Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wednesday, December 1st

Wow, where did November go? Drew's month passed quickly, and we are thankful it was one of his best months. He had a rough time after his last round of chemo, and his counts did not bounce back as they had been doing. His next round was postponed because his body was simply not ready for it. His counts finally came came back up about a week before Thanksgiving. His doctor agreed to let Drew have the week off so that he could enjoy Thanksgiving. And, we surely did that! I started a tradition when the kids were little that everybody got their very own pie. They didn't get to eat the whole thing, but they got to choose it, help roll out the crust for it, and help me bake it. Through the years, that special time has been precious to me. This year, the day before Thanksgiving, I came down with the flu. My sweet girls, Hailey and Bentley, did all the pies for me, and my amazing husband cooked nearly everything else. I'm telling you, the food was so good that I think I'll have the flu every year;-) We enjoyed the day so very much, and truly understand how precious a gift the Lord has given us in just being together.

Drew is scheduled to have 3 more rounds of chemo---2 (5) day rounds and 1 (1) day round. If things go as scheduled, his last day of chemo will be December 31st. He will have a PET and CT the first of the new year to see where we are with everything and go from there. It's no small comfort to know that the path we are walking is only dim to our eyes; the Guide walking before us knows the pathway well and will keep our steps from faltering.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday, November 6th

We are in-patient today for Drew to receive the scheduled round of chemo. It's been almost 3 weeks since his last treatment. His body's blood counts are not recovering as quickly as they have in the past, so his treatments have not been every other week as his doctor has ordered. In fact, he had to have a red blood cell transfusion today before they could do the chemo. We've totally finished one of the chemo meds, and it was the one that we feel like has caused him the most sickness with the mucousitis. The end is in sight! They told us today that after today we have 3 more rounds!! That's around 6 weeks--barring his counts recover as they should. Drew should be done with all his treatments around the end of the year. In total, he's lost 50 lbs. It was 60 lbs, but he's been able to add back 10 lbs over the past 2 weeks.

We just thank the Lord Jesus that He has never left our sides, and that He is continuing to strengthen and encourage Drew for this battle. And, we pray that God will use the cancer in Drew's life and in our lives to make us more like our Savior. I've had so many ask me, "How do you do it?" And, the answer to that is simply, I don't. Without the grace that has been poured out upon our family; without the mercy and forgiveness of a compassionate Savior Who knows I am but dust and fail miserably every single day; without the provision of a God Who never lets us walk in our valleys alone. Without Him, we are nothing and can accomplish nothing. Sometimes it frightens me to know that others...others who do not know the Lord Jesus as Savior are watching. And, seeing my life as an open book and a living testimony of whether my God is real. And, I am so glad that I can say as we look back over this year that God has been good. I am glad that even now I sing for the wonderful life we have. And, I thank you, Lord, for allowing us to rest in You.

Drew finds out that Josh has come home for his wish!

Sunday, October 3rd---Whew! What a Week!

Wow, the week went by so quickly, and we had a WONDERFUL time. The trip wasn't without adventure though. We were only on the boat a couple of hours when Clay fell playing basketball with Josh, Drew, and Benji. It had started to drizzle a little and Clay had on Crocs; he came down on the ankle and rolled it. Josh came carrying him back to the room, and his ankle was literally 3 x its normal size. Poor guy was in so much pain, too. The ship's infirmary asked us to come back the next morning for the x-ray. The next morning we were supposed to debark for our first port adventure in Nassau. The x-ray was at 10, so we didn't leave the ship until close to noon. We were really, really rushed trying to get everything done that Drew wanted to do. Some delays in paperwork also slowed things down some, but at the end of the day, Drew had gotten to "swim with the dolphins", as well as have fun at Atlantis park. Clay even got to participate since they decided to wait and cast him when we docked in Florida. They had given us a wheelchair, but there were many places that literally carried him on his back up and down stairs. I know Josh was in pain with his knee, but he either had to be carried or watch from the sideline. What a wonderful day that was! We were supposed to dock the next day at Castaway Cay, Disney's own private island. But, alas! the hurricane hoovering nearby prohibited the boat from docking. Plans were made to try again the next morning (Wednesday), but that effort failed as well. No matter though because there was so much to do on the ship itself that we didn't want for entertainment. Hailey got sick and spent one whole day in bed. And, I lived on the Dramamine the whole time. But, oh, if only we could have room service in bed every day!! Drew had a wonderful, wonderful time and made memories with all of us---Josh especially---that couldn't be bought with a bazillion dollars. We are thankful that the Lord blessed us with such an overwhelming wish granted for Drew. And, not only for Drew, but for all of us. The trip gave us a second-wind. An encouragement to keep going and stay the course. I hated, HATED to see Joshua leave, but we will always, always be grateful for this week.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sunday, September 26th..."The Secret Revealed"!

Today was the culmination of months of planning for Drew's wish of a lifetime. His wish coordinators got together with Drew and planned this Disney cruise to the Bahamas for all of his family. Drew's one request was that the trip be something we could all do. He wanted so much for Josh to be able to come. Normally, Make a Wish only pays for the family members living in the home with Drew. But, his coordinators went to bat for him and got Josh approved to go on the trip with us. Except for Drew didn't know about it! He was told that Josh wouldn't be able to go. But, behind the scenes, the stage was set. Josh flew to Orlando yesterday and Make a Wish put him in a luxurious villa to keep the kids at home from finding out. It was their surprise, too. Drew knew that a limousine would be picking up the Stockton family to drive us to the port. He thought that was the big secret that he was keeping from his brothers and sisters. What he didn't know though was that when that limo pulled into the drive, it carried his hero--Josh. Channel 2 news was on hand to interview Drew and to film his reaction. They opened the door and out steps Josh in full uniform. It was absolutely precious. It was truly a memory I will treasure forever.

