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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Prayer Request...

Four antibiotics and three bags of hydration!  All in the day for a courageous and amazing young man!
UPDATE AND PRAYER REQUEST:


Andrew came Monday morning to Children's for a 5 day chemo admission. He was scheduled for a clinic visit this morning to access his port line, echocardiogram to make sure everything with his heart was ok, because of the cardiotoxicity of the chemo, and finally a spinal tap with chemo in it. After the procedure downstairs, Andrew admitted into his room and started shaking uncontrollably.  His temperature spiked.  The team of doctors and nurses came in thinking it may be some sort of infection, so they gave Andrew 4 broad spectrum antibiotics to cover the possible infection.  A side effect to all these antibiotics is blood pressure dropping dangerously low and that's what happened.  His shakes went away, but his blood pressure was getting lower and lower.  If his bp remained low for a period of time, they were considering taking him to the i.c.u. for closer observation.  They were ready to give a drug called dopamine to reverse his condition, but after several bags of hydration, Andrew's bp went up and he was upright in bed later that evening.
___________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for those who knew already of Andrew's situation via Facebook and prayed for Andrew.
Thank you for those who prayed I would be able to handle the situation.  When going through a traumatic seen like what I experienced today and in other hospital visits, let alone witnessing the past 3 years of pain for Andrew, it is an utterly helpless situation.  Typically my solution would be to try to get in the middle of the situation and not sit back and watch the doctors do their job.  But I have learned, through many incidences,  to "let go" and let the physicians do their work.  I usually look at the situation and want so much to control and do things myself, but I realize the best thing is to stand back, even though the situation looks horrible, and have faith the Doctors, the experts, would help heal Andrew.
I think this example is metaphoric of our relationship with God. We desperately want to do things ourselves, control and manipulate things and be the expert when we are not, but it is only when we yield to God, the expert "doctor" and let him take control, "healing" (figuratively and literally) takes place.
You would think I would have learned by now, but I still fail in this area.  But slowly and surely God is showing I need to let go and let God and besides I think I am finally getting that trying to do everything by myself is so darn futile and draining!
So, this time I, literally and figuratively, stood back, even though Andrew was shaking uncontrollably and in immense pain, and let the Doctors do their job.  I had an unusual  peace it would be okay, regardless of how the outcome was.  It was an act of faith and trust in the Doctors and God that helped me to stay peaceful and focused.  Life would be so much "easier" if I just let go. So much easier!  So the verse I have recited many of time is so germane in these cases of "control":

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways submit to  Him and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

I ran into a couple named Shaun and Lisa who has a  daughter 17 year old daughter, Anna, who has been in the hospital for over 100 days since her bone marrow transplant!  I met Shaun and Lisa in January when Andrew was in the hospital constantly in January/February and found out they are born again Christians.  I would have conversations with Lisa talking about faith and how God has everything under control juxtaposed with the sadness and fear we have for our children's health.  Lisa has seen Anna go through severe Graph Versus Host Disease (gvhd) which had manifested in severe g.i. complications, severely painful skin sores and not being able to eat for three months.  I recall one short conversation I had with Lisa and how she tried to keep things in perspective in the midst of this horrible affliction put upon Anna.  She said she has been blessed to have Anna for 17 years and was able to spend quality time with her and if God chose to take her, she would be ok with it, because it not only meant it would mean the end of her pain but she would go home to be with Jesus.  She mentioned how blessed she was considering there have been parents on the floor who have not had many years to be with their children, as cancer has prematurely ended their children's lives.  Wow!  What perspective!  I also have heard the frustration and sadness Lisa has had during this ordeal.  I am thankful I have been able to meet parents who have been transparent and open in sharing their struggles and joy.  I been blessed to have connected with parents who are Christians, such as Connor's mom, Timothy's mom and Anna's parents who have shared their trials and struggles with their Children being critically sick.  It has been cathartic to also hear how God has sustained them in the midst of their storms.  This all reminds me of God's provision and what I have needed.  God knew I would need people in my life who were walking in the same shoes and that I was not alone.

