At home

We made it back from the hospital yesterday afternoon. It is good to be home!

Jonathan’s lab work looked good when we left. Today, it has been a day of rest for him. The fatigue caused by a hospital stay plus three radiation treatments while recovering from gastroenteritis is serious. He spent most of the day asleep.

His GI discomfort is not completely gone, but he was able to eat and drink a little better today. We have small attainable goals every meal and he is reaching them like a pro. We continue to pray and work diligently to keep him stable and hydrated, which for tonight means to sleep in his recliner all night long in order to prevent acid reflux, which makes him vomit.

The plan is to get in touch with his oncologist on Monday to determine if Jonathan is ready for oral chemo.

Thank you for your consistent love towards our family and thank you for your prayers.

July 27th

O Lord God of host, who is mighty as you are, O Lord? with your faithfulness all around you?    ~Psalm 89:8

Yesterday was busy. From early on, doctors and nurses came constantly in and out of the room, all working from their areas of expertise to help Jonathan.  Labs, scans, X-rays, speech therapy evaluation, occupational therapy help, neuro-oncology and radiation oncology visits.

As the day went by, the fluids and the steroids began to make a difference in the way Jonathan felt and in his energy level. The doctors agree that it is hard to determine only one cause for the symptoms he has been experiencing. It is more like a combination of factors that create synergy in a negative way. Tumor progression, GI infection, dehydration, treatment side effects. All of the above.

Proper hydration has been definitely helpful. Medicine for nausea and reflux have made some of the GI discomfort to subside, and the scans revealed that he is very constipated, aggravating the situation.

The oncologists decided that tumor progression remains the most concerning issue. They determined that radiation should begin. Jonathan had his first radiation yesterday and he already had a second one today. The doctor warned us that the possibility of symptoms getting a little worse before they get better is real. So, we need to be careful and patient as he receives his treatments. Jonathan is now very tired, but overall he feels better. He has not yet been able to eat at all, but he is getting the hydration he needs and we will work today on helping his bowel get the release it has to have. We will also try some nutritional shakes to see if his body can tolerate that.

If all goes well, they may let us go home tomorrow after receiving his third radiation treatment and we won’t have to come back until Monday for the next.

We are so grateful to the Lord for providing in the form of excellent medical care for us. All the doctors and nurses have been simply wonderful and that creates a good environment in the midst of a difficult scenario. We value your prayers more precious that anything and we humbly ask you to continue praying for healing and endurance.

Steadfast love and faithfulness go before You.     ~Psalm 89:14

Ups and downs

 

Friday. Jonathan was feeling a little better as he woke up. After three days of antibiotics, we felt that the treatment was working and we would be starting oral chemo over the weekend. We headed to the hospital to receive his IV chemo. He rested in the afternoon and then he perked up and had dinner and a fun evening with our small group and our family visiting from out of town.

Saturday. Not too bad. We had more dear friends visiting and Jonathan had a few hours chatting and interacting with them in the late morning. He rested in the afternoon, but his GI discomfort got worse and it took away his appetite, so by dinner, we started doing shakes to supplement his diet in the hopes that he would get enough nutrition to get him ready for treatment. Saturday was not a fun day for his belly, but we were able to complete the around of antibiotics and felt hopeful.

Sunday. We ventured to church and felt incredibly blessed. Both, the Word preached and the music were worshipful, fitting, and encouraging. Our pastor led us to pray for one another and we came forward. It was a emotional time of candid petitioning and genuine Christ-like love. After church, and with full hearts, we gathered around the table for lunch with our extended family. Jonathan enjoyed the time, but not for too long. He felt nauseous and exhausted and had to sleep for the rest of the day. We had hoped to start chemo that night, but he couldn’t.

Monday. We kept trying to do everything possible to improve Jonathan’s diet to accommodate for good nutrition and to provide relief from the acid reflux sensation that has been aggravating him so much. It seemed to work, and even though his energy was very low and he was only awake for a few minutes around meal times, he was able to eat some breakfast, and a some lunch, but by dinner his stomach couldn’t hold anything anymore. At that point, his doctor determined to press the pause button on tumor treatment to let Jonathan get more stable. That was concerning, considering the critical area affected by the tumor, but indeed a necessary measure.