Saturday, September 25th

We are so excited!! The long-awaited cruise to the Bahamas is tomorrow! Make a Wish Foundation has far exceeded all that we could have ever even dreamed about. They've covered every single detail and thought of things I'd have never considered. This trip holds many surprises for Drew, for all the children. I can't write about everything until after tomorrow. I don't want to take any chances that Drew finds out what all has been planned for him!

Saturday, September 18th

Drew was able to go home this morning. His pneumonia is better, and the rib pain is getting better. The good news is that there is no more chemo until after the Make-a-Wish cruise on the 26th of this month. We are all so excited about this trip. Prayerfully it will be a little break from things for Drew---for all of us, and give everybody the strength to continue on. We are so thankful that God has given us prayer warriors to intervene in Drew's behalf. We are also very grateful for the doctors the Lord has put in our lives and for Florida Hospital. We have never been in a hospital that exalts Christ more than this one does. We would definitely have some areas where we would disagree doctrinally, but for the way my Lord is lifted up here, I give God the praise.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wednesday, September 15th

Wow, what a day yesterday was. We made it to the hospital in record time, and God mercifully allowed Drew to be taken straight back. Since he was laying down, his breathing had stabilized, and though he was still in terrible pain, he was at least quiet. Part of the diagnosis I suspected--pneumonia. I did not expect the partially-collapsed lung or the broken (NOT dislocated) rib. I sat there in disbelief as the doctor explained what had happened. During surgery, the team removed ribs #'s 7, 8, 9, and 10. Rib #6 was stretched across the space left by the absent ribs and sutured into place. The problem was that the rib was not big enough to cover the space it was expected to cover. I understand the surgeon's reasoning; he was doing his best to "brace" up the muscles and give that area of his back time to heal. But, because the rib wasn't big enough, there was no "give" room, and when he rolled over, the weight of his body just snapped it in two like a twig. The broken rib will heal, but the concern is right now the pneumonia and partially-collapsed lung. He cannot cough, so that's aided the buildup of fluid in his lungs. He was admitted to keep his pain level under control while we try to get a handle of the pneumonia.

Tuesday, September 14th

I really thought the month of June had been our worst month in Drew's treatments. With the surgery and several other setbacks that month, I was sure I had seen the worst, but that was until this morning. After Drew's appointment yesterday, he came home, got in the bed, and tried to move as little as possible. He had an awful night. He slept in our room, and hurt all night long. He couldn't get comfortable, couldn't get up to go to the bathroom, and had started coughing. Drew has always been prone to bronchitis and pneumonia every since he was a tiny baby and had a serious case of pneumonia. I've tried to watch for that since his immunities are low and he's naturally inclined to have a weakened respiratory system anyway. It seemed like his coughing worsened by the minute, and he also had begun wheezing. About daylight though he had fallen asleep, so I let him sleep. We started school as normal without Drew. Around 10 a.m., Drew staggered into the living room and all but fell into the recliner. He told me that he was going to try to do his school so he wouldn't get behind and asked for the laptop. I left the room to get him a pillow and before I could get back, I heard him screaming. I ran into the room and he was crying, "Mama, get me up, I can't breathe!" He was crying, and the kids were all bewildered. I tried to get him up and couldn't. Clay tried to help me, and every angle I tried just hurt him more. I considered calling 9-1-1 but then remembered that Lane was at the church office that morning. Bent called him, and I'm surprised that he could understand her because she was crying so hard, but he did and was home in seconds. He was able to pick Drew up and carry him to the van. Drew was in obvious respiratory distress and in more pain than I'd ever seen him. Drew's very laid-back, quiet. He doesn't complain of pain, so when he does, it's got to be over-the-top pain. I know we were in a crisis situation, but I don't know what was harder--seeing Drew crying from the pain and struggling to breathe or the looks in my huddled group of bewildered other children's eyes. They'd never really seen Drew like this. In his hardest times, he's always been in the hospital, and usually with only Lane and me present. They were so upset, and I hated leaving them to wonder what was going on. The Lord Jesus did what I couldn't do this morning and comforted their sweet hearts.

Monday, September 13th

Drew had an appointment today to check his counts. The counts were good, but I am very concerned with the amount of pain that Drew is having from the rib. Lane took him to his appointment this morning, and when Dr. Hajaar asked about the rib pain, Drew said, "It's okay." We've learned that there's a very fine line with teenagers, or at least with our teenager, that we are having a tough time discerning as his parents. Because he is a young man, we truly feel strongly that he needs to have a say in his treatment and be kept abreast of all that is taking place with his body; but, sometimes, that means letting Drew talk for himself and allowing him to tell us what his pain level is. Today is definitely one of those times because I feel like he's in way more pain than just the "okay" he gave to his doctor. He can't even stand up without crying. In my heart I feel like this is more than just a "dislocated" rib. Pray that God will give us direction.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Friday, September 10th

Drew is in so much pain today. He was sitting up in bed to get up and go to his appointment and heard a "pop" sound. Then his ribs started hurting and by the time we got to the doctor his pain had only intensified. Dr. Hajjar said his counts are borderline for a transfusion so we will need to come back on Monday. And, the pain in his rib is likely from when the surgeon pulled rib #6 up and sutured it to the remaining top rib to give the huge space some support. He had removed 4 ribs, so there was a pretty big open spot there. The surgeon was expecting the sutures to dissolve but was hoping the ribs would heal a little more first. So now, it just feels to Drew like something is out of place or dislocated. The rib is really not dislocated but feels like it since it's been sewn that way for the last 6 weeks. He says Drew should feel a great deal better within 48 hours. I pray it is so because he is unbearable pain right now.