Since my divorce, which I didn't see coming 7 years ago, and now Andrew's cancer, I often times have wondered the reason for all this pain.  I have realized my trials gives me a unique perspective on life, a perspective which can help others experiencing pain and trials.  It helps me to empathize and understand and allow me to just be there for them.  One valuable lesson I have learned from my grief and sadness is that when you go to be with the someone who is grieving, don't say much.  Don't preach or give long winded advice, rather just be there for the person.  Physically just be there.  My close friends Don, Dan and Pastor Michael, yes even a Pastor, have for the most part done exactly that.  They have sat there with me and just grieved with me.  So, who do you know that is grieving and in pain?  You might not have gone through what the person is going through, but don't let that stop you.  Just be there for them.  Quiet and still, grieving together telling them they are not alone

Remember to pray for the requests I made on the last post.  And to add on, pray Andrew would be healthy enough to start chemo tomorrow (Wed.) so he can go home soon.  We have family from out of town, who Andrew loves dearly, coming Friday and he was supposed to go home then, but since his fever and health he will get out at the very earliest on Sunday

Thanks,
Joe xoxoxoxox

Monday, March 26, 2012

Another Round of Chemo...




Although Andrew has a match donor and a date for transplant, Andrew will be going into Children's later this morning for another scheduled five days of chemo, which includes a spinal tap, to ensure he will be cancer free going into transplant.  Andrew was able to finally go out in public and spend time with his family outside the confines of home, but just as he has gotten back to health, it's back to the hospital:-(

Andrew has been expressing the past few days how he fears transplant and the likelihood of complications after his transplant. Tonight, he tearfully shared how he is frustrated and mad he has to go through chemo and how demoralizing it has been going through chemo the past three years, while his friends are on vacation this week on spring break and generally living somewhat normal teenage lives. He said it sucks to be stuck at home and just when his counts get back to healthy levels, he has to turn around and go back for more sickening chemo. He just said it was out and out unfair. He said something I believe was indicative of his frustration and part in parcel coming from him being on his pity potty, but he said what the use was for all this treatment when he is going to die anyway!

Yep, he said it.  As a parent, you feel helpless in situations like this. What can you say? I just told him life is not fair, but there is reason for everything and although life is unfair, God said we would never be alone. We may not understand it now but there is a sovereign purpose for everything and that is where faith comes in, believing and trusting what we cannot see and to believe God is leading the way. We all come to the crossroads of choosing the faith route or the road of fear and anxiety.  I have lived in the tyranny of anxiety and fear most of my life, starting at a very young age and I will tell you it is not a fun way to live life. But especially the past seven years, which have included a divorce I never saw coming to my son getting cancer twice, have taught me I have a choice. The choice of living under the tyranny of fear or the liberating freedom of faith.  A faith not in anything, but a faith rooted in God knowing he has my back and a faith there are great plans for a sinner like me!  Amazing, huh? The Book of Jeremiah chapter 41 verse 10, in the Old Testament in the Bible, puts in so well:

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.



The other day, I had an amazing conversation with a parent of daughter I coached in travel softball who I have not seen since last season and we discussed how we as parents have these "grand plans" for our kids and how we think we know what's best for them. And when they don't come to fruition, we get disappointed and frustrated, but we both concluded as we have grown older and hopefully more wiser, God's plan for our children are so much greater and perfect than what our pea sized brains can think of. I know Andrew is in good hands and his life may not be "normal", but God has extraordinary plans in store, far greater than I can think of. And that's how I can reconcile this misery he is going through. I told Andrew in the midst of these crappy circumstances how he has touched so many lives in a wonderful and most positive way.  I conveyed how people have gotten on their knees to pray for him and how his plight has brought people closer to God.  Furthermore, I spoke of how people are inspired by his courage and strength and how people have changed perspective and stopped complaining about their issues, considering there are people, like him, who are in far worse circumstances.


So I ask my friends, have you reached the "crossroad" yet?  Are you living life under the pain and encumbering affects of anxiety and fear?  You have a choice in what road you choose.  When the crap hits the fan, the world says to take a vacation, go shopping, be selfish and do whatever except face the real cause of the despair..  My walk and faith in Jesus Christ has been a road less traveled by many, but it has been the difference in my life.  This road has given me peace which transcends all human understanding as it is written in the Book of Phillipians chapter 4 verses 6 and 7,  especially in this difficult season of life where I am broke, have a son facing an uncertain future.   One of my favorite quotes from Robert Frost from his piece titled The Road Not Taken seems to sum up how I feel:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
IT HAS MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.  