Tuesday. Both, Jonathan’s energy and his appetite were quite low from the start of the day. He slept all day, he had GI discomfort, a headache, and was only able to drink a couple of shakes for meals. His exhaustion were so severe that he choose to speak little or not to talk at all. He was no longer resting, he was rather lethargic. By late afternoon, it was decided that he needed to be admitted to the hospital to make sure he get proper hydration and to determine what exactly is causing all of his discomforts and how to help him.

BUT GOD. In the middle of these stressful days, the Lord’s provision has been faithful and plentiful. Our Elders have brought meals, friends and family have traveled hours only to hug our neck, keep us company, and run errands for us. Jonathan’s mom arrived in town Sunday night and she is helping around the house and with the kids -they are in excellent hands. Our small group has been a source of support, strength, and key help on decision making.  Friends, from both church (Brook Hills) and school (Westminster) are helping with meals, cleaning, playdates, school supplies, and coordinating carpools for the beginning of the year. Notes of encouragement in the form of texts, phone calls, emails, and cards. And then, the most important gift, your prayers! Each time someone tells me they are praying, I feel the Lord whispering in my ear, “I love you”. Thank you. How would we do this without you? You are God’s hands and feet. Literally. Will I ever be able to pay you back? I trust the Lord will and I desire to take the opportunity to show this kind of love to others.

Please, continue to pray for healing for Jonathan.

Pray for wisdom for the doctors and for clear leads to figure out how to help Jonathan.

Pray for our children. The seriousness of their dad’s condition is now dawning on them.

Pray for our hearts and minds to be anchored in God’s truth and for us to run to Jesus with all our feelings -even the ugly ones.

We are now bleeding into Wednesday. Jonathan has had two bags of fluid, labs, and they are doing scans and ultrasounds. Hospitals don’t sleep. Jonathan has remained asleep through all of it it. Thankful for both.

I’ll keep you posted as the day goes by and I find out more.

Treatment Ahead

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you,a s in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  Psalm 63:1

I am so grateful for the book of Psalms. Perhaps nowhere else in the Bible can we see such a wide spectrum of emotions. From joy to lament, the Psalms reassure us that God sees our raw humanity and He gives us freedom to run to Him just as we are. What a comfort to know that our emotions are not a threat to God’s presence, but an invitation to meet with Him! And He meets with us.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food.  Psalm 63:5

Today was a better day for Jonathan. We are encouraged by this improvement and we are grateful for our doctor’s decision to wait on chemo and treat for a stomach infection.

We met with the radiation oncologist today and he confirmed that the tumor has moved to a very crucial area; the brain stem. He thinks that we still have a window of opportunity to radiate this area before the tumor goes deeper in the stem and the damage is worse. This is a very scary scenario, but we continue to see God’s hand. And having a plan of treatment is an incredible provision. He will have 10 radiation treatments starting next week – similar to what we did back in February.

Tomorrow Jonathan will have his IV chemo as scheduled. This is the chemo that he has had every two week since December 21. Thank God, this chemo has never given him strong side effects, other that fatigue for a couple of days following the infusion.  Pray that his body will tolerate it well as it has done in the past.

Saturday, he will finish the course of antibiotics and at that point, his oncologist will evaluate if he is ready to start the oral chemo. Please, continue to pray that his stomach will heal completely and that he will be as strong as possible to take the chemo.

God has sustained us and continues to pour His blessings in many ways.

My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.  Psalm 63:8

We love you and so appreciate each one of your prayers.

Quick Update

Thank you for your prayers. God is sovereign over everything. He knows our past, our present, and our future. Yet, He delights in the prayers of His children. Prayer grows our faith and our relationship with Him.

A quick update – Jonathan did not start chemo as planned. Because of the increased discomfort on his stomach, yesterday afternoon his doctor sent an order for him to take a course of antibiotics to try and improve his overall health before starting chemo.  We have seen a slight improvement today. He is still very tired, but has had more and longer awake times. He had a couple of visitors today and enjoyed that time. We are hoping to see even more improvement by this evening.