Thursday, September 9th

I had so hoped that the muscousitis wouldn't be as bad this time. It's been bad, but definitely not as bad as it could have been. He is so worried that they will keep him tomorrow when he goes for his appointment. He's pale, so his counts are definitely down, but this evening he says it's feeling just a little bit better. Prayerfully he's on the mend. Thank you, Lord, for Your ever-faithfulness to our family.

Tuesday, the 7th

Drew started feeling the mucousitis yesterday. His appointment is not until Friday; I hope it doesn't get any worse than it is now.

School started today. All of the kids had a great starting day---even Drew. He's behind in his Spanish from being in the hospital last week. We will be able to catch up maybe toward the end of this week.

Saturday, September 4th

Hailey's surprise birthday party was today. Drew got to come home yesterday, so he was able to be there for her special surprise. He didn't feel like doing much, but it sure was nice for some of his friends from Haines City to come down and be with him. Thanks especially to Nathan Pitts for coming. It meant alot to Drew.

Drew is usually very sick by the 3rd day of chemo, and we haven't seen that with this round. Prayerfully he won't have any side effects this time. He spent alot of time in the game room on his floor---which he is normally not able to do. Maybe the reduction has worked!

August 30th Chemo

This round was supposed to be a 5-day treatment. Because Drew is so prone to mucousitis, the doctors are going to try reducing the time to a 4-day treatment. We will see if it makes a difference for Drew. He is also doing the Caphosol swish---a calcium, phosphate saline swish that has shown promise in some studies with chemo patients.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Recovering from Surgery

Drew's staples were removed Friday, the 6th. He has done remarkably well with recovery, and his doctors are very, very happy with how things are going. One of them told me that he expected Drew to be in the hospital 2 weeks. Today is the 12th day after surgery and he's been home from the hospital almost a week now. Yesterday he was able to go to both the a.m. and p.m. services at Church. We literally stand in awe of the way God has touched his body. He is maintaining his weight, which I thought might be an issue. He lost about 7 lbs while in the hospital, but that is a small loss considering he's lost much more in a week's stay before. By God's grace, Drew will be one of the workers at our VBS that starts tonight. He won't be able to do anything really but sit, but he's been given the job of an overseer for the children's games. Including him has helped him feel more like things are getting back to normal for him.

We were hoping that surgery was our half-way point. Drew's doctor said that it is definitely probably the hardest part of his treatment, but he still has around 30 weeks of chemotherapy left. They are hoping to reduce the strength of the chemo and avoid some of the nasty side-effects that Drew's had. The praise though is that because they were able to get good margins on the tumor in surgery, no radiation will be required.

Our family has seen a miracle in Drew. As we watch the children, we are always mindful of seeds of bitterness or anger springing up in them. Though absolutely WRONG, most of the time when there is suffering in our lives, the first thing we do is question God. So far, we have not seen that in the kids. And by His mercy, we just rejoice in serving a God that we can turn to when our hearts are broken and know that He cares.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Drew's had surgery to remove the tumor. It had shrunk down to the size of a lemon. They also had to remove 4 or his back ribs. The surgeon feels very confident that he was able to get all the cancer. The test results are not back yet. Praise the Lord for His goodness and for the love that has been shown to us through prayers, phone calls, text messages, facebook messages and email messages. God is truly good all the time. We are taking one day at a time. Andrew is still in alot of pain and is still in ICU so he can get the best care available. They are hoping to be able to take the drain tube out soon. Thank you all for your prayers and support.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Praise Report

God has been so good to us. He shows Himself strong each and every day. How precious is our walk with Him. Drew had a PET scan and a CT done last week and this week we got the results back. The PET scan is showing NO positive activity. CT shows the tumor has shrunk by 75%. Surgery will proceed as soon as surgeon can schedule it, which will be later this month. We are very excited about the positive way Drew's body is responding to treatment, there is even a chance that he won't require radiation. Praise the Lord. "On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand." Edward Mote

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Praise the Lord for good buddies

This is Drew, with Rhomans, Michael and his brother Clay, they came to hang out with Drew. And the other is Drew with his momma, Kim. These are precious pictures.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

6th Round

Drew was admitted on Monday, the 21st to begin the 6th round. This is a 5-day round, always the worst for him. He usually gets very sick around the 3rd day, and that was the case with this round. It's so hard to see him suffer so. He doesn't complain; in fact, he hardly says a word while on chemo.