My desire in writing this personal testimony is not to legislate my beliefs on you, but rather to convey the peace the I have experienced in the midst of my trials.  Moreover, I write this in the hopes you all can experience this amazing "road" and journey I have been privileged to go on.


PRAYER REQUEST:
-PRAY FOR COMFORT MENTALLY AS ANDREW WRESTLES WITH FEAR AND DOUBT ABOUT HIS FUTURE.
-PRAY FOR PEACE IN THE MIDST OF THIS STORM
-PRAY FOR SIDE EFFECTS OF THIS ROUND OF CHEMO TO BE MINIMAL AT BEST.
-PRAY THE CANCER WOULD REMAIN IN REMISSION AS HE GOES INTO TRANSPLANT
-PRAY THE DONOR WOULD NOT BACK OUT AND FOLLOW HER COMMITMENT ALL THE WAY THROUGH.
-PRAY FOR JENNIFER AND MYSELF THAT WE WOULD WORK OUT OUR STRESS MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY IN CONSTRUCTIVE AND PRACTICAL WAYS.
-PRAY THE PARK FAMILY WOULD CONTINUE TO UNDERSTAND AND BE REMINDED THERE IS A GREAT PLAN FOR OUR LIVES, AS JEREMIAH 41:10 SPEAKS OF.


THANK YOU AGAIN FOR BEING PART OF MY COMMUNITY!  I THANK YOU FOR NOT ONLY THE PRAYERS BUT THE HUGS, THE PATS ON THE BACK, THE SILENCE AND JUST BEING THERE IN MY PRESENCE AMONG THE POTPOURRI OF ACTS OF KINDNESS THAT HAVE SUSTAINED ME AND MY FAMILY!


***Please remember, if you have not already, to register for the national bone marrow registry at 
bethematch.org  You can possibly save a life by going through this utterly simple process.  DO IT TODAY, ANDREW IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT COULD HAPPEN:-)  ALSO, SPREAD THE WORD TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE.  AND I CHALLENGE ESPECIALLY MY ASIAN AND MINORITY FRIENDS!  THE MARROW REGISTRY IS WOEFULLY LOW OF MINORITY DONORS.  THANKS








  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

HUGE NEWS!

Andrew going into remission... unbelievable,  chromosomal defect miraculously gone...praise the Lord, and now ladies and gentlemen, wait for it... wait for it...ANDREW HAS FOUND A MATCH! NO, YOU DO NOT NEED TO GOTO THE EYE DOCTOR, YOU READ RIGHT,  ANDREW HAS FOUND A DONOR MATCH!

This past Thursday, we had a scheduled meeting with Dr. Sonali of the transplant team to discuss a time table if a match was found, there is a lot of prep going into a bone marrow transplant.  Dr. Sonali started by saying since his chromosome 7 and 8 have diffused and with Andrew being in remission, his chances of survival just got much better and he is in IDEAL shape to go into transplant.  And then she broke the news that there is a 41 year old female in the states who is a 6 of 8 high resolution match.  If Andrew chromosomal abnormality was still present, 6 of 8 match would not have been considered, because of the heightened risk of complications and failure.  For transplant patients a  match closer to a 8 out of 8 high resolution match cuts the chance of GVHD occurring.  GVHD, graph versus host disease, is a common and occasionally serious complication of  bone marrow transplants, with symptoms affecting the skin (mild to severe skin rashes), liver (jaundice), and the intestines (cramping, diarrhea, blood in the stool). Also, a male donor could have cut the chance of GVHD occurring.  Although it isn't a perfect match, we will take it! 

So, we left last Thursday's meeting knowing the transplant team would reach out to the donor and ask for dates for the donation.  The ideal date with Andrew's chemo schedule was May 8th for donation.  WELL, WE JUST GOT WORD THE DONOR WILL BE DONATING HER MARROW FOR ANDREW ON MAY 16TH AND ANDREW WILL HAVE HIS TRANSPLANT NEXT DAY, 
MAY 17TH.  Alright guys!  HIP HIP.............HURRAY!  ONE MORE TIME, I CAN'T HEAR YOU....HIP HIP....HURRAY!  Sorry for not telling you earlier, but Jenn and I wanted to wait until we got the word the donor agreed to a date.   Some of you may be wondering if there is a closer match, could we take it?  You betcha!  So, let's pray for it!  So for as the time line, Andrew will get another round of inpatient chemo in a couple of weeks with a bone marrow biopsy to see if the cancer is still in remission.  Then he will recover and then eight days before transplant, Andrew will go into pre-transplant which consist of 5 days of two a day total body radiation and then three days of intense chemo to deplete his blood counts to ready him for transplant.  As well as the good news for Andrew,  more wonderful news, a boy named Connor who you have read on my blog, who we met through our similar plights in finding a bone marrow donor and is a fellow patient at Children's Memorial with a rare immunodeficiency called X-linked hyper IGM, recently found a match!!!  Andrew and Connor have their transplants days within days of each other.  So with that being said, I ask you to pray specifically for several items:

-Pray the next bone marrow biopsy would be negative for cancer and Andrew's next round of chemo would be painless as possible.
-Pray for both Connor's and Andrew's donors will carry out their donation.
-Pray for both Connor and Andrew would have little or no GVHD after their transplants.
-Pray for the transplants would be an overall success and give our boys a chance to live a "normal" life.
-Pray for both our family and Connor's family that God will continue to provide the grace to stay strong physically, mentally and spiritually as we go through the arduous task of caring for our son's post transplant.
That's it for the immediate future, but I will continue to post prayer requests.

As far as Andrew's health, this stretch of almost two weeks has been the longest we have been at home in god knows when.  Andrew has been cooped up in the house for the most part because of his neutropenic state, where he is susceptible to infection, but his counts are slowing getting better and he is getting stronger.   Andrew still is getting around the clock meds through his port line in his chest administered by the most loving and sexy nurse I know: Jennifer.  Come on guys!  You knew it was Jennifer;-) 
Andrew did step out last Friday, with a mask on at most times,  to go on a shopping spree at the Apple Store in Oakbrook courtesy of Cal's Angels, a pediatric cancer foundation to grant wishes to cancer patients and to offer financial assistance as well.  Click here to learn more about Cal's Angels: calsangels.org  Andrew was greeted by all the Apple Store employees and Ray, a rep with Cal's Angels, with a loud ovation as he entered and exited the store.  Andrew was given an iPad 3 with cool accessories!  Andrew is giving his iPad 2, which he graciously received from my friends to use for his hospital stays, to his grandma in Florida, so she can watch and view Korean videos and newspapers anywhere in the house!  What a kid, huh?  
Rick and Theresa, you are the best!  They took care of Andrew for almost 2 hours!

Okay, switching gears a bit, these pictures show the myriad of emotion I have gone through the past few months and they "speak" volumes on how I have felt and feel.
Grief
CONTINUALLY PRAYNG GOD WOULD BE GLORIFIED THROUGH OUR TRIALS AND LIFE IN GENERAL AND  FOR ANDREW'S CANCER WOULD BE ERADICATED FOR GOOD.

JUMPING FOR JOY IN ELATION!

Even through the miracles and God's hand of grace so firmly and evident in my life, I still struggle with faith and often times not, doubt.  
But I know my faith grows and doubts diminish  as a I take time out of my day, seek God in  solitude and meditate on what God has graciously done in my life.Psalm 77:11-15
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. 



I recently read this about faith:

faith (feyth)
–noun
strong or unshakable belief in something, especially without proof or evidence.
Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), Scottish theologian and chaplain to troops in WWI, said, “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”  Knowing that God is real and that His word is reliable is hard amidst all the competing messages in the world. To live your life like you know it is even harder. Harder still is making the pursuit of that knowledge, with increasing faith, your life’s highest priority. This is the kind of radical faith we are being called to; a strong, unshakable, deliberate confidence in the character of God, even when you do not understand His ways and when the rest of the world says you are mad.
I know my faith compared to other Christians is small, but I know I have the "mustard seed" of faith that will grow and grow as I continue to cultivate my faith.  With each passing day, this faith I possess brings me closer to God and this developing relationship gives me a peace in the midst life's storms. The rest of this world may think I am "mad" and crazy as I thank God for the trials and tribulations I have gone through and I have gone through many.  But I hope my friends and family could see a snap shot  inside of my head and body and see the peace that passes all human understanding guarding my heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phillipians 4:6-7).  
Thanks again everyone for all that you have done and continue to do!  Let's keep Andrew's Army active and fight until we get this cancer eradicated!   And remember, if you or others haven't registered for the bone marrow registry to possibly save a life, goto marrow.org and register!  It could save a life, like it is going to for Andrew!