Tomorrow, we have an appointment with his radiation oncologist to evaluate if he can/should take more radiation as a part of the current treatment.  And then, Friday, he is scheduled to receive the every-two-week IV chemotherapy that he has been taking since December.

Continue to pray for a miraculous healing; either gradual or overnight. God is able.

Specifically, pray that the antibiotics will be beneficial in combating whatever has made his stomach sick.

Pray that his strength will improve significantly over the next couple of days so that he will be ready to start the oral chemo.

Pray for wisdom concerning additional radiation.

 

Honesty and Hope

This morning, during a short devotional time, the Lord reminded us that the Word of God never denies reality. The Bible is honest about the brokenness of this world and yet it is full of the glorious hope we have in Christ. Paul David Tripp says:

“The honesty does not crush the hope, but neither does the hope negate the honesty”

We truly need to be reminded of this in the middle of a difficult situation.

Over that past 36 hours Jonathan has not felt good at all. We believe that his body may still be recovering from the gastroenteritis he got in Mexico. We are focusing on helping his stomach to get healthy and balanced again, but his overall ache and discomfort is not allowing him to stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time. He was supposed to start his new oral chemo last night, but he simply couldn’t do it. We are praying and hoping that he will start feeling better soon. We know it is important to start taking the medicine.

On Friday, his lab work showed that his levels are good. We are encouraged by that. God is protecting Jonathan’s body, but his energy is gone and it is hard to tell what exactly is causing it, and what else we can do to help him.

Please, pray for a miraculous recovery of his digestive track and for strength to start the new chemo.

Pray for wisdom as we continue to navigate these difficult days.

Pray that our hearts will NEVER lose hope. That the glorious gift of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus will keep our eyes and hearts fixed on Him in the midst of the reality we face.

We are not alone.

Home Front: What we tell the kids and the beauty of a godly wife.

One of the most common questions on days like today is, what do you tell your kids. For starters, we have a very open and ongoing conversation about medical realities and implications of my health journey, so we process out loud with them on a regular basis. Today, as soon as we got back from the hospital, we all climbed into the bed and I began by reminding them that God reigns and rules both, when we receive good news and when we receive bad news. He doesn’t love us more or less, but He is present with us in all of it, and we can always trust Him. So we told the kids that the tumor is growing into a very dangerous part of the brain and that this might cause worse side effects on the left side of my body, and that we will start more chemo and maybe radiation. We told them that I might get sicker in order to try and make me better. We asked them if they had any questions about this, and then, we listened to them.  Ultimately, we trust that even my journey with brain cancer is divinely chosen to be a part of their journey in life as well. So we pray for God to give us the strength, and we pray for God to heal because we know He can and He does both. Then, we tried not to suffocate them and let them talk about it at their own pace. I am not prescribing this for everybody else, I am just honestly answering the question what do I tell my kids. The only thing I would advise is to ground them in the truths that God is in control of all and that God is good.  Those are anchors for all of life. And then, show them that you believe it even when it is hard.

I have been married to a beautiful and godly wife for 17 years and yet there are some things that have been more clearly revealed through this difficult journey with brain cancer. Today, I watched Karla process this news and its implications for her. I watched her joyfully accept that this meant greater responsibility in caring for her husband who would have greater physical limitations while battling with cancer.  I watched her joyfully accept this as the journey that God has us on together. I watched her patiently push me around in a wheelchair, wipe my drooling face, and oversee the workers putting handicap accessibility bars in our bathroom; things that I wish were not part of her daily reality.  Today, I watched her tell her principal that she could no longer come back and do the job she loves (Latin teacher) and the school she loves (Westminster) because she needed to prioritize caring for her husband and family and couldn’t do both well.  Today, and just about everyday on this journey, I have watched her put others’ needs before her own; a beautiful reminder of Christ’s love for us as we see in Philippians 2. So, although today’s news has been hard, and I am sure that the journey forward will be harder, I am thankful that in the mist of the journey God opens up our eyes to see deeper. And today I have been reminded of the beauty of a godly wife. Thanks, Karla. I love you with all my heart.

~Jonathan