Most of you know that surgery was supposed to be the end of June. But, Drew has had several counts not bouncing back well, with mucousitis, and the latest setback last week---a kidney stone. He had to be admitted for 3 days, only to come right back Monday to begin chemo. Surgery is now tentative for the 3rd week of July. However, that is the same week our youth are scheduled for camp. Drew so wanted to go. We are praying now whether to delay surgery by a week or to go ahead skipping camp. If he is able to go to camp, Lane and I will go along with the group.

I'm not sure if those reading this know about the "Father of the Year" contest that Drew entered with The Orlando Sentinel. He had to write and essay about why he thought his dad should be Father of the Year, and his essay was tremendous. To gain votes, people had to go to the website and vote for Drew's essay. We were just so overwhelmed by the support. Shortly after the contest began, it was so precious for us to see the devotion of our friends and family and the total support that we've had. God has been so good, and He has so gently taught us so much already through this time in our lives. I am so thankful to remember that even in our hardest times in life, for us as Christians, this is the absolute worst it'll ever be. There is a brighter day coming, and Jesus is our Hope. If you are His, you have a reason to sing! Reminds me of the words to one of my favorite songs,

"God wants to hear you sing when the waves are crashing round you,
When the fiery darts surround you, and despair is all you see.
God wants to hear your voice when the wisent men have spoken
And said your circumstance is as hopeless as can be
That's when God wants to hear you sing."

We love all of you and thank you for taking your time to follow us through the joys and heartaches of battling this disease for our sweet Drew's life.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Drew gettin his trophy

Drew with his baseball trophy. Please continue to pray for him, he had a rough week and had a hospital stay for reasons other than chemo treatment. Update to follow, just wanted to share this picture with everyone. Thank you for your continued love, prayers and support. We serve an awesome God.

Friday, June 4, 2010

5th Round, June 4, 2010

  • Drew's 5th round started this morning at around 1 a.m. Because of the mucousitis (ulcer-like mouth sores down his throat), we've had a few setbacks. His doctor told us that out of 10 kids, only 1 or 2 will get mucousitis to the degree that Drew is consistently getting it. He has gotten it about a week after every single chemo treatment he's had. We are encouraged because only very recently the FDA has approved a calcium/phosphate treatment that has shown great potential in studies of cutting mucousitis by 50% in cancer patients. We are hoping it will have a wonderful effect in Drew's treatment. He started it today.
  • Our Memorial Day was so relaxing and encouraging. We've wanted to visit some very precious friends of ours in Hernando, FL, for some time now, but schedules just haven't allowed it. We finally just took off Monday and spent the day with them. They live on a lake, and the kids spent the day airboating, tubing, and just having a good ole' fashioned fun time. Lane and I really, really enjoyed the day. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.
  • The rest the crew are all well. Baseball for the boys is winding up for the season. The girls are going to be in 4-H starting in the fall, and perhaps volleyball, in the fall.
  • Our lives are just so, so blessed and overflowing with God's mercy. I wish that I could say that I haven't had days when I felt like everything was spinning wildly out of control; I have. I know my husband has. But, during those times, we are just so thankful to have a God Who knows that we are but dust. He gently lifts us out of the mirey clay, dries our tears, carries us up the hill while we rest a while, and then sets us down and walks the rest of the way beside us. That's where we are right now; climbing the hill. And, thanking Jesus for His strength.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday, May 20th

Drew usually gets sick around the 3rd day, and sure enough, he started feeling pretty yucky yesterday. Lord willing, he will go home tomorrow night.

Great news from the chest x-ray! Preliminary results are that the tumor has already been reduced by 50%! He will have anotdher PET scan in a month. Surgery is still projecte2d around the 12th week---sometime the last of June we believe, barring no more setbacks.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 19th

Drew was home from the hospital last week because of the mucousitis. His 4th round of chemo had to be delayed a week to give his body time and his counts time to come up a little more. Even though it put us a little behind schedule, we were thankful because it gave Drew a little break. He had more than 2 weeks between rounds this last time. During that time Mom took all the kids to the beach down in Melbourne. Surprisingly, we were able to find a spot that wasn't so people-filled. The kids had a great time playing in the water, and I think it was wonderful for Drew. I know it was wonderful for Mom:-)

He was admitted on the 17th for the 5-day round. Today is the 3rd day of this round, and so far, God be praised, no adverse side effects. He has been able to eat and drink. Hailey stayed the 1st night, Daddy the 2nd, and tonight is my night. I am so thankful to be able to spend this time with Drew. I know what he is going through is difficult, and I am just grateful to the Lord for the family that He's given us.

Drew was able to begin his online Spanish class last week and has been able to do some of that work here in the hospital. He's second-guessing his excitement over having a computer in his room;-)

Today is also a special day for our family as it is my husband and my 23rd anniversary. What a gift to have such a precious husband---God's man and a Godly man. And, all of the silver and gold in the world couldn't buy the joy in my heart today.

Thank you for taking the time to read about Drew's progress and our family's journey.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Things are a little better today. Drew was able to drink 1 Ensure and 2 bites of food. He has talked a little today, so I think his pain level is decreasing. He's smiled and laughed a little, too. His doctor said he could go home tomorrow provided he could eat and drink. His kidney function was not what it should be this morning either, but that should level out when he is hydrated enough.