Leave a comment!  I would love to read how you all feel!  

Friday, March 9, 2012

OMG! NO EXPLANATION, OTHER THAN.....


UPDATE:   Many of you already know Andrew will not survive without a transplant.  This is the case in many patients of leukemia and lymphoma, but there was more to Andrew’s story than I shared.  At our meeting last month with our stem cell transplant Dr., Dr. Sonali, we found out because of Andrew’s rarity of his cancer, even with a bone marrow transplant, chances of survival were not good.  I am not sure if I explained his condition in detail, but Andrew has a chromosomal defect, which is causes a proliferation of cancer cells even after a transplant making survival unlikely.  In the human body, there are 23 pairs of chromosomes and in Andrew’s case, chromosome 7 and 8 of his genetic code are fused together.  Because of this abnormality, Dr. Sonali said Andrew would not only have a tough time getting into remission because of this abnormality and thus not being able to get to transplant, but even if he got into remission and healthy to get to transplant, the chances for survival were not good.  That day, Jennifer, Yun and I were at an all time low.  We had just heard Andrew would most likely not be with us for a long time. 
            When we heard the news three weeks ago from Dr. Morgan Andrew was in remission, I was not jubilant and jumping up for joy, as I should have.  If fact, if you recall, I asked Dr. Morgan how I should feel and she said I should be ecstatic and Dr. Morgan does not mince words or say things she doesn’t mean.  She explained a few weeks prior to this meeting, in regular myeloid cancers, normally, it takes more than one round of chemo to get into remission in normal situations, so hearing Andrew was in remission was a surprise. But the fact he was in remission at all with his defect was shocking; I realized I wasn’t jumping for joy because we still needed to find a bone marrow match for him to survive. After I asked, what the chances of the chromosomal defect would correct itself and Dr. Morgan said, “It would be miraculous”.
            Well folks, Jenn and I got a call from Dr. Morgan today saying after further molecular testing:  ANDREW’S NO LONGER HAS A CHROMOSOMAL DEFECT!  Chromosome seven and eight are no longer fused together!  I asked her how and she said that is not the right question, we should be ecstatic and rejoice!  PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!  There is no explanation for this at all, except the prayers of God’s elect have been graciously answered!  My friend in California, who is an accomplished cardiac thoracic surgeon, said to me awhile back, medicine can do so much, but it’s ultimately God that is in control. 
            WHAT DOES THIS NEWS MEAN?  It means Andrew’s chance of survival after transplant just got EXPONENTIALLY better!  We are meeting with Dr. Sonali to discuss the timetable for transplant.  Dr. Sonali did say with Andrew in remission, responding well to treatment and his chromosomes normal, Andrew’s situation is ideal going into transplant.  So, we still wait for possible donors.  We just found out there may be several 6 out of 8 marker matches that will be tested for possible donation.  Andrew is still a cancer patient and will get another round of chemo in 3 weeks as scheduled, but his chances of survival have gone up!
            I asked Andrew how he felt and he was indifferent.  He just said he still needed go through chemo with all the side effects and that sucked. But true to Andrew’s personality, his way of saying he was happy was to ask if we could have family night. We are celebrating tonight by having family night: Movies, junk food and a sleepover in the living room. 
            To tell you the truth, I have been mainly praying for Andrew to be in remission and get a perfect match and I have prayed a handful of times chromosome 7 and 8 would be normal.  I have told a handful of family members to pray for the chromosomes to be normal.  God decided to answer our prayers.  I have taken a liking to the book of Psalms in the Old Testament in the Bible.  I can relate to David and his emotions, his cries for help, exhortations because of God answering prayer and who God is, but it’s David’s raw emotion and crying out to his maker that resonates with me and of course God answering his cries. These verses speak of what I have felt the past few years:

Psalm 4:1
Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

Psalm 5:3 
                                                                                                                          My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct my prayer to You, and I will look up.
I have also taken solace in God’s promises found in Psalms and other books of the Bible:
Psalms 145:18
                                                                                                                  The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
James 5:13-16
                                                                                  Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
I know God very well could have not answered our prayers and circumstances could have been different.  I know as Christians we can be frustrated because God does not answer prayers on our own schedules.  As I have grown in my walk with faith, which was often facilitated by difficult circumstances, I realize there is a reason for everything.  I have often looked at the “small pieces of puzzle” of life and asked why God, but as time goes by, I start seeing the puzzle being filled and realize what those small pieces were used for.  I know there are things that I will not understand until I get to heaven, but I have been learning to be patient and trust in God’s sovereign plan.  I want to make a comment some may find puzzling.  I WOULD NOT TRADE WHAT HAS HAPPENED, INCLUDING ANDREW HAVING CANCER, FOR ANYTHING.  I don’t want a “do over”!  These storms of life have made the man I am today, a man who has grown to be a good father and husband.  The father I am today to take care of my son and my family.  These storms have made the Park Family stronger and closer.  People have taken encouragement from our storms and how we have trusted in the Lord.  And there are so many other blessings as a result of our trials.  If people have been seeing how gracious my God is, praise the Lord!
Thank you to you all for praying continually!  I am finding people getting wind of Andrew’s situation all over the world, people praying for a hedge of protection around our family and Andrew!  Thank you!
****Please continue to pray for a perfect match and that match will be found soon!  With that being said, many of you have asked how you could help our family out.  Many of you have brought meals, material things and above all prayed.  But I ask you to do one big thing: get tested to be a possible bone marrow donor or encourage 
as many people to get tested. 
I BEG YOU TO DO SO! ANDREW'S LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!  FOR PARENTS OUT THERE, WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR YOUR KIDS?  FOR THE REST OF YOU, WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR YOU LOVED ONES?  I THINK I KNOW THE ANSWER.  PLEASE JOIN ME IN HELP GETTING AS MANY PEOPLE REGISTERED FOR THE BONE MARROW REGISTRY. 
For those that can't make it to a bone marrow drive, an easy way to get registered is to goto the national registry website: http://marrow.org/Home.aspx

Here is list of upcoming bone marrow drives:
Sunday March 11th
Hmart SuperMarket
1pm to 4pm
801Civic Center Dr.
Niles, IL 60714

Click here for store info: 




Wednesday March 14th

University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana:

10am to 5pm

Illini Union: Courtyard Cafe

Click here for more info on the Cafe:




Sunday March 18th

Parkwood Community Church
12pm to 3pm
350 N. Addison Ave
Villa Park, IL
Click here for more info on location:

Sunday March 18th
Pasadena Presbyterian Church

585 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena CA 91101

1:30pm to ?
Click here for more info on location:

Check out the great turnout at one of the bone marrow drives:



This weekend Everyday Church in southern California registered 150!!!!

The drive at U.I.C registered over 350 people!!!!!!!!

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE!  LET'S KEEP UP THE CAUSE FOR ANDREW, CONNOR (CLICK HERE FOR CONNOR'S STORY:http://www.savingconnor.com/) and COUNTLESS OTHER'S THAT NEED THIS LIFE SAVING CURE!!!!

I BEG YOU TO RESHARE THIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR WHATEVER WAY YOU CAN.  ANDREW'S AND OTHER'S LIVES ARE RIDING ON IT! 
REMEMBER: http://marrow.org/Home.aspx 


LEAVE A COMMENT AND SHARE AN "AMEN"!!!!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

REALITY OF LIFE...DEATH

happy-sad-faces

Being in an oncology ward, parents such as myself go through a myriad of emotions.  There are good days, celebrating things like remission of cancer or the small things like not being nauseous  , there are so-so days where you just try to survive and there are days like today where you are extremely sad.  The past three years, Andrew has had many roommates when admitted at Children's.  He has seen many of them multiple times through out the years, but one in particular today saddened our family.  Michael who Andrew has roomed in the past and was Andrew's roommate up until yesterday, passed away from brain cancer at the age of 11.   Yesterday, a whole team of health care givers rushed in to urgently care for Michael who was "crashing".  Andrew was asked to leave the room, since he was not accessed to an i.v.. Michael passed away in the i.c.u  early this morning.  I found out when I arrived back at Children's today and saw Michael's father, Thomas, who was waiting outside the room to apparently get some stuff he left behind.  I noticed his eyes were bloodshot and asked how Michael was.  He soberly said Michael passed away.  I was at a loss for words!  I just gave him a hug and said nothing.  What do you say to a man who just lost his child?  Really what do you say?  I have told others wondering how to approach me or wondering what to say to me when I am grieving or down and I just tell them to say hi and just be.  Just be there and not say too much. What could I possibly say!  I was just feeling as a parent.  Words were totally inadequate in a situation like this.  I tried to hide my sadness and tears as I told Andrew.  Thomas was still in the room getting his belongings when Andrew got up and said he was sorry.  I laid down with Andrew and asked him if he was ok and he just talked about what had happened when Michael crashed and was asked to leave.  

