal to me. You are near our thoughts and prayers.

    Romans 8:18-39 were in our family devotions today and as I read them aloud to my kids, I thought both of Kim's cancer and of Andrew's. God's plans are great and mighty. I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf, groaning the deepest needs of our hearts when we don't know what to pray. Vs. 26 and 27 say "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."

  4. been thinking about andrew and your fam that i had a dream about andrew last night. bryant and i are both praying for andrew until he beats this rare cancer, which i'm sure God will use to help many others.

    Psalm 107:19-21: "Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 20 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. 21 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind."

  5. Hi Joe, I attended Calvary awhile back and remember your kids when they were little. Praying for strength, hope and healing for Andrew! Registered on earlier and am going to make my husband do the same when he gets home from work. Thank you so much for sharing your story and journey with everyone!!

  6. We're praying for you guys.

    Isaiah 41:10
    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

    @Grace Yu: In fact, race/ethnicity do matter when finding a bone marrow match. Please encourage everyone you know in Korea to join the national marrow donor registry. The Korean Marrow Donor Program website is here:

    Susie and Andrew Pack

  7. Dear Joe,
    I am thinking and praying for you all, always. Per your request here a few of my favorite verses...I know a few good ones thanks to the OT course ;).

    God bless you all.

    Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

    Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

    Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

    Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

  8. I'm praying for Andrew and your family, Joe. This is hard news and a hard journey. I'm grateful for your vulnerability and sharing your/Andrew's story with us.

    James 1:1-4
    "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

    ...Jesus wasn't smiling on the cross but he endured it for the joy set before him.
    I pray for genuine joy and that God would continue to cultivate in Andrew and your family endurance, steadfastness, perfection, and completion.

    You will forever be my "Sunday School" teacher, Joe.

  9. Nothing beats daddy bear to give Andrew the support!!!

    I am spreading the word about Andrew's health to all my previous colleagues, family and friends. I am praying that I am a match but know the reality is slim so will share Andrew's story with everyone that I come in contact with.

    May God have mercy on you and be honored by your faith!