It has been a special day for Drew and me. I am so thankful for the privilege of spending this special day with him. Truly there is no higher calling than that of a mother. I am so grateful that I have a wonderful daughter who is such a good 2nd mama to my little ones that I can be here knowing that they are all cared for there. Life is so sweet when you belong to Christ. A wonderful, Godly husband, 8 precious kids on earth (2 in Heaven), a wonderful church family, Holy Spirit-filled friends who encourage me in my walk with Christ.....truly what else could a mother ask for? I am so blessed.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bump in the road

They had to keep Drew in the hospital. Drew is getting fluids and pain medicine now. His doctor said that they must get this situation with his mouth under control. This will delay his next round of chemo. They must get his pain level under control and get him to where he can eat and drink. Bro. Lane stayed the night with him, his sister, Hailey, is with him now and Kim will be going later today after the ladies banquet at church and will spend the night with him tonight. We know our God is Good and Great and that He is with us and wants us to lean on Him. We are trusting our Lord and are thankful for the love and wisdom of Christ. We sure do love and appreciate each one that takes the time to read the updates and more importantly, for your prayers. Thank you.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Update on Andrew

Drew has had a very hard week. He has sores in his mouth and his tongue is swollen. It has gotten to the point that he can not talk and can not even drink. We are taking him back to the hospital tonight. His counts were good at the check up this week. Only one count was low but not low enough for a transfusion. He was scheduled to go back to the doctor this coming Monday to get checked again and to start his next round of chemo. Poor little darling, he is hurting and miserable this week. But we know we serve an awesome God. We know the Lord walks with us and often carries us, when He knows we need it. God is good, all the time. We really truly appreciate your prayers.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Third Round of Chemo Finished

Drew finished his third round of chemo late Wednesday night and was discharged. Drew did pretty well with this round. Praise the Lord for the love and support of our friends and church family. They are always ready to help with taking our place in the ministry, such as taking Kim's place in the youth class before church and bringing food to the house as well as your continuous prayers. You are an encouragement to us. Our God is an awesome God and we are thankful to be part of the family of Lock Haven. We have heard from folks literally all over the world, letting us know that they are praying and that Drew is on their church prayer list. We are very humbled and blessed by this out pouring of love from God's people. Thank you and we covet your continued prayers.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jeter Hat

This is a picture of Drew, his mom and Clay. And this is a hat that Derek Jeter signed for him.

Monday, April 26, 2010

3rd Round of Chemo

Today is April 26th, and the 3rd round of chemo should start here in a little while. The 6th floor had no beds available, so we've waited in outpatient chemo all day. Drew's counts were good this morning, and we are thankful for that. He wasn't able to get this round as scheduled (last Thursday) because his platelets were too low. But, on the positive side, it gave Drew the weekend to relax while we waited for his counts to rise. He has actually felt better this past week than he has in a couple of months.

This round is scheduled to be a 2-day treatment. His chemo rounds will be staggered with a program of 2 days, 5 days, 3 days, then starting over. The 5-day has been the worst by far. He had lost right at 25 lbs. This week he has been able to eat though and has put back on 5 of those pounds. After this round, they may do another PET scan to see just how much progress they have made with the tumor's size. Surgery is still tentatively scheduled right around the 12th week of treatment.

It seems like our family has settled into somewhat of a routine with treatments, trips to the doctor, homeschooling, baseball, and our church activities. God's grace indeed has become even more precious.

Our dear friend, Kim Monk, surprised us by flying to Orlando on Saturday to spend a week with us. What an encouragement she has been!!! Because she has access to DSL with her computer and can easily upload pictures, she is going to be handling most of the updates to this blog. I will still be posting, but probably only on the days when I am actually in the hospital with Drew because the hospital provides fast access, too.

Thanking God for every single day,
The Stockton's

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday, April 13th

This round of chemo is nearly over. We are expecting Dr. Hajjar to let Drew go home this evening sometime if all his numbers are good. I (Kim) have been able to stay with Drew for the past 2 nights, and it's been a sweet blessing to me. Drew has done so-so with this round. He was able to eat more this time than last round---but, the only thing that appeals to him is Ramen noodles and spicy chicken sandwiches. Although his nausea has been terrible, last night was the first time that Drew actually threw up. His blood sugar level is elevated, and while the doctor expects it to be up some, 212 is too high.

Drew is excited to be going home. Usually while we're in the hospital, he doesn't talk much and never complains. He is hoping his little puppy hasn't forgotten him.

I just wanted to thank some of the people that have made this round a whole lot easier: Sweetheart, you are my rock, and I am so thankful God is allowing us to battle this together. Hailey, darlin', you're precious. Thank you for always being willing to take your post--wherever it may be. Daniel, thank you for so willingly give up your off day to sleep in a chair. Kim, thank you for helping me maintain the blog. What a huge help! Lisa, thank you for coming when you didn't have to. Lock Haven Baptist Church, you are the most precious and most loving people that we could ever ask to labor with. Staci, thank you for coming and playing Phase 10 for hours to keep Drew and Hailey company. And, for all who are praying for us, sending cards, keeping my little girls, bringing food, and just being our friends, you are our life-line. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Second Round of Chemo

The second round of chemo was supposed to start on Thursday the 8th, but due to being dehydrated, the chemo did not start until 2 am Friday morning. Drew was given fluids to get him hydrated so that the chemo could start. His others counts were good. Praise the Lord! Bro. Lane stayed with Drew Thursday night and Hailey came Friday afternoon and will stay the night. Clay and Benji both pitched in today and cut the grass at the church and house, so that their dad would not have so much to do after he got back from the hospital.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Drew waits for Chemo

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuesday, April 6th

Drew's week home went very, very well. His energy level was low, but he has still been able to laugh and joke around. He's even gone outside some and shot some 3-pointers with his brothers. Last night Hailey took Clay and Drew to Old Towne and let them walk around to see all the shops. Drew really enjoyed the outing, and he wasn't too worse for the wear. He did get tired, but not overly so. The trip couldn't have come at a better time because he was sorely disappointed in his dad's decision not to let him go swimming at our neighbor's house.