I asked the floor social worker to come in and check in on Andrew and when she came, Andrew asked why and said he didn't want to talk, but begrudgingly relented.  It turned out Andrew talked to Heidi the social worker for 40 minutes.  Andrew has had several close friends, from cancer winter and summer camps he regularly attends, who have passed away because of cancer. Andrew was sad Michael passed away, but he knows this is a part of life.  I give due respect to Andrew for he does open up and talk about his feelings.  Looks can be deceiving with Andrew.  He may seem quiet and look like a gentle giant, but he does share his feelings with Jennifer and myself.   

As far as how I am, blogging and journaling like I am now does wonders for me.  I have journaled for the past 15 years and it can be cathartic.  It allows me to process what I am feeling and gives me an avenue to vent.  The past week has been extremely difficult for me emotionally, I believe part in parcel due to the past few months stresses catching up to me.  I have gotten angry, said, sat on my pity potty, anxious and thought about the future and how bad it could be.  To be honest, the "why" question came up and was directly pointed to God.  Some can say considering the stresses of what I have gone through, it is perfectly normal to do so.  But I forgot one simple promise by God.  A promise that was reminded to me during a conversation with another parent on the floor I had today and who I have grown close with.  While my friend was reminding to take it one step at a time, our blog's namesake,  Proverbs 3:5-6 came to mind:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

I was trusting in my humanness, my own understanding.  Once I do look elsewhere other than God, life get's rather overwhelming.  I believe the name of Andrew's blog and his summer and winter camps: One Step at a Time, is Biblical.  God wants us to take it one day at time and let tomorrow take care of itself as it says in scripture. 

UPDATE;

Andrew came home this Sunday from a five day stay for pain management, but returned late Monday night for neutropenic fever.  Neutropenia is a result of low blood counts from the result of chemotherapy.  Andrew's has little or no infection fighting capabilities at the moment, thus being prone to infection and fever.  This is absolutely normal and counts will begin to rise in a few weeks.  Andrew needs to be fever free for 24 hours before he has any chance of leaving.  Hopefully, he will be released late next week.  Unfortunately, Children's Memorial has become our second home. 

Please continue to pray for a perfect match and that match will be found soon!  With that being said, many of you have asked how you could help our family out.  Many of you have brought meals, material things and above all prayed.  But I ask you to do one big thing: get tested to be a possible bone marrow donor or encourage 
as many people to get tested. 
I BEG YOU TO DO SO! ANDREW'S LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!  FOR PARENTS OUT THERE, WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR YOUR KIDS?  FOR THE REST OF YOU, WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR YOU LOVED ONES?  I THINK I KNOW THE ANSWER.  PLEASE JOIN ME IN HELP GETTING AS MANY PEOPLE REGISTERED FOR THE BONE MARROW REGISTRY. 
For those that can't make it to a bone marrow drive, an easy way to get registered is to goto the national registry website: http://marrow.org/Home.aspx

Here is list of upcoming bone marrow drives:
Sunday, March 4th
ASSI Supermarket
8901 N. Milwaukee Ave
Niles, IL 60704 
1pm to 4pm click here for store info:

Sunday, March 4th
Everyday Church 
8:30am-2:30pm
17037 Devonshire Street  Northridge, CA 91325
(818) 832-6628



Tuesday March 6th and Wednesday March 7th

University of Illinois Circle Campus: Sponsored by Servants
9am to 4pm 
Outside the S.C.E Bookstore

Click here for more info: tinyurl.com/bethematchuic

Sunday March 11th
Hmart SuperMarket
1pm to 4pm
801Civic Center Dr.
Niles, IL 60714

Click here for store info: 


Wednesday March 14th
University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana:
10am to 5pm
Illini Union: Courtyard Cafe
Click here for more info on the Cafe:

Sunday March 18th
Parkwood Community Church
12pm to 3pm
350 N. Addison Ave
Villa Park, IL
Click here for more info on location:

Sunday March 18th
Pasadena Presbyterian Church

585 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena CA 91101

1:30pm to ?

Click here for more info on location:


Check out the great turnout at one of the bone marrow drives:

I BEG YOU TO RESHARE THIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR WHATEVER WAY YOU CAN.  ANDREW'S AND OTHER'S LIVES ARE RIDING ON IT! 
REMEMBER: http://marrow.org/Home.aspx

This weekend Everyday Church in southern California registered 150!!!!

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE!  LET'S KEEP UP THE CAUSE FOR ANDREW, CONNOR (CLICK HERE FOR CONNOR'S STORY:http://www.savingconnor.com/) and COUNTLESS OTHER'S THAT NEED THIS LIFE SAVING CURE!!!!




Saturday, March 3, 2012

ANDREW'S LIFE IS ON THE LINE....

WILL YOU BE THE ONE TO SAVE A LIFE?

UPDATE:
Andrew is still in the hospital for pain management of his stomach and as we were expecting, Andrew's blood counts continue to go down, resulting today in Andrew needing platelets due to low platelet levels.  We are hoping as Andrew transitions to oral pain meds that he can manage his pain and go home, a place where we haven't seen much in two months.  


There hasn't been any news in regards to a bone marrow donor match and tell you the truth it worries me.  I know scripture says to not worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will take care of itself, but I must admit I do worry about tomorrow at times.  I respect and admire the men of the Bible and their faith, but upon further reading, I notice their "great" faith was developed in a process.  Furthermore, these great men and women acknowledged their doubts and fears, yet chose to have faith in the midst of their fears.
I think I just defined courage.  I am not saying I am courageous, but that is precisely what I have been trying to do: stay the course in the midst of my fears and doubts.  


Please continue to pray for a perfect match and that match will be found soon!  With that being said, many of you have asked how you could help our family out.  Many of you have brought meals, material things and above all prayed.  But I ask you to do one big thing: get tested to be a possible bone marrow donor or encourage 
as many people to get tested. 
I BEG YOU TO DO SO! ANDREW'S LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!  FOR PARENTS OUT THERE, WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR YOUR KIDS?  FOR THE REST OF YOU, WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR YOU LOVED ONES?  I THINK I KNOW THE ANSWER.  PLEASE JOIN ME IN HELP GETTING AS MANY PEOPLE REGISTERED FOR THE BONE MARROW REGISTRY. 
For those that can't make it to a bone marrow drive, an easy way to get registered is to goto the national registry website: http://marrow.org/Home.aspx


Here is list of upcoming bone marrow drives:
Sunday, March 4th
ASSI Supermarket
8901 N. Milwaukee Ave
Niles, IL 60704 
1pm to 4pm click here for store info:

Sunday, March 4th
Everyday Church 
8:30am-2:30pm
17037 Devonshire Street  Northridge, CA 91325
(818) 832-6628



Tuesday March 6th and Wednesday March 7th

University of Illinois Circle Campus: Sponsored by Servants
9am to 4pm 
Outside the S.C.E Bookstore

Click here for more info: tinyurl.com/bethematchuic

Sunday March 11th
Hmart SuperMarket
1pm to 4pm
801Civic Center Dr.
Niles, IL 60714
Click here for store info: 

Wednesday March 14th
University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana:
10am to 5pm
Illini Union: Courtyard Cafe
Click here for more info on the Cafe:

Sunday March 18th
Parkwood Community Church
12pm to 3pm
350 N. Addison Ave
Villa Park, IL
Click here for more info on location:

Sunday March 18th
Pasadena Presbyterian Church

585 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena CA 91101

1:30pm to ?

Click here for more info on location:

http://www.ppc.net/

Check out the great turnout at one of the bone marrow drives:

I BEG YOU TO RESHARE THIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR WHATEVER WAY YOU CAN.  ANDREW'S AND OTHER'S LIVES ARE RIDING ON IT! 
REMEMBER: http://marrow.org/Home.aspx

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE!  LET'S KEEP UP THE CAUSE FOR ANDREW, CONNOR (CLICK HERE FOR CONNOR'S STORY:http://www.savingconnor.com/) and COUNTLESS OTHER'S THAT NEED THIS LIFE SAVING CURE!!!!