At his office appointment on Thursday, his ANC level was 400. Below 500 is neutropenic, meaning that he was at high-risk for infection. However, Dr. Hajjar did not feel that it warranted any blood transfusion and advised us to just watch him over the next couple of days because his levels would bottom out within a day or two. Easter weekend was pretty tough for him. He didn't get to go to church Sunday morning; but we did let him go Sunday evening. Not shaking hands has been a huge adjustment for him---and for everyone at Lock Haven. When Drew goes to church, he lays on the back pew. He's embarrassed of it, but I'm thankful he's there and thankful we have a pew for him to lay on:-)

His hair has started falling out when he touches it. I guess that's what has bothered him the most about the cancer; he really didn't want to lose his hair. He's been such a precious boy. We've all been so excited because after only one round of chemo, his pain level is to the point that has hasn't had a pain pill in 10 days!! He has hated, HATED, having the neuopogen shot every night. Last night was his last shot for this round. The shots will resume after this round. He will be admitted Thursday to begin the next round---a 5 day continuous infusion. I know he will need a special grace because he generally cannot get up and around while on the chemo.

Received word tonight that they admitted my dad into the hospital last night. He was diagnosed with throat cancer 4 months ago. He has done chemo already and is only 2 weeks away from his last radiation treatment. But, the cancer is in the throat, and the radiation has targeted that area making it nearly impossible for him to eat or drink. He's lost 20 pounds this month and is dehydrated and severely malnourished. Please pray for my dad. He's fighting his own battle right now. I am thankful that my dad was saved 4 years ago, but it breaks my heart to see him suffering so much.

Even in the valley, God is good. It's never been more true.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday, the 27th

Drew's lack of energy proves that his counts are steadily dropping. He should bottom out sometime around the 7th-10th day after chemo starts. He is so, so tired. But, he begs to go to Clay's baseball game. His color is good and no fever, so Dr. Hajjar is comfortable with it. He lasts 3 innings and has to go get in the van to lie down. Pain level is minimal, and with the Zofran, his nausea has been mild. God is so good, and we are so thankful.

Tomorrow promises to be busy. Hope that Drew has a good night.

Friday, the 26th

Chemo finished up around 3 p.m. Doctor Hajjar had told us previously that he'd let Drew go this evening; but, after considering Drew's nausea, he wondered if allowing Drew to go would be wise. He's had quite a bit of nausea and hasn't eaten since Wednesday. In the hospital they would be able to at least keep Drew hydrated. So, he talked to Drew and shared with him his thinking. Of course, Drew was very disappointed, and Dr. Hajjar could tell. So, he told Drew that he'd give him until 7 p.m. to receive the intravenous fluid and then he'd re-evaluate him. In the meantime, Mom got a crash course in giving the Neuopogen shots that he'd have to have for 10 days to build his white blood count. Finally at 9:00, we are given our discharge papers. Drew slept well and had little pain through the night. It was good to be home and sleep in our own beds.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, the 25th

Hailey reported that Drew had a really painful night and didn't fall asleep until close to 5 a.m. The nausea has been pretty bad this morning, but, thankfully he hasn't thrown up at all. Dad came in and relieved Hailey for her to go home and get some sleep. It's a precious time for Lane and Drew. They are giving Drew Zofran for the nausea, but are having to also give him Benadryl at regular intervals. It seems to be helping greatly.

Chemo will end tomorrow at 3 p.m. He may even get to go home tomorrow night. Drew is restless and somewhat discouraged. He can't get out of bed with the chemo line, so basically, he's bed-bound for 48-60 hours. He wants a shower...he doesn't want to eat...and he just wants his own bed.

Wednesday, the 24th

Pre-chemo meds started today around noon, with chemo beginning at 3:00 p.m. Hailey came today in the afternoon and will stay overnight with Drew. Drew's pain level at the 9th rib site has increased making it more difficult for him to move around. The doctors think there's a possibility that Drew's 9th rib may be a complete break now. If you raise his shirt in the back, you can actually see the skin protruding at the site of the tumor. They have told us that in some circumstances, after just one round of chemo some tumors have shrunk enough that the pain is lessened dramatically. We are praying this to be the case.

Nausea with the chemo can start as early as 1 hour after intravenous treatment begins, so we will see how this day will go.

We do want to share with everyone how Drew's doing physically and all the information we know about the cancer. But, more than that, we want to share how God has ministered to our spiritual needs during this time. The Lord Jesus has been precious to us, and at every bend, every corner, He has offered us the marvelous reassurance that we are being held in His loving hand. Florida Hospital has been incredible. Nearly every single nurse has offered to pray with us, has directly and indirectly pointed Drew to the Lord Jesus, and has made us feel like they truly care. When we consider all the hospitals in Orlando and all the doctors we could have gotten, the Lord providentially guided our path to this doctor; to this hospital. We consider what may have happened to this precious boy had we not obeyed the Lord's leading in coming to Lock Haven Baptist Church 18 months ago, and it's almost overwhelming. When we didn't understand why the Lord was changing our direction from the mission field, He was already implimenting His plan for our lives. We just thank the Lord for being His and for His tender, loving mercies toward us.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday, the 23rd

Kim's sister stayed with Drew last night and what a help that was. Tina is a nurse and was able to oversee his care and make sure he was comfortable. Drew's pain was the worst it's been yet and was difficult to get under control, but he finally went to sleep around 4 a.m.

Bone marrow was extracted around noon. Drew was anesthesized for that procedure, and we are very thankful for that.

When Mom (Kim) came in the evening to relieve Dad, Drew had his own practical joke up his sleeve. Someone had brought Drew a whole bag of gag gifts and he wasted no time putting them to use. He had put a fake plastic cut, complete with real-looking stitches, on his forehead and wrapped his head up in gauze and medical tape. When Mom came in, she was upset and asked what had happened. "It's okay, Mom, I fell getting out of the wheelchair and hit the door frame." SIKE! he laughed after Mom nearly started crying. Bad thing is that Dad was in on the dirty trick. It's good to see Drew still has his sense of humor. What an awesome kid!

Chemo starts tomorrow around noon. Barring no problems, Drew may go home Friday night. Another day to give the Lord thanks for all He's done and is doing in our lives.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday, the 22nd

We were scheduled for surgery at 9:40 this morning. Had to be at the hospital by 7 a.m. Surgery went beautifully. We did not get to see Drew until 2 p.m. when he was sent up to his room. He was in pain and looked so pitiful. They had given him a cracker and a Sprite in recovery and were waiting to see how he tolerated food before letting him eat. We were thankful for that decision because he soon got very nauseated and threw all of the liquid and cracker up. He did feel a little better after that though, and they were able to get his pain under control.

Dr. Hajjar came in late afternoon and spent a great while talking and explaining all of the chosen treatment and possible side effects to all of us. A bit of possible good news: treatment may be shortened to 35 weeks instead of 48, barring no delays or infections. The newest revealed research indicates that Ewing's sarcoma is responding well to "compressed" treatments. In short, Drew will receive the same number of treatments, only condensed into more frequent time slots. This is only a tentative plan, however, for it will all depend on Drew's tolerance for the medications.

We had several decisions to make today regarding our choices for Drew and Drew's own preferences. We are thankful that the Lord gave us all a unity in those decisions.

Kim's sister flew in from Mississippi and has already been a HUGE blessing. She stayed with Drew tonight. At last check tonight, they were watching the Magics basketball game together.

Bone marrow test was put off until tomorrow for Drew's comfort. Chemo begins Wednesday.

Another day by the grace of God. We are reminded of the song, "Where Could I Go".

"...but when my souls needs manna from above, where could I go but to the Lord?"

Thursday, the 18th

Today we drove back to the hospital so that Drew could have his PET scan. We won't have any results for that until Monday.

Wednesday, the 17th

Today the preliminary results came back. Malignant tumor. We would have to wait for pathology to confirm the type of cancer, although Dr. Hajjar feels almost certain it is Ewing's sarcoma.

It is decided that Drew will be allowed to go home for the weekend because they cannot schedule his port until Monday. He is released just in time to get to church. What a blessing to see him in God's house, and to see him with God's people. Our church family continued to hold us up by meeting our physical needs and begging the Lord to meet our emotional and spiritual needs. And, indeed the Lord did.

With the confirmation of the definititive diagnosis, treatment could begin. We are just so thankful to know without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord has guided and has had His hand in the finding, the diagnosing, and the confirming of Drew's cancer. Knowing that ere before we entered into this valley, our Savior waited to meet us and walk us through. Before we ever even realized we had a need, He had provided. From the very first radiologist who saw the fracture (we have since been told that whoever read that x-ray had to be guided by God because the fracture was not one that was very obvious) all the way to being led to one of the best cancer centers in Florida, the Lord's hand has been evident. What a truly, truly wonderful God we serve.

Tuesday, the 16th

We had hoped that we would have some preliminary results this morning, but there were none. Nor were there any in the afternoon. The day passed slowly with Drew handling his pain very well. Lane and Kim had been trading places every night so that one parent stayed with Drew while the other stayed with the other kids. Tonight was Lane's night.

Our church had never been more precious to us than in those chaotic, confusion-filled first days that we waited and wondered and prayed. Ladies prepared meals, bought groceries, and took care of the needs that we never even considered. Hailey took up the slack in making sure that the other kids' everyday lives were disrupted as little as possible. And, we waited.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday, the 15th

We were initially told that Drew would have his biopsy done this morning, and that he would also have a port put in at the same time so that chemo could begin immediately. However, Dr. Hajjar came in later to say that he disagreed with putting in the port at that time. Sometimes in radiology-guided needle biopsies, you don't get a good reading. If the cells are dead, then there would need to be a biopsy cutting part of the tumor off. They were trying to avoid that biopsy, but if the reading wasn't good, it would be the only way to get a definitive answer. Since he would need to be anesthesized for the port, he didn't want to do the port, do the needle biopsy, and then realize tomorrow that he'd have to go in and redo the biopsy. So the port would wait.

It would be at least 24 hours to know the results of the biopsy. Still, the carefully-chosen words of the nurses spoke volumes of what their suspicions were. The words "cancer" and "malignant" were used more frequently but always with the understanding that their diagnosis could be proven wrong by the biopsy results. It was very clear to us that they felt fairly certain of what they were dealing with and were only waiting for an official report.

Drew's pain level increased after the biopsy and it was a good while before the nurses had it managed enough that he rested comfortably.

The wait had to be the hardest part.

Sunday, May 14th

In the morning, Dr. Paul Helchinki came in first. He explained that their suspicions were that Drew had a malignant tumor growing along his spine. He mentioned the specific "Ewing's Sarcoma", but was very careful to say that all the tests weren't in and he couldn't say definitively until everything, including the biopsy, were in. Dr. Sewsky, partnered with Dr. Hajjar, also came came in to speak with me. Drew and I listened as he elaborated some on what Dr. Helchinki had already said, going a step further to say that he believed Drew had either Ewing's sarcoma or Rabdomyo sarcoma. The basis for their preliminary diagnosis was the pattern of the tumor, his CT scans, and his MRI. When I asked him if there were any chance he could be wrong, he confirmed that there was absolutely a chance he could be wrong. Dr. Sewsky was very compassionate, very patient, and even waited 30 minutes of his time for Lane to get here to speak with him personally. Lane had preached and was on his way.

We were again blessed on Sunday to have many of our precious church family come after church and spend the afternoon with us. What an encouragement they all were. One of our men held a prayer meeting in the waiting room with probably 15 or so from Lock Haven.

Lane and I had decided that we would try to figure out a schedule so that both of us could stay, and both of us could be home with our other children. We worked it out so that we alternated nights and days. Our church family organized bringing in food and supplies for the kids for the week, and by God's mercies, we waited.

Saturday, March 13th

A little after midnight, the testing began. First was the MRI, with contrast and without. It took over 3 hours to complete and was physically taxing because Drew had to lay flat on his back the whole time. The CT was also done in the early morning hours. Drew had lots of visitors---probably 30 or more in all. The bone scan was also completed. His pain level was up and down, but definitely increased because of all the procedures he'd undergone.

Many of our church family, some of the youth group, and others crowded his tiny little room to visit with him. His spirits were lifted, and he had a good time laughing and joking with everybody.

March 12th

After arriving at the hospital and some initial exams, they sent Drew by ambulance to a sister hospital in Orlando. They wanted him to be in a more specialized hospital--one that worked with pediatric patients. At 5:30 we arrived at Florida Hospital South and were told that there was not a single bed in the whole hospital available. They put is in the "pediatric holding unit" to await a conference with the pediatric surgeon. The thought was that the blood filling the outside of Drew's right lung needed to be drained. We waited until 3:00 p.m. that afternoon, and still no sign of anybody. The nurse hadn't even come in to check on us. Finally I went to the nurses' station to ask if they knew how much longer we could expect to wait. The doctor on call was sitting at the station and explained that someone had forgotten to page the surgeon so we would have to wait until he could come by. In a while, the surgeon did come in and took a look at Drew's Ct. While he's looking at the screen, another doctor was in the same unit seeing one of his patients. Dr. Hajjar looked over the surgeon's shoulder and said simply, "It's not bleeding on the lung; there's a mass." After that, several doctors came in to talk with us and to explain all the tests that would be taking place. To be honest, I never heard a word after he used the word "tumor". By the end of the afternoon, they had a room on the pediatric oncology floor and Drew was moved to his new room. We were warned that because it was the weekend, results would be slow. So, with our minds and thoughts racing, we waited for it all to begin.

From the Beginning......

Many have asked for a timeline of events that led to Drew's diagnosis of cancer. We are so thankful for Drew, and we are thankful for the friends and family that have showered this precious young man with love and prayer. In an attempt to answer everyone's questions...we begin.

Drew has been complaining of a backache for about 10 weeks now. At first, we thought it was a sports injury. He is active in baseball, football, and of course, WWF with his brothers:-) And, the pain was not a constant thing. Neither was it a terrible pain. We considered that he may have a pinched nerve. Four weeks ago, after the pain kept getting progressively worse, we decided that we'd take him to our doctor---maybe he needed therapy. Maybe it was a muscle tear. Our family doctor examined Drew and seemed puzzled. She told us Drew had a great range of motion. He could move every direction she asked him to. She explained that she didn't think Drew had any spine problems, but just to be sure, she sent him for an x-ray. We went in the next morning to get the results. She opened the file and puzzled said, "Well, looks like Drew may have a possible fracture to the 9th rib on his right side." I was really confused, because as far as we could remember, Drew hadn't had any incidents that could have caused a broken rib. Our doctor's suggestion was to do a CT scan to confirm the broken rib. So, as soon as I left her office I went back to the lab that did Drew's x-ray. They did the CT at 4:00 p.m. and the radiologist told us that our family doctor would follow up with us at our next appointment. We went on home, and since Drew was in pain, he went to bed after supper. At midnight, the radiologist called us and explained that his CT had just been read and that Drew's right lung had a moderate hemothorax. Their initial thought was that he had broken the rib, and the broken rib had punctured the lung. So, we were asked to bring him to the hospital immediately. We got to the hospital at 12:30 a.m. on March 12th.